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    Rong Shu, having guessed the ulterior motives behind Lianfu Temple, pursed her lips and said, "Aunt's manor doesn't have any firearms. Either Uncle hasn't bought the overseas batch yet, or the weapons have been purchased but haven't arrived at Obeying Heaven Mansion. As long as Mother can find those firearms and present them to the court, the Shen family will be saved."

    Of course, the best solution would be to expel Shen Zhi from the Shen family and force him to admit all his crimes.

    Gu Changjin hummed in response. "Qi Xin went to Yangzhou two days ago. He'll help your mother obtain those firearms."

    He had left Shiiun in Yangzhou to protect her mother, and now he was sending Qi Xin as well, to ensure everything went smoothly.

    Rong Shu asked, "So Eunuch Qi Xin is now part of the East Palace?"

    If she recalled correctly, Qi Xin should be under Eunuch Liu.

    "His Majesty transferred the Imperial Guards and the Warrior Camp to the East Palace. The Warrior Camp was originally under Liu Yuan's jurisdiction. With his recent accomplishments in Yangzhou, Liu Yuan will soon be promoted to head the Eastern Depot. Qi Xin has taken over his position as the head of the Royal Horse Supervisor. As for the previous head of the Eastern Depot, Eunuch Gui Zhong, he'll soon become the new head of the Supervisor of Ceremonies."

    Ever since Gu Changjin was acknowledged as a member of his clan, the Head of the Supervisor of Ceremonies, Pei Shunnian, had voluntarily stepped down from his position and requested retirement from the capital. His foster son, Yang Xu, had once served as the head of the Eastern Depot and had even sent assassins to attack Gu Changjin on Changan Avenue. This was an irreconcilable enmity between them.

    Yang Xu's arrogance was largely due to Pei Shunnian's leniency. With such a rift, how could Pei Shunnian dare to stay on as the Head of the Supervisor of Ceremonies?

    "Both Liu Yuan and Qi Xin are now on my side. As for the court, my smooth ascension to the East Palace wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of several officials from the Board of Censors, the Ministry of Justice, the Hanlin Academy, and the Imperial Academy, including Chief Censor Meng, Minister of Crime Lu, and the former Minister. Not to mention Empress Qi—"

    Gu Changjin paused, then said, "She isn't my biological mother; acknowledging me was just a transaction. The old followers of the Qi family support me, and in return, I protect all the Qis except Qi Heng and Qi Yu."

    The man spoke calmly about the palace and court affairs, and Rong Shu did not interrupt him, listening quietly. Knowing that Empress Qi wasn't his birth mother didn't surprise her – it was as if she had already anticipated it.

    Empress Qi wasn't his mother, nor was Xu Fu.

    And he had once said that he had always been Gu Changjin.

    Rong Shu lowered her gaze and sipped the fruit tea lightly. It had just the right sweetness and warmth, exactly the flavor she enjoyed.

    He had actually remembered her preferences all along.

    After only one sip, Rong Shu put down her teacup and said, "I heard from Chang Ji that the Gu residence on Wutong Lane is now deserted, and no one can find Xiao Fu. Do you know where she went?"

    "I don't know. She disappeared from Wutong Lane the day I returned to the capital," Gu Changjin narrowed his eyes slightly. "It's alright, she will definitely come looking for me."

    Xiao Fu would definitely come looking for him. After Prince Qiyuan's death, he was not buried in the royal mausoleum. His murder of children for alchemy had provoked widespread outrage among the people of Great Yin, and Emperor Jia'ou did not bury him in the imperial tomb.

    As a result, Xiao Fu still didn't know where Emperor Jia'ou had laid Prince Qiyuan to rest.

    "One cannot forget the injustice of your father's murder."

    "You must reclaim the kingdom your father lost and find the place where his remains lie, so that he may be buried in the royal mausoleum."

    These were the words she had repeatedly whispered into his ear.

    Xiao Fu's constitution had always been weaker than most. Years of tireless dedication had drained her vitality. In Liuyao Hall, she often lay ill in bed, sustained solely by the determination to see him ascend to power and locate the resting place of Prince Qiyuan.

    With her long-held wish almost within reach, she would surely come back for him.

    Maintaining an air of nonchalance, Rong Shu opened her mouth, but the question "Will you be in danger?" died on her lips.

    At the third hour of the evening, the carriage arrived at the Sishi Garden.

    They had visited this place earlier in the spring of this year, and Rong Shu recalled that Gu Changjin was still recovering from injuries then.

    Back then, the estate had been overgrown with weeds, devoid of life.

    But today, it had undergone a remarkable transformation. The trees cast lush shadows, flowers bloomed in vibrant clusters, even the usually bleak autumn light seemed infused with a lively energy.

    It was identical to the Sishi Garden in her memories from her previous life.

    Rong Shu gazed at the freshly hung plaque above the entrance, feeling a slight tremor in her heart. Just moments ago, she had thought that there was no longer a Sishi Garden in this world, but now, after a short carriage ride, the garden from her memories had seemingly materialized before her eyes.

    Calculating the time, he must have sent people to renovate this courtyard ever since his return to the capital.

    Gu Changjin held a lantern in one hand and pushed open the courtyard door with the other. Turning to look at her, he said, "I'll take you somewhere."

    Rong Shu's impression of the Sishi Garden was far from favorable. She couldn't fathom Gu Changjin's intentions. In her past life, she had died here—so why was he bringing her back?

    Gu Changjin was still waiting for her.

    Looking into the man's dark eyes, Rong Shu eventually stepped towards him.

    As night enveloped them, the carved lanterns hanging under the long corridor cast circles of light, illuminating their path.

    Beyond the corridor stood the main residence, where Rong Shu had consumed the poisonous wine and met her demise.

    The last time she was here, even the mere thought of drinking the poison in this place pained her. But this time, for some reason, the pain etched in her memory seemed to have vanished.

    Once upon a time, everything that felt so real seemed to have turned into a fleeting dream of a laborer's meal.

    In a dream, one feels no pain, and she was in that state now. Though the memory of that day was vivid, all the agony she had endured then had vanished.

    Consequently, when she looked at the room again, her heart remained undisturbed.

    She had assumed Gu Changjin would lead her into that very room, but to her surprise, he paused for only a brief moment before continuing forward.

    It was in that half-breath pause that Rong Shu, who had been a step behind him, caught up to walk alongside him.

    They soon arrived at a side chamber. Rong Shu had previously guessed that this courtyard might have a secret passage. Now, as she gazed at the hidden tunnel concealed behind the wall, she finally understood why Heng Ping had said that this annex was their escape route.


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