Warning: The following scent contains gore.
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Li Xueyue didn't want to find out the truth. It would be too much of a weight to bear. Nonetheless, curiosity got the best of her and she pushed past the soldiers. They were nervous.
Should they grab her and pull her back out? But she had clearly come with the Commander last time… Besides, these soldiers knew what happened to the Lieutenant.
Deciding it was better to let her wander, the soldiers straightened their spines and remained outside.
Li Xueyue was grateful for the morning. The sunlight had peered through the tent, making it a lot easier to see. Now that she had a better view of this place, she was truly astonished by the size of it. The only thing that bothered her was the table. It was filled with weapons and all sorts of tools.
Were they for… torturing people?
"I-I d-d-don't know w-what you're t-talking about!" a voice, mangled and panicked, wailed in the distance.
Li Xueyue's heart raced. She was frightened by this inhumane voice like that of an animal. Were humans capable of such a thing? She was frightened.
Unable to move forward, she stayed by the table. The truth was going to hurt her. It was going to be inevitable.
Li Xueyue nearly fell onto her knees when Xiao Juzi nudged her stiff body. "No," she whispered. "I-I don't want to see—" She didn't finish her sentence when Xiao Juzi pushed her again.
Reluctantly, Li Xueyue took a few more steps forward.
"PLEASE!" the same voice shrieked.
She nearly toppled over in fear. The blood had drained from her face and she couldn't stop trembling.
Xiao Juzi sensed her distress. But he also smelled the blood. It was too hard to ignore. For her sake, he continued to push her forward.
Li Xueyue wanted to cry on the inside. Yu Zhen, why is your tiger so annoying?! Biting her bottom lip, she forced herself to keep moving forward until she saw them.
Li Xueyue was frozen solid. It was as if roots sprang up from the ground, holding her in place. Her entire world spun. Even if their faces were disfigured, stained with dried blood, and their hairs a matted mess, she would spot them from miles away.
How could she not?
They were the people who had raised, but abused her for the past sixteen years of her life. They were the people who instilled in her how worthless she was. They were the cause of her nightmares, the reason she could not sleep at night. Except now, they were haunted by something else.
Yu Zhen sat there, with his back turned to her. He was not aware of an approaching presence, for he was too engrossed in watching the scene.
With a glass of Bai-Jiu  poured besides him and his legs crossed, he played the role of a sinister devil very well. Except, it was not a role, and that was his true form.
The soldiers in charge of the torture spared no mercy. They haven't even used half of the techniques they've employed on enemy soldiers. These people were so dramatic. But then again, when one grew up in a life of luxury, any sort of pain and discomfort would hurt by tenfold.
"What did you accuse her of?!" a soldier demanded, holding a bucket of boiling hot water. It would desensitize all of the cuts and blood in the worst way possible.
The aristocrat's disfigured face was barely distinguishable. Blood dripped from his forehead, his teeth chattering to bear with the pain. The tiniest of movements were enough for fireworks of agony to erupt. He couldn't see from one eye, and the other was blurred.
The soldier splashed a cup of boiling water over the man's features. He let out a wretched scream that was truly unforgettable. But to the men of war, they were music to the ears.
"Continue," Yu Zhen mused. He took a sip of the liquor, not at all bothered by what he witnessed.
"What did you accuse her of?!" the soldier demanded, this time, picking up a knife. Now that the skin was clean, wasn't it better to start skinning him alive? Boiling water and raw flesh. It was the best of punishments, but not the worst, for a man that he was.
"P-please...I-I g-gave y-you what you wanted...my fingerprints...and blood. They're all on t-there!"
The soldiers didn't like this answer. They nodded to each other. It was time to skin this man, starting from his broken legs. The man couldn't run anymore. Or even walk. They had repeatedly bashed the knee caps, again and again, each sickening crack louder than the other. That was because he was so irritating yesterday.
One of the soldiers advanced forward and slowly, he dragged the knife down the man's revealed thighs. Another pig-like scream sliced through the air, the sound ever so pleasant to Yu Zhen's ears. This pain, it was nothing compared to what his woman felt.
For each minute she suffered, the people here would suffer an hour. He would make sure of it.
"H-help me! Help me please!" the man screeched when he saw a blurry shadow in the distance. It was tiny and didn't resemble the normal physique of a soldier.
His daughter could not watch. She was a sobbing mess, wailing and faltering. Spit flew from her mouth as snot mixed with blood trailed down her nose. She was nothing like the famed beauty she used to be. Especially when she was the first to soil herself, the stench, pungent and disgusting.
"The daughter is annoying," Yu Zhen commented.
The soldiers instantly understood his message. The daughter did not need to have her lips to speak. The tongue did that part. They approached her, knives at the ready to slice off her pretty little lips.
"N-no please!" she begged, "I-I'll be q-quiet! T-take i-it out o-on my father! I'm innocent!"
Yu Zhen cocked his head, pretending to think about it. When he saw the man still had the decency to look heartbroken by the betrayal of his own daughter, another wicked idea came to Yu Zhen's mind.
Of course, how could he forget? Psychological torture hurt a lot worse. He let out a humorless laughter. "There are more than one way of harming a woman."
The soldiers did not need to be told twice. The man heaved, gasping for air, praying, hoping it would take the pain away. It didn't. There was a half rectangular cut on his thigh. His skin was flying in the wind and tugging at it would ruin him for sure.
Li Xueyue watched in horror as they untied the woman.
The woman dropped to her knees, unable to stand, for every bone in her leg was shattered. The sound of clothes tearing was heard.
Li Xueyue could not look away, even though she desperately wanted to.
"P-please n-no!" The woman wailed, pleading. She crawled on the ground, not caring that her hands were stained with her own waste.
"A-anything but t-this! I-I'll do anything you want!" she shrieked, knowing what was about to come to her.
"Anything?" Yu Zhen revealed a wicked smile.
Her hope soared. "A-anything!"
"Splendid." Yu Zhen let out another laugh. He tilted his head and nodded to the skin hanging off of the man's leg.
"Rip that off. Do it slow and steady, like how these men would take you before leaving you for the horses."
And just like that, her hope was trampled. She was left to choose. Would she sacrifice herself or her father? Would she let the man who raised her with his blood, sweat, and tears, suffer like that?
No one loved her more than her father. No one treated her that well and fretted over her as he did. All of the precious memories that she had spent with him was becoming a mere illusion now.
Her father, ever so loving, was just a tool for her survival.
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