Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with an half-elf member of anb imperial assassin clan.


It’s early in the afternoon in a empty tea house in the corner of the Floating World. I beckon to a young courtesan and her half-elf apprentice, who approach with sensual grace.

Though they appear demure—well, the courtesan does—I know they’re members of the imperial spy clan.

I swallow hard. Even though I outweigh both of them combined, either could probably kill me with a pinkie.

It’s the latter I’m here to question, since she’s head of the cell embedded in the Floating World. They don’t know who I am or what I already know, just that their clan has ordered them to answer all of my questions.  At my invitation, they bow their heads and take a seat.

Greetings, Miss Jie. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. Please, have  a seat.

<looks around> The clan commanded I give you my full cooperation. Still, this is highly irregular.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My father abandoned me at the Black Lotus Temple when I was just a baby. He probably thought, just like you are thinking now, that they train the best accountants and scribes in the realm.

I shouldn’t be telling you this, but here’s a little secret: we’re actually the emperor’s secret spies and assassins. So yes, we did learn reading, writing, and accounting, but we also trained in stealth, acrobatics, and combat. There were nights I just wanted to die: my muscles ached from stretching, every nerve fired torture resistance training, I was vomiting my guts out from testing poisons, or my head hurt from trying to remember eighty-nine items.

It sounds harsh, but my fellow clan sisters and brothers were family. We had time for fun, like dodge blades or pin the knife in the traitor.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

YES! Every initiate’s most treasured memory is receiving their first real throwing star.

What do you do now?

Utterly wasting my talents. You see, while some of us go on dangerous missions to safeguard the realm, the most beautiful of us get assigned to the Floating World to entertain rich men and learn their secrets. My cover, as the only known half-elf in the world, is as a courtesan-in-training. The deployment was supposed to last just two years, but it’s now going on four, because Floating World conventions dictate a Blossom can’t be Plucked until the flower with Heaven’s Dew.

Yeah, I don’t like all that flowery language, either. Thankfully, my best friends Lilian and Wen are here, and we train in secret with other clan sisters almost every day.

Continue reading “Jie Yan (of Thorn of the Night Blossoms, by JC Kang)”