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    Upon hearing these words, Rong Shu's heart jolted fiercely, and she instinctively pushed him away. He was in a weakened state at the moment, and with her forceful push, he was easily sent sprawling.

    Rong Shu picked up the wooden basin from the ground, stood up, and lowered her eyelashes to look at Gu Changjin.

    She had never seen him like this before.

    Not even that day in the wine shop's cellar did he appear as he did now.

    Rong Shu's heart thumped loudly, rhythmically.

    "Lord is running a high fever and is likely delirious. I'll take what you just said as the ramblings of a feverish mind," she paused, then added, "I'll fetch more water for Lord. You've only slept for an hour; it would be best to return to bed and rest some more."

    Without waiting for Gu Changjin's response, she left the room on her own.

    A gentle breeze swept through the mountain, rustling the leaves and carrying the chirping of birds echoing through the valley.

    Rong Shu rubbed her arms, regretting not bringing the oilskin cloth from the wooden house.

    Everything was prepared inside, except for water. After Gu Changjin fainted, she noticed his high fever and wanted to give him some water, but after searching the entire house, she found not a single drop.

    Since the owner of the wooden house hadn't provided water, Rong Shu assumed there must be a water source nearby. She dug out a cracked wooden basin and set out to find water at dawn. After walking for just a short while, she indeed discovered a small stream.

    The stream was only as wide as two people standing side by side, winding down from the mountain. Its waters flowed gently, as clear as a mirror.

    As Rong Shu gazed at her reflection in the stream, recalling Gu Changjin's intense gaze from earlier, her heartbeat, which had just calmed down, raced again.

    Her thoughts were in disarray.

    He mentioned he had been at the Sishi Garden. Could it be that the "swallow it" she previously thought was an illusion wasn't a hallucination at all, but rather his timely arrival?

    On the night she was poisoned at Yi Lanzhu, he had fed her a pill. Back then, he had also told her to "swallow it."

    Did he feed her medicine in her previous life too?

    But when he arrived, she had already been deeply poisoned, beyond the help of any medicine, and then she died in his arms.

    Rong Shu scooped up some water and washed her face.

    The icy cold morning stream water gradually cooled her agitated heart, and the somewhat bewildered peach blossom eyes reflected in the water slowly regained their composure.

    She had made progress in the case involving the Shen and Rong families. If everything went smoothly, she and her mother could leave the capital in a few months. Then, whether they went to Da Tong or elsewhere, it would be a new world with vast skies and oceans.

    The reason she had unconsciously said she hadn't dreamed of him was that she didn't want to get entangled in Gu Changjin's affairs again.

    She had long put behind her their past together in her previous life.

    Just as she had told him in the cellar, it no longer mattered whether he had ever liked her or not.

    Rong Shu filled the water jar and prepared to return. After a few steps, her pace suddenly halted.

    Gu Changjin had mentioned that he first investigated her uncle in Yangzhou and then went to Wanning County. On September 8th, when she drank that poisoned wine at Sishi Garden, Gu Changjin was in Wanning County.

    Wanning County was under the jurisdiction of Obeying Heaven Mansion, only a two-hour carriage ride from the capital. A manor belonging to someone from the Cheng'an Marquis Estate was located there.

    Rong Shu's eyelids twitched, and a possibility suddenly occurred to her.

    Her footsteps quickened, but as she approached the wooden house, she caught sight of a figure leaning against the door. Her steps faltered once more.

    Amidst the dense shadows of the trees, the man stood tall and elegant, his expression seemingly returning to its former calmness. He had become the restrained and proper Gu Changjin that Rong Shu was familiar with.

    A sense of relief, inexplicably, washed over Rong Shu.

    She hurried toward him and said, "Lord Gu, in your dream, you went to Wanping County. Do you recall where in Wanping County you were?"

    When she left, she had dismissed his words as delirious ramblings due to his high fever. But now, her question made it clear that she was aware his dreams held more than just illusions.

    Gu Changjin gazed at her quietly for a moment before he replied softly, "It was a manor in Wanping County, one that belonged to your eldest aunt."

    Chapter 76

    The water in the wooden basin swayed gently.

    Rong Shu pressed her lips together. Could it really be her eldest aunt?

    That kind-hearted aunt who would cook delicious steamed cheese for her in Chen Yin Courtyard, encourage her eldest cousin to play in the snow with her, and always wore a gentle smile on her face without ever competing or striving?

    Rong Shu lowered her gaze.

    Back in April of this year, on the day of the scholars' uprising in Scholar's Lane, Mother had mentioned in passing that something was amiss with the manager of Eldest Aunt's manor. He seemed ignorant of the happenings there, clearly avoiding responsibilities and being devious.

    Now, upon reflection, it wasn't that the village head was cunning and lazy; he had never been one in the first place.

    Mother had been constantly thinking of replacing the village head for Aunt, but what about Aunt? In her previous life, she had watched helplessly as Mother was exiled.

    As she pondered, the weight in her hands suddenly lessened.

    Gu Changjin lifted the wooden basin with one hand and gently pressed his other hand against her cheek, using the pad of his finger to wipe away the water droplets on her face. He whispered, "Don't worry. Many things haven't happened yet, and there's still time."

    His fingers were cold, with calluses on the pads, and when they brushed against her cheek, it was slightly ticklish and accompanied by an indescribable tenderness.

    The surroundings were quiet, and the chirping of birds deep in the dense forest only emphasized the tranquility of this small valley.

    Rong Shu let out a soft "mm," gently turning her face away and stepping back.

    Her jet-black, soft hair brushed lightly across the back of his hand, and the warm fragrance of the tender jade between his fingertips vanished instantly. Gu Changjin lowered his hand.

    In the silence between them, an excited voice suddenly broke through.


    Rong Shu tilted her head, following the sound, and her eyes lit up instantly. "Sister Luo Yan!"

    Behind Luo Yan were Liu Ping and Chang Ji, all looking rather disheveled with injuries on their bodies. Fortunately, none of them seemed severe.

    "How did you find us?" Rong Shu approached Luo Yan and helped her, curiosity sparkling in her eyes.

    Luo Yan examined Rong Shu closely. Seeing that she was unharmed, not even a strand of hair out of place, she let out a long sigh of relief.


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