Si Tian Guan Chapter 217

Chapter 217: The Water Dungeon

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Qu Chenzhou curled up slightly, lying sideways on a pile of straw with his hands shackled in front of his chest.

It wasn’t warm yet, especially in this place devoid of sunlight. Even the straw beneath him exuded a dampness accompanied by a moldy odor.

When he was brought in, he was already changed into the prison attire of the “Jinxiu Ying.” His shoes and socks had disappeared, and the cold iron fetters bound tightly around his thin ankles were making it difficult for him to sleep.

When he saw the Jinxiu Ying people charging towards him, he had a rough understanding of who was secretly manipulating everything.

He had been tasked with bidding farewell to the Grand Tutor on the Emperor’s orders, while in Liu Zhongming’s hands was a clear and unmistakable imperial edict. It was these two completely contrasting yet seamlessly intertwined decrees that brought him to this place.

The Tang family’s “conspiracy” case had concluded last year, so why were they suddenly bringing up charges of conspiracy again?

Perhaps there were people at the banquet who genuinely intended to settle old scores. However, his connection with Liu Zhongming was undoubtedly one of the Emperor’s major concerns.

Looking at it this way, it must have been some words from Huai Wang or Yu Dexi that caught the Emperor’s attention. The seeds of suspicion in the Emperor’s heart were finally taking root and sprouting.

The next step would be to test them.

During these past few days, those imprisoned together with him had been interrogated one by one, but no one had paid him any attention.

Going by the count of three meals a day, it had been about four or five days. Yet, Liu Zhongming hadn’t appeared, and Qu Chenzhou could guess that someone was undoubtedly holding Liu Zhongming back on the other side.

Who else could it be?

During the days he had been imprisoned, it was likely that his residence had been thoroughly searched.

Would everything unfold as they had anticipated?

As he dozed off in a daze, he heard the rhythmic sound of keys clashing from outside, gradually getting closer along with the footsteps.

It was the overseer of this place. Liu Zhongming had mentioned him before—Xu Ziwen.

While he couldn’t expect any care or special treatment, he distinctly heard Xu Ziwen’s words in his ear, “Just stay here peacefully, I’ve got everything under control.”

With that, he settled down. This place was once his h*ll, but now it had become a haven.

The footsteps grew closer, finally stopping outside the door. Xu Ziwen’s voice called out, “Qu Chenzhou, come out!”

The iron chains on the prison door rattled as they were pulled. Before he could sit up, a jailer entered, lifting him up from both sides.

Xu Ziwen glanced him up and down before nodding, “Let’s go.”

The jailer promptly removed his handcuffs and then bound his hands behind his back. A blindfold was placed over his eyes, and they moved forward.

No one spoke, only the sound of the shackles dragging on the ground echoed through the narrow corridor.

Turning several corners and walking for an uncertain distance, they finally stopped after about a tea’s worth of time. Qu Chenzhou suddenly realized there was a glimmer of light under the blindfold, and even his breathing seemed smoother, as if they had reached an open space.

A kick struck his knee, and before he could even register the pain radiating from his kneecap, he heard a voice not far ahead greeting him with a laugh.

“Qu Chenzhou, what a rare visitor.”

After days in this gloomy place, he finally heard a familiar voice. Qu Chenzhou’s nose inexplicably tingled, and he struggled to suppress his emotions before responding, “I never expected to meet the Shizi here.”

Liu Zhongming sneered, “That’s why they say, in the game of life, every move is a new game. Does Qu Sitian know why he’s here?”

“I believe the Shizi has apprehended the wrong person,” Qu Chenzhou struggled to stand up but was pushed back down. He could only grit his teeth and argue, “I have no association with the Tang family, I was only there to bid farewell to the Grand Tutor. There was no conspiracy.”

“Whether there’s an association or a conspiracy, it’s not just about what you say.”

Water sounds echoed from ahead, like someone was drawing a scoop of water, specially meant for him to hear.

Qu Chenzhou’s heart trembled.

He was well aware of the many dark secrets of the Jinxiu Ying. This was a small water dungeon, although not suitable for long-term imprisonment, it was a suitable place for torture.

Countless people had drowned in this pool that was half a person’s height.

Since Liu Zhongming had already set up this situation, it was likely that he had no choice but to endure this round of torture.

“Shizi… Are you planning to interrogate me through torture? I demand an audience with the Emperor to plead my innocence!” Qu Chenzhou suddenly straightened his body, “I demand to see the Emperor!”


A hand seized his collar, applying a great amount of force. He was lifted entirely off the ground before he could react.

In the blink of an eye, everything turned upside down, and water rushed into his nose and mouth from all sides.

His hands were bound behind his back, preventing him from even struggling or treading water. He felt himself sinking due to the weight of the shackles, bubbles of air in his chest were now inhaled water, and in an instant, he was completely submerged.

The outside sounds were muffled by the water. Time seemed to stretch on for a significant length, yet it also felt like an instant.

When he was once again pulled above the water, he laid by the edge of the pool, coughing and gasping, retching up water. It felt like something was still tugging him downward.

He couldn’t see what had happened, only being able to wildly kick his legs. As he struggled to get out while shivering, he realized something was missing beneath him.

—The violently stirred water flowed directly over his legs. There was no sensation of damp fabric clinging to his legs.

Someone was treading in the water beside him. Before he could struggle to stand, they tugged at the back of his clothes, simultaneously lifting and pressing him down, preventing him from kneeling down or standing up.

“So Qu Chenzhou wants to leave like this, showing off your slender and fair legs to everyone, or perhaps revealing something else?” Liu Zhongming’s voice was cold.

The water in the pool wasn’t deep; Qu Chenzhou’s half-kneeling posture made him realize the water was just below his waist.

Without needing to look, he could already imagine the rippling water lifting his loose prison attire, but he didn’t know if it was enough to hide what laid beneath his lower garments.

“You…” Qu Chenzhou bit his lower lip hard, unsure of the gazes surrounding him. Clenching his legs together, he was overcome with shame and anger, his voice choked with emotion, “You… you b*stard!”

The person behind him pressed his knees inward, forcing his legs to spread to the sides. It left him in a dilemma, unable to advance or retreat.

If he sat down, it would seem overly intimate. If he managed to stand, he’d be brushed against ambiguously. His knees gave way weakly.

“Go ahead and curse,” Liu Zhongming leaned forward, pressing him against the pool wall and kneeling beside him. With one hand on his left shoulder, the other wrapped around to his front, Liu Zhongming said, “It’s been a while since we’ve been so candid with each other. Does Qu Sitian need some time to get used to it?”

Qu Chenzhou’s cheek was against the edge of the pool, the water occasionally lapping into his mouth. He was about to retort “Liu,” but his voice abruptly changed tone.

“Shizi… Shizi… No…”

In the warmth of that embrace and the pressure from that hand, his ability to think gradually crumbled. He knew the person holding him was Liu Zhongming, yet he had no idea why Liu Zhongming was treating him this way in front of so many people.

Not being aware of his surroundings, he dared not speak much.

“Keep shouting,” Liu Zhongming persisted. As he exerted force, his voice fluctuated, and he bit from the back of Qu Chenzhou’s neck down to his earlobe. He laughed softly and said, “Qu Sitian actually enjoys this, doesn’t he?”

“When I just lifted you up, Qu Sitian didn’t struggle much right?” 

“Is that right? Qu Sitian, take a look down, you can tell how delighted you are.” 

“I am very familiar with Qu Sitian’s body.”

Qu Chenzhou moaned in pain, a mixture of urgency and embarrassment. He suddenly mustered all his strength, attempting to stand, but was pushed back down at the bend of his knees. Tears welled up suddenly.

“Liu… Liu Zhongming! I did not conspire with… the Tang family…” He was both terrified and horrified, fighting back his sobs, his cheeks wet with water and tears, “If I escape, I’ll make sure to… to dismember you…”

His voice was suddenly choked off, and he held his breath, trembling as if afflicted by a cold. He let out a few soft groans, and his body slackened, sliding into the water.

An arm circled around his chest, lifting him up, while another hand pinched his chin, turning his face. Warm tongues tangled and wrestled, and that warmth sapped his last bit of resistance.

“Qu Sitian, you’re feeling better now? Has it been too long since you had someone serve you?” Liu Zhongming played with his fingertips in the water and teased, “It’s your turn to serve this Shizi now. How do you plan to serve?” 

Qu Chenzhou’s chest heaved intensely, and his angry tone softened into a plea, “Shizi… spare me…”

“That’s not possible,” Liu Zhongming continued to hold him around the waist, allowing him a moment to rest. Liu Zhongming teased in a light voice, “Who said I could just let you off the hook?”

“I… didn’t…”

Qu Chenzhou choked for half a sentence, then slowly regained some composure. “Last time?” Was it something they had discussed during their secret meeting in the hidden chamber?

Seeing him dazed, Liu Zhongming chuckled from behind, having succeeded in his plan.

“Chenzhou, did you enjoy it just now? It was faster than usual, wasn’t it?”

Qu Chenzhou’s eyes suddenly brightened, and the blindfold over his eyes was removed.

Indeed, the person holding him close from behind was Liu Zhongming, and the surroundings were empty of others.

“See, there’s no one around.”

“When I took off your pants, they wisely left—Who would dare watch this spring scene of mine? I’d have their eyeballs if they did.”

Liu Zhongming nibbled at his earlobe again. “Don’t worry, the water was freshly changed and is clean. Was it fun? Exciting?”

The tension in Qu Chenzhou’s body eased, and he suddenly burst into tears, biting down on the arm in front of him.

“Liu Zhongming! You b*stard! You’re a b*stard! I hate you to death!”

Liu Zhongming winced in pain, sucking in a breath. He allowed Qu Chenzhou to bite him and said, “You can curse louder, let the people outside hear.”

Qu Chenzhou naturally understood that this wasn’t a place for unrestrained weeping. Trying to regain his composure, his voice broke intermittently as he struggled not to sob.

“What… what’s… going on?”

“Mu Jingyan discovered your mechanism, and that old dog Yu Dexi couldn’t wait either. Normally, he might have just given the Emperor a vague hint, but this time, with evidence in hand, he hurried to present it.”

“I had some suspicions too…” Qu Chenzhou was restrained and couldn’t move; the thing was still in Liu Zhongming’s hands. Just thinking about it made his face flush red. He turned his head and asked, “Can’t I get up and talk?”

Liu Zhongming’s hand fiddled restlessly for a while and then he rummaged in his embrace, rejecting with a mischievous smile, “No, that won’t work. I’m still interrogating you. And it’s a rare opportunity. We’ve agreed on being casual.”

Qu Chenzhou blushed, “Not now…”

“Whether it’s now or not, I decide,” Liu Zhongming waved what he had in front of him, “Bold little rebel, your mouth is too stubborn. I’ll reward you with a taste of the ten extreme tortures.”

It was a string of beads made from warm jade, with no connection between the ends, just a long string. At one end was a bead fashioned like a peach, and each bead in the middle was slightly larger than a longan fruit. A red tassel hung from the last bead.

The beads were carved with intricate patterns by skilled craftsmen, with varying depths, but all depicted two men embracing—sometimes in a pavilion, under a tree, or in a cabin—each one unique.

With just a glance, Qu Chenzhou understood what it was. He quickly averted his gaze and said with resentment, “Shizi, you’re not learning the good things; you’re learning… bad things. You’re too fast, you… you d*mn thing…”

“What kind of bad things am I learning?” Liu Zhongming liked nibbling on his ear, “I’m learning to please my wife…”

“Zhongming… another day…”

“Choosing another day is not as good as seizing the day. What you say today doesn’t count,” the string of warm jade submerged into the water, and Liu Zhongming asked, “Can you count? If you can, we’ll continue our chat.”

Qu Chenzhou’s face burned more intensely. He could only close his eyes and answer softly, “I can.”

“Good, then obediently count. If you make a mistake, we’ll start over.”

Both of them were soaked, their long hair clinging to their bodies. Liu Zhongming buried his head in Qu Chenzhou’s shoulder and continued the conversation from earlier.

“What did you just say you suspected?”

“I felt like someone was watching me…” Qu Chenzhou’s breath became a bit rapid, “Steward Lin also mentioned… someone was contacting the servant girl who fetches water from the second gate.”

“Yes, Mu Jingyan figured it out from living across the hall from us. Although I couldn’t send people to stop it, I’ve been aware of the activity on your end,” Liu Zhongming paused for a moment and urged him, “Keep counting.”

Qu Chenzhou’s eyes were tinged with a drunken red. He made a soft humming sound, “One…”

Liu Zhongming looked satisfied and used his tongue to wipe away the tear at the corner of Qu Chenzhou’s eye.

“In fact, they were initially monitoring Steward Lin and a few others. I prevented them a few times, so they picked that girl. They’re all smart people. If the Emperor has suspicions, it doesn’t matter who the informant is.”

“Um… three… slower,” Qu Chenzhou’s strength was failing, and he could only rest his head against the edge of the pool, murmuring, “You already knew… why didn’t you tell me?”

“You can dodge the first, but not the fifteenth. They failed this time, but who knows where they’ll strike next time. It’s better to go with the flow.”

Qu Chenzhou weakly murmured in agreement.

Before the mansion’s secret passage was constructed, the blueprints were shown to him for review. If you went from his bedroom, it was just an ordinary secret room. This was almost an established rule for secrecy.

Especially for those who were greedy and fond of hoarding wealth, it was essential.

Only when the person on the other side moved the mechanism underground would this seemingly ordinary small room sink over a yard deeper. The entrance that was originally behind the painting became the exit underground.

So even if Yu Dexi razed Qu’s residence, he couldn’t possibly find the meeting place below.

Liu Zhongming didn’t have a single clue about the shops across the street, because the entrance wasn’t there in the first place.

The saying goes, “A crafty rabbit has three burrows.” Huai Wang and Yu Dexi wouldn’t raze all the houses in the capital just to find them.

“When I built this secret passage, I wanted to see which fool would jump into this pit. I got lucky, catching a big one. I told my sister that this time we should trap them securely to prevent Yu Dexi from meddling in the palace.”

Liu Zhongming fondled the suggestive patterns on the warm jade, and he pushed a finger, “How many?”

Qu Chenzhou forgot.

“Start over.” Liu Zhongming soothed him with a kiss. The peach made of jade slid down his spine again, “Do you know why they willingly got involved this time?”

Qu Chenzhou choked back a sob, feeling a shiver that he couldn’t tell whether it was due to cold or what. He couldn’t forget to count this time. Just as he was about to say “five,” he stopped for a moment and begged softly, “What else… don’t torment me anymore…”

“Stay trapped for a little while. Coming so soon after last time isn’t good for your body.” Liu Zhongming’s kisses landed on the nape of his neck. He knew that answering aloud was a bit difficult for him now, so he actively clarified.

“We met downstairs once, and I had Fang Wuyang stay in your bed for a while, spreading rumors. How many?”

“Eight… wait… don’t…”

“He’ll learn our voices. I guess he’s having fun imitating us and probably sounds even more enthusiastic than you do. Stay here for a few more days, and the Emperor will invite you back.”

Qu Chenzhou could no longer pay attention to what he was saying. He suddenly stiffened his neck and arched his body. His long hair, pressed against his cheek, was bitten into his mouth. He could only hear muffled and soft pleas for mercy.

“Zhongming, let go… let go of me… let me…”

Liu Zhongming pushed aside the wet hair on his face, melting his struggles in his embrace. His fingers slowly pressed downward, deliberately asking.

“Chenzhou, what’s inside?”


“How many?” he asked gently. “I forgot.”

Tears fell from Qu Chenzhou’s eyes. “Ten… twelve, Zhongming, it’s over… too many…”

“Then let’s have fewer.”

“No…” Caught off guard, he squirmed a bit and finally cried out, “Liu Zhongming, you jerk!”

“How many?” Liu Zhongming softly threatened, “If you don’t get it right, we’ll start over.”

“Eight… eight…”

“Wrong, seven. Let’s give you another one.”

The restraints in front finally released, and Qu Chenzhou curled up in Liu Zhongming’s warm embrace, biting him forcefully and crying incoherently, “You jerk, I’m going to tell Mother that you’re bullying me…”

“After crossing this hurdle, there will still be plenty of days for me to bully you,” Liu Zhongming lightly caressed his hot and wet face with his fingers. “A few days ago, someone came from the palace and explicitly told me to interrogate people in the order specified in the roster. I didn’t have the chance to see you then.”

“Now those pairs of eyes are all focused on this side, wanting to see how I treat you.”

His fingers slowed down, as if he didn’t want his hatred and anger to overflow. They paused for a moment before he softly whispered, “I’ll make you endure a bit, but afterward, I’ll help you recover your losses and more.”

Qu Chenzhou rested his head on Liu Zhongming’s arm, gazing up at his profile in the dim candlelight.

“Zhongming, the Emperor’s heart is like iron and stone. If we don’t hit his sore spot, even if others suffer greatly, he won’t show the slightest compassion. Only by making him truly fearful can we clear your name. He’s used to listening to divinations now…”

He let out a gentle exhale, “You gouge out my eyes…”

A handful of water was poured onto his face, interrupting the rest of his words. He spat out the water and persisted, “At this point, even without these eyes, Shizi would still stand firm…”

Liu Zhongming flipped him over and grinned menacingly, “It seems I need to teach you a lesson.”

His fingers brushed across Qu Chenzhou’s lips, revealing the object attached there. It seemed to be animal fur, smooth and silky when stroked one way, but rough and erect when brushed the other way, like a bristled cat’s tongue licking across his cheek, tickling uncontrollably.

He immediately understood what this was for. After struggling a few times and failing to break free, he surrendered, his earlier determination melting into a pitiful state.

“Zhongming, spare me…”

“I want you to take care of yourself. Weren’t you just saying you wanted me to gouge out your eyes?”

He hurriedly begged for mercy, “I won’t say that again!”

“Too late.”

Just as Liu Zhongming undid his restraints, the person in his arms flipped around like a slippery eel, attempting to escape. In the splashes of water from the struggle, he was pulled back, unable to hold back his laughter.

“Still so energetic, it seems I haven’t worked hard enough. Help me put this on.”

Qu Chenzhou’s hands were given the fur cover and he was guided forward. He tried to struggle, but his limbs were so weak that he couldn’t muster any strength.

“Zhongming…” He dodged a few times but found no escape route. He could only ask urgently, “What about… about Yu Dexi’s side?”

“Focus on your own affairs. We rarely have such time together, right? Don’t think about other matters.”

The hand guiding Qu Chenzhou stopped for a moment, and Liu Zhongming softly chuckled, “Did you forget my name?”

His long lashes, hiding the heterochromia, flickered restlessly, but he didn’t call out that name.

“No need for that…”

“Let me give you a taste. It’ll make you lose control.” Liu Zhongming’s laughter carried a mischievous tone.

“Won’t use it next time, you give birth to two…”

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