DVD Episode 16 Part 1
Note : Using the -D V D- for recap from Episode 15.
The Episode 16 recap has two parts. I will recap from the DVD version starting from now. I found the breaks in 40-episode TV version just too exasperating!
In the last recap (TV Ep15), Ruo Xi was telling herself that she has to prepared for the Mongolian contingent’s arrival. This scene starts about 8 minutes into DVD Episode 15. Which means there is almost two full episodes in today’s recap.
Camp is set and Yu Tan opens the window of the tea tent. She happily tells Ruo Xi that there is such a difference after leaving the Forbidden City and coming to the plains. The green grassland. The blue wide sky. Both is enough to invigorate her spirit.
Ruo Xi agrees that the plains is such a free spirited place. Yu Tan replies it is not wonder the Emperor loves to come north. Ruo Xi notes that the Emperor is not here just for the scenery. Yu Tan says she understands this.
Both are tidying the tent as they converse.
Yu Tang says the Emperor still has to consult with the Mongolian duke about state affairs. The Mongolian contingent is expected in a few days time.
Ruo Xi is still at the reminder. “Yes. They are almost here. I must make sure I am prepared.” Yu Tang asks what else is needed, she will prepare. Ruo Xi shakes her head with a laugh and says nothing much, just making sure everything is put away properly.
Maertai Ruo Xi is definitely worried about meeting Min Min again.
She seeks 14th who is grooming his horse. 14th snorts and walks away but Ruo Xi follows him telling him that she needs to speak with him. 14th replies that he has nothing to say to her. She explains that it concerns the previous incident and Min Min.
14th turns and acknowledges that he owes her for that and asks what she wants from her. Ruo Xi says Min Min will be arriving soon and asks how they should explain to Min Min.
The prince believes a honest explanation with apologies and cajoling should settle the matter. Ruo Xi shakes her head saying that it is not that simple and that it will not be easy to coax Min Min.
14th sarcastically answers that since Ruo Xi is excellent at fooling others, it should not be a problem. Ruo Xi stares in disbelief as 14th stalks away. Ruo Xi silently curses at the prince.
14th really does not understand women, does he?
The princes meet their Emperor Father where he tells them to be on their best behaviour when meeting the Mongolian duke. 14th hesitates while 8th glances over in surprise. 4th, 8th and 9th sits on the right while 13th and 14th walks to their seats on the left.
Ruo Xi dries her forehead, looking flustered. Concerned, Li De Chuan asks if she is well. She smiles and says she is fine.
14th interrupts the discussion between the Emperor and the Crown Prince and asks to be excused. His Emperor Father allows him to leave. 14th looks at Ruo Xi who reacts guiltily. 13th catches their silent eye exchange while 4th and 8th examine 14th as the youngest prince leaves without a word.
Ruo Xi is relieved, silently saying that it is good that 14th will not be present as this will give her a chance to explain to Min Min. The Mongolian contingent is announced.
Greetings are exchanged. 13th catches Min Min’s eyes and the young woman looks away. Her father compliments the Emperor on his vitality and congratulates him on a new born grandson. Kangxi replies that the duke is also blessed with many grandchildren and for his excellent fathering skills.
The duke laughs and points out that Kangxi’s sons are handsome and a talented lot. The Emperor waves off the compliment, claiming that the princes will grow arrogant with too much praise.
Everyone takes their seat and tea is served. Min Min smiles at Ruo Xi and the older woman smiles back at the mongolian woman. Ruo Xi replays 13th’s answer to her question about Min Min some months ago.
13th speaks to the duke’s eldest son, He Shu. He says he has long heard of the Mongolian heir’s riding and archery and expresses his interest to compete with the Mongolian. The heir replies that there is a Chinese saying, “To know a hero, is to recognise a hero. I too have heard of 13th. Let us learn from each other.”
Min Min listens from her brother’s side and shyly glances at 13th. Ruo Xi watches with some trepidation. The Emperor asks after 14th, wondering why the prince is not back. 8th stands up, explaining that 14th had some stomach problems the day before. Kangxi asks if a physician has been consulted and is told no.
Kangxi comments that his sons should not take minor ailments lightly just because of their youth. 8th acknowledges his Emperor Father’s remark and instructs a physician be send to 14th.
The Emperor adds that as he grows older, he realises the importance of health and keeping on top of his illnesses. The Mongolian duke agrees.
As 8th sits down, 4th gives Ruo Xi a side look. She returns his look, looking slightly peeved and 4th gives a knowing smile. 13th is also looking at Ruo Xi, raising his brows in a silent question at Ruo Xi before turning back to pay attention to the conversation between the Emperor and the duke. He turns back in time to catch Min Min watching him.
13th curls his lips and looks forward as Min Min looks down. Ruo Xi has her gaze on 13th and Min Min. 4th smiles again after another quick look at Ruo Xi. This time, 8th turns and catches the looks exchanged between his older brother and Ruo Xi.
Ruo Xi looks up and notices 8th watching her and 4th and keeps her head down.
Whew. I am amazed how much could be conveyed with just their eye movements. Their reactions to two different incidents : 14th’s secret visit to 8th and Min Min’s declaration of love for 13th.
8th visits 14th who anxiously asks if his brother had met the Mongolians. 8th nods and 14th mocks Ruo Xi’s anxiety about Min Min. 8th replies that it is natural for Ruo Xi to fear what may happen. It is their fault that Ruo Xi is involved.
14th impatiently asks why 8th continues to look out for Ruo Xi. 8th does not answer, walking past his younger brother and says that Ruo Xi tricked Min Min for their sake. 8th tells 14th that the younger prince should not take his anger out on Ruo Xi because of the problem between 8th and Ruo Xi. They should find some way to keep Ruo Xi out of trouble.
The younger prince says he knows. He admits that he does not have the heart to bear any grudges after seeing how afraid Ruo Xi is about Min Min’s reaction after finding out the truth. But hiding from Min Min is not a long term solution. He realises that apologizing may not work.
8th believes Ruo Xi will explain and apologise to Min Min as soon as she can. He suggests that they cooperate by offering their remorse in order to assuage Min Min’s anger and later providing their own explanation. 14th agrees and adds that if anything happens, he will bear the consequences and implicate Ruo Xi. 8th nods and seems pensive.
This scene reveals how deeply both princes care for Ruo Xi. 8th is still not over Ruo Xi; while 14th’s admission betrays his inner feelings. Al
though 14th is angry with her for breaking up with his elder brother, he still worries about her. Someone like 9th will have thrown Ruo Xi into the lion’s cage without a second thought.
I wonder if 8th is thinking about what happened in the tent between 4th and Ruo Xi.
Ruo Xi wanders through the camp urging herself to clear the air with Min Min as soon as she can. The incident hangs over her like a nightmare and she worries what could happen if she puts off speaking with the Mongolian woman. However Ruo Xi does not know how to start the conversation. She sees Min Min grooming her horse and walks forward to greet the duke’s daughter.
Min Min is happy to see Ruo Xi and tells her not to be that formal. She asks if Ruo Xi is well after an absence of more than 6 months. Ruo Xi replies yes and asks after Min Min, receiving the same reply.
Min Min is pensive and after a while, asks softly if Ruo Xi had asked 13th. Examining Ruo Xi’s face, Min Min cries out, “I am not in his heart!” She sounds heartbroken.
Ruo Xi hesitates and then slowly replies that since her father, the Mongolian duke also does not wish to see Min Min married to 13th, it will be best if Min Min does not think of 13th anymore.
Min Min angrily asks why 13th does not like her; if she cannot match his wives. Ruo Xi tries to pacify Min Min, telling the younger woman that it is not a matter of how good she is but the Mongolian woman cuts Ruo Xi off and decides to ask 13th directly.
Min Min rides off to the Manchu side with Ruo Xi in hot pursuit. 13th is on horseback with 14th trailing behind. Ruo Xi freezes when she sees Min Min approaching the two brothers. Min Min confronts 13th, asking him why she is not good enough for him.
Ruo Xi runs up, putting her hands together in a silent plea to the princes to ride away. 13th examines Ruo Xi and tells Min Min that it is not a good place to have a conversation and that their Emperor Father is waiting for them.
Min Min demands to know what cannot be discussed and looks across 13th and sees 14th. She is surprised Ruo Xi is agitated. 13th notices Min Min’s expression and glances at Ruo Xi while 14th remains silent.
The Mongolian exclaims, “Why are you here?” 13th asks 14th if they know each other.
Min Min cries out, “14th brother? You are the 14th prince!” 14th replies yes.
The duke’s daughter immediately rounds on Ruo Xi and accuses her of lying to her. Ruo Xi hurries forward and tries to explain. Min Min points at 14th and asks if he is indeed 14th. 13th watches from the sidelines. Ruo Xi tries to explain again.
Min Min coldly asks if 14th is Ruo Xi’s sweetheart. 13th appears perturbed while 14th keeps quiet. Ruo Xi slowly shakes her head. Min Min shouts angrily at Ruo Xi, “You lied to me. You made use of me! I accepted you as my sister and told you all my secrets. Why did you treat me like this!”
Ruo Xi reminds Min Min that she had said a woman of the plains would not give up a friendship easily once a bond has been established. She asks for forgiveness, admitting she was wrong to lie to Min Min and begs Min Min to listen to her explanation.
Min Min curls her lip, turning to 13th and asks if he is really friends with Ruo Xi. 13th affirms that they are. Min Min asks if 13th knows Ruo Xi lied to her in order to hide 14th.
Ruo Xi is mortified, hanging her head as 13th replies he is unaware of this matter. Min Min asks Ruo Xi if that’s how she treats her friends; lying to him and then to her. Ruo Xi tries to pacify Min Min but the younger woman declares her intention to tell the Emperor about 14th’s presence during the last North inspection.
13th looks up sharply while Min Min rages on. Ruo Xi kneels in front of Min Min and begs her not to report the matter to the Emperor. 13th goes around Min Min while 14th urges his horse forward, attempting to box Min Min.
Ruo Xi tells Min Min she will accept anything from the younger woman; a scolding or a beating. That all of it is her fault. 14th speaks up, saying that he understands Min Min’s anger. That Min Min should not trouble herself and spill the beans about the incident six months ago. He will says he will speak with his Emperor Father himself.
13th stops 14th with a single word, asking what could be so terribly serious that they need to fuss about it in front of their Emperor Father.
Min Min points out that Ruo Xi made use of her to hide 14th. They behaved suspiciously and she is not sure what they were up to. 13th looks at Ruo Xi who returns it with a worried expression.
13th then says Ruo Xi is not a person who is capable of skullduggery and that Min Min misunderstands the other woman.
Way to go 13th! That is definitely the wrong way to speak to a woman scorned.
Min Min plows on, saying that at that time the Crown Prince had raised an alarm about an assassin. Believing Ruo Xi and 14th to be lovers, she had helped them. 14th and Ruo Xi looks uncomfortable.
Min Min remarks that if there really had been an assassin but 13th interrupts saying that the Mongolian woman should not be worried or angry because of this incident. The older prince tells Min Min that 14th and Ruo Xi had been playmates since they were young. It is not unusual for 14th to disguise himself in order to visit Ruo Xi. It is definitely not something worth alarming his Emperor Father.
The Mongolian cries out, asking why 13th is protecting Ruo Xi without any explanation. 13th asks if he needs to ask. Min Min asks if he will react in the same way if instead of Ruo Xi, it is herself in the same situation : protecting her without asking any questions.
Ruo Xi is gladdened by 13th’s unquestioning protection but urges her friend to watch how he answers Min Min with a whisper.
13th replies firmly without hesitation and ignores Ruo Xi. “I am fully aware what kind of person Ruo Xi is. So there’s no need for me to ask.
14th is thoughtful, 13th’s trust striking a chord with the younger prince while Min Min is flabbergasted. The flustered Ruo Xi is not sure what to say next.
Frustrated, Min Min jerks her reins and rides away! Ruo Xi cries out to Min Min and 13th rides after Min Min. 14th hails Ruo Xi and pulls her onto his mount.
14th tells Ruo Xi that no matter what happens later, she is to push all the blame onto him. Although disobeying a decree is a serious crime, because he is a prince there is no danger to his life. He then chases after the other two.
Min Min is ahead with 13th close on her heels. She dismounts and 13th runs after her, blocking her path and asks her to show mercy. He says he will be very grateful in return.
She glares at 13th. He looks back calmly. 14th and Ruo Xi dash forward and stand aside. Min Min appears to be less agitated, even mollified before looking at Ruo Xi. However she does not say anything.
Kangxi comes out for his tent and notices the tense quartet. He asks what they are up to. 14th and Ruo Xi runs forward to greet the Emperor, leaving 13th and Min still looking at each other. The duke calls out to his daughter, asking her to offer her greetings to Kangxi.
Min Min starts and looks uncomfortable while 13th gently smiles. The duke excuses his daughter, saying he has spoiled her and allowed her too much freedom. She does not behave like any of the cultured ladies in the Forbidden City. Kangxi just laughs while 13th and Min runs up and make their obesiance.
Kangxi notices traces of anger on Min Min’s face and asks if 13th has bullied her. Min Min replies that she wants to race Ruo Xi but 13th rejected the idea which ended in them arguing.
13th gives Ruo Xi and 14th a tiny nod as Min Min makes up a story. Kangxi asks why 13th did not agree to the race and annoyed Min Min. Although Ruo Xi is a beginner, a race is not such a big deal. Min Min immediately steps up and asks if the Emperor is allowing both of them to race.
The duke rebukes his daughter but Kangxi thinks it will be interesting to see the two women race. He asks them to prepare.
As Ruo Xi moves towards the stable, Min Min steps in front of her and tells Ruo Xi that she is giving Ruo Xi a chance because of 13th. If Ruo Xi wins, Min Min will not bring up the matter anymore. If Ruo Xi loses, no one can blame Min Min for whatever happens.
14th is indignant, asking if this is really giving Ruo Xi a chance. Why doesn’t Min Min race against himself instead. Ruo Xi raises her hand, stopping 14th from stepping closer. Min Min gleefully adds that 14th should carefully select a horse for his beloved. She also tells Ruo Xi that she will not hold back like she had previously.
13th thanks Min Min before she stalks off. The prince looks at Ruo Xi with a smile, telling her not to worry. That she should just compete as best as she can. Even if she loses, there is still himself. He hopes his ‘beauty trap’ will work in their favour. Ruo Xi thanks 13th and the prince tags Min Min.
14th continues to observe his brother and Ruo Xi before following her.
The two princes are at the starting line, 14th holding Ruo Xi’s horse while 13th holds Min Min’s. Before the race starts, Ruo Xi asks if Min Min truly means what said. If she wins, they will go back to being friends. Min Min answers that if Ruo Xi is able to win her after only a few months’ worth of lessons, she will have nothing to say about it.
They are off. At first they are even then Min Min pulls ahead. As they gallop past the halfway mark, Min Min glances back at Ruo Xi. The palace maid pulls out a hair pin and stabs her mount. Her horse goes amok!
13th and 14th are shocked as Ruo Xi races past Min Min. Her horse is out of control! Min Min cries out in alarm and rides after the older woman. Ruo Xi holds on for dear life and crosses the finishing line first but her horse does not stop!
Men surround Ruo Xi and try to capture her horse. Both princes rushes forward and manage to grab the brindle and holds the horse until 13th pulls Ruo Xi off the horse. She staggers and is unsteady on her feet. Holding Ruo Xi, 14th echoes 13th and asks if she is fine. Dishevelled and disorientated, Ruo Xi starts to giggle as she sees multiples of the two princes.
They are puzzled by her comment and 14th grips her arm, repeating his question while 13th dismisses the servants. 14th asks if Ruo Xi is able to hear what he is saying. She repeats his question back to 14th and the princes are relieved.
Min Min runs up in a panic, asking why Ruo Xi went all out like that. She tells Ruo Xi she will not bring up the Incident again. Min Min adds that she decided not to tell the Emperor when she was selecting the horse for the race. She only wanted to annoy Ruo Xi for lying to her.
Ruo Xi immediately kneels and kowtows to Min Min. The others are astonished and Min Min reaches down to pull Ruo Xi up. Ruo Xi makes a couple more bows despite Min Min’s reassurance that she does not blame Ruo Xi anymore.
Ruo Xi replies that it is Min Min’s generosity which leads to the younger woman’s forgiving her. However because she is still at fault, she needs to kowtow to Min Min. The other woman is upset and drags Ruo Xi to her feet.
Wang Xi hurries up and informs the princes that the Emperor and the Duke are worried and asks them to return to the camp. 14th acknowledges the request and they walks back. Min Min and Ruo Xi holds hands with 13th leading the way.
Back in the tent, the Emperor asks if Ruo Xi suffers any injuries. Ruo Xi replies she has no injuries. Kangxi asks what it is that Ruo Xi wants to win so badly. Ruo Xi replies that she is at fault. Min Min interrupts saying it is her fault because she forced Ruo Xi to race with her.
Kangxi pursues the matter, asking what their wager was that Ruo Xi is determined to win at any cost.
Both 13th and 14th are watchful while Min Min insists there is no wager. The Duke scolds his daughter for being impertinent. The Emperor looks annoyed and says Ruo Xi has been at his side for many years and he is clear about her character. If there is no good reason for her winning, she would not have acted as she did.
14th is alarmed and cries out, hastily kneeling in front of his Emperor Father.
A moment later, the Mongolian duke also kneels to the Emperor’s astonishment. The duke says it is his daughter’s fault and asks to speak privately with Kangxi. The Emperor skims the faces in the tent and then dismisses everyone.
Min Min and Ruo Xi bows while 4th is thoughtful. The elder princes lead the way and 4th invites He Shu to his tent for tea. He Shu accepts, following 4th and 8th.
The Crown Prince asks Min Min what happened earlier. Min Min insolently replies that the Crown Prince had already seen what happened; it was a horse race that Ruo Xi won and she lost. Snubbed, the Crown Prince retreats and excuses himself.
9th laughs and praises Min Min, saying that she is indeed a plains woman; one who does not accept status at face value and even puts down the Crown Prince. 9th walks away.
Ruo Xi asks Min Min if she knows what her father wants to discuss with Kangxi. Min Min glances at 13th before she softly whispers, “I think my father suspects wrongly that I am jealous and am quarrelling with you over 13th and does not want this to get out.” 13th seems amused as he watches both women. Both glances in 13th’s direction.
Ruo Xi then cockily replies that Min Min’s father is not wrong and asks Min Min if that was not the case. If it was not, why would Min Min lose her temper. Min Min laughingly makes a face and asks why Ruo Xi is not willing to lose a little. Ruo Xi smirks and Min Min tries to tickle Ruo Xi.
The palace maid ducks and hides behind 13th. She says if Min Min had not done anything to be guilty about, why should she worry what others say. Besides the more Min Min proclaims her innocence, the more she betrays that it is true.
13th and 14th listens to both women with amusement. Min Min indignantly points out that it is unheroic of Ruo Xi to hide behind 13th. Ruo Xi retorts that she is only a young woman and never claimed to be a hero. However, she is hiding behind a hero’s back.
13th immediately shoots down Ruo Xi’s remark, saying he does not aspire to be a hero and that Min Min should do what she needs to do. He promptly drags Ruo Xi from behind him and pushes her in Min Min’s direction. Ruo Xi protests and runs behind 14th.
Min Min chases after Ruo Xi and 14th puts out his arm, asking Min Min to let Ruo Xi off since she just had a fright during the race. Frustrated, Min Min turns to 13th and asks him to observe 14th and Ruo Xi.
14th and Ruo Xi exchanges grins, looking quite cosy with each other. Ruo Xi gives 14th a little nudge and they share a quiet laugh. Min Min says she does not know if they were fooling her before or right now.
13th replies that if Min Min had even seen their expressions while they quarrelled, Min Min would not have been puzzled. Min Min asks if it is true. 13th teases his brother and his friend, asking if that is not so. He claims that they frequently argue with each; one would turn so red from anger and the other would have tears streaming down her face. Min Min laughs while 14th and Ruo Xi cries out in protest.
Gleefully, Min Min listens while 13th raises his hand, declaring he will speak no more since he dares not annoy 14th. 14th looks at 13th and laughs when his elder brother explains that annoying 14th would also mean 13th would be annoying 8th and 9th as well. 13th claims that he is not able to defend himself against all three of his brothers.
Both princes exchange glances and there seem to be an understanding between them. 13th gives a slight nod at 14th and walks away. 14th glances down at Ruo Xi who looks appreciatively at 13th.
14th thanks Ruo Xi for her help. Ruo Xi replies that 14th should be thanking 13th and not her. She was looking out for herself. 14th replies that his brother’s masculine charm is really effective and more than that, he did not know 13th would actually help him.
Ruo Xi answers that 14th should thank 13th personally. 14th is silent. Ruo Xi glances over and then observes that it must be difficult for a prince to forget his pride and thank 13th. 14th retorts that he did not say he would not thank his brother. Ruo Xi adds that gratitude is not enough, an explanation is also needed.
14th appears disconcerted and asks what he should say. Ruo Xi replies, “The truth.” 13th echoes incredulously, “The truth?”
Ruo Xi replies that 13th helped her without any reservation and she needs to return his trust with honesty. She notes that 13th should be back from sending Min Min and walks towards 13th’s tent. 14th still looks shocked at Ruo Xi’s intention.
13th is reading when Ruo Xi and his younger brother enters. 14th looks sheepish while Ruo Xi waits with an expectant air.
The older prince examines their faces and sits down, asking why they are looking for him. They look at each other and 13th addresses Ruo Xi, saying he knows Ruo Xi will look for him and he had deliberately stave off 4th to wait for her. He tosses his book down.
Ruo Xi continues to look at 14th who turns away before she explains that because of the massive bureacratic shuffle during the last Northern inspection, 14th had disobeyed the decree and sought 8th. She was the one who arranged for them to meet. She explained that the Crown Prince had found out and launched a search for 14th. Out of desperation, she tricked Min Min into believing that 14th was her lover and asked her help to conceal 14th. 13th chuckles during the narration.
13th laughs, saying no wonder 14th was claiming to be sick during that period. He was actually here in the north. 14th says no matter what, he is grateful to 13th. 13th replies, “Thank me?” 14th nods and 13th chortles merrily and says it is rare for 14th to thank anyone.
13th turns to Ruo Xi and says he must not underestimate her ability. 14th gives a slight headshake in 13th’s direction, giving Ruo Xi a hard look. 13th catches their exchange and stills. Ruo Xi then asks if 13th will tell 4th. 13th asks if they prefer his older brother not know about this matter. Ruo Xi nods, 14th answers with his silence.
The older prince pauses and then says he does not wish to conceal the matter from 4th. He asks what could happen even when 4th knows about what happened. Do they fear 4th will report the matter to their Emperor Father?
13th stands and clarifies that there are two reasons why he was willing to help them. Half of it is because of he treasures his friendship with Ruo Xi, the other is because of 4th and De Fei. 13th adds that although their 4th brother looks cold and sometimes handles his affairs too severely, but he assures 14th that no matter what happens, 4th will not do anything that should be negatively affect his own blood brother.
14th is thoughtful. 13th dismisses the matter with a firm finality. He turns to Ruo Xi who makes a ‘Victory’ sign with her fingers. 13th looks at the sign and reciprocates with his own version while 14th observes in astonishment at their ease with each other.
Ruo Xi shakes her head and 13th opens his fingers, mimicking her motion. She rolls her eyes and turns away, abruptly telling 13th that she wants tea. She sits down and 13th clicks his tongue, shaking his head but he turns to pour her a cup.
14th slowly asks, “13th Ge, does she always act like this in front of you?” He points at Ruo Xi.
13th offers Ruo Xi the cup and replies that this little ‘girl’ has always been like this. Often she’d be even more outrageous in how she behaves with him. He answers quite amicably.
In a playful tone, Ruo Xi tells 13th that Duke ‘Su Wan Gua Er Jia’ (the Mongolian duke, Min Min and He Shu’s father) knows about Min Min’s feelings for 13th and asks him to be careful or he end up being the duke’s son-in-law.
13th looks almost bored and replies let him do what he wants. If the duke does not mind his daughter being one of his minor (secondary) wives, then 13th will just have to marry Min Min.
Ruo Xi slams the cup down and says Min Min truly loves 13th. If 13th does not love Min Min, he should not marry her. Min Min is not a piece of furniture which can just be arranged in some corner of his residence. Furiously, 13th replies that he does not wish to be an obstacle to Min Min but if his Emperor Father orders him to marry Min Min, what else could he do but to obey. Is he to defy an imperial decree?
Ruo Xi leaps up and glares at 13th, declaring that she does not care. If 13th does not care for Min Min, he cannot marry the mongolian noblewoman. She stomps out, leaving 13th half protesting at her unreasonable request while 14th stares at her in consternation.
14th bows to his older brother, taking his leave and 13th sighs, waving his brother off. 13th looks perturbed but is not offended by Ruo Xi’s behaviour.
14th chases after Ruo Xi. He calls out to Ruo Xi who turns and then asks the prince to return as she is going to see Min Min. He asks if she is going to try and persuade Min Min not to marry 13th. He adds that he is also not willing to see Min Min married to 13th.
Ruo Xi looks up in surprise. 14th explains that Min Min is well loved by her father and her marriage to 13th will be disadvantageous to 8th. Ruo Xi looks even more furious. She takes a deep breath and tells 14th to go back to his tent, adding that he does not need to tell her anymore about such matters.
14th blocks Ruo Xi, telling her that after seeing how 13th and her gets along, he regrets how he had made light of her these past two years. Now he is willing to start over with her, to establish a friendship based on sincerely yet she treats him in such an insolent manner. He asks in what way does he not compare with 13th. 14th then reminds Ruo Xi that she came from 8th’s residence and should be in 8th’s camp.
Ruo Xi tightens her lips and answers that 13th would not pressurize her. Their friendship is not based on ability or what they could do for each other. And 13th would definitely not have said what 14th had just said. She murmurs softly, “This is the difference.”
She walks past 14th, leaving the prince frowning behind her.
It is a turning point between 14th and Ruo Xi. He views her differently from before. Watching Ruo Xi with 13th, 14th realises there is more to this palace maid seeing how his older brother interacts with Ruo Xi. Their trust, their ease, their sincerity, their playfulness. Surely it is something that 14th seeks in his relationship. Was he the prince whose own Emperor Father had criticised for treasuring his fraternal relationships just like the Liangshan bandits did their bond.
There is already a closeness between 14th and Ruo Xi that is missing from her relationship with 8th. He cares for Ruo Xi; he must when he was so gentle with Ruo Xi when applying ointment to her wounds. Could they have become more than friends if 14th had been more open with Ruo Xi and not been thinking of 8th?
Ruo Xi approaches Min Min’s tent and finds the Min Min’s brother pacing in front of the tent. He Shu tries to coax his sister but it sounds like Min Min is throwing a tantrum. She greets the nobleman and he waves her up. She asks what has happened. He Shu replies this is all a mess and asks Ruo Xi to help persuade his sister.
Min Min throws a pillow at her maid, ignoring the servant’s entreaties not to be angry. Ruo Xi enters and the maid greets Ruo Xi. Ruo Xi dismisses the maid, asking her to come back with a basin of water after a while. Min Min is weeping.
After a while, Min Min throws herself against Ruo Xi and explains that her father had begged the Emperor to arrange a marriage for Min Min to another of the Mongolian noble’s younger son. They will be meeting with the Emperor in a few days. Ruo Xi asks if it is one of the 8 Banners. Min Min nods but declares she will not marry, even if she is to hang herself.
Ruo Xi softly asks if Min Min is really prepared to marry 13th. To be one of his minor wives and live in a small courtyard. She will spend the whole day hoping 13th will remember her after his official duties and visit her. Ruo Xi points out rather starkly that Min Min has no place in 13th’s heart. Given Min Min’s character, when there is trouble with any of the other wives, would 13th even try to help her at all?
Ruo Xi says she knows she is a little cruel in what she is going to say but asks Min Min to reflect on the women around her father. Other than the one or two wives that the Duke spoils, what kind of life do the others live. Ruo Xi asks if Min Min ever thought if she would ever live like one of her father’s wives. Ruo Xi says the Duke is not really serious about marrying Min Min but only wants to cut off Min Min’s feelings for 13th.
She asks Min Min if she knows why the Duke interrupted the Emperor’s questioning. Ruo Xi believes it is not because the Duke is afraid about being embarrassed if the Emperor will find out about their falling out over 13th.
Min Min quietly asks what could it be if it’s not to save her father’s face. Ruo Xi replies that the Emperor has always been disquieted about the affairs regarding the Plains. The Emperor will be very glad if his son could marry Min Min. If the beans had been spilled about Min Min’s feelings for 13th, the Emperor would definitely have finalised the marriage between 13th and Min Min. No matter how unhappy the Duke would have been, he would not have been able to reject the match.
Ruo Xi explains that the Duke stepped in because he wanted to protect Min Min and that’s why he made the marriage proposal with a noble from one of the other Mongolian tribes. She notes that Min Min really has a father and brother who cares deeply for her. If Min Min remains on the Plains, no one would ever dare to bully Min Min. Ruo Xi tells Min Min that the Crown Prince actually lusts after Min Min because of her beauty. Min Min’s father is aware of this but pretends not to know.
If it had been some other father, they may be very willing to exchange their daughter in return for power. Ruo Xi asks Min Min if she had not heard of similiar cases given her rank and status. The older woman wipes Min Min’s cheeks and tells her that tears does not suit her. She asks if Min Min’s stubborness is to be used against her father. Min Min immediately shakes her head.
If Min Min really does not want to marry, Ruo Xi believes that Min Min’s threat to end her life could change her father’s mind as long as Min Min gives up wanting to be with 13th.
Min Min asks if she will never be able to see 13th. Ruo Xi replies yes. Min Min then asks if she will ever meet another man like 13th.
Ruo Xi answers that if Min Min gives up ‘the moon’ that is 13th, she will find a star that belongs to Min Min. A star that will be better than the moon, a star who will love Min Min even more.
Min Min cries out that she still feels like weeping. Ruo Xi tells Min Min to cry. After her tears, Min Min must dry her tears and look up into the sky so that she will be able to find the star that belongs to her.
The Mongolian girl wails, voicing her sorrow and pain while Ruo Xi strokes her hair.
In the book, Ruo Xi actually tells Min Min about her relationship with 8th. She is blunt and honest; unfortunately, Ruo Xi is unable to follow her own advice.
Min Min waits patiently for Ruo Xi, jumping off her seat when she sees the older woman returning. Ruo Xi bows a curtsy but Min Min drags her up, asking why she is so formal with her. Min Min tells Ruo Xi that her father had agreed to ask the Emperor not to be a matchmaker and will allow Min Min to find someone she likes from the Plains. Her father had mentioned that he fancies ‘Yi Er Gen Jue Luo Zuo Ying’ (Zuo Ying).
Ruo Xi congratulates Min Min. Min Min adds that her father has only praise for Ruo Xi, saying it is no wonder that the Emperor values Ruo Xi. Ruo Xi asks why it turned out this way.
Min Min grows quiet and then explains that when she first told her father she does not want to marry 13th, the Duke thought she was trying to fool him. She had then told her father what Ruo Xi had said. Since 13th does not like her, marrying him is meaningless. Min Min holds Ruo Xi’s arm as they stroll.
Her father had then said Min Min was lucky to have Ruo Xi as her friend. Min Min asks if she could call Ruo Xi, ‘Jie Jie’ (that is big or elder sister). Ruo Xi smiles and agrees, adding that only in private and definitely not when there is anyone around. Min Min agrees happily. Her mood turns though, growing pensive and Ruo Xi asks what is the matter.
Min Min answers that even if she finds the star that belongs to her, she will never forget the 13th and the way he laughs and sings. She wants to dance for 13th so that whenever he watches a dance, he will remember her and how she had danced for him.
Ruo Xi examines Min Min’s face and firmly agrees to help, saying she will make sure that 13th will never forget Min Min.
Both women bustle with the help of the others. Costumes, stage, woodwork. Min Min thanks Ruo Xi (calling her Jie Jie) for all her hard work.
Ruo Xi replies she hopes it will be a surprise for everyone. The others are excited about the performance.
Ruo Xi laughs and then replies, “That’s good. Let’s all ‘jia you’.” She makes a fist and pumps her arm towards her body. It is a modern term meaning to work hard together and do the best they can. Literally it means to ‘refuel’. However the others do not understand and Ruo Xi hastily explains she means to do all they can.
The Emperor and the other male companions are watching a wrestling match. Ruo Xi serves tea and Kangxi points at her, remarking that she is so busy and has mobilised so many men to help her. If the performance does not live to their expectation, he wonders how she will be able to face anyone. He tells her she must not disgrace him in front of the Duke, or everyone will laugh at her.
The Duke laughs while Ruo Xi replies if that happens, she will depend on the Emperor to save her reputation. If Kangxi says the performance is great, who would dare to laugh at her. Kangxi replies that if it is a poorly executed, he will be the first to punish her. The Duke laughs and replies it is not good, the first to be scolded should be Min Min since it is his daughter who insists on making such a fuss. The two men laugh.
Although Ruo Xi fears the Emperor, they do have their playful moments which reveals Kangxi’s affection for Ruo Xi and that he does care about her.
There is a screech and a large eagle flies overhead. The Emperor is pleased to see it and tells his sons that they should be like the eagle; boldly spreading their wings and test their mettle in the wide open sky.
3rd tells his Emperor Father that the eagle is the Crown Prince’s new pet. Kangxi asks if his second son has learnt falconry. The Crown Prince declares that just like his father, he appreciates the calmness and the courage of eagles. Especially the speed, accuracy and the ruthlessness when an eagle hunts. He makes the analogy that he could be like the eagle and treat everyone other than his Emperor Father in the same way. His brothers passively listen from the sidelines. Kangxi is pleased and asks the Crown Prince for a demonstration.
Two baits are released and the eagle swoops down, catching one bird. The Crown Prince whistles for it to land, raising his arm but unfortunately the eagle misses and its path veers towards the Emperor. The eagle attacks Kangxi and everyone rushes forward.
Wings flapping, another sleek figure drops from the sky and knocks the eagle away, killing it. The Emperor waves everyone down, declaring he is fine when a loud whistle brings the rescuer bird down onto an outstretched arm.
The Duke recognizes the man as Zuo Ying, the man he had mentioned to Min Min.
Both Min Min and Ruo Xi examine the new arrival while the Crown Prince kneels and begs his Emperor Father’s pardon. The Emperor replies that a wild creature will always remain wild and tells his heir to remember the lesson.
Zuo Ying kneels, apologising for his tardiness in rescuing the Emperor and asks to be punished. The Emperor asks the young nobleman to stand up, praising his falconry and adds that it has improved by leaps and bounds. He asks what Zuo Ying would like as a reward for saving him. Zuo Ying says he is only doing what he should do and no reward is necessary. Besides during the previous winter, his tribe has lost many herd animals to the cold and he is there to accept any punishment the Emperor will mete out for the disaster.
Kangxi replies that it is a natural calamity and Zuo Ying should not be the only one accepting the blame for it. He asks if any measures had been taken to protect against another such disaster. Zuo Ying answers that they have already prepared fodder and pastures.
Ruo Xi is impressed by Zuo Ying and notes that the Duke has an excellent eye. Even if Zuo Ying is to stand side by side with 13th and 14th, he is not in any way inferior to the princes. She wonders if fate will bring Min Min and Zuo Ying together.
* See Notes for explanation