CQ and Yue had spent the rest of the New Year’s fest together. Nothing was special, but this was the happiest New Year ever. Far from Daxia and Yanbei, finally they get to relax and live as the ordinaries. They wandered to the temples and sightseeing around the town, constantly at tiff about everything, just like they’d always been. No one mentioned anything about the past. Life has been kind to her, thought CQ, by giving her a chance to see Yue standing in front of her, alive! The first sentence from Yue while he awkwardly and hopelessly attempts to comfort CQ from the spring of her tears was “I didn’t die yet!” But things could not be that easy. Even without any details, it is not hard for CQ to image what he had been through during the past two years for establishing such a new base of himself in Qinghai.
Back in the ice lake, Yue was saved by Yue Jiu in cost of his own life. The Yue guards, simply named after numbers, have accompanied Yue since he was four years old. They are actually his brothers rather than servants. Beneath the body of the young guard, for the first time in his whole life, Yue cried out loud as a wounded wolf. He remembered CQ once said “no one is a born slave!”, and he started to understand. Three days later, he was found by Yue Qi, who survived and continued to look for him with all the rest of the Yue guards. Left with a frail breath, Yue was sent to Wolong Mountain to his mentor, a famous scholar and wise man of the continent who had been the mentor of Mr.Wu and Zhong Yu, and educated Yue for eight years (while CQ was bound with YX at the Yingge yard). It took Yue half a year to recover, yet the messages brought back by the Yue guards from Daxia was desperate. He was totally abandoned by his family and his state. His father publicly wiped his body (no one would even bother to check whether the body really is his, as YX had bet with A-Jing) as a penalty of his failure. He was sentenced to multiple guilt by the state, the Qingshan yard had been examined, evacuated and seized. No one else would say anything for him except Zhao Che, who got exiled in return.
Nothing was left for Yue, and he had nowhere to go. But his mentor asked him to explore a way for himself, and inspired him by destroying the known map of the Ximeng continent, which left with a vast blank in the south west and northern east of Ximeng. Shortly after, he got the news that Meng Feng was exiled to Qinghai and about to pass Cuiwei Guan. He made up his decision and headed to the vast unknown of Qinghai. Stepping on bloods and bodies, Yue had defeated and recruited local gangs and thugs, built up his reputation as a protector among the native tribes and the descendants of the exiles, and won the authority over the territory. In the darkest time of his life, a family of so called native barbarian opened the door of their shabby home and welcomed him with a bowl of porridge. It was the warmest porridge he’d ever had. All of sudden, he was enlightened with what CQ had always been believing and pursuing. If it wasn’t for such an experience, he might would never understand her dream about a fairer world, and never recognize the delight of creation and protection. To his surprise, that was an even better feeling than the power of conquer and destroy.
By the time when CQ was sieged in Longyin Guan, Yue’s authority over Qinghai has been preliminary, and it was not a good time to expose his real identity. Yet, things didn’t turn well for CQ after her arrival in Biantang. Being the closest ally of YX and the famous Xiuli General of Yanbei, CQ was one of the top wanted war criminals of Daxia, and its regime had stressed Biantang to hand over CQ back. Li Ce had confronted a great pressure from his cabinet officials to agree with Daxia’s request, for Biantang was under the risk of assaulting both Daxia and Yanbei by keeping CQ in its own territory. If Daxia continued its request on CQ, Li Ce might be forced to at least hand over the Xiuli army to Daxia in exchange of CQ’s staying. To stop Daxia’s thirst on CQ, Yue revealed his identity as the Lord of Qinghai and declared the subordination of Qinghai to Daxia. Empowered by his military assets in Qinghai, Yue returns to the center stage of Daxia’s powerhouse again.
The return of Yue also represents the back of Zhao Che, who had followed Yue’s suggestions and thrived his power in the vast land northeast to Daxia. With Zhao Che’s approaching to stage, the game of throne in Daxia between Zhao Yang and Zhao Che starts to boil. Yue has the chance to take over the throne of Daxia by defeating Zhao Yang before Zhao Che arrives and replace Zhao Che later, but he gives it up. It is not because that he is a saint that has no hatred against the state and the family who had betrayed him, it is just because the people of Daxia cannot suffer more wars inner in their own lands. Furthermore, to Yue, Zhao Che, who had never turned his back to him, means much more than just a friend, whom he would try his best to support.
The high tide of joy ebbed eventually, and the reefs of cruel reality exposes. Yue has a great responsibility to Daxia, plus there is Qinghai for him to taken care of. Soon, Yue must return to his duties and it is impossible for CQ to go to Daxia without raising any storm. Hadn’t they meet in Xianyang by accident, the two of them might let their emotions slip away again, for both would rather leave their counterpart in peace by watching from afar. The reunion in Xianyang is nothing but a vacation and it cannot last ever. Finally, a message on a marriage proposal from the princes of Huaisong, Nalan Hongye, to Yue has ringed the bell of departure. It was YX who had triggered the proposal using his pen pal relationship with Hongye. If Yue agrees on the proposal, his ruling jointly over Daxia & Huaisong is promised, and who on earth could resist such an allure? While Yue’s affection on CQ is so well-known to the world, everyone is waiting for Yue’s reaction to the proposal.
CQ has accompanied Yue until pretty far outside Xianyang where they had to farewell. Yue asks about CQ’s plan for the future, whether would she go back to Yanbei later, which she denies by saying that Yanbei is too cold for her, neither would she go to Zhenhuang cause it is not warm either. When Yue is about to leave, for the first time CQ steps forward and actively holds him from his back, “I am sorry,” says her, “take care!” Yue doesn’t answer and hits the road without looking back. Watching Yue’s leaving makes CQ extremely exhausted and when she realizes it, her face was washed by her own tears. She gets back to Tangjing and farewells to Li Ce. She asked Li Ce to be kind to the Xiuli soldiers and to localize them by encouraging them to marry with girls of Biantang, which Li Ce accepts. Li Ce asks why couldn’t she be together with Yue, for apparently they love each other so much, while CQ answers that “Sometimes, to let go is also a way of love. After all, Yue is man who has duties to his family and responsibilities to his state. I know he’d give all those up if I’d asked. But could this be really good? I understand those responsibilities, which surpass the love and the freedom of one’s own. Once he abandons everything and wanders with me like itinerants, would he be really happy after a longer time? A man like him should have his own career and destiny, so that he won’t be regret when getting old. Moreover, I’m too tired to continue on a road that I cannot clearly see, I need a rest.”
In the next two years, CQ enjoyed her life as an ordinary civilian. She left from Tangjing with Ping’an, Jing Jing and Mei Xiang (saved by CQ in inner Yanbei and stayed to taking care of CQ ever since), and the four of them settled in Xuefu City, a small but famous town of scholars in southern Biantang, where she bought and ran a small hotel for living. She taught Ping’an, Jing Jing and Mei Xiang with various things in her spare time, and rehabilitated her health slowly. Though not intended, news arrive to the hotel constantly. Nalan Hongye’s dramatic proposal to Yue had experienced a plain ending with Yue firstly admitted and then declared that the princess of Huaisong can only be his concubine since he had already married with his wife back in Qinghai. The proposal thus became a joke and dissolved quietly. In Daxia, the competition between Zhao Yang and Zhao Che over the throne emerged to surface. As for Yanbei, YX was having a hard time for the trade between Huaisong and Yanbei was cut by Li Ce’s closing of the river route in Biantang, which is the only way to connect the two separated states. Being threatened by Daxia and Qinghai simultaneously, YX was running out of capacity to fight against Biantang, so he had to suffer the reality. If all these sounded trivial, then the biggest news was the extravagant wedding of YX, who had married 18 concubines, all connected with his important officials, at a same time. On the second day after YX’s wedding, the Nada palace, a gorgeous palace YX dedicated to his lover, the Xiuli General, had accomplished. But the palace had been kept empty and no one knows the whereabouts of the Xiuli General after her rupture with YX. Some rumored that she had married Li Ce in Biantang. Some other rumored that she actually was the wife mentioned by Yue while responding to Huaisong’s proposal. Some even said that she had returned to Yanbei and indeed was living in the Nada palace. But no one would guess that she is living in the small town of Xuefu, quietly and easily.
Several abnormal events signaling the coming unrest in Biantang had abrupt CQ from her peaceful hotel business. Worried about Li Ce, CQ decided to go and visit him. On her way to Tangjing, out of expectation, CQ and Yue recognized each other after the two groups of their peoples accidentally met, then helped, suspected, and about to fought against each other. Standing in front of Yue, CQ can’t help herself from smiling. Almost another two years had passed, CQ had heard a lot about him, that he’d used his influences in Daxia to acquire resources and supplies for Qinghai; that people are migrating to Qinghai for the abolishment of slavery and the encouragement of crafts and businesses; that scholars are also approaching to Qinghai for the opportunity of becoming officials by passing the tests rather than being recommended by powerful families; that instead of a vast of barren land, Qinghai is a place of emerging prosperous. All those stories about him disappeared when she looks at him. Barely 30, handsome as he still is, cool and uneasy as he still is, wrinkles are getting visible from the corner of his eyes, and if looked carefully, a tiredness can be sensed from inside of his eyes.
“You’re getting old!” says CQ, “Was everything good in the past two years?”
Looking back at CQ, Yue feels that all his angers towards her in the past two years has faded, as if the last piece of his childish willfulness has turned old along with her simple sentence.
“Nothing good or bad, just still alive.” Yue replies. And CQ understands that he is not quarreling but telling the truth. Only people like them could realize that, nothing is good or bad, it is indeed very good for just being alive.
“I’m good too.” answers CQ, even he doesn’t ask, “I’ve started a hotel business, and enjoyed a comfort life.”
“I know.” The man answers flatly, “I’ve had accommodations in there for three times.”
CQ is stunned. Then she hears Yue asking with a low voice, “Two years passed, had you figured it out?”
“Fi…figure out what?”
He frowns, “Are you spending the rest of your life running a hotel?”
Actually, that’s what she really planned.
“Or you planned to pick up someone randomly and marry him before you gets 30?”
CQ becomes awkward, “Who said this to you?”
“Who else?” says Yue, “Of course it’s Li Ce. Don’t you know that the Chun Yu Lou that is facing to you is opened by him, and the Si Hai Inn that oblique to your back is owned by me?”
CQ had been proud of herself by beating the two competitors on the same street with good business, turned out that the bosses were not interested on the hotel business at all. Anyway, that means Li Ce is fully aware on what’s happening out there recently, so no need for her to worry about him.
“So why are you coming out at this time?” asks Yue.
It about Li Ce’s inner politics and CQ don’t know how to explain, so she answers vaguely, “I’m heading to Tangjing.”
“Hum!” Yue snores coldly. By this time, one of Yue’s man comes to inform him to leave. Yue stands there quietly, and annoyed by the low pressure in the air, he turns his back and about to leave.
“Zhuge Yue!” CQ suddenly calls, “Come for a visit next time when you pass Xue Fu!”
“I have no such time!” Yue replies full of coldness, he turns back slowly, and says it with a gloomy look, “I’m getting back to Qinghai soon, would you come with me?”
He said it as if asking her whether she had ate, and CQ was shocked as a fool.
“Li Ce said that you need some more time to think it over.” says him calmly, “So have you figured it out recently? Would you come with me?”
“You, you have Daxia, and your family…”
“That’s none of your business.” Yue frowns again, “Just tell me are you coming with me or not?”
A group of birds passed by. Another group of birds passed by. Many groups of birds passed by, yet CQ doesn’t speak.
Suddenly, Yue shout to her furiously, “Are you coming or not?”
“I’m coming, coming, coming!” CQ shouts back.
Late in that evening, before they separate again, CQ finds Yue who is playing his flute and sits beneath him, and for the first time, she holds his hand.
“So when will you come to look for me? After the death of Daxia’s emperor? Or after Zhao Che inherits the throne? Can you withdraw in safe? ” She asks him.
Then she stares at him and asks, “Is Qinghai good?”
“Is it beautiful?”
“Some places are worth seeing.” Answers Yue unromantically.
“Then, is it cold?”
“Summer isn’t cold, winter is.”
“But the people there must be loyal.” Says CQ hopefully.
“Are you stupid? Where on earth is without bad persons? It’s all the same everywhere, who can be totally selfless? ”
“Aha?” CQ frowns, “Sounds Qinghai isn’t a good place either.”
“When did I say it is a good place?”
CQ is left with no words. Does this sound like a man is convincing his woman to run away with him?
“But one thing is good in there” He smiles proudly, “my words count!”
Before Yue’s departure, he asks CQ to speak something towards a strange bell. Feeling awkward, CQ shouts to the bell with “Zhuge Yue is a big bad ass!” which infuriates him. But he is soon comforted hearing CQ speaks to the bell tenderly, “remember, I’m waiting for you!”
It turns out that the bell is a recorder that repeats what was recorded when wind blows through it. Therefore, on their way back to Daxia, the whole group of Yue’s guys have heard CQ shouting “Zhuge Yue is a big bad ass!” from the bell. But only Yue hears another sentence, “remember, I’m waiting for you!”
ddmcmc: The last part of this recap is close to a translation cause this is the sweetest parts ever between the two adorable characters.