A young soldier, face coved with blood watched as a blade strike him down, disbelieve and anguish in his eyes.
It is flash back and a scene from a recurring nightmare. The owner woke, hands crunching a bracelet with a single character "Ling" etched on it. Its resemblance to the flag of the battle scene tells us that this is the boy from the battle. He look up, eyes filled with anguish and determination.
A dove delivered a message to a beautiful manor in the mountains, bringing news that the prince of a neighbouring land, Yan had been made crown prince. We were introduce to the manor which seems to have an elaborated and effective system in place for receiving and managing information. The owner predicted the news will reach the princes of this land in no time, signing to himself that "he" accomplished the deed.
The manor is the Manor of LangYa, and have a reputation of knowing everything in the land. Manor of LangYa, is in the business of supplying answers for a fee. Pay the price quoted for your question and thou shall receive the answer in a sachet. The rich and powerful pay them patronage frequently and Manor of LangYa give back to society by realising their top ten list of who's who in different categories, from who is the most powerful pugilist to who is the most beautiful maiden.
Emperor's favourite consort, Grand Consort Yue. Prince Yu's mother is a low ranking consort who died long ago, but he is also the adopted son of the Empress. Prince Yu is viewed as a capable prince whom the Emperor favoured, much to the jealousy and awe of the crown prince. Both princes and their respective mums were constantly trying to one up the other in power and in gaining the Emperor's favour. In our introduction scenem Emperor Liang is pleased with Prince Yu's completion of a task, namely to inspect the governing and situation of the seven states and decide to reward him with a promotion.
Prince Yu, hears from his minion about the situation of the neighbouring country, Yan. The sixth son of Yan had become crown prince despite having been in obscurity and having fierce competition from his other brothers. It is unexpected and the minon shared that Yan's crown prince succeed after receiving a LangYa Sachet. Needless to say, Prince Yu wants to know what's the answer given in the sachet. ---The one who gets the Kylin Scholar gets the Land.
At this point it becomes apparent that things between the princes are way beyond your usual sibling rivalry as as Prince Yu encounter a blush with an assassin presumably sent by his brother. The assassin was shifty taken care of and the encounter make Prince Yu even more determine to win his brother in the race for the throne.
Both Princes sought out their advisers for the identity of this guy. We are introduced to the Crown Prince's advisor Marquess Xie Yu and Prince Yu's advisor, the beautiful Qing Ban Ruo who inform their respective masters about what they know of the Kylin Scholar.
Chang Su is the leader of Ziang Zhuo Meng, a powerful alliance in the Ziang Zhuo Region in the state of Lang Zhuo and the reigning champion on the Manor of LangYa yearly top ten list.
Strangely, while many highly skilled martial art experts listens to hie commands, Chang Su does not know any marital art himself, and appears more like a sickly scholar. The princes' advisers attribute his success to his unparalleled wit and cunning.
The next scene shows a poor old couple in a boat trying escaping from a fleet of ships. They were being escorted by the people who work for the crown prince, escaping from a powerful lord who is in alliance with Prince Yu. The escorts speed to reach the part of the river that is under the control of Ziang Zhuo Meng, knowing that they will be safe.
A flicker of anger flash in Chang Su's eye and his teen body guard flew up, jumping onto the ship and throw the rich guy into the water. The hedge men retreat quickly in fear leaving their client in the water.
In the Capital, the old couple arrived in the capital safely. Their escort turns out to be the son in law of the Marquess Xie Yu from the House of Ning. Xie Yu is married to the Emperor's Sister, Princess Li Yang.
The Emperor shared his frustration of his sons' unfriendly competition with his Eunuch Gao, having heard that both his favoured sons were vying for the Kylin Scholar. "There;s a rumour that The one who gets the Kylin Scholar gets the Land. - as if MY Land can be gotten so easily" he scoffed.
The scene cuts to two young men, Yu Jin (Son of the Queen's brother) and Jin Rui (Son of Princess Li Yang and Marquess Xie Yu ) They are shopping while on their way to visit Su Zhe. Jin Rui had made friends with Su Zhe by a chanced encounter and he is inviting Su Zhe to stay with him in the capital to help him recover from his illness.
Ling Cheng : How long do you need?
Chang Su: Two years
Ling Chen: Sure, bring along 10 physicians
Chang Su: Silent long look
Ling Cheng: Sign
Chang Su watched wistfully from his carriage as Ni Huang proceed to test the young men on their pugilist skills, beating both of them swiftly and squarely. She praise them on their progress before riding off.
At the announcement that Jing Rui is back, the son in law quickly take his leave, leaving by the back door so to avoid Jing Rui.
While Jing Rui is happy to see his father, Marquess Xie Yu appears cold and reprimand his son for staying away for too long. That's until he notice Chang Su, who is also eyeing him, poker face.
As Chang Su greet Marquess Xie Yu with impeccable manners, we see that he is the man that have cut down our young Xiao Shu in the nightmare war scene. It's not just a nightmare isn't it? Is Chang Su really Xiao Shu? They looked totally different. A mixed expression on Marquess Xie Yu. Definitely not an expression of a loving parent meeting his son's friend for the first time. Did he sense something?
Next we see Ni Huang in the Palace with the Emperor. Ni Huang is Duchess of the House of Mu in the State of Yun Nan and is favoured by the Emperoras she had protect the border of Liang from it's aggressive neighbour for the past 10 years. She is in the city of Jing Ling as the Emperor is organising a pugilist competition to help her find a suitable consort. It is agreed that she will challenge the top ten candidates and choose her consort from there.The Emperor seems amicable and fatherly here. From their conversation, we know that Ni Huang's younger brother has just come of age and is taking over the role of the head of the House of Mu and that Ni Huang is one of the top pugilistic expert of the land according to the LangYa top ten list.
Emperor's equivalent of a secret investigation service arrived. The reporting investigator is Xia Dong, a high ranking investigator is assigned to investigate into the case of the old couple who had complaint that their pursuer Duke Qing had commit multiple murders and many other crimes.
Xia Dong is also a good friend of Ni Huang, having fight a war together. We learned that Ni Huang was betrothed to Ling Shu (aka Xiao Shu. Xiao means little and is a common term of endearment for youngsters when combine with their name. For the sake of consistency we will refer to the character as Ling Shu even though Ling Shu and Chang Su is the same person.) Xia Dong's husband used to be a general in the Chi-Yan Forces and died because of the Chi-Yan Forces treason. Xia Dong hatred for the Chi-Yan forces is apparent and she hope that Ni Huang will find a good husband and forget about her betrothed Ling Shu whom everyone believed had died 12 years ago.
Ni Huang shared with Xia Dong that the Emperor's concern over her marriage is more that what it seems, commenting that she probably can't return to the State of Yun Nan even if she doesn't get married this time.
What an episode. This drama really needs one to follow attentively. There are lots of characters introduced in this episode and many clues dropped along the way. I like the world and all the characters who seems intriguing. Especially endearing is the relationship between Chang Su and his young body guard. This show offers lots of eye candy from the actors and actresses to the scenery to the costumes and buildings and interiors which are all of much better quality than some movies out there.