[Previously: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas, motives unknown–but her husband suspects that it’s aimed at him.]
XQ continues: if I’m the target, then she’s heading this way. He divides his forces and sends them out. And as for the guy (Xu Shou) who ordered them to do a parade?–the guy who knew she’d been taken and commands us to not go after her?
XQ says (and man, his quiet, soft voice is positively chilling here in the best possible way): entertain him well. Take very good care of him.
The sidekicks salute, beaming.
Meanwhile, A’Wu’s maidservant has gone to get Prince #3. This involves, unfortunately for him, leaving his house arrest. Oh, oh gosh. Looks like maidservant (Jin’er) has a crush on him, if her reaction to his giving her a cloak means anything. Hoooo boy.
So A’Wu’s kidnappers are sitting around discussing things. Their boss has ordered that she not be harmed. On the other hand, her being so pretty means that Xiaoye is going to torture her. Cue Xiaoye, who may or may not be a swordsgirl but definitely is someone to be careful around.
Back at home, Brother and Dad are carefully keeping the news from Mom. Brother puts on his very best face, but it’s hard on the poor boy.
And, at the kidnapping lair, the titular young master is….in bed in his underwear, being fed medicine by someone. Not an auspicious beginning. (Especially with Xiaoye, his intensely jealous female minion, still in the room.) He promptly throws XY out. A’Wu points out that a) he’s sick, b) he’s not going to kill ber, c) if he wants her to be useful, he’d better not harm her.
So this guy is from the Liupan Clan, and his grudge is against XQ because XQ wrongfully killed his family, it seems.
Back at the palace, the Emperor is awake and playing chess against himself. He’s not really in his right mind, though, it seems, and the Empress can’t get any useful help or information out of him. (He might be pretending.) She leaves, frustrated. (he is pretending, but the eunuch who is the spy for the Wangs hasn’t figured it out yet.)
A’Wu says: I heard that the Liupan had it coming when they broke their treaty oaths.
Liupan Guy promptly attempts to strangle her.
(outside, lol, one of the guys attempts to sidle up to XiaoYe, only to find a dagger in the way. She, however, is focused on her jealousy of A’Wu.)
Liupan Guy then collapses, with blood from the mouth. A’Wu grabs his knife, frees her hands, and climbs out a window. She gets to the horses, but at this point XY whacks her on the head with a stick and is about to do worse before the others catch up with them.
Empress Auntie does seem to be genuinely worried about A’Wu, because she’s asking Grand Vizier Dad for any news. He’s pieced together the information about the fake funeral/corpse, and that they are heading for the border (XQ’s territory).
Prince #2, meanwhile, has his finger in the pie to at least some degree. They think, or at least say: that Liupan Guy is working with the exiled Duke Xie and they’ll take out XQ. #2 is slightly worried at the fact that XQ dead means Xu Shou in control of the army, while he, Prince #2, still has no military support.
Meanwhile elsewhere, the Crown Prince is also upset about A’Wu being missing. He wants to issue a royal decree and mobilize massive forces, but all those old guys aren’t actually letting him. Wan’ru uses her feminine wiles to soothe and flatter him. Poor guy. He means well!
A’Wu is calm but defiant in the face of XY–which gets her a ladlefull of water to the face–but she merely goes ahead and continues to wash up anyway.
Back at the fort, some guy burns a message before XQ shows up to talk to him. XQ notices but says nothing. I’m guessing this is Xu Shou. He’s a peach.
Back at A’Wu, she’s meeting with Liupan Guy again. He thanks her for not killing him and then hits on her some more, just so she’s nice and sorry about the whole not-killing him thing. Outside, meanwhile, Liupan’s sidekicks finally hear enough that they get worried AKA jealous enough to try bursting in again. A’Wu is worried enough at this point that she’s thinking about trying the stabbing thing again. (She can’t go through with it).
XQ orders Sidekick to watch Xu Shou closely and not prevent him from doing anything. They are pretty strongly sure he’s involved.
A’Wu is still trying to keep Liupan Guy off of her, with little success. She finally tries the what would your mother think of this card, only to get slapped. But then she does stab him with her hairpin, so there’s that…..and then she threatens to kill herself and disrupt their plans that way.
The Emperor, meanwhile, confesses that despite his love for A’Wu, he’s willing to sacrifice her to save his son. And so he has…
Liupan Guy wants to change the plan, meanwhile: he wants A’Wu.
Meanwhile! The world’s most inept cavalry buy themselves a seat on a random peasant cart, rattling along to an eventual rescue.
A’Wu and Liupan Guy, meanwhile, have a bit of a chat in the carriage as they’re moving out. He’s doing this for his mother, you see…she’s dead.
AND HERE IS WHERE I STOP FOR THE NIGHT. MODERATION IN ALL THINGS, INCLUDING BINGE-WATCHING CHINESE DRAMAS, AMIRITE?