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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"You guys don't need to worry about it anymore. I'll solve it." Tang Thirty-Six didn't explain too much to them, only saying, "If I can't solve it, then my name's not Tang Thirty-Six."
These words were said with extreme self-confidence, but Chen Changsheng and Xuanyuan Po were more concerned with three other problems. Firstly, a lot of rain had fallen into this bowl of soy milk; how much more diluted was it now? Secondly, that youtiao had been in his hand for such a long time; just how dirty was it now? Lastly, Tang Thirty-Six changing his name was a very common occurrence. Why was it that this sort of promise sounded somewhat unreliable?
His name originally wasn't Tang Thirty-Six, it was Tang Tang. In addition, he was in the upper level of Ethereal Opening, so it was a given that he would leave the Proclamation of Azure Sky and enter the Proclamation of Golden Distinction, it was just that his exact rank wasn't known. Presumably, he would not be so fortuitous as to be ranked thirty-sixth again. Moreover, in the previous changing of ranks for the Proclamation of Azure Sky, he had used the excuse that his new rank didn't sound very nice to not change his name. This time, it would be difficult for him to use a similar reason to pass it off.
Xuanyuan Po felt that these words of Tang Thirty-Six were too lacking in sincerity. Shaking his head, he walked out of the library.
Chen Changsheng wanted to clear this up, but then he had second thoughts. He really didn't understand all this very much, so he decided to keep it to himself. Instead, he asked, "What name are you planning on changing to this time?"
"Let me think…I should be able to get into the top thirty?"
"This is the Proclamation of Golden Distinction, not the Proclamation of Azure Sky."
"So what of it? I'm at the upper level of Ethereal Opening! As long as I'm not lazy, I'll catch up to you eventually, minute by minute," Tang Thirty-Six proudly declared.
His face was caked with dust, but it was possible to see that his skin had gotten somewhat paler. In addition, he was also much thinner. It was clearly evident that his time cultivating in the Mausoleum of Books had been incredibly arduous.
At such an age, to be able to enter the Proclamation of Golden Distinction, and to also be so self-confident to think that he could enter the top thirty, was an extremely rare sight and he truly was deserving of being proud.
Chen Changsheng was happy for him from the bottom of his heart. He said, "You have to continue working hard."
Tang Thirty-Six was rather disgusted at these words. "You really are acting like a principal."
Chen Changsheng began to laugh and prepared to apologize when suddenly, Tang Thirty-Six sighed.
"As soon as I thought about how you and Xu Yourong ran ahead so quickly, how my extraordinary achievement actually won't be able to shock the world, only my relatives back in Wenshui, it really made me lose all my strength."
Saying this, Tang Thirty-Six stood up and looked around the library. He abruptly asked, "It's fine if Princess Luoluo didn't come to welcome me, but what of Zhexiu?"
In his mind, wolf youth Zhexiu was an excellent student that he had paid a heavy price to buy for the Orthodox Academy. The problems currently facing the Orthodox Academy were exactly problems that required Zhexiu to solve, so he couldn't let him go.
Chen Changsheng said, "There are some things that I haven't had the time to tell you."
Tang Thirty-Six turned to him and asked, "What things?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "Zhexiu is currently in Zhou Prison."
From the time Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu left the Mausoleum of Books and entered the Garden of Zhou to this day—this story seemed rather long, but telling it actually didn't require much time. The youtiao in the soy milk didn't even have time to soften up.
"So…it turns out so many things happened," Tang Thirty-Six concluded. "We can disregard the other matters for the moment, but we spent money on Zhexiu. We have to get him out as quickly as possible."
Zhexiu was a person the Orthodox Academy had spent money on, so he was a person of the Orthodox Academy. Since he was a person of the Orthodox Academy, the Orthodox Academy had to protect him. This was a very simple line of reasoning.
Moreover, Zhou Prison was an incredibly terrifying place. To stay in there for one day was like staying for a year in the abyss of the underworld.
Chen Changsheng was also very worried about Zhexiu. It was just that the Orthodoxy and the Imperial Court were currently in conflict with each other and there were also internal problems within the Li Palace. And now, even Archbishop Mei Lisha was not feeling well. He was quite at a loss for what to do.
"From a certain perspective, Zhou Tong is just like that Tianhai Ya'er that you guys couldn't deal with, just countless times more terrifying and powerful. To reach his goal, he could do any kind of cruel and deplorable deed. Everyone knows that he's the Divine Empress's mad dog. Whoever the Empress wants him to bite, he bites. To a person like him, all strategies and plans are useless."
"But why does he continue to so doggedly bite on to the Orthodox Academy?"
"Because His Holiness has expressed his position. The position of Emperor of the Great Zhou will probably return to the Imperial clan, but the Empress clearly doesn't think this way."
Chen Changsheng lowered his head and said, "In truth…I really don't understand just why the position of emperor is so important."
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him like he was a freak and said, "It's the Emperor of the Great Zhou, the position of supreme authority! Nobody can resist the temptation of that throne."
Chen Changsheng raised his head and looked back. "But I really don't think that it's that great. I've always felt that the time and energy needed for all this is really very unreasonable."
Tang Thirty-Six looked into his eyes. They were still limpid and clean without the smallest hint of falsehood. He couldn't help but be a little moved. "Do you really think this way?"
"Yes," Chen Changsheng replied.
"Chen Changsheng you really are a freak, a real freak, not abnormal like Tianhai Ya'er."
Tang Thirty-Six looked at him and said, "You can't understand us, but I also find it very difficult to understand you and why you don't care about these things."
Chen Changsheng thought about it, then said, "Perhaps it's because I've seen things that are even more important?"
"…life and death."
Outside of life and death, everything else was other people's business.
Life and death are also matters of great importance.
There were no other important events in life, only birth and death.
These were all things written in the scriptures that people had once said.
Chen Changsheng was well-read in the Daoist Canon and could remember a lot, but it was not necessary. It was enough that he remembered the two words 'life' and 'death'.
To an ordinary person, death was something they would have to face in the later part of their one hundred years.
To cultivators, death was something they would face in the later part of their several hundred years.
To Chen Changsheng, life and death had always been right before his eyes. It was always on his mind, making him keep it in his mind constantly.
In front of life and death, how could he possibly show any interest to those attachments of life? At the very least, before he resolved this problem of his, he would not be too interested in them.
Tang Thirty-Six didn't know of Chen Changsheng's problem, but when he heard the words 'life and death', he for some reason felt like the rain outside the window had brought a sudden chill unbefitting of summer.
Soon after, Chen Changsheng began to think about other things.
He thought about the ill archbishop and the internal disputes of the Orthodoxy, and he also thought about those words that Su Li had once said to him. He said, "Is this world really so unbearable?"
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "At the very least, it's not as clean we hope it to be, just like how nobody understands how you could become Principal of the Orthodox Academy."
Even after he had performed such great merits for the Orthodoxy and the Great Zhou in the Mausoleum of Books and the Garden of Zhou, Chen Changsheng was only sixteen years old. There was absolutely no justification for why he should be the Principal of the Orthodox Academy.
In the view of Tang Thirty-Six as well as many other people that didn't know the inside story, this matter was certainly very fishy. There must have been many exchanges carried out that couldn't see the light of day, or perhaps inside information.
Chen Changsheng did not believe that these matters could not see the light of day. He could at least tell Tang Thirty-Six.
"My teacher is His Holiness's senior brother."
His gaze looked out the window and rested on the verdant campus of the Orthodox Academy. "He was the previous Principal of the Orthodox Academy."
Tang Thirty-Six was in absolute shock. He was even more shocked than when Chen Changsheng had reached the part of his story about Su Li and Xunyang City.
The bloody incident of the Orthodox Academy ten-odd years ago had directly or indirectly changed the entirety of the human world. Even the Longevity Sect and Mount Li in the distant south had been greatly impacted.
The previous Principal of the Orthodox Academy, that was a powerful figure that no one could forget, even though his name had long been struck from the annals of the Orthodoxy and was forbidden from being mentioned in the capital.
"No wonder you're just some Daoist youth from the countryside but are actually able to know the Daoist Canon so well. No wonder why His Holiness let you become the Principal of the Orthodox Academy and seeks to nurture you as his successor…no wonder Zhou Tong would work behind the scenes against the Orthodox Academy." Tang Thirty-Six gazed at him, mumbling, "As it turns out, you were that powerful figure's only successor."
Chen Changsheng corrected him, "No, I also have a senior."
When he was leaving Xining Village, his teacher had explained a few things to him, so ever since he had arrived at the capital, he rarely brought up his senior. Until now, he had only acknowledged this to Xu Yourong and Tang Thirty-Six.
Tang Thirty-Six asked, "You also have a senior? What sort of person is he?"
Chen Changsheng pondered this question and realized that Senior Yu Ren was truly very difficult to describe with words. Perhaps it was because Senior never spoke?
"Senior…is a very extraordinary person."
"How extraordinary? Could he be more extraordinary than me?"
"Senior is ten thousand times more extraordinary than the past you. Now that you've gotten more diligent, Senior is only one hundred times more extraordinary than you."
Chen Changsheng looked at him as he spoke. He wasn't intentionally mocking or disparaging Tang Thirty-Six. This was a conclusion he had reached after earnest consideration.
Tang Thirty-Six did not speak for a very long time. Finally, he said, "It seems that he really is a very extraordinary person."
Chen Changsheng agreed, "Yes, he's my idol."
Tang Thirty-Six suddenly asked, "Just what does your teacher want to do?"
After a moment of silence, Chen Changsheng replied, "I don't understand your meaning."
Tang Thirty-Six looked into his eyes and said, "You should have a clear understanding of what I mean."
As Daoist Ji was not merely Daoist Ji, but also the previous Principal of the Orthodox Academy, the leader of the opposition against the Divine Empress, everything he did was worthy of careful consideration.
He was probably keenly aware that Chen Changsheng's origins could not be kept a secret forever. Through Mei Lisha and the Pope's attitude, one could even confirm that he had gotten in touch with the Li Palace before Chen Changsheng had even arrived at the capital. Thus, he should be even more certain that the Divine Empress would, sooner or later, discover Chen Changsheng's origins. This also signified that Chen Changsheng's situation would become extremely difficult, even incredibly dangerous. But he still insisted on sending Chen Changsheng to the capital to take the examination, and he didn't even give him any explanation. Why was this? Just because of that engagement with Xu Yourong?
This was a very important question. It was just that Chen Changsheng had never thought about it, or perhaps, he had intentionally not allowed himself to think about it.
Until Tang Thirty-Six pierced through this window paper.
"Reporting to the Lord. The newest information has been sent over from Hanshan County. There really was a person practicing medicine called Daoist Ji in that area, but by the time the scout cavalry had hurried over, that person had already disappeared."
"It is Principal Shang, not even the Empress could kill him back then. How could we possibly be able to find him?"
Zhou Tong sat behind the table, not raising his head as he carefully looked over the dozen or so case reports that had been sent over last night.
The subordinate stood in front of the table and said in a low voice, "According to the reports from Xining Village, we've verified, Daoist Ji…the traitor Shang really does have another disciple."
Zhou Tong's finger that was just then flipping a page suddenly paused. And then Zhou Tong raised his head.