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208 Bribery and the Artis

    Leaving the villa, Yujia found herself heading back in the direction of Lingxin when she spotted someone familiar.

    Passing by her just now was no other than one of the personal maids of Madam Zhang, and Yujia certainly recognized this face.

    It was already nearing the evening, with the sun beginning to set in the distance. Yujia wondered for a second that if, because of the dim lighting, she mistook the person for one of Madam Zhang's maids, but when she turned around, staring at the back of the individual, she was only more certain. The clothes that the maid wore were exactly the robes for the personal servants of the household.

    Her heart quickened a bit, seeing where the maid was headed. Clearly, because of Yujia's disguise, she wasn't recognized. She didn't want to throw herself in front of the maid either to get purposefully recognized. Nonetheless, Yuija couldn't resist looking to see what a maid of Madam Zhang would be doing out here so late.

    The maid vanished into a building, which Yujia recognized to be a medicine shop.

    Was someone in the household sick?

    No, if that was the case, then another servant would be sent to buy the medicine, not one of Madam Zhang's personal maids. That is, unless Madam Zhang was the one who was sick.

    Yujia still found it a bit peculiar that one of the personal maids did the task of buying medicine. Tasks like these wouldn't be given to personal maids. Admittingly, Hui'er was the one who bought Yujia her medicine, but that was because Yujia was the illegitimate Fourth Miss. A personal maid of the Madam of the household, however, would be held at a much higher spot.

    Something was suspicious about this occurrence. Yujia had a gut feeling about it.

    She went to the side of the road and opened her fan, casually fanning herself as if she was taking a break from walking. In reality, she was just waiting for the maid to leave.

    A few moments later, the maid exited the doors, carrying a large bundle of medicine. She then headed off in the direction of the Yang Villa.

    Yujia narrowed her eyes at this. Who could the medicine possibly be for? The chances of Madam Zhang being the one who bought the medicine was the greatest, but it was an awfully large amount of herbs and pills that she was buying.

    Yujia never heard any news of Madam Zhang falling ill. She even infiltrated the villa a while back, and Madam Zhang was fine then. It also never seemed to Yujia that the Madam was any bit sick throughout all the time she spent in the Yang Villa. There was the possibility that she bought the herbs for nourishment, but judging by the size of that bundle, Yujia couldn't quite believe in a simple possibility like that.

    She thought back to the mysterious box she found under the bed. She planned to get that box checked out tomorrow or the day after that by a locksmith, or someone else that was a professional.

    For now, however, it seemed like she was given a set of clues to follow with the appearance of Madam Zhang's personal maid acting so suspiciously.

    Yujia decided on taking a look.

    She walked in the medicine shop right after she was sure that the maid was gone. From a first glance, everything seemed like a typical store, with a cheery middle-aged man- the shopkeeper- sitting behind a counter. The store was relatively empty, but it was kept clean. The shelves were all labeled and organized. A heavy scent of medicine drifted in the air, which made sense, considering that this was a store that sold herbs. Yujia didn't mind this smell too much.

    Seeing her enter, the shopkeeper asked, \"Noble- what can I help you with?\"

    Yujia went up to the counter, directly getting to her point. \"I want to know what that maid who just came in here bought.\"

    The cheerful smile on the shopkeeper's face vanished. His jaw tightened, shoulders tensing up.

    \"Er... Noble, I don't believe that it would be appropriate of me to tell you that information.\"

    \"Is that so?\" Yujia reached in her pocket, pulling out her satchel of taels. She placed it on the counter, reaching in and counting ten taels. These taels were passed in the direction of the man. \"How about now?\"

    The shopkeeper hesitated, then pushed the taels back to her. \"Noble, it really wouldn't be appropriate of me.\"

    Yuija sighed, shaking out another ten taels. Departing with these taels may have meant a lot to her a month ago, but now that she lived at Lingxin and had Three Inks Shop, she had plenty of taels at her disposal. Even though she lost those five-hundred taels to the thieves- which, she would gain back one day- she had enough to use twenty taels like this without an issue.

    A glint appeared in the shopkeeper's eyes. He hesitated for another moment, eyes tracing the taels that Yujia just slid across the counter. Clearly, he was going through an internal battle between his morals and the ability to earn twenty taels by just giving away some information. Finally, after much detailed thought, the battle ceased.

    He reached out and took the twenty taels.

    A smile surfaced on his face. One had reaching up to the back of his neck and the other scooping those twenty taels into a box, the man told Yujia, \"Alright then, Noble really does put me in a difficult position... but I suppose I could reveal a thing or two.\"

    Yujia smiled. She crossed her arms, nodding with her head for him to continue.

    \"The herbs that the maid bought include Bai Zi Ren, Dan Shen, Fu Ling, Yuan Zhi, and some Ginseng. She also bought some Gan Mai Da Zao pills and Xiao Yao pills,\" he explained.

    \"What do those do?\" It was no help for her if she just received a bunch of names of herbs, recognizing only Ginseng out of that list.

    \"Well, a lot of those herbs help treat issues such as insomnia and irritability, serving to calm the spirit. They also have some other functions, like tonifying the blood, or reliving toxicity. Gan Mai Da Zao pills help from controlling the spirit to prevent losing self-control, which are the result of a yin deficiency in the heart or a liver qi deficiency. It also helps with more insomnia caused by vivid dreams and palpitations, possibly even contributing to help menopause. Xiao Yao pills have a similar function, like dealing with fatigue, appetite changes, and can be related to treating infertility or menopause.\"

    Judging by the description that Yujia received, it seemed like whoever the medicine was for- probably Madam Zhang herself- dealt with plenty of insomnia, sleep, and menopause issues.

    \"Has the maid been purchasing medicine for a while at your store?\" Yujia followed up by asking.

    The shopkeeper nodded. \"Indeed. She has been a regular customer for a long time now. And she purchases similar herbs and pills every time.\"

    Her breath caught. \"Can... any of the herbs you mentioned, or pills, act as a poison?\"

    \"No, definitely not,\" the shopkeeper was quick to answer, \"In fact, plenty of them deal with nourishing the body and detoxifying. They do the opposite of any poison.\"

    \"Has she ever bought anything that could act as a poison?\"

    \"No, not that I recall.\"

    Interesting.

    From everything that Yujia had discovered so far, it seemed less and less likely that Madam Zhang was the reason behind her poisoning.

    Yujia thanked the shopkeeper for this information that he revealed. She then exited the store, her thoughts a bit heavy as she went back to Lingxin.

    She needed to find out what was in that box fast.
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