They call her 'tomboy'. They think she doesn't hear them, but she does, she hears it all. She thinks it's entirely possible that she should care what they say, what they think, but she doesn't.
This is what she cares about: she cares about the strength of the bow in her hands, carved and curved and humming with tension. She cares about the feel of a blade in her hand, the weight and the balance, the sharp edge shining in the sunlight. She cares about her people, about their strengths and their weaknesses, about defending them with her last ounce of strength.
She trains her maids to fight, despite her brother's laughter, teaches them about the bow and the blade and how to make a fist that will deter the biggest of foes. She knows everything about them – where they were born, who their family is, why they want to be with her. She loves each and every one of them like they were a sister by blood.
She will do anything for these brave and beautiful women, just like she will do anything to save her people, her home. She will cross enemy lines, she will ride out as a lure, she will listen to the words of the great Generals and make their tactical experience her own.
Zhuge Liang does not look askance at her for this. She thinks he sees in her the fire of her devotion, the strength that burns inside her like flame, the certainty that she can do anything, be anything, if it will mean her people will be safe.
He is made of small smiles and delicate movements, a man of great thinking, of tactics. He welcomes her skills, he conspires with her, and he does not call her 'tomboy'. Not even once.
He respects her.
Her brother wouldn't approve. He only sees her as his sister, playing with her brothers' swords. She does not tell him when she goes and she does not care what he will say when she returns. She knows what she's doing is right, and that is what matters.
She is Sun Shangxiang. She is a princess and a warrior. She will fight and fight and fight – to death if it will mean life for even one of her people.
And she does not care what that makes people think of her.
(They will think of her as a Hero.)