The Forbidden City
On the seventeenth day of the first lunar month on the tenth year, the emperor of Xun, Xuan Yuan Yu issued an edict to confer Xiang Qinwang’s eldest daughter, Nalan Xi Yan as the first-rank consort (Fei) with the title ‘Zui’.
Thirteen other maidens entered the palace as Meirens. Official Mu’s second daughter Mu Yan was conferred as Princess Feng Xiang and will travel to Ye Kingdom on the twenty-seventh day of the first lunar month.
As for Xi Yan, it was the first time a maiden was conferred straight to a ‘Fei’ in Xun Kingdom. A first ranked ‘Fei’ is currently the highest rank in the back palace.
5 years ago, Empress Qing Yi passed away from labor, Xuan Yuan Yu not only did not appoint a new empress, he also decreed the then Hui Fei, Xiao Fei and Zhuo Fei to hang themselves to be buried along with the empress. From then onwards, the concubines with the highest rank in the palace were a couple of Pins. No one was made a Fei.
Xuan Yuan Yu also has no heir. Other than a princess with Zhou Zhaoyi, he has no other children. Some concubines will get pregnant occasionally, but they all somehow got involved in accidents and suffered miscarriage.
All those were told to Xi Yan by the maid in charge of the Bing Ran Palace when she was explaining the rules.
Xi Yan sits by the window, her face calm. In the palace, Xuan Yuan Yu not only represents his concubines’ sky, but also their tragic predicaments.
To be selected as the princess for the political marriage, one must have outstanding bearing as to respect the two countries’ good relations. And out of the 32 young maidens, only she and Mu Yan qualified, be it in terms of family status or beauty.
The new emperor of Ye Kingdom ascended the throne, Mu Yan will most probably be the empress. But is that really what Mu Yan wants?
In another ten days, Mu Yan will be married off to Ye Kingdom. Xuan Yuan Yu will have to send the woman he likes with his own hands.
So, where does she stand? Where should she stand?
Xi Yan remembers that day in the selection hall. Mu Yan’s hands immediately tremble upon hearing Xuan Yuan Yu’s voice. At that time, she didn’t understand anything. But now she understand that Mu Yan and Xuan Yuan Yu perhaps had a memorable encounter during the Lantern Festival. That flower pin must have been their token of memory, but she misunderstood it.
But, will Xuan Yuan Yu believe it was a misunderstanding on her part?
Stop, stop, stop, stop thinking! No matter how hard she thinks, she won’t be able change the present time.
She close her eyes. Tomorrow is her father’s funeral day. If she were to be married off to the Ye Kingdom as originally planned, she could have observe his mourning day. But she was somehow made into a Fei today. Getting out of the palace is easier said than done.
Will Xuan Yuan Yu allow her to leave the palace for filial piety?
There is a stove inside the hall, but it isn’t strong enough to beat the cold night.
Snow flutters outside the window. Since the beginning of winter, this is their fourth snowfall.
Li Qiu heads towards her, outstretching her hands to close the window. Xi Yan hesitates for a while, but opens her mouth anyway, “I want to see the emperor.”
“Your Ladyship, you are now a first-ranked Fei, you must not address yourself as I. If people with inferior motives hear you, all the servants in this palace will be punished. It will not be good to your position in the palace as well.”
“Bengong wants to see the emperor.” She repeats.
“Your Ladyship, if the emperor wants to see you, he will naturally pick your name plate. This is the palace’s rules, there is no exception. Concubines are not allowed to see the emperor unauthorized.” Li Qiu bows as she stands on one side as she adds, “Since the emperor didn’t pick your name plate after dinner, Your Ladyship should rest.”
Xi Yan abruptly stands up, there is no hint of malice in her voice, “Bengong has an important thing to say to the emperor, somebody come and prepare a sedan chair.”
A cold voice floats into the hall as a group of servants kneels.
The character ‘zui’ enters her heart, leaving a peculiar after taste.