The King And The Thief (Continued)

Image by Yuri_B from Pixabay

This is the second portion of the story. The first portion is here.

Jang sees the posts everywhere in the city and wonders if he should take the challenge. There’s the risk, but there’s also “the #1 thief” reputation he wants to defend. He concocts several plans: He can change the two royal clocks in the palace to make them one hour too fast–the royal guards think it’s already 8AM Monday deadline and would stop their vigilance. That will leave him one hour to steal the jewelry. The second plan is to send his assistant and apprentice Mopu to be a decoy. Mopu would pretend to come to steal the jewelry, but only to lead the royal guards on a chase of no consequence, while Jang would swoop in and snatch the ultimate prize. The third plan is to donate several basket of homemade durian wine to the palace during the monthly “water and light” holiday, which falls just two days before his deadline. It’s a mini-festival that recurs every month, when people would refrain from food for a day but not from drinks. They would spray water on each other and float candle lights everywhere, especially on water. The durian wine is usually shared among everybody in the royal household and it would put everybody into sleep, especially when they drink wine with an empty stomach.

Jang opts for the 3rd plan and it is executed to perfection. The royal household, including the guards, are all put to sound sleep and Jang obtains the prized jewelry without much physical exertion.

When King Krungi wakes up and gathers his officials, Jang promptly presents his nightly achievements–he has successfully defended his title. However the King is not amused or impressed. Actually the King is so angry that he forgets about his promise of immunity to Jang. Thus Jang is swiftly captured and thrown in jail.

The King and Jang start an negotiation. Jang donates the fortune he has accumulated–he did gather a vast fortune through his thievery–and the King agrees to reduce his prison time to two years. The two years are not easy for Jang. Losing his freedom, especially his rights to roam the city, is hard for him. He cries about it more than he cries for the pause of his thief career and his loss of fortune.

One day just about one year into his jail time, suddenly the guards all flee and the prison doors are all unlocked. The next thing he knows, he’s on the street again. “What’s going on? What has happened? Why am I free?” He asks a street vendor, who tells him that the royal family has fled to neighboring countries and the revolution, which has been rumored for years, just happens right in front of his eyes.

The revolutionary justice is swift and frightening–people above certain income level are all beheaded. Jang is spared because he is penniless–the former King stripped him of his property. Just as Jang is feeling euphoria about this, he meets Mopu, his former assistant and disciple. When Mopu was ten, he became an orphan and wandered the street as a homeless. Jang took him in and used him as an assistant, often beating him up when he’s disobedient.

After Jang went to jail, Mopu had nowhere to go–so he joined the revolutionary force. His revolutionary enthusiasm as a reckless youth has helped him rise quickly from a foot soldier to the head of a thousand men. Mopu is only 17 years old.

“General Mopu, I’d like to be your servant.” Jang says, with a smile aiming to flatter and disarm.

“Thief Jang, you turned under-aged boys into thieves and you used to beat me up. You need to pay for your crime.” Mopu says.

“I already paid for my crime. All my money was taken away and …” Jang whines.

“Well… we are revolutionaries. We have new ways to make people contribute to the community while paying for their past deeds.” Mopu says. “You are assigned to work in the former royal museum, now called the revolutionary museum, to exhibit all your thieving techniques and teach people how to avoid thieves.”

So Jang becomes the museum employee to work in the section that displays histories, photos, tools–all related with stealing. The first day seems to go well, but towards the end, two visitors recognize him as a person who stole from them before. They throw rotten fruits at Jang. The news spread and his presence in the museum becomes a common knowledge. More people come to the museum to abuse Jang. One particular bad day, a mob of people comes in and beats Jang up.

As he lies on the museum floor bleeding, a voice comes to comfort him and a warm towel wipes his bloody forehead clean. It’s Bansu, who used to be in charge of the King’s library. He is one of the cleaning crew now for the museum, and he comes to sweep the floor and clean up the mess. Bansu used to be very arrogant and haughty, but now he takes whatever jobs coming his way.

“We have to escape from here.” Bansu says.

“True. Let’s escape.” Jan says.

“Since the revolution, the borders are all sealed up.” Bansu says.

“But I know a mountain and a forest that can still be crossed if we bribe a guide to take us.” Jang says.

Jang still has some hidden treasure in a cave and Bansu buried a pot of silver coins outside of the former royal garden, now the revolutionary garden. They form a team and start their journey in pursuit of a new life.

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