Chapter 443: Interrogation
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Gu Shenwei had not heard from Chu Nanping for a long time.
Nearly a year ago, when he had been deeply dejected by the fact that none of the youths trained by him could be counted as qualified killers, he found Hu Shining in Jade City and hired this retired training tutor from the Carvewood Academy of Golden Roc Fort to instruct his young killers at his secret base in Shu-lik. He also asked the tutor to take his three young bodyguards to Shu-lik for the training.
“Tie Linglong ran away before they set off, and since then her whereabouts has remained unknown, but Chu Nanping and Nie Zeng did leave for Shu-lik with Hu Shining.
Now that Shu-lik has been occupied by the allied forces of Norland and the Golden Roc Fort, the secret base must’ve been exposed no matter how hard they tried to hide it from others. Hu Shining’s loyalty has never been tested. He accepted this job just for the money and still harbors deep respect for his former boss, the Golden Roc Fort. Given these, those young killers I entrusted to him probably could not escape their tragic fate,” thought Gu Shenwei.
With this in mind, he made a detailed inquiry about the strange person and confirmed that it was indeed Chu Nanping and that he had arrived here alone. Gu Shenwei considered this an ominous sign.
“Chu Nanping probably heard the news that I’ve conquered the kingdoms around the Xiaoyao Lake and thus came here to find me from the west. He probably considered the Hui Kingdom to be my ally and thus chose to enter the city through the city gate instead of sneaking into it.
“He’s still as simple as a child. The short-term killer training can’t change him too much.
“However, I’ve been in the Hui Kingdom for nearly two months. How come Chu Nanping has never shown up during the recent two months?” thought Gu Shenwei, feeling particularly uneasy and confused.
He could not wait any longer to find out the truth. Although it was already dark, he still led 500 soldiers into the city to occupy the palace again and had all the important ministers of the Hui Kingdom brought to him into the palace. Besides, he also arrested many eunuches and court maids holding certain posts. As such, he held more than 100 people in custody overnight and had them imprisoned and interrogated separately.
When his soldiers went to question the prisoners about the young swordsman’s whereabouts, he personally led a small team of guards to break into the queen’s bedchamber and interrogate her. “The game is over, and I don’t want to beat about the bush anymore. I have to make her tell me her deepest secret,” thought Gu Shenwei.
He had restrained himself for all this while in an attempt to win the Hui nation’s support, but now he did not hesitate at all to take the most hardline measures.
The queen had predicted that something was going to happen tonight when the Dragon King’s soldiers had been busy arresting people everywhere in the palace. When he broke into her bedchamber, she was fully dressed, waiting for him. The little prince shrank into a corner of the room and did not even cast a glance at him.
“What makes you storm into my bedchamber, Dragon King? Can’t you wait until tomorrow morning to talk to me?” The queen did not sound as proud as she had been during the day, but her tone was somewhat harsh and ironic.
“You know the reason,” said Gu Shenwei.
After that, ten guards behind him unsheathed their swords. This scene was far more threatening and convincing than his words.
The queen still refused to cooperate. After a moment’s hesitation, she said, “I don’t know.”
“Take the boy out,” Gu Shenwei said to his guards.
Two guards went to the corner and carried the little prince out. Like a cub falling into the hands of a hunter, the boy kept struggling and shouting but still had to surrender in the end.
The queen’s face color changed, but she didn’t run over to rescue her son. Instead, she spoke softly to the Dragon King, “What do you want exactly? The Hui Kingdom is already yours. Is there anything you’re unhappy about? He’s just a child, and you’ve already punished him.”
Gu Shenwei just stood there, looking as if he was thinking about something else, and made no response to the queen. Soon enough, the little prince’s miserable screams came from outside. This child, who had been pampered since his birth, was suffering the first torture in his life, which far exceeded his imagination.
“Stop it!” The queen could not remain calm anymore and cried out, as every scream from the boy gave her intense pain. She was an ambitious woman, but without the little prince, none of her ambitions could be fulfilled.
Gu Shenwei looked at her coldly. He thought that he was merciful enough to not torture the boy in front of her.
“I’ll tell you everything. Ask them to stop, right now,” the queen pleaded.
Gu Shenwei deliberately waited for a moment before giving a sign to the guards behind him. Soon enough, a guard went out to ask the soldiers to stop the torture, and then the screams subsided.
At this moment, the queen looked no different from a common woman. She grew pale and red by turns. Her chest heaved, and the fright was evident in her eyes. “He… Shangguan Jianyi had another plan,” said the queen.
Despite the fact that this was not what he wanted to hear, he still let the queen continue without saying anything to interrupt her.
“He intends to instigate a rebellion against you and kill you in the Hui Kingdom.”
The queen had planned to surprise the Dragon King with this secret. However, he reacted nonchalantly to it. She felt bewildered and began to ramble.
“He asked us to make you stay in the Hui Kingdom and away from the main body of the Great Snowmountain troops. He told us that it was not easy to deceive you and we could only achieve this goal by refusing the Dragon army to enter our capital. He said that once your suspicion was aroused, you would not easily leave this place. He promised us that he would go to contact the kings and military leaders of Kang, Sha and An kingdoms and bring back a large army that would effect complete numerical superiority on the battlefield. According to our agreement, he’ll return three days later.”
After hearing that, Gu Shenwei thought to himself, “This might be the plan that Shangguan Jianyi used to persuade the queen and the ministers into supporting him. His plan might work if I hadn’t asked Dugu Xian to reorganize the army, but now, he stands no chance of succeeding.
Now, there are people loyal to me among all the troops stationed around the Xiaoyao Lake, regardless of their size. Shangguan Jianyi might be able to rope in some people for his plan, but he’ll never recruit enough qualified soldiers to form an army. As for the Kang, Sha and An Kingdoms, they did hide some of their subjects from me, but they’re common people who don’t know how to fight during a battle.”
The Dragon King had intelligence reports delivered to him every day, which allowed him to understand the situation much better than ministers of the Hui Kingdom did.
“Shangguan Jianyi must be clear about this situation, too. He just said this to ensure that the idiots in the Hui Kingdom would continue to work for him. No army will come to this place three days later,” thought Gu Shenwei.
“The queen seems to have revealed all her secrets to me, but she didn’t mention anything about Chu Nanping. Is this because she thinks the young swordsman is not important at all?” With this in mind, Gu Shenwei asked, “Do you know anything about a boy who carries a sword around with himself? Everyone says that he looks like a girl. I want to know his whereabouts.”
The queen was stunned and thought that the Dragon King was deliberately making things difficult for her so that he could figure out an excuse to kill her and her son. “I’m speaking the truth. It’s all true, Dragon King. Go ask the Prime Minister. He also knows Shangguan Jianyi’s plan. Besides, you’ve promised to spare our lives,” said the queen. Based on what he had learned about her today, Gu Shenwei was pretty sure that the surprised look on her face was genuine.
He wanted to remind her that it was a deal not a promise and the little prince’s sudden attack had already undermined the deal. On second thought, he decided to give up on this meaningless dispute. He stared at the queen with piercing eyes, looking as if he wanted to dig out all her insides and check if she still had some other secrets.
He was still somewhat anxious since he felt that something was not quite right. He did not know whether it was because of the queen or the lack of clues to the whereabouts of Chu Nanping.
Most powerful men were people with little regard for human life, but even the most ruthless emperor in the world would care about at least a few people.
In particular, Gu Shenwei needed Chu Nanping, as this young swordsman was most likely to take the place of Maid Lotus and protect his rear in the future. The boy’s death would constitute an irreplacable loss to him.
Suddenly, Long Fanyun came in and nodded to the Dragon King, hinting to him that they had already found out something during the interrogation.
Gu Shenwei knew that his brutal behavior would inevitably be known by all the people in the capital of the Hui Kingdom tomorrow morning and this news would damage his recently-built up good image, so he took some measures to remedy the situation immediately after he left the queen’s bedchamber.
He declared that the queen, the little prince and all the ministers he had arrested tonight were traitors of the kingdom. He accused them of plotting to assassinate the crown prince and contended that he would hold them in custody until the crown prince came back and decided how to deal with them.
This was not a perfect explanation, but many people would accept it.
During the interrogation, the ministers divulged lots of secrets, such as the secret plan of Shangguan Jianyi, the ambition of the queen and her son and even some child molester’s obsession with good-looking boys. However, none of them knew anything about the beautiful youth who always carried a sword with himself. At last, it was a guard in the palace who offered some clues about Chu Nanping.
This guard was surnamed Li and he was not among the arrested officials. He was one of the several dozen ones who turned themselves in when they were shocked by the Dragon King’s action. He took the initiative to mention the young swordsman even before the soldiers started to interrogate him.
“He’s beautiful and looks like a girl, but if you observe him carefully, you’ll discover that he looks much more masculine than feminine.”
Guard Li remembered Chu Nanping well, but as he was eager to disentangle himself from this trouble, he spoke in a quite disordered manner and spent quite a long time straightening the whole thing out.
“He came here alone and lived in a back-street inn. He attracted a lot of attention. A bunch of hooligans went to harass him and all got knocked down to the ground by the boy. After that, no one thought of him to be a girl disguised as a man and his sword to be decorative anymore.
“Afterwards, there’s a rumor going around about this good-looking boy. Someone said that he’s the Dragon King’s bodyguard.
“Upon hearing this rumor, the distinguished guest of the royal family, Shangguan Jianyi, found me and said that he wanted me to investigate this thing for him. That was actually the first time that I had heard about this boy.
“I dared not to refuse Shangguan Jianyi, so I went to meet the boy alone. I introduced myself to him as a messenger sent by the king and asked him about his identity. I told him that the Hui Kingdom had already allied itself with the Dragon King and would receive him warmly.
“However, he reacted nonchalantly to me. He didn’t tell me his name or whether he was the Dragon King’s bodyguard. He just said that he would stay in the inn for the night and leave early tomorrow morning.
“After meeting with the boy, I went back to the palace to report to Shangguan Jianyi.”
That was all he knew about Chu Nanping. He guessed that the young swordsman had already left the city and did not know the current whereabouts of the boy.
If the boy’s good looks and occassional murderous look had not left a deep impression on Guard Li, he would have forgotten about this thing a long time ago.
According to Guard Li, Shangguan Jianyi had been very satisfied with his performance and given him a lot of silver to thank him, but he had never disclosed his real intention to him.
Gu Shenwei was 100-percent sure that Chu Nanping had never reached the military camp of the Dragon army. He thought that the boy probably had never left the capital of the Hui Kingdom.
“According to Guard Li’s description, Chu Nanping probably did not use any make-up to change his looks. How come he acted so carelessly? This is the most questionable point in the guard’s story. When Chu Nanping, Tie Linglong and I traveled around to evade Golden Roc Fort killers, he always needed to use make-up to disguise his looks. Otherwise, he would attract a lot of attention. If he really came here all the way from Shu-lik, which is annexed by the Golden Roc Fort now, he should’ve behaved more cautiously.
“That boy who declined to tell his name to Guard Li must be Chu Nanping. It’s been two months since then. It’s highly improbable that he is still alive and well,” Gu Shenwei thought to himself.
Despite that, he still wanted to give it a try and decided to go to the inn where Chu Nanping had lived to investigate this thing. He asked Guard Li to lead him to inn, while thinking, “I must keep trying until I find him alive or discover his corpse.”
When he went outside into the cold darkness, he gradually calmed down and thought, “Shangguan Jianyi was not quite like himself in the Hui Kingdom. He used the queen to make me stay in this place, but hasn’t done anything to me since I entered this city. Now the whole area around the Xiaoyao Lake is at peace. That merciless killer seems to have totally forgotten his plan.”