|snarky_panda (snarky_panda) wrote in mulanficspace,|
@ 2007-06-06 23:21:00
|Entry tags:||5trueloves, a tale of the woman, au|
A Tale of the Woman, Part One, Chapter Five
Title: New Home
Author: snarky panda
Theme: #3, Moving
Pairing/Characters: Fa Mulan/General Li (Shang’s father, NOT Shang)
Rating: NC-17 (Rating for sex, adult situations, and for safety)
Disclaimer: Anything from the Disney movie belongs to Disney. Anything from Raise the Red Lantern belongs to Su Tong.
Summary: 1st part of a crossover fic (sort of) inspired by Raise the Red Lantern and alternate storyline based on another outcome that could have occurred because Mulan failed the matchmaker’s test. (Link to beginning of story)
Just a few days after her discussion with Yun about doctors, Mulan became truly and inexplicably ill. The first thing she noticed was that her period, which should have ended a week before, still flowed. She wasn’t in pain; but it was odd and she vaguely wondered if she ought to call a doctor in for that. It might have just been one of those things that happened to a woman sometimes. But then she became sick.
She was at the well with Honglian, one of her usual visits with Fourth Sister. They stood by the well together and Mulan watched as her elder sister peered down into the well, muttering that she wouldn’t jump.
“Mulan, come down here. Come down here.”
Mulan jumped back away from the well with a start, her body turning to ice. She could have sworn that the voice came from down inside the well. Was she starting to hear what Honglian heard?
Her head began to throb and she felt lightheaded.
“I have to go now, Honglian,” she managed to utter quickly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Fourth Mistress didn’t answer and Mulan began to walk back toward the compound, her vision blurring ever so slightly. Panic overtook her and she let out a soft cry, praying that she would make it back to the household. If she didn’t, there was no telling when someone would find her out there in the garden.
As she drew near to Yun’s home, she called out weakly. She never knew what happened next, blacking out before she reached the door to Second Sister’s house.
Doctor Liang was a matured man with a kind face and mostly grey hair, peppered with some of his original black.
Yun had heard her call out. When she’d opened the door she found her lying on the ground. The servants had brought her back to her rooms and Song had immediately sent one of the servants to town to fetch Doctor Liang.
Now that she’d rested for awhile, the doctor began to ask her questions about her health lately and how she was feeling before she collapsed. Carefully leaving out the part about hearing the voice in the well, she told him she’d felt lightheaded and had a headache.
“And my period has been flowing for longer than usual.”
The doctor raised an eyebrow but said nothing for a minute. Then he spoke, clearly taking great pain to address his question carefully.
“Would you have had any reason to be taking any herbal, medicinal teas?”
She shook her head. “No. I just drink regular tea.”
He frowned and remained quiet.
“What makes you ask?”
“Just trying to narrow down what caused you to become ill. The fact that you’re bleeding for so long…are you in pain in this area?” he asked, indicating her pelvis and abdomen.
She stared at him quizzically, wondering what he could possibly be thinking.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I’m not sure. But your symptoms…” he hesitated for a moment. “You have symptoms like someone who has been taking abortion medicine.”
Mulan inhaled sharply, swallowing cold air, then spoke in a shaky voice. “Abortion medicine?”
“The bleeding. And that medicine doesn’t only cause abortion; it takes its toll on the body as well.”
“I only drink tea…” Mulan trailed off as a horrifying thought occurred to her. “Regular tea,” she continued, her voice shaking. “As far as I know it’s regular tea.”
She closed her eyes, a feeling of utter betrayal flooding her. The only tea she drank was that brought to her by the servants in her own rooms or when she was with Yun. No wonder she hadn’t borne any children. Someone had been slipping her abortion medicine. And who knew how many times it had been given to her, or for how long?
For months, most likely.
After her discovery about the tea, Mulan decided that she’d spent enough time in General Li’s house.
Doctor Liang came every day for several weeks to look after her. He ordered her meals to be brought to her rooms so she wouldn’t have to exert herself and she remained in her rooms, resting until she had fully recovered. Yun tried to visit her on several occasions to see how she was doing, but Mulan begged out every time, explaining that she was tired or had a bad headache that day. She had no proof that it was Yun who had arranged for the abortion medicine to be slipped to her, but she had a strong suspicion about it. And she was in no mood to deal with her or anyone else in that place anyway.
When summer arrived again, marking nearly a year and a half since Mulan had come to live in the Li household, the general still hadn’t returned yet. There was chatter among the servants in the household about rumors of Shan-Yu that they’d heard from the townspeople. He and his troops had instilled great fear in men far and wide in the Middle Kingdom. One rumor claimed that even officers of the Imperial army were struck with terror when they came face to face with this man.
Keeping a nonchalant façade to appear as if she paid no attention, she listened carefully as the servants talked, describing Shan-Yu and his men as ruthless barbarians that killed for the sake of killing, burning village after village of innocent civilians to the ground and leaving no survivors.
“Even women and children are not spared by these vermin.”
For the first time Mulan was genuinely concerned that General Li would not return home.
Despair began to set in and she feared that her utter loneliness and boredom was beginning to drive her insane. Desolation and sadness seemed to weigh on her heart, soaking into it like rain, and her mind became preoccupied with the sole thought that she had to leave before she ended up like Honglian.
Until the master of the house returned, if he returned, she was nobody there. She was the fifth mistress, the last wife, and though it was due to nasty doings that she’d borne no children, as she now knew, it was still a fact despite General Li spending all that time with her.
And what if the general never returned? What if he was killed in battle? She would never have sex again. And she’d have absolutely no status in the household; it bothered her that this should have become so important to her, but unfortunately, that was how it had to be. In this household, it was a matter of survival. The servants would treat her differently and she would be left, alone and abandoned, a widow before the age of eighteen. Roaming the grounds like an abandoned ghost, with no hope of bettering herself or having the companionship of a man ever again, there was no doubt she would end up like Honglian.
Or like Yun, who was so vicious and cut-throat for the very same reasons that Honglian was insane.
She was certain that she would be better off on the outside. Even before she left her parents’ house she knew that she would spend her life in slavery once she’d gone. If she hadn’t married she would have had to work. It was unheard of for girls to inherit land from their fathers; girls left home and married, becoming the property of their husbands. Or they became concubines to already-married men as she had; and became property of their masters. And if they didn’t become wives or concubines, they went to work, as servants or prostitutes. Whichever lot befell a woman, they were doomed to a life of slavery.
In the event that the general did return home, he’d be angry to find her gone; and disappointed. A tinge of sadness settled in her chest as she imagined the expression that would come to his face when he heard the news.
Her mind was made up. If she was going to be a slave anyway, she’d rather be one someplace other than the Li household, around people like Yun.
It would be necessary to travel light and as she gazed at the things in her rooms, she decided that only the belongings that she’d received from her father mattered to her. She dressed in his old training clothes, the hems of the sleeves and trousers now sewed up to fit her. Fa Zhou’s armor would have to remain behind; it was impractical to carry it with her. But she would never give up his sword; she would need to protect herself anyway. She packed a small bag with necessary toiletries and some of the small, more expensive items from her rooms. She could trade with them. Then she donned a cloak to keep warm, and to hide the fact that she carried a sword, and quietly left the place that had been her home for almost eighteen months now.
She stole across the courtyard in the dark of night and slipped out the front gate, glancing to the right and then the left. The road stretched out ahead of her in either direction beneath thick canopies of trees, disappearing into blackness. Town was north, to the left, and she decided to head in that direction. In the morning she would try to procure a horse in exchange for some of the jewelry that the general had bestowed upon her during the first month that she lived there.
A feeling of excitement and anticipation swept through her as she embarked on this new adventure into the next phase of her life. Yet she was anxious about it too, her stomach fluttering with nervousness. What if she was caught? The townspeople most likely knew General Li as well as the members of his household. She hadn’t been out of the compound in a year; but what if somehow someone recognized her?
And something else gnawed at her as she quietly hurried along the road, glancing back every once in awhile to see if the Li compound had disappeared from view yet. It was so large and imposing it seemed as if she wouldn’t ever get far enough away that it would finally vanish from her line of sight. She thought of Honglian, still wandering aimlessly in the back area of the garden, circling the well, lost in the miasma of madness punctuated with periodic moments of painful clarity. How terrible to become like that; and worse to have those clear moments where she became aware of her condition, of how far down she had fallen.
Mulan heaved a sad sigh and shook her head. Even as she left that life behind out of fear of ending up like Honglian, she was haunted by her own decision. As a concubine, her position was considered less than honorable; yet it was a value that was taught to her all her life and which she clung to still. And a part of her wondered if it was wrong to behave this way, even if it was to save her own life.(Link to Part 2, Chapter 6)