18 Stigma

The Emperor clenches the hairpin in his hand. His hand turning white from the pressure being exerted onto the hairpin.

"Looks like there's not on, but two traitors in this palace."

"Daughter-in-law, take care of the traitor amongst the servants."

Miyoung bows.

"As you wish, Your Majesty."

The Emperor's golden brown eyes flash. A flicker of hate present in his eyes.

"I'll deal with the other traitor."

BACK AT THE DORM. . . . . . . . .

"How do you think Jun's doing?"

Taeyang shrugs.

"We can only hope for the best."

The six men sit in silence.

They've had this conversation several times already. They just can't seem to get over the fact that one of the men they had gone through the competition with had almost died out in battle.

Taeyang sighs.

"I should've—"

"Should have what?"

The men turn around towards the sound of the voice. Their eyes land on Miyoung who's leaning against the door frame, her hands crossed over her chest.

"JUN!!!!!" They shout.

The men rush over to Miyoung and pull her into a bear hug.

They each clap Miyoung on the back, and rub her head.

"We missed you this past week Jun!"

Miyoung tilts her head.

"Week?"

"Yeah," Suwon says, his hazel eyes giving off a teasing flicker. "You've been out for a whole week. You didn't know that Jun?"

She smiles at Suwon.

"I had no idea."

Baekho smiles, "It's a relief that your doing better Jun. We were really worried. "

Baekho then reaches into his hanbok and holds it out to Miyoung.

"Here Jun, a gift."

"Thanks," Miyoung says, as she takes the gift into her hands. "What do we have here?"

Miyoung unwraps the gift, revealing a box containing two daggers.

"What's this for?" Miyoung asks.

"So you can defend yourself if you ever run into trouble like that again. Having a close ranged weapon is highly beneficial, especially during battle. I just don't want you to get hurt again Jun," Baekho says, his voice full of concern.

"Thanks Baekho, that's really nice of you."

"Don't mention it, I'm just looking out for a fellow Hwarang."

"Speaking of Hwarang," Suho says. "We've got a lesson with the dance instructor today."

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"What for?" Hyunwook asks lazily.

"I think it's for the banquet that's this weekend," Min says.

"What's the banquet for?" Miyoung asks as she flips a dagger in her hand.

"It's a social event the Empress is holding in order to find a bride for each of the princes," Suwon replies.

"Well," Miyoung stands, "We should head over to the dance instructor. Right? I've got to learn the dance and perfect with you guys. Let's go."

"Go to the courtyard to the left of the dorm," Taeyang says. "That's where the dance instructor is going to teach the lesson. Go ahead and head over there Jun, we still got to get ready."

"Okay," Miyoung says cheerfully.

As soon as Miyoung leaves the dorm, she breathes a sigh of relief.

[Just in time] She thinks.

The bracelet on her wrist is burning hot, sizzling even. The heat brings tears to Miyoung's eyes, the bracelet as already let a red mark on her wrist, and as time passes, the heat keeps getting more and more unbearable.

[Well, one thing's for sure. The traitor is amongst us Hwarangs. The question is who?]

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