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Gou Han Shi’s sword pierced through the rain and sent Chen Chang Sheng tumbling through the air, everyone thought that he would once again heavily fall down onto the rainwater and wouldn’t be able to rise anymore.
Yet, who could have guessed… he did indeed not rise again, because he never fell, his clothing was in tatters and face pallid, looking very haggard, but he didn’t land in an unsightly fashion; his feet were firmly planted, as if he had boundless energy.
An intense and nervous situation couldn’t possibly leave too much time for lamentation and shock. Chen Chang Sheng’s body leaned forwards and his boots broke through the puddle of water, dashing out as he turned to the Western sky as a line, using Discerning Steps.
He instantly arrived at Gou Han Shi’s rear side and his blade carried forward a storm of Zhong Shan’s Sword of Wind and Rain.
Gou Han Shi’s sword was by his side, akin to a boundless rustling of pines, he hadn’t left any sort of gap. As if the rustling pine was lightly rippling in the rain, his sword accurately struck upon the broadside of Chen Chang Sheng’s short sword.
A sharp ringing sound reverberated from the location where the two swords had crossed, as if it were the ringing of a bell from far away.
The terrifying clash of True Essence caused the rain between them to suddenly billow up, becoming a circle of rain in the air; hundreds of raindrops, akin to sharp arrows, shot out in all directions.
Chen Chang Sheng was sent flying back by the counter shock, akin to an arrow, his body breaking through countless layers of rain and his feet drawing out two extremely straight channels on the accumulated water that was on the green slabs below, continuing until he reached the wall.
But this time, he also didn’t fall over, didn’t crash upon the wall.
He had firmly come to a stop by his own volition, the hand that held his sword was very firm, even if there wasn’t a cloth tied to his wrist, his short sword would probably not leave his hand, it was no longer the same dismal situation as when he first received Gou Han Shi’s Three Blades of the Fisherman’s Song.
Currently, he was very calm, perhaps even appearing a little serene.
For Gou Han Shi, the hand that held onto his sword’s hilt gripped increasingly tight, seeing Chen Chang Sheng who was opposite him, his expression became incredibly stern, with the confusion in his eyes and his shocked state of mind becoming deeper and deeper.
That was because, through that exchange of swords, he could finally confirm that his previous guess was correct, that impossible event had really happened.
His grip was tight to the point that his fingers started to pale, the tip of his sword that was held above his leg was lightly quivering, because in that exchange, Chen Chang Sheng had displayed a level of power that was completely different; but the bigger reason was due to his current shock.
This was something that had never been recorded within the three thousand scriptures, this was a miracle that had never happened before in the long history of humanity’s cultivation; how had he achieved it?
That exchange of swords looked very common and ordinary, but in reality, it was a declaration.
Chen Chang Sheng had informed everyone that he has yet to lose, that he was still in the midst of rising.
The sound of cicadas outside of the tower had long ceased, following his sword manoeuvre, it once again appeared; as if in the markets, and outside of Li Palace, the populace was currently loudly singing, incredibly noisy, making one feel distraught and confused.
In the blue skies above the tower, there were streaks of white clouds, there was also a single raincloud that had completely lost its colour. It had originally shown signs of clearing, yet, who could have expected, following the manoeuvre utilised by Chen Chang Sheng, a clap of thunder faintly echoed within the raincloud and upon the horizon, a beautiful sunset suddenly appeared.
The Tower of Purging Dust was dead silent.
Amongst everyone, including Gou Han Shi; some looked at Chen Chang Sheng in shock; some looked at the sky with bewilderment; some even seemed rather panicked, thinking about how impossible this all was.
Chen Chang Sheng had actually just achieved Ethereal Opening in such a manner?
That’s right, Chen Chang Sheng had already successfully achieved Ethereal Opening.
Everyone only knew that he had yet to complete his Purification at the time of the Ivy League gathering, therefore the time since his Purification and Meditation must be really short.
At most, he should be at the lower stage of the Meditation Realm, being unable to even glimpse the steps for Ethereal Opening, let alone discuss completing it; he was very ordinary amongst the examinees that were participating in this year’s examination.
But no one knew Chen Chang Sheng had only used a single night to successfully determine his Fated Star and then started to guide Starlight for Purification.
Counting up to the current date, it had already been close to three hundred days and nights, his guidance of Starlight for Purification had remained unsuccessful, but the Star Brilliance did not dissipate, it had instead, passed through his skin, hair and flesh, directly stowing away within some deep part of his body.
When he first performed Meditation in the underground space, he had previously thought that the thick snow plain was the Star Brilliance which had accumulated for several hundred nights and didn’t notice that lake of water.
That lake, with a vast volume of clear water, was the true result of his guiding Starlight for Purification.
In the underground space, having not completed his Purification, he forcefully risked initial meditation. His body was rent and his blood boiled, even the Black Dragon believed he would definitely die, but no matter how fearsome that inferno of Star Brilliance was, his heart that lay upon the pool of blood still remained as clear and glistening as a fruit, without crumbling; why?
That was because, for those hundreds of night, the Starlight he was guiding didn’t actually purify his body, but was instead lightly touching upon his Ethereal Palace every night.
Saturating and persistent, becoming a blue lake; Purification? What he had been doing all along was Ethereal Opening.
Without him knowing, that Star Brilliance which had come from the distant red star, continuously entered his body, seeking a path forwards upon that mountain every night, counter observing that stone door – let alone the hundred nights of knocking that was emphasised by Gou Han Shi, it had attentively and firmly knocked for several hundred nights.
That’s why, previously, at the door to his Ethereal Palace, he didn’t even have to use any force. He had only lightly pushed and managed to open the door to his Ethereal Palace.
Because he’s a genius?
That’s correct, he did indeed have a lot of talent for cultivation, but more importantly, that door had already been pushed at for far too many nights and had only lacked a final, conscious push.
He had used inestimable time and effort to dig up the earth and amass a hill, creating a mound of earth that was as high as the Platform of Sweetdew.
All that was needed, was a final scoop of earth on top of it all and he could stand at the highest point in the Capital.
That final scoop of earth was not heavy and tipping it on was very easy. It might look very effortless, and in comparison to the four words “highest in the Capital”, it would definitely seem far too simple, but who could remember the effort and price he had previously expended?
That’s right, this was Chen Chang Sheng’s cultivation.
Due to his meridian channels being broken and due to having an unusual body that cannot Purify, he had relied upon his creative mind and luck, stumbling through a path that was completely different from one others would take.
Purification, Meditation and then Ethereal Opening?
No, before Purification, he had started Meditation.
What was even more outrageous, was that even before Meditation, he had already started Ethereal Opening.
If it could be said that water flowing downwards is a reality for this world.
Within Chen Chang Sheng’s world, water really had always been flowing upwards.
No one knew of his actual condition, or what he had encountered, expended; therefore, with no one knowing his current condition, they obviously couldn’t understand why he could complete his Ethereal Opening.
It also had to be known that Ethereal Opening had always been considered the first real hurdle on the long road of cultivation, a stage of life and death that was linked to life and death itself; countless young geniuses that had been judiciously nurtured by their sect or school had fallen before this hurdle.
Countless common cultivators that were loath to accept their fate had also lost their lives, and for the human cultivators upon the continent, at least half of them didn’t dare to attempt Ethereal Opening, even for those who succeeded – such as Gou Han Shi for example, or Lady Mo Yu some years ago, how careful had they been at the time of their Ethereal Opening.
Before an actual attempt at breaking through the boundary, a long period of preparation was necessary.
Sects and academies would provide an abundant amount of medicinal pills and experience for helping the cultivator calm their mind and nurture their thoughts.
At the time of attempting to break through, they would have at least three venerable elders and masters guarding vigil by their side, when anything untoward happens, they would immediately intervene and save the cultivator, as for Chen Chang Sheng… he had achieved Ethereal Opening in the midst of a battle in the Grand Examination.
He had closed his eyes, then opened them and achieved Ethereal Opening.
The feeling he gave a lot of the observers was that, for this youth from Orthodox Academy, Ethereal Opening was as simple as eating breakfast; he said he wanted to eat plain congee, then he cooked a bowl of congee to eat.
In just the previous moment, he had been sure that he wasn’t Gou Han Shi’s equal, therefore, he decided to do his Ethereal Opening, and thus, he had achieved his Ethereal Opening.
How can such a thing possibly happen in the world? How could such a person exist? If this was all the truth, then what exactly was the ordeal they had suffered all those years ago, that painful waiting of time?
Gou Han Shi did not have this line of thought, but those personages who were up on the second floor couldn’t stop themselves from thinking this.
The rainstorm became a drizzle, a pitter patter, but it seemed as if it wouldn’t stop for some time yet.
Chen Chang Sheng stood before the stone wall, the expression on his slightly tender face was calm. If one was to look carefully, they might be able to tell a slight difference from before; a little less caution and his eyes becoming a little brighter.
In the past, he had been overly quiet and calm, giving others a feeling of early maturity, as if he were older than his real age by four to five years. At this very moment, he was akin to a bright new morning Sun up in the sky that has emerged after a cleansing of the rain.
Fresh, vibrant, full of a vitality that would rarely appear upon him.
Gou Han Shi did not notice these minor details, he only felt that the current Chen Chang Sheng was a little frightening, perhaps even surpassing the danger Zhe Xiu had given him in the previous match.
Mo Yu looked at Chen Chang Sheng who was standing within the rain on the floor below, a complicated mood appeared upon her look of indifference. The hand which was holding onto the windowsill turned slightly pale, unknown as to what she currently thinking.
Due to some reason, she didn’t want Chen Chang Sheng to lose in the examination, but she knew very clearly that Her Divine Majesty didn’t want him to win this examination.
Though Her Divine Majesty had never made this clear, a lot of people had quietly acted, ensuring that Chen Chang Sheng would not be able to reach the end.
But there were still a lot of people who stood opposite to Her Divine Majesty.
The Education Board did not need mentioning; Tian Hai Sheng Xue evidently also had an outlook that was completely different from his family’s, while Zhe Xiu had risked his life for Orthodox Academy, but the most important factor was, that Autumn rain which would occasionally fall within the tower.
The spells of rain, were representative of His Holiness’ attitude.
She had thought that Chen Chang Sheng still wouldn’t be able to reach the end, because he lacked the strength.
Yet, upon her thinking this, upon her thinking that Chen Chang Sheng had already brought about too many surprises for those gathered here and that any sort of shock would only numb her, he had once again stunned her and everyone present.
Mo Yu once again thought of that night, and subconsciously looked towards that sunset on the edge of the deep blue sky. She thought to herself, “could it be that fate really does exist in this world? Was there really a fortuitous providence that was bestowed by the heavens above?”
In truth, even Chen Chang Sheng himself currently, couldn’t completely understand what was going on, why had he suddenly entered the Ethereal Opening realm?
But as he gripped his short sword, facing the drizzle and once again charged towards Gou Han Shi, he didn’t even consider if this could be a fortuitous providence bestowed upon him by heaven, this was because heaven had only ever bestowed upon him pain and never fortune.
Neither did he think of fate, because fate had always been unfair to him, he had never felt any fear, in fact, it was the opposite, what he had always been doing was to challenge fate and defeat it.
He only remembered that this was his 47th time holding the short sword and charging towards Gou Han Shi.
In the previous 45 times, he had lost miserably, falling heavily, with his body covered in rain and blood, yet, he could topple over, but he couldn’t collapse.
He would stand up each time and continue to battle, seriously and earnestly striving towards victory.
In the end, he hadn’t won, but for the last two attempts, he hadn’t fallen.
Therefore, if fate had to be discussed, this couldn’t possibly be a blessing from heaven, but was a hidden part of heaven’s will, a reward for his previous 45 attempts.