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The two faced and formally greeted each other.
The battle that was about to start will be the last, it will also be the match that determines first place upon the First Banner for the Grand Examination; thus, in comparison to the previous matches, the atmosphere was naturally a little different.
The second floor window was opened and the important personages were all by the window side; the Li Palace clergy tasked with supervising the exam had also moved to the balustrade.
This wasn’t for getting a better view, but a sign of respect for the two examinees that were participating in this match.
Once again, Chen Chang Sheng and Gou Han Shi did a formal greeting, but this time, it was towards those up on the second floor.
It was at this moment that a creaking sound could be heard within the tower, subsequently, the clergy could be seen gesturing a formal greeting as they all slowly gave way. The personages had a change to their expressions and they turned to meet the source of the sound.
Leader of the Orthodoxy’s tradition faction – His Eminence, Archbishop Mei Li Sha, had personally arrived at the arena.
Due to his age and seniority, but even more so, due to his opposition against the Pope, His Eminence’s standing within the Orthodoxy had risen inexorably over the past half a year.
Prince Chen Liu and Xue Xing Chuan paid their respects; Xu Shi Ji did a formal greeting; finally, the two Archbishops of the Holy Church who were from a different faction than Archbishop Mei Li Sha, half rose from their seats in acknowledgment.
His Eminence looked at Mo Yu and gave a light nod.
Mo Yu understood the intent behind this Elder personally arriving at the scene, her expression became even colder but she didn’t say anything.
The second floor became somewhat busy, with the personages all giving their greetings in turn; seating was rearranged, tea needed to be brewed and fruit needed to be brought in; for a while, the main leads, Gou Han Shi and Chen Chang Sheng, had been slightly neglected.
For the moment, it wouldn’t be appropriate to start fighting, thus, the two of them started a conversation.
Gou Han Shi said: “You have given a lot of people a surprise.”
Chen Chang Sheng said: “Your luck in the drawings has been fairly good.”
This was the truth and not modesty, neither was it modesty with intent to be conceited.
Gou Han Shi quietly looked at him and said: “With your ability, your past half a year in the Capital has been far too peaceful, you shouldn’t be so placid; you have the qualifications to live a little more freely.”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “I didn’t expect you to advise me.”
Gou Han Shi lightly laughed and said: “As people who enjoy reading, we are indeed not overly fond of going out, but this was advice given to me by Senior some years ago. I find it rather sensible, thus, I’ve conveyed the same words to you.”
His senior was obviously Qiu Shan Jun.
Chen Chang Sheng pondered for a moment, but didn’t continue this line of conversation, instead, he replied to Gou Han Shi’s first topic and said: “I need to live carefully and cautiously, therefore I’ve gotten used to living carefully and cautiously.”
Gou Han Shi didn’t agree and said: “Being careful and cautious is not far from being draconian.”
Chen Chang Sheng shook his head, resolutely saying: “It is being careful and cautious.”
Gou Han Shi remained silent for a moment, then asked, in a slightly baffled tone: “Why?”
“This is something people don’t understand, neither is it something I can explain,” said Chen Chang Sheng.
Gou Han Shi said: “Living carefully and cautiously definitely doesn’t include taking first place upon the First Banner.”
Chen Chang Sheng gave a glance towards the second floor and then said: “You were also there that day; you know those words were not said by me.”
Gou Han Shi stared at him directly and said: “It wasn’t said by you, but is it something you have to do?”
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t say anything, tacitly admitting it.
Gou Han Shi continued: “That’s why I find it rather contradictory.”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “As I said before, this is something people don’t understand and something I can’t explain, but it’s not contradictory, because no one enjoys living carefully and cautiously.”
At that moment, the clergy member’s voice floated down from the second floor.
It was the same line that had been repeated countless times today.
“The both of you… are you ready?”
Before the start of the battle, Chen Chang Sheng said some words of apology to Gou Han Shi.
“I have to take first place, for this, I’m willing to do anything. Zhe Xiu… received money from Orthodox Academy; I did a transaction with him and he promised me to try his best to defeat you, or at the very least, weaken you. If he was to match against me, then he would just directly concede.”
Gou Han Shi felt startled, he remained silent for a time, then said: “No wonder why he was so tenacious.”
Upon finishing his words, he started to cough, with his brows lightly clenched, evidently in pain. He then looked at Chen Chang Sheng and asked: “You’re not someone that cares for hollow fame, why are you so adamant about the Grand Examination?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “As I said before, a lot of things cannot be explained.”
Gou Han Shi didn’t ask further.
Chen Chang Sheng hadn’t finished speaking however, he looked at the sword strapped to Gou Han Shi’s waist and asked, with some uncertainty: “Can the complete sword manual be exchanged for anything?”
The complete form for Li Shan Sword Arts can be exchanged for many things, especially when it comes to disciples of Li Shan Sword Sect.
Not mentioning first place in the Grand Examination, even things that are far more important, Gou Han Shi would be willing to give them up.
Gou Han Shi knew that the full form for Li Shan Sword Arts used to be kept at White Emperor City and that it was now at Orthodox Academy, but he never could have expected Chen Chang Sheng to make this type of suggestion.
He remained silent for a long while, then shook his head and said: “I am a disciple of Li Mountain, therefore I cannot accept; since it’s our sect’s sword art, in the future, us disciples will use our own strength to return it to Li Mountain instead of using it in a transaction.”
Hearing him refuse Luo Luo’s suggestion Chen Chang Sheng didn’t feel any disappoint, in contrast, he felt slightly relieved.
Chen Chang Sheng raised Rainfall Whip in his right hand with True Essence lightly flowing and the whip head slightly raised, lightly swaying with the wind.
This was the final and most important match for this year’s Grand Examination.
It started very calmly and very suddenly.
Gou Han Shi drew his blade from its scabbard, freely raising his arm, the sword lightly quivered in the air, letting off a buzzing sound.
He headed towards Chen Chang Sheng. His steps were slow and steady, but gave the sense that it couldn’t possibly be dodged.
Gou Han Shi thrust out and a sword manifestation harmoniously travelled outwards; no sound echoed within the tower, yet, a clear sound resonated from a faraway location within the blue sky on the horizon, as if someone was intoning a song.
The fisherman’s song echoes; as the sound has reached the ear, so does the tune arrive.
The sword came too fast and too placidly, to the point where it seemed to convey a sense of joy in the blade meeting its opponent.
Facing this seemingly ordinary move, Chen Chang Sheng actually felt as if there wasn’t any possibility of dodging, whether be it Discerning Steps or pure speed, they were no longer able to have an effect in such a short amount of time.
He poured his True Essence into Rainfall Whip, using the whip as a sword and holding it out horizontally in front of himself.
A sharp sound of clashing, then Rainfall Whip began to violently shudder.
Upon the whip, a golden light appeared, exhibiting a powerful energy that forcefully blocked Gou Han Shi’s sword manifestation, yet, it couldn’t stop the manifestation from travelling into Chen Chang Sheng’s wrist from the handle of the whip.
His hand subsequently started to tremble and following this, his arm. A sharp pain carried upwards to his shoulder and he could no longer continue holding onto the whip.
With the sound of air being split, Rainfall Whip slipped out of his grasp and left his hand.
At that moment, Gou Han Shi’s second manoeuvre followed. With this move’s appearance, the faraway horizon once again echoed in song; a sunset glow filled the heavens.
Having lost Rainfall Whip, Chen Chang Sheng still had the Sword of Wen Shui. He grasped onto the sword’s hilt and pulled outwards, all that could be heard was a single sound ringing out as the blade left its scabbard. The bright blade reflected the sunset clouds outside and at the same time gave rise to more, tinting all the windows and doors within the tower with a warm red glow.
Night Clouds End, from the Three Forms of Wen Shui.
Two sunsets clashed within the Tower of Purging Dust; the black eaves turned to gold.
An extremely pure aura travelling with the sword manifestation inside the sunset clouds, broke through Chen Chang Sheng’s defence and headed towards his torso, if it wasn’t for the Sword of Wen Shui suddenly wailing at the last moment and him making use of the sword’s own powerful aura to help block most of the attack’s momentum, he would definitely have suffered heavy injuries.
The Sword of Wen Shui had saved him, but it had also been thrown out into the sky by Gou Han Shi’s manoeuvre, it whistled as it spun away and flew far out of the tower, unknown as to where it would land.
Chen Chang Sheng unhesitatingly jumped backwards, wanting to use Discerning Steps; at the same time, his right hand had already grasped onto his short sword’s hilt while his left hand held onto a small item that dropped out of his sleeve.
As expected, Gou Han Shi’s third sword arrived.
Three moves in succession, without any sort of gap in-between, this didn’t give Chen Chang Sheng any sort of breathing room. A song drifted in from the horizon and sunset clouds sprang from nothing; a fishing boat then appeared from within the clouds.
The fisherman’s song is sung thrice and thus, three swords.
This was the sword art used by Gou Han Shi, and also his strongest.
His first sword had struck down Rainfall Whip, the second move had sent the Sword of Wen Shui flying. This third manoeuvre was akin to the sunset’s brilliance, dazzling the eyes as it arrived; how could Chen Chang Sheng counter this?
The three moves were chained sinuously, perfect in every way; he didn’t even have the chance to utilise Discerning Steps.
A loud cracking noise resounded within the tower.
In front of Gou Han Shi’s blade, there was already no trace of Chen Chang Sheng’s figure.
Chen Chang Sheng reappeared on the wall behind Gou Han Shi, at a distance of 70 odd metres.
Due to the three swords that were seemingly pleasant and calm, but in actuality, were petrifying, his body had become ashen in colour and a slight shivering could be seen.
A wisp of white smoke could be seen rising from the gaps of the fingers on his left hand that was currently tightly clenched into a fist.
Gou Han Shi withdrew his sword and calmly stood, he looked at Chen Chang Sheng and asked, slightly surprised: “Thousand Mile Button?”
That’s right, the last method used by Chen Chang Sheng to avoid the final blow from the Three Blades of the Fisherman’s Song was a Thousand Mile Button. Only this item could help him avoid the momentum Gou Han Shi had been accumulating for so long, his three unyielding manoeuvres.
While he, Luo Luo and the others were contemplating how to approach this battle at the woodlands, how could Gou Han Shi possibly not also do the same?
Within the tower, it was blanketed in silence, after a brief moment, a gasp of surprise drifted down from the second floor.
In order to avoid a single manoeuvre, Chen Chang Sheng had actually utilised a priceless Thousand Mile Button that is valued akin to life itself amongst cultivators. This made everyone feel shocked, at the same time, it confirmed the degree to which Her Highness respected and cherished her young tutor. But what shocked those people within the tower the most, was Gou Han Shi’s three manoeuvres.
Those three swords seemed very ordinary, without any accompanying storm, with the sunset being serene; yet, it was indeed worthy of being Gou Han Shi’s strongest three moves, to have actually given people the impression that they didn’t want to resist it.
If Chen Chang Sheng hadn’t used Rainfall Whip, the Sword of Wen Shui and the Thousand Mile Button, he would definitely have lost.
Gou Han Shi really was exceedingly strong.
They were all rather amazed, even in the previous match against Zhe Xiu, Gou Han Shi hadn’t immediately used a secret sword like this the moment he started. Why had he not held back at all this time while facing against Chen Chang Sheng?
Chen Chang Sheng looked at Rainfall Whip which was lying on the floor, thought of the Sword of Wen Shui which had fallen to some unknown place and thought of the Thousand Mile Button that had dissipated into nothingness within his palm.
He became silent, knowing that the gap between him and Gou Han Shi was enormously large, far larger than the gap between Zhe Xiu and Gou Han Shi.
If Gou Han Shi still had a fourth move, how could he block?