Within a fictional time period:
When the call for the nobles to send their most beautiful daughters in as concubines for the Emperor is announced, the Li family is also chosen. What the family do not know however, is that their daughter has already fallen in love.
Fu Ai is rather un-lady like, and often times she is scolded for this. She is of humble origins and her family having served the Li for years, she grew up rather closely with their daughter, Xuiying. Hearing of her arrangements, and feeling pity for her close friend, Ai devises a plan to allow Miss Xiuying to elope with her lover and have herself act as her replacement, assuring that she will most certainly find a way to escape the confines of the royal palace unnoticed. But once in, she is soon caught up in the happenings in the palace as well as becoming entangled within the unrelenting grips of a fearsome over-authorized Dragon.
Escape seems quite far away after all.