No one knew how Xu Tianran managed to track him down, but this brother of his was cut to pieces in his own palace. That entire palace was washed with blood.
From then on, no one dared to doubt him because of his condition. He managed to preserve his position of Crown Prince.
Over the past few years, the emperor's physical condition had been deteriorating, and he was often bedridden. The brothers of Xu Tianran who were qualified to become the Sun Moon Emperor's successor started to make their moves. They even brought up the issue of his disability.
However, Xu Tianran was very calm, and never acted against them. No one dared to underestimate him, however. He was still the favorite to succeed the throne.
Ju Zi wheeled Xu Tianran out of his pavilion, and his guards quickly followed.
The Royal Stewards' headquarters was in the imperial palace. Although it was merely in a corner of the palace, the location demonstrated its pertinence to the imperial family.
"Ju Zi, how's your cultivation?" Xu Tianran asked gently.
Ju Zi replied, "My progress has been slow. After I became a Class 5 soul engineer, my mastery seems to have reached a bottleneck. My soul power increases very slowly, and taking medicine doesn't seem to help. Although my research of soul tools continues to see improvements, my soul power has stagnated. I'm confident of making it into the Illustrious Virtue Hall, but I'm afraid I'll need three to five years before I can become a Class 6 soul engineer. It will take even longer as I progress."
Xu Tianran smiled and said, "It's okay, Ju Zi. Do you know something? I like your honesty. There's hardly anyone who's as honest as you around me, no matter how close they are to me."
Ju Zi lowered her head and said, "You gave me my life, and everything that I have. I…"
Xu Tianran shrugged and said, "Let's not bring that up. You repaid the favor when you took two knives meant me. Ju Zi, my father's condition has been deteriorating. I don't think he has much longer to live. If you think that your development as a soul engineer is too slow, I hope that you can consider leaving the academy to help me. Didn't you always want revenge? I'll let you join the military. I'll slowly transfer the trump card I have in the military to you and let you strut your stuff."
"What? You can't do that. Your Highness, I'm… I'm not up to it," Ju Zi said hurriedly. An anxious look appeared in her eyes. However, a tinge of happiness also flashed through the depths of her eyes in that instant.
Xu Tianran patted the hand that she had placed on the wheelchair and sighed. "How can I lead the military in this condition? The military is a force that every emperor must be able to control. You're the person I trust the most. I'd be relieved to hand the military to you."
Xu Tianran said, "You're only lacking in terms of your aura. But your intelligence and military knowledge are great. You're also well-versed in soul tools. I trust you completely. I'll gradually let you enter the core circle of my military forces. I'll tell them that you'll be my wife, the wife of the Crown Prince, as well as the future Empress."
"Your Highness!" Ju Zi exclaimed and stopped pushing the wheelchair. Although she was anxious to save Huo Yuhao, she couldn't reveal her intention.
She knelt down in front of the wheelchair."Your Highness, I'm not worthy!"
Xu Tianran smiled and caressed her head. He said, "How are you not fit? In my heart, this has nothing to do with the bigger picture or to enable me to succeed the throne. I need to have a wife. But this person must be someone I can trust. You are aware of my condition, and you're also the only person I trust completely. I'll give you a proper status and authority. Your only role is to help me stabilize my throne. I'll give you the strength to seek your vengeance, and the encouragement to go ahead with your revenge. I've no intentions other than to rule the entire continent. I'll make the Sun Moon Empire glorious, and the continent will depend on us once again." As he spoke these words, his calm gaze became passionate.
Ju Zi bit her lower lip lightly. She was probably the only one who understood Xu Tianran in this world. The injuries he had sustained hadn't just effected his legs; his manly capabilities were affected too. Ju Zi had waited for a long time for this day. Without Xu Tianran, how could she exact revenge? However, she was truly loyal to Xu Tianran, too.
It was just that Xu Tianran didn't know that someone else had appeared in Ju Zi's heart over the past half month.
"Alright, let's rush over. Otherwise, the Royal Stewards will really cause a huge headache for everyone." Xu Tianran extended his hand to lift Ju Zi up. Ju Zi was grateful, and moved behind him again. She pushed his wheelchair along quickly.
The Royal Stewards' office was in the imperial city. Although it was in a corner, it was quite large.
Those who could become Royal Stewards were basically related to the imperial family. However, not many of them were direct descendants of the imperial family. Direct descendants usually had better options, especially the sons of the current emperor. Besides Xu Tianran, the rest were also given titles as princes. Even those who didn't qualify to fight for the throne had their own land, and those who were qualified had their private mansions in the Radiant City.
Xu Mochen's background was one of the best of the Royal Stewards. He controlled the entire organization.
"Go in." One of the Soul Kings pushed Huo Yuhao. Huo Yuhao stumbled and almost fell, but he managed to enter the office.
The place was nicely and elegantly decorated. It was constructed like a palace hall.
Xu Mochen shot some looks at his subordinates and said, "Bring him to the interrogation room. Grill him about how he harmed a member of the imperial family."
One of Xu Mochen's subordinates rubbed his palms together and said, "Captain, leave it to me." He dragged Huo Yuhao to the back, accompanied by the others.
Huo Yuhao was still handcuffed, and didn't resist. He didn't utter a word, and let them push him.
The interrogation room naturally wasn't a good place to be. It was in the backyard and, appeared to be a simple room. But when the door opened, a bloody smell wafted out.
Huo Yuhao was pushed into this room. There were all types of torture equipment in the interrogation room. Huo Yuhao didn't even recognize many of them.
"Tie him to the Dragoncarving Pillar." One of the soul emperors gestured, and two soul kings immediately brought Huo Yuhao in front of a steel rack.
This steel rack looked a little weird. It had the shape of a cross, with many holes in it. Huo Yuhao's handcuffs were separated, but this didn't affect the restraint on his soul power. The two Soul Kings tied him to the cross directly.
The rack was extremely cold, and reeked of blood.
Huo Yuhao's pupils started to shrink.
Although the handcuffs could restrain his soul power, they couldn't restrain his spiritual power. His Spiritual Detection might be more difficult to use without the support of his soul power, but he was still able to detect up to a certain range.
He instantly understood what this rack was supposed to do. There were metal spikes in each of the holes. These spikes were three inches long, and were positioned at very precise spots. These spots weren't located at a person's vital areas. It meant that the person controlling this rack could nail Huo Yuhao's entire body to the rack without killing him instantly.
"Young fellow, I suggest that you be honest. Tell us everything you need to tell us." The soul emperor who had issued the order sat behind a table and looked at Huo Yuhao apathetically. The rest also stood to the side. Someone took a pen and paper and was about to record the details of the interrogation. Xu Mochen didn't enter the interrogation room. No one knew where he had gone.
Huo Yuhao answered, "I don't know what you're talking about."
The soul emperor said coldly, "You don't know? Tell us how you harmed Wang Shaojie and caused him to sustain critical injuries. If you deny it, don't blame us for torturing you."
Huo Yuhao laughed, and wore a mocking look on his face. "If I tell you what you demand just like this, wouldn't that just give you a better reason to torture me? Since you're going to torture me anyway, why do I have to give you a better reason to do so? I'm going to give you a suggestion: don't touch me. Otherwise, you'll suffer."
Huo Yuhao wasn't anxious or afraid of these people. He just didn't want to make things any worse. He had heard Xu Mochen instructing his subordinate to inform the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy of his arrest. He believed that the Sun Moon Imperial Soul Engineering Academy and Illustrious Virtue Hall had to protect him. Otherwise, they couldn't bear the results.
"It seems like you won't open your mouth unless we show you what we're capable of. Number Four, show him the might of the Dragoncarving Pillar. Let him feel what it's like to have your skin torn and repeatedly cut."
The youngest soul king came up to the Dragoncarving Pillar and laughed creepily.
"Second brother, is it time to start? I've not heard someone screaming on this rack for a long time. The splattering of blood is a beautiful sight, indeed. Eighty-one spikes piercing different parts of the body before turning and moving in place. It's beautiful."
Huo Yuhao clenched his fists tightly and said coldly, "Have you really considered it carefully?"
The soul king was hostile. "Young fellow, you still dare to threaten us in the interrogation room?
Number four laughed viciously, and his right hand grabbed hold of the switch behind him. He pressed it down, and a piercing, rumbling sound filled the room. The spikes started to extend from the holes on the Dragoncarving Pillar.