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My sword fell onto the floor again.

“Don’t you have strength?! Why are you holding it like a child?!”

My blood was really boiling. I was mad and I couldn’t do anything about it. It’s been a few days since I started practicing using the sword. I was bad at it. Yun Wen kept yelling at me for doing this and that wrong. Why doesn’t he understand that it’s really difficult for a woman to learn martial arts? He’s really a tyrant. I can’t even do something wrong before he yells at me again. If it was the past me, I would’ve kick his ass for treating me like that. But since I need him and he knows it, I’ll bear with it. He’s obviously abusing his power.

“This won’t do. You already have a disadvantage with no strength like a man’s. Beside that you only began learning now. How in the world would you beat someone who has trained for tons of years?”

“I can’t help that I’m a woman. What do you want me to do?”

I was really getting mad. I was frustrated too.

He walked away from me.

“Miss, do you really want to keep doing this? You’ll really need to train hard before you can match with one of those guards. Beside, why do you want to learn martial arts? You can just ask the emperor to help you. You don’t need to do so many things.”

“Don’t you understand, Lian Er? In the past I relied too much on my family. When they are gone, I’m useless. I don’t want to rely on anyone anymore. I need to become stronger and take my revenge. I don’t want to feel useless anymore.”

“What will you do after your revenge?”

“I haven’t thought about that yet.”

It’s true that I really haven’t thought about what my life will be after my revenge. Should I stay together with Xuan Chen? But my revenge will hurt him. She’s after all his step-mother. The one who raised him all those years. Will he forgive me? Why am I thinking about him again? He didn’t think about my feelings. Why would I think about his? That’s right; I need to forget about his feelings.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m used to training man. You’re the first woman I’ve ever trained.”

“Are you sick?”

“Woman, this is the first time I’ve ever sincerely apologized. Don’t get too carried away. I only apologize once.”

He threw a small knife into my lap. The knife had a beautiful case. The case was gold with a red ruby on it. The design on the knife was about phoenix and flowers. What is he doing with such a womanly knife?

“Do you like it?”

“Yes. It’s very beautiful. Why are you giving it to me?”

He seemed to be thinking about the question.

“Why did I give it to her,” he mumbled.

“What did you say?”

“Since you’re a good for nothing at swordsmanship, I’ll teach you a special technique instead.”

He took the knife away from me and demonstrated the technique. It looked more like a dance. I forgot completely what I was doing here. He looked so beautiful. I’ve forgotten how handsome he is. Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking too much at Xuan Chen that I’ve become immune to handsome men.

“I know I’m handsome but you can stop gawking at me. Did you memorize the steps?”

I took the knife from him. In the middle I forgot some steps. He came to me and grabbed my waist, guiding me. After a while I made the mistake to turn around and look at him. He was looking at me with eyes full of desire. I can’t seem to look away either. He abruptly lets me go. I nearly fell.

“That’s it for today. From now on we will practice this Phoenix Moonlit Dance.”

When I was back at the temple, I still can’t figure out why my heart beat faster at that moment. I shook my head. I’ve more things to do. Stop thinking about this.

“We need to be more careful now. The maids seem to catch that something is off.”

“I’ll try to be more careful.”

Although I’ve sentenced the maid to death, I can’t risk having other maids reporting my every move to the empress dowager. So I’m sneaking out every day.

“The emperor has sent a letter again. Don’t you really plan on answering? You’ve been ignoring him long enough. If you keep this up, you might lose his favor.”

“You may retire today.”

After taking a bath I sat at the table planning to write something to Xuan Chen. I’ve tossed away so many papers. It seems I don’t know what to write. It’s strange that I used to talk about everything with him and now I’ve so much to say but can’t say it to him.

His letter was the same as always. Talking about how he misses me, when I will return and some of the problems with the country. He seems close yet distant. After tossing away another paper, I decided to keep it simple.

Dear Xuan Chen,
I’m doing fine. I’m eating good, sleeping well and the air is good. A temple is really a nice place. I’ll return when I feel better. I’ll surely return. So don’t send me more letters. I want to not think about anything and just enjoy it here.
An Ning

It was at the point of my brush to write about Sweet Corn and tell him how unhappy I am about the loss. I restrained myself because of my revenge but also because I don’t want him to suffer. I really have a soft heart. How can I still think about his feelings when he has hurt mine? I sighed. I still have a soft spot for him.
I sealed the letter and went to sleep.