~ After a thousand years, Fu Jiu Yun finally finds the girl in the painting ~
Jiu Yun pulls Mei Shan into a painting that his teacher had left him a thousand years ago. The painting slowly comes to life, a young lady dressed in red beating on a large drum as numerous dead and heavily injured soldiers lay behind her while the enemy advance towards them. Drawing strength from her courage, the few soldiers that were still alive picked up their swords for a final showdown with the enemy. Despite their bravery, they are quickly cut down by their enemy and the young lady was left to face the opposing army alone. Jiu Yun gazes at the scene intently as Mei Shan comments that these fights happened in the mortal realm daily. Jiu Yun tells Mei Shan that he had seen the lady in the painting yesterday. A thousand years. He had searched for her for a thousand years…
Yan Yan fell asleep during class and when she was lectured by her elderly teacher about her inability to perform the Li royal family’s secret skill of creating magical objects from paper even after a year of lessons, she makes lame arguments to try to excuse her lack of skills. In a bid to appease her angered teacher, Yan Yan tries to magic a paper crane but instead creates a frog. Upset, Yan Yan leaves to take a walk in the garden. Her second brother later comes by and Yan Yan complains that she couldn’t magic a paper crane because she was troubled by the news of Xuan Zhu’s return. He cheers her up by showing her a painting that brought her surroundings to life – Snow started to fall and flowers started to bloom. He had gotten the painting when he visited the brothel but because he couldn’t tell that to his sister, he lied that he had been passing by the library (?-博文馆). The painting was done by a certain Gongzi Qi, whose handsome looks were unrivalled. He was a master painter who could put unheard of celestial magic into his paintings that stupefies anyone who sees it. However, the second prince viewed him to be an arrogant man because Gongzi Qi himself had once ranked the skills he was proud of and the first was his musical talent, second was his free spirited and licentious nature, third was his painting skills and fourth was celestial arts, even adding that no lady could resist his looks. Hearing all this, Yan Yan assumes that his self-ranked number one talent in music would have to be amazing but her brother tells her that Gongzi Qi had only wrote half songs, refusing to complete them because no dancer would ever be able to dance them. Hearing this, Yan Yan asks her brother to get Gongzi Qi to complete the song, she would dance to it.
Her second brother agrees but in return for this favour, he requests that she accompanies him to visit their maternal aunt, Madam Qiu Hua. It turns out that the ‘Xuan Zhu’ Yan Yan had been troubled by was her older cousin. After the initial pleasantries, Yan Yan passive-aggressively questions Xuan Zhu about her new master, asking if she had any skills to display, adding that it would be embarrassing if she weren’t successful. Xuan Zhu haughtily replies that her master had told her to cultivate herself through meditation and to guard against arrogance and rashness. After she had learned everything, she would be able to magic better things than the likes of magical cranes and frogs. Sensing that her daughter was about to cross the line, Madam Qiu Hua quickly cuts Xuan Zhu off and eager to leave, Yan Yan excuses herself by stating that there was homework she had to complete. Xuan Zhu sends her off and as they walk in silence, Yan Yan gets an idea and stops Xuan Zhu, telling her that she had a gift for her. After her initial surprise at seeing the purple handkerchief Yan Yan was holding out to her, Xuan Zhu quickly grabs onto it but Yan Yan refuses to let go, questioning if she wanted everything that was hers. At that moment, Zuo Zi Chen arrives and the two girls separate. When Yan Yan misunderstands that he had come to see Xuan Zhu, Zi Chen quickly explains that his sick father had asked him to pay a visit to Madam Qiu Hua and Xuan Zhu.
Meanwhile, in another area of the palace, the king is troubled by news he had received of an enemy kingdom, Tian Yuan, having swallowed three neighbouring kingdoms because it was an obvious sign that they were gearing up to attack his country, Da Li. The Tian Yuan kingdom worshipped demonic spirits and were experts at the dark arts. Hearing these, the queen brings up Premier Zuo’s good relations with Su Xian Shan, asking if he had any strategy to repulse the enemy. However, just a day prior, Premier Zuo had suddenly submitted a request to resign, stating his ailing health as the reason. Because this was out of character for the premier he knew, the king decided to pay a visit to his residence the following day.
In the next scene, we are shown the Zuo Residence, where the premier worships a devilish stone statue with horns.
The next day, Yan Yan and her second brother travel together on a horse drawn carriage as they accompany their father to the Zuo Residence. Because this was a secret visit, Yan Yan was dressed in men’s clothing. In the carriage, the second prince presents his sister with Gongzi Qi’s «Peach Blossoms of the Eastern Wind», warning her once more that he wouldn’t help her if she was unable to dance to it. He adds that Gongzi Qi had promised to give his all in a painting gifted to her if she was able to dance to the melody but if she was unable to, he would tell the world that the Great Li Kingdom’s princess didn’t know her own limits.
In the Zuo Residence, Zi Chen was in the middle of a chess game with himself when Yan Yan creeps into his room and covers his eyes. Zi Chen immediately knew who it was and affectionately calls her Yan Yan. Learning that she was here with her father, Zi Chen immediately makes a move to go and greet the king but was stopped by Yan Yan who reasons that his father was accompanying her father, so he should accompany her. Besides, she had a task for him. That is, to help her brainstorm on how to play Gongzi Qi’s melody on the pipa. Zi Chen is clever and easily solves her problem but as he analysed the melody, he realised that the second half was filled with omens of death. That was inappropriate because Yan Yan planned to perform this at her mother’s birthday banquet. Zi Chen simply suggests changing it and as he plays the melody on his guqin, Yan Yan admires him with a contented smile on her face. After Zi Chen had finished rearranging the melody, Yan Yan gifts him with a white jade hairpin she had specially prepared for him, offering to help him put it on.
After sending off the royal family, Premier Zuo visits his son’s room. Zi Chen, who had been admiring the hairpin with a small smile on his face quickly hides it behind his guqin and rights himself to greet his father. When Premier Zuo questioned his son as to whether he knew who had dropped by for a visit and the reason why, Zi Chen replied that the king and second prince had come by because they wanted him to return to court. Curious, Zi Chen questioned if his father had agreed to the king’s request but his father ignored the question, only telling Zi Chen to attend the Queen’s birthday banquet on his behalf, stating that he wasn’t in good health. Understanding his father’s intentions, Zi Chen questions if he was adamant on resigning even after the king had made a personal request, when the affairs of state are in disarray and when the enemy troops were at their borders. Angered by the questions, Premier Zuo flares up at his son.
Night fell and Yan Yan returns to the palace in a great mood, lying in bed with her maidservant, Ah Man, as they chatted about her progress with Zi Chen and about Gongzi Qi’s melody. That night as Yan Yan slept, Gongzi Qi appears in her room and leaves her a note that called her male outfit ‘ugly’, reminding her not to forget their agreement. Yan Yan quickly gets out of bed and not seeing anyone, she shouts that she would win for sure. Gongzi Qi who was at the courtyard smiled when he heard this before disappearing with a wave of his hand.
The day of the Queen’s birthday banquet came around and when all the other courtiers were gathered at the palace, Premier Zuo was at home and he used the dark arts to send a map of the Great Li Kingdom’s terrain and watchtowers to the enemy, the kingdom of Tian Yuan. Upon receiving the map, Tian Yuan’s army prepared to launch their attack on the Li Kingdom, starting with the south.
Meanwhile at the banquet, Jiu Yun and Mei Shan had attacked and stolen two courtier’s outfits and taken their place at the banquet. When everyone was seated, the banquet officially commenced and Yan Yan was the first to perform. As she danced with her pipa, a peach blossom tree sprouted from the ground and she gracefully ascended to the sky before thunder roared and it started pouring. Jiu Yun smiled at this, raising his cup for a drink but halting when the rain stopped and leaves started to fall as Yan Yan dived back towards the ground. Jiu Yun sets down his cup and angrily slams the table at the realisation that she had changed his melody. Mei Shan had to calm him down, cautioning him against blowing their cover. As Yan Yan continued her performance, snow started to fall and when she waved her hands with a flourish, time stopped and everyone was in limbo, even the falling snow, only returning back to normal when she touched a single snow crystal. Everyone returned to their senses to see that the snow was gone and as Yan Yan continued her dance, the peach blossom tree withdrew back into the ground.
After Yan Yan’s performance, still upset that his melody had been rearranged, Jiu Yun leaves the banquet and Mei Shan tries to console him by repeating what Jiu Yun had previously told him when he was upset about Xin Mei, his mortal lover – The three worlds are different, mortals and celestials shouldn’t interfere in each other’s affairs. Sick of hearing his consolations, Jiu Yun makes up an excuse that he was leaving because the wine wasn’t good and the two then left for better wine elsewhere. However, they were met with Mei Shan’s senior brother (who was also Yan Yan’s teacher), who was there to advise Jiu Yun against interfering any further. Jiu Yun was initially adamant about continuing as he wished but when the old man pointed out the fact that Jiu Yun already knew about Yan Yan’s predestined short life, adding that he would meet with an inescapable downfall if he continued, Jiu Yun finally relents, promising not to interfere any further but asking the old man to help him pass on a scroll to Yan Yan.
By the time night fell, Tian Yuan’s army had already taken over all the surrounding cities and their next target was Great Li’s capital.
The next morning, Yan Yan awoke to the painting Gongzi Qi had promised and after admiring the petals that started drifting around her when the painting came to life again, she decides to leave the palace and gift the painting to Zi Chen.
Meanwhile at Zuo Residence, Premier Zuo sends his son to the temple, asking him to draw a divination lot for official rank. At his son’s astonishment, he clarifies that it was for him. Understanding his father’s concern for him, Zi Chen voices his opinion that he should instead draw a health divination lot for him. Assuring his son that he was fine, Premier Zuo sends him on his way, instructing the guard to be careful. Once Zi Chen had left, Premier Zuo instructs his servants to dead bolt the door. Retreating to his secret room with the stone statue, Premier Zuo uses the dark arts to teleport a bunch of masked and armed men to his room.
As Yan Yan walks along the streets disguised in her male outfit, she crosses paths with Zi Chen’s horse-drawn carriage. Oblivious, she continues on her way but strangely, Zi Chen senses something and looked out his left window. However, she had already crossed over to his right side so seeing nothing, he withdrew back into his carriage. Arriving at the Zuo Residence, Yan Yan decides to enter by climbing the walls but before she could hoist herself over the top, she sees Premier Zuo dressed in armour with a group of armed men.
At that moment, Jiu Yun and Mei Shan were standing at a corner outside the house, magically disguised as an elderly couple as they watched everything unfold. When Mei Shan questions whether Jiu Yun had perhaps recognised the wrong person, because Yan Yan was a part of the royal family and couldn’t possibly be as unlucky as the young lady in the painting, Jiu Yun points out the bruise Mei Shan had on his eye, correctly guessing that it had been caused by Xin Mei’s lover. Mei Shan stutters a string of explanations, that he just didn’t want to argue with a mortal, that he knows the rules and would make sure it was a fair fight by refraining from using magical arts. Seeing Jiu Yun sarcastically agree with everything he had said, he took a dig at him, bringing up the bet he had made with Yan Yan. When Jiu Yun retorts that the one who had lost was Gongzi Qi, not Fu Jiu Yun, Mei Shan offhandedly agrees, telling him to continue believing his own lie. Hearing this, Jiu Yun pinches Mei Shan’s bruised cheek, effectively shutting him up.
Honestly, I’m very confused. Lu Si is the female lead but she only appears for less than a minute in the first episode? And as Yan Yan’s maidservant?! My initial theory was that maybe Jiu Yun had recognised the wrong person? Because I vaguely remember (from the trailer I saw many months ago) seeing Lu Si beating the drums dressed in red. But then the old man came around and mentioned Yan Yan’s predestined short life so maybe Jiu Yun had got the right person. Then I had a crazier theory that Jiu Yun later saves Yan Yan by transferring her soul into Ah Man’s body? Like maybe Yan Yan’s body had sustained injuries that were too severe to cure so he could only transfer her soul to a body that wasn’t injured? I mean…he’s a celestial, maybe he can do that? Or maybe Yan Yan survives but in order to escape from the enemy, she had to change her looks?…though I’m not sure why Ah Man’s?…idk…very confused.
On another note, I’m kind of sad because the current actress that protrays Yan Yan has kind of grown on me…will we see her again?
About Fu Jiu Yun, especially the last scene, his tone as he agreed with everything Mei Shan had to say, I got
Tang Qing Feng Yi vibes. I’m so excited because I loved Yi but he wasn’t the central character and now Yi is back and I’m like KYAH!! (I’m referring to the drama, Let’s Shake It 2 – 顫抖吧 阿部2)
Ok, now actually about Fu Jiu Yun, he didn’t show up much so I don’t have much to say but I love his interactions with Mei Shan, the banter, the brotherhood.
But! It was creepy of Fu Jiu Yun to enter Yan Yan’s room and leave her the note when she was sleeping!
Premier Zuo…I have no words. Zi Chen is so sweet too, what will happen to Yan Yan and Zi Chen? I actually really kind of ship them, the shy gazes they throw each other, the gentlemanly way Zi Chen treats Yan Yan 😭
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♢ Lyrics to OST “昙花一现雨及时” ♢