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The second round of the Duelling Stage had already entered its second half, in the two most eye-catching matches between Li Shan Sword Sect and Orthodox Academy, one resulted in conceding defeat and the other, a loss. It could be said that Li Shan Sword Sect had regained the dignity they lost at the Ivy League gathering, while Orthodox Academy was pushed to the edge of a cliff.
Though it had to be said that the duels are not team battles and that, in the end, the Grand Examination will only rank people based upon their individual results, the young examinees were, in the end, not something that had just bounded out of some boulder crags; whether be it in the eyes of the masses or acknowledged by themselves, their results would also represent the glory of their respective academies and sects.
The third person of Orthodox Academy to enter the stage is Chen Chang Sheng.
Luo Luo was the one recognised as to being the strongest in Orthodox Academy; since she was matched up against Tian Hai Sheng Xue, who had already completed his Ethereal Opening, the majority of people considered her chances of winning to be impossible, therefore, if the academy didn’t wish to see a total defeat in the second round, it was up to Chen Chang Sheng as to if he could pass this obstacle.
Even though he had won against that Heavenly Academy student in the first round, no one thought well of his chances, everyone knew that he was the weakest of the four Orthodox Academy students; even Tang Thirty-Six had lost, how was he going to avoid failing? A miracle? If such a thing was to happen frequently, it wouldn’t be a miracle, but something questionable.
The second reason why no one was optimistic for Chen Chang Sheng was because the lot drawing for the second round today, was questionable.
They all knew that someone must have manipulated the lot drawing.
Chen Chang Sheng’s opponent for this round was the scholar from Scholartree Manor named Huo Guang.
No matter from what perspective this was viewed at, this was the perfect choice, it wasn’t the best choice for Chen Chang Sheng, but it was the best choice for those who wanted him to fail.
From the Divine Empress to peddler and pawns; from the White Emperor Royal Couple situated in the faraway yao domain to the Capital’s storytellers. Everyone upon the central continent were paying attention to the Grand Examination that was being held in the Capital; following the announcement of his betrothal to Xu You Rong at the Ivy League gathering and the declaration of his intent to place first upon the First Banner by His Eminence, The Archbishop, countless eyes were focused upon Chen Chang Sheng.
Under these circumstances, those who wished to suppress Orthodox Academy and Chen Chang Sheng had to be extra careful in their deeds, at least to the point of not being uncovered upon a single glance.
If Chen Chang Sheng had been immediately matched against Gou Han Shi in the second round, anyone would have recognised that something was dubious, not mentioning whether if the Education Board might flip the table, the castanets on the tables of those storytellers within the Capital would definitely clack more often.
Huo Guang of Scholartree Manor was the perfect choice.
This young scholar had always stayed within Scholartree Manor, peacefully studying and had never left to train, hence, he was still unranked on the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, for those who didn’t know any better, he would seem to be exceedingly weak.
The truth however, was that Scholartree Manor had no weaklings, not to mention, Huo Guang was an individual the manor was concentrating on nurturing, preparing to enter the Grand Examination and shock the world, how could Chen Chang Sheng possibly be his match?
The atmosphere of the woodlands was rather dreary.
Tang Thirty-Six leaned on the white poplar, looking at Chen Chang Sheng’s back, he suddenly said: “If you can’t win then just withdraw, don’t let anything happen to you.”
He had previously said to Chen Chang Sheng that they can’t afford to lose again, this was because he knew that Chen Chang Sheng had some sort of reason why he had to place first upon the First banner in the Grand Examination, as such, he obviously couldn’t afford to lose.
Having suddenly thought of how, even if Chen Chang Sheng was to once again achieve a baffling victory and defeat that scholar from Scholartree Manor, in the end, he would still be unable to win against opponents such as Tian Hai Sheng Xue and Gou Han Shi, making Tang Thirty-Six want to take back the words he had said previously.
From his perspective, Chen Chang Sheng was still very young and had a lot of years remaining, with his talent and learning, who knows how far he could progress in the future? If he was to strive his utmost and yet still fail to place first, why should he strive so hard? Why not set his sights on the time to come, leaving it for the future, why be so cruel to himself?
Chen Chang Sheng waved his hand, but didn’t turn his head, this was because he didn’t have a way to explain himself; even though he was still young, he didn’t have many years left to squander.
He did a formal gesture towards the Li Palace clergyman and walked to the top of the stone steps.
In the first match, his right boot had been destroyed, at this time, he had a pair of new boots on.
These boots were brought over by Lady Official Li from her chambers, they were new, but very comfortable. The size was just right; Luo Luo had probably recorded his measurements privately.
Wearing these boots, he felt rather well-grounded, full of confidence.
By the woodlands, Xuan Yuan Po said to Tang Thirty-Six: “Do you need to rest for a while?”
Tang Thirty-Six looked at Chen Chang Sheng, who was standing faraway, upon the stone steps. He remained quiet for a moment, then said: “No need, give me the crystal.”
As stated in Elder Tian Ji’s evaluation at the time of the proclamation’s update, he had been influenced by Chen Chang Sheng quite strongly; such as, at this moment and time, seeing the figure of Chen Chang Sheng, he quickly removed himself from the misery he was previously mired in; preparing to meditate and recover his True Essence.
Since there was the possibility of a second tournament, he had to at least make it into the Third Grade, otherwise, he really would start to feel diminished in front of Chen Chang Sheng.
This wasn’t a matter of achievement in realms, but a matter of will.
The tower door opened, Chen Chang Sheng and that scholar named Huo Guang walked in.
They were separated by a distance of tens of metres; standing upon the sand covered floor, they quietly faced each other.
If one were to carefully observe, they would perhaps be able to see the faint existence of blood stains below the yellow sand near their feet, these were probably left behind by the examinees in the previous duel.
“I’ve heard about you,” Huo Guang broke the silence, staring at him and continued, “from before arriving at the Capital.”
That scholar from Scholartree Manor looked to be around 18, 19 years of age, his expression was cold; he and his other fellow students looked as if they had been carved out from a single mould; in truth, their features were not similar at all, the only reason why they gave this feeling was because the young scholars from Scholartree Manor gave off a hard to describe type of aura.
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t answer; he didn’t feel the need to.
“I knew that I would run into you at the Grand Examination,” Huo Guang looked at him calmly and continued, “from before arriving at the Capital.”
It was at this moment that Chen Chang Sheng finally knew, the suppression applied upon Orthodox Academy today at the Grand Examination, wasn’t just interference from the Zhou Dynasty, or more specifically, from within the Orthodoxy, it even involved the far off Southern Domain.
Yet, he continued to remain silent, calmly adjusting his breathing and True Essence flow.
“In order to resist the demon race’s invasion, the human world needs to be united, an overflowing momentum, unstoppable by all; anyone seeking to prevent this, would only be flushed into the fetid gutter of history itself. As for you… you have already affected the progress towards an alliance between the North and South, therefore, you cannot take first place upon the First Banner, more importantly, neither can you marry Xu You Rong.”
Huo Guang looked at him while talking, with an expressionless face.
Chen Chang Sheng finally understood what that hard to describe aura was.
Like at the last night of the Ivy League gathering, the words from that rural scholar gave him the same kind of feeling.
In this world, there has always been a certain number of people, a certain number of scholars, that believed in some very strange logic.
For Heaven and Earth, a pledge of the heart; for life itself, a pledge of life; for past sages, the continuation of secret teachings; for all ages, the forging of peace; therefore, will you kindly go and die.
Iron shoulders, burdened with justice; after your death, I’ll look after your family; this entire world will also be cared for by me.
Chen Chang Sheng shook his head; if there was only the first half, it would be very worthy of respect; if the latter half was to be included, then it becomes bad.
He didn’t like that type of aura.
He disliked it even more than the bloodthirsty aura that Xu Shi Ji gave off.
“Don’t worry, I won’t use words to insult you, because that’s meaningless and very dull,” said Huo Guang, while looking at him indifferently, yet, the faintest hint of movement could be seen in his brows for an instant.
Perhaps at this moment, he remembered the mean and callous words Tang Thirty-Six had said to him when they were arguing over the path back in the forest during the Martial Trial.
“I will simply just defeat you.”
He looked at Chen Chang Sheng, looking down upon him from some lofty, idealistic position and said: “Draw your blade and meet your failure.”
Chen Chang Sheng continued to remain silent, not answering, neither did he unsheathe his sword.
This made the actions of Huo Guang look rather absurd; akin to drawing your sword against a wall; akin to intoning a long, lyrical poem to the starry sky.
Motionless yellow sand covered the ground.
Huo Guang’s expression became a little frosty, he looked at Chen Chang Sheng and said: “If you don’t draw your sword, then you won’t get another chance to draw it today.”
Following these words, a distinct and powerful aura began emanating from his body.
Chen Chang Sheng calmly looked at him, slowly raising his right hand, it was very close to the hilt of the short sword at his waist; within grasping distance if he were to reach out.
In the end, he didn’t grasp onto the sword’s hilt.
He withdrew his right hand, he clenched his five fingers together, forming a fist.
Huo Guang looked at his actions, feeling deeply insulted, his brows slowly rose upwards; he took a deep breath.
An extremely pure True Essence began emanating outwards, passing through his ochre coloured scholar’s robe and raising a wind within the Tower of Purging Dust.
That wind revolved around Huo Guang’s body, akin to a screen.
He carried a large sword upon his back, yet he didn’t draw it; as Chen Chang Sheng had done, he clenched his fist and then sent out a single punch.
A ringing sound exploded out.
A cavity instantly appeared within the wind screen that surrounded him; a fist, suffused with a light green radiance and condensed from True Essence, violently exploded outward from within that cavity, taking but an instant to cross tens of metres, arriving before Chen Chang Sheng. What was more shocking however, was that additional fist manifestations coalesced, one after another from within that wind screen, successively striking towards Chen Chang Sheng.
Dozens of fist manifestations, formed from True Essence, akin to genuine fists, poured in from all directions, like the wind and the rain.
The massive mirror within the Hall of Zhao Wen, that was tens of metres in circumference, displayed the battle within the Tower of Purging Dust, it clearly transmitted the scene to the sights of the important figures present.
Starting from Chen Chang Sheng and Huo Guang’s entrance into the tower, the hall had become abnormally quiet.
His Eminence didn’t continue sleeping, but was serenely observing the display of Chen Chang Sheng, it couldn’t be seen from his expression as to whether if he still had the same confidence from before.
Dozens of green rays suddenly appeared upon the mirror.
Though they weren’t at the scene itself and were only seeing a display, it seemed as if they could also feel the power contained within.
Xue Xing Chuan’s body leaned forwards slightly, he said in an astonished voice: “Regiment Shattering Fist?”
For the important figures present within the Hall of Zhao Wen, that scholar named Huo Guang was only at the Meditation Realm. The methods he could use would not be able to shock them, but thinking of Huo Guang’s age, for him to be able to develop the most difficult to train Regiment Shattering Fist to this level, this was still somewhat surprising.
The one that was about to confront those dozens of Regiment Shattering Fists, was Chen Chang Sheng.
Within the minds of many present in the hall, they silently began to declare his elimination from the contest.
The Archbishop’s eyes squinted slightly, his cloudy gaze once again became sharp.
Mo Yu had a look of indifference on her face, yet, the nails on her hand that was laying on the armrest of her chair were slightly pale.
Prince Chen Liu gave her a glance, feelings of doubt abounded.