As far as Rain could see, Biyeon didn’t exhibit any of the trappings of lofty dignity and aloofness that a noblewoman would often portray. Instead, Biyeon laughed recklessly with her subordinates and rolled around in the mud with them.
Whenever they came across a body of water, she dove right in and swam freely, exposed her chest openly, and even put her subordinates in headlocks. Biyeon and her subordinates often devised various matches and competitions against each other and conducted acts that destroyed any image of noble manner or upbringing. Though she felt that Biyeon’s actions were unruly and possibly barbaric… Rain was a little envious of Biyeon’s carefree appearance.
In summary, that man, this woman, and their crew had something in common: they made others feel very uncomfortable. This was especially true regarding San. He showed no courtesy towards his superiors, and the way he directed his subordinates was very unconventional. This unruly characteristic seemed to have rubbed off on the crew as well.
Rain often felt that she would be eternally grateful and appreciative if they would lower their head or slightly lower their eyes, much like what the commoners would do in the Imperial Palace or in other estates.
‘How the hell am I supposed to deal with these people?’
The pragmatic and intelligent Rain quickly realized that she had to give up her status and ‘willingly’ lower herself to their level to escape from her mental pain. This was a daunting challenge for Rain, who was born as an imperial princess and had never experienced something like this in her life.
Rain paused for a moment. She shuddered at what happened just a moment ago. She recalled a very uncomfortable interaction she had with Biyeon just a moment ago.
“What kind of job can you do? What are you good at?” Biyeon asked.
“If you want to eat, you have to work. You have to work for your meals, right?”
These were the first words that Biyeon said two hours before mealtime on the first day.
Instead of answering, Biyeon stared at Rain, tilted her head to the side, and just turned around and went away. Rain also tilted her head, not understanding what had transpired, and continued to take a comfortable break. ‘No big deal’ she thought.
On that first day, Rain’s eyes were filled with tears as she ate the dry bread and jerky that Gun had provided. No one in the crew had invited her for a meal. Furthermore, she didn’t have the courage to go where she wasn’t invited. Thus, no one brought her food. After the crew’s meal was over, everything was relentlessly put away. The smell wafting through the air was so good that it nearly drove her mad. Rain’s strange experience that day made her shed tears.
Of course, she wasn’t alone. The great prince-to-be Gun was also by her side as he poured out all the curse words known to the developed world. After two days of this treatment, fear set in. If she didn’t take measures, Rain felt that she might really starve. At their current speed of movement, they would take at least another three months before arriving at the capital. Moreover, there were few villages or cities on the route that they set. Most of the time, they were camping, and the road was becoming more rugged.
What should she do to survive this trip? How should she solve this challenge? She couldn’t stoop so low as to ask the crew for food. Rain pondered her predicament seriously. Was it the right decision to travel with them even after receiving this degree of insult? Suddenly, she looked around her. Gun also had a worried expression. She knew that Gun had escort warriors secretly following behind them. She thought for a brief moment that it may be safe to travel with him if needed. However, Rain shook her head and cleared her thoughts. Separating from the crew and traveling with Gun was not choosing a lesser evil. It was the worst option. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be safe. Rain cleared her thoughts once more and looked at the two people in front of her.
‘Am I thinking they are stupid? Are my preconceived notions of them limiting my perspective?’
Rain laughed bluntly with sullen eyes. The uncommon behavior of the wise always has a reason. Suddenly, she remembered the image of Master Hanyoung, who laughed meaningfully as he sent her off on this journey. Rain hardened her expression as she came to a conclusion.
‘I don’t know what you two expect or want from me, but it probably isn’t something small. Regardless, I’m not the type of person that’ll give up so easily.’
The crew didn’t rush their travels. If nothing of note happened, they traveled for four days and took a day off. During that day off, they hunted and gathered edible plants. For the rest of the day, they would be busy with their education courses and combat training. It was a time for everyone to participate, and it was conducted in an incredibly pleasant manner. Except for the minor (?) problem of being very hungry, Rain enjoyed these activities as well.
After three days of distress, from hunger, Rain decided to find something she could do. She found something that she could do while maintaining her elegant, dignified, authoritative persona as a royal family member. Thus, she finally decided… to elegantly pick up dry tree branches!
That day, Rain secretly shed tears as she received her first meal. The price of the meals in this crew was more expensive than the dignity of the princess. Her pride was destroyed by her primal hunger. Rather than gratitude, anger suddenly rose up in her heart. Resentment and hatred seemed to grow out of nowhere.
‘How evil of these people to threaten someone with food!’
But Rain wasn’t given the chance for her hate to fill her heart. Just when she was starting to feel anger, Biyeon threw a word out to the crew members, “It is food that is provided from the blood, sweat, tears, and sincerity of your colleagues. Never forget that.”
“If you don’t eat everything on your plate, then don’t even think of eating the next meal,” San added on. Rain glanced at the meal in front of her. Suddenly, her eyes grew dim. There had never been a time when she looked at a man with such disgust. San had already finished eating and was burping.
So… Rain had to forgo the royal family’s custom of elegantly eating and discarding more than half of their food. She had to relearn her dining habits. Of course, she’d also have to get used to what came after eating such an abnormally large amount of food… but she pushed that thought to the back of her mind…
Even with all these differences and shocks, she couldn’t really hate San and Biyeon. No one, including the captains, was playing or fooling around. Crucially…
‘A person needs to eat three meals a day…’
Anyway, time passed. In that short period of time, one’s life may drastically change, altering many parts of a person forever. Once she overcame one hardship, the next adaptation process began. When Rain lowered her eye level and looked through the lens of the captains and crew, she began to see a very different world. Rain saw a new world, a world through the eyes of the participants. It was a perspective that she had never seen or thought about previously. She was observing the world from the group’s point of view.
‘Can such rough work be so fun? Was working always this enjoyable?’
There was a lot of work. Furthermore, most of the work had to be done in groups. Hunting, catching fish, setting up tents, digging ditches, lighting fires, washing utensils, organizing meals, preparing the ingredients…
Rain realized for the first time that this sort of outdoor work could be fun. She would have been surprised to learn that this sort of outdoor activity was considered a high-quality activity that only the rich could enjoy in the world San and Biyeon came from.
As the days passed, Rain got closer to the captains and crew without even knowing it herself.
It was dinner time. The entire crew was currently participating in an evening discussion session. It was an evening event held once every two days.
Rain also attended. She was a spectator this time around. She was a person familiar with discussions and discourse. She routinely discussed with the Empire’s top intellectuals and often came out of those discussions on top. Even she, who had this wealth of experience, made sure to attend these evening discussion events. The four others from the Ki-Jang and Dong-Myung Clan were also in attendance.
The intense discussion had just ended. The discussion sessions were always interesting and heated. When she attended the first discussion, Rain was terrified by the level of naked, contentious remarks that were thrown out willy-nilly in the debates. However, once she got used to the environment, she started becoming more interested in the content of the debate and the captains’ unique approach…
Finally, at the end of one discussion topic, Biyeon took the lead and started to explain the topic for the next discussion. Biyeon’s words were always a little more special and important than the actual discussion and debates. Her words were more of an education lecture than a discussion. It was like a case study. This was also the time that Rain was most excited about.
“Somewhere there was a large cave where jewels and gold were piled up. There were so much silver, gold, and treasures there that a person could spend his/her whole lifetime spending money and not even dent the overall amount.”
The crew was listening to her story intently with their eyes wide open.
“Are we…… are we going there now?” Raron asked, a former merchant. Laughter burst out from every corner of the audience.
“Everyone is going there except you. And… if you talk while I’m talking one more time, I’ll make sure that you visit a better place… do you want to try me?” Biyeon smiled and replied. Raron shrugged unconfidently. The laughter grew a little louder. Rain swallowed her laughter too. This was a very familiar scene.
“This parable is an adaptation of a true story in the world where I came from. So, I hope you listen carefully and think about what I say,” Biyeon said before continuing her story.
“Three people started towards a cave. They started at the same time, and they were able to pack as many bags of treasure as they wanted, and no one would bother them while they packed.”
“The road to and from this cave was very long and rough. So, a person named “Byung” decided to give up his travels and settle down in the middle. However, the other two arrived at the cave after a long period of travel. They both had the same arrival time.”
“A man named ‘Gap’ brought a small pack. He picked only gold, filled it in his pocket, and left the cave first. However, ‘Eul’ had brought a very large pack. So, he was able to walk out of the cave with a lot of precious gems and treasures.”
Everyone quietly waited for her next words. Now was the time that Biyeon would throw out the main issue.
“Who was wiser? Why did you think so?”
Biyeon’s question was always open-ended with a wide berth for interpretation. It was always like this. The information provided in the story was scarce and the question was simple.
However, answering the question required a lot of imagination, creativity in thought, and logic. There was no right answer, just ones that made sense versus others that were banal. This was a new method of debate for Rain, as she had never confronted this form of discussion with other intellectuals of this era.
The crew murmured. People started to speak up and present their arguments. Most of the people leaned towards ‘Eul’ being the wisest among the three.
They argued that ‘Eul’ was rewarded for the danger he had to overcome. On the other hand, ‘Gap’ was seen as lacking in preparation and insight.
There were very few opinions in favor of ‘Gap’. Internally, Rain nodded. However, she had a bitter expression.
‘There are always some pitfalls, so it’s always fun to see the entire argument being flipped over to something previously inconceivable. What will happen in this story? It seems fairly straightforward…’
Biyeon smiled and said the next words, “’Gap’s’ load was light. He was able to get to the nearest outpost very quickly. That store was ‘Byung’s’ store. ‘Gap’ bought a horse there. He had to pay all the gold he had to buy the horse. Still, his payment wasn’t enough to cover for all the other supplies, so he borrowed from ‘Byung’ to resupply. “Gap’ then took off and rode away.”
There were coughs all over the place. The more observant crew caught the general sense of where the story was going and started whispering something to the person next to them.
Rain made a hoot inwardly. The tip of her nose started drifting upwards.
Biyeon continued her story, “The burden of carrying a heavy load was taking its toll on ‘Eul’. So, he was slow. On his way down from the cave, ‘Eul’ met ‘Gap’, who was riding a horse toward the cave again. When ‘Eul’ finally arrived at ‘Byung’s’ shop, ‘Gap’ had already made ten more round trips to the cave.”
People who understood this new revelation started snickering amongst themselves.