After settling Zhang Munian’s affair, Wang Chong passed several hundred thousand gold taels to Cousin Wang Liang for the building of the fleet and the hiring of required personnel for the journey such as guards and sailors.
Due to his contract with the Zhang Clan, Wang Chong was still able to bear this kind of heavy expenditure.
“Alright, it should be about time for me to head to the royal palace to take a look.”
Wang Chong sighed as he boarded the carriage and headed for the royal palace. At the entrance, an Imperial Army guard was already waiting for him.
Without any hesitation, the Imperial Army guard led Wang Chong through the complex labyrinth of the palace. After what seemed like countless twists and turns, an underground opening appeared before Wang Chong.
In front of the opening were just two words:
The two words were barely legible as much of the paint had worn off due to age. Twelve well-built Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia stood guard around the entrance as though demons guarding the gateway to hell.
This was the death prison!
In the royal court, there were a total of two prisons, the ‘imperial prison’ and the ‘death prison’. The most heinous of criminals who were sentenced to capital punishment were locked in the imperial prison as they awaited their deaths.
The possibility of leaving the imperial prison alive was next to zero.
On the other hand, the death prison was for those who were sentenced with lighter verdicts. Wang Chong’s second brother, Wang Bei, was locked in the death prison!
An ominous wind blew as Wang Chong looked out through the windows of the carriage. Glancing at the twelve dark-armored Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia guarding the entrance, he sighed deeply.
The Wang Family had a total of four siblings, and the one whom Wang Chong was closest with wasn’t Big Brother Wang Fu nor Little Sister Wang Xiao Yao. On the contrary, it was actually Second Brother Wang Bei.
Big Brother Wang Fu was much older than him, and he had joined the army not too long after Wang Chong was born. The one who had accompanied Wang Chong during his growing phase was Second Brother Wang Bei.
However, as time passed, their relationship slowly drifted apart. This was one of the deepest regrets in Wang Chong’s heart.
Wang Chong knew the reason for it but his helplessness only served to deepen his regrets.
Wang Chong was about to join the Kunwu Training Camp, and he had to name a single person whom he wanted to meet the most before his enlistment, it would have to be Second Brother Wang Bei.
“Open the gates!”
Wang Chong stepped down from the carriage and flashed a token before the twelve Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia guarding the entrance. This was the token King Song had given him just a moment ago.
With this token, Wang Chong gained the privilege to travel to most locations within the royal palace.
Hong long long!
Upon seeing the token Wang Chong was holding, one of the cold-faced Chamberlains of Imperial Insignia stepped forward and slowly opened the gates.
Frigid air immediately gushed out from beyond the gates. Then, a black and cold mist slowly drifted into appearance from beneath. Wang Chong frowned slightly before stepping into the passageway.
The passageway was exceptionally quiet, resulting in Wang Chong’s footsteps echoing loudly.
Finally, in a unique cell, Wang Chong met his second brother.
It was a specially-crafted cell which was much wider than the others in the death prison. Every single cell bar was a bowl thick, and they were forged with the resilient deep ocean metal and inscribed for resilience.
At the very center of the cell sat a motionless, thin figure. His hair was unkempt and his eyes sunk into his sockets. His four limbs and waist was shackled with five thick chains which intersected intricately as though a spider web, locking him firmly.
This was his second brother, Wang Bei.
If not for witnessing it himself, Wang Chong would have never believed that that haughty second brother of his could be reduced to such a state.
“Second brother, I’m here. I’m sorry for only coming to see you now.”
Seeing the unkempt, tortured, corpse-like figure within the cell, Wang Chong’s heart sunk.
This wasn’t how his second brother should be.
This damp and dark cell wasn’t the world he should be in.
The cell was completely quiet—other than Wang Chong’s voice, there was no other sound to be heard. The figure within the cell remained motionless, as though there was nothing in the world that could reach him.
“Second brother, all of us miss you. Big brother misses you, little sister misses you, mother and I miss you as well. Come out, second brother, you don’t belong in there!”
Wang Chong sighed.
The death prison was where criminals were held. However, Wang Chong knew that the situation surrounding his second brother was slightly different from the other prisoners.
That was because his second brother had chosen to impose this incarceration upon himself.
All of the Wang Clan members who were afflicted with the ‘Berserker Syndrome’ had the option of locking themselves up in the death prison. This was the magnanimity that the Sage Emperor granted grandfather back then.
Grandfather had specially requested for this expensive cell to be built in return for his contributions in assisting the Sage Emperor to the throne.
In this generation, Second Brother Wang Bei was the one who ended up being afflicted by the ‘Berserker Syndrome’. As such, he had chosen to be incarcerated out of his own free will, and no one could deny him of his freedom.
The cell remained completely silent and there wasn’t a sound to be heard. Wang Chong sighed and continued.
“… Second brother, if you’re doing this because of the eldest son of Duke of Zheng, then there’s no need for that. He has already recovered from the injuries from back then!”
“Do you think that I’m doing this because of Marquess Zheng?”
A cold voice suddenly sounded from the prison, interrupting Wang Chong’s words. At some point, Wang Bei had lifted his head, and he stared at Wang Chong coldly with crimson eyes.
Wang Chong was taken aback for a moment before delight gushed within him, “You’re finally willing to speak to me.”
“Do you really think I’m doing this to myself because of him?”
Wang Bei disregarded Wang Chong’s words and continued staring at him coldly.
“Get out! Get out now! I don’t need you to visit me, I don’t need anyone to visit me! Get out! ——”
As he shouted his last word, a powerful gale enveloped the entire death prison. Even with Wang Chong’s Origin Energy Tier 7 cultivation realm coupled with his Might of the Barbaric God and Dragon Bone, he was still forced back.
Even though Second Brother Wang Bei would lose his rationality whenever the Berserker Syndrome activated, that didn’t hinder him from becoming one of the top experts within the capital.
The gale faded as swiftly as it arrived.
In just a short moment, tranquility returned to the death prison.
“Second brother, if it isn’t because of Marquess Zheng, why do you refuse to go out?”
Despite the other party’s wrath, Wang Chong had no intentions of backing down.
The reason why he eventually chose to come was in hopes that he could at least change something. As long as this matter wasn’t settled, he wouldn’t allow himself to leave.
Wang Bei remained motionless, seemingly oblivious to Wang Chong’s words.
But Wang Chong didn’t give up.
“Given your capability, this cell isn’t sufficient to hold you. It has already been more than half a year since you came in here. Do you really intend to spend your entire life here?”
Wang Chong said as he slowly advanced toward the cell bars.
“Don’t force me to make a move on you. Get out, right now! ——”
Wang Bei finally reacted once more. He lifted a hand and pointed toward the exit of the death prison with a frigid voice.
“Second brother, it isn’t completely impossible for you to triumph over the Berserker Syndrome. With your strength…”
“Berserker Syndrome! Hahaha, you’re talking to me about the Berserker Syndrome? Do you even know what it is?”
Hong long, the chains in the cell trembled violently. A strong sense of danger suddenly gripped Wang Chong’s heart. Hong! Amidst the clanging of the chains, an emaciated pale face with red sunken eyes exuding an immense killing intent appeared right before Wang Chong.
This rampage came abruptly. That cold gaze filled with killing intent felt like something that had crept out from a nightmare.
Even those with the greatest mental fortitude would stagger upon being stared at by these eyes but Wang Chong remained composed.
He looked straight into those demonic cold eyes with no intentions of retreating at all.
“… This time, I’ll never back down!”
Looking at the eyes filled with blood vessels and the pale face which hadn’t seen the sun for a very long time, sorrow flashed across the depths of Wang Chong’s eyes.
Wang Chong was here to atone for his sins!
In truth, Wang Chong knew clearly the reason why Second Brother Wang Bei chose to impose this incarceration upon himself. The ‘Berserker Syndrome’ was a terrible curse within the Wang Clan. Once it worked up, one wouldn’t even recognize their own kin.
Second brother was afraid of harming his own family—that’s why he chose to seal away his own heart and put on a cold front.
He wanted to create a huge fracture so that no one he cared for would get close to him.
The pain that the ‘Berserker Syndrome’ brought wasn’t fearsome, loneliness wasn’t fearsome either. What that had truly hurt second brother was the fear from his own family.
Yet, Wang Chong wasn’t aware of that.
The first time Wang Chong saw him act up, he staggered backward in fear. It was precisely then that Wang Bei chose to close his heart and distance himself from him.
On that day, the second brother who would put him on his shoulders and spin him around joyfully in the snowy fields disappeared.
What that replaced him was the cold-faced Wang Bei who distanced himself from everyone.
Looking at the pale face and reddened eyes, Wang Chong couldn’t help but recall how he personally pushed the other party down into the abyss.
His moment of insensitivity had cost him his beloved second brother!
That single step of retreat had permanently severed the brotherhood between the two of them, and this had become Wang Chong’s deepest regret. There were many things that one would only learn to treasure when lost.
In his previous life, it was already too late to make up for his mistakes. Thus, in this life, Wang Chong was determined to change it all.
“Aren’t you afraid that I might kill you?”
Wang Bei stared at the calm Wang Chong in astonishment.
“Why should I fear? You are my second brother. You have always been my second brother, and you’ll continue to be so for eternity to come. No matter who I fear, I will never fear you!”
Wang Chong spoke determinedly across the other side of the fence as he stared deeply into the other party’s eyes.
These were earnest words that came from the depths of Wang Chong’s heart.
In this life, he was determined to not allow his second brother leave him. Even though the ‘Berserker Syndrome’ was incurable, Wang Chong was willing to dedicate his entire life to helping him overcome this problem.
Wang Bei was taken aback. Pain and fear suddenly flashed across his reddened eyes. He released his grip on the cell bars and staggered backward.
“Leave! Leave! I don’t want to see you, get out of here! This isn’t where you should be!”
Wang Bei turned around and waved Wang Chong away. Deep pain could be heard within his voice.
Seeing his second brother’s wretched state, Wang Chong’s heart ached. Even so, he didn’t display it on his face.
“Second brother, there’s nothing that cannot be overcome. The Berserker Syndrome is a hereditary bloodline disease, not a mental illness. ‘Don’t allow your soul to anguish over your form’, I hope that you can remember these words. Use your strength and will to fight the Berserker Syndrome within your bloodline.”
“There’s nothing that our Wang Clan cannot defeat. I believe that you can eventually overcome the Berserker Syndrome!”
Wang Chong spoke deeply.
Within the cell, upon hearing the words ‘Don’t allow your soul to anguish over your form’, Wang Bei’s figure suddenly shuddered. But soon, he regained his calmness.
“Leave, don’t bother me!”
Wang Bei waved his hands.
Wang Chong’s eyes darkened as he stared at Wang Bei’s back.
“Second brother, I’m actually here to bid you farewell. I’m going to join Kunwu Training Camp soon. I don’t have sufficient time on my hand; Great Tang is in great danger so I might have to get onto the battlefield soon. There are some words that I can’t tell the others but I’ll tell them to you.”
“In the future, Great Tang will be swept by a catastrophe. I don’t know whether my plan will succeed or not. Perhaps it might, perhaps it wouldn’t. But regardless of the outcome, I’ve no regrets!”
Just when Wang Chong spoke these words, the voice of the Stone of Destiny sounded:
【Warning! User is trying to exceed his boundaries. Ten Destiny Energy is deducted. If it happens again, user will be killed!】
A violent pain abruptly spread across Wang Chong’s body, causing his face to pale. His hands began convulsing violently but he didn’t allow it to show in his voice.
“Second brother, I need your help! If you can muster your courage, leave this cell and assist me. The Berserker Syndrome may be a huge issue in the capital, but on the battlefield, it won’t be a problem at all. ——I hope that you can consider this matter!”
After saying these words, Wang Chong turned around and left.
Behind, Wang Bei remained unmoved. Only after Wang Chong disappeared at the entrance did he finally turn around to stare at Wang Chong’s back. A complex emotion appeared on his face.
As though the silent mutterings of the wind, his voice echoed faintly in the passageway.
I know it’s mind-blowing how more heinous criminals are housed in the Imperial Prison instead of the Death Prison, and the Death Prison actually doesn’t really implement death sentence. It’s the same for the raws as well so I’ll be keeping the name.
Imperial Prison is a historical matter but as for Death Prison, I can’t seem to find any result on it. There’s a ‘Underground Prison’ though.
Imperial Prison -> Heaven Prison
Underground Prison -> Earth Prison
But as heaven usually refers to the emperor [Son of Heaven] so I decided to go with Imperial Prison instead,)