Watch Damdeok episode 71 if you haven’t. People with the same blood meet on the same table eventually. Either talk it out man to man or duke it out.
Doyeong meets Damdeok face to face one more time
The barbarians are coming. The barbarians are coming
Guiding a hidden stranger inside Damdeok’s office, Yeon Salta and Seol Ji call for the king’s attention.
The stranger, with an elaborate black hat, removes the veil obstructing the face and reveals herself.
Looking up and feeling its eyes failing, Damdeok stands up, and slowly makes his way to her, calling out the visitor’s name.
Immediately grabbing onto her hands, like in days past, Damdeok attempts pulling them closer only for Doyeong’s fingers to pull away in a seeming rejection.
Is she not here to stay?
Ignoring this personal moment, Damdeok’s first love begins relaying her newfound intel: Baekje is involving the foreigners Dongjin and Houyan in the fight against Goguryeo. He must prevent these outsiders from infesting the land and hurting the people. No, save the innocent from the claws of war.
The king agrees to her wishes without much thought, to which she adds:
Please keep your promise this time.
Saying what she had to say, Doyeong makes towards the exit but the king of Goguryeo wants his first queen back. There is no reason to leave, he explains, he will achieve it all:
- Protect Doyeong.
- and save the land.
Doyeong isn’t budging though. To save her, he must save the people first, with whom she’ll dwell with from now on.
Kill the enemy right away once he cries for help
Calling forth his military leaders that night, Damdeok informs them the need to conquer Baekje as soon as possible.
Why? Two more enemy nations are likely to join the war.
Houyan is one thing but if Asin also manages to bring the armies of Dongjin, the strongest nation of the Central Plain, then Goguryeo will indeed have a steep hill to climb.
With a higher sense of urgency, Ha Muji then meets his subordinate, Chongmyeong, and gives him a secret mission: deliver an important letter.
You may hate someone but don’t prevent others from seeing him/her
Meanwhile on the trip back, soldiers arrest Wonbong and lady Doyeong at a checkpoint outside Wiryeseong.
Taking her inside the royal office to join the tied Murong Un, Asin demands an explanation for meeting the Goguryeo king. Doyeong simply asked Damdeok to stop the foreigners from stepping foot on the land. She tried the same with the Baekje king earlier but he wouldn’t listen.
If that is betrayal and being a spy, I won’t deny it. A lying friend is worse than an enemy. They will help Baekje now but they will keep the people and try to take this land. How can you not know that?
Feeling betrayed and no longer trusting the Ko family, the Baekje king sends both to their quarters to be confined.
The words of a prisoner damage you in ways you can’t imagine
Spill the beans or have a taste of a snake by-product
At the Wiryeseong prison, Baekje tortures the captured general Mo Duru and Gal Samu but neither divulge anything. Taking things into his hands, Bu Yeohong shows up with special poison to make skin rot. Seeing the slow death coming to Mo Duru, the subordinate agrees to sing in exchange for sparing their lives.
Bu Yeohong agreeing, Gal Samu discloses a secret passageway Goguryeo will use to retake Gwanmiseong. Apparently, it was built in the chance they lost the impregnable fortress.
Tempers flare when your actions produce nothing visible
Back at Heunganseong, word reaches the Goguryeo generals the failed takeover at Gwanmiseong. Hae Mowol doesn’t understand how their secret could have been discovered and suspects Mo Duru talked.
Ha Muji then sends a small Cheongun unit to burn the Baekje fleet but once again their plan is foiled.
Nothing working, the generals are visibly frustrated and even Hae Mowol asks the military strategist, whose eyes are closed:
How can our plans keep failing? Shouldn’t you come up with measures?
Yeo Seokgae suggests going directly for the capital with a full scale attack but Ha Muji quickly yells it isn’t time yet.
Damdeok then steps in and decides to meet Asin instead. If he refuses to surrender, they will go with Yeo’s plan right away.
The Goguryeo-Baekje talks begin
Peace talks are meant to delay further aggressions
Hearing of the meeting request, the Baekje leaders try convincing the Baekje king not to agree to it especially when they are at an advantage.
- Goguryeo lacks any water route.
- Goguryeo is struggling to recover Gwanmiseong.
- Goguryeo is just stalling.
However, Asin is too concerned with Doyeong’s earlier words of the people not wanting war and ultimately agrees to meet Goguryeo.
Why: the one question that defines you
Next day, both forces meet at a temporary tent near the border. Right away Damdeok asks what is the point of fighting.
To win and have the rights of a victor.
If Baekje wins, Damdeok explains, they’ll have to deal with the Dongjin and Houyan forces afterwards, whom they are freely welcoming into the land. Of course they’ll help to vanquish Goguryeo but they’re not helping from the bottom of their hearts. They’ll turn on Baekje and take what they want.
How does he explain Mohe and Biryeo? It was in their best interests to join Goguryeo to survive and gain independence.
If you achieve victory with their help, you will lose more than you gain… Goguryeo and Baekje share the same blood. Can’t you distinguish a friend and an enemy?
Hearing these last words, they ring in Asin’s ears as it resembles Doyeong’s own words.
Pushing forward, Damdeok lays out his reason for fighting: bring both peoples together and expand into the Central Plains.
He last leaves Asin with a challenge: fight and win with his own strength.
Goguryeo versus Baekje: The real fight begins
3 point attack: The hidden plan to achieve victory
Back at the Heunganseong command center, Ha Muji announces the playing around is over and unveils his concealed strategy.
- The groundwork: Chongmyeong sent Mo Duru & Gal Samu a message to purposefully leak information. They aren’t traitors at all. The failed attacks were part of the plan.
- The Greater Plan: Everything set, Goguryeo will now attack at once:
What held this plan back was the needed preparation. The peace talks gave them time to move soldiers in position at Horogoruseong and ships to Jangsagot.
The Goguryeo generals can only watch in awe at this long unfolding scheme.
Baekje plan: Forcing the enemy to march from one direction
Returning back to the capital, Asin immediately calls off all requests for reinforcements from Dongjin and Houyan. The generals don’t agree but they realize no reasoning will dissuade the king on this issue.
Forced in removing the option for backup, Bu Yeohong moves on and explains Baekje’s plan of attack.
- From Gwanmiseong & Hyeolgu, Baekje’s fleet of ships will block water routes: They will prevent Goguryeo boats from sailing by the Hansu river1 and attacking the capital. This is the reason Damdeok wanted Gwanmiseong.
- The Byeonggawanjwapyeong will lead half of Baekje forces to Horogoruseong: Unable to use naval strategies, this is the only reasonable place Damdeok can attack from. Moreso since cavalry units can easily cross the Chiljingha upstream river.
The full scale war begins & nears its completion
With everyone on high alert, Baekje soldiers near the coast of Gwanmiseong are first to spot enemy ships. Not only that, but the king of Goguryeo is on board leading the attack in his standard golden armor.
This report throws a monkey wrench to Baekje’s whole plan. Wasn’t Horogoruseong the only place Goguryeo could come from? Bu Yeohong is confused himself as he tries to grasp this new development.
If Damdeok is personally coming that way, Asin figures it’s best to face him head on at Gwanmiseong. Scrambling soldiers from the capital, the king sends the other half of his army west to join Jang Gongsan.
Right away, Wiryeseong forms fire signals for the Byeonggawanjwapyeong to return with his large army because the capital is down to low numbers of troops.
However, the Byeonggawanjwapyeong reports back with news that the Goguryeo king, in golden armor, is here now with an army at Horogoruseong, as the military advisor predicted.
How can Damdeok be in two different locations?
The trickery unveils itself when they realize the men in golden armor and its armies elsewhere were ploys meant to divide the Baekje army and leave Wiryeseong defenseless.
As Asin rushes to the top of the fortress’ wall, he swallows his saliva and stares at the large Goguryeo army by his footsteps.
The real Damdeok is here!
The Hansu river is known in modern Korea as Hangang. ↩︎