rd that those who lived to survive a war became heroes, those who did not simply became cadavers. It was certainly a grim, cynical way to look at it, but the question was placed in his mind, would he live to become a hero or would he simply become a cadaver?

Shaking his head, Chuo cleared his throat and said: ”Mulan Badaling, I would like to thank you for speaking up on my behalf. ”

Turning to face him, Mulan replied: ”Think nothing of it, Tuyuhun Chuo. You have a right to be here and had proved yourself. I have been placed in the light cavalry alongside your cousin and neighbours. What of you? ”

”I have been placed in the light cavalry as well. ” Answered Chuo.

”I look forward to fighting alongside you. ” Giving a smile, Mulan then added: ”And who knows, perhaps I shall have you as a commanding officer just as my father had yours as one. ”

”Perhaps… ” uttered Chuo, scratching his right cheek. ”Or maybe you will be mine… Then again… ” Taking a look around at the others in the camp, he added: ”Anyone here could end up becoming a commanding officer. ”

”In all honesty, Tuyuhun Chuo… ” Mulan glanced over to Fu. ”I would prefer you to your elder kinsman. He does not seem fit to be a commanding officer. ”

Looking over to his cousin, Chuo could not see any reason why Mulan would think such a thing. ”I don know. He is equal to my brother, equal to my sisters… He wasn born before his time, he wasn sickly, I may have proven myself worthy of my place here in the Khans host, but Fu is still much better suited to be a commanding officer than I. ” Sighing, he then inquired: ”Wherefore did your father not come? My paterfamilias was wounded in an attack, my brother killed and my sisters are off avenging my brother. Is it the same as with you? ”

Sighing as well, Mulan answered: ”Not exactly, Tuyuhun Chuo. My father is old and ill. ”

”How old? ”

”Nine and thirty. ”

”That isn exactly old. ” Commented Chuo. ”My father is only seven and forty. ”

”He is old before his time. ” Stated Mulan. ”Your father was simply wounded, but mine… ” Shaking her heard, she sighed once more and said: ”He could not go and I had longed to become a warrior and prove myself. My elder sister Munan refused to go and our younger brother Fang was is only five twelvemonths old. That left me, the middle child, ready to serve the Tuoba Clan just as our father and his father before him had. I fourteen, you… How old are you, Chuo? ”

”Thirteen. ”

”Thirteen… We are both so young and by the time this is all over, we will have been changed. ” Looking to the sky, Mulan then commented: ”But first we must survive this campaign. Good luck, little brother. ”

As Mulan walked off, Chuo watched as she walked away. He could not argue with what she had said. They had to survive the campaign first and the Young Tuyuhun could only wonder, if any of them, anyone whose name he knew, would ever return home to their families.

Looking over to Alun, speaking with her father, Chuo wondered if he would ever see her again. Perhaps he would, perhaps he would not, but as far as he knew, she would return home and he would never see her again. He had only met her recently, wherefore was he thinking such things?

He could have gone over to speak with her, but what was he to say? When this campaign was all over and he still lived, he would like to see her again?

Taking a deep breath, Chuo walked ten paces from the camp armed with his bow. Looking up at the sun, he took aim and loosed his arrow. Though he was no Odysseus of the West, the arrow still traveled far and eventually came down into the Yellow River. Could it have meant anything? If only he knew.

If only he knew anything.

He knew not if he would survive the campaign, he knew not if his father or mother would still be alive if he did, he knew not if his sisters would return from avenging their brother, he simply did not know anything.

He had proven himself, but what did the future hold for him? If only he knew. He was in the Khans host and now what? How long would this campaign even last? Had he made the correct decision? If only he had an answer.

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