Which of the other Seven Noble Families are still active?
Chu Tianyin realized for the first time that Long Feiye was quite interested in the Seven Noble Families as well.
“If the Duke of Qin knows that I’m from the Nether Clan, you must have done at least some investigation into the rest, right?” Chu Tianyin probed. Intelligent people knew how to read between the lines to get what they wanted.
Naturally, Long Feiye was aware of this as well, but he would never let it slip that he was the East Qin imperial heir. “If Western Zhou’s Emperor Kangcheng Kangcheng[1. Emperor Kangcheng (康成皇帝) - Kang means “healthy, peaceful, abundant,” Cheng means “accomplish, succeed, become.” Huangdi is emperor. As reader sithkazar pointed out, Western Zhou’s emperor was already referred to as “Chongrui” in Chapter 297. I've looked into future chapters of PGC and see that he's never referred to as 'Chongrui' again, so I'll be assuming that was simply referring to a one-off fluke or his personal name (like in the situation with the Kangxi Emperor vs. Xuanye).] knew the true origins of your Chu Clan…”
Before Long Feiye could finish, Chu Tianyin had panicked and cut him off. “Long Feiye, if you’re here to talk terms, then hurry and get to the point instead of going on tangents!”
Han Yunxi felt very uncomfortable at those words. Long Feiye was the last man in the world to wander off on tangents because he was rarely that patient. It’s obviously Chu Tianyin that’s the one evading questions and beating around the bush, alright!
She was about to retort when a very unhappy Tang Li beat her to it with a chuckle. “Chu Tianyin, get the facts straight. The Duke of Qin is interrogating you, not having a chat! Just because he says a few extra sentences, you think you’re all that?”
It was unclear whether Chu Tianyin was really thick-skulled or just thick-skinned. Instead of feeling awkward, he simply burst forth, “Long Feiye, what will it take you to let me go? State your terms as you wish.”
His words obviously avoided the topic of the Seven Noble Families completely, but Long Feiye still didn’t get distracted. He closely scrutinized Chu Tianyin and discovered that he was the most coolheaded captive he had yet. Yet, a prisoner was still a prisoner in the end.
“Your lordship isn’t planning to let you go at all. Tell me everything you know of the Seven Noble Families, or else…”
Chu Tianyin interrupted him again. “Unless you release me, don’t even begin to dream of loosening my tongue!”
He’d been tricked once with Witch Aunt already. He wasn’t going to play the fool a second time! Moreover, Witch Aunt had already escaped, so he wasn’t going to give any more intel to Long Feiye. His expression turned fearless as he shut his mouth tightly.
Long Feiye originally planned to threaten the man but was threatened in turn instead. The last traces of his patience evaporated before he turned to Tang Li and Han Yunxi. “Which of you want to try?”
Which of us?
Naturally, the ‘try’ referred to interrogating Chu Tianyin. Whether it was Tang Li’s weapons or Han Yunxi’s poisons, both were much more fearsome than any of the torture implements in this chamber. Long Feiye went to sit down next to Han Yunxi with his legs crossed, one arm coming to wrap around the back of her chair. He watched coldly with a domineering air.
“I’ll go!” Tang Li had been itching for a fight for quite a while thanks to all the pent-up emotions about his arranged marriage. He finally had a victim for venting, so he wasn’t going to miss this chance.
Chu Tianyin didn’t know of the relationship between Tang Li and Long Feiye, but he was clear on Tang Li’s own origins and his formidable assassination weapons. Although he felt ill at ease, he was rejoicing as well. Good thing it isn’t Han Yunxi trying. I fear her poisons the most.
But Tang Li hadn’t even made a move yet before Han Yunxi spoke up. “Young Master Tang, I don’t think you need to show yourself just yet. This fellow’s got a strong backbone!”
“Wanna bet?” Tang Li asked without the slightest hesitation.
If Chu Xifeng was there, he would have held back Tang Li for sure. There are never any good endings from a bet with Han Yunxi!
“Sure!” Han Yunxi agreed happily, while Chu Tianyin’s ashen face turned three shades paler. Dammnit, just what do these two take me as?
“First off, how do we bet and what are we betting?” Tang Li was very excited.
“We’ll bet on which one of us is the first to pry his mouth open,” Han Yunxi grew excited as well.
“And the terms?” Tang Li asked eagerly.
“You each have a 1-hour time limit and you have to keep him alive. But everything else is fair game,” Long Feiye put in. No matter how cool-headed Chu Tianyin was, he still couldn’t suppress an involuntary shudder. But in the end, he kept his expression unmoved.
Han Yunxi was all too happy to agree. “Alright!”
Yet Tang Li was more serious. “So the winner’s whoever can pry open his mouth?”
“Mhm,” Han Yunxi nodded.
“And the stakes?” Tang Li asked next.
“Whatever you want,” Han Yunxi’s open generosity was in no way inferior to Long Feiye.
“If I win, we’ll clear all debts of silver I owe to the Duke of Qin?” Tang Li asked with a cheeky grin. After escaping from his wedding, his father had cut off all financial support to him, forcing him to rely on his mother in secret. But, soon his father found out and then dried up that avenue as well. Now he could only ask Long Feiye for money and had a pile of debts.
Han Yunxi burst into laughter. “I’ll just take your place, then.”
“You still have divisions between you and the Duke of Qin? Isn’t he already yours? His body is yours, that’s for sure…” Tang Li ridiculed her.
Long Feiye didn’t speak, but went to drink his tea while the cup conveniently hid his face. Still, his eyes settled on Han Yunxi, whose face was red as she plowed dauntlessly forward, “And what if you lose?”
“Whatever you what!” Tang Li was being generous as well. There wasn’t anything he could afford to lose anyways.
Han Yunxi only laughed. “If you lose, then I get to order you about for an entire year. Whenever I call, you’ll come!”
“Fine!” Tang Li was brimming with confidence.
After the terms were set, both of them looked towards Chu Tianyin, who only felt fear under their gazes. They’re simply humiliating me! Especially that Tang Li buffoon. How much silver could he owe Long Feiye? Is a young master of the Chu Clan like me only worth a measly bit of silver?!
I won’t answer, no matter what they ask, even if I die!
Suddenly, he felt hidden weapons flying in his direction. Because he was bound fast, he couldn’t dodge them at all. Soon enough, pain blossomed from his mouth, as if something had stabbed inside. Naturally, it was Tang Li’s assassination weapons. He wasn’t sure what kind of weapon it was, but he knew it had hit his lips.
Ripples of pain soon followed the first wave, revealing thin lines connected to the buried weapons. Chu Tianyin finally realized that Tang Li’s weapons were connected to strings being held in his hands. As long as Tang Li moved his strings even a tiny bit, Chu Tianyin would feel pain.
Damn it. Of all the places to pick, he had to target my lips. The weapons were buried so deep and so painfully in his mouth that he couldn’t stop drooling. But he let Tang Li do as he wished while he grit his teeth against the agony! No matter what he asks me, I won’t answer. If he wants to tug, he can simply tug as much as he likes.
But despite all his waiting, Tang Li didn’t even ask him a single thing. All he did was pull harder on the strings. Chu Tianyin began to feel that something was off, but he couldn’t tell what. While he was puzzling it out, his nose suddenly blocked up---stuffy like a cold. Chu Tianyin felt even more odd as he realized Han Yunxi had used her poisons.
She couldn’t have just blocked up my nose. There simply must be something else lying in wait. Obviously, blocking his breathing was to force him to open his mouth. Is she going to feed me poison then?
Chu Tianyin tried to use the tortoise breathing technique, but Han Yunxi’s poisons had made it completely ineffective. Breathing was an involuntary instinct, so Chu Tianyin quickly opened his mouth. Even if Han Yunxi’s going to feed me poison, so what? He had long steeled his heart not to tell them anything.
But as soon as his mouth opened, Tang Li relaxed his strings and stared incredulously at Han Yunxi. She returned his look with a very pretty smile. “I won!”
“You...what do you mean, you won?!” Tang Li wouldn’t accept it so easy.
“I made him open his mouth to breathe. Doesn’t that count as prying his mouth open?” Han Yunxi asked earnestly.
Chu Tianyin almost collapsed at her words. That’s what they meant by ‘prying my mouth open?’ I was an idiot to expect any questions from them!
“You…” Tang Li wanted to cry, but he had no tears.
He and Han Yunxi had bet on who’d pry Chu Tianyin’s mouth open first, but there were two meanings to the phrase. One was simply making him open his mouth, while the other meant making him answer their questions. He had even schemed a bit to trick Han Yunxi by prying Chu Tianyin’s mouth open with weapons so he could ‘win’ on a technicality, then let her slowly interrogate the man. Who knew that Han Yunxi would stay calm and open Chu Tianyin’s mouth herself instead to claim victory that way.
“Hey, if you agree to bet you have to agree to lose. Long Feiye can be the witness, you’re going to be my slave for a year’s time!”
The word ‘slave’ made Tang Li’s heart jolt. He silently vowed never to bet with Han Yunxi again, but---this time, he had to bet to the end!
“A year is a year! Let’s have another bet!” Tang Li said arrogantly.
“What are we betting on this time?” Han Yunxi didn’t refuse the offer out of hand.
“Who can make him bow his head first!” Tang Li said.
Chu Tianyin was infuriated. These two aren’t interrogating me at all! They’re just playing around! He glared at them both and cried, “Enough already!”
Yet, neither Han Yunxi nor Tang Li paid him any attention. Han Yunxi even asked cheerfully, “What are the stakes this time?”
“If this young master loses, add another year to my service. If you lose, we’ll cancel the year I just earned,” Tang Li was going to risk it all in this bet.
“Alright, let’s start!” Han Yunxi made her move as soon as she spoke, shooting poisoned needles at Chu Tianyin’s neck. Unwilling to be outdone, Tang Li charged forwards as well.
Who needs weapons to make Chu Tianyin lower his head? I’ll just use my hands! In any case, there was no way for Chu Tianyin to resist now right when he was nothing more than a limp fish on the chopping board. They could do as they liked to him.
Han Yunxi’s poisoned needles caused Chu Tianyin to lose all strength in his neck, but he resisted with all his might. Being used as a plaything by these too was humiliating enough. If he really bowed his head to them, his dignity might as well be eaten by dogs. But as soon as Tang Li reached him, it was to grab his head from the back and force it down. Chu Tianyin’s neck had lost all strength to begin with, so his head soon drooped from the increased force.
“I won!” Tang Li rejoiced.
“That doesn’t count! You only won because I used poison first!” Han Yunxi denied him his victory.
“Who even knew if you used poison?” Tang Li’s hands were still pressed against Chu Tianyin’s head as he retorted.
Han Yunxi hand slapped against Chu Tianyin’s head as she shoved it down as well. “You know very well that I did!”
Soon, the two had devolved into a shouting match. Long Feiye watched on in amusement while Chu Tianyin seethed with rage and shame, his head still bowed under their hands. His face was completely red and his eyes bloodshot as if they were going to pop out of his sockets. Whatever rationality and calm he had flew to the back of his mind as he roared. “Enough already!”
“Han Yunxi, hurry up and treat this young master’s poison!”
“Tang Li, let go! I’m warning you right now, do you hear me?!”
Unfortunately, neither Han Yunxi nor Tang Li heard him in the midst of their heated argument.
“At worst, we just won’t count this time and bet another round,” Tang Li finally relented.
“What are we betting on next?” Han Yunxi asked.
Before Tang Li could reply, Chu Tianyin caved in with a scream that reverberated in the torture room. “This young master will answer all your questions! I’ll tell you whatever you what to know, alright?!”