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The Education Palace is His Holiness’ Green Leaf World. Night and day should also exist within this world, but during the Grand Examination, night and day couldn’t be seen, the examinees could only rely upon their senses to estimate the real world’s current time.
They didn’t know that it was already late at night in the outside world, but weariness came as expected.
Before the fifth round, what came first was a second, supplementary tournament, from numbers 33 to 64, apart from Tian Hai Sheng Xue and a few other examinees who had been heavily injured, and thus, couldn’t continue competing, the remaining 20 odd examinees had to expend their last efforts towards their final ranking; but before this, came a period of resting.
The Li Palace clergy distributed food, water and medicine to the examinees, Orthodox Academy had Luo Luo’s preparation, and thus, unsurprisingly, had better amenities; the four of them sat by the woodlands, eating and quietly discussing the battles that were to come.
Tang Thirty-Six and Xuan Yuan Po’s supplementary tournament didn’t have anything worth discussing, the main aim was to help Chen Chang Sheng analyse opponents.
Gou Han Shi displayed serenity and calm, giving others the sense that he was powerful to the point of being undefeatable.
Apart from him, that wolf-tribe youth, Zhe Xiu, was unquestionably the most dangerous opponent. Even though he had suffered fairly heavy injuries and was exhausted from back-to-back, intense battles against Guan Fei Bai and Qi Jian, he still couldn’t be underestimated.
If Chen Chang Sheng wants to take first place upon the First Banner, the two of them were summits he had to transcend.
Thinking of this, Tang Thirty-Six suddenly lost interest, this was because no matter how he thought about it, Chen Chang Sheng couldn’t possible defeat the two of them.
He looked towards the streambank and suddenly said: “Don’t all of you think those four from Li Mountain are rather similar to us?”
The four people from Li Shan Sword Sect were at the streambank, eating and chatting, the atmosphere seeming rather pleasant.
At a location far away from the Li Mountain group, Zhe Xiu was also eating.
He was very quiet while eating, his actions were also very slow, making it seem especially serious, as if the ordinary provisions provided by Li Palace were the most exquisite delicacies in the world.
Tang Thirty-Six looked towards that direction, saying, in a slightly sardonic tone: “I’d had thought that wolf-child doesn’t eat.”
Xuan Yuan Po didn’t understand, asking: “How can he not eat?”
Tang Thirty-Six replied: “I thought he’d only do things like consume ice, chew dried meat or perhaps drink fresh blood.”
Chen Chang Sheng said: “That would be a monster.”
Tang Thirty-Six asked him in a very serious manner: “Don’t tell me none of you feel that he’s a monster?”
Xuan Yuan Po gave it a thought, shaking his head saying: “I think it’s fine.”
Tang Thirty-Six couldn’t be bothered paying him any attention, turned his head and asked: “Chen Chang Sheng, you can’t beat him?
Chen Chang Sheng thought for a little while, replying: “Maybe.”
Tang Thirty-Six looked at the far off Zhe Xiu and abruptly said: “I suddenly feel an impulse.”
Chen Chang Sheng asked: “What type of impulse?” with much curiosity.
Tang Thirty-Six said: “An impulse to become friends with that wolf-child.”
Chen Chang Sheng stared at him for a long time before confirming that he was being serious. Chen Chang Sheng couldn’t stop himself feeling rather alarmed, after giving it a thought, he said: “Looking at him, do you really think he looks like someone that needs friends?”
Before the start of the Grand Examination, outside of Li Palace, it was a sea of people, Zhe Xiu stood by himself and gazed at the dawn; after entering the Hall of Zhao Wen, he directly left the grounds of the academic phase and navigated that sea of trees alone.
He traversed across the emerald river and stood within the pavilion atop the mountain, his back facing the rest of the examinees, solitarily, akin to being motherless; would this type of person need friends?
“Don’t tell me none of you think he’s very solitary?” asked Tang Thirty-Six as he looked at the other three.
What he said was “solitary”, not “lonely” or “lonesome”, only a “solitary” word that made it distinctly lonelier.
Chen Chang Sheng was stumped, saying: “Anyone can tell, therefore I don’t think he needs friends.”
Tang Thirty-Six wiggled his finger, saying: “My thoughts on this are completely opposite to yours, I think for someone as solitary as him, what they need the most are friends.”
Xuan Yuan Po asked from the side, with much curiosity: “You want to become friends with Zhe Xiu?”
Tang Thirty-Six countered with his own question: “Can’t I?”
Chen Chang Sheng’s gaze fell upon the area beyond the crowd, looking at that wolf-tribe youth who was silently eating with his head held low, after a moment’s silence he said: “I thought you didn’t like people resembling him.”
Tang Thirty-Six’s gaze followed his, landing upon Zhe Xiu, he said: “That’s right, pretending to be lonely and acting despondent are things I used to always do… you all know this, I loathe that past-self, which means I will also dislike someone like him.”
Chen Chang Sheng retracted his gaze, turning it towards Tang Thirty-Six and asked: “Yet you still want to insist upon becoming friends with him?”
Tang Thirty-Six replied: “If he becomes our friend, he wouldn’t be able to be as malicious towards you and Her Highness.”
Xuan Yuan Po couldn’t stop himself from exclaiming: “The elders of my tribe were right, humans… really are bad people.”
“Not humans,” Chen Chang Sheng corrected him and said: “Only a particular human called Tang Tang.”
Tang Thirty-Six couldn’t be asked arguing with him, he stood up, patted away loose grass from his rear and said: “There’s nothing wrong with trying, he can’t possibly just kill me in front of so many people.”
Luo Luo hadn’t said anything until this moment, she said: “What my tutor said is correct, a solitary person doesn’t seem to need friends, at least… Wo Fu Zhe Xiu won’t be that type of person.”
Chen Chang Sheng gave her a glance, but didn’t say anything.
Tang Thirty-Six lifted up half a roast chicken that had hardly been touched from the mat. He also took two sheets of oilpaper and messily wrapped it, then headed towards the area beyond the crowd.
The Orthodox Academy group’s discussion didn’t catch the attention of others, but his sudden action of leaving the woodlands alongside his direction of travel, which seemed to be heading towards the location of Wo Fu Zhe Xiu, immediately captured everyone’s gazes.
The examinees were all very startled, not knowing what he was trying to do; the young girls from the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green and Holy Maiden Peak revealed signs of worry on their faces.
For these young girls, no matter how callous Tang Thirty-Six’s words were, or how arrogant his actions, he was still a dreamy and genteel nobleman. While Zhe Xiu, no matter how quiet or how many accolades he had achieved for the human and yao race, he was still a cold-blooded monster that is drenched in blood.
Seeing Tang Thirty-Six walk towards Zhe Xiu, naturally made them feel worried.
This world based upon appearances is indeed unfair.
The four from Li Shan Sword Sect who were currently eating and chatting by the streambank were also rather startled. Guan Fei Bai looked at Tang Thirty-Six with a slightly strange expression and asked: “What kind of crazy thing is that person trying to do now?”
At the Ivy League gathering, Tang Thirty-Six had affronted Li Mountain far too deeply, causing him to dislike Tang Thirty-Six intensely.
Qi Jian looked towards the wolf-tribe youth who was located beyond the crowd, his nose lightly wrinkled and his breathing became coarse, evidently fuming.
Gou Han Shi was slightly perplexed, wondering what had happened between his junior brother and Zhe Xiu in their previous battle, to cause him such anger.
The paved area before the Tower of Purging Dust was very broad, with a forest serenely present and a small stream tinkling by; in comparison, the location Zhe Xiu was sitting at had nothing, only a singular smooth rock.
Tang Thirty-Six walked before that rock, looking at Zhe Xiu, whom was kneeling, or perhaps crouching, in that strange position, he suddenly felt a little hesitant.
Zhe Xiu ignored him, quietly eating.
Tang Thirty-Six quietly looked at him, after a period of time, he suddenly said: “If others were to notice the details to your eating habits, they would definitely consider you to be really scary.”
Zhe Xiu took a drink of the fruit juice supplied by Li Palace, then raised his head and looked at Tang Thirty-Six.
Since the start of the Grand Examination, Tang Thirty-Six was the first person to take the initiative and talk to him.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him and said: “The speed at which you eat is very slow, very mellow, akin to a young lady in her own chambers. Your chewing is very solemn: 12 times for rice, 30 times for beef… it isn’t entertaining, all it proves is that you’re too disciplined towards yourself, or more specifically, you treat yourself very harshly.”
Zhe Xiu quietly stared at him, his eyes didn’t contain any sort of emotion, but neither did he lower his head and continue eating, ending this one-sided conversation.
“Maybe because the snow plains have very little food, or perhaps because there’s a shortage of physicians and medicine, neither are there clergywomen from the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green to help treat your wounds; therefore, you’ve been surviving harshly.”
Tang Thirty-Six continued: “You cherish all the food you can obtain and will never wantonly eat and drink in order to avoid physical health problems, in that type of damnable place, even a regular stomach-ache can be tortuous.”
Tang Thirty-Six said: “But I won’t think that makes you scary, because I’ve seen someone very similar; that fellow also pays attention to every detail in life, which makes me think, people like you fellows, people who are as afraid of dying as that, they really should acquaint themselves with each other.”
The person he was referring to, was obviously Chen Chang Sheng.
Zhe Xiu’s line of sight followed Tang Thirty-Six’s finger and turned towards the woodlands, after a moment’s silence, Zhe Xiu lowered his head and continued eating, no longer paying him any attention.
Tang Thirty-Six placed the paper package before him and opened it, asking: “Do you need a friend?”
Within the oilpaper there was half a roast chicken; half a chicken will only have one chicken leg, this had already been taken by Chen Chang Sheng for Luo Luo, leaving the chicken somewhat incomplete, it had also been left for a while, making it rather cold, its fat congealed on the surface of its skin, giving it a slightly unpleasant look; more importantly, roast chicken really isn’t a healthy food.
Yet, unknown as to why, upon seeing the roast chicken, Zhe Xiu actually opened his mouth and spoke.
From the start of the Grand Examination, he had only spoken two sentences, which weren’t heard by most people, no one knew how his voice sounded.
It wasn’t until this moment, did Tang Thirty-Six come to know that his voice wasn’t coarse and grating, sharing no similarities to the rumoured wolf howl.
Zhe Xiu’s voice was chilly, the speed was very slow, with a rather long gap between each word, akin to a child that had only just learnt how to talk, or a mute person that had suddenly gained the ability of speech.
He looked at Tang Thirty-Six with an expressionless face and said, in an exceedingly slow manner: “My fate foments heavenly termination and the star of seclusion, destined to a life of solitude; therefore, I don’t have any friends.”
The heavens above have countless stars, perhaps there is a star that is located far away from the sea of stars, in a place that is easily neglected, lonely to the extreme.
Perhaps that star really was named Heavenly Termination.
Perhaps the Fated Star illuminated by Zhe Xiu, really was that secluded Heavenly Termination.
But regardless of whether if it was true or not, the cold and detached intent behind his words were very clear, he didn’t need friends, he wanted to keep everyone at a distance.
For most people, they would perhaps know to back away from this type of situation.
But Tang Tang wasn’t your average person, he was a windbag.
After coming to know Chen Chang Sheng, and especially after formally entering Orthodox Academy, his hidden character had finally found release.
“Not having friends doesn’t mean not needing friends, what do you think about me?”
He looked at Zhe Xiu, asking sincerely.