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Dew on the Gingko Leaves

Jade Flower and her husband Wu Lei are young warriors -- fighting side by side against a warlord and his
army of followers who had defied Beijing. Wu Lei admires Jade Flower’s ability as a warrior; she is as
fierce as he is. Jade Flower and Wu Lei are in an elite troop of warriors that is comprised of young
husband and wife warrior teams. Jade Flower and Wu Lei are among the top fighters in the Empire of the
Dragon Throne. They become separated in the battle but she is not worried. They always find each other.
Understandably, there is chaos on the battlefield. Jade Flower battles furiously alongside her fellow
warriors. She breathes a sigh of relief when she sees that the enemy is on the run. Jade Flower is no
shrinking violet; she is ready to pursue them. She wields her sword -- she vows to slice heads off. But the
horn sounding an order to step down thwarts her planned action.

Jade Flower still does not see her beloved husband. She roars the cry of the tigress waiting to hear her
husband respond. But there is no response. Other warriors are finding their husbands and wives. Terrified,
she searches for him. Jade Flower is horrified when she spots Wu Lei wounded but still alive. She is
confused -- she sees no blood spilling from him yet he is losing the battle with Death. She screams –
“Don't leave me! Fight!” In a faint whisper, he asks her to tell him she loves him once more. With tears
streaming down her face, Jade Flower vows her undying love for him. He loses the battle and dies in her
arms; his unseeing eyes staring back at her. She holds him and weeps. Guilt overwhelms Jade Flower.
Why hadn't she stayed with him to protect him? She decides that she will join him in eternity. She reaches
for his sword intending to cut her throat. At the last moment, she notices a crimson ribbon under her
husband's shoulder. She pulls on the ribbon and discovers the source of his mortal wound -- a silver dart -
- it was an assassin's poison dart not an enemy on the battlefield that had taken her husband. A traitor had
killed her husband -- someone of high standing in the Empire. She sobs over his body.

Jade Flower has to be pulled away. She wants revenge; she does not reveal her suspicion that a person of
nobility killed her husband. She secretes the dart in her sash. She is devastated at the image of her dead
young husband draped over a war horse. His body will be taken to his hometown for burial. Alone in the
tent they shared, she furtively wraps the poison dart in his red battle sash. Later that night, sleep eludes
her. She stands and makes a neckpiece out of the sash and dart and drapes it on her neck. It is a symbol of
her grief and her quest for revenge -- she will never forget. "Vengeance does not sleep." Jade Flower
quietly sneaks out of her tent in the dark. She walks to a nearby village where a bordello that fronts as a
tea house is located. As Jade Flower approaches the dimly lit tea house, she looks down at her belt where
she carries a dagger and small sword. Exhausted, Jade Flower sits at a table in a dim corner; she drinks
rice wine and becomes quite tipsy. She notices a man across the room gazing at her. She becomes
interested in a game of dice that three men are playing. The man who had stared at her joins the group.

As she walks back to camp, she is drunk and wobbly and lost. The man who had been watching her is
suddenly beside her. She is too drunk to fight him off as he carries her off into an alley and attempts to
rape her. Jade Flower instantly sobers up; she grabs her knife. She lets the man kiss her to distract him
then stabs him in the belly with the dagger. He screams as she twists the blade again and again. He stands
and stumbles away grasping the dagger still in his stomach. She grabs her small sword and plunges it into
his back. She plunges the sword in again and again. At one point the sword spins out of her hands and
clangs down in the alley. Others are gathering at the sound of the man's screams. She hides in the
shadows and gropes for her sword but can't find it. She leaves the sword behind and slips into the dark
streets of the village. She hurries off, covered in blood.

Jade Flower accompanies her husband's body to his hometown. She walks behind the coffin in a funeral
procession. Imperial officials attend the ritual; she suspects that one of them is her husband's killer. He is
buried with a view of the mountain. She feels comforted that he is among his dead ancestors. There were
many mourners who came to pay honor to Wu Lei -- including the Emperor and Empress. Wu Lei’s
parents hand her a gift that Wu Lei wanted her to have upon his death. Jade is astonished. Did he know he
was going to die young? There is ornate silver trim on the box which is lined in red silk. She sees the tip
of something and pulls it out. It is a dried golden ginkgo leaf. What does it mean?

A courier tells her that the Emperor will be sending a palanquin for her; the Emperor and Empress want to
meet with her. She assumes her husband will be honored and she will be reassigned. She'd be in a good
place to begin her investigation into the murder of her husband. She mentions to the courier that she’ll be
anxious to visit the museums and the palace's archives while there. She looks off in the distance, her
expression resolute, her gaze steely. Handmaidens and eunuchs had been sent to help her get ready. Jade
Flower looks beautiful. Her hair had been specially dressed for her appearance and she is dressed in finery
fitting for an appearance before the Dragon Throne in the Forbidden City. She does not like the political,
cut-throat atmosphere in the palace. She thinks back to when she first met Wu Lei.

Jade Flower is walking through an army camp in the plains. She is disguised as a man. She wants to serve
and it will keep her delicate younger brother from being conscripted. She knows he wouldn't survive a
stint in the army. There is a requirement that the oldest male in each family must serve. After serving a
year, it is discovered that she is a woman. She was immediately sent to the Emperor where, with the help
of the Empress she is spared. The Empress urges that an elite highly trained corps be established of
husband and wife warrior teams. The Empress feels such teams would be strong because they’d be
together. Jade is dedicated to the royal couple and ready to give her life. She met and fell in love with Wu
Lei who like her brother has a soft artistic side and likes poetry and the arts. But unlike her brother, he is
strong and brave and a valiant warrior. They had been soul mates -- telling each other all their thoughts
and dreams.

Beijing is ever-changing and never-changing. It is crowded with vendors selling everything one could
imagine. Children play all about; plays are enacted on the streets; there are animal acts, jugglers, fools,
and musicians. Jade steps out of the palanquin when it reaches the gates of the Forbidden City. She does
her best to hold herself together as she walks toward the palace. Inside the Forbidden City she is led into
the opulent Hall of Harmony. The empress's top attendant, Liu Huimin greets Jade who is nervous and
upset over the events of the last several days. The Emperor and Empress are eagerly awaiting their
meeting. Liu leads the way. She bows as she enters the presence of the Celestial Son of Heaven, ruler of
the Dragon Throne.

Jade enters the opulent inner chambers. The Emperor and Empress are regal and splendid in their royal
robes. Jade bows to them. There are probably a hundred attendants in the room. Some are concubines.
Most women had their feet bound -- but Jade did not. She looks down as she teeters on her platform shoes
which she furtively slips off. Jade Flower bows before the royal couple and feels their warmth. The
Empress offers her deepest sympathy to Jade. The Emperor also sympathizes with her. Due to the
problems facing the empire, Jade is told she must continue as part of a warrior couple. She is to
immediately prepare for remarriage. The Emperor will select a suitable warrior for her to marry. She will
meet him today and marry him before the sun sets that night.

Jade is stunned but understands there is no debating the matter. She looks at Liu for sympathy but Liu
avoids her eyes. A gong sounds, she drops to her knees but is unable to speak -- of the couple's wisdom
and brilliance as is expected. Liu kneels down by her side and speaks the appropriate words which Jade
echoes although in a daze. As they walk away, Jade Flower panics. She left her platform shoes behind,
probably right in front of the Emperor and Empress -- a clear breach of protocol! She fears they will
blame another concubine and punish her for Jade's breach of protocol.

Jade Flower thinks of killing herself and asking the Emperor for a new sword. Liu speaks with her about
being loyal to the Empire. The Empire is in great danger and needs good warriors like her. She must obey
their pronouncement. Liu is very sympathetic and sees that Jade Flower is extremely stressed and
exhausted. Jade begins to cry but then dries her tears, reminding herself that she is a warrior. Liu's
sympathetic and kind nature had broken down Jade's defenses and facade. Liu understands and lets Jade
Flower cry and sob knowing she has to have a release for her emotions. Jade Flower stays in a sumptuous
bed chamber that night. Her face is red from crying. Liu says they have to prepare her for her wedding.
She takes her on the balcony so the cool air will lighten the red puffiness from her face and eyes. The
balcony overlooks the courtyard below which led to the gate. The surface below is hard. She contemplates
leaping off the balcony and ending her problems including marrying a complete stranger. She would be
with Wu Lei again. Suicide would be a death with honor and show her love and devotion to her husband.

Jade backs up in the room to get a running start at leaping over the balcony wall just when Liu enters the
room and restrains her from behind, preventing her from plunging to her death. Liu closes the balcony
door – “I think you've had enough fresh air.” Liu gives Jade a drink of something that will help her take
nap to prepare for the day. The drink causes Jade to immediately fall asleep. When she wakes she is
refreshed and feels wonderful. Liu helps her prepare for her wedding. She tells Jade to put the past behind
her. She pours jasmine in the water which makes Jade have the sensation that dark clouds are being
chased from her mind. Liu helps Jade Flower into her red silk wedding dress and dresses her hair and
face. She is beautiful; no trace of the warrior remains. Liu buffs and exfoliates and transforms her
calloused hands. Liu pulls on embroidered slippers onto Jade Flower’s feet. As Jade Flower emerges into
the Hall of Harmony, dozens of courtesans are preparing for the wedding. The jasmine perfume that Liu
gave Jade Flower keeps her mind free of worry and pain and sorrowful memories.

The Emperor orders that eight young warriors enter the hall. They are all dressed alike and appear to be
identical to one another. Jade and the young men exchange looks. Her face is stoic; she is not thrilled with
the prospect of marrying any of them. But is has been decided. She is ordered to step forward to receive
her husband. Jade Flower is reluctant to look up to see her new "husband." But suddenly, the Empress
dismisses all the soldiers and announces that none of them will do. She orders General Yu Luan to come
forward. Jade is befuddled about what is taking place; she doesn't have a clue. The general is a famous
warrior and leader but he is married. In fact, his wife was his warrior-partner. Jade Flower whispers to Liu
that Wu Lei had spoken of General Luan. He told her that he was a good man and his men adored him. He
and the Emperor were known to have a close relationship.

The Empress senses that Jade Flower is confused about what is taking place. She tells Jade that his wife
and his infant son both died in childbirth. Jade Flower offers her condolences to the general. He shows no
emotions which Jade Flower seems to be uncomfortable with. The Empress announces that Jade Flower’s
husband will be Yu Luan. They are ordered to proceed to the wedding chamber. Jade feels faint and has
to be escorted by two attendants. Yu Luan tells Liu that he is pleased that Jade Flower is to become his
wife. He had long admired Jade and Wu Lei but he has heard that she is a fire-cat and difficult to control.
When Yu Luan has a few moments alone, he sheds a few tears thinking of his wife.

Jade Flower wonders why are the Emperor and Empress are in such a rush for them to marry? She meets
General Luan who is handsome but she tries to resist his allure. She thinks that he may be able to help her
find her husband's murderer because he is so well positioned. She has no option other than to accept her
fate and understand that she is doing her duty to the Emperor. They are served at the wedding table.
Wonderful delicacies are served. The new couple bows to the Emperor and Empress. During the ritual
and celebration Yu Luan remains mainly silent. Jade Flower grieves for her husband. She tells Liu, who
takes the place of her parents at the wedding, that she is sure she will never be able to love Luan.

When Yu Luan finally speaks to her it is on a strictly formal basis. “You are a person alive to the senses,”
“Yes,” she agrees. “Is there something wrong with that?” “Of course not.” “I shouldn’t think so. I am not
a slave to my senses – that is certain.” “You could not be part of the warrior troupe if you were.” Jade
Flower seems confused by the exchange. Does he disapprove of her? The Emperor says that time will be
their friend in the marriage. Time will heal their pain from their lost loves. They are ordered to stay in the
bed chambers where Jade stayed the night before. They will lead the dance and then retire to the chamber
and consummate their union. Jade Flower’s face turns red. Yu Luan taunts her about blushing. They have
a few harsh words back and forth. She is growing dismayed by his opinions and inferences.

After the festivities he tells her it's time to retire to the bridal chamber. She tries to remain calm and after
bowing to the Emperor and Empress and expressing her honor and respect for them, she follows her new
husband, with eunuchs lighting the way, to their honeymoon chamber. She is dreading what lies ahead for
her. Jade Flower lets Yu Luan know that she is not going to allow any advances. He tells her he has some
duties to perform and will be back. Liu refuses to stay with her. She must await the return of her husband.
Jade Flower checks in the drawer next to the bed. The silver dart is there in the red chest she received as a
gift from Wu Lei's parents. She cries thinking it was the instrument of her husband's death. She slips it
over her head and climbs into bed.

Yu Luan returns and flips a coverlet over her. She wonders if her appearance displeases him. She slips the
dart from her neck and slides it under her pillow. As he slides into bed, she turns her back to him. When
he gets up he stumbles on the coverlet and lands on his backside on the floor. Jade Flower begins to
giggle; he joins in on the levity. Neither thought they'd ever laugh again. He makes a pallet on the floor
where he will sleep. She sits up in bed, gazing at him with a warm smile. She frowns and looks down at
her plain sleeping gown. She brushes through her hair with her fingers. She asks if she is not desirable.
He tells her that she is cold and he cannot make love to someone so remote and rigid. She pulls the dart
out from under her pillow and glares at him. She clutches it in her hands as he blows out the candles and
wishes her a good night.

Early in the morning, Yu Luan decides to rejoin his troop of elite warrior couples. He figures the Empress
will have his new wife delivered to him when she is prepared. It takes him a day by horseback to meet up
with his desert camp. He reunites with his good friend and fellow warrior, Lieutenant Ching. He shares
his feelings about his deceased wife and his new wife with Ching. He feels Jingwei's spirit although he
feels satisfied to have a good warrior wife in waiting. The area is a place where he and Jingwei liked to
come to in the morning. Ching admires his commander. Yu Luan is a positive person who likes to find the
good and beautiful in each day. There are ups and downs in life. He concentrates on the beauty of nature
versus the tragedy of losing his wife and child and the challenge of having a new strong-willed wife. He
watches the flight of the crane -- the crane carries the soul of the dead into the eternal realm. “Jingwei’s
soul soars with the crane, Ching.”

He looks at the crane -- he sees that Jingwei is leaving them. He asks about his new wife, Jade Flower.
She is beautiful, emotional, tempestuous... but a good warrior. Any many ways different from Jingwei.
The Son of Heaven was wise to bring them together. Given her obstinate nature, Yu Luan is not certain
that she is a good choice but will honor the Emperor's decision. As the crane flies off and disappears on
the horizon Yu Luan bids Jingwei goodbye. His heart is broken. Ching leaves him alone in his tears. Jade
Flower wakes to find that Yu Luan is gone. Her husband's death preys upon her mind -- the misery all
comes back -- his death, funeral, everything. Jade tells Liu that they did not consummate their marriage.
At breakfast the Empress can tell something is not right with Jade. She tells the royal couple that her
husband didn't die in battle he was assassinated. She thinks the golden gingko leaf that he left her was a
sign or message about his murder. He knew he was a target. She pulls out the silver dart that is strung
around her neck on the red ribbon and shows it to the Emperor. The Emperor is angered.

The Emperor looks closely at the dart. He says that the dart is an ancient Serpent Shadow dart. Jade
Flower says it must mean that someone high in the empire -- with access to the ancient archives -- killed
her husband. The Emperor says that Wu Lei's death combined with the golden ginkgo leaf means that
they have extended their reach deeply into the Empire and they are able to target the best warriors. Jade
asks who "they" are. The Empress tells her that “they” are The Golden Ginkgo Society -- a rebel society
whose goal is to overthrow the Dragon Throne -- the Empire.

The Emperor believes that the Society has grown stronger. Jade says if she finds her husband's killer she
will also discover the leader of the Golden Ginkgo Society. The Empress warns her not to let her personal
goals cloud her military judgment. Personal vengeance has no place in the Empire. The person will be
brought to justice by the Empire. The Emperor adds that the society wants to overthrow the Empire and
the Manchu Dynasty which means their sons would not succeed them. They would be in exile -- homeless
and unable to rule what they were destined to rule by Heaven. The Emperor tells Jade Flower that he has
a reserve arrow in his quiver. He warns her not to allow her personal motives to stain her loyalty. She will
be given four days to discover the murderer of her husband. After that she will return to the battlefield.

Yu Luan stands by the campfire; his troop had stopped for the night. Some are practicing fighting skills;
some are playing tunes on a qiu, other telling stories. He hears the sound of approaching horses at least
four. The riders announce themselves in a peaceful manner. One of the riders is Jade Flower. The other
three riders were well-trained eunuchs. Yu welcomes Jade who only takes a cup of tea and is consumed
with understanding the terrain -- like any good warrior.

The eunuchs have news from Beijing. One asked if any of the warriors are kung fu masters. Yu Luan
responds that the men are trained in kung fu. There are two schools of kung fu -- they are experts in the
Wu Dung school in which an enemy's energy is used against him. Yu Luan believes that the purpose of
kung fu is to defend the weak and the nation's integrity. Jade Flower says that she was trained in the
Shaolin school -- using the muscles that Heaven gave man. She takes the stance of the Tiger – the tiger is
never prey -- always the predator. Everyone chants for Yu Luan to oppose her. They tease Yu when they
realize Jade is his wife -- he has caught a tiger by the tail! Jade and Yu remove their cumbersome outer
garments and circle one another around the fire as the eunuchs and others cheer them on. Jade uses her
Shaolin skills against Yu Luan’s Wu Dung training. After quite a battle, he is triumphant but he calls her
a "worthy opponent." She recognizes that he let her save face. Yu Luan is glad to see some harmony
between them. She is still beset with grief and loneliness. She looks as though she wishes she were
somewhere else.

Yu asks what Jade was doing in Beijing for the past four days. She responds that she had an assignment
from the Emperor... to find something out. She confesses that she failed to find what she was looking for.
He sympathizes with her but she takes it wrong. Don't pity me, she exclaims. It is empathy not pity. He
also has failed in some missions for the Emperor. Of course we warriors don't accept failure. An
expression on her face makes him ask if there is something she's afraid of. She is not a coward, she says.
But her fear about something is boxing in her energy. She throws the rest of her tea out and walks off.
The cold is taking over even overpowering the warmth of the fire. Jade pitches her tent on the other side
far from Yu Luan's tent. It is a public insult since everyone knows that she is his wife. After all he had
done her a favor by letting her save face. He speaks with Ching about it. He had been trying to help her
unleash what is bothering her. He and Jingwei had often liberated each other's pent-up energy thru
understanding and conversation but Jade is different. He truly has caught a tigress by the tail. Should he
let go of her or... pull?

Yu wakes early the next morning to the sounds of a woman crying. It is Jade; her brave front is
crumbling. He goes to her. She should have come to him last night. She is ashamed that the other warriors
heard her cries. She had covered herself with thick furs to muffle her cries but it didn't work. He knows
that her heart and energy is wounded. The wounded cannot act as warriors until they have recovered. She
reminds him that he is wounded too. Yet he does not show his pain. If he did, he would cry a river. His
heart hurts. Why can't she keep her tears inside like he does. Men and women deal differently with
sorrow. She cannot hold her sorrow in. He feels she is carrying more than sorrow -- she is burdened with
knowledge and fear. She has to admit he's right. He senses that the other warriors are becoming restless.
She notices how he is able to sense things.

Jade Flower wonders if she would have sensed her husband's death she had been trained in Wu Dung
rather than Shaolin. Yu Luan says that it’s not possible to sense who will die in battle. She tells him that
her husband was betrayed and assassinated and that she suspects that it was inside job by someone high in
the Empire. She shows him the silver dart. She warns him that it has a poison tip. He recognizes it as a
Silver Serpent Shadow dart just as the Emperor had. It is not unusual to have enemies within an empire.
There are disloyal nobility among us. It is a dart not from Beijing but from someone who has access to a
royal museum in Nanjing. That is where the Serpent Shadow relics are stored.

Flagrant Willow sticks her head in the tent. She says that people are asking if Jade is all right. Jude tells
Willow that she is rude to invade her tent. She hurries and tries to hide the dart. Jade fears that Willow
saw the dart. Yu trusts Willow. If she saw the dart she will make nothing of it. Jade feels guilty -- she
should have sensed that her husband had an enemy. She looks at the dart again and begins weeping over
it. Yu tells her she must absolve herself of guilt over his death. She could not have known there was a
plot. He should take his own advice. He had been on a solitary mission away from Jingwei when she went
into labor. She had attendants but had he been there perhaps he could have saved her. She had been sick
throughout her pregnancy. He feels uncomfortable with Jade's stare -- as though she's reading his mind.
He doesn't want anyone to know the depth of his guilt. He takes his leave -- stands outside the tent to
regain control again.

Willow and the others are gathered around the fire when Yu leaves Jade's tent. He senses that there is
disapproval toward Jade. He explains that she is grieving over her husband just as he mourns Jingwei. He
asks them to be patient and understanding with both of them. The warriors disperse. They have deep
respect for Yu and had greatly admired Jingwei. They seem to feel more empathy toward Jade. Yu hears
Ching say to his wife, Anbai, that the tigress has a soft heart after all. Anbai says that a tender heart beats
beneath her tough exterior. Their words made Yu feel better. Jade is happy to see Yu return. He asks what
happened that so overwhelmed her with sadness. She had dreamed about her husband's funeral. In the
dream she considering swallowing opium to kill herself. She apologizes for referring to Wu Lei has her
husband. “You are my husband now." In the dream when the coffin was hammered shut, Wu Lei shouted
from within the coffin that he was alive. She tried to free him but she couldn't open the coffin. He
suffocated and died in the coffin.
Yu Luan asks a few questions confirming that he was buried according to tradition. He says the dream
means that her husband does live -- lives within him, Yu Luan. She is not receptive to the idea and infers
that he doesn't suffer his loss as badly as she does. He is angry -- just because he doesn't show it doesn't
mean he's not suffering as deeply as she is. He also lost a child! He didn't ask to be married to her. He is
obeying the Emperor. So the Wu Dung warrior has feelings after all! Yu storms out -- she is a selfish
woman and vain tigress to think her grief surpasses all others. He gazes at the silver crescent moon.
Should he send her back to the Emperor. He decides to be patient. He feels bad that he lost his temper.
Jade feels ashamed of her display of emotions. She is silently satisfied that she was able to provoke Yu
Luan into showing some emotion. She realizes she belittled his loss; she didn't want him to be upset with
her. She apologizes to the other warriors. Ching understands that a loyal wife might want to take opium
upon losing her husband. It is painful to go on living. They respect her for that. Anbai understands her

Jade senses that some of the other women aren't as supportive. Willow is murmuring to the other woman
about her. She should put her sorrow aside for a good man like Yu Luan. A good warrior, a kind man and
handsome the other woman says. Yu greets her in a remote manner. He announces that a courier came in
the night announcing that the Golden Ginkgo Society is gaining power and influence. They want to see
the dynasty's downfall. One of its female followers set herself on fire outside the Forbidden City last
night. Ching said it demonstrated commitment to a cause. The incident is generating some sympathy for
the group. Jade tries to get Yu Luan’s attention; she wanted to share what she knew about the enemy.

The group's grievance with the dynasty is Manchu and not Han Chinese. Their leader is claiming the
Dragon Throne. One of the warriors shouts that it is treason. They should die of a thousand cuts another
shouts. The story of the burning and of the rebels is inspiring the warriors to defend the Empire. They all
draw their swords while Yu Luan still ignores Jade Flower. Yu reminds the warriors to keep cool heads.
The Emperor and Empress have not ordered anyone arrested or executed but the group is a dangerous
threat. They claim to have spiritual powers beyond the ordinary -- that they cannot be harmed by the
sword. Ching suggests that they don't really believe that themselves -- just use it as a ploy to trick their
enemies. Jade tries to tell him that she needs a new sword but he ignores her.

Yu goes on to say that Fortune is currently with the Golden G S for they are growing in number and
influence. They will gain more recognition with the woman burning herself to death. The Empire must
respond. He announces that they will break camp at once. He is afraid that the courier may have been
followed to the camp by the enemy. He tells Jade that she will saddle her horse and ride next to him. She
did not like the way he was ordering her -- her husband never pulled rank on her. He always explained
everything to her, discussed it with her. She struggles not to show her displeasure. She wanted to have the
chance to speak openly with him. He tells her they will ride in the lead. Yu tells Ching and Anbai they
will ride ahead to scout. Jade sees a look of concern on Anbai's face. Anbai whispers that she hopes they
get the chance to talk soon. She tells him she needs a new sword and that she knows something about the
Golden Gingko Society. He shows no interest which makes her angry which she tries to hide from him.

Yu Luan takes over their conversation hardly letting her get a word in. She reins in her horse and stops it.
She tells him how insensitive he is. With all his sensitivity training -- why doesn't he see that she has
something to say. He tells her that her behavior at the meeting told everyone that she had some
information to impart. He didn't want everyone to hear what she had to say. She should remember this.
She is not a child and should stop acting like one. "You have no idea how much my personal prestige has
been stretched to cover your many blunders so far."

She reminds him that she is in mourning. He is also in mourning -- she should try to bear up with as much
dignity and patience as he does. She tells him that it is up to others to comment on his dignity and
patience. He agrees with her. She is surprised by his sudden display of humility. She apologizes for her
breach of propriety at camp. He asks that they try to live in peace with one another and drop their
"weapons." She agrees they have real enemies to fight and should use their energy to fight them together.

He asks her to tell him what she knows about the Gingko Society. She refers to her husband's murder. She
wants him to use her as an infiltrator -- to work under cover. He admires her passion although her
emotions may be too much for the subtleties called for in the mission. She had spent four days in Beijing
and found out very little. People will tell more if they think it's unimportant to the person. They discuss
the silver dart and its source. She had found a note in her rice bowl in the palace: "If I wanted to kill you,
you'd already be dead -- just like Wu Lei. If you want to live stop asking questions." She didn't tell the
Emperor or anyone about it. Yu thinks the Emperor should know. Someone evil is close to the Dragon
Throne. Yu should be warned at once. He turns his horse around to head back to the palace. She follows
calling after him. She has something else to say. She needs a new sword. She bursts into tears of

Jade charges after Yu but he gets ahead of her and she loses sight of him. She returns to the camp where
Anbai tells her that Yu is tending to a camp fire -- he is a master at sending smoke signals and is sending
messages to Beijing. Jade discusses her relationship with Yu -- Anbai says he is a typical man but he is
the most dedicated man she knows. She tells Anbai how her husband treated her. Willow is nearby. She
says maybe her dead husband paid too much attention to her on the battlefield and got himself killed.

Jade stands and challenges Willow to defend her words but quickly remembers that she has no sword. She
challenges her to fight hand to hand. She assumes the stance of a tiger forming her hands into claws.
Willow is cool as a cucumber. "All in good time she says," refusing to stand and fight. Jade feels she has
a victory because Willow refused to fight. She is the victor by default. She makes a dig about her size and
never missing a meal. Anbai tells Willow to apologize to Jade -- she answers again "all in good time."
Anbai thinks she's jealous. Willow is upset that Jade got a new husband so fast. Her husband has been
dead for years. Willow is considered valuable perhaps for political reasons. Yu returns and tells Jade that
since she lost her sword she must earn the right to have another. Her service to the country has earned her
many swords, she says. It is a black mark against her that she lost a sword in battle. She can rectify that
by taking someone's sword in a contest. That person will then have to earn a new sword the same way. Yu
chooses Willow – Jade will battle Willow for her sword.

Willow draws her sword and makes it sing. She slices the air sweeping it from side to side. She raises it
with two hands and advances toward Jade. Bow first, Yu says and then move away from the other
warriors. She is shocked that he is so cavalier about what she is facing -- a much larger woman who has a
sword. Her hands form into crescent moons and she assumes the Tiger's fighting stance. She breathes
deeply to remain calm. After a free-for-all fight that is very close, Yu calls the fight over. Since Jade did
not capture the sword, Yu declares Willow to be the winner. Willow is injured and bloodied from the
fight. They bow to each other as Yu instructs.

Jade drinks a cup of Anbai's herbal brew to clear her head. She feels better. She felt that she put up a good
fight not having a weapon and all and that Yu should have complimented her instead of declaring Willow
the winner. Anbai tells her she is an excellent fighter. Even men are reluctant to go up against Willow.
But Jade is upset -- she lost and still has no sword. Anbai tells her that her sword will find her. Anbai tells
her she won everyone's admiration and thinks she was the real winner. Willow smiles at her. They are
able to laugh together. She acknowledges that Jade had kept up with her. Suddenly she spots Yu smiling
at her. He is waiting on his horse with her horse saddled next to his. He gestures for her to mount her
horse. They will head to Beijing. When he tells her "well done" and that Willow is a formidable
opponent, she really has to grit her teeth. She still needs a sword. All in good time he tells her -- using
Willow's words. Did he conspire with Willow?

They are pitching their tents in a grove of trees by a stream where they shelter for the night. Jade doesn't
want to erect her tent near Yu's. Anbai warns her not to spoil the progress she made with the others by
looking like a sore loser. She confesses she is a sore loser -- she hates to lose. She pitches her tent near
Yu's to save face. She does not sleep well. Anger over the fight with Willow consumes her. Unable to
sleep she warms some tea at the campfire. She takes in the night sky and smell of nature which she and
Wu Lei had always enjoyed together. Suddenly there is a movement and she crouches lower like a tiger
ready to pounce. She sees that it’s Yu but springs at him any way. Yu winds up on the ground on his back
with Jade on top of him. He calls her a little cat. Suddenly he smiles and holds her gently in his hands
"Here kitty" he teases. She thought of her husband and of the rape -- she claws Yu across his face. He
grunts in pain. He pushes her off of him. She tumbles into the dust and leaves. Now he straddles her not
allowing her to stand. He rains blows down on her shoulders and neck.

He did not hurt her and she realizes he is holding back. He winds her long hair around his hands and gives
it a tug. "Ah, tigress, I am pulling your tail." He calls her a nasty little cat. How did her husband stand her.
He stands and storms off. The next morning, the others see Yu's battle scars. Jade's pride is hurt but it is
an invisible pain that others don't readily see.

Anbai still is her friend. She is worried about jade. Yu snubs Jade all morning. She does not ride by him
and keeps her head down. Even her horse's head is down. Anbai rides along side smiling and supporting
her. They have lunch together in a copse of trees away from the others. Jade is happy to have her
friendship. They collect spongy bark from the trees for water. Jade asks Anbai about her husband
Lieutenant Ching. He is a kind, strong and intelligent warrior. They are close spiritually. She can
understand the agony of losing her husband has been for Jade. At dinner that evening, Jade wonders why
Anbai seems to be cozying up to Willow. the others are afraid of her strength -- perhaps Anbai is as well.
However, what Anbai is doing is spreading the rumor about the fight between Jade and Yu being an
accident. If Willow believes it, she can convince the others.

Later, the rumor mill works. Yu looks relieved and seems his relaxed, calm self basking in the high regard
of the others. Jade is also relieved that the incident is behind her. Yu gives signals to Anbai that he wants
to talk to her privately. She lingers behind and makes them tea. He thinks a lot of Jade as does Anbai.
He's afraid that she hates him. He doesn't expect love from her but he does expect duty. But duty has an
element of love -- love of country, love of one’s commander, devotion. Anbai tells him a parable about a
young woman with an abusive husband. She was told to get the whisker of a tiger to make a love potion
with. The potion would turn her husband into a kind and gentle man. After quite a few attempts, she was
able to get the whisker and make the potion due to her patient and gentle manner with the tiger. Yu gets it
– he is the one who needs to tame the tiger. Anbai assures him that Jade will respond to kindness.

Later Anbai tells Jade that Yu admires her but she is different from Jingwei who was quiet and easily
tamed. She is the opposite. Anbai explains that even though Jingwei was a warrior, too, she was known
more for her diplomacy than her warrior triumphs. She was not a tigress; she was more like a bird -- a
crane that flies above the battle. But Yu sees her good traits -- it will take time for each of them to
appreciate the other since they are both different than the other’s previous spouse. Anbai reminds her that
she needs to show loyalty to her new husband. Later, she drifts off and dreams of a crane soaring in the
skies. In the dream, Yu Luan enters her tent as the crane dips down nearby… it seems the crane wants to
be with Yu through Jade. Jade and Yu embrace, kiss and make passionate love. She wakes with a start;
she takes the dart in her hands and begs Wu Lei’s forgiveness. She doesn't want to betray him.

The next morning, Ching has a message and gift from Yu. He wants her to meet him on the Yongding
River. He will escort her there and she is to bring the gift with her. She opens it -- it is her old sword the
one she dropped in the alleyway while fighting off the rapist. Ching tells her that Yu said she earned her
sword. She is astonished – how had he found it?! Jade and Ching travel through the rugged desert to the
banks of the Yongding River. She is impressed with Ching's protective nature and knowledge of his
pathway. When they reach the river, he rows her over to the island where Yu is on a coracle made of
animal skin. When Jade steps off the coracle, she feels uneasy seeing only a long-abandoned island.
Suddenly, Yu emerges from the shadows. Jade asks him how he found her sword. He will tell her later.
Yu takes her to a tent in a small clearing. The tent is warm; there is a fire to warm her wet, cold feet. Yu
makes sure she is comfortable and warm. He takes her wet shoes and stockings off. She asks why he's
being so kind. I am trying to tame the tiger, he answers. He offers her soup which he feeds to her. He
holds a cup of rice wine to her lips. He wants to taste the rice wine from her lips.

Jade does not resist his kiss. She thinks of a beautiful white crane. She pulls him closer, kissing him back.
He begins to undress her. She panics. It's too soon, she says. She speaks of her loyalty to her dead
husband. He reminds her that he is her husband now and that she must be loyal to him and to the Son of
Heaven. He feels that Jingwei is drawing him to her. She spots the platform shoes that she left at the
palace across the way. Next to them is Wu Lei's favorite book of poetry. An elderly woman in a village he
passed through gave him the book. He took the shoes so she wouldn't breach protocol. The Emperor had
him follow her after the death of her husband. He was there in the alley when she lost her sword. He knew
she could handle herself but he took the sword because it would identify her as the killer. She realizes that
he's been looking after her for a while. She sees Wu Lei in Yu and sees Jingwei in herself. Upset, she
stands and grabs her sword and tears out of the tent to the shore. When she trips on some roots, Yu
catches up with her. They get into a struggle but he is finally able to subdue her. He tells her she is
suffering from inner conflict. When he lets her go -- she grabs him by his genitals; he yelps in pain. He
slaps her face hard. He aims chopping blows at her elbows forcing her to her knees and to lose her grip.
She gets away and dives into the water.

The water is freezing but the distance to shore is short. She runs into a strong current which pulls her
down. She resurfaces, struggling for air. She hears Wu Lei voice in her head. She tells him she feels she
could love Yu but doesn't want to be disloyal to him. The current has her trapped. She can't escape. She
calls for Yu’s help. Through his precise instructions, he is able to guide her back to the shore. He pulls her
out and carries her back to the tent. He lays her by the warm fire and pulls her wet clothes off. He pulls
his wet clothing off and crawls under the covers. She cuddles up to him and begins to purr like a kitten
which makes him laugh. They begin making love. “You saved my life,” she tells him. She adds that Wu
Lei and Jingwei seem to be drawing them together. As the fire dies out, Jade clings to the dart strung
around her neck. She is still determined to find her husband's assassin. She owes her husband and the
Emperor her loyalty but she must find the killer.

Yu is already awake and about when Jade wakes. He tells her they must leave. The troop has been
ordered by to the capital. They will travel there by boat. She tells him that she is more likely to find the
assassin of her dead husband there. He tells her that her first mission is to do the Emperor's bidding -- her
personal goal is secondary. Yu vows to help her find the assassin although their first mission is to destroy
the Golden Gingko Society. She thinks the two are linked. She tells him about the jeweled box and the
golden ginkgo leaf inside. Her husband may have been on their trail and ready to expose the betrayers. Yu
believes that the assassin had access to the archives in Nanjing and stole the Serpent Shadow dart there
and has access to the royal court in Beijing because she had been threatened there. She says it must be
someone of high rank. Yu concedes that the two missions may be the same. “Find the traitor in the palace
and you will find my husband's murderer.” They must hurry back and defend the Dragon Throne.

Jade and Yu appear before the Emperor and Empress. A beautiful concubine is serving them. She is
obviously attracted to Yu and insists on personally serving him, brushing the eunuchs aside. She kneels
before him, bowing her head. Jade is jealous. She tries to hide her emotions but she sees that the Empress
who is very perceptive is watching her. Thankfully, Yu shows absolutely no interest in the girl. The
young woman glances angrily at Jade who knows that a commander of Yu's stature can take on more than
one woman yet he does not. Jade and Yu discuss political and strategic considerations concerning the
Society. The Emperor displays a map and shows how the Golden Gingko threat is growing. The Empress
tells Yu that it is crucial that someone infiltrate the Society’s Shanghai organization to uncover their
plans. The Empress suggests that a woman warrior would be a good for the mission. The Emperor thinks
that a warrior couple would be best. The initial infiltration could be done by a lone female warrior. Jade is
eager for the Empress to name her but she tries to stay cool. The Emperor asks who Yu would
recommend. To Jade's great disappointment, he says Willow.

Jade nearly spits her tea out and voices her disagreement. The Emperor tells her not to question her
husband. Yu tells him that Jade is generally very respectful. She is grateful that he lied -- she doesn't want
to be beheaded. The Empress asks Jade what she thinks of Willow. “She smells and is unattractive; she is
more an animal than a woman.” The Emperor comments that they can't use a seduction strategy with
Willow. Yu points out that Willow is his choice because it was her sister who burned herself to death at
the gate of the Forbidden City. Willow would have motivation to avenge her sister whose mind was taken
over by the Society. The Empress suggests that the mission be given to Yu and Jade. Jade's beauty is a
spare arrow in her quiver. She is expert in martial arts and of course Yu is a great warrior. The Emperor
says they are to assess the Society's presence in Shanghai, infiltrate it and cause it to implode from within.

Jade and Yu both eagerly accept the notion. They will stay in the same bed chambers as their wedding
night. Jade is afraid -- she was threatened when she was at the palace the last time. Yu will remind the
Emperor about the threat to Jade. Yu doesn't look forward to telling Willow who wanted the mission that
she was not selected. Jade is curious why he is worried about having to tell Willow. That night there is a
banquet in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. It is being held in honor of twenty people -- Yu Luan's troop of
elite spousal warriors. The Emperor and Empress are enjoying themselves. Their grown sons are
enamored with the warriors and joined them at the tables. Prince Li stops by Jade and Yu's table. After he
leaves she whispers to Yu that she does not understand why the Emperor and Empress are only now
addressing the problem of the GGS. They have been gaining territory for some time. It’s palace politics.
One must be aware of the empire's flaws and weaknesses to serve them well.

She thought he was "blindly loyal" but she is wrong. Being blindly loyal, he says, is not being loyal at all.
Just like a wife – does a man stop loving his wife when he finds she is not perfect or is that when real love
and loyalty actually begin? It’s the same with the love of nation and loyalty to our rulers. Those who seek
influence flatter their majesties and tell them only good news. Do the Emperor and Empress understand
that the society is a serious threat? It is or they would not have given them the mission. Actors and
entertainers perform for the dinner guests. Suddenly, a dozen eunuchs burst into the hall. They have
terrible new. A courier enters and bows to the Emperor and Empress and delivers a message in secret. The
Emperor announces that Nanjing has fallen to the Society. The ancient capital is in the hands of the
enemy. Everyone is upset. Prince Li bangs his hand on a table so hard he smashes the wood in two
sending silver platters of food and drink everywhere. He wants to lead the imperial troops in retaliation.
The Emperor's other sons join in and offer to help lead their forces. Lt. Ching says must besiege Nanjing.
The Emperor says they must develop a new strategy and tactics over the next few days before they act.
The empire will take Nanjing back. Yu is instructed to submit a plan for the dispatch of his troops within
the hour.

Yu confirms to Jade that they will now travel to Nanjing instead of Shanghai. He stresses how dangerous
the mission will be. Yu says she needs more training which insults her. She is a tigress but she must learn
more about qi – attaining subtlety and not showing emotions. Willow is aware that they have been chosen
to go to Shanghai as spies and then onto Nanjing. Jade is confused – how does Willow know these secret
plans? Yu tells Willow not to speak of the mission to anyone else. He tells Willow that he recommended
her but the Emperor wanted a couple. She complains about the Emperor not finding her a husband so she
could be a part of a warrior couple. She will have a husband all in due time. Jade and Willow glare at each
other. Jade's hands form into tiger claws. He tells Willow to keep the faith – she is an excellent warrior.
He reminds her that the I Ching teaches that patience furthers. Jade is impressed, touched by Yu’s ability
to deal with Willow who now seems softer and more vulnerable. Yu tells her that Willow is younger than
she looks; widowhood has been difficult for her. He trusts that Willow will not tell about their mission.

Jade and Yu are shocked when they return to their chamber. The Emperor is lying on the large bed. He
stops them from bowing. Being his Nanjing spies is their most important mission. Yu must know the
enemy's thoughts before he thinks them and actions before he takes them. They will be his ears and eyes.
Jade had been surprised by his visit. She must enter training before they leave. The Society's power is the
power of persuasion not their military might. That night, Yu lures her to bed – they will not have a
comfortable place to sleep for a while. She feels herself melting.

The next few days they live out of tents and cook meals over fires. Yu tells Jade that Willow will be an
important part of her training. She is a master in the arts of dissembling and disguise. But Willow had left
camp and was nowhere to be found. When Ching refers to Willow as “Teacher Fragrant Willow" Jade
rolls her eyes. Anbai has to cover her mouth to keep from laughing. Jade tells her that if she were in love
with Yu she'd be jealous of how much Yu thinks of her. Anbai assures her that there is no romance
between them. Yu was loyal to Jingwei. He is not over her yet. Jades asks if she thinks he loves her. He
likes and respects you and finds her desirable. It's a good start.

Anbai asks if she loves Yu. She likes him when he's not praising Willow. Ching asks if he should send
troops out to look for Willow. Yu trusts that she’ll return. Some birds are not meant to be caged. Jade and
Anbai are listening in. Jade thinks that Yu's behavior proves her point -- that he favors her. Yu tells Jade
he will be training her and Anbai and Ching will assist. They are expert in understanding the spiritual
energy of qi. They begin at once. First Jade sits across from Anbai trying to sense the nature of her
thoughts but cannot. Yu tells Anbai to "read" Jade. Anbai slips into a deep meditative state. Jade feels
uncomfortable that Anbai is reaching into her depths.

Anbai tells Jade that her heart is locked up but there are little cracks of light. She tries to be brave but has
little peace. Tears brim in Jade's eyes. Anbai tells her that she has too much vengeance in her heart – her
sorrow and anger are first in her mind. She has killed someone off the battlefield. Being in this state of
mind drains and changes one inside. Jade tries her hand at reading Anbai’s thoughts. She senses a pure
spirit -- nothing more. Suddenly Jade gasps and proclaims that Anbai also killed a man outside of battle.
Tears brim in Anbai's eyes and nods in agreement. The women embrace and are sobbing. Yu proclaims
that a healing just took place which will make them outstanding warriors with clear minds.

During one training session, Jade hears Wu Lei's voice deep within her. He will always protect and love
her. She feels blessed that has a new husband and that her first husband is still with her. As part of the
training, each of the warriors including Yu challenge Jade Flower to a fighting match – from the weakest
to the strongest. She is channeling qi energy expertly while incorporating it with her Shaolin style. Yu is
pleased with her progress; she is a fast learner. After defeating the last of the warriors, it is time to battle
with Yu. She promises not to hold back and she doesn't. After a back-and-forth battle, Yu winds up on the
ground with Jade on top of him. She climbs off, her knees shaking; they are both exhausted. Ching rushes
over to help Yu up. The warriors are all stunned into silence. Yu tells Jade that she has won. She tries to
smile but she doesn't have enough energy left for that. She loses consciousness and faints.

When she comes to, Jade is lying in her tent. Yu is preparing to head for Beijing. Jade, dressed as a fine
lady, will visit the blacksmith’s shop where she learned about the poison dart to try to learn more. After
she passes this last test, they will head for Nanjing to defeat the Society. She is sure that Wu Lei lost his
life because he was on their trail. She glances at the ginkgo leaf in the gift box before she leaves. Using
her newly acquired qi energy skills, she gets in a lotus position holding the box. The image of an oval
encompassing Wu Lei's face comes to mind. He draws a black dagger and a female viper – a woman with
much power is involved in his murder. As Wu's image begins to fade, she sees the image of a crane in
flight over snow-topped mountains. She does not tell Yu about her vision. They leave for Beijing.

The shop owner doesn't recognize Jade in all her finery. He is reluctant to answer her questions about the
dart. But she is weakening his resistance with her charm. He tells her a little about the dart's construction;
Jade shows little interest as though it’s unimportant to her. After leaving the shop, a man in a red hooded
tunic slips into the shop. There is a series of small black daggers on his tunic. The stranger, known as
Black Dagger, wants the owner to make a silver object from a mold he brought. The owner gasps when he
sees the mold – it is a replica of the mold used to make the ancient silver Serpent Shadow dart. He does
not reveal that the fine lady who just visited was asking about the same dart. Black Dagger says he found
it in a pile of old iron molds in Nanjing. The shop owner asks what he plans to put in the middle chamber;
in the old days it was used for poison. The man says the dart is for sport.

Black Dagger pushes the shop owner to make the dart. He vows to give him all the gold and silver on his
money belt if he makes the dart. The shop owner is too afraid not to agree and besides - he'd never seen so
much money before in his life. The owner makes the dart and hands it to Black Dagger who turns his
back for a moment. Black Dagger turns and flicks the dagger at the shop owner; it lodges in his throat.
Black Dagger takes the gold and silver back and plucks the dart from the shop owner’s throat. He leaves
as the owner slowly dies from the poison.

Yu and Jade meet with the Emperor and Empress. They will disguise themselves as knife peddlers. It is a
clever plan – they will have access to all segments of the society and they will be armed. The Emperor
and Empress are impressed adding that Ching and Anbai will join them in their mission in Nanjing,
arriving a few days after they do. Nanjing sits on the Yangtze River with the Ningzhen mountain range as
its backdrop. The palace closely resembles Beijing's Forbidden City. Yu and Jade arrive at the Yangtze
River near Nanjing on horseback wearing the apparel of peasants. Jade spots golden monkeys, swallows
and eagles all about. They sell their horses, purchase a boat and hire a fisherman to steer it. Jade spots a
large alligator at the side of the boat. Suddenly the beast flops on board; Jade is terrified. Yu is able to kill
the beast by stabbing the beast with his multiple knives. Jade throws herself into Yu's arms, grateful that
he saved her. He cautions the fisherman not to tell this tale to anyone. He does not want attention brought
to them. Yu gives the fisherman a pouch with silver pieces and promises more if he hears no rumors about
the incident. He will hire him again when they seek passage to Shanghai. They say silence is golden but
mine will be silver, the fisherman says.

As a ruse, Yu and Jade help the fisherman unload his catch when they disembark in Nanjing. Several
fishermen ask to have their knives sharpened. Jade sharpens them with their whetstone and leather strop.
They easily infiltrate the city by offering their services to private citizens as well as palace guards who
want their swords sharpened. They learn that there is unrest among the citizenry many of whom do not
consider themselves members of the Society. They work their way toward the Forbidden City where the
Society leader, Wei-Ling, resides and has appointed himself governor. Peddlers are given free rein in the
city and can wander about. They take a break and sit in the shade of a ginkgo tree which is the oldest tree
on earth. Jade likes to feel the earth beneath her feet. She playfully tosses a handful of dirt at Yu who
brushes it off. His peddler apparel couldn't be much dirtier. Jade is thirsty; Yu drips dew from a ginkgo
leaf into her mouth. They decide to make the ginkgo tree their meeting place if they become separated.
She wishes they could stay there forever. He asks if she wants to stay with him forever. Yes, she says
demurely, as long as there is dew on the ginkgo leaves. She tells Yu she can leave the past behind -- Wu
Lei's death, the silver dart, the man she killed, the hasty marriage, the fighting. She looks intensely at Yu -
- falling deeply in love with him.

Yu and Jade approach the Donghua Gate at the palace. They have a friendly chat with the gatekeeper. He
allows Jade to sharpen his sword which she does at no charge. Yu tries to bribe the gatekeeper to allow
them entry into the palace grounds. The gatekeeper is a little reluctant to let them in. Society members
aren’t greedy and have no love of money. Yu decides to demonstrate his knife skills to attract interest and
respect. Yu impresses the crowds who storm the gate and force the gatekeeper to allow Yu and Jade in.
Yu corrects the gatekeeper when he refers to them "Knife and Wife." Jade is his sister not his wife. Jade
will be more appealing to men if they think she is single. Her beauty and sexual appeal is one of their best
weapons. The gatekeeper directs them to the imperial kitchens. Yu impresses the kitchen staff with his
proficiency with knives. They are sure that Wei-Ling will welcome him. Word spreads and the Son of
Heaven, Wei-Ling summons them to his throne which is reminiscent of the great Dragon Throne in

Wei-Ling says he is a man of the people just like the peddlers. The Manchu Emperor is out for himself.
He will take the Dragon Throne and give it back to the people, the Han people -- the true inheritors of
China. Wei-Ling is impressed with Yu’s skills and is attracted to Jade. Wei-Ling is almost childlike in his
zeal for the show Yu and Jade put on. Wei orders that Yu and Jade be taken to their new chambers, have
baths and new clothing appropriate for the palace. Jade gets word that Wei-Ling wants her to be his
concubine. She sneaks into Yu's chambers, telling him that she cannot bear to be Wei's concubine. He
can't be more than 18 -- it would be like seducing a little boy. Yu says it may be necessary for the mission
but he has another plan. He learned that there is not true devotion to the new Son of Heaven. Jade needs
to charm the young Wei-Ling but put him off for the next few days. She asks that a pan of beef blood be
brought to her each night so she can claim she is having her monthly indisposition. She will soak her
clothes in the blood to prove it. Yu likes the plan.

Yu, who will be working in the kitchen, meets Wang Chaochang who is the main chef and is obese and
advanced in years. He tells Yu he has no political leanings -- the Society keeps him on because he's good
at what he does. Besides their swords couldn't penetrate thru all his fat, laughing at his joke. He is cross
and ill-tempered with his staff. Yu is given chopping duties and will attend to the fire. He collects a pan of
beef blood telling Wang that the blood is healthy drink. Wang mentions that his sister is quite beautiful.
Yu maintains a cool exterior even when he sees that Wei-Ling is gazing at Jade with desire. He hears
Wei-Ling knock on Jade's door that night. Wei-Ling’s disappointment is obvious and his words are
scathing as he retreats from her room. Yu smiles, secretly relieved. With access to the kitchen, Yu is able
to send messages using smoke signals to watchers who will convey them to Beijing. He lets them know
that the Society does not have a strong grip of power in Nanjing.

Yu and Jade attend a speech given by Wei-Ling to his household staff in the Imperial Hall. The
unenthusiastic reaction to Wei-Ling’s words confirms that the people will not defend Wei-Ling. Jade
spots a woman across the room who looks like Willow. The people celebrate to music and chant “Chinese
First!” after the speech. As Wei strides from the room he orders Jade to follow him. The chef tells Yu that
Jade won't be able to resist Wei much longer. Yu decides to see what is going on with Jade and Wei in her
chambers. He finds two guards standing at her door. His door is right across the hall. He pretends he is
having a problem opening his door so he can listen to the voices coming from Jade's room. Wei is
complaining that Jade's feet weren't bound. They have a few angry words. Yu is afraid that Wei will strike
Jade or accuse her of treason. Wei-Ling is going to send a woman to bind her feet. She reminds him that
she is indisposed. He thinks she's lying. He knows that her brother asked for blood from the kitchen. It is
a strength drink, she tells him. Later, Yu sneaks over to Jade’s room. She will not be able to put him off
much longer. Yu wonders who told Wei-Ling about the blood. Had to be the fat chef!

Jade thinks Wei-Ling’s a puppet but has no idea who is pulling the strings? The mission is growing more
dangerous. They sit and face each other in a lotus position, touching foreheads. No matter how dangerous
it becomes, they were chosen for the mission and they have each other to carry it out. He starts to leave
for his room but he notices a ghastly look on Jade’s face. She holds up a Serpent Shadow dart -- newly
minted but unmistakable. She takes the one from around her neck and holds it up to the new one. They are
identical. She found the new one on her bed. How did it get there?! It must have dropped from Yu’s robe!

Jade accuses Yu of killing her husband. If she pricked her finger on the tip of the dart she would be
poisoned. Is that what he wanted? You monster! Yu denies it. It is not his dart! It must have been planted
on him by the chef. She lunges at him still not convinced. So the chef knows who she is -- who they are?
He knows my husband was killed with the same kind of dart? We are discovered. She might as well kill
him before Wei does. He struggles to remain calm but admits that they are exposed. A servant knocks on
the door. Wei-Ling summons Jade to his royal bedchamber. She glares at Yu and says she will deal with
him later. Yu needs help. He must find Ching! Yu goes outside on the parapet to settle his qi to figure out
his next steps. As he stands there he sees the smoke signal that says, "assassination approved." He races to
Wei-Ling's chambers. He will save Jade and kill Wei-Ling. It would prove his loyalty to her.

Jade walks into the Wei's bedchamber. She waits for Wei-Ling. A woman enters the chamber to build a
fire. It’s Anbai disguised as a chambermaid! Jade is overjoyed and embraces her friend. She is devastated.
Perhaps her fate is to be a concubine. All her dreams were dashed. She hates Wei-Ling. She had hoped for
a new love with Yu but he has betrayed her. Jade tells her that she thinks Yu betrayed her and killed her
husband. Anbai assures her that Yu is dedicated to the Empire and would have had no reason to kill her
husband. He was killed by the Golden Gingko. Someone planted the silver dart on Yu. It is now
dangerous for them because they are exposed. There is someone at the door saying that the chief
concubine is here. Jade is confused. Anbai opens the door. It is Willow who pushes past Anbai. She
warns Jade that Wei-Ling will be there any minute. Willow says they know that Jade and Yu are spies but
Wei-Ling still wants Jade. Wei-Ling is a puppet. Who pulls the puppet's springs, Jade asks.

Willow takes off her large robes, untangles her hair, bathes her face which transforms her; she is young
and beautiful. Willow tells Jade and Anbai to go. She will take care of Wei-Ling. She tells Jade that Yu
did not kill her first husband. Planting the dart on him was a plot of the Golden Ginkgo to get to Yu
because of who he is. Willow says it is Yu who is the spare arrow in the Emperor's quiver. That is all she
can say. Now go -- escape! Jade and Anbai tear out of the room and run down the corridor. They race
down the corridor not knowing where they are going. Jade wants to escape to the streets. She stops and
employs qi – so she isn’t fearful. They are able to slip through an opening of a chained door. They find
themselves in a capacious chamber used for storage. Jade urges Anbai to go back since they won't be
looking for her. Anbai is sure she is also exposed as is Ching. Wang the chef probably knew who they
were when they were hired. He is in league with Wei-Ling.

Anbai feels she is in as much danger as Jade. Jade is sure that Wei will send out guards looking for her.
She comments on how surprised she was to see how beautiful Willow is without her baggy uniform. Jade
is still consumed with distrust for Yu. Anbai tells her that Yu is a good man and not a traitor. Someone
planted the dart on him just as Willow said. They wonder what kind of room they are in. They see maps
on the tables and walls. Anbai notes that they are recent maps. Jade sees that there is an X marked on the
island where she and Yu stayed. There are also X's in the area where Yu's troops were camped. It
confirms that the enemy knows all about them and their movements. Jade feels as though the enemy is
moving in on her.

Why weren’t we killed on the island?! Perhaps Yu is their double agent. Anbai opens an old trunk that
contains an assortment of weapons that bear the imperial seal. There are some newer weapons that were
apparently stolen from the imperial military. Jade says that this must be a war room for the Society. They
look through some papers. Jade reads the words "Kill them all." She also reads the words, "Madam Viper
wills it." Who is Madam Viper?! Could it be Fragrant Willow? She is also known as Silver Swan -- could
she be a double agent for Golden Ginkgo? On a map of Shanghai there are four Xs drawn -- for herself,
Yu, Anbai and Ching – marks that lead from Nanjing to Shanghai. Anbai says they have a duty to leave
with this knowledge even if it means leaving their husbands behind. Jade is hurt by Yu's betrayal but she
will fight on. They look around for a secret way to exit the room. Someone is suddenly unlocking the

padlock on the door. The door swings open. It is a tall man in a guard's uniform with a sword in hand. It is
too late to hide they must fight.

The guard raises his sword as if to strike Jade but then laughs. He tells her she is summoned to Wei-Ling's
bedchamber. Anbai comes with her posing as her aide. Jade hesitates at Wei-Ling's door. Anbai
disappears into one of the empty bedchambers. The door flies open and a hand grabs Jade pulling her into
the room. It is Silver Swan (Willow) She appears to be wounded, blood spreading across the silk dress
she is wearing. Willow says she isn’t hurt badly but Wei-Ling is dead. She killed him. She shows Jade his
dead body. She said he was nothing more than a boy. He was a puppet of a very powerful couple -- his
parents. But Silver Swan doesn't know who they are. Willow reveals that her husband was assassinated,
too by a poisoned dagger -- which is what she killed Wei with. Without her husband who was a powerful
magistrate, Nanjing became vulnerable. She is sure he was killed by the Society but she has never learned
who the leaders were. Strings could be pulled all the way from Beijing. Jade asks if she knows who
Madam Viper is. Not a real name; clearly an alias. Willow tells Jade to escape. She was the last one to see
him; she will be blamed for the murder. Go to Yu, Willow says, he is on the fifth parapet signaling
Beijing with smoke messages.

The aristocracy is alerted and alarmed. Prince Li is leading the imperial troops here. Based on Yu's
signals, they will attack and try to oust the GGS power structure. It will at least demoralize and weaken
the society. The troops will be there by dawn. Jade must escape – she may be mistaken for the enemy. If
the fighting becomes fierce, she will display Wei-Ling's body from the balcony. Word will spread that
their leader is dead. It will demoralize them. There is a knock on the door. Jade is supposed to be in the
room; she tells Willow to hide. Jade makes sure that Wei's dead body is covered. Willow hides in the wall
length rice paper windows. There is a guard at the door. She tells the guard that Wei-Ling is asleep. She
has exhausted him with pleasure. The guard pushes past her, enters the room and pulls the covers off of
Wei-Ling’s body. Just as he suspected! Jade asks who he is. He responds that he has many names -- some
call him Black Dagger. Jade thinks back to her dream when Wu Lei warned her about a black dagger. She
tells the guard she did not kill him; there is an assassin in the palace.

He doesn’t believe her. It is his job as a loyal palace guard to kill her for what she's done. He calls her a
spy and an assassin. Jade begins to retreat. He says he’s the devil himself and that she is about to die. Jade
accuses him of killing her husband, Wu Lei. He was killed because he knew too much about the Society.
He was hot on the trail. Black Dagger boasts about watching him die and now he will see her die with the
same poison. He pulls out a Serpent dart. She hears Wu Lei’s voice telling her she is not alone. She hears
Jingwei say she will fight by his side. She has to fight down her aggressive tiger impulses. She had to use
the power of qi. They become embroiled in a vicious battle. In the end, he has her on the floor.

Black Dagger's foot is on her chest; he laughs maniacally. But she won’t give up; she fights back. Willow
comes out of the shadows and takes over the battle, ultimately killing him. Wu Lei is avenged; now she
must escape. Jade says she cannot escape and let Willow take the blame for the murders. She will face
execution! Willow will stay in Nanjing and rally the aristocracy as the leader of the resistance. Jade must
go. They search Black Dagger's body for any clue to his real identity. They find a note that reads,
"Beloved Brother. kill all four. Our Han Chinese lineage will emerge triumphant in the contest for the
Dragon Throne.” There is a Chinese character that means "serpent." If they find out who Black Dagger is
they will learn who the puppet masters are. Willow gives her the sheaves of papers they found and tells
her to go. She can read them all when she's safe and out of Nanjing. Jade slips out of the room leaving
Willow behind with the two dead men.

Jade and Anbai run to the fifth parapet to find Yu. A group of men is gathered at one end of the parapet.
Yu and Ching are among them. Jade wants to run to Yu and beg his forgiveness but she has to maintain
her decorum to avoid suspicion. They must flee before the Society knows that they know they have been
discovered. As they agreed days before, they will all go their separate ways for now but meet under the
large gingko tree outside the palace walls. Later, Jade is able to talk privately with Yu. She tells him that
Wei-Ling and a man known as Black Dagger are both dead – killed by Willow. She tells him that Black
Dagger admitted to killing Wu Lei. Yu is heartened that Willow will rally the aristocracy against GGS.
He must send signals that Wei-Ling is dead. He will risk making one more such signal from the kitchen.
She warns that the chef, Wang, knows he is a spy. He was in league with Wei-Ling. He will keep up the
pretense because Wang doesn't know that Wei is dead. They will be gone by the time he does. The
kitchen is probably abandoned by now and he'll have it to himself. She apologizes for thinking he killed
her husband. He forgives her -- he understands the emotion of her loss. He tells her to stay in the
chambers until he returns. If he doesn't return, go to the gingko tree and wait. Yu gets off a smoke
message in the kitchen. Just as he finishes, Wang enters. He asks if Yu knows that his beautiful sister
stabbed Wei-Ling in her bedroom and that he's dead.

“No!” Yu answers feigning horror and surprise. She is being taken to the dungeon. He best go to her
before the guards have their way with her. They are arguing over who goes first. Wei's body is still in the
bedroom. There is an odd look of sorrow in Wang's eyes. Yu hurries down the stone stairs to the dungeon.
Jade stands behind bars of a small cage. Her face lights up when she sees Yu. He feels he can kill all four
guards who are tending to her. But he controls his emotions and calls upon qi to help him stay cool and
methodical. Yu is able to overwhelm all four guards. After defeating them, he finds the key to unlock
Jade's cell and frees her. She throws herself upon him. They head to the gingko tree to meet Anbai and
Ching and then will all travel by boat. They hear voices and loud noises. Women are screaming and men
are shouting in the streets. The imperial troops are invading the city.

Yu did not get away from the palace as quickly as he wanted to. It will be impossible to get to the tree.
Jade and Yu both assume fighting stances as they hear someone coming down the dungeon steps. It is
Wang. He tells them he can help them. He knew about the signals that Yu has been sending but did not
tell anyone. He asks for Yu's protection. He knows a secret route to the old drum and bell tower where
Prince Li is ensconced with his troops. Yu fears it's a trap. Wang breaks down and weeps. He is feeling
deep sorrow. The Society is fighting everywhere in the city. Many are being rounded up by the invading
imperial soldiers. They are aware of Wei's death. “There is no one left to betray you -- the Society will be
defeated -- they are no match for the Emperor's army.” He prays that Yu will recommend mercy for him.

Yu tells him to take them to the drum and bell tower. He promises not to forget this favor. He leads them
to a stone door that is almost imperceptible in the wall. He throws himself against the door; it swings
open revealing a dark passageway through the palace. He leads them through a slimy, damp, smelly
tunnel which has an uneven stone pathway that is difficult to traverse. Wang keeps resting, running out of
breath. Yu and Jade wonder if he's really taking them to the tower. His tears seem sincere and he appears
to be a broken man. He leads them outside and gestures toward the tower. He stays behind. “Tell the
Prince that I helped you and to return and to arrest me.” Yu and Jade recognize the ancient tower
immediately. They evade a guard at the rear of the structure. They slip into the tower where they are
immediately seized by soldiers who bind their wrists. One guard says Prince Li wants to see some GGS
members up close. Yu tells the guards that they are not GGS members and to take them to Prince Li at
once. He knows us well, he says. Prince Li confirms that Yu and Jade are with them. He compliments
them on the espionage work they have done. It allowed his army to attack with confidence. The city is
almost retaken. His parents will be pleased.

Another soldier bursts in. Prince Lon and Prince Shi are dead. An assassin infiltrated the tower and struck
them with poison darts. Prince Li is devastated --- his brothers are dead! The assassin has been
apprehended. Li tells them to bring the assassin in; he will kill him with his own hands. Suddenly Wang is
pulled in by two guards. He can barely walk. Li begins to strike him with a spear. Yu tells Li that Wang is
the one who led them here. Li orders that a sharp sword be brought to him. He tests the sharpness of his
sword by sliding his finger down the blade bringing forth a drop of blood. He smears the blood on Wang's
face. This royal blood is the closest he will get to the Dragon Throne. Wang doesn't care whether he lives
or dies now that his son is dead. He can kill him, his son and every member of the GG but he cannot kill
their ideas. Truth and justice live on. Li cuts his head off and holds it up for all to see.

Jade is pale and shocked. They are ordered by Li to search Wang ignoring the blood flowing from the
headless torso. Yu and Jade find evidence of contact between Wang and Madam Viper. It seems they are
comrades. This woman must be in a distant city. They were probably controlling Wei-Ling. Wang was
very high up in the Society. Madam Viper appears to have higher authority. The see some of the same
words in the documents as they heard in Wei's speech. Prince Li orders the body be removed and burned.
He takes Yu and Jade to a small private room. Yu tells Li that Wang was Wei-Ling's father and controlled
him from behind the scenes by posing as a servant. Madame Viper and Wang were husband and wife;
Madam Viper was Wei-Ling's mother. Li says that they must find out who Madame Viper is. Li is now
the sole heir to the Dragon Throne due to the murders of his brothers.
Within a few days the entire city is reclaimed for the Dragon Throne. Yu and Jade are ordered back to the
Ninjing Palace. Li receives them in the large hall where Wei had received them. Li tells them they did
their mission well. They are excellent warriors who are dedicated to his father. They will be richly
rewarded in Beijing. They are to prepare for the journey back. Li's father has declared his dead sons
heroes. They retire to Yu's room in the palace to prepare to leave. Jade is worried about Silver Swan. She
has disappeared. There is a rumor that a woman dressed all in silver hung Wei's body on the balcony
announcing that the leader was dead and to surrender to the imperial troops who represent the true Son of
Heaven. The troops were so demoralized that it was easy for the imperial troops to gain access to the
palace. The imperial troops looked for the woman in silver to thank her but could not find her. Perhaps
she escaped in all the chaos. Yu says that Willow always thinks of the empire first. Jade feels bad that she
hated her so. She hopes she has a chance to do her a good turn. She stayed with the dead bodies while
Jade escaped. Yu says perhaps they will see her in Beijing.

Despite the retaking of Nanjing by the imperial army, the atmosphere in Beijing is not celebratory. Jade
and Yu immediately feel that something is wrong. There is tension and suspicion everywhere. Perhaps it’s
grief for the dead princes. The Emperor is proud they acted in valor and gave their lives for the empire.
They enter the Inner Court of the Hall of Heavenly Harmony. The Emperor and Empress are all in white,
the color of mourning. Liu stands behind the Empress who grieves for her sons. Yu and Jade join the
small crowd of warriors and nobles already gathered there. Liu begins reading names from the papyrus
roll she is holding. Wong Lung is called forward. He is convicted of treason and beheaded by the
executioner. Servants remove the bloody head and torso. Fragrant Willow is called next. She is convicted
of treason and being a double agent for the Golden G S. "NO!" Jade calls out. “She saved my life.”

Jade whispers to Yu that the room is filled with lies, intrigue and obfuscation. No one is safe here. She
convinces Yu to speak up. He tells the rulers that Willow killed Wei Ling and Black Dagger an assassin
and the movement's leader. Willow is a patriot. Yu gets permission for Jade to tell how Willow helped
her. Her words convince the Emperor to order that Willow be released. The Empress orders that no more
executions take place until there are more investigations. Silver Swan hurries to Jade and Yu to thank
them. Liu is sad; she is mourning the death of the princes. Jade is surprised by her reaction since the
princes were not highly regarded.

Yu and Jade prepare for a banquet to celebrate the retaking of Nanjing. They are reunited with Anbai and
Ching knock Ching and Yu discuss the political ramifications -- the Dragon Throne needs to address
some concerns that the Society has. The Society or another organization like it may rise up again if their
issues aren't addressed. Jade opens a small satchel that Silver Swan sent her. She opens it and finds a
beautiful silver silk dress inside. After Ching and Anbai leave, Jade and Yu make love before preparing
for the party. Later, Yu gasps at how beautiful Jade looks in the silver dress. She looks like an Empress.
He loves her despite the frustration she has caused him a few times. She says that he is the Emperor of her
heart. He could wish for no greater title.

They make a grand entrance into the hall. The people gathered applaud their entry and bow to them; even
Li rises. The sit with Ching and Anbai. When dinner is served, Jade finds a small note folded up in her
rise. She and Yu open it, "They killed my husband and son. I will have vengeance. In ninety days, the
empire will fall," signed “Madame Viper.” The Society is not defeated. One of its leaders is alive and well
and nearby. Our work is not done. They notice that Liu is not in the room but Jade is sure that she cannot
be Madame Viper. Yu promises that they will learn the identity of Madame Viper. They toast each other
in trust and love and loyalty to the Dragon Throne.