Jade Corruption

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Jade Corruption was an event in SMITE made to celebrate Season 7's new Joust map and the introduction of Mulan. It begins right after the conclusion of Odyssey: Underworld's story, and began on February 11, 2020 and ended of April 21, 2020.

Description[edit | edit source]

Welcome to the Jade Corruption Event![edit | edit source]

The mysterious Jade creatures are pillaging the earth and spreading their corruption across the east. China is being ravaged and one hero has the courage to stand up and face them. Help the hero defeat the Jade and bring the village back to its former glory!

Buy all 3 Exclusive Jade Corruption Bundles to unlock the new Unlimited Poseidon Skin! Each Bundle contains 4 Exclusive items and an Imperial Coin. Imperial Coins are granted to unlock the Exclusive Bonus Rewards in combination with completing 3 Quests.

Quests[edit | edit source]

There will be 9 Quests that have to be completed in order. Each release will unlock a set of 3 new Quests. Completing Quests will get you free quest rewards such as: Battle Pass Team Boosters, Worshiper Boosters, Favor, or a cosmetic item and bring you one step closer to unlocking an Exclusive Bonus Reward. There will be 3 Exclusive Bonus Rewards available for unlock.

Exclusive Bonus Rewards[edit | edit source]

Unlock an Exclusive Bonus Reward by completing the 3 sequential Quests associated with it and using an Imperial Coin. An Imperial Coin can be obtained by purchasing any of the 3 Jade Corruption Event Bundles. Complete all 9 Quests and obtain all 3 Imperial Coins to unlock each of the following Exclusive Bonus Rewards: Event Loading Frame, Weekly Deal Token, and Daily Deal Token.

Unlimited Poseidon Skin[edit | edit source]

Purchase all 3 Jade Corruption Event Bundles in order to unlock the Unlimited Poseidon Skin.

Trade in your Reward Tokens on the Deals Tab in the Store! A Daily Deal Token can be traded in for a Daily Deal Bundle and Weekly Deal Token can be traded in for a weekly skin!

Jade Corruption Cosmetic Items[edit | edit source]

These are the items that are available during the event. Each bundle costs 900 Gems.png Gems to unlock.

Unlocks[edit | edit source]

Merciless Monarch
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Olorun MercilessMonarch Icon.png God Skin February 11, 2020 An exclusive skin for Olorun. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Drunkyard
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Bacchus Drunkyard Icon.png God Skin February 11, 2020 An exclusive skin for Bacchus. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Cutesy Panda
Icon Type Release Date Description
Avatar Panda.png Avatar February 11, 2020 An exclusive Avatar.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Priest of Lament
Icon Type Release Date Description
GlobalEmote Priest of Lament.png Global Emote February 11, 2020 An exclusive Emote.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Imperial Coin
Icon Type Release Date Description
128px Currency February 11, 2020 An Imperial Coin used to unlock Cosmetic items every 3 Jade Corruption quests.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Jade Dragon
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Set JadeDragon Icon.png God Skin February 25, 2020 An exclusive skin for Set. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Iron Conqueror
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Hera IronConqueror Icon.png God Skin February 25, 2020 An exclusive skin for Hera. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Corrupted Jade
Icon Type Release Date Description
FountainFX CorruptingJade.png Fountain Skin February 25, 2020 An exclusive Fountain skin.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Imperial
Icon Type Release Date Description
Icon Pedestal Imperial.png Pedestal February 25, 2020 An exclusive Pedestal.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Imperial Coin
Icon Type Release Date Description
128px Currency February 25, 2020 An Imperial Coin used to unlock Cosmetic items every 3 Jade Corruption quests.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Adventurers Guild
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Bastet AdventurersGuild Icon.png God Skin March 10, 2020 An exclusive skin for Bastet. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Neon Rebellion
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Rama NeonRebellion Icon.png God Skin March 10, 2020 An exclusive skin for Rama. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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The Relentless
Icon Type Release Date Description
Title Relentless.png Title March 10, 2020 An exclusive title.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Imperial Jade
Icon Type Release Date Description
MusicTheme ImperialJade.png Music Theme March 10, 2020 An exclusive music theme.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Imperial Coin
Icon Type Release Date Description
128px Currency March 10, 2020 An Imperial Coin used to unlock Cosmetic items every 3 Jade Corruption quests.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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Collection bonus[edit | edit source]

Hydro Machina
Icon Type Release Date Description
T Poseidon HydroMachina Icon.png God Skin March 10, 2020 An Unlimited skin for Poseidon. It has custom animations and ability effects, and custom voicelines.
Discoveries
Story

Video

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List of quests[edit | edit source]

Complete quests to use Imperial coins to acquire exclusive Jade Corruption Cosmetic Items every 3 quests. Quests must be completed in order before the next one is unlocked.

Cross the River!
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Play 1 Joust match.
Reward
1000 Favor.png
Jade Corruption Quest 2
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Deal 20,000 Player Damage.
Reward
2 Team battle points booster
Jade Corruption Quest 3
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Get 1 first win of the day.
Reward
Jade Corruption Recall skin.
Jade Corruption Loading Frame
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Purchase any of the bundles to obtain an imperial coin.
Reward
Jade Corruption Loading frame.
Jade Corruption Quest 4
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Play 1 Joust match.
Reward
1000 Favor.png
Jade Corruption Quest 5
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Get 30 Kills and Assists.
Reward
2 Worshiper team bossters.
Jade Corruption Quest 6
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Slay 1 Jungle Boss.
Reward
Jade Corruption loading screen
Weekly Deal Token
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Purchase any of the bundles to obtain an imperial coin.
Reward
Weekly deal token.
Jade Corruption Quest 7
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Deal 20000 player damage.
Reward
1000 Favor.png
Jade Corruption Quest 8
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Play 1 Joust match..
Reward
2 Team battle points booster
Jade Corruption Quest 9
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Earn 10000 Gold.
Reward
Money Tree ward skin
Daily Deal Token
Quest Icon Other Laurel.png
Requirement
Purchase any of the bundles to obtain an imperial coin.
Reward
Daily deal token.

Lore[edit | edit source]

Chapter 1[edit | edit source]

T Lobby Mulan2020Event BG.png

The attack had come in the small hours before dawn. It had happened so swiftly, so savagely, that the villagers could do nothing save seek shelter in the old temple. It was small and humble. But solid. Built of stone, rather than wood. It was the sturdiest building in the village. But that wasn’t saying much. Now the attackers hammered at the barred doors and walls of the temple unceasingly.The sound of their fists was like thunder. Wei closed his eyes, trying not to hear the screams that still echoed from outside. Not everyone had made it to the safety of the temple.

He looked around. Barely more than a dozen of them were here, all told. He could hear an infant wailing as its mother tried to soothe it. Nearby, someone was praying softly and intently. Wei touched the hilt of his sword. It hadn’t done him much good, not that he’d thought to use it until it was too late. He looked back at the doors. Through the gaps in the wood he glimpsed the gleam of jade, and shuddered. They made no sound save that which came from their bludgeoning fists. They did not speak or even cry out. From a distance, they’d looked like soldiers. But as they’d drawn closer, he’d realized that they weren’t men at all. Instead, they’d resembled pottery left too long in the kiln. Glistening chunks of jade sprouted from their heads and limbs in irregular patches, and they moved jerkily, but swiftly. All too swiftly.

Wei did not know what to call them. They had come out of the forest as silently as ghosts and been over the palisade walls before the first alarm bell had rung. They had killed the other guards. He had lived only because he had fled. These were not human foes of the sort he had once faced on the battlefield. These were something else. They were not alive. Not the way he understood life, at least. He thought of the jade clinging to them. Growing from the strange creatures like barnacles from the hull of a ship. Jade was meant to purify, to heal. That was what he had been taught as a boy. Everyone knew it was so, and had been since time immemorial.

As a boy, when he’d been ill, his grandmother had placed a sliver of jade beneath his tongue, so that it might take the sickness from him. He couldn’t say whether it had worked or not, but he’d certainly felt better afterwards. But the jade that encrusted their attackers was different. It radiated sickness –foulness. The life it gave was twisted and malign. These things were proof of that. “Do you smell that?” Min asked. Wei looked down at his wife, crouched beside him in the dark. She was pale, her eyes wide with the same fear that held all of them. “Smoke,”she clarified. “Something is on fire.”“The village is on fire,” someone muttered – a farmer huddled as far from the temple doors as he could get. “The smoke will claim us before those things can.” “It is a mercy,” an old man said. He sat serenely nearby. Of them all, he was the only one who did not seem afraid. Then, he was blind and had been for as long as Wei could recall. Perhaps since he could not see them, he did not know enough to be afraid. “Mercy?” a woman said, angrily. “Where is the mercy in this? Huddled here, waiting to either suffocate or be torn apart.” “It is as the gods will,” the old man said. “We should pray for their forgiveness.” A murmur sped through the huddled villagers at this. Wei looked at Min. “Prayers will do us no good, I fear. The gods are not listening.” He spoke more loudly than he’d intended, and felt all eyes on him. He fell silent. “The gods are always listening,” the old man said reproachfully. “Then where are they?” Min said, leaping to her husband’s defense. “Why do they not protect us?” Outside, their attackers seemed to grow frenzied at the sound of her anger and redoubled their efforts. Min lowered her voice to a whisper. “Where are they?” From the frown on the old man’s face, Wei guessed he’d been wondering the same thing. Finally, the old man said, “This attack is because we have turned from them. We have not made our faith known. This is our punishment.” “What is our crime?” Min said. “Not praying enough?” He had no answer for that. The old man bowed his head and began to pray. Wei reached out and hugged Min to him. “Right now, I’m more concerned with what those things are. I’ve never seen anything like them.” “Maybe it is the sickness,” one of the other villagers said. Wei frowned. The cursed jade spread like a disease, the gleaming shards sprouting from the ground or even the flesh of beasts without rhyme or reason. It made the healthy sick, and the sick into monsters. Jade-infected beasts wandered the land. He’d seen it growing on men and women, young and old – glistening tumours that leeched the life from the afflicted. It had even spread to the water. It was no wonder the animals had taken sick, and that their fields were failing.

Some had claimed that the corrupted jade was a punishment sent by the gods. Others thought it was a curse upon the land, cast by some sorcerer or fell god. To Wei, it seemed as if the land were suffering from some sickness. A disease of some sort that spread to the air and the water, and soon to all who inhabited it. “If the gods are silent, perhaps it is because they are afraid,” Min said softly, as the doors shuddered and groaned. “I know I am.” Wei didn’t reply. As a boy, he’d heard stories of the evil times before the gods came to rule, when the lands were overrun with monsters. When the world had been out of balance and a great demon rose up, its eyes set on Heaven. The pounding of fists increased in volume. The whole temple seemed to shudder as if it might crack apart and collapse at any moment. He wondered if that demon had come again. Perhaps that explained the absence of the gods – another war in heaven would surely concern them more than the suffering of a few peasants. “When I was young, I was told stories about the great heroes of legend,” Wei said. “It was said that they arose when need was greatest. Maybe they are on their way, even now.” He’d intended the words to be hopeful, but he felt a sudden flush of shame as he spoke. His cowardice had saved his life. He had run while others had died. Min looked at Wei, seemingly reading his thoughts. “You did what you could,” she murmured. “If you had not run, we would both be dead.” “It was not enough,” he said, softly. “I am – I was a soldier.” But the truth was, he hadn’t been a very good one. He was a farmer at heart, not a fighter. “I should have done more.” “Should you have died then?” she hissed, glaring at him. “Should you have let them kill you, the way they killed the others?” He had no answer for her. He turned to the doors. The pounding continued. Unceasing. Unrelenting. They would not stop until they had what they wanted. But what did they want? Why had they attacked? Was this going on elsewhere, or only here? The thought chilled him. What if all of China was similarly afflicted? In his mind’s eye he saw armies of clay warriors encrusted with jade, marching across the land, destroying everything in their path. Unconsciously, Wei’s hand tightened about the worn hilt of his sword. It made him feel no safer. A sword was nothing more than a tool – it was up to a person to wield it, for good or ill. Min began to cough. She was not the only one. Smoke hung thick on the air. He could feel heat, radiating from the stone walls. Soon, the temple would become an oven. They would be dead by then, of course. A mercy. Unless someone did something. He looked down at his sword. Once, he’d been so proud to bear it. When the call had come for every household to yield up their sons and fathers, Wei had gone gladly along with so many others. He had been proud to serve his country and his people. At least in the beginning.

War had soon lost its glamor. He had seen too many men die – and for what? Nothing seemed to change. When one war ended, another soon began. If the gods were watching, they did not seem to care. Maybe war was but entertainment for them. Blasphemous as the thought was, it made a grim sort of sense. Else why would they allow it? But this wasn’t war. This was something else. Something he didn’t understand. It was as if the very substance of the world were under assault. A sickness that grew worse by the day, consuming more and more of the land. What would remain of the world in the end, if it was left unchecked? Only monsters, he suspected. Or worse, nothing at all. “Listen,” Min coughed, suddenly. “Listen!” Wei looked at her, and then back at the doors. The thudding of fists had ceased. Had they given up at last? Perhaps the fire had driven them back. He licked his lips, wondering if he had the courage to check. He looked at Min and she shook her head. He frowned. He swallowed his fear and rose. “Wei – don’t,” Min said, reaching for him. He tried to smile. “Someone has to,” he said. Carefully, he made his way towards the doors. He paused, listening. There was no sound at all save the crackle of flames. He glanced back at Min and the others. Then, one hand on his sword, he reached for the bar that held the doors closed. Just a quick look. But as he touched the bar, he heard the tell-tale crack of splintering wood, and saw the doors bulge inwards. He heard Min shout his name, and felt the thunder of renewed blows against the temple. Even as he drew his sword, the first jade-marked fist punched through the doors and knocked the bar aside. Fingers of hardened clay reached for him as he fell back. He slashed at the groping hand wildly. “Help me – someone help me reinforce the doors!” Only Min came to his aid. The others merely screamed or tried to put as much distance between themselves and the doors as possible. Wei cursed and hacked at the swiping limbs. But his blade did little to hamper them.

One of the creatures forced its way through the gap, contorting itself to fit better. It glared blindly at him with carven eyes and a blank expression on its face. Its head swiveled and it fixed its gaze on Min, who was desperately trying to yank the bar back into place. It reached for her, and Wei shouted. He brought his blade down with all his strength, cracking the clay forearm. It whipped towards him and he struck at it again and again, until it fell back through the hole. He heard the crash of the bar falling back into place as the creatures began to pound at the door once more. Min raced to his side and they backed away from the shuddering doors. Despite the bar, they were beginning to buckle. Smoke boiled in through the gaps and clay limbs studded with jade tore at the wood. They would be through in moments. “What do we do?” Min asked. Wei didn’t look at her. He didn’t want her to see the fear in his eyes.

“Pray for a hero.”

Chapter 2[edit | edit source]

With a shout, the rider urged her steed over the remnants of the broken gate. As the horse’s hooves slammed down onto the hard-packed earth on the other side of the wall, Hua Mulan leaned forward, sending her spear into the clay skull of the first of the creatures. She jerked the weapon loose as the body crumbled, and swept it out in a scything arc to meet the rest of the unliving warriors. They cracked like pots, shattering into jagged shards.

Her arm jolted with the force of the blow, and she whispered a prayer of thanks for her father’s training. Without it, she would have neither the strength nor the skill to attempt such a feat. She urged her horse forward, but the animal shied back as flames roared up. The village was on fire, and she could hear the screams of those trapped in the small temple whose roof she could see over the top of the surrounding buildings.

Her horse bucked, turning in a panicked circle. It was not a war-horse, though it had done well up until now. She slid from the saddle, just as more of clay warriors loped through the flames towards her, their forms glowing red from the heat. She hurled her spear at the closest of them, knocking it sprawling.

The rest closed in, and she snatched her bow from where it hung on her saddle, nocked an arrow and loosed it. Three more followed, quick as thought. The arrows punched through clay skulls with hard-earned accuracy. She slapped the horse on its flank, sending the animal fleeing to safety as a fifth warrior lunged for her, its curved blade raised for a killing blow. She leapt aside, drawing an arrow from the quiver at her side.

The clay warrior turned, following her, and she stabbed the arrow into its head as hard as she could. For a moment, she thought the blow had been in vain. Then it tottered and fell. Panting slightly, she turned to see the one she’d impaled with her spear rising unsteadily to its feet. It tore the weapon loose from its crumbling midsection and thrust it at her. She drew her sword just in time, blocking the blow. Before the creature could recover, she decapitated it. It collapsed in on itself, and she retrieved her spear from its remains.

A shout went up from the men and women who’d followed her into the village. Her army, such as it was, was small – some twenty people in all. It consisted of every able-bodied man and woman she could gather from her own village, and those close by. Those who were willing to follow her, and more importantly, willing to fight. Some few bore blades or spears, but the rest were armed only with farming implements.

But she was a soldier. And these things, whatever they looked like, were not. Though they bore weapons, they fought without a shred of tactical or strategic acumen. They sought only to kill, to destroy, with no thought of self-preservation. So far, she’d managed to outthink them. Her followers corralled them, came at them one at a time where possible. One on one, the jade-infected automatons were a match for any villager. But put them up against two, or three, and their advantage dwindled. Especially if her people stayed out of their enemy’s reach, as she’d taught them over these last few, hard days.

“Form up,” Hua Mulan said, silencing the cheers with a gesture. “They will regroup and come for us. We must be ready.” They obeyed without question. Their loyalty had been hard-won over the past few days, and now verged on something uncomfortably close to worship. She shied away from the thought. She was just like them, trying to survive in a world that had suddenly turned impossibly hostile.

She had never believed in monsters, or magic. That the gods existed was a given, but she had never seen one that she knew of. They held themselves remote from the world, which was only as it should be. It was for mortals to decide their own destiny, even as she had chosen hers. But if ever there had been a time for the gods to intervene, it was now. The land writhed in torment, riven by cancerous strands of malign jade. No one knew where it had come from, only that it was deadly. It caused sickness and made monsters.

Mulan had seen evidence of its fell power first-hand, in her own village. Her own home had come under attack by clay warriors like the ones she had just dispatched. The attack had convinced her that the surrounding villages might need help. So she had gathered as many as could be spared from every village in the area – men and women both. The old traditions did not matter so much, in the face of such evil. Anyone who could wield a weapon, improvised or otherwise, was welcome in her army. Together, they had fought the enemy wherever they appeared, driving them back and ensuring the safety of the people. So far, her ragtag group seemed to be the only organized resistance in this region.

She sheathed her sword, and then readied another arrow. She paused, listening. All she heard was the crackle of the flames and the creak of broken wood. The village was only the latest to suffer such an attack. It seemed to her as if all of China were once again under attack – only these foes were not men, but something else. Something other.

The thought chilled her to the marrow. What could she – or anyone – do against such horrors as those she had seen in the past days? She glanced down at the broken shards of what had once been a face, and felt her skin crawl. The clay eyes moved, following her. There was still life there, though its body was broken into pieces. She tore her gaze away from the fragments and said nothing.

Her people’s courage balanced on a knife edge – she had led them to victory up until now. But only small victories, over handfuls of unliving opponents. This village was bigger than most, and the force that had attacked it was likely larger as well. Not just a five or six clay monstrosities, but a dozen or more.

Something told her that she was getting close – to what, she could not say. But there was a feeling in her gut; as if she were approaching the enemy camp. As if she could see the smoke of their fires on the horizon. Something was close, maybe an answer, or maybe just a larger battle. Either way, she would meet it head on. Not for herself, but for those who followed her. Who looked to her for leadership.

Smoke boiled through the air, stinging her eyes. A chorus of coughing rose from her followers, as they bound their mouths and noses with wet rags to help them breath. The smell reminded her of other battlefields. Overhead, carrion birds circled. Jade shimmered among their feathers and her uneasiness grew.

The land was dying. She could feel it. If only there was some cure, some magic that might banish the affliction. But what did she know of such things? She tightened her grip on her bow, and tried to focus on the matter at hand. She knew how to fight, how to lead – this was her duty now. She had fought to defend China once, she would do so again. She had not sought command, but she had the responsibility now nonetheless.

She glanced back at those who followed her. Men and women, old and young alike, united. Some returned her gaze, and nodded or tried to smile. She turned away. She would not fail them. Not while there was breath left in her body.

The temple came into sight. She stopped, eyes wide. The creatures covered the small structure like a heaving shroud. They tore at it with their hands and weapons, as if intent on smashing the building to flinders. She could hear screams from within. In moments, they would be inside.

On the steps of the temple, several creatures stood back from the destruction. These turned as Mulan stepped into the open, and raised bows. Archers – they had archers, now?

She whirled. “Take cover!”

Arrows hissed through the smoke, and men were knocked from their feet, dead or dying. Mulan snatched an arrow from her own quiver and sent it whistling in return. But she was one, and they were many. Arrows thudded into the ground and buildings around her as her followers sought cover. She stayed where she was, braving the storm so as to give them time. She drew and loosed, sacrificing accuracy for speed.

As the archers continued their volley, two clay swordsmen raced towards her. She was forced to cast her bow aside and draw her sword as they reached her. She parried the first blow and responded in kind. They traded blade-strokes as the second creature circled them, waiting for its chance to strike. As she fought, she tried to catch a glimpse of the temple. It would not last much longer. Sturdy as it appeared, the creatures were ripping great divots from the walls. Her followers were still huddled, enduring the rain of arrows. She was the only one in position to reach the temple.

Her opponent mistimed a strike and she slid beneath its guard, instinctively ramming her blade into the spot where its heart should have been. But there was no heart to pierce, no blood to spill. It took her only a split-second to recover, rip her blade free and behead the creature. Without pause, she turned and parried the stroke of the second, before whipping her blade through its midsection. Fragments spattered her armour as she stepped back. Arrows snaked towards her and she cut them from the air, moving faster than she had ever moved before, knowing that if she slowed – if she hesitated – she would die, and the others with her.

They were counting on her. She would not fail.

She raced towards the temple steps, slicing arrows from the air. Drawing the aim of the clay archers away from her followers. Behind her, she heard a shout, and knew her people had understood. They pounded forward in her wake, chanting her name as a battle-cry. The sound crested like a wave, carrying her up the steps. One archer fell to her blade, and then another. As the last of the archers fell, the closest of the inhuman warriors turned away from their assault on the temple, to face this new threat.

As one, they swept to meet her. She swung her sword until her arms ached and her shoulders burned with fatigue. Fragments of clay and jade littered the steps of the temple in her wake. The sound of her own name echoed in her ears, chanted by her companions. They drew strength from her and she from them.

She felt that new strength flood her limbs as she split an opponent in two. It was as if with her people behind her, there was little she could not do. The pieces of another attacker fell away and she heard an audible gasp. One of her followers stumbled back from her, eyes wide. Others did the same. For a moment, she thought she’d been injured. She looked down at herself and saw a strange radiance suffusing her form. Not the sickly light of the jade – but something clean and wholesome. A clear light, a warm light. It filled her and covered her and she felt no fear of it. She turned back to the temple.

The last of the monsters hesitated, their mask-like features twisting with what might have been fear. But the moment passed quickly, and they came at her in a rush. She met them with no hesitation, her sword carving trails of light through the smoky air.

In moments, it was done. The remains of the last of the clay warriors crunched beneath her feet as she approached the broken doors of the temple. “You can come out,” she said. “You are safe now.” She stepped through, and felt a rush of…something. A warmth unlike any she had ever known. The shadows of the temple were driven back by the strange light that limned her form, revealing the villagers.

They were kneeling in a circle, their heads bowed, voices joined in a communal intonation. She made to speak again, but fell silent as she realized that they were praying. But their entreaties were not to any god or devil. Instead it was her name that they whispered. Suddenly uncertain, she stepped back and turned to leave.

Outside, those who had followed her into the village were kneeling as well. They looked up at her with adoration – and perhaps fear. She looked at her hands. The light was fading now, but she could feel it inside her. Waiting.

Hua Mulan looked up, and saw a newborn seed of light shimmering in the heart of every man and woman kneeling before her. Radiant threads connected her to each of them. Nor were these strands the only ones – more of them stretched away and out past the walls of the village, connecting her to others who were not here. She knew, without knowing how, that only she could see these strands of hope – of faith. But what she did not know was why.

“What is this?” she murmured, half-afraid someone might answer. She sheathed her sword, and tried to still the trembling in her hands.

“What have I become?”