In front of Ying Zheng, Zhao Gao is his usual smarmy self and continues to imply that there must be an inappropriate relationship between Han Shen and Li Er. Even with Li Er’s kind personality, it doesn’t make sense that she would protect a person guilty of abducting her. If anything, she should wish to clear her name of spending days and nights alone with another man. When Ying Zheng asks Li Zhong for his opinion, Li Zhong says that even though he thinks Zhao Gao did go a bit overboard in arresting Han Shen, Li Er’s behavior and Han Shen choosing to take full responsibility for Li Er leaving the palace are both very suspicious. Ying Zheng’s anger continues to grow and he can barely hold it under control as he bites out for Li Zhong to continue. Li Zhong goes on to say that he also thinks there must be some unspeakable secret between Li Er and Han Shen. As Ying Zheng stews over this, one of Li Er’s guards arrives to report that Li Er disguised herself as a maid to sneak out and visit the prison.
Li Er bribes the guard at the prison so so she can visit Han Shen. Li Er starts crying as she asks Han Shen how he could’ve been so foolish to come back to the palace. She says after all, Ying Zheng wouldn’t have punished her harshly, the most he would’ve done would be to reprimand her or place her under house arrest. Even though Ying Zheng put her in prison, it was only so she could reflect over her actions and he doesn’t allow anyone to torture her.
Han Shen tells her that by putting Li Er in prison, he was endangering her life because there are those in the inner palace who would use the opportunity to kill her. Li Er tells Han Shen that even if her life had been in danger, he still shouldn’t have said that he abducted her. If Ying Zheng orders his execution, she doesn’t know how she can save him. Han Shen tells her that he doesn’t care. When he decided to become a guard in the Qin palace, he was already prepared to die at any time. He wouldn’t leave Li Er alone in such a dangerous place as the inner palace because he once made a promise to protect her until he dies. Li Er says his suffering is all her fault.
As Ying Zheng arrives at the prison, he overhears Li Er tell Han Shen that she’ll come to save him and to take care of himself. Can’t imagine he’s too thrilled about that. Ying Zheng interrupts them, and tells Li Er that since she’s come to the prison, she might as well stay and orders the cell door to be locked. He says that they have been lying to him and they obviously left the palace together. He orders Li Zhong to execute Han Shen for daring to take a royal consort out of the palace. Ying Zheng, if you were going to order Han Shen to be executed, why did you just order the cell door to be locked? Is Li Zhong supposed to execute Han Shen through the door?
Li Er knows that if she wants to save Han Shen she has no choice but to tell Ying Zheng the truth – Han Shen is her martial arts brother. Li Er tells Ying Zheng that she and Han Shen knew each other before they entered the palace – they grew up together since they were children, practicing martial arts and playing around together. She says that she left willingly with Han Shen and they went to see her sworn sister, Ge Nie’s daughter, Ge Lan. She purposely doesn’t mention Jing Ke. Good choice.
As Ying Zheng thinks this over and paces in front of the cell, Zhao Gao asks Li Er why she didn’t just tell Ying Zheng that she wanted to visit her family. Li Er replies that there’s no precedent for royal consorts leaving the palace to visit their family, and Ying Zheng never would’ve given permission. It sounds terrible to live in the inner palace – you’re cut off from all your friends and family, and on top of that you have to constantly worry about people scheming against you. Li Er says she left the palace for personal reasons and is responsible for the turmoil caused in the palace, not Han Shen. Han Shen was trying to bring all of the blame onto himself when he said that he abducted her from the palace. Done pondering, Ying Zheng asks Han Shen if the reason he went to such great lengths to help Li Er find Tian Ming is because he’s her martial arts brother, and Han Shen confirms it.
Li Zhong says that it’s hard to believe only from Li Er’s words that they are martial arts brother and sister. Zhao Gao immediately agrees and says they need someone to verify it. Li Er says she’s not worried – anyone with high martial arts skills would be able to tell that they are from the same school of martial arts. At that, Ying Zheng has an idea – he will have General Meng Wu be the one to confirm it. After all, he and Li Er fought when she first entered the palace. Li Er says that she doesn’t think it will be fair for Meng Wu and Han Shen to spar, since Han Shen has only recently endured harsh interrogation and torture. Ying Zheng tells Li Er that the importance of the match is not who wins, but whether or not they are from the same martial arts school. If they aren’t, he will take Han Shen’s life for sure.
Lan Er takes really good care of Jing Ke while he is hopelessly drunk.
Ying Zheng yanks Li Er into his residence and all but throws her to the ground. He orders her to tell him the complete truth. Li Er tells him that half of what she said was the truth, half of it was lies, and Ying Zheng tells her to go on. She confirms that Han Shen really is her martial arts brother and she left the palace willingly, but it wasn’t Lan Er that they went to see. Ying Zheng immediately knows that she went to see Jing Ke. Ying Zheng asks her why she came back to the palace if she saw her martial arts brother, and she says that it was always her intention to return because of Tian Ming. She knows that as long as Ying Zheng is alive, and Qin is as powerful as it is, he would never let her go. She didn’t want to bring that trouble onto more peoples’ heads. Besides, she told Jing Ke that Tian Ming was her and Ying Zheng’s child.
That surprises Ying Zheng, and he asks her why she would say that. Li Er replies it’s because she doesn’t want Jing Ke to feel burdened. She wants him to be free and to do what he wishes to do. She says that she wouldn’t have entered the palace if she hadn’t already taken that into consideration. Ying Zheng is not happy to hear that, and pulls her face close to his. Ying Zheng: “Even now, your thoughts are for him? For him, it doesn’t matter if you sacrifice your own life? Those days when you were away from the palace, I couldn’t eat or sleep.” Heart flutter. Ying Zheng tells her that if she dares to lie to him again, he will not easily forgive her.
Lan Er is still taking care of a drunk Jing Ke when her father returns. Lan Er asks her dad how he handled it when her mother was killed, and he says that it was as if he was the living dead. Lan Er says that must be how it is for Jing Ke right now. He tells Lan Er that given Jing Ke’s current state, it doesn’t matter what she does. He won’t ever be able to forget Li Er and accept someone else. Lan Er just says that she will not give up easily. The next morning, Lan Er goes to look for Jing Ke who’s once again gone drinking.
Han Shen is brought before Ying Zheng to have his sparring match with Meng Wu. He doesn’t follow the rules and neglects to kneel before the King, even when Li Zhong mentions it because his attention is focused only on his martial arts sister. When Zhao Gao says that Han Shen and Li Er conspired to lie to the King, Li Er swears that she and Han Shen have never done anything inappropriate. They’ll soon know that they are the same school of martial arts. Ying Zheng calls for the match to begin.
Meng Wu and Han Shen begin their sparring match, and Meng Wu starts out very aggressively. Han Shen, weak from days of interrogation and torture at Zhao Gao’s hands, of course doesn’t do well. Zhao Gao can’t resist and with the snide comments that Han Shen’s martial arts skills are not even as good as his supposed martial arts sister, and it is obvious that they are not from the same school of martial arts. Meng Wu defeats Han Shen handily.
Afterwards, Ying Zheng has seen enough and tells Li Er that she lied to him. She tells him that she didn’t lie, but Ying Zheng orders Meng Wu to proceed in executing Han Shen. In order to save her martial arts brother and show Ying Zheng that they really did study martial arts together, Li Er takes Ying Zheng’s personal sword to fend off Meng Wu’s attack on Han Shen. She tells Han Shen to compose himself and to coordinate with her using one of the martial arts techniques that her grandfather had taught them in the past. They fight Meng Wu in perfect coordination and are able to defeat him.
After the fight, Meng Wu tells Ying Zheng that he can tell Li Er and Han Shen are from the same school of martial arts. Ying Zheng asks Li Zhong for his opinion, and Li Zhong confirms it as well. He says that for them to have the same movements and ability to coordinate their fighting in this manner, they must have at least ten years of studying martial arts together. When Ying Zheng asks Zhao Gao, even he can’t think of anything more to say. Ying Zheng tells Li Zhong to take Han Shen to Guangan Hall for questioning, and tells Li Er that he won’t harm Han Shen.
Jing Ke has become so drunk that he’s barely coherent, and he hallucinates that Li Er is there with him. Jing Ke is demanding more wine when Lan Er arrives at the resturant and sits down across from him. She just looks at him very sadly.
Ying Zheng tells Han Shen that he isn’t going to be able to kill him now that it’s been confirmed that he and Li Er are martial arts brother and sister. He knows that if he were to harm Han Shen, Li Er would hate him. He asks Han Shen if there are feelings between them other than martial arts brother and sister, and Han Shen says there aren’t, that he is only her martial arts brother. I think we all know at this point that Han Shen actually loves Li Er, but has decided that it’s enough to be at her side and always protect her.
Han Shen requests Ying Zheng to let him stay in the Qin palace so he can continue to protect Li Er, and is told that his request is ridiculous because Li Er is a royal consort. Han Shen says that even though that is true, and Ying Zheng loves and wants to protect Li Er, the inner palace is a dangerous place and he won’t be able to protect her forever. He can’t protect her with his life like Han Shen can, because Ying Zheng has the burdens of the royal court and the world. He asks Ying Zheng if he would really be able to put everything aside and risk his life for a royal consort. Good point.
Lan Er is helping Jing Ke through the woods when they encounter her father. Her father provokes Jing Ke into fighting him by criticizing his Master’s skills and abilities and for having such a poor disciple as Jing Ke. I like how Ge Nie fights with a long stick instead of a sword like Jing Ke does. The fight is nicely choreographed.
Even though Ge Nie defeats Jing Ke, he tells Jing Ke that he fought well. Ge Nie tells him that as a swordsman, he should only focus on his sword. Just now, Jing Ke was able to fight well because he had temporarily put everything else aside and focused only on the fight. Ge Nie tells Jing Ke that he needs to clear his mind to master his swordsmanship, and that Li Er likely had come to the same conclusion. Her leaving him was so that he could master his swordsmanship. Jing Ke seems to come to the realization that Li Er left for his benefit, and Ge Nie tells Jing Ke to really think about what kind of swordsman he wants to be and what he wants to achieve.
In the palace, Li Er is thoughtful as she holds on to the scarf that Jing Ke gave her. It doesn’t look like she’s fully able to put Jing Ke from her mind yet. When Ying Zheng comes to see her, she thanks him for sparing Han Shen’s life and letting him stay in the palace as a guard. In a flashback to Ying Zheng’s meeting with Han Shen, Han Shen agreed that he would truly become Ying Zheng’s person and tell him everything about Li Er as the condition for being allowed to stay in the palace. If Ying Zheng ever found out that he lied to him, he would be banished from the palace. Ying Zheng tells Li Er that he isn’t upset about her and Han Shen being brother and sister, but is upset because Li Er has already been in the palace for more than a year. He wants to know when Li Er will finally open up to him.
Jing Ke contemplates everything as he sits by the river – what was said to him by his Master, Li Er, Han Shen, and Ge Nie. He decides to become a sword that doesn’t look back from that point on. Yes! Finally. No more drinking and self-pity.
Thanks everyone for reading!
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