“You don’t scare me!” The suspect roared. Since he had no way out, the man had resorted to bluffing. “What Skinning skill? Professions? Never heard of them. If a steel sword can’t pierce my skin, what makes you think that tiny knife will do anything?”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe us.” Cheng Yang said with a dry smile. “Begin.”
Yu Kai nodded, trying to suppress the discomfort he felt. He pressed the knife into the back of the suspect’s hand and activated the skill.
“Ahhhh!” The man let out a piercing scream that was as surprised as it was in pain. He looked down to see his hand had been skinned in mere moments, not just the back but the fingers and the palm too. His skin was hanging from his wrist like a used glove, and the bright red flesh left behind had started bleeding profusely.
“Why does it work so well?” Yu Kai muttered. Just like when he skinned a monster, an invisible force had guided his hand like a puppeteer, allowing him to peel back the skin at inhuman speeds.
At Cheng Yang’s request, Yu Kai stopped. The goal wasn’t to skin the man completely, only to extract a confession.
At the same time, Te Yao used Healing Light. Ironically, the healing process was almost as excruciating. New skin grew out of the flesh at an alarming rate, forcing the skinned glove to fall to the ground.
“Well, are you ready to take this seriously?” Cheng Yang asked.
“You… What are you asking?” The man asked while looking at Cheng Yang with frightened eyes. He had undergone training to withstand torture, but this hyper-fast skinning technique transcended pain.
“What’s your name, and who sent you here?”
“My name is Dong Sizhou, and it was Commander Yuan that sent me.” The man said after Yu Kai raised his knife threateningly.
“IT seems you forgot who actually sent you.” Cheng Yang frowned. “Yu Kai, jog his memories.”
Yu Kai didn’t hesitate this time. Since it felt the same as when he skinned a monster, the revulsion he felt was disappearing.
With a gleam of the knife and a flash of light, the man’s hand had been skinned, then healed once more.
“Since I bothered to interrogate you, I naturally know a few things. Let’s try this again, or we’ll end up with enough skin to make a glove for every soldier you got killed.”
“Good… Well said.” Dong Sizhou huffed. “I didn’t lie when I told you my name, but… it was Colonel Ding that sent me, not Commander Yuan.”
“Colonel Ding? And it wasn’t on Yuan Jainzhe’s orders?”
Dong Sizhou nodded.
“The Colone’s full name is Ding Ming.”
Cheng Yang frowned. Many people committed treason against the military in his past life, but Ding Ming wasn’t one of them. Ding Ming had died in the Battle of the Southern Bridge, so maybe he just hadn’t enacted his plan in time?
“Why did Ding Ming send you here?” Cheng Yang asked.
“He wanted me to observe the village and find a way to take it for ourselves.”
“Wrong.” Cheng Yang said.
“Ahhhh!” Another glove was created using Dong Shizhou’s skin.
Dong Shizhou’s mind was racing. Why did he do that? The information I gave him was more than enough to make him believe that was the extent of our plans? Is he guessing, or does he know something?
“What…” Dong Shizhou panted. “Did I say wrong?”
“Someone artificially created a monster siege. Who was it?”
“That’s…” Dong Shizhou hesitated. Was that just a lucky guess? It couldn’t have been. Cheng Yang seemed so sure that someone had caused the incident.
“If you keep wasting time, I’ll have Yu Kai encourage you.” Cheng Yang warned Dong Shizhou, “If I’m not satisfied, I’ll lock you up and do this every day. Every moment will be worse than death!”
“I… I… What I meant was…” Dong Shizhou caved under the threat of endless pain. “In addition to that, I was also ordered to bury a cube in your territory. It’s a magic item that attracts monsters. Earlier today, I walked through the gates and buried it behind one of the buildings.”
Cheng Yang shot Yu Kai a dirty look. If the enemy could casually swagger into the village, Yu Kai would need to be held accountable.
“I warned you that this would happen.” Yu Kai said in an exasperated voice. “We don’t have any IDs, and since soldiers from the other villages sometimes visit, our gates are just for decoration. Our guards can’t memorize thousands of faces.”
Cheng Yang nodded in response. They would need to think of a better system since every village had this vulnerability. At least in Phoenix Village, if an infiltrator tried to harm anyone, the Imperial Guard would know instantly.
“Take us to where you buried the cube.” Cheng Yang said. It might have been a one-time use item, but if he was lucky, it was an artifact they could use to recoup their losses.
“I can show you, but you need to promise me something.” Dong Shizhou said. Now that he had divulged everything, he had nothing to lose. “It’s a small condition, so please.”
“Do you think you’re in a position to negotiate with me?” Cheng Yang’s eyes flashed with anger.
“What I did was wrong, but I was just following orders.” Dong Shizhou smiled sadly. “Now that I’ve betrayed Colonel Ding, my family will be implicated. So please, listen to my request.”
“What is it?”
“After you execute me, please, protect my family.” Dong Shizhou said, “If you request it, Commander Yuan will allow you to take them as prisoners.”
“I can’t do that.” Cheng Yang said, “At the very least, I’ll make sure to keep news of your capture a secret. I also wouldn’t if I could since you’ve caused too much damage to be forgiven.”
Dong Shizhou sighed.
“It’s buried behind the fifth building on the east side of the southern gate. It should be easy to see where the soil was disturbed. Please make my death painless.”
“Yu Kai, stay here while I take a look.”
A few minutes later, Cheng Yang found the location where the cube was buried. When he started digging, he uncovered a black cube covered in intricate carving.
When he picked it up, a system pane opened.
Imperial Training Cube (Imitation)
Modeled after the training cubes made by the Empire, this item harnessed the powers of the heavens and the earth to attract monsters in a wide radius towards itself. Its the perfect tool for training either yourself or a large army.
Cost: 100 Experience Fragments per square kilometer affected
Duration: 24 Hours