The emperor, knowing his enemy has come to know him, can now interpret his calligraphy & thus explain to this assassin what the man himself could not explain, presumably because the experience of the attack on the emperor is necessary – though it was not sufficient for the woman. Avenging family & defending kingdom combined in her. Her hatred of empire was too great.
These other two men are not attached to any place enough not to see the obvious things about empire. They know the people suffer because of the interminable war between the kingdoms. They have come to think of peace. Life with hatred in the soul is not worth living. Does this justify or excuse empire? Both men are willing to pay with their lives. The woman kills the writer, the emperor’s men kill the assassin. Attachment to the land & safety are still necessary. Punishment will never cease.
The emperor says: First, man & sword come together. So then the art of war can turn anything into a weapon. Then, the sword is in the heart. Then the art of war gives man the powers of war without need of arms. Finally, the sword is neither in the hand nor in the heart. The man swears not to kill & to defend mankind. This persuades the assassin. The courtiers, however, want him dead for attacking the emperor. This they are granted.
The woman kills the man she loves because he helped thwart the assassination plot. The possibility of peace on earth means nothing to her. Perhaps that is true of all people who remember wrongs. Her father was a general who died defending his kingdom. It is always the few who stand against union, because they are unbowed. The man lets her kill him to prove he is like the people.
The assassin, our protagonist, says this about himself: I was an orphan. I was adopted. Then I learned my family was killed in the war, in another kingdom. Now, I want revenge. – The emperor cannot make every child an orphan, but he must adopt everyone. He cannot allow anyone ever to appeal beyond his authority, for example by remembering what was back before the empire was installed. The emperor is scandalized that the word sword can be written in 19 ways. He promises to unite the empire & impose only one way of writing. Everyone then will understand each other. & everything written in any other way will be forgotten. The emperor astounds the assassin by telling him he means to conquer beyond the seven kingdoms.
Qin slaughtered scholars & burned books, but left behind a helpless boy who was quickly betrayed & killed by Han.