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Chapter 361 - Full-time Teaching (Part Two)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Nora
Chen Changsheng's gaze passed through the black willow forest and rested on the armored horsemen on the snowy plains, and only then did he understand Su Li’s words. Besides the demons, the people that wanted Su Li dead the most were the people of Zhou. The Great Zhou cavalrymen that were obviously searching for their target served as evidence, but he still felt like there was another possibility. Perhaps they were here to rescue the two of them?
"Why do you always like to think about things so pessimistically?" Chen Changsheng asked. At his question, a tinge of ridicule could be heard in Su Li's reply. "Because things will often develop in the most pessimistic fashion."
As if to prove his words, a group of several dozen horsemen split off from the several hundred. They began to gallop towards the black willow forest, scrawling a black line on the monotonous snow. When the horsemen arrived in front of the forest, the cavalrymen began to remove their weapons from their saddles and let down the visors on their helmet, seeming exceptionally wary—no matter how one looked at it, it did not seem like these cavalrymen had come to rescue people, but to kill.
The cavalrymen entered the forest, accompanied by the dense sound of hoofs smacking the ground. Occasionally, there would be a snap as a black willow branch was broken. Whether it was for the purpose of rescuing or killing, they had no need to hide their tracks. Moreover, if the object of their search was as described in their intelligence reports, then he was just a cripple. The following affair should be very simple indeed.
At some point, Chen Changsheng's right hand had already begun to rest on the hilt of his dagger, ready to pull it out at any time.
His body truly was incredibly strong. Even after crossing ten thousand li of snowy plains, with all his weariness and hidden injuries, they had vanished without a trace with that one night's sleep on the cold kang. His true essence was gradually recovering, and even the injuries he had suffered in the Garden of Zhou had improved greatly. He was confident that he could completely wipe out every one of the several dozen cavalrymen that had entered the forest, even if they were elites that had all succeeded in Purification. However, he had no confidence that he could kill them all noiselessly or without attracting the attention of the large force of cavalry which was currently making its way to the east side of the forest. Crucially, the cavalrymen were all part of the Great Zhou army, and he was a person of Zhou. He truly could not just suddenly start killing without asking for a reason first.
He did not know what to do, so he only stared at the faint figures of the cavalry in the forest. As they got closer, his breathing grew more hurried and tense. The fingers of the hand holding his dagger were getting whiter and whiter. If he allowed the situation to continue in this manner, it would not be long before those horsemen saw him and Su Li.
"Senior, we should go."
He finally made his decision. He turned around to indicate that Su Li should lean on, as he prepared to carry Su Li to escape.
Since he could not continue to hide, nor could he take out his dagger and kill, the only option left was to run. It was a good thing that he now possessed an unimaginable speed. He believed that not even the horsemen would be able to catch up to them in such a short amount of time. As for the troubles that would be brought when the Zhou army caught on to their tracks, he currently did not have the luxury of considering it.
Su Li had no intention of leaving. "Open the umbrella."
Chen Changsheng did not understand. Taking the umbrella and opening it, he followed Su Li's instructions and poured his true essence into it, simultaneously activating some mechanism in the umbrella's shaft. A faintly discernible Qi began to descend from the edge of the umbrella, just like an invisible and immaterial waterfall, completely surrounding them. The cold wind could no longer blow the Yellow Paper Umbrella around, but snow began to fall from the sky, a little of which landed upon the canvas of the umbrella soundlessly.
The several dozen cavalrymen had finally reached the depths of the black willow forest and had reached a place that was not very far from their current location.
Chen Changsheng was very tense as he looked at those horsemen that were only a bit more than ten zhang away. He felt like he could even clearly make out the eye color of their commanding officer.
Yet the several dozen cavalrymen seemed to have seen nothing at all and scattered to search the rest of the forest.
After some time, Chen Changsheng finally confirmed that the cavalry had left the forest and abruptly relaxed. He suddenly realized that the two hands that had held the umbrella had grown stiff from nerves.
"Put away the umbrella," Su Li said.
He complied and put away the umbrella, tying it to his waist and preparing to leave.
"Don't be too rushed. Those horsemen should still be waiting on the perimeter of the forest," Su Li said again.
Chen Changsheng did not question it and sat back down by the tree. Then he looked at the Yellow Paper Umbrella and sighed regretfully, "I really didn't think that this umbrella would have such a wonderful use!"
The edge of Su Li's lips perked up. "You also didn't think about who I was."
Chen Changsheng did not continue the conversation. He truly was rather fed up with it, and he knew that even if he did not answer, this egotistic senior would certainly have a way of continuing the conversation himself.
As expected, Su Li's two brows slightly rose up as if they wanted to fly away, and he proudly boasted, "This is a magical artifact I designed together with old man Tang. With the Heaven Shrouding Sword that formed the pivot and the countless precious materials that formed the body, not even a Meditation Cultivator was guaranteed to see through the illusion. How could ordinary cavalrymen like these see through my umbrella?"
Chen Changsheng wanted to say something but stopped himself.
Su Li's brows flew up even higher. "If you have something to say, say it."
Chen Changsheng replied, "Senior, this umbrella… is mine."
The black willow forest was very quiet and the snow fell without a sound.
At the start when they were leaving the hot spring in the snowy ridge, they had gotten into an argument over this matter. Chen Changsheng felt that Su Li's injuries were too heavy and so did not continue the argument. But now, he could no longer hold it back, because he felt that this umbrella was his.
Su Li coldly laughed. "You know about the origins of this umbrella?"
Chen Changsheng had heard Zhexiu speak about some of the stories related to this umbrella. Coupled with what he had seen and heard in the Garden of Zhou and the snow plains, he basically knew everything, so he nodded his head.
Su Li paid no attention to him and narrated the story of the umbrella one more time. At the very end, he stared into Chen Changsheng’s eyes and declared, "I found the sword, and I designed that umbrella. You actually have the audacity to say that this umbrella is yours?"
Chen Changsheng answered, "But this umbrella's materials were all found by the Old Master Tang. Back then when Senior left this umbrella behind at the Wenshui Tangs, wasn't it because Senior could not find the money?"
Su Li's expression gradually grew frigid. "Repeat what you said."
Chen Changsheng felt that not being able to find the money was truly rather imprecise, so he changed his phrasing. "Isn't it because Senior repudiated the debt that this Yellow Paper Umbrella returned to the Wenshui Tang clan?"
Su Li furiously laughed. "As Mount Li's supreme elder, I have wandered the four seas, plundered houses, and committed every sort of crime—how could I lack money?"
Chen Changsheng completely ignored his talk about robbing houses and committing crimes and earnestly explained, "But Senior still didn't pay."
Su Li found he had nothing he could say, so he said nothing.
The atmosphere grew rather awkward. Chen Changsheng hesitantly got up and climbed up a tree to observe the distant movements of the Great Zhou cavalry, at the same time letting the cold wind disperse the heat on his face.
After a while, he descended from the tree and said to Su Li, "Senior, I believe that those horsemen have really withdrawn."
Su Li ignored him.
Chen Changsheng continued, "Senior, if the cavalrymen really are searching for you, do we still need to hide our tracks? Senior does not believe in us Zhou people, but there should still be people that Senior trusts. Just like Senior said before, although there will be people that come to kill Senior there are also people that would come to save Senior. Although Mount Li is far away, those people that want to save Senior could be very close by!"
Su Li looked into his eyes and said, "Herein lies the question, are there more people that want to kill me, or more people that want to save me? Who are the more urgent ones?"
Chen Changsheng somewhat hesitantly replied, "Senior… don’t you think too darkly of human nature?"
"It's not about nature, but hearts. Human nature cannot be tested, and human hearts cannot be guessed. Zealous love and rejection are both ultimately about profit. Emperor Taizong is clearly a shameless follower who murdered his brothers and compelled his father. Zhou Dufu is clearly a butcher who slaughtered people without regard. Yet why is that in the eyes of ordinary folk, these two seem to have a golden aura about their bodies? Because Emperor Taizong and Zhou Dufu brought them sufficient profits. They expelled the demons back to Xuelao City and spared the humans living in the Central Plains from the blade of the soldiers and the flames of war, spared them from being enslaved by another race. Thus they naturally became what the hearts of the people longed for."
Su Li seriously asked him, "And me? I live in this conflict-free and peaceful generation. Besides killing a few Demon Generals, I've not done too much. What have I done for the human world? What sort of profits have I obtained for the cultivators and the common folk? Enough so that they would lightly journey ten thousand li to help me? Just because my path of the sword is powerful without equal, that my bearing is exceptionally free and easy-going?"
It was clearly a very serious, even solemn discussion, or perhaps a lecture, but because of how those last few words changed the flavor, Chen Changsheng had no idea how to continue, so he asked, "What about the southerners?"
In the minds of the common people, Mount Li's Junior Martial Uncle Su Li was currently the strongest expert of the south. It was also because of his existence that the south could protect its final vestiges of dignity and pride in the face of the flourishing Great Zhou.
"Of course, there are many southerners who have thanked me, but there are also many southerners that loathe me. As I've said these past few days, I've killed many people. Since I grew up in the south, the vast majority of people I killed naturally are southerners. They all had relatives, fellow students and disciples, and later generations. How could all those people like me? Of course, even if these people who loathed me were even more numerous, they wouldn't be in the majority, or else wouldn't I be a rat crossing the street that everyone is shouting out to kill? The problem lies in the fact that many years ago, I did something that made the entire south despair, so the people that dislike me grew in number."
"What thing?" Chen Changsheng asked curiously.
"A bit more than ten years ago, the bloody case of the Orthodox Academy. You should know about it."
"I know about it."
"Speaking of which, is Daoist Ji really your master?"
"Senior… in truth, I'm really not really clear on this matter."
"Fine, let's go back to the main topic. In brief, after that incident in the Orthodox Academy, the Pope was severely wounded, the army was in internal disorder and the Imperial Court at odds with itself. Zhou Tong was randomly killing people, and the entire capital was in complete chaos. Your Zhou Dynasty was in complete shambles. In the eyes of the southerners, this was undoubtedly their best opportunity. Moreover, it must be admitted that the Longevity Sect was truly very powerful back then, on par with your Li Palace."
"Just as the southerners had completed their several years of preparation and were ready to sortie, because of a certain matter, I trampled into the Longevity Sect and slaughtered all those elders. As a result, the things they had prepared to do were naturally left unsettled."
"Senior, this sort of secret is really too shocking, or else why would I always feel like Senior is making up ways to praise yourself?"
"Such a tragic affair, what's there to praise about it?"
In a rare moment, Su Li did not continue the conversation to praise himself. His expression was so calm that it caused the heart to beat faster.