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The distant sun sat very low on the edge of the plains. In that black line that was the monster tide, there were many monsters that could fly. They blocked out the rays of light, causing the world to go dark.
On the high platform of the mausoleum, the green leaves of the wutong tree cast their mottled shadow over their figures like the night had come early.
The night had always signified death and the end, but it also often signified safety and peace. Under the cover of the night, people dared to do things they normally did not do, dared to feel emotions they normally did not feel, dared to talk about matters they normally did not talk about.
Those words were often true words, spoken from the heart.
At the moment, they could no longer clearly make out each other's faces, only the eyes. Fortunately, both of their eyes were very clear and bright. Chen Changsheng silently stared into her eyes for a long time, then abruptly said, "Truthfully, I've deceived you on something."
Xu Yourong was shocked, and said softly, "What thing?"
Chen Changsheng did not directly answer the question. "The reason why I chose to deceive you back then is because… I'm engaged."
Once he said these words, he felt much more relaxed. Moreover, he knew exactly why he was so much more relaxed.
Upon hearing these words, Xu Yourong was very quiet for a long time. She felt a faint sense of disappointment, and she did not even know why she was disappointed.
Whenever such valorous matters were taken out of the bag, they would bloom with countless rays of light and thorns. It was very difficult to put these matters back in the bag, and also very difficult to make them go dark once more.
Chen Changsheng continued to gaze into her eyes as he spoke. "But I don't want to marry her, I want to end the engagement."
This was a supplement, an explanation, a declaration, a promise. Although nothing had happened between the two of them—he did not even know what she was thinking at the moment—since he was the first to have his heart moved, it was up to him to make a clean slate of everything. Just like his senior had once said, only by making a clean slate of things could one obtain a beautiful result.
Xu Yourong felt that his eyes were far too bright, so she lowered her head. She somewhat angrily thought to herself, why is he telling this to me?
Then, very curiously, she began to think of her fiancé. That man had used every method possible to get her to marry him… Yes, even now, she had no choice but to admit that her fiancé was truly outstanding, far more outstanding than she had imagined. Only that man's scheming was too deep, too hypocritical, not at all like this honest and reliable Snow Mountain Sect disciple.
Why would she compare him to that guy?
When she suddenly thought about this, she felt a little flustered. "Why do you not want to marry her?"
She asked this question to conceal her own fluctuating emotions, to prevent herself from thinking about such embarrassing things, but it was also because she really wanted to know just what sort of girl he liked and what sort of girl he did no like.
Chen Changsheng silently considered what to say, then said, "My fiancée is extremely famous in my world."
Xu Yourong thought to herself, in the bitter cold lands of the northeast, the aristocratic families have all already declined, and in the end, they were just provincial powers. They were only famous in the northeast, so she could not understand.
"She… is very proud."
Chen Changsheng seriously pondered this. Although he found that girl quite disagreeable, he did not think it was right to badmouth her too much in front of another girl. After considering a few phrases, he continued, "Perhaps it was because of her family background, growing up in an unsuitable environment, which caused her to be very proud. That's not to say that she walked around with her foot raised high and a noble air, ordering people around by pointing her chin; it's just that she's gotten used to handling all matters by gazing down upon them from up high… including me."
Xu Yourong had never liked those arrogant and cold noble young ladies, so she said, "Your meaning is that she viewed you with contempt?"
Chen Changsheng nodded.
Xu Yourong thought to herself, his talent is so outstanding, his knowledge so extensive, his nature so honest; if that fiancée looked down on him, how proud and stupid was she, how terrible was her vision?
He said, "But what I hate about her the most is her feigned aloofness. She grew up on the Five Grains like everyone else, it's not like she's some immortal who dines on the wind and dew." (TN: The five grains are rice, wheat, beans, and two types of millet.)
Xu Yourong highly approved of his words. Every day she would see those devoted seniors and juniors of the South Stream Temple's outer sect, their faces masked in white cloth as they noiselessly walked, their robes unswaying. Their concealed, almost transcendent appearances made her feel uneasy, so oftentimes she would sit alone on the cliff, then after a while leave for the small village to play a few rounds of cards, to once again find a little joy for life.
"But later on for some reason, she once again agreed to that engagement."
Chen Changsheng continued, "In fact, I understand what she's thinking. She just wants to use me."
Xu Yourong thought to herself, this was probably after he entered Snow Mountain Sect's Secret Sect and began to display his talent. Only by seeing his limitless prospects would his fiancée change her mind. With just this single thought, her opinion of this woman had dropped even lower, to the point of shame. Proud, stupid, terrible vision; all those could still be saved, but this… was a problem of virtue.
"Let's not talk about this woman anymore. Ending the engagement is the best choice."
She soothingly said to Chen Changsheng, somewhat sympathizing with his encounter.
"Yes, I was also thinking this way. Especially now, I am more and more convinced that ending the engagement is the best choice.”
Chen Changsheng gazed at her as he said this. These words were meant for her.
As Xu Yourong stared into his increasingly bright eyes and listened to his slightly trembling voice, she could not help but be stunned. She was an incomparably intelligent woman, so how could she not understand what this signified? She once again felt a little flustered, and was getting more so by the second.
She thought about how she also had an engagement and that she had not even told him, and she thought that this fact was why she was flustered, but she did not know that at certain moments, the quickened beating of the heart could also easily make one flustered.
The sky was dark. The leaves of the wutong gently swayed in the breeze. The rough wood of the trunk gradually grew warm. The high platform of the mausoleum was like night.
For a very long time, there was no sound.
"Truthfully… I also have an engagement." The darkness enveloped the high platform and Xu Yourong's voice was very soft. If one was not carefully listening, it would be easy for her voice to be obscured by the gentle rustling of the leaves of the wutong tree.
"Ah?" Chen Changsheng's voice seemed very surprised, as if he could not have possibly imagined it. Then it swiftly became as dull as water.
"Is that so? So it was originally like that."
Perhaps because the emotions in his voice were too obvious, anybody could hear his sadness and disappointment, so when Xu Yourong's second sentence followed, she said it somewhat quickly. Her words were rushed, but the meaning in her words was very definite with no wavering.
"But I don't want to marry him, moreover, I definitely won't marry him."
Similarly, this was an explanation, a supplemental, a declaration, then… was it a promise?
The high platform enveloped in darkness once again grew quiet. After a while, Chen Changsheng began to laugh.
Xu Yourong was somewhat angry and ashamed. "What are you giggling about?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "Nothing."
If Tang Thirty-Six were here, he would almost certainly say something at this time: Who would believe that there was nothing between the two of you!
Chen Changsheng very quickly returned to his senses as he thought to himself, her situation is not at all like mine. Maybe I'm just overthinking things. Curious and also uneasy, he asked her, "Your… your fiancé, what sort of person is he?"
Xu Yourong softly said, "We've known each other for many years. Although later on, I would almost forget that he existed, I really did know him when we were both young. I remember very clearly that back then, he was a very annoying child."
Chen Changsheng pretended to defend him, "Little boys often cause others to feel very annoyed… I'm no exception."
Xu Yourong said, "Anyhow, because of a certain matter, I determined to have nothing more to do with him. I didn't imagine that after several years, he would come back to pester me again."
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, to conduct oneself in such a manner was truly lacking in self-respect and self-esteem.
"Over there… the engagement is a very important matter. In addition, that engagement was decided by our elders, so it's very difficult to end the engagement."
Xu Yourong thought he was a disciple of the Snow Mountain Sect in the northeast, so the 'over there' naturally indicated the Central Plains. Meanwhile, Chen Changsheng heard it as the place in the demi-human domain in which the elves had settled.
He thought to himself, the elves have suffered so many tribulations throughout their history and now very few of them remain. To reproduce and flourish was their first priority, so they could only permit marriage amongst fellow elves. This policy is inevitably somewhat harsh, but to a young woman that yearns for true love, it truly seems rather cruel.
"Since so many years have passed… could it be… your fiancé hasn't gotten a little bit better?"
"He has not. That fool's nature has not improved one bit, or has even gotten worse."
Xu Yourong thought of those matters Shuang'er had brought up in her letters and she grew increasingly downcast. "I must admit that that fool is really outstanding in some areas, but… he has many unacceptable shortcomings."
This was the first time Chen Changsheng had heard such bitterness in her voice. He thought to himself, it seems that she really hates her fiancé.
"He gives the appearance that he doesn't care about worldly matters, that he's honest and benevolent, but in reality, he is a deep schemer and abuses money and power to meet his ends."
As she said these words, Xu Yourong was thinking about when that man first entered the capital. He had somehow managed to get in the good graces of the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education and become a student of the Orthodox Academy. Then by making use of the conflict between the old Imperial Clan and the Divine Empress, and stirring up countless storms, he managed to stand firm in the capital and obtain massive benefits. How could such a person be some unworldly young boy from the countryside?
Chen Changsheng thought about it, then said, "To act in such a hypocritical manner is truly unbecoming."
Xu Yourong said mockingly, "And it doesn't stop there. This person is also a social climber. I don't know what… methods he used, but he managed to get in the good graces of some noble. As for further details, not even I am willing to speak more about it."
These words were obviously speaking of that person's relationship with Luoluo. Chen Changsheng sincerely said, "Logically, an acquaintance shouldn't sow discord amongst intimate friends, so I shouldn't say anything, but… this sort of man is truly unacceptable."
As he was saying these words, he was rather interested. These so-called… methods, what exactly were they?
In his view, her fiancé was an even more dangerous enemy than that senior brother of hers. She angrily complained and criticized him, but it is said that only with hope can there be disappointment. Didn't her complaints and critiques indicate that deep within her heart, she still faintly held some sort of expectation for her fiancé? He naturally wanted to know more.
Xu Yourong did not immediately answer to what he said, choosing to remain silent.
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, don't tell me that those methods are so shameless that they are even hard to talk about?
Xu Yourong was thinking about those letters that had come from the capital.
Those letters came from her dearly-trusted Shuang'er as well as Mo Yu.
In Shuang'er's letter, she had described a certain scene.
Under the lovely spring sunshine in the Orthodox Academy's library, he and that young demi-human princess were embracing each other.
In Mo Yu's letter, she had described a certain scene.
In that dragon cave below the well at New North Bridge, he and the Black Dragon turned into a girl were embracing each other.
Yes, even if he had even more faults, they could all be explained. At most, she would just end the engagement and they would become strangers to each other, but there would be no need for such a rejection. Only due to these events was she unable to accept it. If she could accept such a thing, it would inflict the greatest humiliation upon herself.
"He likes to pick the flowers and trample the grass."
(TN: womanize with others.)
She tried as much as possible to calmly and objectively state, "Moreover, he only does so with uncomprehending young girls."
The dark mausoleum platform was quiet.
After some time had passed, there was a sudden heavy strike, and then Chen Changsheng's angry voice rang out.
"Truly a shameless piece of scum!"