Loyalty and courage for serving in the Khans host had been attributes that had earned Heba a medal. As the Treacherous General held out the medal Buri Khan himself had given him only three twelvemonths prior and laughed about how foolish the monarch of the Tuoba Wei Khanate was, Chuo stared at Alun, the daughter of Captain Na, bound to a post in the camp. Never before had he ever seen anyone such as her, her red hair, her green eyes, she was so different, so beautiful! In the centuries to come it would be written that Mulan Badalings beauty rivalled that of Wang Zhaojun, but if one were to ask Chuo if there was anyone who beauty could rival that of the First Lady of Hun Peace, he would have answered: ”Na Alun. ”

Standing within the tent of Heba, Chuo stared out at the captive girl. She was clad in a yellow tunic, green trousers and brown boots and her hair was free from its braid. From the way her clothes were torn, it was obvious her captors had not been gentle.

”Are you listening, Molu Hong? ” inquired Heba, placing his medal down for a moment and pouring himself a drink.

”Yes, yes, very foolish and all that. ” Chuo answered, looking at the desk that Heba had placed the medal upon.

”No, boy! ” exclaimed the Turncoat General, walking on over with his drink in hand. ”Pingcheng! Have you ever been there? ”

Alas, Chuo had not. When his father had been a member of the Khans guard, the Tuyuhun clan had dwelt in the capital Pingcheng, but when General Tuyuhun had retired from military life, he and his family had relocated to the countryside. At that time, General Tuyuhun only had their eldest son… Chuos brother… Chuos late brother.

Closing his eyes, Chuo said: ”No, sir. ”

”Stay on this side and if you live long enough, you may. ” Laughed Heba before taking a drink. Once he had finished, a grim look appeared on his countenance. ”We are the last of our kind, Hong. The Han considered us Xianbei group of the Five Barbarians and where are the rest of us five? The states of the Xiongnu such as their confederation is no more, their state Former Zhao has been dust for a century as has the Dis Cheng Han, Former Qin and Later Liang and the Jies Later Zhao and it was not so long ago that the Qiangs Later Qin fell. ”

”The Xiongnu state of Xia still stands. ” Commented Chuo. ”We Xianbei are not alone, we are not the last. ”

Heba did not answer. All cynicism or pessimism he had prevented him from speaking any further. He merely took another sip of his drink and stared Alun. Finding his voice again, he uttered: ”You will not see her long, boy. Na Alun there is marked for death. My old subordinate, her father, would not join me. For that I will send him her head later on in the campaign. ”

”Why not now? ” inquired the Young Tuyuhun, wishing to know why he was sparing Alun for now.

”I wish to settle something with my old commander General Tuyuhun first. ” Answered Heba. Upon hearing his paterfamilias appellation, Chuo rose an eyebrow while at the same tried to hide his concern. ”Know you of General Tuyuhun, Hong? ”

”What Xianbei of the Tuoba Wei Khanate does not know of General Tuyuhun? ” asked Chuo. ”What could you possibly have to settle with him? ”

Alas, General Heba answered not. He merely turned away and returned to his drink.

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