Posts Tagged ‘China’

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 10

September 11, 2021

Mulan was able to lead her team since she had been to the Imperial City several times before. They crept down several alleyways. The place was crawling with those shadowy creatures and the dragon was raging, stomping around everywhere and large parts of the city were burning with green flame. This whole thing was coming to a head and Mulan knew that she had to end things soon or there would be no China left to protect. They broke a window in the lowest floor they could reach and they all snuck in carefully.

“Which way do we go?” Aladdin asked, crouched against the wall.

Nobody seemed to have an idea right away. The city was chaos and the palace was not much better. Everybody was relatively unscathed from the cart crash. They still had their gear and weapons but there was no way to know which way was the solution to their problems. They could not stay still for long. The longer they stayed still, the more likely it was that they would be found and cornered.

“I’m not sure,” Mulan said. “I feel like logic would dictate that we’re heading to the throne room but that could be wrong.”

Suddenly, Rapunzel’s short brunette hair started to pulsate with bright white light and momentarily became blonde before growing down to her shoulders. Everybody looked surprised and Merrida opened the door a crack to make sure the sudden blazing light had not attracted attention. Rapunzel had taken hold of her hair and was marveling at it with a mixture of awe and worry.

“What is going on with you?” Merrida asked. She came off as gruff but everybody was concerned at the surprising turn of events.

“Are you alright?” Anna asked, taking hold of Rapunzel. Anna definitely wanted to fix everything for everybody and she was beside herself.

“I think so?” Rapunzel said. “This is actually sort of how my hair used to be. There is a lot of magic floating around this place.” She tied back her hair with a bit of string she found on her person.

“Do you have a feel for where the biggest mass of it is?” Mulan asked. “Where are we headed?”

Rapunzel closed her eyes and thought. “The highest point,” Rapunzel said softly. “I think.” She pointed upwards toward what Mulan knew to be the top floor of the palace. The Emperor’s living quarters were up there. It made sense.

“That’s good enough for me,” Aladdin said.

“I can lead us there,” Mulan said with a smile, her confidence returning to her. Everybody else looked bolstered by this news as well. “Follow me.”

They set off again and crept through the palace. Their pulses were pounding so loud that they thought somebody would hear them. Their stealth could only last so long and soon they were having pitched battles in the hallways and on the stairs. The shadowy creatures were all around them but they fought bravely. The fighters fought and the more peaceful people supported as best they could. They all knew that it was only a matter of time before this fighting would attract the dragon. If that happened, their time might really be up.

They fought to the top of the palace except that much of the Emperor’s quarters had been burned away and that level was exposed to the open air. Mulan hoped that the Emperor and his family were safe somewhere. They looked around and there was nothing too obvious. There were what looked like they could be magical objects of some sort but it was all foreign to the adventurers.

As they stood trying to figure it out, a massive claw hooked onto the edge of the roof and green flame erupted. The adventurers gathered their weapons for a fight.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 9

July 10, 2021

The wagon full of fireworks had made its way quickly yet stealthily toward the palace. Anna was driving again. Merrida was reclining on top again, under a cloth. Aladdin, Rapunzel, and Mulan were inside. Everybody was tense. There were a couple of times where they had to hide the cart to avoid patrols. They were all tense as they traveled but they remained safe. There was another contingent sneaking their way with another load of fireworks to a ridge near the palace. They were the distraction force and Mulan’s contingent of foreigners was the main infiltration force. The soldiers on the ridge were under strict orders not to risk too much but Mulan could see that they were tired of hiding. It was time to fight. This plan had put hope back in everyone’s eyes.

Mulan and her group stayed under the cover of a half-destroyed lean-to until nightfall and then fireworks were suddenly raining down on the Imperial City. The monsters did not know what to do and there was a great noise of confusion. Anna got the horses moving again and the cart rushed at speed toward the gates. The monsters had not noticed their cart yet. Anna goaded the horses to go faster and everyone grabbed hold. Merrida and Anna looked at each other as they braced themselves. The horses ran at the gate and managed to burst through, kicking their powerful hooves forward and only hesitating for a moment. Everybody on that cart took a deep breath and waited to see if the fireworks would set off. They did not.

Anna looked ahead of them and saw a swirling purple smoke and then that smoke started to take the form of a massive dragon. Merrida started to aim her bow but Anna caught hold of it and shook her head. The dragon was too big for that. Merrida banged wildly on the top of the cart and scrambled to the front of the cart with Anna. They started to get ready to unhook the horses as they hurtled toward the dragon. Inside the cart, Mulan supervised the lighting of fuses for the fireworks. At the last minute, the horses ran free and the dragon lunged at the cart. The cart exploded in the dragon’s face, sending it screaming at the sky. The dragon’s face was burning and, for the moment, it seemed like it was enraged but blinded.

In an alleyway, Mulan’s team sat and caught their breath. At the last moment, they had tucked and rolled and run away in the confusion. They sat and smiled at each other, eyes wide with amazement. They were thankful that not only had their plan worked for the moment but they had also survived it. The courtyard of the Imperial City was now burning but it was a small price to pay. Everybody got back to their feet and took stock of themselves and made sure they all still had the proper amount of limbs. They were satisfied that they only ended up lightly singed and it looked like the monsters were still very interested in the fireworks coming from the ridge.

Mulan’s team started to creep through the shadows toward the palace. Aladdin in particular was really good at it from all of his experience as a thief in Agrabah. The normally bubbly Anna and Rapunzel were both deadly serious and everybody remained quiet as they made their way. They hoped to not use their weapons for as long as possible. If they were fighting, they were getting slowed down and if they were too far from their objective, they would never make it. Therefore, stealth was key and everybody understood that. They were a pretty intelligent bunch of seasoned adventurers. They had all been through a lot and this was just one more thing they had to do. Still, it felt like the biggest thing they had ever faced.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 8

June 12, 2021

Aladdin and Anna signaled and Merrida brought the wagon around. After they loaded up, Merrida was perched on top of the wagon, staying low and almost looking like a pile of rags. The others huddled near the front with Anna driving. They tried to go as fast as they could but there was suddenly a shrieking cry from above. Four dark monsters with wings had spotted them and were wheeling around to come after them. They were the same as the creatures the three of them had seen before but none of them knew they could fly.

They dove as one and Merrida sprang to her feet and manage to fire three shots in rapid succession. She nailed two of the beasts but her third shot was deflected. The beasts landed hard on the wagon and Aladdin climbed onto the back, sword in hand, and sliced at one of them just in time to save Merrida from getting hit. Together, Merrida and Aladdin fought off the beasts. Aladdin skewered one on his sword and the other fell under the wagon’s wheel, bringing it dangerously close to breaking. Still, the wagon kept going and the witnesses were dead. Hopefully, they could get back without alerting any more of the army.

The rest of the ride was a lot more peaceful and they made it back to the compound quickly. Rapunzel was instantly there checking them for wounds, fussing over them while Mulan checked over the fireworks. Both the fireworks and the three heroes seemed to be alright. They had an impromptu meeting right there in the courtyard next to the wagon.

“Excellent!” Mulan said. “This is exactly what we need. With this, we’ll be able to distract the evil army and inflict damage on their defenses. If it creates an opening, we can slip through and see what we can find.” Her excitement was infectious and everybody’s spirits around her rose. For those who knew her, knew that she was the hero of China and had been honored twice by the Emperor. The outsiders saw that and got the message. Mulan was a big deal and her people believed in her.

“We need to move soon,” Anna said. “We encountered some of the creatures on the way back and they weren’t easy to kill.” She was still a little rattled by the experience but that only made her resolve to keep helping all the stronger.

“But they did go down,” Aladdin said. “I think this plan could work. They’re not unstoppable.” He was right, the monsters had not stood up very well to their weapons.

“The dragon is another thing entirely,” Mulan said. “but we will cross that river when we reach it.” This made them all picture a dragon which definitely brought up different pictures but none of those pictures were good.

“I once took on a giant snake,” Aladdin said, trying to be encouraging. “For a few seconds, at least.”

“I think we work well together,” Merrida said. “The fight on the wagon proved that. We’ll do alright.” She was proud and brave but her words seemed to be more than just empty bluster. It was more like hope.

“Then we’ll make our move after sunset,” Mulan said. “That will increase the effect of the fireworks and give us cover otherwise. Rest well and I will give the soldiers their orders in the plan.”

“Are you forgetting something?” Anna asked. “You’re needed here. They need a leader and if we fail, they’ll need somebody to come up with another plan. Not that I expect us to fail or anything. We’re going to do great.”

“I have to go,” Mulan said. “We have to put everything into this plan. I cannot stay behind just in case. The backup plan will just have to be thought of by somebody else.”

“Maybe I can do it,” Shang said, walking out of the infirmary. He was not quite standing upright but he was walking and he was conscious which was a great improvement.

Mulan rushed to hug and kiss her husband. “Shang!” she cried out. “You’re alright?”

Shang nodded. “I’m getting there,” he said. “I need you to finish this so I can get some more rest, though.” He looked tired but determined. This was the man that Mulan had fallen in love with and she was overjoyed to see him on his feet again.

“That’s the plan,” Mulan said. “I need to go with these outsiders to try and make that plan a reality.”

Shang smiled. “If anybody can pull off a crazy plan to save China, it’s my wife,” Shang said. “I believe in you.” The two of them kissed again.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Mulan said. “I promise.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 7

November 28, 2020

Anna and Aladdin hurried across open ground toward what was deemed the most likely place to find fireworks. They had opted to go on this mission since most everyone else was occupied or too valuable to be risked. Anna had gotten a taste for adventure after helping to save her kingdom twice, she was enjoying the thrill far too much. Aladdin was used to sneaking around but he was glad to be doing something proactive. He was glad to have a plan instead of winging it and holding out until somebody thought of something. Both of them wished Mulan could have come along but nobody wanted to risk the most competent soldier China had left on a mission. They had backup not far away but Aladdin had insisted on a two-person team because it was stealthier.

When they reached the wall, they both pressed against it and looked up at a nearby cliff. Merrida was up there with her bow ready to go if need be for cover fire. If one knew what to look for, they could spot a tuft of red hair blowing a bit in the wind. There was also a small group of soldiers at the base of the cliff that would be signaled when Aladdin and Anna found the fireworks. Anna pulled out a rope with a hook and tossed it up the wall and pulled it so it would latch onto the top of the wall. It was something that Rapunzel had briefly tutored her in and something she would find more exciting if they were not in mortal danger. The two of them started to climb and slipped easily over the top of the wall.

Inside the wall was a group of warehouses and Anna half expected to spot the fireworks out in the open. Unfortunately, this was not the case and everything was very tidy. While their mission was not simply achieved, the place did look and feel deserted. Hopefully, this was a little pocket of the land that the army of monsters had ignored. Fireworks sounded like magic and maybe they could turn the tide in this fight. For the first time it gave everybody hope again and this mission was worth it if only for that. Aladdin walked to the first door and started to pick the lock.

“Wow,” Anna said, clearly impressed and not a bit judgemental. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“Once a thief, always a thief,” Aladdin said. “I did a lot to survive before Jasmine made an honest man out of me.”

“I can’t imagine you were all that bad,” Anna said. “You seem like you have a good heart. Believe me, I have become a good judge of character from horrible experiences.” The lock opened and the two of them slipped carefully inside.

“I did what I had to in order to survive and that’s it,” Aladdin said. “All I did was not starve.” He was not ashamed of his past. Agrabah was changing under Jasmine’s leadership and the theft he had committed would not be something future generations would be forced to do.

“You kind of remind me of my husband, Kristoff,” Anna said. “It sounds like you two might get along. He grew up in the wilderness and talks to a reindeer.”

Aladdin was about to be offended when he thought of something. “I guess I do talk to a monkey,” he said. “It’s actually a fair comparison.”

“It’s fun to be strange,” Anna said. “My best friend is a snowman named Olaf. Of course, he can actually speak my language.” She was teasing a little but Aladdin already knew that their little makeshift group was full of strange people. Normal people do not end up on adventures.

They slipped in among the boxes of the various warehouses, searching for the fireworks based on the drawings that they had been provided. They were very careful but fortunately the place was quiet. The monster army had no use for the things in these warehouses. Anna and Aladdin did each pick up a sword. Anna grabbed up a wooden pot lid.

“To use as a shield,” Anna said with a smile and a shrug. “Mattias has been teaching me combat lately back home and I have gotten used to using a shield.”

“I’m no great sword fighter,” Aladdin said. “I’ll just have to wing it.”

Anna gasped. “Wait,” she almost yelled. “Are these the fireworks?” she asked. She looked excitedly at Aladdin who hurried over.

Inside the box were long red cylinders with pointy tops with little strings poking out of the other end. “That matches the drawing,” Aladdin said. “I think I’ve actually seen these things in action before. Didn’t know the name. This should be really exciting.”

“Let’s signal the others,” Anna said. “We can’t carry all of these boxes by ourselves.”

“Yeah let’s do it,” Aladdin agreed.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 6

November 7, 2020

“So do we have a plan?” Aladdin asked. “We haven’t been here long but we have to do something before that monster army comes and smashes this place. I’ve been out there. I’ve seen it from above and it is really bad.”

“I’m familiar with how big the army is,” Mulan said. “Shang and I dodged a lot of patrols getting out of the palace. I’m open to suggestions. I’ve got plenty of soldiers but I’m short on advisors.” Mulan was not too proud to accept help and, from the sound of it, these people all had

“Obviously, there is some sort of dark magic afoot,” Merrida said. “What do we have to counter that?” Her eyes showed that she knew the pain of magic gone awry.

“I am not actually that familiar with magic,” Mulan said. “Just a little bit, really.” She knew that her family had guardians and that her ancestors helped from beyond but magic was not in her everyday life. It showed itself in little ways in big moments.

“My sister has a lot of magic but I have no idea where she is,” Anna said. “I only know a little how magic works. It just kind of works. In my world you usually have to be born with it. I wish the trolls were here.”

“I was born with magic,” Rapunzel said. “A lot of it is gone now.”

“When I messed with magic it went poorly,” Merrida said. “I really blundered my way through it. It has to be done by the experts or it all goes wrong.”

“If only my friend Genie was here,” Aladdin said. “He can do just about anything. He used to grant wishes but he’s still pretty powerful without all of that.”

“Come to think of it, my magical companion Mushu is missing,” Mulan said. “He’s a dragon. A family guardian.” Mushu’s absence was really glaring as he rarely let a moment go by without offering comment on the situation. The talkative little dragon had hurt things as much as he had helped but he had behaved himself more recently. Mulan found herself missing him.

“We could really use that kind of firepower,” Anna said. “We need something to fight back with.”

“Last time I used fireworks to finish the fight,” Mulan said. “If we could get a hold of enough of that we could surprise the army.” She thought back to wiping out Shan Yu’s army with fireworks in the mountains.

“If we could reverse whatever happened to send us here or keep our friends away, Genie and Mushu could come help make things even.”

“And Elsa too!” Anna said excitedly. “How do we make these things happen?”

“I’m totally on board with whatever we’re doing!” Rapunzel cried out. Mulan could tell that Anna and Rapunzel were both very excitable people and would need somebody to rein them in. They were like lit fireworks ready to explode. She needed that passion but she also needed cooler heads to prevail.

“With proper planning,” Mulan said, trying to invoke calm in the room. “We have to obtain the fireworks and we need to get into the palace. I have a feeling that whatever needs to be done is in there.”

“I agree,” Anna said. “If we can just sort of open the door, our friends can come help us.” It sounded so easy when she said it and that optimism was refreshing.

“And we can help them,” Rapunzel said. “I hope everybody back home is alright.” That gave all of the visitors from beyond pause. Mulan felt grateful that she knew where Shang was but it did make her worry about her family. They were smart enough to go to ground if things got dangerous but they were far far away from the Imperial City.

“I guess I could scout for fireworks,” Aladdin said. “Somebody will have to tell me what they look like.”

“I can do that,” Mulan said. “I can also ask around the camp to see who might know of some.”

“I can help with that!” Rapunzel shouted happily.

“Actually, I can help with that,” Anna said. “You’re much more valuable as a healer.”

“Agreed,” Mulan said. “Please do what you can to heal Shang and any other injured. We will need everything we have to win this fight.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 5

August 22, 2020

Mulan sat at the table sipping a cup of tea. She had made the tea herself, not willing to flag down a soldier or other refugee during such a tense time to make the tea. She had been taught to make tea by her mother and she really needed a cup to calm her nerves. Seated around the table were the foreigners. Mulan had called a meeting with them because she trusted members of the Emperor’s army but these people were mysteries that Mulan would need to solve before she could effectively lead what may be the only resistance left in China. The fort was out of the way but this monstrous army would eventually find it.

Anna was sitting directly to Mulan’s right with her hands folded neatly and trying to look professional. Aladdin was sitting to her left, relaxed and slumped back in his chair a bit. Rapunzel leaned heavily on the table, obviously exhausted from working hard in the medical tent. Merida sat on a windowsill nearby, looking half at the room and half out the window. Mulan could not really catch her eye because the redhead was wearing a hood to keep the sun out of her eyes and presumably to hide her shocking red hair. Merida had also declined a cup of tea when the others had accepted. Mulan was not offended but curious.

“Thank you for meeting with me,” Mulan said. “I am Fa Mulan, agent of the Emperor and formerly of the Chinese army. The soldiers here have chosen me as their leader temporarily.”

“Temporarily?” Aladdin asked. “Until what happens?”

“My husband is General Li Shang,” Mulan said. “I am much more comfortable with him leading.”

Merida snorted. “A woman can lead just as well as a man,” she said. “Sometimes better.”

“I agree,” Aladdin said without explaining further.

“I agree with you,” Mulan said. “but having my husband lead is a matter of logic rather than tradition. He has much more experience leading and I am much better when I have time to myself to think.”

“Of course, too much time alone can be bad for you,” Anna said pointedly, glancing over at Merida. Merida either did not hear the comment or chose to ignore it.

Mulan took a sip of tea for serenity. “Why don’t you tell me again who you all are and what you are doing here at the fort.” She gestured to Anna who seemed most excited to speak.

“My name is Anna,” she said. “I come from Arendelle. My parents were the King Agnarr and Queen Iduna of Arendelle but they died on a trip to solve the mystery of the source of my sister Elsa’s magical ice powers. My sister Elsa became Queen of Arendelle and she accidentally froze our kingdom. I had to go on an adventure with my current fiance and a snowman to stop a wicked prince who happened to be my fiance at the time. My sister and I reconnected and then she unfroze Arendelle. After that we journeyed to the Enchanted Forest and the not-so-mythical Ahtohallan to solve the mystery of the Enchanted Forest and our parents. After that, Elsa made me Queen of Arendelle.” Anna looked around and then tensed. “Sorry, sometimes I talk a lot when I’m nervous.”

“That’s alright,” Mulan said. “What are you doing around the fort?”

“I’ve just been making myself available,” Anna said. “I had been learning to cook back in Arendelle so I have been helping in the mess tent a lot. I don’t have a lot of experience in battle but I’m ready to help however I can.”

Mulan nodded and gestured to Aladdin.

“My name is Aladdin, I am a Prince of Agrabah,” he said. “I have been using my friend Carpet to search for surivors and supplies. I know what it feels like to be chased and to be hungry.”

Mulan nodded and gestured to Rapunzel who sat up and rubbed her eyes.

“My name is Rapunzel and I am from the same world as Anna although we first met here,” she said. “I am a Princess of Corona although I spent a long time lost in the woods so I am new to the whole royal thing. I used to be able to heal magically but when I lost that ability, I tried to learn as much as I could about other magics and natural healing. My, um, godmother’s journals taught me a lot about herbalism. I have been trying to heal the sick and wounded.”

“How is that going?” Mulan asked.

“It’s going well,” Rapunzel said. “The forces here are almost back to full fighting force.”

“And my husband?” Mulan asked with as much patience and calm as she could conjure.

“Your husband will recover soon,” Rapunzel said. “However, his wound was really bad. Oh by the way, I am pretty good in a fight.”

Mulan nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.

Without prompting, Merida climbed down from the windowsill and pulled her hood down. “My name is Merida of DunBroch and I suppose I’m a Princess too,” she said. “I’ve been up on that tower shooting innae thing that moves. It’s my job to alert everybody when they finally find us.”

“I feel that you have been up there too long on your own,” Mulan said. “When do you sleep?”

“I sleep in bits here and there,” Merida said. “I make it through.”

“I’ll take a turn above,” Mulan said. “You consult with Rapunzel and get some rest and at least one proper meal.”

“Nobody’s a better shot than me,” Merida said. “I can’t take a break for too long.”

“Trust me, I am a pretty good shot myself,” Mulan said. “I’ll call you if there is an emergency. Get some rest. That’s an order.”

“I don’t do well with orders,” Merida said. “but I suppose I’m a guest here. Fine. I’ll play along.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 4

July 25, 2020

The Imperial Palace had burned halfway to the ground and little gray creatures were scrambling all over the place trying to put things back together. A lone figure stood on the roof looking out over the land. She was gaunt yet imperious and green eyes shone brightly set in her grayish-green face with blood-red lipstick. Her black cloak had purple accents and her headdress had curious-looking horns. She carried an ornate gold staff with a yellowish crystal. The staff had been recently reconstructed and the fractures had been filled in with silver. The enchantments were even stronger than they had been before. The woman was brooding as she glared over the countryside.

“Mistress Maleficent,” a deep, gravelly voice suddenly sounded beside her. She turned and saw one of her minions, carrying a spear and wearing a spiked helmet. The thing looked timid yet puffed up its chest to try to appear brave. “The rebuilding process is going smoothly.”

“It’s Empress Maleficent now,” Maleficent said. “Is that all that you came here to tell me? Go back down and get back to work.”

“There was a question of the dragons, your imperialness,” the creature asked. “They are all over but they don’t really look like you do in all of your magnificence.”

“Yes, yes,” Maleficent with a sigh. “They have different ones here. Tear them all down, replace them with images of me.”

“Um,” the minion hesitated. “in your dragon form or your most beautiful and splendid um fairy form?”

“Do I have to tell you everything?” Maleficent said, practically spitting the words at this lowly creature. “Put both up. This country is now mine. Remind the people of this.”

“Yes Empress,” the minion said, groveling and bowing. “May you reign forever. I will go make sure that your orders are law.”

“And make sure that any military or any so-called heroes are eliminated,” Maleficent said. “String them up as an example to the rest. I will not have a repeat of earlier events.”

“You mean with Aurora and Phillip?” the minion asked.

Green flame erupted around them in a perfect circle. “Do not utter those names again or I will roast you where you stand,” Maleficent said. “Spread the word. I will rule this new world.”

“Yes, your wonderfulness!” the minion managed to stammer. He ran away as soon as the fire receded and started yelling out orders for rebuilding.

Maleficent smiled to herself. It was good to inspire such fear again. Now all she had to do was continue to conquer this land. She would not leave herself open to the same vulnerabilities this time. She had meticulously worked a spell to banish all magical creatures besides herself and her minions from the land. She sensed very little magic left in the land that was not her particular brand of darkness and fire. She could devastate any army with her dragon form with the support of her magic and her idiot minions. They may have been stupid but they were good muscle and loyal. This time, no other fairies would meddle in her affairs or dull her curses.

She still did not know how she had gotten to this place. She remembered the stabbing pain of Phillip’s sword in her chest. She remembered her own green flame erupting everywhere around her as she thrashed and tried to tear the prince apart. She remembered the ground falling away under her and then blackness. When she opened her eyes she was floating in the void, her shattered scepter floated in front of her. She was confused. Was she still alive or had she returned to life? Was this something else entirely?

As these thoughts had been rushing through her mind, she heard a voice from the darkness. It presented her with an old oil lamp made of some blackened metal. She could sense a great, dark power inside of it. There was some horrible curse on it. Some creature was trapped inside of it or had been trapped inside of it. The voice told her to consume it. She tried to argue but the voice was insistent. The lamp would restore all of her power and add to it as well. The allure of more power was enticing. She transformed into a dragon and easily swallowed the lamp whole. She could feel it burning inside of her and she grew stronger. Wounds closed, her staff reformed itself and she felt like she could swallow the world at that moment.

She was briefly introduced to two other women, vastly inferior to her but powerful in their own right. One was underwater and an octopus monstrosity and the other was a bony looking witch. She sensed they shared her ambitions for their own worlds. A door opened and the voice called on her to conquer. She had. However, now that the flurry of violence and destruction had abated, she was left to wonder who her benefactor had been. Was there a grander plan? Maleficent did not like feeling like a pawn but first things first, China would burn.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 3

July 18, 2020

Mulan was a little surprised when Yao hugged her when she entered the hastily assembled war room of the fort. The usually grumpy Yao pushed away after only a moment but was still grinning from ear to ear. Mulan found herself smiling even though Shang was still down in the medical tent. Mulan, Shang, Yao, Chien-Po, and Ling had been through a lot of adventures together. It made Mulan’s heartache and worry about Khan and Mushu who were still missing in action. Still, it was good to be in a stable environment with a friend in front of her although they were not always exactly friendly.

“Mulan!” Yao croaked out in his somewhat raspy voice. “I am so glad to see you. I was worried about a lot of our friends and the Emperor’s forces. I made it here with some of our soldiers but I am out of my element in command.”

“You seem to have done pretty well,” Mulan said. “The soldiers looked orderly and the fort is running smoothly and is fortified.”

“Do you know where Shang is?” Yao asked. “He could take over. He could even counterattack through this chaos.”

Mulan took a deep breath. “My husband is in the medical tent,” she said. “He is injured and unconscious but I am hopeful that he will recover.”

“I’m sorry,” Yao said. “I have great respect for General Shang.”

“We all do,” Mulan said. “Is that white healer really any good?” She instinctively looked over her shoulder back toward the medical tent. Her husband had been in pretty bad shape but she had thought him dead before and had been glad to have been wrong. Shang was a fighter and she had to count on that.

“Yes,” Yao said. “I wouldn’t have put her in charge there if she wasn’t. Rapunzel has magic when it comes to healing and she’s so damned perky it’s hard to beat her optimism. It kind of gives me the creeps. We rescued these foreigners and they have come in useful. They all claim to be royalty so it made sense to let them make themselves comfortable. In return, they have helped us operate more smoothly without trying to take over. Believe me, I tried with that Aladdin.”

“He seems capable but I’m not sure if we can trust them that far,” Mulan said. “As far as we know this is the last major holdout after the attack on the Imperial City.”

“Then you should take over, Mulan,” Yao said. “You’d be a much better leader.”

“I’m not even officially in the military,” Mulan said. “I don’t know if that’s proper.”

“You’re an advisor to the Emperor!” Yao said.

“I turned that post down. Remember?” Mulan asked. “I’ve helped out in an unofficial capacity but I don’t really have the skills to lead here.”

“Who cares?” Yao said. “You’re a hero of China. They’ll accept you. Your country needs you Mulan and I know you have always stepped forward.”

“That’s hardly fair,” Mulan said. “I’ll do what it can but I’m not sure if that isn’t too far.”

“It’ll work,” Yao said. “You’ll be better at it than I am.”

“Fine. If the soldiers agree then I will lead until Shang can take over,” Mulan said. “He is much better in command and I am much better at doing my own thing. It’s how we work.”

“It’s a deal,” Yao said excitedly. “I’m sure you won’t have to shoulder the burden for long. Shang will be up on his feet quick. Where should we start boss?”

Mulan sighed. “I guess I should meet with these foreigners and get the lay of the land,” she said. “I have to admit to being very curious. How many are there?”

“Only four so far,” Yao said. “Rapunzel is a healer and spends most of her time in the medical tent although she’s handy elsewhere. Anna is a really hard worker and apparently really well-read and is always there with a helping hand. Aladdin is an accomplished fighter and he and his carpet have been going on scouting missions to bring back more survivors.”

“What about the one up in the tower?” Mulan asked. “The one whose speech I can barely understand.”

“Merida is a wild woman but is a crack shot with a bow,” Yao said. “She’s better than anybody I saw in the military and that includes you, Mulan.” He caught a look in her eye. “But not by that much.”

“She needs to learn more manners,” Mulan said. “but it is good to have an accomplished warrior keeping a wary eye on anybody who approaches.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 2

July 11, 2020

The carpet approached a large fortress far outside the outskirts of the Imperial City. Aladdin was determined and Mulan just held tight to Shang, trying to keep him still and stable on the fluttering fabric. It was at this point that an arrow whizzed past them, managing to nick Aladdin’s ear making him wince in pain. It was a good thing he was not the one actually controlling the carpet. The carpet slowed down and approached the guard tower where the arrow had come from. A young woman with striking, frizzy red hair and shockingly white skin came out of hiding carrying a massive longbow. She had a fierce look in her eyes as she leveled the bow toward them and drew back an arrow halfway and held it.

“Halt and declare yerself,” the woman said. “I cannae let you pass.” She had a thick accent and the posture of a warrior of some renown. Mulan sensed that the woman was used to people watching her, something Mulan was just starting to get used to.

Aladdin slowly maneuvered between the woman and his passengers. “Stand down Merrida,” he said. “You know me. It’s Aladdin. We just saw each other a little while ago.”

“Oh. Yer back from scouting too quick,” Merrida said, squinting a bit at Aladdin. “Can you blame me for getting a wee bit twitchy?”

“I guess not,” Aladdin said. “I’d probably be angrier if you had actually aimed for me.”

“Nae,” Merrida said coldly. “You wouldna feel a thing. You’d be dead.” Then she smiled and shrugged.

Aladdin smirked. “Tough talk,” he said. “I came back early because I spotted these two. One of them is injured.”

“Who do ye got there?” Merrida asked and Carpet rotated slowly to reveal Mulan and Shang.

“My name is Mulan,” she said. “This is Shang. He’s bleeding out. Please let us go.”

“If yer good with Aladdin here then yer good with me,” Merrida said. “Go on to the healers and give my best.” She relaxed her draw on the bow, un-nocked her arrow, and slipped back inside the tower without another word.

As soon as she was gone, Carpet floated over the fort’s walls and down toward a small building toward the rear. As they descended, there was shouting from below. Another white girl came rushing out of the building. She had light brown hair that was cut very short in a style that Mulan kind of wished she could adopt. The girl had big, beautiful eyes full of optimism even in grim surroundings.

“Get the injured inside and on a table!” the girl called out. “We need to stop the bleeding immediately. Bring bandages and herbs.” She clapped her hands and everybody started running around. Mulan and Aladdin helped carry Shang inside but then the short white girl pushed both of them back outside. Mulan fumed and was about to head back inside when Aladdin caught her by the arm. She almost took a swing at him but backed off.

“He’s in good hands with Rapunzel,” Aladdin said. “You’d do best keeping out of her way. I need to scrub the blood out of Carpet before I do anything else.”

“Who put you people in charge?” Mulan asked. She was still on edge and she was tired of having to trust absolute strangers in the midst of danger.

“We’re not in charge,” a young woman said, walking toward Mulan and Aladdin. She swept her hood back and Mulan could see that she was also white and had a long braid with a single shock of white hair running through it. Mulan had seen more white people on this day than she had seen during her entire life to date. Something very strange was going on even beyond the destruction of the palace and a strange gray army swarming over everything. “My name is Anna. We’re just trying to help out since the soldiers took us in. If you’re looking for who is in charge, that would be Lieutenant Yao.”

“My name is Fa Mulan,” she said. “Yao’s here? I know him. Where is he?”

“I can take you to him,” Anna said. “I’m sure he’d be glad to see a friend. We’ve been trying to help but this land is very foreign to us. It’s weird.”

Mulan shrugged. “It’s all I’ve ever known,” she said. “Lead me to Yao so we can start getting to the bottom of things.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 1

July 4, 2020

Mulan wrapped a cloth around Shang’s wound and felt his forehead. He was fading in and out of consciousness and he did not look bad. She needed a cool damp rag but she had very little since they had barely gotten away from the Imperial City with their lives. Those things had been terrifying and seemed to come out of nowhere and then part of the palace had exploded into green flame. Mulan and Shang had been able to flee with many soldiers into the countryside but they had been separated from everyone in the madness. Things were not looking good when suddenly she heard a voice from above her.

“You look like you could use some help,” a young man said. Mulan looked up and saw a man dressed in slightly torn clothing standing on what seemed to be a rug floating in the air. He had kind eyes and a reassuring smile.

“Those things came out of nowhere,” Mulan said. “They overtook the city and destroyed the palace. They can’t be far behind us.” Her eyes were wild and she tried to calm down as best as she could. She took deep breaths.

The man and the carpet floated upwards a short distance and he scanned the horizon. He floated back down. “I can’t see them but you’re probably right. We need to get out of here. I was only scouting

“He got hit with a spear,” Mulan said. “It went all the way through. He needs medical attention quickly.”

The carpet lowered to the ground and the man leaned down to look at Shang. “You’re right. It doesn’t look good,” the young man said. “There’s a fort near here where we can get him help. Carpet can take us.”

Mulan looked dubiously at the flying carpet. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Is it safe?”

“Yeah,” the man said. “Do you trust me?” Something about his eyes made Mulan want to say yes but trust should not come so easily.

“I don’t even know you,” Mulan said. “I could hardly trust you.” She wanted to, but her head was spinning and she was equally likely to lash out as she was to accept a favor.

“Let me put it this way,” the man said. “Do you really have any better options right now?” Mulan had seen that the man wore a curved sword but she had a feeling she could outfight him if she had to even in her exhausted state.

“No,” Mulan admitted. “I’m willing to let you prove yourself. Thank you for your help.” She ran her hand along the fabric of the carpet and it responded as if it was a big friendly dog. “This is magic, right?” She only had a little bit of experience with magic but Mushu was nowhere in sight lately. Her guardian had disappeared and she was worried about the little guy.

“His name is Carpet from the Cave of Wonders,” the man said. “My name is Aladdin, by the way.” He offered her his hand. Mulan had never heard of such a cave but it sounded like a place that would have a flying carpet in it. The man looked foreign and Aladdin was definitely not a Chinese name but she and Shang were in a tight spot. She would have to trust him and hope for the best. She took his hand and shook it.

“My name is Fa Mulan,” Mulan said. “This is General Li Shang. Please help us.” Cards were on the table and it was either sink or swim now. She clutched her sword tightly.

“Of course,” Aladdin said. “I’m at your service.” He reached down and helped Mulan get Shang onto Carpet as gently as possible. Mulan knelt down and Carpet took to the air. She was amazed to see that Aladdin was able to stay standing, keeping a wide stance.

They flew over the countryside, shooting through the air as fast as Carpet dared. The ride was surprisingly smooth but all the same, Mulan held onto Shang. She was so worried about him and the blood that was slowly soaking the bandage on his shoulder. She could barely process what had happened. With transport taken care of, she almost passed out from the stress and exhaustion. She hoped that Shang could hang on. Her husband was dear to her.


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