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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Chen Changsheng was about to return to the capital. Hearing this news, Zhuang Huanyu fell silent for a very long time, just like a few days ago when he heard that Chen Changsheng was still alive.
Once their group that had gone to the Garden of Zhou left Hanqiu City and returned to the capital, the Imperial Court removed Zhexiu from the Li Palace. Everyone believed that Chen Changsheng had died with the collapse of the Garden of Zhou. Qi Jian, who had been returned to Mount Li, was still in a coma. Moreover, matters between man and woman were the most liable to cause quarrels, and so he believed that no one would ever believe Zhexiu and Qi Jian's defense. Thus, he was very happy, thinking that his life had finally returned to the right track. It was just that, from time to time, he would think of Liang Xiaoxiao—that young genius who had used the final move of the Mount Li Sword Style to commit suicide in front of him. When he recalled this, his body would grow cold, and he couldn't feel warm no matter how many blankets he covered himself with. It was like some devil's shadow was quietly standing over his body in the air around him.
Yet what made him feel even colder was that Chen Changsheng had not died.
He had appeared in the wilderness in the northern stretches of Tianliang County. It was said that he was together with that legendary Junior Martial Uncle of Mount Li. Soon after, he heard that Divine General Xue He had gone there, but Chen Changsheng still did not die. They had gone to Xunyang City, and then after that, Liang Wangsun and Painted Armor Xiao Zhang appeared. Zhu Luo and Guan Xingke, two of the Storms of the Eight Directions, appeared. And yet, Chen Changsheng still did not die...why didn’t he just die?
Zhuang Huanyu stood in a courtyard, gazing upward at the pitch-black abyss of the night sky. He voiced aloud, "Why don't you just die?"
He stared at the night sky in silence for an interminable amount of time, then muttered to himself, "No one will believe it."
Several months ago, following behind that night in which Wang Zhice lit up the capital as he comprehended the Dao, the capital of the Great Zhou was once more bathed in silver starlight. This was because Chen Changsheng was in the Mausoleum of Books, viewing the monoliths and cultivating. After that night, the entire continent knew of the meritorious deed he had accomplished for the human world, and they also knew of the Li Palace's true attitude towards him.
Chen Changsheng became the youngest Principal of the Orthodox Academy in history. The Pope had chosen him to be his successor. He was the inheritor of the Orthodoxy.
No one believed that the successor to the Orthodoxy would collude with the demons, because it was impossible for the Demon race to provide him with any greater benefits. If he had died in the Garden in the Zhou, then maybe it would have profited a few people that were still alive, and then maybe some people would be willing to believe. However, Su Li had lived and returned to Mount Li. Chen Changsheng had lived and was returning to the capital. Then all this was about to come to a close. The scheme Liang Xiaoxiao had woven with his own death was visibly about to collapse. Of course, there were also people who held different views on this, such as that terrifying Sir Zhou Tong.
This was because Zhou Tong knew that Chen Changsheng was Daoist Ji's student. He believed that for the sake of revenge, Daoist Ji would not only collude with the demons, he would even be willing to bring the entire human world to ruin. But Zhuang Huanyu did not know of these matters, so as more and more news of Chen Changsheng's journey back south was relayed to the capital, he grew more and more silent. He no longer left his own small courtyard, and his confident figure could no longer be seen amongst the verdant trees of the Heavenly Dao Academy. He was finally beginning to understand why, after he saw Zhexiu carry Qi Jian into the Mountainside Whispering Wood, Liang Xiaoxiao chose to die with such determination.
Besides dying, what else could be done?
He lowered his head, gazing at the dark well in the courtyard, seeing the dim reflection of the starlight in the water deep within the well. Suddenly, he began to shiver.
He had grown up in the countryside, he and his mother relying on each other to survive. He lived a poor and destitute life, bitterly studying without end. After coming to the capital and entering the Heavenly Dao Academy, because his father was the Vice Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy and also because he possessed an outstanding talent, he received the love of his teachers and the respect and adoration of his schoolmates. However, he had never relaxed the requirements he placed upon himself. Even on cold winter days, he would persist in using cold well water to wash himself.
Now, it was the twilight of spring, and the capital was rather sultry, even feeling somewhat like summer. Yet he still felt that water in the well to be somewhat cold.
That sort of cold made people fall into fear, into despair.
He stared into the depths of the well, his face growing ever paler. After a seemingly endless span of time, he finally turned and left the side of the well.
This was the first time in many days he had left the small courtyard in which he lived. As he walked, the students of the Heavenly Dao Academy that he encountered showed astonishment on their faces, then gave way for him, paying their respects. Zhuang Huanyu seemed to not even see them, nor did he speak to his schoolmates. He directly walked to a building in the depths of the Heavenly Dao Academy.
This was the residence of the Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy. In the past, Mao Qiuyu had lived here. Later on, Mao Qiuyu went to the Li Palace to take charge as Archbishop of the Hall of Subjugation, and this place became the residence of the newly appointed principal.
The newly appointed Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy had the surname of Zhuang. It was his own father.
Standing outside the residence, separated by a sparse screen of plum branches, he gazed at the lights in the building and the figure of that man. Zhuang Huanyu once again fell into a very long silence, his face no longer as pale as it was before.
Back then, his father abandoned his wife and child and entered the capital to take the imperial examinations, having some sort of affair with that girl from the Wenshui Tang clan. This was the worst ingratitude—this was a story that Zhuang Huanyu had persistently believed, and this was the opinion he had always held of his father. As a result, he had always harbored a deep loathing and hostility towards his father, and as a consequence, whenever he confronted his father, he would always become extremely brave.
He didn't know why he came here tonight, but he realized that because of his anger towards that man behind the window, the despair and coldness in his heart had actually improved!
Afterwards, he left the Heavenly Dao Academy and walked to the stone pillars in front of the Li Palace. There, his footsteps stopped. He no longer moved forward.
He was an outstanding talent of the Heavenly Dao Academy, and also a highly valued member of the next generation nurtured by the Orthodoxy. He was worthy enough to walk into the Li Palace, but he did not. He had not come to the Li Palace to take in the sights, even though he did get to see the last few cherry trees in the night. He had come to the Li Palace to see someone, but even if he were to walk into the Li Palace, it was impossible for him to see that person, just as even though he was the genius Zhuang Huanyu, he was also not worthy of approaching that person. Just as back in the Heavenly Dao Academy, it was only in Mao Qiuyu's residence when he was principal that he could see that fairy-like junior sister, and then watch as she departed like a fairy.
Standing in front of the Li Palace, he quietly gazed through the darkness at the Hall of Pure Virtue, imagining that junior sister's life in the Pope's Green Leaf World. Zhuang Huanyu began to recollect the past.
He wanted to sort out what happened over these past few years, to make clear just how all these things had happened.
Several years ago, he had met her in the Heavenly Dao Academy. Then, they met once again at the Ivy Festival. When he thought that they could get to know each other, he saw that she was pulling along a youth called Chen Changsheng by the sleeve.
Yes, everything had originally started from here.
In the Garden of Zhou by the lake, when Liang Xiaoxiao had suddenly launched his sneak attack and it was clear that the demon experts wanted to kill Chen Changsheng, Zhexiu, and Qi Jian, he was in the forest, not brandishing a sword and not meeting up with them.
Yes, because he had been scared, because he was just a youth, because he wanted to live.
But now that he thought about it, wasn't it because, in his heart, he had always held a deep jealousy and hatred for Chen Changsheng?
He really wanted Chen Changsheng to die.
Why couldn't he just die?
A rain suddenly began to fall down upon the capital. The Li Palace was no exception.
The air of late spring was suddenly washed clean, and the gray stone actually began to emit a cold air.
Zhuang Huanyu had no umbrella. He stood in the rain for a very long time.
A priest from the Li Palace stepped forth to inquire, but when he realized it was him, he remembered that Chen Changsheng was about to return to the capital. Thinking that he had guessed at something, the priest no longer disturbed Zhuang Huanyu.
Holding up umbrellas in the rain, those priests and students from the Six Ivies walked about their business. When they saw his drenched figure, the emotions in their eyes were rather complex. There was some pity, some empathy, and of course, there was also ridicule.
Zhuang Huanyu returned to his small courtyard in the Heavenly Dao Academy.
His clothes had been completely soaked by the rain, so how could he care anymore whether something was cold or hot? Yet for some reason, in the end, he did not jump into the deep and cold well.
In the final moment of his life, he preserved a little of his pride. He used a sword.
He chose to die under his own sword.
The news of Zhuang Huanyu's death quickly spread throughout the entire capital.
That gray courtyard not far from the Imperial City was the first to receive this news, because this place was the Department for Purging Officials.
When Zhou Tong heard this news, he had been holding up a lantern, standing amongst a patch of green wormwood in his vegetable garden. He had been attempting to find that wormwood stick-bug that had bitten one of his wormwood stalks half to death.
Zhuang Huanyu's death naturally had to do with Chen Changsheng's return to the capital. Those who stood on Chen Changsheng's side presumably felt like they could hold their heads up high, while those wanted to use this matter to attack Chen Changsheng and even the Orthodoxy inevitably felt rather disappointed.
Zhou Tong was likely the only person in the world that actually believed Chen Changsheng could collude with the demons, but not only did he lack any sense of failure, he even laughed and said, "It's good if he dies!"
He was truly happy. Although he didn't laugh so much that he was rocking back and forth, the lantern in his hand swayed to and fro, so much so that the shadows of the wormwood on the vegetable field created all sorts of shapes, seeming just like a fence.
After the conclusion of the matter in Xunyang City, once it was confirmed that Su Li and Chen Changsheng had both survived, the rumors coursing their way through the capital suddenly changed.
The Li Palace and the military placed an enormous pressure on the Department for Purging Officials, demanding that Zhou Tong release Zhexiu.
Liberating Zhexiu was a present, a great gift to welcome Chen Changsheng back.
Of course, Zhou Tong would definitely not release Zhexiu. If not for Chen Changsheng's status being too sensitive, he would definitely have locked Chen Changsheng in that prison in his front yard.
So he believed that Zhuang Huanyu had died well. He had died, and the dead could not testify. The dead could not testify, so it was good.
Of course, he was keenly aware that with Chen Changsheng's current status and identity, Zhuang Huanyu's death was not too significant.
But there were definitely people that would use this death.
The fresh rain moistened the dust of the capital. The spring feeling of the capital had not yet dulled, and, on the contrary, grew even deeper. It was so bright and beautiful that it even seemed somewhat sticky and greasy.
A convoy of carriages returned to the capital.
Chen Changsheng sat in one of the carriages, feeling the vibrations from his sheath. Knowing that the Black Dragon was about to wake up was very comforting to him.
Then, he heard a voice coming from outside.
Many people knew that Chen Changsheng was in the carriage. The commoners who were used to the bustling sights of the capital also couldn't help but fill the two sides of the road to join the rest of the crowd. There was spirited discussion, producing quite the clamor, and the scene was incredibly lively.
When this word rang out, this great street of the capital instantly became eerily silent.