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Dragon Rebellion

Dragon Rebellion

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Hua Minglan is trapped, presumed dead, and back where it all started.


A place that once brought peace to her mind, a place she’d abandoned in order to seek her revenge. 

But that was before. Before the dragon awoke inside her to destroy an entire village. 

Before she ceded control. 

And now, the dragon has a mission, one Hua must do anything to stop. 

Kill the emperor. 

Main Tropes

  • Mulan-Inspired
  • Hidden Identity
  • Hate To Love
  • Fade to Black
  • Dragons
  • Revenge


Sometimes not even love is stronger than hate. 

Sometimes sacrifices must be made.

Hua Minglan is trapped, presumed dead, and back where it all started.


A place that once brought peace to her mind, a place she’d abandoned in order to seek her revenge. 

But that was before. Before the dragon awoke inside her to destroy an entire village. 

Before she ceded control. 

And now, the dragon has a mission, one Hua must do anything to stop. 

Kill the emperor. 

There is one way to defeat the beast inside her. 

Hua Minglan must die. 

Only one man can prevent her sacrifice. As Jian Li races across Piao to save both Hua and his brother, the emperor, he knows he’ll have to choose. 

Even if he chooses the right one, it might mean the end of Piao. 

Because the Kou have returned, ready to finish their war.

And the only creature that can save the empire also wants it destroyed. 

Dive into the second and final installment of this Mulan inspired fantasy. Beware of dragons raining fire upon you, a general who will do anything to save the woman he loves, and an emperor with a heart of gold. 


“Run!” Gen Minglan’s word struck Jian Li with the full force of its meaning. 

He dropped the shovel he’d been using to clear out the now-empty horse stall and leaped over the low wall of the gate. 

The sound of horses coming up the dirt road reached him as Ru came running into the barn, his eyes wide. 

“Soldiers are coming.” Ru ran on short legs to the side door, thrusting it open and motioning for Jian. 

There could only be one reason soldiers would come to a small farm outside Zhouchang. They were looking for the dragon. Jian had to get back to the house, he had to protect her. Darting out the door, he didn’t look back. He sprinted into the trees behind the barn. In the three weeks he’d been a guest of the Minglans, he’d learned every corner of their property. 

The fields stretched far and wide with the woods separating their farm from the village. He stopped when he reached the tree cover and tried to get a view of the soldiers. They’d halted in front of the barn and dismounted to speak to Gen. 

The Minglans thought Jian had brought their daughter back to them. He hadn’t had the heart to tell them the truth of the battle of Kanyuan. News traveled slowly around Piao and hadn’t yet reached the rural farms, giving him time to come to terms with the bloodshed and destruction wrought by a dragon he’d never imagined existed. 

Weeks ago, he woke in a strange place surrounded by people he didn’t know. And the girl he’d arrived with? She never opened her eyes. 

As soon as the soldiers disappeared into the barn, Jian ran across the open ground between the woods and the small three-bedroom house belonging to Hua’s family. He burst through the cracked wooden door and skidded to a halt, his chest heaving. He’d recovered from his injuries but was still regaining his stamina. 

Fa Minglan appeared from one of the bedrooms at the back, her face drawn as it always was when she sat with her unconscious daughter. “What is it?” 

He looked from Fa to Hua’s grandmother—who insisted he called her Nainai as if she were his own. “Soldiers.”

They mirrored each other’s alarm. “They can’t find her.” Fa rushed back into her room where they’d kept Hua. Jian followed, taking in the pale face of the girl who once seemed the strongest among his men. 

“We need to get her into the loft.” Nainai moved to the other side of the bed. 

Jian nodded. It was the only way. He slid his arms under Hua’s limp frame, freezing when mumbled words pushed past her lips. Were the words hers or the dragons? He cradled her against his chest and hurried to the ladder. Shifting her body over his shoulder, he gripped the rail with his free hand and climbed slowly, careful not to smack Hua’s head into the opening. 

Once he made it through, he laid her down on the floor and looked through the opening at the two women and their tired expressions. It had been a hard few weeks for all of them. 

“We’ll call to you when the soldiers have left.” Nainai attempted a smile. 

Jian nodded and pulled the ladder up before swinging the door in the floor shut, closing them up from the world beyond the small loft. 

He sat back on his heels and released a breath. With so little news coming from the front, they didn’t know what the army knew of Hua. Jian wasn’t even sure what he knew of her. Three weeks ago, she’d transformed before his eyes. A couple days before that, she’d turned from Huan to Hua in his mind. He hadn’t had time to process everything. All he knew was he had to protect her, even if it meant shielding her from his own brother, the emperor. 

Getting to his feet, he ducked his head to avoid hitting it on the low ceiling. A bed took up the back half of the small room next to a window that let out onto a flat roof. 

He bent to lift Hua and set her on the bed. Summer heat stifled the room, but he didn’t dare open the window for fear of being seen. 

Hua’s lips parted, letting a moan pass them. Sweat dampened her brow, and Jian wiped sticky hair out of her face. If anyone told him she’d pretended to be a man, he’d never have believed it. But he saw Huan. He thought of him as just another soldier to get battle ready, one who tested Jian every step of the way. 

He should have known she wasn’t an ordinary man. 

But it seemed she wasn’t an ordinary woman either. 

Footsteps echoed through the house, and the walls shook as voices sounded in the courtyard below, many voices belonging to people Jian didn’t know. 

Until one man spoke. 

“Thank you for your hospitality, General Minglan.” Jian would recognize that timbre anywhere. General Yu, the man who’d wish nothing more than to punish Jian for what he saw as his sins, his relationship to the emperor. 

“My son,” Gen said. “Huan Minglan. Do you bring news of him?”

It was all an act, of course. Jian looked down into Hua’s serene face. Huan was just another side of her. 

“I’m sorry, Gen. I have no news of the boy. The army is still regrouping after the fight. We do not have a full count of the living or the dead.” He said it so matter-of-factly, that there were too many dead to count in such a short time. Jian sighed. What of his remaining men? What of Chen, Yan, and Zhao? 

Or Luca. He’d tried so hard not to think of his friend or if he lived or died. It took every ounce of willpower not to find a messenger to send to one of the garrisons in search of him. There’d come a time when he would have to face those he’d left behind. What did they think of him now? 

He shook those thoughts from his mind to focus on the voices below. “What brings you to Zhouchang, General?” Fa’s voice was tight. 

“That is a matter for the army, Taitai Minglan.” 

Jian shook his head. He’d only known the Minglans for a few short weeks, but he’d already learned Fa Minglan was not someone to be trifled with. She had more bite than her husband. 

“Well, General, then the refreshments in this house are a matter for friends.” 

Jian’s lips curved up at that. He’d give anything to see General Yu’s response. Fa wasn’t a warrior like her daughter, but she was definitely the source of Hua’s stubbornness. 

A beat of silence stretched out before General Yu responded. “Gen, handle your wife.”

“My wife can handle herself.” Jian pictured Gen straightening to his full height, his face stern. “Tell me why you and your men have come onto my land.” 

General Yu was the first to relent. “We’re traveling from Zhouchang to Yewo in search of deserters.”

“Deserters?” Gen dropped his voice. 

“I forget how slowly news travels in the… countryside.” He said the last word with a hint of distaste. “The imperial army has recovered Kanyuan.”

Jian had already told them this, but he’d withheld just how that battle unfolded. Only Hua’s grandmother knew why she hadn’t yet opened her eyes. 

“I didn’t realize the army lost Kanyuan.” Gen was testing him, goading him. 

“We didn’t,” General Yu snapped. “Jian Li was given command due to his relationship with the emperor. He lost the border village. The rest of us had to step in to recover it. The battle was bloody, and the town now lies in ruins. In the weeks since, men have deserted the army in droves, in search of safety from the Kou warriors.” 

Hua’s grandmother spoke next. “The Kou… is that all they fear?”

“It doesn’t matter what they fear,” General Yu growled. “They pledged themselves to this war, and by running, have named themselves traitors. It is my duty to bring them to justice.” 

“So, you’re hunting down boys?” Jian imagined disgust on Nainai’s face. “Our home is not open to your kind, General.” 

“General Minglan, you would have one of the emperor’s generals disrespected in your home? He signed the order to hunt deserters. It is an imperial decree.” 

Jian wanted to believe his brother would do no such thing, but he didn’t know to what lengths Bo would go to end this war, especially if he knew a dragon had returned to Piao. Dragons represented a power the emperor could never hope to wield. It was why emperors of the past hunted all those descended from the last Nagi. 

He brushed a finger over Hua’s cheek. Not all families were destroyed by that hunt, some went into hiding and changed their family names. 

The Minglans were not his family, they didn’t belong to him, but Jian wanted to be here with them, he wanted to work the farm with Gen or sit at night playing games with Ru. 

He wanted Chichi to run to him whenever he entered the yard. 

He got so distracted by his own thoughts, he didn’t hear Gen’s response. Instead, the slamming of the front door jolted him back. 

A knock sounded moments later on the door in the floor. Jian crouched down and pulled it open to look down into the worried eyes of Gen Minglan, a man whose history in the army was so storied even Jian heard about it while growing up in Dasha. 

“They will not enter the house again.” He rubbed his eyes. “But they’re making camp on our land, so you two should stay up there until they’re gone.”

Jian nodded. “I agree.”

Hua’s grandmother appeared, the line between her brows deepening. “Don’t use the lantern in the room.” She slid a plate through the door toward him. “Your supper. Goodnight, Jian. Thank you for taking care of our Hua.”

He shut the door and looked back over his shoulder to Hua. When they’d first arrived, her family thought it was important to try to force sustenance into her, massaging her throat until she swallowed. As time went on, she didn’t seem to need it. He didn’t understand, but there was so much about her that confused him. 

The biggest question he had was had she known? Was that why she left her family to pose as a man and join the fight? 

Or was she just as much a victim in this as the children of Kanyuan?

He settled back onto the bed beside her and put the plate on the tiny table near the window. Focusing on the full moon hanging in the starry sky, he thought back on the night he’d sat with Hua atop a tower at Prince Dequan’s fortress. 

No, the girl who’d spoken with such honesty, the one who’d melted into his arms before pulling back, he couldn’t believe she knew of the enemy within her. 

But now that he did, what could he do? The beast inside her held a danger unlike any they’d ever seen. The girl, though, she only posed a danger to Jian, because he’d give up his life to keep her safe.      

* * *

Sometime in the night, Jian woke to a crash down below. He jolted up in bed, shaking the frame. Hua’s arm rolled off her chest and brushed his thigh, the contact shocking after a tense night of trying to keep his distance. 

If only Luca could see him now. His friend would probably make some joke about Jian sharing a bed with Luca’s betrothed, but the joke would only be a cover for the worry he felt. Hua Minglan walked constantly on the edge of shame. If anyone learned of her time as a soldier, or that she spent the night with Jian—conscious or not—it would change the way the world saw her. 

It wasn’t the first night Jian spent with her. For the past three weeks, he sat by her bed, sometimes sleeping right in the chair, as if leaving his vigil meant giving up on her. 

He’d have given anything to see the stubborn eyes of the soldier he trained, the friend he’d reluctantly made. 

Glass shattered somewhere in the house, and Jian jumped from the bed. He looked back over his shoulder, studying Hua for a moment as he listened for other sounds. It wasn’t until he heard a child’s cry that he slid the door open. 

General Yu stood below with his men at his back. He held an arm around Ru’s chest and a knife to his throat. 

Gen and Fa pleaded with him to release their son. 

More glass broke as a projectile flew through the front window, landing with a thud on the wooden floor before bursting into flames. 

Hua’s grandmother stumbled from her room, clutching her sleeping robes, her gray hair askew. “General, what is the meaning of this?” 

Smoke curled through the room and still, the family stood frozen, their youngest child in the grips of Yu. Jian surveyed the room, noting the placement of each soldier. Jian’s possessions were bundled in the corner of the sitting room near the pallet Fa had made up for him. His dao was tucked into a pile of clothing the Minglans had given him. The weapon was an old one of Gen’s but still serviceable. The problem? It was across the room. 

He scanned the loft for any kind of weapon, knowing the room belonged to Hua before she left for the war. The one thing he knew about her for sure was that she was a fighter. “What did you keep up here, Hua?” he whispered.

He dug his hand under the mattress, sighing in relief when he hit the cool steel of a small blade. It wasn’t much, but it was better than he had before. 

With a final glance at Hua, Jian drop through the door, not bothering with the ladder. His feet hit the floor, and he twisted to face the soldiers, snapping his wrist as he did. 

The knife sailed end over end, and it was like everyone in the room watched it, frozen in anticipation. 

Ru screamed as the blade missed him, lodging into the arm of his attacker. 

General Yu reared back, yanking the blade from his arm. Ru scurried away from him, collapsing into his mother’s arms. 

As smoke swirled around his feet, Jian pictured another time, another place. General Altan trapped him in a tent with Luca and the others. He’d been so sure he was going to die until a savior walked through the flames. Hua. 

But she wasn’t coming to save them this time. Now, they had to save her. 

General Yu shouted orders to his men to capture Jian, but despite what some said, he’d earned the title of commander because he was the best. 

Jian slammed his shoulder into one of the attackers, knocking him back. He didn’t give the men a chance to explain why they’d barged into the Minglan home in the middle of the night, or why flames spread along the wooden floor. 

They didn’t need to tell Jian what he already knew. He took in the ragged clothing of the men. Only General Yu wore a uniform, but even he looked disheveled, so unlike the uptight general Jian had known. 

These men weren’t hunting deserters. 

They were deserters. 

The man pinned beneath Jian no longer moved so he jumped to his feet and ran for another, yelling back over his shoulder. “Go. Get out of here.”

Fa scooped up Ru and ran to the back door, but Gen and Nainai didn’t follow. Gen jumped into the fight, using his cane as his only weapon. 

Jian retrieved a dao from the man he’d knocked unconscious, feeling like himself for the first time since the dragon flew him away from Kanyuan. He’d never wanted to be a fighter but had no other choice in life. Now, it was all he was. 

He coughed through the smoke and twisted, slicing the sharp edge of the dao through a thick-necked man. Gen fought alongside him, disarming his opponent with an unnatural skill and retrieving the weapon. 

They were outnumbered, but that had never mattered to Jian. He’d survived the mountain battle despite the enormous odds against them. He was still standing after the Kou attacked his camp. And Kanyuan… he shouldn’t have survived that one. But he had. 

His eyes flashed as they met General Yu’s. 

“Jian Li,” the general yelled, his entire body going rigid. “You’re supposed to be dead.” Shock colored his voice.

“And you’re supposed to be pledged to the emperor.” 

Jian yanked his dao free of another man, letting him crumple to the ground before approaching the general. No, not general. He gave up that title the moment he walked away from the army. Just as Jian had. 

Yu’s lip curled and his eyes narrowed. “I should have known you fled after the battle. They all think you died a hero, but Jian Li is no hero.” 

“You’re right.” He stepped over a dead man. “I’m not a hero. I did not run, but I did not stay either.”

Gen dispatched the last of Yu’s men and joined Jian. 

Yu held out his dao. “Go ahead. Try to kill me. I have nothing left.”

Jian stepped closer as a cough wracked his body. His lungs cried out for air, but all they got was smoke. “These are good people, Yu. I should cut you down where you stand.”

“Érzi.” Gen put a hand on his arm. Jian froze at the term. Son. “Let him go. Sometimes mercy is the greatest strength.”

It was something Bo would have said. Still, Jian’s grip on his dao tightened. 

“The entire house is going to go up in flames.” Yu looked from Jian to Gen. “Do you have time to fight me?”

The house… Hua. 

Yu walked backward toward the door, and Jian didn’t follow. He couldn’t. Not with the house burning around him.

“Jian!” Gen gripped his shoulder. “Get to Hua.”

Fear ripped through him. He’d left her in the loft while smoke rose toward the ceiling. 

There was no time for vendettas, not anymore. He ran to the ladder and climbed the rungs, covering his mouth with his arm as he pulled himself into the loft. A thick blanket of smoke cloaked the room, hiding Hua from view. 

He stumbled across the room, his shins slamming into the table next to the bed as his legs weakened. His lungs begged for air, but there was none to be found. As darkness crept along the edges of his vision, he saw her. Hua’s pale skin shone, a glow emanating from the inside out. 

His knees hit the wooden floor next to the bed, and as his head lolled forward onto the feather mattress, her eyes snapped open.

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