Tuyuhun: A Tale of Mulan

To the Rouran Lands

knew it!

When the riders stopped, Chuo froze completely. This was it this was where he would die.

To his surprise, the leader of the riders, a dark-haired man of four and fifty, merely smiled at him and said: ”Do not fear, boy. We are not raiders and we have no love for Wuti Khan. We seek a tiger who has been stealing from our herds. You your way, us our way, my son! Have you seen him? ”

”I-I have seen no tiger, sir. ” Answered Chuo.

”A pity… ” commented the Rouran with a frown before asking: ”What brings you so far from home, boy? I have heard that your khan is amassing an army to fight against us, but truly, you cannot all be coming up here one by one. ”

”I seek a Rouran who wears a leopard skin, sir. ” Stated Chuo.

Immediately, all of the Rouran grew pale. With eyes wide, the leader asked: ”Him? You Seek him? Why do you seek him? ”

”He has taken captive the daughter of one of my khans captains. I wish to rescue her and prove myself worthy of serving in my nations host. ”

The Leader of the Hunters stroked his beard as he looked Chuo over. Closing his eyes, he asked: ”How old are you, boy? ”

”Thirteen, sir. ”

Sighing, the Leader of the Hunters uttered: ”Go home, son. Live long, be happy, do no go seeking death, not at the hands of him. ”

”Who is he, sir? ” asked Chuo. ”I know that you know who he is! Who is this Rouran? ”

”He is no Rouran, boy. ” Said one of the other hunters. ”He is a Xianbei from Tuoba Wei such as yourself. ”

”A former general who has turned traitor and joined Wuti Khan. ” Said another.

”Know you, his appellation? ” inquired Chuo.

”General Heba. ” Answered the Leader of the Hunters. ”Know you him? ”

Chuo knew of him. Heba had been a comrade of his father, initially a subordinate before he had been promoted. It was said that Heba had been there the day of Chuos birth. Upon seeing the sickly boy born before his time, Heba was reported to have said: ”Best leave him on the Steppe to die! ” He had never met General Heba, for his father and mother had both banned him from ever setting foot in their camp. He had gained a reputation as the Scourge of the Rouran, known for performing the cruelest of torture upon any Rouran raiders he caught, with it being believed that he tortured Rouran to avoid the punishment of torturing his own people. Whatever his reputation may have been, Wuti Khan truly cared not and may have even welcomed Heba with open arms.

”I know of him, sir. ” Chuo answered. ”Where might I find him? ”

”I can help you, son. ” Answered the Leader of the Hunters. ”My heart bleeds for your captain, but the fact is she might as well be dead if Heba has her. Return to your camp, go home even. ”

”I cannot do that, sir. ” Stated Chuo, as he stood up and began to put on his armour. ”My father is wounded, my mother will no go to war without him anymore than he would without her, my brother is dead and my sisters are off avenging him not knowing his killer is serving in our khans host. Along with my cousin, I alone may represent our clan. ”

Closing his eyes, the Leader of the Hunters said: ”I wish you luck then on your enterprise, my son. ”

”And I you on yours, sir. ” Returned Chuo.

The Rouran rode off in search of the tiger preying upon their herds. Watching as they rode away, Chuo wondered if he was doing the right thing.

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