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    A faint smile flickered in Gu Changjin's eyes, as fleeting as a shadow.

    He replied, "Very well."

    Rong Shu took out a purse and joined the queue to buy pine nut candies. Gu Changjin waited for her under a willow tree nearby.

    Gentle evening breezes blew, and the silvery moonlight cascaded down through the tree branches. From a passing paddleboat on the bridge came a series of melodious, amorous songs.

    The old man selling the candies must have said something amusing, because the young lady assisting him laughed so much that her eyes nearly curved into crescents.

    When Rong Shu returned with two palm-sized oil paper bags, Gu Changjin finally understood the source of her laughter.

    "The old man actually recognized me and added extra pine nuts especially for us," she said, handing him one bag. "Here, this is for you, Sir."

    Gu Changjin accepted it and saw that the candy was indeed layered with an abundance of pine nuts.

    Although he didn't have a sweet tooth, he still accompanied her by eating pine nut candies all the way.

    The scent of caramelized sweetness permeated the summer night.

    One's heart sank into depths, unexpectedly carrying a hint of intoxication.

    By the time they finished the pine nut candies in the oil paper bag, the two had arrived at Number 18 Binyang Street.

    Perhaps it was because the candies were too sweet, or perhaps the night was too gentle.

    Gu Changjin held the now empty paper bag in his hand, and the question hidden in his heart surfaced, word by word, to the tip of his tongue.

    He asked, "Rong Shu, do you like Mu Rong?"

    Rong Shu almost choked on his words.

    "Brother Mu?" She said in disbelief, "Why would I like Brother Mu?"

    After saying that, she sensed something odd. Why would Gu Changjin ask if she liked Brother Mu? He wasn't usually so curious.

    Had something happened to the Mu family?

    Just as she was about to inquire, "Why do you ask?", a commotion suddenly erupted from within the courtyard just a wall away, clear even through the gate.

    "Shiiun, I'll fight you to the death!" It was Chang Ji's voice.

    Gu Changjin's face darkened as he pushed open the door. The two figures grappling inside froze as if their pressure points had been struck, then they both looked up in unison.

    Shiiun released his grip first and bowed to Rong Shu with a smile, saying nonchalantly, "Greetings, Miss Rong. I am Shiiun. Just now, Chang Ji and I were sparring. Please forgive our display."

    Chang Ji scrambled to his feet, no longer caring about the dust on his clothes. With a beaming smile, he called out, "Young—Miss Rong!"

    Rong Shu nodded at Shiiun first before turning to Chang Ji with a smile. "Did everything go smoothly for you? What about Heng Ping?"

    "Heng Ping, that lazybones, is resting. Thanks to your good wishes, our journey was extremely smooth. We only arrived here half an hour ago."

    Glancing at Gu Changjin, he added, "If Master and Miss Rong have matters to discuss, we won't disturb you."

    With that, he dragged the curiosity-filled Shiiun into the innermost room.

    With their interruption, Rong Shu couldn't bring herself to ask about her earlier question.

    Gu Changjin closed the courtyard gate and picked up the overturned wicker chair, speaking slowly, "Just like Chang Ji and Heng Ping, Shiiun has been my attendant since childhood. He was previously in Yangzhou, which is why you've never seen him in Phoenix Lane."

    He initiated the conversation about Shiiun, much to Rong Shu's surprise. "No wonder their relationship is so strong."

    Gu Changjin lifted the corners of his lips in a smile and went inside to fetch a pot of tea, pouring her a cup before he continued, "It's just some ordinary tea, I hope it suits you."

    Rong Shu had just consumed a small bag of pine nut candies and was quite thirsty. She took the tea and sipped it slowly. Her rosy lips glistened with moisture from the tea, resembling a petal holding morning dew.

    Gu Changjin averted his gaze, waiting for her to swallow the tea before he asked, "Miss Rong, what do you wish to discuss with me?"

    Rong Shu held the teacup and looked up at him. "If Liao Rao really has colluded with the pirates of Four Square Island, there might be others involved as well. Perhaps even those former sea merchants were part of it. The Shen family used to be the wealthiest in Yangzhou, and before the ban on maritime trade, they dealt in goods from the sea. If Your Excellency uncovers any leads linking to the Shen family, I kindly request that you inform me."

    Knowing that such a request was somewhat abrupt, she added, "As repayment, if there's any news from Aunt Gu or Uncle Shi Yi, I will also come here to inform you. If the Shen family has indeed committed a crime, rest assured, I will not spare those who have wronged."

    Rong Shu recalled the day she was sent to Sishi Garden, when Gu Changjin had said that there was concrete evidence of the Shen and Rong families' treasonous actions. He had advised her against seeking out Shen Zhi.

    Given his words, there must have been actual proof.

    As for whether there were traitors in the Marquis household, Rong Shu had no knowledge yet. At present, she only wanted to know if her uncle had truly conspired with Liao Rao. And if so, where was the evidence?

    She hadn't been idle these past few days in the ancestral house.

    The rules of the Shen family were very clear: if an adopted heir violated them, the clan could convene a ceremony to strip him of his adopted surname and expel him from the family.

    If her uncle truly did something detrimental to Great Yin, she would personally appeal to the ancestors, remove his Shen surname, and then hand him over to the authorities.

    In any case, the Shen family's hundred-year reputation must not be ruined by him, and neither should her family members or her mother be implicated.

    She had already been away for several days under the pretense of visiting the ancestors, so she couldn't linger outside any longer. That was why she was in such a hurry to tell Gu Changjin about this.

    She really wasn't someone who could hide her emotions well.

    Gu Changjin looked at her and said, "Miss Rong, do you have any suspects? I investigated the Shen family and found nothing amiss."

    Speaking of which, the man felt a rare sense of discomfort in his heart.

    Back then, he had investigated the Shen family to look into her past in Yangzhou and the nature of her relationship with Xu Fu.

    This thought caused a sudden chill to run through Gu Changjin's mind, as if he had overlooked something important.

    Rong Shu was unaware that she had once been investigated by Gu Changjin and assumed he had only started looking into the Shen family after arriving in Yangzhou.

    Thus, she gently pursed her lips and said, "If Your Excellency wishes to investigate further, you may direct your efforts toward my uncle."

    After Rong Shu uttered these words, she fell silent.

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