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Countless fresh flowers flew in from the air, landing within the carriage, Chen Chang Sheng retracted his gaze, removing a petal from his lapel, then nodded his head towards the crowd to convey his gratitude, thanking them for their ardour and passion.
At a derelict garden, deep within a location in the Imperial Palace, flowers were also falling; those few Spring plum blossoms that are resistant to the cold, were lightly brushed up by the wind, causing many small, pink coloured pistils to fall. They formed a thin layer on the ground beside the pond, appearing extremely pretty.
His Holiness and Her Divine Majesty stood within this field of fragmentary blossoms, gazing at the Black Dragon Pond that was in front.
“Yesterday, he was in the Education Palace participating in the Grand Examination, he had advanced to the top 16, no? At the time, I said he will only reach up to this point… in the end, unexpectedly, that child didn’t actually stop his steps.”
Her Divine Majesty looked at the flowering trees by the side of the pond and silently reminisced the sentiment of Tong Palace’s history while slowly talking. If she had wanted to stop Chen Chang Sheng obtaining first upon the First Banner in the examination, she would have had countless methods; for example, Mo Yu, who was present on the match grounds at the time, she logically would have done something, but in the end, she didn’t do anything at all.
She looked towards The Pope, her brows lightly arched and said: “Thinking over it now, at the night of the Ivy League gathering, Mo Yu brought that child here, intending to use Tong Palace in order to confine him, that should have been your suggestion?”
His Holiness calmly said: “For Mo Yu, that child, there isn’t much difference between me and Your Divine Majesty, she reveres me the same way she reveres Your Divine Majesty. After the event, even if she was to detect anything strange, she wouldn’t be able to say anything.”
“Mei Li Sha had already been quiet for more than two hundred years, yet starting from last year, when Chen Chang Sheng arrived at the Capital, he suddenly seemed to have become a different person, at the time, I already found it peculiar.”
Her Divine Majesty held her arms together horizontally in front of her, as she walked over to the side of the pond.
Staring at the palaces eaves, blue skies and rolling clouds that were reflected on the water’s surface, she coolly said: “I naturally know that Chen Chang Sheng and Orthodox Academy are definitive figures for some old people that are unable to give up, and have made some preparations, but I hadn’t been overly concerned, just as with what I said to Mo Yu on a certain night: my heart can encompass the entire world, how can it possibly not be able to tolerate a mere Orthodox Academy and a single youth?”
Talking up to this point, she turned around and calmly looked at The Pope in the eye, saying: “But since you’ve suddenly expressed your stance and done it twice in succession, I cannot help but feel somewhat wary.”
His Holiness didn’t say anything.
For two hundred odd years, the Zhou Empire and subsequently, the entire world’s peace and power was mainly attributable to the trust and friendship between The Five Saints, the most important of which, was obviously the friendship between Her Divine Majesty and His Holiness.
Since many years ago, when the late Emperor had ignored governmental affairs and Her Divine Majesty had handled state documents in the Emperor’s stead, handling matters of the state, all the way to when she had started to rule from behind the curtain, it gave rise to immeasurable amounts of indignation, protests and attacks.
The most important reason why those dissenters that were opposed to Her Divine Majesty had failed in the end, was because, every time the conflict reached a zenith, His Holiness would inexorably have his Orthodoxy stand firmly by the side of Her Divine Majesty.
Decades ago, when the late Emperor was critically ill, a lot of important figures within the Orthodoxy, alongside the Imperial Chen clan, in an attempt to prevent the Zhou Empire from being truly reigned by a woman, acted very decisively, or perhaps it could be said, they rather rashly staged a rebellion. It was on that day, that Orthodox Academy had been eradicated and the principal personally killed by His Holiness.
Everyone believed that Orthodox Academy’s destruction was a testament to the friendship between His Holiness and Her Divine Majesty, alongside being a display of power. Those within the Orthodoxy who dared to go against His Holiness, alongside those in the old Imperial clan that dared to rebel, they had all died at Orthodox Academy, died in their entirety.
Therefore, why had His Holiness currently changed his stance?
“Chen Chang Sheng… is my disciple nephew,” said His Holiness to Her Divine Majesty calmly.
Silence filled the derelict garden, the chill of the Black Dragon Pond touched upon the face as fragmentary plum blossoms filled the air as if they were snow.
Her Divine Majesty remained silent for a long time, then said: “Taoist Ji?”
His Holiness replied: “Since he is Taoist Ji, he obviously didn’t die that night.”
“So that is how it is, so that really was how it was… but even so, what of it? Don’t tell me you still wish to discuss fellowship with your senior brother? Don’t forget the reason why we made the decision to kill him all those years ago.”
Her Divine Majesty pointed towards a location in the direction of the Black Dragon Pond, a black crow was perched atop a frozen branch.
“For the last decade and more, signs of Black Robe’s activities have been confined to the area around Old Snow City and not Xi Ning Village. What that child from the Qiu Shan clan did some days ago, also testifies to this point.”
His Holiness sighed as he spoke to her: “Perhaps, we really did kill wrongly that year.”
Her Divine Majesty expressionlessly said: “Even if your senior brother isn’t Black Robe, does that mean he doesn’t deserve to die?”
His Holiness didn’t answer that line of questioning, but said: “No matter what, the affairs of those from the previous generation has nothing to do with the next, Chen Chang Sheng is still my disciple nephew, not to mention, that child doesn’t even know of what happened in the past, and currently, there is no longer anyone that dares to go against you, what is the point in you continuing to remember events of the past?”
Hearing these words, Her Divine Majesty became quiet for a while, then suddenly laughed out loudly: “This is also fine.”
His Holiness didn’t show any change to his expression due to her laughter, making it impossible to tell anything about his real state of mind, he said: “The matter of Zhou Garden, what are your thoughts?”
Her Divine Majesty followed the pond’s edge and headed for the opposite side, saying: “Below Star Fusion and above Ethereal Opening; the time of midsummer; a cycle of ten years; there has been little change.”
His Holiness accompanied her steps, saying: “It will depend upon the results to discernment of The Way at the Mausoleum of Books, who can predict how many examinees will be able to complete their Ethereal Opening.”
Her Divine Majesty stilled her steps, saying: “This matter will have to rely upon you.”
That night, within the Imperial Palace, the elderly Head Eunuch, according to Her Divine Majesty’s confidential orders, had begun to investigate a certain old case, keeping a low profile and quietly starting to move dossiers and old records.
This task wasn’t given to Mo Yu by Her Divine Majesty, but it had nothing to with trust, the main reason was because this incident is far too old and Mo Yu was far too young at the time. Not to mention, this incident was far too brutal, since Mo Yu didn’t know, it would be best for her to continue not knowing.
This old case, was the starting point of Orthodox Academy’s cleansing over a decade ago.
That year, the late Emperor was continuously upon his sickbed, Her Divine Majesty was harried to the point of rupture, whilst being occupied with governmental affairs, being beleaguered for a time, haggard to the extreme. It was at this period, the old Imperial clan planned to kidnap the sole prince she had at the time.
It was an extremely horrifying affair, with the most horrifying thing being, those few old Imperial clan members had actually succeeded in their plan.
The prince had vanished as such and from then on, no one knew as to whether if he was alive or dead.
Due to this, Her Divine Majesty had completely lost control, in fury, she had all those involved, including two Ducal Princes, put to death, and the entirety of Orthodox Academy had been executed.
Currently, His Holiness has admitted that Orthodox Academy’s principal is still alive and that he is Taoist Ji, therefore, is that prince still alive?
If it wasn’t for the fact that Chen Chang Sheng’s age didn’t match, Her Divine Majesty would perhaps be thinking of many more things.
That evening, after Chen Chang Sheng had completed all activities for the Grand Examination’s release of the Banners, he returned to Orthodox Academy and changed into a fresh set of clothes. He then left Hundred Blossom Lane, traversing across many small bridges that were concealed within the multitude of streets and alleys in the Capital, crossing the River Luo thrice and countless other canals with names unknown to him, before arriving before the Divine General of the Eastern Decree’s estate.
Last year, during Spring, he had come to the Divine General’s estate once, that was also the only time. Since that day, almost a year had passed, a lot of things had changed, yet a lot of things had also remained the same, things such as the estate’s solemnity and isolation, as well as the noise of flowing water under the bridge.
Retracting his gaze from the end of the canal, Chen Chang Sheng walked down the stone bridge, arriving in front of the Divine General’s estate, he then informed the private guard stationed outside of the estate his identity and was immediately welcomed inside.