It was evening when the assassin sneaked into the chamber. Clothed in black, he slipped in, a dagger in hand.
Xiao Xiao, dozing behind a feverish Xiao Xin, felt the pulse of energy resonate through her chest. Wake up! Ming Zhu's voice said. Wake up!
She saw the shadow against the window, moving like a wild ghost, one of those lost souls that lingered during the Ghost Month. Her hand crept towards her jian. The shadow moved closer and closer – and she saw the man. Startled, he backed away and she lifted her jian, remembering how Mother had taught her.
"ASSASSIN!" She screamed and the entire household woke up, lights flaring in the darkness. Without thinking, she stalked purposefully, jian in attack position. The assassin's resolve died.
By this time, the guards had rushed in and grappled the man who fought like a tiger in a trap. They dragged him out of the chamber. By this time, Xiao Xin had woken up and was bawling. Xiao Xiao put down her jian and held her sister close. Her little sister's heart beat like a frantic sparrow.
Mother had charged out from her bedchambers, still in her plain sleeping gown. Her eyes blazed with anger. She too had her jian clutched in her hand.
"Another assassination attempt," she growled, "and I will have more guards this time. Not these incompetent idiots."
They managed to soothe the fretting toddler into a light sleep. Xiao Xiao dared not go back to sleep. Her jian was on her lap. She was furious too, like a dragon, like Ming Zhu.
The bells from the nearby temple tolled gently.