Chapter 657: Interrogation

Zu An looked around the imperial prison as he followed Guo Zhi in.

This wasn’t a standard prison, but a place where imperial prisoners were housed temporarily. It extended many levels below ground, with only a single level aboveground.

As they walked down the stairs, the sunlight gradually faded, giving way to a cold, damp sensation that felt much more like a prison.

The surrounding walls were constructed out of massive chunks of rock, and Zu An could vaguely make out some formations on their surface.

Not only did they prevent anyone outside from tunneling in, they also prevented earth element cultivators from escaping.

He saw dark red stains on the torture instruments they passed along the way, which was clearly the blood of the criminals housed here, adding to the oppressive feeling of the place.

As Guo Zhi led Zu An down, the cries of someone willing to confess rang out.

Guo Zhi, overcome with frantic joy, rushed over, forgetting all about Zu An.

Zu An frowned and quickly followed.

The curses of others could vaguely be heard.

“Bloody weakling!”

“Do you know how many of our dead brothers you’re letting down?”

“Your master has shown you so much care all these years. Is this how you’ll repay them?”

All manner of obscene curses showered down upon this individual. Every single person related to this individual was cursed many times over.

Guo Zhi harrumphed. He seized a whip off the wall and lashed out indiscriminately. “All of you better shut your mouths!”

Sure enough, the voices fell silent. Daily torture had drained almost all the strength out of them, and it was sheer anger that had fueled their outbursts. Now that their anger had been vented, they had no strength left to resist.

Guo Zhi had one of the prisoners escorted to an isolated room. Zu An followed him, his curiosity piqued.

Guo Zhi glanced at him, but didn’t say anything. Since the crown princess had brought him into the matter, she clearly trusted him, which meant he was one of them.

As Zu An sized up the young man, who was covered in blood, a strange expression appeared on his face. He knew this man!

This was Qiu Honglei’s senior, Gu Yueyi, whom he’d met before in Brightmoon City.

Gu Yueyi also recognized him, and his own expression warped.

Guo Zhi huffed loudly. “You said that you were ready to confess. Speak.”

Gu Yueyi’s gaze flickered, and he immediately pointed at Zu An. “He…”

“What about me?” Zu An walked over, a smile on his face. He smoothed out his clothes, as though brushing off some lint.

Gu Yueyi caught sight of the jade pendant at his waist, his face a mixture of shock, alarm, and pleasant surprise. If one did not see it for themselves, it would be impossible for them to believe that a single person could display so many emotions at once.

Guo Zhi was clearly perplexed. “What about him?” 

Gu Yueyi snapped out of his daze. “Who is he? Why is he here?”

Guo Zhi sighed in relief.  “That’s none of your business. All you need to know is that he is someone trustworthy. Hurry up with your confession.”

“Oh,” replied Gu Yueyi. “I just wanted to say that you really shouldn’t keep hitting us. We’ve already said everything to be said. It was truly King Qi who prompted us to act.”

Guo Zhi was so angry that he laughed. “Are you joking around with me?”

This was the last thing he expected to hear, especially since this kid had called on him personally. He was so angry that he thrashed his whip viciously at the other party.

“Truly we’ve already told you everything! Lord Guo, why don’t you believe me?”

“You’re still messing around?!”

“Ah…! Ah…!”

As he watched Gu Yueyi scream continuously, his gaze darting towards him from time to time, Zu An knew that it was about time. He coughed lightly and said, “General Guo, why don’t you let me have a go at these miserable wretches?”

“You?” Guo Zhi was skeptical. He’d already interrogated these people for several days without obtaining any meaningful information, and had even just been messed with. He didn’t believe that Zu An would fare any better.

“It won’t hurt to give it a try,” Zu An said with a sincere expression.

Well, this is the reason why the crown princess sent him in the first place. He handed him the whip in his hands. “Sure. Hit them as much as you want and di… discipline them. It doesn’t matter even if you do end up injuring them.”

Zu An’s eyelids twitched. Can this guy not pause at such weird moments?[1]

When Guo Zhi left, Zu An took Gu Yueyi, who had gone completely limp, back into his cell. At the moment, many others in the cell were restrained on wooden racks, being tormented by the jailers.

One of them was tall and skinny, with a tinge of red to his hair. He was none other than Solitary Fire, whom he’d met on his way to the capital.

Another individual had long sideburns. Even though he was behind bars, he still gave off a bold, powerful aura. This was most likely the sect elder that Yun Jianyue had spoken of, Sun Luzhen.

Several other prisoners were strewn about the interior of another cell. They were covered in blood, and he couldn’t tell if they were still alive, or dead.

Zu An rather admired their resilience. Even though he’d mocked the Devil Sect for being selfish mercenaries, these people still hadn’t sold out Yun Jianyue despite the gruesome amount of torture they’d been subjected to. They still held firmly to their own convictions.

“You traitor, how dare you come back? This old one won’t forgive you even if you become a ghost!” Sun Luzhen grew so furious at the sight of Gu Yueyi that he tried to throw himself at him. The chains restraining him clanked loudly, as though he might break free at any time.

“You’re still acting up?” A jailer’s whip lashed at him, and Sun Luzhen screamed miserably, his struggling immediately subsiding, though he still glared viciously at Gu Yueyi.

Gu Yueyi was about to say something, but hesitated. He glanced at Zu An, and then at the jailer nearby, then chose to remain silent.

Zu An examined the whip that the jailer was holding curiously. It seemed covered in several formations, and seemed similar to Huanzhao’s whip, which could magnify pain. No wonder even a tough fellow like Sun Luzhen couldn’t bear it.

Solitary Fire also slowly opened his eyes. When he saw Zu An, his eyes were filled with shock. “You… you…”

“What are you looking at me for? Have you never seen someone so handsome before?” Zu An immediately brandished the whip that Guo Zhi had given him, and Solitary Fire immediately swallowed what he was about to say.

Zu An turned to the jailer next to him. “Leave us. I wish to speak to them in private.”

“Understood!” The jailer acknowledged his order, then quickly passed it on to the other jailers, who withdrew as well.

When all the jailers had left, Solitary Fire spat out a mouthful of bloody saliva. “Pah! Dammit all! I never expected fortunes to rise and fall like this, and that I’d end up dying at your hands. If you wish to kill or torture me, do what you will!”

You have successfully trolled Solitary Fire for 999 Rage points!

He obviously believed that Zu An was here to get revenge for what had happened on the way to the capital.

Gu Yueyi spoke up quickly. “You’ve misunderstood, Lord Solitary Fire! He’s not an enemy, but someone sent by the lady saint!”

He had recognized immediately that the jade pendant Zu An carried belonged to Qiu Honglei, which was why he had suddenly changed his opinion about him.

“The lady saint?” Solitary Fire was stunned. He recalled that the lady saint was indeed on friendly terms with this man, and was momentarily confused.

Sun Luzhen, who was bound to the wooden rack, glared at Gu Yueyi in fury. “Stupid brat, what nonsense are you spouting? What lady saint? I’ve never heard of such a person.”

Zu An couldn’t help but chuckle. “Elder Sun, you truly are a ferocious character. Even in such a situation, you’re unwilling to let anything slip.”

Sun Luzhen felt his breath catch when he heard this man call his name. He looked at Zu An. “Who are you, exactly?”

Solitary Fire spoke up. “This is Zu An, the kid with the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra.”

Sun Luzhen nodded in realization. He’d heard a little about this matter.

Zu An leisurely sat down on a nearby stool. “Indeed, Honglei was the one who begged me to come. Since we’re friends, I offered to carry a message for her.”

Gu Yueyi felt a twinge of jealousy when he heard how intimately Zu An had referred to Qiu Honglei. After all, he’d admired this junior of his for a long time, yet she’d always treated him coldly. Yet now, she had even given her jade pendant to this man.

However, he knew that this man had the power to determine his future, and so he tamped down on his unhappiness.

“What did she want to tell us?” Sun Luzhen asked curiously.

“Do you all know why, no matter how you insist that it was King Qi who incited you, these people refuse to believe it?” Zu An asked in reply. “It’s because you all only know how to attack King Qi, yet do not provide any details. How dare these people report such unreliable claims to their superiors? I’ve come to teach you how to handle this matter properly…”

“So that’s the reason!” Sun Luzhen sighed. “No wonder they refuse to believe us, but continue to beat us day after day. Even my own bones are on the verge of breaking, no matter how tough they are.”

Solitary Fire looked at Zu An curiously. “What are these details, then? What should we say?”

Zu An thus explained to them how Cheng Xiong had roped in his son Cheng Gang and sent him to the government brothel to contact Shuangyue. He explained everything to them carefully and in vivid detail.

The others nodded inwardly. Gu Yueyi alone asked a vital question. “Young master Zu, we can say these things, but once we say them, we’ll be worthless. The imperial court might just execute us then. Do you have any means of saving our lives?”

His eyes burned fiercely as he looked at Zu An.

1. The word ‘discipline’ that Guo Zhi used is made up of two characters. When split apart, the first character means ‘fuck’.

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