Chapter 11: The World Clams Down

Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations

The New Year has begun. The new emperor, Jianyuan Hongchang, ascended to the throne.

Li Wu was conferred the title of Protector General and the Long Rebellion case was investigated thoroughly.

Property had been destroyed and much blood was shed. Nine out of ten rooms in the eastern city square were empty, and less than half of the officials showed up to morning court. In the end, they obtained a total of 170 million taels of gold and silver.

Emperor Hongchang decreed that the Fengyang Kingdom would not collect the rice tax for five years.

June of the same year. Official Li paid his respects to the Grand Marshal and led the army north. His plan was clear: Destroy all rebels, pacify the six northern states, and march south.

The Divine Capital.

Zhang residence.

There was a funeral banner at the door, a mourning shelter in the courtyard, and a white cloth hung on the wall. At a glance, it was a miserable sight.

Zhou Yi walked into the mourning shelter and lit three incense sticks for Zhang Zhou. He knelt three times and paid his respects. The filial son, Zhang Jin, kowtowed. Zhou Yi hurriedly helped him up.

“Brother Jin, my condolences.”

Zhang Zhou had retired from Sky Prison the previous year and Zhang Jin was appointed to take his place. After drinking medicine for more than half a year, he still couldn’t survive the winter. A Sky Prison guard’s lifespan would not be too long. It was already considered long for Zhang Zhou to live to 54. Father Zhou had died before 40.

Science said that he had been working in a dark and humid environment all year round and had come into contact with all kinds of felons. He could be said to be a dweller of the darkest side of society. It had caused great pressure on his body and mind, which was why he had died early. However, people thought that he had suffered retribution. He had done too many bad things in his daily life and had damaged his virtue and lifespan. Even many prison guards thought so!

Zhou Yi comforted the surviving son. A steward invited him to the courtyard to rest.

“You came so late. Did you go to Spring Breeze Tower again yesterday?” Commandant Niu sat boldly, and there were servants on his left and right to serve tea.

“Uncle Niu, your temper is getting worse. Are you planning to quit?”

Zhou Yi is now 32 years old. He had no choice but to make himself appear middle-aged. He had a layer of secret yellow wax on his face and looked to be 40 years old. It was very in-line with the characteristics of Sky Prison soldiers who aged early.

“Lord Zheng gave the position of colonel of the Imperial Guard to my fourth. Our family must repay his kindness.”

Commandant Niu was referring to his fourth son. The first three were good students and were unwilling to come to the Sky Prison to work.

After all, he was a rich young master. They weren’t willing to mess around in a dirty and smelly place. Commandant Niu had worried about this matter a lot in recent years. Now, his fourth son, who was supposed to replace him as commandant at Sky Prison, had been promoted to colonel in the Imperial Guard.

Both sides of the political spectrum were incorporated into Sky Prison. The Niu family’s relationship with them was always useful. It was the best of both worlds.

Five years ago, as Zhou Yi had expected, the Imperial Court appointed Zheng Gaoyuan as warden, seemingly out of nowhere.

As soon as Warden Zheng came in, he implemented decisive reforms and punished corruption. Once the Uniformed Guard arrested a corrupt prison official, they didn’t have to carry him far to his cell. More than half of the former warden’s old subordinates had been killed. Commandant Niu was the first to submit to the warden of Zheng and ruthlessly attacked his colleagues.

Of course, no matter how turbulent the situation was, it would not affect the prison guard who delivered the food!

“Congratulations, Uncle Niu.”

Zhou Yi looked at Commandant Niu’s white hair and the faint aura of death in his eyes. Once he stepped down, who knew how many years he could last?

The love of one’s parents went far.

The foundation of the Niu family was in the Sky Prison. Once they abandoned the position they had held for more than a hundred years, how could they guarantee such a stable family income? How could they rely on those three profligate young masters who could not even pass the High Scholar examination?

Zhou Yi stood to the side and listened.

When a family was attacked from the outside, it would not collapse for a while. Most of the time, it would decay from the inside first. Then, the slightest breeze could come along and knock it over!

Colleagues and good friends gathered together to chat. In the end, the topic changed to the Anti-Rebellion Battlefield. This was the major event in Fengyang Kingdom over the past five years.

The Grand Marshal had held the north front for two years and led the army south for more than three years. The battle was very intense. The court newspaper often published stories of the Grand Marshal destroying tens of thousands of enemies.

Prison Guard Ye Cheng chuckled and said, “The number of enemies defeated by the Imperial Court has already reached three to four million. With such a large army of rebels in the south, won’t they surround the Divine Capital?”

Zhou Yi reminded him, “Brother Ye, be careful with your words. If the Li family hears this, you’d better find a nice cell yourself.”

The Li family’s prestige in the Fengyang Kingdom now surpassed even what Prime Minister Long had been back in the day. After all, no matter how much power the civil officials had, they could not compare to the military officials who commanded hundreds of thousands of troops.

Rumors had long spread in the city that Li Wu had raised bandits in the south for three years!

“What the hell do you know!” Commandant Niu scolded him. “There are more rebels in the south. His Majesty said that if we don’t collect the rice tax for five years, the morale of the rebels in the north will collapse. The south is different. We don’t charge a single cent less.”

Among those mourning with the Zhang family, Commandant Niu highest ranking. When the others heard him say this, they all came over.

“Who would dare defy the imperial court’s decree?”

“Hmph!” Commandant Niu did not continue. He changed the topic. “Did you refine your organs? Your blood essence has already begun to decline at this age. It will be more and more difficult in the future.”

“It will be some years yet.” Zhou Yi shook his head. Another five years had passed, and his muscles and bones had been tempered to greater mastery. However, his Qi, blood, and organ refinement head reached a bottleneck.

Skin and bone refinement was considered hard martial arts, and one would only be able to achieve success after accumulating experience over a long period of time. On the other hand, refining the organs and cleansing the marrow were soft martial arts. One could not use force. Many people forcefully tempered their internal organs until their internal organs ruptured and bled.

“You’ve been smart all your life, but in the end, you’re still muddle-headed. You threw all your silver into studying Martial Dao and messing around at the brothel, and you haven’t even gotten married. When you’re old, who will support you?”

Lieutenant Niu seemed to have regained his dignity. He wanted to laugh out loud, but he felt it would be inappropriate at a funeral. He had consulted Zhou Yi many times over the past few years. Every time, Commandant Niu had the illusion that he was a stupid boor.

“What if I break through to the Connate realm one day?” Zhou Yi spoke seriously, but everyone present felt that he was joking.

One of the two grandmasters confirmed by the Fengyang Kingdom was the Grand Marshal Li Wu, and the other was the rebel commander known as the Heavenly King Cang in the south.

Just then…

Someone hurried in and spoke loudly. “Just now, someone saw the soldiers reporting victory. They said that the marshal destroyed the main force of the rebels and captured the two heavenly kings alive!”

There was an uproar.

Under the deliberate publicity of the Imperial Court, the news quickly spread throughout the Divine Capital.

It was the fifth year of Hongchang.

September 21st.

Today was the day the Grand Marshal returned to court. The eastern gate of the Divine Capital was packed. The imperial guards stood on both sides of the road and kept gathering the commoners behind them, leaving a path for the army to pass.

Zhou Yi took leave specially for this occasion and booked a window seat at a restaurant by the street. Back then, the night was always dark and everything was happening far away, so he could not see the demeanor of a Connate Grandmaster. Now was a good time to make up for his regrets.

Noontime rolled around. The ground shook. The sound of hooves could be heard.

The first to enter the city were four rows of cavalry. Their black armor was covered in sword marks, and they were filled with murderous desire.

“All of them have the strength of the Body Membrane Realm. No wonder they swept through the north and south easily. Back then, the damned emperor plundered the world. Not only did he use it to refine pills and cultivate the Dao, but he also secretly nurtured a martial arts cavalry.”

As Zhou Yi looked back on this, he felt that it all seemed so long ago. He struggled to recall the arrogance of Prime Minister Long and his despotic son.

At the end of the cavalry was the Grand Marshal, Li Wu. He still looked like a silver-armored general. Over the past five years, he had swept the north and the south, and his face was as handsome as jade and he didn’t have a mark on him. It was as if he were just a young master who had gone out to tour the countryside.

Young, handsome, outstanding, and powerful! Such a character was like the protagonist of a novel. As soon as he appeared, he caused the citizens to cheer.

Zhou Yi lowered his gaze. “A Connate Grandmaster is even more powerful than I imagined. And this is just a mortal. That legendary fiend…”

Li Wu was followed by two prison carts. They were both made of steel and only revealed their heads. One was an old man with white hair like frost, and the other was a Daoist with disheveled hair.

“Are these Heavenly King Huang and Heavenly King Cang? Rumor had it that they’re twelve feet tall and have stocky builds, and they eat three to five living people for every meal. Why are they so old and thin?”

“What do you know? Heavenly King Cang was once the leader of the martial arts world in Jiangnan. He had four schools and eight sects under his command. Many masters in the rebel army originated from this.” The man who spoke was dressed in black and had a sword at his waist. He was clearly a martial artist.

“If he led the martial art’s world there, what’s the point of rebelling?”

“Who didn’t want to rebel back then?”

“Brother, what’s Heavenly King Huang’s background? I heard that he’s the leader?”

“Legend has it that he was originally a Daoist priest. In a dream, he obtained an immortality technique. He can draw talismans and scatter beans to form soldiers. He is known as the reincarnation of the immortal Heavenly Lord Huang…” The man shook his head.

Such an enigmatic statement was meant to brainwash the rebels. Nine times out of ten it could not be trusted. In order to motivate the people, the Imperial Court also promoted the destruction of the rebel army of two to three million!

The next day.

Zhou Yi came to the Sky Prison on duty and saw a Black Knight on duty from afar. Anyone who went in had to be searched. On Zhou Yi’s person, they found daggers, sleeve arrows, short crossbows, unknown poison powder, black pills…

“This is really for self-defense!” Zhou Yi explained repeatedly. In the end, it was Warden Zheng who stepped forward and let him into the Sky Prison.

“What’s going on, sir?”

Warden Zheng said, “The two rebel commanders, Cang and Huang, are locked up in Sky Prison. The Grand Marshal has sent three thousand Black Armor soldiers to guard it.”

“Why don’t they send them to the Imperial Prison? Security is much tighter there!”

Zhou Yi frowned slightly. Cang and Huang were not ordinary prisoners. A Martial Arts Union Master and a Daoist mutant. If they escaped, they could gather more troops and rebel.

Zheng said faintly, “Why do you care? You just deliver the food. You think you’ll be held responsible if they escape?”

“Thank you for your advice, sir.”

Zhou Yi could not be bothered to think about the struggle in the imperial court. Instead, he was quite interested in Cang and Huang.

The Heavenly Prison was also guarded by the Black Armor Army. There was a sentry positioned every five steps. There were also experts secretly monitoring them.

Prison cell A-1.

Zhou Yi opened the cell door and saw the Heavenly King up close.

A steel torture rack made overnight, an iron lock and chain as thick as a human thigh bound the Heavenly King’s limbs and neck. The black-armored soldiers outside the door stared fixedly at him. Zhou Yi silently scooped rice and fed it to the Heavenly King.

“Your inner Qi is pure. It seems you have a Daoist inheritance. Unfortunately, you will only be second-rate when you die. I can teach you a supreme divine technique. You will be able to reach the Connate Realm in ten years. Do you want to learn it?”

An elderly voice sounded in Zhou Yi’s ears. He glanced at the Black Armor soldiers outside the door, but there was no movement at all.

“This voice transmission is my unique secret technique. Not even Li Wu could intercept it, not to mention these idiots.”

Zhou Yi nodded slightly and listened quietly.

“Inner Qi swirls, passing through the Central Palace, passing through the Cloud Gate… And out it goes.”

Another voice transmission had entered his ears. However, it was not a divine technique, but a secret voice transmission technique.

Zhou Yi mobilized his inner Qiand circulated it according to the instructions of the Heavenly King. He tried to cough twice.

“Ack, ack!”

The Black Armored Troops at the door did not react, but were still watching closely as Zhou Yi fed the prisoner. After feeding half a bucket of rice, Zhou Yi carried the bucket and left, ignoring the Heaven King who had repeatedly sent voice transmissions.

“You little traitor, how dare you bully me!”

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