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 ...
Shang remained seated at his desk long after Ping left, thinking about the conversation they'd just had.
The explanation that his lieutenant had given him as to his father's appearance struck him as utterly bizarre. He was not superstitious and though he understood that many people were, he never expected it from someone like General Hua.
The fact that Hua Zhou had gone through the trouble to get a carriage all the way out to Wu Zhong told Shang that there was much more to the story than what Ping had told him.
Shang could understand why the boy's family would be concerned for him. Though Ping was an excellent and valiant soldier, he was also still just a young boy. His Adam's apple hadn't even dropped yet and he had no facial hair at all. It was easy to forget that he was young given how smart he was and the intelligent, insightful manner in which he spoke, as well as his impressive accomplishments in battle already.
The idea that the young lieutenant had come up with about the princess was astounding. It would never have crossed his mind that she had run away; but then he had noticed long ago that Ping always seemed to see things from a different angle than others. In all situations, he seemed to have his own point of view, other ways of looking at things. That was what made him such a talent at strategy.
The idea that the Emperor's daughter might have run away from home disturbed him greatly. It seemed scandalous. More than anyone, she should know her duty to her father and to her country. Besides, what reason could she possibly have?
He leaned forward and reached for a brush and a sheet of paper, dipping the brush in ink and beginning to compose two letters to his father; an official reply with an Imperial seal and his own personal letter that no one but the general would look at.
The official letter merely read: Message received. We will remain in camp and await further orders.
He wished he could speak to his father in person. But he decided that he would provide as much detail as he could in his personal letter, including Ping's idea that maybe Princess Li-Mei had run away. Perhaps his father, given his vast experience as a top general in battle as well as his extensive dealings with matters at court, would have another view of the situation that could prove helpful.
Mulan intended to confront Huang Dong when they met for their nightly practice together. To her great surprise, Huang showed up at her tent first.
"I must speak to you privately," she said quietly. "It is a matter of great importance."
"I wanted to speak with you also. Come in."
"No, it must be away from camp."
There was a tone of urgency in her voice. Mulan nodded and agreed.
"Let me grab the lantern and then we can go down to our training spot."
"Someone might see the light of the lantern. No one must know we are there."
Mulan threw her a suspicious glance, eyes narrowed.
"I know what I am asking sounds odd, but everything will become clear to you."
"O-kay, Huang," she answered, utterly puzzled.
They moved stealthily through the forest in the dark, Mulan leading the way. They reached the lake and Mulan gestured to a flat rock jutting out over the water. Huang's eyes darted around nervously as she took a seat on the rock.
"It's late, Huang. I'm sure no one is around. Go ahead. And then I have some questions. Like why you were listening outside of the captain's tent before."
Mulan took a seat beside Huang, who began to speak in a hushed tone.
"Lieutenant Hua Mulan, I..."
"What?" Mulan exclaimed, her heart skipping a beat. "What did you just call me?"
"I know who you are. The Emperor knows that General Hua has one son, who is only seven years old, and an older daughter who brought great honor to her family by her bravery."
Mulan stared at her, speechless.
"If I tell you who I am, you must keep it a secret. Promise me."
"I already know that you are a daughter as well."
"Yes. And I thank you for helping me to improve and teaching me how to blend in."
"So, you've known all along who I am?"
"Yes. The first time you came to the palace, after the last battle with the Huns, the Emperor knew who you were. Your father was one of his best and most highly trusted generals. He knew of the general's son Rou-ping, a little boy who was too young to fight in the army. He guessed that it was you that stood before him."
"Don't worry. That archaic law was lifted after you proved yourself to be such an excellent warrior."
Huang had pulled something out of her tunic and she now handed it to Mulan. It was a ring. Mulan moved over to hold it up to the moonlight. It was a full moon fortunately and she could make out the Imperial coat of arms inscribed on the inside of the ring.
She whirled around.
"This is a ring of royalty! Where did you get it? Are you somehow involved with Princess Li-Mei's kidnapping?"
"Wait, I have something else for you. It was given to me in the event that I had to reveal myself to you."
She handed Mulan a letter with the Imperial seal.
"I know it is dark to read..."
Mulan waved her off and moved over to hold the letter up to see it in the moonlight. It was addressed to Lieutenant Hua Mulan from the Emperor, and it asked her to please look after his younger daughter, Hui-Ying, who had joined Captain Li's troop.
"I am Hui-Ying. I am the Emperor's younger daughter and that ring is mine."
Mulan hurriedly lowered herself to the ground, kneeling before her.
"Your Highness, I apologize..."
"Please, Lieutenant, get up. You mustn't...you will call attention to me."
Mulan rose and took her seat beside Hui-Ying again.
"You must treat me as the recruit Huang Dong, Lieutenant. While we are in this troop together, I am not royalty. No one must know that I am here."
"Hui-Ying...Huang, why did your father send you here?"
"I convinced him that this would be the best place for me to be."
"I arranged for a letter threatening my life next to be sent to him. Then I suggested that anyone after me would be looking for a girl, not a boy. And a military camp would be the last place they would look. He arranged for me to be in this camp because he knew you would be here."
"You went through all that trouble to come here?"
"I want to be part of the rescue effort of my sister, Princess Li-Mei. My father has no son, but if he did, surely the Crown Prince would have taken his place in the army and tried to rescue his sister. Besides, there is more to this situation than you know."
"How do you mean?"
"I'm afraid I can't reveal that to you because it is a private family matter. I am very close with my sister and I must be the one to get to her first."
"Well, how do we proceed then? I will treat you as recruit Huang. But what about the captain? He should know..."
"But, if there is information that you have on your sister, he should know about it..."
"I don't have any information, other than the reason for her disappearance, and I cannot tell you that."
Mulan sighed and remained silent, stymied. Her situation had just become more difficult than ever. There were now three different secrets that she was keeping from the captain and she did not feel good about it. Two women were secretly under his command now, one who was the Emperor's daughter no less and who somehow knew things about their mission that she couldn't reveal to anyone. It was not right that there were so many goings on in his camp that he didn't know about.
"Hui-Ying," she began, softly. "I know that you want to keep your identity secret. But I want you to know that the captain is a good and honorable man, and he is very fair..."
"As I said, this is a highly private family matter, Lieutenant Hua. My identity must remain a secret for now, as well as the reason for my sister's disappearance."
"I will abide by your wishes, Your Highness. But, and forgive me if I appear to argue, but I have to tell you that this puts me in a very bad position, and it could jeopardize our mission; especially if you have information that may help us to ascertain Princess Li-Mei's whereabouts. To be working in the dark this way will make it extremely difficult for us. Please keep that in mind."
"I can appreciate that, Lieutenant, and believe me, I would not be asking this if it were not absolutely necessary."
Mulan remained sitting by the lake brooding for a long time after Hui-Ying left her. /Huang/, she reminded herself. She had to stay in the habit of thinking of her as Huang Dong, a plain recruit.
Huang knew nothing about the whereabouts of the missing Princess Li-Mei, at least as far as she said, but she knew the reason for her disappearance. If she would reveal that little bit of information, it would help them; but Huang had insisted that she couldn't.
Mulan sighed. Her heart was heavy as she thought about Shang. He was the captain and she felt uncomfortable having knowledge that he didn't, especially since it was information he should have been privy to. She could always tell him and ask him not to reveal that he knew to the princess. But that would probably be a bad idea, too.
She picked up a pebble from the ground and skimmed it over the water.
"Well," she said aloud. "I at least have to tell him who I really am."
She picked up another pebble, absently lobbing it up in the air lightly and catching it in her palm as it dropped back down. Then she sighed and stood up, turning toward camp. She took a few steps, then turned back to face the lake again. She took a deep breath.
"Captain, there's something I have to tell you. I'm not who you think I am. I'm really a girl and your fiancÃ©, Hua Mulan."
She stopped, her stomach knotting up as she imagined telling him and his reaction.
"Maybe I should just dress up as a girl and parade in front of him, see if he recognizes me and takes the hint," she muttered.
"Ping? Is that you?"
She whirled around toward the voice, Shang's voice.
A few moments later he stepped out of the brush and joined her on the bank of the lake.
"Who were you talking to?"
"No one," she muttered, turning back toward the lake and feeling foolish. She pushed away the embarrassed feeling, skimming the pebble that she was still holding out over the water.
"Nice one," Shang commented. He stooped over and scooped up his own pebble, then straightened up and tossed it, skimming it further than hers.
"Beat that," he added, chuckling.
Mulan just shrugged. "Very good, Captain."
"Well, now I know something is wrong, Ping. You're not rising to the occasion and trying to out-do me like usual."
Even in the faint light of the moon she could see his eyebrow lift in surprise the moment his given name was off her lips.
"I mean, Captain..."
She looked down, feeling her face and neck beginning to heat up.
"It's okay, Ping. We're friends now, too. When we're off duty, you can call me by my given name."
"I have something to tell you...something you're not going to like..."
The sound of snapping twigs and swishing leaves stopped her and she whirled around. Shang turned to the sound also. A minute later Chi Fu appeared.
"Captain, I've been looking for you. I must speak with you about an urgent matter."
Shang sighed. "Alright, I'm coming back to camp."
He began to follow Chi Fu and Mulan hurried after them.
"We'll finish our discussion later, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir. I'm just heading back to camp, too."