By Gabrielle

(This doll is inspired by Diaochan in the Romance of the Three Kingdom. The names of kingdom and characters here are fictional.)

The distant gong struck thrice. In a few more hours, Zhao’er and the rest of the maidens would be delivered to the King of Jin as a part of the annual tribute. The girls had been picked for their beauties and trained in the arts of entertainments and courtly etiquettes.

Zhao’er did not want to go. She knew she wouldn’t be able to see her parents and siblings again once she entered the Jin palace. Yet the local magistrate insisted that she should sacrifice herself for her country and she would bring great honour to her family and village. Zhao’er did not understand what good this honour would do for her family. She only knew that they were always hungry as the magistrate had taken away whatever they had. Taxes, he had said.

Thoughts of running away surfaced again but fear of what the magistrate do to her family suppressed her urge down. Resolved, she clasped on the heavy necklace and consoled herself that at least her family would be exempted from taxes for two years.

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Copyright © 2011 Marina Bychkova.