Author's Note: I guess we could say that this fic exists in the same world as Yao in the Snow, Pondering the Magnolia Trees, and Nightmares. It's been like three years since I've written for Mulan but here we are.
Disclaimer: Don't own Mulan, don't make any money off my fanwork. Rad? Rad.
Mulan did not immediately head for home when she kneed Khan around and down the steps from the Emperor's palace. That would be a journey of some days. A journey for when she'd wiped the soot from her skin and patched the little burn holes in her stolen hanfu.
First she had to see to the dead. Her own men, incredibly, had come through this last confrontation alive. There was not a fatality among them.
(She could remember, in the mountain pass, those of her comerades that could not evade the falling fire-lit arrows. Those bodies were lost in the avalanche, respects never given. Mulan remembered their faces and names, and was glad she didn't have to add more of her own to that list.)
But there was a fatality. Where the other huns had been subdued, one had been killed.
(She could remember, in the mountain pass, the hundreds that fell at the roar of her cannon. Those bodies were trapped by the avalanche, died under it. She said her apologies when she made camp above them, atop the snow that killed them. Mulan did not know their faces or names, but she carried the weight of their lives. It killed her a little, that another had joined them.)
Shan-Yu was dead, and Mulan had done it. The razed village proved that he'd been objectively a monster. But Mulan, like all of China, had been raised to hate him with or without proof. And there was something about battle that both bolded hatred and blurred it. Perhaps Shan-Yu and Li Shang were not so different (the Emperor might be a better comparison, Mulan didn't know much about Hun political heirarchy and she could only guess). Perhaps there had been a clumsy Hun Hua Ping that looked up to hhis commander.
Or hers. Or whatever. Ascribing any sort of gender to Ping and Ping-Counterparts was too confusing for Mulan to linger on, so she didn't. Regardless, Mulan felt Shan-Yu's blood. It was sticky between her fingers even though it wasn't actually there.
Speaking literally, Shan-Yu had gotten more of Mulan's blood on his hands than the other way around. But it was Shan-Yu who was dead, Mulan had killed him. She nudged Khan in the direction he must have fallen.
"HEY! This isn't the road outta town, Mulan!" said Mushu. "Where are you going? Do you need to give yourself this trauma? I won't wipe your tears if you cry over this guy!"
But even Mushu quieted when she found the blast radius. The little dragon had good aim. After Shan-Yu flew off the palace, he landed true in the piled fireworks. Mulan remembered. The colors had been beautiful. She had been falling off a roof, a man had been dying, then was dead, and the colors had been beautiful.
The firework technician was already standing in the blast radius. His eyes grew wide when he saw her, grew wider when he saw the little dragon on her shoulder. (Mushu didn't bother to hide. He had a charge to pester and this man had already seen him once.)
"Sorry for ruining your show," said Mushu, skittering down Mulan's arm and up Khan's neck to perch between his ears. Turned to fix Mulan with an admonishing look.
Khan wickered. The firework tech stuttered out something incomprehensible. Mulan could see the ground bubble. There was very little that was recognizably human in the mess, but there was enough. "Mulan, don't you get off this horse!"
She dismounted, and the rush of it worked with the smell in the air to churn her belly. She was lucky her stomach was already empty.
"Don't do this to yourself, girl," said Mushu, leaping from Khan's head to Mulan's.
Mulan didn't answer. Her focus was on the spatter of human flesh on the ground. "I'm not sorry," she said. "But I'm sorry, too. What would you have accomplished with five men? Even if you'd killed the Emperor, someone would have killed you. Someone would have filled his place. The luck was with me this time. But I'm sorry anyway."
The shreds of human flesh oozed on the ground, a bubble sneaking up around a larger bone fragment. Mulan did not shudder.
"I hope you find rest, wherever you are."
Mulan remounted her horse, turned towards the journey home.
Word Count: 722
So this is my little contribution to the recent Mulan/Shan-Yu trend. Review, and tell me what you think!