We have diluted his wine with extract from the Cao Wo petal. Not too much to alert him that something is amiss. It should already be affecting him when you answer his summons. Do not reveal this to anyone.
Nala’s ear lingered near his mouth, and observed the rise and fall of his chest. His breath was shallow, almost nonexistent.
The Cao Wo extract may not kill him right away. He is after all our greatest warrior, but you will be able to drive your dagger into his chest while he succumbs to the poison.
Nala pulled the dagger from the sash wrapped around her waist. The silk was of the finest quality, as was the instrument of Shui’s impending death. It gleamed in the dim candlelight of Shui’s bedchamber, and cast surreal reflections across her face.
Avenge your friend, Nala, and hundreds of other women who have died at his hands. You are not special to him. Your plight is carried out again and again by men like him. You will never have another opportunity like this. Do not waste it.
Nala looked down at her dagger. Has it always been so heavy? she thought as she hefted it. It does not matter. She ran her fingers along the metal and rubbed the sharp edge with her thumb. My body does not feel like it belongs to me, she thought, her head swimming in a thick fog.
We will position guards loyal to our cause outside his door. You will not be disturbed when you carry out justice. You need not fear execution, for we, the righteous, shall seize his holdings and condemn the Champion Standing for his crimes.
“Champion Standing,” Nala recalled the phrasing. She looked at Shui’s prostrate form. “They call you by your title. Do they know your name?”
The damned always perish for their wicked ways. It is the same in Nubian society as well as in the Han Dynasty. All great peoples know this natural law.
“You are wicked.” Nala didn’t know if she was telling him or straining to convince herself. “You killed Fabia. You killed all those women who had been enslaved here through no fault of their own.”
Get angry, Nala commanded herself. Feel the righteous fury. Think of all the horrible things he has done. You have been waiting for this.
She looked at his blank face, imagining the evil behind a mask of innocent sleep. “You have encouraged the trading of women like ordinary market commodities, subjected them to horrible atrocities.”
The hand that clutched the dagger suddenly felt real. It was her hand – not some apparition that merely looked like her.
The hand holding the dagger was beginning to feel like a part of her again. Her senses were returning to her body, and she felt in control again. It wasn’t some sort of coping mechanism. She wanted to kill Shui.