Bayan Khutugh was not a kind woman.
She didn’t harbor any personal deep hating grudge against people. Despite what her new court lady Seo tried to convince her of Khutugh just didn’t care enough to actually hate and be jealous of Lady Ki. That didn’t stop her from having a little fun of course. The look of panic and fury on Ki’s face as she looked and searched for her baby’s attempted-poisoner was too good to pass up. It filled Khutugh with a sick joy that she could only ever garner from seeing the struggle and helplessness of the creatures around her.
Tal Tal had scolded her but that meeting only served to fuel Khutugh’s amusement. Her brother was so serious, such a stick in the mud. Or maybe it was a stick up his ass? Either way he was such a stoic and emotionless man it was always a joy to rile him up. It also didn’t escape Khutugh’s attention of Tal Tal’s more than friendly affections he seemed to harbor for Lady Ki. It wasn’t obvious but as his sister Khutugh was a good judge of her brother’s character. And to her it was so very obvious his trainee-turned-consort held a place in his heart. It was a surprise though, for Khutugh didn’t think she would ever see the day any woman would be worthy of capturing her brother’s heart to fully.
Another man in her life who offered her amusement was her estranged-husband. The Emperor was such a naive little thing. He acted headstrong and decisive but he was just a pushover in the end. To his mother, to his court, to his late-regent, and even to his favorite whom he followed around like a lost puppy. It was honestly very cute in Khutugh’s opinion. The Emperor was nothing more than a blind baby bird when it came to Lady Ki (again this woman surprises her) and he is lead by her so easily sometimes Khutugh has to wonder if Ki is more devious than she let on. Perhaps they were two of the same kind? The idea was interesting but Khutugh wasn’t ready to share her amusements with anyone else. Luckily Lady Ki turned out to be a very genuine person, though even Khutugh (who had only been in the Inner Court for such a short time) could see Ki’s time in the palace had darkened and hardened her. Perhaps Ki had once been a kinder woman but she had been finely grated down to a sharp point: cruel and unforgiving. It gave Khutugh the giggles.
Playing with people had always been Khutugh’s favorite past time. Her brother, her uncle, her husband, her hand maids, all were equal ground for messing with. She wasn’t born with a heart Tal Tal sometimes tells her and she agrees readily even if her brother doesn’t mean those words. She believes them though because she knows herself better than anyone else. She knows she isn’t a good person but because of that fact she doesn’t care enough to change that fact. The feelings of those around her don’t matter except in fueling her amusement. Games and fun and manipulation are all that make her life interesting and she’ll be damned if some idiot’s morals got in the way. She wanted to have fun ! And people were so funny when their faces crumped in grief and pain and anger.
However, Khutugh began to discover that these rules so fundamental to her life didn’t not apply to one person. For some reason the idea of ruining Lady Ki was rather unfavorable. Perhaps it was because Ki was almost like her but not quite. Two sides of the same coin. There was something to Ki’s gray character that kept her from falling completely into the dark. Greed and power, these things moved Ki but they did not drive her like it did anyone else. It was fascinating to Khutugh as she continued to watch Ki over her stay at the palace. Her strange determination and bravery and strategy. Oh yes. Not only was her Lady Ki an enigma in personality and character but she was also intelligent. Smart enough to match wits with Khutugh in a way only Tal Tal could only occasionally do. An intelligence to match her own. Lady Ki was perfect. Suddenly her brother and husband’s obsession with this seemingly insignificant Goryeo girl made so much sense . This was a vengeful goddess in the body of a mortal who did not know the power she held beneath her fingertips. Khutugh found herself enamoured .
Eventually, while Khutugh still found playing with the lives of people around her fun, her new favorite pastime became observing her new goddess. Even the way Ki tread across the ground was graceful and full of haughty royalness, Khutugh almost regret taking the spot of Empress from the beauty. This untouchable aura exuded from Ki was enough to draw the eye of all who pass her, high and low in status, despite her origin of dirty blood. Khutugh didn’t care about blood though. To her all humans where the same, whether they were a King or a slave. Both squealed the same when faced with pain and adversity and blood did not change that. All were equal in Khutugh’s eyes and how ironically amusing was that? The monster she was was the only one capable of judging the world fairly.
The Empress Dowager annoyed Khutugh. The older woman, while graceful and strong, was not of the same material as her Lady Ki. Both were headstrong and strong women but the difference was astounding. Dowager did not possess all the fiery passion and fury that seemed to embody the calm form of Ki. Dowager was smart but the Chief courtesan was able to run circles around her head for days. In Khutugh’s view Lady Ki was everything Dowager was and more and it grated on her nerves that the elder Empress would dare talk down on her goddess. How petty all the talk of dirty blood. Goryeo or not, Ki was so much more than Empress Dowager would ever be. Khutugh wanted to hurt the woman. And unlike Ki, Dowager was incapable of seeing past Khutugh’s mask in the was Tal Tal took years to uncover and Ki instinctively knew to suspect. It was such a joy that her Ki could see Khutugh’s real face. It was refreshing and filled Khutugh’s heart with a feeling that was close to love but not quite (for she wasn’t capable of that emotion).
It always made Khutugh laugh when she thought of her wedding night. It was before she saw Lady Ki for the goddess she was. That night she had told the Emperor that if he cherished Lady Ki so much than Khutugh would cherish Lady Ki the same. Empty words at the time had grown into something so much more than Khutugh could have ever believed. Lady Ki wasn’t just a toy in the her court. She was perfect in everyway. Khutugh both wanted to break that unbreakable and beautiful spirit as well as nourish and protect its strength. Lady Ki was hers. Khutugh’s to own and possess. No Emperor’s claim could ever change that. Ki was hers and hers alone. Just as the great Genghis Khan claimed the land beneath their feet, Lady Ki belonged to Khutugh and one day she would have her. Whether Ki wanted it or not.