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As it turns out, the Chinese Empire had a conscription system that allowed one to pay for a substitute.

With that in mind, imagine the conversation between Hua Mulan and her father:

 

“Daughter, you don’t have to do this. We have more than enough money to – ”

“Ahem! Who’s the one who’s been practicing sword techniques for ten years while you sat around being lazy?”

*sigh* “You.”

“And who’s the one who the horse likes more than anyone around here?”

“You.”

“And how likely is it that the guy you hire is going to be half as good as me?”

“I give it fifty-fifty. But it doesn’t matter how good you are, Daughter. We’re talking about soliders! Soldiers work in teams! That is how they survive! You’ve been training on your own for ten years. I don’t think you’ve ever figured out how to actually fight alongside someone.”

“Well, thank goodness they’re giving us some basic training beforehand. Hey groom, saddle up the horse!”

“Daughter, do you honestly think I’m going to let you do this?”

"Who has the sword?"

*sigh* "You."

"Who has the armor?"

"How did you even get that stuff on without help?"

“Never you mind. As for the war, think of it this way. If we win, I earn glory, get some spoils of war, come home and feel satisfied that I’ve done something worthwhile, and smile knowingly when you order me about. If we don’t win, I die and you can keep lavishing attention on my brother and forget about me.”

“Oh, so that’s what this is about. You want to make me feel guilty for upholding the natural hierarchy of the family.”

“Well, you should have done that a while ago. I’m just removing myself from the situation because I can’t stand it.”

“You are a terrible daughter.”

“And you’re a perfectly ordinary father, which is the whole problem. ‘Bye.”

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