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    Indeed, upon hearing this, Lu Shiyi lost interest in inquiring about Rong Shu and Gu Changjin's affairs. He slammed his saber on the table, took a sip of tea, and said, "I've already sent word to your mother a few days ago that you're doing well and asked her not to worry. There's no need for you to send a special message if you want to reassure her."

    Rong Shu fanned herself with her folding fan and replied, "I'd like my mother to come to Yangzhou."

    Lu Shiyi was taken aback. "Have your mother come to Yangzhou?"

    Rong Shu nodded and recounted what Guo Jiuniang had told her. "Aunt Guo is right. I shouldn't keep these matters from Mother. If Uncle did exploit the Shen family for ill deeds, Mother would be the one most determined to mete out justice personally."

    Something seemed to amuse Lu Shiyi, who suddenly smiled. "Shen Yizhen can indeed be ruthless when the time calls for it. Alright, leave the matter of sending the letter to me."

    At six moments past the sixth hour of the evening, Gu Changjin returned to the general's headquarters.

    It was the time when the sun was setting, and the sky was aflame with hues of red. Compared to previous days, the sounds of cannon fire on the sea had subsided.

    Liang Xiao had just disembarked from a ship and approached Gu Changjin. "How are your injuries, sir? Eunuch Qi Xin sent someone over yesterday, saying that you'll need at least another five or six days of rest. The pirates of Four Square Island are now weak and on their last legs. It won't make a difference if you convalesce within the inner city walls."

    Gu Changjin bowed in greeting. "My subordinate is mostly recovered, thank you for your concern, General."

    Despite being no stranger to injuries himself, Liang Xiao could tell by Gu Changjin's complexion that his wounds were severe.

    Yet, he also understood why Gu Changjin had come.

    If he, Liang Xiao, were injured, he would likely do the same, remaining on the battlefield as long as he drew breath.

    He sighed and said, "This general won't persuade Your Excellency to return for treatment. I only ask that you promise not to board any naval ships until you've recovered."

    Seeing the seriousness in Liang Xiao's expression, Gu Changjin nodded and agreed. "I heard that the pirates of Four Square Island have been relentlessly attacking Admiral Liao's fleet these past two days?"

    "Luo Ri Hui and Luo Ri Ming knew they couldn't hold out much longer. They intended to avenge their brother before returning to Four Square Island, hence their persistent attacks on Admiral Liao's ships. Admiral Liao killed Luo Ri Hui yesterday, while Luo Ri Ming sustained severe injuries. However—"

    Liang Xiao paused slightly, looking at Gu Changjin. "During the battle, Admiral Liao was also hit by a blunderbuss in the abdomen. The bullet has been removed, but his condition isn't improving. The bleeding hasn't stopped."

    Blunderbusses were incredibly powerful weapons. Gu Changjin nearly lost half his life when he was struck in the shoulder.

    Liao Rao was hit in the abdomen, an area where vital organs were located. Injuries to the internal organs had always been challenging to treat since ancient times.

    Liao Rao might not survive.

    In a tent a few hundred meters away, Liao Rao was indeed breathing more shallowly than usual. However, there was no sign of despair on his face, typical of someone on the brink of death.

    Liu Yuan was attending to his wounds as he lay on the bed. Suddenly, he burst into laughter, seemingly amused by some thought.

    Glancing sideways at Liu Yuan, he said, "Eunuch Liu and Minister Gu came to Yangzhou to bring me back to the capital for punishment and execution. Now, you have no choice but to save my life. Does that make you feel frustrated?"

    Liu Yuan's narrow eyes flickered slightly and settled on Liao Rao's ashen face. "Why would I feel frustrated? Governor Liao received these injuries in the service of Great Yin. If there's any way I can save him, I will spare no effort."

    Hearing this, Liao Rao was momentarily taken aback before bursting into laughter once more.

    With that laugh, a pool of blood welled up from his abdomen.

    "I merely found the Wuri family displeasing to the eye. They've occupied Four Square Island for so many years and committed numerous atrocities. If possible, I would have gone to Di Luo myself and eradicated the entire Wuri clan," Liao Rao chuckled, gasping for air between his words.

    Liu Yuan didn't respond, calmly changing the bandages instead.

    Liao Rao didn't mind. He coughed twice then abruptly changed the subject. "If Fan Jinshu wasn't in the carriage that day, then tell me, where is she now?"

    His two trusted subordinates had visited the site of the incident, only to find the remnants of a shattered carriage but no sign of Fan Jinshu or her two maidservants.

    Despite so many days passing, there was still no news of them, not even their remains.

    Liu Yuan lowered his gaze, speaking calmly, "Madam Liao is still recuperating. Does Governor Liao have any message for her that he wishes me to convey?"

    Silence fell upon the tent for a few heartbeats.

    Liao Rao closed his eyes and smiled. "There's no need. I have nothing left to say to Fan Jinshu."

    Liu Yuan gazed steadily at Liao Rao.

    The physician had said he wouldn't survive another week.

    Within these seven days, he must extract the whereabouts of the evidence linking Liao Rao to the Second Prince's secret dealings.

    Exiting Liao Rao's tent, a soldier from the Warrior Camp approached Liu Yuan, reporting, "My Lord, Lord Gu has returned."

    Liu Yuan raised an eyebrow. Didn't Qi Xin say that Gu Changjin was convalescing in the inner city?

    After some thought, he made his way towards Gu Changjin's tent.

    Upon seeing him, Gu Changjin didn't seem surprised. He went straight to the point, asking, "How much time does Governor Liao have left?"

    Liu Yuan replied, "No more than seven days. If we can't extract any information within that time, we'll have to wait until Madam Liao awakens to make further plans."

    Gu Changjin's brows furrowed slightly. "If Madam Liao truly has evidence of Liao Rao's affair with the Second Prince, would she keep it hidden?"

    "No," Liu Yuan answered confidently. "Madam Liao was raised by the former Minister herself. If there were any evidence, she would've handed it over to the former Minister long ago. As for why Liao Rao said what he did, I'm still unsure of his intentions."

    Gu Changjin fell silent for a moment before saying, "If Madam Liao wasn't in that carriage, he must have said that to ensure we spare no effort to protect her. But if she was in the carriage, his words were meant for revenge."


    Liu Yuan narrowed his eyes slightly, quickly grasping the meaning behind Gu Changjin's use of the word "revenge."

    He was resentful towards the former Minister for involving Madam Liao in the political strife.

    If Madam Liao were indeed killed in the explosion, he wanted them to know that the only person who knew the whereabouts of the evidence had died because of their selfish interests.


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