Lin Xulian carefully looked at Yin Mei's face. Just as her brother said she look sick. She took her pulse but didn't notice anything odd except for her abnormally fast heartbeat. This doesn't feel like a heart disease though. "You don't have any sickness Mei jiejie. I think you are just tired. You've been serving me even before the sun rose."
"No your majesty. This servant is just a bit short of breath." Yin Mei tried to calmed herself down. She can't let herself be exposed.
But Lin Xulian wasn't convinced. Then she remembered Hao Yuwen. Yin Mei looked exactly like him while secretly peeking at Xiao Tian. Realization striked her and thought. 'Should I keep it a secret too? Hao Yuwen asked me not to tell Tian. Maybe I should do the same with Mei jiejie or she might nag me again and make me walk with more book on top of my head.'
Lin Xulian then looked at her brother and thought that it's impossible since he is indifferent with women and relationship. Although he treats Yin Mei differently from other women, she thinks it is only because she is like their mother. Extremely caring but also extremely fearsome when angry. Although she is the only one receiving her anger every time and Lin Huang only watched silently.
For Lin Xulian, she is not a servant but her etiquette teacher and confidant. She respects her for being a strong woman who doesn't depend on men to rise up. She became a high ranking and respected servant all through her own efforts. She can sleep her way to the top and use her beauty to rose to nobility but she never thought of it. She is contented being a servant and just wanted to be the best on her job.
"You can rest Mei jiejie. There are a lot of servants, even though I don't need one."
"This servant is fine your majesty. I am your personal servant. This is your special day. I should be here." This time Yin Mei finally calmed down.
As usual, Lin Xulian was defeated by Yin Mei's stubbornness. She herself is stubborn. She even sneak out to play most of the time. Then receive a scolding afterwards.
Lin Huang watched as Yin Mei continuously served Lin Xulian. He likes her tenacity the most. And of course because she is unlike any other woman who would send flirtatious gazes towards him unlike the rest of the ladies in the hall. He doesn't realized that she is just trying to ignore his presence.
The banquet ended peacefully without any unwanted incident, aside from Han Yimei's display earlier. Yin Mei still lead the clean up and managed the gifts that Lin Xulian received. It seems like everyone already knew about the empress's interest and they mostly gave precious herbs as a gift. Being with the empress's servant for more than a year, Yin Mei also gained knowledge about how to preserve and store them. She is really a dedicated servant that made her the role model for the rest.
The banquet started at noon and it is already dark when it ended. Yin Mei was exhausted but luckily for her she have a high quality wine to enjoy end rejuvenate herself. She wanted to invite Zie Xin for a drink but she mysteriously disappeared again. She is used to it though and know that she is just willing to serve Lin Xulian whenever the emperor is around.
She talked to her about this unethical behavior many times. She even consulted Lin Xulian about her and how to deal with her. But Lin Xulian said they should just let her be as long as it doesn't affects anyone's job. Yin Mei stopped minding her and decided to drink on her own in the pavilion on the garden. She will just leave some for her.
Yin Mei only finished a cup when she suddenly felt dizzy. 'So this is a high quality wine? Although it tasted delicious and light being a drink for women, it's surprisingly strong. Does the envoy want to get the empress drunk? Good thing she doesn't drink or the banquet might end up as a disaster.' Yin Mei thought as she decided not to drink more. She kept the wine and abandoned the idea of finishing half of it.
Since she got dizzy and lightheaded, Yin Mei stayed slumped on the table. She will wait for the effect of the wine to subside before she return to her room to have a proper rest.
Coincidentally, Lin Huang passed by the pavilion. He wanted to visit Lin Xulian and talk to her privately about a new applicant of the mercenary. That person is really strong and can use internal energy. He said he came from another continent and travelled to broaden his experience and skills. But now he is already broke and ended up applying to have a job to feed himself. Lin Huang predicted that Lin Xulian will still be up, maybe until morning, to deal with her newly acquired herbs. She is better than him when it comes to judging people so he wanted to ask her opinion.
Lin Huang noticed the woman slumped in the table. He found her clothes familiar so he decided to come over. When he is near enough, he was able to identify the woman. He was caught off guard seeing Yin Mei on this state. Just a while ago she was still poised while doing her job. Totally different to the current her. He then noticed the bottle beside her and can't help but be amused. 'Is she drunk?'
"Lady Yin? Are you alright? Are you drunk? You should go back and rest." Lin Huang called out to her to wake her up. She only groaned in reply.
Lin Huang can't touch and shake her awake since it would be rude to the woman. But he can't also leave her alone in her drunken state. There is no guarantee that no one will take advantage of her. She is a beautiful woman after all. He has no choice but to sit across her and wait for her to come to.
Yin Mei messily slumped in the table causing her waist long thick hair to cover her face. Lin Huang smiled at her messy appearance and thought that he should tease her once she's sobber. He wanted to see her always polite face get flustered in embarrassment. Then suddenly her breathing changed and became rushed and shallow. Lin Huang panicked and forced her up to face him. "Lady Yin, wake up!"
Yin Mei opened her glazed eyes then beamed a smile towards Lin Huang. Her face is flushed and her temperature is alarmingly high. Her eyes is also unfocused and dilated. "Y-young master Lin?"
Lin Huang knitted his brows and opened the bottle of wine to take a sniff then his expression darkened. Although he is not that adept in medicine as Lin Xulian, their mother forced him and Rui to identify common kinds of drugs and poisons. And just as he feared, the wine contained aphrodisiac. Yin Mei was drugged.