China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century. On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai. His pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress, this seems disingenuous. For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan, her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan, the Imperial Doctor's daughter. Meanwhile, faithful son Prince Jai, grows worried over the Empress's health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. The Emperor harbors equally clandestine plans and the Imperial Doctor is the only one privy to his machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he relocates the doctor's family from the Palace to a remote area. They are attacked by mysterious assassins and Chan and her mother are forced back to the palace. Their return sets off a tumultuous sequence of dark surprises. Amid the glamour and grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace.