|Second Sister sat in the kitchen with Ma Huang, Second Sister had been unable to speak with Little Fish alone at length since she had seen his hand disappear and reappear. It had been three days now, they were very, very closely watched she realized. However a plan had been spawned between the siblings in quick whispers. There was a time every week when Ma Huang brought the Master the specially prepared Dinner of Immortality. Usually during this time Second Sister and Little Fish were in a Martial Arts practice session, but Second Sister had faked an ankle injury, so she sat in the kitchen chatting idly with the scar faced Ma Huang, waiting to see if Little Fish would show up. Whether it was nerves or anticipation of Little Fish’s conversation about the mysterious hand, Second Sister became bold, even insolent.|
“Tell me, how did you get the scar on your face?”
Ma Huang kept smoothly chopping the vegetables to go in the bone broth.
“Once upon a time I was a very beautiful girl.”
Second Sister stared hard at her and looking past the scar she could see it, Ma Huang was still extraordinarily beautiful. “Many men hounded my father for my hand in marriage. Wanting to make the most advantageous match for family prestige and his pocket book, he allowed the process to extend for three years. During that time a wandering Taoist Monk came through our town. My brother became interested in his teachings ad he stayed at our house for the summer months when it was too hot to travel. He taught my brother and I many Taoist internal alchemical practices, and I felt I had found my path in life. I felt I had found my true home. Soon after Xing Ren, for it was he, left our house my father found the best possible match for me and insisted I marry the man. I thought him an oaf and he thought me a treasure to be kept wrapped in silk and displayed. Resolutely, one morning I stole my brother’s sword and cut my face. My betrothed retracted his offer and my father disowned me as mad. And I was free to practice internal alchemy and other Taoist arts.”
Ma Huang spun around, kicked high over the soup cauldron and dropped a handful of vegetables into the savory broth.