Five days passed since the dreadful choosing. She lived with the three other girls in a distanced manor. She had her own room but the furniture was no more special than the ones she had at home.
On the first day, the four girls learnt the rules of the court to prepare them for the emperor.
"Never disobey the emperor. Do not displease him. He is you god," Nanny Ton said, staring at them seriously. She was the emperor's maid and everyone referred to her as "nanny" out of respect.
"Never do anything that could jeopardize your possible baby."
"Do not disrespect those above your rank."
And the list went on.
"If you break one rule. Just one rule. You will be punished. It takes one mistake to be killed."
Lilan noticed that Maiden Snow's eyes grew larger by the second. The atmosphere was tense with fear. It seemed like there could be a trap in front of every step.
They learned about the emperor's current family on the second day. There were six ranks for his consorts. The highest is empress which is limited to only one person. The space is currently vacant. The second of noble, limited to two people. The nobles were Noble Moon and Noble Night. They were sisters and had been in the palace for four years already. After that is lady. There're two spots but only one is available. Lady Nan was the mother of the head princess. This is followed by maiden, mistress and admiral. Five spots are available for all three ranks and many are occupied.
The emperor only has three princesses but no prince. A male heir was born but sadly died before the age of one. Many consorts were pregnant but they, to some mysterious reason, all miscarried.
"To excel and to climb to the top, you have to conceive an heir." The nanny said.
The last two days were spent learning the direction of the palace, ways to please the emperor. The fifth day was a day to rest.
Today, the emperor would pick a girl to go to the golden manor, where the emperor rested at night. On most nights, he would pick one of his consorts who would arrive at night and leave in the morning.
Lilan was waiting in the main room of the manor with the three other girls. Mistress Chaste tried to break the awkward silence. "Where did you all lived?"
Maiden Snow smirked, "In this grand manor right outside of the palace. It is grand and we have at least seventy servants."
Chaste said, "Wow. That's amazing! You're so lucky. No wonder you have such nice clothing and jewellery."
To this, Maiden Snow just smiled.
Maiden Pure added to the conversation in a quiet voice, "My father often had to travel with the army. We lived near the border and we often camped."
"How romantic!" Chaste sighed.
"I would still prefer a nice, solid home." Snow sneered.
A maid entered the room, smiling at Malen, "The emperor wants Maiden Malen."
Malen grinned widely with a twinkle in her large eyes, "Thank you! Thank you!"
She left with the servant.
Snow said, "I don't understand the emperor's taste. Why her? She not even that pretty."
Chaste was quick to agree
Snow whispered, leaning toward the rest, "I've heard that she was a illegitimate child!"
"Really?" Chaste said, very much interested.
Pure got up and was about to leave, "Problems start at the mouth."
Lilan left with her.
They went to the garden. It was nearly midnight but the full moon laminated the exquisite breeds of trees and flowers. A red flower scented the air lightly. Pure breathed deeply. "I love this smell. They grew wildly on the hills."
Lilan was a bit taken back; it was the first time Pure spoke to her voluntarily. But, Lilan liked Pure. True to her title, she appeared innocent and trustworthy.
She continued softly, in a fazed voice, "I don't want to be here. I wish…"