Watch Damdeok, the Great episode 81 if you haven’t. When a leader can’t cut it anymore, you don’t wait. You oust them before it’s too late.
Shifting Houyan’s political power to survive
Going after the right hand
The time for change is now. The country won’t go down if Murong Xi has anything to say about it, to which he later informs Murong Un.
Privately inquiring about any suspicious activities before making a move, Taiqi reports how Fengba pushed the Emperor to contain his growing power and questions if the recent public notice isn’t part of a trap.
The ex-prince can’t believe it exclaiming,
He’s always getting in my way and orders a secret assassination to remove that thorn from his side.
That nightfall while Fengba strolls the streets, masked men jump from the shadows and attack. As the assassins finally manage to disable the target with chains, Wonbong appears out of nowhere and rushes to rescue the Emperor’s confidant.
The failed assassination eventually is made known to Murong Un who wants an explanation. They both had agreed earlier to act normal. Xi initially tries denying the truth but sees no point and regrets not telling his partner. However, Murong Un won’t let this go. Doesn’t he know that if Fengba dies, he would be the first suspect which would ruin their coup? He’s only lucky Wonbong was keeping tabs on Fenbga at Murong Un’s command.
A failed trap heightens a rat’s awareness
The target isn’t so forgiving of last night’s events though. Next day Fengba pushes his master to fear Murong Xi despite losing his royal status:
- There’s no proof but his brother could be stirring the people by posting notices.
- The army & court ministers continue looking to him for advice.
- The population is slowly beginning to take the side of the ousted prince and thereby reducing any resistance to the idea of a new king.
- Someone tried to undermine Murong Bao’s power by going after Fengba. There’s only one person who would dare.
His brother needs to leave the palace to quell all controversies.
When Murong Xi arrives, the emperor tosses a red scroll on the table and orders him to read the latest update from the frontier. Beiwei has made progress against Houyan, taking five fortresses near the border and causing extensive damage. Apparently, they’re using an advance and retreat strategy. Nevertheless, Murong Xi is tasked with traveling and putting an end to the crisis.
Murong Bao’s brother agrees but doesn’t like it one bit. Going away to the north will detract the takeover and so must now accelerate their plans.
Replicating a gown can land you in trouble
While Xi looked over the letter, Fengba noticed an injury on Taiqi’s face, a similar cut he inflicted on one of the assassins during the struggle. He’s further convinced it was him but needs more proof.
Going to a house mentioned by an errand “boy”, he searches for solid evidence and what does he find? A golden gown fit for a king. Interrogating the one who tipped them, he learns Xi is indeed meant to wear the clothing. What reason is there for anyone to duplicate an emperor’s clothing unless they have insidious thoughts?
Rushing back to the palace to relay this new finding, Murong Bao rages with anger and orders his arrest. This is nothing but treason!
The letter with deadly allure
Quickly, a patrol unit searches the traitor’s house yet finds no one. Fengba, however, discovers a letter on the table that reads:
Princess Damju should have sent you a letter. I am in a bind and won’t be able to live if I stay in Houyan. I am asking the king of Goguryeo for help. I will become the new emperor and seek peace with Goguryeo.
Murong Bao goes ballistic when he reads this. This is ironclad proof. What more is needed than words of admission in the rebel’s own writing.
To ensure a tight case, he wants the gown witness brought in but he has already disappeared. Little do they know that he works for Goguryeo and has left for Gungnaeseong.
Fengba suspects princess Damju helped him run away. Not able to take it anymore, the Houyan emperor rushes to interrogate his wife at her quarters but upon entering, meets an empty room.
The untimely death of Murong Bao?
That’s strange. Where could she be?
Before leaving though, they hear Murong Xi’s voice: She was moved away.
Turning around, they see the pack of traitors and unsheathe their swords.
You believed the fake letter. I’m so sorry, brother. Now… give up the throne to me.
Hearing this, Murong Bao orders his death and, with those words uttered, more soldiers flock to the room surprising the emperor.
Outnumbered but undaunted, Fengba attacks until Taiqi joins in and brings the older general down by the left knee. Murong Un stops the death blow and offers the ruler a chance to give up.
Murong Bao has ignored the sufferings of the people, Xi explains.
I’m worried how the angry people can be calmed down. Public sentiment is the sentiment of the heavens.
The emperor replies by taking out his weapon.
I only tried to abide by father’s will. I was only seeking revenge against Damdeok to take Goguryeo and establish a foundation to advance to the Central Plain. That was my only goal.
It doesn’t matter. Calmly the younger brother asks the older to put the weapon away.
With feelings of betrayal still boiling in his blood, Murong Bao yells from the top of his voice and reminds Xi his earlier pledge to help. Why isn’t he keeping his promise to their father?
Neither words getting through to the other, both siblings charge at each other, though in the end the Houyan ruler swings everywhere but the target. It doesn’t take long for Murong Xi’s blade to meet his brother’s left arm causing him to fall back.
Before renewing the attacks, the younger brother pleads the Houyan leader to stop. It shouldn’t get to the point where he has to die.
And for a brief moment, Murong Bao calms down and realizes just how far his sword has reached, the extent of his ambitions.
As he stands up and rushes towards his brother, Fengba moves in an attempt to stop him but manages only to move his arms pointlessly from the ground. Grabbing Xi’s weapon, the emperor rams the blade into himself shocking the whole room. There is no room for a failed emperor.
Barely holding on, Murong Bao speaks his last words.
Use my blood to set Houyan straight. This is what I’m leaving you.
No sooner he utters those words does he fall to the ground and leaves for the next world.
Houyan’s greatest fear: A union of enemies
Over at the Goguryeo palace, the generals discuss their strong position in the world stage. It shouldn’t be long before their arms reach as far as Liuju.
The fact Murong Bao died further helps them. The country no longer can invade Goguryeo, especially since they’re at war with Beiwei. Problem after problem keeps piling up.
This is when the arrival of the Beiwei envoy, Youzheng, is made known to the Goguryeo court. He’s not here for a visit though. No, Beiwei wishes to join hands to destroy their common enemy.
While this all seems good, Damdeok knows Beiwei wants to weaken Goguryeo by having it fight Houyan. They are a future danger after all. So should Goguryeo ally with Murong Xi to keep Beiwei at bay or perform a joint attack on Houyan? How about instead of deciding, having both countries bargaining for Goguryeo’s favor?
Damdeok laughs at the thought: 1
Aren’t you curious what will happen when envoys of enemy nations are in our court?
When the Beiwei envoy next stands before the Goguryeo king to discuss their proposal, word reaches everybody the arrival of Houyan representatives, shocking Youzheng.
（⌒▽⌒） Damdeok’s facial expression is priceless as he acts innocent of this development in front of the guests. What does he say?
Waaaah, Damdeok has a frightening smirk. You really should look at it. He never acted like this. ‘twas fun to watch. ↩︎