"Mom?" Eleven(and-a-half)-year-old Henry asked quietly, stepping into his adoptive mother's bedroom in the middle of the night.
Even though the woman had been in a deep sleep, she sat up instantly, her motherly instincts overcoming her. "What's wrong, baby?" She asked tiredly.
He stepped closer to her. "I had a nightmare. About you getting hurt."
Regina pulled the boy into her bed and cuddled up with him. "You wanna talk about it?" He shook his head unhappily. "You wanna discuss it with Archie tomorrow?" He nodded, curling further into her.
"Instead can I tell you all about Emma's trip to your land? She told me all about it, and I don't wanna sleep just yet." His voice was quiet, timid. Regina just nodded, stroking his hair back lovingly. "Well, first of all, they woke up with Aurora and Mulan in front of them, Mulan holding her sword out towards them..."
The mother woke up further at this. "Mulan? Like, the Mulan?" She asked curiously.
"Yeah." Henry shrugged, returning to the story.
Regina's heart fluttered a little, but she paid attention anyway.
-Enchanted Forest flashback-
The only sounds in her ears were those of the chestnut horse she rode and it's hooves hitting the ground with every gallop. The wind blew her hair back and she couldn't suppress the grin that ebbed its way across her features. She was free. At last. Free from her mother's strangling clutches and from her father's passive attempts at intervening.
Her eyes widened as she reached a clearing to see around ten armour-clad warriors pointing their swords at her. She stopped her horse as quickly as she could, holding her hands up in surrender.
"You are riding on sacred lands, girl." One of them spoke in a deep, booming voice. They each wore helmets with chainmail veils to hide all but their eyes.
"Forgive me, General, I did not know." Her voice was tiny and high in pitch. She let her hands drop to steady her steed.
They lowered their weapons, able to see the honesty in her words. "Get down from the horse." The same man spoke. She did so, holding the reins with one hand. "Name?"
"Regina Mills, sir."
"You are rather young to be riding alone, don't you think?"
"I'm running away." She answered, lifting her chin defiantly.
"A young, vulnerable little girl like yourself, running away?" The man scoffed. "Give us your residence, girl, we will contact your mother."
There was a long pause as Regina just stared silently. "Who are you?"
He sighed. "The Forest Clan of Warriors for the Emperor Yang of Sui Kina. These are our training grounds."
The girl stared around at them again, noticing that one warrior in particular wore slightly different colours – while the men had deep green on their armour, this one had red. "What about him?" She asked curiously. "He is no Forest warrior, that much is obvious."
"Mulan is a Stone Warrior. She came to this Clan instead, but keeps her Stone status." Now the bulky man started to become annoyed with this girl. "Leave now, before we kill you."
Regina just kept staring at this 'woman' in red.
"Men!" A voice called out from the distance. "Lower your weapons and uncover your faces, this girl is no threat to us. Or to anyone, for that matter."
The warriors did as they were told. A dark eyebrow was raised when she noticed the beauty of the female warrior.
Regina looked around, finally noticing the large camp. "What would it take for me to join you?" She asked, earning herself laughs from the men all around – however Mulan just looked at her, gaze softening.
"You? A young, small girl such as yourself?" The first man spoke.
Mulan stepped towards the only other girl and stood in front of her defensively. "I was fourteen when I signed up. I'm fifteen now."
"But you are from our Empire. She is not."
The female warrior just pointed at a man even paler than Regina. "Neither is he."
There was an awkward silence then, both women smirking a little.
"We will give you brief training and then an exam. If you do not pass you cannot train with us. Is that clear?" Spoke the General.
Storybrooke, Modern Day
"And that's when Emma and Mary Margaret climbed out of the well." Henry finished. Both of them had begun drifting off to sleep, and Regina just nodded as she turned out the light and cuddled up with him.
"Mkay honey. Sleep now."