Despite the Palace leader’s best efforts, Si Feng gets sent to endure the Thirteen Tribulations. Meanwhile, Xuan Ji goes to Xuyang Peak to train with Hao Chen and acquire new abilities.
Yi Huan eavesdrops on Si Feng’s call to Ling Long and learns that the girl he likes is named Xuan Ji. He asks if Xuan Ji knows that Si Feng is going to be punished because of her. Si Feng lies and says yes, then tells him that they already arranged to meet again in the future. He’s that confident he will make it through the Thirteen Tribulations, and he must, because he promised to help Xuan Ji find all the pieces of the mirror.
Yi Huan has heard of the mirror before, knowing it as the mirror that allows someone to see who they were in a past life. He tells Si Feng that he even saw a piece of the mirror under the Palace before while digging his tunnel, in the bitter water beneath the dungeons. The bitter water is so potent that it’s extremely painful to the touch. Si Feng goes in anyway.
Ling Long doesn’t want Xuan Ji to leave her and go to Xuyang Peak. If Xuan Ji wants to learn cultivation skills, Ling Long is willing to help train her, step by step. But Xuan Ji insists on going. She doesn’t want to be a burden on her family anymore.
Xuan Ji wishes she could tell Si Feng about going to Xuyang Peak, reminding Ling Long that she still has Si Feng’s bell. She gives it to Xuan Ji, who tries calling Si Feng, but he doesn’t pick up because he’s wandering the bitter water looking for the mirror shard.
Xuan Ji tells Ling Long that she misses Si Feng a lot. Once she finishes training, they can fly their swords together and go visit him, then wander the jianghu (world) together. Min Yan shows up with a bottle of good wine, saying they should all drink together this last night before Xuan Ji leaves for Xuyang.
Si Feng finds the piece of mirror, blistering his hand in the process. He immediately wants to call Xuan Ji to tell her the good news, but Xuan Ji doesn’t pick up because she’s drunkenly fallen asleep. Yi Huan suggests that Xuan Ji is probably just ignoring him, but Si Feng refuses to believe that. Yi Huan becomes more intrigued about what kind of person Xuan Ji is that she could enthrall Si Feng so much.
Yi Huan says that Si Feng should be more like how he was in his youth, free to like and be with whoever he wanted whenever he wanted. Si Feng asks if that’s how he felt about his daughter, Yu Er, and her mother. Yi Huan suddenly sobers and looks nostalgic as he describes how Yu Er’s mother was one of the most desired women in her city. She found out she was pregnant after he left and hid it from him. After she gave birth, she endured numerous hardships with her daughter and eventually found her way to Lize Palace. Yi Huan had planned on running away with them and living a different life, but the Palace leader found out. He would’ve captured Yu Er if Yi Huan hadn’t blackmailed him with a secret of his own. Yi Huan remained at Lize Palace to endure punishment for the rest of his life in exchange for his daughter’s life. He’s just grateful he never had to go through the Thirteen Tribulations, otherwise there would be nothing of him left. His daughter was raised in a nearby village and he’s never been able to meet her face-to-face, but sometimes he can slip out to see her, and that’s good enough for him.
Food gets delivered to the prison. Yi Huan notices that the sect member delivering his food is wearing a money pouch that he gave to his daughter as a gift. Yi Huan grabs the man’s neck and demands to know where he got it from. The man tells him that his daughter got into a fight and is now grievously injured. Yi Huan is distraught and decides that he must go save his daughter. He tries to escape, but guards attempt to stop him. Si Feng intervenes, holding the guards off so Yi Huan can leave.
Yuan Lang brings Si Feng in front of the Palace leader and the rest of the sect, reporting how Si Feng now has abetting Yi Huan’s escape to add to his list of crimes. The Palace leader is furious, but Si Feng thinks he did nothing wrong. It’s normal for people to have emotions and desires and he doesn’t understand why Lize Palace has so many rules.
Yuan Lang and the elders try to pressure the Palace leader to send Si Feng to the Thirteen Tribulations, but he resists saying anything. Yuan Lang pulls out a black feather token given to him by the previous Palace leader that gives him, the deputy leader, the authority to override the Palace leader when necessary. He threatens to use it, but Si Feng interrupts and says that he’s willing to accept his punishment. He pulls out his own token marking him as the head disciple of the sect. The Palace leader turns, alarmed, but it’s too late.
Yuan Lang declares that Si Feng is no longer the head disciple. From now on, no one will be spared if they break the Palace rules, not even if they’re favored by the gods. He calls for Si Feng to be sent to the Thirteen Tribulations.
The Palace leader, distraught, shouts for everyone to disperse and storms out of the grand hall.
Xuan Ji says goodbye to her father, sister, and Min Yan, then goes to Xuyang with Hao Chen. Heng Yang, the master of Xuyang Peak, reveals that Hao Chen was the one who convinced him to take her on. Xuan Ji is surprised, because she thought Heng Yang was the one who wanted her as his disciple. After she greets him as her teacher, Heng Yang declares that he plans to study in seclusion for a while and that Hao Chen is in charge while he’s gone.
Xuan Ji is full of questions for Hao Chen. Hao Chen tells Xuan Ji that he thinks she’s particularly suited for Xuyang’s Wuqing technique (wuqing meaning “lacking emotion”) because she’s not burdened by her senses like others might be. He also explains to her Xuyang’s mission as guardians of Shaoyang’s secret place. She wants to know what’s in the secret place, but he says it’s not her place to know. All she has to do is focus on her cultivation and her mission and strive to become immortal.
Xuan Ji wonders why people want to become immortals. What’s so bad about being a normal person? Hao Chen explains that every being in the world — human, demon, monster — all want to become immortal. Striving for immortality is the most correct path in the universe.
Hao Chen tells Xuan Ji that he put her things — including Si Feng’s bell — in the library. Xuan Ji protests, saying that these items were all gifts. Hao Chen patiently tells her that in order to practice the Wuqing technique, she can’t be emotionally attached and can’t keep these items full of meaning near her. When she finishes her training and leaves the mountain, then she can get her things back. Xuan Ji asks to use the bell one last time — she never had a chance to tell Si Feng that she came to Xuyang. Hao Chen says that she’ll never be allowed to see Si Feng anyway — what’s the point in telling him? Xuan Ji frowns but comforts herself with the reminder that at least she and Si Feng have their agreement to meet again in four years.
Hao Chen gifts Xuan Ji a magical item: a parasol that he says can be her spirit sword from now on. He reminds her that even though she now has a magical weapon, she still needs to train her skills in order to wield it properly.
Si Feng enters the Thirteen Tribulations, a pagoda with thirteen levels full of horrors. The only way out is to go up all thirteen levels and survive. Before he goes in, Si Feng looks at his bell and silently promises Xuan Ji that he will keep her word and see her again. He will survive this.
Xuan Ji wakes up late for her first day of training and tells Hao Chen that she’s ready to receive her punishment. But Hao Chen says he won’t make her wake up early for training. Even if her body is awake, it’s no use if her mind is still asleep. Instead, there are other rules at Xuyang. For one, she’s only allowed one meal a day. In order to catch her meal, she must master her sword-flying technique.
Xuan Ji summons her parasol and struggles to chase after a whole roast chicken that Hao Chen makes fly around. She falls off her parasol and hits the ground. Hao Chen sighs.
At night, Xuan Ji goes to Hao Chen, complaining that she’s hungry. He tells her to endure it. She also can’t find a flint stone in her room to light the candles with. He hands her a pamphlet and tells her to learn how to conjure fire.
Xuan Ji struggles to create even the smallest spark in her room. Finally, she gets so hungry and frustrated that she manages to summon a flame, but it’s too strong and she ends up knocking the candle over and lighting a piece of paper on fire instead.
Si Feng wakes up, bloody and battered, on a snowy level of the Thirteen Tribulations. He pulls out his bell to find some strength and silently tells Xuan Ji that the tribulations are more difficult than he anticipated. He wonders why she hasn’t responded yet. Is it because she’s too dumb and doesn’t know how to use the bell? Or did she lose it?
Xuan Ji masters the art of flying on her parasol and learns how to catch her own food. She spots one of her senior disciples, Duan Qing, returning from collecting nectar and asks to taste some. She notices that Duan Qing has a bottle of nectar and asks if she can have it. Duan Qing responds that she always has a recipient in mind and offers to give her a bottle of something else. Xuan Ji asks who. Duan Qing shyly responds that it’s someone she likes. Xuan Ji says that she also has someone she likes. Duan Qing explains that if you like someone, you should share with them the things you like. Xuan Ji smiles to herself after Duan Qing has left, thinking that since she’s decided she likes Min Yan, she should share with him the fruit she likes.
Duan Qing walks by Hao Chen and greets him with a smile — he’s obviously the one she likes — but he ignores her completely and instead checks in with Xuan Ji. Xuan Ji beams at him, asking whether he’s noticed that she’s improved a lot lately. He responds that she’ll be testing her conjuring skills with the other disciples tomorrow.
Hao Chen tests the disciples’ ability to summon lightning, wind, and water. He smiles slighty and shakes his head when Xuan Ji has to review notes on summoning wind. Then he tests their teleportation ability. Xuan Ji goes first and manages to teleport, but lands off-balance and starts falling over. Hao Chen catches her before she hits the ground. He tells her that her conjuring skills are acceptable, but her physical forms still need work. He finds the spells Xuan Ji wrote on her skirt to remind herself of what to do and gently chides her — what would she have done if it were raining?
Later, Xuan Ji beams at the spells that are now embroidered on a piece of fabric so that she never has to worry about it getting wet. Hao Chen says that he doesn’t care how she remembers her spells as long as she can do them. She motions with her hand and he dodges out of the way, thinking she’s trying to sneak up on him, but instead she points behind him. She’s broken the spell on his wine cellar and summoned a bottle of wine. He compliments her on being able to accomplish that. Xuan Ji says she’ll give the wine to him, but then asks if she can taste some first.
Hao Chen cautions Xuan Ji to not drink too much. Xuan Ji asks him if he’s really so willing to give up all his relationships and become the solitary guardian of the secret place. Doesn’t he want to be with his friends? Hao Chen smiles bitterly at the mention of friends. He once had a friend, but she betrayed him. If he had found out sooner, then maybe she wouldn’t be who she is today.
Xuan Ji says that if she betrayed him, then she’s not a real friend. Her friends are all good people and would never do such a thing. Hao Chen looks at her and says that people are unpredictable. Her friends might change. One day, she’ll understand that becoming immortal is the only way to leave behind these worldly troubles.
Xuan Ji blithely says that she gets it, then takes another swig of wine. Hao Chen glances at her, then silently asks if she’s still angry and if that’s why she doesn’t want to become immortal. Is the life she has now really the one that she wants? Does she know that he’s here to bring her back? When they get back, they can be the way they used to be.
Si Feng drags himself across the snow toward a beam of light that is his way out. He’s almost there, but then collapses, exhausted. He looks up toward the light. A silhouette of a person appears within the beam and draws their weapon. Si Feng climbs to his feet to face this new opponent.
I get it! It makes so much sense now why Hao Chen has been so interested in Xuan Ji since the beginning and why he’s so confident that she’s powerful even though she’s struggled to learn even basic skills. He knows who she is, and he knows who he is. He’s an immortal — her immortal lover? — come to the mortal realm to bring her back on the correct path so she can rejoin him in the heavenly world. But it’s also pretty clear that he has no idea who Si Feng might be. Yet.
I love arcs that involve training and magic and growth, so this episode is such a fun one, especially seeing Xuan Ji become more and more capable and able to hold her own.