, not really sure from whence this came. (I've started trying not the end my sentences in prepositions, but that's hard!) I had a mental image of Mulan waking up from a nightmare, and wanted to share that image with you. No happiness, I'm afraid.

Disclaimer: No ownage. No lawsuits. Thanks.


Every night, Mulan woke up curled into as tight a ball as she could manage. Her skin would be covered in cold sweat, and her slender frame shook with horrific shudders. If she waited long enough, she would notice that her cheeks were wet because of salty tears, but that rarely happened.

When she woke up, the only course of action left to China's greatest hero was to hunch in closer to herself, and fight to regain control of her ragged panting. There were no comforting hugs, no mild-voiced mother to reassure her that the nightmares weren't real. No safe anchor for the woman who had single-handedly prevented the murder of China's emperor.

There was no reason to expect such things.

About a month after Mulan returned home from her exploits in the army, she had been kidnapped. Bound securely with knots she could not reach, and blindfolded, the young woman was taken from her home, probably from her homeland. The air did not feel like her beloved China, and the songs twittered every morning by the birds were different from the ones she had grown up whistling.

Two weeks after she had been taken, her captors removed her blindfold. The entire camp was filled with Huns; nasty, hulking Huns who had no qualms about abusing a slender stick of a girl. She hadn't been able to see properly out of both eyes in almost three months, and her back was so raw it took every drop of self-control she'd cultivated through her time at Wu Zhong to resist even the smallest whimper when she moved.

Her middle hurt from an almost nonstop stream of kicks, and from the way it hurt to breathe, she probably had broken ribs. Her left arm was covered in bruises, but otherwise fine. Right arm, on the other hand, had been broken in two places, and clumsily bound with strips torn from her miserable excuse for a blanket.

If someone from her old unit were to see her now, they would not recognize their vivacious, trouble-making, and inspiring comrade in this battered and bruised woman. Any hope she might once have entertained of being rescued had been thoroughly trounced. Her skin sagged against bone, muscles withered to almost nothing. The constant ache of hunger dulled occasionally, accompanied by a dwindling desire to be free.

The nightmares were the worse, though, not in that they were terrifying, but in that they showed her things she would never have.

She had nightmares about herself and Shang, getting married, having children. She would see herself in the Imperial Palace, sitting at the right hand of the Emperor while dressed in extravagant robes. Out drinking with her three favorite soldiers, Yao, Ling, and Chien Po. Riding Khan again, one with her horse and at peace finally.

But none of them left her with hope, because without exception, every single nightmare ended in the death of someone she loved.

And that was why she woke up, night after night a shivering, useless wreck. Why she no longer fought her captors, even when they inflicted abominable things to her person. Because at the end of the day, she was helpless. Nothing ever changed that final scene.

Authoress' Corner - Well, whattaya think? Drop me a line, let me know. Kinda morbid, right?

Fair Skies,

Eclipse Bloodmoon