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Chapter 6: Shang's Choice

Shang was beginning to worry about his father's well-being during the battles against the Huns. As far as he recalled, the General had never taken so long to return home from war victoriously portraying a golden medal given by the emperor in gratitude for his courage in the battlefield and his loyalty towards his country.

One cold night, Shang went into the stables to prepare his horse. He remembered the steed was a present for his sixteenth birthday and ever since the first time he rode on him, Shang became very fond of him. The young man placed the saddle on the horse's back and gave him a pat on the forehead.

Later that night, Shang entered the room where his father kept the swords, medals and armor. No longer hesitating, yet trying to make the least noise as possible he put on his armor, which once was owned by his father when he was around the same age Shang was. All of a sudden, the memory of the first time he saw that fien metal armor flashed into his mind...

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shang was ten years old and he sneaked into the same room where his father kept his most precious belongings, which were of course his military devices. The General had barely returned home from war bearing a golden medal with a dragon engraved on it, the symbol of the Chinese Imperial Army. Shang silently observed his father polishing the medal and placing it inside a wooden box with the other ones he had received before his military services.

The Li family was proud of having a military lineage of great Generals for twelve generations and Li Shang wouldn't be the exception. The boy had been very interested in martial arts, sword fights, arrow shooting and everything involved in the Art of War since a very early age. Naturally, his father encouraged him to learn everything, which kept him from hanging around with the other kids and "wasting time just fooling around", like his father would call the games played during childhood. So, Shang grew up lonely with no friends to easen the grief he had to face when his parents would begin their endless quarrels.

How much he admired his dear father as a child. The General was the brave man Shang wanted to be as an adult. To him, his father was invinsible.

"Li-Shang" called out the General as a chuckle softened his sturdy features, "I know you are there, come, there is something I wish to show you."

Obediently, the ten year old emerged from his hiding place timidly looking down at his feet. "Yes, sir?"

"Someday you will return home after war bearing medals for your services to honor the Li family and you shall make me proud, Li Shang." Shang's face lightened up. He so badly wanted that day to come. He dreamed himself riding on a horse during a Victory Parade held in his honour.

The General awoke him from his daydream as he placed a marvelous metal armor before his eyes. "This was my first armor," said the General proudly, "It was a gift from your grandfather to me when I turned sixteen."

Shang stared in awe at the fine armor and his father went on, "When you're older it shall be yours and someday you shall pass it on to your son."

Shang placed the helmet on his head and let out a laugh when he noticed his head was not yet big enough to fit in it.

"Careful, Li Shang."

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ A grin spread across his face when he placed the helmet on his head which now fit perfectly. It seemed the right time to wear the armor and join his father's troops to fight.

The young man went out to mount on his horse.

Na Lei was the only person who knew about Shang's intentions to join his father in the battlefield. Part of her didn't want him to risk his life needlessly yet she felt she was no one to keep him from doing so. In the end, she decided to pray the gods he would return home safe and bid him farewell. Despite the cold, she awaited outside the front door to say goodbye when he would pass by.

Riding his white steed and wearing his armor, which made him look even more handsome and distinguished, Shang came out of his house's front door.

Na Lei smiled. Immediately, Shang dismounted his horse to talk to the girl before he left.

"Wow, you came," Shang began, "I was thinking of stopping by your house."

"I came to wish you good luck,"she said trembling.

"Thank you very much," replied Shang.

"Good luck."

"Thanks again."

There was a moment of silence between them, but Na Lei got on her toes and planted a kiss on Shang's lips. His eyes went wide open in astonishment. Who would have thought so...Na Lei kissing him, a girl breaking the rules.

"I want you to come back soon," said Na Lei softly, "I will be waiting for you. Do nothing stupid, ok? That was my good luck kiss, but still I shall pray for you to return safe and triumphant."

Shang nodded speechless, yet he was beaming with joy for Na Lei's good luck kiss.

AN: I know this last part was a bit disgusting, well you all know Na Lei is not for Shang, you just keep reading and tell me what you think.