Another rather methodically paced chapter that raises the stakes without any overblown fanfare.
We recap the Netflix K-Drama Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 6, which contains spoilers.
Alchemy of Souls season 1, episode 6 recap
Following on from a flashback showing Seo Yul being shunned away by Naksu, who vowed to kill him should they meet again, we return to the present. There, the mage stands in the same position as that day, reminiscing about the fact he could not stop the person he cared about from leaving, nor ask her why she did what she did when he found his sincerity sliced in half, and their memories no longer able to be cherished. “It became a secret that I had to bury within my heart,” Seo Yul adds, before he turns around to see Mu-deok behind him, wondering why he is up so early.
A quick back-and-forth over a caught bird, eating, and being pushed away ensues, showing Seo Yul as rather emotional at the re-emergence of his former love. He rejects the idea of breakfast when Mu-deok offers, only to then later go back on his word, wishing to eat before he leaves, with his claim over the change of heart being that he only initially said no because he didn’t want to burden the maid who could well have been hungover. Together, the pair then prepare food in a rather lighthearted scene, cutting through the tension that seemed to linger when the two first reconvened as a giddy Dang-gu eagerly commentates the ongoings with a jealous Jang Uk.
At mealtime, Jang Uk’s jealousy over the attention Seo Yul has been receiving rises, leading to a petty squabble with his master after the food has been consumed. “He is not lazy or reckless like you,” Naksu says when asked whether she’d like Seo Yul to be her pupil, drawing out a request for her to not cheat. But it’s clear that there is a bit of hurt in Jang Uk’s mannerisms, even if it doesn’t fully manifest.
Later on, the group stand to stare at the tall tree mentioned last episode, with Seo Yul reminiscing further about his old days in love, and Dang-gu curious at the idea that you can see all of Danhyanggok from one place. That all makes way to disappointment soon enough though, as Mu-deok heeds the earlier request of her pupil and rejects a climb up the tree with Seo Yul.
Meanwhile, Park Jin talks with Heo Yeom and Master Lee about the need to target the origin of the soul shifting sorcery, with the former admitting his suspicions of Cheonbugwan, and an agreement switftly hatched for a discreet observation of the place. An important nugget is left in this scene too, as Master Lee’s curiosity is piqued when Naksu is mentioned, which leads to him realising that he may have sensed her soul at Danhyanggok.
As Jang Uk allows Dang-gu to take his father’s sword back to Maidservant Kim, Seo Yul talks with Mu-deok about life in Danhyanggok, and whether it was too cold in the winter. We see how much he cared about Naksu, and so does his former love, who reads the signals well enough to reassure him subtly that the weather was fine. Again, Jang Uk finds himself jealous, as Dang-gu notices that his friend’s master does not look at them the same way she looks at Seo Yul.
While Mu-deok is irritated that Jang Gang’s sword is set to be returned, Jang Uk sees his friends off after a discussion on the spirit plaque, duel, the harsh words of the young master’s previous teachers, and whether he is doing what Park Jin asked (which is staying clueless). Stirred up, Jang Uk informs his friends to relay that he’s being reckless instead, before he reclaims his sword under the guise that he will be using it to catch a pheasant. Concerned, the two mages let their rookie friend be, as Jang Uk prepares to train ruthlessly to avoid staying a laughingstock. Elsewhere, Park Jin wishes for the reclaimed spirit plaque to continue to be tracked, but also shows his concern for the man he banished from Songrim.
Though the binding bracelet has proved a useful training tool, Jang Uk is warned about the fact that taking it off could cause even more recklessness. The young master then asks his teacher about her discussion with Seo Yul, which threads seamlessly into his confession back at Songrim that he met Naksu back when the two were younger. And, despite not having much information to share with the elders about who she was, Seo Yul is able to reveal that the assassin’s father was a constellation recorder mage with a grudge. Instantly, Park Jin realises who this is, and the backstory of Naksu is brought together.
Recalling Seo Yul’s words about his affection for her, Mu-deok pulls back when going to burn the bird whistle, choosing to look into their relationship instead. The next day, focus returns to training though, with the assassin vocalising the idea that Tansu is the only way for her pupil to stay alive against the Crown Prince. So, training begins on it, at first with the slicing of water drops, and then with an upped ante once it’s established that such a skill is an a necessity for the upcoming duel.
As Jang Uk continues to persevere with his training, we get a quick aside which shows Master Lee’s realisation that Mu-deok is indeed no maid, before we return swiftly to further attempts at skill mastering, in addition to failed bouts of energy control. And, while Jang Uk continues his practice, Master Lee confronts Naksu about whether her pupil is aware that his next steps could lead to death.
In time, Master Lee warns Jang Uk about the rotten energy that could kill him, stunting the enthusiasm of the keen trainer who worries about his lying teacher. Yet a humorous scene follows, revolving around harmless flirtation, and surprise poke attacks. Meanwhile, Jin Mu explains the King’s Star to the Crown Prince, and exposes the royal’s fear that someone with such energy will appear. Then, he antagonises further, saying that he should eliminate Jang Uk in the duel, to “get rid of” his fears while he is able to.
After some gossip is spread involving Jang Uk’s potential marriage into the Jin family, both to the crown Prince and the other four seasons of Daeho, we see firsthand Cho Yeon’s intentions to use the room of Bu-yeon (who her mother believes will return after a decade), as well as a small tease that Dang-gu may hold feelings for the woman who holds a flame for someone else.
Crafting wedding rings with a yin-yang jade that is said to deepen love, we see a villainous look in the mirror as Cho Yeon exits. Meanwhile, Master Lee is perplexed at the lack of pheasant at mealtime, but is ready to share the news of the marriage expected of Jang Uk, much to the young master’s surprise. Shocked, Jang Uk then ends up bickering with Mu-deok over the wedding he had no idea about.
Evidently smitten due to his smelling of the love fragrance, Dang-gu is tasked with delivering the marriage letter to his friend, in addition to lending his hand to help craft the wedding rings. Jealous, the mage rejects, but his words cause a slight sting on the woman who is deeply in love with Jang Uk (enough for Dang-gu to immediately change his mind).
Realising why the wedding might be taking place, Jang Uk teases the idea of marriage further, until he realises that it would see an end to his agreement with Mu-deok. As such, he lets her part without stopping her, which then allows for the maid to be captured by people residing in Cheonbugwan. When there, she is peppered with makeup ahead of the Crown Prince’s arrival due to a misunderstanding of her identity, but the topic of conversation is anything but the initial comedy would suggest. The reason Mu-deok has been called upon is to warn Jang Uk not to turn up to the duel, as the royal does not want to kill his foe, nor become enemies with Songrim or the Jang family. The Crown Prince wants Jang Uk to remain hidden, then marry into the Jin family, something which obviously upsets the maid.
After rejecting an offer to be taken in by the royal, Mu-deok exits with the Crown Prince annoyed, and Jin Mu’s men intrigued. Meanwhile, Jang Uk returns to Maidservant Kim, pleasing her with his shock appearance. Furthermore, Seo Yul attempts to get to the bottom of the attempted sale of Songrim’s spirit plaque, discovering that it was indeed Mu-deok who wished to dispose of it initially.
Somewhat encouraged by the idea that she may have been sent back by Jang Uk because of his marriage, Seo Yul pries into the appearance of Mu-deok, and her attempts to sell the spirit plaque. “I cannot understand you,” the genius mage says upon hearing an answer describing someone who just wants to have fun, only to hear that he should stay that way. In the background, Jin Mu’s underling realises that the person he has been staking out is indeed Naksu.
Objecting to the marriage, Jang Uk tries to explain the situation, but Maidservant Kim realises that he has feelings for someone else. So she tries to dig deeper, only for the investigation to bear no fruits aside from an admission that there is a person the young master is romantically interested in. Then, their conversation shifts towards the injuries sustained by Jang Uk, and the knowledge that they must have came about through a lack of energy control.
Next comes some tension, as Mu-deok finds herself jealous of the appearance of Lady Jin when attempting to sell her silk dress, while the bride-to-be is irritated by the suggestion that the supposed maid is “attached at the hip” to Jang Uk, and could have won his heart. It leads to a rather bitter chat about how Mu-deok will soon serve Lady Jin too, in addition to a potential attempt at getting the maid into trouble by burdening her with the broken yin-yang jade. Though she does reconsider her hasty exit when Jin Mu’s underling reappears, accepting the bate of the jade just so she is not entrapped.
At the Jin family abode, the birds are irritated by the arrival of Mu-deok, who herself feels a strong surge of energy. Concerned, Cho Yeol’s mother looks out in wonder over what could have caused such a thing. Meanwhile, Maidservant Kim wishes for Jang Uk to reconsider his position, but the young master begins to open up about his true identity, and gives a warning that he should not be stopped no matter what he does. Then, Jang Uk is called over to see Lady Jin’s family, where an audience is wating to confront the rookie mage about the disappearance of his maid, and a treasure, from Jinyowon. A quick scene showing Mu-deok get sucked into the villainous mirror confirms the vanishing, and the episode ends with a concerned Jang Uk questioning why the yin-yang jade went along with her.
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