Chapter 722 – The Avenue of Blood (III)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
Beasts that had been injured to the point of death would make strange and low howls because they wanted to keep their voices in their throats for as long as possible, not wanting anyone else to hear their weakness. However, after having his thigh cut and collapsing in front of the Xue Estate's gate, Zhou Tong could finally longer restrain it and let loose a wretched howl of suffering.
This wretched howl obscured the young lady of the Xue clan's cry of alarm, but it was still so clear as to be heard by everyone present.
The young lady felt even more elated, and the Xue clan's butler was so excited that his entire body trembled.
Yet Madam Xue, the person who should reasonably have been expected to have the greatest reaction, was still able to keep her calm, quietly gazing at Zhou Tong's collapsed figure in the snow.
It was very quiet in front of the Xue Estate, the only sound being Zhou Tong's heavy gasps for breath.
After some time, Zhou Tong dragged himself up from the snow and continued to stagger his way down the street, leaving behind a few bloodstains.
Mo Yu walked in front of the stone steps and turned to give Madam Xue a nod of greeting.
In these past few years, she and Xue Xingchuan had been the two most popular figures of Tianhai's court, so the two naturally had interacted before.
Madam Xue very earnestly bowed to her, saying, "Thank you."
Mo Yu said nothing, only nodded her head before continuing after Zhou Tong.
Madam Xue gazed at the warm red, yet also gloomy, sky, thinking of that day. She silently gave thanks to Chen Changsheng, wherever he was.
With the end of Tianhai's government, her husband had transformed from a loyal minister of the Great Zhou Dynasty to a traitor, while Zhou Tong, who was clearly a traitor, had become a valued minister of the Great Zhou Dynasty.
There was no doubt that this was unjust, but in this world in which no one dared to pay homage to a traitor, who would demand justice for one?
On that day in the Orthodox Academy, she had said that she hated that Zhou Tong was not dead. She truly hated this fact, hated until she despaired, a hate that bored into her bones.
At the time, Chen Changsheng had not said anything or made any attempts to comfort, only quietly gazed at her.
When sending her off from the Orthodox Academy, he had requested that she not leave the capital.
This was a promise.
He would kill Zhou Tong and let her witness it.
So Madam Xue had not returned to her hometown, but remained in the capital.
She wanted to personally witness this sight.
Now, she had finally seen it.
From the time Xue Xingchuan was poisoned to death, to the exposure of his corpse, to his funeral, she very rarely shed tears.
But now, two streams of hot, even scalding, tears flowed down her face.
She took one final glance at Zhou Tong desperately pulling himself up from the snow in a struggle to live, then ordered her butler, "Close the gate."
The young lady was somewhat shocked. She clung at her mother's arm and said unwillingly, "Mother, I still want to look. I haven't looked enough."
To see an insufferably arrogant and extraordinarily powerful, even undefeatable foe transformed into a stray dog beaten black and blue, anyone would want to look, and anyone would never be able to see enough.
Madam Xue didn't know if she was speaking about this matter or speaking to her daughter, but she returned inside the estate regardless.
The gate slowly closed, blocking many matters and memories outside.
The Road of Peace was covered in snow, the snow covered in blood.
More and more blood was trickling down Zhou Tong's body, even causing the poison to be greatly diluted, allowing the blood to regain some of its red hue.
More and more wounds were appearing on Zhou Tong's body, a dense patchwork crisscrossing his wretched self.
These wounds had been made with exquisite care, deep enough and placed at just the right spots to cause maximum pain, but not enough to end his life.
As she struck, Mo Yu showed no emotion on her beautiful face. Her utter apathy and her bloodstained dress made her seem like the attendant to the god of death.
A sword glow would occasionally illuminate the gloomy street.
Zhou Tong arduously pressed forward through the snow. It had already become impossible for him to stand straight, and he often had to use his hands and feet together to move just a little bit forward. He looked as if he could collapse at any time, and no longer was he able to stand. No longer could he suppress his pain and fear, maintain the silent bearing of an old wolf. With every sword glow, a howl of misery could be heard.
This was a most thorough humiliation and torture on the body and mind, a cruel punishment that seemed to have no end.
This had always been a death by a thousand cuts.
Anyone else, even someone with the most stalwart of wills, would probably have fallen apart by now. Even if they might not grovel at the feet of their enemy and plead for mercy, they would at least think of every possible method for committing suicide. But Zhou Tong did not, because he had tortured and humiliated far too many people throughout his life, inflicted far too many cruel punishments on the innocent. He had seen the darkest and most painful sights of the mortal world, and he had knowledge of the true Netherworld. His heart was like a stone that had been steeped in poison for seventy thousand years, every scrap of moss growing upon it the embodiment of sin. Even if Mo Yu used the cruelest methods and caused both his body and soul to shudder, he would never surrender, whether to her or to fate. Before the shadow of death, he would never walk towards it on his own volition. On the contrary, he was like a beggar with an incomparable longing for the final victory.
As long as I can crawl my way out of this avenue flowing with blood, I will win.
He howled in pain and then said to himself.
The twilight deepened, transitioning into darkness. The starlight reflected by the snow on the Road of Peace was not enough to illuminate this world.
For some reason, a sudden dusky light fell on Zhou Tong's body, revealing his terrifying wounds and exposed bones.
The distant lantern light gave off no warmth, yet Zhou Tong suddenly felt his body warm up. In the small courtyard, his vision had been severely damaged. All was blurry, so he could only get a general impression. However, he was very sure that this light came from his right-hand side, the north side of the Road of Peace.
This had been the estate of Imperial Tutor Cheng before he had retired. Recently, a powerful prince had taken it, making this place a princely estate.
He had taken about a quarter of an hour, suffering the pain of death by a thousand cuts, to crawl twenty-some zhang. Finally, he had left the boundaries of the Xue Estate and reached this place.
He had patiently endured because he had hope. From the very beginning, his hope was this place.
His vision was still blurry, but his eyes brightened as if ignited by that lantern.
He still had some true essence, concealed in the deepest parts of his meridians. No matter how sharp Mo Yu's sword or how vicious her methods, he had never used it, because it was not a sufficient amount to help him escape his despairing situation.
Now, this dew-like true essence began to ignite, causing his body to lunge from the snow towards that light!
He lunged in front of the princely estate, now completely powerless, and crashed beneath the stone steps.
"I am Zhou Tong! Prince of Zhongshan, save me!"
He used his final dregs of strength to shout.
He had never once despaired. Over the numberless years, he had played with the hearts of thousands in his palm, so he was well aware that neither Mo Yu nor Zhexiu would let him die on the spot, especially when they had complete control over the situation. If they did so, they could not vent that brutality and desire for vengeance that was kept at the bottom of every person's heart.
This was his chance, and he had to seize it.
He thought angrily and scornfully, even if you princes want to pretend that you can't hear my wretched howls, can you possibly say that you couldn't hear my cries for help? It wasn't very difficult for him to speak a single word, but he had not simply said 'save me'. He had specifically called for a prince to save him, and even called out this prince's title. All this was so that the prince was forced to step out.
I am Zhou Tong, Minister of the Great Zhou Dynasty!
I am about to be killed!
Prince of Zhongshan, please save me!
At some point, the clouds in the sky had gathered together, obscuring the stars and dropping snow onto the earth.
The gate to the Prince of Zhongshan's estate opened, as did many other gates on both sides of the Road of Peace. The light of many lanterns appeared in the darkness, bright and somewhat dazzling.
The dark avenue transformed into a river of silver.
In this river, Zhou Tong could no longer restrain his emotions, and his face reveled in the light as he crazily laughed.
With howls of wind, several dozen experts belong to these princely estates appeared on the street.
Mo Yu walked out of the drizzling snow, several zhang away from Zhou Tong.
Zhou Tong looked at her, his bloodstained face revealing a cruel and harsh expression.
How can you kill me now? Now it's time for someone else to kill you.
His eyes communicated his thoughts with extreme clarity.
Mo Yu did not even glance at him.
The wind blew against her palace dress, and snow fell upon her temples.
She surveyed the brightly lit Road of Peace, surveyed these ten-some princely estates, then said, "The Empress inflicted all sort of ills against you, but all of you received at least one favor."
These words were meant for those princes who still had yet to appear.
"The sons of Emperor Xian are all still alive."
The lanterns shone upon her face, increasing its beauty.
Yet her expression was still cold and her appearance completely unyielding, faintly similar to that deceased individual.
"Not one was left out; you are all still alive.
"It was the Empress who let all of you live until tonight.
"Tonight, I am asking for all of you to return this favor.
"I want him to die."
The snow silently drifted down, as quiet as this avenue.
After some time, someone waved their hand in the light.
Zhou Tong's vision was blurry, so he could not see this person's appearance, only that this person was dressed in a bright yellow gown.
The gate to the Prince of Zhongshan's estate did not close, but everyone that had emerged from the estate retreated back.
What was going on here?
Zhou Tong felt this to be absurd, as he thought, are none of you afraid of angering the venerable master of the Dao?
Mo Yu walked behind him.
Fear once more enveloped his body.
He panted for breath and crawled forward.
There were ten-some princely estates on the Road of Peace, and also the Tianhai clan, and also many ministers. The Prince of Zhongshan was crazy, but could everyone else be crazy?
He crawled, and crawled, and crawled ever forward, wanting to crawl to a place where the lantern light was fading.
But when he was still very far away, this lantern was extinguished.
And that princely estate even closed its gate.
Boom after boom resounded through the street as gate after gate closed, as lantern after lantern was extinguished.
The darkness grew deeper and deeper.
Zhou Tong grew colder and colder.
He crawled across the frigid snow, the bloodstained avenue. All his silence and perseverance had arisen from his hope, but now it had finally become…despair.