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marybethgriggs > The Other Side of the Mask > 6 Chapter 6: 'Self Defense'
XiaoLong unexpectedly appeared on my balcony. I open the door.

"Hi XiaoLong! What brings you here?"

"Uh- remember the self defense thing you asked me?"

"Oh you decided to teach me?"

"Yep!"

I start prancing around the room. There is barely anyone in my hometown who knows high level skills and it was always my dream to learn! Besides it's actually gonna be put into use… but in a bad way…

Xiao Long leads me onto the balcony and JUMPS OFF. I quickly swing my head over the balcony, scared.

"Oi! Jump down! I'll catch you!"

I look at him as if he's crazy. I sigh, well he didn't get hurt right? But this is like the third floor! Then XiaoLong suddenly jumps up. And LANDED ON THE BALCONY???!!! I jump back and fall on the floor.

"Who the heck are you?"

He ignores my question and carries me, jumping off the balcony. I'm surprisingly fine after that jump. I look up at Xiao Long. Who is this man???!! His locks of long black hair fall onto my face.

"Are you ok?"

I respond trying to get off, "Y-yeah…"

He puts me down and leads me to the training grounds of the palace.

All of a sudden, a patrolling knight pops up.

"Who goes there?"

The knight points a sword at my neck. That's way too fast! Are all knights monsters? XiaoLong stands in front of me, blocking the sword from me. The knight lowers the sword, recognizing XiaoLong.

"Oh, it's you, -"

XiaoLong cuts him off before the knight can finish. Huh? I look at them, confused. XiaoLong grabs my arm and drags me in, handing me a wooden dagger.

"Self defense right?"

"Y-yeah…"

He stands behind me. Too close!

"So you hold it like this, and swing it like this. You should probably keep a lot if you want to throw them."

Wayy tooo cloooseee! This is going to be hard for me to learn! I try to get my mind off it and take a hit at the dummy.

"Yes! That's it! Except you need to be more powerful!"

We train just like this for another hour or so and then head back. It's surprisingly fun to be with XiaoLong!

"I'll see you tomorrow!"

"Yep!"

The next day, we are given the established schedule: academics, politics, embroidery, cooking, and etiquette. I didn't do too bad in academics. I definitely need work in politics, though. I am not taught it, since I'm a commoner.

Madam Quincy is super strict.

"You! That's wrong! Do it again!"

I get yelled at for the entire two hours as the nobles snicker. TianYu tries to help as much as she can, but she also isn't well adept in this subject.

Finally, it was lunch. TianYu and I sit together as we eat the rich food.

"Hey! I can't believe that the daughter of Mayor Chun would sit with someone who dissed her!"

"I know, right? The country girl like totally took the credits for that sewing!"

They whisper so loud; it was obvious they wanted us to hear it.

"Don't listen to them," I whisper to TianYu, "They're probably just jealous."

She smiles happily. Wow! She's beautiful! I would actually root for her to be Queen if I wasn't in this situation.

In cooking class, I pull out a small vial of the poison that Mayor Chun gave me.

"The Prince will be judging your cooking."

I put one drop in the fried fish I made. I wonder if this is enough for someone to die… I'll leave it like this I guess…

My heart pounded hard as they served my dish.

The Prince picks up his spoon. I could see his black eyes staring at the dish in front of him, his beautiful face. One of the only faces actually revealed in this palace of masks. My heart pangs with guilt when I imagine it dead.

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