Chapter 222: A Human Candle
A loud hum filled the empress’ mind when she heard this. In utter despair, she fell to a seated position on the ground. She stared straight ahead, forgetting to even cry in her distress.
“Liar! Liar! You said I’m to have a life of unparalleled fortune! What kind of prediction was that?! Liar!” The empress roared furiously and burst into loud sobs. She suddenly shot to her feet and charged a nearby pillar.
However, having anticipated this, the Prince of Ning stopped the woman with a quick forward grasp. He adroitly dislocated her jaw, then broke all of her limbs with a few sharp twists and loud cracks. He tossed her carelessly to the men behind him.
Shrieking and howling with pain, the empress’ face was a mess of tears and snot. Because she couldn’t close her mouth, drool puddled on her collar.
The prince smiled at the emperor. “Royal brother, it’s getting late. Would you like to go outside with me and see what the people are doing?”
The emperor didn’t dare meet his brother’s eyes. He was both frightened and livid, having no idea what the prince would do with the empress. Imperial tears streaked down his face.
When the prince failed to receive an answer, he pretended that his royal brother wasn’t present. He turned to address the soldiers.
“Take her away. Stuff oil rags into all of the openings in her body, wind two dense layers of hemp rope around her, then stick her in a vat of oil. Tell the whole city that this prince will put on a show for them today. I’ll show them a human candle at the hour of the dog in front of the meridian gate! It’s going to be a good one! Hahaha!”
He burst into rowdy laughter at the end and continued, “Go tell the families that suffered the most from this slut that I’m turning her into a human candle today. I’ll save them front-row seats, so come early! We wait for no one!”
“Understood!” The soldiers nursed a bone deep hatred of the trampress for ruining their country. Not only did they not think this punishment was cruel and unusual, but they were greatly looking forward to it.
As for the trampress, she’d already fainted from terror when she heard the words ‘human candle’.
The emperor yanked at his brother. “Prince of Ning! Killing someone is easy. If you still treasure the bonds of brotherhood between us, give her a quick death! She’s just a weak woman!”
“A weak woman? Where was that weakness when she was busy cooking people and frying them? I’ve never seen her show a shred of compassion either. Royal brother, in my opinion, you should focus on how you’re going to punish me after this and get revenge for your empress.” The prince saluted casually with cupped fists and left with a flourish of his sleeves.
Intense pain assaulted the emperor’s heart. He pointed accusingly at the prince’s departing figure for a long while, shaking from from anger. An excess of emotion finally sent him crashing to the ground in a dead faint.
When the prince exited the palace, the empress was duly immersed in a vat of oil as per his orders. Three thousand men were left to guard the meridian gate as he charged to the Cao Manor with the remaining seven thousand.
Chaos was reigning supreme when he arrived. Servants were running for their lives, some clutching packages and others holding vases or other valuables. Anarchy was the theme of the day.
The prince didn’t stop to question anyone when he rushed in. He just killed everyone he saw, whether a servant or Cao family member, plunging the manor into a sea of blood.
Some protested that they hadn’t done anything wrong, that they were just a servant. The prince answered all of those with a cold thrust of the blade.
“There’s nothing good in Cao Bingzhong’s family! Have any of you shied away from lording it over others normally? I’m exacting justice on behalf on the heavens today to take care of all you scum!” He turned back to yell at his troops. “Kill them all! Don’t let a single one live!”
“Understood!” The soldiers were gripped by frenzied bloodlust. Some of them tucked valuables away, to which the prince pretended he didn’t see anything. This further spurred the soldiers onto greater efforts.
And so the Cao Manor was raided and looted.
Six hundred Cao family members and servants were slaughtered.
The prince checked all of the bodies carefully, stabbing them a few more times when he saw anyone surnamed Cao. His only regret was that Grand Preceptor Cao wasn’t home!
When the soldiers searched the premises, they discovered a hidden door behind a bookcase in an inner residence study. The prince and his men charged in with torches, emerging in the firewood shed of a residence on the outskirts of the capital.
The prince and his men looked around and searched the residence carefully.
“Your Highness, there was a fight here four hours ago. There’s footprints and traces of blood on the ground, but no one to be found.”
The prince snorted coldly and spat through grit teeth, “That old fart probably ran away with part of the family fortune when he received word of what was happening. He threw away even his own family! How ludicrous.”
The soldiers found these actions equally reprehensible. After a short discussion, their leader asked, “Your Highness, what do we do now?”
“Let’s go back. It’s about time. If we grab some horses, we’ll make it in time for the show.”
The soldiers assented loudly at this.
The hour of the dog.
Dusk had fallen; the last patch of sunset was about to vanish behind distant mountain peaks.
A tall stage had been set up outside the meridian gate, a wooden cross at the top of it.
Beneath the stage, someone fished out a woman from a large vat. Her mouth was gagged, messy slicks of hair scattered wildly, and soaked hemp ropes wrapped around her.
The Prince of Ning placed his hand on his trusty sword at his waist and stood atop the stage. His voice carried on the wind as he faced the dense crowd. “Today, I, Weiching Jinming, captured the scourge of our nation and exterminated the trampress’ family. From today onwards, there will be no one bedeviling the emperor!”
“Good! Good! Good!” Soldiers beneath the stage called out in unison, accompanied by cheers from the citizens.
The oil-soaked empress was forced upside down and tied to the wooden cross. The prince accepted a torch and strode slowly to the woman.
The empress wanted to faint from the stench from the oil around her. Her head to the ground, she watched despairingly as the prince approached with measured pace. Sobbing sounds emitted behind the gag as she begged for mercy.
“The trampress is a blight on our nation and has harmed loyal officials,” the prince denounced coldly. “Not only did she influence the emperor with temptations in bed, but she wiped out Imperial Physician Tang’s family, convinced the emperor to destroy the Duke of Ding’s household, and eliminated opponents by frying and eating Consort Shu and Honored Concubine Xiang. Her crimes are too numerous to record. Today, we see how one like her ends up!”
He didn’t skip a single beat and brought the torch close to the well-lubricated ropes at her feet. They ignited with a whoosh!
It rather did look like lighting a candle from the distance.
The empress screamed with pain and twisted desperately. However, her struggles were futile given the ropes wrapped around her. Enduring the pain and despair spreading from her feet was the only thing she could do.
She quickly fainted from the torment.
The Prince of Ning kindly woke her up with a pail of water.
He also personally relit the human candle whenever the fires went out.
After repeated suffering, the trampress finally fell still when the fires reached her calves. Sheer pain had been the death of her.
However, the prince didn’t stop. He ordered his troops, “Burn it, keep it burning! Turn her into ashes for those she killed. I don’t want even residue to remain!”
The human candle flickered with varying degrees of intensity and brightened the meridian gate. Fear first struck the crowd, but applause soon reigned.
Within the crowd, Mu Jinghu awoke the fainted Grand Preceptor Cao for the seventh time. Horror had caused him to faint continuously. Qin Yining and née Sun were flanking the Duchess of Ding.
The group squeezed out of the crowd only when the trampress had been half burned, making their way to a close manor nearby. This was Qin Yining’s new property. The original family had moved away long ago, leaving behind a manor two houses deep.
Her aunts, cousins-in-law, and other female relations were all present within as well as four strange men. Slightly nervous at the sight, née Sun was assuaged by her daughter patting her hand. The Qin fourth miss left Jiyun with her mother and helped her grandmother to the center seat in the yard.
Having tapped the grand preceptor’s acupoints to render him immobile, Mu Jinghu threw the human block of wood onto the ground.