Categories > Movies > Mulan > The Betrothed

Chapter 19

by lightbird 0 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 ...

Category: Mulan - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance - Characters:  - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006/08/06 - Updated: 2006/08/07 - 3220 words

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Chapter 19

"You're saying that these two little women are soldiers and they beat you and the three others by themselves?" the man beside Behrouz exclaimed, incredulous.

Mulan hadn't identified him yet, but it occurred to her that he was almost always by Behrouz's side.

"I know I wounded one of them, though. Right here," Atash answered, indicating the right side of his chest. "Let's check and see if one of them has a wound. That'll answer that question."

He started toward them but Li-Mei rose to her feet and shouted something to him in Persian and he stepped back. She sat back down then.

Behrouz was studying the two of them closely.

"Of course! Hui-Ying, you were hiding out in the Imperial army camp. I heard you say that to your sister. You trained as a soldier, didn't you?"

Hui-Ying remained silent.

"And you," he continued to Mulan. "I don't know who you are, but you're definitely no maid like I've ever met. You must be a soldier, too."

"There is probably a team of Imperial soldiers on the way here to find them if that's the case. We should set up an ambush, Behrouz."

Behrouz shook his head. "They aren't on the way. They were probably following them and are most likely here already."

Mulan was near the cave entrance. She kept her eye on Behrouz and his men, but made sure she had a view of the entrance in her peripheral vision. She caught Hui-Ying's eye, hoping that she would figure out the meaning of her expression and her intention.

Behrouz began to pace and Mulan inched closer to the cave entrance.

"Search the area," he ordered finally.

Hui-Ying suddenly let out a yelp and dropped to the ground, beginning to writhe around in pain, groaning.

"Hui-Ying!" Li-Mei screeched. "What is the matter with you?"

Mulan leaped up and dashed out of the cave, pulling herself out of the crevice leading to the cave entrance while all the attention was focused on Hui-Ying. She stood up on the rock face.

"Shang! Shang! They know you're here!" she shouted into the distance, hoping that he'd reached their position and that they would now be prepared for Behrouz's men.

She continued to screech his name in desperation and pain as she felt herself pulled down against the hard rock, her skin scraping the surface of it as she was dragged by several strong arms back down into the crevice once again. After several minutes of struggling she was thrown onto the cave floor.

Atash spoke to Behrouz in Persian, then switched to badly accented Chinese.

"We've lost the element of surprise now, thanks to her."

His foot was on her back, pressing her down against the cave floor.

She hadn't been wounded, but the skirmish with Behrouz and the other man had tired her out and she realized now that she was weaker than she had thought from the wound she had received before.

"That was very cute, Hui-Ying," Behrouz remarked, folding his arms. He turned to his men. "Weapons out, everyone. Be prepared for them to come in here."

Li-Mei gave Atash another order in Persian but he didn't respond. Behrouz spoke to him then, and Atash removed his foot and stepped away, allowing Mulan to turn over and help herself to sitting. She slid across the ground back toward Hui-Ying and Li-Mei and leaned over to speak to them when the men became engrossed in a conversation in Persian.

Two of Behrouz's men moved to the entrance quietly, swords out, prepared to strike from either side.

"Princess Li-Mei, if you can understand them would you tell us what they're saying?" she said softly.

"There are men at the entrance. They're poised on the rock above, ready to come in. They're going to slash at them when they try to climb down into the crevice."

"Mulan, we have to stop them," Hui-Ying murmured. "Maybe I can..."

"Quiet over there," Atash ordered, glaring at them.

They fell silent until Atash finally turned his attention toward the entrance again.

Li-Mei just frowned in his direction and went back to talking to her sister.

"Those men will be dead even if they don't come in," she remarked. "The sun will be at its highest soon. They will weaken staying out on that rock in the heat."

Hui-Ying shook her head. "The captain will know not to keep his men out in the heat like that. I think he and his men will seek shelter if no one has emerged from here by the time noon comes. But if they do come in..."

"If they do come in, Shang is going to come in first," Mulan said softly, her voice a whisper.

"Who's Shang?" Li-Mei whispered back.

"Our captain. And Hua Mulan's fiancé."

"I don't think he will," Mulan continued. "He's too smart to do that. He'll wait until the men come out of here. Like watching rabbits come out of a hole."

Li-Mei's eyebrows rose and she looked dismayed. "Your fiancé?" she repeated, barely audibly.

Mulan nodded. "He's the captain of our regiment."

Li-Mei tried to catch Behrouz's eye, but he and his men were poised to spring into action and kill whoever climbed down into the crevice.

She rose to her feet. "Behrouz, stop. Enough of this."

"It's too late, Li-Mei," Hui-Ying told her, grabbing her sister's arm, but Li-Mei yanked it away and moved over to Behrouz.

"Enough people have been hurt because of me. I don't want anyone else coming to harm, whether it's your men or the Imperial soldiers. I will go out and talk to them."

Behrouz looked at her in shock. His men moved to block her way when she walked toward the cave entrance.

Atash said something to him in Persian and Mulan could only guess that he made a derogatory remark about Li-Mei because Behrouz turned on him and punched him in the face. Atash stumbled back against the cave wall and leaned against it, rubbing his jaw.

Behrouz turned back to Li-Mei.

"Let me go out and talk to them," she continued, turning back to him. "They came here to protect my sister. There is no need for any fighting. I will make sure that you and your men don't receive any blame, and that you don't come to any harm. But I have been found by the Imperial army now. We have to put a stop to this. It'll be alright."

Behrouz took her hands in his. "Li-Mei..."

"Behrouz, I caused this and I have to make it right."

He leaned down and kissed her. "And you have already decided how you're going to do that?"

She nodded. "You did this to protect me. And I will make sure that I protect you."

Li-Mei left the cave first, disappearing from view as she pulled herself up from the crevice.

"Captain," she called out.

"Your Highness?" Mulan heard Shang's voice.

Behrouz and his men exited the cave and Hui-Ying and Mulan followed. Mulan was quite impressed and pleased with the sight they were greeted to.

Shang had heard her warning and he and his men had been prepared. They were already poised on the surface of the rock, surrounding the crevice that led to the cave entrance, weapons out, and had probably been watching the cave opening before Li-Mei made her appearance.

"Princess Li-Mei, are you alright?" Shang asked.

"I'm fine, Captain. I have been here by choice."

"Your Highness, we've all been very worried about you."

"Thank you, Captain, but I am among friends here and no one has ever had any intention of harming me. I don't want any fighting. Behrouz, all of you, go back inside. Captain, come in with your men. The sun is going to be high overhead soon and you shouldn't be out here."

Mulan and Hui-Ying backed into the cave, followed by Behrouz and his men. Li-Mei came in next, followed by Shang and six of his men.

Li-Mei seated herself next to Shang.

Behrouz said something to Atash in Persian and he disappeared into the inner cavern with the other men. Only the man who seemed to always remain at Behrouz's side stayed in the outer chamber with them.

"Princess Hui-Ying, Mulan, are you alright?" Shang asked.

"Fine, Captain," they both answered.

"The men will be out shortly with food for everyone," Behrouz told them. "I am Behrouz. And this is Kourosh." He indicated the man beside him.

Mulan could only guess that Kourosh was some kind of bodyguard to Behrouz, although why Behrouz needed a bodyguard any more than the others was beyond her.

"Captain, you and your men will remain here until the sun is lower and it is safer to travel in the desert," Li-Mei told them.

Mulan moved to Shang's other side to speak to him. She had noticed that Chi Fu and a few of the others were conspicuously absent.

He knew what was on her mind before she even asked.

"A few men are with the horses at our last position," he said, softly. "There was shelter there. They're okay."

Mulan looked up, noticing that Behrouz was watching her interaction with Shang closely. He smiled at her when she looked up and then he glanced at Li-Mei, a sudden glimmer of understanding crossing his features.

xxxxxxx

They left the cave as the sun began to sink lower, climbing out of the crevice and clambering down the rock face to the ground.

"Your Highness," Shang began, speaking to Li-Mei and glancing at Behrouz and Kourosh, who had come outside with them.

"I'm coming with you, Captain."

She turned to Behrouz who had come to stand beside her and took his hands in hers.

"Behrouz, I have to go back and put a stop to this. If Anagui Qaghan will be defeated, as you believe, then there will be no marriage to his son."

He began to say something to her softly, but she put her finger against his lips, gently.

"It's the best way. I can't let my father believe that I'm dead, and I don't want the captain or any of his men, or your men, to be harmed. And I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to you."

She removed her finger from his lips and leaned up to kiss him. They embraced and she buried her face in his hair.

It was odd for Li-Mei to be so inappropriately forward and demonstrative like this with him in front of them, and Mulan was certain that she was plotting, whispering something to her lover that was meant for only him to hear. She wondered if it would only be a matter of time after they returned home before Li-Mei ran away with him again.

They pulled apart after a few moments and she turned to Shang.

"Captain, I will return with you now."

"All of these men..."

"Are of no concern to you. They have done nothing wrong and there is no reason for them to be punished."

"Forgive me, your Highness, but I will be asked..."

"And I will not burden you to lie, Captain. I will take it upon myself to explain that the men that sheltered me abandoned me in fear when the Imperial army appeared and have most likely rejoined their Ruanruan brethren in fighting the rebellion for Anagui Qaghan. None of you are to discuss this."

xxxxxxx

"I was worried when I saw you being dragged off like that," Shang murmured, staring at her. "I thought they were killing you for warning us."

They were sitting together in the main tent, safely back at camp, a game of weiqi set up between them.

"Princess Li-Mei would not let anyone harm us. I'm glad you heard me yelling, though. I figured you were in position, but something unexpected could have happened."

She turned her attention back to the board, studying it, seeing the perfect move and making it.

"Get out of that," she challenged gleefully, looking up at Shang.

He wasn't even looking at the board though. He was still staring at her.

"It's your turn, Shang," she prodded.

He merely sighed.

"I wonder how soon this will happen again. It was shocking to see Princess Li-Mei kissing that guy in front of us. But she wasn't just kissing him. She was telling him something. It wouldn't surprise me if we were called on to look for her again a few months from now."

"I thought the same thing," she answered. "You know, Shang, Behrouz told us he was a prince."

"A prince?"

"Yes. He said he was the son of the king of Persia."

"And you believed him?"

"Not at first, and neither did Hui-Ying. But I'm not so sure now. That guy Kourosh never left his side. I think he may have been a bodyguard of some sort. Why would Behrouz need a bodyguard if he wasn't a prince?"

Shang looked thoughtful. "If that were the case it would explain how he and Princess Li-Mei met each other. Maybe he visited the palace as a representative of his country."

"Captain Li."

They both looked toward the tent entrance when they heard Chi Fu's voice outside.

"Come in," Shang called out.

Chi Fu took a step inside. "Captain, the general is approaching camp with his team."

Shang rose to his feet with a start. "That was fast. I wonder what happened."

Mulan stood and followed him to the tent opening, peering out. Shang and Chi Fu were heading toward the north side of camp and she dashed out, ducking back into her own tent before the general arrived and saw her.

xxxxxxx

"Mulan?"

Mulan recognized Hui-Ying's voice.

"Come in."

Hui-Ying and Li-Mei both stepped into the tent and Mulan knelt before them.

"That is not necessary, Mulan. You are our friend."

Mulan rose and indicated for them to sit with her.

"I want to thank you for me and my sister," Li-Mei spoke up. "You must think I'm crazy. But Behrouz is truly a prince and the son of Khosrow, the king of Persia. The Emperor knew that. My father's council was pushing him to arrange something with the Ruanruan Empire in order to forge an alliance, so Behrouz and his councilmen never approached my father with the offer of an arrangement with Persia."

"Behrouz and his entourage were aware of the turmoil that was beginning to stir up in those parts, though," Mulan commented. "He knew you would end up in the middle of it."

"Yes. You understand then."

Mulan nodded. "I could see how much you love each other. He was genuinely worried about your safety."

"Yes," she answered, breathing a sigh of relief. "You see, it was a viable and proper match..."

"He was still sneaking in to see you long before he was even going to attempt to approach Father," Hui-Ying told her. "That's how you came to fall in love with each other. Not exactly proper. And he would have been killed if he was caught."

"He just wanted to see what I looked like," Li-Mei answered, smiling. "It wasn't that long."

"Li-Mei, it was long enough for you to start learning to speak Persian pretty well," Hui-Ying replied, laughing.

"I must thank you as well, Princess Li-Mei," Mulan began. "I know that you were moved to make your decision to put a stop to this situation when you found out that Shang was my fiancé. You were thinking about the possibility of me losing him."

She nodded. "I didn't want that to happen to you because of me."

"Thank you."

"Behrouz is remaining over the border with the others until the rebellion ends. If Anagui Qaghan is defeated, he will return to Chang'an and seek audience with our father."

"I hope your father will agree to an alliance with Persia."

"Thank you, Mulan. I am hoping that there won't be some other alliance that he wants to forge instead."

"Remember, I am also the Emperor's daughter, Li-Mei, and of age to be married," Hui-Ying told her. "I can be sent to forge an alliance as well if Father has some other one in mind."

"Do you know what will happen now, Mulan?"

"Well, General Li just returned to camp with some of his men. The captain is speaking with him now. Hopefully the other teams of men that the general sent out will return shortly as well. I am sure that it won't be long before a unit is ordered to escort both of you home."

xxxxxxx

Mulan paced anxiously after the two princesses left her tent, a knot in her stomach. She was concerned about the general's presence in camp again and about his knowledge of her. He was a traditional Chinese man, who probably wouldn't want his son married to a female warrior. She felt an ache in her heart as she thought of the possibility that he would contact her father and call everything off.

"Mulan?"

"Come in, Shang."

"What's wrong?" he asked, stepping inside.

She shook her head.

"I thought you were going to wait in the main tent."

"I figured you wanted to talk to your father."

"I spoke to him. Our regiment will be escorting the princesses back to the Imperial City."

He smiled at her, proudly.

"And then I'm sure the Emperor will have more honors to bestow upon you, Mulan."

"And you."

"Mm."

"What made your father return to camp so soon?"

"The Ruanruan Empire is defeated already. Anagui Qaghan committed suicide when his troops fell. Tumen is now the Khan and the territory belongs to the Tujue. My father didn't realize that we had the princess already of course. He came to mobilize the troop to move out and confront the Tujue, and to try to get her back."

"Then Behrouz was right. And now we have a new enemy. It's a good thing the marriage never took place."

He nodded. "And that we found her when we did and brought her back over the border safely."

"What about Iraj?"

"He didn't come back with my father. I assume he returned to Behrouz and the others. There are still other teams out there from my father's troop. Hopefully they will recognize the same signs of danger that my father did and come back on their own shortly."

He gestured toward the direction of the main tent.

"Do you want to finish our game? You were beating me. That usually makes you happy."

She nodded and followed him out, peering around cautiously as they walked to the main tent.

"Who were you looking for out there?" he asked her when they got inside.

"Your father. I guess he knows who I am."

"Yes, he figured it out right away just as I did."

"Oh."

He looked at her concerned expression and smiled, clasping her hands in his.

"There's nothing to worry about, Mulan."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. He knows what an excellent warrior you are. He even commented that you inherited your famous father's talents, in fact."

"That doesn't mean he wants his son married to me," she answered, somberly.

Shang began to laugh warmly and he gently brought her hands up toward his face and kissed them.

"I promise you, Mulan, you have nothing to worry about."
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