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[THE PRINCE OF YAN, ZHU DI, regards the young boy in front of him. Scion of LORD MA HAI, he was told. Such a proud figure with a straight back and unwavering gaze. A sudden unbidden wave of brotherly affection rises in him. Sent to serve at his court, YOUNG MA HE looks confident. Excellent, ZHU DI thinks. ZHU DI is a young prince, ten years older than YOUNG MA HE, ambitious and far-sighted. He invaded the Court of his aunt one year ago. The Empress is still in power theoretically, but he holds most of the executive privileges and - yes - power. People will always pay fealty and homage to HER DIVINE MAJESTY. But now, times are changing. The empire will expand under his rule. ZHU DI is handsome with jet-black hair and a ready laugh on his lips. Lean, he is an imposing figure in his war armor of the golden dragon.]

[ZHU DI]: Speak, young man, do you have a name?

[YOUNG MA HE]: Yes, my lord. I do have a name. It is MA HE.

[ZHU DI]: Ah. A believer of the faith. I recognize the name. You are sent to serve me, Ma He. I will rename you San Bao and you will be one of my page boys. Under my tutelage, you will rise in my service.

[YOUNG MA HE]: Yes, my lord.

[ZHU DI]: One thing though, San Bao. Because of Court law, your manhood will be removed. Do you accept this?

[YOUNG MA HE feels the same chill in his heart as he did one year ago. He remembers what his father has said that one day in the practice room.]

[YOUNG MA HE]: My lord, I am afraid of castration. I do not know what it will bring. What will the removal of my manhood entail for me?

[ZHU DI]: Ah. You spoke your mind. Just as your father said you would! [laughing] It will not diminish you nor make you less than anyone. There will be pain when it heals as the good doctors have informed me.

[YOUNG MA HE]: Then I will do it, my lord. [bows deeply]

[ZHU DI nods with approval. What a young man with so much promise. He gestures to the imperial surgeons who then guide YOUNG MA HE to the operating room.]

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