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A Worrior In Disguise

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Fa Ping entered the beautiful garden of the Fa family. The light breeze filled the air with the sweet fragrance of lotus flowers. Treading up the stairs leading to the door, he raised a pale, slender hand and knocked three times. Grandmother Fa’s delighted (though Ping could sense worry too) face greeted Ping when the door flew open. “Oh, Ping!” She gave him a hug that would have crushed him before, when he was...still human. You see, Fa Ping was...a vampire. He kept it a secret to anyone but the Fa family. The fact that he shared their surname was because he actually had been an ancestor to them, although they hadn’t met him before that fateful day two years ago when he had been bitten by China's most infamous vampire. "Come in, dear." Ping followed the grandmother into the kitchen.
That familiar giggle he’d grown to love interrupted his train of thought. A little girl of about five years (“I’m turning six soon!” she would say and stomp her little foot if she had anything to say about it, which Ping could definitely endorse) came running. Mulan was strong-willed, even for her young age. With coal black, smooth, shiny hair, just like Ping himself had, she was a very beautiful little girl. She often grew irritated whenever someone commented on her beauty “I’m not beautiful, I’m smart!” and Ping would say "how about both?" and she would smile brightly at him saying "both. Both is good!" nodding vigorously.

Grandmother Fa looked at Ping, who had lifted his little friend into the air and was spinning her round and round, making her giggle. She smiled at the scene. "Ping?" He paused and hold the girl in his arms. "Yes?" "Thank you for staying with Mulan tonight." "It is really no problem, grandmother Fa. Right, Mulan? We'll be fine." "Yes, brother!" she beamed. Ping smiled. They truly were like brother and sister.
"Fa Zhou and Fa Li will be back from the market in a few hours and I will be back from my walk in one hour."

When grandmother Fa had left, Mulan whispered to Ping "I'll show you something." She took Ping by the hand and lead him to a cabinet. "Open it!" she said eagerly. "Mulan, I don't think...." Ping began but she sighed impatiently. "Daddy showed me yesterday when I asked about the war. He said he is too old to go to war, but you're not! Open it!" she begged again.
Ping took a deep breath and opened the cabinet doors.

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When the doors were opened, an armour was revealed. It was green and gray, looking as if it was a little too big for Ping to wear and he glanced at Mulan. "Are you sure about this?" She nodded. "Yes! You should try it on!" Ping gulped. As tempted as he was, he was still worried that the rest of the family would find out. He felt as if he was intruding on their privacy. "Don't worry! You can take it off again before grandma comes back!" "But...shouldn't we wait until they come back so we can ask them?" Mulan glared at him. "No!" Ping sighed. She sure was stubborn. "Alright, but we have to be quick!" Mulan jumped up and down with excitement as Ping took out the armour. He supposed it was heavy, it was made partly of metal, but since some of his qualities had been...improved such as strength, now being inhumanly strong (fitting, right? Inhuman. He's not human.) so he could lift it without a problem.

As he donned the last part of the outfit (the helmet), Mulan stared in awe at him. "Wow! You look like a real worrior!" Ping chuckled. "Thanks. But it takes so much than an outfit to be a soldier." At that moment, there was some great commotion outside. Ping lifted Mulan into his arms and ran towards the front door, clanking could be heard with each of his steps. He managed to open the door despite having an armful of little girl. As he rushed through the garden to the front gates, a herald had entered on horseback, speaking about a proclamation. He ushered Mulan inside. Taking off his helmet, Ping stepped forward as the herald shouted "the Fa family!" He bowed. "I'm ready to serve the emperor."

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Grandmother Fa came running just as Ping received the scroll. "Ping! What are you doing?!" Ping frowned. I'm saving your family." He turned stiffly towards her. Mulan came running too as she heard her grandmother shouting. "What's wrong grandma?" She asked, worry already grazing her beautiful face. Ping felt a pang of guilt as he looked at Mulan. What *had* he done? He didn't even know if he'd ever come back! How could he ever tell his little friend that? When grandmother Fa saw the look on Ping's face, she sighed. "I'm sorry, Ping." She cupped his face in her old, wrinkled hands. It never ceased to amaze him at how firm her grasp always was. "I didn't mean to shout at you." She said, as the herald finally rode away and the other families went home. "But what if they find out your true identity? It could get you killed!" Ping worried his blood red bottom lip. "I know, grandma. But-" and he gathered both her and Mulan in his arms, hugging them tenderly. "I gladly offer myself rather than letting Fa Zhou die an unnecessary death. He's too old to go to war! And you know that I'm hundreds of years old, right?" Finally, they smiled and let go of him. Grandmother Fa lifted Mulan up on her shoulder. "You're right. Though I still can't help worrying about you. You're practically a family member." Ping smiled back. "Thank you." They walked back to the house. Grandmother Fa put Mulan down and she immediately began begging for a piggy back ride. Ping lifted her up on his back (it was a bit difficult with his armor on) and took her around the house. "Mulan? Will you help me pack my things?" She nodded and hopped down. "You know where my room is. Wait outside." She nodded again and ran up the stairs. Ping walked to the kitchen where grandmother Fa was preparing a few bottles a red liquid. "Oh grandma, you really don't have to do this." He smiled, shaking his head fondly. "Nonsense. It's an honor I wouldn't want to miss." He noticed her wiping at her eyes discretely. Ping hugged her again, catching her off guard. "Don't worry. I'll be fine." He reassured her. Laughing, grandmother Fa hugged him back. Then, she handed him the bottles filled with animal blood. "Thank you." She nodded. "I'll go get my other things." She patted him on the shoulder. Ping rushed up the stairs. He wanted to spend as much time with Mulan as he could while he still had the possibility to do so.

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Ping took the the stairs two steps at a time. "Mulan! Sorry it took a little while." She shook her head. Don't worry! I've had lots of fun. I pretended that your room was full of monsters and if I opened the door, they would come out!" She giggled. "Why can't I go into your room?" She whined. "I promise I won't touch anything!" Ping hated to keep hiding his secret to her. She was still too young though, to know the graveness of it all. So he said: "Why don't you show me how to play that game you told me about?" Mulan's pouting face immediately transformed into a smiling one. "Okay!" She nodded eagerly.
Ping didn't wouldn't need too many things to bring with him. He opened the door from the inside as he pretended that theonsters would come out if he didn't close it quickly while enough handing Mulan his bag and a few other things, one at a time. Mulan giggled every time Ping opened the door and whispered "take this quickly before the monsters get out!"
When they came back to the kitchen, Ping said to Mulan: why don't you go out in the garden and feed the chickens while I talk some boring, adult talk with grandma?" "Okay!" Giggling, she open the door and ran out. What did I ever do to deserve her? He thought. He put the bottles in his bag and walked out the door. He heard footsteps behind him. Good. Grandmother Fa was following him.
"Mulan! We're going to the stable!" He called as the little girl came running. The sun was already beginning to set.
A few minutes later, Ping sat upon his trusted horse, Khan (after having hugged the both of them once more). "May the force be with you!" Grandmother Fa exclaimed. Scratch that, reverse it. Thank you. "Be safe, my boy!" Grandmother Fa exclaimed. Ping nodded gravely. "Thank you. I will." They both waved at him and he waved back. He tried to mentally tattoo their faces into his mind. Then he spurred his horse with a clicking of his tongue and a "HEEYAH!". Soon, he was out of sight.

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At camp the next day, Ping did his best to try fitting in. Really, he did. However, he didn't have any actual training skills except, perhaps hand to hand combat (although he knew he couldn't use his whole strength in fear of revealing his true identity). Overall, he'd only managed to make a fool out of himself.

The first time he'd laid eyes on his Captain (Li Shang was his name and he had broad shoulders, a firm chin, silky black hair, firm lips and fiery eyes and when Shang took his shirt off, Ping felt a little light headed), Ping was accused of being the fuel for a fight (he started it!) ending with the Captain staring him down, making Ping stutter and stare, nearly even forgot his own name. And he was supposed to be an old, wise vampire.

One evening, it even went as far as to Shang (Captain Shang, he reminded himself) handing over Ping his own horse and ordering him to "pack up, go home, you're through." Upon hearing that however, a spark ignited inside of him. He hated seing his Captain disappointed. Never before had Ping felt so miserable and ashamed of himself. He needed to set things right. He could do this.

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Shang had been tossing and turning in his bed, only managed catch a few hours of sleep. Had he been too harsh on the boy? No. After all, Png (that had been his name, right?) had been a real pain in the ass, not just to Shang himself but to all of them! And yet, why did his heart burn with guilt and longing at the thought that he'd finally gotten rid of that wandering disaster? But...what was that? Clapping and...cheering? At this hour of the morning? Had his men finally snapped, going mad with too much practice? Sighing, with a little dread but feeling mostly exhausted and, with a heavy heart, Shang managed to get out of bed and out of his tent. He'd barely stepped outside when a whistle flew past him and an arrow burrowed itself in the earth. What the?! But then he looked up and met...Pings gaze! He couldn't help (nor did he want to) the smile that stretched across his face as he met the boy's matching one. He sat, perched atop a pole which he had ordered his men to climb up to with two heavy weights. And Ping was the only one who'd managed to do it! The arrow was proof, too, and Ping, the little shit had thrown it straight at Shang so that he couldn't possibly miss noticing it (or the boy himself).
Their gazes met for a moment and Shang felt as if he could fly. Yes. Everything was possible. They could do this.