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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The great hall of the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education was very quiet. Luoluo remained seated, not coming over.
The Pope calmly gazed at Chen Changsheng, saying, "It is my view of the world, so it can only change because of the world."
Chen Changsheng contemplated this, then said, "I still don't understand."
The Pope calmly replied, "You do not need to understand…old people like us have experienced too many storms, seen too many sunrises and sunsets. We have already become numb to many things. Often we regard the ways of the world as vapid and dull. We do not mind using a few methods that are not so beautiful, and even do some things that go against our own convictions. However, in many cases, we do things this way not because we want to protect something or the other, but because we clearly understand where our responsibilities lie."
"Responsibility?" Chen Changsheng asked.
"Yes, the longer you live, the greater your responsibility," the Pope replied. "The responsibility we have towards this world only gets heavier and heavier as time passes by. We have a responsibility to seek an even better future for humanity. For this, we can bear any bad reputation, disregard any price. Back then, I became an enemy of your teacher. Now, I have become an enemy of the Empress. Both were for this reason."
Saying this, the Pope walked into the depths of the great hall and then did not emerge again.
Chen Changsheng and Luoluo walked out of the great hall, walked down the stone steps, and came to the row of maple trees in front of the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education.
The maple trees in spring were green, but in the twilight, they were the red color of blood. Now in the night, they had become black.
Originally, all colors were painted by the heavens and the earth.
After not too much time had passed, the heavy ringing of a bell rose up from the hall.
A bell also rang out from the Li Palace.
The bell rang out. It was the call to return home.
The scriptures of the Orthodoxy had always held that the death of a person was not like the extinguishing of a lantern. The soul would not stay on this world but would return to the sea of stars.
Amongst the ocean of stars in the night sky was the Divine Kingdom, Heaven; this was the true eternal homeland.
In the instant the bell rang, Archbishop Mei Lisha's soul calmly departed the human world, his divine soul silently returning to the sea of stars.
There was no conspiracy and also no grand and magnificent conclusion, only a calm and ordinary departure in compliance with the rules of life, just like many ordinary old people.
But, in the end, he was no ordinary old man. He was the eldest member of the Orthodoxy, an Archbishop of the Sacred Halls that held the highest status.
He had seen three Popes appointed and four generations of Holy Maidens. He had seen Emperor Taizong, he had seen Zhou Dufu, he had seen Chen Xuanba, and he had seen Wang Zhice. He had witnessed life and death in the Hundred Herb Garden, witnessed blood and fire rage through the Orthodox Academy. He had seen countless years and knew countless secrets. As he departed, those years and secrets were buried together.
Hearing the ringing of the bell, Chen Changsheng raised his head to gaze at the starry sky, the windblown leaves sometimes obscuring and sometimes cutting off the night sky.
He did not know which star was the archbishop's Fated Star, much less see it, but he knew that the star was most likely growing dim at this very moment.
If death really was the soul returning to the sea of stars, why would that star grow dim?
The bell continued to ring and carriages arrived in a constant stream from various places in the capital. Powerful figures, one by one, came to the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education and came forward to personally offer their condolences. Chen Changsheng stood amongst the trees and watched this scene, saying nothing. He saw the head of the Tianhai clan, saw Xue Xingchuan, saw Mo Yu, saw Prince Chen Liu who was forcefully suppressing his tears, and he saw Xu Shiji.
He did not want to meet with these people. With Luoluo leading him by the hand, they crossed through the trees and came to a relatively lonely main street. Together, they returned to the Orthodox Academy.
This was the first time in a very long time that Luoluo stayed the night at the Orthodox Academy. Jin Yulu followed them all the way. Knowing that tonight's circumstances were special, he did not say anything.
Chen Changsheng brought her directly to the lakeshore. They climbed up the great banyan tree and then sat side by side, gazing up at the countless stars in the sky above and the lake below as he softly spoke to her.
He spoke of many matters, concerning Xining Village, concerning the Garden of Zhou, concerning the many things he believed to be sinister, bloody and cruel on his journey south. Tonight he told her everything he had not told her last time.
Luoluo quietly listened, not saying anything.
"Maturing is a very challenging thing. Because it's difficult to grasp the conditions within, once a fruit has matured, it's very easy for it to rot."
Chen Changsheng continued, "I still persistently believe that life should not be a battle."
With these words, he let Luoluo go to sleep while he remained seated on the great banyan tree, contemplating a few matters.
Su Li had taught him three swords. The Intellectual Sword was very powerful, involving every sort of calculation and deduction. That was a battle. The Blazing Sword was very powerful, involving every sort of method for igniting and blazing his life. That was a battle. But the one he really loved was still the Stupid Sword, because the Stupid Sword required courage and it was not a battle.
He only wanted to live and had never thought that he would need to battle. He had never liked to battle, but to live, there were times when battle was inevitable, especially when one needed to bear some responsibility.
Even now, he did not understand what responsibility Archbishop Mei Lisha wanted him to bear, but he had comprehended that sort of bearing.
Atop the great banyan tree, he closed his eyes yet did not sleep for the entire night.
At five o'clock in the morning, he opened his eyes, just as he had normally done every day, only this time his eyes were bloodshot. He took five deep breaths, steadied his heart and cleared his mind, then descended from the tree. After making a circuit around the lake and loosening his somewhat stiff and aching body, he went to the kitchen and ate two bowls of the porridge Xuanyuan Po had made. He even made an exception and ate half a salted duck egg.
"Today, there should be many people visiting the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education to offer their condolences. You should go as a representative of the Orthodox Academy," he said to Luoluo.
Thinking about the match that would take place today, Luoluo did not want to leave. However, she found herself incapable of resisting Chen Changsheng's eyes and nodded her head in assent.
As the morning faded away, the area outside Hundred Flowers Lane gradually began to grow lively. The space under the temporary awning was already full of seated people. The best seats did not belong those people with the most power, but rather the painters and storytellers of the Four Great Markets. They had the responsibility of recording all the details of today's match and then spreading it to the entire capital and continent.
Zhou Ziheng had already arrived. He stood in front of the Orthodox Academy's gate, his mood somewhat regretful.
To use his Star Condensation cultivation and challenge a youth at Ethereal Opening, it was shameful no matter how he thought about it. In the end, however, his opponent was the Principal of the Orthodox Academy. Thus, he believed that this fight today would inevitably cause his reputation to greatly increase. He didn't dare to say how much he would rise in the Proclamation of Liberation, but he could at least spread his name to many more people.
As an honored guest, reputation was often more important than strength.
To have this battle make his reputation even more resounding, he required spectators, especially spectators with a lot of power, not those painters and storytellers. Regretfully, Archbishop Mei Lisha died last night. Those powerful figures that would likely have appeared had all gone to the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education to offer their condolences. Consequently, he felt rather regretful, and even somewhat angry. You could die at any time; did you have to die now?