Chapter 96 Forcing the Way to the Prison“Who are you?” Li Mu questioned, suddenly gripped by an ominous feeling. “Where are Feng Yuanxing and Ma Junwu? I want to see them now!”
“Hahaha, the two morons upset Young Master Li Bing and have been put in jail by our leader to get tortured. They asked for it. But who are you by the way? Are you in league with them? Guards, capture him!” hollered a man dressed like a general, who motioned the guards to strike.
“Put in jail?”
Li Mu was quite alarmed.
“When did all this happen?” He could not help but wonder.
But he knew it was not the time to pry into the details. As a tingle of apprehension shot through him, without another word, he leaped up and executed the body-lightening skill. In an instant, he turned into a jet of light and zoomed in the direction of the county prison.
Rescuing his friends was his priority now.
Everything else could be put aside for the moment.
That deputy general and all of his black-armored subordinates simply saw a shot of dazzling light and felt a gale of wind sweep through them before they discovered that Li Mu already vanished from sight.
“He got away? Catch him!” the deputy general snarled.
“Quickly report this to the two new officials and Mr. Zheng!” A guard shouted anxiously.
“Aaah, it’s him! Li Mu! He is that county magistrate Li Mu!” screamed another guard.
An uproar instantly broke out at the gate of the county government.
“You fu*king dog! Passed out again?”
Li Bing cursed as he tossed a hot branding iron into the brazier next to him to heat up once more.
A smell of scorched skin and flesh permeated the dark dungeon.
On the iron-made rack hung the naked Feng Yuanxing. All kinds of cuts and bruises spread across every inch of his skin, leaving not even a patch unscarred. Some flesh on his chest and thighs was scraped off, vaguely revealing the white bones inside. But those cuts were coated with the best medicine that stopped the bleeding, because Li Bing didn’t want Feng Yuanxing to die so soon.
He was just starting to enjoy the game.
All of a sudden, a bucket of cold water mixed with hot pepper and ice cubes fell upon the unconscious Feng Yuanxing.
Wailing weakly, Feng Yuanxing recovered some of his senses and slowly opened his eyes.
“Hahaha, you bastard, wake up again now? Are you excited to see me? Hahaha, alright, take your time. I have all day to play with you. I will surely make you beg for death! Hahaha!”
Li Bing’s wicked laughter reverberated in the torture chamber.
Beside him, in front of the brazier, a prison guard was pumping the bellows, his forehead already beaded with sweat. Another guard was busying adding coal to the brazier. With the coal renewed, the flames in the brazier abruptly shot up three meters high. Those bright orange flames were emitting strong waves of heat, which burned the various shaped branding irons into the same bright color.
“Which toy shall we use next?”
Grinning with a touch of savageness, Li Bing cast a cursory glance at the branding irons in the brazier before he inquired his victim in a devil-like creepy tone.
Eventually, he picked a scarlet hoop.
“Tut-tut-tut, if I place this thing on your head, I’m afraid your brains will become fully-cooked at once.” Li Bing stuck the scarlet hoop up to Feng Yuanxing and leered, “Let’s try this. If you say Li Mu is a son of a bitch, I’ll cut you some slack and let you rest in your cell. What do you think?”
Feng Yuanxing’s lips twitched slightly and a weak whisper sounded.
“What did you say?” Li Bing inched forward to hear him more clearly.
A blow of phlegm mingled with blood spat squarely on Li Bing’s face.
Li Bing instantly flared up and yelled, “You’re fu*king courting death! Guys, get this hoop on him! Let the burning hoop finish him off…”
He thought such lengthy torture could definitely force Feng Yuanxing, Zhen Meng, and Ma Junwu, the three officials working for the Taibai county magistrate to tears and put them on their hands and knees to beg for pardon. However, to his disappointment, in spite of the inhuman punishment he imposed on them and the thorough destruction of their bodies, he still failed to make them surrender.
What was more, he found the looks in their eyes rather intimidating.
At this point—
The door of the torture chamber burst open with a thunderous rattle.
Li Bing went outrageous by the noise. Without turning his head, he bellowed, “Which jerkass got in? Didn’t I tell you all more than once that I shall not be disturbed? Are you seeking a quick death here?”
No one answered him.
The chamber was in deadly silence.
The two prison guards working on the fire looked at the door simultaneously. The next second, their faces were written with horror. Pale as a sheet, they began to shiver in fear and accidentally toppled over the brazier with a clatter.
The other guards in the chamber went stupefied on the spot as well.
Li Bing was startled to see the guards’ reaction. Out of no reason, a wave of uncontrollable panic and trepidation washed over him. Very slowly, he turned around and looked up. Immediately, an overwhelmingly astonished expression surfaced on his face, which soon turned into a terrified one…
At the door of the torture chamber stood a tall and thin figure. Then, that figure strolled in unhurriedly.
Behind him, a throng of black-armored guards were sprawling on the ground, whining and shrieking in pain like wheat-straws swept down by an angry whirlwind.
“You, you… Li Mu, you… how…”
Li Bing was shuddering from head to foot. His chattering teeth prevented him from uttering a complete sentence.
Fear beyond description clenched his throat like a demon from a nightmare, making him unable to think or do anything else.
Because he just recognized the intruder—it was Li Mu!
During his short period of imprisonment, Li Mu had become Li Bing’s biggest nightmare. But now that he was released, he reckoned he already shook off that nightmare and was no longer in fear of Li Mu. He was even eager to meet Li Mu again, to retaliate. However, when Li Mu reappeared before him for real, all he could think of was flee, flee to a place he would never encounter that frightening man.
A series of thud sounded.
The guards in the chamber all fell on their knees.
Those guards were not the black-armored soldiers from the Chang’an government but the same people who were stationed in the prison. They had seen Li Mu before, so now, after realizing the county magistrate went back, they were all out of their wits and did not dare to look straight into his eyes.
Li Mu, however, took no notice of the guards.
He even did not look at Li Bing.
He simply passed by all those people and stopped at the rack.
Feng Yuanxing feebly opened his eyes. As he recognized the person in front of him, he became suddenly thrilled and tried to say something as he whimpered. Shaking violently, he finally turned his undistinguishable words into a bitter but excited cry.
Li Mu grasped Feng Yuanxing’s hands in response.
At this moment, he felt he had lost his language.
Nothing seemed to be the right words on this occasion.
“Sorry,” Li Mu managed to voice his guilt and regret at last, “I’m so sorry. I caused all this. I came back too late. I’m sorry.”
He reached out and freed Feng Yuanxing from all the shackles and hooks. Then, he held this severely wounded friend in his arms and brought him down from the rack.
“Fetch a bed and a doctor… Quick!”
Li Mu turned and told the guards.
Those men who were still on their knees gave a shudder and swiftly went into action.
Some went for the doctor.
Some hastily brought several beds and quilts down the chamber.
Li Mu gently placed Feng Yuanxing on the bed and said in a soft voice, “Relax, you’re safe now. No one will hurt you anymore. There are a variety of wonderful herbs and medicine that can work magic. I’ll get a hold of them at all costs. I will cure you.”
Feng Yuanxing stared at the handsome young man with blurred eyes and felt safer than ever. He was peaceful and gratified as though all his pain had been lifted in a second.
“And… and… Ma Junwu… Zhen… Zhen Meng…, they are still…” Feng Yuanxing stuttered anxiously. At the thought of his colleagues suffering, he strived to get up but was forced back to bed by Li Mu.
A moment later…
Ma Junwu and Zhen Meng were taken out from their filthy and humid cells and settled in two soft and warm beds.
They also had been through so much torment that they were barely recognizable as two human beings. Upon seeing their myriads of wounds and gashes, especially the hem of Ma Junwu’s chopped arm, Li Mu felt a surge of blood shoot up to head and his flames of fury were almost about to break free from his scalp.
After taking several deep breaths, he finally managed to constrain himself and did not fly off the handle right away.
“Your Honor, I… didn’t betray you… I…” Zhen Meng muttered shakily.
The face of this taciturn man was badly mangled. His features could only be identified with great effort.
But his eyes were rather clear, displaying a distinct, gleeful smile.
He was genuinely happy because he knew he made it.
He made it through all the torture.
Li Mu, who was wearing a rather ugly forced smile, nodded at him and reassured, “I know, I know that I did pick the right guy… Don’t worry, you will all be fine, and even be better off than before. I promise you will have the chance to avenge yourselves in person. All the suffering you had today will be returned to those who did this to you of a magnitude a thousand times higher.”
When the guards heard the last remark, they all turned pale and dropped to their knees.
“Your Honor, we were forced into this…”
“We had no choice. He, he said if we didn’t do what we were told, he would hang us up first and then wipe out our family. I…”
The guards implored in fear.
“I know it has nothing to do with you lot.” Li Mu declared kindly.
After all, those guards were a group of pitiful men. Having been threatened like that, it was only natural that they did not dare defy Li Bing’s order.
They were nobody in the county government. And they had families to take care of. Even if they wanted, they could not have helped Feng Yuanxing and the other two, for they were merely pawns of the real villains. Despite his rage, Li Mu was clear that the guards were not the ones to blame.
Then, Li Mu’s eyes landed on Li Bing.
“Aaaah…” Li Bing, who had stayed froze on site, suddenly came out of his dazed state and barked like a dog that got its tail trodden on. Next, he ran wildly towards the door of the torture chamber, hoping for a successful escape.
Li Mu did not chase after him.
Instead, he kicked a pebble with his toes and it darted towards Li Bing.
The pebble penetrated through Li Bing’s left leg and ensued a burst of blood.
Li Bing tumbled and fell on the ground. Paralyzed by the injury and his dread, he screeched, “No, no, don’t kill me, don’t kill me! My dad is Li Gang, the magistrate of Chang’an! Don’t kill me…”
At this moment, several top-range doctors in the county were ushered in by the prison guards.
They carefully examined the three.
“Your Honor, except for Dutou Official Ma Junwu, these two are not in a life-threatening condition. They just have some cuts and gashes, which are not lethal injuries. They can recover their health after a long time of treatment and rest, though some scars might remain…” reported a doctor, who was exactly the one that treated Li Mu’s archery wound in the cave of Shennong Faction.
Li Mu nodded before saying, “Scars are no big deal. Please waste no time and start the treatment now. You can let the servants inform me if you need any medicine.” He then took another deep breath and posed a question, “Can Ma Junwu survive this?”
“Eh… His Honor Ma has lost an arm and a huge amount of blood. Now, he is at a very critical moment…” replied the doctor, who looked quite discomfited.