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A punch, it was once again, only a single punch. Without any sort of form, ignoring any sort of tool and without any manifestation of True Essence, only raw strength and speed; what was this?
It had to be known that Orthodox Academy didn’t used to be like this. In the past, both teachers and students alike were transcendent in their cultivation arts; their actions were unworldly, filled with the flair of those who followed the Dao.
This year, with the academy once again accepting new students, it embodied a lot for the older members of the Orthodoxy; they had thought that a period of over a decade, was only akin to a speck of dust within the endless sands of time and that many things remained unchanged.
As long as Orthodox Academy returned, they would once again be able to see its past visage. Who then, could have guessed, that the current academy was no longer the one they had in their thoughts; even though Xuan Yuan Po and Chen Chang Sheng had managed to obtain victory, Orthodox Academy’s old demeanour was no longer present.
Having such thoughts, what that clergyman and the other examiners within the Tower of Purging Dust currently felt, was understandably a little complicated.
Suspended mid-air, within the Hall of Zhao Wen, was a mirror, its lower right corner was decorated with the image of several leaves.
The mirror displayed an image of the Tower of Purging Dust; everyone gathered within the hall were observing the image of Chen Chang Sheng’s fading back as he left the tower, looking at that slowly closing door, they couldn’t stop themselves from having the same feelings.
Prince Chen Liu; Mo Yu; His Eminence, Mei Li Sha; the principals and Bishops of the Ivy League schools; the military representatives, Xue Xing Chuan and Xu Shi Ji; His Grace, Zhou Tong, who was sitting by himself in a corner; several representatives from some sects of the South; at this moment, a lot of important figures were present.
They were all currently looking towards the principal of Heavenly Academy, Mao Qiu Yu, his student had just lost miserably by the hand of Chen Chang Sheng, some of them recognised the oil paper umbrella as to being the one Mao Qiu Yu had carried with him in his younger years, when he journeyed across the continent.
They thought to themselves that his current mood must be terrible; yet, it was different from what they thought, his face didn’t show any anger, but was calm.
Seeing nothing upon Mao Qiu Yu’s face, their gazes unconsciously switched to His Eminence, The Archbishop, but they found that His Eminence’s eyes remained closed, as if he were asleep; this was naturally a display of confidence towards Chen Chang Sheng and Orthodox Academy.
Previously, some thought that this confidence would turn into a farce, but who could have guessed that Chen Chang Sheng would attain such a clean victory in his first match, causing them to worry that they might themselves become the farcical party.
Whether the examiners at the Tower of Purging Dust or the important figures in the Hall of Zhao Wen that were observing via the mirror, they were all surprised by Chen Chang Sheng’s performance; they couldn’t understand, this youth from Orthodox Academy had only completed his Purification a short time ago and his True Essence capacity was very ordinary, yet, why did he possess such an astonishing amount of strength?
“His strength has nothing to do with his True Essence capacity, it should either be due to an extremely flawless Purification, or he has managed to have some sort of extraordinary encounter over the past few days; that is a pure and absolute strength.”
Ranked second amongst the Divine Generals on the continent, Xue Xing Chuan was someone that has experienced countless battles, his understanding of strength was especially profound; seeing the puzzled expressions of everyone present, he calmly explained.
When he said those words he gave a glance towards the Archbishop, a Purification that approached perfection was very rare, while an extraordinary encounter could hardly be called “extraordinary” if it happened often; in his mind, no matter how Chen Chang Sheng had obtained this pure and absolute strength, it had to be something bestowed upon him by His Eminence, The Archbishop.
However, for Chen Chang Sheng to be able to accept and incorporate this bestowal was not something easily achieved. Xue Xing Chuan looked towards the expressionless Xu Shi Ji on his left and thought to himself: “This kind of son-in-law, though lacking in comparison to Qiu Shan Jun, is still fairly adequate.”
As Her Divine Majesty’s two most trusted Divine Generals within the military, he wondered whether if he should advise Xu Shi Ji a little, at a more convenient time.
Chen Chang Sheng’s display of unexpected strength caused the hall to quieten down, once Xue Xing Chuan finished his words, no one said anything else for a long while, until finally, Mo Yu’s cold voice broke the silence.
“You won’t get very far by relying upon strength alone.”
The hall was once again silent, everyone knew that her words were true – without reaching the appropriate level and realm, without sufficient True Essence, even with a greater strength, it could only be effective in low level battles; upon meeting a higher level, a higher realm, it would be directly crushed.
If Chen Chang Sheng didn’t have any other methods available, he could definitely be unable to reach the end of the Duelling Stage and might very well lose in the next round.
That mournful howl transmitted out of the Tower of Purging Dust.
All of the examinees present immediately had a change to their expressions, not knowing what was happening within the tower.
Gou Han Shi and Tian Hai Sheng Xue’s had stern faces, it was evident that these two young experts who had already achieved Ethereal Opening, had a clearer perception of what was happening.
Not long after, the tower’s door once again opened and Chen Chang Sheng walked out, all that could be seen was that his right foot was bare, his boot having disappeared, making him look rather haggard; apart from this, he didn’t show any signs of having had a hard battle, as if he had only entered the tower for a brief stroll.
The area was silent, none of the examinees said anything, the mood was complex; their gazes followed his movement, staring as he walked down the stone steps, all the way to the woodlands.
“You did it,” Tang Thirty-Six extended his hand and pat him on the shoulder in praise.
Xuan Yuan Po looked at him without saying a word, his eyes full of respect.
Su Mo Yu thought to himself, even though the student from Heavenly Academy was of an ordinary level and couldn’t have been considered strong – if he himself was to battle, he would have also had an easy victory – it would have been difficult to win as fast as Chen Chang Sheng had; it seems the conjecturing some of his peers had done before the Grand Examination were correct, Chen Chang Sheng had been hiding his ability all along.
Luo Luo laughed happily, the sound of her laughter rang out clearly, like the ringing of a silver bell.
The little girl wanted to help Chen Chang Sheng wipe away his perspiration, but found none present, therefore, she felt an even greater sense of pride and elation, thinking to herself that her esteemed teacher really wasn’t a regular person, as she had thought some months ago.
She really wanted to know how Chen Chang Sheng had defeated his opponent, therefore, she asked: Chen Chang Sheng gave a brief description of what happened, without going into too much detail.
Xuan Yuan Po passed the two superb grade crystals towards Chen Chang Sheng, whom shook his head, indicating that he won’t use them; he hadn’t expended much True Essence in the previous match and had no need to replenish himself.
The examinees’ stares remained on Chen Chang Sheng.
Not long ago, he was still a beginner in cultivation who was unable to complete his Purification, today he had easily won against the principal of Heavenly Academy’s personal disciple.
Logically speaking, they should be displaying a greater sense of shock, but from the Ivy League gathering to the update of the proclamation, to His Eminence’s subsequent declaration; Chen Chang Sheng had already been ushered to some lofty position.
Though no one had any proof, they felt that he had to be hiding some sort of power; therefore, they already had some sort of preparation or perhaps anticipation, thus, even though they were currently shocked, it wasn’t to the point of losing control.
They were more concerned about his real level and the method he had used to defeat that Heavenly Academy student in such a short amount of time; those young cultivators with keen eyes, such as Gou Han Shi, had already recognised that the umbrella was a powerful item.
Up to this point, Chen Chang Sheng was thankful that today’s first round was held behind closed doors and that the loser was escorted out of the Education Palace, without being able to inform their fellow students any details of the battling, keeping the winner’s methods unknown; this greatly benefited towards keeping his secret and methods safe.
The Grand Examination continued, the 62nd examinee helplessly chose Su Mo Yu as their opponent, while the next examinee chose Tang Thirty-Six, these two matches proceeded without any mishaps and both, Su Mo Yu and Tang Thirty-Six obtained victory.
Outside of the tower, the examinees could faintly hear the second losing examinee angrily wailing a few cries of it being unfair; they had clearly performed fairly well in the Martial Trial and placed in the upper half, but had been matched against young geniuses such as Su Mo Yu and Tang Thirty-Six, this was indeed hard to deem as to being “fair”, yet all that could be said was that those two examinee’s were unlucky.
The first round had finally reached its final moments, the last examinee looked towards the presiding Li Palace clergyman and said: “Her Highness’ name will not be counted within the final results, how will this be handled?”
That examinee had a downcast look upon their face, eliciting sympathy from anyone that saw it.
The Li Palace clergyman replied with an expressionless face: “That isn’t something any of you need to concern yourselves with”
That examinee felt helpless, turning around towards Luo Luo, gesturing a formal greeting and saying: “A challenge, Your Highness.”
Sounds of clapping could be heard from the crowd, in this type of situation, facing against someone such as Luo Luo, that examinee didn’t give up or concede defeat, this was indeed something worth applauding.
Sadly, whether if it was worthy of applause or sympathy, it couldn’t affect the final outcome.
Within the Tower of Purging Dust, a deafening sound exploded, akin to some mountain being toppled.
In the next moment, Luo Luo walked out from the tower, walked before Chen Chang Sheng, her small face full of delight and said: “Sir, I also used only a single punch.”
She wasn’t gloating – Second upon the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, amongst the younger generation of cultivators, this was already a pinnacle; defeating an ordinary examinee wasn’t something worth gloating over. The reason for her delight was because she had used the same method as Chen Chang Sheng to finish the duel.
Xuan Yuan Po, Chen Chang Sheng and Luo Luo had all used but a single punch to finish their respective matches; the examinees outside of the tower had heard three separate sounds: Thunder; a Dragon Howl; a toppling mountain.
Tang Thirty-Six didn’t use his fist, he had directly used the most powerful move from the Three Forms of Wen Shui, at that time, the examinees outside of the tower had heard the sound of his blade leaking out and thought it was the surging sound of a flooding river.
“Is that really necessary?” Guan Fei Bai said, as he looked at the three youths and the single girl by the woodlands, his brow twitching.
If he and his other three fellow disciples from Li Shan Sword Sect had needed to participate in this round of duelling, they would naturally perform similarly to the group from Orthodox Academy, perhaps ending their matches even quicker, causing an even bigger scene; however, like he had said, did they really need to create such a large scene?
No matter how it was for observers or how they thought, the four students from Orthodox Academy had all passed the first round of the Duelling Stage; the 64 examinees that were to enter the second round had all been selected.
Some of the examinees were very confident of their results in the Academic Exam, their total outcome should be enough for them to place within the top 43; with their aim of entering the Three Grades in the Grand examination complete, they naturally relaxed, their faces revealing a happy smile.
Some of the examinees knew that their results in the Academic Exam would be mediocre; they became ever more nervous and quiet. They even worried that if they wanted to enter the Three Grades, they might need to achieve better results in the Duelling Stage, at least requiring another victory in order to have any hope. Yet, the duelling was akin to cultivation, the further you go, the stronger your opponents become, wanting to advance another step became increasingly difficult.
There was a short break after the first round had completed, examinees sat in various places outside of the tower, eating some of the provisions they had brought with them, some of the examinees made use of the time to meditate and replenish their True Essence.
Lady Official Li brought several handmaidens with her to the Tower of Purging Dust, spreading out a tablecloth and laying out several dishes of fine food; they were all staying here with Luo Luo in the Education Palace and it was perhaps due to this, that none of the clergy attempted to stop them.
Was this the Grand Examination or was it a picnic? Seeing this scene by the woodlands, the examinees felt the provisions within their mouths become increasingly bland, feelings of envy abounded, especially upon see Her Highness half kneel by Chen Chang Sheng’s side, using her ebony chopsticks to feed him roast meat; the envy naturally began escalating into feelings of resentment.
Guan Fei Bai looked towards that direction, melancholy saying: “That Chen Chang Sheng must have saved humanity in his past life.”
Gou Han Shi laughed and said: “Then the first thing he saved must have been White Emperor City.”