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    "From what I can see, Miss Rong seems to have lost some weight," Shiiun observed thoughtfully. "Should I inform Eunuch Qi Xin about this?"

    Gu Changjin replied, "No need. Let her do as she pleases if she enjoys it. She's never been one to stand idly by. If she becomes too exhausted, gently advise her. In any case, the people of Four Square Island can't keep up for long."

    Looking at Gu Changjin's pale face and the large bloodstain on his clothes, Shiiun couldn't help but interject, "Miss Rong specifically asked me to bring medicine for Your Highness. You, more than anyone, require rest."

    Gu Changjin glanced at the large chest of medicine that had just been brought in, the corners of his lips lifting slightly. "Don't mention my injury to her."

    Having lost a significant amount of blood and suffering from severe wounds, Gu Changjin said, "Everyone, out."

    Once the two of them had left, Gu Changjin leaned against the wall and closed his eyes.

    The pirates were still fiercely attempting to invade the shore, with their red-coated cannons bombarding the defensive line established by Liang Xiao's warships and countless soldiers.

    Gu Changjin's consciousness began to drift, the sounds of cannonfire outside the tent growing distant and eventually fading away.

    In its place, he heard his own voice.

    "Rong Zhaozhao, are you angry with me?"

    Gu Changjin opened his eyes to the sight of a canopy adorned with blooming pomegranate flowers.

    It was a quiet, chilly night.

    A solitary, flickering candle illuminated the bedside, casting just enough light for Gu Changjin to discern the girl seated on the bed.

    The girl's sparkling, almond-shaped eyes shone like stars as she leaned her head on a crescent moon pillow, studying him intently.

    A subtle hint of wine aroma lingered in the air.

    Gu Changjin leaned closer, his nose brushing against her soft, petal-like lips. He inhaled the scent of plum blossom wine on her cheeks and asked again in a deep voice, "Are you angry with me, Rong Zhaozhao?"

    Chapter 57

    "Why would I be angry with you, Gu Yunzhi?" a hint of confusion flickered in the girl's eyes.

    "I let you leave alone yesterday without returning to Songsi Courtyard," Gu Changjin whispered. "Are you upset with me?"

    Upon hearing this, the girl seemed to recall something.

    Yesterday in the study, she was sketching while he was engrossed in writing official reports. At some point, without notice, he paused, holding his teacup as he leaned by the window to observe her.

    A rare hint of a smile graced his features.

    In that instant, as their eyes met, her heart pounded fiercely, as if it held a restless rabbit within.

    She couldn't help but wonder if he had developed a tiny affection for her?

    But just as they were about to return to the Songsi Courtyard, inexplicably, his expression turned cold again. He followed Nurse An to the Liu Miao Hall, making their time in the study seem like a delusional fantasy of unrequited love.

    Was she annoyed?

    "Of course I am, Gu Yunzhi," Rong Shu pressed her lips together and spoke softly. "I thought, I thought—"

    She repeated "thought" twice, but the words "you have fallen for me" refused to leave her lips.

    "What did you think?" Gu Changjin's dark eyes locked onto hers intently. "Rong Zhaozhao, what did you think?"

    But this young lady refused to continue. She pursed her lips and simply stared back at him with wide eyes.

    Without pressing further, he gently extracted the Moon Pillow from her embrace and held her hand against his cheek, saying, "Rong Zhaozhao, pinch me."

    Startled for a moment, the young girl abruptly pulled back her hand and stared wide-eyed, "Why should I pinch you?"

    "To relieve your anger," Gu Changjin caught her hand again. "In the future, when you're upset with me, just pinch me to vent."

    This time, Rong Shu didn't resist and actually lightly pinched his face, asking, "Doesn't it hurt?"

    "No," the man curved his lips. "Remember, the Yunzhi in your dream won't feel pain. If you're angry with him, bully him."

    Upon these words, he immediately felt a burning sensation on his cheek.

    The young girl had truly pinched him hard. Unsatisfied after one pinch, she continued several more times, leaving red marks on his cheek.

    Staring at his reddened face, she asked curiously, "It really doesn't hurt?"

    The man chuckled softly and faintly acknowledged, "Mm." He was about to say "no pain" when suddenly, the scene before him transformed once again.

    They were still in that same room, by that same canopy bed.

    The curtains embroidered with pomegranate flowers fluttered with the breeze that slipped into the room, filling it with a sweet fragrance.

    With tear-filled, reddened eyes, she said to him, "Do you know that one's affection for someone has an expiration date? Gu Yunzhi, there will come a day when I won't like you anymore."

    Gu Changjin felt a bitter taste rise in his throat. He wanted to say "don't," but all that came out was a sorrowful, "Wait a little longer, Rong Zhaozhao, wait a little longer."

    He pulled her into his embrace, wanting to tell her that once he took that position, once all those who sought his demise were gone, he would openly love and cherish her, giving her everything he had.

    Just wait a little longer, just a bit more, okay?

    Buried his head in her shoulder, Gu Changjin exerted a gentle yet firm grip, wishing he could hold her like this forever.

    Just as he embraced the softness and warmth of her body, another voice intruded.

    "Master, something happened! There's trouble in the inner city!"

    Something happened?

    What happened?

    Gu Changjin clung tightly to the girl in his arms. He still had words unsaid, and he could not awaken just yet.

    "Master, Miss Rong is within the city!"

    In the tent, Chang Ji was almost frenzied with anxiety, his mouth dry and parched.

    When he had received the news, Shiiun had already set off for the inner city, leaving instructions for Chang Ji to rouse the master.

    Concerned about Gu Changjin's injuries, Chang Ji had hesitated.

    Seeing this, Shiiun's usual nonchalant demeanor vanished, and he said earnestly, "Don't you know how much importance Master places on Miss Rong? Hurry up and wake him!"

    Only then did Chang Ji rush into the tent.

    The man on the cot seemed to be in a deep slumber, his eyes refusing to open despite Chang Ji's efforts.

    Chang Ji gritted his teeth, preparing to leave.

    Just then, a hand shot out, slashing across his path and firmly clasping his wrist.

    Gu Changjin abruptly opened his eyes and, with a hoarse voice, asked, "What has happened within the inner city?"

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