[Cut to Emperor's quarters. Mulan is sitting with the Emperor and they are playing a game of weiqi. She is trying to hide her pain while focusing on the game. She makes a move and the Emperor, after looking over the board, gives up]

Emperor [to sons]: Take a good look. Lieutenant Hua's chess skills are superior to both of yours combined. He is a worthy opponent for me to play against.

Mulan [deprecating]: Your Majesty, you flatter me too much.

Emperor: Now that I have finally found a worthy opponent, I insist on playing a few more rounds with you, okay? I need to learn your methods and style.

Mulan [protesting; she is obviously in some pain]: Your Majesty…

[The Empress walks into the room]

Empress: How come you're still playing weiqi with Lieutenant Hua? You should let him get some rest.

Emperor: What do you know? It's rare that I get to play someone who is so skilled. The previous people I've played either were too much weaker than I or deliberately let me win. Lieutenant Hua, on the other hand, is both a good player AND does not give an inch when playing against me. It's a rarity to find such an opponent. Come, let's play another round.

Mulan: Actually, your Majesty, your skill is nothing to sneeze at. The only reason I've been able to win a few rounds is because your Majesty was distracted on certain moves.

Emperor: Well said. I need people like you who are loyal, brave, and straight talking by my side.

Crown Prince: Father, I am brave and straight talking, too. How come you don't praise me?

Emperor: What are you compared to Lieutenant Hua? Your skills are but a drop in the bucket compared to his. [Standing up and addresses Second Prince] My son, your chess skills are not very strong, either. You are too interested in playing mental games rather than using sound strategy. [Mulan gets up too when she sees the Emperor rise, though she is wincing as she does so]

Second Prince: Father, my chess skills are no match for yours.

Emperor: I wasn't referring to your playing mental games during chess matches, but playing mental games against me.

Second Prince: Father, would I dare do such a thing?

Emperor [jokingly]: Are you saying you have never had such designs against me? [Second Prince remains silent. He looks nervous and worries what his father is leading to] I notice that when we play, you never allow yourself to win more than two games. Playing against you is no fun.

Second Prince: Father, you are mistaken. My chess skills truly are no match for yours.

Empress: Emperor, since you enjoy Lieutenant Hua's company so much, why don't you keep him by your side?

Emperor: That is exactly why I asked Lieutenant Hua to join us today.

Mulan [kneeling quickly]: Your Majesty, I am not fit to be a government official. As General Li said earlier, it would be disservice to the country to have someone as unqualified as me serve in such a position. [She is hurting badly and is doing a poor job of hiding it, but the Emperor seems oblivious to Mulan's discomfort] Please reconsider!

Emperor [to rest of royal family]: You see. Each time I give one of my subjects a government position, he can't grab it fast enough. Only you and Li Liang are different. One is thankful but regrets that he cannot accept the position (i.e.-Li Liang), the other vehemently refuses with a face full of regret (i.e.-Mulan; actually, it's a face full of pain, but the Emperor doesn't notice this). Don't worry. I didn't ask you here to give you a government post. I only wanted you to serve at my side as a member of my personal guard.

Crown Prince [to Mulan]: Don't worry, you don’t have to be an official! [Mulan smiles weakly]

Emperor: Serve by my side for a few years and I will honorably discharge you. With your natural abilities and rigorous training, nothing will be beyond your reach in my empire.

[Mulan's wound starts to act up with a vengeance. She can barely stand up straight and looks as if she is about to collapse. The Crown Prince looks on in concern]

Crown Prince: Lieutenant Hua, are you okay? [Unable to control herself anymore, Mulan falls to her knees and starts to bawl, mainly due to the immense pain she is feeling. She starts to speak loudly, hoping the royal family will think she is just emotional and not in pain]

Mulan: Your Majesty! I can't stay by your side to serve you! Please have mercy!

Empress: What's this? Why are you crying? Are you dissatisfied with the Emperor, so you refuse to serve him?

Mulan: Your Majesty, I am willing to die for my country without any regrets. [Grimacing and speaking through clenched teeth] Be assured that I do not mean any disrespect towards his Majesty. I just thought of my elderly father, bent with old age and frail with illness and disability. That's why I started crying. There are numerous subjects who would do what I have done for the empire. But back home, I have a brother several years younger than me. My four elder sisters are all married, so my father needs me by his side to take care of him. [The Empress, touched by the filial care Mulan is exhibiting, begins to cry also. Mulan is still speaking with great "emotion" and pain, rocking back and forth on her knees] When the Tujue first threatened our empire, I had no choice but to leave my father and do my duty to my country. But now, the empire is secure. I beg your Majesty to give me my discharge so I can return home immediately. [Starts to bawl louder and puts her hand on her chest] I miss my father so much! I miss him so! My heart hurts so much! (It literally does, no doubt!)

Empress [greatly touched]: Emperor, this is such an admirable and filial son. It's hard to persuade a filial son to abandon his father. You had better let him go home to take care of his elderly father! [Starts to weep in earnest again]

Emperor: Okay, okay. I'll listen to you two today. [He lifts Mulan to her feet as she wipes her eyes] I will grant you your wish.

Mulan: Thank you, your Majesties! I will go back right now and pack my belongings so I can head home immediately. I'll take my leave now! [Literally runs out the door like a bat out of hell]

Empress [to her sons]: You two should take a lesson from Lieutenant Hua's example of filial piety.

Second Prince: Yes, mother.

Crown Prince: I know.

[Cut to street right outside Emperor's quarters. Mulan walks out the gate and starts to head back to camp. Jili is waiting outside for her. When he sees her come out, he hurries to greet her but trips on a stone. He ends up sprawling on the ground. Mulan, seeing him, helps him to his feet]

Mulan: Jili, are you okay?

Jili: I'm fine. I'm more concerned about your wound. You are pretty badly hurt; you should spend more time resting. You shouldn't be out gallivanting about town.

Mulan: I received an Imperial summons. How could I disobey it?

Jili: But I'm really worried about you. I haven't been able to eat or sleep for the past two days. To top it off, I had an awful nightmare last night. I dreamed that a monster was trying to steal your soul. I begged it to let you go, but it wouldn't listen to me. I was really worried that something bad would happen to you.

Mulan: I know you mean well, Jili. [Groans when she feels a sudden stab of pain. She gets weak in the knees and threatens to collapse. Jili hurriedly grabs her shoulders to support her]

Jili: Let me carry you on my back.

Mulan [mastering herself]: That won't be necessary, Jili.

Jili: Mulan, I've been thinking that… that I'd like to take care of you for the rest of my life. Is that okay?

Mulan: Actually, I've always known that you wanted to be my closest friend, isn't that right?

Jili: Mulan, you mean you are willing to let me be the closest man in your life? Is that true? You're willing to let me look after you for the rest of this lifetime? [She nods] Mulan…I'm too happy to hear that! [Starts to hug her]

Mulan: So am I, Big Brother! [Jili's eyes pop wide as he realizes that he has mistaken Mulan's feelings toward him]

Jili: Who are you calling "Big Brother?"

Mulan: You of course.

Jili: Oh. [Starts to faint, but Mulan drags him back upright]

Mulan [earnestly]: Ever since I was little, I've wanted someone to take care of me, to cheer me up when I was sad, someone who would fight my battles for me when others picked on me. If I got in trouble and got scolded by my father, I could run to him for protection. Will you be by Big Brother?

Jili: Big brother? [Muttering] Why does it half to be a brother-sister relationship?

Mulan [face clouding]: Don't you want that?

Jili [brightening]: I do want it! Of course I want it. But, in future, could you call me Little Jili? That sounds a bit more intimate.

Mulan [smiling]: Okay, Little Jili.

[Cut to barracks back in Three Mile camp. Mulan's platoon is busily decorating the barracks with red bunting when General Li walks in]

General Li: How are the preparations coming along?

Pudgy [stepping down from ladder]: General Li, what do you think of these decorations?

General Li [looks around]: By the way, Pudgy, go to the kitchen and tell them that have to use a slow fire to keep the sweet osmanthus cakes warm. Lieutenant Hua likes his food hot. [Pudgy nods and goes to the kitchen]

Monkey: General Li, it saddens me to think that Lieutenant Hua is getting discharged so soon. [Sighs] I'm reluctant to see him go.

General Li: It can't be helped. He said that after recently seeing the ugly face of war, he started feeling homesick for his father, so he insisted on returning home to take care of his father for the rest of his days. [Sits down and sighs]

Monkey [glancing sidelong at General Li]: I don't know how life's going to be around here without Boss. Emptiness, loneliness, sadness. [Eyes General Li significantly] Isn't that right, General Li?

General Li: Of course. Lieutenant Hua is probably the best friend I've ever had. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself after he leaves. [To soldiers] Lieutenant Hua has always treated you well and you have always returned the care he has bestowed on you. Do you share my feelings? [The soldiers all agree vocally. Jili walks in and presents himself to General Li]

Jili [soberly]: General Li, Lieutenant Hua asked me to give you this letter. [Hands over a sealed envelope. General Li picks it up and opens it. The soldiers are craning their necks for a closer look, curious about its contents]

General Li [reading aloud]: General, please forgive me and tell my comrades-in-arms to forgive me. Farewells have a way of hurting memories and causing sadness, so I decided to leave early.

Monkey [looking disappointed]: Well, I'm sure Boss wanted to spare us the emotions of seeing him leave.

Pudgy [protesting]: But to leave like that without a word of goodbye, isn't that a bit rude, especially after all we've been through together?

[General Li isn't hearing the conversation around him. He looks very hurt that Mulan left without saying anything. He wonders when he'll see his friend again, if ever. Unseeing, he sits back down. The soldiers around him are all protesting Mulan's actions]

[Cut to road outside city. Mulan is carrying a pack and staggering along on the way home. She collapses in a faint out in the middle of nowhere]

[Cut to abandoned hut. Mulan is lying on a bed of straw in front of a roaring campfire. She stirs awake and sees Jili walking in with an armload of firewood. He puts it down and walks over to Mulan]

Mulan: Jili, what are you doing here?

Jili: I couldn't rest knowing you had a bad wound that hadn't healed yet. But you wouldn't let me accompany you on your trip home… so I followed you in secret. It's a good thing I did, too, otherwise who knows what would have happened to you when you fainted by the roadside. It would be such a pity if you were eaten up my ants, or flies, or bees, right?

Mulan: You are enlisted in the army. You're not supposed to leave camp without permission.

Jili: Don't worry about me. Worry about getting better.

Mulan: Desertion is a serious offense. Go back now! [Shoves him away weakly]

Jili: I don't need to go back to camp. Let me tell you something. [Whispers in her ear] I'm not mortal. I'm an immortal. This body you see is only an earthly shell I'm using while I'm in the mortal realms.

Mulan [humors him]: No more words. Based on my relationship with the Emperor, you're probably safe from any serious punishment.

Jili: In other words, you're letting me stay by your side to take care of you, right? [Mulan nods] Are you cold? Let me add some wood to the fire for you. [Mulan lays her head back down and goes to sleep while Jili goes to fetch water from the nearby creek. When he returns, he sees she is not only asleep, but is unconscious]

Jili [shaking her awake]: Mulan, are you okay? Hey, wake up.

Mulan [opening her eyes slowly and speaking dreamily]: Jili, I see stars everywhere…

Jili [puzzled]: Stars? It's the middle of the day. How can there be stars in the sky?

Mulan: There are lots and lots of stars in the sky… [She faints and goes unconscious]

Jili: Mulan? [Sees she isn't responding] Mulan! The fever must have fried her brain. Mulan! Wake up! [Shakes her but she doesn't respond] Mulan! [Starts to shout at the top of his lungs] Empress Wangmu! Empress Wangmu! Come and save Mulan! [Shouts even louder] Empress… Wang… Mu… please come here!

[A flash of light appears near Jili as one of Empress Wangmu's assistant goddesses materializes. Seeing it is not Empress Wangmu herself, Jili shows no courtesy]

Jili [impatient]: I called for Empress Wangmu, not you! Get out of the way, I'm calling Empress Wangmu!

Goddess: Empress Wangmu is not in heaven right now. She won't hear you even if you yell until you are hoarse.

Jili [panicking]: Then where did she go?

Goddess: Ever since she helped you turn back the clock to save Hua Mulan, she's felt like she has upset the balance of the universe. She went to the Western Heavens to visit Buddha for guidance and has not returned yet.

Jili [cradling Mulan in his arms]: That's okay. Sister Goddess, could you come and save Mulan, then?

Goddess: I?

Jili: Yes, you. To save the Emperor, Mulan suffered a severe chest wound. But she was too shy to have a doctor check her out and her wound has taken a turn for the worse. She has a fever now and is unconscious. Sister Goddess, please come save Mulan's life. To save a life is worth more than meditating ten years (good karma?). Please, hurry and save Mulan!

Goddess: I… I can't do that.

Jili [gently placing Mulan back on straw, then turns on goddess]: What kind of a goddess are you if you can't save human lives?

Goddess [protesting]: It's not that I'm refusing to save her, it's just that I do not have the power to bring back the dead.

Jili: Then go back to the Celestial Palace and get some celestial elixir, any medicine, back down here. Hurry!

Goddess [shakes her head]: I can't do that.

Jili [really angry]: You can't do this, and you can't do that! What kind of a goddess are you? I'm telling you, Hua Mulan sprang from Empress Wangmu's heart (figuratively?). If anything happens to her, Empress Wangmu will never forgive you!

Goddess [trying to placate Jili]: Please, calm down first. Let me explain.

Jili [bouncing around]: Explain my ass! She's almost dead! Hurry and do something! [Seeing she isn't leaving] Then take me back to heaven and I'll go myself to Nanji Fairy and ask for his celestial elixir.

Goddess [shocked]: You want me to do what?

Jili: Well, when Empress Wangmu gave me a mortal body I lost the ability to fly, no matter how hard I tried. I can't fly! Come on, let's go! [Drags the goddess out the door and leaves Mulan on the bed of straw]

[Cut to Nanji Fairy's residence, somewhere in heaven. There is fog everywhere (actually, dry ice) and a young god, looking like a ten year-old boy, is sitting next to a large stone vat. Jili comes running in]

Jili: Nanji Fairy! [He tries to go through the doorway but his swords get stuck, so he has to wiggle a few minutes to get free]

Boy: Who… who are you and why are you looking for Nanji Fairy?

Jili: Where is he?

Boy: He went to look for Cijiao Fairy to discuss celestial matters. Who are you?

Jili: I'm, um… I'm one of the gods of the stars, from the Celestial Palace.

Boy: Really?

Jili: Exactly. I have some extremely urgent business to discuss with him. Go and find him, okay?

Boy: I can't do that. My master is brewing his celestial elixir here [points to stone vat]. I have to stay to watch the fire.

Jili: Don't worry about that. I'll stay and watch the fire for you. Go and find him, okay? If you aren't back within six hours, the celestial sphere will suffer a great catastrophe!

Boy: Really?

Jili: Yes, really! Now go! [Boy scampers off, leaving Jili alone with the stone vat. Presumably, the medicine needed to save Mulan is inside. Jili, seeing no one is around, starts to lift the lid from the vat with both hands. He has only moved it a couple of inches when the goddess that originally brought him to heaven earlier reappears. She steps over and shoves the lid back shut, pinching his fingers in the process] What the heck did you do that for? [He anxiously blows on his fingers to try to regain some feeling in them]

Goddess [sternly]: And what do you think YOU are doing?

Jili: A life is at stake. I don't have time for protocol! Get out of my way.

Goddess: Making me leave won't do any good. I have already examined Hua Mulan's life scroll. Even the strongest medicine in the world can't save her now. This is what her Fate has set for her.

Jili: You're lying! Mulan is so spirited, so filial, and is such a good person, how could she have such a short life? You must have misread the scroll.

Goddess: If you don't believe me, you can come see for yourself. [She leads him out of the room and towards the chambers that hold everyone's life scrolls. She searches through several stone columns that contain writing on their surfaces before finding the one she wants] Kitchen God, this is Hua Mulan's life [points to a specific section of the column]. See for yourself.

[Jili turns the column (it seems to rotate) to take a closer look at the writing. He reads that Mulan is destined to die on a certain day of a certain month of a certain year (the Chinese calendar uses different names for months, so I don't have an exact translation). He hurriedly counts on his fingers to figure out what the date is]

Jili: Oh my goodness! That's today! There must be something wrong! [Turns the column to see if there is any additional information written] This must be wrong! According to this, she's supposed to live to the ripe old age of 86. How come it's been altered to reflect such a short life span? Why?

Goddess: I heard that in a previous lifetime, Hua Mulan insulted the Jade Emperor in front of the other gods. The Jade Emperor was so angry that he ordered the gods of Fortune, Wisdom, and Longevity (they are a triumvirate and are often seen together in Chinese mythology) to change her life scroll.

Jili [shocked]: He changed her life scroll? How could he do such a thing?!

[From a distance, the Boy hollers for the "star god," whom he mistakenly believes is Jili]

Goddess [glaring at Jili]: Star God? Are you the Star God? [Snickers]

Jili: No, no, I'm not the Star God. I wanted to get rid of the little fairy and so I lied to him, saying I was the Star God. When you see the Nanji Fairy, please tell him that I wasn't trying to really trying to impersonate anyone, okay? [Boy runs in]

Boy: Star God, Star God! My master has returned. He has asked you to go see him immediately.

Jili: That's great! I'll be right there. [To Goddess] Sister Goddess, please go explain things for me to Nanji Fairy, okay? Help me smooth things over?

Goddess [to Boy]: He lied to you. He is not one of the Star Gods.

Boy [confronting Jili]: What? You lied to me? Tell me, what is your real title? How dare you come and try to hoodwink my master? [Sees Jili is at a loss for words] Speak! Speak now!

Jili: I was only playing a joke on you.

Goddess: Forget about it. I'll go explain everything to the Nanji Fairy, okay? [Drags Boy away] Come on, let's go. [Boy spits at Jili as he leaves]

Jili [hollering after Goddess]: Thank you, Sister Goddess! Please put a good word in for me, okay? [Turns to take another look at Mulan's life history] What am I going to do? [Sees a calligraphy brush on the ground] Hmm. If you (Jade Emperor?) can change it, then so can I. [He rotates the column to the part he wants to modify and starts to "rewrite history"] Mulan, you'll be okay now. Everything will be all right… [He sighs in relief]

[Cut to somewhere in the Celestial Palace. Jili is sitting down on a bench or something (can't see due to the thick dry ice fog on the ground) and crying. The Goddess comes over when she notices Jili]

Goddess: Why are you crying? [Sits down next to him]

Jili: I cry because I'm sad. If I wasn't sad, I wouldn't cry. I'm VERY sad right now, that's why… I'm REALLY crying hard. [Starts to bawl loudly]

Goddess: I meant, why are you sad?

Jili [continues to bawl]: Mulan is my best friend. She's about to die. How could I not be sad?

Goddess: Her fate is set. There's nothing to say about it. [Sees Jili getting up to leave] Where are you going?

Jili: I want to be with her when she passes on. I still need to get a coffin for her and handle her affairs.

Goddess: How are you going to get back to earth?

Jili: I was so busy crying I completely forgot that I can't flit around like I used to. Sister Goddess, could you do me a favor and push me back into the mortal realms?

Goddess: Okay. [Points somewhere behind Jili] Hey, look over there! [When Jili turns to look, she gives him a hard shove in the back, which pushes him through the clouds. He falls to earth and lands back in the deserted hut he left Mulan. He smacks into the ground with a loud thud and lots of dust flying everywhere. After a few seconds, he regains his bearings though he remains prone on his back]

Mulan [lying down but stirring at the noise]: Jili, what the heck are you doing?

Jili [seeing Mulan is awake, gets up in surprise]: Mulan, you're all right? [Mulan looks confused at his question. She looks better than the last time we saw her, though she still looks weak]

Mulan: I'm doing much better.

Jili: Mulan, you ARE all right! [Crushes her in a bear hug] Mulan, you're all right! Mulan…[squeezes her even harder while she grimaces in pain. It looks like she is having problems breathing] That's great! That's fantastic, Mulan…

Mulan [not able to stand it any longer, gasps out]: What are you doing?

Jili: I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to cop a feel; I was just so happy to see that you are better. [Mulan looks at him with a puzzled expression on her face] You were suffering a high fever and you were talking deliriously. I thought you were a goner.

Mulan [trying to decide if Jili is losing it or not, smiles]: Don't worry, Jili. I couldn't be beaten to death with a ten-foot pole. [Jili is so happy that he gives Mulan a playful punch in the chest, not realizing he hit her wound. Mulan grimaces in pain but then smiles again as she rubs her painful chest]

Jili [looking towards the sky]: Thank you, thank you!

Mulan [concerned]: Do you have a fever? Who are you talking to?

Jili: I'm fine.

Mulan: You look pale. You need to rest. Here, get some rest.

Jili [giving Mulan another hug]: Mulan…

Mulan: Oh no, here we go again… hey, I can't breathe! [Jili smothers her in a bear hug and doesn't let up for several seconds]

[Cut to main room of the Hua home. Hua Hu is chasing Tianci through the door, threatening to thrash him when he catches him. Tianci runs and hides behind his mother for protection]

Hua Hu [to Tianci]: You are trying to make me die of anger, aren't you?

Mulan's mother [to Hua Hu]: What are you doing? Do you have to fill the house with yelling and scolding to make you happy?

Hua Hu [tries to grab his son but Mulan's mother stops him]: Let me at him! Don't interrupt me! I'm furious that… that this little rascal is so unambitious. You need to bring him up more firmly. All he does all day is play. That's all he thinks about. His fourth sister (Mulan) was the exact opposite. When she was his age, she could recite whole books of poetry. He will be the death of me! [Tries to grab Tianci again but Mulan's mother blocks him] Don't get in my way!

Mulan's mother: Stop that! Every child's abilities are different. Our son Tianci is an active boy. He is obviously destined to become a martial arts expert. How can you expect him to willingly study those stale books?

Hua Hu [livid]: If he would even open those "stale books" I'd be ecstatic. His only skills seem to be keeping the house in an uproar with his antics. Every day, he insists on pulling the whiskers of the cat and dog, or in plucking the feathers of our chickens. [To Tianci] Why do you do that? [To Mulan's mother] And when he starts telling lies, he tells such whoppers that no one can top him. When I put him on a horse to practice riding he gets so scared he wets his pants. [To Tianci] When I teach you archery practice, you start complaining you're tired after only one incense stick of time has elapsed (time to burn a stick of incense; about five to ten minutes). And to top it all off, he has absolutely zero respect for his elders. I tell him one thing and he sasses me back ten things. [He is out of breath and still furious at this point]

Stepmother [excitedly running in]: My lord, guess who's come home?

Hua Hu [shortly]: I don't care who it is that's come home! [Turns around in a huff and is shocked to see Mulan and Jili at the door]

Mulan: Father.

Hua Hu [eyes wide]: Mulan! [Mulan's mother is holding Tianci and shows no signs of happiness that her daughter has returned home. In fact, she looks rather displeased]

[Hua Hu starts to walk towards Mulan to give her a hug, limping along slowly, but he trips right before he reaches her and falls into Jili's and Mulan's arms]

Jili [concerned]: Sir, are you all right?

Hua Hu [still dazed]: I'm fine. I'm fine. [Looks closer at Jili] You look kind-hearted (in Chinese, the character for "kind" is a homonym with the character for "familiar," hence the pun).

Jili: But I don’t recognize you. (Reference earlier episode when Jili tries to trick Hua Hu and is later caught when he recognizes Jili)

Hua Hu: I meant kind-hearted, not familiar.

Jili: Why thank you. My name is Su Jili.

Hua Hu [turns to Mulan]: Mulan! Am I dreaming?

Mulan: No, you're not dreaming. I'm really home.

Hua Hu [pulls Mulan inside]: That's great news! Mulan, come see your mother.

Mulan [to her mother]: Mother, it's been a long time since I've seen you.

Mulan's mother [rather snidely]: I knew that sooner or later you'd come home covered in dust and grime (I think this is supposed to mean she "came home without anything to show for it"). [Leaves the room with Tianci in one hand and her nose in the air. Hua Hu is at a loss for words, but recovers himself quickly]

Hua Hu: Come here, Mulan. I'm really too happy, Mulan. Come sit down. [Both sit down. Stepmother is at Hua Hu's side but remains standing, as does Jili] I'm ecstatic that you're home all of a sudden.

Stepmother [concerned]: Mulan, did you sneak out from your camp and go AWOL? I'm telling you, it's a serious offense to desert the army!

Jili [jumps in]: Ma'am, don't worry about that. We have come here with all the proper paperwork in order. We have been honorably discharged.

Hua Hu: Don't underestimate our prodigal daughter. She is just like me, honorable to a fault. She would never desert the army.

Mulan [grinning]: Father knows me best. Father, I have returned home to take care of you, okay?

Hua Hu [starts to cry with happiness]: Oh, I'm so happy. My daughter…I mean, my son… I mean, Mulan, that's absolutely wonderful!

[Cut to spare bedroom in the house. Stepmother is leading Jili and Mulan to the spare bedroom with the intention of putting Jili there]

Stepmother: I just cleaned this room. Mr. Su, you can stay here, okay?

Jili: Ma'am, that will be fine. [He walks over and sits on the bed, bouncing up and down on it like a little kid. Mulan's mother, though, walks in and starts yelling]

Mulan' mother: Who gave him leave to move in with us and stay here?

Mulan: Mother, we only have one guest room in our home. If our guest doesn't stay here, then where will he stay?

Mulan's mother: What guest? [Grabs Mulan's arm] Take a good look at him (Jili). He's dirty and filthy. Just looking at him makes me sick. [To Jili] When was the last time you took a bath? [Jili sniffs himself, then walks up to Mulan's mother to sniff her] Hey, what are you doing?

Jili: You smell about the same as I do. When was the last time YOU had a bath?

Mulan's mother [furious]: What did you say? [She looks about ready to get in a fight with Jili, but Mulan is restraining her mother. Quickly, Mulan pulls her mother aside while she steps between them. She silently shakes her head at Jili, hinting to him that he shouldn't mess with her mother] Fine! Since you insist on staying with us, then you can move into the lumber room, lest you muss up my guest room!

Mulan [getting riled up]: Mother! Please be reasonable. He's my guest.

Mulan's mother [grabbing Mulan's ear]: You hussy! Since when do you get to call the shots in this household? [Let's go of Mulan's ear; Mulan looks defeated before her mother, who then addresses Jili] You can move to the lumber room to stay if you are so inclined, or if you are not inclined, you can move to the local inn. I will not insist on making you stay. I have other uses for this room… [Looks smugly then turns around. Mulan is about to say something rude to her mother when Jili grabs her arm]

Jili: As long as it keeps out the weather, I don't care if I stay in the lumber room or the outhouse ditch! [Hearing this, Mulan's mother leaves with a huff]

Mulan: I'm sorry, Jili.

Jili: Humph! She thinks she can intimidate me? [To Stepmother] Ma'am, could you please show me the way to the lumber room? [She starts to lead Jili out the door when he remembers his luggage. Mulan walks back and brings his red umbrella and pack for him while Jili literally hops out the door]

[Cut to early morning at the Hua home. Mulan is daydreaming at the window, listening to the birds sing outside and watching the sway of the trees. She is dressed in a woman's outfit and has a dot on her forehead (can't figure out what it signifies. The Empress has four on hers, but no other married or unmarried women seem to wear it in the series). She doesn't notice her father walk up to her. He raps his walking stick to get her attention. She turns with a start]

Mulan: Father.

Hua Hu: What are you thinking about, Mulan? You've been staring idly out the window.

Mulan [teasingly]: I've been thinking about you, father.

Hua Hu: You're pulling my leg, Mulan. Tell me, what are you really thinking about?

Mulan [turning sober]: Father…

Hua Hu: You're not happy. Does it have anything to do with your wound when you came home? [She shakes her head] That's good. I'm relieved to hear that. So what else is on your mind?

Mulan: Father, remember when I said that I wouldn't return home and see Mother unless I made a name for myself in the army?

Hua Hu: That's of such minor importance. Don't let that bother you. You're home now, and that all that matters. No matter what, your mother won't kick you out.

Mulan: But Mother really gives me the cold shoulder. I find it difficult to swallow.

Hua Hu: Just ignore her. Don't forget, I'm the one in charge of this household, right? [Stands up straighter and puffs out his chest] If I don't give my say so, will anyone else dare say so? [Mulan can't help smiling when she sees this] Mulan, this is your home. As long as you want to come home, the door will always be open for you, do you understand? If you succeed in life or if you fail in life, I will always love you, okay?

Mulan [nods]: Father… actually, I…

Hua Hu: I understand your feelings. But is making a name for yourself really a thing to brag about? Of course, it isn't easy to do, but you are a woman in this world, so what are you to do?

Mulan: That wasn't what I was trying to say. I wanted to say, how come even though I haven't been home for such a long time, Mother still dislikes me so much?

Hua Hu: Don't think about that. Just remember that I love you, okay? One mustn't be too greedy in life. Don't you notice how much your mother loves Tianci? It's to the point of spoiling him rotten. However, as soon as I see Tianci I get a headache. I dislike him. That just proves that even though one may be born into a particular family it doesn't mean that one will win the love of both parents. Isn't that right?

Mulan [wistfully]: I'd love to try it, though.

Hua Hu: Did you say something?

Mulan: Maybe I was too wild as a child. I probably really irritated a lot of people.

Hua Hu: What do you mean by that?

Mulan [teasingly]: I'm not telling you.

Hua Hu: Humph! Just when you are getting to the interesting part, you decide not to tell me.

[Cut to lumber room. Jili is pulling out two dishes of food along with a small jug of wine. He stuffs a roll in his mouth while he begins to set up his bedding for the night. Mulan walks in the room]

Mulan: Hey, Jili. What are you doing up so late? [Heads toward his rumpled pile of blankets. Jili stops her]

Jili: What are you doing here?

Mulan: Nothing.

Jili: Sit down. Do you want to chat a bit? [Both sit on his bed]

Mulan [grinning]: I couldn't sleep, so I came by to have a chat fest with you.

Jili [grins in response]: I can talk about anything under the sun, be it about the immortal realm or the mortal realm. Go ahead, pick a subject.

Mulan: Jili, I'm really sorry that you have to stay in the lumber room.

Jili: Don't worry about that, I'm used to it. So, you want to talk about people and relationships? I'm so familiar with that I could talk the leg off a dog.

Mulan [frowning]: Stop talking such nonsense, okay? People will think you are crazy.

Jili: Who says I'm crazy?

Mulan: I originally thought you had spent too much time practicing to improve your inner energy and that you had gone through hell and back for it. But now, I finally see your true colors.

Jili: You know my true colors?

Mulan: You are not crazy, but you also didn't go through hell and back.

Jili: Of course not. I'm the Kitchen God. I'm your household's Kitchen God.

Mulan: See, there you go again! You're not a spirit and you're not a god. However, you're not content to be a common human being. So, you are always doing strange things and saying even stranger things to make people notice you. [Jili sighs in frustration when he hears this, but Mulan mistakes his reaction for chagrin at getting caught. She grabs his arm] Did I guess correctly?

Jili [smiling]: You got it all correct! You really know me too well. [Holds her hand and doesn't let go. Mulan gets uneasy]

Mulan: Hey, what are you doing? [He seems reluctant to let her hand go; it's as if he wants to maintain the feel of her touch]

Jili: I was thinking, how about letting me tell your fortune?

Mulan [eyes light up]: You know how to tell fortunes by looking at my palm?

Jili: Here, come here and sit down. I don’t know a whole lot but I can do a little. [Both sit down. He holds Mulan's hand and turns it palm up] Here, let me look at your palm. Let's see, when will you fall in love… [Mulan starts to blush and looks away. Jili starts to sniff her palm. This makes Mulan nervous and she tilts his head by grabbing his chin]

Mulan: Wait a minute, are you a palm reader or a palm smeller?

Jili: Actually, I'm not very familiar with palm reading, but I am much better at palm smelling. [Takes several deep sniffs]

Mulan: Then have you smelled anything?

[Mulan's mother walks in and gasps in dismay when she sees Mulan sitting with Jili. It is hard for her to see what exactly Jili is doing with Mulan, but it doesn't look good. She rushes in and breaks them apart]

Mulan's mother: What are two unchaperoned people doing at this hour of the night? It looks like you are touching each other…[To Jili] Don't you have any sense of decorum and respect? [Grabs Mulan aside]

Mulan: Mother, don’t make it sound so bad, okay? Jili was only giving me a palm reading by smell. [Shows her palm to her mother and smiles] Beside, we are like brother and sister.

Mulan's mother: I had four unprofitable packages (i.e.-daughters) in a row, so where did you come up with an elder brother?

Jili: Ma'am, if you don't object, I won't object to being your adopted son. I really wouldn't mind it in the least.

Mulan's mother [smiling]: You'd like to be my son?

Jili: Exactly.

Mulan's mother [suddenly bellows in his face]: You think you have such good luck?! [Turns to Mulan] Still not in bed by this hour? Go back to bed! [Drags her out the door]

Mulan [to Jili as she is leaving]: Oh yes, I need to go to the river to do the laundry tomorrow morning.

Jili: Good night! [After they leave] She didn't need to spray it when she said it…[wipes some saliva off his face]

[Cut to sitting room in the house. Mulan's mother is leading her inside. Mulan asks her mother to sit down, which she does]

Mulan: Mother, I picked up a few skills when I was out on the road. It will help you improve your circulation and loosen your muscles. Do you want to try it? [Starts to massage her arms but her mother shoos her away after a few seconds]

Mulan's mother [impatiently]: Don’t blindly flail about, will you? Save your strength. I have a heart of iron, so you can forget about trying to get on my good side, okay?

Mulan [pastes a smile on her face]: If I can get on your good side that would be great. If I can't, it doesn't matter. You are my mother; I should try my best to make you happy.

Mulan's mother [sneers]: When you left home, didn't you go with dreams of greatness and glory? You had big words then, saying that if you didn't emerge victorious you wouldn't return home. So what happened? Did you find it too hard to make a living on your own, so you decided to come home and mooch off your father? [Mulan's face falls gradually as she hears her mother's words. It is obvious her mother means to hurt her and belittle her and that Mulan takes these words to heart] I'm telling you, everything your father has will go to Tianci, so you'd best not be expecting to inherit anything.

Mulan [trying to smile]: Actually, I never had any intention of competing with Tianci for anything. I came home because I missed Father.

Mulan's mother [snapping]: Stop harping about your father. As long as I'm alive, I won't let you two drag this household into the mud.

Mulan [protesting]: Mother, could you please not say such awful sounding things? People who didn’t know any better would think that I have some sort of incestuous relationship with Father.

Mulan's mother [stopping to think a minute]: Heck, I'll say what I like when I like. You have no right to make a fuss.

Mulan [trying to shush her mother]: Mother, please keep your voice down. If Father were to hear you say such things, that wouldn’t be too good.

Mulan's mother [angry]: So, you're trying to use your father to keep me down, eh? [Grabs Mulan's ear] You hussy! [Mulan grimaces in pain as she gets jerked forward] I'm warning you, if you irritate me any further, I'll kick you out into the street! Your father won't be able to do anything about it, either! [She leaves the room in a huff and lets go of Mulan's ear. Mulan remains in the room and rubs her ear]

Mulan [muttering]: This isn't working, either. I don't know what else to do. [Thinks a minute and seems to get an idea]

[Cut to dinner table at the Hua home. The family, consisting of Hua Hu, Mulan's mother, Stepmother, Tianci, Mulan, and Jili are all sitting down at the table. Hua Hu announces to the family to start eating. Jili starts sailing into the food, hurriedly grabbing things to his rice bowl and noisily eating. Mulan's mother looks on in some disgust and consternation]

Mulan's mother: You'll become a fat pig if you continue to eat so much. [To Tianci] Never eat like that; it shows lack of breeding and manners. [Mulan and Jili look at each other but remain silent]

Hua Hu [rolling his eyes]: What nonsense are you talking about?

Mulan's mother: What am I talking about? Why don't you ask those two immoral creatures sitting there? They have no shame!

Mulan [protesting]: Mother, Jili and I are as white as snow (i.e.-innocent)!

Mulan's mother: I don't care if you are white or black. Don't interfere with me or get in my way.

Jili: Hey, are you really Mulan's mother? Your daughter had to go through a lot to be discharged and allowed to come home. [Tianci gets up from his seat and walks over to Jili] You not only keep giving her the cold shoulder you keep trying to tear her down. What are you trying to do? [Tianci gives Jili a swift kick to his rear. Jili turns around quickly and tries to grab Tianci] What did you kick me for?

Tianci: You asked for it. Who told you to sass my mother?

Hua Hu [sternly]: Tianci! Come here! I will not allow you to be rude to our guest!

Tianci: What guest? Mother said he is just some scum we scraped off the street and that we needn't treat him politely.

Hua Hu [shocked]: Who taught you to speak that way? You need a swift spanking, that's what you need! [Tries to grab Tianci but Mulan's mother and stepmother both intervene]

Mulan's mother: He's just a child; he doesn't know what he is doing. Why make the fuss?

Stepmother: My lord, don't lose your temper over him, okay? [Tries to soothe Hua Hu, who is still fuming]

Mulan's mother [to Hua Hu]: What kind of treasure is she (Mulan) carrying to warrant you always taking her side? [Points to Mulan] She had the gall to dress as a man and join the army. She has enough nerve to take on Heaven. Don't you think the County Magistrate is scolding us this minute for our actions? (County Magistrate helped cover up that Mulan was serving in her father's place; this is in an earlier episode). He's probably saying we didn't raise our daughter properly and that she's a discredit to our family. I'm telling you, I am not nearly as generous and forgiving as you are. [Mulan looks very hurt while her mother continues to rant and rave. Jili is trying desperately to hold his tongue because he knows it will not help things if he says something] I will never forget in this lifetime the shame she has brought upon us.

Mulan [snaps]: Stop yelling!

Mulan's mother [yells back]: You dare scold me?

Mulan [humble]: Mother, I wasn't scolding you. I thought I heard someone knocking on the front door.

Hua Hu: I also think I heard someone knocking on the front door. Let me go take a look.

Stepmother: No, I'll go.

[Mulan's mother looks displeased at the interruption of her tirade; she looks as if Mulan deliberately made up an excuse to get out of a tongue-lashing. Stepmother heads to the front door to see who is knocking]

Jili: Mrs. Hua, you'd best not underestimate your daughter. Not only is she not a shameful burden on your household, she is a great honor and credit to the Hua family. [Mulan starts to protest but Jili continues] Be careful lest the Emperor himself will come here to give you a combing down. He won't easily let you get away with this!

Mulan's mother [furious]: What kind of bullshit are you spewing?

Hua Hu [trying to placate his wife]: That's enough.

Jili: Have you been under a rock all this time? Do you know how amazing your daughter is? She saved the Emperor's life. You have no idea how much the Emperor dotes on her now.

Mulan [protesting]: Su Jili… [Mulan's mother is acting as if Jili is making up everything; she does not believe a word he is saying and thinks Mulan is pretty low to have Jili say such obvious falsehoods]

Jili: What's the matter? Why hide it anymore from her? It's of no use when dealing with such a mean woman. The only thing that will work is to tell your own honorable feats to deflate the wind from her sails. Otherwise, it won't matter how much effort you exert because she won't change how she thinks of you. [Mulan remains silent and sad-faced, as does Hua Hu]

Mulan's mother [smoothly]: Mr. Su, you have such talent with spinning tales. But in future, please try to make them at least partially believable. If she really did save the Emperor's life, he would treat her like a precious treasure and she wouldn't need to come home and put up with me. I've scolded her and beat her ever since she was a kid. If she really is a war hero, then do you honestly believe she wouldn't want to take revenge on me? Do you think she's let me get away scot-free?

Mulan: Mother, Su Jili isn't lying to you. I really did rescue the Emperor and he wanted to give me a high government position. However, I was wounded at the time, plus I missed Father, so I…

Mulan's mother [slamming her fist on the table]: You're still trying to lie to me! Do you take me for a fool? [She lifts her hand as if to strike Mulan, who shrinks away in fear. Hua Hu catches her hand full in his jaw]

Jili: What the…

Hua Hu: Hey, why are you suddenly trying to get violent on people? [Rubbing his jaw]

Mulan's mother: If you really are speaking the truth, I'll gouge my eyes out!

Tianci [running up to Mulan's mother]: Mother, why are you going to gouge your eyes out?

Mulan's mother [smiling to Tianci]: It just means that I "have eyes but do not see." Don't worry, I can't lose on this bet.

Tianci: Then I'll take the bet with you.

Mulan [approaches Hua Hu]: Father, I'm not lying.

Hua Hu [pats her arm]: Mulan, you don't need to make up stories to gain favor in your mother's eyes. Even more importantly, you don't need to sacrifice your self-respect for a mother like that. If I have to, I'll write a divorce letter. What do you say to that? [Directs this to Mulan's mother]

Mulan's mother [incredulous]: What did you say?

Hua Hu [at end of patience]: How did you get a mother like this, Mulan?

Mulan's mother [points to herself]: You wish to divorce me? [Raises her voice] I'm warning you, in life I'm a Hua family member and in death I'll be a Hua family spirit. If you dare divorce me, then I'll die right here in front of you!

[Stepmother rushes in the door. She looks greatly excited]

Stepmother: My lord! My lord! The mayor is here to see you.

Mulan's mother [triumphant]: You see! The county magistrate is here to give you a reckoning. Let's see how you (Mulan) are going to get out of this! [Glares at Mulan with a look of wicked pleasure]

Hua Hu: Mulan, don't worry. I'll handle him. [He limps toward the door when the mayor walks in. He salutes the mayor and then starts to address him] Your Honor, please tell me where my daughter offended you. Please treat her with mercy on behalf of my many years of service in the army.

County Magistrate: Hua Hu, you mustn't speak so. All I did in the past was say things I probably shouldn't have said. I must ask you to find it in your heart to forgive my former trespasses.

Hua Hu [surprised]: What? [The County Magistrate walks before Mulan and bows to her]

County Magistrate: Fourth Miss, I just received an Imperial order. His Majesty will be here shortly to visit you. [Mulan's mother looks shocked, as if the mayor suddenly sprouted wings] In particular, he wishes to meet your parents. [Mulan starts to grin from ear to ear. Her mother pushes her aside and addresses the mayor]

Mulan's mother: Your Honor, what did you just say? Who is coming?

County Magistrate: The Emperor himself. The Emperor of China is coming to see you. [Mulan's mother is so shocked that she is speechless]

Jili: Mrs. Hua? [She doesn't respond] Mrs. Hua? [Still doesn't respond, so Jili taps her on her shoulder. She jumps] Mrs. Hua!

Mulan's mother: What?

[Jili walks over and places two spoons underneath Mulan's mother's eyes]

Jili: So, do you want me to help you gouge out your eyes, or are you going to do it yourself? [She stares for a few seconds, then faints and falls into Hua Hu's arms]

Hua Hu: Hold up… get a hold of yourself, Hua family spirit…(reference to earlier comment when he threatened to divorce her)

[Cut to kitchen, where Mulan is washing the dishes. Her mother, seeing her doing the dishes, rushes in to stop her]

Mulan's mother: Now, now, you don't need to do any more dishes. Listen to your mother and let's have a chat session. I'll tell your stepmother to come do the dishes later, okay?

Mulan: If you ask Stepmother to wash the dishes, she won't get them as clean as I do. Besides, she is so clumsy that you may as well tell her to go to hell. [Her mother expresses surprise to hear such words coming from Mulan] Don't you remember that you used to always say that? I was once so sick that I couldn’t even get out of bed, but you insisted that I still had to do the dishes. Stepmother said that she would wash them for me but you scolded her royally for even suggesting such a thing. You said she didn't know her own limits, that she couldn't clean dishes as well as I could, and then you told her to go to hell.

Mulan's mother [looking rather guilty]: Look, I know you are still mad at me. However, to tell the truth, if I hadn't scolded and beaten you all those years, you wouldn't have dreamed day and night of trying to gain great glory and honor, right? So you see, your current stature is entirely because I beat it out of you. [She doesn't notice that Mulan is rolling her eyes]

Mulan [pasting a smile]: So… I should be thankful?

Mulan's mother [playfully slapping her shoulder]: We are mother and daughter; we don't need to quibble about such things.

Mulan [muttering]: Such thick skin… (Idiom that means "such nerve")

Mulan's mother: Did you say something?

Mulan: Oh nothing. I was just saying that doing all these dishes was making me develop thick skin on my hands.

Mulan's mother [examining Mulan's hands]: My thoughts exactly. Don't do any more dishes. If you don’t want to chat with me, then… go spend some time with your father.

Mulan: Spend some time with him doing what?

Mulan's mother [smiling]: You could chat with him or you could play chess with him. As long as you are happy, that's all that matters.

Mulan: But what will we do about all these dirty dishes? Stepmother is too clumsy and she can't get them clean.

Mulan's mother: Well, then I'll do them.

Mulan [incredulous]: You? I didn't mishear that, did I? You really are going to do the dishes?

Mulan's mother [rolling up her sleeves]: Tell you the truth, I clean dishes better than either of you can.

Mulan: I think you should forget about it, Mother. It's been years since you had to do such rough work. How could I be such an unfilial daughter as to let you suffer like that?

Mulan's mother [putting her arm around Mulan]: Mulan, we are bound by flesh and blood. Why the fuss over such trivial matters? Let me wash the dishes.

Mulan [getting up reluctantly]: Well, then, okay. [Points to the countertop that is covered with dishes] Mother, I took these dishes out of the cupboard. They are covered in dust and really need to be cleaned, too.

Mulan's mother: No problem. I'll wash them.

Mulan: I haven't mopped the floor yet, either.

Mulan's mother: I'll do that later.

Mulan: Oh yes, there's also a large load of dirty laundry that needs doing, too.

Mulan's mother: I know. As soon as it's light tomorrow morning, I'll take it to the river to do the wash. I realize you are still mad at me. Just let it all out and you'll feel a lot better, okay? [Mulan is giving her mother a very strange look. It is the "what-have-you-done-to-my-real-mother" look] Oh yes, what would you like to have for breakfast tomorrow? Do you want ginseng chicken broth or swallow's nest?

Mulan [eyes wide]: We're going to eat such expensive foods?

Mulan's mother: You have suffered a lot lately. It's the least we can do. I think I'll prepare both dishes, okay? [Seeing she has nothing left to say, Mulan starts to head toward the door. She stops when she sees her father standing there. He gestures towards Mulan's mother, asking Mulan why her mother is doing the housework. Mulan gives her a father a shrug to indicate she doesn't know why her mother is insisting on doing the work. He starts to grin in response]