Previously on: our heroine was rescued after having been kidnapped by a group wanting vengeance against her husband (who had destroyed their land and villages.) These guys were kind of losers, but they were also being backed up by unknown sources from the capital, which made rescuing her difficult until a “freak training accident” involving grenades to the face manages to get rid of the imperial representative. Also, it turns out that the heroine’s loyal maidservant Jin’er is actually in love with Prince #3 (A’Wu’s childhood romance) and has just been manipulated into putting on A’Wu’s clothes and perfumes and going over to pay the drunken Prince a comforting visit. Yeahhhhhhh….
So anyhow, Jin’er is dressed up like A’Wu and perfumed up (with A’Wu’s perfumes) and sent in to see Prince #3. Who has been drinking and staring at his pictures of A’Wu. Fade to black.
Back at the court, the Emperor is not paying much attention things, the Grand Vizier is standing around smirking a lot, and the Crown Prince is starting to be the one saying “approve” to courtly proposals when news rushes in that A’Wu is found and okay, and that XQ has survived well. Prince #2 and Lord Huan exchange alarmed glances. The Crown Prince is overjoyed, bless his little heart. But the Emperor, who has been just sitting slumped over, laughs and then breaks down in tears. News also comes to Aunty Empress. She’s honestly relieved about this also, as are Mom and Brother.
A’Wu, meanwhile, is learning about the travails of frontier life, such as only bathing once a month or having to hike ten miles to bathe in the rivers. Worse, this applies to her husband, too. Worse still, no one at the fort has any sense of style AT ALL. A’Wu, however, is missing Jin’er and hopes she’s okay.
(She is, but Prince #3 is having a bit of a brood anyway). Aaaaand that’s when news of A’Wu being found arrives.
A’Wu has also started asking questions about her husband. Apparently, he has no hobbies other than being busy, reading books, and practicing swordsmanship. (Boring). A’Wu also gets into a spat with one of the head maidservants, Xing’er, who makes the mistake of being too much of a stuck-up smartass and also annoying.
Jin’er, meanwhile, hears the other maids gossiping about her.
A’Wu, meanwhile, is about to have to deal with Xing’er’s older, fatter, bossier counterpart, Mrs. Lu. A’Wu orders that they go and kneel in the courtyard, regardless of their rank. I have a feeling that the court versus country discipline/manners thing is going to cause problems pretty soon.
Not to be suppressed, Mrs Lu heads over to XQ to complain about things….not that it actually does any good. XQ backs up his wife immediately and goes back to discussing politics. He and his men are monitoring the royal family’s activity.
Oh, the current crisis is: the Emperor’s brother, under pretext of a friendly visit, has shown up with 150,000 soldiers. Hah. All the ministers are milling around and flapping their sleeves a bunch, as they tend to do. Prince #2 is hanging around in the background, not at all suspiciously. The Crown Prince has sent for the Grand Vizier, but he and his smirk haven’t shown up yet at all. This guy, King J, was the runner-up for the throne back in the day and now is probably coming back for his revenge and just dues. Whats worse, he’s a skilled soldier and has veteran troops and then have none. None at all.
(Prince #2 sends a looooong, considering look at Lord Huan).
Possibly because their main general is kind of busy trying to get his wife to look him in the face. But the boy does got game, though, and has soon convinced her to go for a walk with him. (All the troops cheer, when they see her, lol, and XQ tells her just to roll with it.)
So. XQ hasn’t been around much because he’s been over at the border…sending Liupan Guy (okay, fine, Helan Zhen) back home. Miraculously, he survived one arm being cut off and falling into a bottomless chasm, although I’m going to guess not by turning himself into a mechanical spider-legged hybrid sustained by the Dark Side of the Force and hatred. HZ is the only remaining son (albeit illegitemate) of the king of Hulan and the heir. However, he also has a cousin-rival for that position, who was the one who actually destroyed Liupan in an attempt to displace HZ from the throne and lay the blame on XQ.
XQ let HZ go back to fight his cousin so they can squabble amongst themselves–which works out for his benefit and the safety of the realm. A’Wu is impressed by his planning skills. But then she points out that XQ is using her as a pawn in his plans as well, and that she doesn’t like it.
He tries to change the subject, but she calls him a coward for it. He replies that she does not want to hear the truth, but if she’s strong enough and willing, he will.
XQ says: There was a border emergency. On our wedding night. It was absolutely no coincidence. I did not want to marry you and I was also forced into it. Your father set this all up because he wants my army. I have absolutely no desire to be involved in capitol plots and didn’t want to get between you and your true love. The so-called border emergency was just me getting the hell out of Dodge because I’m scared of your psycho grand vizier father.
A’Wu is mostly impressed that he’s not actually in cahoots with her father. Unfortunately, this means she realizes that her father is behind most of what’s been happening. She breaks down and asks for some privacy, but then calls him back.
Hey, a hug! That’s definitely progress on both their parts!
Xiao Qi tells her that she is his princess now and his woman. She’s not allowed to be weak. The camera then wanders discreetly off, so I’m going to assume that this is our official fade-to-sex.
Back at the capital, Grand Vizier Lord Wang Dad is taking some night air when he sees his son coming in through the back gate….and orders him to go back home and pretend to be a happy couple with Huan Mi since her father’s at home. Also, if your concubine has a boy, he’s going out to a farm and by farm, I mean we’re going to expose him on a rock. We need the Huan Family’s support, OK? So I need a legitimate male grandchild.
Brother Su points out that: the Xie Family is no more, the Crown Prince is in a stable position, and the Empress is in power. Shouldn’t that be enough? (No.)
Prince #2, meanwhile, is cuddling up with his concubine….wait. Wait. Wait. Is his girlfriend also Brother Su’s wife, Huan Mi? HOOOOoooo BOY.
Back at the fort, the two snooty girls A’Wu press-ganged into being her junior handmaids, are begging for help from Mrs. Lu (the fort’s steward and also their aunty). A’Wu susses out that they actually hope to catch XQ’s eye and become concubines. A’Wu says: I don’t mean to punish them. Just throw them out of the house. NOW.