AU: A Zhao Yun POV one shot. Cast of many characters in his life.
Zhao Yun is training in the forest alone after the death of Liu Bei thinking about what happened after the man he sees true in his lord had left the world.
Ever since he evolved into the chaos throughout many years starting his childhood; he thinks about the path he followed with various region lords at the time of the lords. First is Yuan Shao who is from a noble family line. His vision is to establish a kingdom that will convert the Han Empire in his own family name. The Yuans were rich whom his family had no hope of considering themselves in a class of their own and served the Yuans.
During that time, he learned the battle at the youngest age with his older brother perfecting the art of war and innovating it as his own style. Unlike his brother, he took military and social affairs as efficient than his brother. Leaving other matters like having a relationship with females, parties that his old friend Yuan Xi invited him against his father's disapproval, and politic debates away from his mind. It's not like they aren't worth his time. He just doesn't want to be distracted in perfecting his own style, his own Art of War. Now, the important part, can he see his lord's ambition suited to his own path? The answer to this was a slap in the face at Zilong.
Yuan Shao uses his army like toys to himself. Even if his army has families, it doesn't matter as long as they fight for the name of the Yuan glory. Zhen Ji and Yuan Xi felt dissatisfied of The Great Yuan's treatment with his own men besides two of his long time best Yan Liang and Wen Chou. Even the way he ignores his own strategist battling in an argument on anyone's opinions. Zhang He, on the other hand, has no choice, but to continue fighting in the name of nobility. He is also a noble. Yuan Xi doesn't care about the succession race with Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang as long as he is fighting to stop the chaos and restoration of the fallen dynasty. Zhen Ji, it depends on the power of this force and how well her first husband admires her talents besides being rise as a concubine. Her beauty won the Yuans favor, but Zhao Yun knew more about his once beloved flower being the daughter of governor Zhen Lu. She doesn't enjoy the life of riches, but no matter how powerful she's being placed with, she'll serve till she's being deposed. Unable to continue seeing Yuan Shao's cruelty even at the poor people, Zhao Yun made an shocking argument in front of Yuan Shao which left a lot of commotions and he left the city to join his father's long time friend Gongsun Zan and serve him. That one night before he left....
Zhen Ji came running outside at the rainy night when she saw Zhao Yun on his horse ready to leave the lands of Ji. When he heard someone calling him at his style name, he turns around towards the attention of the Lady.
"My Lady, you shouldn't be out here at the rain," Zhao Yun said.
"Your bravery and discipline is more valuable than my beauty. I can't live in this without you. Xi is powerless without accepting the succession race. Sometimes, I'm ashamed to be the wife of an ignored lord. But, you, my lord can still fight as long as we are true to ourselves and not Lord Yuan Shao and his fraction. Please...stay?" Zhen Ji begged.
"That will not work, My Lady. I don't want to put you and Xi in lot of trouble with my protest" Zhao Yun said.
Zhen Ji takes out her sword and points at him fierce and said, "Then kill me before you leave everything that we share and love to nothingness. Without you, everything is all chaos and suffering. Why this dignity? Why abandoning it?"
"Because I'm tired of it! Your lord is no longer my lord and I've seen true to his motivations. Why don't you go see yourself? You know why you're married to my friend, not because of love, but because of the name, this corrupted power. I can no longer deceive myself serving Yuan Shao," Zhao Yun said.
"Then take me with you," Zhen Ji demanded.
"No, I cannot let you go with me. Although, you are married and I'm sorry to have make you feel this way. Farewell, My Lady" Zhao Yun said.
He left her in the dark kneeling herself on the muddy ground whine with tears in her eyes. It's going to be a cold day in hell as her shining knight has left her protection. Zhao Yun can hear her cry far away room the city gates. He look up to the dark, thunderous sky thinking if it's regretful to take away his only chance to be with his true love. But, it's wrong to steal something that you haven't earned the right to have and get away with it. If Zhen Ji went with him, Yuan Shao would send troops to pursuit Zhao Yun and recover Zhen Ji by accusing Zhao Yun of kidnapping a royal subject.
He continues doing most of his refined moves the entire hour at the forest only this time he did them faster and faster, much better than Ma Chao does it. Lady Zhen...she was the only woman that caught his heart that time and he never forget the face of her when he contributes his services at Gongsun Zan's white horse cavalry. With Gongsun Zan, it was the experience of survival and defense at You province. Gongsun Zan introduced Zilong to his collegue Liu Bei and his oath brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei then later on Liu Bei's childhood friend Jian Yong. They earned the governship of Ping Yuan when Yuan Shao prepared to set his conquest at Kong Rong's lands. During the alliance against Yuan Shao, he met Taishi Ci who swore to protect Kong Rong by his mother's request. The defense was a success and with that Taishi Ci began his life in the services of Kong Rong at Bei Hai. The day after the battle, he and Taishi Ci became great friends and someday both of them will be swore brothers. However, it never happened as Zhao Yun expect when Cao Cao rise into power in the central plains after taking out the remaining Yellow Turbans and gain a large army. Tao Qian, who governed Xu province and also controls Kong Rong's lands that time had invited Cao Cao's father Cao Song in a meeting to diplomat relations between the two central powers. Then one of Tao Qian's men was ordered to assort Cao Song back home in Yan and soon plotted an assassination attempt that drove Cao Cao insane and stormed his forces to attack Xu in revenge. Tao Qian failed to see through the mistake for the safety of Cao Song. Liu Bei abandoned Ping Yuan and left to help Tao Qian at Xu. Thus the alliance broke up and Zhao Yun was left alone with only a few options left for the defense of You province and Gongsun Zan.
Zhao Yun stops his training abit and thinks about what happened after the alliance disassembled.
"Liu Bei has what!" Gongsun Zan asked.
"He left Ping Yuan to help Tao Qian avoid a war against Cao Cao and now Yuan Shao has taken Ping Yuan for himself with an even larger force," Zhao Yun said.
"No...our advantage is gone. What should I do to protect our land from that greedy scoundrel?" Gongsun Zan said.
"My lord, let me go to Zhang Yan and ask for aide?" Zhao Yun requested.
"No, we must try to do the same thing as Liu Bei is doing. Brother, I'll go to Yuan Shao as an envoy and proceed diplomat relations to avoid a war against him," Gongsun Yue said.
Gongsun Zan is facing a crisis to the defense of his land; the battle for control of the entire northern region begins. As soon as the news of Gongsun Zan's brother Yue was murdered at the hands of Yuan Shao; Gongsun Zan has no choice but to fight and avenge his brother. Even worst news, Zhang Yan lost Bing and the entire force of Yuan Shao surrounded You province. Zhao Yun worried the solution of his former lord and worst-case scenario happens. During the siege of Bing Ping, Zhao Yun encounter Zhen Ji again only this time it's confidential.
"It doesn't have to be this way...." Zhen Ji said.
"Ji...." Zhao Yun said.
"It does not have to be this way!" Zhen Ji storm towards Zhao Yun and attacks him with her sword. Zhao Yun tries hard to stop her aggression and make her control herself.
"Lady Zhen, stop! You don't have to fight me because I made you suffer years alone in the hands of that power hunger lord," Zhao Yun said.
"Shut up! You made all this happen. You let Yuan Shao take advantage!" Zhen Ji shouted.
"No, you got it all wrong. Our alliance advantage was gone because Lord Liu Bei had left to avoid a war between Cao's vendetta at Xu," Zhao Yun explained.
"Why have you lost that power? You should have used it to defeat Yuan Shao and take me from this unbearable pain I suffered so much..." Zhen Ji said.
Before Zhao Yun decide to speak again, the soldiers behind him rush to bring him bad news.
"Lord Gongsun Zan has commit sucide!" The soldier reported.
"What...it can't be...." Zhao Yun turns his attention to the imperial hall. The entire city is now surround by Yuan Shao's forces and Gongsun Zan's troops are in a sudden stop.
"I didn't want this..." Zhen Ji said.
Zhao Yun soon sees Yuan Shao heading toward his direction.
"Well well, the sheep is finally trapped in a pack of wolves. Where will you go Zilong, where will you go when my name spreads wider in this world?" Yuan Shao taunted. His sons and officers laugh along with him.
Zhao Yun search around for a way out of this and prepares to do one of his new tricks.
"Where I go is none of your business. You will never take me back as your lapdog with your ridiculous ways," Zhao Yun said.
With that, he leaps in the air feet away and runs as fast as he can to escape from getting capture. This dragon is not for sale. His white horse follows him and both left the city in ruins.
"What a persistent idiot father. Will you allow us to chase after him?" Yuan Shang asked.
"No, let him rot. He can run, but he can't hide. Not as long as the Yuan family name continues to expand throughout the rest of China," Yuan Shao said.
Zhen Ji on the other hand, squeezes the halt of her sword so hard as she burst in tears quietly. How could he? How could he leave her again? What can go worse is when she uses the powers of her flute and kills him to make the Yuans proud of her loyalty to them.
"Lady Zhen...if I was ruling You province..." Zhao Yun sighed.
He resumes his training thinking about what goes on after the 2nd time Zhen Ji came up into his mind again. Zhen Ji wouldn't leave herself with the Yuans any longer after Cao Cao won the battle of Guan Du while Zhao Yun was wandering around between Xu and Jing for the whereabouts of Liu Bei's band. That was until he and Liu Bei reunion with the return of Guan Yu at Ru Nan where Zhang Fei was newly governed there. Zhao Yun met Guan Ping, Liao Hua, and the remaining officers of Tao Qian. Liu Bei's power begins to grow strong as they went to Jing and help the defenses of the border at Xin Ye.
The sword doesn't stop there as Cao Cao's army begins to move their forces south. Jing lost their leader Liu Biao to the influence of the Cai's. Lady Cai had made Liu Zong surrender the lands of Jing to Cao Cao and Zhao Yun starts his greatest legend at Chang Ban in rescuing Liu Bei's only child that time, but at the cost of losing his only wife Lady Mi who fought long enough to deliver the safety of the child to Zhao Yun. Then alliance with Sun Quan staging the battle of Chi Bi with the combined talents of Zhou Yu, Zhuge Liang, Huang Gai, and Pang Tong. That battle separates Wei's strong hold into two weak ones. During the escape from Chi Bi, Zhao Yun once again encounters Zhen Ji, but this time she wasn't alone. It was after Guan Yu let Cao Cao escape, but Zhao Yun pursuit him one more time.
"Cao Cao! You cannot escape!" Zhao Yun shouted. He rode his horse faster to catch up with the Man of Ambition. Two beams shoot it's way at Zhao Yun and he was blow off his horse and recovers on the ground standing.
"Who dares to come in my way? Show yourself!" Zhao Yun said.
Dark figures of two people are heading his way. He could tell one of them shaped to be a woman and the other...a man. Who ever it is will regret the day they cross the Dragon of Chang Shan.
"Hm hm, you never change my most honorable Lord..." A woman's voice said.
"So he's the one you've been talking to me about. The man who took 5000 of my father's incompetent warriors..." A man's voice said.
The two reveal to be Zhen Ji, but the other one is someone Zhao Yun doesn't want to even know about who he is. It disheartens him bring more pain to his emotions with the woman he felt in love forever. She's still holding that sword.
"Zhao Yun riding alone the valley of Chang Ban, rescue Liu Bei's infant brat from my father's lackeys. God, that story annoys me a lot. I can do much much better than your talent does. What's more is you never learn, don't you? Earn something you wanted so much, but to take it away because you depend on too much of your spear and not your heart..." Cao Pi said. He walks closer to get a face to face with the mightiest warrior of this time.
"Heh, allow me to introduce myself, the son of Cao Cao, the soon to be emperor of this land once I correct my father's mistakes," Cao Pi said.
Zhen Ji walks next to him in elbows her rational second husband to lay off the ego. She stares at her former crush.
"We have a job to do and don't let your father blame you for self confident. My lord...you should have listen to me when you had the chance, but now it's too late. I'm not hesitating you with my feelings anymore as I discarded those and now I feel much better," Zhen Ji said.
"Lady Zhen, you can't be serious to serving Cao Cao...." Zhao Yun said.
Cao Pi laughs out loud at the amusement. Has the heroic officer missed the good news after the expedition of the north?
"You're sadly mistaken, Lord Zhao Yun. She earned herself to serve me and decides to wed with me as my wife and my greatest triumph," Cao Pi said. "I hold something she always wanted out of respect and kindness."
Zhao Yun shook his head slowly. Everything has to be a lie. Cao Cao's forces wouldn't be that virtuous after occupying Jing.
"You're lying. Zhen Ji, tell me this isn't true. Cao Cao has killed peasants who choose to serve Liu Bei while chasing us. I can see the eyes of this guy being the spawn to do the same thing like Cao Cao!" Zhao Yun said.
"I love my father, but my ambitions aren't exactly like his. However, you will not try to step in front of mine" Cao Pi readies his double saber Pure Havoc pointing at Zhao Yun's face.
"If it's a fight you want, then I'll accept your challenge!" Zhao Yun said.
"Who said the challenge is going to be you vs. me?" Cao Pi grinned. Zhen Ji moves slowly to aid her new love.
Zhao Yun has no room to get Zhen Ji to defect. She chooses to challenge her loyalty and true against Zhao Yun's. Zhen Ji dismantles her sword and takes out her flute. Zhao Yun's eyes widened. This isn't going to be easy now that he witnessed the amazing spirit of Zhen Ji's chi and the powers of her magical flute. Her mother's kept sake.
He continues to dodge Cao Pi's attacks while hearing the requiem of Zhen Ji's amazing spirit of her flute and the melody. What frustrates the Dragon is that Cao Pi recepts his strikes and counters back aggressively. What are they both planning?
"Let all my pain and frustration be absorb with the heavens, witness the power of my magical flute," Zhen Ji thought to herself.
"Finally, the climax Zilong! This is what my power is about," Cao Pi flips a feet away from his opponent and prepares to summon chi in his hands.
This can be bad to Zhao Yun's predictions. The music he hears has a wrathful tone. How could he hurt her feelings during the chaos to continue his path of restoring the falling dynasty? Zhao Yun lost the will to fight and leaves himself entirely open between two people. His mind is telling him to escape, but his heart couldn't.
"Yes, my flower. Keep singing! Let the moment of our love bash the so called Hero of Truth!" Cao Pi shoots several of ice energy orbs at Zhao Yun while Zhen Ji unleashes the rage of her masou. Together they erupt a massive explosion, which Liu Bei and Sun Quan's pursuits sees in awe.
"Lord Cao Cao, look?" Zhang Liao pointed while protecting Cao Cao on the way back to Xiang Yang. Cao Cao could see this work has been done by the dark love pairing of his son and daughter in law. This puts Liu Bei and Sun Quan's pursuit in a complete stop. Xiahou Dun is amaze as so is the rest of Wei's greatest warriors.
Liu Bei calls off everyone to head for the explosion site. While Zhuge Liang notices fears of what he predict about the heavens answer.
Cao Pi and Zhen Ji watches Zhao Yun falls defeated on the ground while Cao Pi smirks, but Zhen Ji looks at the humiliated hero with cold eyes staring at him.
"Zihuan, we're done here. Our Lord awaits us to escort him back to Xu Chang," Zhen Ji said.
"With pleasure, Beautiful. I think I finally have the time for a victorious bath with you," Cao Pi said.
They walk out of the scene with their horse and rode back to their lord. Zhao Yun remains unawake and plain lifeless. Broken with his spirit torn apart. Betrayed at most prospects. But, he deserves it. When the allied forces came, they can't believe their eyes that the heroic officer who saved a child by breaking through and destroy over 5000 vessels of Cao Cao's has been ambushed while Cao Cao completes his escape route. Who could of done this cowardly trick?
"My goodness, the heavens are right!" Zhuge Liang fainted.
"This is sort of mysterious to me, but what could of made the great Zhao Yun ambushed?" Sun Quan said with sarcastic sigh.
"Brother, how could you not sympathize an incredible warrior of Liu Bei's! Winning the battle at Chi Bi means one thing, but the respect of our allies is another!" Shang Xiang scolded.
"Well, it's Guan Yu's fault for letting Cao Cao escape because of that non sense debt of theirs" Zhou Yu said.
"I'm with Zhou Yu on this. Guan Yu, why did you do it?" Lu Meng said.
Guan Yu just looked down in shame. This wasn't the kind of things Cao Cao could get away with it.
"Cao Cao was just afraid and whining about our fires. There's no way he could of planned an ambush unless someone else has," Gan Ning said.
"That's right, somebody else did the work while Cao Cao was leaving like a wounded tiger he is now," Taishi Ci said.
Xing Cai went to comfort the emotional broken warrior. He taught her more than her father does. He was like an invisible dragon now vulnerable and wasted. Who ever did this will soon feel the blade of her pike. Guan Ping put his hand on her shoulders to share the feeling.
"Cowards! You sore losers! Don't even think about coming back here to challenge us again, because this time we will not any of you brats alive! You'll pay for the humiliation of my little brother!" Zhang Fei roared.
Continuing where he left off in his training; Zhao Yun still has the wounded heart of Lady Zhen and Cao Pi's powerful attack. He's happy that Zhen Ji lives a better life with another kingdom, but sad at the same time that she still hadn't seen through the true about the Cao family's intentions. It's already too late when that time Cao Cao was in an unanimous choice of allying with Wu on their own case of occupying Jing. Sun Quan discards the defense of his father and brother's land and decides to go offense by clouding his greed with his conquest. First Lu Meng found the right moment to attack Guan Yu from behind with the planning of his successor, Lu Xun. Then secret envoys of Mi Fang's governship of southern Jing with the counsel of Fu shiren and many other followers who decide to abandon Guan Yu's defenses and join Wu. Guan Yu and Guan Ping were confident of the outcome of their victory in Fan castle until Guan Yu found out what kept the reinforcements longer than holding out the offense while Xu Huang arrived at the time of the flood, then the worst part, Wu army arrives much larger than Guan Yu's army.
The news of Guan Yu's defeat at Fan Castle worried Ma Liang when Liao Hua brought it up. Liu Feng was suppose to send reinforcements at Mai Castle, but didn't and later on they found out Mi Fang and Fu shiren had joined Wu forces. It's two swords striking against the great sword. Guan Yu and Guan Ping were captured and executed without giving the option of releasing them back to Yong An. Shu wasn't aware of the devious plot and the news of Guan Yu's death shocks Liu Bei greatly. What piss him off more that it had took longer to inform him about it.
"Ugh..." Zhao Yun stops his training and looks down the grassy ground. He admires Wu and respects the discipline of all its talented officers including his late friend Taishi Ci and Gan Ning. He protests the campaign against Wu and it will cause more internal conflicts with their kingdom. But that already happened when Zhang Fei was preparing for a joint force with Liu Bei. He was assassinated the night before leaving. This news put Xing Cai in a nervous break down and Zhang Bao swore he would avenge his father and take the traitors heads for decapitating his father's with the newly oath brotherhood with Guan Xing.
The night before Zhao Yun found out the error of Liu Bei's encampment formation at Yi Ling. He had a surprising visit from an old friend. A very old friend that shines his light once more.
"Master Zhao, the envoy that arrived from Han Zhong 2 days ago has come to see you," Wang Ping said.
"At a time like this? I wonder who could that be..." Zhao Yun said. His two adopted sons, Zhao Chang and Zhao Tong looked at each other puzzled.
When Zhao Yun approach the carriage reveals two coffins and a woman walks up in a pale face in front of Zhao Yun.
"Lady Zhen, how did you get here all the way from Xu Chang?" Zhao Yun said in surprise.
"I've brought secret orders from Wang Ping when he once served Wei. When Guan Yu and Guan Ping were given a proper burial, I can help, but think about bringing their bodies back to Shu where they should be rightfully buried. When our Lord died and my husband disposed the 14th emperor, things are becoming unpredictable to me and I can't see through my husband's motivations. It's like he's hiding something from me while I take care of Cao Rui," Zhen Ji said.
"Zihuan disposed the emperor! Why?" Zhao Yun said. Zhen Ji just shudder and turns away from Zhao Yun to look at the moonlight. Zhao Yun puts both of his hands behind her shoulders. It's been a long time she felt his hands warmth on her since childhood.
"Please, don't take this the wrong way. It's for the best of him. Because every year we are fighting to unify the land, but now realizing Zhuge Liang's prophecy of dividing the kingdom to three it's safe to put the Han dynasty to rest. Maybe some peace can be settled like this for years. To stop the sword from continuing to move its course through the chaos," Zhen Ji said.
"....." Zhao Yun thought about leading the rest of Shu forces to storm at Wei capital to recover the disposed emperor, but learning from Zhen Ji's explanation it's best to let it go for now.
"General, we receive some information on Liu Bei's encampment at Yi Ling. It's urgent!" A soldier informed.
Zhao Yun turns directly at Zhen Ji and then turns back to one of his subordinates. What trouble can it be at a time like this?
"Go..." Zhen Ji said.
"But..." Zhao Yun resisted.
"It's your duty to secure the kingdom's power and no matter what. I'll always remember you," Zhen Ji said.
"Certainly, your highness," Zhao Yun said. He went back in the castle to attend the war council.
After receiving the formation on Liu Bei's mistakable battle plans, it was already too late to warn his Lord when the Wu army at Yi Ling lead by the youth Lu Xun summons a fire attack at most of Shu's supply depots causing confusion to Shu's will to counterattack. Lucky for Zilong, he arrives in time to reinforce the remaining army to retreat safely. Not before he heard the news of Gan Ning and Huang Zhong's deaths at the battle. He walked in the enemy lines to see Gan Ning's body mourned by Wu officers. Both forces already loss half of their most important generals. He told Lu Xun to return to Wu and send a message to their ruler about his own cruel and greed. Shu and Wu never bothered to continue their rivalry any farther. Later he receives a letter from Xun about Shang Xiang's death before his lord passed away. Zhao Yun looks at the tree in front of him while training. An image of the sword appears as a mirage to his thoughts.
"AHH!" Zhao Yun threw his spear directly at the tree.
Why is the sword continuing to swing as chaos goes on? Had there already been enough suffering when the land got divided to three? Why, why lose everything he fought to stop the sword? The heavens have forsaken Zilong's heart.
"I know you're still angry about the fact that the heavens abandon your heart and sealed Lord Liu Bei's fate. But, you can not give up, Zhao Yun," Zhuge Liang appears after searching for the fierce red dragon.
"Master Liang...." Zhao Yun said.
"Though we had lost Jing, but never lost our hopes, dreams, and dignity. We shall continue to rebuild our kingdom into a better tomorrow," Zhuge Liang said.
"But, Liu Chan isn't capable of leading it and you denied our lord's selection as the ruler," Zhao Yun said.
"I know, it's just that we can only restore the Han by rendering the Liu family's name. However, I've received a special treatment from our young lord. He's giving us full military authority for our Northern Campaign," Zhuge Liang said.
Zhao Yun turns around at Zhuge Liang seeing if it's true that Liu Chan is giving them the chance. Zhuge Liang nods slowly and suddenly Liao Hua, Wang Ping, Wei Yan, Yue Ying, Ma Chao, Ma Dai, Zhang Bao, Guan Xing, and Xing Cai arrives.
"It's true, our lord is promoting you to Marquis," Xing Cai said.
"Almost to ...the Duke of Shu," Ma Chao grinned.
Zhao Yun couldn't tell how surprising he is of this honorable news. He thinks about the moment with Zhen Ji on living at peace with the land divided to three, but it all changed now that Cao Pi begins to invade Wu to pick of the pieces his father failed. This is a good moment to attack Wei while they're busy with the campaign against Wu.
"Come, our lord awaits," Zhuge Liang said.
Everyone heads back into Cheng Du castle. Zhao Yun stops before he left the forest and looks at the tree he strikes his spear against and think about all those things he accomplished to help build the foundation of Shu Han and finally turns back to catch up with the newly reconstructed Shu army. He will continue his goal to stop the sword.