Xinyi tasted the soup methodologically like she did for the stir fried dishes.
The herbs that were directly nourished had the same effect as the stir fried ones. Doing the same as earlier, she gave the one that was nourished daily to BaoBao to finish, while she finished the rest.
The results that surprised her were the herbs that were indirectly nourished. When cooked into soup, the rejuvenating effect was multiplied by many folds. It was effective to the point that her body felt cleansed.
/This could actually help to speed up one's cultivation/. She wondered in awe to herself.
Her mind started reeling with possibilities once more. She wondered about what she could do with this knowledge in this world, how she could use it, whether it would be practical and safe for others to learn of this, and many more.
Finally, she arrived at her next experimental question.. /If it can have such wonderful effects for the internal body, I wonder if it applies to open wounds…/
BaoBao had long broken off the telepathic connection that they have. He could not help but wonder to himself how Xinyi would react and what she would do when she transmigrates into worlds that were stranger than this.
At this point, Xinyi had not yet realised how her piqued interest in the fantasy aspect of this world made her a little more like the explorative kitten she once was, before the need for results made its place in her life, before she started noticing patterns in society that felt unchangeable, before she felt powerless.
With her mind only focused on working and the internalised idea that she was no more than an average joe, it did not occur to her that she just made something that people would celebrate over.
Xinyi's routine for the following month stayed the same. She merely replaced the old experiment with a new one. The herbs grown in the pots this time were for making salves. The edible herbs now grow in a newly created small garden at the back of the courtyard, where a bush once stood.
ZiYao came every alternate day, disrupting Xinyi's routine. This time, she did not bother herself with educating Xinyi and merely chatted with her about matters beyond the estate's walls.
Xinyi caught on to how ZiYao skillfully and subtly promoted ZhangYong's worth by talking about his family, growth, and achievements. Although she also mentioned the princes of this state, including WangWei, and other well-known people, only ZhangYong sounded available and within reach.
/So, the one's she's interested in is ZhangYong./ Xinyi deduced.
She played along and gave the right reactions that she knew ZiYao was looking for.
It was the end of the month when it was finally Xinyi's turn to get what she wanted.
"Isn't he amazing?" Zi Yao said dreamily.
"Yes, he'd make more than a fine husband. Possibly even perfect."
ZiYao then acted like a little fangirl. "Right? I heard that he sometimes comes to your courtyard for dalliances with a maid, could it actually be you and not a maid? Perhaps you really stand a chance with him!"
"He comes here? I don't think I have ever met him." Xinyi lied without batting an eyelid.
"You've been meeting up with a man almost every other month, haven't you?"
"Mei Mei, I reserve my energy for my meetups with you. I spend all my other time sleeping or cooking a small dish. I wish I could get the chance to meet someone as great as ZhangYong Gong Zi."
"I see…" ZiYao then sighed a little dramatically. "Now that I think about it again, it's a pity that even if you met him, HuiShan will never let you have him..."
"HuiShan mei? Didn't you say that she has WangWei Gong Zi and that they'd likely end up together?"
"She manipulates ZhangYong Gong Zi and monopolises all of his time. Maybe that's why he can't come here when you're feeling better."
"Why would she do something like that?"
"That's just how she is... Hateful, isn't she?" Zi Yao smiled wryly.
"I think anybody would dislike that."
ZiYao appeared to go deep into thought for a while before speaking again. "Er Jie, you may actually stand a chance against her."
"How's that possible? I'm nothing compared to you and HuiShan mei."
"ZhangYong Gong Zi coming to your courtyard must be because he has shown an interest in getting to know you. I don't believe it's due to some dalliance with a maid. He isn't someone like that."
"What makes you so sure? How could he have learnt of me, who hardly takes a step out of my courtyard?"
"I don't know but there must be something going on. Did you know that ever since EnLai's full-month celebration, ZhangYong Gong Zi has never come to our estate only to see HuiShan? Isn't this a sign that you totally stand a chance against her?" ZiYao's eyes were sparkling with excitement.
Xinyi inwardly commended ZiYao's acting before replying in an hesitant voice. "Do you really think it's possible?"
ZiYao nodded her head fervently.
After a second, Xinyi sighed again. "I don't feel deserving of his love..."
"At the very least, you're more than qualified to be one of his concubines! Don't you think it would be lovely to be a part of his household no matter as a wife or concubine?"
"I predict a lot of competition for his attention if I'm part of his harem. I don't know if I'd survive that..."
"He's already showing you favouritism, so you have an advantage over the rest! I believe in my Er Jie's charms."
Xinyi spent some time thinking again. "Do you really think it's possible for me to become his concubine?" Xinyi asked in a soft voice.
"Yes!" ZiYao was genuinely excited now. It sounded to her like Xinyi was finally giving in.
Xinyi frowned. "HuiShan Mei really is interfering with my future then..."
ZiYao started celebrating her success in her heart. She finally successfully instigated a conflict between Xinyi and HuiShan. /I gained a new pawn!/
[Xinyi? What are you up to? You can't possibly mean everything you've been saying to Zi Yao this past month?] BaoBao asked her while Xinyi pretended to be deep in thought.
/Do I seem that easy to you?/
After a while, she decided to let the confused BaoBao in on her plan.
/BaoBao, don't you think it would be really satisfying to see her reaction when I let her down after raising her hopes up high? Let's consider this payment for all my time and effort./
Her words sent shivers down his spine. So, she can be this cruel. He thought to himself.
Xinyi hinted that she was thinking up a scheme in her mind to throw ZiYao in for the loop. "Maybe I could..."
After a long pause that kept ZiYao in suspense, Xinyi finally sighed. "I don't think I will do anything after all."
ZiYao's hope and mood plunged down. Unable to take the shock and fury, she could not keep herself from shrieking. "What?!"
"There's just nothing I can do." Xinyi said with a very dejected look on her face.
"There're many things you could do or hire someone to do! Poison, assassination, ****, humiliation... There has to be something feasible!" ZiYao went completely unfiltered and forgot to maintain her image.
Xinyi looked pleasantly surprised. "MeiMei sure has many ideas! Seeing that you treat me so well, MeiMei doesn't mind helping your Er Jie then?"
ZiYao's face turned red. "You're supposed to do it for ME! Not the other way round!"
ZiYao still had the pride of being the main wife's daughter, so she could not stomach even picturing herself being the arms and legs of a mere concubine's daughter.
Xiny's eyes rounded in shock and her mouth hung open.
It took a while before ZiYao regained her senses. When she did, she felt mortified. ZiYao recovered her amiable act so well that her earlier outburst looked almost like an illusion. "Oh dear, look at me behaving so unsightly. I'm sorry, I was simply too excited about Er Jie finding her love. I just believe that Er Jie should fight for it yourself."
"No, no. I was the one who said something wrong. Let me make it up to you. Here, have a cup of tea." Xinyi poured a hot cup of tea for ZiYao, then handed it to her.
When Zi Yao's fingers brushed against hers, Xinyi jumped as if startled by the unexpected contact, causing her to drop the cup. The hot tea scalded ZiYao's hand and lap. The cup broke into smithereens on the floor. ZiYao screamed in pain and fanned her hands in an angry panic. Her maid rushed to help ZiYao. Xinyi acted like she got even more flustered by her mistake, which caused her to "accidentally" step on ZiYao's foot while getting up to get cold water and a cloth. Thus, another cry of pain escaped ZiYao's throat.
When ZiYao saw Xinyi returning with a bowl of cold water, a bad feeling rose inside her. "Stay away from me!"
Her sudden shriek unfortunately scared the poor weak Xinyi. She stumbled in her steps and poured everything all over ZiYao and the maid who tried to cover their miss.
ZiYao screamed in frustration and agony. "You're right! You're absolutely useless! Messing up when you're just a little flustered, you'd be a burden even as a partner in crime!"
ZiYao stormed out of the courtyard and her maid hastily followed her, not forgetting to cast a disdainful look at Xinyi who was still crouched on the floor.
BaoBao soon appeared by her side laughing crazily, rolling about on the floor, and kicking his legs in the air. He laughed for a long time till his sides hurt.
"You can become a comedian!" BaoBao said as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
Xinyi only smirked a little then went off to continue her day.
Xinyi looked through the library to see if there was anything else worth reading.
Although the library held a considerably large collection of books, it was mostly official and literary texts thanks to her father being a court official and her brother being a scholar. That coupled with the fact that it has been slightly over a year since she transmigrated, inadvertently led to her current circumstance of having not enough relevant books to read.
She ended up choosing a new book on poisons then made her way to her favourite haunt to read. On her way there, she began wondering about ways to get more resources for herself.
/I wonder if it's possible for me to leave the estate…/
When the sun set, she returned the book to the library then went back to her courtyard.
Just as she neared her courtyard, BaoBao's excited voice rang through her mind. [He's here! He's here! He's actually here! Also, he's in your room!]
Xinyi's eyebrow twitched. /At this time? There wasn't any gossip about his visit today. Also, why my room?/
She did not need to ask for the person's identity to know who it was, for there was only one person who could get BaoBao this excited.
When ZhangYong had not dropped by at all despite it being the last day of the month, BaoBao had thought that ZhangYong would really never visit anymore. With his arrival now, BaoBao was even more convinced that Xinyi should just curry his favour, reciprocate his love, and dominate this world as much as was considered acceptable.
Meanwhile, Xinyi harboured thoughts that were the complete opposite of BaoBao, making BaoBao cry inwardly. She had decided to drop all forms of courtesy in her effort to chase ZhangYong away.
Thanks to her studying, she understood how people in the Heaven realm would be able to sense other people's presence within a certain range. She suppressed her presence as much as possible and hoped that the naturally weak presence her character had would work to her advantage again.
She made her way to the shed, grabbed the axe that she found during the time she constructed her small herb garden, then crept towards the open window leading into her room.
Everything went well. ZhangYong looked unaware of her presence even as she stood by the window.