In the middle of the night, they took the princess – out of the palace, carrying her on their backs until they reached the horses, and then they were galloping through the forest in a devil night devoid of moonlight. The princess was alert, her eyes and ears open, trying to catch sight of the men in front of and behind her, trying to memorize her surroundings so she would recognize the trail if she escaped. But she had never been out of the palace, except to hunt, and they had already passed the boundaries of the royal hunting grounds. They moved through rocky, unfamiliar terrain, climbing up hills with steep drop-offs which quickly faded into black.
Exhausted from the blood pumping in her temple, she dozed off, only to awake when the horses stopped. Several men and women helped her off the saddle, guiding her into a series of caves whose candle-lit walls seemed bright to her night-fogged eyes.
They unbound her and ushered her onto a pile of blankets where she sat, unused to the roughness of reed mats after the silk of her royal chambers. She pulled her legs up around her and shivered, refusing the jacket one woman offered her.
As the group of men and women trailed into the cave, she stood up to address them.
“I do not know for what purpose you have taken me here or who you represent – one of our rival families, brigands, a neighbouring kingdom – I do not know.
“I do know that the king will not stop looking for me. And he will burn a path of death and destruction to all of you, who will suffer terribly – unless you return me immediately.” She spoke clearly, hiding the exhaustion in her voice, her tones echoing out into the cavern over the heads of the common faces watching her.
A young man stepped out of the group and turned to her. His eyes were set and determined, but the edges of his mouth were turned up in a smile.
“Dear princess, please understand us. We mean you no harm. But the people are starving, thanks to the corrupt practices of the officials under your father’s reign. We intend to make you our ally – by removing you from your royal shelter and letting you see, first hand, how your people live. We will facilitate your return when we have achieved our mission.”
The princess scoffed. “If you think kidnapping me will make me your champion, you are very foolish.”
The boy looked at her and laughed. “I think you will come to forgive us, in time.” She stared at him, shocked that he had dropped the formal tense.
“Here, have some food,” said the young man, bringing her a plate with a fresh scallion pancake and some kimchi on the side. She lifted her chin and stared steadfastly at an indeterminate spot on the wall.
“Suit yourself,” he said. “It’s no banquet like you’re used to – we don’t get twenty dishes at every meal.”
They left then, taking the candles with them, leaving her in the dark with nothing but the comforting scent of the warm pajeon next to her. Too curious to stop herself, she brought one of the crispy pieces up to her mouth, and took a small bite. She heard a laugh in the darkness and immediately threw the pancake on the floor.
“Please don’t do that,” said the voice of the young man. “We don’t waste food here.”
He moved next to her and picked up the piece of the pancake she had discarded, eating it and making low-class sounds of enjoyment.
“Disgusting,” she said, turning her head away from the sounds of his eating.
“Actually, it’s very good,” said the young man. “But don’t worry, you won’t have to eat it again.” He whisked the rest of the pancake away, and the princess was left alone.
Click below for next episodes in the Princess & Rebel series!
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 2: Mandoo at the Village
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 3: Mandooguk in the Woods
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 4: Kalbi Tang in the Mountains
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 5: Deep Fried Beef Tendon in the South
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 6: Kimchi on the Coast
- 1.5 cups cassava flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 - 2.5 cups cold water (if batter is hard to mix/spread, adjust liquid amount - batter should be easy to spoon & spread out in the pan but not runny)
- 1-2 tbs olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions, cut lengthwise
- 1 julienned/sliced carrot
- 1 julienned/sliced zucchini
- 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 tb apple cider vinegar
- For cooking:
- Several tbs coconut or avocado oil
- Heat up a skillet or good flat-bottomed pan on medium heat.
- Mix all the ingredients in the order listed to form batter.
- Oil pan with about 1 tb of coconut, avocado or olive oil (higher smoke point = better).
- Spoon about 1 cup of batter onto hot pan and spread it out evenly.
- Cook for around 5 minutes/until brown, then flip and repeat. Add more oil as needed.
- When done, cut into wedges, serve with chopped scallions and enjoy!
This recipe features in Phoenix Helix’s Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.