"If I dare ask if the enemy is numerous, disciplined, and about to advance how should we respond to them? I would say first seize something they love for then they will listen to you"-Sun Tzu The Art of War
209 AD) That pompous, haughty, arrogant, over stuffed peacock Zhuge Jin! How could he come up with such a utterly ridiculous plan! The despicably flea bitten son of a gutter rat! It's insane how could they agree to such a thing?! Sun Quan, Sun Ce, and Zhou Yu; the three most intelligent men in all the kingdoms and they couldn't think of a better plan than to marry off the future empress?! What fools! I'm to marry Liu Bei of all people! This horrendous deal had been made a year ago and they couldn't trouble themselves to tell me!
"DAMN, DAMN, DAMN IT ALL!" My shout caused more than a few heads to turn my way. Flinging myself onto my back I plucked a piece of straw and placed it in my mouth, chewing on it to hold in all the insults I wanted to hurl. Hearing a rustle nearby I tensed, feeling the heat of someone's body behind me I swung to my right turning my upper body around and feeling my forearm connect with warm, solid flesh.
Gan Ning was squatting behind me his right arm raised to fend off my blow. One eyebrow raised he said jokingly "letting your anger out on me, or didn't you hear me?" he said flicking one of the dozen or so bells strung on his sash. Looking sheepish I said "sorry, I guess I'm a little distracted" He smiled than a blade of a smile and I thought oh no"with what insulting the sky? Or is it that her majesty won't acknowledge a poor son of a pirate like me?"
Laughing he stood up extending his hand to me "come on I've got just the thing to cheer you up." Putting my hand in his I let him pull me up. Leading me to his horse I let him boost me up into the saddle, before he swung on behind me. Leaning back to get comfortable I suddenly felt self-conscious, my head and back was pressed to his bare chest. Gan Ning never wore his over robes, or under-robes for that matter preferring to go bare-chested. I could feel his chest rumble with his words as he said "when I say so close your eyes and don't you dare open them 'till I say so."
I closed my eyes at his word and was led into what appeared to be part of the jungle in the surrounding area near the castle. When I opened my eyes we were standing on a large grey stone smooth and flat from the water of the waterfall wearing away at it. Folding his legs underneath him he sat, grabbing my hand he lightly tugged silently tell me to sit too. After a little while he asked "why were you so mad earlier?""Are," I corrected him "I'm still mad, Gan" he just chuckled.
Like a dam bursting I ranted on and on about the marriage, demanding to know if he knew. After denying my accusation he looked at the sky now the deep cerulean blue of nearing twilight "It's getting dark," I rolled my eyes thinking of course, because I'm blind I couldn't tell "and now that you're to be-" here he smiled it may have been the growing darkness but it didn't quite touch his eyes "married, they wouldn't want you out with a mutt like me." The walk back to the horse was silent as we made our way through the jungle in the coming night.
During the ride back we spoke of harmless things: the weather, and crops. Somewhere along the way I must have drifted off; comforted by the warmth of his arms around me, because the last thing I remember before waking up in my pallet was the feel of his arms.
The following mornings one of my handmaidens informed me that I was to dine with my brother and his advisors that night. Brushing it off I disrobed putting on a fresh pair of clothes. Throwing on a pair of maroon pants and a red sash I pulled my under robe on, before pulling my maroon over robe on long sleeved with cuffs that flared around the wrist. The robe ended too short not covering the bottom of my navel; I needed a new wardrobe measured.
Grabbing a pair of fans I hung them on either side of my waist, before heading to the training grounds my blood boiling at the thought of the deal made a year ago, I was ready to spar. When I got there I saw my second oldest brother Sun Ce sparing with a young general Lu Xun. After finishing his match Sun Ce walked over to me and said "morning Xiang," he'd clipped my name Sun Shang Xiang because as he put it "it's a mouthful." "Good morning, Xiang" Lu Xun called loping up to me like a large dog, smiling I said "morning!"