Chapter 719 – The Person in the World Who Understands You the Most Has Come
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
The palace beauty walked to the window, silently gazing at the courtyard basking in sunlight.
The sunlight shone upon her face, yet it was unable to bring too much warmth. A haggard and cold aura continuously lurked behind this beautiful face, impossible to get rid of.
The kitchen was very quiet, the sight within extraordinarily strange, persisting and fermenting under the sunlight.
After some time, the medicine was ready. The woman carried the medicine pot into a prepared jar of ice water and waited for the medicinal broth to cool.
Just like Zhou Tong, the palace beauty was also skilled in mental techniques. It was highly likely that the woman could not see the beauty by the window because her senses had been confused by an illusion.
Ultimately, the woman still raised her head to glance at her, proving that none of this was delusion, all of it was real.
The palace beauty leaned on the window and lightly waved her hand, indicating that all should proceed as normal.
The medicinal broth could not be completely cooled before drinking, as this would harm its effectiveness. The bowl of broth brought before Zhou Tong was still exuding a thick cloud of steam.
Zhou Tong was somewhat enchanted by the heat carried by this steam, as this sort of feeling filled him with energy. However, when he drained all the medicinal broth in the bowl, he felt somewhat dissatisfied, as the broth had scalded the roof his mouth and his gums. He did not blame the woman, but rather was dissatisfied at his own attitude: he had been in too much of rush.
Though no blisters had arisen from this scalding, it still felt rather uncomfortable, so he used his tongue to lick at it.
His tongue sent back a slightly sweet feeling, somewhat akin to the taste of rust.
He knew that this was the taste of blood and couldn't help but frown a little. He took a mirror from the table and examined his mouth.
He didn't find anything too strange, only that the gums around his teeth were slightly swollen and bleeding.
The taste of blood gradually receded, leaving only the bitter flavor of medicine. He took two sugar-coated peanuts from a dish on the table, threw them into his mouth, and began to assiduously chew on them.
Ever since he was very young, he was very afraid of drinking medicine. He found it too bitter, so each time he had to take medicine, he always prepared a few sweet snacks.
As he chewed on the sugar-coated peanuts, he thought about all that he had encountered today.
Xue He spent his entire year in the snowy plains of the north, leading the army, so it was to be expected that he could get his hands on this sort of poison, but how he had managed to poison him in the underground prison cell?
Had Xue He wanted to poison him to death to take vengeance for Xue Xingchuan and make the world feel that this was an appropriate retribution delivered by the cycle of the Heavenly Dao?
The problem was that poisoning him to death was no easy task.
A cold smile floated on Zhou Tong's lips, a sense of pride appearing in his dark and frigid eyes.
Sugar-coated peanuts were delicious, their only downside being that they somewhat clung to his teeth. He took out an exquisitely crafted silver toothpick, picking at his teeth while he continued to ponder his worries.
Xue He had probably already escaped Zhou Prison, but that did not matter. Although the world was vast, there was no place that could hold the people of the Xue clan now.
Zhou Tong gazed out the window at the neighboring courtyard, thinking to himself, after this matter is settled, I'll catch Xue He as quickly as possible and poison him to death, poison him very, very slowly.
He had already thought of which poisons could make Xue He die in the slowest and most painful fashion.
A soft crack came from his mouth, snapping this extremely tangential and delightful train of thought.
One of his teeth had snapped off at the root. It lay quietly in his palm, its snapped end stained in blood, a most sinister sight.
As he stared at this tooth, Zhou Tong felt his just-warmed body turn cold once more.
He silently thought for a few moments, then looked at himself in the mirror again.
This sight frightened him out of his wits.
His gums were already purple and black, his teeth incredibly loose, liable to drop off at the slightest gust of wind.
His teeth were sending an ever clearer and ever more unendurable pain, causing his body to tremble once more.
He had only wanted to scrape the sugar from between his teeth, yet he ended up prying out a tooth.
The point of the exquisite silver toothpick was already a ghastly black like coal.
This is all an illusion, he said to himself.
He had far too much experience in the use of poisons, so he believed that there was no flaw in his judgment. Although his method of detoxification might not have completely cleansed his body of the poison, it could not at least have failed to halt its progress. He would then have much more time to slowly resolve it.
But why was it that after he had drunk the medicine, not only had the poison in his body not come under control, it had become even more terrifying, already affecting his teeth?
Zhou Tong could not understand and fell into a prolonged silence.
Even now, he did not think that there was something wrong with the medicine, that something might have happened as it was being brewed.
He never once doubted the woman.
He took out two precious pills and swallowed them, temporarily preventing the poison from breaking out.
He was somewhat dazed, his vision blurry.
If his vision was not blurry, how could he be seeing the woman walk to the gate of the small courtyard?
A bundle wrapped with a flowery blue cloth was in the woman's arm.
It was a very small and simple bundle, unable to hold too much.
Yes, of course, he had bought so many expensive things for her in these past few years; how could such a small bundle suffice to take it all away?
So she could not be intending to leave, she could not be intending to abandon him, she could not be the problem, she could not have poisoned him.
So his vision was truly getting blurry, this poison was far too strong—he was even starting to see things.
Zhou Tong said all this to himself, and then stood up from the chair.
The distance between the house and the main gate was ten-some zhang, the courtyard in between filled with sunlight.
Separated by a ground awash with sunlight, he and the woman looked across at each other.
The woman's expression was calm, warm, and serene. She slightly bowed, just as she did every time he said farewell, only today she was the one saying farewell.
It turned out that none of it had been an illusion.
Why? Zhou Tong did not ask, because he clearly knew that there were numberless reasons, but since he had not realized before, there was no need to know it now.
The cruelest thing in the world was when you didn't want to know the answer and someone insisted on telling you the answer.
"She doesn't like you. She has never liked you."
The palace beauty walked to the door and said to him, "She was only afraid of you, so she did not dare leave."
Why was she not afraid today? Naturally, because he was going to die.
Zhou Tong was not shocked at her appearance.
In reality, he now completely understood why the medicine he had taken had been of no use: someone had put another poison in the medicine.
Upon understanding this fact, he knew that someone had come to this courtyard, and he even knew who this person was.
The person who understood you the most was naturally not a relative, or else Xue Xingchuan would not have died so miserably and then almost had his corpse exposed in the plains after his death.
And the person who understood you the most was also not necessarily, as often written in books, your enemy, because you would always have some wariness towards your enemy and develop many safeguards against him.
The person who understood you the most was also not necessarily your friend. To be friends until your hair turned white was a beautiful thing, but you would spend too little time with each other, the distance between your two cities would be too far. When you met, you would always drink wine while recalling old times, speculating on the future, cursing your past teachers or the current government. There were few opportunities to chat about more in-depth things.
So the person who understood you the most was often your partner at work.
With year after year, day after day of working together, it would be very difficult to not understand each other. You would drink together many times, chatting about many in-depth things, and for the sake of both open and hidden competitions, you would remember all these things with remarkable clarity, preparing to use them at any point in the future. For instance, he might learn which restaurant is your favorite for buying box lunches and you might learn which restaurant has his favorite noodles. He might learn which group leader you hate the most and you might learn which TV channel is his favorite. He might know of all the girlfriends you've talked about in the past few years while you would know how many people he's been cheating on in the past few months. On the morning after Christmas Eve, the two of you might even come out of the same pub and then smile at each other, because this pub was the place where the company could negotiate the best discount.
Logically speaking, Zhou Tong had no partners at work, as the Department for Purging Officials was a very special government office, under the direct management of the Divine Empress, not requiring interaction with anyone from the Imperial Court. Cheng Jun, the other Eight Tigers, and the redcoated cavalry were all Zhou Tong's subordinates. However, there were also rather special existences in this world, like this palace beauty.
The Tianhai Divine Empress had relied on Xue Xingchuan, Tian Chui, Xu Shiji, and other such Divine Generals to control the Great Zhou Army. To control the Imperial Court and thus reign over the millions and millions of people of the Great Zhou, she had relied primarily on two people. The first was Zhou Tong, and the other was naturally Mo Yu.
They were the Tianhai Divine Empress's left and right arms in the Imperial Court and were often privately reprimanded as villains colluding together. They had cooperated for many years, and although it could not be said that their hearts were connected, they did possess a tacit understanding. Whether it was confronting the Tianhai clan or going against the powerful will of the military, this tacit understanding had always displayed a very positive use.
This tacit understanding meant that the two of them had a deep understanding of each other.
Zhou Tong knew of that rebellious heart and unwillingness in the deepest depths of Mo Yu's soul, and even had a vague idea of her thoughts about a certain person. Mo Yu knew of Zhou Tong's well-concealed fear of the Divine Empress and also of that small courtyard basking in the sunlight. Thus, she had sought out this place today and delivered unto him a most fatal strike.
Upon seeing Mo Yu come in through the door, Zhou Tong quickly calmed down, faster than he had imagined. In the days after the coup of the Mausoleum of Books, he had ordered the Department for Purging Officials to constantly trace and confirm her whereabouts in the south. Perhaps because of this, he had long since mentally prepared himself to see her in the capital.
He said to Mo Yu, "I knew that you would come back to the capital, but I didn't expect it to be now."
Mo Yu asked, "Why?"
Zhou Tong explained, "Since you clearly understand that if you come back to the capital, your death is assured."
Mo Yu stared at him and said, "I really don't care much about that, as long as you can die before me."
Zhou Tong was unaware that Chen Changsheng had said something similar not too long ago.
He looked at Mo Yu and asked, "You've returned to take vengeance for the Empress?"
"I don't have the ability, nor are you my foe. You are not worthy of that right."
In Mo Yu's view, he was a dog raised by the Empress. "I have come to punish the Empress's dog in her place."
After a pause, Zhou Tong asked, "How are you prepared to punish this dog?"
Mo Yu proposed, "Stew it in a pot? I think that's not bad."
Zhou Tong said very seriously to her, "You don't have to be that hare."
"I don't mean 'cook the hounds after killing the hares', I just don't have as much experience in torture as you, so I can only think about cooking you to death."
(TN: 'Cook the hounds after killing the hares' is a Chinese idiom that originates from the Warring States period. Essentially, once you've hunted all the hares down, you kill the hounds and cook them. Similarly, you kill your trusted aides once they've outlived their usefulness.)
Mo Yu earnestly asked, "Do you have some other suggestion?"