I haven’t quite figured out if Yona landed on her head after that fall, or maybe it would have been better if she had. In any event it’s pretty clear that when it comes to reading signals she’s several cards shy of a full deck yet, in true main character fashion. She still hasn’t thanked Hak either, I might add, even after Yoon’s scolding – but let’s not obsess over that. At least she’s decided she wants to open her eyes to some things, though I’m sure she was more than a little surprised by what they saw.
This was not the flashiest episode of Akatsuki no Yona, but as always it knows exactly what it needs to get accomplished, and does so in a remarkably coherent and measured way. I really enjoy the way this series always suggests at the larger picture by giving us a puzzle piece at a time and leaving it to the audience to try and deduce what the remaining pieces look like, and it filled in a pretty important piece of the puzzle with Ik-su’s retelling of the Kouka creation myth. Creation myths, of course, tend to be huge parts of stories like this one, themselves often suggesting at the truth rather than depicting it outright. And one suspects that’s what’s happening here.
As we catch up, Hak is still unconscious and now battling a fever, which Yoon does his best to treat while admonishing Yona for her lack of expressed gratitude to both his patient and himself. Yoon’s dislike of royalty no doubt has a reason (I suspect it’s going to be revealed next week), but his devotion to healing is certainly stronger than his prejudice. When Hak finally does wake, it’s in the middle of the night – and Yona goes off looking for him desperately, crying even as she berates his foolishness. She may not be able to read a clue even if it hits her in the head (literally) but her attitude does betray a genuine concern for Hak at the very least (and Yoon she does thank).
My suspicion at this point is that Yona coming to think of Hak in the way he clearly thinks of her is too much of a paradigm shift for her to make now or any time soon, but that’s probably just as well as right now the story has bigger fish to fry (and their mutual tsundere makes an amusing side dish). The truly crucial events in the episode begin when Yona (and soon Hak and Yoon) find Ik-su praying at the edge of the cliff, tears streaming down his face. Why is he crying? Presumably because he’s seen the path Yona will choose, the “storm”, and the price she and the kingdom will pay for her choice – and seen as well that there’s no other alternative. And that his only choice is to help her along that path, even at great existential pain to himself.
The story Ik-su tells is an interesting one in its own right, and certainly for what it suggests about Soo-won’s actions in seizing Hiryuu Castle and killing King Il. The creation myth itself suggests the path the story is going to follow – Yona is clearly the descendant of Hiryuu himself, the Red Dragon descended from Heaven. And in order to restore her place in the kingdom, she must seek the aid of the descendants of the four dragons who came down to Earth to aid Hiryuu in his time of need – one for each of the Fire, Water, Earth and Wind tribes. But the recent history Ik-su relates is just as important – the priests once held massive power in Kouka, sometimes even more than Kings, and it was Soo-won’s father Yu-hon who deposed all priests from the castle.
What does this suggest about Soo-won’s motives, and his plans for the future – and about the death of his father? I think it’s too early to say for certain but Ik-su’s story is certainly relevant to both. I’d originally thought that Ik-su and even more likely Yoon might be among the dragons we already knew Yona would be gathering, but it appears that they’re instead allies – and seemingly Hak isn’t the Wind Dragon himself (I guess “Thunder Beast” isn’t a bad title) meaning there’s another Wind Clan member out there theoretically even more powerful than him. As for the immediate future, based on the last moments of the episode it appears likely that when Yona and Hak leave Yoon will be accompanying them but Ik-su will not – it seems probable that this is the favor Ik-su was about to ask of Yona.