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“Will you tell me a story?" Carina asked. "About another one of your charges?”
He smiled. “Only if you’ll go to sleep after.”
“I promise,” she said, snuggling into her pillows.
He sat back down and took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you about the charge I stayed with the longest. His name was Zhu Yuanzhang.”
“Wait… say that again?”
“Zhu Yuanzhang,” he repeated. “An entirely different culture from yours, their names were quite unique. It took me a while to really learn the language, but once I did it was like music. Singing all the time. Such a beautiful culture.”
She smiled as he went on to tell her how Zhu had grown up as a peasant, lost his family to poverty, flood, and plague, until he was left to wander as a vagabond. Carina’s heart went out to him, they seemed to have a great deal in common. Zhu became a monk, which Merlin said was like a priest, then later joined the rebellion against the ruling powers. That was when Zhu found Excalibur, and Merlin met him.
Carina swam in and out of consciousness as Merlin told tales of battles and intrigue. With Excalibur’s help and Merlin’s guidance, Zhu rose through the ranks and soon commanded his own force of rebels. He fought and solidified his home kingdom for seventeen years before finally claiming the position of Emperor.
As Merlin described the last day he’d seen Zhu, Carina drifted into a deeper sleep. Images of a strong leader intent on helping his people fresh in her mind, she dreamed of becoming to Medelia what Zhu had been to China.