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    Mrs. Zhang originally had many matters to attend to. Manager Jiang and numerous servants were old retainers of the Shen family; to take Rong Shu into the mountains, she would have to devise a way to deceive them.

    But now, softened by Rong Shu's gaze, she sat on the bed and sighed. "What are you trying to wheedle out of me this time, Miss?"

    Rong Shu still clutched her sleeve.

    "Mother, will I die? You said that I'll live longer if I know nothing – does that mean I'm bound to die sooner or later?"

    Everyone dies eventually, but Rong Shu was asking if she would be murdered.

    Mrs. Zhang sighed inwardly. The girl had been drugged and should have been confused, yet she could still pick up hints from Mrs. Zhang's words.

    For the first time, Mrs. Zhang hesitated in answering Rong Shu's question.

    The Duchess, with her disposition, would surely not let her live.

    But she had grown up with the Duchess since childhood; perhaps the Duchess might spare the girl's life, considering the years of hard work and her abandonment of her own child.

    "I'll beg for mercy on your behalf and do my utmost to protect you," Mrs. Zhang said with a compassionate expression.

    "Appeal for mercy? To whom should Mother beg for mercy?" Rong Shu's voice was weak, but her grip on Aunt Zhang's sleeve tightened. "Who wants to kill me?"

    At this question, the compassionate look on Aunt Zhang's face vanished instantly. She knew she couldn't reveal more.

    Although the young lady couldn't escape from here, there were still some things that Aunt Zhang didn't wish for her to know.

    How wonderful it would be if the young lady remained ignorant, thus living happily until the end without a care in the world.

    Lowering her gaze at Rong Shu's misty eyes, Aunt Zhang spoke softly, "Rest well, my lady. I'll come back to accompany you later."

    The moment the door closed, the familiar dizziness and disorientation returned.

    Rong Shu bit her tongue to stay awake.

    She vaguely recalled that the poisoned wine in her previous life was delivered by Empress Qi. Qi likely wanted her dead due to Gu Changjin.

    However, she had already divorced Gu Changjin. Why did Aunt Zhang say someone still wanted to kill her?

    As she pondered, Rong Shu slowly moved her hand, retrieving a hidden silver hairpin from the wooden pillow and held it tightly in her grasp.

    The appointed time with Sister Luo Yan was drawing near, and she couldn't afford to sleep.

    Mother Zhang left Yi Lanzhu's quarters in search of Manager Jiang, informing him of Rong Shu's plan to take a few days to relax in the mountains.

    Her young miss had always loved wandering around the city and exploring the countryside, so Manager Jiang promptly agreed.

    With a sense of relief, Mother Zhang returned to Yi Lanzhu and instructed the servants to prepare for the journey.

    After settling all the arrangements, it was already past noon.

    Despite the hour, the sky was unusually dark.

    Black clouds gathered heavily above, pressing down on the eaves, as if a torrential downpour was imminent.

    Mother Zhang brought in the midday meal, surprised to see Rong Shu with her eyes open. She quickly closed the door, drew out a medicinal pill from her waist, and prepared to feed her another bowl of medicine.

    At that very moment, a sudden gust of strong wind swept past from behind.

    Before Mother Zhang could react, a sharp pain pierced her neck, and she lost consciousness.

    Lotus Smoke helped Rong Shu to her feet and spoke in a solemn tone. "Miss, what should we do next?"

    Rong Shu's palm was already pierced by the thin hairpin, a bloody mess. Despite the pain, she pondered for a moment before saying, "Tie up Mother Zhang, and let's go to Pine South Street to find Shiiun."

    Lotus Smoke swiftly rummaged through the trunks and found two belts. She approached Mother Zhang with purposeful steps. Her earlier karate chop had been executed with full force, enough to render even the fiercest Tatar warrior unconscious.

    Bending down, Lotus Smoke grasped Mother Zhang's wrist with one hand and pulled out a belt with the other, ready to bind her. However, just as she was about to do so, the supposedly unconscious woman unexpectedly tightened her grip on Lotus Smoke's hand with great force.

    Four bloody scratches immediately appeared on Lotus Smoke's wrist, followed by a searing numbness spreading across half of her body.

    Mother Zhang seized the opportunity to grab at Lotus Smoke's throat.

    Her movement was swift and vicious, without any hesitation.

    Lotus Smoke instinctively raised her right hand to block, but the anticipated pain never came. Instead, there was a soft "pfft," and the stoic woman before her stiffened before collapsing to the ground with a thud.

    Rong Shu pulled out the silver hairpin that had pierced Mother Zhang's neck, causing blood to spurt out.

    Her hands were now stained with bright red blood, and she stared blankly at Mother Zhang, her eyes gradually reddening with emotion.

    "Mother, I consider you family."

    "Yet, forgive me, I cannot allow you to harm others."

    After Zhang Mommy was struck by Lanyan's surprise attack, she was already on the brink of exhaustion. She had merely mustered the last of her strength to retaliate earlier. Now, with her neck pierced and blood flowing relentlessly, her final breath had escaped her.

    A overwhelming sense of cold helplessness washed over her.

    "I die, and Miss will also perish," she looked at Rong Shu, her eyes slightly moist, her voice a mix of sorrow and pity, "Miss... oh, Miss..."

    She opened her mouth, as if she wanted to say something more to Rong Shu.

    But after her lips moved a few times, she eventually swallowed back her words, her gaze filled with compassion.

    "Don't be afraid, Mother will stay with you," Rong Shu's tears dropped with a soft "pat".

    Recalling the day when her mother left Yangzhou when she was young, she stood barefoot in the midst of a blizzard, crying for her mother to return. It was Zhang Mommy who rushed to embrace her, saying:

    "Don't be afraid, Mother is with you."

    Clank!

    Rong Shu dropped the silver hairpin in her hand and hurriedly pressed against the wound on Madam Zhang's neck, saying to Luo Yan, "Give me your belt."

    Just then, the door creaked open, and someone rushed in.

    The wind howled fiercely outside, and rain poured down in torrents. The newcomer's clothes were drenched, and their hair was wet at the temples.

    Rong Shu looked up, stunned for a moment. Through her teary eyes, she said to the person, "Gu Changjin, I've killed someone."

    Chapter 65

    Rolling thunder echoed, and lightning ripped through the gray sky like a fissure.

    Inside the room, the light was dim, and the young girl's delicate hands were stained with blood. Tears kept streaming down her face.

    Gu Changjin hurried toward Rong Shu, followed closely by Chang Ji and Heng Ping.

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