Watch Damdeok, the Great Emperor 82 if you haven’t. When you have the power, you can enjoy watching others fight for your attention.
Beiwei vs Houyan: The fight for Goguryeo’s favor
When visitors arrive, everything is put on hold
From the seat of power, the king of Goguryeo observes his new arrival.
Murong Un, though, studies Youzheng.
The Beiwei envoy, in turn, stares fiercely at the Houyan envoy, having difficulty in hiding the anger in his face.
A confrontation of battling countries forced into the same room to seek an alliance from an unexpected source.
Beiwei’s proposal has been put forth already. Hoping to close the deal, Youzheng urges the king to make a decision on it soon.
Wait, Gwanggaeto tells him. There are new guests to entertain and so any decision making must be done later.
The Beiwei envoy knows any more waiting will jeopardize negotiations, especially with the enemy here. As Youzheng protests further, Murong Un steps in:
Youzheng, are you trying to interfere with his reception of us? Don’t Beiwei envoys know their place?
Damdeok, however, sends them both away to their quarters to reconvene another time.
International talks: The art in exchanging words
Stepping outside, both representative groups cross paths on their way to their rooms. Not letting this chance go, Fengba remarks how Beiwei cowered in fear back there.
Youzheng laughs it off. That may be true but isn’t Houyan embarrassed being so courteous after losing to Goguryeo? Murong Un tries poo pooing Houyan’s defeat but Youzheng continues:
You are being shameless. I guess it’s expected of a country where a brother kills his own brother to become the emperor.
Fengba explodes upon hearing this and threatens his life. Stepping forward, Murong Un stops him and reminds the envoys there’s a reason they’re here. They can’t defeat Houyan alone and now need outside help.
If you want to lecture us, do it after you defeat us.
Having pushed back, the Houyan envoys depart right away wishing not to listen anymore.
The insult that reveals Goguryeo’s true strength
Back inside the Goguryeo palace, the leaders assess the situation: The two enemy nations are in a heated territorial dispute and whichever side Goguryeo joins will tip the scales. If they play their cards right, Goguryeo can gain much.
After the break, the envoys come back in and, right off the bat, both attempt to make their case.
Murong Un reminds the Goguryeo king of their previous alliance sealed by a marriage. Any of their previous differences isn’t beyond repair.
Not wanting to be upstaged, Youzheng states that if they join hands with Beiwei, Goguryeo’s status will rise in the world stage.
At this, Damdeok slams his royal rod on the table. Is he saying Goguryeo’s current status is too low? They’re weak? No good? When the king inquires about this, the Beiwei envoy stumbles to come up with an answer seeing the insinuation made.
Asking Murong Un’s thoughts on the issue, he classifies Goguryeo as one in the path to becoming a strong country.
Is that right? Damdeok can’t help but slowly smile and chuckle at their responses.1
Suddenly, Ha Muji breaks out laughing. Are they that ignorant? Bringing forth a tray of royal letters, Hwang Hoe informs the guests the support Goguryeo expects to receive from its current allies should they ever go to war.
- Baekje can bring 50,000 soldiers & 400 ships.
- Silla can provide 20,000 soldiers & 30,000 sacks of rice.
- Mohe can throw 50,000 soldiers & 20,000 horses to the mix.
- Biryeo can add 30,000 soldiers & 20,000 horses.
And this is all without mentioning what Goguryeo brings to the table.
- 200,000 soldiers of the Central army.
- 70,000 special Cheongun soldiers.
- Over 50,000 cavalry soldiers.
- Plus the troops actually defending each fortress.
Does this really sound like the making of an insignificant nation? How sorely mistaken their views are. Goguryeo is already a powerful nation.
Before dismissing the envoys to think over their proposals again, the king asks Youzheng one last question,
Do you still think Goguryeo’s status will rise only with an alliance with Beiwei?
Silence is his reply.
As the shaken envoys leave the room, they look back shocked at how strong their neighbor has become. They really do need this alliance. Who would want to go against such a force willingly?
Shake the tree to get more fruit
Now alone, Damdeok hands general Hwang Hoe and Mo Duyeong secret plans to carry out. A scheme to make both sides as anxious as possible and extract the most benefits.
Giving up a leg to not lose the head
At the the Houyan quarters, Murong Un learns Hwang Hoe supports an alliance with them. Hoping to set up a connection to Goguryeo’s court, they invite the commander to a secret meeting but it’s too late. Even if Hwang Hoe wants Houyan, he reports the king and Beiwei are nearing a deal in a private meeting of their own. The’ve come up with a proposal that’s just irresistable.
Worried over losing the alliance to the enemy, Murong Un is ready for huge sacrifices.
We have to give the bones even if that means giving all our flesh.
To entice Damdeok, he plans to offer
- Damdeok’s beloved Goguryeo migrants.
- Liaoyangcheng and the surrounding area, despite Fengba not liking this since it makes the country vulnerable to Goguryeo.
Hold the Beiwei woman hostage
Similarly at the Beiwei quarters, Youzheng receives confirmation of Goguryeo’s army size. Damdeok wasn’t bluffing!
They too learn someone inside favors Beiwei and quickly get Mo Doyeong inside. However, the general also can’t help them. According to Mo Doyeong, the king is meeting with Houyan to discuss their great deal. A Beiwei-Goguryeo alliance just doesn’t seem likely now. If they really want it, they need an offer to trump that of their rival.
Youzheng isn’t out yet. Surely giving the Beiwei princess, Xu, to forge a marital alliance can change the king’s mind, no?
The neutral party that reaps all the rewards
Afterwards, the two envoys submit their offers to Damdeok.
The night becomes a long and excruciating wait for both sides.
They stay up awake worrying over the fate of their nation should tomorrow the king select the other.
What more could they do to sway Damdeok’s mind?
Next day, the envoys are surprised both are called in. Shouldn’t the king summon just the one he accepted? Hasn’t he made a decision yet? They demand an explanation.
Here it is: Goguryeo is forming a marital alliance with Beiwei.
Youzheng smiles silently but brightly at his victory.
Your Majesty, Murong Un exclaims challenging Damdeok’s decision and asking to reconsider in those two words.
That’s not all though. Goguryeo will also ally with Houyan.
What? Neither side can believe the final decision.
Fengba rudely questions the logic.
How can you form an alliance with two countries that are enemies?
Simple. Goguryeo will remain neutral in all this.
- Temporary ceasefire: Beiwei will offer their beloved princess onto marriage on the condition they stop fighting during the whole time of the national wedding.
Spared battle: Houyan will give up Liaoyangcheng & the migrants and, in exchange, Goguryeo won’t attack them.
Because there won’t be a fight, they won’t need Goguryeo’s military.
How can Beiwei accept this? Youzheng protests they’re on the losing end; they’re currently on a roll in the war against Houyan.
Of course, Beiwei is free to reject the alliance, Damdeok explains. However doing so will leave Goguryeo allied with Houyan and give them no choice but to back them up. Won’t Beiwei’s fortune change once Goguryeo enters the fight?
Seeing no one fully embracing the double alliance, Damdeok stands up and subtlety threatens.
If neither of you are satisfied, I will discuss the matter again and make a choice.
Swiftly, Youzheng drops his resistance and accepts the terms, not wanting to risk the king siding with Houyan if forced to choose.
Returning to their quarters, both sides realize how cleverly they’ve been taken in. Damdeok took advantage of the situation and got everything he wanted without really giving anything away.
Because a brother will do anything for the younger sister
And so time passes. With the wedding period nearly over, Houyan knows so will the temporary peace with Beiwei. The war will soon resume and they need every bit of help.
Fortunately, the Houyan king has one more card to pull. Going to the detached palace, Murong Xi asks the former emperor’s wife if she could write her brother to send reinforcements; Damdeok will listen to her.
Princess Damju, however, refuses to get involved in politics.
Not satisfied with the answer, Murong Xi has Mashi take her baby away and threatens to kill Huwang if she doesn’t cooperate. What does he care? It’s not his son. In fact, his nephew might one day challenge his throne. Until she decides to help, she won’t see the baby.
Stepping outside, he orders Fengba to Goguryeo and make clear the trouble she is in.
You are going alone, but you should return with Goguryeo soldiers.
Back at Gungnaeseong, the upset Goguryeo king hears Houyan dragging his sister into the negotiation table and won’t stand for it. He’ll pull her out of that miserable place by force.
Again with that chuckle. It’s a condescending one but fun to watch. Almost like he’s saying, “You fool… you actually believe that?” ↩︎