Yeongshin tried not to give too much pressure on his bleeding left leg, but that just made walking without making a noise harder for him. He would forever tell anyone that it was because of that he was discovered by Seobi when he returned to the campsite and that he did not jump out of fright, thank you very much.
The physician just stood there, expression of displeasure clear in her eyes, “I thought Lord Chang had made it clear he didn't want to do anything to draw unnecessary attention?”
Yeongshin opened his mouth once and then just sighed while he continued limping towards the dying embers of the campfire. He tried to sit down very slowly but the pain was getting harder to ignore and it must have shown in his face because Seobi tsk’ed and finally moved to help him.
“Try to straighten it out without putting any weight on it,” she whispered before she left into her own tent to fetch her medical kits. When she was back, she immediately yanked up his pants and quickly patched him up.
“The magistrate’s house?” she asked simply, after his leg was properly wrapped up in bandage. Yeongshin nodded and pulled out a stack of documents from his outer jacket. He showed it to her who skimmed through the pages.
“Yeah, these are the right documents that show the magistrate really did conspire to hide the fact there were infected people in his area,” Seobi said. “It’s even said here that he burned the bodies but he didn't actually do anything else to treat the sick. How do you know which papers to grab?”
Yeongshin pulled a little straw toy from his pocket. He threw the toy into the campfire and watched it catch fire. “I showed him how easy it was for me to sneak into his only son’s room and how quick I could slash his neck before he could even scream. It was a lie, of course, and that toy wasn’t even the boy’s but he complied and showed me himself.”
“You threatened him with his own son,” Seobi’s disapproval was clear but Yeongshin only shrugged.
“I did also tell him that his wife and son will be spared because he cooperated but the bastard actually unleashed his guards on me afterward, if it makes you feel any better,” Yeongshin tried to stand but the pain flared up again. He winced but he pushed through.
“It doesn’t, actually. You’re still injured, I can't really feel happy about that. How did you escape then?”
“Tricked them into chasing me to the hills before I turned and went back here. You should show that to His Highness, soon,” Yeongshin had made sure his tracks were untraceable, but extra precautions would not hurt anyone. “He’s going to need it as proof to rally forces here and round up the magister. I’ll prepare the horses for us to get away.”
Seobi made for Lee Chang’s tent but then turned around, “Why don't you tell him yourself? You’re the one who got it for him.” The tiger hunter stopped and Seobi could see his hesitance before he even said,
“I disobeyed him.”
“Yes, but for his sake,” Seobi insisted. “I think he will certainly overlook this in favor of what you’ve done. Come with me, Yeongshin. We can present this together.”
Yeongshin paused for a moment and Seobi thought he would agree with her, but Yeongshin shook his head. “You do it, I can’t read what’s in it anyway. It’ll be better if it is you who are counseling with him.”
Before Seobi could argue further, Yeongshin had busied himself with the horses and she knew they really didn't have much time before the magistrate’s guards realized they were chasing nothing and went back, so she announced herself into Lee Chang’s tent and entered.
Really, she thought, Yeongshin should stop putting himself down. She knew how much the former prince trusted Yeongshin, his protection and his insight as well. The prince valued loyalty very much and between the two of them, Yeongshin had the most of it, if his way of still calling Lee Chang ‘his highness’ was any indication.
They were both careful when there were other people and simply called Lee Chang ‘my lord’, but just like now, Yeongshin would sometimes forget and called him ‘His Highness’. The tiger hunter swore his loyalty to Lee Chang only and no one else. Yeongshin acknowledged one King and it was certainly not the one in the Hanyang Palace.
It was a treasonous thought.
It was a dangerous thought.
It was a lovely thought.
Lee Chang’s face after Seobi explained the documents and how it was acquired was that of worry.
“So Yeongshin did this? And he went alone?” he said.
Seobi answered yes and the former prince was silent for a while.
He sighed. “I didn’t ask him of this,” he said softly. “Please tell me he’s okay, at least.”
Seobi nodded, “A slash on his leg, but otherwise he’s going to be okay, my lord.”
Lee Chang exhaled and gave her a nod, “Very well. We should prepare, we’ll leave in ten minutes.”
Seobi bowed and waited until Lee Chang exited his tent before she followed. She caught from the corner of her eyes how the former prince strode to where Yeongshin was.
The tiger hunter looked like he was about to receive a harsh sentence and stood rigidly while gripping his musket rope. Lee Chang’s back was to her but she could still see Yeongshin’s face, the way it went from nervous and anxious into one of surprise when Lee Chang grabbed one of his shoulders and then morphed again into blatant admiration and affection before Yeongshin quickly averted his eyes down.
Lee Chang seemed done saying whatever he needed at Yeongshin. He then went back to his tent to take his sword but Seobi witnessed how Yeongshin’s eyes followed him, how it trailed every step with longing strong enough to slice through her own ribs. Seobi exhaled a shaky breath with this new revelation.
Yeongshin only ever bowed to one king.
Yeongshin only ever loved one king.
And he would do whatever it took for his king.