The dark place without a speck of light evoked the illusion that it stretched out infinitely.
The young scholar¹ vaguely knew that the space wasn’t that wide, but it didn’t matter.
He couldn’t move anyway.
[Hi, how’s it going?]
In the pitch black, a voice emitted itself.
As far as the young scholar could tell, there was no one there.
However, he tried to answer.
He was about to lose consciousness, and his thoughts were scattered.
The best he could do was keep a misty consciousness of his surroundings.
Who are you? He had intended to ask.
But physically, it was impossible.
There was no way to speak.
Knowing that, the young scholar couldn’t help but smile bitterly.
I can hear your voice.]
How? The young scholar, forgetting again, tried to create the sound of his words, but unfortunately his tongue, which had only the root, could not produce a voice with satisfactory transmission.
Only a strange sound that no one could have understood had painfully leaked out.
[Oh, you don’t have to force yourself to make a sound.
I’ve been watching since you got your tongue pulled out by them.]
The young scholar never questioned how the creepy voice was reading his mind.
He was too damaged, both mentally and physically, to think about such things.
[Hmmm, it was a difficult sight to watch cheerfully.
Red-hot tongs plucked out your tongue.
You fainted while screaming.]
The nameless voice, contrary to his words, was light and cheerful.
To be truthful, it didn’t seem to relish the young scholar’s agony; it just appeared to be the way he talked.
The front, I can’t see the front. The young scholar looked around, trying to find the source of the voice, only to realize that he could not see anything.
In fact, the young scholar had to have recognized it countless times before, and each time he would have forgotten it.
Even though he was in a deep cavern, there must have been some light reaching him.
[Did you happen to forget? Your two vertigo-ridden eyeballs were punctured by a hot iron skewer.]
The young scholar raised his hand, trying to touch his eyes.
But his fingers were missing.
Even his left hand was missing a wrist. Where are… what happened to my hand? He asked the voice in shock.
The voice was still heavy, but he answered with a pleasant resonance.
[Oh! Your pretty, soft fingers, which didn’t seem to have endured any hardship, were cut off with scissors.
They used red-hot scissors for you.]
He was at a loss as to what he should stop worrying about. Thank you for let me know.
The young scholar stumbled and tried to stand up.
But there were no legs.
Tilting his head with difficulty, he asked the mysterious voice. By any chance, you know what happened to my limbs?
[Your slender legs were carried by a straw cutter.
Since you don’t seem to remember, let me give you a summary of what happened: They cut off your toes one by one, one by one.
It took three days to be shaved all the way down to the ankle.
Ten days for the knee to be amputated.
It took 15 days to reach your thigh.]
Is that so? When the young scholar tried to look back at his past memories, it pained so intensely that it felt like his skull would split in two.
Even so, the good thing was that he was able to revive a memory, although faintly.
…… I wish I could remember.
What about my family, do you have any idea what happened to them?
You’ve been too preoccupied with being tormented to hear from your relatives.
Come to think of it, it’s been quite a while since you’ve been living in a prison cell.]
Hearing such words, the young scholar was able to recall, albeit vaguely, that he had been imprisoned for a very long time.
As the young scholar was quietly following his thoughts, the voice continued speaking.
[Your eldest sister was beaten to death by her husband’s fists, causing her beautiful face to turn into mush.]
That… … ?! The young scholar was horrified: My brother-in-law’s temper is known for its ferocity, but he is the head of a family renowned for its brilliant achievements.
How can he beat his wife to death like that?
The voice clicked his tongue.
How could anybody know about your family if you, the eldest son, don’t know?]
The young scholar asked anxiously. Then, my little sister.
What happened to my little sister?
[She was raped by bandits and then committed suicide by biting her tongue.]
What are you talking about? The young scholar found it hard to believe. My second sister was a famous swordsman, taking the second rank among rising stars.
How could such a sister fall for mere thugs?
What use were her sword skills and vast internal energy when her dantian was destroyed?]
The young scholar stirred his head heavily once again.
What about my family? Even if the second sister had lost her inner power, the family would have safeguarded her.
He strained to keep the memory that came to mind.
In these central plains lands, my family has always been the envy of all others.
The great family that no one dares to match.
What kind of lowlifes could bring shame to the second daughter of such a respectable family?
The creepy voice didn’t budge.
Do you really want to pretend you had no idea? How can a family that was completely annihilated shield her?]
Annihilated? What did you say? The young scholar sought to hold his head as dizziness overtook him.
Unfortunately, there were no hands to do so.
Even though I’m simply an average person who enjoys living in a modest room and reading a book every day, my family had younger siblings who showed their extraordinary intelligence and great martial arts throughout the continent.
‘Let alone the elite warriors that followed them, how the fuck did they get annihilated?
[I’m frustrated, like, really irritated.
Why do you act as if you had no idea what went down after you, the eldest son, departed to become Daryl’s son-in-law?]
The voice fiercely urged the young scholar.
[Do you really not know that the brothers you’ve praised had fought with one another for the position of family patriarch?]
‘I had no idea.
I had absolutely no idea. The young scholar vigorously shook his head.
[Really? No idea at all?]
The voice asked him in hushed, meaningful tones.
The young scholar was confused.
He was no more than an ordinary scholar .
He lived day by day in a small room, reading books as a pastime.
On occasion, gardening, drawing, and playing various instruments were the only things that brought him joy.
The voice questioned in a manner that did not accord with the young scholar’s thoughts at all.
Having lived such a good life, he didn’t even know why he was imprisoned in this place.
What kind of torture was this, anyway? He had been living his life with the virtue of living in peace!
[A genius like you didn’t know what was happening while you were a member of the family, did you? What would happen to the family once you departed, also? And you had no idea how things would turn out? Is that what you are trying to say?]
The voice was now blatantly ridiculing the young scholar.
The young scholar complained of injustice. ‘I honestly had no idea.
How could I, a low-status man, have known such a thing?’
Something appeared to enter his head, but before he could grasp it, it vanished.
Who was he was? What was he doing for a living? There were faint memories that passed by, but they were like illusions that would disappear if he tried to catch them.
The brain of the young scholar, whose death had already reached the marrow, didn’t turn quite as smartly as it normally would have.
[Is that so?]
The voice was low and bleak, driving the young scholar into a corner as if gazing into every part of his life, as if searching into everything The young scholar was lying about.
[Is that really so? You’re the one who looked out 1,000 li without clairvoyance, and the one who looked ahead 1,000 days without divine power.
Did you really not know?]
‘I didn’t know.
I didn’t know! I didn’t know!’ The young scholar was muddled.
How could someone do such things? Knowing the world from his seat, as though looking at his palm! Wasn’t it an absurd ability?
The voice spoke softly once more.
[Isn’t that you?]
It can’t be.
Did I look like Chi Chang or Chang Qing to you?
Chi Chang and Chang Qing were also known as Samacheon and Sonmu.
[Chi Chang and Chang Qing?]
The voice roared with laughter.
[Don’t you see that, compared to you, Sonmu and Samacheon are mere average historians and mere strategists?]
Hearing those words, the young scholar felt that his mind went blank for a moment.
Samacheon was a prominent man regarded in the Central Plains as the “Father of History.” He was the man who left behind the Book of Tai Shi Gong, also known as the Historical Records.
Sonmu was also a great character who overthrew the mighty Chu Dynasty during the Spring and Autumn era and elevated strategists’ vision to a new level.
You’re saying that this low-status man is more highly regarded than those great people? The young scholar’s mind was gradually clearing.
[I ask you.]
The longer the mysterious voice spoke…
[At what age did you help your mother organize and abbreviate hundreds of medical books into twenty-five?]
The more the young scholar quietly remembered his memories.
that was when I was four.
[When was the last time you spoke to the emperor with paper and a pen and promulgated a new cultivation technique?]
It happened when I was 5 years old.
[At what age did you prevent millions of people from starvation by reading astronomical observations and observing the weather, predicting a great drought, and preserving food for relief in advance?]
It was when I was six years old. As the conversation continued, the young scholar’s vague memories began to come back, and as time passed little by little, his memories became clearer.
After letting him think for a while, the voice asked again.
[Do you remember now?]
The young scholar admitted, That’s right.
In truth, he knew everything—he knew it all along.
He hadn’t listened to his family’s news since leaving them as Daryl’s son-in-law.
But he had knew everything, like staring into the palm of his hand.
The low-status man, as he thought of himself, was aware that a bloody war would erupt inside the family, and he was also aware of its outcome.
He was well aware—in amazing detail—how it would all end for everyone.
He was well aware that everyone would meet a miserable end.
That huge and powerful family would collapse.
He knew all about it, but
He stood back and let everything unfold.
1: The young scholar (서생) is a word that refers to a person who only reads at home and has no experience in world affairs
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