Ning Zhuo smiled up at her. "You like what you see? Who are you? I've never seen you before around here."

Yan Sha ignored him until his full top half was bared. She got dish of water from her nightstand and started to wash his wounds with a bit of cloth torn from her shirt.

"Are you not going to talk to me?"

Yan Sha finished bandaging him before she spoke. "I just want the gold you wear. I just want to be so rich I'll never be stuck with people telling me what to do ever again. I should get a small fortune from your armor."

Ning Zhuo's eye brow raised as he pushed a bandage around his head up so it wouldn't fall into his eyes. The blood from his wounds had stopped. He reached back and pulled out the two daggers that were embedded in his back. He didn't seem to care that there was fresh blood blooming from his back. "These are quite nice. It's too bad, I lost the swords I came with. " He turned the sword to Yan Sha. "How did you know that I wouldn't just kill you when I found safety here?"

"I'm already dead." Yan Sha shrugged. "All who loved me are dead. I only live now to follow orders and become something else. I'm a weapon that's being sharpened here. I have no life. I don't even have a name they call me while I'm here."

"Your name was probably pretty while you had one. I'm Zan Zhuo."

Yan Sha sat on her bed on the opposite site of the room. She could see his eyes glittering at her like beetles in the limited light. He looked positively roughish. "Your face is a noble face. I also know you are Ning Zhuo, crown prince of Caiwong. To be anybody else doesn't suit you."

"You can pretend I am someone else as being a royal can make others uncomfortable."

"I don't care. I'm not really in the mood to act like your servant. I can barely survive as it is."

"Then just Ning Zhuo. That feels personal like I could get attached to you. I'm not a good person to get attached to. I'll call you--"

"I'll give you a name after I earn one. You can call me Ping."

"Ping? You're much too beautiful to be Ping, if you want to be the next empress of Caiwong."

"No."

"What do you mean no? Every woman in Jungpi, Yan, and Wei wants to be empress. You would have more gold than you could ever dream."

"To be in a harem is to be chained to a gilded throne. I would have to fight for my place and my child's place. It's a competition where I would prefer death to life. I want to be a green bean farmer."

"You say you are a weapon that has yet to be forged and you tell me you want to plant beans. A girl cannot be a weapon. A man is a weapon. A woman is a shield."

Yan Sha scoffed. "No wonder you are here wounded instead of killing Master Guo."

"I am in the process of killing him."

"I would love to kill him. His training is hard. I haven't slept in a week. I miss being a girl. My father would give me sweet things to eat. Here they just give me poison and bitter teas. I would like meat."

"You're such a stupid girl. I'm surprised that Guo would take such a low girl even into his school. I don't see anything special in you."

"Why would I be special? You're boring me with too many questions. I said I haven't slept in a week. Can you just sleep and heal? You found your way in so I'm sure that you can find your way out when you're good."

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"Ok. I promise also that since you are young, I won't touch you."

"Touch me? I don't understand what you mean."

"Are you innocent?"

"No. I have read the books on anatomy. I just don't want to depend on men. I want to have independence. Being innocent is just a byproduct of my goals."

"I wouldn't mind having you as a concubine."

"I wouldn't mind if you died. The body would be a problem though."