The Road to Collecting the Soul, Prison – Part One
When he emerged from the realm of the soul consciousness, the sky turned to daylight again and the golden crows were hidden by grey clouds as rain fell.
As his soul consciousness was wandering around, Yan Yuan was worried that he might have left something behind, so he repeatedly searched the palace several times in the clouds and mist.
With his white robe edged in silver silk, he passed through the rain, his clothes and hair dry as usual.
The third time he passed above the Heavenly Prison, a strong blue light shot out from the soul gathering box in his hand without warning.
Yan Yuan's thoughts turned back from his trance, his eyes fell on the eaves and tiles below, and his heart instantly tightened.
What kind of place could the Heavenly Prison be...
Xuan Long suffered whipping, squeezing and being pierced through his shoulder bone with chains, and died after giving birth to a child.
He left so sadly, what obsessions could remain here
It was not an obsession...
it was a nightmare.
The Yan Yuan who had lost his true identity on Earth was able to hit Xuan Long hard, but the Yan Yuan who had regained his consciousness and had memories of two lives could never do that.
When the knife fell on Xuan Long, it cut him twice as hard.
After his rebirth, he had been avoiding thinking about those things, intentionally or unintentionally.
Because he felt pain when he thought about it.
Many times, there is still room for recovery if you are wrong, but there are things that have happened already, and there is no room for regret.
Yan Yuan was suddenly too timid to enter the prison that he had been to countless times before.
No matter how strong a person was, once he was poked in a soft spot, he would be like a swimming snake being struck in the seventh inch and would instantly lose his ability to resist.
Xuan Long was his soft spot, the heart that he should have protected under his ribs, and if anyone touched him he would have gone hysterical.
But he was so stupid that he couldn't even recognise the love of his life and gloated that he would win when he stabbed Xuan Long with the knife, when in fact the blade was clearly aimed at his own heart.
The pain did not come quickly, but one day it would come, it would explode, it would make him miserable.
Like this moment for example.
Despite knowing that what existed in that prison cell was most likely something he could not face, he still had to go.
Because that was what he had to do, and he could not afford to be half-hearted.
Yan Yuan closed his eyes, performed a teleportation technique and appeared in the cramped cell where Xuan Long had been held.
The blue light on the soul gathering box, which had not been very stable, became solid in an instant, proving that he had come to the right place.
Rainwater dripped in through the four-sided opening above his head, turning the dust on the floor into damp mud and water.
Xuan Long was kept here for almost the entire winter, but he did not make it through, leaving permanently at the end of the winter.
Forcing himself to stop thinking about that, Yan Yuan raised his hand to cast the sleeping technique to put himself into the realm of the soul consciousness, and a white light rose from between his fingers and drilled into his brow.
The moment his soul broke away from his body, the cold and silent cell became darker in a flash, the dim light of the fire jumped on the walls of the tunnel and the sound of a whip tearing at skin was heard in the distance.
One was heavier than the other, and one was harder than the other.
Apart from the sound of the whip, there were no other sounds.
The person being tortured seemed to be very tolerant, not even screaming out from being beaten in this way, or perhaps he had already been knocked unconscious, so he could not make a sound.
Yan Yuan's throat was being squeezed tighter and tighter by an invisible hand, and as he listened to the sound, he stared with scarlet eyes, holding the soul gathering box as he walked through the prison door and towards the torture chamber at the end of the tunnel, one step at a time.
The closer he got, the clearer the sound of skin being snapped and the more he could hear the man's muffled grunts.
The iron door of the torture chamber was slightly open, revealing a narrow gap.
Yan Yuan lifted his trembling fingertips to push the door open and saw what he expected to see.
The man's hands were chained to the ends of a wooden cross, his hip-length hair was damp and dishevelled, hiding his face, and his prison clothes had been soaked through by the rain on the way to the cell by the imperial guards.
With blood mixed with water plastered to his body, he appeared to have slim limbs and that bulging stomach was alarmingly large.
When the whip lashed against his body, his body trembled uncontrollably and a low groan escaped his throat.
Yan Yuan was familiar with this scene, for he was the one responsible for all this.
Knowing that what was happening before him was not reality, but only Xuan Long's nightmare, he could hardly control his emotions.
He opened his mouth wide to breathe, wanting to stop them, but he could only make a faint, mosquito-like sound.
His vocal cords were so hoarse that they seemed to have been cut.
His presence did not disturb anyone present; the jailer was still doing his best to whip Xuan Long's body, the blood marks crisscrossing Xuan Long's body grew denser and denser, and Yan Yuan heard the man with his head hanging low mutter something under his breath.
hit the abdomen."
hit the abdomen."
So helpless and desperate.
For a moment, Yan Yuan almost lost his hearing, all the sounds in the world disappeared, his throat tightened to the point of pain, and his eyes, wide to the point of filling with hot tears, stared at the scene in front of him as he shook his head uncontrollably.
"I told you to stop, don't you hear me!!!"
He dashed forward violently, trying to push the jailer who was carrying out the punishment out of the way, only to pass through the jailer's body.
Yan Yuan froze on the spot -
The jailers couldn't see him.
It was Xuan Long's nightmare, everything was illusionary, only the master could see him, the rest, those imagined by Xuan Long, could not see him.
The man on the rack had been beaten into unconsciousness, and the guards stopped hesitantly, debating with their colleagues on whether to continue the punishment, and Yan Yuan shouted at them tearfully.
"No more!!! Please, don't go on...
Let him go, let him go."
But they could not hear him.
Soon after, Yan Yuan saw 'himself' in a dark black dragon robe come through the door with a grim face, ordering someone to bring cold water and pour it over the unconscious Xuan Long.
He saw the man with a face identical to his own pinching Xuan Long's jaws and forcing him to give up his inner elixir, shouting that the child in Xuan Long's womb was a bastard and that he would only be allowed to give birth to the child if he gave up his inner elixir.
As if it was some kind of heavenly gift.
Xuan Long's inner elixir was long gone, and since he couldn't give it, he was stubborn.
After giving it all away and being hurt to this extent by his beloved, even if it killed him, he would not give in for his own good.
So 'he' became angry, a storm surged under his dusky eyes and he fought the man on the torture rack in a silent standoff, refusing to give way in the slightest.
That was the former Yan Yuan, and Yan Yuan knew better than anyone what he wanted.
He lunged up like a madman, his palm condensing divine power to strike the Emperor's chest.
The strong wave of divine power that could have destroyed this prison disappeared in mid-air the moment the blow was struck.
This was Xuan Long's nightmare, his divine power could not be used here to save him.
Strangely enough, even Xuan Long, who should have been able to see him, did not notice that he had come.
Yan Yuan had never felt so powerless before, he cried out in pain as he stepped forward and repeatedly waved his sleeve at the Emperor's body in an attempt to break it apart.
"You get out!!!"
"Don't do that to him, I'll kill you, I'll kill you!!! --"
There was no use.
He was like a madman raging at the air.
“You don't know what's good for you."
"Drag him back and cut out his heart."
A deep, cold voice rang out in the torture chamber.
It was that 'Yan Yuan' who spoke.
Yan Yuan's legs went limp and he fell to his knees, he raised his hand to grab the hem of 'Yan Yuan's’ black dragon robe, but he caught nothing, "Don't...
don't be so cruel..."
He cried that miserable cry, and after begging 'Yan Yuan', he crawled over to beg the jailer, yet no one listened to him.
Probably just like Xuan Long in the past, no matter how much pain he was in or how hard it was, no one listened to him.
The chains holding his wrists were loosened from the wooden frame and Xuan Long's whole body fell to the ground, where he lay on his back as if he were dead, not moving at all.
The two imperial guards who had followed 'Yan Yuan' here grabbed Xuan Long's wrists from either side and dragged him back to his cell like a dead thing, throwing him on the pile of straw.
There was hardly any part of Xuan Long's body left intact, his prison clothes were torn in many places, and blood soon stained the straw beneath him red.
One of the imperial guards pulled a dagger from inside his boots and peeled back Xuan Long's lapels.
His scales had just been plucked from around his heart and his wounds had not yet healed, coupled with the whipping he had received, the wounds looked horrible, the pink flesh was missing and he was exposed to the air, dripping blood.
The imperial guard probably found it unbearable as well, and the tip of his blade stopped two inches from Xuan Long's heart for a moment before he was urged by his colleague to lower it.
Yan Yuan had never wished for a god to appear in the world, for he himself was the supreme being in the Nine Heavens, in charge of millions of immortal gods and goddesses in the Heavenly Realm, and he could seemingly do whatever he wanted to do and behave as he wished, but at this moment, he could not even stop Xuan Long's nightmare.
He watched helplessly as the imperial guard thrust his dagger down, the tip of the blade drawing a circle around Xuan Long's heart and plucking off a palm-sized piece of the flesh of his heart, and blood dripped over the silver-white blade.
The unconscious man clearly felt pain, his bloodied hands clenching unconsciously into the straw beneath him, his turquoise eyes blankly opening a slit and staring upwards without focus.
The imperial guard put the flesh of his heart into a wooden box prepared in advance and left Xuan Long behind as he left the prison, and soon the sound of the imperial guard returning to 'Yan Yuan' was heard from outside.
Xuan Long woke up for a while with his eyes open, then fell asleep again.
He lay motionless on the damp straw, without the strength to turn over and without anyone to cover him with bedding.
However, he was so badly wounded that it hurt when he touched it, and he was probably uncomfortable even when covered with a blanket.
Yan Yuan cried hoarsely.
After the people outside had left, he touched Xuan Long's face and suddenly found that he could actually touch him.
It was probably because the nightmare had come to an end, and anyone coming in from the outside world would then be able to communicate with their soul consciousness.
Yan Yuan had no time to think about it and grabbed Xuan Long's hand, regardless of the dirt and blood stained on that hand.
He pressed it to his cheek and looked at Xuan Long's pale face as tears poured down his own face.
"I've come to take you home...
When you come home, it won't hurt anymore."
"It won't hurt anymore…"