I do think a battle was expected from XF. Considering all that RY has done to XF (responsible for his, his parents deaths; Trying to kill XF when XF was mourning his parents, and lying about it - saying it was XF trying to rebel; casting him out of heaven realm, revoking his immortality etc) However, as XF also destroyed half his power and had the ice thing attacking him , he'd try to avoid the war as much as he could, but I still maintain that RY has to be stopped and nothing can stop him except XF at this time.
I don't see how these two could ever reach a peace treaty, with everything that's happened. And... If we look back to the politics of the drama, and the history of the demon realm, and it's factions - Remember how much the previous Heavenly Emperor has done to "keep the peace" - but at cost to the demon realm? He keeps it destabilized so it's easier to control. When RY comes into power all of the realms are a bit unstabilized for a period of time as everyone tries to gain their footing and places. Bird realm, who was allied with Heaven is now allied with Demon realm, Flower realm is now allied with Heaven with the upcoming wedding of RY & JM (before RY decides to genocide them)
We also see RY side with Gucheng, after his failed attempt with Biancheng. RY wants XF dead and JM by his side no matter the cost to anyone. If we take a look at RY's words to XF, he completely dehumanizes demons when he outright states:
"You have rebelled against the natural order of fate, came back to to life and become a demon. As Heavenly Emperor I need to comply with destiny and Rid the World of Demons and Monsters"
He's completely beyond mad at this point.
It's not just recent events (read: JM), war has been brewing between realms for a long time coming, due to the growing unrest of the demon realm, which often bears the brunt of political scheming. It could parallel as countries allied to one another, but as power structures change - allies changes, and war is inevitable regardless, because of unrest. Or even better, China itself with it's different states and an Emperor.
I also would like it if war could be avoided at all costs. However, there are times you must fight for your right to existence, otherwise genocidal maniacs will be free to murder. I hate fighting, but I can't say I'm a pacifist - there are times you have to fight for others and yourself because you're left with no other choice. (I'm also thinking about the French revolution here.)
XF is fighting to stay alive because RY wants him dead. He's also fighting for the Flower Realm, the Demon Realm and JM
I mainly skimmed the book - it mostly just made me uncomfortable.
I get that, and to a point, agree.
But imho, people are infinitely complicated. Everyone has a backstory, and history behind them, including the culture where we grow up. Especially in masculine dominated societies, like pretty much everywhere on earth. It's pretty difficult to go beyond that.
We see from the start that XF is very protective of himself - probably because of his overprotective and doting mother. I will not condone all of his actions at all - (as I do think he went overboard more than once.) But his actions are totally in line with his character. If we look at the hurt caused by JM we see this:
1) She accuses him of murdering her parents = she doesn't trust in him
2) She sets up a plot to avenge her parents (after seeing dream beasts 'doctored' dreams) So she writes a love poem and tell him it's about him, (which sends him to the moon.) She also tells him they can't be together (which he's already accepted, anyways), and she gives him a lock of her hair, knowing full well he will put it in (that place that they keep their life source) This grants her access to his life. Remember the story Moon wrote? About the mortal who kills their beloved by stabbing them in the toe (where their essence was kept - That was the parallel.) I don't think JM full intended to kill XF in cold blood, but was for sure egged on by RY's words, seeing XF use glass fire, and the 'ghosts' of her parents,
3) She literally stabs him in the back
4) He asks her why - she reiterates that he killed her father - so she still did not trust that he would never do such a thing
5) She tells him she NEVER loved him as he lay dying
6) RY tells him that that JM and RY love each other dearly and that they plotted to kill him
I don't know - That's not just killing him, that is quite a lot to process - How could he not believe RY when #2 is pretty damning evidence?
It looks very premeditated. JM was a person he trusted implicitly and I think him trying to distance himself from her in the way he can to protect himself is completely understandable. (for the most part!)
I totally agree that it's not cool to project onto others & hurting them in the process. But on the flip side, I wholly understand where XF is coming from. He wants to believe JM, but he's afraid of being hurt/used (and even killed!) again. He tries to distance himself again and again and begin anew - but JM keeps coming back.
So he's left with 1) either she's spying on him for RY, or 2) She's telling the truth
He begins to falter, but more or less is egged on by/manipulated by SH. All the while, he's hating himself for still feeling the way he does about JM, and feels guilty as well - since what if she IS telling the truth?
My biggest qualm with his actions was the scene where he forces himself on her and calls out SH's name. Like she was trying to push him away, yet he still didn't stop until he said SH's name. That was very uncomfortable and I'm glad there was not a "mutual cultivation" scene there - though XF hints that it did happen there in the last episode, and that makes me feel very uncomfortable, personally. That whole scene bothered me much more than him dragging her to battle or attacking her with fire.
As I said, I don't condone all of his actions, but how is he to trust JM's words so easily? He does, albeit slowly, and with the help of LY and Moon. It's just such a big wound and it's not easy to get over such a big betrayal, all things considered. He has no idea that RY is the mastermind until the wedding & especially during the war.
I also agree that he did not need to put JM through pain, but XF's mind really doesn't work that way.
He's not trying to hurt her as much as he is trying to protect himself.
Like I said earlier - I would have loved to have seen that hugging scene, (when tear JM came back for a moment) right after the wedding, (probably since when I saw that scene on a preview, I expected it to be after the wedding) But I definitely understand why it wasn't that way in the drama. In this scene, I don't condone his rough words to her at all, but at the same time I get that he's very emotional and not dealing with it well - which is to me, all too human, even if "problematic" and hurtful. It feels more real, especially knowing his character is very internal and guarded.
I also think DL was absolutely fantastic in the role - he caught my eye in Sweet Dreams as a very naturalistic performer. He brought a lot of humanity to the XF character, who to me is a very internal dude, if that makes sense - I don't think I can imagine anyone else doing the role as well as he did.
I'll still die on the hill that is I think XF is actually a well written character and no one can change my mind on that lol!
I'm glad you are inspired to write! If you want to share, I'll definitely read!