Chapter 723 – The Imperial Decree Arrives in the Snow
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
Zhou Tong crawled and struggled his way through the snow, the coughs from his throat ultimately transforming into a sobbing cry.
"Save me…somebody save me…"
His earlier cries of misery and lamentation had truthfully been somewhat faked. However, as he moved from the underground Zhou Prison to the small courtyard which basked in sunlight and then to the avenue covered in cold snow, he had been constantly escaping, constantly pursuing hope, yet he was disappointed again and again. Finally, he began to feel despair, his will collapsing like a flood bursting through a dam.
He sobbed in pain, his tears washing away some of the blood on his face before being frozen by the cold wind into an unsightly paste on his face.
His sobs were as unpleasant to hear as the screeching of an owl.
As an official most renowned for his cruelty, Zhou Tong had never once pardoned this world, never once felt a shred of kindness for it, never saved this world even a single time. Thus, this world naturally treated him with absolute cold. It would not pardon him, would not save him. The lights of the Road of Peace gradually faded into the distance and his path forward was plunged into darkness.
Some estates had still left their gates open, the closest one being the Prince of Zhongshan's estate. In the brightly lit depths of the princely estate, the Prince of Zhongshan sat on a chair with a frozen pear in his hand. As he recalled Zhou Tong's miserable appearance outside his gate, he felt incredibly happy, and even the frozen pear tasted sweeter.
A subordinate at his side hesitated for a while before saying, "This subordinate still feels this to be inappropriate."
"What's inappropriate? I've long wanted to tear that old dog into shreds."
After a pause, the Prince of Zhongshan added, "And what Mo Yu said was reasonable. Whether there was affection there or not, that I was able to survive until today could only be a kindness."
This subordinate was flabbergasted. He had not expected for the prince to truly be moved by Mo Yu's words.
It must be known that of the princes that had been living in the provinces and counties in the past few years, the one who lived the most miserable of circumstances was the Prince of Zhongshan. When compared to those princes of the other branch of the family that had been cruelly poisoned to death, he truly had survived, but he had been forced to eat shit and feign insanity…an even more horrifying fate than death.
"Does shit taste good? Of course not, but did you ever think, that woman back there was able to force me to eat shit; are you saying that she couldn't tell I was just feigning insanity?"
The Prince of Zhongshan expressionlessly said, "She naturally knew that I was just pretending, but she did not expose me because she liked seeing me eat shit. But at the very least, she did not have me die, and compared to death, what does eating shit count for? As descendants of the Son of Heaven, which one of us isn't capable of eating shit?"
Each of the ten-some princely estates had their different reasons for closing their gates and shutting Zhou Tong out.
The most honest and cowardly of them all, the Prince of Louyang, was buried beneath three layers of blankets, on one side worried for his acquaintance Mo Yu's safety and one the other side silently cursing Zhou Tong.
As for the most experienced and knowledgeable prince, the most powerful Prince of Xiang, he wasn't even at home today.
The gate to the Prince of Xiang's estate was open, the young Prince Chen Liu standing in the light. His expression was calm with a tinge of anxiety.
Zhou Tong crawled past him and Mo Yu followed.
Prince Chen Liu ignored Zhou Tong and said to Mo Yu, "It's just about enough."
Mo Yu ignored him and continued to wield her sword as a whip, driving the blood-covered Zhou Tong forward.
At the end of the Road of Peace was a vast estate, decorated with particular care and luxury. Even the newly renovated estate of the Prince of Xiang could not match it.
This place was the home of the Tianhai clan, the most powerful clan on the continent in these past two centuries. The powerful figures of the Tianhai clan, such as Tianhai Chenwu and the other elders, would naturally not remain in the capital tonight for such a sensitive moment and had long since left for the manor on the outskirts.
Th gate was still open and brightly lit. Tianhai Shengxue stood under the light, wearing clothes whiter than snow.
Zhou Tong crawled past the gate, shooting a glance, his eyes filled with bitter resentment. However, he could not plead for rescue or curse. He no longer had the strength to speak.
A laugh like silver bells rang out, then gradually devolved into weeping.
The Princess of Ping was standing behind Tianhai Shengxue.
After the palace coup, she had been brought back to the Tianhai clan. It was said that after a time, she might be married off to Prince Chen Liu.
As she stared at Zhou Tong struggling through the snow, she gave a somewhat insane smile, her beautiful face covered in tears.
"You look a lot like a dog today!"
She called out to Zhou Tong, her words like a curse.
Tianhai Shengxue did not stop her, only held her shoulder to stop her from impulsively attacking Zhou Tong.
He looked at the blood-covered Mo Yu and very solemnly said, "It's just about enough."
His meaning was the same as Prince Chen Liu's.
Mo Yu was someone that the Imperial Court had to arrest, the number one person on their most wanted list.
Mo Yu still said nothing. When she returned to the capital, she had never had any intention of leaving alive.
Zhou Tong's mind was a blur; even despair and anger had already receded. At this final moment, there was only a question.
Why is no one coming to save me? Principal Shang only needs to move a finger and I'll live, so why do I have to die?
Just like those massive beasts living on the snowy plains of the north, as he sensed his impending death, he subconsciously went to the place he was most familiar with to wait for death to fall.
To Zhou Tong, the place he was most familiar with was naturally that small courtyard in the alley of the Northern Military Department, so he headed in that direction.
That place was actually very close to the Road of Peace. It was for this reason that he had been able to bring his subordinates to the Xue Estate so quickly when the funeral was being held.
However, when crawling across the icy street, this distance would become extremely long, and that was also with the occasional flashing of a sword glow behind him.
Mo Yu was still occasionally brandishing her sword. Every time it fell, it would cut away a piece of Zhou Tong's flesh.
Zhou Tong's blood had nearly run out, his howls of pain growing weaker and weaker until they dwindled into nothingness. Just like some insensible man of wood, he continued to crawl across the snow.
A crowd of spectators had appeared on both sides of the street. As they watched the blood-covered Zhou Tong being constantly hacked at and humiliated, their initial shock transformed into a sublime happiness. Every time Mo Yu slashed her sword down and cut away a piece of flesh, the crowd would cheer.
Snow was still falling from the sky, but in the sky to the west, stars could be seen.
The ground of the courtyard within the alley of the Northern Military Department had been destroyed, slashed into countless pieces by the hacking and slashing of many, many swords.
Zhou Prison was truly destroyed. The buildings and the prison on the surface, and even those cells hidden deep below, were all revealed.
Those torture tools covered in blood and human flesh, those severed limbs and corpses, came together to form a scene of purgatory on earth.
Xue He had opened the doors of all the cells, and so those prisoners with lighter injuries had already fled. Only those with heavy injuries who teetered on the verge of death remained.
Those prisoners who had endured countless tortures were the most direct proof of this Netherworld brought into the mortal world.
The starlight spilled over Zhou Prison, its holy and beautiful light starkly contrasting against the nauseating sight of blood and filth.
A deathly stillness.
Xiao De and the experts of the army had killed more people than they could count, and the assassins of the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets were all extremely sinister individuals, yet none of them had ever seen such a miserable sight. Even the officials of the Department for Purging Officials found themselves rather disgusted by those blood-drenched rooms and grotesquely-shaped torture instruments, even though they had seen them many times and personally carried out those tortures.
Perhaps it was because this gory and nauseating sight had never been exposed to the light of day.
Zhou Tong's tracks could not be found.
All sorts of noises were coming from outside the courtyard, but there was a strange sense of silence hanging about.
Chen Changsheng was covered in blood, perhaps his or that of others.
He walked out of the courtyard. All of his swords had already returned to the sheath, but nobody stopped him.
The street was crowded with people, a dense mass except for one vacant space in the middle.
Zhou Tong lay on the snow, gasping his final breaths. His body was covered in wounds too numerous to count. It would not be wrong to say that he had been hacked into pieces.
Chen Changsheng walked up to him.
With great difficulty, Zhou Tong raised his head to glance at him. Surprisingly, he was able to recognize Chen Changsheng, and one final hope bloomed within his heart.
In his view, Chen Changsheng assuredly loathed him, as why else would Chen Changsheng be thinking every moment about killing him?
He was not afraid that Chen Changsheng hated him, only that Chen Changsheng did not hate enough.
He firmly believed that he had an extremely deep understanding of the human mind. The more one loathed, the less one was willing for their enemy to die.
Come, cut at me some more with your blade, torture me, humiliate me, castrate me, feed me lard, raise me into the most disgusting of fatties, and then squeeze out my fat and use it for lamps!
Everything is okay, as long as you don't kill me right here.
I beg of you.
Whether or not he had heard Zhou Tong's thought, Chen Changsheng drew his sword.
There was no disgrace or torture, no callous vengeance, only a bright sword glow, a clean killing intent.
With a swish, a fine line of blood appeared on Zhou Tong's neck and then quickly expanded. Ultimately, his head parted from his body.
Zhou Tong died, his eyes wide open in confusion.
The final question in his mind was probably 'Why was it so simple?'
Chen Changsheng looked no more at Zhou Tong's corpse. He walked up to Mo Yu and said, "You came."
Mo Yu replied, "Yes, I've come."
She felt rather tired and sat right on the ground.
Chen Changsheng also felt rather tired and sat on the ground next to her.
A shadow in the corner of the street slightly rippled as Zhexiu appeared. He was also very tired, but he did not sit down, because he knew that there was still another battle to fight.
The earth shook, a storm of thundering hooves loosening the snow.
Several hundred black-armored Imperial Guard arrived on the scene.
Xiao De and the other experts stood nearby.
Ten-some blue-robed Daoists of unfathomable cultivation had also appeared at some point.
Suddenly, the sound of hooves rose up again. A young eunuch on a horse came bearing a yellow imperial decree in hand.
This imperial decree naturally came from the palace.
The young eunuch announced to all present the charges against Zhou Tong, twenty-two in total.
These twenty-two crimes were counted up afterwards. At the time, no one had the mind to remember the details too clearly.
Everyone was in shock, from the officials of the Department for Purging Officials to the soldiers of the Imperial Guard.
Chen Changsheng also could not remember the current scene.
He only remembered that the young eunuch's voice was rather shrill and fleeting, sometimes close and sometimes far. In short, it didn't seem real.
He could also faintly remember that the imperial decree also mentioned something about death by a thousand cuts at the very end.
But Zhou Tong had already become a pile of mangled blood and flesh on the snow, his head already parted from his body.
It was no longer possible for him to thank the emperor for this kindness.