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Tang Thirty-Six directly extended his hand, dragging him back, shaking his head and saying: “Don’t bother going.”
Chen Chang Sheng gave him a glance, asking: “Why?”
Tang Thirty-Six patted his shoulder and said: “When that handmaiden, Shuang’er, brought the marriage contract back over, she also helped to pass on a message from Xu Shi Ji to you, I trust, after hearing those words, you would probably no longer wish to end the engagement, and even if you do, you wouldn’t be seeking His Holiness.”
“What words?” asked Chen Chang Sheng.
Tang Thirty-Six replied: “Xu Shi Ji said, he had heard that you previously said to someone in the Divine General’s estate, that only if Xu You Rong was to personally see you and express her wish to end the engagement, would you agree. Therefore, from tonight onwards, the betrothal between you and Xu You Rong, will no longer be something he would interfere with as a father, he will no longer pay it any attention, but if you wish to end the engagement, then you will have to see Xu You Rong in person and tell her yourself that you no longer want this marriage.”
Chen Chang Sheng was slightly dazed after hearing those words. He was only a youth, how could he possibly compare with a personage such as Xu Shi Ji, who was shrewd and unscrupulous, or perhaps better said to be shameless; he had never expected that events would develop this way.
He didn’t harbour any good feelings towards Xu You Rong, neither did he like her, after so many things, even the curiosity and yearning he had all those years ago were now completely non-existent, however, she had sent that letter on the night of the Ivy League gathering, and because of that letter, no matter what her real intentions were, he was very grateful to her and didn’t wish to do anything else that might harm her.
“Don’t tell me Xu Shi Ji really thinks this way?” he openly and honestly told Tang Thirty-Six of his thoughts, then frowned, asking in an extremely distressed and anxious manner.
Tang Thirty-Six gave a sneer and said: “Don’t try and compare with someone like Xu Shi Ji in scheming, you’re only fifteen this year, no matter how tightly you frown it won’t appear profound, it will only appear to be a feign of profundity that is laughable.”
Chen Chang Sheng asked: “Then what does he actually want?”
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him like as if he was looking at an idiot and said: “Xu Shi Ji’s intent is so obvious, yet you actually can’t even see it? Since he currently doesn’t want to end the engagement, he found some excuse to push it to your side, wanting you to end it with Xu You Rong in person in order for it to be valid. It’s very evident that he has determined, once you’ve met Xu You Rong in person and seen his precious daughter, you would definitely be unable to speak of ending the engagement.”
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t understand, asking: “Why?”
Tang Thirty-Six stared at him in the eyes, confirming that he really didn’t understand, he couldn’t stop himself from sighing, saying: “Because after seeing Xu You Rong in person, no one would be able to stop themselves from wanting to be with her.”
Chen Chang Sheng still couldn’t understand and continued to ask: “Why?”
Tang Thirty-Six felt annoyed, but didn’t know how to explain this, something anyone would be able to logically understand. After a long while, he grated out several words: “Because she is pretty.”
It was obviously not such a simple reason, but it was the simplest and most direct reason Tang Thirty-Six could quickly think of, that was probably also the most likely to sway a fool such as Chen Chang Sheng.
Of course, this made him feel defeated in terms of aesthetics or some other related aspect, therefore, he became very angry, with his voice becoming loud as a result; coincidentally, the word “pretty” creates an explosive sound, and thus, a waterfall appeared in the night before the library.
A moment’s silence. Chen Chang Sheng took out a handkerchief, carefully wiping his own face clean, he then headed for the dorm, the image of his back looking very desolate, only appearing again after a long period of time.
Tang Thirty-Six thought of his mysophobia, apologising extremely earnestly.
Chen Chang Sheng had finished bathing, his complexion was invigorating and his heart without blemish, he waved his hand to express that it was fine, but his expression seemed a little hesitant, he then said, in a low tone: “Is she… really that pretty?”
That night, the youths of Orthodox Academy were having a serious discussion as to why the Divine General of the Eastern Decree’s estate would suddenly change its decision, agreeing to the betrothal with Chen Chang Sheng.
Chen Chang Sheng thought that it might have been due to his performance at the Grand Examination being all too spectacular, it was refuted by Tang Thirty-Six with a sneer.
Tang Thirty-Six thought that Xu Shi Ji’s change of attitude was probably related to the current political situation and Xu Shi Ji’s judging of the situation.
The current situation of the Zhou Dynasty was already very different from how it was many years ago. No matter whether if Her Divine Majesty wished to or not, she still had to consider the question of to whom the throne will be passed on to; at present, it seems the Princes and Dukes that were dispersed across the world, all had the chance, Prince Chen Liu was also a possibility, but the Tian Hai clan had no hope at all.
It was still that same phrase, subjects of the Zhou Empire could accept Her Divine Majesty’s reign, but couldn’t possibly accept continued rule from her family, a lot of people were still waiting for the clan name of Chen to return.
Especially because in the course of Chen Chang Sheng obtaining first upon the First Banner in the Grand Examination, His Holiness had already expressed such an attitude.
Xu Shi Ji is Her Divine Majesty’s trusted aide, but he had to take his estate’s future into consideration – Chen Chang Sheng and Orthodox Academy had clearly already received His Holiness’ approval; through this marriage, more long-term support could be attained, even if it was to fail, Xu Shi Ji still didn’t hope for Chen Chang Sheng to retain too much hostility.
After hearing Tang Thirty-Six’s analysis, Chen Chang Sheng felt that it had some logic, thinking to himself that children from the gentry really were different from himself. He then turned his head, preparing to ask for Xuan Yuan Po’s opinion, but found that the yao youth had already fallen asleep, akin to a towering mountain.
The next morning, at the fifth hour, Chen Chang Sheng woke up on schedule, rousing Tang Thirty-Six and Xuan Yuan Po, then arrived at the gatehouse and began to roast meat; this was something they had agreed upon the day before last, a celebration with Jin Yu Lu.
The gift records and name cards were all in the academy’s storeroom and for the time being, no one came to disturb the academy’s peace, all the way until the Spring Sun had slowly reached a peak in the sky, that information which had spread within the city of Chang’an for half a day, had finally arrived at their location.
An entire misty warthog that had been eaten till only its bones and two long tusks remained, was hung above the pyre, its image appearing extremely hideous, with drops of oil flowing along the remaining meat scraps and falling below, landing on the charcoal fire below that was on the verge of going out, letting out sizzling hisses, causing Tang Thirty-Six, who was stunned and speechless, to come to his senses.
“Just what exactly did Qiu Shan Jun do? To actually have the two altars, Northern and Southern, of the Orthodoxy, alongside the Zhou Government and White Emperor City to all issue an edict as a show of commendation? Your first upon the First Banner has yet to even warm in the hand, and yet it has already been beaten.”
Tang Thirty-Six said this while looking at Chen Chang Sheng sympathetically, but found that Chen Chang Sheng was taciturn and silent, his expression evidently showed that he already knew of this, Tang Thirty-Six couldn’t help feeling slightly surprised: “You know of this?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “I’ve known since last night at the Divine General’s estate.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me this last night?”
It was quiet within the gatehouse of the academy, only the sound of oil dropping upon the ashes of the fire could be heard.
“Being missing for half a year, was actually an intentional attempt at obscurity. Following the organisation left behind in the human world by Black Robe, counter-seeking Zhou Garden’s location, this kind of ability and achievement, is indeed incredible.”
Jin Yu Lu returned to the room and conveyed the news he had just received from Li Palace. The information within was obviously a lot more detailed than that which was being spread within the Capital, it felt rather moving.
For Tang Thirty-Six, who was on the same side as Chen Chang Sheng, upon hearing these words, it obviously didn’t feel all that pleasant, but it was undeniable – Qiu Shan Jun, without any sort of support, had contended for many days against those violent and powerful young experts of the demon race, finally succeeding in opening Zhou Garden first.
It could be imagined as to what kind of perilous battles and perhaps, maybe even life and death trials, he had experienced; the Grand Examination appeared intense, but its battles that were actually strictly monitored, were of no comparison.
“That organisation?” Chen Chang Sheng gave a glance towards Jin Yu Lu.
Jin Yu Lu nodded, it was only then, he came to understand that this incident was actually connected to the assassination attempt on Luo Luo. That assassin who was captured by Xue Xing Chuan was probably a member of that organisation.
“What exactly is Zhou Garden?”
This was currently the biggest question for the three youths of Orthodox Academy.
Chen Chang Sheng and Xuan Yuan Po had lived in rural areas and the wilderness since they were young, and the scriptures didn’t have any records of this, as for Tang Thirty-Six, a child of the aristocracy, even he hadn’t heard of Zhou Garden before; in his memories, when his Grandfather had held him on his lap as a child, drinking and recounting the past, these two words had never been mentioned.
“The Education Palace, or perhaps the Green Leaf World of His Holiness, is a miniature world.”
Jin Yu Lu’s expression subconsciously because stern as he thought of that person’s name, perhaps even being a little reverent: “Zhou Garden, is the miniature world of Zhou Du Fu.”
Zhou Du Fu, for the past thousand years, the strongest person on the continent.
Whether be it humanity, the demon race or the yao race, or those few secret tribes that lived in restricted areas or dangerous forests, even when considering all of them together, he was still the strongest.
Many years ago, he had casually travelled afar, and from then onwards, there was no longer any news of him, a lot of people believed that he was dead, while many others believed that he had travelled to another world; no matter what, once he had left, he no longer returned, only leaving behind a miniature world.
That miniature world, is Zhou Garden.