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    As his words faded, he gestured outward, and soon, the sound of a gong echoed from the outer hall.

    "Today, I've arranged for you to watch a Nuo opera performance."

    The private rooms of the Hundred Games Pavilion were all on the second floor, arranged in a circular layout. By sliding the door panels open, one could directly view the performance from the room.

    Of course, this was more comfortable than squeezing in the main hall, but there was one drawback – when the doors were opened, one could see the occupants of the opposite room.

    For instance, as Gu Changjin lifted his gaze, he saw three figures seated in the adjacent room.

    The Mu siblings and her.

    Chapter 43

    The Nuo opera at the Hundred Games Pavilion was unique to the capital. Mu Nijing loved watching Nuo operas, especially those featuring a general as the protagonist.

    Rong Shu would be departing for Yangzhou in a few days. By the time she returned, Mu Nijing would likely have gone back to Da Tong. So, he decided to accompany her and let her enjoy herself in the capital these two days.

    Upon hearing the drumming just now, a servant had come forward to slide open the door panels.

    Rong Shu was listening attentively to Mu Nijing's words when Mu Rong handed her a nuo mask. She turned her head and smiled at him, saying, "Thank you, Brother Mu."

    She possessed an exceptionally charming appearance. However, due to her pure and gentle demeanor, her striking features didn't appear vulgar; instead, they exuded a pristine and enchanting allure.

    Looking into her eyes, Mu Rong replied with a faint smile, "There's no need to be so formal with me."

    He was known for his social grace and adaptability. As Mu Nijing would say, he was an outlier among the straightforward Mu family members.

    If he wished, even his enemies would feel as if they were basking in the warmth of spring under his charm.

    At this moment, Rong Shu could sense that "spring breeze."

    She smiled gently, about to respond, but the corner of her eye caught a glimpse of someone watching her. Unconsciously, she looked over.

    When their gazes met, she couldn't help but be slightly taken aback by Gu Changjin's dark, profound eyes.

    It was somewhat surprising that Gu Changjin had come to the Hundred Performances Pavilion to watch a show.

    Just then, the performers began to take the stage one after another, accompanied by the sudden sound of clashing bronze gongs.

    Mu Rong had long noticed the person in the adjacent chamber. Taking advantage of the drumming, he slightly turned his body, blocking Gu Changjin's view with a gentle smile. "Rong Shu, Nijing, it's time to watch the play."

    Rong Shu acknowledged with an "um," originally intending to nod at Gu Changjin as a greeting before Mu Rong shifted his position. Now that her view was obstructed, she saw no need for the gesture.

    Thus, she and Mu Nijing turned their attention to the stage, engrossed in the performance.

    Mu Rong subtly cast a glance and nodded with a smile at the man across the way, who wore a scarlet official's robe.

    Gu Changjin met his gaze for a moment, then nodded indifferently. His eyes swept over the pale purple sleeve trailing behind Mu Rong before slowly moving towards the stage.

    Liu Yuan had left the chamber when the door was opened; now, he was the only one left inside, seemingly detached from the lively atmosphere outside.

    Gu Changjin hadn't initially planned on staying to watch the Nuo drama.

    He was a man of few interests. The plays and songs others enjoyed held no appeal for him.

    In the past, his only pleasure was hunting in the mountains with his elder brother and father.

    The mountain breeze, forest shadows, and small creatures hiding in the bushes always brought him a sense of comfort.

    This fondness, just like those memories, had perished in that raging fire.

    Yet, at this moment, he was sitting here watching the Nuo Opera with no interest whatsoever. He was well aware of the reason behind it.

    The entire performance lasted for two hours, leaving Mu Nijing thoroughly satisfied. As she held Rong Shu's hand and walked out, she said, "Don't return to Minglu Yard tonight. Didn't you ask me for some hidden weapons for self-defense earlier? It just so happens that my brother will be home tomorrow. I'll ask him to teach you how to use them. He's an expert in such unconventional techniques. If you wish, he can even teach you archery. He's skilled in delivering surprise attacks."

    Mu Rong's lips twitched.

    How... did her words sound so much like an insult?

    Rong Shu did indeed need some hidden weapons for protection. Upon hearing Mu Nijing's suggestion, he replied, "There's no need to trouble Brother Mu. Lan Yan and Qing Yuan can teach me as well."

    "Why? Are you worried I won't teach you properly?" Mu Rong chimed in, his expression relaxed with a hint of jest.

    "Of course not," Rong Shu chuckled. "Brother Mu must have plenty of matters to attend to upon returning to the capital. How could I impose on you?"

    "I've got nothing but leisure these two days," Mu Rong said casually. "Anyway, I'll have to teach Nijing eventually. Teaching you would just be a side trip."

    Mu Nijing secretly rolled her eyes.

    She didn't need his instruction.

    The three of them boarded Mu's family's carriage. Throughout the journey, Rong Shu remained oblivious to the lonely figure following them until they left Changan Avenue.

    Gu Changjin watched the Mu family's carriage fade into the distance, his expression indifferent.

    Mu Rong had feelings for her.

    When a man is smitten with a woman, he can often keenly sense the intentions of others towards her.

    When Gu Changjin divorced Rong Shu, he had guessed that she would leave the capital city.

    But he had never imagined that one day she would marry another man.

    Take on another surname, call another man 'husband,' bear children for him, and spend a lifetime harmoniously together as husband and wife.

    Such a scenario had never crossed his mind; it was as if by not thinking about it, such an event could be avoided.

    And how could he be the only one to appreciate her virtues?

    Moreover... did she wish to learn archery?

    Gu Changjin suddenly found his thoughts wandering.

    He had possessed remarkable eyesight since childhood and was naturally gifted in archery. At the age of six, he could already draw a 300-catty step bow, with nine out of ten arrows hitting their mark.

    Back then, his father had teasingly remarked that their little Year Official had become proficient and, in two more years, would be able to hunt fox furs for his future bride's dowry.

    He came to a gradual halt.

    The bustling crowd on Changan Avenue had long swallowed up any trace of the General of Protecting the Nation's carriage. Soon, the Gu family's carriage pulled up gently before the Hundred Shows Pavilion. Gu Changjin bent down to enter, settling in before instructing Chang Ji, "Investigate Mu Rong."

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