This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.Chapter One Hundred And Three: Proof
The torture room was deep inside the inner palace. During the reign of the previous emperor, this was just the cold palace. At this time, it was densely covered by a type of vine called the acacia. There was only one path for entry and exit.
This vine was a parasitic plant that could only be described as greedy for it could take over all the plants. When it sucked the nutrients out of the surrounding plants, the vines would start to eat each other. The result being only the thickest vine would be left behind. After it lost everything that could be taken over, it would not root in the ground, and eventually die. So the end result of the vine’s growth was that it would destroy all plants in the surrounding, and then destroy itself … unless someone deliberately gave it plants to live on.
Clearly, someone had given the vine something to live on in the cold palace. The scene was like a gathering place of ghosts as described in many stories. Dead trees and vines entangled together, the living vines full of life, the purple-red surface Iike it were about to drip blood.
When the empress stepped into this cold palace, the vines seemed to come alive, trembling as if in joy. The vines pieced through the bedroom of the cold palace, the roof covered in dried and living vines, and dead leaves carpeted the ground. Unlike the leaves of ordinary leaves which turned yellow when dry, the leaves of the vines were dark red even when dry as though to represent the blood and cruelty in its growing process.
Shen Xuan stood above the dark red dried leaves with his head low. His expression did not change when he heard familiar footsteps. Only his eyes were dyed red, and gave off an eerie and mad light.
“I do not completely believe you on the process of how Gu Huai died.” The empress’s voice sounded. “Because I understood Gu Huai. If he did not possess the ability to defeat Zhan Moke, he would not have risked going into the ancestral mountain.”
The empress stayed at the doorway to the residence. Her beautiful eyes looked at Shen Xuan without any emotion, waiting for his answer. Her appearance seemed to have become even more perfect, but because of this, she did not appear to be of this world right now, but a god.
Her appearance seemed to have become even more perfect, but because of this, she did not appear to be of this world right now, but a god. Then he slowly said, “You are correct, I did conceal something. I also attacked Gu Huai.”
“Why?” The empress looked at him and said, “You should know what Gu Huai means to me and the entire Qin Dynasty.”
Her voice was calm and emotionless, not very surprised. Even though this was something that Shen Xuan had expected, he could not help the uncontrollable coldness in his body. He did not control his response, and let his body tremble with true terror.
“Because I am selfish.” He took a deep breath, his head still bowed and said, “I want to live, I wanted to return to Changling.”
The empress quietly nodded. Her beautiful eyelashes fluttered. Then she looked at the master of the Great Floating Water Prison who had lost an arm and was hanging his head. She asked simply, “Gu Huai is dead, why are you alive, how dare you come back to Changling?”
Shen Xuan looked up after a moment of silence and faced her gaze. “In my view, Gu Huai is dead. I will become more important in Changling … this is still my selfish desire. You should know, I do not want to spend my entire life in the sunless water prison.”
The empress looked at him, and said, “Even more important? What do you really want?”
Shen Xuan bowed his head and said, “Secretariat Director.”
The empress’ beautiful eyelashes fluttered again, even more rapidly. Her perfect face even paled, and showed some true anger and coldness.
Secretariat Director, this was a position that had never existed in the Qin Dynasty. It was only that person’s idea. After Yuanwu’s ascension and she became the empress, no one had dared to mention this in front of her. In all of Changling, inside the court, no one dared to mention that person or the ideas related to that person.
Shen Xuan did not look up. He took a deep breath and said, “I brought back the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art.”
The empress was silent. When she grew silent, the air in the hall seemed to grow colder. All the air seemed to be forced away by ghostly cold energy from high up in the sky.
Shen Xuan held his breath. He knew that she was weighing and thinking, and the only thing he could do was wait for the final life and death.
“That wine shop youth is really dead?” she asked after being silent for a moment.
Shen Xuan nodded with difficulty and said, “Wuzhi can confirm this.”
The empress looked at him and said, “But you still have to prove yourself … Even though you brought back the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art, this is just a condition of your trade. I still cannot believe you completely.”
Shen Xuan looked up at her and said seriously, “I understand, I only need to prove, I will not hate you.”
The empress nodded to show her satisfaction.
Shen Xuan bowed. Then a pure lifebond presence rose from his hand. A patch of dark red dry leaves floated up off the ground into his hand, gradually giving off a red-jade light, and becoming as heavy as real jade stone. Many characters and lines were engraved onto the leaves.
The empress’ cold eyes evinced a madness that could not be described in words.
That was the Heaven Replenishing Divine Art that that person had wanted to study but never got. And now, it was in her hands.
When the red jade-like leaves fell into her hands, when she sensed the presence of the profound lines, her body started to tremble minutely. She was certain that this could not be false. She said nothing else and turned to leave.
“Official Shen, my apologies.”
A cultivator in yellow robes walked out of the vines and smiled at Shen Xuan. He opened the box he carried in front of the latter without any scruples. Then, almost roughly, he inserted a bottle of medicine through a hollow steel needle into a blood vein in Shen Xuan’s neck.
Shen Xuan gave a short grunt. His feet, like hammers, hit the ground hard.
“Official Shen, you taught me these means.”
“I am also here because of you.”
“Official Shen, you are still lucky compared to me. If you manage to survive, if what you say is the same as what you said before to the empress, there is a great future ahead of Official Shen. So, Official, do not hate me.”
Seeing Shen Xuan’s face twist in pain, the cultivator in yellow robes laughed. He laughed until his face was almost twisted in cruelty and pleasure.
In the next moment, he did not care for Shen Xuan’s feelings at all, and a powerful lifebond presence spread from his body. The enormous vine hanging from above moved like snakes, coming down, and tightly tying up Shen Xuan. Dozens of steel needles were stabbed deep into Shen Xuan. Different medicines were poured in, and his body started to tear as he twisted.
The cultivator in yellow robes did not make any extra movements. Shen Xuan was already bloody from his own twisting and he was no longer in human form.
This was the most secret interrogation place. There were too many secrets here. So the yellow robed cultivator that had been arranged here would be trapped here for his life. He would not walk out of the cold palace alive.
He was Shen Xuan’s subordinate. Yet he lived here, unable to leave the cold palace, and never able to contact the outside world. He naturally did not have to care about Shen Xuan.
But what he did not expect was that Shen Xuan truly did not hold any hate for him. Because in many past years, Shen Xuan had been waiting for a chance like this, one to prove himself. He had used a lot of time to practice … so he could endure torture like this, and say what he wanted to say.
So while he appeared to be enduring unimaginable pain, there was still a sliver of clarity in his mind. No one could see, on his bloodied face, there was even a scornful smile.
“What do you really want?” The empress’s voice seemed to echo in the cold palace.
Honored Empress … I have worked so long for you, but you never thought, or ever bothered to think, and it was not worthwhile to think what I really wanted?
Why does someone else know what I want?
This is the difference between you and others. Like right now, you are using these means to let me prove..prove that in your eyes, I am just a dispensable dog, and not any different from the people in yellow robes. Shen Xuan smiled scornfully.
Translator Ramblings: Shen Xuan is pretty disillusioned with the empress.