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The Vow is a Kung Fu Panda fanfic by DONOVAN94 that features Lord Shen paired with an OC.

The story is set both before and during the second movie. Shortly before Shen's Start of Darkness, Lady Lianne, the swan daughter of the rulers of the Shēnghuó Province, is sent to live in Gongmen City with the peacocks for a year to be courted by Shen. While both of the young nobles are initially less than comfortable about the affair, over time they form an unlikely bond. The deadline isn't even reached when they become officially engaged.

Unfortunately, the seeds of darkness lay deep within Shen's soul. They lead him to lose his home, status and fianceé in an effort to change his destiny. Still, even after thirty years, he won't give up his goals to make a name for himself. And Lianne, who becomes Gongmen City's ruler after Shen's parents pass away, plays a role that may or may not change Shen's fate.

Alicia Donovan has also posted in YouTube a trailer titled Lord Shen Fanfiction Trailer.

Official Description: Shen's story began when a swan, Lady Lianne, came to Gongmen City, as his intended bride. When she arrives, things are not as perfect as they seem, however. But for better or for worse, Shen will not be swayed from obtaining what he wants, and Lianne will unknowingly lead him towards his destiny: either into the light of redemption, or further down the path of darkness.

Not to be confused with a movie with the same name. Or a documentary TV series by HBO.

The Vow provides examples of:

  • Air Quotes: Lord Hong does this while talking with Shen about the peacock's "death" in the epilogue.
  • Alliterative Title: The titles of the 13th and 22nd chapter are respectively named Stained Snow and Lies and Love.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: By the time of setting sail to his conquest, Shen is so depressed that he doesn't gloat to the imprisoned Furious Five like he does in canon. He silently acknowledges that he'd have otherwise mocked them.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Lianne's parents first met when Lord Chang was having discord with Lady Amelia's people. When they met during a peace treaty and appeared to like each other, the western king offered her in marriage to settle the peace.
  • Altar the Speed: It was Shen's original intention to marry Lianne after conquering China. However, after they spend a night together and Po apparently dies, Shen decides to marry Lianne a day after, both out of love and the usual way of marrying the noble lady who has given up her virginity before marriage as soon as possible.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Even after Shen wins Lianne's heart and his future seems secure, he cannot help but feel that he must make a name for himself. When he begins his experiments with black powder, Ah-Ma lampshades this trope while trying to advice him to seek another way.
    Ah-Ma: He who sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Thirty years after their unfulfilled marriage, Shen intends to make Lianne his queen once he has conquered China. After apparently killing Po, Shen has the wedding between him and Lianne take place. This trope becomes suddenly subverted when Shen calls it off, realizing that he cares too much about Lianne's happiness to chain her to him on his dark path. She still finalizes their marriage of her own will before she leaves.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: After being forced to live in the secrecy of the Shan Palace, Shen occasionally uses his genius from the shadows for the benefit of his wife's province.
  • Apology Gift: After Lianne defends Shen openly from Councilor Wong's comments about his health and genetic ability despite their animosity, he brings her a book that tells about her mother's homelands (something she knows very little about) as an apology for his initial treatment of her. It's accepted.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Shen is told by Ah-Ma that it was Lianne who saved him from execution thirty years earlier, he demands a confirmation from her. After getting it, he asks why she has allowed him to believe that she simply turned her back on him. Her response causes him to finally let go of hatred toward her.
    Shen: Why did you never tell me?! All these years, I have hated you as much as I wanted you! You let me be so angry with you, you let me treat you this... Why would you let me do that?! Why didn't you tell me?!
    Lianne: Because it was what I deserved.
    Shen: What?
    Lianne: It was my fault any of this happened. I pushed you, and I then banished you, I humiliated you, I forced you to hate everyone you ever loved. I committed such a crime against you Shen... but, your anger and hatred for me was a fitting punishment. I would much rather have that then see you dead. And after everything... it is the least that I deserve.
    Shen: [gently strokes her face after recovering from his shock] Don't ever let me hate you again... [they embrace]
  • Arranged Marriage: Defied. Neither Lady Amelia or Shen's parents want to force their children to marry someone they don't know. That's why it is arranged that they live together for a year, and they'll be married only if they want to. Though Lord Chang pressures Lianne into marriage, he does respect her and Amelia's condition that Lianne will choose her husband.
  • Arrowgram: Two days following the takeover of Gongmen City, this trick is used by Lianne's spy network to inform her that Lang is nearing the Valley of Peace safely and that Jade will arrive to assist her.
  • Badass Boast: Shen gives Lianne a subdued one when he first steps in to teach her self-defense and uses his Guan Dao instead of a practice weapon.
    Lianne: Why aren't you using a practise weapon?!
    Shen: I know how to use a weapon, so therefore I have no need of it.
  • Bearer of Bad News:
    • Lang witnesses Shen and the wolves massacring the inhabitants of the panda village he's spending time in. He hurries to Gongmen City and reveals Shen's crime while interrupting the wedding between the peacock lord and Lianne.
    • Lang is thirty years later sent by Lianne to deliver her plea for help to the Valley of Peace.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Ah-Ma invokes this to Shen by saying that fate won't be denied.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Shen tells Lianne that when he and Zhan were once playing in the city as teens, they ended up being chased by a group of drunkards. During the chase, they found a white sheet and donned it on themselves, with Shen standing on Zhan's shoulders and leaving only his red eyes visible. When the drunkards ran into the "ghoul" that was hissing out with a "demonic" voice, they fled screaming.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't insult Lianne's mother in front of her or judge people for their congenital traits, even if she doesn't like said people. Oh, and don't beat up children.
    • As for Shen, don't hurt or woo Lianne, or compare him to her father.
  • Berserker Tears:
    • Master Storming Ox sheds these when Master Thundering Rhino is killed.
    • Jade starts crying furiously during her confrontation with Shen on his flagship.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jade knocks down the guards that have been ordered to kill Po and the Furious Five, and she frees the sextet. She then leads them unnoticed to the throne room, allowing them to rescue the trapped nobles.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Shen and Lianne share this when they're finally married.
  • Bit-Part Bad Guys: Haun and his accomplices appear for the sake of providing Shen a chance to rescue Lianne and grow closer to her. The execution of Haun also serves as practice for Shen in his Start of Darkness. Most of the others also die, and those who survive are not heard of again.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Shen survives his canon death and reunites with Lianne, who's happy to have both him and their son Zian. However, Shen has been crippled and can never fully recover. While he can live with his wife and son, he is by all means a prisoner in Lianne's home. He's also forced to live inside the Shan Palace's borders and in anonymity, because he'd face either execution or a life sentence should his survival to be discovered. In addition to limiting his freedom, this makes him unable to gain credit for any of the times he uses his brilliance for the benefit of Shēnghuó. Also, Lianne decides to raise Zian in secrecy until he has grown up in order to prevent him from suffering from his father's legacy. Despite all of this, the coexistence of the little family is blissful overall.
    • Most of Zhan's wolf pack are sent away before they can be killed in the final battle. Afterwards, Zhan reunites peacefully with Jade. However, the wolves' actions under Shen have made them more discriminated than before. Zhan decides to head out of China toward west in order to find for his pack a better life, and Jade accompanies them. While sneaking to the Shan Palace to say his farewells to Lianne, Zhan discovers Shen's survival and is left with mixed feelings. While Zhan no longer serves Shen, he parts with him and Lianne peacefully and congratulates them for their child.
    • While Ah-Ma is happy to know that Lianne is going to have Shen's child, she's left out of the loop regarding her former ward's survival. This is after their last moment together involved him disowning her.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Shen corrects Lianne's term for his style of making Gongmen City's inhabitants obedient.
    Lianne: This is tyranny!
    Shen: It is domination.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Instead of killing Po and the Furious Five with his knives immediately while they're all locked up and restrained by acupressure cuffs, Shen excuses himself to spring the trap set for the invited nobility and leaves two wolves to kill the heroes, leading to Jade rescuing them.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • Lianne lampshades this trope when she reveals to Shen that she's a pacifist.
      Lianne: Weapons do not need to be raised when a simple conversation can dispel the argument. Blood does not have to be spilt when my words can harm you just the same.
    • Lianne does this to Councilor Wong for speaking inappropriately about Shen's health and genetic ability.
    • Shen does his canon example of crushing Po by saying that his parents didn't love him before firing a cannon at him.
  • Bribe Backfire: Before Shen and Lianne's relationship begins to improve, his efforts to appear a civil host yield no results. When he tries to offer her jewellery, it's turned down immediately because as she states, there's no sincerity behind it.
  • Broken Bird: Lianne becomes this after her marriage to Shen is interrupted and he's banished.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl:
    • Shen and Lianne, respectively. Shen isn't willing to socialize more than necessary because of the rejection he usually faces, while Lianne enjoys talking with the common people. She understands Shen's reluctance to socialize and encourages him to show people his more noble side.
    • Lord Chang describes his relationship with Lady Amelia this way by calling her the compassion and gentleness that serves as the contrast to his harsh worldview.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the epilogue, Zhan heads out with his wolf pack and Jade toward west in order to find for them a new life, relieved of the impressions their actions under Shen have left in the people of China.
  • Byronic Hero: Shen fits this trope. He's a highly intelligent noble who's nonetheless alienated by many because of his unusual coloring. He has developed a proud shell in response, but he really wants to assert his worth to the world. Unfortunately, he loses the sight of the moral line in his fervent ambition, losing all the closest ones to him. Following his exile, he dedicates the following years to prepare for taking revenge for all the perceived wrongdoings thrown at him and can't consider stepping from his dark road because that would be a waste of everything he has prepared for so long. He also never stops loving Lianne, even when hating her.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • After one of Lianne's suitors became too lewd and she humiliated him for that, she argued with her father for trying to marry her off to such a person. The screaming match ended up with her being sent to Gongmen City as punishment.
    • Lianne confronts Chang again when she returns to visit her sick mother.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Shen can't quite confess his feelings to Lianne until her mother dies.
  • Catch and Return: When Haun throws his knife at Shen's chest, the peacock kicks the blade with his Iron Claws, catches it with his feathers, and throws it back at Haun. It's mentioned that Shen has worked hard to be able to counter a knife thrown at his chest.
  • Celibate Hero: After Shen's banishment, Lianne remains unmarried for the following thirty years as she still loves him. She agrees to marry Lord Juan only because of the duty to birth heirs both for Gongmen City and the Shēnghuó Province while she can. When she and Shen reawaken their love, they sleep together and soon become officially married.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An almost literal example; in the story's beginning, Shen invents shooters to ensure safe launching of fireworks. When he later studies the destructive capacities of black powder, he modifies cannons from his shooters.
  • Chekhov's Skill: During his exile, Shen studies acupressure in order to design Tai Lung's restraint. Twenty years later, he uses a pressure point to take out Zhan so that he'd survive Shen's conquest.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • The Sting of Words (Chapter 5) — When Haun strikes the captured Lianne, Shen snaps and attacks from his hiding spot.
    • Shēnghuó (Chapter 10) — Shen spots blood on the handkerchief of Lady Amelia.
    • A Royal Engagement (Chapter 12) — The Soothsayer prophecies Shen's demise to his concerned parents and barely notices Shen overhearing.
    • Stained Snow (Chapter 13) — Lang begins flying toward Gongmen City after he witnesses Shen and his wolves murdering the inhabitants of the panda village.
    • Gracious Host (Chapter 20) — Shen escapes from Po and the Furious Five by gliding from the Tower of the Sacred Flame as Zhan drags Lianne away from there.
    • Mercy (Chapter 24) — Right after Lord Chang has passed away, Lianne receives the word that Shen has been defeated by Po.
  • Cock Fight: Shen (pun aside) engages in this with the three suitors Lord Chang has called for Lianne when she returns to Shēnghuó Province, humiliating them successfully.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Early in the story, Lianne goes to Gongmen's harbor to pray to the moon nearly every night. Because she conceals her white robe and white feathers with a cloak, she's mistaken for a ghost.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Shen teaches Lianne to fight with a war-fan. Because it can be used purely for defense rather than offense, she wouldn't break her pacifistic convictions while knowing how to defend herself. He has a silver fan forged for her as a gift.
  • Compensating for Something: Jade teases Zhan by asking if he carries a big hammer because of this trope.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: During the confrontation in the fireworks factory, Lianne accidentally ends up being trapped by a metal grate onto the conveyor belt that leads to the smelter. Shen uses his rope-dart to move the grate enough for Lianne to free herself and use the smelter's smokes to gain purchase in order to fly.
  • Cool Crown: The wedding circlet Shen has prepared for Lianne. It's made of gold, decorated with white quartz and pearls all around the edge and has a large red diamond in the center. With it, Lianne turns into a queen in Shen's eyes.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Shen's obsessiveness grows along with his affection toward Lianne. When he hears about her engagement with Lord Juan, he immediately sets out toward Gongmen City in order to remove Juan out of the way.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • When Tai Lung's restraint is finished, Shen opts for the acupressure needles to be coated in venom that would keep the snow leopard paralyzed should he escape the shell by any chances. However, Master Oogway considers it needless humiliation toward Tai Lung and refuses.
    • Shen predicts that he'd end up destroying the Tower of the Sacred Flame and prepares accordingly.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The way Shen kills Juan; after the pheasant is pinned to the ground by a knife thrown through his other wing and Shen's iron claws dug into his stomach, his beautiful tail feathers are cut from the root and discarded in a heap to the ground, and a slice of his throat ends it. It also qualifies as Death by Irony because the blade used for the last two aforementioned parts was given to Shen by Lianne, Juan's fianceé.
  • Dance of Romance: Played with. Shen and Lianne make one dance during the Moon Festival. It's not long after this that Shen's Love Epiphany sets in.
  • Darker and Edgier: Because Shen's Start of Darkness is given more detail and the sad love story between him and Lianne is included, the story is emotionally upsetting at times.
  • Deal with the Devil: During Shen's exile, Master Oogway offers to tell him the location of an abandoned mine rich in metals in exchange for designing a way to keep Tai Lung contained. The master is strongly implied to regard the entire affair of asking for Shen's help as this trope, and he parts ways with the peacock as soon as their business is concluded.
  • Death by Despair: After Shen's banishment, his parents are barely able to keep living for several years. After they stop receiving news of Shen being alive, it doesn't take long until Lady Jing, and then Lord Goa, pass away.
  • Death Wail:
    • After it's confirmed that Lady Amelia has passed away and Lianne is taken away from the infirmary on her father's orders, she hears a mournful swan cry and is unsure whatever it's coming from her or Chang or both of them.
    • The 22nd chapter ends with Lianne letting this out with the news that Shen has been vanquished.
  • Decapitation Presentation: When Lianne enrages Shen by saying that he's becoming just as extreme as her father, he threatens to begin his conquest with Shēnghuó and bring her Chang's head on a silver platter. Fortunately, Shen never carries out either of those threats.
  • Defiant Captive:
    • During Lianne's time as the captive of Haun's gang, she starts slighting the mongoose with words until he strikes her.
    • After Shen has taken over Gongmen City, neither Lianne or Ah-Ma submit to him.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: When she first arrives in Gongmen City, Lianne adopts an unemotional facade which she casts away slowly as her respect for a person is earned.
  • Delighting in Riddles: Ah-Ma is obviously amused by others' perplexed reactions to her riddles. Overlaps with Proverbial Wisdom.
  • Dented Iron: After Shen falls through his ship's deck into a wreck-filled river, he receives broken bones and walks with an injured leg right after that. That combined with his doomed effort to force himself back into shape prematurely results in his right wing becoming less nimble, and he needs a cane to walk properly due to his left leg limping. As such, he's forced to develop for himself a new fighting style that's more defensive and not as fast as before.
  • Determinator:
    • This is one of Shen's most prominent traits. When he sets his mind into something, he fights to achieve it. After he narrowly avoids his canon death and is badly injured, his desire to see Lianne one last time makes him spend the following weeks by walking all the way to Shēnghuó with an injured leg.
    • The epilogue has a deconstruction of this trope; when Shen tries to force his crippled body to fight as well as it used to, he manages only to cause more damage to it. While he manages to heal reasonably well in the following years, that doomed effort costs him some percents in regaining his former physical prowess.
  • Dirty Coward: After Shen kills Master Thundering Rhino and subdues Masters Ox and Croc, Lord Juan attempts to sneak away and leave Lianne behind, only for Shen to kill him as well.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Shen's trap on the invited nobles is sprung, one of them accuses Lianne of consorting with a monster. Shen demonstrates the power of his cannon by blowing up the ship of that particular noble.
  • Diving Save: When Shen fires a cannon at Po in the fireworks factory, he tackles Lianne out of the way just before the projectile is launched.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Lord Chang after his wife dies.
    • Defied in the epilogue; Shen considers doing this in order to cope with the shame of his body being crippled. However, he remembers the above mentioned example with Chang and throws the wine away, determined to be unlike the deceased swan lord.
  • Dumb Muscle: Fu, a young bull noble Chang calls to court Lianne. Shen pokes Fu of this trope during the above mentioned Cock Fight.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Ah-Ma the Soothsayer likes giving advice in riddles and chewing Shen's silk.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • After Haun's gang has kidnapped Lianne, the male leopard voices his concern for his captured sister.
    • Even after three decades of separation and embitterment toward her, Shen still loves Lianne though he tries to ignore it. While he wants to make her his queen as a form of punishment, he also wants her and no one else as his wife. Eventually he sets her free, realizing that he cares more about her happiness than his future.
    • Shen hasn't completely stopped loving his parents or Ah-Ma either.
    • Zhan regards his pack as his family, making him concerned when Lianne points out that there will be casualties if they try to conquer the entire China. He also develops feelings for Jade, leading him to take it personally when she turns out to be a spy. Instead of killing her, he has her taken outside the city and warns her never to return. They are reunited peacefully after Shen's apparent demise.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When Shen's crime of mass murder is exposed, he admits it to his parents without shame, having intended to do that anyway after the wedding between him and Lianne was to be concluded. He honestly expects his parents to be proud of him for preventing his prophesied demise and ignore the innocents he murdered, making him unprepared for their shock and his following banishment.
  • Eviler than Thou: When Shen is hired to design Tai Lung's restraint, he notes to himself that the snow leopard's act of attacking the Valley of Peace without killing anyone looks tame when compared to the mass murder he committed.
  • The Exile: Shen becomes this for thirty years as per canon plot.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Inverted. When Lady Amelia meets Shen for the first time, she says that he's taller than she expected him to be. While she's saying that, there's approval in her eyes.
  • Expy:
    • Lianne is based on Odette from The Swan Princess in appearance, personality and some lines.
    • Lang the trader duck is much like Master Shifu's messenger goose Zeng, both in the awkward personality and role in the plot.
  • Eye Scream: Zhan receives scars on his left eye from the rake of Po's father.
  • Eyes Never Lie: This comes into play when Shen says to Lord Chang that he and Lianne are engaged. Before Lianne goes along with it, she wants to make sure that the man she's about to spend the rest of her life with feels true love instead of temporary infatuation toward her. She does this by looking into Shen's eyes and searching from them a spark which fairytales say can tell you if the person truly loves you. Instead of a spark, Lianne finds from Shen's unguarded gaze scorching flames and accepts his proposal.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Po's mother accepts her death by Shen's hand, having successfully hid her son.
  • False Rape Accusation: After saving Lianne from Haun, Shen suspects her broken emotional state to have been caused by her getting desecrated. He demands from Haun if this happened while punishing him, and he doesn't believe the mongoose's denials. The day after Haun's death, Lianne confirms that she wasn't desecrated.
  • Fan Art: In DeviantArt there's posted the image used as the icon (seen above), along with its sketch. There's also a fan commission of Lianne.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The wolves are seen by most of Gongmen City's inhabitants as bloodthirsty brutes. Only a few (such as Shen) see also great capacity for loyalty and teamwork.
    • Wolves also share animosity with jackals and to a lesser extend with dholes, seeming to consider themselves superior to other canines.
    • Lady Amelia is a black swan, and he's considered by many to be unnatural and odd because of that, even with her kind heart, gentle grace and regal nature.
  • Floorboard Failure: Shen avoids being crushed beneath a cannon because the deck under him collapses and makes him fall into the water.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During one of Shen and Lianne's first conversations, he brags about bringing honor to his family, and she finds it awfully similar to her father.
    • Lord Goa says at one point that in another life, his obstinate son would be a born conqueror.
    • Lianne calls the Tower of the Sacred Flame her Gilded Cage thirty years before it actually becomes that for her.
    • The story of Chang'E and Houyi told by Shen to Lianne has distinctive similarities to their situation thirty years later.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: The Time Skip of the epilogue narrates that while Lianne has forgiven Shen of his transgressions and trusts him, she has to remember that she has officially (albeit secretly) jailed him in the Shan Palace as his punishment (otherwise he'd be executed or imprisoned for life in a worse place) and therefore, she has to ensure he won't become a threat to China ever again.
  • Forgiveness: This becomes prominent in the final chapters.
    • When Shen is told the truth about Lianne's true role in the day of his banishment, he forgives all her perceived wrongdoings toward him, allowing his love to resurface.
    • After three decades of estrangement, Chang, humbled by his stroke, asks Lianne's forgiveness even though he doesn't expect it to come. Touched by this, Lianne is able to make peace with her father upon his death.
    • Chang asks Lianne about this trope.
      Chang: Do you think Heaven is forgiving?
      Lianne: Father?
      Chang: Do you have to barter for forgiveness? Or is it freely given?
      Lianne: I'd like to believe that forgiveness can always be given to those who ask for it.
    • After Chang had won Amelia's heart, Hong was bitter with his brother and didn't speak to him for months, until one day he forgave Chang just like that. Since then, Chang has known in his heart Hong to be the better man because he wouldn't have forgiven Hong if their roles had been reversed.
    • Shen asks Lianne's forgiveness upon his reunion with her after his near-death experience. He receives it.
  • For Want of a Nail: The alterations done subtly start showing mostly in the final chapters.
    • When Shen is about to set sail for his conquest, he's so brokenhearted for his newlywed wife's absence that he doesn't even gloat to the Furious Five like he does in the movie. Jade's attack and rant about his treatment of Zhan makes him knock Zhan unconscious and order him to be taken to the southern forests with the majority of his pack before Po shows up for the final confrontation.
    • Shen survives from the cannon falling on him because the deck under him collapses and he falls into the river.
  • Fragile Speedster: The unnamed pheasant cohort of Haun relies entirely on dodging in a fight, yet he dies as soon as he's thrown against a wall. According to Lord Juan, the success of the pheasant soldiers employed by the ancient imperial army was based on the enemy's incapacitation with unmatched speed and precision.
  • Freudian Excuse: Before meeting Lianne, Shen had been scorned by almost everyone as an abomination and a bad omen due to his white coloring, no matter what he did. He eventually stopped trying to please people in his mid-teens, deciding that if a monster is wanted from him, then a monster he shall give. Lianne's influence gives hope for him to be shown what he really is, but then he gains his obsession in marking himself in history. After he has massacred a village of pandas, he's rejected by his loved ones (excluding Zhan's wolf pack). That's the last push needed for him to embrace villainy fully.
  • Friendly Address Privileges:
    • When Shen gives Lianne his above mentioned Apology Gift, she asks him to call her just Lianne.
    • At the end of their first personal discussion, Lianne does this to Zhan as well, who in turn asks him to call him just by his name, not Master Zhan.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Shen is an inventor and a designer; for example, he has modified himself his Iron Claws and Guan Dao. He also invents firework shooters for safe launches. Later he designs from those launchers cannons. During his exile, Master Oogway reluctantly hires him to invent the tortoise shell restraint that keeps Tai Lung imprisoned for twenty years.
  • Gentle Giant: The canonical Master Thundering Rhino.
  • Gilded Cage:
    • The Tower of the Sacred Flame becomes this for Lianne and others when Shen returns and takes over the city.
    • In the epilogue, Shen himself is made by Lianne to live in the Shan Palace and in secrecy because the alternative would be either execution or life sentence by the Imperial Court.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold:
    • Lianne's feathers on the top of her head (from her forehead to the back of her skull) are colored brilliant golden yellow, "as if she has been kissed by the sun".
    • While most of dholes have dusky brown fur, Jade's is creamy-yellow.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Zhan's left eye is scarred by Po's father, but he remains as his pack's alpha and Shen's efficient right hand.
    • Subverted with Shen; while many think him to have been born damaged, he's not really physically limited. However, while he survives his final defeat, his body is damaged due to being trashed by a wreck-filled stream and right after that, walking for weeks with an injured leg. This makes Shen unable to ever regain his former physical prowess fully, especially after he unsuccessfully tries to force his body get back in shape prematurely. After he has recovered as much as possible, he trains himself to fight with a new style that takes into account his physical limitations.
  • Happily Married: Lord Goa and Lady Jing. Shen and Lianne ultimately become this in the epilogue.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: The Shēnghuó Province's Shan Palace and Gongmen City's Tower of the Sacred Flame are both described to be breathtaking structures in opposite ways, with the former being the Harmony to the latter's Discipline.
    The Shan Palace blended with the nature that surrounded it, a part of the luscious gardens and mountain springs, as if it had grown from the mountains that it was built in; the Tower of the Sacred Flame was a monument of might and majesty, set as an achievement of what its builders could do without nature.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Shen becomes this due to his banishment and visible rejection from his loved ones' part. However, that's nothing compared to the Villainous BSoD he has due to sending Lianne away after marrying her. That doesn't lower his fighting prowess in his last confrontation with Po, however.
  • Hero Antagonist: Po and the Furious Five are this to Shen during their few appearances.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lianne spends the day following Po's apparent death in this mode. Later she gets a worse one for weeks after she's informed that Shen has died by Po's hand. She spends most of her time in the Shan Palace's lake, barely sleeps and eats only enough to keep her unborn child healthy.
  • Hope Spot: In the 22nd chapter, Shen learns what Lianne did three decades ago to save him, leading him to forgive her and ask for her forgiveness. They have a sweet moment of reconciliation to the point of making love. After all the hostility between them, that moment... is ruined by Shen not giving up the villain role, just his antagonism toward Lianne.
  • I Call It "Vera": Played with. Shen prefers calling his invention — a cannon — "the Weapon".
  • I Can't Dance: Shen ends up with Lianne in an ongoing dance during the Moon Festival. While dancing isn't his strongest suit, he still engages in it to save face. Lianne catches up on this and gives some tips on how to dance.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Shen justifies his massacre of pandas as protection of his fate.
  • If You Taunt Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Lianne refuses to insult Shen's appearance even when she's being aggravated by him, not wanting to be like those people who mock her mother's appearance.
  • Ignored Epiphany: When Shen spots Po (a baby at the time) during the massacre of pandas, he briefly feels some pity before he subdues it.
  • I Have No Son!: Lord Goa tells Shen this word for word when forced to banish him for slaughtering a village of pandas.
    Lord Goa: I have no son... No son of mine would disgrace me as you have done.
  • Implicit Prison: The Shan Palace becomes this for Shen in the epilogue.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Lady Amelia suffers from this. She coughs blood onto her handkerchief and purposefully hides it from Lianne, though Shen spots it. She dies in the next chapter.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Lianne's eyes are oceanic blue. Her mother's eyes are similar to hers. Lianne's son Zian inherits them as well.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Po tries to tell Shen in their final confrontation that you don't have to let the past rule over your present, the way he words itnote  makes Shen misinterpret it to mean that all the pain he has endured has been for naught and attack in anger.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The plot has alterations, but most of Shen's life and the plot happen like shown in the movie.
    • After Shen has taken over Gongmen City, his first scene in the throne room is set long before Po and the Furious Five reach the city. He proclaims that he'll set out on his conquest during full moon in three weeks instead of three days, allowing him to prepare for the ambush set for China's invited nobility (and engage in several believably paced moments with Lianne).
    • By the time Po and the Furious Five are first captured by Shen's soldiers, they're locked up in the dungeons of the Tower of the Sacred Flame since the engagement party that's turned into a trap for China's nobles is about to happen in the throne room. Shen goes to the dungeon to confront the prisoners more or less like in the movie, then he leaves for the ambush and orders two wolf guards to kill the heroes. Jade, who's been sent by Lianne, dispatches the guards and frees the heroes. They then interrupt the ambush, leading the nobles out, destroying the cannon in the throne room, and fighting Shen. At that point, the original plot is mostly resumed.
    • Lianne's involvement in the fireworks factory duel between Shen and Po doesn't change anything other than it's her who ends up on the Conveyor Belt o' Doom instead of Po. Also, Shen is more serious as he's motivated by both defeating Po and keeping Lianne safe.
    • Despite Shen's Villainous BSoD and his act of sending Zhan and the wolf pack away, his off-screen final confrontation with Po happens like it does in canon, except that he survives.
  • Interspecies Romance: Shen (a peacock) and Lianne (a swan). Something also develops between Zhan (a wolf) and Jade (a dhole).
  • Irony: When a wolf guard treats Lianne roughly, Shen punishes him by sending him to work in mines. The wolf discovers an ore of silvery metal, from which Shen later crafts the silver fan he gifts Lianne with after he has taught her self-defense.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Zhan tells Shen and Lianne that serving both of them has been this when they say goodbyes in the epilogue.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Jade confesses this to Zhan after she's been exposed as a spy.
  • It Was a Gift:
    • Shen has a silver fan forged for Lianne after her training in self-defense is complete.
    • Just before Shen sets out to attack the panda village, Lianne gives him a ornament dagger that has red pictures of a phoenix and a dragon etched into it. He promises to never part from it. He does keep it for the following thirty years.
  • I've Come Too Far: Shen tells this to Lianne more than once when she tries to reach out to him.
  • I Want Grandkids: Lord Chang is determined to have his only child married off so that she would give him a grandson who'd continue his legacy. When Lianne announces her pregnancy, he's happy enough for her to mind if the child is a boy or a girl and passes away with satisfaction.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • When Shen and Lianne are about to be married for the second time, she tells him that if he had just asked her hand, she would have accepted. This makes Shen realize that he loves her too much to chain her to him on his dark path and suddenly interrupts the ceremony, telling Lianne to go.
    • In his past, Lord Hong resigned himself to see Lady Amelia spending her life with his brother.
  • Jaw Drop: Shen has this reaction several times, like when Lianne defends him openly against Councilor Wong's remarks or when Lady Amelia says that he's taller than she thought he'd be.
  • Jerkass: Lord Chang is rather cold regarding his daughter's feelings in his attempts to strengthen the family's legacy, and he doesn't bother hiding his disdain toward Shen.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lord Chang's justification for his obsession to build a dynasty — even at the cost of his daughter's happiness — has a merit of truth in it if one considers the setting and real life.
    Chang: I have seen good men build themselves up from nothing, create for themselves a name and a place in the world. And I have seen how many noble families have been born to thrones yet die in the dirt. I knew that I never wanted that to happen to my family, I don't want us to be cast away, to lose everything we have and to end up cold and alone and miserable in squalor.
    Lianne: But that won't happen to us —
    Chang: You never did understand politics. One can never be too careful. Emperors are fickle things, one moment wise, another benevolent, or cruel, or simply trying to escape the tediousness of their lives. It is all too easy to fall from grace.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Shen starts out as this; he's an arrogant and short-tempered perfectionist, but he doesn't doubt the love his parents and Ah-Ma have toward him, and he was the only one of the nobility who treated the wolves with any shred of kindness. The more he gets to see Lianne's vulnerable side, the more he wants to protect her, and he's outraged at her father's treatment of her. Sadly, most of his heart of gold has been eroded when he returns to Lianne's life, though it shows signs occasionally. Following his defeat and imprisonment in his wife's home, he's shown to remain short-tempered and proud, yet he's also a loving husband and a decent father.
    • In his last appearance, Lord Chang proves himself to be this.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Shen starts off as an aggressive Jerk with a Heart of Gold who threatens people, but then he executes Haun in an excessively sadistic manner for hurting and (supposedly) raping Lianne. After he immerses himself in making sure his name goes down in history books, his first reaction to overhearing a vague prophecy of his demise is to slaughter a village of innocent pandas without shame.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Shen's accidental discovery of explosive powder and further experiments on it lead him to the idea of weaponizing it with firework shooters. When Lianne inquires about this, he gets carried on with the vision of his invention's potential in conquest, leaving her shocked rather than supportive like he wanted.
  • Kick the Dog: Shen's canonical act of telling Po that he wasn't loved by his parents is made more offensive because Lianne (most probably) convinced Shen that his parents did love him, making it less of Psychological Projection than just plain deliberate cruelty.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Shen kills Haun in a slow and deliberate way for kidnapping and hurting Lianne.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Haun kidnaps Lianne in order to ransom her to her father for a high sum of money and gives her physical injuries. It ends with him being arrested, tortured viciously by Shen, and left to die slowly.
  • Leave Him to Me!: When Po's mother is captured by Shen's wolves, he orders them to stand aside and proceeds by killing her personally.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Lianne is forced by Shen to help him lure the nobility invited to her and Lord Juan's engagement party so that he can make them support him in his conquest. When the time comes for that, she reluctantly goes along with Shen's plan, knowing that to be the best option available in case Jade fails to free Po and the Furious Five.
  • Let's Dance: Zhan says this to Haun's leopard cohort while fighting him.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: As Lianne's efforts to reason with Shen yield no results, she fears more and more that he can't be redeemed. After their night together seems to prove as much, she attempts to leave and go far away. Her encounter with Po and his following fight with Shen puts a stop to those plans.
  • Love Epiphany: Shen realizes he's fallen in love with Lianne when they spend alone time during the Moon Festival they put up together.
  • Love Martyr: Lianne's love for Shen cannot be drowned by any of his villainous acts, like the panda massacre, the murders of Master Thundering Rhino and Lord Juan, the destruction of the Tower of the Sacred Flame or Po's apparent murder. She even marries him out of her own will.
  • Love Revelation Epiphany: Lianne starts realizing the true extent of her feelings for Shen when she discovers the little engraving My Moon in the metal fan he gave her and fully admits it when he finally admits his feelings for her.
  • Lured into a Trap: Lianne and Juan's coming engagement party is turned by Shen into a trap to lure China's invited nobility together and force them to support him in his conquest of China.
  • Mad Scientist: Shen verges into this territory with his experiments on black powder.
  • Man Bites Man: When Shen pins Haun to the ground with his leg, the mongoose frees himself by biting Shen's ankle.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Lianne prepares into one with Lord Juan because of the need to birth heirs.
  • Meet Cute: Zhan and Jade first meet by crashing into each other. At first he mistakes her for a jackal, but then they get into a friendly banter that ends with her giving him one of the cakes she was carrying.
  • Melancholy Moon:
    • When Lianne is homesick and lonely in the beginning of her time in Gongmen City, she goes almost every night to the harbor to gaze upon the moon, right on its reflection in the water, silently begging it to take her back to her mother. Shen finds her during one such trip.
    • After Shen's banishment, Lianne re-enters this habit, asking the moon to bring her loved one back, and later for a happier time.
    • Before the epilogue, Lianne floats on the Shan Palace's lake and asks the moon one final time to bring Shen back to her. The barely living Shen appears.
  • Mythology Gag: Shen turns out to be the one who invents the restraint that is used to immobilize Tai Lung for his twenty years of imprisonment. This is a reference to Po's comment about the chi disrupting cuffs used on him and the Furious Five being the same technology as Tai Lung's restraint.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Wolf Boss is named Zhan, the Soothsayer is named Ah-Ma, and Shen's parents are named Lord Goa and Lady Jing.
  • Neutral Female: Averted during Shen and Po's duel in the fireworks factory; Lianne tries to reason with both of them to no avail.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Shen has one shocking dream during the epilogue. It starts with him seeing Lianne and the newborn Zian happy when suddenly the Shan Palace is in flames and under attack by Shen's former wolf soldiers. Lianne and Zian are chased by the wolves throughout the burning panda village and a snowy forest. After they've been caught, Shen is shocked to witness himself killing Lianne in the same fashion as he killed Po's mother years ago. Shen wakes up screaming when the dream version of himself orders his wolves to kill Zian.
  • Ninja Maid: Jade is a spy sent to assist Lianne against Shen. She disguises herself as Lianne's maid, but she also does some undercover missions.
  • Noodle Incident: It's mentioned by Master Mantis that it took Po and the Furious Five weeks to reach Gongmen City because an avalanche occurred in their mountain route, caused apparently by Po. No other specifics are given.
  • Not Good with Rejection: When Shen's banished, Lianne adopts a cold facade to hide her heartbreak. He falls for it and swears revenge on her as well.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • When Shen goes into hiding in the northern mountains for two decades in preparation for his conquest, he's believed by Lianne and most other people to have died until he returns.
    • Shen is believed to have died in his final confrontation with Po since his body is not found. Just when Lianne is resigning herself to believe he's dead, he appears, barely alive.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Four of the chapters; Of Swans and Peacocks (Chapter 1), Crime and Punishment (Chapter 6), A Pacifist and a Sadist (Chapter 7), and Lies and Love (Chapter 22).
  • Original Character: There are many. The most important ones are Lady Lianne, her parents Lord Chang and Lady Amelia as well as her uncle Hong, Lang the trader duck, Haun the mongoose bandit, Juan the pheasant lord and Jade the dhole spy. There's also Zian, Shen and Lianne's son introduced in the epilogue.
  • Pacifist: Lianne doesn't do violence even for self-defense or to escape. Her brief capture by Haun's gang makes her for the first time ashamed of her views. She complies with Shen's request to teach her self-defense with a war-fan, a weapon used purely for defense.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • One of the quickest ways to upset the fair Lord Goa is by his son being put into immediate danger. This extends to Lianne as well; after Shen's banishment, Goa prevents Lianne from being forced to return to her father who'd still try to push her into marriage.
    • There is also the canonical example of Po's father.
    • Lianne believes for a long time that her father cares nothing for her safety. However, when she returns to her birth home after three decades of absence, her uncle Hong reveals that when Chang heard about Shen's imprisonment of her, he wanted to do everything needed — like calling upon every favor he owed, summoning every general and friend or even seeking an audience with the Emperor himself — to raise an army and storm Gongmen City in order to rescue her. The only reason he didn't do this was because he suffered a stroke in his stress.
    • After Shen warms up to Zian, he's as determined as Lianne to keep their son safe.
  • Parental Neglect: Lord Chang didn't know how to bond with his only child who didn't share his political ambition, and they drifted more and more apart as Lianne grew up.
  • Parental Substitute: Lianne finds from Lord Goa a father she has never had and from Lady Jing a mother's replacement in Lady Amelia's absence.
  • The Penance: Following Shen's defeat and apparent death, Lianne keeps him secretly confined in the Shan Palace, for he'd otherwise be executed or imprisoned for life, playing on her right as the Lady of the Shēnghuó Province and Shen's former prisoner to punish him as she sees fit.
  • Percussive Therapy: Shen does this in his training room to vent his frustration with a closed off Lianne in the second chapter. Apparently it doesn't help much.
  • Pinned to the Wall: Shen does this several times to other characters.
    • First he traps Haun to the ground by throwing a knife through the mongoose's pants.
    • He later stops Juan's escape attempt by pinning him with a throwing knife to the wall through his wing. While killing him, the peacock throws another knife to the ground through the pheasant's other wing.
    • He also starts his duel with Lianne in the library by pinning her to a desk from her left sleeve without harming her.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: After Shen's genocide of pandas is exposed and Gongmen City's council wants him executed, Lianne makes a pleading before Shen's parents and the council to instead send Shen into exile, hoping that he'd come to realize his errors and repent.
  • The Power of Love: It's Shen's desire to see Lianne at least one more time that allows him to travel with a crippled body from Gongmen City to the Shēnghuó Province following his survival from being crushed underneath a cannon.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • Ah-Ma's divination of Shen and Lianne being married "beneath tears of snow" doesn't mean it to happen during a literal snowfall but with Shen crying for the first time in decades and shedding tears that look snowy with their cloudiness and milky white coloring.
    • Shen is defeated by a Warrior of Black and White as the prophecy said, not killed.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Justified since Shen's Start of Darkness is an important part of the story.
  • Psychological Projection: During his rant over his lack of success with Lianne, Shen describes her with words that can be used on himself; "selfish", "arrogant", "pompous" and "infuriating".
  • Really Gets Around: Apparently dholes enjoy breeding with more than one pair.
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: Sorta. Shen survives, is believed to be dead and can happily live with Lianne and their son, but he's still a prisoner confined to the home of his own wife, and he has to walk with a cane for the rest of his life.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Lianne becomes Gongmen City's ruler on the will of Lord Goa and the citizens. She's reluctant for the position, feeling it to be a form of betrayal and asks the Masters' Council to take it. A compromise is made by having Lianne to rule and govern the city, with the Council serving as her closest advisers. She continues to sleep in her old guestroom instead of the rulers' bedchamber and never uses the high lord's throne, considering herself to be merely a temporary holder of the reins of power until the true ruler returns.
  • Resistance Is Futile: During their duel in the library, Shen tells Lianne that she's fighting an inevitable loss. Lianne is certain that he's not referring to the duel.
  • Reunion Kiss: Done by Shen and Lianne when the former shows up weeks after cheating death.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: When Haun's gang kidnaps Lianne in front of Shen and flees, Shen forces the captured female leopard to tell the location of their hiding place and sets out with Zhan and his three best wolves to rescue Lianne. They enter the cave stealthily, but when Lianne is hit by Haun, they attack and kill all the culprits, excluding Haun and the male leopard.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Both Shen and Lianne, though they're actually nobility. After Shen has taken over Gongmen City, Lianne briefly escapes the Tower and sends Lang to contact her network and deliver her request for help to the Valley of Peace. This trope is lampshaded when Lianne sees to a fireplace herself.
    Shen: Why not call for a servant?
    Lianne: Why should I, when I have two capable wings and am right here?
    Shen: You are a highborn lady.
    Lianne: And that matters... how?
  • Rule of Three: The first scene of the first chapter begins with Shen yelling incredulously the word "marriage" when he's being informed that he's expected to court Lady Lianne. The second scene begins with Zhan yelping that same word when he's told about it. Finally, when the narration is first switched to Lianne's POV, her first thought word is "marriage".
  • Samaritan Relationship Starter: Shen and Lianne start off on the wrong foot and begin improving only after she openly defends him against denouncing comments against his health and fertility, regardless of their hostility, and he offers her a genuine Apology Gift afterwards.
  • Scars are Forever:
    • Zhan's left eye remains closed with three jagged scars running over it thanks to Po's father.
    • Part of the reason Shen wears the Iron Claws on his feet is because he received burn marks on them when he was fourteen.
  • Sex–Face Turn: Subverted. After Shen forgives Lianne's "betrayal" thirty years back, they copulate. However, Shen tells Lianne that the act changes only their relationship, not his goals.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: When Shen and Lianne rekindle their love, they combine their species' mating rituals and give in to their long buried passions as they edge toward Lianne's bed. The next scene shows a contend and naked Lianne waking up.
  • Shame If Something Happened: When Shen finds out about Zhan's relationship with Jade, he tells the Wolf Boss to remain focused on their upcoming conquest and forget Jade, else the peacock "may have to find the cause of Zhan's distraction and have it rooted out".
  • Shipper on Deck: Lianne's mother is implied to be this for her daughter and Shen during the time they spend in Shēnghuó due to Amelia's sickness, given how she seems to approve of Shen and often asks very prodding questions about him from Lianne with a knowing smile.
  • Show Some Leg: During one of their training spars, Shen traps Lianne in his hold with his Guan Dao, with only an inch separating his chest from her back. She suddenly presses herself against him in an intimate way and wriggles herself free as his mind goes numb.
  • Siblings in Crime: The two leopard martial artists in Haun's gang turn out to be a brother and sister.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Lord Chang with his younger brother Hong. Chang is ambitious and determined to mark himself in the world, while Hong is much more reserved and content with handling his smaller duties. Hong is also much warmer to Lianne than her father is to her, and more respectful toward Shen.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Happens to Shen at the end of his attempt to fight with his injured body during the epilogue.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Lianne is well-taught in manners and a pacifist, but she's anything but weak-minded.
  • A Simple Plan: Haun's entire plan to kidnap Lianne, ransom her to her father, split the spoils with his cohorts and leave China. It gets no farther than the first part.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Shen and Lianne have their First Kiss after they end up in a heated argument about their feelings following Lady Amelia's death.
  • Snow Means Love: Subverted. Ah-Ma foretells that Shen and Lianne's marriage will happen "beneath tears of snow". Since everyone interprets it to mean the nearing middle of winter when real snow falls in Gongmen City, the marriage is set to take place then and outside. The atmosphere is certainly positive when the marriage is taking place, but there isn't a snowfall and suddenly Lang rushes in to expose Shen's act of mass murder. The prophecy's meaning is revealed when Shen and Lianne are finally married; it happens with Shen crying for the first time in years, his milky white tears looking like tears of snow.
  • Something Else Also Rises: During the above mentioned Show Some Leg moment and his First Kiss with Lianne, Shen has to fight the urge to fan out his train and give a loud cry.
  • Spanner in the Works: When Po and the Furious Five are imprisoned in the dungeons of the Tower of the Sacred Flame, Lianne sends Jade to free them, allowing them to free the nobility from Shen's trap.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Shen, the Wolf Boss and most of the wolf pack are alive in the end.
  • Standing Between the Enemies: When Shen and Po's confrontation in the fireworks factory is close to its end, Lianne comes between them and tells them to stop, refusing to get out of the way. The two enemies still engage in their verbal exchange, with Shen crushing Po's spirit by claiming that the panda's parents didn't love him. He then ignites a cannon's fuse and tackles Lianne out of the way right before Po is hit by a projectile.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Shen and Lianne are separated for thirty years when Shen is banished for his crimes, and their conflicting objectives keep them both close and far away afterwards. The epilogue shows them to be fully reunited.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: After Shen decides to court Lianne again, he tries to invoke this trope by complimenting her and granting her free — albeit guarded — roaming in the Tower.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • When Lianne sees Shen for the first time in thirty years, she notes that the fully grown peacock would be the spitting image of his father if not for being slightly taller and colored differently.
    • Lord Hong is almost a spitting image of his older brother, being as large as Chang and having colored feathers on his head, though silver rather than golden like with his brother and niece.
    • Zian is shown to look almost exactly like his father Shen, the differences being his flat beak and slightly larger wings (both are the result of his swan heritage), along with the blue eyes inherited from his mother Lianne.
  • Stunned Silence: Shen reacts this way when Lianne asks him about the courtship ways of his species.
  • Sword Cane: Shen designs a thin short sword that can be pulled out of the cane he has to walk with for the rest of his life.
  • Symbolic Mutilation:
    • Zhan helps Shen in the panda massacre without question and loses his left eye. He afterwards continues supporting the peacock out of loyalty, but the doubts Lianne's pleading stirs in him prove that he's not completely blind to the risks Shen's plans of conquest entail. Therefore, he's half-blind.
    • Shen cheating death leaves him with permanent injuries that can never fully heal. The obstinate warrior whom his enemies have falsely labeled as a sickly albino can do nothing to change this, much to his shame. Also, he's been forced to secretly live the rest of his life as his wife's prisoner, with the world remembering him only for his atrocities and the conquest he never got the chance to begin.
  • Tears of Joy:
    • The gravely sick Lady Amelia sheds these when Lianne returns home to see her.
    • Lianne sheds these several times, like when Shen comes back to her alive in the end.
  • That Man Is Dead: Following the takeover of Gongmen City after thirty years of absence, Shen tells this to Lianne when she asks what happened to the man she loved.
    Lianne: You used to be such a good man, Shen. You were destined for great things, but you simply became... misguided. What happened to make you so hateful? What happened to the man I loved?
    Shen: What happened to him? What happened to him?! He died! He was left abandoned on the steps of his own home, humiliated and forced to toil and carve his way in the world! Every day he died a little more, his new reality cutting little pieces from him that was left.
    Lianne: But Shen —
    Shen: You think he's still here? You are a naïve fool. The man you want is long gone. He died thirty years ago, when in his hour of need, those he most trusted and loved with all his being betrayed him! They abandoned him to his fate and moved on with their lives!
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Never Be The Same" by Red has been picked up by the author as the theme song. There's even a video of it in her YouTube account.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Ah-Ma and Shen's parents regard as this the destructive capabilities of the fireworks which Shen starts experimenting obsessively.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Averted. When Lianne brings up the subject of courtship, Shen can tell that she's blushing beneath her white feathers.
  • Time Skip:
    • The fifteenth chapter is used to narrate pithily how Lianne and Shen live during their three decades of separation.
    • The epilogue's last scene is initiated after a brief description of the five years that follow Shen's imprisonment in the Shan Palace and Zian's birth.
  • Title Drop: The word Vow is used several times, but the most significant cases are listed below.
    • Lianne explains Shen that courting swans make a Vow of everlasting love. She gives it to him when they're ultimately married, and so does he. In their final reunion, they repeat their vows.
    • When they're visiting Shēnghuó, Shen vows to Lianne that he won't endanger their love again. He remembers that promise when they're about to be married for the second time and sets her free.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After saving Lianne from Haun's gang, Shen takes it up on himself to teach her self-defense with a war-fan. She makes remarkable progress in the following summer months, becoming capable of evading Shen.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Shen starts out as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but his Face–Heel Turn worsens his jerkish aspects into what is known from the canon. Lianne tells Shen at one point how she misses his younger, less jerkish self.
    Lianne: My heart and I remember when there was a time when things were much simpler. When the world was younger, kinder, and full of love... We remember what love was. You were still your arrogant, prideful, ambitious self, but you were not as worldly then; you were... forgiving.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: This is basically the cause of Shen's Face–Heel Turn and exile. Once he overhears Ah-Ma's prophecy, his response is to pick up the species which would be most obvious for a "Warrior of Black and White" (a panda), find a village of them and exterminate them. He never stops to consider that part of the prophecy which said that the Warrior of Black and White would defeat him if he continues the dark path he has chosen to fulfill his ambitions.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The silver fan and the wedding circlet given to Lianne by Shen become this for her, and for him the ornament dagger she in turns gives to him.
  • Training from Hell: Shen teaches Lianne self-defense very strictly, wanting her to meet his high expectations so that she can keep herself safe.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Lianne's life doesn't turn out to be easy. While she has a very close relationship with her mother and uncle, she and her father are unable to find common ground. After her womanly beauty blossoms, Chang pressures her to pick up a husband and give him a grandson as an heir. When she calls him out after one of the suitors turns out to be too lewd, she's punished by being sent to live with strangers for a year. While in Gongmen City, she's kidnapped by a bandit group, though she's rescued fairly quickly. When she gets a word that her mother has fallen ill, she rushes home where her father intends to continue pressuring her into marriage. Then Lady Amelia dies and Lianne is grief-stricken, but then she becomes engaged with Shen and is in seventh heaven. However, the wedding is interrupted with the revelation that the man Lianne is about to marry has committed mass murder. Shen is banished from Gongmen, leaving Lianne to miss him for thirty years and believe him to be dead for two decades. Suddenly Shen returns, takes over Gongmen City and imprisons Lianne (killing a friend of hers along the way), intending to conquer China and forcibly make her his queen. For the following weeks Lianne struggles with having to see the depths the man she loves has fallen into and trying both to stop him and make him come to his senses. After she marries Shen out of her own will yet is driven away by him, she returns to her birth home and makes peace with her estranged father just before he dies. Right after that, Lianne hears that her husband has apparently died. After getting a final confirmation of it, she's ready to die and only her pregnancy prevents her from doing that. Fortunately, Shen returns to Lianne, and they manage to live together with their son.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Shen and Lianne are considered this in-universe. He's considered to look unhealthy and abnormal by the opposite gender of his species, while she is regarded as a beautiful swan even by her own species' standards. It should be noted that they are almost married at one point, and eventually their marriage is finalized.
  • Undying Loyalty: Zhan swore this to his childhood friend Shen after becoming his pack's alpha. After Shen knocks Zhan unconscious and sends him away with his pack when Jade makes him realize that he can't have his friend to follow him to a certain doom and apparently dies, Zhan is left angry at the perceived mistrust toward him and unsure how to continue his life without his master and best friend. When he finds Shen alive, he tells the peacock off. When Zhan leaves, he's no longer Shen's servant, but fortunately their terms aren't that of the worst possible kind.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Po's father tries to hold his ground against Shen's wolves, but despite his great strength, he's not a seasoned warrior and soon becomes wounded enough to be forced to flee.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In his angry grief over Lady Amelia's death, Lord Chang yells at Shen that he's living in his parents' shadow and the history shall never remember him for great achievements. Haunted by those words, Shen ends up accidentally inventing black powder and modifying his rocket launchers into cannons.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Lord Juan is a man of simple tastes who's mostly concerned with his own social status and keeping up his party-life.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means:
    • Shen has his soldiers to make examples of possible criminals to ensure the obedience of the citizens of Gongmen City. His reasoning for it?
      Shen: I am creating a society where there will be no crime or other unwanted pieces, all will obey my every command.
      Lianne: Through fear! Not respect!
      Shen: I do not need their respect. Just their obedience.
    • Zhan believes that Shen can bring forth a future where wolves are not discriminated for being born what they are.
  • Villainous BSoD: Shen succumbs to this after he sends Lianne away right after their marriage. Only the routine of the preparations for his upcoming conquest keeps him moving at all. He doesn't even bother to gloat to the imprisoned Furious Five.
  • Volleying Insults: Zhan and Jade make it a habit to exchange these in friendly spirits.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Following Po's supposed death, Lianne becomes aware of how it was better to merely wish having Shen back than having him back with all the bad he brought with him.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Zhan asks this from Jade after she's been exposed as a spy.
  • We Will Meet Again: Shen swears this to his former loved ones as he's banished from Gongmen City for committing mass murder.
    Shen: This is not over. All of you! This is NOT over! Someday father... someday I will return, and prove to you all what a grave mistake you have made this day. When I return, I will collect my debts, and all of China will bow at my feet! You will see! I will make you see!
  • What Have I Become?: During his above-mentioned Villainous BSoD moment, Shen wonders what a younger version of him would say if he could see what he has become.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lianne calls Shen out when she finds out that he has allowed his wolves to use force to make the citizens of Gongmen City obedient.
    • Later Lianne reproaches Jade for nearly causing the fireworks factory to explode with people in it, saying that if they try to stop Shen at the cost of peoples' lives, then they're no better than him.
    • Lianne confronts Shen again after he destroys the Tower of the Sacred Flame just to try and kill Po and the Furious Five and afterwards screams at his best friend Zhan.
  • When She Smiles:
    • Shen notes Lianne to be more beautiful than ever when she gives him a full warm smile for the first time.
    • When Lord Chang gives a real smile to Lianne when she reveals her pregnancy, she feels like she's seeing her father for the first time in her life.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Shen says this to Zhan when chewing him out of starting a Bar Brawl while visiting the Shēnghuó Province.
    Shen: ...I did not teach you to disregard the rules of hospitality! I thought I employed better then tavern-brawling thugs!
    Zhan: Damned cats wanted to pick a fight, sir. One of ours had a bit too much to drink — a young whelp, Azure. They thought they'd beat up one of my men, I wasn't havin' it. Stinking cats want to mess with the wolf, they'll get the fangs!
    Shen: So you had your whole guard trash the tavern?
    Zhan: Not my problem if the stupid cats wanted to plant their faces in the walls... repeatedly.
    Shen: And this is why you can't have nice things!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After all the evildoing Lianne witnesses Shen committing, he asks for Lianne's forgiveness over his misplaced resentment toward her, leading her to happily reconcile with him and sleep with him. That happiness is then taken away from her when Shen continues on his villainous path anyway, leaving her alone in the bed to continue the preparations for his conquest.
  • You Are What You Hate:
    • Lianne says this to Shen when she confronts him in the library for the way he's enforcing obedience in Gongmen City's citizens.
      Lianne: You used to be a good man, you would have followed your father's footsteps: you would have been a great ruler of this city. The only thing that ever brought you down was the prejudice of others. All the petty words and insults the nobles ever threw at you... they called you a monster, though you hated it, you sought to prove them wrong. Even then you rose above that to be more. Shen, why do you squander this? You could have had the world at your feet!
      Shen: [chuckles cruelly] And so I shall...
      Lianne: Then I was wrong. You have truly become the monster you always hated!
    • After Shen has destroyed his ancestral home just to kill Po, Lianne tells him that he's becoming exactly like her father he hates with passion.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Shen has for years stopped calling his former nanny Ah-Ma by her name and instead addresses her as Soothsayer. However, when he decides to set her free, he calls her by her name to empathize how serious he's when he says they'll be strangers from that point onward.
  • You Know What They Say About X...: Councilor Wong unwisely says this to Lianne about people with albinism and their health.