"A saintly women from the east... who defends the weak and vanquishes the wicked.”
In a distant eastern kingdom stood a towering castle named Kirin. One fateful day, the castle’s walls were engulfed by fauna. The noble families discussed this in passing. but then, a shadow eclipsed the moon, and light illuminated a patch of the nearby forest. Meanwhile, a delicate fragrance wafted out from the forest, surrounding and swirling around the castle. Seeing these occurrences as an omen, the kingdom’s noble families started to discuss their nation’s possible fortunes.
One well-reputed scholars declared, “This is the fragrance of an orchid. The noble scent is like having a beloved orchid in the room. Even though 6 days have passed, this fragrance hasn’t vanished from the nearby village. Isn’t this an omen worth a thousand pieces of gold?”
Hearing these words, the King ordered his soldiers to find the fragrance’s source without harming it.
The soldiers searched across several paths, until they discovered an enormous orchid.
Under this orchid lay a crying baby, who was as beautiful as the flower itself, swaddled in cloth.
The lush fragrance did not disappear after several days. Rumors spread that the baby was a descendent of the orchids, meant to be a blessing for the kingdom. The kingdom’s people rejoiced and even the King, known for his cruelty, vowed to raise the baby as a protector of the kingdom.
The child displayed extraordinary potential, and many of the kingdom's martial artists wished to teach her. However, the King prevented her from receiving lessons in the martial arts.
Instead, she was taught to perform ceremonial sword dances and religious rites. While she performed these with grace and beauty, she was still unable to learn the martial arts. Nevertheless, she was able to strengthen her mind under the tutelage of many great scholars.
As the years went by, the child reached the age of 16, and soon she began to dispense advice regarding the kingdom’s future. Her goal was to put the kingdom back on the right path. The peasants came to love her for her deeds. However, as she shone brighter, a dark shadow was cast on the other side. A treacherous man, who rose to his position as an advisor through wicked intrigue and brown-nosing.
The treacherous advisor whispered to the King, “I have always been a loyal subject of the kingdom. But this wildflower, who you raised in pity, now tries to usurp your authority. Isn’t this an act of betrayal?”
The King, who had only taken in the child to win over the hearts of the people, unexpectedly felt fear from the way people viewed her. He ordered her imprisoned in a villa and only allowed her to perform religious rites.
Time passed for the imprisoned girl, until one day a man climbed over the stone walls of her prison.
This man introduced himself as Yeung Reung-Hyang, the greatest martial artist master of the kingdom, and told her, “You have great potential. Everyone can see it by the way you captivate people with your beautiful dance. Isn’t it a waste if you are stuck here just studying?” She could only nod at the man’s words. The man gifted her a long durable cloth to prevent her long hair from getting in the way, and soon, the two began to train in secret. The girl was intelligent and gifted. She quickly rivaled her teacher, and as they trained together, their abilities improved.
As the girl grew older, she developed into a graceful and wise woman. The people loved her more than ever. Meanwhile, Yeung Reung-Hyang became a hero of the kingdom through his military achievements. During that time, the King grew increasingly jealous as he was fooled by the whispers of the treacherous advisor. He obsessed over how to banish the woman from the kingdom without gaining more resentment from his subjects.
Sometime later, the treacherous advisor told the King, “That woman has a snake’s tongue that she uses to confuse the people, and I worry that she may try to take your throne. You can silence her by ordering her to capture the impregnable castle, Eshi. If you were to put that Yeong Reung-Hyang alongside her with the vanguard, then wouldn’t all the sparks of the rebellion be extinguished? If you do this, then all your troubles will disappear.”
The kingdom had tried for many years to capture Eshi castle.
Yeung Reung-Hyang, his student, his soldiers, and the vanguard immediately marched towards the castle. He was suspicious at the lack of support, but could not go against the King’s orders. However, he believed that with the woman by their side, they would return home alive even if they were sent to die. This faith came from knowledge no one else had, his student’s skill in martial arts.
After marching for 6 days, there was still no sign of Eshi castle.
Eventually, they arrived in a vast field of reeds that swayed in the wind like the waves of the ocean, and then the vanguard turned their spears toward the woman.
Only then did Yeong Reung-Hyang realize that this had been a trap.
How could he have known that their fellow comrades would raise their weapons against them?
The vanguard had been drugged not to fear even the kingdom’s hero.
Before his eyes, the vanguard and his soldiers fought, spilling each other’s blood. Yeong Reung-Hyang wept in sorrow, but grabbed the weapons of his fallen soldiers and fought back.
Yet, they could not win against so many.
Yeung Reung-Hyang was ready to accept death as a hundred men rushed towards him.
But then, a Crescent Pendulum struck down the on-coming soldiers.
It was his student, she had used the cloth he had given her all those years back to link a sword with a pendulum. Using this strange new weapon, she cut down the soldiers in a beautiful display of martial arts.
She had kept this skill a secret, as Yeung Reung-Hyang had never seen such a display before.
He couldn’t help but wonder, just how long had she trained by herself?
After briefly watching, he leapt back into the bloody battle to fight alongside her.
Hours later, all the enemies were dead. The once swaying reeds had been scattered and the field was scarred by battle, but the surroundings were calmed by fragrance of an orchid.
Yeung Reung-Hyang leaned heavily on his sword. As he struggled to breathe, he rasped, “Leave this place and go west. If you were to return to the kingdom, there would only be meaningless bloodshed. But if you keep growing stronger, then maybe you can return home one day?”
The woman couldn’t understand his words and reached out to grab his hand. Only for him to shake it off and reveal the tip of the blade that had pierced through his chest.
Now she understood, and her eyes began to fill with tears.
“What are you so sad about? My spirit will never leave you, so don’t be afraid.”
With those final words, Yeong Reung-Hyang closed his eyes in her arms. His attempts to stop them from going into battle flashed before her eyes. She had decided to go into battle following the convictions she had learned as a child, but the price had been too high.
After burying him, the guilt she felt prevented her from leaving his grave.
She then came to a sudden realization as she thought back into her past. The days she mingled with the peasants she protected and the days locked in the villa. She realized she couldn’t be like the wise-men that wrote the books she studied, nor could she achieve her dream without strength.
This realization had come at the cost of losing the person she valued the most.
She made a vow.
To travel the world and return once she had obtained the power she needed.
“I will become the defender of the weak and vanquisher of the wicked.”