I know I promised to write about period C-novel Hua Xu Yin but I’ve really been so swamped with everything going on it keeps getting pushed back. The good news is that the first official stills are out of the drama adaptation called The City of Devastating Love. I’ve said before that the story is being changed significantly in its drama form that its more accurate to call it loosely based on the novel. My loverboy Yuan Hong is reuniting with his Bu Bu Jing Xin older brother Kevin Cheng for this drama, and he gets to play OTP with red-hot C-actress Jiang Xin, who is still cresting the waves of popularity for her Consort Hua role in The Legend of Zhen Huan. Kevin’s character of Mo Yen (Crown Prince Su Yu) is the male lead, but Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin have their own love story that runs alongside the OTP. Yuan Hong plays General Shen An while Jiang Xin is Princess Song Ning, citizens of warring kingdoms. They meet across from the battlefield – he defeats her and she falls madly in love with him. It’s actually really sweet and cute how this tough-as-nails warrior princess falls for his pretty face and the fact that he kicks her ass since no man in her kingdom can defeat her. Their love story is both really depressingly sad but definitely quite memorable. I was pissed Yuan Hong was playing Shen An since I loathe him, but if there is anyone who can take a total douchebaggy character and make me love him, it would be Yuan Hong. He did the same 7 years ago when he played antagonist Yang Kang in Legend of the Condor Heroes and stole the show from under Hu Ge‘s adorable Guo Jing. I’m pretty amused by these first official stills – Yuan Hong looks great, Jiang Xin can barely move under all the armor, but its Kevin’s look that made me guffaw so hard I think I peed my pants. He looks dreadful, utterly and completely grody. This is going to be interesting.
So the story of Shen An and Song Ning goes like this. She hears about his fighting prowess and sneaks into the battlefield pretending to be a man to challenge him. He soundly defeats her and she falls in love. He falls in battle later on to her brother the General and she rushes through snow and sleet and spends 2 days sifting through dead bodies on the battlefield until she finds him near death. She drags his body off to a remote cave to nurse him back to health. Throughout this time he’s barely conscious and she never speaks a word to him, not wanting him to reject her help because of who she is. Finally she carries him to a town after the snow stopped and drops him off at a local healer. She spots her brother’s men scouring the town for her so she needs to get away from Shen An, lest her brothers men find her and kill him because he’s the enemy general.
She splits a jade in half and leaves a piece with him and takes one herself. She asks the healer and his daughter to please take care of Shen An. She leads her brother’s men away and goes back to her kingdom. Shen An awakens days later and sees the mute daughter of the healer tending to him and assumes she saved his life. The mute girl clearly crushes on him so doesn’t dispel him of that misunderstanding. Months past and the two kingdoms are discussing a marriage alliance to halt the war. Princess Song Ning is arranged to be married to General Shen An, and she is thrilled. She mails her jade to him with a letter explaining how she saved him and that she loves him and she hopes this will be a real marriage and not a political alliance.
On their wedding night, Song Ning’s veil is lifted only to find a furious and angry Shen An before her. He tells her this marriage is solely for the sake of peace between their kingdoms and will be in name only before storming out. Song Ning is confused and cries, wondering why he feels this way about her. The next day she runs into the mute girl from the healers and recognizes her. She also sees her jade around the girl’s waist, the one she mailed to Shen An. She realizes what might have happened and tries to force the girl to explain but Shen An comes out and stops her from harassing the love of his life, this mute girl who saved him. Song Ning realizes he will never believe her if she tried to explain and her pride refuses to bend.
Their misunderstanding and anger towards each other grows, especially after Song Ning causes the mute girl to miscarry her child with Shen An. He returns and moves out with her. Finally he is forced to consummate the marriage with Song Ning as their marriage alliance teeters and she gets pregnant. The mute girl also gets pregnant again. Song Ning gives birth to a son and the mute girl to a daughter. When the two kids are a few years old, they play together and fall into a lake. It’s cold and Song Ning’s son ends up dying of pneumonia. Song Ning loses all will to live since he was her only source of happiness.
Later Song Ning summons the heroine of the story Jun Fu (Princess Ye Zhen), who is now the bearer of the Hua Xu Yin (Hua Xu Tune) who can summon dreams for a person. In the dream, the person’s wish can be fulfilled. And if that person likes the dream world, she can stay there forever and in exchange the rest of her mortal life essence will be given to Jun Fu to extend her life (since she’s a dead person kept alive because of the magic pearl which requires life essence to sustain her). Song Ning tells her love story with Shen An to Jun Fu and wants a chance for the misunderstanding with Shen An never to have happened.
Jun Fu (with Mu Yen in tow) go into Song Ning’s dream and find the moment when she piggybacks Shen An to the healers. They try to divert the mute girl so she never meets with Shen An and falls in love with him. Jun Fu hilariously pushes the mute girl off a cliff by accident (she trips), and the mute girl ends up being rescued by a farmer and falling in love and marrying him. Jun Fu and Mu Yen also divert the men looking for Song Ning so she stays with Shen An until he wakes up. Once he wakes up, he realizes Song Ning saved him and their relationship takes off.
Once this happens, Jun Fu is too kindhearted and doesn’t want Song Ning to stay in the dream world and die in the real world. She decides to sabotage the dream world so that Song Ning will choose to wake up. When Shen An goes off to battle and returns to Song Ning, Jun Fu disguises herself as Song Ning and kills the dream Shen An. She then goes to the devastated dream Song Ning and tells her the story and what is waiting fro her in the real world. She tells Song Ning that she can still salvage her relationship with Shen An in the real world, she just needs to wake up because Shen An is alive in the real world while dream Shen An is now dead in this dream world.
Dream Song Ning hears the horror of her life with Shen An in the real world and how their son is now died. She elects to stay in the dream world. At least in this world she has her son with Shen An, and he loved her back in this dream world. She picks a dream state without Shen An over a real world where she and Shen An have this love-hate relationship. She stays and her body dies in the real world. Real Shen An arrives to find Song Ning and she’s already dead. Jun Fu weaves Song Ning’s story for Shen An and he finally learns the truth that she was the one who saved him and not the mute girl. He carries her dead body away in grief. Months later, Jun Fu hears that General Shen An went to battle and died, apparently it was swift defeat. His concubine the mute girl was said to have hung herself after his death. Super depressing, no?
At least the main OTP of Mu Yen and Jun Fu’s love story isn’t that despondent. But good lord does Kevin look atrocious. He is nothing NOTHING like the way Mu Yen is described in the book. He’s more like Mu Yen’s smarmy uncle who wants to usurp the throne. I’m sure fans of the novel are spitting up blood left and right. If I weren’t so amused by how ridiculous he looks I’d probably be doing that as well. This is just………NO.