Western Liang, the tenth year of Emperor Changxis reign.

In the dimly lit prison deep in the palace, a tall lean man in a white bloody night robe lay on his side in the middle of a grimy prison in a small pool of blood.

His blood slowly dripped off the stab wound on his side to the ground in tiny little drops. That was strangely audible to him.

The dark red blood followed the patterns of the stone floor as they left through his stab wound.

The ruby-embedded end of the dagger piercing his side peaked out, the ruby sparkled when a sliver of light reflected on it.

The dagger was the only thing keeping him from completely bleeding out and dying. No matter the pain he felt, Xiang Ziwei tried to breathe as slowly as possible to regulate the loss of Blood and the throbbing pain at his side.

Tears ran down his swollen right eye, he could barely see through that eye. He shivered as the cold winter breeze blew through the room. The ground under him was nearly ice cold not that his captors cared.

The make-shift fireplace opposite his cell that was made from a cast iron pot that the guards had set up was the only thing keeping the chill away. The two soldiers guarding his cell stood hands stretched close to the fire.

The prison was always cold no matter the weather because of its strategic location. The entire room would be as cold as a cold room if not for the make-shift fireplace.

The fireplace would never have been set if he was the only one in the room. Since his captors had no intention of keeping him alive.

He coiled his body, careful not to put pressure on his injuries, which was impossible.

That slight movement put pressure on his smaller injuries, he hissed and gnashed his teeth at the sharp pain he felt.

Two chatty guards stood outside his prison cell, both wishing to be anywhere else but in here. the older guard, a bulky average height man with a receding hairline slapped his partners shoulder as a low-ranking eunuch walked in with their lunch.

”AYan our lunch is here ”, the older guard said to his partner moving to the small table by the wall opposite the prison cell.

The eunuch placed the old food box on the table and glanced over his shoulder at Xiang Ziwei.

”Tsk tsk, who knew that a once powerful Emperor like him would one day become like this ”.

The older guard glanced at Xiang Ziwei and chuckled, ”don feel sorry for him Xiaobei, he brought it on himself. ” He picked up a piece of meat and took a big bite, chewing loudly.

The younger guard who was munching on a bun just looked at the dying man in the prison cell and sighed.

”We are so unlucky, why do we have to be the guards left here to watch him. I don know why they kept him here, why not get rid of him. Why keep him here only to torture him to the brink of death and then leave him. Her majesty is a ruthless woman ”.

”Does she even qualify to be called human ”, the eunuch replied.

The younger guard turned to Xiang Ziwei and sighed, ”this poor man, he was so enamoured with her. He does not deserve to be betrayed, honestly compared to Prince Fang. He is more deserving of the throne ”.

”Hush now ”, The older guard and eunuch both said in unison.

They glanced at the entrance at the door in fear, ”someone might hear you! ” the eunuch whispered holding his index finger to his lips.

They looked at the door fearfully, the Empress was yet to come over today. They were worried that she would overhear their conversation.

They relaxed when no one came in, the guards ate quickly while the Eunuch waited patiently. When they were done, he kept the empty plates in the food box and left.

Empress Zhao Ronglei arrived minutes after the Eunuch left. As usual, she was accompanied by four hefty guards and her maid. The prison guards opened the prison doors and stepped back silently.

Empress dowager Zhao sat on a stool silently playing with the beads of her beaded bracelets. While watching as her guard hit Xiang Ziwei with a leather whip continuously, the sound of leather hitting flesh filled the room.

After days of torture, the smell of blood had become a permanent stench. A short while later, Zhao Ronglei raised her hands, ”Enough, just hold him up. By now, he should be compliant ”, glancing over her shoulder at the prison guards, ”get out! ”

The prison guards felt a sudden chill, making them shiver, ”y-yes your majesty ”, they nearly stepped over each other as they rushed out of the prison.

Her mouth twitched at their actions but her expression quickly darken as her gaze fell on Xiang Ziweis bloody face.

”Ziwei, it has been 3 days. Are you ready to be obedient or should we continue to hurt you? Tell me where you hid the Imperial seal and I will give you a swift painless death ”, her lips curved up.

At this point, Xiang Ziwei no longer saw things clearly, everything in his sight was blood red. He was lingering at the edge of extreme blood loss.

The once calming face that he had gotten used to looking at when swamped with worries now looked dirty and disgusting. He felt nothing but the urge to kill her.

His wife of twelve years was nothing like he remembered. These last few days had been eye-opening, his lips shook as his gaze fell on her cold smile.

How could I be blind to her true nature, those men were right. I brought this on myself, I never should have trusted any of them. Now I must pay the price for that mistake ”, he held her gaze for a few seconds before looking away ”.

A wave of great anger filled her soul at that moment, she tighten her grip on the table beside her.

”Since you refuse to be reasonable, don blame me for being ruthless. You have an hour to make your final decision, after which we are off ”, She stood and held her maids hands as support as she left.

The Guards let go of his hand after she left, leaving him to fall on his face. He winced as he made sharp contact with the stone ground, he rolled into a ball on his uninjured side.

A cool breeze blew through the room, making him shiver. He hissed as the shivering made the pain from his wound multiply.

True to her earlier words, Zhao Ronglei returned an hour later. She sat on the stood and looked down at him, his current sorry state gladdened her.

”This stubbornness will only hurt you, just tell me where the Imperial seal is Ziwei. This is your end, I will never let you survive. Tell me where the seal is or I will kill your child ”.

His hand flew to his chest as he felt a sharp pain in his heart, he sat up in an attempt to charge forward but fell back as quickly as he sat up.

The pain from his stab wound intensified, Xiang Ziwei clutched his side. ”you… you would dare hurt your children just for Tingfeng! ”

”Children? please, I only care about Xiang Ru. He was conceived out of my love for Tingfeng ”, she laughed as his face stiffened,

”ha ha ha ha ha ha, you look so pathetic right now. Don tell me you thought he was yours, how could he ever be yours. He is Tingfengs son ”.

It was like he was looking at a mad woman, every word was like an arrow piercing his heart. ”How could you! why? What_ What about Mingyue? ”

”Oh, her? ” she leaned forward and whispered, ”Don worry, she is yours. ”

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