Seeing the surprise in Lian Qiao's eyes, Pei Yaran slowly stated, "After studying medicine for five years, you should be able to concoct medicine when you are given the recipe. This Empress Dowager came across this medicine book by chance and wants you to manufacture the medicine you are looking at now. The Winter Solstice Festival will be in seven days, and there will be a banquet held in the imperial palace to accompany it."
Lian Qiao felt a stone weighing on her heart, but swiftly replied, "This servant will produce the medicine in seven days."
"If anybody else finds out about this, you should watch out for your head." Pei Yaran warned as she lifted the teacup off the table.
Lian Qiao nodded fervently and replied with assurance, "This servant’s mouth is sealed; I won’t leak this out." She would never tell anyone about making medicine, including the time that she had made the itching powder for Su Xi-er. However, it just so happened that Su Xi-er had moved to the Beauty Palace right after Lian Qiao had done her that favour. Now that the Beauty Palace was gone, Su Xi-er was back in the Palace Side Quarters.
"Leave now and get the ingredients required from the Imperial Physician Institute. Make sure you take some other miscellaneous herbs as well, lest it arouses the suspicion of others." Pei Yaran ordered once again. No one must know of the philtre fragrance.
"This servant will keep it in mind."
Pei Yaran nodded before she ordered a palace maid to lead Lian Qiao to the backyard.
Lian Qiao had her own hut in the backyard, making it convenient for her to focus on concocting medicine, her only responsibility for this period of time. She set down her bundle of belongings before opening up the book once again, making sure to memorise the ingredients and steps for making the philtre fragrance
The book held descriptions of all sorts of philtre fragrance, but Lian Qiao had no idea what sort Pei Yaran wanted. Or should I go down the list and make one of each kind?
Just then, a palace maid entered the hut. Lian Qiao swiftly sat on top of the medicine book in fear that others would see it.
"The Empress Dowager has bestowed this to you, and hopes that you will do your job well in the Compassionate Peace Palace in the future." The palace maid handed a hairpin to Lian Qiao.
Lian Qiao's heart leapt in her chest as she respectfully received the hairpin with both hands. "Please thank the Empress Dowager in this servant's stead."
The palace maid snorted. "The Empress Dowager bestowed you with something the moment you entered her repose palace. To think that even Miss He Ying didn't receive many gifts from the Empress Dowager; how lucky for you." The palace maid then exited the house without even bothering to close the doors behind her; her attitude was extremely arrogant.
Lian Qiao understood that most palace maids looked down on those from the Palace Side Quarters. As such, she could only tolerate it and properly manufacture the medicine which Pei Yaran instructed her to.
If I can't produce it… Lian Qiao's gaze wavered; she knew what would await her.
She then placed the hairpin on the table, but her hand accidentally brushed against a bump on it. Upon closer investigation, she found a note within a secret compartment.
Lian Qiao was startled, and immediately stood up to close the doors before retrieving the note. There were only a few words on the note, but every word struck terror in Lian Qiao.
The Empress Dowager actually wants a highly-concentrated and safe-to-use philtre fragrance for the bedroom; the most important thing is that it must not cause harm to the body! Why does she need this kind of philtre fragrance?! Suddenly, Lian Qiao was reminded of the secret rumours in the palace. There's an affair going on between the Empress Dowager and Prince Hao! If that’s the case, it looks like she wants to use the philtre fragrance on Prince Hao!
Upon that thought, Lian Qiao couldn’t help but tremble as she clutched the note in her hands. The Empress Dowager and Prince Hao actually have such a relationship going on, but it seems that their relationship isn't as good as before. Why else would the Empress Dowager order me to concoct philtre fragrance?!
Gradually, Lian Qiao felt that this mission was a hot potato. There’s no need to say that I will be put to death if I fail, but even if I succeed, Prince Hao wouldn’t let me off either! Whether she succeeded or failed, she would still bring the fury of a behemoth upon herself!
What should I do? No matter what I do, death awaits me!
Lian Qiao crumbled the note with both hands and tightly grasped it. The most important thing right now is to figure out who Prince Hao likes, and if he holds any feelings towards the Empress Dowager.
If he doesn't, and I concocted philtre fragrance...
Just then, a palace maid's voice rang out from outside the hut. "Lian Qiao, the Empress Dowager has ordered this servant to be in charge of your meals from today onwards."
Sending a servant to wait on me is undoubtedly her way of monitoring me...
1. A short Wikipedia page for more information. People usually eat glutinous rice dumplings to celebrate, as they also symbolise reunion.
oh no, what is Lian Qiao's fate gonna be? ><