Has there been a time when you just want to curl up and die? Oh let Chicken Little freak out at the falling sky; let the treacherous snake tempt Eve, nothing matters because you are the victim of destiny and you deserve the attention AND the right to abuse the attention as you bemoan life’s unfairness while secretly enjoying it. Alright, maybe you haven’t felt that way, but our Yang Kang in his ripen teen-age certainly is.
Angela Zhang – Real
Just because Yang Kang couldn’t get over himself, doesn’t mean all teens employ the same o-look-at-me, *angst, angst* I’m-so-depressed *angst angst* attention seeking tactic. There are appreciative youths (or if you are jealous, suck-ups,) that play the goodie-goodie and walk around trying to “make the world a better place”. Guo Jing is the perfect counter example for Yang Kang. He encourages Bao XiRuo not to give up on her husband and turns to Yang Kang to provide solace.
His good intention is interpreted as unwanted intervention, but being the kind hearted man he is, Guo Jing withstands Yang Kang’s abuse as the sworn younger brother throws his arms in despair and snaps at Guo Jing for sticking his nose in other people’s business. Then, playing the role of a spoiled brat to the fullest, Yang Kang storms out. (If there was a door, he would’ve slammed it.)
Wanting to extend a friendly hand as well, Mu NianCi follows after Yang Kang swiftly. She sees Yang Kang sitting by himself in the woods, tearing up as he laments the harshness life placed on his frail shoulders in the past few days. She hesitates, not quite sure if he wants her company. Then Guo Jing’s voice interrupts her thought, she recedes into the dark immediately as if afraid of getting caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to do. Yang Kang wipes away his tears at the sound of Guo Jing’s voice.
Guo Jing spots Yang Kang and comes forth with the same eagerness to help. Yang Kang rejects him a second time. Unabashed, Guo Jing insists to share Yang Kang’s burden, because his sworn brother’s sadness is his sadness. Yang Kang gives him a demeaning look and turns to ignore this nagging older brother.
Guo Jing doesn’t give up. Yang Kang rejects the warm offer a third time and asks Guo Jing not to bother him further. Finally convinced that he isn’t going to make Yang Kang feel better and frustrated at his inability to help, Guo Jing leaves. NianCi walks out from her hiding spot after Guo Jing’s departure and looks on at Yang Kang’s lonely back with an expression that mingles love and apprehension.
Guo Jing returns to Huang Rong and asks if she has a way to make him more understanding and henceforth helpful to his troubled sworn brother Yang Kang. Huang Rong muses with the idea and tells him not to worry about Yang Kang, because he has Mu NianCi and she will make sure he is going to be ok. Befuddled, Guo Jing wonders why. Huang Rong smiles a coy smile and replies, “Because they have feelings for each other.” “But, if Mu NianCi is the daughter of Yang TieXing, then doesn’t that make them siblings? How can siblings marry?” (Keep in mind this is set in ancient China where views and standards are constraint by conservative modes of being.) Huang Rong shrugs, completely untroubled by it. But Mu NianCi is. She overhears the conversation, her already shadowy countenance turns a shade darker.
Yang Kang isn’t the only one that’s sulking, so is WanYan HongLie. Seeing the prince’s vexation, OuYang Ke proposes a plan to help WanYan HongLie win Bao XiRuo back.
The next morning, while eating breakfast at a local tavern, Huang Rong and the rest of the group receive a letter from the Quan Zhen Sec, informing them that the Sec has found a place for them to reside permanently and they will be meeting the group later to discuss something of utmost importance.
The group set off to the designated place happily. The little hut is dusty but with work, it’s sure to turn into a cozy little niche for the Yang family. Everybody is optimistic about having a nice warm home completely of their own, except for our little brat who just has to stand out from the others.
This is when Huang Rong steps up. She walks up to Yang Kang and snaps in his face that, “If you think somewhere is dirty, why don’t you pick up a broom and clean it up for yourself?” “I don’t know how.” comes the response. “Then learn.” She shoots back succinctly. “What?” “Let me make myself clear,” asserts Huang Rong, “Everybody here is going to contribute. If you don’t know how to dust, go buy some food from the market.” (Bad choice, you should never trust someone who’s never have to worry about poverty with money.) As if to warn him, she adds, “Remember, you are not a prince anymore. No one is going to suck up to you or clean up after you.” Yang Kang looks towards his mother for help. She averts her eyes from his, Huang Rong is right. He ought to adjust to this life he has in front of him.
So off they go, occupying themselves with necessary works here and there. Soon, the place is tidied up and Huang Rong has taken the time to cook a table full of food.
Yet, eating together is still awkward.
Finally, Huang Rong puts down her chopsticks, this is not going to cut it. Dragging Guo Jing and NianCi with her, Huang Rong finds an reason and excuses herself from the dinner table, leaving the family eating in silence. Rather, picking at food in silence. Huang Rong walks out and locks the door, hoping to give the family enough space and privacy to sort things out. But just providing these three headstrong people with opportunities isn’t enough. Yang Kang’s bad temper flares up, he knocks the door down and the dinner is over.
The mother, father, and son go their separate ways to avoid facing each other. Bao XiRuo returns to the inner chamber with so much sadness that she’s sure to drown in the river of sorrow if any more were bestowed on her.
Acting on impulse, Guo Jing shoots out like a straight arrow and seeks Yang Kang out in order to assuage the family conflict. Yang Kang is filled with anger with which he has no where to unleash, upon Guo Jing’s arrival, all of Yang Kang’s negativity fuses into a fiery orange ball instantly. Balancing the (invisible) glowing ball on one palm, he throws it at Guo Jing grudgingly. Guo Jing ducks hastily and pulls from his mouth an (also invisible) icicle of unrelenting counsel, “Even if you give me 100 drumsticks, no, 1,000, I wouldn’t trade for a fraction of your happiness!” As soon as the icicle flies out of Guo Jing’s mouth, Yang Kang holds up one hand to form a (still invisible) layer of purple protective shield around himself in protest and scolds, “What would a person like you know?!” Guo Jing opens his mouth, but Yang Kang is faster. He jumps onto Guo Jing, catching him off guard and starts to thrash at the poor guy with all the rage Yang Kang’s been cumulating over the days. Guo Jing merely withstands the blows passively. “Who do you think you are? I am better than you. I am BETTER than you! How dare You proclaim someone such as yourself as My older brother?” Gasping for air, Guo Jing replies, “You don’t have to accept me, but you have to learn to accept your real father! Listen up, as long as you reunite with your family, I promise I won’t come to bother you anymore!” Exasperated at this stubborn sworn brother, Yang Kang lets go of Guo Jing and walks away.
Huang Rong comes to look for Guo Jing and finds him all beaten up and vomiting blood. She demands to know the name of the attacker in a fury. In order to protect Yang Kang, Guo Jing lies that he was attacked by a boar. Huang Rong asks no more and helps him up.
Yang Kang wanders to a local tavern and made a scene. Before being cast out, OuYang Ke walks in and hands the tavern owner a bag of money to settle the dispute. After tackling the topic of interest in a round about way, OuYang Ke finally spits out his intention: between a stranger who doesn’t even have the money to take his child out to have a drink together and a crown prince who can provide unlimited amounts of love and prosperity, what would you chose?
Yang Kang ignores OuYang Ke’s insinuation and walks away half drunk, only to be attacked by a dark figure with a stick. After a brutal beating, the figure walks away fully satisfied, leaving Yang Kang gasping on the ground like a sick dog.
Fortunately, Mu NianCi has gone out in search of Yang Kang and finds him fainted on the grass after the beating. She, helps him up out of concern; he, pushes her away out of shame, despising her for pitying him.
Hurt and confused, NianCi hides away in a forest to cry over Yang Kang’s coldness. OuYang Ke witnesses it and leaves a poem hanging on a branch under the shimmering moonlight before disappearing.
Inside the hut, Huang Rong has brewed a medication using 27 different kids of herbs to help Guo Jing heal from the beating earlier. Yang Kang stumbles home at the same moment. His mother hurries over him and wonders, “Kang Er, what happened to you? Why are you wounded as well? Were you attacked by a boar as well?” She motions to Guo Jing as she mentions the piece about being attacked by a boar. Yang Kang gives Guo Jing a dirty look, obviously taking in the full effect of the irony. Oblivious of Yang Kang’s irritation, Guo Jing brings over the newly concocted medication and offers it to Yang Kang. Huang Rong stumps her little foot in distaste, after realizing there is nothing she can do to prevent Guo Jing from offering the best to his sworn brother, she runs out to brew Guo Jing a new dose of medication. To spite Yang Kang, she is going to brew this new medication with 54 herbs this time. (Honey, more does not always mean better.)
While Huang Rong is making the medication grudgingly, she notices the flickering of a shadow. She follows the shadow and finds OuYang Ke. OuYang Ke had originally planned to persuade Bao XiRuo to return to the palace but mistook Huang Rong for Bao XiRuo. Since Option A turns out to be a failure, it’s time for Option B to be put out on the table.
He finds Yang TieXing and threatens Yang to take his own life in order to save that of Bao XiRuo’s. In the midst of his inferior complex, Yang TieXing considers with due seriousness…
Meanwhile, BaoXi Ruo comes out in the dark with a lantern to look for her husband…
There has been too much angst going out without proper development. I think the problem is that we haven’t come to know or love or sympathize with the character enough and already, we are asked to feel emotionally connected to their sufferings.
Anyway, two more LOCH recaps!