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CANON: li shang
HEIGHT: 6'1
QUOTE: I don't need anyone causing trouble in my camp.
AGE: 26
ALIAS: allie
MOVIE: mulan
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Joined: 25-December 16
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shen tao wei

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May 15 2017, 03:43 PM

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With a grunt, Shen dropped the last practice mat into place in the center of the room. He rocked back on his heels, propping fists on hips, as he surveyed the work of the last twenty minutes. The small fitness room he'd borrowed for the afternoon was less than ideal but it would do for his purposes. He had to remind himself that the purpose of the class he was holding was not to prepare troops for combat but rather the average person to defend themselves. It required different tactics in approach and far less space than the practice grounds at the resistance camp. Though the class was open to anyone, he'd asked several of the volunteers at Haven Hill to make sure the word got passed along to those from the other side of the portal. Specifically, newly crossed inhabitants of the community. He couldn't force them to join the resistance and help them fight, but he could make sure they could defend themselves in whatever situation they found themselves in. If today's class went anything like the others had gone, the fitness room would be more than adequate insofar as the number of attendees.
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It was just as well that he wasn't training fighters just at the moment. Though his stay with Xia had allowed for his body to mend itself, it had meant that his muscles were not as limber as they needed to be to jump back into the action on the other side of the portal. Even the small exertion of re-arranging the room had pulled on muscles that were stiff from disuse despite having spent extra time in his stretches that morning. In truth, he likely needed the exercise the class would provide as much as whoever showed up needed the instruction. While he hoped to see a few familiar faces among the students, he was expecting more newcomers than anything and it for them that he'd prepared today's lesson. Contingencies were second nature to him, however, and he'd prepared several more exercises for anyone advanced enough to take them on. A part of him yearned to push himself, to extend past his current strength, impatient to back into the shape he needed to be in -- that the resistance needed him to be in. That was a foolhardy path to tread, he knew. Too soon and he'd be right back in the hands of the healers.
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Though he itched to be back with the resistance, worried and guilty as he felt for having tarried so long in San Francisco, he knew that John had things well enough in hand without him to afford it for a little while. Today would be a good test of his abilities before he left again. It would also be the last class he would hold for awhile, he was certain. He couldn't shake the feeling that they had been rolling along too steadily, too smoothly, for there not to be something large on the horizon. For that, for whatever it brung, he had to be ready. Raising his arms high above his head, he clasped them together and tilted slightly backwards in a long, upward stretch. He was just pulling out of it when the first of his new students began to arrive. Silently, he greeted them with only a nod before instructing them to sit on the mats arranged in the center of the floor. A few minutes after the designated class time, he called them all to attention, explaining what the class was for and what he would teach them and why, before leading them into the beginning meditation he always started everything with. The room was near silent save for the sound of a half dozen or so breathing deeply and exhaling.
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Sitting crosslegged in front of them, he had his head bowed as he calmly led them in mentally preparing themselves and their bodies for the exercises they would learn. It was near the end of this section that he heard the noise near the door and raised his head, muscles tensing reflexively as if poised to fend off an attack. Outwardly, however, his face was a stony mask as he arched an eyebrow at the newcomer. "Punctuality is an under-appreciated virtue, I see," he said without much preamble. His nostrils flared on an exhale as he gritted his teeth in irritation. "If you've come to join us, you can stand in the back until we've finished the stretches."




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Mar 7 2017, 07:44 PM

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Shen made a lonely picture as he trudged slowly up the path to the farm. With only a moderate, standard-issue duffle bag slung over one shoulder that was more than half empty and his head down turned, he likely looked like a drifter. His hair fell freely in front of his face without the tie that usually held it back -- a plain, thin band of leather that was currently tied around his wrist. The clothing in this world was odd, the unfamiliar feel of them not uncomfortable just different than the simple tunic and pants he usually wore. He'd heard the same warnings and and remonstrations to assimilate even if he was hardly ever in this world. A frown tugged at the corners of his mouth even with no one to see how much he disapproved of himself. Yet, he couldn't quite turn himself completely around. There was no hiding the limp to his walk or denying that his slow pace was more to do with his bruised and battered body than any real reluctance to arrive at his destination. Rather, any attempt at a normal gait had him halting to catch his breath.
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He ought to have seen a healer for his injuries but, stubborn fool that he was, he'd waved them away. There were others in far greater need of their assistance than he and he would mend in time. Obstinate as he was, Shen unfortunately knew he needed that time away from the fight. In all fairness, he had tried to stay out of the thick of things back in the animated world, restricting himself to the resistance encampment. The temptation to jump in where he saw an obvious need had only proved too strong -- which was how he had ended up with the limp. A cart of supplies with a broken wheel had needed to be moved and he had foolishly pitched in to help lift it only to collapse beneath weight of it. As loathe as he was to be away from the resistance, it was best he recuperate elsewhere. Though the idea was far from his own, he could only be grateful for friends such as Xiaoli.
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Nearing the house now, Shen felt a swell of relief that even the small physical exertion as the walk from the road to farmhouse was nearly over. He would worry about his endurance later. He was no use to the resistance in his current state, though he told himself he would make it back into the city to check on things on this side of the portal. It was a small comfort even as he felt guilty for taking even this small time. There were countless things he ought to have been doing right about now were he well and able to do them. As it was, he was...useless. A foreign and altogether sour feeling. One he smothered as he approached the front door to his friend's home. Once there, he hesitated. It had been so long (if ever) since he had visited another at their invitation that he was no longer familiar with the proprieties. Shen raised a closed fist and then stopped. He pulled back an inch before shaking his head at his own tediousness. Clearing his throat, he finally knocked on the door. Even the careful rapping of knuckles on wood pulled at the sore muscles in his abdomen. Yes. He did need this.
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Somehow, the self-assertion didn't make him feel less guilty.




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[/dohtml]xiaoli baozhai jun | hope this works <3


Feb 13 2017, 01:41 AM

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Using his sword to push aside the lush, green foliage of the rainforest path, Shang's eyes scanned the shadows cast by the canopy overhead. He kept his pace to a slow, careful rhythm, cautious of the malleable forest floor. With each step, he picked his away around the pliant mud that made up the ground beneath his feet. To his untrained eyes, what markings he did catch made very little sense to him beyond evidencing the recent travel of some animal or other. Intellectually, he knew that tracking involved much more than a footprint in dirt and a broken branch but it was beyond his abilities to make sense of the signs he saw around him. If left to his own devices, he'd just as soon find himself following the trail of a rabbit as he would some great beast. He understood strategy; the art of maneuvering battalions across battlefields, the placement of soldiers in the positions most likely to afford victory. He could weigh gains and losses and utilize what he was given to his advantage.
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He had many skills, it was true, and many more that were far outside of his wheelhouse. Tracking just so happened to be in the latter category. It would be one thing to say that he had never been taught the skill, never found it necessary to learn in the Before but it wasn't the truth. While it <i>was</i> true that it hadn't been a core part of his education, he had learned what little was necessary to military training and disregarded the rest as a hunter's trade. It was an arrogance he had come to regret in the last few years but, unlike quite a few other things, it was a failing he would readily admit to. These days, having skilled trackers among the resistance fighters were more than necessary in combating the darkness and pride had no place there.
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It was one of the reasons he had sought out Moriko for this particular mission. Reports had been trickling in about a large animal stalking this particular quadrant of the rainforest. It was uncertain from the information as to whether it was a natural beast or one corrupted or even created from the darkness. Outside of a general size and a vague description, there wasn't much else to go on. It hadn't yet attacked anybody moving through the area but, just to be safe, Shang had thought he ought to see for himself what they could potentially be dealing with. In the last three years, he had seen and fought creatures he never could have imagined much less prepare for but he had rather not be at a disadvantage the resistance find themselves up against it. Unlike him, Moriko was a talented tracker. Like him, however, her temperament ran more towards the avoidance of other people and he hadn't, as of yet, heard much about the history of her skills.
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Nevertheless, he trusted them and her instincts and let her lead the way, cautious to stay close behind. They travelled in, if not companionable, then comfortable silence save for the soft sounds of the rainforest around them. It was almost peaceful; the gentle hum of insects and a light pattering of raindrops that never reached their heads as it was caught in the branches above them was almost lulling. It would be too easy to become complacent even in the humidity and damp. To occupy his mind, Shang tried to listen beyond the forest's music, to find any sounds out of place or indicative of a predator nearby. His footfalls were near silent in the bracken as he stepped over rotting wood and around overgrown ferns, his eyes constantly moving in slow, sweeping arcs across the area surrounding them. A hand remained loosely curled around the grip of his weapon, ready to defend if necessary.



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moriko san spirritt - hope this works!
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Jan 29 2017, 05:48 PM
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<div style="width: 400px; text-align: center; font-family: georgia; font-size: 35px; border-bottom: 5px solid #154FB8; line-height: 100%; text-transform: lowercase;">shen tao wei</div><br>

<div style="width: 400px; text-align: center; font-family: tahoma; font-size: 11px;">li shang ★ mulan ★ jin hyuk choi ★ hero ★ twenty-six</div><p>

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伟 神 道

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It could have been minutes or hours that Shang had knelt on the hard stones, arms raised in the air. Rivulets of sweat ran down his face and back as the midday sun blazed down upon the tianjing. The voices of the other students at the military academy were a constant murmur. Like the buzzing of a fly just out of sight, it was an irritant to drive to distraction. Something he could ill afford while currently face punishment for his latest disobedience. The instructors alternatingly praised his potential and bemoaned his arrogance depending on the day and their mood and the current state of affairs with the skirmishes in the north. Things must not be going well beyond the wall lately if he was out of favor with the school’s laoshi. It was difficult being the only son of the commander responsible for quelling the push from the huns --- the feared, loathsome barbarians from the snowy mountains. The approval of the teachers was a constantly shifting thing these days, but the mindset of the students never varied. They did not like him and the feeling was mutual.
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Though they were all supposed to be considered equal within the walls of the academy compound, it was far from the truth. The student body was comprised of the sons of noblemen and officials looking to gain footing within the military through their progeny. Shang could not be counted among their number despite the favor his father had curried with the emperor and the long list of accomplishments. Commander Li had worked his way up from a conscription as a foot soldier without family or wealth to back him. In the eyes of the other students, this made Shang an interloper – a cuckoo in their nest that they were determined to push out. They took their cues from their own fathers, placing theirs jabs accordingly. Insults flung at him he could swallow when necessary. It was when they attacked his father that he could not stomach the disrespect. The boy with the newly broken nose could now attest to that and Shang refused to be sorry about it. His refusal to apologize had landed him a month’s worth of punishments once he was finished being made an example of.
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Muscles aching, even as the twelve year old poured all of his concentration on remaining perfectly still. He wouldn’t not lower his eyes even as he was forced to watch the other boys as they smirked and jeered out of view the teachers. Wisdom from reflection. He repeated the words of Confucius in his mind over and over again as he turned his expression to one as cold and unfeeling as stone. His father had warned against letting his emotions rule him. The mind must temper the heart for there to be balance in one’s decisions, he had said. Anger was a fuel, it was what one did with the fire that was important. The white hot burn that filled his chest as Shang took his punishment would be used to forge the steel in his spine. He would stand tall and straight as the fir tree, be as firm and immovable as the mountain. It was near full dark by the time the xiaozheng declared his punishment fulfilled. With stiff, aching bones the boy made his way towards the first year dormitory, the cogs of his mind still turning. This would be the last time he would allow his anger to rule his mind, he swore on his ancestors. If they thought he was fated to live in his father’s shadow, they were wrong. He would cast his own and show them all exactly how much Li Shang was worth.

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Marriage. Shang swung the heavy sword in his hands hard at the wooded post, chips of wood flying. He’d been home only a day and already his mother was scheming. Turning swiftly on the balls of his feet, he used the momentum to strike the other side with an even greater force. This time, the blade stuck in the wood. He sighed heavily as he worked it out and held the weapon a moment, settling the weight in his hand. The matchmaker had been through the city recently, collecting the profiles of eligible daughters from good families. The ones who hadn’t been able to make matches on their own. Shang scowled and returned to practicing fighting positions. He moved with a fervor against the wooden post as if it were a real enemy. If only there were actual enemies to fight. All had been calm for more than a decade. Not since the wall had been completed and their enemies in the north all but snuffed out. No, his only enemy at the moment with his mother’s machinations. Shang almost wished there was a war if it would mean an escape from her plans.
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It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be married, necessarily, he’d always assumed he would eventually. Up until this point, the idea had simply remained an image of a future, an element of a far off someday. Not now. Not when he hadn’t yet achieved anything. He was only just now taking the first steps in his career and a wife was an unnecessary weight. It had only been weeks since he had completed the Imperial military exam, coming out first in the nation. His father had been there to witness him receiving the honors as the wuzhuangyuan from the emperor. First of his class. He had his pick of positions across the country and he wanted none of them. Though they were distinguished positions guaranteed to help him climb high in the ranks, not a one of them offered a place in the Imperial Army. Following in his father’s footsteps had always been a part of the plan and he wasn’t about to deviate now even if it meant enlisting and starting from the bottom as his father had.
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Decades after conscription, his father had become the general of the entire army. Shang planned on exceeding even the many accolades that followed General Li. The prudence of giving up a guaranteed position to take such a path as he was planning had been argued more than once but his mind was made up. Even if he didn’t say it aloud, he knew his father was proud of the decision. Now, he simply had to prove that he was capable of it. In a week, he would travel to the capitol to take up orders. The most he could hope for was lieutenant in a smaller company, given the reduced state of the army currently. It was not a glorious position, the salary not at all suitable for caring for a wife and family. The arguments he would present to his mother were already beginning to align themselves by order of what would convince her to not pursue a match with him and whoever she had deemed suitable for him. The only problem was getting her to agree. His parents were like one entity when one of them had come to a decision and always had been. If his mother didn’t see the wisdom in what he said, there would be no way out of it.
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In the end, he would bow his head and heed their wishes -- the very picture of filial piety -- even if he’d rather run the great wall from end to end naked in the depth of winter than marry. By the time Shang had finished his plans, the wooden pole was reduced to a mere stick dug into the ground, a pile of chips littering the ground. Breathing heavy, he drew a bare arm across his sweaty face and started about clearing the mess. He was interrupted by the sound of hooves clopping across the outer courtyard and shouting. Without hesitation, he moved swiftly from the training yard through the moon wall that separated the gardens from the large courtyard at the front of the house. He didn’t realize he still carried his weapon until the rider’s eyes widened at his approach, visibly recoiling an inch. Shang glanced at his mother as she entered behind him, face concerned. The messenger handed over the scroll to him and left quickly without stopping to rest. The missive was from his father, straight from the capitol. A feeling of dread warred with excitement over the information as his thoughts from earlier returned to him.
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The Huns had attacked the wall.


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It had only been days since the Shan Yu and his men had attacked the wall. Shang had ridden hard for the Imperial city to answer his father’s call only to follow him to the main military camp. He was anxious to receive his orders but, thus far, the general had withheld it from him. At his father’s side, he took part in the planning of their movements, devoting himself to listening and learning. He had faith that his father had his reasons for keeping him so close but, for the life of him, he couldn’t understand it. Neither could the Emperor’s men who surrounded the general. One in particular made his feelings known in snide comments and pointed looks. Shang bit his tongue and waited while his father’s men assembled themselves and the new recruits began trickling into the camp. A part of him balked at the time being wasted, wanting to throw himself in the thick of things, but he smothered the impulse that revealed his inexperience with war. He was young but he was not reckless.
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It was nearly time to begin training before his father revealed his plans. The general counted on the swiftness of the army’s actions to intercept Shan Yu and his men before they reached the Imperial City. A single, treacherous mountain pass was the only natural barrier they had between the Great Wall and the city and the general planned on using it to their advantage by running the huns into the narrow end and surrounding them. It was imperative, however, that they reach it before Shan Yu. It was both daring and decisive; the chances of success grew slimmer with every passing second but, in his naïveté, Shang saw only the brilliance of the strategy. For all he participated in the panning, he did not anticipate was the role he would play in his father’s plan. Where the company of exalted soldiers the general had called to his side would be waiting for Shan Yu in the pass and would push them into a retreat, it would be Shang who would be waiting with his own soldiers to counterattack. If successful, the two of them would work in tandem to choke the hun army until they surrendered.
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It was more than he could have dared hope for; this opportunity could change everything for him and catapult his career in a way that, otherwise, could have taken years, decades even. To begin in the military as a captain was an honor that was only slightly tarnished by the fact that it had been granted to him by his father. Uncertainty undermined what otherwise would have been an impelling appointment, his own thoughts echoed by the Emperor’s insufferable advisor who had been placed in the camp to report upon the army’s progress. His progress now, as Chi Fu seemed determined to highlight every mistake, every negative, rather than the positive. It only amplified Shang’s own determination to turn the new recruits into a venerable company of soldiers to be revered. The pride shining through the General’s stoic face as he rode away bolstered him. The image of his father, resplendent in his armor, flanked by soldiers and riding out of the camp into the dying sunlight as it glinted off weapons and helmets would be forever seared into his memory.
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As he was left with the training of the recruits solely in his hands, he was simultaneously invigorated and terrified. It would have been a lie to claim anything else and, he felt, there was a sort of wisdom in allowing the true enormity of such an undertaking to temper his ego. Failure was not an option, no matter how his critics would have been gleefully validated to see him fall. More than his career rested on the success of the company at his command, as confident as those around him seemed to be about defeating Shan Yu. The difference between himself and them was the very man who had granted him the position of Captain. His father had spoken often and in great detail on the skirmishes with the Huns for as long as he could remember and should not be underestimated in their barbarism -- and General Li had known anyone appointed to the position would need that mindset for their strategy to be efficacious against the current incursion. Taking in the unruly state of the recruits, his soldiers, riotous and undisciplined, Shang felt the weight of that position settle heavily across his shoulders. For the briefest of moments, he wondered if he was not, indeed, in over his head.

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Idealism was not exactly a quality Shang would have expected to be used in reference to himself. The teachings of Confucius and the philosophy behind the mores the scholar promoted were, in a sense, transcendental. In that regard, they were also somewhat unpractical in the sense that humans would, as they always had, act in a way that was both predictable and not. It was closer to the truth to describe the new captain’s first feeling, prior to meeting the men he was commanded to train and shape and use to execute the general’s strategy, as optimistic. With every passing day that there was no improvement to be seen amongst his troops, that optimism began to wither away. He was the highest ranking officer in the camp, the one with the most knowledge (if little experience), and nothing he tried seemed to work. There existed not a single soul with whom he could confide and, in return, could buoy his fading confidence. It seemed almost impossible that not a single technique he knew could permeate the psyches of not even one, singular man among the hundred or so he led. Frustration had taken root inside of him early on, the seed planted by one individual in particular.
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Disregarding his unapologetic riling of the other men and the paltry explanation of himself and the situation he had caused, Fa Ping was a number of things that fed into Shang’s frustration. He was too small, too weak, too uncoordinated both physically and, by his estimation, in mind to be soldier. It was difficult for him to believe Fa was even old enough to have been conscripted. He knew the boy’s father to have been injured in battle and, by all reports, was rarely seen walking on his own. Wanting to protect his father was a feeling he could well understand but Fa’s inefficiencies were very likely to get him killed and others in the process. That knowledge did not, and could not, rest well on Shang’s conscience. As captain, it was his responsibility to prepare his men for battle not only to defeat their enemy but to protect themselves and Fa Ping was so unsuitable for what was to come that he held very little hope of the boy surviving.
<p>
It weighed on him nearly as much as the task he had been given; how could one reconcile knowingly leading someone to their death? He had selfishly wanted war but the likelihood of failure and what the ramifications of that would be were not easily shaken off. Ping was easily the worst of the lot, stubbornly resisting any attempts to release him from his conscription. It surprised no one more than him when Ping became the first of the men to reach the top of the pole that had been erected in the middle of camp. Truth be told, he hadn’t expected anyone to achieve it in the short time they had been given to train. It had been meant as a symbol, as representative as the golden weights to be used to climb it. Strength and Discipline were but two of the core traits required to achieve any goal and that had been the lesson intended -- as figurative as it was literal.
<p>
As he stared at the arrow at his feet, having been thrown from its spot bedded into the top of the wooden pole, a different sort of feeling unfurled around the frustration, slicing through it like light dappling through water. Pride. Ping, of all his men, had achieved what none of them had thought could be done. It was a validation for all of them as much as it was for himself. The achievement brought about a definitive change in morale, a sort of rejuvenation within each individual, and the difference was stark. Suddenly, they improved in leaps and bounds from where they had begun. They marched, ran, kicked, and fired their weapons as one solidified unit. This, he thought, must be what it was like to witness a student’s path from the standpoint of a teacher. For the first time since training had begun, Shang truly began to believe they could achieve the impossible.
<p>
<br>


<div style="font-family:cormorant garamond; font-size:30px; text-align:center;">courage</div>
<p>
<br>
Thick, dark smoke blotted out the sky, a pall falling over the landscape of the ruined village. The sheer destruction that stretched out before him as the company had crested the hill, he at the front as their leader, had shaken him to his core. A thousand thoughts had pushed in, urging him to act even as he had remained immobile atop the hill overlooking the smoldering remains of the mountain village. One thought had risen above all to drown out the din: he was too late, he had failed. That fear, that niggling worry, that had beaten alongside the cadence of his resolve in a low, steady rhythm was now a death march in his brain. The carnage that lay before him was unlike any he could imagine; the stain of of spilt blood marring the blanket of snow that covered the land like angry red welts across porcelain flesh, the reflection of the dying fires cast a nightmarish glow to the horrifying scene.
<p>
Yet, this was reality and that harsh truth rose like bile in his throat. The scent of death was thick in the air, permeating everything until it almost choked him. His stomach roiled with it in a way that he knew that he would see no relief from it very soon. Shock leached all the heat from his body leaving behind ice in his veins, a chill that made his hands shake. A vague, distant part of him wondered if they could see the trembling in his fingers as they passed him the general’s helmet. Seeing it without it’s owner was like a punch to the gut. He had known, of course, upon coming across the battlefield that there had been no survivors of his father’s company. His father. He would not have abandoned his men, of course he had fallen with them. That knowledge didn’t make it any easier to accept as he stared at the helmet; the dark metal had lost its polished sheen, the feathered crest looking more tattered than when he had last seen it adorning the general’s head.
<p>
There was always a price in war -- his father had told him that once when his boyish fancies had eagerly awaited those tales of battle and glory he received at his father’s knee. ‘There is always a price to pay in war, xiaoshan, and a soldier must be willing to yield even his own life to it.’ The lines on his father’s face had deepened, his expression serious, as his eyes had grown distant. It had been just after his father had been raised to general, when Shang had first asserted that he would follow the same path. In his own foolish desire to prove himself, Shang had never considered that it would cost him quite so much. It was a cruel trick of fate that he would begin his journey as his father’s ended. They were not meant to walk the same road at the same time. Again, guilt knifed through him. Numb fingers gripped the metal of the helmet in an effort to stop their shaking lest he drop it into the snow, lest he lose this too.
<p>
He turned away from the sad, pitying expressions he saw among his soldiers. He could not bear the weight of their expectation just then. They would look to him as their leader and he would take that mantle up again but not yet. “Not yet,” he mouthed the words as he stumbled away from them on unsteady feet. Did they know how his knees shook? Could they tell? Or had they trumped it up to the thick snow bank he trudged through? Even though he didn’t bother to look, he felt them turn away the further he walked. It was just as well; the scene likely reminded them all of what they stood to lose to the Huns. The wind whipped at his cape as he stopped just at the edge of the bluff, he hesitated only a moment before he drew his sword. It had been a gift from the general upon graduating the academy, the steel still sparkling and unchipped -- a stark reminder of his inexperience. With one hand, he held the weapon high above his head before he plunged it into the snow.
<p>
Cradling the helmet, he placed it gently on the hilt, reluctant to let it go. As his fingers slipped from the metal, his legs finally gave out and he fell to his knees. He bowed his head, one balled fist against the flat of his palm in front of his face. Eyes squeezed shut and jaw clenched against the scream the welled up in his chest, he forced himself to inhale deeply. What do I do now? He asked himself. How do I lead when I cannot even stand? He heard the footsteps in the snow behind him and exhaled. The mind must temper the heart, his old mantra whispered back to him. He pushed his emotions down, and down again, cutting them off before they could overwhelm him completely. Slowly, excruciatingly slowly, he felt the feeling return to his limbs with a painful twinge. He forced himself to his feet, his legs more solid under him than they had been before. Tall and straight as the fir tree, he said to himself as he marched determinedly past the sympathetic expression on Ping's face and back to the company of soldiers that awaited him. He grabbed the pommel of his saddle and hesitated, panic threatening. Firm and immovable as the mountain, he breathed in and swung up onto his horse.
<p>
Their next move was clear, it was the only one they could make.
<p>
They had to get through the pass before the Huns did.
<p>
<br>

<div style="font-family:cormorant garamond; font-size:30px; text-align:center;">righteousness</div>
<p>
<br>
His feet cut a deeper and deeper path into the snow as he paced in front of the hastily erected tent. Miraculously, only one of his men had been seriously injured in the battle against Shan Yu’s army. The appropriateness that it had been Fa Ping had not escaped him -- what, first with the accidental detonation of the canon in the pass and then causing the avalanche that had ultimately buried the Huns and nearly taken him out with it. The idiot had nearly gotten them all killed with that stunt. It had been absolute insanity but it had also been effective. A fact he couldn’t deny even if the falling wave of snow had almost killed him. It rankled that he’d had to be saved and by the one member of his company he had underestimated. Ingenuity and quick-thinking were Ping’s strengths and the soldier had utilized them even as he was overlooked by the rest of them. A mistake Shang wouldn’t make again now that he had realized it. Though he had given Fa his trust, it was still such a fragile confidence.
<p>
It cracked when the physician whispered his revelation to him. It shattered completely when he entered the tent and saw the truth for himself. The things he had attributed to a boy lying about his age now made a sickening sort of sense -- the stature and lack of muscle, the smoothness in his face that never showed a shadow of growth, a voice that didn’t carry the weight it should have. He hadn’t known Fa Zhou had a son because he didn’t, he had a daughter. Fury and humiliation over his own blindness made his blood boil but it was Chi-Fu who dragged the girl out into the snow. In his current state, he could have throttled the wiry, irritating little man for forcing his hand. He knew the penalty for a woman in the army, they all did. It wasn’t the first time he had found himself caught between what he wanted to do and what the rules dictated. It was only the first time his decision would have consequences outside of himself. Consequences he wasn’t sure he could live with.
<p>
And there it was: the loophole that would allow him to tread that narrow middle ground. Whatever his feelings, he owed her a life-debt. It wasn’t nullified simply because the creditor had changed identities. Quickly, before he could talk himself out of it, he slid Ping’s --Mulan’s-- sword from the scabbard tied to her saddle and strode to where she knelt in the snow. Time seemed to slow then, the moments passing at an agonizing pace, every detail suddenly pulling into extreme focus. He heard the protests as he neared her, watched her head as it bowed, loose hair falling around her face. Her expression grew resigned with the belief that he would execute her, his own shadow darkening the space over her. It would be, he realized, one of those scenes that would etch itself with painful clarity into his memory. He hardened himself against it and tossed the sword to the ground in front of her. His voice was quiet as he declared the debt between them cleared. She would live, but she would not continue on with them. Such was the balance he had found between what was lawful and what was right.
<p>
When he turned on his heel, time resumed its normal pace. He barely restrained himself from knocking Chi-Fu’s teeth right out of his head as he directed the company to move. As Captain, and acting general until they reached the Imperial City, he was judge, jury, and executioner and he would not allow anyone to question his decision on the matter. It was only to the credit of his resolve that he did not glance behind him as they rode down out of the mountains. They had treated Fa’s wound and left enough supplies to see her to the closest village, at least. He hadn’t commanded the latter, but he knew it had been done just the same. No matter that he had done what he considered to be right, anger still burned in his chest. It was of the kind that simmered with the ache of betrayal. Ping had gotten close, had become one of them, had earned their trust -- and all of it was based on a lie. It disturbed him that he had finally found something on which he and the emperor’s advisor could agree on. Women didn’t belong in the army. Yet, his earlier promise kept his mind from settling. Had he been right in leaving Mulan behind?

<p>
<br>
<div style="font-family:cormorant garamond; font-size:30px; text-align:center;">darkness</div>
<p>
<br>
The trees around them were silent, eery in the quiet shadows that had descended with nightfall. The only sounds in the camp were the quiet murmur of his men over the fire and the clomping of hooves as their horses tried to settle themselves. It had been a hard ride through the southern provinces as they skirted the mountains where monsters had taken up residence in the weeks since a greater threat than the Huns had descended upon China. Though day and night still came in their eternal rotation, Shang couldn’t remember the last time he had seen the sun. Thick, gray clouds had blotted out the sun the dawn after the Imperial City had fallen and hadn’t cleared since. They had swooped down from the skies amidst the celebrations, great winged beasts that bore resemblance to their dragons but spurred by an evil that couldn’t be named. The Darkness had been the term whispered in fear after those first few days for that was it appeared to be. Like the clouds, all light had been stolen from them. The beasts had razed the city with great streams of fire, wreaking devastation.
<p>
As was their duty, he and his men had gotten the Emperor to safety deep within the palace. They had closed the doors and barricaded them against the creatures that streamed into the city after the winged ones had attacked. The Emperor and his family were safe, but the screams of the thousands of people trapped outside those doors had haunted him long after the night had ended. Stepping out into the wreckage of what had once been their beautiful capital, now in pieces, and seeing the bodies of all those who had not been able to run fast enough, had been like stepping into a nightmare. After that night, the army shrank in size at a drastic rate. He could not blame the men for leaving, attempting to return to their families before The Darkness descended upon them again. In fact, he had given them the choice to do so free of recrimination with the Emperor’s blessing.
<p>
In those long hours that the monsters had waged their attack, Shang had distracted himself in planning and that plan involved getting the Emperor out of the ruined city, dangerous as it was with its proximity to the mountains from which the first beasts had attacked. The same mountains he and his men had so recently traversed, where they had defeated the Huns. The mountains where his father’s body still lay. The mountains where they had left-- it didn’t matter now, none of it did. The only way he had been able to remain standing was to keep moving forward. One of the Emperor’s counselors had come forward then, stutteringly revealing the rumors of smaller attacks like this one had been taking place in the border provinces and beyond. They had been attributed to Shan Yu and his men but now it seemed impossible for the two to be linked. More importantly, the counselor told them what he knew of a safe place where The Darkness could not threaten them.
<p>
There had been no question that they would pursue that route, at least not for him. Many of his soldiers had not felt the same way and had left. No, thinking of his mother, he couldn’t blame them in the least. For himself, had made vow to serve the Emperor and would not break it. At least, that is what he had told himself then, when there still seemed to be hope of pushing the evil that plagued back from whence it came. Soldiers under his command had escorted the royal family to that safe space, had seen them safely through the portal -- another thing he told himself that he wasn’t entirely sure wasn’t a lie. They had gone in small groups, separating from each other, and taken different routes in the hopes of not drawing attention to themselves. He had heard nothing from them since but no evidence to suggest they hadn’t made it. Now, all that was left, were himself and a half dozen others.
<p>
They had been escorting their people to the portal, encouraging even those who hadn’t been directly affected by The Darkness, to leave while they could. Some believed them, others didn’t, and still more needed their help. One journey took them through his own village, only to find it burned like so many others. His home was a pile of smoldering rubble, his mother and their servants all missing. There was nothing, he noted, to suggest they had left on their own but with no bodies or evidence to the contrary, he had to believe that they had. He had to believe had hadn’t failed her, too. Images of the past months rose up to assault him as he stood on watch. His mother’s smile, his father’s proud salute, Chi-Fu’s sneer, Fa Mulan’s desperate expression as he raised a sword over her head, and the screams. The screams always accompanied the memories now.
<p>
It took him a moment to separate the wailing in his mind from the desperate terror echoing through the trees. He recognized it in the same moment his men did and, as one, they unsheathed their weapons and moved towards it. This was what mattered now: doing what they could to save what remained of China.

<p>
<br>
<div style="font-family:cormorant garamond; font-size:30px; text-align:center;">resistance</div>
<p>
<br>
It was just before dawn. A pink tinge had just began at the edges of a blue-gray sky as the sun began to peek through. The sun. If ever there would come a day when some part of him did not rejoice in seeing it, he had yet to meet it. In the three years since The Darkness had entered in world, forever altering his path, those first months of a seemingly inimitable pall had been the hardest. Walking through the sleeping encampment as he did every morning, Shang reveled in the quiet. He breathed it in, let the peace of it fill him up, as he readied his mind for what was to come. Meditation had always been an essential part of his routine in his life before, falling to the waste side in the chaos The Darkness wrought. He had only begun it again after joining the rebel group who called themselves the Resistance. It was an apt enough name, he supposed, as faceless and transient as their enemy was. Being a part of the Resistance was just another thing that marked a difference between where he had begun and where he was now.
<p>
He didn’t know when it had happened, but he had begun thinking of his life in terms such as before and after. The deep crease of his life line had just one singular line of demarcation that cut across it. He’d never put much stock in the practice of reading fortunes in the Before part of his life and hadn’t seen much need for it now. Whatever fate held for him, it would come regardless of the knowing, and what would knowing it change? He would keep fighting, keep helping. It was all he knew. There is a price to pay in war and, as much as he had already given, it had not yet taken his life. After a series of stretches, he sat cross-legged on a patch of grass where atop a hill that overlooked the camp. Soon enough, they would wake and the day would begin in earnest with new plans and new strategies and new movements against The Darkness. His life now and what he had once dreamed it would be were both the same and vastly different. The life of a soldier is what he had wanted for himself and it was what he had gotten, but for what?
<p>
That question was a dangerous one to contemplate for long, for he knew there was no answer. Like with so many things, he would not dwell on it. Keeping his eyes focused on the next step was how he had survived this long when everyone else had been lost to him. Slowly, he watched the sky change from pink to orange to red before the blue returned to soften the world again. With a sigh, he stood again to return to camp. It was another day he had survived to see and it was time to face it so that he might see tomorrow’s sunrise.


<p>
<br>
<br>


</div><p>

<div style="width: 400px; text-align: center; font-family: georgia; font-size: 20px;">character basics</div><p>

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NAME: Shen - to investigate, or try. Tao - way, path, or road. Wei - heroic or remarkable. For obvious reasons, I chose a Chinese name although I added a middle name for formatting reasons. In Chinese culture, there is a lot of importance placed on the naming of a child. Depending on the characters that fall in the subsequent positions from the family the name, the meaning can change drastically and, some believe, the fate of that child. When I originally named Shang, it was this thought in mind and, so, when the characters of his name are read in the traditional way the meaning becomes something like "hero trying to find the way." This can be interpreted a few ways, I think, but for me it suits what it is he's fighting for -- which, really, is for a way to fight back the darkness as best he can. <br>

<p>PLAYBY: Jin Hyuk Choi is South Korean, not Chinese, and I can't really defend that part so forgive me. (Do you know how hard it is to find an Asian face to suit an animated character modeled after Mario Lopez? Really, really hard.) I've actually bounced around from face to face until I settled on Jin Hyuk. He's known for being athletic and quite tall and his face shape is very Shang-like. He has strong, sharp features and that's what really sold me on him as a face. <br>

<p>BIRTHDAY: February 9th<br>


<p>OCCUPATION: He works full-time with the resistance for the most part and, therefore, doesn't have a steady job in San Fran. On the odd occasion that he's in the real world, he mostly volunteers at Haven Hill teaching defense classes and the like in exchange for the apartment he keeps there. <br>

<p>POWERS & ABILITIES: He's a skilled martial artist thanks to years of training before he ever entered the military. Add a crazy high pain tolerance and he's a bit hard to keep down for long. Thanks to his education, he's also a fairly decent strategist, if traditional, and a strong leader. <br>

<p>PERSONALITY: One of the things I really wanted to do when I started his app, was to explore some of the personality traits that have become attributed to Shang. Were they natural to him or the unintended effect of something external? So while I didn't deviate from the stern, rule-abiding leader that he was in the film, I did try to bring a little more insight to those traits. He's still the same as he ever was, a little tougher now with all he's had to face, and emotions are still hard for him to let come to the surface. He has a bit of a temper, that we get to see in small flashes in the original film (and a bit more in the sequel) and that was one of the things I expanded on, using the stoicism we see in him to counter it and so one. In the same sense, the more softer emotions are hard for him to express fully but they do exist in him, underneath all that armor. <br>

<p>BACKGROUND: Shang didn't have much of a background given in the movie and I've always been curious about that, so I gave him one that I thought would account for the way he was in the film and what events led up to him being made a captain in the first place. Part of it was inspired by a scene that was in the original movie script that ended up being cut from the actual film before animation in which Shang was also at the mercy of the matchmaker. Though I deviated from the original purpose of the scene, I'd always found the idea of it humorous and decided to use it. What I really wanted to get across when I was writing his background was just how much growing up he had to do between the events of the movie and the darkness that followed the cutoff. While he was not exactly a kid in the typical since, he was really young for the position he was in. He wasn't born a hardened soldier and I think it's important to see that development, too, to understanding his perspective on how things went down. <br>

<p>CANON CUTOFF: After he spared Mulan's life on the mountain and left her there on her own.<br>

</div><br><br>

<div style="width: 400px; text-align: center; font-family: georgia; font-size: 15px;">played by ALLIE</div><br>
<div style="width: 400px; text-align: center; font-family: tahoma; font-size: 11px;"><a href="http://endlessdiamondsky.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showtopic=5434" target="blank">I, II,</a> <a href="http://endlessdiamondsky.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showtopic=5546" target="blank">III, IV,</a> <a href="http://endlessdiamondsky.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showtopic=5666" target="blank">V</a> ★ <a href="http://endlessdiamondsky.b1.jcink.com/index.php?showtopic=5374" target="blank">plotter</a></div>

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