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Chapter 246 - Outside the Garden of Zhou, a Storm Comes (Part Three)
As Mei Lisha said these words, he looked at the several hundred cultivators that were prepared to enter the Garden of Zhou. All of these cultivators were at Ethereal Opening, as such, they were already considered experts. None of them were that old. It could be said that these several hundred Ethereal Opening cultivators were the future of humanity.
Chen Changsheng stood amongst these several hundred people. He understood that the archbishop’s words were directed at him and slightly nodded his head in understanding. Afterwards, he followed the crowd in entering the forest.
The forest at dawn was extremely peaceful and quiet. Perhaps it was because of the appearance of the Garden of Zhou, not even the twittering of birds could be heard. The only sound was that of the rustling produced as people stepped on the fallen leaves.
Not too much later, the several hundred cultivators arrived at where the fog was thickest. The faintly discernible quiet garden in the fog had become clearer. It seemed to be right in front of their eyes, yet it also seemed to be at the ends of the earth.
Many cultivators had gradually begun to sense that this fog was filled with a rich energy, similar to the radiance of the stars, and even more similar to the energy contained in the crystals. The cultivators could not absorb this energy directly, but it provided enormous benefits, greatly assisting in calming their souls.
However, the fog instead concealed a hidden danger deep within. Those cultivators with good eyesight could faintly make out that outside that real and yet illusory garden, and the extremely short and thick bolts of lightning that flashed before disappearing.
The priests from the Orthodoxy and the teachers and seniors from the various sects and schools all remained outside the fog, not taking a single step forward. Perhaps that lightning flashes in the fog had some responses to cultivators above Ethereal Opening, which could bring about some disastrous consequence.
This was already the outer garden of the Garden of Zhou.
There were several hundred cultivators from the schools and sects of the north and south as well as several dozen loose cultivators and shamans. Despite their numbers, the fog-covered woods were very quiet. No one spoke a word.
All these people were waiting for the Garden of Zhou to open.
Every ten years, the Garden of Zhou would appear once. Each time it appeared, it would open for exactly one hundred days. However, that did not mean that its appearance would necessarily be sensed by humans. In the past few decades, it had not appeared once.
That the Garden of Zhou would appear this year outside Hanqiu City was also not something that the humans had discovered. Rather, it had been that enigmatic advisor of the Demon Race, Black Robe, that had confirmed this. Fortunately, a subordinate of Black Robe’s had attempted and failed to assassinate Luoluo in the Orthodox Academy. As he was reluctant to die and had not been allowed to commit suicide, Xue Xingchuan had been able to capture him alive. Afterwards, Zhou Tong used his unparalleled methods of torture to extract information, actually finding a spy organization that Black Robe had planted in the human society. Following this trail of clues, Zhou Tong was able to discover the location and time at which the Garden of Zhou would open.
To control the Garden of Zhou, the most important matter was not its location. The most important matter was to hold the key to the Garden of Zhou. In that period of time in which the common people were not aware of the opening of the Garden of Zhou, the Demons had sent several experts at the upper level of Ethereal Opening to Hanqiu City with the intent of snatching the key beforehand. Humanity, also knowing about the opening of the Garden of Zhou, feigned ignorance, yet in reality, they also sent people to quietly infiltrate the outer garden of the Garden of Zhou. To hide from the attention of the Demons and noiselessly steal the key, humanity had sent only one person.
For such an important matter, the Five Saints themselves made the decision. The person they sent was Qiushan Jun — Whether it was the humans, the demons, or the demi-humans, in the Ethereal Opening realm, Mount Li’s eldest martial brother was without equal.
Qiushan Jun’s situation seemed to be rather perilous, but in fact, his success was not at all a surprise. He had suffered a heavy injury for it, but he had used it as an opportunity and became the world’s youngest Star Condensation cultivator.
The world had just begun to admit that Chen Changsheng had the qualifications to be compared on the same footing with Qiushan Jun. However, obtaining the first rank of the First Banner in the Grand Examination was an event that happened every year, whereas obtaining the key to the Garden of Zhou was a momentous event could only occur once in a decade. Ignoring the difference between Star Condensation and Ethereal Opening, the most important fact was that Qiushan Jun had battled against the demons to obtain the glory. Even if Chen Changsheng’s performance had been even more world-shaking, it would still be a matter in the human world. The significance of the two events were completely different. If Chen Changsheng had not viewed the entire front mausoleum in one day and then been appointed as Principal of the Orthodox Academy, then perhaps his image would have been even more lost in Qiushan Jun’s shadow.
In this brief period of time before the Garden of Zhou opened, many people subconsciously looked at Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng paid no attention to these matters. His mind was still on Xu Yourong. He had confirmed that Xu Yourong was not amongst these several hundred cultivators, and this fact for some reason made him feel much more relaxed. According to the records in the Daoist Canon, there were some cultivators who would choose to wait a few days before entering the Garden of Zhou. Xu Yourong was probably following such a plan, but why did she want to purposefully arrive late? Was it because she wanted to avoid those passionate and adoring gazes, or was it because she wanted to avoid him?
That aside, how would the Garden of Zhou open?
The key that Qiushan Jun had obtained was probably handed over to Mount Li, yet the only senior expert to come to the Garden of Zhou was an elder from the Longevity Sect. There was no representative from Mount Li.
Chen Changsheng stood at the front of the crowd thinking, watching as the lightning threw the space in front of him into turmoil, seeing that sometimes close and sometimes far garden.
Just at this moment, a rainbow fell from the sky.
The origin of this rainbow was a mystery. It fell from high in the sky and fell through the fog to land in front of them.
When the rainbow touched the lightning flashing in the fog and the turbulent air, it caused them to gradually dissolve into nothingness.
The fog also began to lift, allowing the scene behind the fog to become much clearer.
In front of that small bridge and gallery, a whitewashed wall began to appear.
In that wall, and in front of the hundreds of cultivators, a round arched gate appeared.
On the board above the arched door were inscribed two words: Ethereal Opening (通幽).
Behind the arched gate was a limestone path, its surface covered with light moss. Further along, the path bended into the depths of the fog. There were overhanging eaves joined together as well as many points of scenery.
Standing in the forest, it was impossible to take in all the scenery at a glance.
The scenery’s end lay behind the wall.
A winding path leads to Ethereal Opening. Who once maintained the Garden of Zhou?
(TN: The line is a reference to a Chinese poem where 通幽处 means secluded place)
The fog gradually dispersed and the scenery became more real. The water vapor gradually condensed, leading to the pitter patter of rain.
The spring wind blew the rain into Chen Changsheng’s face.
He stood around calmly for a while, then he began to walk towards the arched gate called Ethereal Opening.
Several hundred cultivators followed him into the Garden of Zhou.
The spring rain fell on the outside of the forest as well.
The threadlike rain fell with a steady pitter patter.
Coming from Hanqiu City, several girls dressed in white walked through the drizzle,
In front of the forest, the priests of the Orthodoxy confirmed their identities as members of the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green.
There had been a plague in the south. On the orders of the Pope, they had accompanied the medical officials of the court in treating the disease, so they had come somewhat late.
As Zhu Luo watched the group of girls walk into the forest, a look of understanding appeared on his face…
Amongst the group was a girl dressed in the ceremonial white garb of the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green. Her appearance could be considered to be delicate and pretty, and her temperament seemed ordinary.
Sensing Zhu Luo’s gaze, the girl calmly bowed in respect, then she continued to walk forward.
Zhu Luo smiled, but said nothing.