The gates were swinging wildly in the rain. A man lay collapsed on the ground. His darling wife knelt beside him, arms wrapped around him. Running hadn’t been such a good idea but all good ideas had escaped him when he realised his precious daughter had stolen his armor and ridden off to war pretending to be a man.
She had done it out of love yes, but she wasn’t thinking. She wasn’t thinking about his feelings. He would much rather be out there fighting in the war protecting the two beautiful women he had been so blessed to have in his life, than to know that one of them, his daughter, his own flesh and blood –well, his own flesh- was out there fighting to protect him.
He knew she could do it if given enough time and practice to learn. If taught by the right people. People who knew and understood her. People who wouldn’t be afraid of her and her powers.
“You must go after her, she could be killed,” his wife said.
“If I reveal her, she will be,” he said to her. But that was far from the thoughts going through his head. If I reveal her, they will try… and die in the process. That was a more accurate statement of what would happen if he revealed her for being a woman, let alone what she really was. What he had made a deal with the devil to make her.
Months later, Mulan swallowed as she watched the Huns charge down the snow covered hillside towards them. She looked around her and saw that they weren’t going to be able to do any damage. They would die. The Huns would slaughter them like a boot squashing an ant.
She had worked so hard for this. Worked so hard to keep her father safe from the war. He would have surely died out here in battle. But not Mulan. No, even with the whole Hun army racing towards her to kill her she would still survive. At least that’s what she had been promised years ago. That night when her father and a strange pale male had come into her room. Her father had promised that this would keep her alive forever. Just one bite and she would never feel cold or sickness again. She would never have to taste of pain or death. Her father had said it was the least he could do for his daughter and so, Mulan had let the strange pale man bite her on her neck.
It had hurt at first but then something strange and wonderful started happening. A strange sort of joy spread through her body that night. She had never been the same since.
The promise of external life. Never tasting of death…
Right now, Mulan wished that was true but she didn’t want to put it to the test.
She looked around and saw that they only had one cannon left. It was being set up and was nearly lit. Mulan also noticed the snow covered mountains. The mountains! Mulan raced towards the last cannon and grabbed it just before it was lit. She raced off to get closer to the mountains, and unfortunately, closer to the Huns. She aimed the cannon at the mountain tops, lit it and it took off, just as the Huns reached her. Shan Yu slashed at her with his sword and she ran. She ran as fast as she could as the snow from the mountain tops started falling down. She ran as fast as she could away from the Huns. She ran until she found her horse, and then saw Shang.
It looked as though he had been knocked out and he was falling. Falling on the snow towards the edge of the cliff.
“Shang!” she heard herself scream as she nudged her horse forwards to save him. She couldn’t lose him. Not that she really had him anyway. He thought she was a man and all but she liked him and she didn’t want to see him fall and never been seen again. Well, not whole again.
She got to him before they reached the edge, pulled him onto the horse and tried to return to safety where she could see all their friends.
Once finally there and safe, once the snow had stopped moving, once Shang had regained consciousness, Mulan finally let herself relax. She straightened up and looked around at all her friends. They were staring at her. Concern written across their faces. Mulan couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t until Shang spoke to her, rather slowly as well that she realised.
“Ping, you’re bleeding,” So the promise was true. Mulan looked down at her stomach where Shan Yu had sliced her. There was a dark red stain surrounding a cut in her armour. She placed her hand to it and then looked at her bloodstain palm. Saliva built up in her mouth as she stood there looking at the blood. A few drops fell onto the white snow. Such a contrast. Such a delicious contrast.
“Ping?” she heard Shang say. His voice pulled her back to reality. She was injured and by the look of it, the injury was bad. Thinking quickly on what to do, Mulan decided to faint. Surely that would be a reasonable reaction to this injury.
She felt Shang’s strong arms catch her as she fell and she had to physically stop the smile she felt tugging at the corners of her mouth. He caught her.
When Mulan opened her eyes again she was inside a tent. She was all bandaged up. Their attempts of healing her. She felt fine though. She couldn’t feel the cut any more than she had when she had been cut. It was as if it wasn’t there. Mulan went to sit up when the tent flaps were opened. Shang looked in and smiled, at first.
His smiled changed as he looked at her though. Really looked at her. Mulan looked down and realised what he saw. She was bandaged up alright, as were her breasts. Shang saw Mulan, not Ping. His face darkened and he turned and stormed out of the tent.
That uptight emperor’s adviser entered next. He saw the exact same thing Shang had seen. He reacted differently though.
“I knew it! I knew there was something not quite right about you,” He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out of the tent. He thrust her onto the snow outside. The snow that didn’t feel cold. “A woman!” he announced to the other soldiers. “This is a woman! A woman cannot be out here. By law she must be sentenced to death,”
Mulan looked over at Shang with pleading eyes but was greeted only with harsh dark anger. He was nodding.
“I can explain,” Mulan tried to defend herself. “My name is Mulan. My father is sick, too sick to fight. He would have died-“
“You deny your father his honour of fighting for his Emperor,” The adviser stated matter-of-factly. Mulan went to argue but was silenced by Shang’s voice. His darker and bitter voice.
“We trusted you. I trusted you and all you have done is lie to us. You are not a man. You do not belong here and by law you are sentenced to death,” He said as he pulled out his sword. “For dressing as a man and fighting in a war you had no right to be in. The law is clear,” with that, he sliced Mulan’s throat. She fell lifeless to the hard ground, red blood staining the white snow. Shang cleaned his sword on his cape and ordered the army to move out.
Mulan’s eyes flicked open again. They were pure black for a second before returning to their natural dark brown shade. As soon as they were normal again and Mulan realised what had happened, her hand flew towards her neck. She expected it to come away wet with her blood but instead it was clean. She felt her neck for the cut she knew had to be there. She remembered Shang cutting her throat with his sword. She remembered falling to the snow. She felt the blood leave her body. She could see the blood all over the snow right now, but yet, somehow, she was alive.
That was why. It was true.
She really was going to live forever.
Mulan looked down at her blood as she pushed herself up and off the snow. As she looked at the blood her mouth filled with saliva again. She felt hungry. No, not hungry, thirsty. Not thirsty for any drink she had ever had before though.
She looked at the blood and licked her lips, swallowed the saliva.
Was it the blood she thirsted for?
Was it blood that she craved?
Something moved in the snow. Mulan’s head flicked towards the movement in lighting speed. A hand was pushing its way through the snow. Within seconds, Mulan was by the hand and looking down at it. She reached for it and, as she held onto it, it grabbed her hand tightly. Saliva welled up in her mouth again. She closed her eyes and bit her lip as she felt the blood pumping through the man’s veins. She felt two of her teeth start to grow and sharpen.
When she opened her eyes again they were pure black again. She looked down at the hand with those black eyes and smiled cruelly. She pulled the hand and the man up and out of the snow and looked at him with the cruel smile still on her lips, new fangs poking through. Before the man even had time to speak or scream, Mulan had sunk her fangs into his flesh. She pierced the skin and felt the blood rush out of it. She tasted the warm salty blood as it flowed down her throat. It tasted so good. Why had she never tasted it before?
As she felt the last of the man’s blood slip down her throat, she let go of the man who fell like a dead weight to the ground. Well, he was a dead weight. Just like she had been.
Mulan thought about the last moments of her life, her old life. Shang! The saliva in her mouth turned bitter as she thought about him. How she had saved his life and he had taken hers. He had betrayed her not the other way around. What was she meant to have done? Walked up to him on the first day, tell him that she was a woman and hope he wouldn’t tell anyone?
Ha! There was nothing she could have done that would have saved her. Not that she needed saving, she realised. She wasn’t dead after all. She was alive even after they had slit her throat. They would pay though. Her sentence had been carried out and now she had her own sentences to carry out. Starting with Shang.
Mulan started to make her way to where she knew Shang would be. He would be heading towards the Emperor to receive the rewards and praise he didn’t deserve. It wasn’t him who saved all of China. It was her. She had been the one that aimed the cannon at the mountain. It was her who buried the Huns in the snow. It was her that saved his life! He would be dead it wasn’t for her, and now he will die… because of her!
Mulan kept to the shadows as she watched the soldiers parade down the streets basking in the glory of her victory. She eyed them off. Every last one of them. They didn’t deserve that praise, that glory. It was hers. She deserved it. She deserved it even more for being a woman and proving them all wrong. If it hadn’t been for her, a woman, they would all be dead. Yet, none of them felt remorse for kill her. They owned her their lives and she would take them.
They were hers by right anyway.
As Mulan followed them in her shadows she noticed other people following the parade in shadows and on the roofs. The Huns she realised. They were going to kill the Emperor. Shang would fight to defend the emperor and they would kill him too.
Mulan cursed under her breath as she watched them. She wouldn’t let them steal her prize from her. She would be the one to kill Shang. She would be the one to drink his body dry of all his blood. They would just spill it. Waste it. She wouldn’t allow that.
She raced after them. She watched as they took the Emperor from right in front of Shang. Oh how his pride must be wounded. Mulan smiled at him as he ran after the Huns. She on the other hand, climbed the building and waited for them on the balcony. No doubt the Huns would want a big display when they kill the emperor of all China.
It dawned on Mulan that he was to blame as well; the Emperor. He was the man in charge of China, in charge of the law. It was his fault she was not allowed to fight and save her father. It was he who ordered a man from every family to fight in the war in the first place. It was his fault China wasn’t as great as it could be. As it could be with a woman on the throne. An Empress. An Empress of Blood!
Mulan smiled. Yes, the Emperor’s blood would be the next to pass her lips.
After Shang’s, of course.
Smiling, Mulan turned her head towards the door where she could hear Shan Yu with the Emperor. He burst through the door holding the frail old man. Perhaps Mulan would drink his blood first. Shang’s would taste better. Young and strong, not old and weak like the Emperor’s. And the look on Shang’s face when he sees that he failed to save the Emperor would make her revenge so much sweeter.
Shan Yu was startled when he saw her sitting there on the balcony. Mulan simply stood and looked at them. She looked from each face as she saw Shang running up the stairs. In a second she had reached Shan Yu, broken his neck, killed him, and taken the Emperor hostage. She was back to the edge of the balcony when Shang burst through the doors.
Shock and horror were evident on his face as he looked at Mulan, then at the Emperor, then back at Mulan.
“But, I-” He started to say, still unsure about what he was actually seeing.
“You killed me? Yes. After I saved your life, you killed me!” She spat at him.
“But, your dead. We left your body to rot-“
“Freeze would be a better word. My body would have frozen in the snow, but look, here I am. Not even a scar on my neck from where you sword sliced it open. I’m clearly not dead. But you will be shortly. The Emperor will be shortly. Your beloved army will be shortly. All as they would be if it wasn’t for me. Me, a simple woman. Oh, but I’m clearly not simple, no, far from simple,” Mulan said as her fangs started to grow again, her eyes turning black, saliva filling her mouth, the desire to drink both these men dry filling her heart and mind. “Far from simple indeed,” With one last evil smiled at Shang she dug her teeth into the emperor’s neck and drunk his blood.
Shang was too shocked at seeing Mulan alive to move. Too shocked at seeing her bite into the Emperor to move. Too shocked to do anything. When she finally removed her head from his neck and dropped his lifeless body, Shang found breath again. She smiled at him, an evil bloody smile. He tried to run but she was too quick. Before he had even taken a step towards the door she was by his side, hands on his shoulders.
“Your turn,” she whispered in his ear before biting his neck as well. Before draining him of his blood, his life, his honour.