Su Xi-er passed the letter to Feng Changqing and instructed, “Burn it.”
Feng Changqing nodded and stowed it away in his sleeve before revealing a worried expression. “This letter was expeditiously sent here; may I know what happened?”
“As an emperor, you oftentimes don’t have the freedom to do what you’d like.” Su Xi-er slowly replied as her gaze became distant. Then, she looked towards Pei Qianhao. “A-Jing, if you were Lianchen, what would you do? Yun Ruofeng’s remaining military power can be reclaimed without wasting a single soldier, but all the officials have a condition. Now that Lianchen is past 16, the imperial palace is beginning the Imperial Beauty Selection. Regardless of whether they are daughters of officials or an ordinary family, any woman can enter the palace for the selection as long as they fit the criteria.”
Pei Qianhao’s gaze deepened as he pondered for a moment. “As the monarch of a nation, he should be able to at least handle something like this; otherwise, he’s not suited for the position. Xi-er, you can’t interfere in this matter. Ning Lianchen has two choices: either pacify the court officials by proceeding with the Imperial Beauty Selection and have the daughters of important officials enter the imperial harem, or use his imperial might to directly suppress them with the military.”
His words were a wake-up call for Su Xi-er, and she immediately came to her own conclusions. When Yun Ruofeng was in control, he prioritised the military. If Lianchen tries to do the same and use military might to suppress the officials, it would only cause everyone to become disillusioned. Rather than two choices, he really only has one.”
Feng Changqing spoke, “Eldest Imperial Princess, what is your suggestion? Do I need to urgently deliver a letter to His Majesty?”
Su Xi-er shook her head. “Lianchen will know that I do not intend on interfering in this matter if he doesn’t receive a letter. I trust him; he will handle this matter very well. You may withdraw.”
Feng Changqing bowed. “This subordinate will take my leave.” He then turned to walk out of the main hall.
“Xi-er, if you are worried, you should make a trip to Nanzhao.” Pei Qianhao couldn’t help but take her into his arms when he saw her knitted brows.
“That won’t do. Beimin’s imperial court has yet to stabilise, and still requires your attention. As your wife, I naturally have to stay by your side. Besides, I trust Nianchen will perform well; it can be considered a trial for him.” Su Xi-er lied against his chest and returned his hug.
Pei Qianhao softly replied with an affirmative, his gaze involuntarily becoming distant.
When Ning Lianchen wrote this letter, he had probably already made up his mind. It wasn’t long ago that someone came to report that the Emperor of Nanzhao had shown no signs of deploying the 800 elite soldiers I lent him, only having them hide in the suburbs and bide their time. If this is the case, Ning Lianchen has little choice but to agree to conduct the Imperial Beauty Selection.
With an emperor who’s already past 16, it’s not unusual for the officials to bring up such a matter.
Everything went according to Pei Qianhao’s expectations. That night, Ning Lianchen issued an imperial edict, agreeing to the court officials proposal to have women of a suitable age to participate in the Imperial Beauty Selection.
The next day, the Ministry of Rites passed down the imperial edict. As long as they met the requirements, the daughters of officials from the provinces and counties, wealthy merchants, and landlords could register themselves. After the preliminary round, the remaining candidates would be able to enter the palace for the first round of selection.
The daughters of important officials had already packed their items in a cloth bundle. After dolling themselves up, they boarded their horse carriages bound for the imperial palace, intent on staying in the Female Selection Palace.
All the women were from the ages of 15 to 18. Every single one of them needed to undergo a physiognomic assessment, have their eight birthdate characters matched, and get their family background checked. They also had to display their talents and be tested on ‘Lessons of Women’ before they could successfully enter the palace.
1. A selection for choosing young unmarried girls to become imperial consorts or palace maids. It usually happens every three years, and the age of the candidates is usually no younger than 13 or 14, while the upper age limit is typically not more than 20, though it can differ according to dynasties.
*sigh* it's hard being an emperor :")
and it's also hard for the women who have no choice but to enter the palace :(