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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Gradually, in the company of the morning light, people began to walk out of the Mausoleum of Books. The majority of them were people who had entered the three banners of the Grand Examination held this year at the beginning of spring. It was naturally impossible for those people to not recognize Chen Changsheng. They were all astonished, and then one by one, began to pay their respects. In that night of descending starlight, countless monolith viewers broke through and several dozen fireworks bloomed over the Mausoleum of Books. No matter what sort of impression these people had of Chen Changsheng, they all owed him a debt of gratitude and had to express their thanks.
Chen Changsheng returned their salutes, then turned his gaze back to look into the Mausoleum of Books.
After some time had passed, Tang Thirty-Six finally came out. His hair was disheveled and his entire body stank. His expensive clothing was stained all over and he carried his bedding over his shoulder, as well as that furskin whose original color was completely unrecognizable. He didn't seem one bit like the elegant noble son doted upon by countless young women. He was rather more like a beggar that had just emerged from some broken-down mansion with property of rather questionable worth.
But the greatest change was none of these, it was his eyes.
His eyes were very bright.
Before, his eyes had also been very bright, but it had been a sort of limpid light. The light in his eyes was still limpid, but now there seemed to be a sharpness about it such that even his filthy air couldn't conceal it.
"I almost couldn't recognize it was you," Chen Changsheng said to him.
"More handsome?" Tang Thirty-Six's sword-like eyebrows lightly rose up with an indescribable sense of frivolity.
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, as expected, this sort of you is much easier to recognize. He shook his head and said, "Dirtier."
As he spoke, he very naturally and almost imperceptibly took one step back, standing just a little bit farther from Tang Thirty-Six.
Tang Thirty-Six handed the bedding and furskin he was carrying over to Xuanyuan Po and then laughed heartily and embraced Chen Changsheng.
Xuanyuan Po looked at the filthy and stinking bedding and furskin in his hands, his face a picture of helplessness.
No helplessness could be seen on Chen Changsheng's face, because he was using his hands to cover his face, preventing himself from smelling or touching those dirty objects.
Tang Thirty-Six released his embrace and asked with satisfaction, "Do you see any change in me?"
Chen Changsheng very sincerely looked him over from head to toe, then asked, "The Wenshui clan has cut you off and you're beginning your new life as an independent?"
Tang Thirty-Six asked, "Just where did these words come from?"
Chen Changsheng pointed at the bedding in Xuanyuan Po's arms and said, "If this was the Tang Tang of the past, how could he possibly carry out the bedding that Sir Xun used for several decades?"
"You don't understand anything. This is something so that I can remember."
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, just what are you remembering?
"To remember the time we spent in the Mausoleum of Books viewing the monoliths and comprehending the Dao."
Tang Thirty-Six turned around and looked back at the green mountain of the mausoleum. He said sentimentally, "For people like you guys who sought the treasures of the Garden of Zhou and didn't complete your time viewing the monoliths, what words would be sufficient to describe this?"
Chen Changsheng didn't know how to answer this. He said, "It looks like your time in the Mausoleum of Books has not been bad."
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "It can be considered okay. A few days ago, I barely managed to push into the upper level of Ethereal Opening."
As he said 'upper level of Ethereal Opening', his expression was intentionally very flat and his tone was neutral, but both Chen Changsheng and Xuanyuan Po could see his pride.
Chen Changsheng recalled that when he was leaving the Mausoleum of Books, Tang Thirty-Six had just broken into Ethereal Opening. Not even several months had passed, but he had already broken through two thresholds and cultivated to the upper level of Ethereal Opening. He truly deserved to be proud, but Chen Changsheng couldn't help but think to himself, with this guy's character, it's absolutely impossible for him to maintain this understated attitude until the end. Just as expected, in the next moment, Tang Thirty-Six shed his disguise and turned around to Chen Changsheng with a radiant smile. "You guys don't even know, I've even been casually teaching Guan Feibai how to conduct himself in my spare time."
To achieve breakthroughs in cultivation was an incredibly difficult task, and to break through three thresholds in such a short time was even more unimaginable. Tang Thirty-Six's excitement was easy to understand, yet it was truly difficult for Chen Changsheng to be excited with him. Seeing Chen Changsheng's calm face, Tang Thirty-Six remembered that his good luck in this period of viewing monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books was due to the night that Chen Changsheng had filled with starlight. He couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed and so said, "Of course, I have you to thank for this, but ultimately, it's because my talent was high enough."
Chen Changsheng gave a relatively objective conclusion, "It's primarily because after you entered the Orthodox Academy, you stopped slacking off."
This was also the argument that elder of unmatched intelligence from the Pavilion of Divination had once made in his commentary when announcing the Proclamation of Azure Sky.
Tang Thirty-Six found himself incapable of responding to this. He could only say, "You aren't going to congratulate me?"
"Congratulations," Chen Changsheng said without the least sincerity, then he turned back to the Mausoleum of Books and asked confusedly, "What about Gou Hanshi and the others? Why haven't they come out yet?"
Liang Xiaoxiao and Qi Jian had left the Mausoleum of Books in advance so they could enter the Garden of Zhou. Of the Mount Li disciples, Gou Hanshi, Guan Feibai, and Liang Banhu had made the same choice as Tang Thirty-Six and continued to stay in the Mausoleum of Books to view the monoliths and comprehend the Dao. Although the Orthodoxy made no requirement of when people should leave the Mausoleum of Books and there was no set rule, in Chen Changsheng's thinking, since so many people had concluded their monolith viewing, they should also be coming out. But after looking for so long, he still didn't see the figures of those three.
Tang Thirty-Six explained, "Originally we had all agreed to come out of the Mausoleum of Books together, but some sort of pressing affair occurred back at Mount Li, so they left last night."
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, so that was it.
Seeing his expression, Tang Thirty-Six asked in a different tone, "Do you know what happened at Mount Li?"
Chen Changsheng affirmed. He naturally knew that something big had occurred at Mount Li.
If it weren't such a serious concern, nobody would disturb the monolith viewers in the Mausoleum of Books. Tang Thirty-Six was somewhat astonished and asked, "What happened?"
Chen Changsheng indicated that Xuanyuan Po should throw the stinky and sour bedding and furskin onto the carriage, then said to Tang Thirty-Six, "We'll talk about it after we get back."
Tang Thirty-Six abruptly remembered something. He stuck his hand into the bedding and rummaged around in it for quite a while. Taking out a letter and a notebook, he handed them over to Chen Changsheng and said, "Gou Hanshi wanted me to give these things to you."
Chen Changsheng recognized that the notebook was the one that Xun Mei had left behind. It had once helped him walk a much more direct path as he viewed the monoliths and comprehended the Dao, and it also had helped those youths that he had lived with under the same roof.
The letter was one that Gou Hanshi had left behind and its contents were very ordinary. It said that he had to leave the capital in advance and that they could not meet, so he could only use the brush to send his greeting. The future days were as high as the mountains and as long as a river. Presumably, there would be a day when they would meet again.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at the letter and said mockingly, "Our friends from Mount Li still don't seem convinced."
Chen Changsheng replied, "Why can't you think of people more optimistically? Gou Hanshi definitely didn't have the meaning you're talking about."
Tang Thirty-Six abruptly said, "I heard…you are the Principal of the Orthodox Academy."
After hesitating for a while, Chen Changsheng said, "It seems…I am."
The rumor had been confirmed and Tang Thirty-Six fell into silence. Then he said to Chen Changsheng with heartfelt sincerity, "Your identity and status are no longer the same—you can't be as childish and naive as you were before."
As he said this, he patted Chen Changsheng on the shoulder.
As Chen Changsheng looked at the filthy hand on his shoulder, the corners of his lips couldn't help but stretch out. However, he didn't argue with Tang Thirty-Six over anything.
This was the meaning of 'the waters are no longer as deep after seeing the sea, the clouds lose their color after visiting Mount Wu, and the light of a pearl the size of rice is nothing before the magnificence of a Night Pearl'. On this matter, even Su Li had lost to him, so there was nothing to boast about if he also won over this guy.
Returning to Hundred Flowers Lane, the carriage stopped. Seeing all those priests from the Li Palace bowing to Chen Changsheng, Tang Thirty-Six felt somewhat out of place. He jumped off the carriage and headed into a little store at the street's entrance.
Xuanyuan Po remained on the carriage, returning to the Orthodox Academy ahead of them with those worn-out furnishings.
Chen Changsheng followed Tang Thirty-Six, watching him buy two youtiao and a bowl of soy milk then eat them as he headed into the street.
These were clearly the simplest and most commonly seen foods, but Tang Thirty-Six ate them with gusto, his head swaying around in his delight.
"Does it taste that good?" Chen Changsheng asked inquisitively.
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "You don't know, in the Mausoleum of Books, everything else is okay, but the food was just abominable, especially after you and Qi Jian left…can that idiot Guan Feibai cook? I even began to reminisce about the food that Xuanyuan Po made, and even began to think that the food at the Orthodox Academy was tastier than the grand feast served at Clear Lake Restaurant. How miserable do you think I was?"
Chen Changsheng thought that this truly was very miserable, and when he imagined that scene of the arrogant and ruthless Guan Feibai in that little house cutting dried meat and cooking green peppers, he couldn't help but shake his head. It was truly very difficult to imagine.
Tang Thirty-Six took the half piece of youtiao in his hand and dunked it in the off-white soy milk. He asked, "Do you want a bit?"
Chen Changsheng looked at Tang Thirty-Six's finger in the soy milk, thought of the dirt he had seen under that finger's nail, and immediately waved his hands and said, "No need."
Tang Thirty-Six was very scornful, saying, "Do you know how to live?"
Chen Changsheng helplessly said, “Although I know you've been holding yourself back these past years while acting as a noble son, that right now is your true temperament…can you not speak so rudely? Hearing it really is grating on the ear."
Tang Thirty-Six readily accepted his advice, then raised up the bowl carrying his soy milk and seemed to offer it up to the heavens. Looking at the sun that was just about to be obscured by the clouds, he said, "Sun."
Amidst joking and eating, the two entered Hundred Flowers Lane and met head-on with Zhou Ziheng, who was standing there holding a paper umbrella.
Suddenly, the sun was completely obscured by dark clouds. Raindrops began to fall, descending upon that paper umbrella that seemed like it couldn’t even hold up against the wind.
This scene was very miraculous, and there was a vague sense that an indescribably mysterious principle was at work.
Zhou Ziheng seemed to have prepared in advance for the rain. This signified a sort of realm; it indicated that he had already begun to peer into the Dao of the heavens and earth.
Yet upon seeing this scene, the first thing Chen Changsheng thought about was why he wasn’t carrying an umbrella a few days ago when it was raining. Soon after, he remembered that letter of challenge—this person wanted to represent the Temple Seminary in challenging the Orthodox Academy.
Tang Thirty-Six cared even less about this scene. He didn't know who this tall and slender man was and he was rather irritated at the sun's sudden disappearance. It was only because he was keeping in mind Chen Changsheng's words that he didn't say much, only requesting, "Please let me pass."
Saying this, he began walking forward.
Zhou Ziheng didn't give way, as if he didn't even see him.
There was no place in his eyes for this stinking youth in shabby clothes.
He looked at Chen Changsheng and said, "Have you finished considering?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "I've considered it. I will give you a reply."
Zhou Ziheng smiled and said, "Could it be that you plan to consider it until the end?"
This smile was extremely repulsive, carrying a faint sense of sarcasm and derision.
Tang Thirty-Six froze. It was impossible for him to imagine that there was somebody in the Great Zhou Dynasty that would dare to stand in front of the Orthodox Academy and speak to him and Chen Changsheng with this sort of attitude.
"Who is this?" He asked Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng said, "Zhou Ziheng."
Tang Thirty-Six had never heard this name before. "Zhou Ziheng? Who is that?"
Zhou Ziheng was irritated, thinking that Chen Changsheng and this beggar of a youth were deliberately using this conversation to humiliate him.
Tang Thirty-Six turned his body and looked at Zhou Ziheng, asking, "I said, just who are you?"
Zhou Ziheng emotionlessly said, "Zhou Ziheng of the Hall of Subjugation."
Tang Thirty-Six continued to look at him and asked, "You are very famous?"
Zhou Ziheng didn't know how to respond to this question.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him like he was an idiot, then he turned to Chen Changsheng and said, "You must be clear about your current status. A person that no one has ever heard of, there's no need to pay him any attention. Can he reach you?"
After saying his piece, he carried the soy milk and youtiao past Zhou Ziheng, heading into the street.
Zhou Ziheng lowered his head and took in a deep breath.
Tang Thirty-Six halted his steps.
The rain fell into disorder, then began to blow about once more like willow leaves.
Zhou Ziheng appeared in front of Tang Thirty-Six, preventing him from moving forward.
The Hundred Flowers Lane was silent.
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him, then very calmly said four words.
"Hey, idiot, move aside."
At this time, Tang Thirty-Six—with his body covered in filth, a stench that assailed the nose, and his shabby clothes—really did seem just like a beggar, but his manner was like that of a prince.
Because he had never been a beggar, but rather the world's wealthiest prince.
His wealth was greater than that of the Princess of Ping, Luoluo, and Nanke—these actual princesses—all added together.
So when he said these four words, he was overbearing to an unimaginable degree.
Was it possible to be unimaginably overbearing? Yes, because this was not an unbridled air, but a confident one.
A confidence that was impossible to nurture without a thousand years’ worth of secrets.
Zhou Ziheng narrowed his eyes and stared at Tang Thirty-Six, killing intent gradually rising.
Yet, he ultimately did not attack.
Because Chen Changsheng was watching him.
Many Li Palace priests were also watching him.
What made him most wary and most puzzled was that amongst the imperial guards that should have stood on his side, there suddenly arose an unconcealed and violent killing intent!
He was keenly aware that if he really did attack, then that killing intent would shred him into pieces in the very next moment.
For some reason he wasn't clear on, his hands began to shiver.
Tang Thirty-Six once again passed by him, his left hand carrying the bowl of soy milk while his right hand held a youtiao, still not even giving Zhou Ziheng a glance.
The rain slowly fell, landing on the paper umbrella and then falling away without a sound.
From the depths of Hundred Flowers Lane came the taunts and abuse of Tianhai Ya'er.
Hearing those filthy obscenities, Tang Thirty-Six's face became rather unsightly.
Walking up to the Orthodox Academy's gate, he only saw Tianhai Ya'er sitting on his wheelchair, constantly cursing at the gate.
"Chen Changsheng, you…"
"If you have the ability, come and hit me!"
Tang Thirty-Six walked up to Tianhai Ya'er's back and didn't stop him. Instead, he very attentively inclined his head and listened.
Many priests and guards, as well as common folk of the capital who had hurried over upon hearing the news, were all gawking at this scene.
The rain fell over Hundred Flowers Lane like mist.
Chen Changsheng asked, "What are you doing?"
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "Reminiscing on life."
Tianhai Ya'er heard his voice and turned his head, his expression subtly shifting.
Chen Changsheng still didn't understand and asked, "What life?"
"I'm very earnestly reminiscing on my life." Tang Thirty-Six sighed emotionally, "…motherf***, I've really never heard such lowly demands before."