[Cut to Hua home. The entire Hua family is gathered to see off Mulan, who has recently returned for a quick visit before she settles in permanently at the Emperor's quarters. General Li is with her to escort her back. The whole family is excited to see her off, with the exception of her father]

Mulan [to Hua Hu]: Father, aren't you glad that I am to become the Crown Prince's wife?

Hua Hu: Mulan, I just don't think you are happy about this situation. Are you happy about this?

Mulan [with a glance at General Li]: Of course I'm happy, Father. I have come to see the good aspects of marrying the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince will be Emperor one day, so I will become Empress. Just think how glorious that will look! [She keeps throwing knowing looks at General Li as if to rub his nose in everything. He tries to look unaffected but is not completely able to hide his true feelings] Aside from the Emperor, everyone will have to follow my orders. How grand! [To General Li] Isn't that right, General Li?

Hua Hu [not wholly satisfied]: Well, as long as you are happy. I hope you are right.

Tianci [to Mulan]: I also want you to become the Crown Prince's wife. I've heard the palace is huge. That means I'll have plenty of space to play!

Stepmother: Tianci, palace life is full of rules and customs that everyone must follow. One must watch what you say, eat, or even think for fear of breaking a rule. It's not as fun as you think.

Tianci: Isn't that the same as living in jail then?

[Mulan starts to look like she is having second thoughts; the thought of all the restrictions of palace life are beginning to rub the bloom off the glamour of becoming the Crown Prince's wife]

[Cut to Su Jili, floating somewhere up in the heavens above. He is suddenly shoved unceremoniously back down to earth, landing with a thud, head over heels, at the front door of the Hua home]

Hua Hu [opens door]: Who is at the door? [Sees someone is splayed against his front door] Sir, who are you? [Takes a closer look] Oh, it's Mr. Su. What are you doing here?

Jili [struggling to his feet]: Mr. Hua, you have to stop Mulan's marriage to the Crown Prince. If she marries him, she will be widowed at a young age.

Hua Hu [a bit worried]: Hush! Slandering the Crown Prince is a capital offense. Do you realize how many heads would roll if someone reported you?

Jili: I'm telling the truth. You have to believe me.

Hua Hu: And who, pray tell, is your source?

Jili [leans in to whisper to him]: The God of Fates told me himself.

Hua Hu: Oh, I see. Well, Mr. Su, please step inside and rest a while. [Jili walks in, while Hua Hu walks out] I'll be back shortly… as soon as I find a psychiatrist who will see you.

Jili [turns around quickly]: You… you think I'm crazy, don't you? Well, I'm not. I'm speaking the truth!

Hua Hu [with the air of someone humoring a willful child]: Mr. Su, let me give you a piece of advice. My daughter Mulan is not the only fish in the sea. She has already left for the palace to marry the Crown Prince. The world is full of pretty women, yours for the picking, so I'd suggest you go out and find Ms. Right, and forget about Mulan, okay?

Jili [getting panicked]: She's gone already? In that case, I must fly! Fly! I must chase her down! [He scurries along, trying to fly like a god, but forgetting he has been clipped of his wings. In short, he's looking pretty pathetic]

[Cut to General Li's quarters. He is sitting alone at a table, guzzling large amounts of rice wine out of a jug. He doesn't look drunk, but does look like he is trying to drown his sorrows. Su Jili staggers in, obviously drunk and rather belligerent]

Jili [to General Li]: Let me ask you something. Do you or do you not love Hua Mulan?

General Li: Stop talking nonsense. She is betrothed to the Crown Prince.

Jili [repeats himself]: You're not answering my question. Do you or do you not love Hua Mulan?

[General Li refuses to answer and instead sits moodily staring at the wine jug]

General Li: She has found a good match. It doesn't matter if I love her or not.

Jili [angrily stalks forward and swats away the wine jug and cups from the table]: This isn't a good match! The Crown Prince is not destined to live to a ripe old age. If Mulan marries him, she will be widowed at a young age.

General Li [sharply]: What nonsense you speak! Do you realize the punishment for publicly jinxing the Crown Prince?

Jili [sitting down next to General Li]: Fine. Then let's talk about Mulan. Her personality is so lively and carefree, do you think she'd be happy living in the palace with all its rules and customs? Most importantly, she doesn't love the Crown Prince. She loves you, so she'd never be happy in that marriage. Is THAT called good fortune? Is it?

General Li: Stop. She and I are soulmates, but we do not have destiny on our side.

Jili: Says who? If you immediately leave with Mulan, I guarantee you two will also have destiny on your side.

General Li [sharply]: Are you insane? You dare encourage me to run off with the Crown Prince's Consort!

Jili: Mulan is not yet married to the Crown Prince, so you wouldn't be running off with the Crown Prince's Consort. For Mulan's happiness, for her future, take her away immediately. Take her away now! I'm begging you… [begins to genuflect, over and over] I'm begging you…

[General Li starts to walk away with some impatience and obvious emotional turmoil. Seeing this, Jili stands up, furious]

Jili [glares and points at General Li, shouting]: You're afraid to die! You worthless scum! Are you a man or a mouse? You have no balls! You're not a man!

[General Li stops, but says nothing. He remains stony-faced. Jili walks over and starts to beat him up]

Jili [still shouting]: You know you love Hua Mulan. [Punches General Li] Why don't you have the guts to elope with her? [Knees General Li a couple of times, then smacks his head with an elbow, and continues to shout] Why? Why won't you elope with her? Why?

[General Li is down on his knees now, blood trickling from his mouth, but he remains silent]

Jili: I'm telling you, if I were in your shoes, I'd take her and run away together. I'd take her and fly far away from here to live happily ever after. For her happiness, I'd willingly give up everything. I'd give my life in forfeit just to ensure her happiness. I wouldn't mind at all, I really wouldn't! [Looks sad] But… but…she doesn't love me. She loves YOU, you damn coward, you worthless coward!

[General Li is still silently kneeling on the floor, though upon hearing this tirade, he starts to clench his fists in quiet frustration at the pain behind the truth of Jili's words]

Jili [starting to cry]: Do you know, you are throwing away the world's most beautiful, the world's best woman. Do you understand? Do you understand, you worthless coward?!

[General Li softly gets up, looking like a man who is heading to the firing squad, stoic in his final moments on earth]

Jili [shouts]: Coward!

General Li [quietly]: You're too naive. If I ran off with Mulan now I'd be risking her life. We'd live a life of constant danger, with no safety anywhere. Would she be happy?

[Jili is temporarily silenced. He slowly thinks over what General Li has just said]

Jili [chastened]: You… you're not afraid to die? You are worried that she'd get in trouble because of you. [Seeing no response from General Li, so he raises his voice again] Isn't that right? [General Li leaves the room] Isn't that right?! [After General Li is gone, Jili starts talking to himself] So you were worried about dragging Mulan down with you…

[Cut to Mulan's quarters, where she is sitting alone, pondering her future. Someone knocks on the door. Mulan goes to open it and is surprised to see it is Jili. He rushes in and hurriedly shuts the door behind him]

Jili: Shh. I don't want anyone else to know I'm here.

Mulan: Jili, where have you been lately?

Jili: Mulan, as soon as I heard about your betrothal to the Crown Prince, I knew you'd be feeling extremely bad, so I went to Heaven and tried to plead your case with Empress Wangmu. I begged her to stop your marriage to the Crown Prince.

Mulan: Jili, I really am not in the mood for jokes.

Jili: I'm not joking with you. [Grabs her arm and leads her to the table] Here, sit down first. [Both sit] When you are unhappy, I feel even worse. So I… [at a loss for words]…but I knew I couldn't do anything to help you, so I left your home to wander around and clear my head a bit.

Mulan [looks relieved that her friend is all right]: That sounds more like what a normal human being would say (i.e.- someone who is sane). You really had me worried when you left without a word like that.

Jili [starts to pout]: Worry about me? You should be worrying about Li Liang. Am I right? [Turns thoughtful] Tell me, if Li Liang and I were both in trouble, which would you rescue first, him or me? You'd rescue him first, wouldn't you?

Mulan: You're wrong. I'd rescue you first.

Jili [starts to grimace]: See, you must love him like there's no tomorrow.

Mulan: What are you talking about?

Jili: Stop faking. When you encounter danger, a lion-hearted woman like you, who believes the honorable path is the solution to everything, will drop everything to rescue the one you love, ignoring others around you. Only when you know he is safe will you go help others. Am I right?

[Mulan starts looking sheepish and doesn't say anything]

Jili [gets up to pace]: To be next to the object of your affections is really too depressing, because I'll always be second fiddle. I have no interest in this position. Li Liang can have it!

[Mulan walks over to Jili, looking concerned]

Mulan: Jili, are you okay? You disappear suddenly, then magically reappear, then when you show up again, you start spouting out all this hot air.

Jili: It isn't hot air. [Waves her towards the door] You'd best go look for Li Liang.

Mulan [in a huff]: I don't want you to ever mention his name to me. If you do, I will never speak to you again!

Jili: Don't do that, don't do that! I know you are still angry with him. You're mad that he is such a coward, aren't you? [Mulan nods] But, Mulan, you have to look at this from his perspective. His apparent cowardice is not because he's trying to protect himself, but because he's trying to protect you. [Mulan looks surprised at this revelation, then puzzled] If you are not afraid to die, then hurry up and go find him. [Ushers her towards the door] Hurry up! Go on, you silly child! [He pushes Mulan on in spite of her feeble protests]

[Mulan hesitates, then starts to head to the door. She stops at the door and looks back at Jili, suddenly unsure of herself]

Jili [excitedly]: Go on! Don't look back.

[Mulan nods with determination, then leaves]

[Cut to General Li's quarters. He is busily packing his belongings in a cloth knapsack. It looks like he is getting ready to leave the premises, no doubt because he finds the current environment stifling. Mulan opens the door and enters, much to Li Liang's surprise]

Mulan: Take me away from here. Take me away immediately.

Li Liang [incredulous]: What are babbling about? If someone heard you, it'd be someone's head! [Grabs Mulan's arm and pushes her] Hurry up and leave here!

Mulan [shakes off his hand]: I'm not leaving!

Li Liang: Are you trying to get yourself killed?

Mulan: I'm not afraid to die. I'm only afraid of dying with regrets. I only love one man. If I can't be with him then what's the point of living? I know you don't want to cause trouble for me. That's why you've been so distant and cold, thinking it will make it easier for me to marry the Crown Prince, and thus, ensure my life. Isn't that true?

Li Liang [walks away a few steps]: I… I wasn't trying to shield you from harm. I… I really am a coward.

Mulan [follows him]: Stop lying to me! Fine. If you won't take me away from here, then I'll die in front of you, right here and right now!

[Mulan tries to run her head into the wall of the room (this, along with hanging, is one of the more "traditional" ways to commit suicide), but Li Liang grabs her arm]

Li Liang [getting scared]: Mulan, don't be so willful! I don't want you to die. What's wrong with marrying the Crown Prince? It would be a good life for you. What I can offer doesn't hold a candle to what the Crown Prince can give you.

Mulan [looks Li Liang right in the eye]: No more words. I just want you to tell me the truth. Do you care for me?

[Li Liang can't look Mulan in the eye and keeps trying to look away]

Li Liang: I…

Mulan: I want you to tell me the truth. If you really are a man, then you either care for me or you don't care for me. There is no "kind of." Tell me!

Li Liang [finally looks up]: I do care for you.

Mulan: Good. Then take me away from here.

Li Liang: Are you insane? If we were to leave now, the Emperor is sure to try and hunt us down. We'd be signing our death warrants.

Mulan: I don’t care… unless you are afraid. Otherwise, take me away now.

Li Liang: Mulan, I… I can't bear to see you die like this.

Mulan: But you can stand seeing me marry a man I don't love, living in the palace for the rest of my days, living a meaningless life? Aside from you, I won't marry anyone else. I don't want to become the Crown Prince's Consort. I'd rather follow the man I love and die together. If we are destined to only be together for one day, then I will cherish that day.

Li Liang [struggles with himself for a while, then gives in; Mulan leans on his shoulder]: So be it. Let us live day-to-day, and enjoy our lives to the fullest.

[Cut to the courtyard outside General Li's quarters. Mulan and Li Liang have each taken a bundle and prepare to run off into the night. They do not notice Su Jili is huddled behind some of the statuary. After a quick scan of their surroundings, the pair opens the outer doors and leave quietly. Jili looks on with satisfaction, but also with some regret that Mulan ran off with Li Liang and not with him]

[Cut to busy streets in city. Jili is walking down a street when he hears someone shouting his name]

Mulan's mother [shouting]: Mr. Su, Mr. Su! [Runs up to him] I've finally found you, Mr. Su!

Jili [muttering]: Why are you so anxious to find me; it's not as if I'm the God of Money.

Mulan's mother: Mr. Su, before Mulan left for the capital, she entreated me to find you and treat you well for her sake.

[Jili thinks about this a minute, then shakes his head]

Jili: I'd better not. Returning would hurt our relationship, under such circumstances.

Mulan's mother: You're really not returning with me? That's really too bad. Mulan said you really enjoyed good food. I've bought tons of good food to cook for you. [She starts to list a litany of classic dishes, but Jili has already walked off] Oh well, it looks like I wasted my time.

[Jili comes bouncing back, no doubt attracted by the thought of all those wonderful courses Mulan's mother has prepared for him]

Jili: Oh, I wouldn't say you wasted your time. How could I possibly run off like that without paying my respects first? Let's hurry back to the Hua home, okay? [He looks anxious to partake of the good food]

Mulan's mother: You're not afraid of harming our relationship if we go back?

Jili: Well, food is one of the things that will cure any relationship.

[Mulan's mother turns to head home, with Jili bouncing along beside her like a happy-go-lucky boy]

[Cut to Hua home, to the kitchen. Jili walks in]

Jili [muttering]: I wander for days, roaming to and fro, and I still end up in THIS place.

[He sees all the food laid out on the table. He grabs some to sample, then spits it out]

Jili: Bleah! It's bitter. [He tries another dish, and also spits it out] Bleah! This is bitter, too. Why does all the food taste bitter? [Pauses to think a bit] It must be because I'm in love. That's why food doesn't taste good anymore. Mulan, when you left, you not only took Love away, you also took away any flavor life holds for me.

Strange voice: How nauseating!

[The owner of the strange voice, a little man sitting cross-legged, appears suddenly atop the hearth. He is wearing an odd hat and looks rather out-of-place. Jili blinks in surprise]

Jili: Who are you?

Little Man: Why, I'm the Kitchen God.

Jili [a bit peeved]: What kind of dark magic did you use to steal my job while my back was turned. How dare you impersonate me!

Little Man: You must be the former Kitchen God. Let's see, what's your name, it was… Su Jili, right? [He steps off the hearth and looks rather snide] I was sent down to take your place. You are no longer the Kitchen God. [Jili looks stunned and at a loss for words] I also heard that the Jade Emperor is looking for you. His troops have been searching for you for quite a while. You'd best watch your back.

[Jili, hearing this, turns to run out the door, but stops after a few steps]

Jili: Weren't you sent down to capture me for punishment?

Little Man: I didn't receive any orders to do so, nor is there a reward out. [Looks Jili up and down in a condescending manner] You think you're worth a reward? I don't think so.

Jili: The Jade Emperor is looking for me and you don't seem to care a whit. Why?

Little Man: Capturing people for punishment is the job of the celestial guard; my job is to take care of the hearth. I for one do not want to give myself more to do! [Gets animated] Mark my words, the more one meddles, the more things that can go wrong; the less one meddles, the less that can go wrong. And if one doesn't meddle at all, then nothing can go wrong. [Turns around to head back to the hearth] Now please get out of here; you're disturbing my afternoon nap. [He climbs back atop the hearth and disappears]

Jili [incredulous]: My goodness, this guy is even lazier and gluttonous than I am!

[Cut to Li Liang's mother's home. His mother is sitting at a table in the sitting room trying to massage her aching back. Yiren walks in carrying a tray of tea for her aunt]

Yiren [places the tray down and pours some tea]: Aunt, please have some tea.

Li Liang's mother [still rubbing her back]: These past few days my arthritis has been acting up again. I ache so much that I really can't do anything around the house. Thank goodness you are here to look after me.

Yiren: No need to thank me, Aunt. I just heard that there is a famous doctor in the city who specializes in curing arthritic ills. But… this fellow is really rather odd. He doesn't make house calls; you have to visit his clinic if you want help.

Li Liang's mother [sighs]: He insists on sick people paying HIM a house call? I can't even walk a few steps without pain. If I had to go to the city, it'd be the death of me!

Yiren: Don't worry, Aunt. I went to visit his clinic yesterday. I begged him on my knees for two hours until he finally agreed to come pay you a house call. He'll be here this afternoon. [Starts to massage her aunt's shoulders]

Li Liang's mother: You are so dutiful, Yiren, you are like a daughter to me. Such devotion is precious and can't be bought. [Starts to frown] That rascally son of mine! He disappointed us! (She is referring to an earlier episode where she tried to get trick her son into marrying Yiren)

Yiren: Aunt, let's not talk about that, okay?

Li Liang's mother [exasperated]: Where the heck has he been lately? It's been such a long time since he last visited. I wonder if he even remembers that he has a mother waiting at home for him?

[There is some commotion from outside the front door. Several soldiers appear, along with Yiren's father]

Yiren's father [striding in]: Here. Over here. This is the one. [Points to his sister, Li Liang's mother] She's the one! Hurry, arrest her! [The soldiers hurry and arrest Li Liang's mother. She struggles in their grasp. Yiren tries to stop her father]

Li Liang's mother [to her brother]: You! You son-of-a-bitch! I know we've had our differences, but I am your sister! You had the gall to call in the imperial guard to arrest me. What kind of person are you?

Yiren's father [not at all ashamed]: Sister, dear, I am not that kind of person. You spend all your time indoors so you never hear the news. Do you know what your precious son has done? He's run off with the future bride of the Crown Prince! They've run far, very far away! [Everyone looks shocked at this news, especially Yiren] This is a serious offense! The Emperor is most displeased. This is your own fault; you didn't bring up your son properly, so this is your comeuppance!

Li Liang's mother [bewildered]: My son? Is he okay?

Yiren's father [loudly to troops]: Take her away! [They start to haul her out the door while Yiren keeps trying to talk to her father]

Yiren: Father, what is the meaning of this? You have to rescue Aunt!

Yiren's father: You want me to rescue her? I barely saved my own skin just now. Her precious son almost dragged me down with him. Luckily, your father is silver-tongued, plus I brought the troops myself to arrest your aunt, otherwise, I would be in just as much trouble! [He hurriedly leaves Yiren, who is wringing her hands in despair]

[Cut to scene in the city streets. Mulan and Li Liang are walking through the busy thoroughfares, chatting companionably. Mulan is dressed as a man again so as to better hide amongst other people]

Li Liang: So, where do you want to go first?

Mulan: You forgot already? Well, we have a lot of places to visit. [She lists some sights they have talked about previously] You agreed to wander the four corners of the earth to sightsee with me. You have to keep your promise!

Li Liang [chuckling]: No problem. Each day now is a gift, so don't worry.

[Mulan spots a vendor stall full of hair ornaments and jewelry. She pauses to look]

Mulan: Li Liang, will you buy me a hair ornament (the kind that looks like a stick, for either men or women)?

Li Liang: Sure. Just pick which one you want.

[Mulan begins to sort through the vendor's wares, not noticing the odd looks she is getting. Li Liang does notice, and tries to smile nervously in response to the questioning looks he is receiving. The vendor is probably wondering if Mulan is Li Liang's male lover but is too polite to ask]

Li Liang [whispering to Mulan]: Hey, don't forget you are now dressed as a man. People are starting to stare.

Mulan: Who cares? Here, I'd like to buy this one. [She picks one ornament out of the pile and hands it Li Liang] Will you put it in my hair for me?

[Li Liang gently places the ornament in Mulan's hair. You can see she is trying to flirt with him]

Mulan: Does it look nice?

Li Liang [nods approvingly]: Very becoming.

[Cut to local inn. Li Liang asks the innkeeper if there are two rooms available for the night. He says there are and to please wait and rest while he goes to prepare them. During this interchange, Mulan carefully keeps her face hidden (is she afraid of someone recognizing her?). The pair then sits down at a table, orders some food, and begins to eat]

Li Liang [to Mulan, after she has refreshed herself with some food]: Do you feel better now?

[Mulan, mouth full, just nods and tries to grin. At this point, a strange male voice calls out]

Voice: General Li!

[Li Liang suddenly kicks the table aside and jumps up. Mulan follows, sensing trouble. Simultaneously, the inn fills with several bounty hunters, all intent on capturing Mulan and Li Liang. The pair fights hand-to-hand against their attackers, none of whom wear uniforms or otherwise look familiar. After they temporarily dispatch several of these men, they grab their packs and bolt out the door, running at full speed. They do not stop until they have shaken off their pursuers]

Mulan [out of breath]: Who were those people? And why did they attack us?

Li Liang: Think about the situation. The Emperor has lost face with our sudden departure, so he wouldn't send out the Imperial Guard and make a big fuss to track us down. He must have put a bounty on our heads and informed everyone in the underground.

Mulan: In that case, we'd best be on our guard from now on.

[Cut to scene along another city street. There is a wanted poster on the wall, declaring that Mulan and Li Liang are wanted by the Emperor (I am guessing at this; couldn't quite decipher the entire poster) and that Li Liang's mother has been arrested for her involvement in their crime. There is a large crowd of people reading it. Li Liang and Mulan, seeing what it says from a distance, realize their predicament and hurriedly walk away]

[Cut to cave. Mulan and Li Liang are inside, no doubt trying to hide]

Li Liang [looks depressed]: I am such an unfilial son. I have brought this trouble upon my own mother.

Mulan [walks up to him]: I'll go back and turn myself in. I'll explain that this was all my idea, that your mother is innocent, and to please release her.

Li Liang: If you do that, you are only signing your death warrant.

Mulan [thoughtfully]: I once rescued the Emperor. He isn't likely to kill me after what I did for him.

Li Liang: But even if you dodged the executioner's ax, you wouldn't be able to dodge a lifetime prison sentence. Do you want to spend the rest of your life rotting in jail?

Mulan [protesting]: But we can't just leave your mother in jail.

[Li starts to pace in his frustration, then finally resorts to bashing his head against the wall as a way of venting. Mulan, shocked at his behavior, rushes over to stop him]

Mulan [alarmed]: Don't do that! Calm down. If we calm down, I'm sure we can think of a plan.

[Li Liang stops, then turns around and walks away from Mulan. When his back is turned, she deals a smart blow at the back of his head. He drops to the floor, knocked out cold. She kneels down and takes his hand in hers. Her face is full of pain, determination, and love for him]

Mulan [whispers]: I'm sorry. If your mother suffered as a result of me, I'd never be able to forgive myself. More importantly, I don't want you saddled with the title of unfilial son. As for me, I'll be content knowing you once cared for me deeply. You must live a long and fruitful life without me. Even though we couldn't be man and wife in this lifetime, I hope we will be able to grow old together in our next lifetime. [Holds his hand to her cheek briefly, then gets up. She grabs her pack and looks at him one last time, then leaves the cave. She stands just outside the cave, debating with herself, then cinches her pack tighter on her back. Resolutely, she starts walking on the road towards the palace]

[Cut to the courtyard of the Hua home. Jili is chopping firewood with much vim and energy]

Jili [muttering]: Said she (Mulan's mother) would treat me well… and said she'd treat me as a member of the family. Humph! I'm just a slave in her eyes, the way she makes me do all these backbreaking chores. Well, I suppose I asked for it. I knew my yen for good food would get me in trouble. She caught me hook, line, and sinker. [He takes a few more whacks at the kindling]

Mulan's mother [running in]: Jili! Oh, I hope you don't mind my asking you to do all these chores.

Jili [starts to protest]: But I do…

Mulan's mother [interrupts him mid-sentence]: I just knew you wouldn't mind. You know, Mulan always said you were a good person, and originally, I didn't believe her. Now, I see it's true with my own eyes. [Starts to sound smarmy] I mean, just look at our household. All that are left are either womenfolk or a crippled old man. In future, we'll have to count on you to help us with all manner of chores that require manly exertions. [Changes the subject again] Oh yes, that reminds me, when Mulan left for the capital, Eunuch Gui promised the Emperor would send for us as soon as she settled down. It's been quite a while since she left. I wonder why we haven't heard anything yet? [Jili starts to look rather uncomfortable, since he knows the true reason no word has come. Mulan's mother continues talking, looking rather starry-eyed and full of grand plans, as if she is building her castles in the air] To think, our family has produced the Crown Prince's Consort. It's such an honor. If Mulan become Empress one day, just think how glorious it will be for me, since I'm the Empress's mother!

Jili: Personally, I think being Empress is tremendously overrated. I believe the most important thing in life is to be able to spend time with the person you love most. Now, that is the salt of life.

Mulan's mother [looks puzzled]: What do you mean by that?

Jili [seeing that Mulan's mother is no philosopher]: Oh, nothing. I hope Mulan lives happily ever after.

Mulan's mother: I'm sure she will. [Notices all the chopped kindling] You're finished chopping wood? My, you are quick! That reminds me, it's been a long time since the outhouse was cleaned. You have no idea how dirty and smelly it is now. I hope you don't mind helping me clean it.

Jili: Hey! Why me again?

Mulan's mother [starts to sound wheedling]: You wouldn't have the heart to expect an old lady like me to do such rough work, would you? Please?

Jili [his resolve breaking, he grasps at any excuse]: But… I haven't finished chopping firewood.

Mulan's mother [starts to push him towards the outhouse, wheedling him the whole way]: Don't worry about the wood; I'll finish up here.

[Jili sees that she isn't going to be persuaded easily, so he gives up and walks out]

[Cut to scene just outside outhouse. Jili lugs out the bucket from the outhouse. His nostrils are stuffed with two large wads of paper, no doubt to help mask the pungent smell of the outhouse]

Jili: My goodness, the smell! What do these people eat? [Sets the bucket down, then grabs a brush to swab it] To think that I've fallen to this level, it's to be expected for Love. No matter. For Mulan's sake, I'd willingly fall into a outhouse ditch.

[He continues to swap the outhouse. Suddenly, the Outhouse Goddess materializes right behind him]

Jili: And what are you doing here? I'm in your territory, swabbing things for you. Leave. [The Outhouse Goddess starts to giggle] What are you giggling for, you idiot?

Outhouse Goddess [still laughing]: It's you who are the idiot. You're good intentions have been wasted. The Emperor has captured Li Liang's mother to lure them (Li Liang and Mulan) out. Mulan, not wanting Li Liang's mother to suffer on her account, has already abandoned him and returned to the capital.

Jili [shocked]: What?

Outhouse Goddess: That's right. Mulan is about to enter the capital now. And here you are, still mooning about her.

Jili [starts to crumple]: Oh, Mulan. I don't want to live anymore! [He tries to shove his head into the latrine bucket. The Outhouse Goddess grabs him to stop him]

Outhouse Goddess [alarmed]: What the heck do you think you are doing?

Jili [continues to try to dunk his head]: I don't want to live anymore. I want to gas myself to death with these fumes!

Outhouse Goddess: Why are you doing this?

Jili: I've expended a huge amount of energy and I still can't protect Mulan. I'm such a useless coward! Since I can't save Mulan, then what's the point of remaining here on earth? Life no longer has a purpose for me. [Tries to dunk his head again] Please, let me die.

Outhouse Goddess [grabbing Jili]: Hey, don't do that. Really, you don't need to do this.

Jili [suddenly standing up]: You're right. I can't just die like this. If I die, then no one can help Mulan. There are no difficult things in life that determined people cannot overcome. I have to go to the capital to save Mulan.

Outhouse Goddess: You want to go to the capital? [Starts to count on her fingers] Mulan has already entered the capital. The Emperor will no doubt give the order to execute her shortly. [Looks Jili up and down] Your magical powers are so weak, plus you now have the burden of a mortal body, you can't even ascend the heavens like a god, let alone fly all the way to the capital. How do you expect to rescue Mulan?

Jili [thinks about this a while]: Um… Wait a minute, you ate one of the Celestial peaches. That should have increased your magical powers. Couldn't you take me to the capital?

Outhouse Goddess: Who, me? Why should I help you? You're nothing special to me. [Turns her back on him]

Jili [grabs her arm]: Please, oh please take me to the capital.

[They tussle for a few minutes, with Jili constantly begging the goddess and the goddess continuously trying to shake him off]

Jili: Fine. If you refuse to help me, then knock me to the eighteenth level of Hell and put me out of my misery. If I can't rescue Mulan, then I'd rather stay there and never reincarnate again. [Grabs her arm again] Please, please, kill me. I'm afraid of pain. When I think of Mulan, my heart aches. I don't want to live anymore…[Outhouse Goddess grabs Jili by the collar] Hey, what the heck do you think you're doing? [Jili stands up straighter] I don't want to live anymore. Just hit me right here (pointing to his chest). I'm not afraid of dying. I only ask that you do it quickly, because I'm afraid of it hurting. [He shuts his eyes and awaits for oblivion]

Outhouse Goddess: Who wants to kill a lovesick puppy? [They both vanish]

[Cut to the Emperor's throne room. Mulan, dressed as a man, is kneeling before the Emperor, Empress, and Second Prince]

Emperor: Hua Mulan, I spared you from punishment for impersonating a soldier because I respected you. Then I gave you the princess's hand in marriage, then betrothed you to the Crown Prince. Who would have known you would throw away my good intentions and run off with Li Liang? You have sorely disappointed me.

Second Prince: Sire, I have long noticed that Mulan and Li Liang had an immoral (carnal?) relationship. Back at camp, when they went undercover to investigate a crime (the kidnapped flower sellers) they had to draw lots to see who had to dress up as a woman. Their behavior was quite suspicious; originally, I wanted to question them, but my elder brother strenuously argued otherwise, so I dropped the subject. He was obviously under their manipulative influence.

Empress: Your brother is such an incompetent fool. I've always detested the sin of blatant shamelessness. Hua Mulan and Li Liang must not be excused such outrageous behavior!

Mulan: Please, Majesties, let me explain. Li Liang and I have always behaved with propriety. We have never done anything that even hinted of a deviation from proper behavior. Originally, we were destined as soulmates, but due to the caprices of fate, I became the Crown Prince's betrothed. Even though I tried hard to get the Emperor to reconsider, he refused to listen. In the heat of the moment, I made an error in judgment and persuaded Li Liang to run off with me. I know this is a grievous sin that cannot be forgiven. However, Li Liang is innocent. He couldn't refuse my endless entreaties and threats of suicide if he didn't run off with me. I beg you, your Majesty, to rescind his death warrant. Moreover, his mother is even less guilty of any crime, as she had absolutely no involvement. Please, your Majesty, I beg for your mercy.

Emperor [to Empress]: Well, what do you think? I made a mistake not asking at the beginning if she even wanted to become betrothed to the Crown Prince, but ran roughshod over her feelings, so I bear part of the blame for this. I think it's best that I pardon her.

Second Prince [protesting]: Sire, Mulan knew you wouldn't have the heart to execute her since she once saved your life. That's why she has heaped all the blame for this on her own head. She knew this would leave Li Liang in the clear. Sire, these two must not be allowed to go free!

Empress [nodding]: I agree. He (Li Liang) knew Mulan was the Crown Prince's betrothed, yet he still ran off with her. If that isn't a clear example of disrespect towards the Emperor, I don't know what is! The Crown Prince helped her disclose her true identity, yet she repays his kindness with such an insult. That alone is enough to justify executing both of them. These two vermin must not be pardoned!

[The Crown Prince hurriedly walks in, with Li Liang trailing two steps behind]

Crown Prince: Sire! Sire! [He pauses when he sees Mulan kneeling there before the Emperor]

Li Liang [to Mulan]: Mulan!

Mulan [turning]: Why are you here?

Li Liang [kneels next to Mulan]: Your Majesty, I know I have committed a crime of the blackest shade. I expect nothing less than death. I beg your Majesty, however, to please spare Mulan. I forced her to run away with me. This whole affair is not her fault. I only ask that you spare my mother and Hua Mulan from punishment.

[Li Liang and Mulan verbally spar back and forth, both claiming to be the sole culprit and asking to spare the other the death penalty]

Second Prince [sneering]: Such a loving yet shameless couple!

[Cut to the street outside, where Jili and the Outhouse Goddess are rematerializing]

Jili: We're here! The palace is just ahead! [Turns to Outhouse Goddess, where he bows in thanks] Thank you so much.

Outhouse Goddess: Don't mention it.

[Jili starts to run towards the front door of the palace, but is stopped dead in his tracks by a large golden mallet, wielded by the Thunder God]

Thunder God: Why are you here again?

Jili [ducking behind the Outhouse Goddess]: Um, um, this is the Outhouse Goddess. She used to reek to high heaven, making all people detest her, but since she came down to earth to help me, the lowly Kitchen God, she has become a different person. She has become sweet smelling; people and gods alike adore her when they meet. See, isn't she cute as a button? [Points to the smiling goddess's face] Make sure you take a closer look.

[Jili ducks behind her and tries to squeeze by the Thunder God while he is looking at the Outhouse Goddess. For his pains, Jili gets dinged again on the head with the Thunder God's mallet]

Jili: What did you do that for? Your eyes were supposed to be elsewhere! [To Outhouse Goddess] I thought the Celestial peach gave you additional power. Can't you help me out here? [She shakes her head]

Thunder God: Celestial peaches are meant for helping gods do good deeds, not for selfish reasons! You two had best scram, lest I decide to punish you for abusing your powers!

Jili [to Outhouse Goddess]: You go on and leave without me. [To Thunder God] I am going in!

Thunder God: You dare! If you take one step closer, I'll vaporize you!

[Jili deliberately takes a step forward, then dances around the Thunder God, daring him to do his worst]

Jili: I love Hua Mulan. What do you know about love? I'm doing this for her.

Thunder God: You idiot. If you were to die, she wouldn't know you loved her. It wouldn't change a thing.

Jili: But I know, and you know, and the sky and the earth both know. All the gods and demons of the heavens know. I wasn't a very successful Kitchen God, but I feel I've been very successful at love. I am willing to die for love. I love Hua Mulan. I have her in my heart. My only regret is that I wasted all those centuries only concerning myself with eating, drinking, and having a good time. I didn't practice my magic to improve it, so now I can't protect the one I love. [Runs into the Thunder God's mallet again, but this time, he's knocked out cold]

[Cut to inside of palace. Mulan and Li Liang are still kneeling before the Emperor, Empress, and Second Prince]

Crown Prince: Sire, since they are soulmates, we should help them complete each other and give them their happiness.

Empress [irate]: You must be insane! He (Li Liang) stole your wife, and you are speaking on his behalf?!

Crown Prince: Actually, he didn't steal my wife; Sire stole HIS wife, then foisted her on me. They are so in love, yet we are still trying to tear them apart. There are lots of fish in the ocean; I don't mind not having her for my bride.

Empress [still angry]: Preposterous!

Emperor [trying to soothe the Empress]: He has a point.

Empress: Even you are getting wishy-washy! You betrothed her to the Crown Prince. She is not allowed to second-guess your wishes! She can only think of how best to serve the Crown Prince as his wife!

Crown Prince [taking another tack]]: Mother, how come Sire only has you for a wife? He doesn't have a single concubine.

Empress: He doesn't dare!

Crown Prince: You often remind Sire that he must remain committed to his decisions and not change them on a whim. What if, for example, one day we were overrun by the barbarians?

Emperor: Balderdash! Our empire will never fall!

Crown Prince: I only said for example. What if one day the Tujue Khan decides he wants to crush your power? What if, to avert total destruction, he insists that you marry one of his princesses to tie his empire to ours? Would you do it? Do you think should do it?

Empress: Of course not. Since he picked me for his wife, he is not allowed the luxury of accepting another woman's hand in marriage.

Crown Prince: Well, what if the penalty for refusing is death?

Empress: Then death it will be. He should sacrifice everything else rather than marry a woman he doesn't love.

Crown Prince: Mother, you speak the truth. But, how come you have two standards? Hua Mulan acted the way she did because she'd rather risk death than marry someone she doesn't love. She only cares for Li Liang, and since she puts that love above all else, she was willing to risk the Emperor's wrath rather than marry someone she doesn't love. [Mulan and Li Liang look at each other, with Mulan starting to blush just a bit] She, in spite of all the obstacles, did not waver in her love, so how come you still insist on executing her?

Emperor [utterly forgetting his dignity]: Excellent, my son, spoken well! [Quiets down after a glare from the Empress]

Second Prince: Hua Mulan, what spell have you cast on my Sire and brother? They are both utterly under your power. You must be an unclean spirit in the shape of a human. [To Empress] Mother, Hua Mulan must be a demon; how else would she have such influence over Sire and Brother. If we don't exorcise this demon immediately, the world will dissolve in chaos. [Seeing his mother nod in agreement, he pulls out a dagger and steps towards Mulan. Li Liang and Mulan start in surprise, but remain kneeling] This demon must be gotten rid of!

Li Liang [tries to block him]: Your Highness, what are you doing?

[The clouds start to boil overhead, darkening the sky with huge thunderclouds. Lightening begins to flash, then rain starts to fall. Just as the Second Prince raises his dagger to stab Mulan, a lightening bolt comes out of the sky and hits him. The electricity shoots through his body, causing him to jerk and convulse, dropping the dagger and falling to the ground in a faint. Everyone rushes to his side, calling his name, but he does not respond. Mulan and Li Liang remain kneeling, looking at each other in shock and some awe]

Emperor: How odd. Why did thunder and lightening appear so suddenly?

Crown Prince: It must be because what my brother just said has somehow offended the gods.

[Empress is holding her son, begging him to open his eyes and pleading with the gods to forgive her son his trespasses, saying he his young and foolish, etc., etc.]

Crown Prince: It happened right when he was going to stab Mulan. [Looks at Mulan with awe] Mulan must have the protection of the gods!

Empress [seizing this chance]: Hua Mulan, hurry and save my son. We will pardon all your crimes.

Emperor: Mulan, please hurry and save my son.

Mulan [hesitantly]: Your Majesty, I don't know if I have the ability…

Li Liang: Don't worry about that. It can't hurt to try.

[Mulan says a prayer to the gods, asking for them to heal the Second Prince and promises her gratitude for their help. Shortly after, the Second Prince wakes up, looking dazed but otherwise unhurt]

Crown Prince: Mother, you promised to free Mulan and Li Liang. You must not go back on your word.

Empress: Of course. I pardon them! I pardon them!

Crown Prince: I have one more request. Could you rescind your order that Mulan marry me? I'm not interested in her. Besides, she just saved the Second Prince. How about giving her to Li Liang to wed?

[Mulan and Li Liang visibly light up when they hear this. The Emperor thinks this over, then agrees. Mulan and Li Liang stand up]

Emperor: I hereby give you my blessing to wed, to never be parted in this lifetime, and to grow old together. Hua Mulan, you once saved my life, and today you've saved my son's life. You have done great things for the Sui Empire. [Pauses a bit, then continues] Hua Mulan, I have an order for you.

Mulan [kneels again]: Yes, your Majesty.

Emperor: I hereby make you a general of this Empire.

Mulan [face full of happiness]: Thank you, your Majesty!

[Li Liang looks on, beaming with great pride and happiness at the outcome of these events. Everyone in the room is smiling, except for the Second Prince, who looks as if he has a rather bad taste in his mouth]

[Cut to the Second Prince's quarters. He is sitting at a table, still looking a bit under the weather but otherwise does not show any outward signs of having recently been hit by lightning. The Empress walks in with her entourage]

Empress: My son, how are you feeling?

Second Prince: Much better, Mother. Thank you for your concern.

Empress: That's good. Thank heavens Hua Mulan asked the gods to spare you on your behalf, otherwise you'd be in much worse shape. It's quite strange to think she has the gods on her side assisting her…

Second Prince: Mother, I don't think it's the gods, but rather that she is in league with the dark powers. You must beware of her abilities. How else could she do the things she has done?

Empress [starting to doubt Mulan]: Do you really think so?

Second Prince [ever the snake]: Oh, I'm not certain, but I would rather be on my guard about such things, lest great evil befalls our empire because we didn't watch our backs.