This episode sets the story of 8th and Ruo Xi’s blossoming romance against a tense political incident.
It opens with Nian Gengyao entering Lu Wu’s establishment. He bows to the singer before walking to meet 4th and 13th. When he faces the prince, the man kneels and greets the princes. It is Nian Gengyao.
4th waves Nian Gengyao up while 13th notes that they have not seen him for a while. He seems to have grown thinner and asks if it is because of what he had been doing for the 4th prince.
The man bows, saying it is his fortune to serve both princes and that there is
nothing too challenging in what he does. 4th comments that he is aware of what Nian Gengyao has achieved. He says he will not treat Nian Gengyao unfairly.
If the chance comes up, he will recommend Nian Gengyao to be the governor of a province in charge of the political and military affairs in Sichuan.
Nian Gengyao bows and replies that he dares not aspire to such a high position. He claims that when he was helping 8th, he had been victimized by malefactors and was expelled from 8th’s residence. It was fortunate that 4th and 13th gave him him assistance and he was able to keep his head on his shoulders. He proclaims both to be his benefactors and similiar to his parents. He will be glad to do all he can in order to show his gratitude. He does not seek any reward.
Of course that is a barrowful of hogwash and from the princes’ expressions, they are well aware of their subordinate’s ambition.
Impatiently, 13th pushes himself to his feet and replies that when his 4th brother recommends Nian Gengyao to be the governor, Nian still has to act as their eyes and ears. It is not a true reward but a hard and unprofitable job.
Nian replies that even a hard and unprofitable position is also a matter of joy. 13th snorts and 4th cuts in and stops both from joking. Soberly, 4th asks what he has discovered about 8th and his connections with the officials during the time he has been away.
Serious now, Nian nods and says that he has indeed discovered some news. 4th is thoughtful.
The scene moves back to the Northern Inspection campsite.
14th is gently dabbing ointment onto her palms.
He notes that Ruo Xi must have several lifetimes worth of fortune. The 8th prince sends medicine while the 14th helps ‘apply’ the medicine. He emphasizes the word with a grin.
Playfully, she acknowledges his help and thanks him greatly but she points out that she was the one who had prepared his evening meal. 14th chortles as she continues listing what else she had to do for the prince. She had to brave danger to report his presence to 8th and to help arrange for both brothers to meet.
14th retorts that she really knows how to claim credit for her efforts. She grins as the prince finishes the application.
This pair has such a comfortable relationship, almost as comfortable as the one Ruo Xi has with 13th.
Ruo Xi says it is almost time and asks 14th if he has the meeting place memorized. He makes an affirmation sound.
She leaves her tent. In the background, the sounds of toasts can be heard. At 8th’s tent, his personal servant greets her and announces her arrival.
8th is writing and smiles with pleasure at the sight of his love. Dismissing the servant, he walks until he faces Ruo Xi. She is feeling shy and looks down at her hands.
The same hands that he gently clasps and examines the wound. He asks if she is able to go on duty the next day.
She pulls away without answering and looks around before asking if it is convenient to speak inside his tent. 8th looks at her with some surprise but replies that knowing she would be coming that night, he had given instructions for his men to keep watch.
Ruo Xi leans in and whispers that 14th is here. He is taken aback and asks if 14th had explained why he is there. She shakes her head and says that 14th will meet with 8th at the western side of the trees.
8th is thoughtful before asking Ruo Xi to return to her sleeping quarters. He tells her he will meet 14th. The palace maid nods once and turns, hesitating before turning back to ask him to be careful.
The prince smiles, the joy at her obvious concern bright on his face and he assures her that everything will be fine. He adds as she starts to depart that her worry about his safety makes him truly happy.
His simple statement and his smile makes Ruo Xi shy. She gives a tiny smile and turns away, looking down. She is a different creature at this moment. In love and without care of anything else except feeling the emotion.
8th looks on with a smile, watching as Ruo Xi only to turn serious when he thinks about the meeting with 14th. Wrapped in his cloak, he leaves his tent while keeping a careful scrutiny as he walks through the campsite. No one appears to be following as he disappears but a moment later, two men slink out from behind a tent.
The first man instructs the second to follow 8th while he reports back.
Meanwhile, 8th trudges through the thick underbrush until 14th stops him with a soft hail. 8th turns and sees 14th in his Mongolian disguise. (Yes, I included another shot here! I just cannot get over how adorable 14th looks in his fur hat and that twirly moustache.)
8th grips 14th’s wrist, asking why he had disobeyed the edict and left the capital. This is extremely dangerous especially if their Emperor Father or the Crown Prince were to discover his presence. He will not be let off lightly.
14th replies that he does not care about the consequence. There is something important 14th has to tell 8th. 8th steps forward, asking what has happened in the palace.
The younger prince grimaces and says that over the past days, 4th has continually implemented their Emperor Father’s decrees to disperse the court officials that are allied with them. They are either transferred to remote posts or moved into positions of trivial responsibilities.
8th ponders on the news as 14th notes that these internal shuffles are clearly targeted against them, to reduce their power base. That is why 14th risk death to inform his older brother about the changes and to discuss what they could do. If his brothers waited until his return, the situation might well become hopeless.
The older prince asks 14th brother to calm himself and to tell him what was happening in the palace in detail.
14th nods, “That day 4th brother summoned us and others to a meeting, saying that their Emperor Father had left behind orders. A list of names had been compiled by their 4th brother …” A hand steathily brushes the long grass and someone spies on them.
The scene switches to the Crown Prince’s tent where the second man who was spying on 8th reports about the secret meeting between the 8th prince and a Mongolian man. He suspects that the Mongolian man is actually 14th.
The Crown Prince closes his eyes and repeats sharply, “14th?” He asks his spy if he is certain. The spy nods and says he is sure. The Crown Prince laughs and is pleased, stating that 8th has been forbidden from keeping in touch with the other princes who remain behind in the capital. Yet 14th is here and 8th is meeting with him secretly. Both are clearly disobeying an imperial order. He exclaims at the opportunity to take revenge on the two princes.
The spy asks if they should report the news to the Emperor. The Crown Prince rejects the suggestion and has his own idea about what to do. He grabs his bow and poses. He explains that if he treats the incident as an intruder breaking into their camp and if he shoots (implying either hurting or killing 14th), the truth cannot be denied.
He is going to take advantage of this opportunity to rid himself of both 8th and 14th, the thorns in his flesh. He instructs his men to ready themselves. The Crown Prince declares he is going to kill a thief!
Ruo Xi worries about both princes, trying to reassure herself that nothing will happen. 8th is such an intelligent man, nothing will happen. Suddenly, a voice rings out pointing Min Min to Ruo Xi’s quarters. Min Min dismisses her servants and a moment later, enters the tent.
Ruo Xi drops a curtsy but Min Min waves off the formality and grips Ruo Xi’s wrist. She immediately notices the wounds and asks what happened to her hands. The older woman thanks Min Min’s concern but tells her it looks worse than it really is. She claims the injuries are starting to heal.
Min Min is quiet and continues to hold Ruo Xi’s wrists. She suddenly bursts out and tells Ruo Xi that she needed to confide in someone who could help her think of a solution.
Ruo Xi asks what is wrong.
Min Min claims that it is a long story and asks Ruo Xi to walk with her. The palace maid hesitates and Min Min cajoles her into the stroll. Men with torches hurry past the two women. Ruo Xi holds a lantern as Min Min chatters beside her. The younger woman asks Ruo Xi if she blames her for such an abrupt night visit.
Ruo Xi remarks that Min Min has always been informal and wonders why she is suddenly so courteous. The other woman replies that she finally realises Ruo Xi is someone that the Emperor values: a rising star.
The older woman smiles, replying that she is just serving the Emperor as best as she can and is certainly not an up-and-comer.
Min Min slowly asks in a tiny voice why 13th did not accompany the Emperor on the trip. Ruo Xi smiles as the young girl finally reveals the real reason she seeks Ruo Xi out.
Ruo Xi explains that 13th has not say in the matter. The Emperor is the one who decides who accompanies him on the trip. She adds that 13th is doing well.
Min Min seems unhappy at the news and replies that she thought so. She next asks about 13th’s first wife, about if she is beautiful.
Ruo Xi replies that in her opinion, Min Min is more beautiful than 13th first wife. Min Min lights up, stepping closer and asks if Ruo Xi truly thinks so. She asks if she does not seem rather uncouth and crude without any elegance. She compares herself with Ruo Xi. Ruo Xi speaks evenly without any stutter and conducts herself with such gentle refinement.
The palace maid laughs softly, amused and says that she does not know if she could be considered refined or delicate. She adds that she is sure Min Min is a real beauty. The younger woman is pleased to hear that.
Ruo Xi softly asks if Min Min likes 13th. The Mongolian noble lady turns away and asks if it is that obvious. The older woman teases and says it is rather obvious.
Min Min grins and admits her liking, saying she has not heard such a splendid singing voice. She says that when he was watching her dance, her heart had never beaten that quickly before. And his laughter, it mesmerised her. Clearly Min Min is besotted.
Ruo Xi smiles as Min Min goes on about 13th. She says 13th does not seem to care about anything yet he is also so passionate, that she can feel his warmth. She declares she has never met any men like that before.
Ruo Xi replies that 13th is indeed someone worthy of being liked.
Min Min sulks that her father refuses to let her marry 13th. Ruo Xi asks why. The younger girl tells Ruo Xi after the older girl gives her word not to tell anyone else about the reason.
Her father says that no lady within the Forbidden City is fortunate. He says Min Min is a wildflower of the grasslands and can only bloom in the open plains.
Ruo Xi looks sad and Min Min observes her expression. She is taken aback, murmuring that she had not believed her father’s claim but Ruo Xi’s face confirms what her father had said.
The Maertai daughter speaks deliberately, saying that sometimes a person has no choice and helpless to help themselves. Min Min asks if liking someone is something that a person does without their free will. Ruo Xi is quiet.
The question is a double-edged sword. Min Min is speaking of herself but Ruo Xi is thinking of her feelings for 8th.
Back in the woods, the Crown Prince strides into the brush. He examines the area and points before marching forward.
14th urges 8th to think of a plan. He says they cannot allow 4th to take control of the situation. 8th points out that this is their Emperor Father’s plan and he definitely cannot return to the capital. They must think of another plan.
The Crown Prince stops abruptly and then holds out his hand. His bow is placed within his grip while other archers move into position. He aims steadily before releasing his shot!
8th and 14th are still debating when suddenly the older prince grabs his younger brother’s shoulder, crying out for him to take care. He had heard the hiss of the arrow being released and 8th steps in front of 14th. The arrow thuds into his chest.
14th exclaims and grabs the arrow, pulling it free while the Crown Prince commands his men to fire. The disguised prince turns at the sound of the command, pushing his elder brother behind him while drawing his sword.
With swift strokes, 14th manages to dodge the shots and sends each into the ground.
The Crown Prince orders his men forward while 14th supports his wounded brother. 14th wonders if the men belong to their Emperor Father. 8th replies that only the Crown Prince would attack in such a manner. He urges his brother to escape. Both flee.
The pursuers find the empty clearing and the Crown Prince looks furious while his men continues their search.
Ruo Xi and Min Min are still strolling together. The younger girl clasps Ruo Xi’s arm and asks if she has a sweetheart. Ruo Xi hesitates and then dashes forward when she notices the men searching the underbrush.
She is worried and hurries forward with Min Min trailing behind her. They hurry into the camp where Min Min intercepts a Mongolian soldier and asks what had happened. The man replies that the Crown Prince had discovered a thief and commanded a search.
Ruo Xi asks what the thief looks like. The soldier replies that he does not know except that the Crown Prince had managed to injure the thief. He added that the thief had entered the encampment.
Min Min acknowledges the information and sends the soldier off. Ruo Xi hands over the lantern and then hastily asks Min Min if she knows where a good hiding place would nearby.
The younger girl repeats the question and asks why. Ruo Xi begs the noblewoman to tell her. After a moment, Min Min asks Ruo Xi to follow and leads her to the Mongolian section of the campsite.
Ruo Xi spots the Crown Prince and hurriedly pulls Min Min aside. The prince informs the Mongolian general that two suspects had been spotted in that direction. The general remarks in a hard tone that the Crown Prince had already searched through the Mongolian camp once without success.
The Crown Prince replies that if they do not try another search, it would allow the thieves to escape.
The general hesitates and then agrees. The Crown Prince orders two men to stand guard while the others continue the search.
Min Min comes out from hiding, confidently striding with Ruo Xi following closely. Ruo Xi hurriedly ducks when she spots more soldiers. The Mongolian woman notices Ruo Xi’s absence and calls out Ruo Xi’s name but there is no response.
Soldiers hurry to and fro as 14th suddenly appears with Ruo Xi behind him. They scurry between obstacles and enters a tent. Ruo Xi asks 14th if he is injured. 14th replies he is fine. She asks about 8th.
14th glances at Ruo Xi and replies that they spilt up to avoid the pursuit. He adds that 8th had blocked an arrow and saved him.
Ruo Xi is startled and distressed. 14th reassures her that it is not life threatening and that 8th will be fine. Ruo Xi bites down on her fingers despite his words.
Her reaction betrays her. I think Ruo Xi truly cares for the 8th prince and yet, and yet.
Min Min wanders through, calling her name and both look up at Min Min’s soft hail. Ruo Xi exclaims that it is Min Min and then turns to ask 14th if he had ever met Min Min. 14th shakes his head.
Ruo Xi stands and starts to walk to the entrance but 14th blocks her way. She asks him not to worry and says that Min Min will definitely help them. She calls out to Min Min.
The noblewoman hurries into the tent. 14th turns away. As Min Min exclaims at the sight of 14th, Ruo Xi kneels in front of the younger woman and asks Min Min to save her. Min Min drags Ruo Xi upright and asks why.
Min Min urges Ruo Xi explain and tells her that if she can help, she will help.
Ruo Xi rounds on 14th, pushing him and rebukes him. She scolds him for coming to the camp, claiming that she had told him not to follow. She points out that his action has led the Crown Prince to think he was a thief.
14th looks slightly perturbed as Ruo Xi continues to weave the tale. She claims that there is no way to explain away his presence. She reminds him that a palace maid is not suppose to have private meetings with anyone. She tells him that this could cost both of them their lives.
Min Min listens from the side.
The prince watches Ruo Xi intently as she tears up, saying that if they don’t explain, he will die and she wonders how she is to survive by herself.
Min Min exclaims, “He is your lover?” 14th is shocked at the conclusion but Ruo Xi nods and says that because she lives in the palace, they are not able to meet. She explains that they had thought there would be a better chance for a rendevous outside the palace but the Crown Prince has taken her ‘lover’ for a thief.
What a bluff! Ruo Xi really does think well when she gets cornered.
Min Min rebukes Ruo Xi, saying that he has risked his life to see her and yet Ruo Xi is hardhearted in blaming him. She asks Ruo Xi not to worry and assures the palace maid that she will do all she can to ensure her lover’s safety.
Ruo Xi tells Min Min that she will repay her kindness when she gets a chance. Min Min waves away her words while 14th tells Ruo Xi not to worry. He thanks Min Min. The Mongolian woman waves away their gratitude and urges 14th to follow her.
14th and Ruo Xi exchange glances before the prince turns. Silently, Ruo Xi apologises to Min Min as she follows behind both.
In Min Min’s tent, the noblewoman holds Ruo Xi’s arm while she crossexamines 14th. She asks 14th if he was not afraid when he decided to see Ruo Xi at all cost.
He declares he is unafraid. That because of Ruo Xi, he is not afraid of anything. Min Min wonders how difficult it could be for them to meet in the palace.
14th explains it is challenging. The palace have many rules and regulations unlike the grasslands with its freedom. Min Min eagerly asks if 14th had suffered a lot because of Ruo Xi. The prince murmurs that it is bitter but it is worth it because of Ruo Xi. He makes a lovelorn expression and Min Min almost slyly nudges Ruo Xi while the palace maid looks away.
Ruo Xi almost shies away before telling Min Min that she should leave. Her presence in Min Min’s quarters might attract attention. Min Min agrees and tells Ruo Xi not to worry. That she would return a full-bodied healthy lover to Ruo Xi the next day. Ruo Xi thanks Min Min and departs.
As she leaves, Ruo Xi gives 14th a look. One that seems to scold the prince yet also expresses her concern for his safety. The prince returns a soulful eye, silently reassuring her while Min Min looks on in delight.
Outside, Ruo Xi slinks into the shadows when she hears the guards continue their search. She believes 14th would be safe and decides to go to 8th.
The soldiers report no sign of any intruders. The Crown Prince is furious and commands them to continue searching.
In Min Min’s tent, 14th thanks Min Min again. The young woman grins at him and invites him to take a seat. He points in the direction of her bed and asks if he could sit there. She tuts at the prince and comments that he should not stand on any ceremony with her. She pats her bed and after 14th sits down, Min Min demands to know when 14th and Ruo Xi had met.
14th thinks for a while and says they met at 8th’s residence. He says he was visiting the 8th prince on official business and met Ruo Xi then. She had not entered the palace yet and she had a sharp tongue with strange ideas.
Min Min replies that she cannot see that in Ruo Xi before snapping her fingers, saying it could be possible.
His men reports failure to the Crown Prince and he is irate. He scolds his men and asks how it is possible for them not to find the intruders.
The Mongolian general strides to the Crown Prince and asks if the prince might be mistaken. He points out that if they continue to search, they would rouse the Mongolian Duke and the one that would be scathingly condemned might not be the Crown Prince.
It is a veiled threat that the Emperor would be involved.
The Crown Prince smiles as he replies that he was concerned for everyone’s safety. He adds that they will stop the search for now since they cannot find the thieves.
The general then bids the Crown Prince farewell and escorts the prince away from the Mongolian campsite.
Ruo Xi anxiously makes her way towards the tent and his servant, the same one who had delivered the medicine earlier in the day, informs her that 8th is washing up and that it is not convenient for her to see the prince.
She hovers indecisively. A moment later, 8th’s personal eunuch, Li Fu, comes out and invites her to enter.
The sitting area of the tent is vacant. 8th’s robe is tossed aside on a nearby chair. Ruo Xi stands still before 8th calls out, beckoning her into his personal sleeping area behind the screen.
I think it shows how much 8th’s cares about Ruo Xi that he invites her in at this moment. I think this shows some trust. It is also unconventional for a man to be alone with a woman of status who is not his wife.
8th pats a spot on the bed beside him and tells her to come closer. She visibly hesitates before crossing to sit with him. The prince smiles happily while she looks down at her hands crossed in her lap.
The eunuch enters and informs the prince that he needs to change his dressing. 8th nods but he only has eyes for the suddely shy Ruo Xi sitting across from him. The eunuch gently prompts 8th before pulling the cover away from the wound.
8th jerks back and Ruo Xi gasps, looking away. The prince seems amused at the timid Ruo Xi; a contrast between the normally dauntless young woman. He smiles and looks away.
Yet another ‘aw’ moment in this romance. I can almost see her thinking what has she got to be afraid of. She’s seen a man’s body before. Why is she so Conscious and circumspect towards this man she has finally admitted to loving.
Ruo Xi turns back and draws in a deep breath at the wound. She demands to know what lousy medicine is being used that it has not stopped bleeding. The prince’s servant explains that it is the best ‘Jin Chuang Yao’*. This is a generic name for an ointment used for cuts. He says 9th paid a lot of gold for this ointment which had been specially bought from Yunnan. He explained it was brought along as a backup.
8th cuts in, telling Ruo Xi that even with the best of medication requires time to show any effect. Ruo Xi slowly echoes, “Backup? Why would you need such backup? What plans did you prepare?”
The prince hesitates and avoids the question. Instead he asks if Ruo Xi had seen his younger brother. She nods and there is a silence.
Trust and yet not enough trust. I think 8th wondered if he should explain and decided not to by changing the subject.
Impulsively, Ruo Xi leans over to take over and dresses the wound. 8th is surprised and pleased. There is an silent exchange and Ruo Xi becomes shy once more, turning her head as the prince watches her.
From the sidelines, the eunuch glances over and has a tiny discreet smile as well when he sees the pair of lovers. Li Fu must be aware of how 8th feels about Ruo Xi. He had been with the prince when 8th had invited Ruo Xi to his study during the first snowfall at the 8th residence.
This is another sweet moment. There are several scenes which I rewatched more than than I have watched the whole series. This is one of them.
Both are quiet until the eunuch excuses himself after completing his ministration. Ruo Xi realizes that she is still holding 8th’s arm and hastily releases her grip. 8th grunts. She asks if it hurts, he quietly shakes his head.
Her eyes down, she tells 8th not to worry about 14th. Since he is well, Ruo Xi excuses herself and tries to retreat.
She twirls but freezes as 8th grabs her hand. She tugs hard, trying to pull free but 8th easily holds her in place with a wide smile.
Another testerone moment which brings back the memory of when 4th had held her in place as well. She is distressed and uncomfortable. The difference is that this time, she has feelings for 8th.
He remarks that if she uses more force to break free, his wound would reopen. She immediately twirls in concern and the prince laughs. In delight. In open happiness. In joy. Ruo Xi smiles at his teasing.
8th pulls her closer and looks at Ruo Xi in bemusement. He softly remarks in almost disbelief that the moment feels like a dream. Ruo Xi slowly reaches out towards his face. The prince closes his eyes and tilts towards her hand, almost eagerly waiting for her touch.
Ruo Xi pulls back at the last moment and the prince opens his eyes. He examines her expression before urging her to sit, retaining her hand in his.
8th starts to say, “I have been thinking. About us …”
Ruo Xi cuts in and wonders how 8th knows she had met 14th. She asks if he is not worried about his brother. She is not ready to discuss their relationship.
The prince looks disappointed but takes her lead. Clearly, he wonders what Ruo Xi is thinking. He says that when she was not surprised when she saw his wound, it was clear that she already knew about his injury. So it must have been 14th who told her about it. As to whether he was worried about his brother, 8th tells Ruo Xi that not only the Crown Prince has men in the camp. If the Crown Prince can search, why can’t 8th protect? There is no news means good news. Furthermore since she is calm after seeing 14th, it means she has hidden his brother well.
Ruo Xi grins, saying that nothing escapes 8th. He replies that Ruo Xi is careful and thinks of everything. She replies that this is untrue. She asks how they were discovered by the Crown Prince.
8th stands, thoughtfully speaking his thoughts. He says he was careful when leaving. However the Crown Prince must have taken extra measures to make sure 8th remains disconnected from the Capital.
Ruo Xi asks what has happened in the capital that the Crown Prince would increase surveillance. The prince willingly replies that his Emperor Father had forbade any connection between himself and the capital.
It is likely that the Crown Prince was just making sure he could catch 8th in any act that would could be considered breaking their Emperor Father’s decree. He adds that his Emperor Father had left instructions to shuffle the bureacracy while he was away. According to 14th, the shuffle is disadvantageous to 8th and his cause. He theorizes that the Crown Prince does not want 8th to find out about this shuffle until their return to the capital in September. By then, it will be too late for 8th to do anything about it.
Ruo Xi thoughtfully asks what 8th could do has since the Emperor had already made his decision about reshuffling the officials. 8th smiles and says that it is too complicated to explain. He says that even an Emperor cannot truly do things as he wishes.
She keeps quiet and 8th looks over before smiling. He offers to explain if she really is interested to understand. She smiles back, assuage by his offer.
8th asks where Ruo Xi had hidden 14th. Ruo Xi and teasingly asks the prince to guess. He pauses and thinks aloud, saying that since she asks him to guess, it must be someone he would usually not think of. He abruptly turns and declares, “Min Min Ge Ge!”
Ruo Xi is disappointed at his quick answer and almost pouts as she confirms his guess. The prince laughs at her expression and exclaims, asking if it really is Min Min. He wonders how Ruo Xi convinced Min Min and tells her this is a serious matter.
The woman jumps up and replies she will not tell 8th with a snooty knowing expression. The prince laughs again.
She turns serious and wonders how the Crown Prince dared to shoot at his own brothers. 8th replies that it is natural to use weapons against a thief. It was a good opportunity for the Crown Prince to remove 8th and 14th with one blow.
Ruo Xi thinks to herself. This is just the beginning. The true woes and trouble will start when 4th ascends the throne.
8th observes her and interrupts her thoughts, saying he does not like her expression. It makes him feel that she is so far away from him. He asks what she is harbouring in her heart that bothers her so much. He realises that she is afraid.
Ruo Xi remains silent. 8th immediately stands and embraces the woman.
He is so perceptive and so aware of Ruo Xi that he reads her moods and expressions well. He cares so much about her and her feelings. What if, what if, what if. I can only sigh.
8th holds her close, tenderly whispering against her ear. He tells her not to be afraid, that he is there and he will always be there. He will not allow anything to hurt or harm her. He is sincere and Ruo Xi responds again.
Her hand lifts, almost touching him as they stand together.
Would she believe him or won’t she believe him.
He anxiously clasps her against him. Her hand curls and uncurls before slowly it finally flattens against his back. Ruo Xi smiles softly, almost in relief as she makes her decision.
Commands are given to withdraw the search as the Mongolian general walks the Crown Prince back to the Manchu side of the camp. The general bids the prince farewell at the divide and the Crown Prince thanks the Mongolian.
The Crown Prince interrogates his men if they had really seen 14th escape towards the Mongolian side after he was wounded. A guard replies that he is uncertain if it was 14th but he is sure that they fled in that direction.
The Crown Prince muses that since the fugitives were seen, they must definitely be in the Mongolian camp. The guard asks if a second search attempt would cause problems since they had completed a thorough search once. The prince replies that this is a rare chance to eradicate a problem.
Another guard advises against a second search as this would definitely be reported to the Emperor. The Crown Prince snaps that he can take care of his Emperor Father and asks what they fear.
The Crown Prince realises that they had searched everywhere except Min Min Ge Ge’s tent. He is informed that Min Min had given orders that no one was to disturb her rest. The prince replies that if Min Min has a clean conscience, there is no reason to forbid them from entering her tent. He is convinced that 14th is likely with her.
In Min Min’s tent, 14th paces restlessly while the orders are given to tighten the security around the Mongolian camp. The duke’s daughter assures 14th that since she had promised Ruo Xi, she will make sure nothing happens to him.
14th points out that the Crown Prince will not give up easily. She replies that this is the Mongolian camp and asks if the Crown Prince dares to act recklessly. She asks him to rest while she protects his head. Min Min tosses an apple but 14th is not convinced. They hear a voice ordering another search and Min Min hurries 14th behind a screen and tells him not to appear as she blows out the candle.
The Crown Prince creeps past the entrance. His eyes search through the darkened tent while behind him, Min Min picks up a small chest and swings that at the prince!
She hits him! Hard!
The Crown Prince’s men hurries forward at the racket but they are stopped by her guards. They declare that the Crown Prince is in Min Min’s tent. A guard replies that it is impossible since they had just escorted the Crown Prince back to the Manchu side of the camp.
The Manchu guard cries out that there seems to be a scuffle in the tent. The Mongolian replies that since Min Min Ge Ge left orders not to be disturbed regardless of what the guards hear in her tent, no one is allowed into her quarters.
There is a standoff.
Inside the tent, Min Min hits up the Crown Prince with all her strength despite his shouts to stop. She grabs him and pushes the prince out before following through the tent entrance.
“It’s the Crown Prince!” Min Min cries out in feigned surprise. The Crown Prince shouts and winces. “How dare you! How dare you raise your hand against me!”
Min Min points out that it was dark in her tent and that she thought it was the thief that the prince was looking for. She did not realise it was the Crown Prince, who somehow had ended inside her tent.
The Crown Prince states that he was concerned about her safety. She thanks him graciously and flounces back into her quarters without another word. The Manchu guards attempt to follow but are blocked by the Mongolian soldiers.
The prince recalls his men. He gingerly touches his chest and then orders a retreat.
14th is amazed at Min Min. Even the Crown Prince had to accept his beating without a word. Min Min replies that since he had dared to invade her quarters, he had to be taught a lesson that she is not someone who could be bullied. 14th grins and says she is certainly an eye opener. She affirms his observation proudly.
Min Min adds that she keeps her promises and she had promised to keep 14th safe. 14th thanks Min Min and she promptly requests more stories about Ruo Xi and himself. He agrees.
Both 8th and Ruo Xi sit together, hands lightly massage hands while she rests her head on his shoulder. He murmurs that he is unable to guess what Ruo Xi is constantly worrying about and asks her to promise not to let her imagination run wild.
His personal eunuch in and Ruo Xi breaks away, pulling her hand from 8th while the servant informs 8th prince that the Crown Prince had failed to find anything after searching through the Mongolian campsite thrice well as going through the surrounding areas. The Crown Prince is now concentrating his search on the Manchu side.
8th laughs sardonically and remarks that the Crown Prince is certainly risking everything and not even afraid of disturbing their Emperor Father. He then says perhaps it is fortunate that the Crown Prince is working towards his quarters. He says the Crown Prince can be his witness.
Ruo Xi is alarmed, pointing out that 8th will not be able to hide his injury from the Crown Prince if they confront each other. Even if he can conceal the truth that night, she asks what 8th could do after. Once 8th starts to ride, his wound will reopen and the Crown Prince will definitely report 8th to their Emperor Father.
8th smiles and asks her to believe him. He turns to Li Fu and instructs him to boil water for tea. The prince emphasizes that he wants the water to be brought to a rolling boil.
Ruo Xi helps 8th to dress. The prince watches her, his eyes glued to her face as if he does not want her out of his sight. He grips her wrist and caresses her hand with a smile.
A servant announces that the tea is ready. The prince lifts the cup and rejects it. He says it is not hot enough and restates that he wants it boiling hot.
* See Notes for explanation