The Hated Male Concubine - Chapter 4.2
He was literally a mere guard. He wasn’t a child of a prestigious family like the other guards, nor was he a noble person with a bright future. In the imperial palace, he was nothing but a stone-like existence.
Even after Hwawoon woke up, wasn’t there was no one who spoke about that guard’s death until he asked? Hawoon’s death was truly a death in vain—nothing more, nothing less. It was like that until a moment ago.
Hawoon’s death should have meant nothing in the first place, because there was no one to retrieve his body. Because there was no one to remember him—remember the meaning of his existence—for a long time.
However, the Emperor—the majestic emperor of this empire—remembered Hawoon’s death.
His lips raised up. Even if it was only intended to scorn Hwawoon, the Emperor remembered that there was such a dead guard. With that—the emperor remembering an unknown guard’s death—alone, Hwawoon felt like he was saved.
Because that was a luxury for him. Because that was warming as much as saddening. Because he really liked the fact that the Emperor—whom he looked at while being mesmerized that day—was such a gentle and kind person.
Hwawoon cried like that for a long moment. It was a goodbye from him, who had become Hwawoon, to send off the short life of a man named Hawoon.
Ahjin was crouching her body in front of Hwawoon with a bewildered look. It was no surprise. Just a moment ago, Ahjin got a question from Hwawoon about how messed up the relationship between himself and His Majesty was.
When Ahjin turned deadly pale—trembling and couldn’t say anything, Hwawoon spoke again in a very calm voice.
“Ahjin. I didn’t ask to get angry or blame you. It’s just I can’t… I really can’t remember.”
“Judging by the attitude that His Majesty has shown me, it doesn’t seem like he found me to be unpleasant on a normal level.…”
Hwawoon’s eyes deepened.
Hawoon had also heard the rumor that if the emperor was Concubine Yeon, he would tremble out of disgust. It was so famous that it was often talked about—as an entertainment—at mealtimes of low-rank guards like Hawoon. And for that kind of rumor to be easily said by anyone, Concubine Yeon was a laughable existence in this imperial palace.
Of course, his father was a meritorious retainer and loyal servant who received the greatest trust and affection from the Emperor, so there were no subordinates who openly disregarded Concubine Yeon. But at least in everyone’s hearts, Concubine Yeon was someone who was not respected at all.
But even with that in mind, Hwawoon couldn’t help but be surprised when he saw the emperor. It was hard to find even the slightest respect for his concubine from the emperor’s attitude toward Hwawoon. The so cold gaze that he could feel even without making eye contact, the way he spoke as if he was regarding a commoner woman, and the way he didn’t even show a single word of concern even though Hwawoon was about to lose his life. All of that obviously showed that it wasn’t just a rumor that the emperor thought Hwawoon to be disgusting.
If it wasn’t like that, then why did his rank still ‘bin’ despite his father’s status? If the relationship between the emperor and Hwawoon had been normal, he would have already risen to the rank of ‘bi,’ and if he had been favored, it would be no wonder that he would aim for the position of ‘gwibi’ in the near future. Even so, Hwawoon still did not get any nicknames and stayed in the starting position as Yeon-bin.*
“Shouldn’t I know the situation, so I can know how I should act in front of His Majesty in the future? So tell me everything as it is, without adding or covering anything. Because whatever you say, I won’t blame or punish you.”
Ahjin swallowed her dried saliva. She wondered in suspicion if this was a test from her master to relieve his anger because he was hurt by His Majesty’s actions a while ago. It wasn’t only a day or two that she was slapped in the face after speaking the truth—without hesitation—because he said he wouldn’t get angry.
However, this time, her master spoke with deep eyes that she had never seen before.
“There is no one but you who I can believe in my current situation.”
“Looking closely, I can guess that I had been unreasonably cruel to you before, but Ahjin….”
The voice that was calling for ‘Ahjin,’ was so gentle that it couldn’t be dismissed as a lie. Ahjin’s master had never called her name so softly like this before. I heard that it is possible for a person who died and came back to life to be a completely different person. Ahjin was still catching her breath in a confused feeling, while Hwawoon continued his talk.
“So that I can correct what I did wrong even though it’s already late… I want you to help me.”
What makes a big difference to be deceived once more when I already had been deceived dozens of times before? In the end, Ahjin closed her eyes—tightly—once and began to speak.
* I’m sorry that I forgot there was a ranking system in this story. Previously I translated Yeon-bin as Concubine Yeon because no matter what the rank is, ‘bin’, ‘bi’, ‘gwibi’ it is ‘concubine’ in English. But now that I remember there are other concubines besides Hwawoon and there is one of them with a higher rank, I decided to change it to Yeon-bin from this point forward. And bin-bi-gwibi, that is the ranking of the concubines in order from low to high in this novel.