Please welcome guest writers Candora and Maymay! Thanks to the ladies, I can rest my eyeballs for a little bit. One ship is raising its flag and ready for sail!
Episode 3 Recap: (Written by Candora)
Xiao Liu is too late, she comes right when Yuwen Yue pierces Wu Ge through the heart and throws his body into the fire. She tries to save Wu Ge but is knocked down by a rock that hits her leg (thanks to Yuwen Yue). The badge to leave the manor falls out and she is pinned down by guards when they see it.
Down on the ground, Xiao Liu cries and yells that her brother is innocent: “You’re framing and killing innocent lives!” Yuwen Yue coldly replies, “So what if I kills the innocents? In this world, those that are strong can survive and those that are weak are meant to be stepped on.” She promises him that if she lives, she will become strong!
Yuwen Yue sees the poisoned spider crawling on Xiao Liu’s arm and kills it with his sword, injuring her arm in the process. He doesn’t explain and tells her that this is her punishment for trying to run away and she glares at him from below. With her bloody hand, Xiao Liu drags her weak body back to her room but faints at the front door. Zhi Xiang sees her on the doorstep and takes her back to care for her arm.
Because of the death of Wu Ge, Xiao Ba yells at Xiao Liu for being an unfortunate person who caused the death of their parents and now Wu Ge. Zhi Xiang slaps her and tells her she is out of line then pulls her in for a hug.
Butler Zhu reports the death of the Yuwen Zhuo (Yuwen Yue’s grandfather) to Yuwen Huai, however because he doesn’t see the body personally, Yuwen Huai wants to confirm the death by pretending to pay his respect to the old man at his funeral.
Yuwen Huai walks into Qing Shan Yuan but is stopped by Yuwen Yue’s guards. Yuwen Yue confronts him outside but Yuwen Huai insults him saying that he has no right to be so haughty now that Yuwen Zhuo is dead. “You are just the adopted grandson.”
Before he can further insult him and his mother, Yuwen Yue picks up his sword and the two go at each other.
Yuwen Huai’s weapon is tampered with and during the fight, a hidden spearhead shoots out toward Yuwen Yue. He ducks but the spearhead goes straight toward the incoming Wei Gui Fei. The announcement of her arrival stops the two from fighting.
Wei Gui Fei reprimands them (mainly Yuwen Huai) for fighting at the funeral. Yuewen Yue tells her that Yuwen Zhuo died of a poison that comes from the west. After hearing that, she points out that Yuwen Huai’s family has business connections to the West and hints that they could’ve easily obtained the poison.
To be fair, Wei Gui Fei agrees to examine the body of Yuwen Zhuo for verification. After the examination, she announces that Yuwen Zhuo did die of poison. She also forbids Yuwen Huai from stepping foot into Qing Shan Yuan without the owner’s permission. Angry at the outcome, Yuwen Huai storms off.
Yuwen Yue thanks Wei Gui Fei for her help. She tells him that she is indebted to Yuwen Zhuo and she practically watched him grow up so of course she would be on his side. In all seriousness, she advises him to gain the emperor’s trust to inherit Die Zhi Tsian Yan. Now that his grandfather is dead, he will need a powerful back-up and marrying Yuan Chun (Li Qin) will help him a lot.
Yuwen Huai reports the death of Yuwen Zhuo to Yuwen Xi (his grandfather) but the old man just laughs creepily and asks Yuwen Huai to assign more young female slaves to him. He insults Yuwen Huai saying, “Since you crawled out from the womb of a prostitute, you’re only fit to do lowly jobs like this.” Yuwen Huai clenches his fist and endures the abuse.
Xiao Liu ponders on the values of a person’s life when Zhi Xiang enters the room to deliver medicine. She thinks that Xiao Liu is still sad about Wu Ge’s death and tries to comfort her by saying that because their lives are treated like grass, they have no control over their deaths. Xiao Liu disagrees with her statement and drinks the medicine. She promises that she will not let Wu Ge’s death go to waste. She will live on.
The next day, the slaves are working in the yard when the guards carry a dead body across the garden. Xiao Liu overhears that the other slaves identifying the dead girl as Jin Yan, a slave who got sent to Ji Le Ge (where Yuwen Xi lives). They all shudder at the idea and go on working.
Since the female slaves in Ji Le Ge are depleted, Song Da Niang is assigned to pick the next set of slaves to be sent over.
Just when Zhi Xiang thinks that the pick is over, Song Da Niang walks over and tells her to send the injured Xiao Liu to Ji Le Ge also. Zhi Xiang pales and begs Song Da Niang to let Xiao Liu go. She says she’s willing to do anything in return. Madame smirks at her and asks, “Anything?”
Xiao Ba is taking care of Xiao Liu when Zhi Xiang walks in. She gives a pendant/necklace that belonged to Xiao Liu to Xiao Ba to keep.
Xiao Qi finally returns to the Yuwen Manor and joins the sisters. She rushes over to examine Xiao Liu’s injures. With everyone gathered, Zhi Xiang tells them she’ll be gone for a few days and asks Xiao Liu to take care of Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba in her place. They wonder where she’s going and if they can accompany her but she refuses to tell them anything.
Zhi Xiang and the other slave girls are pushed into a colorful room with soft and silky fabrics and high class make-up. While the other girls excitedly try out everything, Zhi Xiang has an ominous feeling and stands still in place.
Panning to the petal-filled bathtub, Yuwen Xi emerges from the water and slowly creeps toward Zhi Xiang. She freezes in place while everyone ran away. He takes a sniff, smiles, and chases after the other girls, ripping off their clothing and strangling them to death. One by one, the girls fall to their death as Zhi Xiang witnesses the horrifying scene. As the last one standing, she cannot escape her fate either. Yuwen Xi finds her, drags her, and strangles her like the rest of the girls.
In the middle of the night, Xiao Liu stirs awake because of Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba’s cries. When asked what’s wrong, they tell her that Zhi Xiang is sent to Ji Le Ge.
The sisters hurry to look for Zhi Xiang and discover her body being carted out with the rest of the dead slaves. Xiao Liu stops Xiao Qi from exposing herself and the three silently wait for the guards to dispose the bodies and leave. Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba approach Zhi Xiang’s body while Xiao Liu stands in shock. Then she asks if they hate this place and if they want to leave. They nod. Xiao Liu tells them to kneel and pay their respects to Zhi Xiang. She promises Zhi Xiang that she will take care of the little sisters. Xiao Liu: “I agree when you told me to endure and live but I couldn’t understand until now. When I see these human bodies piled up like radish/trash(?), I finally understood. Therefore I will not endure anymore.” She takes her slingshot from Zhi Xiang’s clutch and cries in the rain.
Yuwen Huai stands in the rain and feels belittled that he has to clean up messes. Butler Zhu tries to convince him to head inside but is strangled by the irritated Yuwen Huai. To save himself, he blames Song Da Niang and her big mouth for leaking information about the business with the west. That fuels Yuwen Huai and he tells Zhu butler to send Song Da Niang off.
When butler Zhu tells Song Da Niang about Yuwen Huai’s order for her to leave, she feels betrayed. As she’s leaving, she sees Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba sneaking around. She follows them and sees that they’re making a grave for Zhi Xiang and Lin Xi (Wu Ge). Feeling irritated, she knocks down the graves and tells them she will report this to the master. She wants to use this opportunity to win back Yuwen Huai’s favor.
Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba run after her to a bridge. The three start struggling with each other but Song Da Niang has the upper hand. By accident, Song Da Niang gets knocked over the bridge and Xiao Liu comes in time to catch her but her hand slips and she falls down the water taking Xiao Qi’s bracelet along with her. Xiao Liu tells them that if this accident is ever revealed, just tell everyone it’s all her fault.
Episode 4 Recap: (Written by Candora)
Yuwen Yue is in his study room when Yan Xun comes to bother him. Yan Xun warns him about Yuwen Xi’s plan to give him a maiden slave to serve him. Yan Xun then teasingly asks what kind of woman he likes, and Yuwen Yue replies that he has no choice in women. Seeing that Yuwen Yue is not responding to his teasing, he leaves. As he leaves, he takes an expensive medicine as a reward.
Yan Xun finds his way to where the slaves work and live.
Inside Xiao Liu’s room, guards barge in and want to arrest her for the death of Song Da Niang. There are witnesses at the scene. Xiao Liu refuses and asks him for evidence. He tells her, “My words are evidence. What I say goes.”
Yan Xun proudly struts in and starts telling the guard about his missing horse. He accuses the guard of stealing his horse and orders his bodyguard to kill the man. The leader panics and asks him for evidence. Yan Xuan uses the same words that the guard said to Xiao Liu before, “My words are evidence. What I say goes.” The guard realizes his mistake and crawls over to beg Xiao Liu for forgiveness. She doesn’t want to cause anymore trouble, so she tells him to leave.
After the guards leave, Yan Xuan looks around and tells Xiao Liu that he is thirsty. Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba want to serve him but she stops them. She asks him to look around, saying, “Does it look like there’s anything to drink here?” Beside, their low status does not allow them to serve him.
Yan Xun doesn’t care. “I’ll sit here forever if I have to.” When asked why she’s so serious, she replies, “My brother and sister just died. If you’re looking for someone to entertain you, go elsewhere.” Sensing her seriousness, he puts down the medicine he stole from Yuwen Yue and leaves her alone.
Yuwen Xi brings a female slave to Qing Shan Yuan to serve Yuwen Yue, as warned by Yan Xun. While pretending to be the considerate elder that he is not, he tells Yuwen Yue that he does not have the right to inherit Qing Shan Yuan. Yuwen Yue is born to the second household 16 years ago, but because his mom went cray cray, Yuwen Zhuo adopted him into the first household. However, with a missing seal from his father, his position is not guaranteed. Yuwen Yue: “What I say might not count but what the emperor says must count.” Right at that moment, the emperor’s secret notice arrives and announces him as the owner of Qing Shan Yuan.
Since plan A did not work, Yuwen Xi moves to plan B by gifting Yuwen Yue a slave to serve him in bed. Yuwen Yue tells him that he will accept his “gift” along with all the “gifts” from everyone else. When Yuwen Xi realizes what that meant, he stops Yuwen Yue immediately with the excuse that he cannot have too many women in his manor. That will… harm his health! To resolve the issue, Yuwen Yue suggests that they hold a competition to pick the lucky maid. The competition will be opened up to the upper classes of slaves in Yuwen estate only.
The news spreads and all those qualified rush to sign up for the competition. Xiao Liu overhears Xiao Ba saying that if were to qualify, she, too, would want to participate and use this opportunity to be near Yuwen Yue and avenge for Wu Ge.
After hearing that, Xiao Liu rushes to sign up but because she is a lower class slave, she isn’t qualified. She makes a ruckus outside and Yuwen Yue’s guard reports her words: “I will kneel here until you agree to let me participate.” Yuwen Yue decides to ignore her.
Xiao Liu kneels outside of Yuwen Yue’s room till dark. Seeing her determination, Yuwen Yue comes out and asks her why she wants to participate. He asks if she knew what it meant to be a “Bed maiden?” She shakes her head. He explains that the duty of the chosen slave will be serving the master in bed. Yuwen Yue: ” Where is your pride to want to serve someone who killed your brother?” Xiao Liu: “I have no right to speak of pride. I can only ask for an opportunity to survive.” Intrigued by her answer, Yuwen Yue permits her to participate in the competition.
On the other side, butler Zhu reports to Yuwen Huai that Yuwen Yue has permitted Jing Xiao Liu. He orders to have her killed but on second thought, he decides that he can use her instead since she probably harbors hatred for Yuwen Yue who killed her brother. If Jin Zhu failed, Xiao Liu could be the backup mole.
On the day of the exam, when Xiao Liu arrives, the parrot keeps repeating, “Stupid.” She sees the chained up parrot and frees him from the lock. Everyone is shocked by her courage and stupidity. Jin Zhu grabs and rips off the back of her shirt as she walks by and Xiao Liu uses her quick agility to turn around, taking off Jin Zhu’s sleeves and her outerwear to cover herself up.
At the start of the competition, Yuwen Yue explains the rules: There will be three rounds of competition. Those that lose twice will be eliminated immediately.
The first round is chess. Xiao Liu loses the first round since she doesn’t know how to play.
Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba want to watch the competition but are denied entrance by the guards. Yan Xuan arrives before the second round to watch and takes the two along with him.
The second round is tea brewing. Xiao Liu doesn’t know how to brew tea either. But after watching others, she eventually figures out the steps needed. She gets freshwater, picks a mint leaf, and starts brewing her tea. With one taste, Yuwen Yue is intrigued and asks for the knowhow. She explains her methods and Yan Xun excitedly claps for her and praises her. She is declared winner of the second round.
The third round is memorization. The remaining girls are given an incense time to memorize a complicated scripture and another incense time write it out. Xiao Liu does not know how to write but learns as she watches how others hold their brushes and write. She regurgitate the Buddha’s scripture perfectly but does not sign her name. When Yuwen Yue’s asks why she didn’t, others suspect she doesn’t know how to write. Xiao Liu states, “You only said to memorize the scripture and write it out. I did what I was told and nothing more.” Yuwen Yue cannot refute that. He tells her that if she signs her name, she will be the winner. Since he doesn’t specify how to sign, she uses the bell on her hair and ink the paper as her signature.
As the winner of the competition, Xiao Liu is given clean white robe to wear and sent to Yuwen Yue’s room. Ushered inside the room, she is lost in thought until Yuwen Yue asks her about her manners. She recovers and bows to him immediately. He tells her that he will use her if she passes all his tests. He tells her to come over and help him shave.
In front of Xiao Liu are sharp knives that she can easily use to slit his throat. Remembering how Yuwen Yue cruelly stabbed her Wu Ge, she picks up one of the knives and nearly slits his throat.
Episode 5 RECAP: (Written by Maymay)
The sisters are glad Xiao Liu made it as Yuwen Yue’s personal maid. Xiao Qi is pleased thinking that Xiao Liu might be able to enact revenge tonight but Xiao Ba warns that if anything goes wrong, they will be implicated as well.
In the room, Xiao Liu slowly moves the blade to Yuwen Yue’s jaw, pausing a moment as she considers her option – to cut or not to cut! The tense moment passes and she proceeds to shave his non-existent beard. He asks why she did not avenge for her brother when she had the chance. She’s quick to deny any such attention… which is probably the right thing to say. Because he then shows her that her sisters now work in his residence – basically he wasn’t worried she will kill him because he has her sisters as leverage.
Breaking the awkward silence, Yuwen Yue tells Xiao Liu to change her name to Xing Er. She agrees readily. He then picks on her for not showing her pleasure with her new name – even if she has to fake a smile because that’s what you do in the face of stronger adversaries. She forces a small smile but he abruptly tells her to prepare for bed.
She nervously fiddles with her clothes, unsure of how to proceed… but he only asks for his book, which she delivers. And he announces suddenly that she must accept a punishment tomorrow. She’s not sure why, and bows her head to the ground in submission. (Beats me… I don’t know why too… maybe because she misinterpreted his intention?) Anyway he says nothing at all and she falls asleep after a while in that position lol. He rolls the bamboo book and knocks her on her head – announcing that she has to be punished twice tomorrow. (This, I get! Hehe)
He tells her to prepare supper but she gets the arrangement of the cutlery all wrong. It’s kind of funny how he corrects them without betraying much emotion. Then he quietly declares he wants plum blossoms. And it cracks me up to hear her ask how he wants them cooked! Annoyed, he explains he wants the bowls with plum blossom motifs. She gets them and is now able to arrange his cutlery in the right order this time.
He asks for her hand and cuts her finger. She winces in pain and the parrot catches that phrase. He lifts her up on her feet and in the next scene she’s half asleep on the bed, having been drugged by his incense. He is at least certain she is not an experienced member of the pugilist world since she succumbed so easily to the fragrance. He shows a moment of tenderness when he covers her with the blanket and glares at the parrot when it keeps repeating “It’s painful!” But the cheeky bird starts repeating his phrase “Enough already.” ROFL. The parrots’ cries (with its hinted innuendo) are enough to drive Jin Zhu nuts and green with jealousy.
In his secret room, Yuwen Yue reads a message from his grandfather warning that it’s risky to recruit Xing Er because she is hard to control. If he intends to use her, he has to maintain his guard and be prepared to abandon her.
Out in his study, he takes out a box (from a secret compartment) containing a wooden bird and looks at it contemplatively. He writes in his diary addressing a younger brother, Yu Er, and laments about the difficulties in life, how every step is fraught with danger and envies his freedom being in the pugilist world.
Morning. Xing Er gradually wakes up and finds herself lying next to Yuwen Yue, holding on to his arm. She screams in surprise… which the parrot echoes. LOL. And the kitchen maid teases that the young master is *ahem* full of vigor, much to Jin Zhu’s chagrin. She’s here to collect Yuwen Yue’s breakfast.
Yuwen Yue chides her over-reaction since she was the one who begged to be accepted as his personal maid and asks if she’s shy. He suddenly attacks her and she responds in defense. Then they have an early “morning workout.” His excuse? His personal maid has be well-versed in martial arts. He demonstrates a series of martial art stances and she absorbs in full attention. She gets the gist and joins in a sparring session with him… resulting in some erm… ballet-like sequences… and ends with him restraining her on the bed with his arm around her. Then in a straight-face, he tells her to practice till she’s familiar. And it is in this compromising position (with some adjustment on his part) that Jin Zhu sees them as she delivers his breakfast.
He nonchalantly feeds Xing Er in that very position, obviously allowing time for Jin Zhu to register the virginal stain on the sheets before sending a surprised Jin Zhu on her way. Once they are alone, they revert back to formal interactions. He tells her to clean the sheets she soiled while she gripes (to herself) that he did the soiling on purpose.
Jin Zhu sees Xing Er on her way to wash the sheets and snides that Xing Er is no different from a prostitute since she still retains her steel-bell status. Her cronies pile on the insults and snicker which are overheard by Xiao Qi and Xiao Ba. They exchange repartees but Jin Zhu gets physical and attacks Xiao Ba. Xing Er intercepts and marvels that she could stop her easily enough with her newly learned skills.
Elsewhere, Princess Chun Er shows up at the boys’ gathering in her best Yan Xun-style get-up to lukewarm reception. Yan Xun in particular is to quick deflect any reference to himself. Disappointed, she suggests playing a game blindfolded. Yan Xun refuses and just naps. Princess Chun Er is upset and ignores the other guy, Wei Shu Ye, who wants her attention. She then tickles a napping and blindfolded Yan Xun but he unconsciously speaks of “little wild cat.” She feels like he is referring to a person but he denies. He then excuses himself.
And we know where he’s off to because in the next moment he’s watching Xing Er who’s busy washing the sheets. As usual, she is indifferent and aloof to his attempts for attention. Heh.
She only responds when he teases her about being arrogant after becoming Yuwen Yue’s maid. He then teases her about her new name and her “first night” with Yuwen Yue. She gets annoyed and throws stuff at him. Undeterred, he continues to rile her up with his own speculations. She tells him to leave but he continues to explain Yuwen Yue’s disinterest in her – basically he is in mourning and thus, will not be touching her and suggests playfully that she comes to him instead. She is quick to keep a distance with him but he maintains his goofy smile and pesters her to hold the reins to his horse. She considers her position and agrees… only for him to carry her laundry load instead. He just wants to spend time with her, it is so adorable.
Next, he pays a visit to the master of the house (Lol. Priorities). He is curious why Yuwen Yue keeps Xing Er by his side since Yuwen Yue is not into women. Yuwen Yue is merely impressed with her outstanding abilities and with her non-existent backers, which makes her someone he needs. Yan Xun doesn’t care for all that, but he is calling dips on her! Yuwen Yue tells him it’s too late. Yan Xun isn’t too bothered and says he can just stay at his place which Yuwen Yue doesn’t object. Yan Xun warns Yuewen Yue not to get serious with his little wild cat. Yuwen Yue doesn’t look particularly happy with that. Hah.
Jin Zhu and her cronies find trouble with the sisters again, ruining the sheets Xing Er washed. The sisters are restrained while she makes a big demonstration by pouring honey on the sheets to attract bugs. Her big message? Even bugs knows how cheap Xing Er is (Imo that’s too elaborate and kinda dumb :P) To further insult them, she spits into the honey and tries to feed them with it.
Xing Er hits Jin Zhu on the waist with a stone and she ends up with the honey on her face. Xing Er plays dumb and goes to her sisters’ defense. Jin Zhuo maintains she is just teaching the sisters some rules. Xing Er tries to reason with her but well obviously that didn’t work. The mean girls get physical again and Xing Er comes ups with some nifty moves and manage to thwart them all plus Jin Zhu.
A mad Jin Zhu attempts a sneak attack by releasing tiny needles which Xing Er does not seem to notice but our young master Yuwen Yue comes to her rescue. Of course, he couldn’t afford to be nice to her openly (for some reason) and slaps her instead to hide his actions. Xing Er tries to explain and it becomes a she-says-he-says sort of situation. He is not interested and tersely tells Xing Er to follow him for punishment. Jin Zhu is secretly pleased.
Yuwen Yue does end up reprimanding her but more for not being capable enough to get herself out of trouble. She admits her limitations but could not stand not chipping in when there is injustice. He reminds her it’s a world where the strong reigns supreme and the weak has no business trying to stand up for anyone. She stubbornly refutes his logic so he leads her to a hidden room where Yue Qi is already waiting.
He gives her a bag of stones and forces her to face arrow-spewing contraptions. While she is relatively agile and avoids the arrows, the blunted arrows do occasionally hit her. And it looks painful too. She gets better with time and eventually overcomes the 4 contraptions.
But her “punishment” does not end here. He tells her to continue training, threatening her with her sisters’ lives. So then she trains with 6 arrow-spewing contraptions for the next 3 hours. Yuwen Yue and Yue Qi leave her alone. The six contraptions prove to be harder and she gets hit multiple times. She grits her teeth in determination and shoulder on.
Aww… that’s cute. I think Yuwen Yue is supposed to be a tsundere character but all I’m getting is a soft-bellied guy who can’t seem to say what he is really thinking lol. It makes me warm up to him more, much more than I ever did in the book which admittedly I was only two-third done anyway. I really enjoyed the awkward scenes in his room. Him being so unpredictable kept Xing Er on her edge and very much confused – a dynamic that was surprisingly adorable. I quite like how the story is moving so far and am curious how they will transition from her interactions with Yuwen Yue to Yan Xun. Speaking of whom, Yan Xun’s bed scene with Yuwen Yue just had me busting a gut laughing. Between his persistent warm personality and Yuwen Yue’s cold demeanor, I think they make a splendid couple in the fanfic world. LMAO.
I haven’t recapped for a long time and it will take some getting used to but here’s hoping everyone will cut me some slack if it’s not done well. Despite the many technical flaws, I am enjoying the story and hope everyone shares my excitement with the drama as well. Here’s hoping that for Li Ying’s sake, the drama continues to fare well. Peace!
p/s: Thanks Kappy for taking care of the screencaps. In my experience that is one time-consuming exercise. 🙂