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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Liang Xiaoxiao had died. The accusation that he made before his death naturally was incredibly powerful, but the only other witness to this event in the Garden of Zhou—Zhuang Huanyu—besides giving an extremely concise explanation of the situation, had for the vast majority of the time maintained his silence, so the story given by the deceased was missing many details. When paired with the fact that the target of Liang Xiaoxiao's testimony was no ordinary person, this case concerning the Garden of Zhou had very naturally fallen into a quagmire. After several weeks, there had still been no progress.
Chen Changsheng's status was exceptionally unique, so the great powers within the Li Palace would definitely be keeping a close watch over this case. In the Grand Examination, the people had already noticed that the relationship between Zhexiu and the Orthodox Academy was rather good. Moreover, in the snowy plains of the north, this wolf youth had achieved enormous military merit, receiving the profound appreciation of several of the Great Zhou Army's Divine Generals. As for how this matter would develop, many people felt that it would ultimately depend on the Divine Empress's decision. For this reason, the Zhou Courtyard had become the focus of countless attentive gazes, because this was the residence of Zhou Tong. The will of the Divine Empress had always expressed itself through this most crazed, most ruthless, wild dog. It was also because after the Imperial Court had taken Zhexiu away from the Li Palace, he had been kept there.
Few people knew that the legendary Zhou Prison, that prison which could cause countless distinguished ministers and military officers to lose themselves in fear upon hearing the name, was actually the same building as Zhou Tong's official residence. They were separated from each other by only some ten-odd zhang and two flimsy doors that seemed like they could be blown over by a strong wind. ‘A fine time and beautiful scenery, helpless days.’ This saying was precisely about Zhou Tong's residence and Zhou Tong's prison. The former had the unceasing beauty of the four seasons, and the latter helpless days, no way out and inability to see the blue sky.
The black rhino dragged a heavy metal carriage, passing through the stone arch of the Zhou Courtyard and coming to the sinister building before it.
Although the distance was so short, Zhou Tong still habitually used his carriage.
Besides when he was in front of the Divine Empress, only when he was in his metal carriage did he feel safe.
The black rhino carriage pulled up to the tunnel that provided entrance to the prison. With a squeak, the door of the carriage slowly opened.
Zhou Tong walked slowly out of the metal carriage, subconsciously looking up into the night sky. Under starlight, his face seemed somewhat pale.
The second he walked out of the carriage, the guard around the Zhou Prison suddenly increased by several levels. As for the shadows under those nearby eaves, it was unknown how many cultivator experts were concealed within.
Zhou Tong was no weakling. He was a Star Condensation expert, one of the few experts of the Zhou Imperial Court. Even so, he still lived very cautiously. Unless an investigation required it, he would very rarely leave the Zhou Prison. Even when he left, in the vast majority of cases, it was only to go the Imperial Palace. Moreover, each time he left, he would bring countless imperial bodyguards. This was because he clearly understood that countless people wanted to kill him. If one were to rank people by how many people wanted them dead, Su Li would definitely rank behind him.
Reaching that cold and gloomy prison cell, he looked at the mangled body of the wolf youth—not even a single part of his body had been left intact. Zhou Tong's appearance did not change, nor did he show any of that perverted excitement of the rumors. There was only calm.
Ever since he had accepted the Divine Empress's command and taken charge of the Department for Purging Officials, Zhou Tong had interrogated countless prisoners and personally carried out countless tortures. He didn't even know how many people in conditions more miserable than Zhexiu's he had seen, so it wasn't possible for him to be moved by this scene. But he did not believe that he had become numb, and he also would not permit himself to grow numb to these bloody scenes. He insisted on the belief that only by protecting his initial mindset as he worked would he continue to preserve that sense of interest and freshness, and it was only through this that he could maintain his sharp sense for many things.
Yes, Zhou Tong had always believed this to be just a job. Originally, he had studied the holy books, but the essays he wrote were poor, so he switched to cultivation. His talent in cultivation was not bad, but because he was too old, he did not have the opportunity to enter the inner sects of those monasteries and sects to learn. For this reason, he began to engage in networking. Finally, in the Hundred Herb Garden, he had become acquainted with the Divine Empress and obtained this job. When doing something, you must love it and earnestly do your best, whether studying the holy books, cultivating Daoist rituals, or right now, torturing the people of the world—Zhou Tong had always required this of himself. The facts were proof that he had truly accomplished this.
"At six-fifteen, you fell unconscious from pain. By my estimate, you should have woken up from the pain by now, so I have come to ask you again: if those two women were Demon Princess Nanke's two wings, why did they not work together with the Demon General couple and directly kill you? On the contrary, why did they work separately, and in the end, give you a chance to divide and conquer?"
Zhou Tong did not stand in front of Zhexiu and stare into his eyes to pressure him, nor did he look at the file on the table.
He stood at the prison cell's only air vent, quietly looking up at the stars in the night sky and appearing somewhat absent-minded.
The file on the table consisted of statements Zhexiu had made to Mei Lisha while on the road, but after Zhexiu was brought to the Zhou Prison, he hadn’t said a single word more. Zhou Tong was acutely aware that mental pressure meant nothing to this wolf youth. Zhou Tong had looked over the file once and had already memorized its complete contents, including those inconspicuous details. He felt it was just like Liang Xiaoxiao's dying words. Zhexiu's statement also had many suspicious points, but he still asked absentmindedly. He knew that there was no need to be so diligent since Zhexiu would still not admit anything.
He asked this question only because it was a part of his job, a procedure or a sequence. In his laws, it was a task that had to be performed—everything was part of the job. Only after concluding this portion could he move on to the next.
Hearing Zhou Tong's voice, Zhexiu finally responded. However, he still said nothing but rather just closed his eyes.
After he had returned to the capital from Hanqiu City, the Li Palace had sent a cardinal to personally treat his injuries. At the moment, the poison in his body had been mostly suppressed at the bottom of his eye. Although he still couldn't see, his condition would not worsen and his life was not in danger. He was not concerned about these problems, but rather about just what had happened in the Garden of Zhou. Why had the Garden of Zhou's sky collapsed? Were Nanke and those demon experts dead? Could Chen Changsheng also be dead? And also…had Qi Jian's condition improved? Was she still unconscious in her coma or had she woken up?
He concentrated his thoughts on these things, hoping to alleviate some of the pain. However, his face was getting paler and sweat drops the size of soybeans were continuously tumbling down his forehead.
A very thin needle was inserted in the space between his eyebrows. The end of the needle was held in Zhou Tong's fingers as he softly twirled it.
Zhou Tong was very calm. He didn't seem like a torturer but rather like a doctor treating his patient.
Zhexiu's breaths became more hurried and his two eyebrows increasingly creased. His body began to fiercely shudder.
Those slender chains which ran through his body began to chafe against the flesh. Rotted flesh and tender, newly grown flesh alike were scraped off.
Zhou Tong lightly brushed against the end of the needle. Zhexiu had already bitten down so much that his mouth was full of blood, but he could no longer bear it. He painfully yelled out, his hoarse voice reverberating through the isolated and gloomy Zhou Prison.
He wanted to fall unconscious, but the pain made it impossible.
Life and death, pain and its alleviation: all of it was in Zhou Tong's fingers.
Mo Yu departed the Zhou Courtyard and headed back towards the Imperial Palace. As the wheels of the carriage rolled over the gray stones, it was somewhat bumpy.
She felt that if it were the Black Goat pulling the carriage, it would be fine. But the Black Goat did not like Zhou Tong and would never go with her to that place.
The carriage abruptly stopped.
She calmly looked at the curtain hanging at the front of the carriage and asked, "Your Highness, what do you plan to do?"
Luoluo's voice was clear and bright, just like the new leaves at the beginning of spring. "I want to tell you all that the fact that Teacher hasn't returned doesn't mean that the Orthodox Academy no longer has people."