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Chapter 269 - Past and Present Fate (Part One)
Zhuang Huanyu saw the Cloud-piercing Arrow and knew what it was, so he rushed over to the lake shore, where he saw the Demon race's long-plotted assassination.
Yet from beginning to end, he had never appeared, never taking action.
In the beginning, he was truly too late to assist. However, when Liang Xiaoxiao used his sword to heavily wound Zhexiu and then Qi Jian......he did not dare to take action.
However, at that time, he still had a little courage, because that most powerful Demon General couple had left.
It was for this reason that Chen Changsheng was able to persist for so long, because he wanted to inspire some courage in him. Liang Xiaoxiao had not put his all into the battle because he was wary of him.
From a certain point of view, he had some use.
The problem was that he had never been able to gather enough courage to rush towards the lake shore, and when Chen Changsheng could hold on no longer, all his courage also vanished into the air in that instant.
He turned and left, and began to flee.
The act truly marked him as very lacking in manners.
"In the Mausoleum of Books, I managed to view up to the third monolith—I've already broken into the next realm!"
Zhuang Huanyu's right hand held the sword of the Heavenly Dao Academy, while his left hand held a magical artifact. Looking at Liang Xiaoxiao blocking his way, he said with his pale face, "I'm also Ethereal Opening, I'm not afraid of you!"
He had also been one of the young geniuses on the Proclamation of Azure Sky. Although he was not ranked above Liang Xiaoxiao, in the eyes of the common folk, he was equally famous as the Divine State's Seven Laws.
However, the current him, with his head and face covered in dirt and his mind in chaos, did not have the slightest bearing of a young genius.
Liang Xiaoxiao said, "You can strike."
Even if the world really did have prodigal sons that came home and were worth more than gold, there was still no person that could turn around so quickly.
Even if there really were cases of showing bravery after regaining a sense of shame, there were very few cases in which a person would be able to clearly see their shame in such a short time, then regain their courage.
The sword in Zhuang Huanyu's hand trembled, just like his voice. He was almost about to drop the sword, so how was he going to stab with it?
"You know who my father is." Forgetting himself, Zhuang Huanyu yelled, "If you dare kill me, then your death is also assured!"
Saying these words, only then did he realize that the person in front of him had dared to defect to the demons, and even dared to kill the last disciple of Mount Li's Sect Master. So how could he scare him off?
As he thought of this, he was suddenly seized by an indescribable sense of anger.
Liang Xiaoxiao was expressionless. In his mind, he silently thought, then, does anybody know who my father is?
Zhuang Huanyu saw that his words had not brought about any sort of response, which made him even more uneasy. His voice shaking, he said, "If you really want to force me, we'll go down together in the worst case."
With these words, he did not lift up his sword, but instead raised the magical artifact in his left hand.
Liang Xiaoxiao's gaze rested on that magical artifact, and his expression suddenly shifted. He realized that this was one of the Heavenly Dao Academy's seven magical artifacts, the Jadestone.
He was quite astonished at this realization.
Since this person was actually carrying around such a powerful magical artifact, if he and Chen Changsheng really had worked together, then perhaps it would have brought about an unthinkable change.
"I didn't realize that Vice Principal Zhuang doted so heavily on his son. He actually flouted the regulations of the academy and secretly gave you such a precious treasure."
He looked at Zhuang Huanyu and coldly said, "If this matter were to come out, what would be the consequences for you?"
Zhuang Huanyu calmed down a bit and said, "So what? Is it more wretched than death?"
Liang Xiaoxiao said, "The clue on the Sword Pool—it seems that Vice Principal Zhuang found it. He didn't tell Mao Qiuyu, nor did he report it to the Li Palace. He only secretly told you. But what sort of crime is that? Most importantly, back there you didn't go help Chen Changsheng—what sort of crime is that? I think that even if you do leave the Garden of Zhou, I'm afraid your ending really might be more wretched than death."
Zhuang Huanyu's face grew even paler. He simply had no idea how to respond. Liang Xiaoxiao turned back to the already completely calm surface of the lake, observing it in silence for a few moments, before suddenly saying, "Chen Changsheng is already dead. Zhexiu and Qi Jian are also most definitely going to die. The only person left who knows about this matter is you."
Zhuang Huanyu could faintly understand his meaning, and yet he did not believe it. Moreover......the price demanded was far beyond what he could stomach.
"You want me to be like you?" Two patches of red appeared on his face, perhaps due to anger, or some other reason, like shame.
Liang Xiaoxiao calmly gazed at him and said, "Besides this, what other reason do I have to let you go?"
Zhuang Huanyu's breathing grew rough and heavy. The reason was still unknown: anger, shame, or nerves? After a long time, he asked in bewildered fashion, "This… just why did you do this?"
This was a question directed at himself, and also at Liang Xiaoxiao. Qi Jian had asked it, Chen Changsheng had asked it, but Liang Xiaoxiao had never given an answer. This time was no exception. Liang Xiaoxiao looked at the last embers of the sunset on the calm surface of the lake and thought to himself, how could the world have so many whys?
The border of the Garden of Zhou consisted of an unbroken wall of uneven mountains. Then there were hills and three imposing mountain ranges that led towards the center district, that vast and boundless plain. Of these three mountain ranges, Sunset Valley was the longest and the tallest. Its cliffs were extremely steep and smooth like they had been cut by a knife. On this mountain ridge that was several thousand feet tall, there was only one extremely steep path.
That young lady dressed in white was walking along this high and steep mountain path. On both sides of her was the sky, so it seemed like she was walking in the air, her white clothes a slowly moving cloud.
If she were to continue walking forward, then there would eventually be a point where she arrived at Sunset Valley's most forward point. Over there, she would be able to see the sun setting over that plain, as well as the vast majority of the Garden of Zhou. But today, she would first encounter that zither-playing old man and that girl with the indifferent expression.
She did not know that the old man and young girl were waiting for her, so she continued her journey towards that setting sun.
The Black Dragon flew at an even higher altitude, so it could see both the girl walking on the mountain path as well as the girl that was waiting at the end of that path. Its way of doing things had somewhat departed from Chen Changsheng's initial plan, but it was too late to change it now. It decided that it had to find a way to warn that white-clothed young lady. Yet just as it had resolved to do so, the summit of Sunset Valley enveloped in the twilight suddenly resounded with the sound of a zither. This sound was exceptionally clear and extremely distant, but in an instant it had been transferred over many miles.
The white-clothed young lady halted her footsteps. She slightly inclined her head, as if she was listening closely. On her elegant yet not particularly beautiful cheeks appeared a hint of laughter. She was not on her guard, but rather seemed to be enjoying it.
The sound of the zither did not stop. The notes rushed out like water, connecting together into a tune. It was a very cheerful piece of music, as if it were welcoming guests from afar, and also like a hunter celebrating over the night's harvest.
If the hunter's harvest was extremely plentiful, the people would build a big bonfire in the field and suspend the food over the fire to roast until the oil flowed, allowing the fragrance to cause those fierce beasts in the night to salivate.
The Black Dragon subconsciously looked at that vast plain. She knew very well that concealed in those grasses that were about as high as a man were many fierce beasts. Then she saw that the edge of the plain was on fire. That was the last vestige of light and warmth from the setting sun, and it seemed just like a bonfire.
Although time passed by ever so slowly, the critical point approached. Then, as sudden as it often was with this sort of thing, without any sort of mental preparation, the sun had silently sunken below the horizon. The night had finally come.
No sun did not mean that there was no light, only that both the sky and the earth were much darker than usual. The vast plain, which even the Black Dragon could not see the end of, became a dark and gloomy ocean. Seeing this oceanic plain, the Black Dragon gave off a light sigh. The sigh was one of contentment and reminiscence, because this scene reminded her of her home. The gloom did not necessarily mean cold. Although it was a Black Frost Dragon, it also loved the warmth. In the deep blue—almost black—waters of its home, the waters were warm, heated by the blazing sun to be almost like bathing water. The beaches of those islands were like bits of silver……
The Divine Empress had peeled her spiritual soul away from the body and poured it into the jade ruyi so that she could follow Chen Changsheng on this journey to the Garden of Zhou, and report on his situation at any time. In some manners of speaking, she was still a prisoner. Her jail was no longer that underground space beneath the Imperial Palace, but a small ruyi. The restrictions on her strength were no longer those iron chains, but the shadow of death. She still had to confront the depression on her mind, the pressure brought about by being a traitor. No matter how she looked at this, the trip was not a very good mission. Yet when she accompanied Chen Changsheng and left the capital, she realized that it was actually a very good thing. It was the first time in several hundred years that she had left that cold and lonely underground world. She saw countless sights that had already become strange to her. She saw so many humans and demi-humans that were once food to her. All this made her feel incomparably happy, such that she even forgot about many things. Only now did she finally think about her home.
Are all unreachable places called distant lands? For the Dragon race, there was no place on this world that they could not go. Is the place you could not go back to called home? Yes, could she still go home?
She looked at the plain which was as dark as the ocean, thinking about the deep sea that was like a plain, far to the south. She thought of home, thought of her father, thought of many things, and then she began to grieve.
It was different from the legends. Dragons did not live up in high mountains and lofty mountain ranges, in strange caves concealed by the clouds. As the most powerful and most intelligent of all living beings, how could they enjoy living in such a gloomy and cold environment? Dragons loved palm trees, silver beaches, jade oceans, the sun and the wind, and palaces.
On this point, when all life had evolved to its highest point, there was not much difference. It was unknown whether the Demon race's constant encroachments on the south to exterminate the Human race were also related to this.
The dragons lived far off in the southern seas. Over there, the water was very warm.
That was also the Black Dragon's home.
The Golden Dragons’ blood was most noble, their existence was most powerful, and they led the entire Dragon Race. However, the Black Frost Dragons were even prouder and colder. They loved to leave the crowd and find their own places to live. They never took pleasure in conversing with their fellows. To put it simply, they were lofty and cold to the extreme.
Countless years ago, the leaders of the Dragon race, the Golden Dragons, had disappeared from the continent for some reason. The Black Frost Dragons had naturally arisen as the most suited candidates for next leaders of the Dragon race.
In those days, as long as her father nodded his head, he could have become chief of all dragons. However, her father was unwilling, not wanting all the trouble. He set off on his own from the southern sea, going to the continent.
The zither continued to play, like a summoning, like a recollection, like the wind that blew over the snowy plains all those years ago.
The Black Dragon looked at the dark plain, at the Sunset Valley, then was suddenly overcome by grief. Her dragon eyes were filled with tears, causing a small rain to fall from the sky of the Garden of Zhou.
Right now, she was only a strand of her spiritual soul. In terms of spirit, she was far weaker than her original body. She had actually been stirred up by the sound of that zither, moreover… she did not resist it.
Because the zither had caused her think of the past, caused her see her father after he had left home.
Her father had been the strongest Black Frost Dragon of the past one thousand years. He was of a hue even darker than the night. His breath was a sword of ice and snow that reached far away. His strength was unimaginable.
Her father had met a human.
The human carried a great blade that seemed able to pierce the heavens.
No matter how strong her father was, he still would not have been able to resist that blade.
It seemed that all things placed in front of the edge of that blade could only be severed into two.
Not to mention that the great battle had taken place in the Garden of Zhou.
The human was the master of the Garden of Zhou.
The blade really had chopped at the sky, and on the azure sky appeared a distinct slash.
With time, the slash slowly faded away, but the plain under it had taken on a very different appearance.
The sky had been severed, and the black that was even darker than the night had also been severed into two.
Her father had fallen from the sky, and his enormous body had become a mountain range.
In the setting sun, that mountain range seemed almost ablaze. At the very front of the mountain rage was the loftiest peak. That was the dragon's head. The plain also burned, and those clouds of red were the dragon's blood.
The Black Dragon finally understood those events of the past; why her father had never returned from his journey.
Her eyes were full of tears, then they suddenly went cold, turning into chunks of ice.
Humans are humans, as expected.
Shameless humans, cold-blooded humans.
She looked at that white-clothed young lady making her way up that solitary mountain path and indifferently thought, go die then.
Both sides of the mountain path were precipitous cliffs, the bare rock seemingly very smooth. Even more frightening was that person who, all those years ago, created these stone steps upon which only one person could walk.
The wind up here was much fiercer than the wind below, and also much colder. Down below, because the mountains were too high, were the clouds. However, because of the wind, they could not form any shapes, and were blown into thin strands.
Hearing the masterful and subtle sound of the zither, the white-clothed young lady began to think about rather worldly things, like the small village's cotton candy, or the little balls of white hanging from the willow tree under the bridge not far from home. Or that time when she first entered the Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green, when she was not used to the thick bedding and randomly kicked out with her legs, which ended up beating the bedding to bits, and leaving the dorm full of cotton filling.
When she thought of these things, she smiled. The corners of her lips perked up, causing her normal and elegant face to suddenly brighten, causing even the clear and solitary mountain path to seemingly warm up a few degrees.
Accompanied by the zither, she continued forward.
Before the peak of the cliff, there was actually a tree.
She walked over to the tree, planning to take a rest.
Because of its environment, this tree did not have a single leaf left, only smooth branches. It matched very well with the cliffs on both sides, almost melting into the mountain, so it was no wonder she had not seen it before.
She took a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped her forehead very seriously.
On the cold mountain, even if she was walking nonstop, she logically still should not have sweat very much, not to mention her talent in cultivation as well. Yet when she removed the handkerchief, it was actually somewhat wet.
Seeing how wet the handkerchief was, she shook her head and then smiled.
So even she could become nervous.
She put away the handkerchief, then calmly pressed up against the tree, no longer walking forwards.