Chapter 101: Unmasking the secret, expert behind the scenes
The prisons were silent as Han Yunxi stared intently at the rice water before her. Her serious expression made the hearts of her curious onlookers sink as they joined her vigil. Long Feiye's gaze was resting on Han Yunxi's face. It'd been a long time since he saw her focused, professional side. Would it be logical for him to leave her by his side as a master of poisons?
Just as Long Feiye was pondering, Han Yunxi's serious expression lit up as she exclaimed, "Sure enough!"
Long Feiye hastily looked back towards the rice gruel, only to find the clear white liquid suddenly become turbid and black!
"So the poison's in their blood?" Long Feiye was a smart man who grasped the gist of the idea. There was no poison in the gruel, so the blood had to be the reason it turned black.
Han Yunxi nodded. "Right! There's none other than Rice Poison in their blood."
"How could this be?" Long Feiye asked. If their blood was poisoned, how did these captives survive until now, and why hadn't the poison specialists found any signs beforehand? Although he didn't understand poisons, he knew that once poison spread to the blood, the victim would be severely poisoned. It'd be basically impossible to save their lives then.
When he ordered people to get him blood samples from the captives, it was only to take a few drops. But just a simple test had revealed poison in them. If that was the case, this poison must have spread throughout the captives' bodies by now. With a body full of poison, they could still live normally. Long Feiye might have doubted it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.
"This is a very particular toxin. It's called Rice Poison because it only reacts with rice-based products," Han Yunxi paused before speaking. "If I'm not wrong, then all the poison victims must have had rice gruel before they became poisoned."
Immediately, Long Feiye looked towards one of the guards.
"To reply Your Highness, that's indeed the case. All three meals within the prisons were rice gruel that was force-fed to the prisoners. Some of them drank it, but some spat it out after one mouthful," the guard replied hastily.
"In other words, if they don't eat any rice-based foods, they'll never be poisoned?" Long Feiye asked.
Han Yunxi nodded. "Right, they'll never get poisoned. Moreover, no level of poison specialist would be able to tell the poisons in their blood." As she spoke, she poured some rice gruel onto the other blood sample. Not long afterwards, it also turned turbid and black. Undoubtedly, both prisoners carried the same poison in their veins.
"So that was it," Long Feiye's lips curved into a cold smile. No wonder he couldn't find the reason. He hadn't imagined the poison was hidden so deeply.
"Instead of starving themselves to death, why didn't they drink rice gruel and kill themselves that way?" Long Feiye asked. He couldn't reason it out. None of these spies wanted to confess. All of them wished to die, so why starve themselves?
Han Yunxi betrayed a helpless smile. "Your Highness, Rice Poison sounds like an ordinary name, but once the poison reacts, it's basically unbearable for a normal person. If it was me, I'd rather starve to death than incite the poison."
Only then did Long Feiye understood. Looks like the people who were poisoned had all accidentally swallowed the rice gruel force fed to them.
"Your Highness, the master behind them...definitely isn't ordinary!" Han Yunxi's forehead crinkled in worry as she offered up a reminder. Such a formidable poison expert would be hard to counter. After coming here and seeing these people, of course she knew that they were Northern Li Country spies. Last time, she and Long Feiye had descended to the mountain valley and discovered that expert who controlled poison mosquito swarms was also a Northern Li spy. If her guesses were correct, there had to be a leader behind all these people who gave them the Rice Poison.
Not only was Rice Poison hard to formulate, those who knew of its existence were rare and few. Han Yunxi was certain that nine out of ten top poison masters didn't even know of its existence. She didn't have this poison on hand either because it was already extinct in the present day. According to historical records, the formula for this type of poison had long disappeared in the past as well, but she'd actually ran into it here. If not for the ancient records stored in the detoxification system, Han Yunxi might not have found the answer even after years of research.
"Such a meticulous coverup for a poison truly isn't ordinary!" Long Feiye gave a cold snort before issuing orders. "Someone prepare the torture instruments, your lordship will begin interrogation now! Your lordship wants them to know that there are things in this world even more horrifying than Rice Poison!"
Han Yunxi didn't have the antidote for Rice Poison, but she'd helped Long Feiye solve the answer to his riddle. She was about to urge him to go to the Han estate when his cold words turned her timid. Looking at his chilly, resolute contours of his figure, and the clear lines of his face, Han Yunxi inexplicably took a few steps backwards. She decided to hold on for a bit until he was done with his business. She'd seen his cold side, but not his serious one. It seemed like the issue of the Northern Li spies had been irritating him for a while.
Of course, Han Yunxi was curious as well. On Cloud Realm Continent, the study of poisons was considered a deviant offshoot of mainstream paths. Few people researched poisons. Even within Cloud Realm Medical Academy, there was nobody that chose poisons as their main focus of study. Poison experts should be rare across the entire continent!
What kind of person lay hidden behind these enemy agents?
Was this person from Northern Li Country or, like the spies, hidden within Tianning's capital city? All of these spies were female, so could their leader be female as well? Without the detoxification system's assistance, would she lose if she faced off against them? The more she thought, the more curious she grew. She really wanted to meet the leader behind the curtains.
Seeing Long Feiye walk deeper into the dungeons, Han Yunxi hesitated before limping after him. She entered a room to see the guards preparing instruments of torture. The prisoners had yet to arrive. Long Feiye sat in a corner, his face lit by torches in the gloom. The light made him resemble a sovereign of myriad creatures of the dark, mysterious and graceful, majestic and filled with a wild arrogance!
Dressed in white, he resembled an Immortal. Dressed in black and he was a demon.
Han Yunxi stared transfixed as she rested her weight on one leg. This man was only a few paces away from her, but it felt like they were as wide apart as the Heavens. Long Feiye gave her a wordless glance as he raised his chin, signaling that there was a seat by her right. Han Yunxi nodded in silence and hobbled over to sit down, finally relieving her legs. Only then did she realize the room contained no tools of torture, only a big iron cage. Its bars were close together and solid, and it had a round opening on one side that was about the size of a person's face.
This is a torture instrument?
Han Yunxi couldn't figure out what it was used for no matter how she thought. How could this be scarier than Rice Poison?
Soon enough, another guard brought over a rat cage. Inside was a frightening black rat whose head and tail added up to the length of a person's entire arm. It had a very sharp set of teeth. Han Yunxi wasn't sure what the rat was for, but a few glances was enough to make her hairs stand on end. It seemed that the guard was afraid of this rat. He didn't touch it with his hands, but opened the rat cage and dumped it into the larger iron cage before closing the opening. As soon as it landed, the giant rat began to scurry around wildly. It'd probably been cooped up too long without exercise and wanted to escape. In any case, it was very excited.
The more she looked, the more puzzled Han Yunxi became. Right at this moment, the guard tossed in a piece of raw meat about the size of a thumbnail on the rat's back. Its nose was extremely sensitive, and it turned to pounce on the morsel, swallowing it in one gulp without even chewing!
Han Yunxi suddenly sat up straight, exclaiming in surprise, "This rat's been raised on raw meat!"
Long Feiye didn't reply, but the guard respectfully answered, "To reply esteemed wangfei, yes."
Han Yunxi immediately understood and gave a start as she hugged her arms. Too horrific! This carnivorous rat had obviously been starved for days. It was so hungry that it kept looking for food, and it seemed like it'd gone into this iron cage multiple times. It knew that as soon as it entered, it'd have meat, and that's why it was scurrying about so happily. If Long Feiye locked the spy into this cage, then wouldn't she...
Han Yunxi didn't dare think any further, but turned towards Long Feiye. His face was expressionless and his eyes had no pity, as if he was some malevolent spirit of the night. This torture was indeed more horrific than Rice Poison. Faced with this, wouldn't anyone confess?
Soon enough, the two female spies were brought inside, their hands tied behind their backs and their hair in disorder. Both of them resembled withered plants that had been starved for days. One was taken to the side and tied up while the other was brought before the cage. As soon as the gag was removed from her mouth, she started cursing at Long Feiye.
"Long Feiye, don't waste your breath. Even if I die, I won't answer any of your questions!"
"If I can offer you a piece of advice, it's to stop wasting time. It's useless!"
Long Feiye curved his lips in ridicule. He didn't speak, but a single glance had the guard leading the captive over. Her head was viciously pressed against the iron cage, where the giant black rat smelled the scent of "food" and pounced from the inside. Its sharp claws scrabbled wildly at the close-knit bars as if trying to rip them apart.
The female spy roared with rage. "Long Feiye, do you still consider yourself a man for tyrannizing a woman? If you have the guts, then kill me!"
"Long Feiye, do you hear me or not? You cold-blooded, emotionless thing, you're not human!"
"What kind of righteous hero are you? If you have the grit, kill me with a sword!"
Long Feiye didn't speak. The guard pulled the spy aside and gagged her mouth with a hand towel. Immediately, the room fell silent. Only then did Long Feiye opened his mouth, voice so cold that it made the surrounding temperatures drop a few degrees.
"Over ten people have died at your hands in the past few years, including a six-year-old child and an infant still in swaddling clothes. Are you worthy enough to disparage your lordship's humanity?"
Han Yunxi previously held some sympathy for this female agent, but hearing Long Feiye's words, she turned indignant. She could accept that spies would do shameful things, but these didn't even spare children. That was too despicable, so her current situation was her own bad luck! Displeased, the female spy turned her head aside, but Long Feiye gave a cold command.
"Carry out the execution."
Execute her first? Then throw her in the cage? Or was it...