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King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Leonor of Asturias and Infanta Sofía of Spain visit Somao, which has been honoured the 2020 Best Asturian Village, for the Princess of Asturias Awards in Somao, Spain -October 17th 2020.

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Day 20 brings us Choe Suk-bin!

The girl who would one day be Choe Suk-bin (a title; Bin was a high ranking consort; Suk, her personal title, meaning pure; and Choe, or Choi, her surname; as with many Korean women of the Joseon era, including royalty, her personal name was never recorded) entered the palace as a low-caste musuri, or water slave, during a very tumultuous period.  King Sukjong deposed and exiled his queen in favor of his favorite concubine, Jang Hui-bin.  According to legend, he heard a servant girl praying for the wronged queen. When he confronted her, she stood her ground, willing to be executed for the sake of the queen who’d treated her with kindness.  The king was lovestruck; he also began considering the idea Queen Inhyeon had been wrongly accused. 

Regardless of the truth of the legend, Choe Suk-bin became one of the king’s favored concubines, and Queen Inhyeon was eventually reinstated.  Choe Suk-bin’s son with the king, Prince Yeoning, would eventually become King Yeongjo. As a prince, he was looked down on by many for his mother’s low birth, but as king, he was inspired by her memory to improve the plight of the peasants. 

Choe Suk-bin has been a staple in Korean storytelling in the centuries that followed her life; my personal favorite is the recent k-drama Dong Yi, also known as Jewel in the Crown. 

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King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Leonor of Asturias and Infanta Sofía of Spain visit Somao, which has been honoured the 2020 Best Asturian Village, for the Princess of Asturias Awards in Somao, Spain -October 17th 2020.

📷 : Casa Real.

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((This one turned out long. Who’s ready for some Sonny feels? Prompt is from @oc-growth-and-development ))

Sonny would never admit that she was afraid of the dark. Dark was a thing that just didn’t happen in her first home, when it was just her and Mom in their little shack on Venus. She always had Mom’s pretty blue glow, and the metal rain outside was so pretty and bright, even at night. There was barely any night with the clouds diffusing the sunlight all through, really. 

Then one morning Mom wasn’t there, and it was just Sonny’s little green glow. 

Their shack felt so dark. 

Earth was hard, the first few nights. Sonny had never seen a sky get really black like that. The rain was cold and stung, and made the night even darker. She found herself sticking to street lamps. People named her Moth. She didn’t mind that. 

Mars didn’t have many street lights, but it had the old saloon with its soft gold glows, and the owner with his soft orange glow. The stars were so clear and bright, too. Less scary when she knew the saloon glow was a step or two away. She wasn’t so much Moth there. The first fellow to greet her called her Sonny and it made her laugh. Couldn’t he tell she was a girl? She made herself look more like a girl after that, but kept the name. She liked how her own glow went bright and sparkling when she laughed. 

Mars was where she learned that glowing wasn’t always good, but that the soft orange glow hid a scary, wonderful fire. He started calling her Glowbug sometime after that and it stuck, too. Sonny to everyone else, but to Lumen she was Glowbug. The blacksmith’s boy said Lumen did that to keep far from people, like making up names would keep them from getting real, keep him from getting attached. Sonny thought this was silly. Didn’t he know that giving them new names would get him just as attached? And what was the point if glowing if he didn’t share it? She could feel the light in him reaching out for others, so she reached back. 

It was hard to be apart from him. They got separated in the pirate attack, when everyone ran off Mars. Sonny didn’t see him go out the airlock, but she knew he was alive still. She could feel the light, just had to follow it. Didn’t matter who thought she was crazy. She could do it. 

She didn’t think she would get captured, though. She didn’t remember much of that. Just shouting and water and Lumen and fear and harsh white glow, nothing but white glow until her hands cracked from pounding at it, until someone dark and soft let her out. 

She didn’t tell Lumen the secret reason she didn’t mind him going away for a little while: she couldn’t forget that awful light. Even her own glow was almost too strong. It faded, while Lumen was gone, and went away at last just before she joined him, but she buried that awful guilty fear as deep as it would go. 

Sonny almost snuck off again, that first night on the Cherry Jubilee with her new friends. Was friends the right word? That red-haired girl had scared the shine right out of her, and hurt the toothy plant man, right? She couldn’t figure out why the soft dark woman, why Captain Nyota, let her aboard. But Lumen said it was fine. So it was fine, until it was lights out, time for sleep. 

Sonny hated the dark. It whispered like the soft hands that had shoved her into the harsh light space, it creaked like her empty shack without Mom. She couldn’t even put her blanket on, even though it was cold, because that would dim her glow. Her glow was all she had. 

“Hey.” The new voice made her jump. It was the red-haired girl, though her hair didn’t much look red in Sonny’s green light. “You can’t sleep?" 

"You can tell?” Sonny was too surprised to deny it. She hadn’t met many humans who knew when she was awake. 

“Sure. Ma has a few of your folk in her crew.” The girl sat down beside her. “What’s up?" 

Sonny wasn’t sure how to explain this one. Humans wouldn’t get it, right? They didn’t glow at all. "Too much green, I guess,” she tried. “I can’t see well." 

The girl studied her hard. It was really hard to read organic faces, but something about her felt like Lumen when he met someone knew. Like she was reading. "Can’t see, huh? Well… it was your house I messed up, right? I guess I owe you one for that." 

"What do you mean?” Sonny started to ask. 

The human just pulled something small and plastic out of her pocket and cracked it between her hands. To Sonny’s shock, it didn’t actually break. It started to glow. Soft yellow, like Earth just before sunset. The girl passed it to her and pulled out another. It cracked into light as purple as the girl’s eyes. 

“Never seen a glowstick before?” Sonny could hear the laugh in her voice, and could actually see it on her face. “They’re funny little things, right? You can keep them. They won’t last too long, mind you. Gotta ask Boss - no, wait, it’s Captain. Ask Captain for a nightlight or something. But they’ll last the night. You don’t want to bother an apex while she’s asleep, trust me on that.." 

"It’s pretty…” Colored light. Colored light just like her, like Mom. So soft that she could forget the fear. “Um. What’s your name?" 

"Me?” The girl offered a handshake. “Call me Hadley. Yours?" 

Sonny chimed softly and took her hand. "Well, can’t remember mine, really. But everyone calls me Sonny, so you can too." 

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King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Letizia of Spain, Princess Leonor of Asturias and Infanta Sofía of Spain visit Somao, which has been honoured the 2020 Best Asturian Village, for the Princess of Asturias Awards in Somao, Spain -October 17th 2020.

📷 : Casa Real.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, to mark the launch of the nationwide ‘Hold Still’ community photography project in London, England -October 20th 2020.

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