On a clammy evening, Bao XiRuo trampled the rocky mountain roads by herself. With only a dimly lit lantern, she was both agitated and cold. She was searching for her husband.
She came upon the dark woods and heard a familiar voice lamenting — that myopic old fool whom she stayed fanatically in love with was talking to Mu NianCi.
She held her breath to listen:
William Su — Don’t Know Where to Start
“My heart is dead,” he stated gravely, “let’s leave this sad, sad place.” Having survived the vortex of an emotional wreckage provoked by Yang Kang’s capriciousness, NianCi’s tolerance was spent. She agreed weakly, “A brand new place, only the two of us.” Bao XiRuo’s heart sank. Circumspect or near-sighted, she cared little. Right now, she only knew that this man cannot leave her again. She inched forward urgently, subconsciously, and sprained her ankle.
Yang TieXin heard a faint moan of pain and found Bai XiRuo leaning against the damp grass. He hurried over to help her up — she flinched back, startled by the physical contact. When she regained her composure, she looked up at him and told him with firm determination, “No matter what you think, my heart isn’t dead.”
Yang Kang was drinking alone in the tavern, making a mess as usual. His lofty air irked a pale-faced lame passerby into taking him on. Guo Jing intervened and freed Yang Kang from the crippled man’s iron clasp. They helped each other back and found Guo Jing’s six masters waiting for their arrival in the hut.
“Why Jing-er,” they told Guo Jing, “you are 18 this year, the proper age to fulfill the dual promise.” Guo Jing blinked and knelt down before his masters, “Master, I intend to wait.” Gasps erupted from the masters who exchanged looks of disapproval. Guo Jing arched his back lower into the ground and continued, “I intend to wait until Yang Kang — my kin there — have settled his family affairs.” The masters’ eyes fell on Yang Kang like sharp, judgmental knives at Guo Jing’s reference. Yang Kang pouted his mouth at the unwanted attention and took a step forward — the same time Yang TieXin busted out his chest — and they both denied in unison, “I have no unattended family business.” Like father, like son, no?
Frustrated at Yang Kang and his father’s headstrong denial, Guo Jing pulled out a spear and started waving it around while preaching Yang Kang how lucky he was to have a father. Himself in comparison, never even had the opportunity to meet his father. (As to why a life lesson of appreciation should be paired with a spear show-off, I guess that’s just the sketchy logic of a WuXia drama.) The masters approved of Guo Jing’s reason to postpone the duel and pressed no more.
Qiu ChuJi, Yang Kang’s master, saw the submissiveness in Guo Jing as a sign of both propriety and discipline. He looked back at Yang Kang and wince at his own disciple’s resistance to preaching. Shame. He thought. And failure. He chided Yang Kang for being a lesser student than Guo Jing and predicted that Guo Jing while thrive in life, implicating, rather carelessly, that Yang Kang is destined to be second after his kin brother. The comparison aroused an intense feeling of aversion in Yang Kang. Being less capable than the idiotic kin brother of his was exactly what he had feared and resented. He struck back and infuriated Qiu. Qiu chased after Yang, his pulses racing, his anger flaring, he was set to teach this stubborn child a lesson. However, his pursuit was stopped by a fellow taoist who knew a thing or two about educating the young. The taoist sharply pointed out that being a teacher, Qiu is partially responsible for Yang Kang’s current state of being. Qiu ruminated his past impulsive decisions and felt deeply sorry for his mistakes. If he hadn’t fell into the trap of WanYan HongLie and promise to keep Yang Kang’s origin a secret, perhaps both Bao XiRuo and Yang Kang would be vastly different today. Happier, for certain.
Yang TieXin, like his son, felt the vigor of the angst trapped inside of him. He collapsed, gaped, screamed, and felt temporarily better.
Yang Kang lapsed into his sulking old self and returned to the tavern to drink. Unfortunately for him, the recent assault made him an infamous celebrity at the tavern. The customers mocked and laughed at him for being a Jin. Under the influence of alcohol, Yang lost his temper and lashed out at an idle passerby. “I told you never to appear here again, did I not?” the cripple immerged from the back of the tavern and without a warning, starts beating Yang Kang.
“Who dares to touch my son?” out came Yang TieXin. He stepped into the tavern and pulled his son away from the cripple. Planting himself between the two men baring teeth at each other, Yang TieXin exerted, “You want to fight him,” he pointed at his son and turned back to the cripple, “you defeat me first!”
The two men fought. They fought with gusto and passion. They fought from roof to ground and from ground to roof again. They fought rapidly and intently. Then suddenly, they burst into a thunderous laughter and jumped into each other’s arms. They rolled onto the floor together, laughing, sighing, and exclaiming.
The youngsters looked at the old pair in disbelief. What in the world? “We were old friends.” Yang TieXin explained after they have sat down at a table to drink. “This is Zhang San, a fellow villager who I haven’t seen in 18 long years!” Zhang San smiled and squinted his eyes to recall the good old days. “Even before we were friends, Zhang San has been taking from the rich to feed the poor. He was both a friend and someone I admired greatly.” leaning aside to let Yang Kang into view, Yang TieXin introduced, “This is my son, Yang Kang. He is a Han, not a Jin.”
After witnessing the reunion and how the peasants reacted so differently after hearing about Yang’s ancestors, Yang Kang felt the inner appreciation for his roots breaking out of is hard husk and slowly, but surprisingly, germinating. He decided to forgo all prejudices and pride his family with a brand new attitude in life. The first thing he did was ask about his ancestors.
So Yang TieXin gladly told the glorious story: his ancestor was a brave and fierce warrior. All the Jins respected and feared him. On his last battle, he used his body as a shied and took in a great deal of arrows. Out of hatred for him, the Jins burned his body and used it to make armor. His contribution at driving the Jins back and his sacrifice on the battlefield were widely acclaimed and praised.
The next day, TieXin was seen teaching his son the art of the spear. Bao XiRuo saw the homely display and smiled. TieXin caught sight of her smile and locked gaze with her. As if caught on doing something naughty, XiRuo dropped her head while TieXin averted his eyes awkwardly. After a moment of contemplation, TieXin mustered the courage and called after his wife. “XiRuo, prepare some water, I want a wash.” he said simply. A look of merry relief washed over her, she smiled and hurried inside. (She looked like she’s in chronic pain 24/7, but I promise, she IS indeed happy this time!)
Haven’t written a recap for this drama for quite a while. I just couldn’t get in the mood until now.
One more recap! 😀