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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Department for Purging Officials was in the principal alley of the Northern Military Department.
Although it was called an alley, it was actually a very spacious and straight street, able to accommodate two carriages side by side.
At this time, there were two carriages in the alley, one in front and one behind. The carriages were already empty of people but there were quite a few people outside the alley. Moreover, as the news spread through the capital, it was certain that even more people would appear.
The people currently outside this alley were the spies and informants of the various powers of the capital. They only dared to stand at the opening of the alley and watch that mansion from a distance, lacking the courage to get any closer.
The mansion was very unremarkable and didn't give off any sort of sinister feeling. However, the alley before the stone steps of the mansion was devoid of pedestrians.
Chen Changsheng stood before the gate of that mansion. He handed his name card over to an official, his expression and actions clearly somewhat stiff.
This was the first time he had offered his name card on a formal visit.
He had never done this sort of thing before, so it was inevitable for him to be a little nervous. Of course, the fundamental reason for this anxiety was because of the mansion itself. Not only was he breathing heavily, Xuanyuan Po was too. Even the normally heaven-defying Tang Thirty-Six was abnormally silent now—in fact, when the carriage had passed through the stone arch on the main street and entered the Northern Military Department's principal alley, finally confirming Chen Changsheng's destination, Tang Thirty-Six had ceased to speak.
This mansion was the office of the Department for Purging Officials and also Zhou Tong's residence, as well as the legendary Zhou Prison.
To many people, especially the subjects of the Great Zhou Dynasty, this mansion was the most sinister location in the continent, even more terrifying than Xuelao City in the land of demons.
Because Xuelao City was too far away, while Zhou Prison was close by.
The reason for this mansion’s sinister and terrifying aura was naturally the powerful figure that resided within.
The name of Zhou Tong could silence the cries of a child in the night. This was not merely some literary allegory, but something that had really happened.
Besides this, there were still many similar stories. It was said that several decades ago, a certain son of an official of the Ministry of Rites had taken in too much wine at some brothel and wished to forcefully press himself upon a famous hostess. Just as he was about to accomplish the deed, he heard a person outside the door yell "Zhou Tong is coming!" That official's son was so scared that he wet himself on the spot. From that point on, he never appeared publicly again.
Of course, this did not mean that Zhou Tong was willing to help the common people of the capital educate their children, nor did it mean that he was some good person that was willing to run to the rescue of damsels in distress. It only indicated just to what degree the fear of his name had reached in the hearts of the people.
It was known throughout the world that Zhou Tong was a cruel official of brutal methods, a vile man with a sinister and wicked character. It could not be counted how many innocent commoners and firm, upright officials he had slaughtered.
If it could be said that many people wanted to kill Su Li because he had killed too many people with his sword, then it could be said that all the people of the world wanted to kill Zhou Tong. Even officials in the same factions would occasionally wish that he would just go and die. There were even times when some people thought that since the heavens had allowed someone like Zhou Tong to appear, it must be some sort of punishment against mankind.
Based on how these stories normally developed, a person like Zhou Tong would only be able to hold power for a short time. He should have long since been sentenced to death by a thousand cuts by some heroic lord, or else some capable expert that shunned the secular world should have turned him into a wisp of smoke. But none of this occurred.
Because he was a grand minister of the Great Zhou Dynasty with an extremely lofty position, guarded by countless soldiers and experts. Moreover, he was himself a Star Condensation expert. Crucially, he was the Divine Empress's most loyal dog.
The world held countless people who opposed the Tianhai Divine Empress's grasp of the government. Amongst them, roughly seventy percent did so because she was a woman. The remaining thirty percent opposed her fundamentally because Zhou Tong's actions were too evil. Because no one was a fool. Even the most idiot commoner, after so many years, could tell that Zhou Tong's wickedness and brutality was in fact the embodiment of the Divine Empress's will.
The Divine Empress’s reign over the continent had actually already spanned two hundred years. Her methods of rule could be described as perfect, but there were still countless people who opposed her.
She was keenly aware that as a sovereign, it was impossible to appease everyone. Thus, she required a vicious dog, a sharp knife, to tear and chop at those who opposed her in the dark.
To speak on a deeper level, she required a person to implement her evil will.
This person was Zhou Tong.
He perfectly handled the Divine Empress's requests.
He was not shadowed by his childhood, and he wasn't interested in profit, nor did he ever do things unwillingly. He just loved to punish and imprison, to torture and abuse, in the name of the laws of the Great Zhou Dynasty!
From a certain point of view, Zhou Tong was actually a very pure person.
He was a purely evil person.
Today, Chen Changsheng had come to the office of the Department for Purging Officials to meet with Zhou Tong.
From Xining Village to the capital, he had heard far too many things about Zhou Tong. It couldn't be helped that he was somewhat nervous. Only after holding that object in his sleeve was he able to calm down a little.
He was escorted into the mansion by an official of the Department for Purging Officials. He had not imagined that this incomparably terrifying mansion of rumor was actually so quiet and beautiful.
They were brought to the deepest courtyard.
The courtyard was not large, and planted in it were two crabapple trees. The trees were most likely rather old, since their branches already extended over the courtyard's wall. The remnants of pink blossoms could still be seen on them.
Xuanyuan Po turned his head, nervously taking the measure of his surroundings.
Tang Thirty-Six raised his eyebrows, thinking about something.
On the other hand, Chen Changsheng was recalling the buildings and environment he had seen on their way here, attempting to calculate where Zhexiu might be imprisoned.
He was currently at the peak of Ethereal Opening. If he were placed in the ordinary sects and monasteries of the world, he could be considered an expert. Although he hadn't developed a connection with the heavens and the earth, he still had some intuition in this aspect, especially after he had followed Su Li in learning the Intellectual Sword. However, it was obvious that this seemingly ordinary mansion had a sort of spell array that far surpassed his cultivation. The more he thought, the more he realized that he couldn't even completely recall the route they took in, let alone the location where Zhexiu was imprisoned.
At this moment, a voice rang out.
”An Ethereal Opening surpassing cultivation levels to defeat a Star Condensation…this is the first time this has occurred in the past decade, and so will inevitably shock the entire continent. For you at this time, full of spirit and brimming with sword intent, to take a carriage and drive directly to the Northern Military Department's principal alley, according to the art of war, is truly excellent. To take a single horse and crash it through a barrier—isn't that one of the strategies of troop movement? Only, I have never heard that you were skilled in these sorts of things. Now that I think of it, it must be Su Li that taught you."
That voice was very serene and very ordinary, but for some reason, the moment they heard this voice, Chen Changsheng and the others suddenly felt like a sea of blood had appeared before them.
There were countless women and children within the sea of blood, wailing in despair as they slowly sank into oblivion.
Chen Changsheng knew that this was a fantasy and so was not nervous, even though he didn't understand why Zhou Tong had created this scene for them to see.
With the slightest movement of his spiritual sense, like a wisp of cool breeze, he woke up. He directed his gaze to the middle-aged man that had suddenly appeared in the courtyard.
Naturally, the middle-aged man was Zhou Tong.
His face was pale, as if he had not seen the sun for many years. His expression was calm, like that of some teacher of a country house. His two lips were extremely thin, making him seem exceptionally callous.
He wore the gown of an official, but he did not give off any of the prestige of an official. He only reeked of blood.