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    Glancing up, she found Gu Changjin's serene, deep eyes fixed intently upon her, an exceedingly peculiar expression on his face. It was as if he was silently challenging her, "Rong Shu, try spitting out that noodles."

    She had no choice but to force the noodles down her throat.

    In all her life, she had never tasted anything so unpalatable.

    Seeing her struggle, Gu Changjin quickly finished his own noodles and took her bowl away, instructing Chang Ji to dispose of it.

    Relieved, Rong Shu also felt a twinge of embarrassment. After all, he had specially sent someone to buy the noodles; it was rather ungrateful of her to have only taken two bites.

    "I suggest we let the kitchen prepare the longevity noodles for my future birthdays. Nothing beats homemade," she suggested.

    Gu Changjin had just taken a sip of tea, nearly choking on it at her words.

    Lifting his gaze from his teacup, he smiled after a long moment. "Very well."

    The tone of his voice seemed to be tinged with suppressed anger, leaving Rong Shu quite perplexed.

    Of course, this was not the first time she had been surprised by him.

    In their previous life, they were husband and wife for at least two years, so Gu Changjin treating her to a longevity noodle soup as a birthday celebration was quite normal.

    But now, they had no connection. Why would he inquire about her birthday? It could only mean that there was something on that day that required her assistance.

    Rong Shu waited patiently for his next words.

    Luo Yan waited quietly, yet cautiously, for his explanation.

    Heng Ping also waited silently, full of curiosity.

    With three pairs of eyes fixated on him, Gu Changjin found himself unable to speak his intended words. He cleared his throat and said calmly, "It's nothing."

    His tone and expression were both indifferent.

    Rong Shu glanced at him. This cold and distant Gu Changjin was the person she had always known.

    She let out a sigh of relief.

    With the formalities done, she didn't wish to linger and thus bid her farewell.

    Just like last time, Gu Changjin accompanied her out. The two walked along the cobblestone path, one after the other.

    Lan Yan tried several times to slip between Gu Changjin and Rong Shu, but was blocked by Heng Ping each time.

    Frustrated, she could almost draw her sword to engage in a few rounds with the man.

    Their carriage stopped near the Spring Moon Building. As they passed Wu's Brick Bridge, the sky darkened, the waning sun casting its last rays upon the heavens, painting the river below with a golden glow.

    Gu Changjin only stopped after escorting her across the bridge.

    As Rong Shu climbed into the carriage, she turned her head and saw the man standing in the fading light, his face obscured, his expression unreadable.

    Upon returning to Shen Yuan, she noticed Shen Zhi's usual carriage parked outside the main gate.

    Shen Zhi had come back.

    Rong Shu hastily passed through the Weeping Flower Door and asked Housekeeper Jiang, "When did Uncle return?"

    Housekeeper Jiang replied with a smile, "Master has only been back for a quarter of an hour. He's currently speaking with Mother Zhang."

    Midway through his sentence, Housekeeper Jiang remembered something and added, "Oh, by the way, this morning, Mother Zhang found the item you left behind in the Three Reflections Hall."

    Rong Shu raised an eyebrow. "I left something behind?"

    Housekeeper Jiang sensed a hint of surprise in her tone as if she was unaware of having lost anything. Assuming that it was merely a case of a noble person's forgetfulness, he recounted his encounter with Mother Zhang at the Three Reflections Hall.

    Rong Shu pondered carefully but couldn't recall leaving anything behind in the Three Reflections Hall.

    Even if she had, a place like the Three Reflections Hall wouldn't be where Mother Zhang would venture alone.

    Something felt off to her.

    Mother Zhang was her wet nurse and oversaw matters at Yi Lanzhu; she was always treated with respect.

    But upon closer reflection, Rong Shu realized that everyone in the Shen household, including Housekeeper Jiang and those around Shen Zhi, held her in high esteem.

    Even her uncle treated Mama Zhang with respect.

    She had heard her mother mention in passing that Mama Zhang's own child had tragically passed away shortly after birth. When Mama Zhang came to the Shen household, Mother was ill and unable to breastfeed. None of the prepared wet nurses proved effective, unable to get a single drop of milk into Rong Shu. She had cried with hunger until Mama Zhang arrived, finally allowing her to be nourished.

    Her mother had said that Mama Zhang was her own choice, as Rong Shu would only drink from her and be held by her, causing some initial jealousy at first.

    But despite that jealousy, her mother felt deep gratitude towards Mama Zhang.

    Was this the reason why the Shen family held Mama Zhang in such high regard? Rong Shu gently furrowed her brow.

    In the Three Reflections Hall, Shen Zhi had been so busy since his morning departure that he hadn't even had a moment to take a sip of water; his throat was now parched.

    After taking a large, harsh gulp of tea, he spoke to Mama Zhang, "I have delivered the items the Duchess instructed to the Commander of the Garrison."

    Mama Zhang asked, "Are you sure they reached General Liang's hands? Did we leave any traces behind?"

    "Absolutely," Shen Zhi assured her. "I've taken care of the messenger, so General Liang won't be able to trace it back to us. Don't worry, Duchess. I've seen to everything she asked of me, ensuring no loose ends. Nothing untoward should occur."

    Mama Zhang nodded, smiling. "No wonder the Duchess always says she trusts you the most with her affairs."

    Upon hearing this, Shen Zhi's thin lips trembled slightly, barely able to suppress the joy surging within him for quite some time.

    "Although I've accomplished the task, I still don't understand. Since the Princess instructed me to hand over the evidence of Liao Rao's meeting with the Water Dragon King to General Liang, why did she then want General Liang dead? Wouldn't all the hard-earned evidence gathered over the years be in vain?"

    "How could it be in vain?" Mama Zhang partially hid her eyes and asked, "If General Liang were killed because of these evidences, who do you think the people in Shangjing would suspect as his murderer?"

    Naturally, it would be Liao Rao, or perhaps the Second Prince and the Qi family.

    Shen Zhi's comprehension dawned upon him.

    The Young Master's mission was to kill General Liang and then frame Liao Rao for the crime.

    Now that the Young Master was by General Liang's side, once General Liang was dead, the Young Master could skillfully manipulate the secret letter he had delivered to fulfill the mission successfully.


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