“Steady breaths” The dragon advised the soldier. He wraps a piece of torn cloth over his mouth in a struggle and starts to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth. Even when using this technique, his lungs still delivered a tinging pain. The soldier tries to get up but there is a weight holding him down.
“Mushu, I’m covered in snow. C-Can you heat it up or something.” Ping could hear the tremble in his voice in this coffin. The cold bound him to the ground like glue. It etched at his skin causing the once pale pink shifted into a greyish blue.
“Try turning on your back!”
“I- I can’t!”
“Try harder!” The more he moved the more the weight doubled down on him. It hurt so bad but if he didn’t get out it’d hurt even more. The snow squeezed his body so tight, he struggles to breathe properly. Every breath he takes doubles the pain.
“Don’t panic, steady breaths”
Finally, he has his back on the ground and his face to the obstacle. He inhales deeply from his cloth-covered face and then out. He tries to feel around for his friend.
“A little to the right” Mushu instructs.
His hand goes into a tiny cave-like structure and grabs the dragon’s body. The two are reunited, at last. He places the dragon on his chest and digs some space so that he wouldn’t be squashed up against him. The two laid there, only the sound of breathing, breaking the silence.
“So are you going to blow us out of here or what?”
“Ping, I can’t just do that. I could end up burnin’ you in the process.” Mushu croaked out.
Ping’s head drops back hitting the cold surface. How much time did he have left in here? He must’ve fainted for about four or five minutes and another two to find Mushu. That leaves about him around 15 minutes until this cocoon’s air is nothing but carbon dioxide.
He’d die of asphyxiation.
“Like hell I will.” He mutters to himself. It takes a struggle but when Ping finally gets his hands to chest level, he starts to dig.
“If that’s your best idea then we’re d--”
“Start up some flames.”
“There’s enough space between us and the snow. If I just keep digging more and more snow’s just gonna keep falling down on me.” Ping demonstrates the situation laid out. The snow falls to his sides and gives him much less arm room but the path to freedom is a possibility.
“But if you heat this area up it makes it thinner and easier to dig out.”
“Won’t it make it harder to climb out.” Mushu sits upon his chest to see his expression. His eyes had been set on the prize just like when he climbed that pole for victory. The spirit smirks at the memory.
“You know pretty well that won’t be a problem for me.”
“The fire’s gonna use up the oxygen.” He had a slight teasing tone to his voice. Mushu inhales big and deep, waiting for an order.
“I’ll just have to dig faster then.”
A gust of fire shoots from the dragon’s lips aiming the ceiling. The plan is now in action. If Ping’s hands were cold before it was nothing compared to this. It felt like rubbing a cactus over and over again but he had to ignore that to have any chance. Kicking the snow to pull up was more of a difficulty though. The walls were weak and hard to secure himself in. Ping kicks hard into the snow, making a deep hole he could stand in. He repeats this to the other side of the wall and left the other hole behind for a new one. A kick then a climb and he’d be out in no time.
“We’re doing it Mushu!” Ping cries out. Steady breaths, steady movements. He kept digging until his hand felt a chill breeze. For a moment he stopped, wide-eyed. The red sky. He could see the red sky from the hole he made. Ping quickly regains composure and hoists himself and Mushu up from the ground.
He collapsed on his back in tears, in exhaustion, in relief.
“I would scream but I don’t want us to be in that situation again.” Mushu coughed out causing Ping to chuckle lightly. He closed his eyes only concentrating on the thumbing pain, the inhalation and exhalation of breathing and the howling wind that would be another problem. That's for later. Ping sits up to look at the ghastly sight. For miles on end, there was snow decorated in bodies and in red. He didn’t notice before but when he looks to his side there’s a-
“Don’t look!” Mushu warns but it was too late. He had seen everything.
Ping scrambled away from the corpse and breathing irregularly. His eyes were going in and out of focus as he stared at the body then the background he was in. Mushu rushed to his side, took his hand and said to him,
“H-Hey now, calm down Ping. Breathe now, breathe.” But he couldn’t. His mind reached for an escape from the sight. To previous events. His father finding him adorned in his mother’s jewelry, him being forced to join the army and Li Shang leading them into battle. Li Shang…
Ping’s panic attack came to a halt. The cannon; Li Shang told him not to. This.. this-
“-is my fault.” This conclusion made his body limped further into the snow. His gaze drifts to Mushu. The soldier now notices the charred red color his skin had evolved to. And all the fleshy colored burns that decorated his skin. All that and yet the dragon coughs out a hot flame to warm his gray frostbitten hands.
“Li Shang ordered you to stop Shan Yu at any cost.” The two both shudder from the cold wind and the mention of that villain. Ping got to see him up close and personal. His skin was gray and dry and his eyes a menacing yellow. He was 3 feet taller than Ping was. Shan Yu’s feet was the last thing he saw before blasting him with the cannon, sending him up to the mountain and Ping below the snow.
“They can’t be all dead. I have to find survivors!” Ping gets up stumbling over his feet and runs away from Mushu’s warmth. The snow fog revealed more and more bodies the deeper he ran into the valley. Ping trips over and falls into the ice. He let out a shaky breath as tears mixed in with the red snow. He wouldn’t be able to see his friends anymore. They were probably buried in the snow.
“Ping, you did what Li Shang ordered you to.” Ping felt the rough warmth of Mushu’s hand on his head, "We won the war Ping. It costed the lives of these men but it saved thousands of others. Your life will be marked too if you don’t get out of this cold.”
It took a while but the soldier rose up from the snow with the dragon on his shoulder.
With steady breaths, steady steps, steady moving.