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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
It was noisy outside the Orthodox Academy, like a great cauldron in which water was boiling. Around that awning set up outside Hundred Flowers Lane, many storekeepers and stewards bustled around, taking the bets of the populace. As long as the battle had not begun, one could place their bet at any time. However, for some reason, the odds for both sides had not changed once since yesterday.
Not everyone was fond of gambling. There were even more people that had come purely to see the spectacle. After all, this was a grand occasion—after Chen Changsheng had accepted the position of Principal of the Orthodox Academy, he had entered the Garden of Zhou. This was his first public appearance after returning to the capital and today was a very important occasion for him. Simultaneously, today was also a very important occasion for the Orthodox Academy. If speaking of last year, that Chen Changsheng had become the first student of the Orthodox Academy in many years had a symbolic significance. Thus today's battle would be the Orthodox Academy's first battle after it had reappeared in the world.
If this were a story, then the following development would be that Chen Changsheng would logically obtain victory and the Orthodox Academy that had been in ruins for many years would proclaim its rebirth to the entire continent. Regretfully, everyone knew that today's story would not develop in such a fashion because his opponent was a Star Condensation expert. The first battle of the newly-reborn Orthodox Academy was highly likely to end dismally.
As the crowd gazed at the tightly-shut gate of the Orthodox Academy and the expressionless Zhou Ziheng standing before it, they were filled with all sorts of emotion. Everyone knew that the new rule of the All-School Martial Exhibition was a method for the alliance of the Tianhai clan and the new faction of the Orthodoxy to suppress Chen Changsheng and the Orthodox Academy. Combined with the fact that the legendary wolf youth Zhexiu was still jailed in Zhou Prison, the unreachable figure of the Divine Empress became all the more visible behind this matter.
How could the Divine Empress possibly give the Orthodox Academy an actual chance of maturing? If the Orthodoxy had not been internally divided, then perhaps the Li Palace would have had an even fiercer response to this suppression and the Orthodox Academy would not have been forced into such humiliating circumstance. It was a pity that there were even many people within the Orthodoxy that were unwilling to see the Orthodox Academy truly be reborn—those two Sacred Hall archbishops that had proposed this All-School Martial Exhibition had already notified the continent of their stances. As the Pope changed his will, they still stood by the Divine Empress.
What made people sigh with sorrow was that these two Sacred Hall archbishops had received the deliberate care of the Pope, thus allowing them to stand amongst the Six Prefects and become two great trees that reached to the sky. It was also precisely because of the Pope that they associated with the Divine Empress. Although the Pope had changed his own position, it was impossible for him to change the positions of everyone in the Li Palace. When all was said and done, the Li Palace and the Divine Empress had been closely joined for more than two hundred years; how could this relationship be cut apart in a single day?
Archbishop Mei Lisha had died last night. The Pope had lost his once most powerful rival and also lost his most powerful comrade-in-arms. In addition, the Pope had to maintain his appearance of impartiality. Even if the Li Palace had even more opinions, it was still impossible for it to assist the Orthodox Academy under the watch of multitudinous gazes. Consequently, no matter how arduous today's battle was, no matter how dismal the conclusion, the Orthodox Academy would still have to fight it itself. In this past year, Chen Changsheng and the Orthodox Academy, under the care of the Li Palace, had not undergone many storms or tribulations and had thus smoothly and healthily grown. Today, it wasn't necessary that the Orthodox Academy shelter the Li Palace from the storm, but it would at least have to start enduring the storm together with the Li Palace.
Of course, this was not at all fair, an opinion held by the vast majority of the crowd. According to the registers of the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education, the Four Great Markets had long since confirmed to the capital that the Orthodox Academy had only five students. Princess Luoluo's identity was too special, making it impossible for her to represent the Orthodox Academy in this match. Zhexiu, who was thought to be the most valiant by many, was still imprisoned in Zhou Prison. As a result, when the time came for the other academies and schools to issue their challenges, the Orthodox Academy truly did not have many choices to pick from. It could also be said that they lacked the space to maneuver.
This place had no experts with long-established fame, only young people.
The gate to the Orthodox Academy was pushed open. Chen Changsheng walked out, Xuanyuan Po and Tang Thirty-Six following behind.
The street turned into an uproar and then swiftly grew silent.
In the Orthodox Academy's first battle, the one to battle was naturally Chen Changsheng, because he was the Principal.
Today, he wore a brand-new school uniform. The stitching was fine and dense, and the cuffs were tidied up in an extremely orderly fashion, on the whole giving off a very neat appearance. His black hair was tied tightly behind, and his delicate features looked exceptionally clean.
Walking up to the area in front of the gate, he gave a distant salute to that inn located within Hundred Flowers Lane. After that, he turned to Zhou Ziheng and nodded his head.
Considering his sixteen years of age, he truly was somewhat too calm and steady. However, he absolutely did not give off any feeling of sophistication or muddiness. Instead, he gave people the feeling of a cool breeze.
Solely on his bearing, he really did seem like a principal.
Expressions of sincere praise came from every direction.
The people who had come to see the spectacle were incapable of breaking through the imperial guards and Li Palace priests, so could only watch from a distance. Although they couldn't see clearly, they felt and more and more that this young principal seemed to be very comfortable.
Last year's incident in the spring where the entire capital besieged the Orthodox Academy had already become a thing of the past. Even Archbishop Mei Lisha was already dead and the bloodstains on the steps of the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education had long since vanished. Who still remembered those things? After the Grand Examination, the Mausoleum of Books, and the Garden of Zhou, Chen Changsheng had become the pride of the Great Zhou. The capital was the capital of the Great Zhou, and the Orthodox Academy was in the capital. Naturally, the people of the capital viewed him as their own pride.
There was praise, there was discussion, and there were sighs of sorrow. From beginning to end, the crowd had always believed this battle to be unfair. The entire continent knew that Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong were the two youngest in history to enter the upper level of Ethereal Opening, cultivating geniuses. But ultimately, it was still just the upper level of Ethereal Opening. His opponent was Zhou Ziheng, a true expert at the initial level of Star Condensation. To be able to obtain victory through surpassing cultivation levels was an extremely rare sight. In today's battle, if Chen Changsheng wanted to obtain victory, he needed to surpass a massive gap in cultivation. Just how high was that threshold?
"Last night, I heard a knowledgeable guest from the Pavilion of Divination say that when Little Principal Chen was in Xunyang City confronting Zhu Luo, he didn't retreat a single step. Zhou Ziheng is only at Star Condensation—who said that he's certain to win?"
"Correct, I also heard that in Xunyang City, Little Principal Chen even managed to take an attack from that madman Xiao Zhang. Although he was no match, he didn't suffer too much."
The crowd was brimming with discussion. Surprisingly, the vast majority of people were actually optimistic about Chen Changsheng, or perhaps it was not optimism, but a sort of inclination towards him based on feeling.
"Everyone, please! You've all got to understand, no matter how high the level Little Principal Chen displayed in Xunyang was, at his side were Su Li and Wang Po! In addition, the entire situation was a mess, but now it's one on one." That person mocked, "I'm not going to argue with you all. If you really want to believe, then go and bet on the Orthodox Academy's victory."
The crowd momentarily grew quiet. As expected, the crowd only hoped that Chen Changsheng could obtain victory, but weren't at all optimistic about his chances. Not even a few people went to bet on the Orthodox Academy's victory.
"One to eleven, it's really impossible to bet on the Orthodox Academy."
"If this were some other upper level Ethereal Opening cultivator challenging a Star Condensation cultivator, do you think those guys who are even greedier than thieves would set odds? Let alone setting up an awning and dispatching so many people. It looks to me like the Four Great Markets also think Little Principal Chen will lose, but he should at least be able to hold on for a long time."
"Even if Zhou Ziheng is only at the initial level of Star Condensation, if he wants to defeat an opponent a full cultivation level below him, does he really need a very long time?"
"Don't forget, back then when Wang Po was at the upper level of Ethereal Opening, just how he managed to cut his initial level Star Condensation opponent into a madman."
"Although I also think Little Principal Chen is very terrific, I don't think he's up to that year's Wang Po. Don't you forget, it was in that very same battle where Wang Po succeeded in breaking into Star Condensation."
"And don't you forget, at the beginning of the year, Little Principal Chen only entered Ethereal Opening at the very last battle of the Grand Examination."
"It's exactly because I didn't forget that I think this is impossible. In the short span of a year, how can he perform such a feat twice, unless it's a miracle."
The spectators engaged in spirited discussion, fiercely debating with each other, but only the amount bet and the number of people displayed their true opinion.
Just as the crowd had analyzed, amongst the Four Great Markets and the powerful figures of the capital, not a one viewed Chen Changsheng in an optimistic light, despite the shocking talent and battle prowess he had displayed in the Garden of Zhou and Xunyang City. This was because in that battle within Xunyang City, Chen Changsheng was not the main role. As for the battles that took place before Xunyang City, those had no spectators.
Clear Lake Restaurant's top floor today was clear of customers. There was only one person eating there because this person had always believed that admiring the lake most necessitated not the weather, but peace and quiet. It was currently summer, so the famed crab banquet of Clear Lake Restaurant was naturally impossible to serve. However, the table was still densely arrayed with dozens of dishes. Every dish was probably more expensive than the cost of one year of a commoner's living expenses.
Such an extravagant individual was naturally no ordinary person.
In the plate in front of Tianhai Chenwu was a blue lobster from the Great Western Continent. Its flesh which was as white as jade, yet much more tender and cold, had been sliced by the wondrous knife of Clear Lake Restaurant's head chef into the shape of chrysanthemum flowers.
He brought up his chopsticks, but in the next moment, shook his head and put them back down.
He had no appetite because of the reports in his hand. The bloody scenes described in those reports were truly somewhat nauseating. These reports described the battles Chen Changsheng had with Divine General Xue He and Liang Hongzhuang, as well as that tyrant of the north, Lin Pingyuan. The first two battles had been personally described by Xue He and Liang Hongzhuang. The final battle, because all involved had been killed by Chen Changsheng, had been deduced from the scene after the battle.
After confirming something or the other, Tianhai Chenwu's mood greatly improved. He took up his chopsticks once again, pinched a morsel of lobster flesh, and conveyed it into his lips. As he slowly chewed upon it, his mouth felt sweet.
"Now that you don't have Su Li, how can you possibly win?"
In the entire capital, there was no one optimistic about Chen Changsheng.
The archbishop that was optimistic about Chen Changsheng was at this very moment peacefully sleeping amidst the plum blossoms.
The Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education was laden with grief, but many priests cast their gazes in the direction of the Orthodox Academy.
Luoluo sat at the edge of the plum blossoms, fulfilling her obligation as the representative of the Orthodox Academy. Suddenly, she heard a sound from the distance. Walking to the window, she gazed in the direction of the Orthodox Academy, her two hands tightly curling into fists.
Master will definitely win.
Even if nobody else was optimistic about Chen Changsheng, she still believed that Chen Changsheng would obtain the final victory. She had no reason.
At some point, Mo Yu had come to the Orthodox Academy.
She had not come to the Orthodox Academy's gate to spectate the battle. There were already many powerful figures there to oversee. At this very moment, Xue Xingchuan was in that tea house. There was no need for her to go over.
Somehow, she appeared in Chen Changsheng's room.
She did not sleep. She sat in front of the window, gazing at the luxuriant trees of the Orthodox Academy, thinking about something.
Suddenly, a boom erupted from the front of the academy.
She narrowed her eyes and turned them to that sound.
Without the slightest omen, the Orthodox Academy's first battle had begun.
Zhou Ziheng had taken out his sword.
Chen Changsheng had taken out his sword.
Each of them had launched an attack.
The Li Palace priests responsible for recording the scene could not tear their eyes away.
The several dozen painters and storytellers anxiously watched the battle.
The several thousand spectators from the capital made absolutely no sound.
In various parts of the capital, there were even more people waiting to hear the latest news about the battle and see the latest drawings.
The only organizations capable of this were the Four Great Markets.
There were some painters with masterful sight who, in the instant that Chen Changsheng and Zhou Ziheng took out their swords, began to put their brushes to the paper.
Particularly, the painter from the Pavilion of Divination, who himself possessed the cultivation of the Star Condensation Realm who, with a hasty flash of his brush, produced a vivid image on the paper. Although it was done carelessly, it had managed to perfectly capture the energy and movement of those two swords.
After a moment, this image was transmitted via magical artifact to various places across the capital.
This was a sketch, extremely simple and hasty. If one did not know what this drawing was depicting, it could even be mistaken for the random scrawls of a child that had just learned how to write.
The room was silent. The students of the Heavenly Dao Academy surrounded the table, their minds filled with countless doubts. And yet, none of them dared to voice them—none of them dared to disturb the man sitting before the table as he viewed the drawing.
Out of reverence, out of love and respect, no student of the Heavenly Dao Academy dared to approach that person, because that person was Senior Guan Bai.
If one were to say that Zhuang Huanyu who had committed suicide a few days ago had been the pride of the Heavenly Dao Academy for these past two years, then Guan Bai was the pride of the Heavenly Dao Academy for the past ten years. Just like all those other figures on the Proclamation of Liberation, Guan Bai had his own title: Famous Name Guan Bai.
In these past few years, it was precisely because of him that the Heavenly Dao Academy's famous name did not decline.
Guan Bai's eyebrows were like swords and were slightly weathered. It was very obvious that he had just returned from far away.
When his gaze fell upon that simple scrawl on that piece of paper, it became sharper, like a true sword.
His finger hovered in the air, tracing the light stroke on the paper. It swished as it went, as if there was sword intent on the edge of the finger as it flew through the air.
After some time, he withdrew his finger, withdrew his sight, and then gazed out the window in the direction of the Orthodox Academy. With a complicated expression, he said, "A good sword."
Finally, a student could no longer hold back his question. "Senior, just who won in the end?"
The moment this question was asked, it immediately attracted the countless gazes of his schoolmates, and every one of those gazes was brimming with disapproval. The battle between Chen Changsheng and Zhou Ziheng had just begun, and this drawing only recorded their first attacks. It was simply impossible to determine the winner and loser solely from this. This question had disturbed Senior Guan Bai and was extremely stupid.
None of these Heavenly Dao Academy students imagined that Guan Bai would actually make a determination.
He gazed at the lines on the paper, the ink that had just congealed, the dragging lines of the brush. Suddenly, his eyes lit up with sword glow.
Then he declared, "Chen Changsheng has won."