Chapter 7 of Kusuriya no Hitorigoto manga.
Mao Mao and the rest of Jade Palace is at the Garden Party. Being the guest of honor, Lady Gyokuyou has retreated with Honnyan to her post, leaving Mao Mao and the rest of the servants outside. The season is winter and the weather is cold. Even with the heat stones, Mao Mao and the maids were still shuttering in the cold of winter.
As the party begin to assemble, Mao Mao is able to catch a glimpse of the Emperor and his family. While the Emperor sits on the throne, the Emperor's mother is seated to right with Princess Renrii in her arms. When Mao Mao commented on how young the Dowager Empress is, one of the maid servants begin to explain to Mao Mao that the Empress Dowager was actually only a child herself when she had the Emperor.
This causes Mao Mao to wonder how the Empress Dowager manage to get pregnant in the first place. But before she wonders about it even more, she notice that there is empty seat next to the Emperor. When Mao Mao asks who it was for, the maid servant replied that it was for the Emperor's brother, the imperial prince. The imperial brother was apparently very sickly and is often confined to his quarters. Thus, the seat is left empty.
Before Mao Mao can think about who the imperial prince may be, she was interrupted by Ouka's loud voice as Ouka fought with the maids of the Crystal Palace. Upon closer look, Mao Mao realized that one of the maid Ouka fought was a maid she threaten during her stay in the Crystal Palace. Seeing how cheeky she's acting, Mao Mao decided to reveal herself to the maid, causing the maid to cower in fear.
After the maids of the Crystal Palace left, Mao Mao suggested that they replace the heat stone for it was no longer warm. Seeing how thoughtful Mao Mao is, the maids of the Jade Palace quickly accompanied Mao Mao towards the stove. That is when they encounter the maids of the Diamond Palace quarreling with the maids of the Garnet Palace. Ouka and the others commented on how it was only natural for the two sides to clash for one of them used to be the mother in law of the other. The high consort of the Late Emperor becoming a high consort of his son, the Current Emperor. Such is the family issues of the imperial family.
Hearing this, Mao Mao thought that Lady Ah Duo of the Garnet Palace was the mother in law because she was 35 years old while Lady Riishu of the Diamond Palace was only a teenager. But as it turns out, Lady Riishu is actually the mother in law for she became a consort to the Late Emperor at the age of nine. That is when it was revealed to Mao Mao that the Late Emperor was a lolicon. He only fancy young little girls which explains why the Empress Dowager is so young.
After gossiping, Mao Mao and one of the maid servants went to check on Princess Renrii. That is when they happened to see High Consort Riishu pass by. She was clad in a red dress, unfitting for her symbol for she is the High Consort of the Diamond Palace and her symbol is white. Red, on the other hand, is Lady Gyokuyou's symbol. For Lady Riishu to wear the color red can only means that she's either doing it on purposely or she's an air head who don't know how to read the mood.
With that, Mao Mao return to her work. But while working, she notices that the maids of the inner palace is interacting with the court officials of the outer palace. They would even go as far as giving the maids ornaments as gifts. Seeing how curious Mao Mao was, Ouka begin to explain that the Garden Party is not only a place for the Emperor to celebrate but also a good time for the servants of the inner palace to interact with the officials of the outer palace. And that the ornaments that they give out signifies their symbol which they give to those who they want to serve them.
Finally learning the meaning behind the ornament, Mao Mao now understand why it was such a big deal for Jinshi to gave her a hair pin and why Lady Gyokuyou said that Mao Mao was no longer serving only her. Nevertheless, Mao Mao wasn't planning on staying in the inner palace. She plan to leave after two years of her service so she has no plan on making any connection here.
Upon hearing Mao Mao's lack of interest in the ornaments, Ouka replied that the ornaments has other implications as well. But Mao Mao was still not interested, causing Ouka to pout in disappointment. But before they were able to discuss anymore, Mao Mao was approached by a military official. He introduce himself as Rihaku and gave Mao Mao a hairpin as he quickly left. Seeing that Mao Mao has been given a hairpin, the rest of the maids quickly gather around her to celebrate. Though she saw in point in celebrating.
That is when Lady Rifa appear before them, wearing an elegant blue gown decorated with pearls and crystal to amplify her godly beauty. With her presence known, she slowly steps forward to give Mao Mao a hairpin of her own. An ornament hairpin decorated with pearls and crystals to signify the the symbol of the Crystal Palace and Lady Rifa herself. Upon giving Mao Mao the hairpin, Lady Rifa quickly left. Seeing such a sight, the maids of the Jade Palace was all in shock. For a maid of the Jade Palace to receive an ornament of the High Consort of the Crystal Palace, . had Lady Gyokuyou saw that, it might not have ended so well.
With the preparation done, the party is now ready to commence. Mao Mao, who is the food tester of Lady Gyokuyou, was seated next to her beside the Emperor. Meanwhile, the court officials are seated on both sides with the civil officials seated in rows to the right and the military officials seated in rows to the left. Within the military officials, Mao Mao recognize Gao Shun who was placed as a high ranking official. She also recognize Rihaku as well who is seated as a lower ranking official. Mao Mao look around once more to see where Jinshi is but he was nowhere to be present.
Before Mao Mao can look around more, the maid servants begin to prepare food onto the table in front of her. She is a food tester after all and it is her duty to test for poison. The first thing she had to test is alcohol poured into a silver cup. After examining it, she speculate that there is no poison. But since it was required of her to taste to alcohol, she did. As she suspect, there was no poison.
She then casually move onto the next dish but then she suddenly realizes that everyone was starring at her. Once she looks at her peers, it wasn't hard to understand why. The other food testers was very hesitant in taking the food while she did it without hesitation. It is only natural for a food tester to be scared because eating poison would mean their death. But for Mao Mao, eating poison is a treat. Not only that, she is an expert in herbs and resistant to poison so the chance of her dying from poison is low. This takes the fear out of it and she is able to taste without hesitation.
Upon thinking about the poison she would like to taste which is blow fish, Mao Mao gave out a delightful grin. Which only causes everyone to fix their sight on her even more. A food tester that is not afraid of poison. But now is not the time to think. She has a job to do. Upon inspecting her next dish, she notice that the food presented was something that doesn't match the Emperor's taste.
Since Lady Gyukuyou is not a picky eater, she usually just eats whatever the Emperor is eating. But the dish before her is clearly made for another person other than the Emperor. Meaning that whoever set the dish made a mistake in delivering the wrong dish to the wrong person. Mao Mao ate the dish anyway. There is no poison in it.
But as she finish eating, she notice something very wrong with Lady Riishu. The dish that was delivered to Lady Riishu is filled with mackerel, a dish that the Emperor favors. But it would seem that Lady Riishu doesn't want to eat it. Even if that was the case, Lady Riishu cannot lose face in front of the Emperor. She would have to eat at least once bite. Which she did.
Moa Mao thought nothing of it. But upon looking at the food taster of Lady Riishu, Mao Mao notice that she had a grin in her face. That's when Mao Mao realize that the maid purposely gave Lady Riishu a dish she hates to bully her. Seeing this, Mao Mao can't help but feel a bad after taste in her mouth.
The next dish is presented to her. It was the broth. Mao Mao inspect it carefully. It looked normal. While she's doing her job, all the court officials and the maids had their eyes fixed on her. The mere fact that she isn't hesitating at all while tasting the food made her extraordinary. As she taste the broth, the spectator saw a face that they never thought they'd see in a food taster. A face brimming with a smile of ecstasy.
It made them curious as to how good the food was that would cause her to make such a face. But Mao Mao quickly spit the food into a hand towel and declare that there is poison that dish.