Wonderland of Love is a historical romantic drama directed by Zheng Weiwen, led by Xu Kai and Jing Tian, starring Zheng He Hui Zi, Gao Han, Zhao Jiamin, Liu Dongqin, Zhu Hongjia, with Liu Yuning and Shi Shi, Zeng Li, Yu Bo, Gao Shuguang and He Zhonghua in special roles.
The drama tells the story of Li Ni, an imperial grandson who is forced to take up the important task of quelling a rebellion, and Cui Lin, the only daughter of a general who hides her true identity. They are each leading an army in the dispute.
They fight against each other among various forces, and in several encounters, they meet each other and fall in love, staging a romantic love story.
English Title: Wonderland of Love
Chinese Title: 乐游原
Other Titles: 永遇乐, 与君归
Genre: Historical, Romance, Drama, Political
Tag: Strong Female Lead, Power Struggle, Double Identity, Rebellion, Smart Male Lead, Sword-fight
Duration: 45 min.
Director: Zheng Weiwen
Writer: Fei Wo Si Cun
Producer: Li Liming, Zhang Weilin
Product Company: Tencent Penguin Pictures, QISHUO PICTURES, XINGUANG PICTURES
Released Date: 2023-11-06
Broadcast Website: WeTV, YoYo Television Series Exclusive, Viki, 腾讯视频
- Xu KaiLi NiMain Role
- Jing TianCui LinMain Role
- Zheng He Hui ZiTao ZiSupport Role
- Gao HanLiu ChengfengSupport Role
- Dai YiSteward QiuSupport Role
- Zhao JiaminGu WanniangSupport Role
- Liu DongqinXie ChangerSupport Role
- Zeng LiConcubine XiaoSupport Role
- Yu BoSun JingSupport Role
- Gao ShuguangLord LiangSupport Role
When the dynasty is in turmoil and imperial power is at risk, Li Yi, the grandson of the emperor, is forced to take on the important task of quelling the rebellion.
He and Cui Lin, the only daughter of a general are each leading an army in the dispute.
They fight against each other among various forces and fall in love during several encounters, staging a romantic love story.
Lao Lan River has eighteen bends, and the first bend is Silver Pine Beach. In Silver Pine Beach...
As the powerful folk songs echoed, the scouts of the Western Garrison, led by General Li Ni, shouted for their comrades to come and eat the bread. The relief officers who came off duty wolfed down the bread with water. General Li Ni, who arrived late, scolded Old Bao for stealing his craft and the best flour he had sent for the 17th Prince. Old Bao didn't deny it, stating that he had just taken a little, and the 17th Prince had said that they would share both hardships and good fortune.
While they were talking, there was a sudden sharp scream from outside the city, and everyone tensed up and rushed to guard the city walls. Xie Zhanger, who was also a scout, jumped up and then crouched on the ground like a mantis, carefully listening to the sounds of the earth. In just a short while, he sensed something and signaled to Li Ni. Li Ni set aside his bread, tightened his grip on a bow and arrow, and kept his eyes fixed on the approaching group of people and horses. The arrow was on the string, but before anyone could react, someone hastily shouted that the newcomers were not enemies but General Pei Xian of the Western Garrison.
Li Ni put away his bow and arrow and went out to greet him. Pei Xian bowed to the 17th Prince Li Ni and reported that His Majesty had been harmed by Sun Jing at the Wan Shou Banquet on the sixth day of the sixth month. Now the rebels had taken over the palace and were slaughtering the city, and the Crown Prince had also died for the country. All the princes, their heirs, and countless princesses and concubines had been killed or injured. General Yun Chang, Han, had escorted the Crown Prince out of the siege but was dispersed outside the city by the rebel forces, and his fate was unknown. Li Ni's father, Lord Liang, was taken hostage and imprisoned in the Lord Liang's mansion. Now, the entire royal family had only the line of Lord Liang, and only Li Ni could shoulder the heavy responsibility of restoring order.
Li Ni only wanted to enjoy himself at Lao Lan Pass and hadn't paid attention to palace affairs for a long time. But now, the Great Yu Kingdom was in turmoil, and he couldn't just enjoy himself without a care. The Western Garrison marched towards the palace, but their supplies were running low. To get enough food for his troops, Li Ni planned to capture the food merchant Pi Silang with Pei Yuan. However, to their surprise, there was another group of people also targeting Pi Silang.
Both Li Ni and Cui Lin intended to take action against Pi Silang at the same time. However, they heard a commotion outside the door, so they had no choice but to jump into the bathhouse to hide. Without knowing each other's backgrounds, they ended up fighting each other in the water. Eventually, they were both discovered. Fortunately, Li Ni was quick-witted and lied, claiming that he had entered the wrong room with his lover, allowing them to escape before Sun Jing's subordinates arrived. Once they were safe, the two of them fought again, with their martial skills being evenly matched. However, they both managed to take something from each other during the fight.
Afterward, both sides began to wonder who the other person really was. In Cui Lin's eyes, the Li family had never been skilled in martial arts, let alone produced a man who could match her evenly in combat. On the other hand, Li Ni deduced that Cui Lin was from the Cui family based on an arrow she left behind. Now, the Cui family was also claiming to support the loyalists and heading towards the palace, so the realm was divided into three factions.
Late at night, Cui Lin had originally intended to take a bath, but she unexpectedly encountered Li Ni again. Cui Lin wanted to leave, but her clothes were caught, causing a disturbance. Li Ni sensed something was amiss and sent a bamboo pole towards the source of the noise. Once again, they engaged in combat. Cui Lin momentarily lost focus and was nearly captured by Li Ni. She hurriedly spoke up, revealing that she knew the whereabouts of the Crown Prince. Li Ni believed her and tried to help her up, but he was wounded by her hidden weapon and fell into a well.
Since Pi Silang was under house arrest by Sun Jing, Li Ni decided to use a ruse to gain access to him, claiming that he was sent by Lady Pi to escort Pi Silang. This ploy worked, but Pi Silang's identifying token was already missing. Li Ni realized that the Cui family had sabotaged their plan. It appeared that, at this moment, the Cui family had disguised themselves as the guards of Wangzhou and openly entered the city to obtain supplies. Li Ni remained calm and decided to hold Wangzhou City until Cui Lin was chased by Guo Zhi for negotiation. Indeed, as he had suspected, the Cui family's army had arrived too early.
Inside the Western Capital Imperial Palace, Grand Commander Sun Jing scored another goal in a game of ball. Former Crown Princess Xiao, in response, also scored a goal. They were both very happy, enjoying the pleasant weather, accompanied by their loved ones. Sun Jing's strategist, Xin Fu, hurriedly came and whispered something in Sun Jing's ear. His expression darkened instantly, and in a fit of rage, he struck the ball forcefully, hitting an eunuch's head.
Sun Jing summoned Lord Liang to inquire about Li Ni. Lord Liang was so scared that he shivered and tearfully recounted Li Ni's background. Li Ni's mother had died during a difficult childbirth, and he had been mischievous from a young age, often fighting with his elder brother. As he grew up, he became a lazy troublemaker, causing disturbances. It was for this reason that the late emperor had exiled him to Lao Lan Pass. However, Sun Jing pointed out that the seemingly mischievous and useless younger son in Lord Liang's account had cleverly used tactics to capture Wangzhou. Lord Liang didn't know how to respond and feigned illness, fainting.
At present, the three armies were in a standoff, which benefited no one. So, Cui Lin, disguised as Captain He, and Li Ni, disguised as Captain Pei Yuan, came to Guo Zhi's camp to negotiate. Guo Zhi proposed that one representative from each army should participate in a horse race, and the winning side would have the right to negotiate. Before the race began, Li Ni and Cui Lin, who had a hostile relationship, exchanged sharp words. During the intense race, Guo Zhi's subordinates were eager for victory and didn't avoid the arrows, pushing through to place their own side's flag into the iron jar. One of the horses got frightened and ran straight towards Cui Lin. Li Ni, who was nearby, acted quickly to protect her.
Li Ni and Cui Lin admired the courage of this subordinate, and they were both satisfied with the result. Guo Zhi believed that it was approaching dusk and the priority was to bury this subordinate. He invited both of them to stay the night and discuss negotiation matters the next day. Li Ni and Cui Lin readily agreed. However, during the night, Guo Zhi planned to capture their heads to claim credit with Sun Jing. He had sent them snacks with a secret ingredient.
Meanwhile, Li Ni wanted to investigate Cui Lin's background and quietly infiltrated her tent. However, Cui Lin seemed to have anticipated this and effortlessly captured him. Just then, Guo Zhi's snacks were delivered. In the short time they were out of the tent, Li Ni, who was tied up, disappeared without a trace. When Cui Lin realized the situation was turning bad, it was already too late, and Li Ni had tied her up.
While the two were in a standoff, Guo Zhi's army quietly approached. However, many rockets flew in from an unknown source, setting Guo Zhi's camp in chaos. Cui Lin and Li Ni, although from different camps, now had a common enemy and decided to put aside their previous grievances and stand together. Seizing the opportunity, Li Ni called for Xie Zhanger to inform Pei Yuan to guard the city gate. Cui Lin, on the other hand, took the chance to slip away.
Cui Lin tore off a piece of her clothing and left it by the road to erase her footprints, intending to confuse Li Ni, who was chasing her. When Li Ni arrived, he suspected Cui Lin's scheme but decided to outsmart her. He pushed her into a river, seeking revenge for the previous incident when she pushed him into a well. However, after Cui Lin fell into the water, she quickly went silent, and the ripples caused by her struggle gradually subsided. Although they had their differences, Li Ni wasn't a heartless person who would let innocent people die. He promptly jumped into the water to rescue Cui Lin. After pulling her to safety, Cui Lin took advantage of Li Ni's momentary distraction and used a hidden weapon in her mouth to strike his acupoint, causing him to faint. In gratitude for Li Ni saving her, Cui Lin hid him in the bushes to prevent him from being discovered by pursuers.
Cui Lin rode her horse ahead, but she lost her way. Frustrated and disoriented, she was suddenly startled when a swarm of horse bees scattered in all directions ahead. Cui Lin fell into a pitfall trap. Fortunately, she only injured her leg and didn't hit any vital areas. Her white horse was frantic but could do nothing except neigh loudly. In desperation, Cui Lin called for the white horse to go and get help.
During the night, Cui Lin sat motionless in the pit, unable to move. She could only watch the bright moon in the sky while her stomach growled, and she gazed longingly at the moonlight. The bone-chilling cold wind rustled the weeds, making eerie sounds. Footsteps approached slowly from not far away, accompanied by an unfamiliar fragrance. After a while, Li Ni, holding roasted meat, blocked the moonlight shining on Cui Lin. Li Ni offered the roasted meat in exchange for Cui Lin handing over the army's supplies to him. Cui Lin refused, insisting that someone would avenge her even if she died. Li Ni had no choice and jumped into the pit. However, he ultimately couldn't bring himself to harm Cui Lin, so he handed her the roasted meat.
Learning that Cui Lin's life was uncertain, Cui Family's son, Liu Chengfeng, immediately dispatched troops to Guo Zhi's military camp. Close attendant Tao Zi and Chen Xing hurriedly came to report that their master was safe. Tao Zi was Cui Lin's personal maidservant, and they had grown up together. She was knowledgeable about medicinal herbs and could track Cui Lin using the unique medicinal powder on her. At that moment, Cui Lin was tied up by the bandit leader Huang Youyi, and accompanying her was Li Ni, who had jumped into the hole to bring her food.
The mountain bandits were uncertain about how to deal with the beautiful Cui Lin. Some suggested selling her for money, while others proposed marrying her as their leader's concubine. Huang Youyi, feeling a headache, immediately interrupted them and interrogated Cui Lin to find out her true identity. Cui Lin, with a sly twinkle in her eyes, falsely claimed to be the beloved concubine of Crown Prince Li Ni. The actual Li Ni was dumbfounded, admiring Cui Lin's ability to lie without blushing. To avoid trouble, he reluctantly played along, saying he was Li Ni's bodyguard, tasked with escorting this "concubine of Li Ni" to Wangzhou.
With the Li royal family's decline, the mountain bandits were not inclined to believe them. One bandit, recalling that Zhao Youde was formerly in the Western Army, rushed to greet Li Ni and was overjoyed to meet Seventeenth Young Master here. It was then that Cui Lin learned that the adversary behind her was indeed Crown Prince Li Ni. Li Ni felt like he had come home and had his restraints removed, while he ordered Cui Lin's bindings to be tightened.
In order to rebel, Sun Jing had pillaged nearby villages, and Zhao Youde had joined the mountain bandits because of it. As for the court, they all had grievances. Sun Jing and the rogue bandits didn't care about the lives of the common people, and the Li royal family wasn't much better. Repeated corvée labor and hardship had driven these people to become outlaws and rulers of the mountains. Zhao Youde suggested that everyone recognize Li Ni as their elder brother and together join the Western Army. The bandits, being straightforward, didn't wait for Li Ni to speak and flocked to him, vowing in blood brotherhood. But that knife was clearly aimed at Cui Lin, representing the "Li royal family."
Seeing this, Li Ni felt the need to intervene and falsely claimed that this royal concubine was his beloved, and they were eloping. Upon hearing this, the bandits' attitude changed, affectionately referring to Cui Lin as their sister-in-law and quickly untying her. Everyone chatted and headed toward the "bridal chamber." Li Ni was in a difficult position and had no choice but to take Cui Lin into the room. With no one else around, they no longer held back and vied to occupy the bed. Li Ni chose to play the role of an eager suitor, hoping to force Cui Lin to yield, but she turned away and prepared to rest.
At this moment, Tao Zi had followed the trail of medicinal powder to the mountain stronghold and, witnessing Li Ni's inappropriate advances on Cui Lin, became angry and drew her small crossbow. Li Ni noticed in time and shielded Cui Lin. Seeing the short arrow, Cui Lin realized Tao Zi had arrived and immediately pushed Li Ni away and got up. At the same time, Xie Zhanger also arrived. Before the few of them could introduce themselves, a commotion started outside, with reports of Guo Zhi leading his troops to attack the mountain. Li Ni and Cui Lin had been away from their respective camps for several days and needed to return quickly. They left Xie Zhanger and Tao Zi behind to assist the mountain bandits.
Cui Lin's leg injury had not yet healed, preventing her from traversing the mountain path. To avoid drawing attention, Li Ni borrowed clothes from the villagers and bought a horse-drawn carriage. They finally arrived at a checkpoint, but Sun Jing's subordinates were looting from the common people. Both were angry but couldn't afford to take risks, so they reluctantly turned the carriage towards the mountain road. The rugged mountain road caused Cui Lin's body to ache with pain. Li Ni furrowed his brows and carried Cui Lin on his back. When Cui Lin woke up, she found herself lying on a straw mat, and Li Ni was roasting meat nearby.
Suddenly, voices from outside alarmed them. Li Ni nervously grabbed his short sword and peered through a crack. Fortunately, the newcomers were not mountain bandits or official soldiers but an elderly couple who had rescued them. The old couple had returned from hunting in the mountains, and the four of them shared a satisfying meal. During the night, while the old woman was sleeping, Cui Lin stuffed her pearls into the woman's clothes. They were abruptly awakened by a group of aggressive soldiers. The old couple insisted they hadn't seen any strangers, and the soldiers let them go.
But when Cui Lin and Li Ni emerged, they found the elderly couple's lifeless bodies. Both had been shot in the back and held hands until the end. Li Ni was furious and blamed Cui Lin for stunning him earlier, preventing them from saving the elderly couple in time. But given the circumstances at the time, Cui Lin had no other options.
Liu Chengfeng and Cui Lin had grown up together since childhood. In his eyes, Cui Lin was unlike any other woman in the world. From a young age, Cui Lin had treated him differently from everyone else. He had long held a fondness for Cui Lin but didn't know if she felt the same way about him. Hearing that Tao Zi had already found Cui Lin, he quickly drank a medicinal concoction, intending to continue forward, hoping to meet Cui Lin on her way back. On the other hand, Guo Zhi had led his army and was nearing the city of Wangzhou. Outnumbered and with few options, Pei Yuan planned to abandon the city and withdraw.
Struggling to reach the city, Cui Lin finally couldn't hold on any longer and fainted. Li Ni found a doctor for Cui Lin and personally brewed medicine for her. In her deep sleep, Cui Lin was drenched in sweat and caught in a nightmare. In her dream, at a young age, she was chased by a group of people, and her loved ones died one by one before her eyes. Her mother had to stay behind to deal with the attackers. Cui Lin cried out for her "mother" but couldn't grasp anything. Li Ni looked disdainful, but he didn't stop his actions, helping Cui Lin up and feeding her medicine. He did it smoothly, as if he had become the husband taking care of his wife. When Cui Lin woke up, she thought Li Ni was trying to harm her and attempted to injure him with a hidden weapon. Li Ni, without blinking an eye, dodged the projectile and continued to apply the medicine to Cui Lin's wound. Cui Lin felt a warm feeling in her heart, allowing Li Ni to apply the herbs to her injury.
During the night, the two finally sat down for an intimate conversation. Cui Lin openly expressed her regret for not being able to save the elderly couple. When she was a child, she had grown up on the border. One day, all the men in the city went to fight, and another group of enemies took advantage of the situation to attack the city. The women in the city, including Cui Lin, donned armor and picked up spears to defend their homes. Cui Lin's mother instructed her to crawl out of the well and escape, while she stayed behind to fight alongside the other women until the very end. When Cui Lin and her father returned to the city, they saw the corpses of those women hanging from the city walls, and blood flowing down the walls. From that moment on, Cui Lin remembered her mother's words: only by staying alive could she save more people.
As they journeyed, Cui Lin and Li Ni saw an increasing number of refugees, and they felt a deep sense of unease. They heard that the Western Army had been defeated, and Guo Zhi had once again occupied Wangzhou. The people couldn't help but lament, "In prosperity, the people suffer; in decline, the people suffer." Upon hearing these words, Li Ni didn't say much, but his face clearly showed his anxiety and worry. He bought candied fruits to please Cui Lin, hoping to capture Wangzhou together.
The lord of Wangzhou, Han Li, was a cunning and two-faced man who had long defied the imperial orders, colluding with the traitor Sun Jing. Han Li controlled only Wangzhou and Jianzhou, but these two cities were vital water routes for the transportation of grain and troops. Jianzhou was only about two hundred miles away from Wangzhou, and a fast horse could reach it in one night. The governor of Jianzhou recognized only the official seal, not the bearer, so as long as they captured Wangzhou and seized Han Li's seal, both cities would be in their hands.
Moreover, Han Li had recently had a son, and a celebration was approaching. They decided to use this opportunity to prepare a grand gift for him. The primary task was to infiltrate the celebration. Li Ni learned that Han Li's residence had recently hired a wet nurse, who had a blood sister known as Lady Xu. Lady Xu was known for setting up a stall to sell tofu and soy milk. So, they disguised themselves as a married couple and approached Lady Xu to gather information.
Cui Lin had hidden something in her belly and pretended to be pregnant, while Li Ni bought a piece of fine cloth. With this setup, they sat down at Lady Xu's soy milk stall. Cui Lin first praised Lady Xu's skills, drawing her attention. Lady Xu indeed noticed Cui Lin's belly and the cloth on the table, and she offered some advice as an experienced person. Cui Lin, sweet-tongued and clever, quickly became close to Lady Xu and extracted a lot of information. Han Li's grandson had recently suffered from an illness that hadn't completely healed yet. So, Han's residence was certain to have a doctor visiting soon. Coincidentally, Cui Lin had some knowledge of medicine.
On the day of the celebration, Li Ni and Cui Lin, as planned, infiltrated Han Li's mansion and abducted Han Li's grandson, threatening to exchange him for the real tiger tally. Han Li's advisor, Lv Chengzhi, speculated that the Western Army had recently suffered defeat at Wangzhou and was now close to BIngzhou. The son of the Cui family's Cui Gongzi was leading a large army nearby. At this moment, both families were eyeing Bingzhou, and either could be the mastermind behind the abduction of the grandson. Puzzled, Han Li decided to go for the exchange with a fake tiger tally.
His secret guards had been observing inside and outside the forest for a whole day but saw no one come to claim the tiger tally. Just when Han Li was puzzled, a call for "fire" resounded. Li Ni and Cui Lin took advantage of the chaos to climb over the walls and investigate the whereabouts of the real tiger tally. However, the courtyard was full of traps, and a slight mistake could be fatal. Neither of them was rash, so they quickly retreated to strategize. After much discussion, they decided to pose as trusted aides of Cui Gongzi and negotiate with Han Li.
Han Li rushed off to fight the fire, not realizing that his grandson had been secretly returned at some point. He finally understood that the other side intended to lure him away to steal the real tiger tally. Fortunately, the south courtyard was heavily guarded, and without a force of hundreds or thousands of people, it was impossible to break in. Later, Li Ni and Cui Lin, posing as Cui's army, arrived and offered a hefty sum to borrow a path through the south courtyard. Han Li was a greedy man by nature, but considering the tense situation, he had to be cautious. Learning that the messenger who had come to negotiate was indeed from the Cui army, specifically Cui Gongzi's trusted confidante, the famous "Lockbox Woman," Han Li had an idea. However, they seemed to have mistaken Li Ni's identity and, astonishingly, took him for Cui Gongzi.
Seeing Han Li's elaborate greeting, both Cui Lin and Li Ni were perplexed, but they had to play along with Han Li's plan and continued to impersonate Cui Gongzi. In the evening, Sun Jing sent gold and jewelry and a team of guards under the pretext of protecting Han Li. Han Li, who already resented Sun Jing, planned to use this opportunity to break free of Sun Jing's control with the help of the "Cui Gongzi" they had provided. Li Ni and Cui Lin had foreseen Han Li's plan and decided to outwit him.
With remarkable coordination, they searched every corner of the room and sealed off all potential sources of leakage. However, there was suddenly movement on the roof. Li Ni acted swiftly, wrapping his arms around Cui Lin and covering them both with a red cloth as they slipped into the bathtub. Surrounded by smoke and concealed by the red cloth, anyone attempting to eavesdrop, no matter how keen their sight or hearing, would not be able to discern what Cui Lin and Li Ni were doing or saying. Learning of the situation in the room, Han Li couldn't help but burst into laughter, stating that Cui Gongzi was truly exceptional for engaging in such playful antics in such circumstances.
Once they were free from disturbance, Li Ni and Cui Lin lay down on the bed to rest. Li Ni suddenly realized that he didn't know the true identity of the woman beside him, knowing only that she was the confidante of Cui Gongzi. Cui Lin was reluctant to reveal her real name but, faced with Li Ni's persistent questions, finally uttered "Ah Jin." Li Ni knew this was not her real name and decided to give her a name himself, calling her "Ah Dao" or "Ah Zhen."
Cui Lin, belatedly, realized that Li Ni had been teasing her about her role as a pregnant woman and angrily pressed a silver needle against his neck. However, Li Ni was unusually earnest, stating that this journey was dangerous, and if he were to die without knowing her name, it would be a great pity. Cui Lin felt a bit touched and turned away from Li Ni. Later, she slowly revealed her real name, "Ah Ying," which was the pet name her mother had given her. Li Ni gently called out the name "Ah Ying" and gradually fell into a deep sleep.
Concubine Xiao, taking advantage of the moment when no one was paying attention, quietly entered the room of the former prince's consort, Lady Jiang, to inquire about the well-being of her unborn child. Seeing that Lady Jiang was safe, Concubine Xiao quickly departed.
Upon learning that Cui Lin was trapped in Han Li's mansion, Liu Chengfeng promptly ordered someone to take the banner of the Cui army to negotiate. However, before they could say more than a few words, an envoy sent by Sun Jing burst in and accused Han Li of having a private relationship with Cui Yi. Caught in a dilemma, Han Li had no choice but to invite Li Ni and Cui Lin. As soon as they stepped out, Li Ni and Cui Lin, in perfect harmony, attempted to break free from the encirclement. However, Cui Lin's foot injury resurfaced, making her escape difficult. Lv Chengzhi quickly explained that Han Li had merely invited them to the front hall for a banquet without any ulterior motives. Li Ni was somewhat doubtful but carried Cui Lin to the front hall.
The envoy from the Cui army was puzzled upon seeing this "Cui Gongzi," but upon observing Cui Lin's gestures, he swallowed his doubts. The envoy sent by Sun Jing feigned goodwill, inviting "Cui Gongzi" to visit the capital. However, Li Ni paid him little attention and was more concerned about Cui Lin's injury. This envoy, feeling slighted, grew displeased and no longer wished to play along, rising from his seat and accusing "Cui Gongzi" of plotting rebellion. Only then did Li Ni raise his head and proactively propose a sword dance for entertainment, with Cui Lin providing the accompaniment.
As the sword stirred the bamboo leaves, it kicked up dust and under the sunlight, cast a dazzling path. The cold sword cut through this path, growing even more brilliant. The song was moving, the dance graceful, and everyone was enthralled. Li Ni's hand rose and the blade descended, a flash of cold light aiming directly at the envoy's neck. In an instant, fresh blood gushed out, and the envoy of Sun Jing fell lifeless. The festive banquet was thrown into chaos, but Han Li at his seat remained unmoved, even looking upon everything with interest. In reality, Han Li had already struck a deal with Li Ni. He had only needed to kill the envoy of Sun Jing for Cui Lin to leave safely. Han Li, though not a good man, was relatively trustworthy and, as promised, had someone escort Cui Lin back to the Cui army camp. Before leaving, Cui Lin gave Li Ni a keepsake from her mother, a hairpin, hoping he would stay safe.
As Han Li was contemplating how "Cui Gongzi" and Miss He were deeply in love, he was surprised by the arrival of another "Cui Gongzi." Realizing that the people in his mansion were impostors, Han Li flew into a rage and ordered them to be killed. Li Ni did not hide the truth anymore, stating that he had posed as "Cui Gongzi" under Miss He's instructions. Hearing this, Han Li was half-convinced and half-skeptical. Li Ni proposed a solution, asserting that he could help resolve Bingzhou's urgent crisis. In the current tense situation, Han Li had no choice but to take a risky move, following the advice of this "Cui family dropout," and sending someone to negotiate with Pei Yuan.
Soon, Pei Yuan provided a response, agreeing to cooperate with Bingzhou to sandwich the Cui army from both front and rear and seize the military provisions. However, he had one condition: he wanted to pass through Bingzhou. Li Ni continued to suggest that Han Li should pretend to agree to let them pass through, exploiting the strategic location of Bingzhou to face a force of ten with just one. Once the Western Army entered Xia Luo Valley, they could strike them from the front and rear, and it would be difficult for Sun Jing, who was far away in the capital, to interfere. Han Li's eyes sparkled with admiration for Li Ni's strategical acumen, and he planned to hire him as an advisor after achieving victory. Li Ni made his position clear, stating that he was willing to make the effort.
Seeing that Cui Lin's hairpin had gone missing, Liu Chengfeng found a very similar one and gave it to her. Cui Lin was pleased but explained that the original hairpin held special meaning for her, and even though the one in her hand was identical, it couldn't replace the place it held in her heart. At this moment, the real hairpin was being held by Li Ni, contemplating how he would hold Cui Lin accountable once they were outside. Soon, a loud commotion from outside signaled that war had broken out again.
After returning to the military camp, Cui Lin quickly led the army to attack Bingzhou. The defending forces in Bingzhou were defeated in a single battle, with some retreating to Jinzhou and the rest surrendering. Han Li saw that the situation was unfavorable and managed to escape with the protection of his guards. However, Cui Lin had already ordered her troops to search for Han Li and close the city gates. She made it clear that they must capture Han Li before the Zhenxi Army could do so. At the same time, the old Bao from the Zhenxi Army was also searching for Han Li's whereabouts.
Outside the house was in chaos, but Gu Wanniang, the daughter of Gu Xiang, remained calm and continued her embroidery work. Gu Xiang had six daughters and thought that Gu Wanniang was neither intelligent nor skilled, so she listened to her third daughter's advice and sent her to Bingzhou. Just as she was thinking, there was a sudden urgent sound of footsteps outside the house. Han Li appeared before her eyes, seeking refuge. Gu Wanniang, a strong-willed woman, mocked Han Li for intruding into a women's chamber in broad daylight. Han Li seemed to pose a threat to Gu Wanniang, but at that moment, Li Ni pushed the door open.
In his haste, Han Li pushed Gu Wanniang aside and fled on his own. Seeing Xie Zhanger chasing after him, Li Ni quickly leaped to save Gu Wanniang from falling off the balcony. Coincidentally, Cui Lin arrived in time and witnessed the scene. Despite some displeasure, Cui Lin was willing to concede Bingzhou. However, she wasn't about to give up this strategic stronghold so easily. Even before the city was breached, she had ordered the removal of the city's food and supplies.
The Zhenxi Army realized their mistake and quickly confronted the Cui family's troops. The two sides engaged in a heated argument that escalated into a fight. Meanwhile, Liu Chengfeng and Cui Lin remained unfazed by the commotion and calmly enjoyed the snacks in front of them. When a bit of snack ended up on Cui Lin's lips, Liu Chengfeng adeptly stepped forward to wipe it away. This scene did not go unnoticed by Li Ni, and an unexplained anger welled up in his heart. He blurted out, "Stop!" and the entire hall fell silent. It was this exclamation that made Liu Chengfeng notice the hairpin in Li Ni's hair, which Cui Lin had claimed was lost.
Li Ni, feeling bored, recalled Liu Chengfeng's actions with Cui Lin earlier, and he felt quite uncomfortable. Just then, he heard a soft sound of footsteps outside the door and couldn't help but wonder if Cui Lin had come to find him. He quickly got up to open the door. However, when he opened the door, the smile on his face instantly disappeared, and his joy disappeared from his eyes. Gu Wanniang thanked Li Ni and offered to contribute the Gu family's resources, but she had one request—to accompany the army to the capital. Li Ni naturally disagreed because it was against the rules and he couldn't look after female relatives. But unable to resist Gu Wanniang's earnest request, Li Ni reluctantly agreed to let her join the army disguised as a man.
To appease the city's residents, a lantern festival was held that night. Li Ni invited Cui Lin and they went out together to enjoy the evening. Lanterns illuminated the night, and Cui Lin and Li Ni sat in a small boat, admiring the beautiful scenery. Li Ni told Cui Lin that he had grown up in the capital and had often ridden alone to Leyou Plain since he learned how to ride. Leyou Plain was a famous scenic spot in the capital, located on high ground, offering a panoramic view of the entire city. Cui Lin couldn't help but recite a poem: "Myriads of trees and cicadas, a rainbow across the river, a western wind on Leyou Plain. Xihe bathes in the Yu spring, not allowing the slanting sun to move east." But what Li Ni had in mind was a different poem. Before he could speak, Cui Lin preempted him and recited the poem he had in mind.
Ever since taking control of the imperial city, Lady Wei regarded herself as the rightful queen. However, the former Crown Princess, Xiao Fei, had always been the object of Sun Jing's affections when he was younger, which made her feel belittled by Xiao Fei. But she couldn't bear this humiliation and started to oppose Xiao Fei in every possible way, determined to assert her authority in front of her. However, Xiao Fei, relying on Sun Jing's favor, paid no attention to her. At this time, Sun Jing had not yet ascended to the throne, and in theory, Xiao Fei's status was higher than hers. So, Lady Wei found Xiao Fei even more disagreeable and contemplated sending her away.
Admiring the river lanterns, they were unaware the small boat was leaking, so they had to get off, looking disheveled to dry their outer garments. The smell of roasting firewood reminded Cui Lin of her mother; during her childhood, her mother used to roast sweet potatoes by the fire. Thinking about it made Cui Lin's stomach growl. Li Ni suggested they grab a bite to eat. The dumplings at the shop were delicious, but surprisingly there were few customers. Cui Lin couldn't help but inquire about it. The shopkeeper helplessly mentioned that everyone had gone to witness the execution of Han Li. On hearing this, both Li Ni and Cui Lin looked somewhat guilty.
Meanwhile, some people emerged from the crowd claiming to save Han Li. Chaos ensued as people scattered. However, Li Ni and Cui Lin remained unfazed and continued their leisurely date. As they leisurely walked back, they noticed many washing away bloodstains from the pavilion. Huang Youdao was extremely pleased, claiming to have obtained Han Li's military token. But just when he wanted to hand it to Li Ni, he couldn't find it. Liu Chengfeng, standing nearby, couldn't help but smile, revealing the truth behind the praying mantis catching the cicada, with the oriole behind.
Knowing that Cui Lin stole the token, the Zhenxi Army was irritated. They pointed at Cui Lin, questioning her actions, reminding her she was the concubine of the Crown Prince, supposed to elope with the Seventeenth Lord. Yet, she was now seen with another man, aiding him in obtaining the military token. When Cui Lin denied it, someone suggested it was just a lover's quarrel, not something to escalate this much. Liu Chengfeng, agitated, rebuked the mountain bandits, questioning Li Ni's intentions. Li Ni, seemingly enjoying the spectacle, waited for Cui Lin to explain herself. Cui Lin hurriedly explained to Liu Chengfeng that it was all a misunderstanding.
Upon entering, Li Ni noticed a pair of wrist guards and thought they were specially made by Cui Lin. Excitedly, he put them on and rushed to find Cui Lin. But Li Ni's arrogance led Cui Lin to believe he was flaunting what she had given him without acknowledging it. This angered her, so she lied, claiming she was actually the mistress of Master Cui. Li Ni felt thunderstruck, standing there bewildered. Little did he know, this was another trap set by Cui Lin.
Cui Lin knew Li Ni's feelings and, to capture Han Li and Jinzhou, she deliberately disrupted Li Ni's thoughts, seizing the opportunity during negotiations. Her scheme worked as Li Ni was preoccupied with her earlier words, forgetting the ongoing negotiations. He spent the entire day pondering, unable to comprehend. Consequently, he decided to sneak into Cui Lin's room at night to return the hairpin. But as the words reached his lips, he couldn't say them, firmly reinserting the hairpin into his own hair. Then, he implored Cui Lin to use the influence of the Cui family army in the capital to help rescue his father. Just then, Liu Chengfeng knocked on Cui Lin's door. Cui Lin, in a hurry, stuffed Li Ni under the covers, then hastily opened the door and sent off Liu Chengfeng.
That day, Li Ni arranged a grand feast for Liu Chengfeng, intending to uncover Cui Lin's true identity and seek assistance from the Cui family army. Although seeing the hairpin on Li Ni's head made Liu Chengfeng uncomfortable, he managed to stay composed. Coupled with Cui Lin's timely realization, Tao Zi promptly led Liu Chengfeng away, preventing Li Ni from catching onto anything incriminating.
Since offending Lady Wei the last time, Xiao Fei's attendant, Shen Niang, was sent to guard the imperial tomb. Actually, it was Xiao Fei's plan to send away the pregnant Jiang. But she never expected Sun Jing to take the initiative and kill Shen Niang and her group. When the news reached Xiao Fei, the ashes of Shen Niang and Jiang had already been callously scattered. Xiao Fei shook with anger and frustration, furious at Sun Jing's duplicity and ruthless actions, regretting her inability to preserve the bloodline of the former Crown Prince. She couldn't help but think about her child and wonder if he had grown taller. At that moment, General Yunchang, Han Chang, was leading Li Xuanze forward.
Luoyang City has high walls, easy to defend, and difficult to attack. Besides, there's a tricky character named Fuyuanr. Although he is a non-Han general, he is a former comrade of Sun Jing and has remained loyal to him. Additionally, if they attack the city and fail, they will be vulnerable to attacks from the Cui Family's Army. So, Pei Yuan believes that attacking the city is the worst option. However, Li Ni thinks that since the Duke of Zhengguo, Sun Jing's trusted general, is overseeing the defense of Luoyang, they can exploit his inexperience and the existing conflict with Fuyuanr. While discussing this, a messenger from Luoyang City arrives, and it turns out to be Fuyuanr himself.
Fuyuanr is straightforward and, upon seeing the child of an old acquaintance, he forgets about the war and engages in small talk. He is puzzled as to why the Western Garrison isn't taking control of Jianzhou as well. Li Ni explains that the Western Garrison lacks the resources of the Cui Family's Army, so they need to trade Jianzhou for supplies. They both openly discuss their current plans. Fuyuanr suggests a collaboration to break the Cui Family's Army. After some contemplation, Li Ni agrees to the partnership.
A few days later, Li Ni personally leads an attack on the Cui Family's Army at Luoyang City, engaging in combat with the masked Cui Junior. Meanwhile, Fuyuanr stands atop the city walls, watching the intense battle with satisfaction. However, he is unaware that the battle is a ruse orchestrated by the Cui Family's Army and the Western Garrison. Li Ni and "Cui Junior" slowly approach each other, and the two sides are evenly matched. Eventually, Li Ni gains the upper hand and removes the mask, revealing that "Cui Junior" is actually Ayi. Before they can exchange words, a volley of arrows suddenly targets Cui Lin. Li Ni saves her, but the attackers appear unfamiliar, leaving them both suspicious.
Later, a report arrives, stating that the Western Garrison has repelled the Cui Family's Army and injured their leader. However, Li Ni is also wounded. The Duke of Zhengguo is delighted upon hearing this news and plans to take advantage of the situation. But Fuyuanr stops him, stating that he must honor his agreement with Li Ni. Luoyang is strategically important, and putting both the capital and Sun Jing in danger would be unwise if the Cui Family's Army and the Western Garrison join forces to attack or besiege the city. Fuyuanr took a risk by cooperating with Li Ni to send the Western Garrison away.
Tao Zi brings a meal to Cui Lin but is then asked to fetch poison by her. Although she doesn't fully understand, Tao Zi complies. After Tao Zi leaves, Li Ni playfully walks out, teasing Cui Lin about killing him to silence him. Cui Lin questions why he is not resting in his own tent after being injured. Li Ni approaches Cui Lin and confesses that he knows she isn't a concubine of Cui Junior. A flirtatious atmosphere builds, but Tao Zi returns at an inopportune moment, and Li Ni sighs and leaves.
On this day, as agreed, the Western Garrison takes the food supplies offered by Luoyang City and departs. However, upon reaching the mountains, the column stops. Li Ni had foreseen that the ambitious Duke of Zhengguo would not give up easily and would likely launch a surprise attack from the supplies. He hatches a plan to capture the Duke of Zhengguo to pressure Fuyuanr to open the city gates. Fuyuanr, however, adamantly refuses to open the gates and decides to shoot arrows at the Duke of Zhengguo himself. Li Ni anticipated this and, from a distance, shot an arrow that struck Fuyuanr's arrow, saving the Duke of Zhengguo. Unbeknownst to him, Sun Jing had long planned to eliminate the Duke of Zhengguo.
Meanwhile, Sun Jing sends forces to attack Yingzhou, using a divide-and-conquer strategy to force the Cui Family's Army to abandon Luoyang City. With the Cui Family's Army out of the picture, the Western Garrison is no longer a significant threat. Cui Lin is troubled upon hearing this news. She fears that it may be too late to return to Yingzhou but hopes to find a way by passing through Wangzhou. Simultaneously, Li Ni guesses Cui Lin's intentions but doesn't intend to yield. He waits for the Cui Family's Army to come for negotiations.
That night, Li Ni and Cui Lin meet in a small courtyard to discuss their ideals. They make a wager, using their bargaining chips of passing through Wangzhou and rescuing Prince Liang. They agree that Cui Lin will count from one to ten, and if Li Ni opens his eyes during that time, he loses. Li Ni is skeptical but closes his eyes, curious about what Cui Lin is up to. As a light breeze stirs, a faint floral scent wafts by. Li Ni obediently closes his eyes and starts counting. Suddenly, he feels a warm sensation at the corner of his mouth. In disbelief yet with satisfaction, he opens his eyes and sees Cui Lin's face close by. She retreats slowly, looking innocently at Li Ni as if nothing had happened. However, Li Ni's heart is racing. Cui Lin wins the wager.
Li Ni accepts his defeat but hopes that the Cui Family's Army will help him rescue his father. Cui Lin suggests that they could discuss it if they work together to take Luoyang City. Li Ni is confident about capturing Luoyang City, but he worries that after doing so, his father, who is in the capital, will be viewed with suspicion by Sun Jing. Cui Lin suggests a solution, advising that it might be better to put him in a precarious situation and then save him.
That night, the Duke of Zhengguo's private soldiers, after deliberation, decide to avenge their leader and open the gates of Luoyang City. With the cooperation of the Cui Family's Army and the Western Garrison, they defeat Fuyuanr. Although they were on different sides, Fuyuanr put up a valiant fight, sacrificing himself for his country. Both Cui Lin and Li Ni can't help but admire him.
Li Ni brought some pastries and happily offered Cui Lin a taste, mentioning that they were just sent by Miss Gu. Cui Lin couldn't help feeling jealous and asked if Miss Gu sent them specifically for him. Li Ni quickly denied it, stating that others had them too, and he simply remembered that she liked them and brought them to her. Cui Lin was satisfied with his response, and a smile returned to her face. Li Ni moved closer to Cui Lin, staring straight into her eyes as if he wanted to savor every bit of her.
This scene did not go unnoticed by Liu Chengfeng, who felt a surge of jealousy. He immediately decided to break camp and head for Yingzhou. When Li Ni learned of this news, the Cui Family's Army had already packed up and left. He hurriedly went to find Cui Lin to bid her farewell. At the riverside, Li Ni picked up a stone and skipped it across the calm river, creating ripples. Seeing Cui Lin's keen interest, Li Ni grabbed her hand and showed her how to do it. As they watched the stone create ripples in the water, Cui Lin couldn't help but dance with joy. They naturally locked eyes, their gazes filled with reluctance.
Cui Lin's elder brother, Cui Li, was an ambitious person who always felt superior to his younger brother. He took the opportunity to approach Li Ni, planning to attack Cui Lin's group together with him. Li Ni frowned upon hearing this news and quickly sent a letter to warn Cui Lin to be careful of Cui Li. Upon receiving the letter, Cui Lin promptly assigned additional personnel to protect Liu Chengfeng. Afterward, she wrote a reply letter for Tao Zi to deliver.
On a clear day, with a gentle breeze and pleasant weather, Cui Lin rode a white horse across fragrant grasslands to a flowery meadow on the hill where Li Ni was already waiting. They lay side by side, gazing at the sky, and although they didn't say much, their love blossomed freely. Before long, drops of rain began to fall from the sky. Li Ni led Cui Lin to a nearby courtyard, where they sat around a fire, brewed tea, and talked about many things. However, it didn't take long for Li Ni's stomach to growl. So, they decided to cook dinner together.
Li Ni asked Cui Lin if she was willing to return to Laolangguan with him. Cui Lin pondered for a moment and asked Li Ni if, with his current status, he could leave everything behind and return to the border to live the way he used to. Li Ni turned away and didn't answer, perhaps even he was unsure of the answer. So, he changed the subject and shared his past with Cui Lin.
Due to the unfavorable circumstances of his birth, Li Ni was not favored by Lord Liang from the day he was born. In the entire royal household, only Princess Dong showed him any care. His two elder brothers, who were both Princess Dong's children, took advantage of Lord Liang's favoritism and often bullied Li Ni. Those two brothers were Princess Dong's own children, and she not only treated Li Ni kindly but also took good care of his birth mother, her own servant. That's why Li Ni didn't bear any grudge against them. Later, when Princess Dong passed away, Li Ni felt that the capital was no longer interesting and decided to find a way to leave the royal residence and go to Laolangguan. On the day of his departure, his two elder brothers were quite happy, but Li Ni's nursemaid shed tears, showing great reluctance.
Cui Lin was raised as if she were a boy from a young age, studying and practicing martial arts, no different from the other boys, and even excelling. So, when she got injured, she would isolate herself in her room, secretly applying medicine and persevering in her martial training. Hearing this, Li Ni looked at Cui Lin with a lot of tenderness in his eyes. He thought that if he had met Cui Lin earlier, they could have trained together, studied together, and enjoyed leisurely moments like this. But such moments were fleeting, and as the heavy rain began to clear, it was time to part ways. They stood on opposite riverbanks, making promises that they would one day wander and explore together when the world was at peace.
Upon learning that his younger brother, the Duke of Zhengguo, had been captured, Lady Wei of Wei State became very angry and went to Concubine Xiao's residence to vent her frustration. When she saw that Concubine Xiao did not resist, Lady Wei took the opportunity to threaten her with a gold hairpin at her neck. Just then, Sun Jing arrived in the nick of time. Concubine Xiao quickly covered her chest, looking frightened and shocked. Seeing Concubine Xiao in such a state, Sun Jing felt a mix of heartache and anger. He ordered the arrest of Lady Wei. Sun Jing approached Concubine Xiao to comfort her and couldn't help but feel regret. If only he had run away with Concubine Xiao back then, they wouldn't have missed so many years together. Concubine Xiao admitted that she understood his reasons for breaking their promise back then, so she cherished their time together even more now.