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    Chang Ji's expression turned grim. "What should we investigate? Is there something suspicious about this person?"

    Gu Changjin paused slightly and said in a mild tone, "Look into whether he has concubines, chambermaids, or mistresses in Datong Prefecture. Check if he's engaged to any other women, and also, if he frequents the pleasure districts or has favorites in those places."

    Chang Ji was stunned. "Could it be that General Mu has played with some girl's feelings? Our master is—"

    He didn't know how to continue.

    Whether General Mu had concubines or visited brothels was none of their business, right?

    Gu Changjin didn't respond but said, "Come back and tell me when you're done with your investigation."

    The next day was a beautiful day.

    Rong Shu spent the night in Mu Nijing's courtyard and went to the Mu family's martial arts training ground after breakfast.

    Mu Nijing had just finished demonstrating a whip technique when she arrived. He told her, "My elder brother was summoned to the palace early this morning, so I don't know what it's about."

    Seeing the regret on Mu Nijing's face, Rong Shu found it amusing. "If he's in the palace, he must be attending to official matters. Besides, it would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut to have Elder Brother Mu teach me. It's a waste of his talent. For those hidden weapons, I can learn from Qingyuan."

    In Rong Shu's perception, whenever officials entered the palace, they were always occupied with matters crucial to the state.

    In the past, Gu Changjin's visits were always prompted by concerns for the people.

    But this time, she had misjudged. Mu Rong was lured into the palace by Liu Yuan.

    The Hundred Performances Pavilion belonged to Liu Yuan. The fact that he hadn't stayed there the previous night didn't mean he was unaware of what had transpired.

    When Qi Xin killed Xue Li'er, he merely grazed his wife's wrist slightly. Yet, Lord Gu's face darkened, and he declared that Qi Xin had injured his wife.

    His words were laced with a chilling intent to kill.

    Back then, Liu Yuan realized that, contrary to rumors, Gu Changjin held his wife in the highest esteem.

    Although the people at the Hundred Performances Pavilion said that Gu Changjin remained unperturbed when he saw Rong Shu yesterday, Liu Yuan knew that the more composed this man appeared, the more upset he likely was inside.

    They were cut from the same cloth.

    The more they cared about something, the deeper they kept it hidden in their hearts.

    Today, luring Mu Rong into the palace was a way to make up for Qi Xin's injury to Rong Shu last time.

    It wasn't until late afternoon that Gu Changjin learned about Mu Rong teaching Prince Huai'an archery in the imperial palace. The news was conveyed by none other than the eunuch Seven Xin from the royal household.

    Staring at Seven Xin for a moment, Gu Changjin said, "Please convey my message to Eunuch Liu: Miss Rong's affairs do not require interference from others."

    Seven Xin sensed the caution in Gu Changjin's words and suddenly felt that Eunuch Liu was indeed meddling in unnecessary matters. He promptly bowed lower and replied, "I will certainly pass Lord Gu's words on to Eunuch Liu."

    Gu Changjin merely acknowledged with a nonchalant "Mm."

    In truth, Seven Xin had come for an important matter. Seeing Gu Changjin's expression soften slightly, he continued, "Eunuch Liu mentioned that he will set off for Yangzhou with Pan Xueliang soon. I hope Lord Gu will take good care of yourself during this journey."

    Pan Xueliang was a crucial figure in the cheating scandal and, by convention, should not be allowed to leave the Dali Temple prison. However, it was Pan Xueliang himself who wished to go to Yangzhou.

    "If possible, this commoner would like to accompany you, my lord," Pan Xueliang said, his eyes burning with determination. "Even if I must die, I wish to do so with clarity."

    Gu Changjin knew that taking Pan Xueliang to Yangzhou was risky, but when he met Pan Xueliang's gaze, he found himself unable to refuse.

    That was why, the day before at the theater, Gu Changjin proposed that Liu Yuan secretly escort Pan Xueliang out of the capital via land ahead of schedule.

    Liu Yuan departed for Yangzhou under the guise of a maritime defense inspector, accompanied by half the Royal Horse Supervisor's elite force. Pan Xueliang chose to stay by Liu Yuan's side, finding it safer than being with Gu Changjin.

    Taking a different route, Liu Yuan traveled by land while Pan Xueliang opted for waterways.

    Gu Changjin mentally reviewed his arrangements for leaving the capital, convinced there were no loose ends. He nodded, saying, "I hope Eunuch Liu can safely deliver Scholar Pan to Yangzhou."

    Seven Xin lifted his gaze to meet his.

    Although Pan Xueliang was a captive, Lord Gu had never treated him as one. No wonder the former Minister had said that only under Gu Changjin's care would Pan Xueliang have a chance at survival.

    "Your Excellency can rest assured. Eunuch Liu and I will ensure Scholar Pan arrives safely in Yangzhou," Seven Xin vowed.

    Turning to leave, he took just a few steps before turning back to face Gu Changjin earnestly. "Miss Zhong Xueyan chose to take her own life. When Eunuch Liu's men found her, she already had thoughts of suicide. We merely gave her death more meaning. As for Xu Li'er, Eunuch Liu never ordered me to kill her. I acted on my own initiative, fearing that Xu Li'er might jeopardize our plans."

    He bowed to Gu Changjin, "It was Seven Xin's mistake to injure Miss Rong that day. I will seek her forgiveness in the future."

    Gu Changjin didn't respond, but Seven Xin didn't mind. He flicked his whisk and exited the room.

    In the office of the Royal Horse Supervisor.

    Upon hearing Qi Xin's words, Liu Yuan smiled nonchalantly. "Duke Gu trusts me by entrusting Pan Xueliang to my care. At least for this trip to Yangzhou, he knows that I will stand by his side, and that is enough."

    As they spoke, there was a commotion outside.

    A eunuch hurried into the room and reported to Liu Yuan, "Eunuch Liu, someone has been sent from the Grand Seal Bearer's office."

    Liu Yuan raised an eyebrow, pondered for a moment, then suddenly smiled. "I'll go right away."

    At the Supervisor of Ceremonies.

    Pei Shunnian leaned back in a master's chair, with a young eunuch gently massaging his temples. Upon hearing that Liu Yuan had arrived, he lifted his eyelids slightly and waved at the servant.

    "Everyone, leave us."

    The young eunuch bowed and retreated. As he reached the courtyard of the Supervisor of Ceremonies, he shot a glance at Liu Yuan, who was approaching.

    Liu Yuan maintained a subtle smile on his face. Upon entering the office, he promptly knelt down with a thud and respectfully greeted Pei Shunnian, "Ancestor."

    Pei Shunnian gazed down at him with a subtle expression.

    This young man was Yang Xu's most favored adopted son. Fond of listening to operas, Yang Xu had once traveled to Yangzhou and returned with a boy skilled in singing, whom he concealed within his private residence for several years.

    Pei Shunnian, on the other hand, had no interest in operas, thus paid little attention to Yang Xu's adopted son. He merely knew that the youth had first served in the Royal Supply Bureau before later transferring to the Royal Horse Supervisor.


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