After eight years of imprisonment, the Tiansheng Emperor releases his sixth son Ning Yi, Prince of Chu.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
In the last years of the Cheng dynasty, the Emperor was a tyrant and listened to corrupt ministers. Life became unbearable for ordinary citizens, and rebellions broke out everywhere. After a difficult war, the Ning family emerged victorious, establishing a new dynasty called Tiansheng.
The new Emperor sent two of his sons, sixth prince Ning Yi and eldest prince Ning Chuan, to eliminate remnants of the Cheng dynasty.
The two princes chased after rebels who tried to save the ninth prince of the fallen dynasty. What happened is a mystery, but Ning Chuan took credit for killing the infant. The Emperor rewarded Ning Chuan by making him the Crown Prince.
Eighteen years later, Ning Chuan continues to solidify his power as Crown Prince. Meanwhile, Ning Yi (CHEN KUN) is imprisoned in a temple, haunted by fragmented memories of his mother’s murder and what happened to the infant who was the last descendant of the Cheng dynasty’s imperial family.
Unexpectedly, an epidemic breaks out and spreads toward the capital. Ning Yi contributes money to isolate the sick and to buy medicine to control the epidemic. His wealth comes from his ability to weave silk fabric, which he learned while imprisoned. The Emperor considers Ning Yi’s contribution and releases him.
Even though it is late at night, Ning Yi hurries to see the Emperor to thank him. Unfortunately, he drank too much at dinner and throws up while waiting outside the Emperor’s chamber. Feeling ill, he excuses himself and will return tomorrow.
The next morning at court, Ning Yi kneels outside in repentance until the Emperor summons him. The Emperor pardons Ning Yi and offers to reward him for his effort in the epidemic. Ning Yi asks for someone who is a good weaver, causing the ministers to laugh at him. The Emperor intends to send Ning Yi to Qingming Academy to help out, but Xin Ziyan, the headmaster, rejects Ning Yi because his past actions indicate he is not trustworthy. “I want to weave silk fabric for the rest of my life,” Ning Yi pleads with the Emperor.
The Emperor thinks about how to protect Ning Yi. Choosing the Qiu clan, he issues a marriage edict for Ning Yi and Qiu Yuluo, a daughter of Qiu Shangqi.
In public, Ning Yi and Xin Ziyan act like enemies, but actually, they are working together. Meeting in secret, Xin Ziyan congratulates Ning Yi on his new alliance with the Qiu clan. However, Ning Yi is certain the marriage will not happen.
Naturally, Qiu Shangqi does not want a convicted prince for a son-in-law. More importantly, supporting Ning Yi will make him an enemy of the other princes and their factions, particularly Ning Chuan and his ardent supporter, the powerful Chang clan.
Ning Yi and Xin Ziyan reminisce about the past. Eight years ago, third prince Ning Qiao was the perfect candidate to become the next emperor. Unfortunately, he was framed for treason and killed.
Ning Yi vows to destroy all the people involved in the murderous plot, even if it costs him his life. Xin Ziyan does not like it when Ning Yi makes jokes about dying because he promised Ning Qiao that he would assist Ning Yi to become the next emperor.
Ning Chuan, second prince Ning Sheng, and fifth prince Ning Yan seem to get along, but they are ambitious and waiting for a chance to strike. More importantly, Ning Chuan’s status as Crown Prince has become uncertain. Obviously, the Emperor released Ning Yi to retaliate against Ning Chuan and the Chang clan. Since Ning Yi does not have power or allies right now, the best option is to go with the flow.
At the Qiu clan, there is another young lady of marriageable age. Her name is Feng Zhiwei (NI NI), and she is Qiu Shangqi’s niece. For the past couple of years, she dresses as a young man to attend school for her lazy brother, Feng Hao. Now that Zhiwei is 18 years old, her mother wants her to stop. If people find out, Zhiwei’s reputation will be ruined.
As Zhiwei and her mother talk, Qiu Shangqi’s fifth concubine, Yuhua, enters the room with expensive gifts. She informs them that Lady Qiu wants to see them.
After talking with Lady Qiu, Zhiwei’s mother feels conflicted. Should she let Zhiwei replace Yuluo and marry Ning Yi? This is a dangerous move, but sometimes, such a move is necessary to break a stalemate. Zhiwei cannot follow her mother’s logic and begs her mother to confide in her.