Chapter 29 - Epilogue
Two Years Later...
Yun as Advisor and Chief of Staff on Hiryuu Castle stands on the hallway along with Kaya, Head of Royal Physician. Ik-Su as the Head Priest lifts the crown, putting it on Hiryuu's head as Hiryuu is crowned as King of Kouka on his 19th years old not too long after his mother's birthday date. Turning his back, standing tall facing against the audiences, Five Generals of Kouka Kingdom greet him to fully give their blessing and approval, one by one.
From Earth Tribe, Lee Geun Tae smirks in excitement.
From Fire Tribe, Kan Kyo Ga looks up and hopes Hiryuu can surpass their former sovereigns.
From Water Tribe, An Joon Soo, Lily's cousin bows his head calmly, as expected from An Joon Gi's successor.
From Wind Tribe, Son Eun-Chong, putting her hands on her hip before she encouragingly smiles to him.
From Sky Tribe, Zhang Zen, Kija's son who was appointed by General Joo Doh as his successor and become the Sky Tribe General on his 18th years old this year, standing beside Eun-Chong.
"as the owner of Red Dragon King's name, for the sake of my mother who named me after the founder of Kouka Kingdom, I will cherish and protect this Kingdom with its people that I love", Hiryuu looks up to the bright, clear blue sky "stand behind me as my people so I can protect you and stand beside me as my ally but never stand in front of me, so when our enemy stands in front of us, I can fight them back before they dare to lay their finger on my people".
The audiences cheer up, lifting their hands up "long live the King?!".
Not too long after Hiryuu retires back to his room and changes his robes for the banquet, Nari shows herself since she's worked for Hiryuu as personal handmaiden.
"it's time to go to the banquet, King Hiryuu", bowing her body, she offers warm, gentle smile when she straightening her body "and congratulation for your coronation, my King".
"thank you, Nari", Hiryuu walks to outside "let's go".
Looking up to the stars on the night sky, Hiryuu crosses his hands before his chest, he can't sleep well.
"my King? You can't sleep?".
Hiryuu turns his head, jumping from the ledge to the floor before offering "midnight walk with me, Nari? I prefer companion tonight".
Nari smiles before bowing her head, receiving his offer "as my King wish".
Hiryuu groans in annoyance "don't be so formal like that".
Nari covers her mouth to muffle her laughter "oh, I'm so sorry... but you sounded like my father just now, King Hiryuu".
"don't group me with uncle Tae Woo, please".
Walking side by side, Nari stops when they reach the garden where they can see the koi pond "don't worry, we still search for princess Rai-Ha. We will find her".
"yeah, I hope so", Hiryuu sighs "I haven't heard anything about her ever since she ran away, I was crowned as the King and I still have to choose the Queen".
"if I may so bold", Nari smiles supportively "whoever that woman you've chosen as your wife, she's lucky to have you, both as her King and her husband, Your Majesty".
"actually...", Hiryuu scratches the back of his nape "I have chosen".
Sting. Nari tries to play it cool, hiding her inner turmoil with lowering her head "oh? I have to tell you... Congratulation, then. Whoever you choose as your wife, she will be the Queen of Kouka and—".
Nari is shocked, her eyes widen when Hiryuu touches her chin, tipping her head up so sudden before kissing her while running his finger on her hairs. Blinking her eyes rapidly in shock and joy, Nari covers her lips in shock "my King, what are—".
"I'm surprised you're this dense", Hiryuu rolls his eyes playfully before leaning over to kiss the back of her palm "you are my chosen woman, my Queen. I'm not obvious and clueless about love, you know? I love you, and I only want you to be my Queen, Nari".
Nari cries because she's too happy, before throwing her body into Hiryuu's arms. She turns into her 'talkative' mode, the trait she's gotten from her mother "we have to tell our family?! Ah, but how about princess Rai-Ha?".
"Rai-Ha, although we told her it was not her fault, she's far too stubborn...", Hiryuu sighs in distress, carrying Nari bridal style "I also have sent some people to find her. I only hope that Rai-Ha will come home to present on our wedding. That's if the people I sent to looking for her didn't forget their first purpose on their mission".
Zen looks down to Fuji who sneezes "catch a cold?".
"no", Fuji blinks in confusion, wiping her nose "maybe someone talked about us?".
"if it's princess— I mean, General Eun-Chong, I'm not surprised. She had made such a chaos on Hiryuu Castle after announcing her courtship with Lord Tae Yeon".
"yeah, we were shocked but big sister herself only waved it off as nothing. She even said what's the problem, remembering that big sister Eun-Chong and uncle Tae Yeon are only different 6 years while my mother and father are different 9 years, but still... I guess great grandfather Mundok and our parent on the Heaven would be shocked too when they knew about it", Fuji rolls her eyes remembering her big sister, Eun-Chong and Tae Yeon have gone back to Wind Tribe territory "and they've gone back to Wind Tribe territory right away after announcing their courtship, just like that".
"maybe we can't talk about them like that, when we also come here together", Zhang Zen covers his blushing face, averting his eyes "I mean, we've courted officially too, and we don't come here just for vacation".
"of course", Fuji sighs, looking up to Chishin Castle "we still have to find big sister Rai-Ha. I only hope she didn't go too far away from us, like to foreign country".
When they arrive on Chishin castle and Fuji tells Geun Tae about her wish from their King, her older brother, to find Rai-Ha before Hiryuu is getting married with Nari, Geun Tae smirks with his feral grin "anything your family and our King ask, Lady Wisteria".
"ACHO?!", Eun-Chong sniffs before scowling as she rushing to the stable "someone must have talked about me, maybe one of my siblings".
"because our courtship?", Tae Yeon chuckles after preparing their belongings "I guess this will be enough for us".
"then let's go", Eun-Chong mounts on her horse, pulling the rein and the beast rears back "to Xing Kingdom!?".
"geez", Rai-Ha's eyebrow twitches in irritation before she looking behind, turning her body facing her uninvited bodyguard "actually, just how far and how long you want to follow me behind, old man!?".
"until you go back home safely", Joo Doh knows it's no use to fight against the young princess who has inherited her biological father's talent so what he can do in his old age, is to follow her behind and pestering her till she wants to go back home due to her own wish "and please don't call me old man, I'm not that old?!".
Rai-Ha rolls her eyes "oh? do you prefer it if I call you General Joo Doh?".
"I've retired, the Sky Tribe General is Zhang Zen now", Joo Doh whispers to her that he can't easily call her 'princess' like how she can't easily call him General when they sneak into foreign country "I'm just trying to be careful. I have promised your uncle to protect you all".
"then go protect my siblings".
"they're safe and sound now in their place along with their bodyguards, unlike you, so you're the one who in dangerous, young Lady".
"I don't think so", Rai-Ha shrugs her shoulder and scoffs, leaning her father's Tsu Quan Dao which she has retrieved from Wind Tribe land near Hak's grave "besides, you did this due to your promise to my uncle... or to atone your guilt over my biological father's death and my mother's suffering for years?".
Joo Doh clenches both his hand into fists, his knuckles turn whiten as he lowering his head in shame. Rai-Ha sighs heavily before turning her body, her back against him as she telling him to just go to somewhere. Not looking to where she's walking to, what she knows, next second she bumps into someone with muscular, burly body.
A blonde-haired blue-eyed man reaches out his hand to Rai-Ha "ah!? Forgive me!? I don't see you just now?!".
Joo Doh approaches her, helping her to stand "are you okay?".
Rai-Ha thanks him before telling Joo Doh to get lost "I started getting tired of you, old man".
Another man with blonde hair and blue eyes, maybe that man's relatives, interrupts "wait, we know we are only stranger but if you two have a fight, it's better to speak it peacefully. Why don't we talk about it on the tavern peacefully?".
"Tohru?! Bad habit?! Should you interrupt every people's problems?".
"what? I was just giving an advice, cousin", Tohru shrugs his cousin's protest "besides I believe even without I interrupted, it was you who would talk to her about not getting rude to someone older than her, right?".
Tohru's cousin, the taller man blushes at the implication "well, I indeed wanted to tell her at least, she shouldn't be that rude to her father... or her uncle, maybe".
Shoot. Joo Doh knows it's sensitive topics now "wait, are you seriously crying here?!".
"huh?", Rai-Ha touches her cheeks and finds it wet "oh no...".
"oh, God", Tohru gawks when Rai-Ha starts crying and Joo Doh starts panicked "you make her crying, idiot?!".
Kou Koryu jaw-drops "what?! Did I say something wrong?!".
Knowing the princess with high-pride in front of him really hates it when she cries suddenly like this, Joo Doh covers her shaking body and pulls her closer to muffle her crying sound and to hide her crying face. Scowling, Joo Doh scolds them "her father passed away when she was in her mother's womb and her uncle passed away not too long ago?! I'm only her caretaker?! What do you think about it?".
Rai-Ha smacks Joo Doh's bicep, still hiding her crying face "...am not crying...".
No one believes her. When Joo Doh, Kou Koryu and Tohru are still trying to soothe her, they hear someone roaring "KOU KORYU?!".
Kou Koryu flinches "crap, it's my mother".
Tohru sweatdrops "yeah, with my mother".
Kouren scolds Kou Koryu, pulling his earlobe "how many times I should scold you to make you understand what's better to treat woman and not make them crying instead?!".
It turns out that Kou Koryu is Queen Kouren's son and Tohru is princess Tao's son.
Crap, Joo Doh should have known this, this princess really has such a luck. Of course, Kouren and Tao recognize Joo Doh right away but because they don't want to create more ruckus, Tao suggesting to bring them to their inn and here they are.
Tao offers tea to Rai-Ha "have you calmed down?".
"...I apologize for crying so sudden like that", Rai-Ha sips her tea after thanking them "usually I didn't cry instantly like that, since when did I become this weak?".
Kouren starts the conversation "so... could you tell us about what kind of business do you have here, General Joo Doh and princess Rai-Ha?".
It makes Rai-Ha and Kou Koryu sputter and choked before Joo Doh and Tohru stroking their back.
"long time no see you, Queen Kouren. It's a honor that you still remember me", Joo Doh bows his head before straightening his body "but I've retired from my position as General and hand over it to my successor, Zhang Zen. Right now, I'm only princess Rai-Ha's personal bodyguard. No more and no less".
When Rai-Ha mumbles about she's not asking for that, Joo Doh and Rai-Ha argue a little before Tao brings up the main topic "we heard about your disappearance, including how your siblings have been looking for you, ever since a half month ago".
"wait, she's really a princess?!", Kou Koryu lifts his finger "the third princess of Kouka who disappeared, the Thunder Bird?!".
Well, it's unlike Rai-Ha doesn't know it, she fully knows about the nickname that she and her siblings have gained.
Hiryuu is known as 'Son of Red Dragon'.
Eun-Chong is known as 'Lady of Wind God'.
Rai-Ha is known as 'Thunder Bird'.
Fuji is known as 'Lady Wisteria'.
"be polite", Kouren scolds her son, smacking her son's forearm using the scabbard of her sword "I never taught you to be impolite in front of the princess".
Tao gently asks her one more time "what made you running away from your home?".
Looking down to Rai-Ha who stubbornly shut her mouth, Kouren twirls her eyebrow "it's fine if you want to shut your mouth about the reason of why you ran away from home. You have every right to shut your mouth but as the Queen, I also have the right to send the letter to King of Kouka, your older brother, King Hiryuu, about your whereabouts here and lock you until your brother comes here to bring you back home. How?".
Kou Koryu and Tohru think in unison "...she's scary as usual...".
"because I have no place to go home, wherever it is on Kouka... I have no place to go back, not in Hiryuu, not in Fuuga, not in Kouka Kingdom...", Rai-Ha clenches her fists before she takes a deep breath, blinking her eyes and hardly holding back her tears "which the positive things, now I can go anywhere and for the first time in my life, I feel free, I can get back my freedom as human and go wherever I want to".
"and neglect your obligation as princess of Kouka Kingdom?".
"you don't understand, Queen Kouren. I don't deserve to possess the title as princess of Kouka Kingdom anymore... my older brother could be the King right now...", Rai-Ha blinks away a single tear with bitter smile on her face "because the previous King Soo Won... I killed him... I killed my uncle...".
After Yona and Four Dragon Warriors passed away, Yun and Kaya decided to keep working on Hiryuu Castle. Joo Doh was just like their uncle figure and Soo Won took over their parent's figure. Not only as their uncle, sometimes Soo Won also would interact with them like he's their father.
On the night when they turned into 19 years old, Soo Won invited Yona's children into his chamber, starting from Fuji. Soo Won told Fuji that she had her father's sincerity and communication skill, also her mother's compassionate, grace and innocence, thus Fuji would make a great ambassador of Kouka despite her young age. Soo Won told her about his hope that he wanted her to be Kouka's ambassador.
Next, Eun-Chong. Soo Won realized Eun-Chong's relationship with Tae Yeon and hopefully, her love and passion for her people would strengthen her to protect her Kingdom with its people as one of Five Tribe Generals. Just like Rai-Ha, Eun-Chong had a great skill but what made her different with Rai-Ha, was her determination and resistance "although both of you are just the same tough woman, let's just say that you're more mature than Rai-Ha, you know how, what and when to take a step, either to retreat or go forward. This is important for Wind Tribe who become the trump card of our Kingdom and I believe, just like your father, you will be great General".
"much appreciation for your praises, Uncle. Actually, I just learned this trait naturally", Eun-Chong smiled, knowing her uncle always watched over her, both when they fought against each other using weapon on training or when they had the duel of Ougi board "having three of them as my siblings make me have to be tough".
Next, Hiryuu. Soo Won only told him that he shouldn't have failed his Kingdom and his people, also his wish to make him as next King when the time had come. It was supposed to be Rai-Ha's turn next but Hiryuu realized one thing. Odd. No guards nearby King's chamber as usual and why did his uncle have to tell them to leave and go back to their room right away after they had talked with him? Instead of going back to his chamber on their shared quarter after they had talked with Soo Won as Soo Won instructed like Fuji and Eun-Chong did, Hiryuu closed the door of King's chamber to postpone Rai-Ha's turn to talk with Soo Won.
"what's wrong, Hiryuu? Why don't you go back to your chamber and ask Rai-Ha to come and talk with me?".
Unbeknownst by them, Rai-Ha heard the creak from the door of King's chamber and she baffled, why did the door was closed again by Hiryuu? Leaning her ear on the door, she found the door creaking opened a bit, peeking inside.
Turning his body, Hiryuu spoke face-to-face with Soo Won and he didn't even realize that Rai-Ha eavesdropped their conversation "what are you planning, Uncle? Why did you deliberately tell us to go back to our chamber right away after we talk to you and why did you ask Rai-Ha as the last one to talk with you?".
"I don't think I understand why did we talk about this, nephew".
"mother always said that Rai-Ha has the most resemblance with our biological father... Rai-Ha is the type of someone who will trust people rather than suspicious on someone, which make her rather naive sometimes".
"what are they doing? Talking bad about me?", Rai-Ha contemplated to just come in or not "I swear if they...".
"indeed. But on the positive things, she is pure-hearted and big-hearted woman, so innocence and beautiful like your mother was".
Hiryuu asked "could it be you... you wanted to tell the fact behind our grandfather's and father's death?".
Rai-Ha was shocked "what? What I don't know and Hiryuu knew about our grandfather's and father's death?".
"that's right, Hiryuu. I killed the late King Il, directly by my hand with my sword. I casted away your parent like a trash, chased them outside this Castle, her home, thus made your biological father, Hak be killed on that cliff by those Fire Tribe soldiers. I stole the claim of the throne from your mother, the one and only woman that I ever loved. All of that... for the sake of this Kingdom, to prevent its fallen and to strengthen Kouka Kingdom, strong enough to defend itself from foreign country's attack. After what I've done, I don't expect to die peacefully and live my life happily. It's only fair if one of Yona's children kill me to break the chain of hatred".
"and you choose Rai-Ha to kill you?".
"because she has the most resemblance with Hak, I don't mind to die on her hands because it will make me feel like it's Hak who kill me", Soo Won narrowed his eyes, throwing cold gaze to Hiryuu "I don't expect you to believe my words, but do you not hate me or even forgive me even after what I've done to your grandfather and your parent? because even if you know all of that facts, you don't seem to be afraid of me or mad to me till you want to kill me. I have no idea about what do you think of me".
"I am human. Even though they betray me and hate me, I can't help it but to love them because I can't bring myself to hate them. That's what King Hiryuu said".
"you're not King Hiryuu and this is not fairy tale with happy ending, nephew".
"although you betrayed my parent and killed my grandfather, mother still loved you?! I, along with my siblings, we always think of you as our uncle, even a figure of a father sometimes?! Because you're our family?! How could you not see that, uncle?", Hiryuu shouted before he lowering his hands to the side, looking straight with determinated-eyes "I'm not going to let your plan happened?! I'm not going to let my sister kill you!?".
"then you should kill me", Soo Won had predicted this, he threw his sword to floor in front of Hiryuu "kill me and claim your throne as the King".
Hiryuu persisted "no".
"then I will make you", Soo Won lifted his sword, pointing its tip to his neck "you should kill me before I make you join your parent on the Heaven. Or should I make you join them now?".
Eun-Chong and Joo Doh barged into the King's chamber in time, to see Rai-Ha pulled Hiryuu by his collar, yanking him behind her before thrusting Tsu Quan Dao in her hand to Soo Won's body, impaling the deadly spear to claim Soo Won's life.
Just like the first time they met under the snow, Soo Won smiled before hugging Rai-Ha despite the blood flowing from the corner of his mouth "...thank you so much, Rai-Ha. Finally... I can follow them... to another world...", his knees buckled beneath him. Soo Won collapsed forward on Rai-Ha's hands. Cupping her cheek with his bloodied hand, Soo Won smiled apologetically "as I expected... from their daughter... you really resemble with... your parent... although you will hate me after this... I still...".
After Soo Won's hand dropped to the floor even before he finished his speech, despite the blood pooling around her and Soo Won's body, Rai-Ha kneeled, dropping her Tsu Quan Dao before she staring down to her bloodied palms with those blank eyes "...I killed him...".
Hiryuu gripped her biceps "no?! It's not your fault?!".
Rai-Ha shook her head, she shouted to him as she burst out into tears "but I killed him?!".
"it's not your fault?! Uncle wanted this and he took advantage on you to kill him?!", Hiryuu pulled her into his embrace "you shouldn't blame yourself for his death, Rai-Ha... it's not your fault...".
Next day, Rai-Ha disappeared from Hiryuu Castle and Joo Doh who had appointed Zhang Zen as his successor, left Hiryuu Castle to find her.
"until that night, I always told myself that even though I don't even know how my biological father looked like, because I never have the chance to meet with my biological father, it's alright because I already have good family. I never expected at all... that my uncle was the main culprit and the one who responsible of my grandfather and father's death and my mother's suffering, the sworn enemy of my family who came from my own family... I let my anger get the best of me and with my late father's spear, on that night...", fisting her whitened knuckles, Rai-Ha lifts her face looking straight to Kouren "...I killed him, as he planned".
Kouren crosses her hands before her chest "Soo Won, your uncle... do you truly hate him and want to kill him? because why, what I can see from you only anger and sadness that felt deep and cold like the darkest night on the winter, not hatred".
"...I don't know, I really don't know...", Rai-Ha covers her eyes, gritting her teeth "I believed him. He's my uncle, my family, so why... why must he have done this to us? Why did he always so kind to us, if in the end, he only would ask us to kill him? Had he not betrayed my parent, casted them aside and chased them outside the castle, my mother wouldn't have suffered and cried a lot because of her unbearable grief due to her lost of my biological father... my biological father wouldn't have died on that cliff and we wouldn't have to lose him, even before we could meet him...".
Tao blinks away her tears when looking to Rai-Ha's tears, hugging her tightly "you have been going through a lot alone, huh? You should rest".
"yeah, she's right", Kouren sighs before turning to her son "send a letter to Hiryuu Castle, for King Hiryuu to tell him that his sister is here, on Xing Kingdom".
Rai-Ha breaks the hug, protesting as she wiping her tears "wait?! I don't want to go home nor I want to meet with my siblings—".
Kouren lifts her hand to halt Rai-Ha's speech "and don't forget to tell my advisor, please write on the letter that we submit King Hiryuu's permission to leave princess Rai-Ha under our care and protection for as long as she stays on Xing Kingdom".
Rai-Ha is shocked and baffled "...pardon?".
"I understand, you don't want to go home and don't want to meet with your siblings because you're not ready yet, are you? so I just would let you stay with us to make sure your safety and your protection will be secured. Joo Doh can come with you too because we still need someone to watch over you. You can go wherever and whenever you want under our surveillance. Only when you want to go back to your home where your family waiting on Hiryuu Castle, you will not be supervised again", Kouren states firmly "last, we have to tell your family because I knew how it felt to worry over your sibling when you have your sibling running away from home due to difference in opinion".
Tao squawks "sister, it's been so long ever since I ran away from home!?".
Kouren rolls her eyes with mischievous smirk "oh, I'm sorry if you feel offended".
Rai-Ha covers her mouth before she bursting into laughter. Wiping her tears and chuckling, Rai-Ha bows her body "alright, I will accept your condition and thank you very much for your kindess, Queen Kouren. I will be in your care from now on".
Kouren taps Kou Koryu's shoulder "well then, I leave her in your care. Good luck".
Knowing he has to take the responsibility of 'baby-sitting' the princess, Kou Koryu is about to protest from a vein popping on his head but then an idea popping on his head "...with condition you will allow me to not receive the suitors?".
Kouren rolls her eyes but shrugging it off as nothing in the end "fine, do as you wish".
Kou Koryu can't resist to pumping his fist to the air, finally getting his savior before he shakes his hands with Rai-Ha, thanking her silently "I'll do my best to take care of you".
Rai-Ha deadpans "why do I have a feeling that you take advantage on me?".
Kou Koryu smiles innocently "what is it? I don't understand what are you talking about".
Unbeknownst by Rai-Ha, when she's busy with Kou Koryu, Joo Doh and Tohru, Kouren and Tao go to the hallway to meet with Eun-Chong and Tae Yeon who have heard the conversation between them.
"since you're here, I guess you can bring this letter to your older brother", Kouren gives the letter on her hand before offering "you don't want to see her first?".
"needn't. I think she needs time to cool off her head so I will meet her once she's cooled down her head", Eun-Chong tucks the letter into her pocket, turning her back "let's go, Tae Yeon".
Tae Yeon bows his head, giving thaknks to Kouren and Tao before he snaking his hand around Eun-Chong's waist, leaving.
As the time passing by, Rai-Ha stays on Xing Kingdom with Kou Koryu sticking close to her and due to Kouren's condition, wherever Rai-Ha go, Kou Koryu also will go to travel with her. Joo Doh thinks this is not bad, because the young princess can clear her clouded mind off of whatever burden her. That day, Joo Doh happens to walk in on Rai-Ha and Kou Koryu. Starting from Joo Doh who hides in reflex because he accidentally hears Kou Koryu and Rai-Ha talking about him.
"don't you think you're too cold to Mr. Joo Doh?", Kou Koryu chides her to be more polite or respect someone older than her "could you be more... kinder to Mr. Joo Doh?".
"to him?", Rai-Ha scoffs, tightening her grip on her Tsu Quan Dao "to someone who helped my uncle in his rebellion which led to my father's death and made my mother suffering? Are you kidding on me?".
"if you don't have the reason to hate and dislike him, I mean?!", Kou Koryu lifts his hand in nervous, surrender when Rai-Ha pointing the tip of her Tsu Quan Dao to his neck "I'm sorry, I should have known it... since you have a good reason as to why you dislike, even hate him... well, but at least, from what I've seen, he tried to atone and fix his fault, right? With always stay by your side to serve you and protect you".
"honestly, some part of me even consider him as my uncle, grumpy one who always protect and take a good care of me and my siblings ever since we were children. Giving him a hard time... I did it in purpose with hope uncle Joo Doh would get tired of me and get lost, but he's damn too stubborn to fulfill his promise to my uncle, to protect us, especially me. Don't you think he is too old to do this job? I don't want it, if he has to get severe injuries due to protecting me. I don't want to see someone die because of protecting me like my mother had to endure. I don't want to see people's death in front of my eyes even more. For that reason, I choose to raise my weapon to defend myself because in the end, only our self who can save us whenever no one we can defend on", lowering her Tsu Quan Dao and leaning her weapon on her shoulder, Rai-Ha leans her chin on her knees, hugging her legs "it's been like that ever since I was a child, because I am different, it make the people around me always trying to protect me and treat me like a spun glass, and it feels so... suffocating".
Kou Koryu tilts his head "what do you mean? Different how?".
Rai-Ha tells him about how different she is, with her siblings. People around them always talk about it, because unlike her, Hiryuu, Eun-Chong and Fuji have the traits from Yona and Jae Ha "and how about me? look at me, I have straight raven hair and sapphire eyes. I have known it from my mother, this is the trait I've got from the late of my biological father, Hak".
Kou Koryu tilts his head in worry when he finds the yearning and sadness on her eyes "do you hate it?".
Rai-Ha smiles fondly, twirling her bangs on her finger, the trait she's got from her mother without she realize it "no, instead I love it and I cherish it, because it always made my mother smile again, she would hug me and she always told me about it many times, how she loved my hair and eyes".
"...I'm surprised", Kou Koryu leans his chin on his palm, his elbow on his knee "knowing this woman who could fight against a bear, is actually an emotional and sensitive".
Rai-Ha lifts her fist, squawking "hey?! If I didn't kill that bear, you would be the bear's food, remember?!".
In her attempt to punch him, Kou Koryu grabs her wrists "don't you think that you're being too hard to yourself? you shouldn't have to punish yourself like this".
"...because if I didn't, I would feel like I can't breathe. I've tried to be strong, but it's getting difficult because the more I tried to strengthen myself, the more hurt I felt as the blank space within my heart got broader", Rai-Ha feels like she's gonna cry so she does what she usually does, holding her tears back and forcing restrained smile "I've prepared myself... I don't mind at all, if I will never get my own happiness, because I don't think that I deserve to have my own happiness, especially not after what I've done".
"don't make that face. If even your family can't make you be happy—", cupping her cheeks, Kou Koryu looks straight into her eyes "—then I will make you become the happiest woman alive".
"what do you me—", Rai-Ha gasps, her eyes widen in shock when Kou Koryu kisses her and she blinks away her tears, breathing raggedly, once they break their kiss due to their need of air "...Koryu? You are...".
"oh, shoot. I should have told you before I kissed you", Kou Koryu face-palms before forcing himself to looking straight into her, cheeks slightly flushed "...I'm in love with you".
"...why? I don't understand?! You have known it already what I've done, and yet—".
"but you did it not because of your hatred, not because of having personal grudge. I don't even see the hatred or grudge from you toward your uncle despite what he had done. You did it for protecting your older brother and you keep blaming yourself for what shouldn't have been your responsibility? It's enough, Rai-Ha. I'm tired to see you blaming and mourning over it. I want to stay by your side until I can see you sincerely laugh and smile again, once all of your wounds have been healed, although it will leave scars on your heart", kissing the back of her palm, Kou Koryu looks her straight in the eyes, so she can see his feeling sincerely "would you give me a honor to marry with you, princess Rai-Ha?".
It feels like the ice within her heart, freezing her feelings for years because seeking for the love she's always wanted, melting in a second. Rai-Ha smiles brightly despite her tears streaming down her face "thank you very much, Koryu".
Leaning his forehead into hers, Kou Koryu gulps in nervous "uh, I don't understand as to why did you say thank you, but... does it mean yes?".
Rai-Ha giggles before nodding her head "yes, silly!?".
Pulling her into her embrace, Kou Koryu sweeps her on his hands before lifting her off the ground, twirling before they both lying on the ground. They barely kiss when Kou Koryu so sudden stops himself and sighs heavily, leaning his forehead on her shoulder "alright, we have to stop now".
Straddling on his hips, Rai-Ha blinks in confusion "because?".
"we were watched, intensely", with his cheeks flushed due to their position and proximity, Kou Koryu yells as he wrapping his arm around her shoulder "actually, for how long all of you want to eavesdrop and peek on us?! Get out?!".
"had I known you would fallen into her and proposed her this quick, I would have arranged the betrothal between you two since a long time ago. Also, I never expected to see my son could be this poetic, to propose her romantically...", Kouren smirks smugly when Rai-Ha buries her blushing face on Kou Koryu's chest due to embarrassed and Kou Koryu blushes furiously "the timing is perfect. I just got the wedding invitation of your older brother's wedding with Lady Nari from Wind Tribe".
"Hiryuu with Nari!?", Rai-Ha perks up her head before lifting both her arms "yay!? finally?!".
"we also can talk about your wedding with my nephew", Tao giggles before sighing "now, I only need to worry about my son".
"mother?! I don't want to marry with someone, yet?!", Tohru exclaims before lifting his chin to Rai-Ha "speaking of which, you don't have any suitors or engaged with someone on Kouka Kingdom, princess?".
"I and my sisters do have some suitors. When we haven't turned down them, mostly they will retreat", tapping her chin, Rai-Ha hums "thanks to uncle Joo Doh who standing behind us with deadly glares to our suitors. Even my uncle would lament over it that we won't be able to get married if this goes on".
"oh, I see", Tohru tosses his fist into his other palm as the realization comes to his mind "no wonder I, Algira, Vold and Yotaka had to hold him down with pinning him down on the ground when Kou Koryu started to kiss you. Look, he's so persisted".
They turn their head, only to see Algira, Vold and Yotaka are still pinning Joo Doh down on the ground "let me go!".
Crap. They are busted.
"oi, seriously, just let me go. I promise I will not do anything to your prince", Joo Doh stops squirming, sending glare to Rai-Ha instead "instead, I have a ton to say to the princess after I listened her doubt about me".
Rai-Ha shrinks under Joo Doh's yammering before Joo Doh hugs her "...uncle Joo Doh?".
"...I've been watching you ever since you were a child. It's not that we treated you like spun glass without good reason. It's also not only because of a mere guilt, princess. The late King Soo Won and me... although... we didn't deserve to even think like this, we only didn't want it if you have to suffer like your parent had endured, we only hoped you would be happy for the rest of your life, that's why...", tighting his grip on her with his trembling body, Joo Doh admits it out loud "stop blame yourself and never ever thinking that you don't deserve for happiness".
Rai-Ha leans her face on his shoulder, silently crying harder and hugging him back.
Kou Koryu rolls his eyes "old man, why did you make her crying harder instead?".
"stop walking around like that, it's annoying", Nari throws skeptical glance to her fiancé after Yun and Kaya have done doing her make-up and hairdo "I know you're nervous, but I never expected to see you this nervous".
"I really really hope Rai-Ha will come home on our wedding", Hiryuu walks back and forth, wearing a hole without care about his fancy wedding robe. They still don't have the news about Rai-Ha ever since Eun-Chong came back from Xing Kingdom to Hiryuu Castle to tell them about Rai-Ha's whereabout and condition about a month after Hiryuu's coronation. They're really glad knowing she's fine, however it doesn't mean they would be happy with the choice to let their sister stay on the foreign country to cool her head off but they also had no choice so they just have to suck it up and they hold back themselves, restrain themselves to not meet her and drag her back to home until she's ready to go home by herself. Hiryuu believes that Queen Kouren and Tao have accepted their wedding invitation and surely Rai-Ha knows about this too. After they have courted for a half year plus the wedding preparation, it's been a year ever since Hiryuu has been crowned as King of Kouka, which means Rai-Ha hasn't been here that long "have you seen the guest from Xing Kingdom amongst—".
"sister!? brother?!", Fuji barges in along with Zhang Zen, out of breath. After Eun-Chong, Tae Yeon, Hiryuu and Nari approach her, Fuji perks her head up and chirps "she's back?! Big sister Rai-Ha came back home?! She came here along with uncle Joo Doh and the party from Xing Kingdom?!".
"oi!? Don't ruin our masterpiece before marriage, do you?!", Yun squeaks in protest before he gaining them yelling 'yes' from far distance. Putting his hands on his hips, Yun shakes his head before patting Hyun-Bin, his son's head "what an annoying bunch of kids... I wonder if Yona and the others laughing as they watch over us?".
"maybe", Kaya laughs as she holding Wakana, her daughter's hand. Looking up to the bright blue sky, she smiles "ah, I missed them too".
They run to the garden and when they find Rai-Ha amongst the party from Xing Kingdom in between Joo Doh and Kou Koryu, Fuji and Eun-Chong throw themselves into their sister "Rai-Ha?!".
"woah?!", Rai-Ha jumps but not too surprised "slow down, sisters!? I just arrived and you two wanted to squish me?".
Not waiting Fuji and Eun-Chong break the hug, Hiryuu, Nari and Tae Yeon join the bear hug, ignoring Rai-Ha's protest about how they will ruin their clothes. In quick explanation, when Rai-Ha asks about what she's missed on her absence on Kouka for a year, she's surprised after learning about Eun-Chong and Tae Yeon have officially betrothed while Fuji and Zhang Zen have courted.
"well then", Kou Koryu grins slyly, snaking his arm around her waist "why don't you tell them too? About us?".
"behave", Rai-Ha scowls and smacks Kou Koryu's face "don't make me ruin your face before we get married".
Rubbing his nose, Kou Koryu nonchalantly blurts out "eeh, let's just count a year of our time together as our courtship. Since I have proposed you, could we get married in a half year from now on?".
Hiryuu whistles "oh? No wonder she didn't want to go home for a year".
Fuji, Nari and Eun-Chong jaw-drop "since when?!".
While his sisters and his soon-to-be-wife pestering Rai-Ha to tell them about her relationship with Kou Koryu, the crowned prince of Xing Kingdom, Hiryuu smiles before looking up to the bright blue sky "mother, fathers, uncles... all of you watch over us from above, right? Needn't to worry about us. We will live as best as we can and we will find our happiness, just like your hope for us and your promise to father. We will do everything for the sake of this Kingdom with its people and our family. I promise".
Above the heaven, the crowd of previous generation smile down to them, the next generation. On King Hiryuu's reign along with Queen Nari, Kouka Kingdom reaches its golden era, just like Kou Koryu and Rai-Ha who bring Xing Kingdom into its golden era after they become the King and Queen of Xing Kingdom. After she's getting married with Tae Yeon, Eun-Chong is the first woman who become strongest General of Wind Tribe, following her father's path. Fuji is married with Zhang Zen, maybe she's not expert on using weapon like her sister but she's the greatest ambassadress Kouka would ever have.
A/N Yoan :
And here it is.
*snort Although I am the one who write this, I'm also crying T^T