56 Chapter 56 Lu Yaoyao’s Tea Party
Early in the morning, Yin Mei woke up Lin Xulian to inform her about the invitation for an afternoon tea party sent from the third prince's manor. It is a yearly tradition for the third prince's wangfei Lu Yaoyao. She is fond of tea and since the third prince loves her very much, he always supports her with her interest and allow her to held a tea party every now and then. This time the tea party is for the empire's ladies, both married or not. Lu Yaoyao would usually offer flower based tea during this party.
It is Lin Xulian's first time to join this kind of party. And since she is the empress, joining the noble ladies for tea is also part of her responsibility. She has no choice but to accept the invitation. Lin Xulian doesn't really mind. The third prince is neither a friend or foe. He is known as the neutral party that balances the power between the side of the emperor and second prince. The emperor has the support of the fourth prince while the second prince have the fifth prince since he is his full blood brother.
They never counted the sixth prince since they never thought that Feng Jun Ying would have the chance to enter the court. And who would support a sickly prince who is not even sure of he could live pass his teenage years.
When the afternoon came, the noble ladies of the capital arrived at the third prince's manor. There are wives and daughters of officials, wives and concubines of the princes and concubines of the emperor. Lin Xulian arrived last. She actually came on time but the other ladies wanted to show respect for the host and came earlier. If Lin Xulian is just an ordinary noble, some would already scold her. But she is the empress and no one would dare go against her.
Lin Xulian wore her usual red robes but with cherry blossom silver thread embroidery making it look a bit pink because of the color combination. Lu Yaoyao fetched her from the pavilion's entrance and led her towards the front. She directed her to a slightly higher seat than the party's host herself since Lin Xulian has the highest ranking among all the noble ladies. Everyone bowed and greet her "Greetings your majesty the Empress." Lin Xulian gave a warm smile and dismissed them.
The party is located at a pavilion in a cherry blossom garden. This place is Lu Yaoyao's favorite since it was Feng Jun Yan's wedding gift for her. He said it would be perfect for her tea ceremonies and party. So she always held her parties there. Lu Yaoyao also chose this month for her party because the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
The third prince's manor servants brought out different pots of tea for the guests. There are a total of five flower based flavors, rose bud, honey suckle, chrysanthemum, osmanthus and Lu Yaoyao's favorite, jasmine tea. While the ladies are enjoying their tea, Lu Yaoyao introduced each of them to Lin Xulian. "Your majesty, this is the first time you joined us to this tea party and Yaoyao hopes that this won't be the last." Lu Yaoyao said in a sweet smile.
Lin Xulian actually likes Lu Yaoyao. She is sweet and always smiling. She has a motherly feel despite still not having a child. She heard that Lu Yaoyao is the eldest child of the Minister of Rights, Lu Ziheng. Her mother is a daughter of a merchant and is tremendously rich. After her marriage she built an orphanage and Lu Yaoyao grew up in an environment with a lot of children. "I surely will Lady Lu. Next time I will bring medicinal tea. I made different kinds with different purposes."
One of the guests heard Lin Xulian and she had an ugly expression. It is no other than Han Yimei. Lin Xulian saw her earlier but she just pretended that she didn't see her. All the other noble ladies are secretly observing the two. Most of them were present in the empress's banquet and also the news of Han Yimei's shameless confession to the emperor already reached every household. They are waiting for an interesting show to happen. And Han Yimei didn't disappoint them.
"Your majesty, the empress is really talented. They said that a woman without talent is virtuous. But the empress surely has both since the emperor chose your majesty himself. This empire is really fortunate to have you as the empress." Han Yimei said with a smile but her words are full of hidden thorns. It is as if she is saying that Lin Xulian is talented but since no one knew her before, it is more of a possibility that she is not a virtuous woman. And for a noble lady, virtue is the most important thing.
Of course Lin Xulian didn't miss that tiny jab. "Lady Han is right. The emperor's job is really demanding. He had to make huge decisions for the empire and his people. He needs an empress that could also contribute solutions to the empire's problems and not just sing him a song. He also need someone who could take care of his health and not just make him soup for everything. And if the empire would face threats from outside forces, he needs someone who could stand beside him and protect the empire. Playing the zither cannot shield the empire from the enemy's sword, right?" Lin Xulian said in a smiling face.
But contrary to Lin Xulian's smiling face, Han Yimei's face turned ugly from each words she dropped. She couldn't control herself anymore and just snapped. "Are you saying that I am not qualified to be the empress?!"
"Lady Han, are you coveting my throne?" Lin Xulian said with a pained expression. "I thought you wanted to marry the emperor because of love just like what you said in the banquet. To think that I was blinded and touched that I asked the emperor to take you in as a concubine. As a virtuous wife and a good empress, I am willing as long as you love his majesty. Now I knew that you wanted to be the empress all along. I cannot risk myself and wait to be assassinated inside the palace because of a wrong decision. So Lady Han, I am sorry but you could only ask the emperor himself if he wanted you. But I have no choice but to protect myself." Lin Xulian's face showed regret and worry.
Han Yimei cannot understand how her little retort turned her into a treacherous and murderous woman. But everyone looked at her like she is the ultimate villain. Aside from Lin Xulian's outrageous conclusion of her statement, there is also a hidden trap in her words. It means that if the emperor doesn't take her in his harem, he never wanted her and that is equivalent to being rejected. It would also mean that the rumor of her being the emperor's childhood sweetheart is not true.
And for another time, Han Yimei was totally defeated by Lin Xulian. But this time she voluntarily ran out and just cried. She doesn't want to give up but she must admit she couldn't beat Lin Xulian. If she still want to marry Feng Jun Yi, she must do it the other way.