Episode 44:

Empress: You may have escaped capital punishment, but that doesn't mean you
can escape any punishment. [She turns to the Emperor] Your Majesty, since
Hua Mulan discovered these lapses in our preparedness for war, wouldn't it
be best to have her work to remedy the situation?

Emperor [nods]: That's a good idea. Hua Mulan, prepare to receive orders.

Mulan [kneels]: Yes, Your Majesty?

Emperor: Hua Mulan, I want you to beef up our army in all aspects of
readiness, whether it involve discharges, care, or training of our troops. I
want you to come up with a plan on how to accomplish this and bring all
three armies' troops up to snuff.

Mulan: Yes, Your Majesty! [The Second Prince glares at Mulan out of the
corner of his eye.

[Cut to jail. Li Liang's mother, Yiren, and the rest of the household
servants are in a cell. They are sitting in the straw on the floor. Li Liang
's mother is leaning against Yiren for support]

Yiren: Don't worry, Aunt. Cousin will be all right.

Li Liang's mother: If there was nothing wrong then why did we all get thrown
into jail? [Sighs loudly]

[At this time, a guard comes to the cell]

Guard: There's news! There's news! Marshal Li and General Hua have both been

Li Liang's mother: What? What did you say? Who's been beheaded?

Guard: Marshal Li and General Hua have both been beheaded.

Li Liang's mother [blanches]: What? Yiren? [Moans]: Li Liang.oh. [She
faints. Yiren tries to wake her up, but to no avail]

Yiren: Aunt, what's the matter? Aunt? [Hollers] Someone come help! She needs
medical attention! Aunt! Someone come help!

[The jailkeeper runs to the cell]

Jailkeeper: It's all a big mistake. The Emperor has spared both Marshal Li
and General Hua.

Yiren: What? What did you say?

Jailkeeper: I said, the Emperor has released both Marshal Li and General

Yiren [tears of joy]: Aunt! [Still tries to wake up her aunt] Aunt, wake up.
All is well now. Aunt, wake up. Aunt?

[Cut to Li Liang's mother's quarters back in the Generals' Residence. Li
Liang's mother is in bed asleep and is slowly coming to from her faint. Li
Liang is at her side as she awakens]

Li Liang: Mother? [Yiren is anxiously waiting at his side]

Li Liang's mother [wakes up and tries to sit up]: Li Liang. We have such
bitter fates. I never imagined that after all I went through to raise you to
manhood, we won't get to meet again until we have both passed from this

Li Liang [puzzled]: Passing from this life? What are you talking about,

Li Liang's mother [mournfully]: You were such a bright boy in life; why are
you so foolish in death? The Emperor chopped off your head, don't you
remember? [Suddenly realizes something] How did I die? Was I beheaded or did
I die by the noose?

Yiren: Aunt!

Li Liang's mother [shocked]: Yiren? You too?

Yiren [scoffing]: Aunt, take a good look. You and Cousin are both still

Li Liang's mother [elated]: Still alive? [Grabs her son's arm to make sure,
then frowns] That damn fool said that you were already [she hurriedly covers
her mouth in shock], bless us, bless us, bless us all. (I think she's trying
to avert bringing bad luck on the family by saying unfortuitous things) That
knave was beyond belief! I'm going to kill him! [She gets up quickly but Li
Liang and Yiren restrain her]

Li Liang: Wait, Mother. A magnanimous person doesn't let small people
disturb his tranquility. You don't want to make yourself sick with anger, do
you? Besides, everyone is safely home now. Isn't that what counts? Don't
make a fuss over him.

Li Liang's mother [gruffly]: Oh, forget about it, then. By the way, Li
Liang, why did the Emperor arrest all of us and throw us in jail? What
damned fool framed us, eh?

Li Liang [nervously]: Um. [Mulan walks in the room with a bowl of medicine]

Mulan: Popo, you're awake now? This is a bowl of soup that the doctor
prescribed for you. Please drink it. I just finished brewing it. [She hands
it to Li Liang's mother but she almost drops it]

Li Liang's mother: Wow, that's hot! I'll drink it a little later.

Yiren [takes bowl]: Here, let me handle it. [She lifts the lid and blows on
it to cool the soup]

Li Liang's mother: Li Liang, you haven't told me yet, what the heck

Li Liang [uncomfortable]: Well, um.

Mulan [nervously]: Actually, it's like this. The Second Prince wanted to
make something out of nothing, so he took a letter I wrote to Brother Liang
and gave it to the Emperor to read. That's why, um.

Li Liang's mother [scoffs]: Your letters only contain common, everyday
things. What's in them that he could use?

Mulan: In my letters I wrote some stuff about the dissatisfaction of the
troops so Brother Liang would know about it. How was I supposed to know?

Li Liang's mother [livid]: How were you supposed to know? How were you
supposed to know? How were you supposed to know that you would be the
downfall of the Li family and cause our blood to flow in a river? It's bad
enough that you can't seem to have any kids but you also seem to attract
additional calamities. I don't know what karmic error I committed to end up
with a daughter-in-law like you!

[Mulan is about to lunge and snap at Li Liang's mother, but Li Liang pulls
her aside in time]

Li Liang [whispering]: Mulan, my mother was stuck in a jail cell overnight,
plus she just awakened from her swoon. It's small wonder her words have a
bit more fire than usual. Don't get into a match with her.

Mulan [grimly]: Fine. I'll grant her that much face. [She turns to leave]

Li Liang: Mulan, where are you going?

Mulan: I'm heading back to headquarters to take care of some things.

Li Liang: Hurry back.

Li Liang's mother [yanks Li Liang's sleeve]: What are you harping about?
When she went to the mountains it was an unusually peaceful time her for us.
As soon as she returned you almost lost your head.

Li Liang: Mother, this incident isn't Mulan's fault. There's someone who is
out to get us.

Li Liang's mother [chides]: Li Liang, what exactly happened in the past
between you and the Second Prince? Couldn't you just give him a nice present
as a token of your esteem?

Li Liang: Mother, it's not that simple.

Yiren [brings soup]: Aunt, it's ready now. [Li Liang's mother takes the soup
and starts to drink it] Actually, you don't need to worry. The Second Prince
may not care for Cousin, but the Crown Prince certainly gets along well with
us. This time, he was the one that talked to the Empress and persuaded her
to talk to the Emperor on Cousin's behalf.

Li Liang's mother: Really? Then we owe him a sincere vote of appreciation.
[Continues to drink the soup]

Maid [runs in]: Young Master, Young Master, Miss Xiaoqian and the Crown
Prince have arrived. They are in the main sitting room.

Li Liang: Go tell the Crown Prince that I will be out shortly. [Maid turns
and leaves]

Li Liang's mother [gets up quickly]: Hey, I want to go, too. [She hands the
bowl to Yiren, then with Li Liang's help, stands up]

Li Liang: Careful. [The trio walk quickly out the door to the main sitting
room. Inside the main sitting room, the Crown Prince is in a chair sipping
from a cup of tea while Xiaoqian stands at his side. Li Liang's mother and
Yiren kneel before the Crown Prince while Li Liang salutes] Your Highness.

Crown Prince [walks over]: Rise, all of you.

Li Liang: Your Highness, it's a good thing you arrived when you did.
Otherwise, our whole family would have to meet in the next world.

Crown Prince: I did it for the sake of keeping two valuable generals working
towards the glory of the Sui Empire. Why thank me? If you wish to thank
someone, thank Miss Xiaoqian. After she was released, she looked high and
low for me in the hopes that I could rescue you.

Li Liang's mother [goes to Xiaoqian]: Oh, Xiaoqian, this was so much to ask
of you.

Xiaoqian: Elder Mistress, it was nothing. You have always treated me as a
member of the family. I didn't do anything unusual.

Li Liang's mother: You have saved my family so many times. I don't even know
how to begin to thank you.

Xiaoqian: Elder Mistress, I was born to a tough life. I am content being
able to stay at your side and continue living under the Marshal's roof.

Li Liang: Um. Your Highness, this way please. [He directs the Crown Prince
to another room. Yiren remains behind and looks suspicious about something.
Xiaoqian looks away while Li Liang's mother continues to beam in gratitude
towards her]

[Cut to city street. Yiren is looking for Jili and is becoming impatient at
the delay. When she finally spots him limping along the street she runs up
to him. His right leg is bound with strips of red cloth and he is using a
length of wood post as a crutch]

Yiren [sarcastically]: Why don't you just wait till next year to arrive?

Jili: Miss Xu, who has offended you now?

Yiren: Why did you bother coming here? [Starts barking at him] I was stuck
in a jail cell overnight and I was almost beheaded this morning. [Jili
cringes at the sharpness of her tone] And where were you in all this?
[Significantly] Were you enjoying your luxurious bed, or were you drinking
and carousing around town?

Jili: Me?! [He lifts up a large bundle about the size of a rolled-up
sleeping bag. This is presumably his wounded leg] My leg is in pieces like
this, and for whose sake did I do this? Well?

Yiren [defensively]: Don't tell me this elephant's leg is yours. [Turns
away] For all I know, you tripped over your own feet because you drank too
much last night.

Jili [irate]: You are absolutely unfeeling! [He lets his injured leg down
with a thump and winces in pain at the impact] When I heard yesterday night
that you were in trouble, I immediately hopped a fleet steed and headed for
the West Palace to fetch the Crown Prince to come and save you. However, I
didn't know that as soon as I hopped on that horse I would fall off. But I
didn't utter a single cry of pain. I girded up my loins and jumped right
back on that horse's back. I ignored the pain and kept galloping along. But
then I noticed that my leg was getting more and more swollen. [Yiren starts
to look concerned at this point in Jili's story] And I didn't even spare it
a second glance. I really didn't. I focused on getting to the West Palace
and finding the Crown Prince, then making sure he agreed to go back to the
palace the same night. Actually, I wanted to join them in coming to rescue
you, but by that time, my leg was swollen to the size of a picnic shoulder.
I couldn't even walk a step by then. I had to content myself with staying
behind and waiting for the doctor to tend to my leg.

Yiren [relenting]: Is that true?

Jili [impatiently]: Why would I lie to you? Do you think the Crown Prince
has nothing better to do with his time and just happened to be in the right
place at the right time so he could save your family?

Yiren: It's not that. It's just that the Crown Prince just said that
Xiaoqian ran into him and that's why he came to rescue us.

Jili [whirls on her]: So. That means you don't believe that I really went
through all those difficulties last night, do you?

Yiren [pouts]: Did I say that? [Smirks] I bet you wouldn't dare lie to me.
Besides, you have your elephant leg as proof. [She snuggles up to him and
puts her arm around his shoulders to cuddle] Does it hurt still?

Jili: Now that's more like it. It won't hurt now. So the Crown Prince didn't
even mention me at all? Now that's weird.

Yiren: Hm. There's only one explanation for that.

Jili: And what's that?

Yiren: The Crown Prince has fallen for Xiaoqian. That's why all your efforts
were cast aside.

Jili [frowning]: Did that really happen?

Yiren: When the Crown Prince brought Xiaoqian back just now, the way he was
eyeing her, I'm pretty sure I'm right. [Playfully shoves him] In future, it
looks like your Mulan is safe.

Jili [absentmindedly]: Well, that's true. It looks like my Mulan is.[Yiren
slaps his arm] What do you mean "my Mulan?" What the heck are you talking

Yiren: I can't even joke with you?

Jili: Who has time to joke with you?

Yiren: Well, if this is true then that's a pretty good thing. [Jili puts his
arm around Yiren and draws her close]

Jili: Watch your demeanor.

Yiren [plays with his collar]: Seriously, do you want me to tell everyone
about your endeavors so you can claim some kudos?

Jili: Well, as long as you know that I'm sincere in my feelings and you are
safe and unharmed, then I don't care about the other stuff. [Yiren looks
happily at Jili and hugs him harder, causing the both of them to lose their
balance and fall to the ground in a heap]

[Cut to a sitting room at night. Mulan is sitting at the table writing
something when Li Liang walks in and sits next to her]

Li Liang: Do you need any help?

Mulan: Don't touch my stuff. If you mess it up, I'll have to start over.

Li Liang: Mulan, my mother was a little excessive in what she said today.
Don't be angry.

Mulan: If I really was angry, then I wouldn't have time to do anything else.
With regards to your mother, I'm resigned to it.

Li Liang: I know that you end up with the short end of the stick sometimes.

Mulan [raises eyebrows]: What do you mean sometimes? The vast majority of
the time I get the short end of the stick. [Looks playfully at him] But,
since she's your mother, and since I like you so much, I really have no
other way.

Li Liang [chuckles]: How nauseating.

Mulan [mock dismay]: Hey, I thought you liked hearing stuff like that; that'
s why I said it. Otherwise, I'm normally quite reserved and introverted.

Li Liang: I can't do a thing with you.

Mulan: Of course not. Who told you to marry me? What's the matter? Are you
trying to escape my clutches? [She uses her outstretched palm to illustrate
her point] It's not that easy.

Li Liang: Of course not. I'm done playing. How much longer do you have here?

Mulan: Probably another couple of hours. You go to bed first.

Li Liang [stands up]: Okay. Don't stay up too late.

Mulan: These next few days I need to go to headquarters to discuss things
with the other officers. So for the next few days, you'll have to look after

Li Liang: Don't worry about me. Just focus on your duties. [He turns and

[Cut to Li Liang and Mulan's quarters. Xiaoqian is inside making up Li Liang
and Mulan's bed when Li Liang walks in the room. He doesn't realize Xiaoqian
is in the inner chamber. He heads to the table and lifts the lid off the
teapot to see if it has any tea in it. He almost drops it when he jumps to
feet in surprise at the sound of Xiaoqian's voice]

Xiaoqian: Marshal.

Li Liang [loudly whispering]: What are you doing in here?

Xiaoqian: I know that General Hua is quite busy, so I came to help make your
bed up for you.

Li Liang [gruffly]: You can let the servants do these chores. [Xiaoqian
laughs quietly and turns away. Li Liang looks at her in puzzlement] What are
you laughing about?

Xiaoqian: I'm laughing because I'm lucky.

Li Liang: Lucky?

Xiaoqian [looks at him]: Because in your heart, I have already started to
have a place.

Li Liang [uncomfortable]: What nonsense are you talking about?

Xiaoqian: Don't be afraid. Actually, I don't have any evil intentions. If
there is even a sliver of thought about me in your heart I am content.

Li Liang [seriously]: Miss Xiaoqian, I know you mean well. You mean well to
the whole family. You're our benefactor. But it's because of these
circumstances that I don't want to stand in your way. [She continues to
smile serenely at him] Besides, you know Mulan's personality. [Xiaoqian
interrupts him by placing a finger on her lips]

Xiaoqian: She won't hear about this incident.

Li Liang: However, could you please not come here again?

Xiaoqian: Marshal, what you feel towards General Hua, is it admiration or
true love? Can you tell it apart? [She leaves the room. He walks over to the
bed and sits on it, then notices a green handkerchief. He picks it up and
immediately guesses it belongs to Xiaoqian. He walks to the door to return
it to her but goes back in the room when he hears a maid nearby]

Maid: Miss Xiaoqian, what are you doing up this late? [Li Liang hurriedly
closes the door and is still clutching the green handkerchief]

[Cut to the Second Prince's quarters. He is drinking wine by himself and
listening to a young lady play on the zither. He tries pouring more wine out
of a jug and thumps in on the table when he realizes it's empty]

Second Prince [barks]: Hey, bring me more wine! [A serving girl brings
another jug of wine. The Second Prince holds up his cup] Fill it. [She pours
it with trembling hands. She accidentally pours too much and it overflows
from the cup. She lets out a gasp of fear and gets to her knees]

Maid: Your Highness! I.[she continues to stammer and quiver in fear]

Second Prince: I, I, I what? Did I say I was going to kill you? Here. Down
this cup of wine. Take it. [He hands it to her and she gingerly accepts it]

Maid [hesitates]: Um.

Second Prince: What's the matter? I ask you to drink some wine and you hate
the request that much? Let me feed you! [He forces the wine down her throat
then picks up the jug and pours more wine down her throat. She gasps in
protest but he continues to make her drink. The Second Prince's trusted
eunuch comes over to stop him] Drink!

Eunuch [beseeching]: Your Highness! [He cowers when the Second Prince
directs his harsh gaze in his direction. The Second Prince shoves aside the
maidservant then advances on the eunuch. He starts backing away but the
Second Prince follows him, then grabs his arm] Why are you so scared of me?
Are you afraid that since I couldn't kill Hua Mulan I'll kill you to even
the score?

Eunuch [stammers]: Your Highness, you are generous and merciful. Why would
you waste your time over the likes of me?

Second Prince [shoves him away]: Silver-tongued as a serpent. Don't worry. I
'm not mad that I wasn't able to kill Hua Mulan. I discovered that my true
enemy is Yangyong. Once I get rid of him, the monkeys in the fallen tree
will scatter. Then what can Hua Mulan and Li Liang do about me then?

Eunuch: Your Highness, you are truly shrewd. You see things clearly.

Second Prince: Yangyong, you were able to save Li Liang and Hua Mulan today,
but will they be able to save you tomorrow? [He bursts into loud laughter
and starts pouring wine down his throat]

Eunuch: Your Highness! Your Highness! [The Second Prince continues to pour
more wine] Your Highness!

[Cut to scene with the Crown Prince standing alone waiting for someone near
a pavilion. Xiaoqian appears and approaches him. He breaks into a smile when
he sees her]

Crown Prince: You're really late. I thought you weren't going to show up.

Xiaoqian: Your Highness, it is my great fortune that you are concerned for
me. How could I blow off our meeting like that?

Crown Prince: That day that you stayed temporarily at the princess's home,
what was your impression of how the princess and her consort treated you?

Xiaoqian: Of course I know. I am of humble origins, so I must have given
them something to laugh about.

Crown Prince: You're wrong. Although the princess is my cousin (paternal),
my parents have always looked after her, so her eyes see clearly. No one
really impresses her, from the deceased emperor's consort to all the other
consorts she's met. But when she met you, she said your demeanor was like
that of a celestial being and your temperament was wonderfully warm and
kind. Compared to the womenfolk in the women's quarters no one can hold a
candle to you.

Xiaoqian: How can that be? I am a commoner. How could I compare to people of
royal blood?

Crown Prince: That's what makes it doubly special. When people of royal
blood meet me they seem uneasy and uncomfortable, let alone commoners. Some
will even say only things they think I want to hear. But only you can talk
to me as if we are having a simple conversation.

Xiaoqian: It's not that I have any experience. It's that Your Highness gets
along with everyone easily.

Crown Prince [grins excitedly]: Gets along with everyone easily? Okay, um.
Will you go for a walk with me? [Xiaoqian nods slightly. The Crown Prince
extends his hand and takes hers timidly. She initially looks slightly
fearful, but allows him to take her hand. They walk off together]

[Cut to army headquarters. Mulan is sitting at a table with her officers
around her]

Mulan: If you three have any opinions or comments about how we are to
improve our military preparedness, please feel free to drop by anytime. We'
ll finish here tonight. [She gets up and the other three officers rise,
salute, and leave. Mulan takes the papers she was using and starts to browse
through them. After the others leave, Jili comes in on his crutch. He is
frowning at Mulan. He clears his throat and she looks up] Oh, it's Jili.

Jili: No wonder your popo said you weren't a woman. You aren't even human.

Mulan [patiently]: I really have a lot of things to do. If you want to find
someone to keep you entertained, go to the market and watch people shop for
herbs. If you want to find someone to bicker with, you can always look for
Yiren. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to oblige. [She turns and goes
behind her desk to sit down]

Jili [limps over]: I'm not joking with you. You are a woman. You don't need
to try and fix the world. Tell me, ever since your return from the
mountains, have you thoroughly looked over Li Liang even once?

Mulan [smirks]: A woman has to aim high and achieve greatness to earn a
better life in the next world. Li Liang is a man, so why would he change?
[Impatiently sits down] I'm really quite busy. [She reaches for a pamphlet
from a pile on her desk, but Jili snatches it away] What the heck do you

Jili: I don't want anything. I just want you to spend some more time with Li
Liang and enjoy the simple pleasures of home life.

Mulan [shortly]: Jili, do you know how many troops we have at our outposts?
Some of them haven't been home in eighteen years! How can they enjoy the
simple pleasures of home life?

Jili [thumps pamphlet on desk]: You have actually forgotten Li for the sake
of the public good (I think this is a pun). Yesterday, the entire family
almost literally lost their heads. I'm being serious now. When all is said
and done, the less you try the less chance you have of screwing up. The more
you attempt the likelier you are to fail. Don't give anyone more ammunition
to use against you.

Mulan: Jili, if someone really wanted to take me out, there's no way I could
avoid it. Since the Emperor has given me this opportunity, I have to do what
I can for those troops at the outposts. Please get out.

Jili [thumps hand on her papers]: Your radar is really not working, isn't

Mulan [eyes him narrowly]: Just what are you trying to say?

Jili [sidles closer]: When you went to the mountains, Li Liang and Xiaoqian
walked rather, ahem, closely together.

Mulan [grabs Jili and pull him until his face is six inches from hers]: Was
it this close?

Jili: You can't be too careful with men. Men will act like men, in spite of
everything. You have to be careful.

Mulan [pushes him away]: That's enough. I'll ask Yiren to keep you company.

Jili [protesting]: I was talking about Li Liang. I wanted you to spend some
more time with him. Have you forgotten the incident with him visiting the
brothel last time?

Mulan: Of course I haven't forgotten that. The truth is he only went to keep
the Crown Prince company. My impulsive nature almost got the Crown Prince
dragged down into our mess. [Grabs Jili's shoulder] Are you trying to get me
to make a mountain out of a molehill again? [Jili turns away in disgust]
Okay. You said they walked very closely together. Did anything happen?

Jili: I have my suspicions. Xiaoqian is as deep as the ocean.

Mulan [smiles]: Then there's nothing wrong. Stop trying to stir up trouble.
Now leave, please. [Shoves him away. Jili slowly clumps to the door and
leaves. Mulan turns back to her desk] Li Liang and Xiaoqian? That's

[Cut to Li Liang and Mulan's quarters. Li Liang has placed a bundle of
clothing on the table. It appears to be rough canvas cloth. He lifts the top
bundle and discovers the green handkerchief Xiaoqian left behind the time
she was making his bed for him. He picks it up, then chides himself]

Li Liang: Li Liang, what spree are you going on now?

Mulan [outside]: Brother Liang? [Li Liang hurriedly stuffs the handkerchief
into his shirt. Mulan walks in the room] Brother Liang. What's the matter?

Li Liang: What?

Mulan: You look red and flushed. Are you getting a fever? [She checks his

Li Liang [scoffs]: No, of course not. Um. I was just doing some martial
arts, so I probably am still a little warm from that. It's really late. Have
you eaten supper yet?

Mulan: Of course. [Stretches] I'm really tired. [She walks over to a chair
and gleefully points at her shoulders as she sits down. Li Liang grins and
walks over to start massaging her shoulders] Honestly, since I've been
cooped up in army headquarters so much lately, are you feeling bored and

Li Liang: Of course not. Today I went to camp to take a little tour, though
it couldn't be nearly as tiring as what you're doing at headquarters.

Mulan: Oh ho, do I detect sour grapes? If you're not happy that I'm so busy,
then there's one thing to do. Hang up the armor and take up the plow. What
Jili said has a lot of truth.

Li Liang [puzzled]: Him? What did he say?

Mulan: He said a woman is always still a woman. The most important thing is
that her husband's heart is well-kept.

Li Liang: And what's that supposed to mean?

Mulan: He's afraid that you'll find a new love and will toss me aside and
ignore me. You wouldn't do that, would you?

Li Liang [shortly]: Of course not. That Su Jili, he's always saying the sky
is falling.

Mulan: You don't need to scold him. I already took care of that. However, he
did say that you were getting quite close to Xiaoqian recently.

Li Liang: Really? Well, you have to admit that living under the same roof it
's impossible not to run into her often.

Mulan: That's true. Besides, I know you couldn't possibly have any wayward
thoughts about her.

Li Liang: Oh? Maybe you shouldn't be so egotistical. [Grins at her]

Mulan: Well, think about it. She and are completely different kinds of
people. You like me so much, so how could you possibly like her?

Li Liang: Exactly! [He silently thinks to himself] "Just because I like to
eat fish doesn't mean I won't like to eat bear paws. Crooked logic. Oh my
goodness, does this mean that I really do.?" [He doesn't notice that he has
started to use a lot more force than necessary to massage Mulan's shoulders.
She yelps in dismay]

Mulan: Hey, those are shoulders; you're hitting them like they're a set of

Li Liang: Oops. Sorry. Let me start over.

Mulan [gets up in a huff]: No need. I'm going to bed. [She stalks off to the
inner chamber, leaving Li Liang in the outer chamber]

[Cut to throne room of the Emperor. The Emperor is seated when Mulan comes
in and kneels before him in greeting]

Emperor [smiling]: Rise.

Mulan [stands up]: You sent for me for something, Your Majesty?

Emperor [looks around him]: You are all dismissed. [All the servants in
attendance leave the throne room. Only Mulan and two other officials remain.
The Emperor steps off the throne to talk to all three of his subjects] Hua
Mulan, I mistakenly blamed you for something a short time ago. I hope you
didn't take that to heart.

Mulan: Your humble servant wouldn't dare. I should have known better and
immediately reported the situation at the outposts to Your Majesty.

Official: General Hua, Your Majesty, we may not have prevented something
from happening, but we can keep it from happening again. Matters of the
empire are of greater import.

Mulan [puzzled]: Have the Tujue tried encroaching on our soil again? Your
Majesty, I'm willing to don my armor and go to battle again if necessary.

Emperor: The Tujue have been relatively quiet of late. However, Ding Guohou
has some ideas regarding the condition of our troops at the mountain
outposts. [Turns to second official] Ding Guohou, go ahead and tell General
Hua what you had in mind.

Guohou [salutes]: Yes, Your Majesty. [Turns to Mulan] Ever since the
creation of our Sui Empire, the troops at that distant outpost have not seen
much action. Based on the last two campaigns, it seems the Tujue know too
much about our military intelligence. Now that General Hua is handling the
refurbishment and strengthening of our army, we'd like to infiltrate the
army and keep an eye on things from the inside.

Mulan: Your Majesty, do you mean what I think you mean?

Emperor: I'm going to let you three investigate this undercover. This matter
concerns the safety and well-being of the entire Sui Empire. It must be
handled with the utmost care from start to finish. Also, the fewer people
who know about it, the less the enemy spies will discover and transmit to
their side. Is everyone clear?

[All three salute the Emperor]

[Later, we see Mulan leaving the throne room and walking through the palace.
She enters a courtyard when the Crown Prince calls after her. She turns at
his voice]

Crown Prince: General Hua! [He approaches] Why are you here?

Mulan: Oh. His Majesty requested my presence; that's why I came to the
palace today.

Crown Prince: It's perfect timing that you're here. I was just about to send
someone to fetch you.

Mulan: Fetch me?

Crown Prince [excitedly grabs her arm]: Yes. Come with me to see my mother.
[He starts leading a bewildered Mulan to the Empress's quarters]

[We next see Mulan and Crown Prince enter the Empress's quarters. The
Empress is sitting on a throne of sorts when they arrive. The Crown Prince
greets his mother while Mulan kneels before the Empress]

Empress: Rise. [Mulan stands up again. The Crown Prince is wearing a wide
grin on his face] General Hua, why are you here with Yangyong?

Mulan: I don't rightly know either, Your Majesty. His Highness kind of
dragged me in here.

Empress: Yangyong, you said you had something urgent to discuss with me. Why
did you bring General Hua along? Does this have something to do with her?

Crown Prince: This issue doesn't directly have anything to do with her.
Mother, ever since my betrothed concubine Xiaosu passed away, I haven't had
my eye on anyone. However, now I have someone in mind. I'm hoping you could
help me out. [Mulan looks up in surprise]

Empress: You have someone you've fallen for? So, is it a singer or a
musician? (Both are considered of very low stature in Chinese society of the
time, along with theatre people)

Crown Prince [humbly]: I know that I've done a lot of reckless things in the
past and caused you a great deal of worry. However, this young lady is
gifted and intelligent. [Excitedly] General Hua can vouch for her!

Mulan [bewildered]: I can?

Empress: General Hua, which family's daughter has caught my son's eye and is
also gifted and intelligent? Tell me.

Mulan: Your Majesty, I really don't know which young lady His Highness is
talking about.

Empress [impatient]: What the heck are you doing, Yangyong?

Crown Prince: Mother, please calm down. I was too excited and didn't tell
you the full story just now. [Turns to Mulan] The person I like is the one
that lives under your roof, Miss Zhuang Xiaoqian. [Smiles shyly]

Mulan [surprised]: Her? [Grins] Well why didn't you say so earlier, Your

Empress: What kind of person is this Zhuang Xiaoqian?

Mulan: This young lady is the source of much of my family's prosperity. Your
Majesty, please listen carefully. [She proceeds to recount everything about
Xiaoqian's history. The Empress listens attentively and the Crown Prince is
smiling happily]

[Later, the Crown Prince is walking through the palace with Mulan]

Crown Prince: General Hua, if you hadn't sweet-talked to my mother the way
you did, she would have scolded me again.

Mulan [grins]: Don't celebrate so soon; Her Majesty hasn't consented yet.

Crown Prince: Although she said she needn't more time to think it over and
that I needed my Sire's consent, you really influenced her opinion of
Xiaoqian. I'm sure it will succeed.

Mulan [chuckles]: Your Highness is not only skilled in the fine arts and the
martial arts, you also have other extraordinary abilities to have captured
Miss Xiaoqian's heart. I didn't even notice anything until now.

Crown Prince [blushes]: You're teasing me again. If we can make this all
happen, it will be entirely due to you and Li Liang's help. Looks like I'll
be the one paying the matchmaker fees.

Mulan: In that case, let me thank you ahead of time.

Crown Prince: That's okay.

Mulan: Your humble servant will take her leave now. [Mulan bows and leaves]

[Cut to Generals' Residence. Xiaoqian walks into the main sitting room
carrying a tray with snacks on it. Li Liang's mother and Li Liang are
sitting at a table]

Xiaoqian: Elder Mistress.

Li Liang's mother: Oh, Xiaoqian. [Xiaoqian places the tray at the table]

Xiaoqian: These are some pastries I made. Please try them out.

Li Liang's mother: Okay. [She reaches over and picks up a biscuit]

Xiaoqian [hands one to Li Liang]: Here, you try one, too.

Li Liang: That's okay. I don't snack after supper.

Li Liang's mother [chides]: It's a token of Xiaoqian's esteem. What's the
harm in trying one piece? Eat. [Li Liang takes the biscuit from Xiaoqian and
bites into it]

Xiaoqian: Does it taste good?

Li Liang [nods]: Yes, it's pretty good.

Li Liang's mother: You eat one, too. [Xiaoqian nods] It's a good thing you'
re around. The servants go through the motions of cooking things; there isn'
t that special touch. That's what happens when there's no woman in the

[Mulan walks into the room and smiles in Li Liang's mother's direction]

Mulan [saucily]: Popo, are you thinking of me again? [She eyes the tray of
biscuits] Oh, there's snacks? [She reaches over and picks one up to eat]
Mmm. It's good! [Looks to Xiaoqian] Did you make it? [Xiaoqian nods] It's
true then that it's in through the kitchen and out through the sitting room.

Li Liang: Mulan, since you like eating it, why don't you have a seat? [He
stands up to give his seat to her. Mulan sits down without any hesitation,
but Li Liang's mother gives her a look, which Mulan ignores]

Mulan: Sure. I'm hungry. Let me try this one now. [She tries another type of
pastry. As she's happily eating the biscuits, Xiaoqian gives Li Liang a shy
look. Li Liang meets her gaze and shifts uncomfortably while he looks away]
Popo, you try it, too. Here, have a bite.

[Cut to Li Liang and Mulan's quarters. Li Liang and Mulan enter their
quarters. Li Liang shuts the door behind him while Mulan sits down at a seat
in front of the mirror to prepare for retiring for the night. She pulls a
hair ornament out of her hair]

Mulan: Oh, Brother Liang?

Li Liang: Yes?

Mulan: What do you think of Miss Xiaoqian? [Li Liang starts to pour some

Li Liang [startled]: What do you mean what do I think about her?

Mulan: Is she an example of the ideal wife that men want? She's warm and
generous and beautiful, right? [She smiles in his direction and continues to
take the other ornaments out of her hair. She doesn't notice Li Liang has
nervously sat down]

Li Liang [thinks to himself]: "Has she noticed how Xiaoqian feels towards
me? Has she noticed how I feel towards Xiaoqian?" [To Mulan] Men look at
women in many different ways. I don't find there's that much to her.

[Mulan gets up and sits down next to him]

Mulan: Is that true? [She eyes him significantly]

Li Liang: And why are you asking me every other day how I feel about her? Do
you believe what the nonsense Su Jili was spouting?

Mulan [sniffs]: Aside from a skill with killing innumerable enemies in
battle, I have one other knack: no prisoner has ever escaped from my
clutches. And that includes you. [She grins mischievously at him]

Li Liang [chuckles]: You're that good? If you're that good, then why do you
need to ask?

Mulan: The heavens can't divulge their secrets. As long as you have no
interest in her is all that I care. I'm going to change my clothing.

[She walks to the inner chamber to change. Li Liang remembers something and
pulls the green handkerchief from his shirt. He stares at it briefly, then
hurries outside. He sees a basket of dirty laundry in the courtyard and is
tempted to toss it in the pile, but hesitates. He then walks down a hallway
and stops before Xiaoqian's quarters (presumably), as if he wants to enter
and return the handkerchief, but he turns away. Unable to make up his mind,
he enters a study and lights a candle. He places the handkerchief underneath
a pile of books on his desk, then thinks better of it. He then stashes it in
a filing cabinet, but then removes it from there, too. He then picks up a
decorative sword and stuffs the handkerchief in the scabbard. He replaces
the sword and pulls it in and out a few times to ensure the handkerchief's
presence isn't easily noticeable. Mulan, hearing the noise outside the
study, goes to investigate]

Mulan: So there you are? I was wondering where you went. I turned around to
change and then you disappeared on me.

Li Liang: Oh. This sword hasn't left its scabbard in a while, so I decided
to give it a cleaning.

Mulan [teases]: Now that you're done cleaning it, can you go to sleep with a
clear conscience?

Li Liang: Sure. [He places the sword back on its rack, then blows out the
candle and walks with Mulan out the door]

[Cut to palace. The Emperor and Empress, along with their entourage, walk
into one of the courtyards]

Emperor: In the future, our eldest son is going to have to rule the empire.
How can he take a nameless commoner to join with him? I forbid it.

Empress: When selecting a wife you want someone that is virtuous. Besides,
the Sui Empire is upright and just. We don't need to keep following such
discriminatory practices just because of someone's bloodline. I think we
should let our son decide for himself.

Emperor: He already has his harem complete. Why not pick one out of them to
become his queen? This will save time and energy. Isn't that even better?

Empress: If our son was smitten with anyone from his harem then there would
be no reason for him to go running around like he does. It's a special thing
when two people are of like minds about each other. Shouldn't we go with the
flow and let them be happy together? Perhaps in the future this will help
him mend his ways and grow up. Then we can both heave a sigh of relief at
taking this load off our mind.

Emperor: Hm. And this girl of the surname Zhuang?

Empress: Although she is a commoner, her father was a famous doctor. She's
been educated since she was young. She's also graceful and virtuous.

Emperor: I take it you've met her?

Empress: Not yet. I also hear that she once saved Li Liang's life. She is
living with the Li family right now. I also talked to Hua Mulan about this
girl. She also has a high opinion of her.

Emperor: Oh? Since she and Li Liang have some knowledge of her origins, how
about I let you handle this one? [Smiles in her direction]

Empress: Thank you, Your Majesty.

[Cut to the main sitting room of the Generals' Residence. Li Liang, Mulan,
Xiaoqian, Li Liang's mother, Jili, Yiren, and the family servants are all
kneeling before an imperial eunuch]

Family: Long live the Emperor!

Eunuch: His Imperial Majesty has the following announcement on this day. The
commoner, Zhuang Xiaoqian, gifted, intelligent, upright and virtuous, has
been chosen to become the Crown Prince's Consort, with the ceremony to take
place on February 15, a fortuitous day for Our Majesties. That is all.

Family: Thank you, Your Majesty! [They all rise. Xiaoqian has a shocked and
dumbfounded look on her face]

Eunuch: Zhuang Xiaoqian, aren't you going to come forward and take this
imperial writ? [Xiaoqian rouses herself and approaches the eunuch. She takes
the writ with both hands]

Xiaoqian [curtsies]: Thank you, Your Majesty. [She retreats without any sign
of emotion on her face. Mulan smiles broadly and approaches the eunuch]

Mulan: Eunuch Liu, thank you for coming. [She escorts him out the door]
After you. [The eunuch and his entourage leave the room. The rest of the
family remains as if rooted to their spots. Xiaoqian turns to hurry and
leave the room, but Yiren stops her]

Yiren: Er. Miss Xiaoqian? No wait, I guess I ought to be calling you Your
Highness, the Crown Prince's Consort? Congratulations! Congratulations! [She
eagerly shakes Xiaoqian's hand. Xiaoqian remains unmoved]

Xiaoqian [without any emotion]: Thank you. [She hurries out of the room,
leaving Li Liang's mother and Yiren surprised and puzzled at her behavior]

Yiren [to Jili]: What was that all about?

Jili: That's called "shyness." It's not something you'd know. [Yiren tries
to give Jili an elbow in the ribs, but she pauses when she sees Li Liang's
mother hurrying after Xiaoqian]

Yiren: Hey, Aunt! [Jili grabs Yiren's arm and pulls her aside]

Jili: Mind your own business.

Mulan [sighs happily]: I never imagined that Their Majesties would agree to
the Crown Prince's request so quickly.

Jili: Oh, so you got wind of this long ago.

Mulan [shakes her finger]: Not wind, but direct intervention. If I hadn't
praised Miss Xiaoqian to the skies before Her Majesty, I doubt this would
have gotten done so quickly. [Mulan grins]

Li Liang: Mulan, so you're the one that spoke with Her Majesty?

Mulan: Yes. It turns out the Crown Prince has long since been smitten with
Miss Xiaoqian. According to him, Miss Xiaoqian feels the same way about him.
That's why I painted a rosy picture for the Empress. This way, they can be
together. [Notices Li Liang is looking less than pleased] What's the matter?
You're not happy about it?

Li Liang: Oh, I'm happy. I'm just puzzled about the Crown Prince and Miss
Xiaoqian falling for each other. How come we didn't see any sign of it?

Mulan [teases]: It's not as if you can see everything. [She turns and leaves
the room]

Jili: If you think this way then all will be well. [He turns and flounces
out of the room with Yiren on his arm]

[Cut to scene with Xiaoqian rushing into her rooms holding the imperial
writ. Li Liang's mother follows close on her heels]

Li Liang's mother: Xiaoqian.

Xiaoqian: Elder Mistress.

Li Liang's mother [regretfully]: Didn't you have something for Li Liang? How
did the Crown Prince get involved in all this?

Xiaoqian: I don't know, either. After the Crown Prince rescued the Marshal
last time, he scheduled meetings with me several times. I didn't think I
could refuse, so I met with him. I didn't think this would happen.

Li Liang's mother [sadly]: Perhaps the Li family isn't meant to have you.
Don't feel too badly. To marry into the imperial family is something that
takes several lifetimes to earn. You need to organize your emotions and
start preparing for the wedding.

Xiaoqian: Elder Mistress, if I had my druthers, I'd rather stay here by your
side for the rest of my life.

Li Liang's mother [gently]: Silly child. I wish you could stay, too.
However, a loyal subject must behave accordingly. In addition, I want to see
you soar above it all and become a phoenix (fancy way of saying become the
future Empress?). You're to become the Crown Prince's Consort. When the
Crown Prince becomes Emperor, you'll be the Empress. As a mother, what more
could I ask for? This old lady would even get to bask in some of your
reflected glory. You mustn't forget me. Um, but you'd best forget about Li

Xiaoqian [earnestly]: Elder Mistress.

Li Liang's mother: You don't need to say anymore. I understand.