It’s no surprise Jin Tian’s promise that nothing will change between the siblings makes LongKui feel no less threatened.
She now sits before the box of evil, gnawing her fingernails and contemplating. The box stirs. Embarrassed from being regarded by a fair princess with such naked intensity (or, may I perversely suggest, interest)? Nay, it’s the strong wave of jealousy emanating from LongKui that excites it so.
It trembles, then a voice probes, “He’s your only remaining relative. You’ve been waiting for a thousand years. I’ve seen your woe in the Tower. Are you’re going to let him go just like that?”
Tears stream down LongKui’s cheeks, she shakes her head feebly, “What more can I do now? They’ve already recognized their feelings for each other.” (Might I interject? Well, you can certainly TRY to accept it for a change.) “Give me your jealousy,” the voice urges, “it’ll add to my essence and make me grow. Then, I’ll be able to eliminate what stands between you and your brother forever.” “Forever?” the promise of eternity has its effect on LongKui. She relents.
After Jin Tian nearly drove XueJian mad with his fake wedding, it’s only fair that XueJian were to subjugate him to the same torment. But this one is well thought out. Sort of. XueJian were to resume with the wedding as planned, marry Yun Ting with the notorious zipper in hair (though he has replaced the zipper with what looks to be a piece of jade for the occasion), join him in bed, drug him, unclothe Yun Ting, and suck out the Lightening Pearl encased in Yun Ting’s body since birth. (All these yet no one pauses to ask whether Yun Ting will be okay when he finds out about the truth.)
All goes as planned. Until XueJian gets ready to suck out the Pearl. Yun Ting jerks awake, grabs her wrist and stares her down balefully. He points to his heart and grinds his teeth, “Why did you think I’m so scared to let myself fall in love?” The implication hang in the stifling air, he need not say more.
“I admit I’m still in love with Jin Tian. I can’t forget him! I also admit that you are a great man but I don’t love you.” Her words cut like a razor. Yun Ting gives a roar and raises a hand at her, “What are you?” he demands, “A spirit? A demon?” Wrong thing to say. Originally guilty, now XueJian is angry. Alright she lied, big deal (well, it is sorta a big deal) but that doesn’t give him the right to call her a demon!
Worse yet, the real demons, anticipating Yun Ting’s lose of the Lightening Pearl, have surround the town, waiting for an opportunity to strike.
But inside, out of anger, XueJian has blurted out that the Lightening Pearl inside Yun Ting is what gave him the power (or curse) of thunder. Piqued by the information and a possible cure, they sit down to talk. Though he initially refuses to give up the Pearl because it’s what’s keeping the townspeople safe, he changes his mind when XueJian says a real hero is someone without supernatural power but still tries his best to accomplish difficult tasks (she meant Jin Tian, but her words carry the influence over Yun Ting).
(It’s nice to see XueJian finally in some kind of action.)
He surrenders the pearl and is able to touch his loved ones. But that also means an attack from the demons. Jin Tian and ChangQing set to rescue the townspeople, leaving MaoMao and LongKui along. The evil in the box speaks. It harasses LongKui for giving it the power to grow and promises her that the day will come when she pays for her sin (foreshadowing!). LongKui covers her ears and lets out a long scream. Then the red LongKui takes over her weaker self and marches out to kill the demons.
Amidst the commotion, XueJian is taken by the evil entity, disguised as Jin Tian. He tosses her down a black abyss, to a place outside of the six realms.
At last, the demons are either killed or captured, but XueJian is also lost. When the bunch settle down and notes XueJian’s disappearance, LongKui lies that XueJian has retreated to the tavern to get a change of cloths. Then out of guilt, she makes a hasty exist herself.
Once alone, she is threatened by the evil entity. It blackmails LongKui into keep its growth from Jin Tian.
Pleased with the development of things (being cured and befriending the bunch), Yun Ting (who now has the zipper back in his hair) invites the guys to stay for dinner.
That night, the talks of love and the drunken state in which both MaoMao and Jin Tian succumb to brings ChangQing a sense of nostalgia. He is left to wallow in longing. (O ZiXuan, ZiXuan wherefore art thou ZiXuan? Deny thy mother and refuse thy destiny, and I’ll no longer be a Taoist!)
The same night, LongKui kneels before the box of evil, woefully begging it to undo the malevolence it did to XueJian. But despair is her only reply.
XueJian awakes in a darkened woods. She looks around, searching for Jin Tian. A menacing voice answers her call. “XueJian, didn’t you always wonder where you were from?” it calls out, “Here, I’ve brought you to it.” With a deafening laughter, the voice fades away and to XueJian’s horror, she’s slowly turned into a tree. (Technically, turned BACK to a tree.)
The following morning, surprises await. First, ChangQing is discovered to have gone on a “quest to unmask human emotion” — flamboyant rubbish! He’s heading out to resume the unbroken vow with ZiXuan. A long night’s thinking (and surely, struggling) has allowed ChangQing to come to terms with his feelings after all.
Then, LongKui bursts in crying, bringing with her news of XueJian’s disappearance. She can no longer lie; the guilt is excruciating.
When ChangQing descends from his ship, (It’s been a year since the same company produced Legend of the Condor Heroes 2008, yet the special effects don’t seem to improve a bit.) ZiXuan is waiting ashore, barely suppressing her joy.
He approaches her slowly, telling her a story:
“Once upon a time, there was a fool. In his first lifetime, he fell in love with a girl but was separated from her through ungainly means. In his second lifetime, he met the girl again but he let jealousy and insecurity got the better of him and missed the chance to happiness. Fate took pity on him and he was given a third chance, but there was no more story. Because he’s done being a fool.
“I’ve decided to stay by your side.”
When anger passes, a profound sense of worry takes over. Jin Tian sets out to search for XueJian. But after turning Lei Zhou upside down, XueJian is nowhere to be seen. He seeks help from ChangQing, who in turn receives aid from the five masters. In the end, XueJian’s whereabouts is located. But her condition is no where near ideal. The purple entity of evil has affixed itself to a flame and is burning the woods where XueJian is confined as a tree. Worse, there are so many trees in the woods, it’s hard to tell which is XueJian.
But by now, no amount of danger can deter Jin Tian. With Jin Tian, follows LongKui (still crushed by guilt), and MaoMao (loyal and cute as ever!). The three overcome difficulties and eventually, make it to the forest in the far East. But which of them trees is XueJian? They start looking aimlessly at first, calling out XueJian’s name and dodging charred branches. Then suddenly, Jin Tian remembers his prank of drawing a piglet on the nape of XueJian’s neck at Feng Du. With a known marker, finding XueJian no longer seems like a daunting task.
When they finally find her, disguised as a tree and unconscious, the fire extinguishes itself. Holding XueJian in his arms, Jin Tian feeds her water, carries her to the sun, but nothing he does can bring her back to life. Verging despair, he shakes her, threatens her, and begs her, but she doesn’t even twitch a muscle. At last, a tear drop opens her eyes — thought her eyes are open, there’s no glimpse of recognition or intelligence.
ChangQing and ZiXuan arrive at this moment. They helps XueJian to ChangQing’s ship, where she’s fed energy from Hua Ying, ChangQing, and ZiXuan consecutively. At length, XueJian’s breathing becomes normal, her cheeks rouge with a renewed youthful vitality, yet she remains in the catatonic state. Only finding out about her true origin might revive her.
The search for birth records ensues. After checking and double checking, one conclusion is reached: XueJian wasn’t born in the mortal realm.
Having tried everything there is to try, it comes down to the point that the travelers need to take XueJian to the Divine Realm for a last chance of survival — a hindrance to the 300 day journey, especially when the entity in the box is growing at exponential speed.
The trip to the Divine Realm is a long and laborious one. Feelings of anxiety, temptation, and impatience hang loosely in the air. Though MaoMao withstands the various lure for wealth and food, Jin Tian controls his temper at the box’s sinister urges, ZiXuan’s one insecurity is eventually detected and taken advantage of. (As the embodiment of mother nature, she is afraid of wrinkles!)
The box of evil reminds her that old age is any women’s enemy, especially pretty ones. No matter how she tried, she is still 200 years old. Only an undying heart can keep her youthful. (Absurd. If she looks old then tell me, what’s young?) Where is the heart that she needs? Housed inside ChongLou’s chest.
Though ZiXuan contemplates the idea, she lets none of it show.
With each step closer to the Divine Realm, the more fearful the box of evil becomes. Finally, it breaks the ship, sending everyone plunging into a lake-made-to-look-like-ocean.
The accident only strengthens Jin Tian’s resolve to reach the Divine Realm as soon as he possibly can. However, to ascend to the Divine Realm, they must pass through the Demon Realm first. A de facto confrontation between ZiXuan and ChongLou becomes unavoidable.
With Hua Ying’s help, the bunch are able to pass through the passage to the home of the demons. Once inside Demon Realm proper, a fight with the demon guards ensues. (On a completely arbitrary side note, LongKui’s red dress and her green bow make her look too Christmas-y to suit the aggressive persona.) Remarkably, even MaoMao is able to contribute to the fight! (Cute!)
Admittedly, these screen caps below are hard to make out. But they look magnificent, no? Especially LongKui with her bow.
At this point the story takes a slightly different turn, but none we haven’t been expecting. Jin Tian and ChangQing enter the Divine Realm (only them two are granted access). The others head back, except for ZiXuan, who has her mind set on ChongLou’s heart. Ambitious quest, but foolish.
The razzle dazzle of the Divine Realm puts all bad moods behind Jin Tian. He hops around, checking out the gems here, poking a guard there, until he lands before the King of the Divine Realm (Tian Di). Tian Di tests Jin Tian’s memory of his glorious past and when nothing rings a bell, the king of the gods draws a long breath and adpots a story telling position:
Fei Peng’s bravery was evident from the beginning. As protector of heaven, he was undefeated. Tian Di loved him and award him continuously but Fei Peng didn’t care for the honor nor the status. The other gods in heaven were envious of Fei Peng and wished him ill. He didn’t mind that either. For him, Xi Yao (a goddess, guardian of the magic tree) was his safe harbor. As long as she’s with him, he felt peaceful and secure.
The stillness in heaven made Fei Peng restless, for he was a proud swordsman, a true warrior. Tired of the tedium, he longed for a worthy opponent. Then one day, it came in a hurdle of black cloud.
Chong Lou, a powerful demon, fought and overthrew the then Lord of Demons. Not unlike Fei Peng, this hero of the demons found it dull to be placed amongst a group of minions who lacked the enterprising nature he so admired. Finally, upon ill-intended advise, he flew upward into heaven and challenged the one and only man whose audacity, skill, and propensity matched his.
Fei Peng and Chong Lou fought. Through a mutual likeness, they became friends. But the friendship with Chong Lou brought Fei Peng trouble.
One day, when Fei Peng left the entrance of heaven to fight with Chong Lou, a herd of opportunistic demons attacked the Divine Realm. Tian Di was incensed by Fei Peng’s negligence and banished him to Mortal Realm, where he was left to endure disease, famine, and pain — but most of all, to learn the true meaning of responsibility.
In the days following Fei Peng’s banishment, a melancholic loneliness drifted about heaven. It hit Xi Yao the hardest.
Day after day, she curled up against the bark of the magical tree, buried in longing. So strong was her sorrow that memories of Fei Peng swelled and nourished the magical tree. After 500 years, it bloomed. In another 500 years, it fruited.
Xi Yao was given a pair of pendants by the God of Love and Matrimony. It was said that owners of the pendants will find each other no matter how far apart they were. When they do, the pendants will join. With the fusion of the magical objects, the owners of these pendants will also never part again. She bundled one of the pendants with a magical fruit and sent them down to Mortal Realm. She gave the fruit her own appearance, hoping the new life will stay by Fei Peng’s side and give him support in her place.
But the magical fruit was of extreme value, to send it down Mortal Realm was to violate the laws of heaven. And so, with the altruistic act of unrequited love, came punishment. Xi Yao’s soul was dispersed among the flowers of heaven so that they flourished while she perished.
Tian Di opens his eyes with a sigh and looks towards Jin Tian and ChangQing meaningfully, story time is over.
With XueJian’s true origin known, Jin Tian presses Tian Di to save XueJian. The solution is simple: replace XueJian’s withered essence with a fresh one. A plump magical fruit is then placed above XueJian’s head. It disappears into a glitter of red; XueJian awakens.
So XueJian is saved but what of Xi Yao?
With Tian Di’s permission, Jin Tian sets out to search for Xi Yao’s soul among the flowers, hoping to bring her back as well.
When Jin Tian found XueJian among the trees, he had relied on the help of the piglet he drew on XueJian’s nape but he’s never had any personal contact with Xi Yao, not to mention having no salient identification marks to go by (e.g. mole, birthmark). They wander around yelling Xi Yao’s name for a while but when the method bears no good result, XueJian urges Jin Tian to kiss her. Her reasoning: no woman will stand by and watch the man she loves kiss another woman.
Sure enough, Xi Yao manifests. XueJian jumps away from Jin Tian and starts to explain but Xi Yao grabs her by the hand like an older sister and calls her family. Xi Yao tells XueJian to cherish having Jin Tian by her side. But XueJian, overhearing Xi Yao’s love, grief, and devotion for Fei Peng, has another idea.
She begs Tian Di to spare Xi Yao the pain of longing, if only for a moment. The king of the gods relents and casts a spell on Jin Tian, giving him the persona of Fei Peng temporarily. And so wearing his armor and his helmet, Fei Peng returns to Xi Yao…
I have only one comment: the kiss in episode 26 was so awkward! Even I’m embarrassed for them.