"Eunuch Han," the Queen called. It had been a week since the last time I saw the Queen when she requested to be alone with the King. I was called by the Queen's court lady that morning and when I had arrived, Eunuch Han was also present.
"Yes, Your Royal Highness?"
"Still no news of the Crown Prince?" The Queen asked from behind the curtains. I could see by her silhouette that she was sitting on the end of the King's bed.
"His Highness had departed from the North Border's camps three days ago and should have arrived this morning but due to the storm, I'm afraid, he will only arrive the earliest – tomorrow morning. His Highness is taking more time due to the storm, Your Royal Highness," Eunuch Han reported.
"We don't have much time," the Queen said weakly. She stepped out from behind the curtains. She looked paled and lost some weight but her aristocratic aura was still there.
She instructed Eunuch Han to leave and said, "I'm going to the Main Hall to," she paused and looked at the front door, "... 'entertain' those ministers. They might already come up with thousands of plans for the Crown Prince." She looked annoyed for a second then dismissed it with a sarcastic smile that made her frail look just then washed away and changed into more reserved but unreadable facade.
"Stay here," she said. "Look after the King for a while," she looked at the direction where the King was and then quickly left the room.
I sat closer to the King's bed but didn't dare to pass the curtains so I just examined him from behind the curtains.
It was already past dusk, the Queen took longer than I thought, I was thinking what would the ministers discussed with the Queen. Since the Crown Prince was not in the Palace, the Queen was next in the hierarchy; and the ministers had been noisy since the Crown Prince left the Palace.
I didn't notice I had fallen asleep when I heard the King called for someone. I rushed to his side.
"Your Majesty, it's me, the Crown Princess," I said.
"Where is the Crown Prince?" He said each word one by one using all the strength he had left.
"His Highness is not here yet, he's still on his way from the North Border," I said. The Majesty was stretching his hand out so I took it.
"Crown Princess, hear my will," the King said and I was stumped for words. I looked at the front door and hoped the Queen arrived at that time but she was not there and I knew the King has limited time. I didn't want to take the last moments that the Queen wished for but I couldn't just refused the King's wishes. So I just said yes.
"Tell the... Crown Prince to rule... this nation... better than me," he tightened his grip on my hand then the next words were for me, "Take care of him," he said then he let go. His chest went up and down rapidly.
"Eunuch Song," I called. "Eunuch Song!" The King took his last breath and suddenly it was silent and he looked at peace.
Eunuch Song ran inside the room followed by the Royal Physician. He ran to the King's side and panicked. The Royal Physician took the King's hand and checked his pulse then his face was grim and shook his head as he looked at me.
The King has gone.