Welcome, Fanfictiondom. :)
I've been away for quite a while (and though I don't really have any faithful followers I'm kinda hoping someone missed me… hopefully) cause of school which is a total mess right now so I just wanted to write a welcome back story (if those don't exist then I just invented them..)
I have a couple ideas for some Merlin stories right now so if you guys are Merlin fans then check them out in like a week or something… Hopefully I'll have SOMETHING written by then… X)
Anyway… so this is kinda just an idea that I had that was originally gonna be really short but then it kinda transformed into something bigger... but which is still short… Also please let me know if you think of a better title… I feel like this one is lacking something… Enjoy :)

When imperial soldiers came to my village when I was a child, I remember hiding behind my mother's skirts. I didn't even come up to her waist. Each name was called and with each name stepped forward another man; young or old. Some too young. And then my name, the name of my father, was called. Oh how I loathed the name, for it meant the loss of my father. Why not Li, the name of the man who summoned him? Why could not he feel the loss of a father... Or maybe a son? Grandma had cried that night. I could hear the echoes of muffled sobs through the silent hall as clearly as if they had been the screams of the dead. Never before had I heard grandma cry. She was supposed to be the strong one. But as her resolve crumbled, we had no rock wall to grasp for support. The hallways of the Fa manor echoed with the sobs of grief through the night.

I remember asking my father why he had to leave - why some other man could not take his place. He simply knelt down in front of me and touched me cheek, saying one solitary word: honor. At the time I didn't understand what he was saying. But as he rode out through those gates for maybe the last time, I felt something break within me. There was a gaping hole in my heart where he had once been. And I wasn't sure it would ever be filled again. Because as young as it was, somehow I understood that I may never see him again. It took my breath away.

When he finally came back, all those years later, he was no longer the man I knew as my father. It was in the dark of the night. I remember the gates crashing open and the sound of the wind howling through the trees. We rushed outside fearing some bandit but all we could see was a solitary figure sitting atop a horse the color of the midnight sky. Mother took a stumbling step towards him.

"Zhou?" she took another step. "Zhou! Oh Zhou!" and then she was sprinting across the courtyard. Father dropped to the ground with the grace of a seasoned warrior, but the moment his feet lit upon the cobblestones, he collapsed to the ground in a heap, gasping in pain. He stood up to reveal a twisted piece of wood. A cane.

And overtime, as that gaping hole finally began to close, I occasionally asked him why.

"For honor," is the only response I would ever receive.

From time to time, I would awake from a nightmare gasping for air in the darkness of the night. Most nights I could hear my mother comforting my father in the next room. But how could father have nightmares? What could possibly be so terrible that it would keep him awake in the night? I never asked, because I knew that the answer, should I receive it, would be so horrible that it would take my breath away.

A number of years later, as I did my chores, I heard the sounds that had haunted my dreams since I was a little child. I rushed to the gate and suddenly I was back in my nightmares again. The same dreams I had dreamt every night had become my reality. No longer could I hide behind my mother's skirts like the little child I once was. I was now a good head or two taller than her. I lay atop the rooftop and watched events unfold exactly as they had years ago. I felt an undeniable sense of deja vu, and it took my breath away.

Then the man called that name, that loathed name. Fa. I saw my father hold his cane out to mother and limp to the imperial envoy and I gasped in horror. No. Her worst dreams were coming true and there was nothing she could do. But her father had served before...

"Wait! Please my father has already served!" I ran out into the square but was immediately shoved to the ground.

"You would do well to teach your daughter to hold her tongue!" The man's voice was like venom. A snake. I had often had to deal with garden snakes. Their bite was painful but harmless. A sharp sting but no danger. That was the sting I felt now. Vermin, they are. The only way to stop them is to remove their heads.

But the real damage did not come from this man, this snake. No, the real sting came from my father. "Mulan, you dishonor me." The shame I felt was indescribable.

Later that night, I had asked her father again, "Why?" And once again I felt like that helpless little girl from many years ago. I could feel the gaping hole in my heart reopening at the thought of losing her father forever. And it took my breath away.

But I was no longer that that helpless little child. No... I had the power to save my father. And my life would never be the same. The feel of the wind blowing through my hair and the power of wielding a sword took my breath away.

Now, finally, when I faced danger, I did not back down. Perhaps it was because I did not know how to. But I know, in reality, had I stood here one year ago I would have cried for my father's help. I no longer felt the need to ask my father why. Why I stood here, sword in hand, strong and solid as a pillar of stone. I did not doubt myself. Not once did I consider fleeing. Because now I understood. And I stood my ground and looked Death in the eye and spit on the hard dirt at his feet.

"It's now or never. Bring it on." And I lifted her sword. For honor.

I was no longer a small helpless little girl. I was Mulan. The fiercest warrior that roamed these lands. I had the courage to hold Death's glare and glare right back. I had the grace to counter his sword-stroke. I had the wisdom to know when my time was up in this world. And I had the compassion to embrace Death.

Death may have one this battle, but I have won the war.

And the power of standing straight and tall, of standing with honor and preparing to go down in fiery glory, took my breath away.

No one lives forever.

So ya… that was pretty intense, huh…? It might be kinda confusing so if you don't understand something just comment or PM me and I'll try to update it so it's more clear. I hope you enjoyed! I'm thinking about elongating this and adding some battle scenes, but it's up to you as the reader. Besides, it might take away from the initial intensity. ;)
Sorry if I got any details or timing wrong. I know Fa Zhou fought in the war before, but I have no idea when. For the sake of this story, just assume it was when Mulan was younger, around 4 years old. Please let me know if I did get anything wrong so I can correct it immediately.
Hope you enjoyed! As always, comments are most welcome, especially those that give me inspiration and ideas for even MORE stories. Have an awesomely amazing spectacular day! :D