Si Tian Guan Chapter 134

Chapter 134: Prison Break

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Bai Shiyan had a lot of official business to attend to and was the last one to arrive, even after nightfall.

When he was led to the inner courtyard by his servant, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the people waiting there. He pinched himself, wondering if he was dreaming. He recognized all of them individually, but seeing them together was like a surreal experience.

Some of them had cold faces, while others were stern.

Those who knew understood that they were all working together, while those who didn’t know might have thought they were about to start a brawl in the middle of the night.

Bai Shiyan scratched his head, not knowing what had happened during his busy period.

“Um…” he pointed to two of them and asked in confusion, “What are they doing here?”

The last time things got out of hand was when Fang Wuyang and Jiang Xingzhi abducted Little Brother Qu, and at that time, Zhongming had wished he could flip the capital upside down. He even used his name to justify catching the bandits.

Fang Wuyang’s presence could be understood, as he had the backing of the Bai family, but Jiang Xingzhi’s presence was a little suspicious.

Rumor had it that Jiang Xingzhi was stabbed by Little Brother Qu and nearly died.

But the details of what happened couldn’t be revealed to anyone. All he could tell the Tai Shi Bureau was that he had been injured by “extremely vicious bandits” while travelling at night.

He had originally thought that Jiang Xingzhi must have felt extremely bitter after suffering such a loss, and would at least act indifferent towards him when they next met. But he never expected to run into him here tonight, dressed so smartly. It didn’t seem like he was here just to spectate – how could such a secretive matter involve Jiang Xingzhi?

Liu Zhongming followed his gaze and calmly explained, “We’re short-handed, so we asked him to join us.”

“Join you for what?” Bai Shiyan didn’t know what to say in response to this calm and collected explanation, so he gestured towards the other two people present and asked, “And what about them?”

As for the other two, Bai Shiyan didn’t know. Since Ling He had been promoted to the position of Assistant Minister of the Dali Temple, Liu Zhongming had thrown a tantrum and resigned from his official post, which was well-known throughout the palace. When the emperor scolded Liu Zhongming, he even dragged Bai Shiyan into the mess, he was… very innocent.

As for Rong Jiuan, he had taken the shortcut back to the Hanlin Academy after being caught in a rainstorm in Zhongnan Mountain. The students at the Jinxi Academy were all fired up, and they wrote articles condemning him one after another. The Third Young Master of the Liu family was one of the leaders in this movement. Liu Qingchi and Rong Jiuan exchanged heated words with each other, their writings full of wit and charm, which made the other students feel ashamed of their own mediocre writing and gather around them to watch.

Their exquisite articles were even compiled into a book and sold like hotcakes, and even Bai Shiyan could recite a few lines from memory. It was obvious that Liu Zhongming, the cunning businessman, had made a lot of money off of it.

“He’s also here to help out,” Liu Zhongming replied succinctly, studying the papers in his hand, gesturing for Bai Shiyan to take a breather and prepare himself.

Xu Ziwen meticulously recorded every detail about Pan He in the Jinxiu Ying, even the words Liao Guangming said to Pan He before sending him away, which meant he relaxed his guard and didn’t avoid Xu Ziwen.

These are all very important details. If there is even a slight oversight and Pan He detects something amiss, it would be all for naught.

“I’ve instructed all the bystanders to stay away. Tonight, the six of us must perform this act beautifully. How’s the patrol doing?”

“The road we’re supposed to take is clear, won’t cause any trouble.” Bai Shiyan didn’t want to waste any more time on trivial matters. He took off his armor, changed into a short-sleeved shirt and suddenly realized, “Why are there only six of us? Where’s Little Brother Qu? Why isn’t he joining us?”

“That’s a good question,” Liu Zhongming smiled slightly. “Chenzhou said he ate too much tonight and was too lazy to move, so he went to rest.”

Pan He was tortured and hung up during the day, and should not have awakened at this time.

But the ghosts that were crying and wailing for several days in a row were still lingering in his mind, and he woke up again at midnight.

In the distance, the owl cried like a cry or a laugh in his ears.

Pan He struggled to turn over, his head against the wooden fence, and his whole body trembling violently. The closer the voice got, the more despair crawled all over him, and he suddenly slammed his head against the railing.

But whether it was because of physical weakness or the fear of death, this only caused a loud noise from the gate, and he fell to the ground, shaking his shoulders and silently choking in despair.

The sound of iron chains being pulled came from above, and the iron door opened with a dry creak. Someone came down the stairs and stood not far in front of him, laughing coldly.

“Pan Gonggong, why be so stubborn?”

Pan He suddenly bounced up, with a piece of straw in his mouth, hastily writing in the air. He couldn’t make any sound, only repeatedly bumping his shoulder against the wooden railing.

“Liu?” Liao Guangming’s voice carried a hint of mockery, “I was just joking with you. Did you really think I would hand you over to Liu Zhongming? But even if you meet him, so what? Are you treating him as a good man or a faithful woman?”

Pan He was stunned, slumped down and leaned his head against the railing, as if crying bitterly.

A long scroll was thrown in front of him, followed by the sound of charcoal falling on the paper.

“Pan Gonggong, what I can give you is much more than Liu Zhongming…”

Before he could finish speaking, both of them heard a muffled groan from above, and very light footsteps mixed with the rustling of clothes, quickly jumping down from the stairs.

“Liu Zhongming!”

Liao Guangming roared in anger, and Pan He trembled, suddenly struggling and rolling towards the wall on the side.

From the sound, almost at the same time, Liao Guangming and the intruder had already started fighting. The intruder’s martial arts were obviously exceptional, even comparable to Liao Guangming’s, and all that could be heard was Liao Guangming’s angry cursing in the whistling of fists.

“Liu Zhongming, how dare you break into the prison!”

The chaotic footsteps went around the two fighting figures and hurriedly came in their direction.

Pan He huddled up, afraid to attract attention, but also afraid of people seeing him in this state and then giving up and retreating.

He knew Liao Guangming was right. No matter who got their hands on him, they couldn’t possibly be here to be a bodhisattva.

But Liao Guangming wanted him dead, while Liu Shizi might not.

He always had a little hope, he wanted to live, to survive!

The blade struck the iron chain, making a piercing sound. After a few strikes, someone kicked the cell door, and the wooden bars and iron chains made a horrible collision sound as the door opened.

The door opened, but Pan He didn’t know if he should hide. Nearly a year of no daylight and torture, he was like a startled bird, but still struggled to hold onto the last bit of hope.

He wanted to live, he didn’t want to be tortured by Liao Guangming anymore, and he couldn’t bear the night after night of crying for his life.

“Pan Gonggong.”

Someone squatted in front of him and called him. This voice was full of worry, although gentle and clear, it was like a sharp axe, cracking the hardened Pan He.

“Pan Gonggong, I came late, hold on a little longer, I’ll take you out now.”

Someone tried to cut the iron shackles on his feet, but after several unsuccessful attempts, he had to lift him onto his back and carry him out of the cell.

“Liu Zhongming! How dare you break into the cell!” Liao Guangming was entangled and couldn’t get away, so he could only shout angrily from behind, “Do you really think I won’t report you to the emperor!”

Pan He heard Liu Zhongming following behind him and answered loudly, “Commander Liao, it’s every man for himself. Want to report me? Go ahead!”

His heart was in his throat, and he was suffocating. Although he didn’t know how the Jinxiu Ying was arranged, he could hear from the sound of the pursuit that the pursuers were gradually falling behind.

“Turn left… then right…”

The night wind blew on his face, and he knew they were on the street. He listened to the footsteps around him and struggled to keep himself from passing out, trying to estimate their escape route.

He remembered how to get from Jinxiu Ying to the Liu Mansion, but this route was wrong.

In this state of terror, he heard Liu Zhongming lowly shout, “They caught up, go this way!”

They changed direction once again.

Pan He’s tense spirit finally relaxed, and the long torture almost instantly swallowed his consciousness. Before Liu Zhongming could say a second sentence, he suddenly dropped his head.

Ling He only felt a weight on his shoulder, the suffocation from running like fire burning his chest. His reflex was to slow down, but Jiang Xingzhi and Liu Zhongming both pushed him on both sides, and they continued to run forward without stopping. They ran past a fork in the road before realizing that Pan He’s breathing had completely stabilized.

He was sweating cold all over, not expecting Pan He to be so alert at this time. Did he want to hear what they would say later?

The patrol along the way had been moved by Bai Shiyan in advance. They circled around before returning to the mansion through a side door. Fang Wuyang and Bai Shiyan were already waiting in the courtyard.

Qu Chenzhou had not slept and had been waiting for everyone to return.

Liu Zhongming had someone settle Pan He in a guest room before gathering everyone together again.

Although it was just a play, Bai Fang and the other person really used their skills, afraid that Pan He would hear something wrong.

Ling He carried Pan He, who was wearing shackles, without stopping for a moment. Even Jiang Xing and Rong Jiuan, who were running alongside, were too tired to speak.

Liu Zhongming sat Qu Chenzhou down and went to pour tea for everyone before returning to his seat.

Everyone knew that making Pan He think he was rescued by Liu Zhongming from the Jinxiu Ying was just the first step.

Next, the most important thing was how Liu Zhongming pretended to know all the inside information and how he could get Pan He’s answer accurately. This was the key point.

They only needed one answer, even just a nod. That would be Pan He’s compromise as he was on the verge of collapse – Liu Zhongming was his only lifeline, his only chance of survival. As long as he was willing to grasp it, other questions would be easily solved.

Success or failure depended on this one sentence, and they could not afford to be careless.

The discussion among the three of them came to a standstill, and Qu Chenzhou suggested bringing in another person.

Jiang Xingzhi.

As the saying goes, outsiders have a clear view while insiders are confused. Jiang Xingzhi posed two questions that they had not thought of – if the emperor kept Pan He imprisoned for so long, was it just to provide a ladder for Liao Guangming or Shizi to climb up? Did the emperor himself not have anything he wanted to know?

These two questions enlightened the three of them and even made the “35” number clear.

When the Emperor was sixteen, he met a divination master. Thirty-seven years had passed since then. If they calculated one person per year, then two people were missing.

When the Emperor transferred the child born of sin to Jinping Village, he knew that two people were missing, and their whereabouts were his top concern.

This was also why Pan He clenched his teeth and refused to reveal any life-saving methods.

All eyes were on Liu Zhongming.

Liu Zhongming knew what was in their eyes. He never imagined that since he heard the words “Bing Dilian,” the ladder he had been desperately searching for would appear in front of him in this way.

If Pan He had hidden those two people, it might be the most optimistic scenario, but the possibility was slim.

If not, the reason why Pan He refused to speak might be that the people were already dead.

If Liu Zhongming wanted to move forward, he had only one way.

This was something that only he could do, and no one else could replace him.

“Thank you all for your hard work tonight,” said Liu Zhongming, looking around with a faint smile. “I will take good care of Pan Gonggong from now on, and if there is any situation, I will pass the message on to you.”

“It’s late at night, please go back and take care of yourselves.”

The people got up and bid farewell, knowing what “take care of yourselves” meant.

For various reasons, they had all ended up on Liu Zhongming’s side. They were enemies outside, but inside they were united against a common enemy. If they were discovered, it would be difficult for anyone to leave unscathed.

It shouldn’t be just Liu Zhongming climbing up step by step for their respective goals.

One by one, the people left through a side door, silently disappearing into the night.

When Qu Chenzhou came out of the reception hall, he was not surprised to see someone still waiting in the courtyard.

“Jiang Sichen,” he smiled and arched his hand. “Do you have something to discuss with me?”

Jiang Xingzhi didn’t mind him playing dumb and answered directly, “Let’s talk about our cooperation.”

Author’s Note: There is a skilled orator in the capital, Fang Wuyang.

The person to carry Pan He and run was decided by drawing lots, with three options. It may not have been clear in the EQAQ serialization, so to prevent confusion, here’s an explanation (not a spoiler). Although Pan He is already in the hands of Zhongming, he didn’t immediately let Pan He know that he was out of Liao’s hands. Instead, he maintained the illusion that they were still in the Jinxiu Ying to make Pan He feel that Zhongming was his only savior. The fake prison break was to get Pan He to answer his first question and confirm their suspicions. Zhongming’s goal is to replace Pan He and do the secretive task for the emperor regarding the children born of sin, thus upgrading himself to a trusted confidant of the emperor’s secrets. As for the cooperation between Jiang Xingzhi and Chenzhou, what they want to do cannot be said, but they both have their own goals. Jiang Xingzhi wants revenge, while Chenzhou wants to remove his disguise (voluntarily).

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