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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The snowy plains in the morning were very quiet. Perhaps because of that shadow or because the cloud layer had still not dispersed, the morning light was very faint. The snow that fell in the morning light was also very sparse, and when it landed, it made not a single sound. This murderous scheme which would inevitably be recorded in the annals of history, this assassination which would inevitably alter the course of the continent's history, had already gone on for a long time. Although a victor had not been decided, the conclusion seemed evident. All around, the mountainous figures of the Demon Generals were silent and austere and that shadow still hung high up in the sky. Black Robe was calmly seated at the snowy hill some ten li out. The human in the middle of their encirclement still stood tall and firm, but he seemed lonely and desolate.
Suddenly, a wind gusted through the snowy plain, swirling the snow about. The deathly stillness over the scene had just been shattered by the whistling wind and then was soon after completely ripped apart by a fierce explosion. With the emergence of countless powerful Qi from the snowy hill upon which Black Robe sat, innumerable flakes of snow shot outwards and into the sky. Those several life lamps that hung in the air were instantly extinguished and several silky threads were torn out of the front of Black Robe's gown. Even more frightening was that the seemingly invulnerable square plate… had been rendered into a pile of scrap.
Before countless pairs of eyes could make their way over to the snowy hill where Black Robe was located, they were cast towards a certain place on the snowy plain.
In the snowy plain, an extra person had suddenly appeared.
In the present continent, who could break through that shadow and the layers of layers of defense consisting of tens of thousands of demon soldiers and noiselessly arrive at this place?
It was a youth, his right hand holding up an old umbrella and his left hand gripping a dagger. His eyes were tightly shut and his clear and youthful countenance displayed an unswerving determination that could only be seen at the brink of life and death. One could also make out on his face a boundless exhaustion.
After who knows how long had passed, that youth opened his eyes.
This youth was naturally Chen Changsheng. He blankly looked around, seeing nothing but white snow. He simply had no clue to what had occurred, only vaguely understanding that he had somehow departed the Garden of Zhou. But just where was this? How could the sky here also have a shadow? How could the will of this shadow be even more terrifying than the great peng's shadow over the Plains of the Unsetting Sun? And what were those over ten mountainous figures all around him? How could they emit a Qi that was just like the Qi emitted by the Demon General couple of Teng Xiaoming and Liu Wan'er? It couldn't be that all of these black and mountainous figures were Demon Generals? And a bit more than ten li away on that snowy hill, just who was that man cloaked in that black robe? Why was the Qi that he emitted so sinister? Why was he wearing a black robe?
Chen Changsheng gazed into the distant snowy plain at the faintly discernible silhouette of that imposing city and thought of a certain description recorded in the Daoist Canon. His body became stiff as a board and his mouth gaped open, but no sound emerged. He thought to himself, it can't be. Could it be that the city was the legendary Xuelao City? That he was in the snowy plains in the territory of demons? Those mountainous and dark figures really were all Demon Generals? That black-robed and menacing man was Black Robe? Then what about the shadow?
Just a moment ago, he was in the Garden of Zhou at the peak of the mausoleum, resisting against the descent of the sky. In the next moment, he had been transported more than ten thousand li to the snowy plains in the kingdom of demons and saw the legendary Xuelao City, saw the figures of the demon experts that previously only existed in his books and imagination. If his mind had been just a little weaker, his will a little more fragile, perhaps he would have been shocked into unconsciousness or even frightened to death, all because this scene was truly too inconceivable.
Chen Changsheng possessed an astounding willpower, so he did not faint, but this was not necessarily a good thing. He necessarily had to soberly bear the mental assault of all that he saw before him. He even felt like his spiritual world was on the verge of collapse and his body had grown so rigid that he could not even move a finger.
An ant suddenly found itself in the world of giants, a mortal had mistakenly wandered into the Divine Kingdom of gods in the sea of stars; that was the sort of feeling he had.
The countless snowflakes which had been sent flying into the sky rustled down to the ground, and then the meager snow falling from the clouds slowly drifted down onto the canopy of the umbrella. A deathly stillness still pervaded the snowy plain. Countless gazes separated by several li, several dozen li, and even several thousand li, stared at Chen Changsheng, not making a single sound.
To those experts, Chen Changsheng’s appearance was also extremely bizarre.
If some ordinary mortal had appeared in the realm of gods, presumably those gods up high would also be very astonished, wondering how this mere mortal had turned up here.
The snowy plain had sunk into an incredibly odd silence.
Chen Changsheng's body became stiff beyond compare. At the same time as that unimaginably enormous mental shock brought his spiritual world close to collapse, it also caused his thoughts to swiftly work.
In that very short moment of time, he thought of many things. Why he had gone from the Garden of Zhou to this snowy plain in the demon kingdom was obviously not something he could understand in such a brief span of time, so he did not ponder that. Then, why could he see so many legendary demon experts? Were these demon experts here to assassinate him?
This was impossible. Although his status as Principal of the Orthodox Academy seemed sufficient, in truth, for powerful figures such as these, an upper level Ethereal Opening youth was like an ant. There was no need for such an impressive display of force. Not even that most narcissistic Tang Thirty-Six would dare to claim this.
The target of these demon experts should be someone else. Who was this person?
That middle-aged man who had been besieged by tens of thousands of demon soldiers for several days was already heavily injured. Confronting this plan in which he was certain to die, the expression on his face was still unruly as ever, as if he did not care. Yet when he saw the umbrella in Chen Changsheng's hand, his expression grew solemn.
As if to confirm his conjecture, he walked over to Chen Changsheng. In the snowy plain, he was the closest to Chen Changsheng, with only a dozen or so steps needed to arrive at his side.
"Oh, there's a sword."
That man extended his left hand and took the umbrella.
Chen Changsheng only heard the sound of footsteps. Without any time to even look, he realized that the Yellow Paper Umbrella had been taken away.
He looked at the man.
The man was dressed in a long gown, but not too long, unlike a scholar. At his waist was a sword, but he did not seem like a swordsman. His overall appearance was rather incongruous.
The man's body emitted a clear and cold Qi, like a sword revealing its edge, making it impossible to look at him straight on.
This was Chen Changsheng's first meeting with Su Li. He only saw Su Li's back and he felt a stabbing pain in his eyes.
Only after a very long time had passed would he be able to look directly at this man. The past him did not know that this man was Mount Li's legendary Junior Martial Uncle, Su Li.
After a while, he came to his senses and strenuously stood up. He subconsciously tightened his right hand, but the handle of the umbrella was not there. That sort of empty feeling made him feel somewhat out of sorts.
The Yellow Paper Umbrella was in the hands of that middle-aged man. For some reason, they seemed to be in harmony with each other, as if the umbrella had originally been his.
Seeing this scene, Chen Changsheng once again fell into confusion. All of a sudden, he felt that everything that had happened in the Garden of Zhou was all a dream. Leaving the Mausoleum of Books and then going from the capital to Wenshui to pick up this umbrella, then entering the plain and then miraculously appearing in these snowy plains; these tens of thousands of li of enduring through hardship was all…to deliver this umbrella into the hands of this man.
To return the Yellow Paper Umbrella to this man.
Su Li's left hand gripped the shaft of the Yellow Paper Umbrella and calmly stared at it. After staring at it for a long time, a smile peeked out of his lips.
Then, the smile broke into unrestrained laughter, a long laughter.
He laughed so happily that his face was beaming.
He gazed at the distant dark mountains that were the Demon Generals, at Black Robe sitting cross-legged amidst the scattered snow, at that shadow in the sky, and said, "You said that I was lacking a sword. Yes, I really was lacking a sword, but now… I have a sword. Isn't it time for you to be afraid?"
Chen Changsheng did not understand. This was clearly an umbrella. Even if there was a strand of sword intent within, how could it be described as a sword?
He did not know that this Yellow Paper Umbrella was a peerlessly famous sword called Heaven Shrouding.
Several hundred years ago, that generation's Sect Master of the Mount Li Sword Sect brought this sword and entered the Garden of Zhou. He battled for three hundred rounds with Zhou Dufu before dying, but his sword remained unbroken.
This sword was the most powerful sword in the Sword Pool, and also the most unwilling, the most desirous of recovering its freedom.
This sword was originally supposed to be inherited by Su Li. This was his sword.
The body of this sword had left the plain and been picked up by Su Li. It had been sent to Wenshui and thus been crafted into an umbrella of a thousand mechanisms and a hundred transformations.
However, there was no sword intent, so it was not the sword he wanted.
The sword intent had always been in the plains, waiting for the body of the sword to return and reunite.
Several hundred years later, Chen Changsheng passed through Wenshui and obtained the umbrella from the Tang clan as a gift. He carried the umbrella into the Garden of Zhou, then into the plains. The sword body and the sword intent met, allowing him to summon the ten thousand swords to soar into the sky.
It seemed that up to here, the story had finally welcomed its perfect ending, but it was not so.
Only when he came to this snowy plain and handed over this umbrella to Su Li could this ending truly be perfect.
Su Li grasped the Yellow Paper Umbrella as he thought about all those centuries ago when he first walked into that cave at the peak of Mount Li and saw that sword hung up on the wall behind his master. He thought of the later years, when he intentionally suppressed his cultivation to Ethereal Opening and entered the Garden of Zhou multiple times to search for that sword, and then he sighed with emotion.
This was Mount Li's sword. This was his master's sword. This was Su Li's sword.
Several hundred years. It really was a long time apart.
How could he not be pleased? How could he not laugh to his heart's content?
As he laughed, the Yellow Paper Umbrella also seemed to laugh.
But this elated laughter still contained a hint of frustration, a strand of regret.
Master, I am holding this sword once more.
But… Zhou Dufu is already dead. I no longer have the chance to slay him with my sword and avenge you.
The clear and unbridled, yet frustrated and regretful laughter echoed through the silent snowy plain, as if it could be heard from a thousand li away.
The meaning behind the laughter was clearly transmitted to the entire world, such that even Chen Changsheng could understand it.
Frustration that Zhou Dufu was dead, regret that he could not fall under this sword.
This was a self-confident, even arrogant way of thinking.
But no one displayed any ridicule or disdain. Even Black Robe maintained his silence.
Because Su Li had already found his sword. Who knew where on the path of the sword he would end up?
The clear laughter gradually died down and the sword ray on Su Li's body gradually faded away. It looked like he had returned to being an average middle-aged man.
He lifted up his head and gazed all around him at those black mountains that were the enormous figures of the Demon Generals. His expression was calm as he extended his hand and gripped the umbrella handle.
His left hand gripped the shaft of the Yellow Paper Umbrella like it was a sheath.
His right hand gripped the handle of the Yellow Paper Umbrella like he was about to pull out a sword.
Chen Changsheng noticed that his fingers were long and slender, very suitable for playing the zither. Of course, they were even more suitable for holding a sword.
The handle of the umbrella was the hilt of the sword. The instant that his hand landed on the handle of the umbrella, a swift and fierce sword intent enveloped the entirety of this part of the snowy plains.
Several dozens of li away, one of the mountainous figures of the Demon Generals lightly swayed, then heavily fell upon the snow-covered earth.
A spurt of blood sprayed out into the snowy air.