Please note that this chapter contains graphic descriptions of gore.
Chapter 108: Basement reeking of blood Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The back gardens of the estate had a pond and rockery formations, as well as a little copse of forest. It didn’t look particularly special.
Oil Lamp said, “These are the back gardens!”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Do I need to dig?” Judging from what she saw, the only possible place to hide any treasures would be underground. Also, it smelled pretty bad, so Ning Xiaoyao could sense that it was a foul place. The paved cobblestone floor was submerged in deep water. A large, long black shadow swam close to Ning Xiaoyao’s feet before standing upright.
“Squeak!” Oil Jar and Oil Lamp cried in alarm. What a big snake!
Ning Xiaoyao reached out a hand to clamp the snake's mouth shut before she said sternly, “If you don’t bite us, then I won’t beat you up.”
King Flower attempted to struggle free a few times. The girl before him now looked small and skinny, but her strength went well beyond his imagination. He was unable to open his mouth at all.
“Are you biting us or not?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
King Flower waved his tail back and forth.
“Does that mean you won’t bite us?” Oil Lamp asked.
King Flower slapped the surface of the water with his tail. Ning Xiaoyao let him go. Shaking his tail meant shaking his head, while slapping the water meant a nod. This she could understand.
“You’re Ning Xiaoyao?” King Flower backed up a step to loom over her.
“Yeah, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao replied.
King Flower’s tongue flickered in and out. “So the rumors were true after all.”
“Were they about how brave and wise I am?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“.........” said King Flower. Where does this girl get her self-confidence from?
Oil Lamp asked, “King Flower, do you know where the treasure deposit is hidden?”
King Flower said, “There’s no treasure deposit here.”
“Whaa?” the two mice and one human chorused in disappointment.
“There really isn’t any,” King Flower said, “Money is useless to me anyways.”
If there wasn’t any treasure, then why should she bother standing around in the rain? Ning Xiaoyao wanted to leave. A glance at King Flower told her that the snake had just eaten a meal, because its stomach looked bloated. She asked dully, “Just what did you eat to grow so big?” His stomach looked big enough to fit half a calf inside. Did the people at this estate buy meat just to feed this snake?
King Flower opened his mouth. Oil Lamp and Oil Jar were so terrified that they ducked behind Ning Xiaoyao’s collar to hide. Was King Flower planning to eat them too? Ning Xiaoyao stared wide-eyed as King Flower spat out his food--the lower body of a young man, covered in fresh blood and digestive fluids from the snake’s stomach as it soaked in the rain.
“Y-you ate a human?” Ning Xiaoyao backed away as she grew guarded.
King Flower’s tongue flickered as he spoke with the characteristically chilly tone of all snakes, “A dead human. Every few days, they throw me human corpses to eat.”
“........” said Ning Xiaoyao.
Oil Lamp and Oil Jar stared at the body before ducking their heads again. King Flower laughed hoarsely. “Mice eat dead organisms too. Why are you two so squeamish?”
“They’ve never seen this before because they’re inexperienced. Please excuse them,” Ning Xiaoyao said before mentally slapping herself. This isn’t the point! “Where did the dead people come from?” she asked.
“What’s in it for me if I tell you?” King Flower asked in reply. He couldn’t give up the chance to make a deal with the humans’ emperor.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Didn’t you say money is useless for you?”
King Flower replied, “Can’t you think of anything else besides money?”
Ning Xiaoyao thought it over carefully. “What about a basket full of meatbuns?”
“..........” went Oil Lamp and Oil Jar. You want to win over a giant snake with a single basket of meatbuns? Xiaoyao, you’re too naive.
King Flower looked at Ning Xiaoyao without saying a word.
King Flower still didn’t speak.
“Three baskets, and no more,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I can have the justice courts investigate where these people died, too. Moreover, meatbuns taste much better than human corpses.”
“Really?” King Flower had his doubts.
“Yes, I swear it on my character and moral integrity,” Ning Xiaoyao slapped herself on the chest.
“Alright, you said three baskets,” King Flower nodded. This girl was the emperor. From what he knew, emperors spoke pearly words from golden mouths, so their utterances carried great weight. She shouldn’t be lying to him.
Ning Xiaoyao’s fingers formed into a V for victory sign. When she returned, she’d have the head chef in the kitchens make some mini-sized meatbuns. That way, she could cut down on costs, too. (Author: You’re betraying King Flower’s faith in you so soon? ╮(╯▽╰)╭ )
“..........” said Oil Lamp and Oil Jar. She actually succeeded. Xiaoyao’s so amazing!
“Just like how your whole family lives in the palace, my whole family lives in this pond,” King Flower said as he led Ning Xiaoyao towards the rock formations.
Ning Xiaoyao clenched her hands into fists. She felt like she’d gotten a tongue-lashing when the snake mentioned her ‘family.’ Now she felt like she wanted to fight him, what to do?
“Do you see that cave in the decorative rock formation?” King Flower said as he crawled up the rocks with Ning Xiaoyao while tilting his head to the left. “Go inside. There’s a stone door there. That’s where they send up the dead bodies.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked around her before she whispered, “How come there’s no one standing guard?”
“Nobody dares to come over here,” King Flower said in a gloomy tone.
That makes sense. Even Oil Lamp didn’t have the guts, much less humans. Ning Xiaoyao felt like she’d uncovered the truth of the matter and nodded at King Flower. Then she adjusted the parcel on her back and brought the two mice with her to enter the cave. The stone door was located on the left side of the cave and covered with moss. Ning Xiaoyao pushed against it once with her hands, but it didn’t budge.
Oil Jar said, “Do we need a key?”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t see any locks on the door, nor a keyhole. She pressed her ear against its surface to listen for sounds inside, but heard nothing. Backing up a few steps, she rubbed her fists and dug her fingers into her palms. “It looks like we’ll have to tear it down by force,” she told Oil Lamp and Oil Jar.
Both mice widened their eyes.
Smashing the door would only attract attention, so Ning Xiaoyao simply pushed against it with all her might. Get out of the way, you!
The stone door rumbled. Oil Lamp and Oil Jar felt their hair stand on end when they saw Ning Xiaoyao push open the door. Outside the cave, King Flower’s jaw dropped to the floor. Is that girl even human?!
As soon as the door gave way, a thick stench of blood poured through the entrance. Ning Xiaoyao knitted her eyebrows as she took a step forward and peered down the stone steps on the other side.
“It’s the scent of human blood,” Oil Jar said quietly.
“Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao murmured in assent. She couldn’t even see her fingers before her in such darkness. Despite this, she flew down the steps, her genetically enhanced senses allowing her to discern objects in the dark. The stench of blood grew heavier the farther they descended, and Ning Xiaoyao’s heart leapt to her throat. Did a cemetery of corpses await them below? Was Grand Preceptor Xie some sort of deviant that loved murder as much as he adored power?
About 20 meters down, they saw a hint of light. Oil Lamp said, “Be careful, Xiaoyao. There are people over there.”
Ning Xiaoyao nodded as she clenched her fists.
“Who’s there?” a guard by the entrance to the stone steps caught sight of Ning Xiaoyao’s shadow and shouted in alarm.
Ning Xiaoyao swung her fist at his face. The man fell to the ground with blood pouring out of his nose. Before he could shout again, Ning Xiaoyao kicked him unconscious. The commotion drew ten more guards to the steps, each of them strong men wielding swords.
“Xiaoyao, be careful!” Oil Lamp and Oil Jar cried out at the same time.
When the men saw Ning Xiaoyao’s face, their first reaction was shock. Ning Xiaoyao picked up a chair from the side and charged towards the stunned men. Ever since coming to this world, she’d yet to meet anyone who was her match. This time she was as brave as ever as she fought. It didn’t matter whether she used bricks or chairs, because she still ground her opponents to dust. The men didn’t even have time to flee and pass on a warning before Ning Xiaoyao knocked them all out in a bloody heap on the ground.
In the aftermath, she brought the chair along with her to travel deeper into the stone rooms. After walking through a brief hallway, she suddenly came upon a room flooded with light. The scene before her made her hands go slack, and her chair clattered to the ground. There were five men standing in this room. Around them were 20 iron frame beds, and all along the walls were a dozen or so cages about half the height of a full-grown man. A person was locked in one such cage. The floor was covered in water, as if someone had just washed its surface.
The five standing men were both alarmed and astounded by the sight of Ning Xiaoyao. Some of them even wore incredulous expressions.
“W-who are you?” an old man with sunken cheeks and a sharp knife in his hand asked.
Ning Xiaoyao ran towards the five men and the bed they had surrounded, closing the distance so quickly that it looked like she had leapt through time. There was a young man chained to the bed, covered in blood. His body was uninjured, but his face had been reduced to a badly mangled mess. The skin on his nose and lips had been cut apart and turned inside out, revealing the nasal bone and gums within. Ning Xiaoyao reached out a hand to touch his chest. Though his body was still warm, his heart had stopped beating, which meant that he’d only died recently.
“You are…” the old man was still asking questions.
Ning Xiaoyao raised her fist and swung it around in a circle, effectively knocking all five men to the ground. Before they could cry out, Ning Xiaoyao knocked out all their teeth with her kicks. Two of the men lost consciousness just from choking on all the blood in their mouth, while the other three were left half-conscious with pain, red liquid flowing from between their lips.
“What were you planning to change about his face?” Ning Xiaoyao asked coldly. Judging by the cuts on the youth’s face, they had forced him to undergo a surgical facelift.
The old man covered his mouth to stare at Ning Xiaoyao, who raised her foot to kick him. He let out a cry of agony as Ning Xiaoyao’s foot broke all the bones in his fingers, before blacking out from pure pain.
“Speak!” Ning Xiaoyao looked at the two men who were still conscious.
“Don’t let them off!” the young man still stuck in the cage fumed.
“It, it has nothing to do with us…”
Bang! Ning Xiaoyao kicked the stammering middle-aged man into one of the metal cages. Chaining someone to a bed and forcing surgery on them until they died has nothing to do with you?!
“Let me out, hurry!” the only occupant of the cages shouted as he banged against the bars. There was a giant lock on his cage, but Ning Xiaoyao simply snapped it in half before opening the door. The young man crawled out of the cage and glanced at Ning Xiaoyao beneath the light. Immediately after that, both him and Ning Xiaoyao were stunned.
“.......” said the young man. Heavens, why does this person look so much like me?
“.......” said Ning Xiaoyao. The hell, why does this person have a 70% resemblance to me?
“Who are you?” Ning Xiaoyao and the young man asked at the same time.
“I...I’m Ning Xiaoluo[1. Ning Xiaoluo (宁晓落) - Ning is the same character as Ning Xiaoyao, and means “peaceful, tranquil,” Xiaoluo is “descent of dawn/daybreak.”] from the Duke of Yue’s[2. Duke of Yue (越国公) - yue guogong, similar to the Duke of State--a third-rank official of the imperial government--only attached to a specific location. In this case, the state of Yue in the country of Yongning. Yue means “exceed, overstep, superior, plunder.”] estate.” the youth explained in surprise.
“.........” said Ning Xiaoyao. His name makes it sound like we’re related.
“Who are you?” Ning Xiaoluo asked Ning Xiaoyao.
“Are you part of the imperial clansmen?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“No,” the young Ning shook his head. “Our Duke of Yue’s estate was bestowed the surname of ‘Ning’ by His Majesty. Who are you, ah?” This guy, he can’t be one of my father’s bastard sons, right? The third young master of the Duke of Yue’s estate quaked with shock. Otherwise, father’s going to be in big trouble.
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