Here we are at the second major arc in the story. Everyone makes a decision in these episodes, decisions that have deadly consequences. Decisions that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. Besides the innocent civilians, nobody else is innocent, everybody has blood on their hands. And I have come to understand Yan Xun’s central role in the story; what happened because of him and due to him, sets the trajectories for the rest of the characters and story.
He’s the stimulus, kicking all the sleeping characters to fight for their faith. I suddenly feel enlightened about the novel as a whole.
Episode 38 RECAP (written by Kappy):
After fainting from fatigue, Chu Qiao stirs awake long enough to send three more killers to hell before she succumbs to another beauty sleep, only waking up to find Yuwen Yue sitting nearby and she jerks up quickly, asking why he’s here. Stone-faced, he asks about the Da Liang prince, did he escape? Did he die? “Or did you kill him?” How could you say that! This frustrating man.
She doesn’t answer and wants to know when he got there, and he points to her sleeping area, he got there when she was sleeping like a pig. Lol.
He offers her some water and she smashes it out of his hand. See, this is what happened when you called a girl a pig! XD
She tells him to stop interfering with her business. Footsteps come their way so he picks up weak Chu Qiao bridal-style. She protests and he tells her that since she hates owing people favor, he wants her to own him a big favor, so big that she can’t repay it in this lifetime.
He drops her off somewhere to fight with the assassins and Yan Xun gallops to the destination on a horse and picks her up. She knows it’s him, shocked that he left Chang’An to come here (against royal order). She thinks they shouldn’t return once they are out but he refuses to escape since she’s injured.
Moments later, Yue locates our red-robed prince lounging on a tree out of breath. He balks at Yue for being late and brags about how he fought off dozen of killers with his little Kung Fu. Then he hands over a little piece of cloth with text on it to Yue, thinking it has something to do with the mastermind behind. But his knowing face suggests some carefully planned scheme underneath.
Yue Qi and Yuwen Yue discuss recent events and Yue knows that Xiao Che purposely gave him clues, hoping to use Yue’s sword in destroying his enemies, though Yue doesn’t mind since he does want to ferret out Da Liang spies.
And he does so efficiently, capturing and tying Da Liang Princess Xiao Yu’s little maid, Tao Ye. She seems to be hynoptized as she screams her head off to be released. Voices tell her she’s being dumped in a lake and she’s floating, floating until her feelings and her soul are owned by the person behind the voice.
She passes out and enters a dream-like sequence where her master – Princess Xiao Yu is surrounded by bubbles and assures her she’s the top spy under her. Xiao Yu asks Tao Ye to list the names of their own people in Chang’An and Tao Ye begins listing the important names out loud. Yue Qi reports to Yue and they start their hunt on Da Liang spies within Chang’An, successfully plucking a lot of them, forcing Xiao Yu to order her people to leave their post and exit Chang’An. One of them, the make-up store owner, worries about their deal with Yan Xun since he needs their people during the escape, but Xiao Yu assures him another group will provide aide. Oh Yuwen Yue, indirectly throwing a wrench in your friend’s great escape. Yue also wants to use this opportunity as a warning to Xiao Che as well – he’s not someone who can be used and tossed away.
At Ying Ge manor, Yan Xun stays by Chu Qiao’s side, until Xiao Che’s sudden arrival demands his attention. The air is tense when the two princes size each other up, with Ah Jing and Zhong Yu watching their conversation meticulously in the shadows.
Yan Xun cuts to the chase and asks for Xiao Che’s true motive in visiting him, and Xiao Che finds his brusque manner not fitting to begin a conversation, but Yan Xun adds threateningly that for what Xiao Che did today (getting Chu Qiao injured), his attitude is considered not bad.
Xiao Che opens up and shows Yan Xun the army map outside of Chang’an, the thing he needs for his escape plan, though Yan Xun doesn’t betray a single emotion, so Xiao Che explains how Da Liang only has one motive – whether it is from a different group (his sister) or him. With Wei King cruelly killing good officials, it’s his duty to lend a sword to help Yan Xun’s safe return to Yan Bei.
Yan Xun knows Xiao Che’s motive and says as much: Xiao Che wants Yan Xun to fight with Western Wei, so that Da Liang can stand out and gain the upper hand. Xiao Che looks down and smiles slyfully, “You don’t have to be so straightforward.” Yan Xun asks about his sister’s people and Xiao Che confesses they left in a hurry after being looted by Yuwen Yue. Now that he’s in charge, Xiao Che wants to know more of their conspiracy. He even clarifies his four-month journey on the road was meant to whip up the detailed mapping of all the roads and obstacles. Ah-hah.
Xiao Che bids goodbye and Yan Xun drops a cold warning, “If this happens again, I won’t let you off.”
Xiao Che feigns innocence and Yan Xun stands up so the boys are now at eye-level. “You know what I’m talking about.”
Ohhhh. Why is this so hot? Two mono-lids actors doing a stare-down is spicy. Lolol!! Yan Xun is warning Xiao Che not to get Chu Qiao involved or hurt. Xiao Che breaks into his signature casual smile and walks away.
Yan Xun returns to Chu Qiao and takes care of her, pleading her to get better. This part is actually funny because the production revealed earlier in the week that Li Ying actually fell asleep and Shawn just acted out those scenes peacefully. LOL.
Galloping home on their horses, Xiao Che looks at the streets of Chang’An and mourns that in a few days, this city will be burnt down. His personal guard wonders why Yan Xun has an attitude towards Xiao Che and he explains how Yan Xun blamed him for getting Chu Qiao hurt. Xiao Che further clarifies that he wanted Chu Qiao to get hurt by Xiao Yu’s people, a means to cause the breakdown of alliance between Yan Xun and Xiao Yu, but he didn’t expect Yuwen Yue to come and eliminate his sister for him in a flash. A wonderful surprise.
His guard worries that Yan Xun won’t be able to escape Chang’An if Tao Ye spills the beans on their plan and Xiao Che angrily adds that he has no reason to help Yan Xun escape. If Yan Xun can’t even escape Chang’An, he won’t be able to become anyone in Yan Bei, then he might as well die in Chang’An. Xiao Che says he only pities Chu Qiao….
Morning comes and Yan Xun remains at Chu Qiao’s side through the night. She comes to and Yan Xun says he got the map from Xiao Che, but Chu Qiao finds the prince strange, noting they should put up guards against him. She then apologizes for causing Yan Xun his golden chance to escape Chang’An with her injuries and puts a hand on his arm, wanting to broach the subject of Yan Bei’s Beauty troop. Looking away, Yan Xun sighs, still blaming the troop for opening the gates and leading to Yan Bei’s downfall.
Elsewhere, Yue learns of Yan Xun’s great escape. He wants Yue Qi to watch Ying Ge manor and Yan Xun closely on the wedding day.
Night time, Yuwen Yue has a date with Yan Xun. He talks about the precious wine the Princess shared with them three years ago. Today, he has found another pot, and life is like that, he adds, what one thinks and decides from the beginning isn’t always right. Okay, are we talking about your past mistakes too, Yue?
Understanding the meaning, Yan Xun says right and wrong is determined by the person. It also can’t be decided just because Yue said so. Yue asks if Yan Xun means to marry the princess for real, and upon hearing a definite yes, he wonders what wedding presents Yan Xun has prepared, to which Yan Xun tells him to investigate.
And Yue says he has, which leads him to a curious list and he begins listing the names, causing Yan Xun to narrow his eyes at Yue. Two names come up often and they are in charge of two troops around the city. Yue asks seriously if Yan Xun wants to kill all Chang’An people because of a personal vendetta.
Yan Xun leans close, when Yan Bei’s two cities were burnt to the ground for three days straight, “Those people who died, they weren’t innocent?”
Yue tries to get Yan Xun to see how many people are going to lose their family, just like he did.
“What you are deciding to do today isn’t any different than the general who caused their deaths.”
Yan Xun thinks there’s a difference. What the general did was killed thousands of innocent lives, and what he’s about to do is returning the favors that others have bestowed on him. To him, it’s a fair game.
“Do you feel at peace carrying out these actions?”
Yan Xun hardens his stare. “There are some things you accomplished and yet might not bring you happiness. But if you don’t do it, you definitely won’t be happy.”
Moreover, a person living in the world doesn’t just need happiness. He picks up a cup of wine and brings it to his lips…. “These things…” he tosses the wine behind his back and finishes, “you probably won’t understand.”
Yue urges Yan Xun to think it over and come to him for help or else he will definitely stop him. He tells Yan Xun to stop dreaming and Yan Xun challenges Yue to try and stop him.
Before Yan Xun walks away, Yue throws up a sharp question, “What you’re doing… does Xing Er know?”
Back at Ying Ge manor, Zhong Yu worries about their military power since Yue now has two generals of theirs under his control and Zhong Yu tries to bring up Beauty troop one more time but gets shut down one more time by Yan Xun. Awww… He still doesn’t want to use Chu Qiao.
An idea comes to mind and he heads off to meet Yuan Chun in the palace, only to find the Emperor hot on his heels as well. The King becomes reminiscent of his young daughter and now she’s the age of marriage. Once Yuan Chun excuses herself giddily, Yan Xun puts on a show of course, promising to let the princess visit the King any time he wants. The King wants Yan Xun to pick a general to escort them back home and when Yan Xun doesn’t give a name, the King wonders why he didn’t pick his best friend Yuwen Yue. Yan Xun confirms the two of them have drifted apart and beseeches the king to pick another person.
Wanting to help Yan Xun, Zhong Yu drops the news to Chu Qiao that He Xiao is being executed today for stealing and selling military weapons (arrows). He Xiao denies the accusation fervently but General Xue already considers him an eyesore and won’t let this golden opportunity past, despite the soldiers pleading on He Xiao’s behalf.
Chu Qiao arrives then and surmises that maybe the military badge was taken by others and they stole the weapons. Still, General Xue points out that negligence has the same punishment – death, and Chu Qiao kneels beside He Xiao, taking responsibility since Yue gave her the badge first. She’s not going down without a fight though and boasts about her saving Prince Xiao Che’s life so if anyone wants her head, they better inform the superiors first.
Not wanting to offend the superiors, General Xue heads off to seek approval, making sure Chu Qiao and He Xiao kneel until he returns.
Episode 39 RECAP (written by Kappy):
General Xue returns to his camp with one guard in tow, harumph-ing all the way in. His dense guard didn’t understand the veiled threat behind Chu Qiao’s words so he earns himself a whack in the head and now General Xue just dawdles around to torture Chu Qiao and He Xiao.
No worries folks! Yue gets a message from a little bird (Zhong Yu) and runs to Chu Qiao’s rescue. I’m surprised he doesn’t know she’s in troubled yet since he always knows! Lol. Still kneeling in the sun, Chu Qiao’s weak health colors her face pale and He Xiao urges her to go rest but a stubborn Chu Qiao yells at him to be quiet and patient.
And then she passes out. I have a new drinking game we can play! Drink up when CQ faints. XD
Yue appears and shoots a death glare at the guard. LOL.
He carries her back to his place and I just love how Yue Qi is secretly pleased for his master, being close to the girl he likes. Chu Qiao, in her sleep, grabs onto Yue’s sleeve, forcing him to stay by her side. Okay, okay, this director giving Chu Qiao’s a random habit…..
For OTP moment of course! Even I am tired of calling out director’s lame attempts at skinship.
Paranoid Wei King gets news of Yuwen Yue picking up Chu Qiao at camp and he whips up a theory of Yan Xun protecting Yue (from escorting him back to Yan Bei) in order for Yue to use his military force to help Yan Xun. You got it all wrong, King sir.
Chu Qiao wakes up and screams her lungs out. Peacefully, he wonders why she’s so loud.
Yue Qi barges in and mutters something into Yue’s ears, which gets him riling and in an accusatory voice, he balks at Chu Qiao for knowing Yan Xun’s plan. She doesn’t understand what he’s talking about and he leaves, to her dismay and confusion.
Yan Xun squirms at Ying Ge manor, having waited for Chu Qiao and worried about her well-being. When he wants to go check up Chu Qiao, Zhong Yu reveals that she called Yue to the rescue, and explains her reasoning, they are in a delicate situation, they need to manipulate and use whoever and whatever to achieve their goals.
She tells him to put boy-girl feelings to the side in the face of death. I don’t think Yan Xun is listening to her because his eyes grow cold at the mention of Yue’s name already. Of all people, Zhong Yu asked Yue to help Chu Qiao. Lol.
He’s about to blow off when Chu Qiao steps inside the room and he sees her safe, calming down a bit. She appeals to Yan Xun one more time about the Beauty troop, expounding on the fact that their hearts are still with Yan Bei. Plus, Yan Xun needs people on his side and maybe they will make a surprising great alliance. With the two ladies supporting Beauty troop, Yan Xun agrees to meet with He Xiao and Co. tonight.
Later, Zhong Yu talks to Yan Xun again about allowing Beauty Troop into their plan and Yan Xun correctly guesses that it was her who messed with He Xiao and stole the military badge, which forced Chu Qiao to step in to help them, in turn earning their trust. Then by calling Yue to the rescue, Zhong Yu has successfully made the King doubt Yue’s loyalty. Ohhh. Damn, this girl. Why aren’t you the leader? Lol.
Yan Xun praises Zhong Yu’s scheme but he coldly warns her to never ever use Chu Qiao again. Awww… my darling dark Yan Xun.
Yan Xun meets with He Xiao and the two soldiers, all of them regretful of their actions three years ago that led to the deaths of thousands of Yan Bei citizens. With a frosty tone, he throws their crimes out there before them and confirms that he would rather they die in Yan Bei under his hands then become dogs for the enemy.
He can’t guarantee they will all make it back to Yan Bei alive or live a luxurious life in the future, but if they remain loyal to him, they can lift their heads high and proud and return to their home.
On the way back to camp, the two soldiers are both happy and wary of how fast the prince accepted them and Chu Qiao quiets their doubts, she believes in Yan Xun as a person who keeps his promises. He Xiao says he doesn’t care if he dies for the Prince but he does have responsibility for his comrades and doesn’t wish to see them die.
In need of an audience with Consort Lan, Yuwen Huai kidnaps her little son (when did she give birth?!!) but before he can reach her palace, the King summons him and General Zhao, giving them a secret command to carry out on Yuan Chun’s wedding day. Dun, Dun, Dun. Yan Xun is cornered, he has nowhere to run but to fight and literally everybody knows the King’s fake show of marriage….except for Yuan Chun and Yuan Song. Sigh.
Chu Qiao pays Xiao Che a visit and he rushes to give her a hug, only she places an arm out to stop him, reminding him to keep a distance. heh. Knowing that he’s leaving Da Wei soon, she’s here to give him a list of Da Wei’s promising generals, someone strong and talented to escort him home, since she finds his entourage lacking in skills. Lol. Some of her candidates are questionable and he plucks the useless list out of her hands, naming Prince Yuan Che as his chosen escort. He teases her, inviting her to come to Da Liang with him, then calling out her plan of using him to remove Yuan Che out of the equation during Yan Xun’s escape.
She says she learns the roundabout way from Xiao Che when he wanted their help. Xiao steps closer and with a spark in his eyes, he asks how she’s going to return this BIG favor he’s doing for her. Awww….this line reminds me of pre-massacre Yan Xun. T___T
He wants her to see him out on the day he leaves and she smiles, nodding to his request. Aww. That’s IT to your character arc?!
After receiving the King’s order to escort Xiao Che home, Prince Yuan Che knows it’s a scheme to remove him out of Chang’An so he goes visit several people: Dong Fang Ji – Yan Shi Cheng’s ex-advisor and implores him to help Chang’An out if Yan Xun goes rogue but the old man has other ideas in mind and would like to see the surprises Yan Xun has in store. Yuan Che then goes to the helpless and powerless Wei Shu Ye, reminding him of Yan Xun’s family massacre and that there’s no way he would peacefully marry Yuan Chun, tipping him off to watch Yan Xun’s movement, and if needed, to kill Yan Xun.
Zhong Yu, Chu Qiao, and Yan Xun go over their plan for tomorrow’s great escape – they have 500 soldiers from Beauty Troop and Zhong Yu’s 300 armed people. Chu Qiao deduces that the king will plan to kill Yan Xun in secret when he’s at the Temple of Tai. So they will send 100 beauty soldiers to guard Yan Xun and the other 400 soldiers to the east gate, waiting to open the doors once Yan Xun makes it to them.
To create distractions and spread the two major army troops, they will create a big fire and Chu Qiao frowns at the idea but Zhong Yu assures her that it’s aimed at the rich noblemen, not the citizen homes, and she relaxes. The people outside the city will also build a bridge to cross a river leading the troops on the path to Yan Bei.
Chu Qiao worries since they are literally fighting against thousands of soldiers with a mere 900 men on their side and Yan Xun tells her it’s a gamble of their lives.
Afraid that Yuwen Yue will help Yan Xun, the King nicely invites Yue to stay at a wing in the palace for the time being, acting like a guard, if you will.
Episode 40 RECAP (written by Kappy):
As promised, Chu Qiao sees a giddy Xiao Che off and he takes one last chance to ask her to come with him, knowing that a silent storm is brewing in Chang’An. She only smiles at him and says though she still can’t see through him, she thinks he isn’t a bad person. He brags about being hard to read since he’s a high and mighty prince and drops a disappointing note that Wei King hurriedly rushed him out the moment he asked. Lol. Not to be outdone, he says all the princesses and noble ladies are not pleasant to look at and no matter how far his eyes search in Chang’An, only Chu Qiao fits his tastes.
He sighs and blames her for not having good eyes, loyally following Yan Xun to death instead of living in luxury with him.
She turns serious and asks whether he would help Wei if Western Wei and Yan Bei enter war with each other. He shakes his head firmly, he won’t help either side! Lol. Even if Western Wei marries his own mother to him, it would be useless. Ewwwww, Xiao Che! Don’t say stuff like that. XD
With his neutral answer, Chu Qiao considers him as a friend and both wish the other good luck and send invitation to visit their respective country one day in the future.
Three nights before the big day. Chu Qiao and Yan Xun spend some time together by digging and then drinking the wine pot they buried three years ago. It’s a quiet and reflective night, both knowing they either flee the golden cage Chang’An or they die trying. There’s no other path for them.
Yan Xun asks tentatively, “Ah Chu, are you afraid?”
She has a habit of returning the question, “Are you afraid?”
He doesn’t answer either and she leans back against the tree, confessing that she has nothing to be afraid of and was never afraid of anything.
We skip over to the brimming bride Yuan Chun as she caresses and hugs her beautiful blue wedding gown. Then Yuwen Huai reads the secret mission the King gave him and smirks, heading out on horses with his troops late in the night.
Zhong Yu sits with Yan Xun and says they have scattered their people in all the major businesses in Chang’An, when the moment comes, they will cause and spread chaos around the city. Yan Xun mutters how peaceful Chang’An has been and it’s time to take it away. He wants Zhong Yu to arrange for Chu Qiao’s safe exit first, followed by everybody else. He can’t risk being distracted by her safety.
Chu Qiao is reluctant to leave first but complies when Zhong Yu assures her she is best fit for the job of carefully planning horses and food supply outside the city.
Unfortunately, Yuwen Yue also wants to keep Chu Qiao out of trouble by seeking help from Princess Yuan Chun on the excuse that he wants someone he knows to work with him during his guarding period in the palace. In a happy mood, Yuan Chun agrees.
Yan Xun hears of the news and fumes in his manor, more worries in his head.
Before Yuwen Huai heads out, he places Consort Lan’s son into a box. OMG. WHY IS THIS MAN ALLOWED NEAR KIDS?!! Consort Lan is out of sorts worried about her son so she seeks Yuwen Huai out and even spills the beans that Chu Qiao is Luo He’s daughter, the legitimate leader of Feng Yun Ling, but Huai isn’t in the mood to talk and doesn’t believe her.
Wedding day. Yuwen Yue approaches Chu Qiao at the processional platform outside the the palace and mocks her, shouldn’t she be running in case Yan Xun leaves her behind? She has no breath to argue with him today and turns to see Yuan Song heading her way. He wonders why she’s in the palace and she replies that she’s tasked with protecting the princess. He thinks Yuan Chun is up to some tricks and tells Chu Qiao to go home if she feels uncomfortable, but Yue mutters on the side, “Why would she feel uncomfortable, it’s not like she has a heart…”
Ignoring Yue’s comment, Yuan Song chirps happily that his mother allows him to escort Yuan Chun to Yan Bei, clearly excited to go on a long journey with Chu Qiao, only her face freezes at the news.
Yan Xun’s entourage arrives to take him on the palanquin in his ridiculous caterpillar wedding gown. I’m sorry but he looks like a pregnant caterpillar. LOL. What in the world…those sleeves…..
At court, the King pours on the honey talk about his beloved daughter’s marriage and his forgiving nature of Yan Xun’s family rebellion. An foreboding feeling tightens the Yuan Chun’s heart and she keeps worrying that something is up….
Oh yea. Everything is up. Yan Bei soldiers and men and women get in position, killing all the major generals and poisoning the food to knock out the soldiers.
As Yan Xun’s entourage approaches the execution platform Jiu You Tai, Yan Xun’s eyes remain closed as he relives the last moments of his mother and when all his family’s head were thrown in the burner. His mother last words ring in his ears as the same musical piece of three years ago sound in the background. He has to live on. Yan Bei is waiting for him. Did you guys notice his left pinky holder is not white anymore? It’s black….Symbolism be dropping everywhere.
His entourage is stopped and the King’s scheme to kill Yan Xun begins its first step. General Zhao is on orders to capture Yan Xun because someone reports his manor of storing a large amount of weapons and he kills the guard who questions his authority. At the sight of blood, all the royal guards flee and bystanders flee the scene, leaving only Ah Jing standing peacefully outside of Yan Xun’s palanquin. Might I add Ah Jing is calmly petting the horse. I die.
General Zhao is pleased with the situation and the terror he strikes in the people but his smile disappears when he sees He Xiao and the Beauty Troop heading out of an inn and forming a defense around Yan Xun. He Xiao raises his sword and Beauty Troop’s flag, “Yan Bei Beauty Troop is here!”
Yan Xun continues to recall the deaths of his family and the fight comes to an end with Beauty Troop holding General Zhao down on his knees, Yan Xun steps down his carriage, now wearing a glorious armor and a hardened expression. He steps on Zhao’s head and picks up a sword as Zhao regrets not killing Yan Xun fast enough. Yan Xun slashes him cleanly, “Now you don’t have that chance anymore.” That is Yan Xun’s new motto.
He looks at the soldiers around him and recalls that it’s been three years since Yan Bei’s fall, with two cities being burned to the ground along with 20,000+ innocent citizens. The dead are waiting for their return. For years his father and brothers had fought restlessly for the king but the King is blind to their loyalty, killing them mercilessly. The King has forgotten the white bones of the dead, has forgotten the promise he made with Duke Ding Bei.
Yan Xun swears to avenge for all the hatred, torture, and alienation that descended on Yan Bei citizens in the last three years. He tells them to go and get the King’s blood because, “Today, I, Yan Xun, am rebelling!”
Soldiers kneel before and around him, swearing to go die with him.
Like a hawk, Yuan Chun becomes the first person to hear news of Yan Xun’s rebellion and she leads the soldier down the stairs, only to smash his head with a vase and then proceeds to shoving him hard into the wall. She then freaks out about killing a person and her maid says he just passed out. I’m sure you’re just trying to calm her now….
Overcome with shock, Yuan Chun orders her maid to go and tell Yan Xun she won’t force him to marry her anymore, believing that he’s rebelling because of the pressure she gave him.
So she takes off, running all the way to court, running past all the nobles and officials to beg the King to stop the wedding. Even when she’s dragged away, she pushes through and pleads with the King, repeating over and over how she finally figured out she doesn’t like Yan Xun, she hates him and she would rather go marry the Da Liang Prince and some other random princes.
She begs earnestly, crying and banging her head on the ground over and over again. Everyone watches in confusion, not understanding why the sudden change in tune, and it takes Yuan Song and the head eunuch to remove her from court, at which point Yuwen Yue takes notice of Chu Qiao’s absence and hurries out.
She’s climbing the wall when he pulls her back down, saying that Yan Xun is in over his head already. She has no time for his lengthy speech and tells him to shut it. Yue defends himself, he’s not fighting for Yuwen household, he’s fighting for Western Wei. That doesn’t sit well with Chu Qiao at all because the current King is a paranoid and ruthless beast, unfit of being King.
She calls him out for supporting such a King and I feel so damn good about it. Yue needs a waking up call. Take notice how he doesn’t have a defense at all.
He challenges her to take him out and they fight.
Yue: “There’s only death if you follow him!”
She tells him to stop worrying about her and take care of him own self. Lol.
When voices of guards sound above them, they hide to the side. The guards think it’s a bunch of cats and walk away, which prompts Chu Qiao to step hard on Yue’s foot and he yelps, calling her a crazy woman not afraid of death. She returns the favor and calls him a leech.
He tells her again it’s seeking death to leave the city right now but she’s more optimistic than him, angling for a bet. But he challenges her to bet a different game, “That the souls of today will be less than that of Yan Bei three years ago? Or how many innocent deaths there would be when wars break out between Wei and Yan Bei because of what you do today?”
Yue, I am tired of your righteous talk. So now you care about the innocent lives? Now you care when it’s your people at death door? Why didn’t you say the same for Yan Bei people! Dammit!
I think this why Yan Xun is doubly angry at his friends and Wei, nobody acknowledges the innocent deaths of Yan Bei civilians, all were labeled as criminals, which makes the humiliation twice as hard.
She has no response and he continues describing Yan Xun as a changed person, that Chu Qiao never knew how crazy his plan would be. “He’s a wolf, a wolf you nurtured. He will rip us all apart.”
Chu Qiao finally speaks up, thanks goodness! “Even if he became that person, it’s all because of you guys. The blood of his family stains on all of ya’ll hands. You guys deserve it.”
Yue: “You won’t regret this?”
Chu Qiao: “I won’t.”
He lets her leave.
Back to the King as he grumbles that news of Yan Xun’s death hasn’t arrived yet in broad daylight. You ugly monster. Bad news then come in a wagon – Yuan Chun has escaped the palace, there’s a big fire running around the city, and there are some assassins lurking in the palace, killing a total of 65 people already.
The last report – Yan Xun has rebelled.
A domino effect has begun with rebels, pugilists, criminals, and prisoners running amok.
The beauty troop fights and guards the eastern gate, waiting for Yan Xun to come, but he’s refusing to leave without Chu Qiao. Meanwhile, our heroine looks around the city filled with dead bodies and orphaned kids and tears sting her eyes. She cuts down criminals and places a sheet over a raped victim. Ooof.
Yan Xun locates her and gallops towards her. Her face has the slightest smile on seeing him freed but the smile doesn’t reach her eyes as it dawns on her it’s a costly fight they are starting.
Before they can leave, Yuan Chun makes her way there, a sobbing mess and Yan Xun looks sharply behind his back at hearing her voice.
Episode 41 RECAP (written by Kappy):
With a disheveled appearance, Yuan Chun locates Yan Xun and his troops, along with Chu Qiao, and comes running to him, begging him to apologize to the King and promising not to marry him. She throws down all her headpieces and hairpins, standing before Yan Xun as just a girl who doesn’t want to see him dead. When Yuan Song gallops over, he regrets seeing Yan Xun as his friend, not believing that a friend would start a treasonous act against his father.
Yuan Chun throws her arms out to stop her brother and clarifies passionately that Yan Xun isn’t rebelling but Yuan Song points at Yan Xun and announces him a traitor to Western Wei. When she insists, Yuan Song screams at his sister to wake up, “He’s carrying out his revenge.”
Stunned speechless because a thought like that never crosses her naive brain, Yuan Chun turns around to face Yan Xun, then proceeds into her denial talk and Yan Xun stops her, “I have to return to Yan Bei. This has nothing to do with you.”
Hope lifts up her spirits and she agrees that he could still go back to Yan Bei after marrying her… His voice firmed, he reveals to her how their marriage would never happen because her father had planned to kill him today. Moreover, he never intended to marry her… Yuan Song’s face twists up and he calls Yan Xun an animal without loyalty and Yan Xun barks back that there’s no loyalty, kindness, or justice between Western Wei and Yan Bei.
All the words drown our poor princess as she collapses to the ground, telling herself over and over it’s not like that and that this isn’t happening.
Yuan Song believes his dad (King) all the way to the end, not believing a single word Yan Xun said and describes Yan Xun as a traitorous wolf betraying his own country. Yan Xun reminds him of the blood at Jiu You Tai, the bodies of his family members, the deaths of his innocent citizens, “Is this the justice and loyalty you speak of?!”
Keeping his eyes to the ground, probably because he knows he’s speaking of lies, Yuan Song admits that Duke Ding was rebelling and his father did the right thing three years ago to eliminate him.
My heart. How could you admit that in front of your friend? When will you grow a pair?
This stupid boy.
Yan Xun has had enough of the royal siblings and leaves, deciding to not hurt them since they were once friends. His message to the King is to not die so early…because he’s coming for him.
Chu Qiao gallops forward by Yan Xun’s side and Yuan Song addresses her with a small voice, “Ah Chu, you also want to fight against us?”
She doesn’t and thanks him for his protection in the past three years. Then he wants her to return to the palace with him. He promises to speak on her behalf to the King and protect her.
Chu Qiao: “But….at this very moment, I want to fight against the whole Wei.”
Yuan Song then makes a show of cutting his robe to symbolize the broken bond and friendship between them. He wants Yuan Chun to follow him back but the poor girl crawls on all four towards Yan Xun’s horse and reaches out tentatively to his feet but he jerks his horse back, putting a distance between them. Oooof. These little actions hurt. She knows and cries that it was all her fault for not being able to help him three years ago, she admits her wrongdoing and begs with him to stop the rebellion. All she wants is to see him alive and well, she won’t marry him anymore.
You can tell Yan Xun isn’t unaffected as she cries because his eyes are also bright red and tinged with tears. And next time when she moves closer, he doesn’t move back, allowing her to touch the hem of his robe as he tells her one last time that the hatred between their two families run as deep as the ocean. “Your love for me is something I can’t bear.”
He leaves with Chu Qiao and meets up with He Xiao and their troop. Yan Xun sends Chu Qiao outside of the city first, so he can destroy the soldier academy, making sure that Wei has no generals and soldiers to use in the next ten years. Unfortunately, Yuwen Yue also guesses correctly and stands guard over the institution. When asked, Yan Xun says he doesn’t hate the academy, he only wants to eliminate everything that could bite him in the future.
Yue reminds him that this is where they first met and Yan Xun even got in a fight with Zhao Xi Feng. “You beat him, I remember. You also said once we are brothers, we are forever brothers.” Yue adds wistfully.
On the notice that Yue has saved him three years ago, Yan Xun lets this place go.
As Yan Xun escapes from the eastern gate, he orders his people to lock it up as well. GAHHH. Yan Xun, give them a chance to show you!! Breaking my heart when he’s so unforgiving to the bitter end.
Beauty Troop arrives at the gate and finds it locked. T___T Their shocked faces as they realize they have been abandoned by Yan Xun and Chu Qiao. Noooooo. My boys!!
He Xiao rallies his men to raise their heads and fight. Since it was their fault the whole Yan clan died, he takes this opportunity as a chance to repay all their debts. Now I’m crying.
Chu Qiao waits at the bridge for Yan Xun’s return and he says the Beauty Troop will catch up to them soon… but Ah Jing signals archers to burn down the bridge and that shocks Chu Qiao. Without the bridge, how are He Xiao and his people going to cross? Then it dawns on her that Yan Xun never wanted them to escape.
She hops on her horse and Yan Xun tells her they needed to be punished for what they did and he didn’t make any promises to them. She doesn’t say another word to him and starts galloping across the burning bridge, making a dangerous leap to go back to Chang’An.
Yuwen Huai leads three troops and corners Beauty soldiers at the gate. They fight bravely but they are outnumbered and exhausted, but He Xiao refuses to drop the troop’s flag….
As he’s hit in the chest with arrows, he continues to hold onto the fallen flag just as darkness envelops the soldiers in the tunnel….
Then a glorious golden light slowly makes it way to their shadowed faces and the gates open up… the smiles on their faces kill me as Chu Qiao charges forward and lifts the flag up, standing between the enemy and Beauty soldiers, she tells them that Yan Bei never abandoned them.
“Listen to my orders, follow me, I will bring you home!”
It’s knocking my heart out. Undoubtedly, one of my favorite scenes from the novel. CHILLS.
They refuse to leave without Chu Qiao and Yuwen Huai steps up to receive his death note. One-on-one fight? YESH.
She ends his pathetic life, securing her place in the Beauty troop’s heart and soul.
Prince Yuan Che is informed of Yan Xun’s rebellion and he hurriedly returns, leaving escort duties to second-in-command general. Zhong Yu and Ah Jing urge Yan Xun to leave the border, they have been waiting five days for Chu Qiao and she still isn’t here.
Yan Xun doesn’t want to leave, afraid that when Chu Qiao makes it here and doesn’t see him, she’d be disappointed, but Ah Jing can’t believe that’s his reasoning. A leader should have bigger ambitions and not let boy-girl feelings get in the way! Lol. Zhong Yu yanks him back with a glare, knowing that Chu Qiao is Yan Xun’s weakness. Shawn is amazing in this scene, you can see and tell from his vulnerability and the empty walk that he cares a lot about what Chu Qiao thinks of him.
Zhong Yu adds softly that they will wait here one more day…and then they would have to leave.
Yan Xun doesn’t object or agree and walks out quietly.
Elsewhere, Chu Qiao delivers a pep talk to Beauty Troops, though they are winning all the current small battles, she tells them not to think too highly of themselves, they need to rest too. When they rally that the Prince have abandoned them, she reassures them that Yan Xun asked her to save them.
In the wilderness, we see …..Yuan Chun traveling by herself. THIS GIRL!! She makes to Yan Xun’s camp and we see Yuan Song disguising as one of soldiers approaching Yan Xun’s back with a dagger.
—— END ——
Uh Oh. I was hoping we wouldn’t go through with the assassination attempt! Yuan Song!! You dole!
And now I want you to meet Yang Guo. Listen to me, boy.
Kappy: It’s a bloody bloodbath for sure. This is war, people. War has casualties. Every king’s path to the throne is paved by blood of the innocent, no King can say he is freed of those crimes.
I’m not condoning Yan Xun’s actions but I can understand why he’s led to this very moment. The Wei King cornered him and planned to kill him on the wedding day. There was no way out for him and his people. He either fights or he dies and there are no pretty way to go about it. The whole premise is built on Yan Xun’s transformation and revenge story and his ultimate descent into paranoia and darkness. He’s NOT your wuxia hero of justice, he’s NOT the man you should root for, but you watch him anyway because he is compelling to watch and has the most interesting arc of all the characters.
Three years ago, the whole Da Wei watched and condoned the King’s actions in execution of the Yan Bei clan and their innocent citizens. To me, Yan Xun’s rebellion is a deadly awakening to the King and to those airheads serving under him. On the outside, Chang’An is a peaceful city but deep down it is a hell hole, an underbelly of brutality and savage, run by very, very cruel people, even a faraway prince like Xiao Che knows of its unkind practice of slavery and human hunting. Even with Yuwen Yue at the beginning of the story, he lives a life dictated by his grandpa and the so-called Eyes of God. He lives a life where he also turns a blind eye on the people suffering, remember what he did at the hunting ground when girls were being hunted and he was holding a powerful crossbow in his hands but decided to save not a single soul but Chu Qiao?
How long could this country last? With everyone dilly dallying along, following orders and not questioning the right and wrong of it all? The King knows no end to his paranoia. When the next official/general starts to rub him the wrong way, he will do the same thing again. Yan Xun’s rebellion is ugly to watch but it forces everyone in the novel to grow up and start doing something for their belief, and stop blindingly believing and following a king who is in over his head. Changes are necessary for Western Wei.
A new era and leader is needed.
At the end of the day, no one is innocent in this conflict, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Everyone is given a chance at rebirth after the rebellion, some will rise and become phoenixes, some will fall and grow horns of the devil.
We don’t have to guess who….