The jailers splashed her viciously with bucket after bucket of ice water. The cold liquid flowed from her neck down her body, freezing the already-cold Han Yunxi to the point that her hands and feet trembled while her teeth started chattering.
"Oh my! Why are you guys so clumsy, don't hit Qin Wangfei! See how pitiful she looks," Princess Changping laughed out loud. "Han Yunxi, hurry up and beg them. Heheh, or you could beg me instead. Beg me to slap you and I'll let you off."
That's right, Princess Changping had come tonight to seek revenge. What kind of thing was Han Yunxi? She dared to touch her Qingwu gege, lecture her on propriety, and even punish her afterwards. Tonight she was going to make this slut pay her back!
"Splash her! Splash her good! Splash until she's begging for forgiveness!" Glancing at the thin layer of ice forming on the floor, Princess Changping trusted that Han Yunxi would be pleading for mercy very soon.
Yet she was quickly disappointed. Han Yunxi didn't beg-in fact, she even stopped dodging to stand on the brick bed, leaning against a corner as she stared at the princess. Her pathetic state made her look like a drenched dog. Despite this, she was still peerlessly beautiful, magnificent, and youthful. Those purple lips curved up in a slight smile while those clear eyes filled with ridicule. Right at this moment, she was standing high up to stare down at Princess Changping.
"What are you smiling about? Don't look!" Princess Changping was utterly discomfited. She was supposed to be toying with Han Yunxi, but why did it feel like the princess was the one being humiliated? "Han Yunxi, don't look! Close your eyes!"
"Han Yunxi, I'm telling you, if you don't beg for forgiveness today I definitely won't let you off! North Court Official, open the door." Princess Changping was so angry that she wanted to personally deal with this cheap woman.
"Princess, you mustn't. She's from the Duke of Qin's household," the North Court Official was still afraid of the consequences, or else he'd have tortured Han Yunxi long ago.
"Right now she's a prisoner! I order you to open up the door immediately!" Princess Changping huffed, before commanding the other jailers to keep pouring water. Han Yunxi looked coldly at the princess hooting like a rabid dog, disdain growing in her eyes. This only pushed Princess Changping closer to a frenzy.
"North Court Official, you dare disobey the princess's orders? Still won't open up?"
The North Court Official could neither open or leave the door. Despite the cold, his forehead broke out in sweat from the pressure, before relenting beneath Princess Changping's threats. A few jailers rushed in first to hold Han Yunxi in place. She didn't resist, but found the whole thing rather hilarious. Did they fear she'd do something to Princess Changping?
She was so cold that she had no more strength left.
Princess Changping crossed her arms as she angrily stalked inside. "Han Yunxi, keep looking, hmph! If you have any guts, keep staring!"
Han Yunxi lowered her head and didn't move, exactly like a dead person. Princess Changping was very satisfied with this reaction. She used a hand to tilt up Han Yunxi's chin, just in time for the latter to spit a mouthful of icy water at her face.
"Ahhh....!" Princess Changping cried shrilly, pushing her aside as she wiped her face. "Slut! You have some guts."
"The wangfei's title is naturally higher than yours, so I'm your senior. Princess Changping, this is a fact that you'll never change." Han Yunxi looked over, voice full of ridicule. It wasn't that she didn't fear death. Rather, she knew that even if she begged for mercy, Princess Changping still wouldn't let her off easy. Begging forgiveness would just be adding to her humiliation and playing to Princess Changping's whims.
When the princess wiped her face dry, she smeared her makeup in the process. That, combined with her malevolent expression, made her resemble a fierce tigress. "Your senior, is it? Very good, then this princess will serve you herself!"
As she spoke, she grabbed a bucket of water and dumped it over Han Yunxi's head, who shrank back as the cold immediately spread from her skull to her four limbs, feeling that her cells had been frozen solid. Everything in her mind turned blank white.
But the nightmare had just begun.
Very quickly, Princess Changping picked up another bucket and poured it over her head again. More and more followed unchecked until all of the buckets had been emptied. The two jailers who been holding onto Han Yunxi had their fingers frozen stiff, to say nothing of Han Yunxi herself. Still, she kept her gaze on Princess Changping like an ice sculpture, staring at her without moving. It seemed like she could see through Princess Changping's heart and all her petty vanities, faults, and dirty, small-minded thoughts. This stare not only petrified the princess, but the surrounding jailers as well.
When they released Han Yunxi, she toppled to the ground, her stiff body crashing loudly against the floor.
The North Court Official's heart gave a lurch as he placed a finger beneath her nose. Seeing that she was still breathing, he managed to recover his heartbeat. Princess Changping looked at Han Yunxi's rigid body but felt no satisfaction from her revenge as all. Instead, there was a creeping sense of fear. She clearly knew that this woman couldn't act against her anymore, but still she was afraid. She didn't even dare to look at Han Yunxi's face again, but tried to bolster herself.
"Hmph! Han Yunxi, serves you right for rampaging. I might as well tell you now. Even if Qingwu gege wakes up, don't think of leaving the prison! You're definitely going to die!"
When she finished, Princess Changping hastily turned to leave, but didn't take a few steps before she slipped and fell flat on her face.
"Ahhhhh...!" her shrill cries were ear-splitting. The North Court Official and his jailers quickly grabbed her arms to help her up with ashen, frightened faces. Princess Changping started yelling as soon as she sat up. "My waist! My waist...don't touch it! My waist hurts so much!"
"Princess, you haven't strained it, have you?" the North Court Official said in alarm. If she did, then it'd be difficult to recover. Not only that, the repercussions would mean she could easily hurt herself again if she did large movements in the future.
The frightened Princess Changping sat on the icy floor, too afraid to move despite her pain. Indignant, she shouted at the North Court Official. "Hurry up and call an imperial physician!" As she spoke, she felt her face began to itch. She didn't think much of it and started scratching, but her movements didn't stop.
"Esteemed princess, why don't we carry you back? It's not convenient for the imperial physicians to come here." the North Court Official was about to cry. If the doctors came, wouldn't it expose their torture attempts?
Princess Changping was in a lot of pain, but didn't dare to move. As she sat on the ground, the cold water seeped into her skirts and filled her body with cold. She wanted to shout about the pain, but even more about the cold. Yet she was the one that caused all this water! Who could she shout at?
"Then hurry up and carry me out! What are you waiting for? Are you all a bunch of rice barrels?!" Princess Changping shouted as she kept scratching, dumping all her woes on the North Court Official. The dejected official ordered his jailers to bring over a stretcher, and they carefully eased the princess onto its surface before carrying her out of the cell. Before she left, Princess Changping turned back, only to see the unmoving Han Yunxi lying on the ground, her cold eyes still staring at her.
Princess Changping turned around, too afraid to look again. She even regretted coming here in the first place. Only then did Han Yunxi's lips curve up into a grin. It was an especially alluring smile that could cause the fall of nations.
Princess Changping, just wait until your face is ruined!
While she was sprawled on the ground, she slipped some poison beneath Princess Changping's feet so she'd fall. That wasn't a big deal. What was more important was the fact that the poison was a type of toxic ringworm that would grow on her face and feet, creating a scaly rash similar to psoriasis that was even more disgusting than Han Yunxi's old facial tumor.
After making sure that everyone was gone, Han Yunxi couldn't hold it back anymore. Her whole body began to shudder violently as her teeth started chattering. Her nose was so sore that she wanted to cry, but she didn't have the energy. The cold water on the ground had turned into a thin layer of ice that even encased parts of her body. How low was her body temperature now?
Han Yunxi didn't even had the strength to raise herself up, though that wouldn't help any matters. The entire cell was covered in damp or ice. If she kept on being cold, the functions of her body would grow slower and slower. At this moment, she wished there was a doctor around to rouse her with a few acupuncture needles. She was a doctor too, but not the typical kind. All she had were poisons and antidotes.
In desperation, Han Yunxi took out some poison from the detox system. It was a type of heat producing toxin that caused shuddering while raising the body temperature. Although this poison was extremely harmful to the body, right now she had no choice. After taking it, she sprawled on the ground in exhaustion.
Very quickly, the poison took effect. The heat emitted from within her body fought against the ice from outside. Between the opposing forces of hot and cold, Han Yunxi fell into a stupor. It seemed that someone came inside to clean up the water and refill the firewood. A finger was placed before her nose to check her breathing, but the dazed Han Yunxi couldn't even open her eyes to see who it was.
When she finally regained consciousness, it was night of the next day. She didn't need to take an antidote for her poison because the cold had burned it all away. Although she escaped losing her life, she was now stuck shivering from cold again. Though she wanted to take the poison again, she knew better than anyone else that a second dose would definitely take her life. Looking around in a circle, Han Yunxi discovered that someone had swept the cell clean and removed all traces from last night. A warm fire was burning beneath the bed, and on the side were some hot dishes and a clean set of clothes.
What...was the meaning of this?
Just as she was wondering, Gu Beiyue came to the cell door carrying items in his hands.
So that was it!
The North Court Official was afraid of Gu Beiyue seeing evidence of torture, so he cleaned everything up to make things look fine on the surface. When the jailers leading the way left, Gu Beiyue hastily waved a hand at her. "Esteemed wangfei, come quickly."
He quickly crouched down, carefully pouring soup from a container into a bowl before pushing it across the bars. "Esteemed wangfei, please drink this while it's hot. Your servant personally made this soup to dispel dampness and chill."
Gu Beiyue was a very clean person. Dressed in white robes with a calm temperament, he seemed incompatible with the gloomy surroundings. Yet upon seeing him, Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel close. She walked over and looked at his sincere, concerned expression, then at the steam wafting from the bowl of soup, and felt her heart twist in discomfort. What happened last night had already passed, but she couldn't help but suddenly feel wronged.
No matter how strong people were, didn't their hearts turn soft when others cared about them?
Was it cold here? It wasn't just cold, but frigid enough to take a person's life! Dispelling dampness and chill? How could one bowl of soup face off against last night's buckets of ice water? And yet, one word of friendship from this man had warmed her up.
Ever since she was young, no one had said one caring word to her, much less make her soup to ward off the cold.