Life was new for Hua Mulan. She had just fought alongside the country armies against the Rourans and played a huge role in defeating them. She was now a famous figure in the country and
Mulan was training in the fields alone, brandishing the new sword that had been given by the army.
Mulan moved swiftly through the air as she was training, enjoying the feeling of truly being herself.
It was a fine day in the village, Hua Xiu was at her usual stall, selling woven cloths. Then, someone caught her eye, a man. The others were looking at him, the stranger.
Hua Xiu wondered who the man could be.
The man was rugged, seemingly traveled a long way, a visitor. The man approached her stall, looking around.
"Hello," Hua Xiu called out to the man. "May I help you today, sir?"
"Oh, no... I'm not looking to buy anything, maybe some other time," the man replied. "You do some fine work." Hua Xiu blushed upon hearing the man's compliment.
"You're a visitor, aren't you?" asked Hua Xiu curiously.
"Yeah, how could you tell?" the man asked.
"Well, our village is only so big. It's easy to spot visitors," Hua Xiu replied.
"Well, it is not every day we see visitors around here," the Hua Xiu said."What brings you here?"
"I'm looking for someone," the man answered.
"May I know who you are looking for?" asked Hua Xiu. "I may be able to help you."
"I'm looking for Hua Mulan," the man replied.
Hua Xiu was surprised to hear the man mention her sister's name. The only men that came looking for her were those from the army. Could this man possibly be from the army too?
"May I know you're name, sir?" asked the girl.
"My name is Chen Honghui, a friend of Mulan from the army," said the man.
"Ah, my sister mentioned you a couple of times," the girl said.
"Yes, I'm Hua Xiu, Hua Mulan's sister," she introduced herself as she bowed her head. "It's an honor to meet one of my sister's fellow soldiers.
She thinks very profoundly of you all and says she could not have achieved what she'd done without your help."
"Delighted to meet you," Honghui said. "She had done the same to us too, we are equally grateful to her," Honghui replied. "So may I know where can I find her?" asked Honghui.
"Gosh, he is really eager to find her... could it be..." Hua Xiu thought to herself, looking at Honghui.
"She is out in the fields nearby, probably riding her horse or training," Hua Xiu said.
"Will she be back soon?" asked Honghui.
"She probably won't come back till evening. I suggest you go and find her yourself, sir," Hua Xiu said.
"Thanks, Hua Xiu. No need for formality," Honghui said.
"You're welcome, Honghui. I expect my sister will be surprised to see you," Hua Xiu said smilingly.
"Well, I intend to give her one," Honghui chuckled.
"Good luck!" Honghui heard Hua Xiu as he was leaving the gates of the village.
Mulan rested by the banks of a lake as her horse lapped at the waters. She was admiring the beauty of nature as she leaned on a huge rock. Then, she heard the sound of a horse galloping.
Mulan turned around in curiosity and saw someone masked riding a horse coming close. Her smile turned into a frown.
The rider seemingly saw Mulan and began heading in her direction.
Mulan stood there motionlessly, preparing to draw out her sword as the rider got closer and closer, before finally stopping a few feet in front of her. Mulan eyed the person dangerously.
Her hands prepared to draw out her sword if the person was hostile.
"Hmm... you're still the same I see, Hua Mulan," the person said.
The person's voice sounded very familiar to the woman. "Where have I heard this voice before?" Mulan thought to herself. "Who are you?" asked Mulan with a fierce tone.
"Calm down, Mulan, it's me, Chen Honghui. Don't you remember?" Honghui said as he took off the black piece of cloth he used as a mask.
Mulan stood there. Her hand went a little numb as she couldn't believe her own eyes. "Honghui, is it really you? I'm not dreaming, am I?" Mulan asked unsurely.
"Huh, don't worry, Mulan. I assure you. I'm as real as you are," Honghui chuckled.
"Feels like I'm dreaming," Mulan muttered to herself, blinking her eyes a couple of times in disbelief.
"Come on, Mulan, do you need to touch me to be convinced?" asked Honghui jokingly as he held his hand out.
To his surprised, Mulan moved forward and touched his hand, quite like the last time, for a brief moment. Mulan's face turned from a puzzled look to a small smile.
"It's really you," Mulan mutters.
"Are you that surprised to see me? I told you I would see you again," Honghui said.
"Well, I wasn't expecting to see you today. Plus, I wasn't expecting you to come dressed as a bandit either," Mulan replied, looking at the black piece of cloth in Honghui's hand.
"Yeah, that was just to surprise you," Honghui smiled awkwardly.
"So, what brings you here?" asked Mulan.
"Well, just finished training, got me some time off for a couple of days. Thought that I would go home and visit my family and come to visit you," Honghui explained.
"Wait, how did you know I was here?" asked Mulan, confused.
"I met your sister when I was looking for you in your village," Honghui answered. "She told me I would find you around here."
"Well, you could have waited for me to return," said Mulan.
"Nah, I wanted to surprise you," Honghui said, giving off a look that used to annoy Mulan.
But this time, Honghui could hear a soft chuckle from the woman "So your sister said that you would be training here," Honghui said, abruptly changing the topic.
"Yeah, I'm taking a break now," Mulan said.
"You train alone?" asked Honghui.
"Well, sometimes my father or my sister join me, but mostly is just me," Mulan said.
"How about a sparring partner?" offered Honghui.
Mulan's mouth broke into a smile on hearing Honghui's offer. You do remember what happened last time, right?" asked Mulan chuckling as she grabbed two bamboo sticks near her other stuff.
"I remember that fight well, Mulan. So what are you trying to say?" asked Honghui knowingly.
"Well, if you want a rematch, I daresay the results are going to be the same," Mulan chuckled as she tossed one of the sticks towards Honghui.
"Don't get too confident, Mulan. My abilities have doubled since we last fought," Honghui said, smiling as he caught the stick.
"We shall see," Mulan said as she stood as if she was ready to pounce and attack Honghui.
"Bring it," Honghui challenged, holding the stick.