With the contest to select the next Crown Prince underway, Prince Seongnam runs into some trouble as the consorts and court officials begin bending the rules.
After the Queen requests the King to ensure the Taekhyeon selects the most worthy heir rather than whoever has the most favour, the King tells the officials that he will decide the tests for the selection.
On top of that, the princes are kidnapped and taken to the location where the contest is being held without prior information to catch them and the consorts and court officials off guard.
Despite this, some of the consorts find ways to bend the rules and get their sons the help that they need.
Following the first and second tests, the princes are given inspector’s uniforms and split into two groups with each group tasked with bringing a former court official to the palace.
Seongnam is assigned to escort Park Gyeong-u, an old friend of the king who left the court because he didn’t agree with the way the king ascended the throne.
Seongnam is riding through the forest when he’s attacked by a group of bandits. He manages to hold them off momentarily until the bandits are attacked by another group that remains hidden.
Seongnam thanks his unknown saviour and then heads on his way. The people who rescued him turned out to be palace guards who were supposed to keep the princes safe along the journey.
They manage to kill most of the bandits as a few of them get away. They gather the evidence and take this news back to the King.
Exposing the culprit
The King and Queen are enraged that someone would try and hurt their son and the King wants to get to the bottom of this but Councillor Hwang warns him that if he pushes for an investigation, other people might see that as him favouring the grand prince.
With his hands tied, the Queen decides to take control of the investigation. She goes to see the bodies of the deceased bandits and a composite sketch with a kill order is found in the leader’s throat.
The Queen takes one of the bandit’s arrows and confronts the other consorts, stating that she will find out who is responsible and punish them.
She makes a public statement to draw out the culprit and orders the palace guards to keep an eye out for the first consort who leaves the palace.
It is revealed that consort Hwang and her father are behind the attack but they need to fund the bandit subleader who escaped for concrete evidence. She tells the palace guards to stay on the councillor’s men who are also searching for the subleader.
A clear warning to back off
The councillor’s men find the subleader but he slips through their fingers. Just as he thinks he has escaped, he is captured by the palace guards and taken to the Queen.
The Queen questions the subleader and threatens him with death if he doesn’t share the truth. The subleader says that the councillor’s man paid them to attack the prince but not gravely harm him.
After that, another woman walked in and ordered them to kill the prince instead, and the subleader says that the woman had a frog hairpin and smelt like a peony.
The Queen realizes that those characteristics resemble the Queen Dowager’s court lady and she goes to confront her mother-in-law with a “gift” in hand.
She gifts the Queen Dowager a poisonous plant and says that it is up to her whether the plant is turned into medicine or something that kills her. She warns the Queen Dowager that if she does something to harm Seongnam or any of the other princes, she will face the Queen’s wrath.