~ Three years later, they meet again ~
Yan Yan quickly tries to duck back over the wall but in her haste, she unwittingly lets go of the scroll in her hands, alerting Premier Zuo to her presence. Without any hesitation, he commands his soldiers to kill her and a chase ensues while Premier Zuo and another group of soldiers start to kill all the commoners on the streets. With the armed men hot on her heels, Yan Yan trips and falls, allowing them to catch up to her. As this situation unfolds, Jiu Yun was sat on a nearby rooftop with a bottle of wine in his hand as he recalled the old man’s caution. Seeing that she was about to be killed, he made a split second decision to save her, making the men disappear with a strum of his guqin. Hearing the neigh of horses beyond the city walls, he turns around to see that Tian Yuan’s army was fast approaching.
Although she was shaken by what had just happened, Yan Yan realises that something was wrong and rushed back to the palace to check on her parents. Back in the palace, news of Tian Yuan’s hundred thousand strong army had reached the king and he demands an explanation from Premier Zuo regarding why none of the watchtowers had lit a fire to warn them. The other ministers cower in fear before one steps forward to inform the king that Premier Zuo wasn’t among them.
Meanwhile, Zi Chen’s carriage had left the city when he realised that something was very wrong and demanded that they stopped. When the guard explained that he had orders not to stop until they reached the temple and that someone would protect him there, Zi Chen threatens to slit his own throat and the guard had no choice but to turn the carriage around.
As Ting Yuan’s army approaches, Jiu Yun starts to attack them by strumming hits from his guqin, producing gusting winds that blew the men off their feet and threw the horses into confusion. As he threw one attack after another, Ting Yuan’s prince grew frustrated and shot an arrow at him, which he easily deflected. However, Ting Yuan’s army was massive and with the aid of Premier Zuo who attacked Li Kingdom’s soldiers and opened the gates, Ting Yuan soldiers soon overrun the palace and the second prince was killed by Tian Yuan’s Prince Li Yuan who impaled him on his sword.
Yan Yan returns to the palace only to find the pathways filled with the bodies of palace guards and maidservants. As she desperately searched through the bodies for anyone who was still alive, Ah Man regains consciousness the two happily reunite. However, the reunion was cut short when Ah Man spots an enemy soldier and uses her own body to shield her princess. Devastated but with more pressing matters at hand, Yan Yan picks up and points a stray sword at the attacking soldier but before he could even reach her, he was back-stabbed by none other than Zi Chen. With tears of relief in her eyes, the couple reunite and Zi Chen offers to bring her to safety but before anything else could be said, Zi Chen’s guard voices his objection, stating the premier’s orders that no one was to be spared. Zi Chen hollers at the guard to shut up and turns to face Yan Yan again but her teary eyes were now filled with grief and disregarding Zi Chen’s promise to protect her with his life, she swings her sword and injures his eyes. Zi Chen’s guards immediately rush forward to attack Yan Yan but he yells for them to stay where they were, threatening to kill anyone who dared to step forward. Seeing Zi Chen’s bloody state as he urged her to leave and finally realising what she had done, Yan Yan’s eyes were filled with anguish once more.
At that moment, Yan Yan’s teacher arrives on a large paper crane and he pulls her aboard as she carries Ah Man in her arms. With teary eyes, Yan Yan looks back at the carnage beneath her, at her dead parents, and at the Tian Yuan prince that led all of this. Miraculously, Ah Man regains consciousness mid-flight and when night fell, the trio land and wander through the woods in search of a place to spend the night. Unfortunately, they were ambushed by Ting Yuan soldiers and when Yan Yan’s teacher stayed behind to fight them off, Yan Yan and Ah Man were surrounded by even more soldiers. In the ensuing chaos, Ah Man took another stab, injuring her fatally this time. The soldiers then turn to Yan Yan but before they could finish her off, her teacher appears and saves her in the nick of time. Yan Yan immediately rushes to her dying friend whose last words were for her to continue living on for her sake.
Yan Yan then dug a grave with her bare hands and carved a wooden tombstone with her hairpin for Ah Man, paying no heed to her soiled and bloodied hands. Seeing that she was despondent and had lost all will to live, her teacher told her about a magical instrument called ‘spiritual lamp’ that could contain the evil demon’s powers once it was lit. However, she would have to sign a blood contract with the spiritual lamp and her spirit would have to be sacrificed, ceasing her existence. Hearing this, Yan Yan sets her heart on finding the spiritual lamp, determined to destroy all the demons in the world to avenge her family and her people. Her teacher accepts her request to teach her magical arts and to aid in her search for the spiritual lamp but he warns that she would have to conceal and leave behind her identity as Princess of the Great Kingdom of Li.
Disguised as an ordinary servant girl, Yan Yan (who now had Ah Man’s appearance and went by the name Qin Chuan) seeks refuge at Xiang Qu Mountain, a snowy mountain village that was separated from the celestials by a tall wall inscribed with runes. Under the watchful eye of Steward Zhao, everyone was hard at work while another new servant girl, Cui Ya was overcame with curiosity and was just about to touch the runes when Steward Zhao caught her. After a short lecture by Steward Zhao where we learn that the celestial disciples of Xiang Qu Mountain were unusually good-looking but never seen, the other servants started shouting when they saw the celestials soaring overhead on flying vehicles. As everyone’s gazes were glued to the sky, Steward Zhao spots an uninterested Qin Chuan hard at work, adding firewood to the fire pans. With a lingering look at Qin Chuan, Steward Zhao dispersed everyone by reminding them that White River’s Dragon King would be coming next month and that they had to get back to work.
As Qin Chuan worked at the foot of the mountain, two other servant girls approached her with requests. Qin Chuan agrees to take on their chores and they happily sneak gifts into her pouch as thanks. Just after the two girls had left, Cui Ya approaches Qin Chuan with a request of her own. In preparation for the White River Dragon King’s arrival next month, the celestials that lived in Xiang Qu Mountain had tasked Steward Zhao with handpicking a few servants to help out. Cui Ya had prepared Steward Zhao’s favourite melon seeds as bribe and entrusted Qin Chuan with passing it to her. Cui Ya also tells Qin Chuan that because she was so capable, she would excel if she was also picked to help out inside.
With the packet of melon seeds in hand, Qin Chuan reports to Steward Zhao who had called for her. There, Steward Zhao introduces Qin Chuan to her nephew Er Meng, telling her that he was twenty, never married, slightly dumb but kind-hearted, a pitiable child whose parents left early. Qin Chuan then greets Er Meng who was sat on the ground as he played with a chicken. Steward Zhao then reveals that the White River Dragon King probably had an ulterior motive for the looming visit and that even the celestials on the inside were tensed. She had planned to take this chance to send her nephew in for a better future but was worried that he would cause trouble so she had the idea to marry the sensible Qin Chuan to him so that she could help to watch over him. Qin Chuan easily agrees, shocking even Steward Zhao herself. However, Er Meng was dissatisfied with Qin Chuan’s looks, saying that her face was yellower than an orange peel, she couldn’t compare to his Lady Qing Qing and she didn’t deserve him. To appease him, Qin Chuan agrees with everything he had said and after telling her not to bother him because he was very busy, he left with the chicken in his arm. After Steward Zhao reaffirms the engagement for fear that Qin Chuan would have changed her mind, Qin Chuan brings up Cui Ya’s request to which Steward Zhao readily agrees.
That night, Qin Chuan returns to bed when all the other servant girls were already fast asleep. As she was keeping the gifts she had received from the other servant girls in a small box under her pillow, she was startled by Cui Ya shouting her name before realising that Cui Ya was just sleep talking. Qin Chuan then settles in to sleep only to have a nightmare about the massacre of her family and her people. The next morning, the list of chosen people was up and both Qin Chuan and Cui Ya were on the list. Their celebratory hug was broken by Er Meng who shoves his way through the crowd to get to Qin Chuan and she had to clamp her hand over his mouth to stop him from introducing himself to Cui Ya as her husband to be. However, he later pinched her cheeks and commented that his aunt was right, she was the type to look prettier as time went by. Qin Chuan was saved when Steward Zhao came along and pressed the chosen servants to hurry along and collect their clothes.
After a quick reminder from Steward Zhao to behave, the servants follow Steward Zhao through the opening in the rune covered wall, on a two hour long walk through the stone cave before they reach the inner area of Xiang Qu Mountain. They were greeted by a picturesque view with high mountains, clear waters and colourful flowers. To reach Ning Bi Hall, they had to pass through a magical gate and Qin Chuan ushered everyone in so that she could be last and experiment with the gate. After putting in and withdrawing a single leg and hand, she was finally pulled in by Steward Zhao who pushed her to stand in line with the other servants. At that moment, Her Excellency Lady Qing Qing arrives and instructs her subordinates, Zi Jin and Yi Xin, to assign work for the new servants. With a final instruction to clean up Ning Bi Hall when they were done, Lady Qing Qing leaves.
On the snowy Xiang Qu Mountain, Jiu Yun plays his flute and his female juniors admire him as the new batch of servants pass through. As a junior was explaining to Jiu Yun that they weren’t new disciples but new servants to help out with the preparations for White River Dragon King’s arrival, Jiu Yun seems uninterested, his eyes never leaving Qin Chuan’s figure. Cui Ya was dazzled by Jiu Yun’s good looks and accidentally drops the jade bracelet that was her mother’s family heirloom into the shallow river beneath her. Jiu Yun immediately teleports in front of her and picks it up, grasping her hand as he placed it in the palm of her hand before raising her hand to his face and commenting that she smelled nice, then leaning in to ask if he could kiss her. Hearing this, Cui Ya faints from over-excitement. With every new move that he made, Jiu Yun’s eyes always darted to Qin Chuan’s face to check out her reaction but disgusted by his actions, Qin Chuan tried to keep her eyes away from him as she called him several names like wastrel, shameless and obscene in her head.
The unconscious Cui Ya was carried away by two other male servants to rest on a nearby log and Qin Chuan follows along to watch over her. With Cui Ya in her arms, Qin Chuan could only listen as the two male servant gossip about Jiu Yun. It turns out that he had a bad reputation among the celestials and everyone avoided him, giving rise to the assumption that he rarely appeared in public because he was ashamed.
Jiu Yun goes to find Mei Shan and steals the wine he was drinking, telling him that ‘she’ was at Xiang Qu. After his initial confusion, Mei Shan was shocked when he realised who ‘she’ was and starts to rant about how his senior brother had went through the trouble of putting reinforced wards in place so that Jiu Yun wouldn’t be able to sense her presence but Yan Yan had now delivered herself right to their doorstep? Mei Shan was confused as to why she had come to Xiang Qu Mountain. Was it to repay a debt of gratitude? After all, celestials and demons had lived in peace for a thousand years until Jiu Yun destroyed this by killing Tian Yuan’s demon soldiers three years ago.
Meanwhile, the servants had been assigned their respective roles and Qin Chuan was assigned to take care of the flowers at Qiong Hua Hai (琼花海) while Er Meng had been assigned to sweeping. Er Meng had initially wanted to follow Qin Chuan to Qiong Hua Hai but she managed to convince him otherwise by explaining that they had to do their own things so that their social statuses would be well-matched for marriage. Receiving a single jade vase as a tool for her job, Qin Chuan learned that the flowers and plants that grew at Qiong Hua Hai were all celestial so she only had to fill the vase with water from the heavenly pool before watering the plants with differing single drops based on the species. Cui Ya on the other hand was assigned to feeding the celestial cranes and at the end of the day, she complained to Qin Chuan about being pecked by them and was so tired that she soon fell asleep.
Zi Chen 😭 OMG WHYYY he was innocent! 😭😭 and his eyes!! 😭😭
But on further thought, this could be a good thing because he would be able to recognise Qin Chuan as Yan Yan more easily because he wouldn’t be distracted / confused by Ah Man’s looks. That is…unless Yan Yan doesn’t want him to recognise her, then it wouldn’t be such a good thing.
When Ting Yuan’s prince was looking up at Yan Yan, I legit thought that he was going to shoot an arrow at her and I had a full out shouting match at the screen, urging the crane to fly faster 😅 So relieved that he didn’t end up doing anything.
WHY did the scriptwriter have to revive Ah Man before killing her again? WHY? You got my hopes up for a moment before crushing them again.
Either Er Meng isn’t really a fool or the actor is doing a bad job because his actions seem over-exaggerated and unlike a real fool. It also seems unlikely to me that a fool would reject and insult Qin Chuan like Er Meng did? There’s also something about his eyes / the way he looks at Qin Chuan that really bothers me…
On a happier note. Qin Chuan is now where Jiu Yun is at! The drama can finally start 🥳
← Episode 1 ♡ Introduction ♡ Episode 3 →
♢ Lyrics to OST “昙花一现雨及时” ♢