“Bo Yikao?” Zu An stiffened for a moment as he recalled the corresponding part of history.
Wasn’t Ji Chang imprisoned by King Di Xin, after which his son, Bo Yikao, was sent by the Western Zhou state carrying many precious gifts in order to ransom him? The history books said that Daji took a fancy to him and tried to seduce him, but he was completely unmoved. Instead, he lashed out at her. Daji was furious and accused him of harassing her, demanding that Bo Yikao be chopped up into mincemeat and fed to Ji Chang…
Daji was an incredibly charming and famous beauty in the annals of history. Would she really be tempted by some random youngster? He was sure that the later generations had defamed her.
Now that they were in this world, however, Zu An knew that he did not have to worry about Pei Mianman being interested in this pretty boy. Instead, he was delighted by this visit, and quickly asked one of his men, “Is that fella Ji Chang locked up here?”
“Yes.” That subordinate replied. “The crown prince of Western Zhou has come to the capital precisely to ransom his father.”
“Ransom?” Zu An sneered. How could he possibly let them go? There were still a ton of things that he wanted to get revenge for.
“Send him in!” Zu An remembered what had happened to San Cai, and there were too many questions and too much rage within him.
Soon enough, a young man was escorted in. Zu An had to admit that this kid was quite handsome—perhaps just a little less handsome than himself.
“Bo Yikao pays his respects to the king and queen.” The young man maintained a perfectly respectful attitude.
“Why are you here?” Zu An said with a sneer.
Bo Yikao was alarmed. He could sense Zu An’s displeasure, but he still said, “This subject has come bearing gifts, in the hopes that you will release my father. I hope the king can be magnanimous towards us.”
In ancient times, captives could be ransomed even while two states were at war, and it was perfectly understandable since Western Zhou was still a vassal state of the Shang State at the moment, and hostilities had not yet begun.
“You wish to ransom him?” Zu An didn’t give him an answer. Instead, he locked eyes with him and asked, “Who is your mother?”
“My mother?” Bo Yikao froze, and his expression grew strange. He had heard that the man on the throne was both licentious and tyrannical. Don’t tell me he is interested in my mother?
You have successfully trolled Bo Yikao for 999 Rage points!
Of course, this wasn’t a place where he could lash out in anger. He could only lower his head and suppress his rage. He replied with a low voice, “My mother’s name is Tai Si, a lady of the Shen State.”
“Then what about San Cai?” Zu An asked, continuing with his line of questioning. He really wanted to know if there was any connection between this current trial world and the previous one.
Pei Mianman’s hands tightened around his own. She was also concerned about what happened to San Cai. She was afraid that these worlds were unrelated, and that they would never hear anything about San Cai again.
“San Cai?” A look of confusion filled Bo Yikao’s eyes.
Zu An started to grow impatient. “I’m talking about my little… ahem, my aunt. She was married to your father.”
Even though they were siblings in the previous world, he was now Di Xin, her nephew.
Bo Yikao nodded in realization. “You’re talking about my aunt! She passed away during a difficult birth. I wasn’t born yet, so I do not know the details regarding this.”
Zu An sighed. So, San Cai existed in this world after all! In that case, he was definitely going to find out the truth.
Pei Mianman spoke up as well. “Why do you sound like you’re in such a rush to express your innocence? Perhaps… you’re lying?” Her tone was frosty.
Bo Yikao turned to look at her, a sudden hint of shock appearing in his eyes, but it was soon replaced by fear. “This subject is merely stating a fact that is common knowledge! I would not think of lying.”
Zu An’s voice had become a low growl. “What is common knowledge might not be the actual truth. Send someone in and have him locked up too. Torture him to find out the truth about what happened!”
Bo Yikao turned pale with fright. The rest of the court quickly stepped in to advise against this. “My king, you must not do this! Bo Yikao is the crown prince of Western Zhou. Our relationship with Western Zhou has already grown tense, now that Ji Chang has been imprisoned. If we imprison his son as well, we would be openly declaring our hostile intent!”
“If it is to be war, then so be it. Do you think I’m afraid?” Zu An was annoyed. The issues surrounding Western Zhou had plagued him for a long time. It was something he had to deal with eventually.
This time around, even San Cai was involved. He had to get to the bottom of this no matter what.
The whole court continued urging him to reconsider, and even Pei Mianman grew annoyed with them. “I’ve heard that Bo Yikao has come bearing many gifts, and I see that all of you are so eager to defend him. Could it be that you have all taken gifts from him?”
When confronted with this accusation, the dissenting voices quickly died down, and Bo Yikao was swiftly thrown into prison.
Zu An had someone question him about San Cai, but he knew that it wouldn’t bear fruit immediately. As such, he decided to visit Ji Chang in his cell first.
When he laid eyes on him, he discovered that the man didn’t look too different from what he remembered. He was bearded now, and seemed slightly more mature, but age had yet to leave many traces on his face.
Zu An was shocked that he actually looked the same. Could it be that there was actually some connection between this world and the previous one?
Ji Chang was equally shocked when he saw him. After a long moment of silence, he finally said with a sigh, “Too similar. This king and the previous one look too similar.”
The two of them had met once before in the previous world, on the banks of the Wei River. Surprisingly, he still remembered that moment.
Zu An’s eyes narrowed. “Ji Chang, do you know why I locked you up in here?”
Ji Chang calmly said, “The king naturally has his reason for locking me up. This subject does not dare to guess your thoughts haphazardly.”
Zu An frowned. This fella was incredibly cunning after all, both enigmatic and unpredictable.
However, he wasn’t in the mood to play these games. He got straight to the point. “My… aunt, San Cai. What did you do to her? How did she die?”
Ji Chang was stunned by this question. He replied, “She passed away in labor, during a difficult birth. I suffered endless grief over her death as well.” He sighed. “If she hadn’t met with such an early death, my relationship with the king might not be so tense.”
Zu An watched his expression carefully. He saw no hint of panic, which made him begin to wonder if San Cai had really died of natural causes.
Pei Mianman sneered. “There is no way San Cai would die from difficulties during childbirth. Back then, even I…” she coughed, then continued, “Back then, we ensured that many specialists passed on their knowledge regarding childbirth to her, precisely because we were worried that such a thing would happen.”
Ji Chang replied, “The moon is round and slender at different times, and humans experience disaster and happiness between dawn and dusk. There are too many things outside of our control when it comes to those you love; everything is subject to the whims of the heavens. I was also heartbroken at San Cai’s death, but there is nothing I can do against heaven’s will.”
Zu An sneered. “Then according to your words, it was heaven that demanded her death?”
Ji Chang replied calmly, “Respectfully, that is not what I said. I merely meant that it is hard to predict heaven’s will. I do not dare to hazard a guess when it comes to such matters.”
Zu An knew that this was an experienced old fox, and that it would be useless no matter how he questioned him. He shouted for someone to come over. “Torture him. Find out exactly what happened back then!”
Ji Chang remained unfazed. “Torturers have always been inferior to doctors. I fear that my king’s decision is unwise, and it will only serve to completely sever the relationship between our two states.”
“Relationship? Your Zhou people have rapacious designs. Do you really think that I do not know of them?!” Zu An waved his hand, indicating for his subordinates to begin.
The Shang Dynasty employed many forms of torture. Once the king gave the order, it wasn’t difficult to find a good torturer.
Ji Chang sighed. “The king’s erroneous ways may incur the criticisms of the common people.”
Zu An had no wish to argue with him further, and turned to leave. At the door to his cell, he paused for a moment and said, “I know that your bones are tough, and I probably won’t get any information out of you. However, I wonder if Bo Yikao is as tough as you.”
Ji Chang’s impassive expression finally slipped when he heard this.
Zu An and Pei Mianman then paid a visit to Bo Yikao’s cell. They could hear Bo Yikao’s miserable screams and anguished curses, even from far away. The torture that was being carried out inside made their eyelids twitch uncontrollably. It was just too cruel.
Even watching it for a short moment was too much for the two of them. They went outside to wait.
A while later, a report came from inside the prison. “He is willing to confess.”
Zu An and Pei Mianman were thrilled, and went back in quickly. Bo Yikao was no longer his handsome old self. His entire body was badly mangled, and seemed moments away from his last breath.
Zu An had to admit that this fellow was quite tough. He had somehow managed to last this long.
Bo Yikao’s lips moved when he saw them come in. He had been cursing brutally the last time, yet now, he didn’t even have the strength to curse anymore. “I just want a quick death…” he muttered weakly.
Often, living was more painful than being dead. Bo Yikao understood his current situation well. Death was a form of release for him.
Zu An knew that now wasn’t the time to show compassion. He grabbed a stool and sat down. “Talk. How did San Cai die?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter