Chapter 667: Who is the traitor?

Long Feiye was going to interrogate them personally?

Aunt Ru’s eyes flickered before she asked anxiously, “That’s not good, is it? As I see it, you and Han Yunxi are better off showing your faces as little as possible. If there really is a traitor afoot, they’d expose the connection between you and the Tang Clan quite easily.”

Aunt Ru seemed to regret her words as soon as she said them, and a trace of annoyance flashed past her face at the slip. 

Immediately, Han Yunxi asked, “I’ve been puzzled about this through the whole thing. Duanmu Yao still doesn’t know about the connection between His Highness and the Tang Clan, only the location of his Yaoshui estate. Say, how do you think that traitor ended up colluding with her in the first place? And why did they only tell her the location of the Yaoshui estate and nothing else?”

With Duanmu Yao’s temper and intelligence, she certainly would have exposed Long Feiye’s connection with the Tang Clan long ago, provided she already knew about it. There was no way she could keep it under wraps for this long. 

Long Feiye looked at Aunt Ru, his fathomless eyes showing nothing. Tang Zijin stroked his beard, thoughtful. “Yiru, if you hadn’t mentioned that, this old man would’ve forgotten all about it.”

“It really is strange,” Aunt Ru said after some thought. “Because everything about this is odd, I think it’s better for Feiye to be more prudent. After all, Tang Li’s wedding is coming up. If anything goes wrong now, it’ll be difficult to go through with the marriage.”

“Do you think your lordship will let off any potential traitors?” Long Feiye retorted. He seemed to be directing the sentence at Aunt Ru herself.

Aunt Ru opened and closed her mouth before putting on a truly atrocious-looking smile. “Perhaps the traitor isn’t even a part of the Tang Clan, so they didn’t know the connection between the clan and the Duke of Qin’s estate?”

“Right! Maybe we guessed wrong from the start!” Tang Li exclaimed.

“In other words, you’re suspecting one of your lordship’s subordinates?” Long Feiye asked coldly.

“Your subordinates all know of the relationship between us and the Tang Clan. What’s there to suspect?” Han Yunxi asked. “The location of the Yaoshui estate has remained a secret all this time, I refuse to believe that Duanmu Yao found it by chance! Nor would she be there right after we left the Tang Clan! The Tang Clan holds the greatest suspicion!”

“It really is a fishy affair!” Lady Tang muttered to herself. “This traitor only revealed the location of the estate. Did they have any other motives? What’s really going on here?”

“Perhaps it was nothing more than a desire to let Duanmu Yao find Long Feiye so he could treat her injury,” Han Yunxi said icily. Anyone could tell that her words carried thorns. Perhaps she already had a suspect in mind? Everyone exchanged glances as the atmosphere grew delicate.

Tang Zijin lost himself deep in thought before finally casting a glance towards Aunt Ru with a complicated look. He seemed to be suspecting something else as well but quickly dismissed the idea.

“Let’s interrogate the suspects first! If it’s someone from the Tang Clan, they won’t be able to escape!” he declared.

“Someone come, bring all of the suspects to the interrogation chamber!” Aunt Ru had no more objections. 

Han Yunxi followed the rest there, silent the whole way. She was wondering how Long Feiye would choose to question the suspects. Like her, he had a suspect long in mind as well. He should know that all of the suspects in there right now were innocent. If this was inquisition by torture, was there anything crueler than rat torture? Cutting people in half by the waist, decapitating and displaying their heads, tearing them apart by five chariots, burying them alive, impaling them, or sawing them into pieces? 

She knew his hands were destined to be dyed in blood for this lifetime, but she wished that the blood of innocents could stain them just a little less.

Because it was a matter of utmost importance, Lady Tang and Tang Li followed along. The interrogation chamber of the Tang Clan was simply Hell on Earth. The dimly lit room was covered in countless torture tools on its four walls. For the vast majority of these objects, Han Yunxi couldn’t even recognize, much less understand, their terrible purpose. There were both men and women among the ten suspects, ranging from young to old. All of them were bound with a length of rope wound around their necks that tied their hands behind their backs; they were crouching in the corner, and they shrank back towards the walls as soon as they saw the group enter.

However, a single youth, about 13 to 14 years old, stood up and looked at them fearfully. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, we’ve been unfairly accused! We’re innocent! If you kill us, you’ll strike fear into the hearts of the Tang Clan disciples!”

Everyone was stunned that anyone would dare to step out and cry injustice. And it was only a boy? Wasn’t he afraid of being the first victim of interrogation?

“Impertinence! Someone come, gag him for me!” Aunt Ru said coldly.

Long Feiye stopped her. “Loosen his bonds and bring him here.”

He sat in the torturer’s seat, his black robes melting into the darkness along with his face. The stern visage and lack of anger stilled the youth until he didn’t dare to speak.

“Loosen his bonds?” Aunt Ru was incredulous.

“Why aren’t you doing it yet?” Tang Zijin said unhappily.

Aunt Ru personally untied the boy, who was too fearful to step any closer. She gave him a shove and he almost fell at Long Feiye’s feet. 

“You lot are the only ones left who know the location of the Yaoshui estate. Don’t blame your lordship for being heartless!” It was rare for Long Feiye to show such patience to his victims. “Striking fear into the hearts of Tang Clan disciples is better than selling out the clan outright, isn’t it?”

If his connection to the Tang Clan was exposed, it would bring trouble both to himself and to everyone else here!

The youth clenched his fists, as if in hesitation. Han Yunxi observed the whole thing and said, “The Duke of Qin is here. Whatever you want to share, just come out and say it. You won’t get another chance once this is over!”

The youth glanced at Han Yunxi before immediately falling to his knees. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, besides us few in the Tang Clan, you all know the location of the Yaoshui estate as well.”

Dead silence greeted his words! Long Feiye, Han Yunxi, Tang Zijin, Lady Tang, Tang Li, Aunt Ru, and Chu Xifeng were seven other people who also knew the location. 

What interesting words from this child!

“What are you saying? Could it be that the Duke of Qin would betray himself?” Aunt Ru raised a hand to hit him, but Han Yunxi dashed forward to grab her arm angrily.

“We haven’t even gotten all the details yet and you’re already going to strike? Are you trying to make him confess to false charges under torture?”

Aunt Ru shook Han Yunxi off violently. “What kind of things is he saying? It’s simply sophistry. I think he’s the most suspicious one!”

“Is there anything wrong with his words? He’s talking about us, not singling out the Duke of Qin! He wouldn’t betray himself, but as for the rest of us…”

Aunt Ru broke into mocking laughter before she could finish. “Brother, sister-in-law, listen to this! She’s suspecting us now!”

“Yunxi doesn’t mean that,” Lady Tang might favor Han Yunxi, but not the youth. She examined him from above before declaring, “Resorting to sophistry, what gall! Someone come and box his ears!”

“Wait!” Han Yunxi tried to protest, but Lady Tang grew displeased.

“Yunxi, it can’t be that you’re even suspecting me?”

What should Han Yunxi do? She suspected Aunt Ru! But words were of no use without actual proof of the deed.

“If she suspects you, then it looks like big brother and I aren’t exempt, either. Oh right, there’s Tang Li as well!” Aunt Ru put on an expression of helplessness.

Long Feiye remained silent. At a time like this, speaking too much would only startle the snake in the grass. Han Yunxi was very intelligent, but her excessive tendency to clemency could turn her dull at times.

“What Yunxi means is that it’s better to have these people accept the accusations utterly,” said Long Feiye.

Han Yunxi nodded. She knew that she’d been too impulsive just then. 

“How are we supposed to convince anyone when we haven’t even found the traitor yet?” Aunt Ru was filled with disdain.

Long Feiye simply treated her words as air and asked the youth, “What’s your name?”

“My name is Kong Xi[1],” the youth replied.

“Who do you have in your family?” Long Feiye asked next.

What was he planning now? Aunt Ru knitted her brows, feeling uneasy. Han Yunxi, Tang Li, and the rest were all uncertain, unable to read his thoughts.

“My parents have already passed away. I only have my grandma,” Kong Xi replied.

“How old is she?” Long Feiye asked next.

“She’ll be 53 in seven days’ time,” Kong Xi’s eyes were sparkling as he spoke of his grandmother. It had been days since he went to visit her, so she must be missing him.

Hearing this, Han Yunxi understood what was going on, even if the boy was still clueless. 

Long Feiye stopped asking questions and went to issue orders. “Someone come, bring in Kong Xi’s grandmother.”

Kong Xi grew alarmed. He forgot all about his dread of Long Feiye and demanded, “What are you going to do to her?”

Long Feiye didn’t answer beyond sitting with hooded eyes. His long, tapered fingers rested on the armrests, tapping them with a rhythm that set unease into everyone’s hearts.

Aunt Ru’s face looked pale. “Feiye, why are you bringing over an old woman? Isn’t it better for fewer people to know about this?”

Long Feiye ignored her, causing Aunt Ru to further furrow her brows.

“Fine fine,  take this child away for now! We’ll interrogate someone else first,” Aunt Ru declared.

Long Feiye continued to ignore her while Aunt Ru shot sharp glances at a guard. Unfortunately, he didn’t speak with Long Feiye still sitting in his seat. Even Tang Zijin was hard-pressed to take control in this situation. As the silence in the room stretched out, the youth stood with his head hung, his fingers clenched tightly into fists.

Suddenly, he lifted his head and cried out, “It was me! I was the one who colluded with Duanmu Yao! Your Highness Duke of Qin, please spare my grandmother, I’ll admit to everything!”

“As long as you release her! Keep her away from this place, don’t let her know what’s happened here! I’ll tell you everything then!” Kong Xi was forcing down both his fear and his tears, but his lips were trembling as he spoke. This wasn’t torturing someone until they confessed, but was there really any difference?

Han Yunxi was quite certain that the boy was no traitor! She was also sure that Long Feiye wouldn’t trust his claims so easily. Just what was the man planning?

Kong Xi was afraid that Long Feiye wouldn’t believe him, so he began to explain. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, it really was me who colluded with Duanmu Yao! I, I only sold her one piece of intel, and that was the location of the Yaoshui estate! I didn’t tell her anything else!”

“How did you come into contact with her?” Han Yunxi asked.

“She was spreading news through the black markets that she wanted to find out the location of the Duke of Qin’s quarters in Yaoshui, so I…” 

Before Kong Xi could finish, Aunt Ru cut in angrily. “Well now, you had the gall to directly accept an offer from the black market? Speak, have you also scalped Tang Clan weapons there, too?”

Kong Xi fell silent as if he was quietly admitting his guilt.

Because he was illegally selling weapons on the black market, he happened to see Duanmu Yao’s request for intel and took that too? All without exposing any other secrets of the Tang Clan...

The logic almost seemed like the truth! Han Yunxi glanced at Aunt Ru again before recalling Kong Xi’s words, and the woman’s earlier reactions. The boy didn’t seem like one of Aunt Ru’s agents! 

Could he really be their traitor?

At this moment, the guards arrived with Kong Xi’s grandmother...

1. Kong Xi (孔曦) - Kong is a surname that means “hole, opening, aperture.” It’s also the same Kong in Kong Zi, or Confucius. Xi is “sunlight.” Together, you can read the name as “sunlight (through) a hole.” Clever, author. :)

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Ruyi admires the author for being clever. Much wow! - Dray