Ma Zhaixing just isn’t strong enough against Prince of Bo at this point. Her attempt to break the alliance between Qitan and the Yang Kingdoms fails after her use of a predicted total solar eclipse as a bad omen is countered by Prince of Bo’s quick thinking in the appearance of having broken the solar event.
Qitan being a kingdom which worships the sun, Ma Zhaixing had looked up ancient texts which predicted a solar eclipse and wanted to use it to her advantage. It all was going well as the King of Qitan’s attempts to break the solar event with the sound of the Drums of the King fails. In the past, the drums appeared to have worked. However, this time, it didn’t. (It looks like the past events were shorter ones. This one was much longer.) The long solar eclipse gave off the appearance that Ma Zhaixing’s words against joining the Yang Kingdom in an alliance should be heeded. However, Prince of Bo had his acute hearing and the howl of the wolves to mark the changes of the solar event. Through their howls, he was able to predict the perfect time to shoot the arrow at the sun to make it look like he had “defended the sun and moon” from the “heavenly hound” which the King of Qitan had believed was causing the solar eclipse.
Ma Zhaixing is smart, but Prince of Bo is smarter. It sees the King of Qitan calling for Ma Zhaixing to apologise to Prince of Bo. It’s a request which has Ma Zhaixing clenching her fists. Fearing Ma Zhaixing might let emotions get the better of her, Ji Chong takes hold of her wrist which doesn’t go unnoticed by Prince of Bo. With a hand back over Ji Chong’s hand, Ma Zhaixing seems to tell him she’s got control before she moves over to make that apology King of Qitan had demanded because if she didn’t she and Ji Chong would be made to leave immediately (as opposed to after the ceremony) which would end all further chances of achieving her task set by King of Jin.
Prince of Bo waivers the apology, explaining that he was already quite satisfied with her serving him back at the tent. He’s referring to the time she was ushered into his tent to serve him drinks whilst under disguise as a Qitan servant (Episode 30). (We can’t help to think maybe Prince of Bo purposefully mentioned this as a jealous response to the sight of seeing Ji Chong’s and Ma Zhaixing’s hands being wrapped over each other’s just before!) Prince of Bo then ends the matter by patronisingly explaining how he wanted to leave Ma Zhaixing some honour out of consideration for their past relationship, so he won’t make her apologise.
Prince of Bo is cruel and antagonistic, but like the numerous times before, alone, he is quite the opposite. Talking to an injured warrior wolf which Ji Chong had shot (which Ma Zhaixing was supposed to finish off, but ended up bandaging last episode), Prince of Bo speaks about wanting her to overcome the wounds he inflicted on her, but sees Ma Zhaixing too weak to do that now. She can barely protect herself let alone defeat him. He’s not giving her an inch so that she can learn to become stronger and defeat him, defeat Chu Kui and avenge her father’s death.
With Bao Na and Ji Chong seeing Prince of Bo as simply a cruel and heartless tool of Chu Kui’s, they each try to settle scores with Prince of Bo. Bao Na heads right over to Prince of Bo’s tent to have her men remove all his furniture, bedding, and candles. Ji Chong shows up not long after to end up in a fight which sees Ji Chong let him know just how hard of a time Ma Zhaixing has been having because of Prince of Bo and how he had destroyed Xing’er with his own hands.
Ji Chong doesn’t do too badly with some powerful offensive strikes in this second fight between them. He manages to have Prince of Bo lose his blade and use it to launch an attack on him, but Prince of Bo is much stronger. Ji Chong is sent flying and hitting the ground in the end. Ji Chong is able to get back up, but it’s defeat for Ji Chong as Prince of Bo stands over Ji Chong with his sword back in his hand and pointed at Ji Chong.
Ma Zhaixing comes running to get Prince of Bo to stop. It gets her called a coward this time as Prince of Bo accuses her of hiding behind the protection of Ji Chong and Bao Na. Not interested in being provoked by Prince of Bo, Ma Zhaixing suggest she, Ji Chong and Bao Na leave.
None of them make a move to walk away, especially not Bao Na who orders guards to surround Prince of Bo, Chu Youzhen and Mo Xiao and Hai Die. Bao Na was going to give Ma Zhaixing her opportunity to kill Prince of Bo then and there. Handing Ma Zhaixing a bow and arrow, Bao Na tells Ma Zhaixing to do it, to kill him. Ma Zhaixing fails miserably as she ultimately could not bring herself to release that arrow. It was expected since she couldn’t kill Prince of Bo’s warrior wolf when Ji Chong handed her the task last episode.
Ma Zhaixing beats herself over her failure to kill Prince of Bo, but with Ji Chong’s advice of remaining strong and not run away, Ma Zhaixing seems to pull herself together. Things can’t get any worse with what’s already happened. She also sees that she may not be able to stand against Prince of Bo now, but it doesn’t mean she can’t stand against him later. She can and just needs to become stronger—a belief which (as mentioned already) Prince of Bo hopes will be the case after all his deliberate provocations.
The only thing that worries Ji Chong at least is that Prince of Bo knows Ma Zhaixing very well and Prince of Bo will use their past together against Ma Zhaixing. This concern of his seem to suggest because Prince of Bo could use Ma Zhaixing and Prince of Bo’s past at any time and in any way, Ma Zhaixing must move quickly and decisively to accomplish her task of sabotaging the alliance between Qitan and Yang Kingdoms.
The second part of the plan which the King of Jin appears to have told Ma Zhaixing but not Ji Chong (Ji Chong ends up figuring out the plan himself through the help of Ke Lang keeping watch back at Taiyuan, though) involves Princess Pingyuan showing up at the King of Qitan’s prayer to the heavens ceremony the next day. Playing a piece of music which had allowed Ma Zhaixing and Ji Chong into a very sacred ceremony which no outsiders were allowed to attend. This was all possible because of Princess Pingyuan and her past history with the King of Qitan, the then young prince, Prince Yelu.
Princess Pingyuan appears to have become a special memory to the King of Qitan after she took care of him when he fell sick when he was a boy. After he recovered, as a young hostage prince sent to a foreign land, he was homesick. To ease that homesickness, she had played music on her pipa everyday for him outside his room without ever revealing her appearance to him. She also had servants bring him books and food.
This reunion between Princess Pingyuan and the King of Qitan got Ma Zhaixing and Ji Chong an invite to the lunch banquet with King of Qitan, gatecrashing Prince of Bo’s privileged invitation to the ceremony where he was meant to be blessed by the state priest before joining King of Qitan at said lunch banquet. (The blessing isn’t shown but Prince of Bo does still enjoy the privilege of the lunch banquet after he invites himself to join them all.)
Despite this personal connection, the King of Qitan still insists that he can’t do anything regarding the dissolution of the alliance between Qitan and the Yang, stating that his debt to Princess Pingyuan for her kindness in the past and politics are two different matters. He also tells Bao Na (who was asking in not so many words to break off the alliance) that the alliance was decided by the previous king, suggesting he couldn’t possibly undo an alliance which was formed prior to him becoming king.
But it seems getting this chance to attend the lunch banquet is not a loss, yet. They could continue working on getting King of Qitan to break the alliance. The only problem is they face being exposed for presenting a fake Princess Pingyuan. With Princess Pingyuan’s face behind a veil claiming a scar she suffered during the annihilation of her family is the reason for hiding it, no one can verify her identity.
There is the jade of three shades bracelet which the King of Qitan was told to be something to identify her by, but it is missing. The King of Qitan doesn’t seem insistent on this bracelet being presented to be satisfied with Princess Pingyuan’s identity. The dagger which the then Prince Yelu had asked a painter who goes by the name of Chu Zhen to pass onto Princess Pingyuan was sufficient for him to believe Princess Pingyuan is the real Princess Pingyuan.
However, Prince of Bo is not so satisfied.
With painter Chu Zhen knowing the appearance of Princess Pingyuan, he’s set to come in as a verifier of this Princess Pingyuan’s identity which early episodes already revealed is not the real Princess Pingyuan. In Episode 3, Princess Pingyuan is said to be Ma Zhaixing’s biological mother. In Episode 7, a painting Ma Zhaixing brought with her to Bo Manor when she moved there revealed the appearance of Ma Zhaixing’s mother to be identical to Ma Zhaixing’s appearance. In Episode 1’s opening scenes, a woman holding her newborn whilst Xiahou Yi annihilated the family of previous dynasty had the exactly same appearance as Ma Zhaixing.
Ma Zhaixing is suggested to be in yet another disadvantageous situation against Prince of Bo. However, with the King of Qitan’s love of the cultures of the Central Plains, the fact that Princess Pingyuan is Ma Zhaixing’s biological mother and the missing jade of three shades very subtly hinted as being the two stones in Ma Zhaixing’s bronze bell plus the black one she gave to Ji Chong, Prince of Bo is setting himself up to reveal a real princess that is Ma Zhaixing from the previous dynasty.
Testing the supposed Princess Pingyuan on her reaction to a special drum from the previous dynasty and seeing none, Prince of Bo gets his answer. This woman before him isn’t Princess Pingyuan. Had she been Princess Pingyuan, she would have recognised the drum and not have thought nothing about it when Prince of Bo had her focus on it. “Your fate will be just like that drum, abandoned in the corner and left to die,” Prince of Bo had said about the drum to Princess Pingyuan. The fake Princess Pingyuan only denied her fate being reduced to such, choosing to believe the King of Jin would not treat her that way.
The non-reaction not only showed Prince of Bo the woman before him isn’t Princess Pingyuan, but it had Ji Chong come to a realisation about this fact, too, when he thought about the reason Prince of Bo had drew Princess Pingyuan’s attention to the drum. Not knowing that using a fake Princess Pingyuan was all part of the plan which Ma Zhaixing willingly agreed to carry out, Ji Chong pulls out his sword to point it at the fake Princess Pingyuan, demanding she reveal her identity.
Learning that Ma Zhaixing was in on this whole deception, Ji Chong immediately blamed his father, thinking he had used the excuse of letting Ma Zhaixing prove her capabilities to set Ma Zhaixing up and make her a scapegoat in breaking the alliance. However, a flashback on the meeting show the King of Jin being very honest with Ma Zhaixing about the dangers and risks, and that should she expose herself, she would need to take full responsibility and absolve the Jin Kingdom from having been in any part of the plan. Despite the risks and dangers, Ma Zhaixing put her hand up to carry out the plan.
Receiving a report from Ma Yehan that Mo Xiao’s left during the night (Prince of Bo’s side is planning to bring painter Chu Zhen and the painting of Princess Pingyuan back to expose Ma Zhaixing’s deception), Ji Chong makes the decision to try stop evidence proving this Princess Pingyuan to be a fake from returning to the King of Qitan. In order to allow Ji Chong to leave secretly and not let Prince of Bo catch on, Ma Zhaixing purposefully sneaks into the King of Qitan’s tent to lead Prince of Bo there and create the distraction she hoped would achieve it.
Ji Chong successfully leaves without alerting Prince of Bo, but the fake Princess Pingyuan (who is revealed to be Liu Xin, a former servant of the real Princess Pingyuan) is caught by Prince of Bo and detained. Prince of Bo doesn’t move to punish Liu Xin himself. He leaves it to Ma Zhaixing to execute her, after which he would then pin the deception on the King of Jin. In this way, Prince of Bo would be helping free Ma Zhaixing from blame as well as make her stronger—which in his eyes seems to be to act cruelly and coldheartedly. Only by being this way can she achieve her revenge.
Ma Zhaixing can’t do it, though. Even though Liu Xin was the one who gave herself away with the failure to recognise the drum and it was Liu Xin who was suspected of possibly attempting to run off fearing the plan’s failure, Ma Zhaixing isn’t willing to have Liu Xin pay. Ma Zhaixing sees Liu Xin as an innocent party and begs Prince of Bo to spare Liu Xin and just let herself take responsibility.
Prince of Bo wasn’t going to do that. Prince of Bo orders Liu Xin be taken away before he provokes Ma Zhaixing to becoming stronger and more coldhearted. He brings up her many chances to kill him and failing. Because she so weak, she will forever be outdone by him; her father and her family will never Rest In Peace.
All these words, particularly the last part about her father and her family never resting in peace seem to have triggered the kind of fury to get Ma Zhaixing finally able to take the bow and arrow that she was offered to execute Liu Xin and shot it at Prince of Bo. As he turned to walk away, she picked up the bow and arrow from the ground and shot it at him. Although her eyes were closed when she released the arrow and although the arrow actually hit Chu Youzhen who had thrown himself in front of Prince of Bo to save the Third Prince, Ma Zhaixing intended to hit Prince of Bo. She wanted to kill him.
At that moment, Ma Zhaixing got just a little stronger.
After Chu Youzhen is taken to Prince of Bo’s tent for treatment, Ma Zhaixing is taken back to her tent with her wrist bounded by ropes before her presence is called to face the King of Qitan who is not impressed with being made a fool by Ma Zhaixing. It won’t be the King of Qitan handing out punishment, though—at least when concerning Ma Zhaixing. He’s left Ma Zhaixing to Prince of Bo to deal with whilst Liu Xin is taken away to (presumably) be handled by King of Qitan’s people.
Bao Na, who had accompanied Ma Zhaixing to see King of Qitan, tried to use Chu Youzhen’s kind forgiving heart to try get Prince of Bo from contemplating a punishment such as death. (That is, if Chu Youzhen was able to express his wishes he wouldn’t want Ma Zhaixing to receive punishment.) However, Bao Na is told by Ma Zhaixing to stand down and have her leave so Ma Zhaixing could once and for all end this grudge between her and Prince of Bo.
As Prince of Bo orders Ma Zhaixing to be taken into custody, Ji Chong enters with the evidence that was supposed to expose Ma Zhaixing’s deception. However, with Ma Zhaixing being the daughter of Princess Pingyuan, this evidence that was supposed to work against Ma Zhaixing was always going to work in her favour.
Gearing up the moment for the revelation of Ma Zhaixing’s true identity, Ji Chong poses a question towards the King of Qitan: “My King, are you going to simply watch on as Prince of Bo harm the daughter of your benefactor?” King of Qitan confused, he has Ji Chong clarify which benefactor Ji Chong is referring to. Ji Chong provides the answer, “Princess Pingyuan of course,” before he tells the King of Qitan that Ma Zhaixing is the daughter of Princess Pingyuan. With how he and Ma Zhaixing had deceived him before, the King of Qitan is not about to be tricked again so easily, suggesting proof be presented.
Unrolling the painting he intercepted at Wu Town where painter Chu Zhen was brought to stay overnight by Mo Xiao, Princess Pingyuan’s portrait (which looks a lot like Ma Zhaixing herself) is revealed.
Even with the painting looking a lot like Ma Zhaixing and no one disputing painter Chu Zhen that the painting is of Princess Pingyuan (after all Chu Zhen is the man Prince of Bo had Mo Xiao bring back), Ma Zhaixing being the daughter of Princess Pingyuan can’t be verified simply because she looks similar to Princess Pingyuan. As Prince of Bo had tried to deny, many people can look like other people. The fact that both Princess Pingyuan and Ma Zhaixing’s mother like the same flower can be—as Ji Chong submits—put down to coincidence, but the the possession of the jade of three shades bracelet can’t be a coincidence.
Asked to reveal the bracelet—a piece of evidence which the King of Qitan will accept as proof Ma Zhaixing is Princess Pingyuan’s daughter—Ma Zhaixing is clueless to the fact that the bracelet is now the two green and white stones she carries in her bronze bell plus the black stone which Ji Chong has. These stones are no ordinary stones. Dropped into water, they produce a glow that lights up the entire room. It’s a unique sight which Ji Chong helps Ma Zhaixing and everyone discover.
Ma Zhaixing’s identity verified, King of Qitan withdraws military aid. With Ma Zhaixing genuinely being the daughter of his benefactor, the King of Qitan tells Prince of Bo he can’t help Yang attack the Jin Kingdom when Princess Pingyuan’s daughter has chosen to form an alliance with the Jin. It is not to say he will help the Jin Kingdom either. The King of Qitan expresses he will stay out of the war, helping neither Yang nor the Jin.
Failing to acquire military aid, Prince of Bo is forced to return back to Yang having failed Chu Kui. On top of that, he returns with a Chu Youzhen who won’t regain consciousness. He is described as an example of a living dead, like rigid wood. Chu Youzhen’s eyes open. However, he can’t hear, move or speak. He must be fed by others. There is no cure. The only way for Chu Youzhen to come out of this is to rely on Chu Youzhen waking himself which may never happen.
The diagnosis sees Chu Kui furious and showing his favouritism towards his biological son, Chu Youzhen. Prince of Bo is hit and rhetorically asked why Prince of Bo isn’t the one lying half dead instead of Chu Youzhen. Chu Kui accuses Prince of Bo of betrayal for not killing Ma Zhaixing to avenge Chu Youzhen.
The situation with the King of Qitan protecting Ma Zhaixing gives Prince of Bo another justified reason to leave Ma Zhaixing alive. Had Prince of Bo tried to kill Ma Zhaixing, the King of Qitan’s people would have ganged up on them. In private, this was the answer Hai Die supplies when Mo Xiao suggested ridding Ma Zhaixing before leaving Qitan; and to Chu Kui this was the answer Chu Youzhen’s cousin Yang Hou supplied when Chu Kui accused Prince of Bo of betrayal. Killing Ma Zhaixing could have meant neither Prince of Bo nor Chu Youzhen returns.
Chu Kui accepts the explanation, but for the anger to ease, a punishment by flogging with a whip soaked in Wolfbone Flower is handed down. It’s the only kind of punishment which causes pain and humiliation to Prince of Bo as the Wolfbone Flower not only inflicts intolerable pain but it turns him into a beast which tramples on his pride.
Yao Ji is put in charge of carrying out the punishment. As someone who is supposedly Prince of Bo’s nemesis, she should take great satisfaction seeing Prince of Bo chained up and suffering such punishment. However, she actually showed annoyance when Zi Shen brought the whip and told her he had thoroughly soaked the whip in Wolfbone Flower indicating it was going to hurt Prince of Bo a lot.
Prince of Bo is also ordered to be grounded at his manor, but only for a short time by the looks of things. With Ma Zhaixing on the side of the Jin Kingdom and being the the princess of the previous dynasty, the threat that once this fact is revealed to world the Jin Kingdom would increase their prestige, Chu Kui has plans to attack the Jin Kingdom with Prince of Bo leading the troops.
Meanwhile, in Taiyuan, Ma Zhaixing returns to be greeted as the princess of the previous dynasty with the King of Jin offering up the throne to her. Contrary to Ji Chong’s view of his father—that being, once a loyal subject to the previous dynasty is now consumed by power—the King of Jin appears to still be very willing to show his allegiance to the previous dynasty by offering up his command.
This can’t be said about the rest of the Jin imperial court, though. Li Juqi is against showing allegiance and so are the officials and the generals of the Six Armies in Jin. The King of Jin had mentioned how Ma Zhaixing had succeeded in preventing the Yang in acquiring military aid, neglecting the fact that she was successful only because Ji Chong had uncovered Ma Zhaixing’s true identity of being the princess of the previous dynasty. As Li Juqi points out, had it not been for Ji Chong, Ma Zhaixing would have been killed by Prince of Bo. In their eyes, Ma Zhaixing has not proven to be worthy of their sworn allegiance.
Ma Zhaixing is very aware of how undeserving she is of their allegiance at this point in time. She doesn’t decline the throne straight away when she is offered it. She heads for it and sits in it, but it’s only to try it then reject it. She expresses that as she had expected the throne doesn’t suit her. She also expresses that she’s not competent enough to lead the Ma Family Army and subsequently hands command over to the King of Jin. It surprises Ma Yehan as well as Ji Chong who had never expected this would be Ma Zhaixing’s solution to the concerns she had told them she knew they would have before their return. It has Ji Chong rather angry in fact. After Ma Zhaixing returns to her room, Ji Chong gives her a visit and calls her foolish for giving up such command.
Ji Chong attempts to plan a rebellion against his father in order to return power and command to Ma Zhaixing. With help from Ma Yehan who puts up an act of refusing to accept orders from Li Juqi, Ji Chong manages to take command of the Ma Family Army and prevent any oppression his father might exercise on Ma Zhaixing.
This view Ji Chong has of his father is his own. The King of Jin is strict, but nothing in the realm of oppressive. However, the King of Jin attempts to appear like he is swallowed up in power and is looking to make Ma Zhaixing fall into a powerless position at the start of the episode. Move to the end of the episode, and the King of Jin is revealed to only be trying to test Ma Zhaixing to make sure she is able to lead with clear control of her emotions. He wanted her to show she is able to follow the rule of the law as a leader, commander or ruler—be it the Ma Family Army she leads, or the Jin Kingdom or the land she might rule over.
The lack of desire to be ruler by the King of Jin was in fact mentioned in Episode 33 before Liu Xin was taken away by the King of Qitan and executed for the part she played in her deception. Sitting with Ma Zhaixing, she explained the reason the King of Jin had Liu Xin pretend to be Princess Pingyuan was to put an end to calls for King of Jin to be ruler. The King of Jin was mentioned as having been loyal towards the previous dynasty and remains to be so to this point.
But with Ji Chong seemingly having misunderstood his father in not only in the matter of holding onto the throne for what Ji Chong believes is power but also the reason his father had all Ji Chong’s comrades—the assistant generals—executed, Ji Chong works in the background to forge a military order against his father. After obtaining command of the Ma Family Army, Ji Chong has leader of the Garrison Army and former subordinate of Ji Chong’s Chuanlong Army, Ke Lang, send out a call to the former subordinates of the Chuanlong Army to relocate and gather to support Ji Chong’s campaign.
With this done, Ji Chong tries to get Ma Zhaixing onboard by taking her to the village which he was seen bringing a cartload of grains as a bounty hunter. Here, he reveals the story which he once told Ma Zhaixing about a friend who had lost all his army friends when in fact the person who lost them all was him, and it was all because of his father.
Seven years ago, he received news that his mother was ill. Being filled with worry and unable to be by his mother’s side, Ji Chong let show his emotions—emotions which his comrades had picked up. Trying to console him, they joined him in some drinks and encouraged him to drink till he fell drunk and unconscious. Ji Chong’s comrades—the assistant generals—believed the battle was theirs to win; and subsequently looked to have sent Ji Chong back to Taiyuan to see his mother. Following what is a violation of military orders, the assistant generals suffered casualties in the thousands. They were ambushed and defeated.
For this violation, they were all executed without the King of Jin giving further consideration to what Ji Chong believes is all his fault. Although not specifically expressed, the fault appears to be that it was he who had let his emotions come to the surface. His comrades were only trying to console him.
To Ji Chong, his father was too cruel as Ji Chong believed the crime was not serious enough to warrant death as punishment. To the King of Jin, the execution served to teach him a lesson about not letting emotions get in the way and see the bigger picture during battle. It was also a means to get Ji Chong to leave a chaotic world which he was not suitable because Ji Chong was affected by the fear of facing a day where he could witness his comrades die.
The King of Jin had thought that his son had grown and developed into a great young General. He mentions to Ma Zhaixing towards the end of the episode that Ji Chong had spent every night studying up strategies to improve his combat strength. It appeared to him as if Ji Chong was finally taking an interest in the subject matter. It pleased the King of Jin to see this (especially how lazy he was with his martial arts practice and studying when he was a boy). However, what the King of Jin had thought was a great interest in the strategies of battle and war turned out to be just Ji Chong not ever wanting to see a day where he might witness his men die. Ji Chong was not the stern (but just) and emotionally-uninvolved Commander in Chief he should be.
The execution is therefore to teach Ji Chong he needed to make decisions in an unsympathetic manner with the bigger, overall picture in mind at all times, because on the battlefield being emotionally affected can the result of the battle. The King of Jin seemed to have hoped Ji Chong would take note of the incident and learn from it, but was angry to find Ji Chong chose to escape from reality by leaving instead. Although the King of Jin was angry, he reveals he also had accepted the choice as he didn’t want Ji Chong to stay and become apathetic. The King of Jin seem to see that Ji Chong wouldn’t be able to stay and learn to be cold and cruel because—as the King of Jin had described Ji Chong as a boy—Ji Chong is someone who may seem arrogant and naughty but he is soft-hearted.
The traits and lessons the King of Jin had hoped for Ji Chong to pick up back then are the same traits and lessons the King of Jin had hoped Ma Zhaixing would pick up in order to become an effective and just leader. They are traits and lessons which Ma Zhaixing finally possesses and grasps this time round.
Ji Chong’s attempt to topple his father ends in him (and Ma Yehan and Ke Lang) being brought in by Li Juqi. The arrest is used by the King of Jin to test Ma Zhaixing on her ability to see the bigger picture and not let personal affiliations affect her decisions. Through Wang Rong, a marquis who recently chose to defect from siding with the Yang to side with the Jin, Ma Zhaixing is given a convincing chance to save Ji Chong and the others and overthrow the King of Jin with Wang Rong’s Army, her Ma Family Army and Ji Chong’s Chuanlong Army. With her emotions completely in check, though, Ma Zhaixing rejects this chance, stating unity within the Jin as the only way to defeat the greater enemy. She also believes that only when laws are obeyed and punishment is dealt when laws have been violated will the people of Jin respect those laws. On the concerns of the King of Jin’s governance, Ma Zhaixing’s view on that is that she sees no tyranny, just strictness which is the wish of the people.
The response draws respect from Wang Rong before an apology is made for any offense he may have caused her. The King of Jin enters, satisfied Ma Zhaixing is capable. As well as revealing it all being a test, the King of Jin reveals that he had no intention of abandoning Ma Zhaixing in Qitan when the plan failed with Liu Xin. Liu Xin was reported to have attempted to make a run for it when in fact she was seeking help from others to save Ma Zhaixing (this was an order from the King of Jin prior to going to Qitan). Ma Zhaixing also personally hears King of Jin express what Liu Xin had told Ma Zhaixing about not wanting to be king. If he remains in power it would only be because Ma Zhaixing failed to demonstrate the traits necessary to lead. He tells her that until the world is pacified, he would have to retain power even if it meant wronging the citizens of their world. Only until that time will he return the power.
So, although it may appear the King of Jin was holding tight onto his seat on the throne, the reality is he only holds onto it for the sake of ensuring a strict but just rule with the goal of achieving a less chaotic if not peaceful existence for the people. The King of Jin was not hungry for power as Ji Chong had thought he was. He wasn’t looking to take power away from Ma Zhaixing. He didn’t execute Ji Chong’s comrades because he was a cruel king. It was a lesson Ji Chong needed to learn to survive in the current world. In much the same way, Ma Zhaixing also needed to pass the tests the King of Jin set her in order to be sure she can survive the current world as a leader.
All of the above, Ji Chong overhears from the outside of a room where his father sits explaining to Ma Zhaixing. He also hears from his father ask Ma Zhaixing she not let home know what he’s told her as he would rather Ji Chong continue to misunderstand and hate him so he remains far away from a world which doesn’t suit him.
Meanwhile in Yang, with Chu Kui seemingly have acted on emotions by ordering the flogging of Prince of Bo using a whip soaked in Wolfbone Flower, Chu Kui is not having a successful time with calling troops to his campaign against the Jin. As mentioned already, Wang Rong and his army have defected. Troops led by Marquis Han Qing is suspected to possibly be planning something behind closed doors with a minister. It’s looking like Chu Kui’s power and intimidation is nothing without Prince of Bo.
After learning the truth behind his father’s reasons for the executions of his comrades seven years ago and for testing Ma Zhaixing, Ji Chong begs his father for forgiveness as he admits his wrongdoing and his disobedience right amidst the coronation ceremony for Ma Zhaixing. On his knees, Ji Chong hopes that out of consideration for his longing for his father, the King of Jin could lighten his punishment and allow him to redeem himself for the rest of his life.
The King of Jin scoffs at Ji Chong’s request as if not yet ready to let Ji Chong off the hook so easily, but the King of Jin is softhearted. When Ji Chong insist on kneeling until the King of Jin forgave him, the King of Jin made one more not-entirely-serious remark about Ji Chong threatening him (the King of Jin is referring to Ji Chong interrupting Ma Zhaixing’s coronation leaving King of Jin no choice but to forgive him) before telling him to get up off the ground. The King of Jin and Ji Chong finally have cleared the misunderstanding and reconciled after seven years.
As a welcome home gift to Ji Chong and thanks for everything he’s done for her and the Ma Family Army, Ma Zhaixing thinks handing over command of Ma Family Army to him to be a good gift as it is one she thinks he would need. The gift receives a thumbs down from Ma Jing who thinks Ma Zhaixing shouldn’t be giving something Ji Chong needs but something Ji Chong wants. Not knowing what that might be, Ma Jing tells her it’s Ma Zhaixing’s heart he wants.
Ma Zhaixing doesn’t seem to see it.
Seeing as Ma Zhaixing doesn’t see it, Ma Jing suggests writing up a blank promissory note for Ji Chong to fill in—which Ma Zhaixing does. Just as she finishes, Ji Chong shows up at her door requesting Ma Jing and Ma Yehan (who had been in the room as well) to allow him to say a few words to her.
Ji Chong appears perfectly sober but he’s actually drunk after having spent the day with his father and Li Juqi drinking. Ma Zhaixing had eventually become the subject of their conversation after the King of Jin teasingly brought up how Ji Chong only returned to the palace because of her. Teasing Ji Chong some more, the King of Jin points out how despite him dedicating so much time towards Ma Zhaixing he’s yet to win Ma Zhaixing’s heart. Eunuch Shi joins in with how Ji Chong fell behind the King of Jin in the natural charm. Seemingly following this teasing and agrees after lots of drinks Ji Chong have mustered up the courage to go after Ma Zhaixing.
Backing her against the wall, Ji Chong blocks one side of the wall with left arm before blocking the other side with his right arm when Ma Zhaixing tries to escape. He tells her that of having let her go the first time when he learned Prince of Bo was the Langzai Ma Zhaixing spoke so highly of, but he wasn’t going to let her go a second time, especially not when after all the twists and turns she came right back to him. As he reveals these words to her, Ji Chong stamps his heart (his tone full of pain) to also express the heartache he felt after having tried walking away only to have her continue to be in his heart.
Ma Zhaixing understands Ji Chong’s feelings perfectly despite him not spitting them out. She apologises for what appears to be hurting him. It could also be an apology for not feeling the same way. Without Ma Zhaixing explicitly rejecting Ji Chong, though, he is given the opportunity to tell Ma Zhaixing an apology is not what he wants. “What I wants is…” he begins but never completes as he closes the inch of space between them with capturing her lips.
Ji Chong manages to kiss her for quite a bit of time before he’s pushed away to fall unconscious on the floor, revealing to Ma Zhaixing how drunk he was this whole time. The next morning, Ji Chong doesn’t even remember what he’s done initially. It’s not until Ma Zhaixing comes in threatening to let out a bit of Ji Chong’s blood with a knife and insisting he recall what he’d done the night before does Ji Chong eventually remember the kiss. Standing behind Ma Yehan, Ji Chong gives off a grin, seemingly happy with his actions.
With Ma Zhaixing’s blank promissory note in his hand, Ji Chong confidently steps out of Ma Yehan’s protection to show Ma Zhaixing his wish which says that after they defeat the Yang, Ma Zhaixing promises to travel and explore the world with him. However, seemingly not the type to force Ma Zhaixing to do something she doesn’t want to do, even if she had promised to owe him whatever he wants, Ji Chong gives her the chance to tear up the promissory note whilst fearing she’d do it.
Not one to back out of her promises it seems, Ma Zhaixing doesn’t tear up the promissory note. She takes it, folds it neatly and places it inside her clothes with the intention of making good of her promise. It sees Ji Chong leap and hug Ma Yehan which sees Ma Zhaixing smile. It’s more out of gratitude for everything Ji Chong has done for her than love.
The Yang wages war after Prince of Bo finally wakes. It had been an uncertain wait with the troop marquises losing confidence in Chu Kui’s desire to open attacks on the Jin. In an attempt to convince province marquises such as Han Qing that the Yang’s military power is still just fine, Han Qing and Minister Cui doubts Yang’s power. (Minister Cui is the minister who Han Qing was meeting behind closed doors in Episode 34.) Without seeing Prince of Bo physically leading the training, they can only believe it means he’s dead, and believes they have no chance of winning a war against the Jin. With this view, the subject of the secret meeting—a truce—is suggested to Chu Kui. As a peace offering, Han Qing suggests releasing some of the prisoners of war from the Jin who they held captive.
This is when Prince of Bo makes his return. He had woken after Yao Ji had begged Prince of Bo to wake as Chu Kui and all the ministers were waiting for him. With his recovery war is declared and training commences with Prince of Bo showing he had not suffered the feared diagnosis that he may not return to how he was before because of the Wolfbone Flower. He is as strong and as power as before as he fends of soldiers, sending them flying. To support the Yang campaign against the Jin, citizens are forced to give up all food in storage. All adult men are dragged off to serve the army against their will.
It contrasts to the Jin who show no such forcing of their citizens. Only a training session to show Ma Zhaixing’s great improvements in her attacking abilities is shown. Ji Chong as her trainer and fighting partner, she out-duels the highly skilled Chuanlong Army (and now Ma Family Army) commander, showing her now high level of fighting skill and strength.
Who will come out of the war the victor is not clear. Chu Kui’s set up a trap for Jin Kingdom using Boxiang City. Hiding amongst the citizens are Chu Kui’s soldiers posing as commoners ready to attack the Jin Kingdom who are trying to defend the city. But it seems an attack from Chu Kui and luring him to attack them is what the Jin want Chu Kui to do. Who’s setting a trap for who and who will come up top is anyone’s guess.
In between all of this, signs that Chu Youzhen is conscious and coming out of his senseless, unconscious and rigid state. During a visit from Prince of Bo, Chu Youzhen drops the persimmon Prince of Bo had placed in his hands. Prince of Bo appeared to have no intention of mentioning this development when Chu Kui arrives to see Chu Youzhen. Only after Chu Youzhen is seen dropping the persimmon again Prince of Bo mentions having noticed Chu Youzhen’s fingers moving. Yao Ji is asked to feel Chu Youzhen’s pulse and notes it having raced before calming. It has her eyeing Prince of Bo, seemingly suspicious about Chu Youzhen and what Prince of Bo is up to.
Through one of Jin Kingdom spies, Ma Zhaixing as well as Ji Chong and Li Juqi learns Prince of Bo has a fatal weakness and intends to use it to win this war with the Yang. This fatal weakness is of course the Wolfbone Flower. It’s a significant piece of intel. It’s one which Ma Zhaixing plans to use against Prince of Bo to minimise the casualties suffered. It would take two days for them to prepare the Wolfbone Flower.
It’s two days Ma Zhaixing don’t readily have with Prince of Bo and an army of soldiers (which aren’t his Bo Army as they’ve been assigned to Chu Kui) already at their gates. However, Ma Zhaixing comes up with a plan to buy that time by using butterflies which she has Ji Chong and Ma Yehan catch and release during a meeting Prince of Bo requested from her. Ma Zhaixing’s hope is that Prince of Bo would accept the story that a battle would disturb the forest and the butterflies during their metamorphosis.
Prince of Bo appears to buy her story and gives her that time, stating that he had once liked butterflies. So, for the sake of the butterflies he will wait to hear her answer. It’s quite accommodating. Based on Prince of Bo’s report back to Chu Kui, the meeting is Prince of Bo’s tactic to confuse Ma Zhaixing and shake her resolve. It’s also what Ma Zhaixing believes is Prince of Bo’s intentions. However, his true intentions is not what he likes everyone to believe.
Although it’s not clear at this point whether he’s actually trying to help Ma Zhaixing by giving her that that extra time or otherwise, what’s clear is Prince of Bo is no longer appearing to be questionable when it comes to loyalty to Chu Kui. Prince of Bo is revealed to be disloyal as he conspires with Chu Youzhen to avenge the death of Chu Youyu.
Chu Youzhen awake, the Fourth Prince reveals he’s been aware enough at least since Chu Kui’s visit to the ancestral temple in Episode 34 where Chu Youyu lay to rest and where Chu Kui had apparently revealed that he was responsible for Chu Youyu’s death. The details aren’t expanded on during the ancestral temple’s visit, but while there, Chu Kui is seen angrily expressing his belief Chu Youyu was holding a grudge against him for his death and wasn’t forgiving him.
(With Prince of Bo not waking at the time, Chu Youzhen supposedly in a vegetative state, Wang Rong defecting and Han Qing appearing to be doubting Chu Kui’s military strength, Chu Kui seem to think this was like a punishment Chu Youyu had sent from his grave.)
Discovering this fact, Chu Youzhen schemed with Prince of Bo and Yang Hou to obtain Chu Kui’s jade seal to gain command. The plan was that Prince of Bo would make a suggestion for Chu Kui to fight on the frontline with the reasoning that it’d boost morale of the troops while Yang Hou makes the suggestion for Chu Kui to bring along Chu Youzhen since there’s been so much improvement in Chu Youzhen’s condition since Chu Kui started feeding him.
The scheme doesn’t go down well, as Yao Ji had caught Chu Youzhen out on his act this episode. A dropped spoon holding the soup Chu Kui was feeding Chu Youzhen saw Chu Youzhen’s fingers twitch when he shouldn’t. That had her following Yang Hou to discover that Chu Youzhen is not only fully recovered but he’s scheming away against Chu Kui and using the war against the Jin to stay under Chu Kui’s radar. But with Yao Ji reporting Chu Youzhen’s act to Chu Kui, Chu Youzhen’s move to threaten Chu Kui with a knife to the throat unless the jade seal is handed over fails.
Meanwhile, at the battle in Boxiang City, Prince of Bo faces off with Ma Zhaixing in the battle between the Jin and Yang. Asked for her decision on whether it’s war or surrender, Ma Zhaixing answers with the release of her arrow. It’s war.
Answer received, Prince of Bo advances forward ignoring Mo Xian’s warning that arrows may fly if he keeps advancing. Prince of Bo shows no fear regarding the warning. After creating some distance between him and his troops, Prince of Bo turns his horse around to face his troops and throws his spear towards their direction.
The Battle of Boxiang isn’t going to be a war where he will fight his all till Ma Zhaixing and the Jin Kingdom are defeated. It will be where Prince of Bo finally pay back Ma Zhaixing what he owes her by allowing her to avenge the death of Ma Ying and her family. Spear piercing the ground some distance from him, Prince of Bo warns his troops that if anyone goes beyond where the spear landed they would be killed. He wasn’t going to surrender or fight. He was going to let Ma Zhaixing and her troops shoot their arrows laced with Wolfbone Flower at him and not attempt to fight them off. With his life, Prince of Bo was finally going to do what he had wanted to do for quite some time in order set Ma Zhaixing free from the feeling of injustice that her family were all killed whilst the killer of her family lives.
With Chu Youzhen having revealed to Prince of Bo that the person behind Chu Youyu’s death was neither his own fault nor Ma Ying’s fault but Chu Kui’s own doing (how it was Chu Kui’s is not yet fully clear at this point), Prince of Bo no longer saw himself as owing anyone or needed to remain loyal to Chu Kui. This knowledge had set him free to make it up to Ma Zhaixing for all that he owes her and for his failure to save the Ma Family.
This episode reveals the deception Ma Zhaixing had tried to create using butterflies to buy a couple of days for preparing the Wolfbone Flower had actually failed. Prince of Bo knew exactly what she was trying to do with the butterflies because it was also Prince of Bo who had deliberately let a spy from the Jin free so the spy could report back to Ma Zhaixing and the Jin that it was his fatal weakness. He had wanted her to use this weakness against him in this war.
Through Chu Youzhen’s explanation to Chu Kui why Prince of Bo had gone against him, Chu Youzhen also suggests that Prince of Bo never approved of Chu Kui’s evil ways. It had looked like Prince of Bo was unconditionally loyal and will commit evil at Chu Kui’s bidding. That was not what he was doing. He had been using his identity of Prince of Bo to prevent Chu Kui from doing evil.
This is what Prince of Bo had meant when he told Ma Zhaixing back in Episode 19 about working hard to train himself as well as his army, to acquire knowledge, so that he is able to uphold justice and help those who are suffering because this war. Contrary to the cruel image Prince of Bo has, it would seem the real Prince of Bo is actually nowhere as heartless or as cruel as everyone sees him to be. Ma Zhaixing’s insistence that Prince of Bo is Langzai and Langzai is Prince of Bo back then looks to have been right.
Multiple rounds of the life-threatening arrows flying and hitting Prince of Bo, Mo Xiao attempts to block more arrows hitting Prince of Bo with two high shields, but is knocked out and sent sliding before breaking the shields. Prince of Bo had warned them about stepping past the spear he used to mark the imaginary line that they must stay behind.
Ma Zhaixing finds Prince of Bo’s actions a bit off, but she’s made to dismiss dwelling on it as it’s put down to the Wolfbone Flower taking effect. Believing this to be the reason, Wang Rong sees it as the chance to kill Prince of Bo and avenge Ma Ying’s death. Wang Rong is stopped from taking Prince of Bo’s life himself as Ma Zhaixing sees that task to be hers and only hers.
Descending onto the battlefield, Ma Zhaixing and her army engage the soldiers of the Yang while Prince of Bo is shielded by a dome of shields from soldiers who ended up disobeying orders. Ma Zhaixing goes out charging on her horse towards Prince of Bo’s location, but she’s knocked off her horse and dragged by chains around her neck. She manages to free herself with a spear (the resistance of the spear she held across her had knocked her captor off his horse, freeing her from the chain), but had it not been for Prince of Bo coming to her rescue after hearing the ring of the bronze bell which rang whilst she was being dragged, Ma Zhaixing would have been killed by two spears coming down on her.
There’s no change of heart for Ma Zhaixing in terms is killing Prince of Bo despite the saving act. Prince of Bo’s back turned appearing to stand his ground ready for any one who attacks, Ma Zhaixing grabs an arrow from one of the fallen soldiers beside her and storms towards Prince of Bo to thrust it into Prince of Bo’s chest. She thrusts it deeper upon recalling the night her father died before she loses consciousness.
Ma Zhaixing is taken away from the battleground to a place in the mountains where he has a monk treat her, all the while neglecting his own injuries. He appears to be able to endure and hold off the intolerable pain of the Wolfbone Flower in his system to see Ma Zhaixing come through the critical stages to regain consciousness in the end.
Prince of Bo sees himself facing yet another attempted attack on his already endangered life when Ma Zhaixing wakes. This time, she tries to sneak up behind Prince of Bo’s back to attack him with a candle holder, but is stopped just before she stabs him with the spike.
Told that it’s no way to treat someone who had saved her life, Ma Zhaixing has Prince of Bo explain his words. He tells her the truth. He had left the Yang because he discovered Chu Kui had been using him and deceiving him to do Chu Kui’s bidding. He moves to speak of the pain which hurts him the most, and that’s wronging and hurting her. For this reason, he chose to use the Battle of Boxiang (as the battle at Boxiang City is called) and his life to pay her back.
With how Prince of Bo has been going on about using her weakness and what appeals to the enemy to defeat them, Ma Zhaixing sees Prince of Bo’s very honest words as another attempt to deceive her. She sees this as a hostage situation. She’s been taken in hope that her capture makes up for his mistake.
(This mistake she’s referencing appears to be him falling for the butterflies story and ending up being shot with arrows laced with Wolfbone Flower, causing the Yang to suffer casualties.)
Why Prince of Bo chose to tell the truth is a wonder. Maybe he wanted to see whether she’d believe him or maybe he wanted to see how far she’s come and how much she’s learnt in the strategies of war. Whatever the reason, Prince of Bo doesn’t attempt to correct her view of the situation. Having her continue to think this is all a trick to get her into a weakened position works best to ensure Ma Zhaixing can live without sorrow or anxiety. In his view, only with him dying can his wish for Ma Zhaixing be achieved.
It’s still Prince of Bo’s intention to repay her as well as Ma Ying with his life. This is the promise he had made when he knelt down to beg to the spirit of the late Ma Ying to let Ma Zhaixing survive this whole tragedy whilst she lay unconscious the night before. The time he plans to do this is after sending Ma Zhaixing back to the safety of the Jin Kingdom. After this he will then use his life to exchange for the safety of Chu Youzhen.
Chu Youzhen’s failed plan to take the throne from the evil clutches of Chu Kui looks to have resulted in a beating as he is seen before Chu Kui all bloodied. Although Chu Kui’s not been dethroned, the Battle of Boxiang has caused great damage to Chu Kui’s campaign against the Jin Kingdom. Chu Kui’s Batallion was bombed by Ji Chong’s Chuanlong Army, sending Chu Kui fleeing back to Imperial City, giving the Jin Kingdom another victory in the Battle of Boxiang. With Chu Kui now facing the lost loyalty of Prince of Bo, Chu Kui’s firm grip on the throne is starting Li to slip.
Prince of Bo has Ma Zhaixing set off towards Jin Kingdom, taking the hard journey over Qi Mountain to get there. With Ma Zhaixing’s wounds and general state, the possible slips, the hot sun, heat-retaining earth and a stream with currents strong enough to cause slipping serve as challenges and obstacles for a safe journey over the mountain.
None of these challenges or obstacles are discussed with or made known to Ma Zhaixing. Our guess for Prince of Bo not saying anything to Ma Zhaixing about all this is that Ma Zhaixing probably won’t listen or believe anything Prince of Bo tells her or instructs her to do with how they are currently enemies. She also thinks she’s a useful hostage who can help Prince of Bo redeem himself for his error in the Battle of Boxiang.
So, seemingly in keeping with this appearance of a captor-hostage situation, Prince of Bo keeps a watchful eye on her, not allowing her to escape his sights when she attempts to escape. He also must keep a close eye on her to keep her from running into Prince of Bo’s soldiers who are out looking for them and who they actually almost run into.
Her thoughts in what appears to be jumping off a cliff sees Prince of Bo tie a leash made of vine around her waist and led along the narrow paths on the mountain. To Ma Zhaixing, it’s another show of a captor trying to keep control of a captive, but he’s just trying to make sure she stays close to him so she doesn’t accidentally slip or cause herself to get hit by land slips.
Prince of Bo’s attempt to keep her cool and not suffer heatstroke sees him appear to sexually harass her by removing her thick clothing without her permission and quite forcefully. His attempt to feed her fruit which he personally test to ensure they aren’t rotten before giving them to her to eat appear like he is only trying to keep her alive to save himself when he returns to Imperial City to face Chu Kui. Picking Ma Zhaixing up and carrying her over his shoulders to cross the stream appear as if Prince of Bo is being forceful again, but he’s trying to minimise the risk of her falling into the water and getting her wounds wet.
Ma Zhaixing learns Prince of Bo’s true intentions soon enough. After a short time where Prince of Bo almost loses control to the effects of the Wolfbone Flower and Ma Zhaixing is freed out of fear he’d hurt her, she starts realising that the whole time Prince of Bo was doing things for her sake and not because he needed to bring her back alive for his sake. It has Ma Zhaixing bring up again that Langzai is still very much in Prince of Bo which gets her to ask why he’d hurt himself for Chu Kui.
Determined to take blame and pay her back for the assassination that really was not his doing, Prince of Bo insists he’s a monster who she needs to fear and stay away from. It’s Prince of Bo trying to treat her in a cold way in front of her while treating her completely the opposite way when she’s not aware of it. With Ma Zhaixing falling asleep in front of a fire at the end of the night, Prince of Bo cares for her, making sure she slept on a soft bedding of hay he gathered for her. He also showed he still loved Ma Zhaixing: he was seen almost stealing a kiss while she lay asleep.
All of this was witnessed in the distance behind a tree by Ji Chong who, using Zhui Ri, had managed to locate the pair after he left Chu Kui’s Battalion in search of Ma Zhaixing last episode. Ji Chong seems to have been suspicious of Prince of Bo for having been deceived by the butterflies as well as letting a spy escape to leak out Prince of Bo’s fatal weakness despite being a careful person. According to Ji Chong, Prince of Bo had the Wolfbone Flower specifically prepared for Ma Zhaixing. Whether Ji Chong meant it in a figurative way or a literal way is unclear.
Prince of Bo tries to deny it all when Ji Chong confronted Prince of Bo about the above. Prince of pretended not to understand what Ji Chong was going on about. When Ji Chong pinpoints Prince of Bo’s reason to be because he wanted Ma Zhaixing to take his life so she could fulfill her wish to kill him, though, Prince of Bo admits to it all.
Prince of Bo reveals everything, telling Ji Chong what had been told to Chu Youzhen regarding his decision to use Battle of Boxiang and his death to free Ma Zhaixing from her hatred as well as help Chu Youzhen overthrow Chu Kui’s tyranny. Ji Chong is told about Prince of Bo having no knowledge of the order to assassinate Ma Ying and the Ma Family till it was too late. Asked why none of this was said to Ma Zhaixing when he had the chance the night before, Prince of Bo saw the fault as still being with him since Night Fury was under his command. It was also he who played with her feelings which caused her to fall into an abyss of suffering.
Despite Ji Chong being in love with Ma Zhaixing and is fighting Prince of Bo for her heart, Ji Chong’s feelings are seemingly less important than Ma Zhaixing’s happiness. Not seeing Prince of Bo die for a matter that isn’t his doing seemed to be important to Ji Chong as well.
Questioned whether Prince of Bo wanted Ma Zhaixing to hate him forever, Prince of Bo reveals he intends to travel back to the Capital the next day where he will face the charge of treason, save Chu Youzhen, and with his death, Ma Zhaixing’s hatred for Prince of Bo will end. When told that Ma Zhaixing will never be happy once she learns the truth about the Ma Family case, about him having sacrificed himself for her at the Battle of Boxiang and having saved her just now, Prince of Bo tells Ji Chong to just not let her know.
It’s not something Ji Chong is willing to cooperate with. He tries to have Prince of Bo reconsider and not return to Yang to die, telling him to escape instead. Prince of Bo is unwilling. There’s still Chu Youzhen who he must save. After expressing this, Prince of Bo hands over the care and the safety of Ma Zhaixing to Ji Chong. Prince of Bo tells Ji Chong that in this world the only person other than himself who cares about her happiness the most is Ji Chong.
Seeing the true Prince of Bo, Ji Chong expresses that had they not fallen for the same woman and had they not been enemies, they would have been friends. Prince of Bo disagrees, believing they wouldn’t have had that chance as he’s destined to be alone.
With a self-inflicted wound, Ji Chong goes to Ma Zhaixing’s side to take over from Prince of Bo in accompanying Ma Zhaixing back to the Jin Kingdom all the while reluctantly keeping Prince of Bo’s secret. Ji Chong had predicted Ma Zhaixing wouldn’t believe he could easily chase Prince of Bo away since Prince of Bo doesn’t lose easily. To make sure she believed him, Ji Chong had pulled out Prince of Bo’s sword and ran it across his own arm to cause a sword wound.
The wound plus a mention of Prince of Bo’s weakened state convinces her. Ma Zhaixing not only believes Ji Chong, but shows a good amount of concern seeing the wound undressed. It has Ma Zhaixing immediately tear off a strip from her own clothing to bandage Ji Chong’s arm. She then goes on to question the truth of Prince of Bo’s story about taking her hostage. Although she had believed this story when she first woke, as her thoughts revealed last episode, after the journey through Qi Mountain, she realised everything he did on the journey was for her sake and now was questioning the facts of her supposed capture.
Ji Chong gives her a rather vague, lacking account which is more or less in line with Prince of Bo’s: Prince of Bo had taken the opportunity to take her as a hostage when she fell unconscious. Their side (as in Ji Chong and the others) had been threatened by Prince of Bo, leaving Ji Chong to send Zhui Ri to track her and locating her through this way. He ends it here. It has Ma Zhaixing wondering if there was more to the story, but with Ji Chong telling her this is all there is to what went on, she lets it be and starts making her way back to Jin Kingdom with Ji Chong. This is despite recalling Prince of Bo almost stealing a kiss from her whilst she appeared to be asleep. It looks like she was still awake when Prince of Bo was caring for her.
Back in the Yang Kingdom, Chu Yougui is released from his confinement following Prince of Bo’s treason. He had been suggested by Yao Ji that the Second Prince take the position of Regent to to oversee state affairs and manage the court following Prince of Bo’s rebellion. Yao Ji appears reluctant in putting Chu Yougui’s name forward, but having no better suggestion when asked by Chu Kui last episode, Yao Ji went with the Second Prince.
As soon as he’s released, Chu Yougui kneels before Chu Kui repenting for his past actions which involved an attempt to assassinate Prince of Bo at Fuhu Forest (Episode 16). It is all an act as he still has plans to take out Prince of Bo with the suggestion he’s also still looking to take the throne from Chu Kui.
Waiting for Prince of Bo to return, Chu Yougui has the gate at Suyang closed to everyone but Prince of Bo. The man Chu Yougui is waiting for shows up soon enough with the already mentioned intentions to exchange his life for Chu Youzhen’s. He shows up after meeting Yao Ji at a place called Hanshui during the night to request Yao Ji take good care of Chu Youzhen and Night Fury for him after he leaves this world.
Prince of Bo’s revelation that he plans to turn himself in and die to save Chu Youzhen and pay Ma Zhaixing back had Yao Ji quite upset and attempting to stop him. Her words warning him that returning would ensure his death suggested Yao Ji didn’t want Prince of Bo to return to die. Asking Prince of Bo why he should give up his life for Chu Youzhen and Ma Zhaixing especially when Ma Zhaixing has yet to forgive him is yet another attempt to stop him. Yao Ji even appeared to suggest Prince of Bo go to Ma Zhaixing and in exchange she’d take care of Chu Youzhen and Night Fury as Prince of Bo wants.
Prince of Bo is determined and unwavering. He leaves Yao Ji a dagger forged out of the same meteorite as Chu Kui’s Chixiao Sword which Prince of Bo hopes will keep Yao Ji safe to carry out his request. Prince of Bo doesn’t wait to hear Yao Ji verbally agree to his last wish as he seems to hope she will agree to it. As he leaves for Suyang, Yao Ji is heard refusing to grant Prince of Bo’s wish.
By this, she doesn’t mean she won’t help him look after Chu Youzhen and Night Fury. In fact, at least in terms of caring for Night Fury, she’s already been handed command of the team. Chu Kui had her become the team’s leader in Episode 38. What she means is that she won’t let Prince of Bo face punishment by death.
At Taiyuan, Ma Zhaixing’s return sees her the subject of rumours which could damage her reputation. Because of her having been rescued by Prince of Bo, rumours that feelings between Prince of Bo and Ma Zhaixing might have reignited are going around the troops. Although, the exact concern isn’t spat out clearly, the concern seems to be surrounding the trust in Ma Zhaixing to lead the troops and not be compromised by these rumoured feelings for Prince of Bo.
People suspecting Ma Zhaixing’s relationship with Prince of Bo after what happened at Boxiang City is actually something Prince of Bo had expected. Before Prince of Bo left Ma Zhaixing in Ji Chong’s care, he had brought up this exact matter with Ji Chong and wanted Ji Chong to make sure Ma Zhaixing didn’t suffer because of it.
Ji Chong spares nothing to protect Ma Zhaixing’s reputation. After sending Ma Zhaixing to her room for checks on her health, Ji Chong, livid, demands the soldiers who engaged in such gossip be brought to him immediately. Wang Rong (who was present along with the King of Jin, Li Juqi and Ma Yehan to welcome Ma Zhaixing and Ji Chong back) tries to express the concerns of the soldiers. They worried personal feelings for Prince of Bo might compromise her actions in future battles, affecting the morale of the troops Ma Zhaixing now leads. They worried that the rumoured romantic feelings might cause her to betray them.
Ji Chong turns to his father seeking his thoughts about Ma Zhaixing. Does his father think the same way? The King of Jin tells Ji Chong he trusts Ma Zhaixing, but at the same time tells Ji Chong that when leading an army she can’t afford to raise any doubts. Hearing this, Ji Chong moves to declare a wedding. He will marry Ma Zhaixing just to prove them all wrong about Ma Zhaixing still having feelings for Prince of Bo.
Declaring his intention is one thing. Getting Ma Zhaixing to marry him is another. Without discussing this marriage with Ma Zhaixing first, Ji Chong’s left sitting alone on the ledge worried about whether Ma Zhaixing would agree to marrying him.
Three hundred and seventy one times Ma Zhaixing had counted Ji Chong sighing to himself. This was the joke Ma Zhaixing made after making her presence known to Ji Chong. He had been so worried he didn’t even notice her standing there until she called out to him.
Ma Zhaixing appearing with a joke, knowing what he was sighing about was a good sign she was not against marrying Ji Chong. In fact, through some tangerines received as tribute from the South, she expresses how under the current circumstances marrying Ji Chong is not so bad.
Offering Ji Chong one of these tangerines, Ji Chong expresses his lack of approval of the tangerines. He found the tangerines small and lacked sweetness. This opinion had Ma Zhaixing contradict Ji Chong, telling him she thought they were good especially under their current climate. There was a drought which produced poor crops and small tangerines, but since they had arrived before them, she thought why not just accept and be content with them.
Translation, although things may be less than satisfactory or as one wishes (like the tangerines were less than satisfactory), since the situation is already what it is, why not accept the situation (like accepting the tangerines) and just be content with it. Going by Ma Zhaixing’s opinion of the tangerines Ma Zhaixing seems to be saying that marrying Ji Chong isn’t as bad an option as he was worrying about it being. Not only is it not as bad as Ji Chong thought his idea to get married was, Ma Zhaixing actually thinks it is the best option at the moment. This statement is made after Ji Chong remarked how maybe Ma Zhaixing had options better than tangerines, to which Ma Zhaixing rejected, saying it is the best option.
So, with that said, Ma Zhaixing goes on to accept Ji Chong’s idea of holding a wedding to quell any doubts her latest encounter with Prince of Bo has caused within the three armies of Jin. She wastes no time in setting the date, asking Ji Chong if it was alright with him if they start preparing for the wedding that same day and holding the wedding the next day. With a slight surprise in his tone and expression, Ji Chong answers yes.
Ma Zhaixing makes it known to the King of Jin that she’s accepted Ji Chong’s marriage proposal. With Ma Zhaixing about to become Prince of Chuan’s Consort, one would think Ji Chong would be happy, but standing there watching the King of Jin thank Ma Zhaixing for being willing to marry Ji Chong only has him angry because the rumours had forced Ma Zhaixing into a marriage with him. Ji Chong has shown a couple times before that no matter how much he wishes for her to like him and be with him, he’s not the type to force her into doing anything, not even when she owes him. He wants her to freely choose him, not be forced, especially not by the reputation-ruining rumours which have yet seen any proof.
Forced or not forced, Ma Zhaixing goes ahead with what she said they would do regarding holding the wedding the next day. Sitting surrounded by a bunch of maids fussing over what hair ornament to put in Ma Zhaixing’s hair, they help Ma Zhaixing get ready. While the maids appear joyous and excited about the occasion which had the people of Taiyuan celebrating, Ma Zhaixing’s mind briefly wanders off to a memory back at Bo Manor where she held an unofficial wedding ceremony between her and Prince of Bo just before she left Bo Manor to go to Taibao Battalion (Episode 25). Ma Zhaixing may not betray the Jin Kingdom because of her feelings for Prince of Bo, but it’s clear Prince of Bo still occupies her thoughts.
The night before the wedding and after the wedding (yes, the wedding actually goes through between Ji Chong and Ma Zhaixing!) Ji Chong finds himself drinking away as the happiness of Ma Zhaixing weighs heavily on his mind, knowing he isn’t the man she loves. Meanwhile, the man she loves is set to be executed for his actions at the Battle of Boxiang.
Before the wedding, Ji Chong witness yet another moment where Ma Zhaixing makes it quite obvious she’s marrying him not out of love but out of need. After an incident which sees Ma Jing catching Ke Lang with a book of female beauties supposedly meant for Ji Chong’s eyes and Ma Jing running to Ma Zhaixing to tell her about it, Ma Zhaixing shows no jealousy, no anger, no intention to seek out Ji Chong about it. She just tells Ma Jing not to get worked up over it, and in not so many words, to let Ji Chong be because he was doing her a favour with the marriage. He was saving her reputation and marrying her to protect her.
It has Ma Jing note that Ma Zhaixing’s response to Ji Chong looking at this Collection of Hundred Flowers book of beauties is very different to when she heard Prince of Bo visiting the Hundred Flowers Brothel. When Ma Zhaixing heard Prince of Bo visited the brothel, she bothered Prince of Bo about it and sulked over it. To Ma Jing it’s clear Ma Zhaixing was not in love with Ji Chong.
Hearing Ma Jing say this has Ji Chong off drinking the night away. It troubles him not so much that Ma Zhaixing doesn’t feel the same for him as he does for her, but that Ma Zhaixing is going along with the wedding despite her own feelings and wants. It’s again a case of Ji Chong wanting Ma Zhaixing to be happy. He knows marrying him isn’t what makes her happy which has Ji Chong call Ma Zhaixing as an idiot.
Eunuch Shi who had come by to clean up his table (he can’t stand the mess of it) had made Ma Zhaixing the comparison to being like a caged bird after listening to Ji Chong express wanting Ma Zhaixing to be more self-indulgent. Ji Chong corrects him, saying Ma Zhaixing was not a caged bird because when the cage door is open, the bird will fly away after slight hesitation. Ma Zhaixing can’t fly away and has no intention to do so. A more apt comparison is a bird in a painting Ji Chong corrects. She’ll just wait there and let reality eat her away.
Ji Chong really wants her to be free and happy, but at the same time can’t. Not only can he not bear to tell her the truth about Prince of Bo, the misunderstanding and his plans to die to repay her, but seemingly even Eunuch Shi thinks Ji Chong can’t do much about the situation: “You can’t save her. She was born to live for the whole painting. If you cut her away, you’ll destroy the painting and the bird in the painting will have no real reason to exist.”
Eunuch Shi seems to be touching on the same thing which Ma Zhaixing was expressing herself when Ma Jing felt sorry that Ma Zhaixing was marrying someone she can see Ma Zhaixing didn’t love. This had Ma Zhaixing express how her future and her marriage was never hers to control and decide. This was the case no matter what her identity was. As Princess of the Previous Dynasty and as the Young Feudal Mistress of the Ma Manor, she had responsibilities, responsibilities which (as Ji Chong had observed) she had no intentions of not fulfilling.
As with her betrothal to Prince of Bo as well as her marriage to Ji Chong, she had to agree to them both against her will. She needed to agree to marry Prince of Bo in order to protect the Ma Family Army and stave off questions about their loyalty to Chu Kui and avoid conflict between the Ma Family Army and the Yang. In order to quell the rumours about her and Prince of Bo and avoid causing instability within the Armies of Jin, she has to marry Ji Chong. It’s a matter which she also feels sorry towards Ji Chong as she’s making him sacrifice his marriage because of this rumour between her and Prince of Bo.
Things get more bothersome for Ji Chong when he learns Prince of Bo is set to be executed the next day, the same day as Ji Chong and Ma Zhaixing’s wedding. It has Ji Chong in a dilemma of whether to tell Ma Zhaixing or not. Although she’s vowed to kill Prince of Bo, Ji Chong knows that this news will affect her because (as Ji Chong says) Prince of Bo means something to her one way or another. Being the good, selfless man Ji Chong is, he does end up telling her right as the wedding ceremony is about to begin.
The news makes Ma Zhaixing freeze as it clearly affects her, but after a moment of internalising the news, Ma Zhaixing appears to gather herself to say that Prince of Bo’s execution is all within her expectations, i.e. she did want him to die to atone for killing her family. She then continues with the marriage, telling Ji Chong and everyone at the wedding that she doesn’t want to recall the past anymore because there was more suffering than happiness there and wishes to move forward with Ji Chong right ahead with her. When Ji Chong has her know that he’s hiding something from her (this being the truth about Prince of Bo having always protected her and how he had no part in the Ma Family assassination), Ma Zhaixing does not enquire about it. She only tells him she trusts that he has her best interests in mind and that’s enough for her.
Ji Chong seems convinced to continue with the wedding to make Ma Zhaixing his wife. He promises to God he’ll protect her forever and be the only one who truly cares about her happiness.
After the wedding ceremony, Ji Chong seems to feel conflicted over celebrating his wedding with the death of Prince of Bo on his mind: “Am I drinking for my wedding or your death?” Ji Chong says, talking to Prince of Bo in spirit. (We love this Ji Chong-Prince of Bo one-sided friendship the drama developed :oD :oD) What he doesn’t know is that Prince of Bo didn’t die. He had escaped execution by burning thanks to Yao Ji. She had managed to save him by using Chu Kui’s belief in superstition and astrological predictions to frighten the Yang Emperor into not killing Prince of Bo.
Having observed snakes appearing from their homes, Yao Ji predicted rain was about to fall. It was used to make Chu Kui believe it was unfavourable for him to kill Prince of Bo (like how Ma Zhaixing had used the sun eclipse to try get the King of Qitan to break alliance with the Yang). Lightning happened to strike, too, felling the Nine Dragon Cypress trees. Floods broke the Huai River, snow fell at the Imperial Mausoleum and the Chixiao Sword which Yao Ji had Chu Kui believe lightning had been how the unbreakable sword from the Heavens broke in half (Yao Ji actually broke it herself with the dagger Prince of Bo have her in Episode 39). It all created the appearance that the Heavens really was against Prince of Bo’s execution.
Chu Kui rescinded his order to punish Prince of Bo with death after all these ominous events. Instead it will be banishment to Qiannu Camp where he will be branded a slave along with former military officers he personally sent there. In Zi Shen’s words, it is no better than death as those banished to Qiannu Camp are made to have the word “slave” on their faces. With Prince of Bo being the one who was responsible for sending those former military officers there, it will be an existence Zi Shen describes as similar to being in hell.
Through spies, Ji Chong is told this news not long after expressing his conflicted thoughts about celebrating his wedding and thinking Prince of Bo had died. It has him give off a laugh which Ji Chong clearly didn’t find funny. Going to see Ma Zhaixing finally, he tells the news which stuns her. They both thought Prince of Bo was going to die. They had accepted and resolved or started to resolve their separate feelings about the matter enough to marry, only to find out Prince of Bo had escaped death. Ma Zhaixing who had originally declined the drink Ji Chong offered her, saying that she can’t drink well, joins Ji Chong in downing alcohol.
Hope you enjoyed The Wolf Series Recap, Episodes 31 – 40. Make sure to come back for the last part to the series recap plus our thoughts and comments about the drama in The Wolf Series Recap, Episodes 41 – 49!