From deadly politics to heartbreaking abuse and violence, much cruelty exists within Inner Palace Raven. Even Shouxue’s isolation exemplifies the subtle yet haunting darkness present in Shou. Though hardened by the social restrictions of her role as the Raven Consort and the tragedy she herself experienced, Episode 8 shows that Shouxue is an amazing source of light in such a dark place.
Throughout the series, Shouxue encounters the heartbreaking stories of those who have suffered under the strict social structure, punishments, and injustices common to the time while working on various ghost cases. In the first few episodes, Shouxue discovers the ghost of a woman who was accused of murder and killed due to sociopolitical tensions. Each episode, in a quiet but moving way, he uncovers another cruel side of Shou culture, reminding viewers of the darkness that lies beneath the beauty of the stage. However, Shouxue’s gentle kindness in response to such disturbing stories shows that she represents hope for many of the series’ characters.
Shouxue discovers the sad story of a young eunuch
Wei Qing’s depressing backstory in Episode 5 has already shown the cruelty many eunuchs face, but Episode 8 brings another sad tale of a young eunuch. After Yi Siha comes to her with news of a ghost that only he can see, Shouxue sets out to find out the story of this ghost so she can put it to rest. As Shouxue discovers through his investigation, the ghost belongs to a boy who was executed for accidentally killing a bird while trying to gather feathers. Although the boy was aware that killing the bird is considered a crime and is punishable by death in Shou, he still came forward, willing to suffer the consequences.
Although Shouxue acknowledges the shame of the young eunuch’s behavior, he also recognizes the tragedy of the situation. As Shouxue says in comforting the ghost’s grieving friend, death is scary, but it’s also natural. Even in his rational advice, Shouxue’s sympathy and respect for humanity is evident in the way he strives to bring peace to both the ghosts he encounters and those in lasting pain.
Other eunuchs find warmth in Shouxue’s attitude
The young man’s ghost and his adult friend aren’t the only eunuchs Shouxue brings peace to in Episode 8. Yi Siha, the young eunuch who brings news of the ghost to Shouxue, endures his own suffering at the hands of his masters. After Shouxue notices his legs ache and offers to treat him, he discovers welts that indicate beatings. Although she is already disturbed by this, Shouxue runs into other eunuchs holding Yi Siha down and whipping the back of her legs as punishment. Angered by this display of cruelty, Shouxue demands that they stop and never hit Yi Siha again, ultimately resulting in him being kicked out. However, Shouxue sets out to find arrangements for him, eventually taking him in herself.
Although she has experienced all the cruelty and darkness in Shou, Shouxue is not willing to let Yi Siha and other eunuchs suffer in silence. She even raises the issue with Emperor Gaojun, expressing her desire for change. Her response shows the care she has for those who suffer in Shou’s unfair system. After noticing Shouxue’s kind attitude and intolerance of cruelty, Wen Ying, a eunuch who was already in Shouxue’s service, expresses how much her kindness has moved him and touched his heart, revealing to her the suffering he endured and what led to becoming a eunuch.
Shouxue may have poor social skills due to his years of isolation, but he shows more humanity than most. While Episode 8 especially highlights Shouxue’s kindness, each episode demonstrates his warmth even amidst his cold personality as he works to bring peace to those who suffered and shelter those in need.