Categories > Movies > Mulan > The Betrothed0 Reviews
[AU] Mulan returned home after the war, her secret undiscovered, now preparing to marry the man that she was betrothed to as a child, who turns out to be Shang. Things get complicated when they're ...
Jun-Li smiled imperceptibly to himself as, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the two men observing him. The captain was watching him, of course, keeping an eye on the new kid in camp who had already been in two fights in a period of less than twenty-four hours.
But Jun-Li didn't care about the captain. If his commander followed him enough, maybe he'd see him with Hua Ping and it would eventually be revealed to him by circumstance what his best lieutenant really was.
"Best lieutenant," Jun-Li snorted softly to himself. "He's probably in love with the boy and doesn't realize why."
He felt a twinge of jealousy.
It was the other man that he cared about, however, not the captain; the scrawny, snobby and somewhat irritating councilman with the thin moustache and cat eyes, Chi Fu.
Jun-Li bent to his task of washing the kettle, lowering his head so his smug expression couldn't be seen. It was Chi Fu who might possibly turn out to be an ally. He recognized the type even though the man was a court official and not a villager; he'd seen it in his village enough, though often it was among the women not the men. He had a strong sense that the councilman was a scheming type, and probably loved gossip and a scandal. He could just imagine his reaction to the fact that Hua Ping was really a woman. He had a hunch that the man was a misogynist on top of all his other sterling qualities.
It would be a very delicate task. He would have to work slowly and methodically; after all, he couldn't come right out and tell Chi Fu about it. It had to be done with insinuations and hints, so the councilman's curiosity was piqued enough that he would look into the matter himself and discover her on his own. At the same time, he had to be made to believe that Jun-Li had helped him and that he was indebted to him. After all, he didn't want Mulan to be executed; just discovered, so that she would have to go home.
Perhaps then, whoever she was betrothed to would back out given the scandal surrounding her actions. Then he could have her as his own.
The troops went through their morning drills after being divided into four units, each one under the supervision of one of the lieutenants. Mulan's group had archery training first, and after she demonstrated the goal of the exercise, namely hitting three plums in the air with three arrows, she watched as her group attempted the exercise, each man with just one arrow and one plum.
Jun-Li was not in her group, which was partly a relief and partly a disappointment. Though she was glad that he wasn't around to make trouble for her in the training, she was also uneasy about the fact that he was out of her sight. She needed to watch him given his knowledge of who she really was. Shang was a smart commander, though, and he had put Jun-Li under the lieutenant most difficult to antagonize: Chien-Po.
Except for a few men who had obviously had some experience at archery, her group was pretty sorry-looking right now. She worked with the recruits, correcting their form, giving them advice as to how to improve their aim.
There was one particularly inept recruit in her group, the skinny young man with the baby face and wide eyes that Ling had pointed out to her the day before as the next 'Ping'. She had now identified him as Huang Dong. Recruit Huang was awkward, with a physique that wasn't muscular or even toned at all; rather, he was quite effeminate in fact, and she immediately wondered if this recruit really was the next 'Ping' in more ways than one.
Could it be that this was another daughter that had come in her father's place? If that were the case, she would make it her business to protect this woman, without revealing her own secret, as that wouldn't be wise since she was a commanding officer.
Shang groaned inwardly as he sat through another tirade from Chi Fu that evening.
"These recruits are just another group of ruffians and troublemakers, and most of them are completely incapable. You expect these men to assist in rescuing the Emperor's daughter?"
"My last group of recruits seemed inept and incapable as well, but they became a fine troop and defeated the Huns."
"Hmph, maybe so, but I still say that move that he pulled in the mountains was a foolhardy and reckless one on the part of Lieutenant Hua, and I still don't trust him. There is something wrong with him. And now there's another one in camp just like him. Huang."
Shang rubbed the back of his neck, trying to fend off the tension headache that was starting from those muscles. He took a deep breath and spoke in his calmest, most reasonable voice.
"There are more experienced soldiers here to help the new recruits, not just my four lieutenants, but others. The elite regiment of the Imperial Army is already out there, working to infiltrate the enemy camp where we believe she may have been taken. But the Emperor wants all resources used in order to locate her. You know that."
"Unfortunately, Captain. But, as you know, it is my job to assess the progress in the training of the troops and report everything that I observe..."
"And you won't leave anything out. I know."
Chi Fu glared at him. "Careful, Captain. You may be General Li's son, but I am still the Emperor's council. You will show me the proper respect and refrain from sarcasm with me."
Shang stood and bowed to him. "You're right. I apologize."
Chi Fu turned and exited the tent in a huff.
Shang sank back down into the chair behind his desk and dropped his head into his hands with a sigh. Another campaign with Chi Fu breathing down his neck was not what he needed, and he was somewhat angry at his father again for going off and leaving him under the supervision of that sniveling councilman.
He knew Chi Fu would focus on everything that went wrong again. And he knew it was because the councilman was just as annoyed at having to be in this camp of trainees as Shang was to have him there. Chi Fu probably preferred to be working in a more elite regiment, like his father's, and may have even taken it as a professional slight that he'd been assigned to the camp of recruits not once but twice.
He sighed again. He knew exactly which recruit Chi Fu was talking about as soon as he mentioned that he was just like Ping. Young, soft-looking, his physique oddly without developed muscle and tone. Shang knew that not everyone trained for the military from the time they were thirteen, as he did, but still. The boy should have had some sort of muscle on him. But Ping had looked the same way when he first came to his camp.
He wouldn't give up on Huang Dong, just as he hadn't given up on Ping, who had proven himself with flying colors.
"Councilman," the recruit greeted him, saluting the man of superior status, though he wasn't a military man.
The councilman looked at him as if he was looking at a bug, but Jun-Li didn't let that faze him.
"Liang Jun-Li, sir."
"Hmph. Carry on, recruit."
"Yes, sir," Jun-Li said, with a smile.
The councilman continued forward, but slowed his pace and glanced back at him, a quizzical look on his face.
"Have a good evening, sir."
"I'm watching you, recruit. You are a suspicious character if I have ever seen one."
"Yes, sir, there are several uspicious characters in this camp."
Jun-Li knew he had struck a chord that resonated with the councilman, just as he had intended. Chi Fu stopped now and turned around to completely face him.
"You are quite observant, recruit," the councilman replied, ignoring his name. Jun-Li brushed it off; the man was clearly a snob and he wasn't going to change that.
"It's important, especially when it comes to spotting things that aren't what they seem."
"What are you going on about, recruit?"
"Just a saying. Just like the old adage about the two rabbits."
Chi Fu's cat-like eyes narrowed as his gaze remained steadily fixed on him.
"Well, sir, I should be getting to my duties," Jun-Li said, and saluted the councilman once more before turning on his heel and heading off.
As he parted from Chi Fu, he heard the councilman mutter, "Insolent rascal."