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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Qiushan Jun's face was pale, but it was different from the paleness of the past few days, which had been caused by his loss of blood and severe injuries. It was even more haggard, and even more downcast.
It had only been half a night, but he seemed to have experienced something that had effected a great transformation upon him.
Gou Hanshi saw and understood the reason for this. His mood was very complex: sympathetic, and also rather displeased.
He was sympathetic for his Eldest Brother and displeased at Xu Yourong.
He knew that this matter was not because Xu Yourong had erred. It was that there was naturally a difference in relationship between those close to oneself and those distant. Moreover, he failed to understand just how the matter had developed to this point.
Even though he had studied the Daoist Canon since he was a child, he still could not understand this matter.
After some time had passed, Qiushan Jun abruptly said, "In a few days, Junior Sister will return to the capital. If it's okay with you, go along with her."
Gou Hanshi was somewhat puzzled, asking, "What's wrong?"
Qiushan Jun gazed outside the dwelling at the starlight, saying, "Martial Granduncle…will probably depart together with the Holy Maiden. The path the south travels in the future will depend on what happens in the capital."
Gou Hanshi was stunned at these words. Only after a long time was he able to calm back down and inquire, "Why is Junior Sister returning to the capital? She can't really be going to personally end the engagement."
Qiushan Jun shook his head and said, "That matter is not important. On the contrary, I'm most concerned about her fight with Chen Changsheng."
Gou Hanshi was even more perplexed. Why is it that Martial Granduncle, Master, and even you, Eldest Brother, so firmly believe that once Junior Sister returns to the capital, she will have to fight with Chen Changsheng!?
"Before the confluence of north and south, neither the Divine Empress nor the Pope will be willing to stir up any waves. In other words, these two Saints will assuredly maintain their silence. The battle for the emperor's throne will remain beneath the waves for now, but the Orthodoxy's new rule, the All-School Martial Exhibition…the matter involving the Tianhai clan and those two archbishops, in truth, is very similar to the matter involving the Pope and Archbishop Mei Lisha: it is all for building up momentum for this final battle."
Qiushan Jun gazed at him calmly and continued, "From the Ivy Festival to the Grand Examination and then to the Mausoleum of Books, Chen Changsheng walked amongst the starlight. First he overcame you, then he overcame his fate. If he continues to overcome, then when his reputation and fame are at their height and then Junior Sister Yourong returns to the capital from the south and overcomes him in one stroke, then who in the future would so lightly challenge the majesty of the Divine Empress?"
Then he slightly creased his brow and said, "It's just a bit too cruel."
Gou Hanshi understood what he meant by 'cruel'. Shaking his head, he asked, "Just what did Junior Sister say to you previously?"
Qiushan Jun very calmly related just what Xu Yourong had said to him, like how she loved that possibly dead secret sect disciple of the Snow Mountain Sect.
Gou Hanshi thought to himself, isn't this just another form of cruelty? After a seemingly endless silence, he asked, "Is it just going to be like this?"
Only after another long silence did Qiushan Jun respond, "It is impossible to defeat a dead man."
Gou Hanshi didn't know what to say, only mumbling to himself, "It's just not right."
"Who is not right? Junior Sister?" Qiushan Jun smiled at him. "Tell me, why do you think it was impossible to block Zhou Dufu's blade?"
Gou Hanshi answered, "Because it was fast."
Qiushan Jun grinned. "Because sometimes one blade making two halves…is true mercy."
The Intellectual Sword could chop at the threads of emotion, as could the blade.
He smiled, and then began to cough.
His coughs were very painful—painful with grief. Several drops of blood speckled his clothes.
Emotion sprang from parts unknown and extended deep within. How could a blade or sword so easily cut it away?
Chen Changsheng had no idea at all of the storm gathering force over the capital, that the final conclusion of the new rule would fall upon his and Xu Yourong's shoulders. Similarly, the wariness and hostility held against the Orthodoxy's old faction and the Imperial clan by the Tianhai clan, the Orthodoxy's new faction, and the sects and noble families of the distant south also completely fell upon him and the Orthodox Academy.
At five o'clock in the morning, he promptly woke up, just as he done for the past several years. After steadying his mind for a few moments, he opened his eyes, got up, put on his clothes, washed his face, and rinsed his mouth.
Rain was falling outside his window, but the summer's morning wind was not any colder as a consequence, nor did the noise coming from the distant school gate decrease any. He was already used to hearing all the various noises and pieces of news coming from there and was no longer as rushed as he was in the past. He very calmly handled the matters at hand, then went to the kitchen on the other side of the lake. He ate two bowls of millet porridge, two steamed buns made of sorghum flour, and two extremely thin slices of Red River Ham. While doing so, he also decided to find that Mountain Sea Sword stashed in the pile of firewood. Only after doing so did he finally head over to the library.
Yesterday when returning from Zhou Prison, he saw that the awning on the street had not been taken down. He and Tang Thirty-Six guessed that the so-called All-School Martial Exhibition would not conclude simply because Zhou Ziheng had been heavily injured. Surpassing cultivation levels to defeat a Star Condensation cultivator was an event truly quite capable of causing a stir in the entire continent, but what did it amount to when compared to the arrogance and power of the Tianhai clan?
Especially because the Li Palace persisted in maintaining its silence.
That the Li Palace maintained its silence did not mean that the old faction of the Orthodoxy and the Pope no longer cared for the Orthodox Academy. Since a few days ago, the Orthodox Academy had been under the constant guard of many Li Palace priests and Orthodoxy cavalry. Although they could not block out the sound, they had kept the academy itself safe.
A Li Palace priest surnamed Lu hurriedly walked into the academy. He rushed to prevent Chen Changsheng from walking into the library, gave a reverential bow, then offered up a letter with both hands.
A letter being sent to the Orthodox Academy at this time was naturally a letter of challenge.
Chen Changsheng greeted Priest Lu in return, thanking him for his labors in these past few days. However, he did not take the letter of challenge, instead indicating that the priest should take it to the building over and find Tang Thirty-Six. Since he was going over there, he also might as well pass on to Tang Thirty-Six that he should get up earlier to eat breakfast. It was fine if the millet porridge turned cold, but if he were to be any later, then the entire bowl of sliced Red River Ham might be entirely eaten up by Xuanyuan Po.
Upon walking into the library, he first examined Zhexiu's status, and then took from his bosom a medicine that Luoluo had requested Guardian Jin bring over last night. He took out one of his needles and dipped it in a green juice made from ground herbs that Tang Thirty-Six had blindly stolen from the Hundred Herb Garden last night. He then inserted the needle into the space between Zhexiu's eyebrows and began to slowly twirl it in his fingers, continuing to treat Zhexiu's injuries.
After quite some time had passed, the combined medicinal might of the precious medicine from the Li Palace and the herbal juice of the Hundred Herb Garden, urged on by the metal needle, completely entered Zhexiu's meridians and began to disperse throughout his body.
Upon accomplishing this, Chen Changsheng felt rather exhausted, his body rather hot. However, he did not sweat as he did yesterday.
To detoxify the poisons in Zhexiu's body was not a difficult task. Nanke's Peacock Plume, which had caused him the most concern, had already become extremely weak—perhaps because of the Sacred Light technique used by the cardinals of the Li Palace, or perhaps because of the poisons of Zhou Prison conflicting with each other. It was completely inconsistent with the amount of poison that Zhexiu had described.
Currently, he was most concerned about the problem of Zhexiu's meridians.
With a creak, the door to the library was pushed open. Xuanyuan Po walked in and asked, "What am I learning today?"
There were currently no teachers in the Orthodox Academy. If Xuanyuan Po wanted to learn something, he would naturally have to ask him. Chen Changsheng had experience in this aspect. He had taught students in the Orthodox Academy and he also knew many demi-human techniques. He knew the special makeup and meridians of the demi-human body like the back of his hand. Moreover, after the Grand Examination, he had also treated Zhexiu's illness many times. He was now even more confident that he could teach demi-humans the cultivation methods of humans.
He took up a book that he had already prepared and handed it over. "From today onwards, you will learn the Heavenly Thunder Bringer."
The Heavenly Thunder Bringer was not a commonly seen cultivation technique. To be more precise, it was one of the scriptures of the Orthodoxy. It was said that if this scripture were cultivated to the pinnacle, one would obtain extraordinary strength. When the fist moved, it would call the winds. When the fist fell, it would summon the rain. Like a demon god, one could even bring down heavenly thunder to slay incomparably powerful enemies.
But things that were said were often merely legends. No one could make out how to cultivate in this scripture, so it was only natural that no one had succeeded in cultivating it.
Xuanyuan Po was an honest bear youth, but that did not mean he was an idiot. Especially after he had spent so many days in the Orthodox Academy, forced by Chen Changsheng to read so many books, his mind had long been opened and his knowledge had gradually broadened. As he gazed at the scripture in his hand, he asked in a hurt tone, "You're teasing me, aren't you? Or is it that you think that all I can be in the future is a priest that summons the rain?"
The secrets of Heavenly Thunder most commonly appeared when praying for rain. The priest would lead the populace in reciting it aloud. But had anyone, after reading this scripture, seen the altar shine, closely followed by gusting winds and gathering clouds, thunder and lightning, and then torrential rain? Even if this scripture was real, just how could Xuanyuan Po, who was willing to bet his life so that he could become a demi-human Divine General, want to become a Daoist who could call the winds and summon the rain?
Chen Changsheng gave no explanation. He used his status as principal, his majesty as grandteacher, and most importantly, Luoluo's trust and the ownership of the Mountain Sea Sword to successfully suppress the first possible occurrence of skipping class after the reopening of the Orthodox Academy.
Roughly breathing, Xuanyuan Po angrily and unwillingly marched himself over to the window and, under the light of day, began to cultivate.
It gradually grew quiet outside the Orthodox Academy's gate, but this in no way meant that the situation had been settled.
The All-School Martial Exhibition was a simple name, but as the matter involved the Orthodoxy's nurturing of cultivators and, even more importantly, the war between the humans and demons, it naturally possessed its own set of rules and levels.
Chen Changsheng ignored these matters. After confirming that Zhexiu had gone back to sleep and that Xuanyuan Po really was seriously studying the scripture, he also began to meditate in cultivation. Last night, he had managed to enter the illusory black monolith and unexpectedly caught a glimpse of the vistas of the Garden of Zhou. This had given him hope and had made him even more anxious.
As for those things going on outside the gate…Tang Thirty-Six was naturally there to take care of it. Neither Chen Changsheng nor Xuanyuan Po had the ability, and even if Zhexiu were not injured, he only knew how to fight and kill. For this reason, Chen Changsheng and Xuanyuan Po had always been waiting for Tang Thirty-Six to emerge from the Mausoleum of Books. And Tang Thirty-Six had not disappointed their expectations. On the first day of his return, he had sent Tianhai Ya'er flying with a kick and cursed Zhou Ziheng.
Just how would he do it today?
Tang Thirty-Six's mouth was currently occupied with the lesser part of a steamed bun. Within the steamed bun was half a slice of Red River Ham, the last piece that he had been able to find in the kitchen. He took the letter of challenge offered by that priest surnamed Lu from the Li Palace and, without even looking at it, walked out the gate.
Two squadrons of Orthodoxy cavalry grimly stood in the drizzling rain. Beyond them was a dense crowd of people. When this crowd saw the gate of the Orthodox Academy being pushed upon, it exploded in an uproar. Tang Thirty-Six was startled and the steamed bun in his mouth almost fell into a puddle. In a rather garbled voice, he asked, "What's the situation?"