"What happened to the previous Samjang and Guardian?" she had asked.
"They carried out their duties amazingly well. So well in fact, they received an incredible reward and lived happily after," he had replied.
Somehow, that answer hadn't quite rung true for Jin Sun Mi. She didn't know why, but there was always a part of her that didn't believe it, but she had suspended the sliver of doubt to trust in Son Oh Gong instead.
After learning the truth about the circumstances of her birth, Sun Mi thought she would feel relieved about her past and her future. Yet she couldn't stop thinking about the White Heron guardian who had stood all alone as Sun Mi and Oh Gong were about to leave Lotus Village. Which was why she was back here with the Winter General at her side. She needed to find more answers to new questions.
Something about the somber way the White Heron gazed after her created a sense of uneasiness that spread through Sun Mi's heart. It remained like a mysterious weight on her chest.
Maybe it was because for Sun Mi, it was all too easy to picture her Oh Gong standing all alone. She never wanted to see his face make such a sorrowful expression. Fortunately for her, the Geumganggo would ensure such a thing would never happen no matter if she lived or died. He'd never feel that much sadness even if she died with that bracelet on.
Suddenly, a searing pain spread across her temple blinding her momentarily. An image of the White Heron staring out of the hospital window filled her mind. A flood of images poured into her head like a movie on fast forward. When Sun Mi could finally see her surroundings again, she exhaled as the pictures fit together like a puzzle giving her the answer she had needed.
"What's the matter?" Winter General asked her, appearing at her side.
Still reeling from her vision, Sun Mi didn't know where to look and focus. "The White Heron called us here. She had been waiting for something and led myself and Son Oh Gong here. She must have found what she had been waiting for and left, right? But I hadn't found anything so it must have been Son Oh Gong who did. Why didn't he tell me about it? I need to go back."
Winter General moved to block her. "Why don't you go down to the village?"
"I can't find her, right? He sent me here because he knows she's no longer present. What is he trying to do while I'm gone? I have to go back," Sun Mi said taking another step, her heart breaking.
Winter General stepped in front of her again. "I cannot let you do that."
Sun Mi appealed to the Winter General by trying to talk about Summer Fairy, how acting alone had not been the best idea for both of them. A sense of panic was rising in Sun Mi. What was that foolish monkey going to do now?
"If he's not going to tell me anything even if I go to him, then please take me to Elder Soo Bu Ri. There are things that I must do. So I must know what those things are," Sun Mi pleaded. Something urged her to hurry and move quickly.
# # #
After her meeting with Elder Soo Bu Ri, Sun Mi and Winter General rushed to the ritual grounds where the Black Dragon would be summoned.
They arrived at the water gate just as Ah Sa Nyeo pierced her hand to drop blood into the water. Immediately in response to the Ah Sa Nyeo's offering, the skies darkened and the clouds moved unnaturally fast.
As Ah Sa Nyeo spread her arms calling upon the Black Dragon, Sun Mi felt the ground tremble beneath her. She needed to act now.
"Stop this!" Sun Mi cried out stepping onto the water gate's platform. Winter General went after Ah Sa Nyeo, both of them vanishing into thin air leaving her and Kang Dae Sung alone.
Stepping closer to the sword, Sun Mi picked it up carefully. She heard Kang Dae Sang step near her and she brandished the weapon in front of her. "I told you that I would stop you, didn't I? You will never become the master of the dragon."
"That dragon of the sky chose me!" Kang Dae Sung countered.
"That's why I am stopping you. I am going to contain the dragon and get rid of it," Sun Mi replied. Her grip on the sword tightened as she recalled her meeting with Elder Soo Bu Ri.
"That Black Dragon cannot be defeated by just anyone, Samjang. If that were the case, there would be no need for a human to vanquish such an evil being. The Heavens would have sent our own warriors to fight it," the older god had said.
"Then why me? Why was I chosen?" Sun Mi had asked.
"There's nothing for you to gain. A world filled with humans like you won't come to be," Sun Mi said to Kang Dae Sung in the present. She turned away and ignored him as she prepared to cut her own hand.
"Don't you dare interfere!" Kang Dae Sung shouted as he grabbed the sword and stabbed her.
Pain blossomed in her stomach but she still managed to say to him, "You have brought destruction on yourself."
A great roar shook the ground as the waters turned dark. A great black spiral shot into the sky and Sun Mi couldn't help but gaze at the Black Dragon with a small smile, finally ready to fulfill her role. The Black Dragon's entire body exuded an evil aura as it approached the water gate.
Before it could get through the doorway, however, Son Oh Gong appeared and he held the sword up to stop the Black Dragon. It melted into the canyon until only its image remained. Son Oh Gong fell to his knees as he dropped the sword. He remained on the ground as he coughed up blood. Everything brightened again without the Black Dragon polluting the area.
The moment was short lived as the canyon walls began to tremble as the skies darkened once more. Sun Mi forced herself to get up and took a few steps towards Son Oh Gong.
Black tendrils of dark power started to seep out of the canyon wall and in a matter of minutes, the Black Dragon broke free of its trap with a mighty roar. Sun Mi's eyes widened as the Black Dragon headed once more for the water gate. Son Oh Gong was still collapsed on the ground, doubled over in pain from his previous encounter.
You are the most special human of all, Samjang. Only you can carry out this task.
Summoning the last bit of her strength, Sun Mi forced herself to move and she staggered over to Oh Gong to push him out of the way just as the Black Dragon broke through the doorway. All she could see was darkness as the Black Dragon coiled itself around her.
"JIN SUN MI!"
In a matter of moments, Sun Mi fell to the ground writhing in pain as the Black Dragon wreaked havoc within her body, all the evilness it contained tearing through the vessel that she was meant to be. Strong arms grabbed her body and she heard Oh Gong repeating her name over and over. She needed to just hold on a little longer. To say one last thing.
Sun Mi opened her eyes to find Oh Gong's wounded face staring down at her in anguish. They were no longer at the watergate but back at Sureumdong. Their surroundings lush with plant life, like she was in some magical forest. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the bridge where she first met Oh Gong again after so many years.
She reached up slowly and cradled his face, "Son Oh Gong, thank you for keeping your part of the contract. I kept my side as well. Truthfully, I really wished that your love wouldn’t vanish, but I’m okay with that due to the Geumganggo. I’m relieved that when you are the one left alone, your love for me won’t remain."
Then everything faded as Jin Sun Mi finally breathed her last.