If you didn’t see the post announcing the move to shiroyuki translations, chapter 108 came out on there.
Probably my last post here, but it’s inform people that I have started the move and will be adding all the chapters (a grand total of three) over at Shiroyukineko Translations.
I have already added chapter 107 and finally got round to creating a glossary, with the changes I can think of listed and some justifications for changes.
So if you’ve been waiting for a glossary, then you can peruse it over at the new site.
Please don’t ignore this post, or you’ll end up wondering why nothing new is coming up.
My translations for Ze Tian Ji will be moving over to Shiroyukineko Translations, this is due to me agreeing to her offer of hosting my translations from before the creation of this wordpress and I had already informed trauma_kmart of this when I first started using this site.
There shouldn’t be much a change from the switch and admittedly there’s isn’t really a massive need for it, but I also see no reason to suddenly change a prior agreement and I’m biased in that I am a fan of LLS, of which they are currently translating.
Releases are still planned for one chapter every 2 days until the end of the current arc, and I am not going to participate in their donations for extra chapters model, as I don’t want to work myself to death or be obliged to stick to a schedule.
I would like to thank trauma_kmart for their kindness in setting up this site and handling the maintenance.
Decided to do this chapter as well because I remembered how amused I was when I first read it. This means there probably won’t be another chapter till Monday.
Having met eyes with each other, it was no longer possible to feign ignorance, Chen Chang Sheng lightly nodded his head in greeting. Under the Cedrus tree, an older student of Holy Maiden Peak lightly nodded in reply, though the motion was minute, it was enough to express courtesy, prompting the other students to return greetings to Chen Chang Sheng in turn.
A lone girl, whose face still conveyed remnants of childishness, remained motionless while maintaining a cold expression and cool gaze towards Chen Chang Sheng. The previous older student, who was probably her senior disciple, whispered a few words to the girl, yet afterwards, the girl erupted in annoyance, stating: “Will senior You Rong marry this person? It’s obviously no, so why should I greet him?”
Upon hearing this, the other students were at a lost, how should they answer? The older student was just as bewildered and rushed to the side to reason with her, this fell upon deaf ears however and the girl turned to Chen Chang Sheng with a cold smirk while saying: “A little toad wishes to dine on the Phoenix? That type of delusional fool isn’t someone we should pay any attention to, Senior should be ignoring him too.”
Her words were intentionally loud and clear, in order to put Chen Chang Sheng’s group into hearing range. Initially, Chen Chang Sheng had presumed her to be just a little girl and did not need to care for her words, but upon the utterance of the last line, he had no choice but to stop; Tang Thirty-Six refused to continue forwards.
The girl had an exceedingly young looking face, and an age to match, yet who could have guessed she would be so callous with her words? Her voice carried a fair distance; the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green opposite were restrained in their reactions, conversely, students from Temple Seminary and Li Palace College who were situated farther away, all erupted in bouts of heavy laughter.
The Li Palace’s divine avenue was a long, straight path, Tang Thirty-Six had already endured the gazes of a multitude of students and the barbs from Temple Seminary students for quite some time, upon hearing the callous words of this girl and the subsequent mocking laughter; he had already reached his limit.
Hearing laughter from both sides of the divine avenue, the girl was further emboldened, delighting in the response. She turned to Chen Chang Sheng, made a sound of indignation, and then turned to her senior: “Do you hear that? Even these people of Zhou (country) agree with me.”
Early mornings at Li Palace are very quiet, causing the sounds of laughter to reverberate throughout the palace at an ear-piercing volume.
The reason for students of Temple Seminary and Li Palace College having such a strong reaction to the girl’s callous words was because the phrase, “a little toad wishes to dine on the Phoenix”, was currently the biggest joke in the city, alluding to the engagement between Chen Chang Sheng and Xu You Rong.
No one dared to approach the doors of Orthodox Seminary to say these words and were thus also unable to say these words to Chen Chang Sheng’s face, for this girl to say these words today, students that enjoyed inciting incidents couldn’t let this chance slip by without fanning the flames.
“I daresay… such a phrase should be officially recorded, so that it may become a proverb for the people of this continent.”
A voice from amongst the Temple Seminary group sounded, it was unclear if it was the same person from before, yet nonetheless it aroused another burst of laughter.
Chen Chang Sheng shifted his gaze towards the girl under the Cedrus tree; seeing her childish face, he estimated her to be around 12 years of age, an age not too different from that of Luo Luo, causing him to feel hesitant.
The older student from Holy Maiden Peak expressed an apology towards him.
The girl met Chen Chang Sheng’s gaze indifferently and responded with a cold laugh: “What? Have I said anything that’s a lie?”
Chen Chang Sheng quietly considered for awhile, then replied: “Your words are correct.”
The girl looked at him in disdain, “So where am I wrong then? In what way are you worthy of Senior You Rong?”
“She might really be a Phoenix.”
Chen Chang Sheng said.
“But I am most definitely not a toad.”
He was also going to express that the toad wasn’t interested in the Phoenix, but was interrupted by the girl, who mockingly said: “Oh, so you’re not a toad because you say you’re not? Then who were they all laughing at?”
“I do not know who they were laughing at.”
Chen Chang Sheng suddenly shifted his gaze towards the deeper regions of the Cedrus trees, stating: “But I do know someone that will disagree with the idea of me being a toad.”
Unknown to all, the doors to a guesthouse had been opened and from inside, Gou Han Shi and his three junior disciples from Li Shan Sword Sect emerged, they crossed the woods and arrived at the divine avenue.
Gou Han Shi managed to hear the girl’s previous words and understood the allusions behind them, his expression was hard to read, as he shook his head and said: “You’re naturally not a toad, if you were, then what would that make me?”
The laughter suddenly subsided, leaving a wake of silence.
At the Ivy League gathering, Orthodox Seminary triumphed over Li Shan Sword Sect, anyone that was present at the time, knew of the key figure behind that victory.
Though it could not be said that Chen Chang Sheng was stronger than Gou Han Shi, he was undeniably capable of standing up to him.
If he were to be a toad, then what would that make Gou Han Shi? What of the Divine State’s Seven Laws?
Laughing at Chen Chang Sheng was therefore no different from mocking Li Shan Sword Sect?
Subsequently, no one dared to raise their voice again, let alone laugh, the girl from Holy Maiden Peak became flustered while looking at Gou Han Shi and wanted to open her mouth to give an explanation, yet words would not come.
Amidst the Li Palace College group, Su Mo Yu who was watching from the side lightly crossed his eyebrows in a frown, he couldn’t understand, why did Gou Han Shi make an appearance to defend Chen Chang Sheng?
The reason for this was only privy to Chen Chang Sheng and Gou Han Shi; apart from needing to express the magnanimity of the Li Shan Sword Sect, considerations also had to be paid towards the state of Qiu Shan Jun. Chen Chang Sheng and Xu You Rong were betrothed to each other, all Qiu Shan Jun could do was to observe them from a distance, therefore this event couldn’t be allowed to become too much of a mockery.
A beautiful silence enveloped the evergreens.
Chen Chang Sheng and Gou Han Shi exchanged formal greetings (揖礼) towards each other.
Subsequently, no one paid any further attention to the girl from Holy Maiden Peak, including her seniors, but the quietness of the surroundings cause her to become anxious; offending a senior from the Longevity Sect was an unthinkable situation for her, further increasing her anxiety. Near bursting into tears, she said: “I… I didn’t mean that, this… this person can’t even cultivate properly, isn’t he nothing more than trash?”
Upon these words, the atmosphere once again turned heavy.
Guan Fei Bai raised his eyebrow, finding the actions of the girl distasteful; the fifth Law, Liang Ban Hu, shook his head; even Qi Jian, who only cared about cultivating the Way and cared little for worldly affairs, thought her actions crossed the line, he turned his gaze towards Gou Han Shi, hoping that his senior would handle this affair.
Gou Han Shi had a gloomy expression, yet did nothing. Though students from the southern schools all referred to each other with the greetings of senior and junior, akin to being from a single body and school, they were still independent of each other. As the 2nd disciple of the Longevity Sect, he had no right to interfere with Holy Maiden Peak and its matters.
Though there was someone that didn’t care about interfering.
“I’m rather curious as to why you loathe Chen Chang Shang so much… though admittedly, he is rather annoying at times.” Tang Thirty-Six suddenly interjected.
The girl only continued to glare at Chen Chang Sheng, ignoring the question.
Tang Thirty-Six continued, “No matter how gifted you may be, you cannot possibly be a match for the Phoenix, putting aside your personality, you’re still too young to be a student at Nan Xi Institute, so you must be a student associated with Holy Maiden Peak? I would guess… a student of Ci Jian Temple?”
Hearing him mention her personality, the girl was mortified and wanted to refute him, what was wrong with her personality? Yet upon hearing those last few words, she felt stunned, Holy Maiden Peak had over a dozen schools and sects, how did he manage to guess that she came from Ci Jian Temple?
“That’s right, I’m called Ye Xiao Lian, a younger student at Ci Jian Temple, once I’m old enough next year, I’ll be entering Nan Xi Institute, what of it?”
She faced Tang Thirty-Six with her small face, not caring to temper her look of pride and guarded vigilance.
Tang Thirty-Six interjected: “Ci Jian Temple, is it not rather near Li Shan?”
(Li Mountain, namesake of the Sect)
Guan Fei Bai was taken aback with these words, thinking to himself that this person wasn’t from the South, yet why did he know so much about the region?
“The Longevity Sect comprises of several mountain ranges, with Li Shan being the highest, situated besides Ci Jian Temple. I would presume you often get to see Qiu Shan Jun’s countenance?”
Tang Thirty-Six continued, not giving her a chance to reply: “A figure such as Qiu Shan Jun, it’s not hard to imagine someone falling for him after seeing him so many times. You’re still young, yet your heart has already been taken, so why do you hate Chen Chang Sheng? Well, the fact is, in this case, Chen Chang Sheng got the better of him.”
“Nonsense!” the girl countered, with mortified expression.
Gou Han Shi was also unable to continue listening, shaking his head and saying: “This is preposterous.”
Ye Xiao Lian, with a bright red face, responded in a reprimanding manner: “My loathing has nothing to do with Senior, I’m only angry about Senior You Rong getting tarnished.”
“There’s no need to lie, some girls may have such a caring personality, but you? I think not, rather, the thought of your Senior, You Rong, being married off to a toad would probably delight you enough to cause you to smile while sleeping.”
Ye Xiao Lian was stunned, “I couldn’t possibly be thinking that.”
She was undeniably still just a 12 year old girl, her expression before the eyes of others was already confirmation enough of her thoughts, causing the other students of Holy Maiden Peak to cross their eyebrows in a frown.
Tang Thirty-Six was expressionless throughout his conjecture, adding to the seriousness of his speech and enhancing its effect, “Only, Qiu Shan Jun is still your idol, for him to lose to Chen Chang Sheng in vying for a girl, if I were you, I would also be incensed.”
Upon hearing this, Chen Chang Sheng shook his head, thinking he had gone too far.
The expressions of Gou Han Shi and his group also became rather sombre.
“He’s nowhere near a match against Senior.”
Ye Xiao Lian’s voice became increasingly incensed, nailing Tang Thirty-Six with her eyes she replied: “I just don’t understand, why did Senior You Rong have to write a letter, a letter that places this trash on the same level as Senior Qiu Shan, didn’t she think that that’s nothing more than an insult to Senior?”
“Oh, so it’s not Chen Chang Sheng you loathe, but rather… your Senior You Rong”
Tang Thirty-Six didn’t feign an expression of sudden enlightenment, this was not his purpose, he calmly continued: “Then can you still deny liking Qiu Shan Jun?”
A silence enveloped the divine avenue, with gazes from the audience towards the girl being rather complicated.
Ye Xiao Lian flustered, before gradually coming to a realisation that her inner thoughts had been seen through, her face turned bright red, the corners of her eyes became moist, giving the impression of impending tears, she was evidently heavily disturbed.
“There’s no need to be upset, with a figure such as Qiu Shan Jun, it’s natural to fall for him.”
“Because you understand that you’re not worthy of having Qiu Shan Jun… in fact, for the past two years, amongst the human realm, everyone has been questioning this. It would seem that only Qiu Shan Jun has the qualifications to like Xu You Rong, and only Xu You Rong has the qualifications to like Qiu Shan Jun. Therefore the mocking of Chen Chang Sheng is correct, the current stares of those judging you are not.”
Tang Thirty-Six turned to face the crowd, calmly stating: “In truth, you are not in the wrong, liking someone is not a sin, the ones who are wrong are these people, what right do you have to deny love? Just because none of you dare to love, therefore others also lack this right? Preposterous.”
“Therefore, you shouldn’t harbour any hate for Chen Chang Sheng, conversely, you should feel empathy for someone in the same situation as you.”
Ye Xiao Lian raised her head, rubbing away her tears and upon seeing the unfriendly stares directed at her, she finally understood his words.
The surroundings were blanketed with silence, for, even though Tang Thirty-Six was overly blunt with his words, they still rung true.
Only Chen Chang Sheng thought differently to himself, after all, he didn’t like Xu You Rong, though he was obviously not going to clarify this in front of everyone. Xu You Rong helped him on the night of the Ivy League gathering with her letter, he was not about to complicate things for her needlessly.
The early morning breeze brushed pass the trees, scattering the morning light; as the temperature slowly rose, the autumn air began tempering somewhat.
The gathered students looked at Tang Thirty-Six with lamentation in their hearts, thinking that he lived up his status of being from an established family, having the gentle and calm flair of the dignitary. Being able to placate the young junior from Holy Maiden Peak in such a simple manner, in turn, this caused the fervent stares of students from the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green to renew in their intensity.
Thus, everyone thought this incident would come to an end, a happy and complete ending…
Tang Thirty-Six turned around, and once again turned his gaze towards Ye Xiao Lian.
“But… to be honest… you’re not really the same as Chen Chang Sheng.”
“He has an engagement to Xu You Rong, not just liking, even if they were to hold hands and run off to see the sunset, no one would be able to say anything. But between you and Qiu Shan Jun there doesn’t exist a sliver of a relationship, not to mention the entire continent is aware of the fact that his heart already leans toward Xu You Rong. Just because of liking Qiu Shan Jun, you came to insult Chen Chang Sheng? Where’s the reason in that?
“If he were trash… then wouldn’t you just be… a little slut?”
His words were spoken as calmly as ever, with the last three words carefully enunciated to ensure there could be no mistaking what was said.
The entire scene, erupted in a massive outcry!
Ye Xiao Lian let out a single cry and covered her face as she ran back into the woods while sobbing.
The students of Holy Maiden Peak gave him a few hard stares, then turned and left. Students of the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green who had previously looked at him with adulation also had a change in expression. Who would have thought, that previous exchange, those moving words, all were naught but a preparation for those final three words!
Jin Yu Lu and Xuan Yuan Po who had been listening on the side all this time affirmed to themselves, humans really are cunning and shameless; unworthy of trust. After this incident, Xuan Yuan Po unconsciously edged closer towards Chen Chang Sheng, unwilling to remain too close to Tang Thirty-Six; Jin Yu Lu sighed and said: “You’re the real trash here.”
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t know what to say and turned to gesture his farewell to Gou Han Shi. Though the words of Tang Thirty-Six were callous and low, they didn’t concern the Longevity Sect, therefore Gou Han Shi only shook his head, and returned the gesture before taking his juniors and returning to their lodgings.
Though no one approved of the actions of the girl from Holy Maiden Peak, she was still just a girl of 12 years, seeing her race away in a fluster of tears was enough to draw pity from a lot of the younger male students. They felt like she had been wronged, and where there is a wrong, it is only proper to speak out against it.
“A person who only knows how to bully a child through their words.”
From the group of Li Palace College students, Su Mo Yu remained silent. In truth, he was feeling rather disappointed, talks had been abound of Orthodox Seminary’s revival, yet from what he saw today…
Chen Chang Sheng who was afraid Tang Thirty-Six would delay them further, urged them onwards: “Let’s go.”
Tang Thirty-Six looked towards the group of students and quickly said, “After I’ve finished, I’ll be back, if you’ve the guts, stay here.”
The students were once again in an uproar, this is Li Palace, the location of their schools. This wasn’t Orthodox Seminary, for him to bully a little girl and then continue to display such arrogance, was simply an invitation for them to beat him to a pulp.
At this moment, from the deeper regions of the complex, the clear sound of a bell could be heard chiming, within the chimes were the faintest hint of admonishment.
National Precept Academy is now Orthodox Seminary:
I note this was translated as Tradition Academy by the previous translators. The Chinese words used are 国教学院, with 国教 meaning State Religion (the characters roughly translate to national teachings, hence the previous temporary marker of “National Precept”). With the structure of the story, the Church is probably closer in style to Western Christianity than anything analogous in Chinese history, thus I have decided to go with naming it Orthodox.
Orthodox School/Academy/College/etc. can probably work, but as a matter of taste I decided on Seminary.
Subsequently, the establishment of a National Precept mentioned earlier would mean the establishment of the Orthodoxy.
Ancestral Temple was initially changed to Temple Academy, but I have now decided on Temple Seminary.
Li Palace sub-Academy has been changed to Li Palace College, since it’s an affiliated school of the palace and sub-Academy is just a mouthful.
The 13 Jade Departments is now named the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green due to considerations for their namesake.
I will get around to editing the earlier stuff… probably.
Su Mo Yu knew from his fellow student’s expression that he was merely being paid lip service and shook his head while stating: “At the Ivy League gathering, the Orthodox Seminary being able to triumph over Li Shan Sword Sect was unexpected… but why was this? Chen Chang Sheng is obviously not as strong as Gou Han Shi, but Her Highness, Princess Luo Luo, is a pinnacle of strength, while Tang Thirty-Six is also very strong.”
“The most important point is that I trust the rankings on the proclamation of Azure Clouds.”
Turning to look at Tang Thirty-Six, he continued: “If the council of Divine Ordinance (Tian Ji Ge) ranked him at thirty six, then there’s mistaking his worthiness for that ranking.”
“As strong as that may be, it still is only ranking 36th.”
The fellow student turned to Su Mo Yu and continued, pensively praiseful: “Senior is ranked at 33rd, he is still weaker than you are.”
Su Mo Yu uttered a laugh, yet did not answer.
Chen Chang Sheng was rushing to meet up with Luo Luo and reluctant to continue being delayed, thus Tang Thirty-Six could only allow the slights to fall on deaf ears in order to avoid creating a fuss, yet things in life are oft to go wry; when you wish for peace and quiet, trouble tends to find ways to catch up to you.
Though they had already reached Li Palace College, the Temple Seminary group from behind once again kicked-up a fuss.
“Some cur that can’t even achieve baptism, what makes you think you’re worthy of marrying Xu You Rong!”
A loud, cracking sound accompanied the sudden stopping of Tang Thirty-Six’s step.
Chen Chang Sheng continued forwards, with not a single change to his pacing and said: “Just random barking, yet you seek to contend with them?”
Tang Thirty-Six looked towards the unturned back of Chen Chang Sheng and answered: “Obviously not, let’s just look for some rocks to smash.”
Chen Chang Sheng stopped, turned around and answered: “This Divine Avenue is well maintained, just like the Hundred Blossom Lane, where are you going to find rocks?”
Tang Thirty-Six knew what he was referring to and couldn’t stop himself laughing after remembering the “urban busybodies” incident that happened the other day. He shook his head several times while drawing in some deep breaths, then went to the side of Chen Chang Sheng and said: “I initially thought there wouldn’t be any more naysayers after that day.”
“What if her Divine Majesty was to be the one saying these words, what could you do about it?”
Chen Chang Sheng patted Tang’s sides, consoling him: “… just ignore them.”
“I’m not really feeling the effects of your consoling here.” Tang Thirty-Six said, after some consideration.
After finding the lack of any reaction from the Orthodox Seminary group, including the much rumoured hothead Tang Thirty-Six, the Temple Seminary group intensified their jeers: “So the people from Orthodox Seminary are just a bunch of wimps.”
Chen Chang Sheng continued to ignore the taunts, Xuan Yuan Po followed his attitude, Tang Thirty-Six made himself oblivious, while Jin Yu Lu observed from the sidelines in amusement.
Tang Thirty-Six took a look at his smiling face and couldn’t continue feigning obliviousness, asking: “You’re not going to do anything?”
Jin Yu Lu answered while continuing to smile: “I’m only a doorkeeper, and the doorway to Orthodox Seminary isn’t located here.”
A student of Temple Seminary decided to be more straightforward and just ran out of the crowd, crying out towards the backs of Chen Chang Sheng’s group: “Chen Chang Sheng! You stupid coward! Do you dare to have a match against me?!”
Tang Thirty-Six didn’t even bother turning around, and while shaking his head, said something in a tone that could only be heard by the others near him: “simpleton.”
“I’m sorry,” Chen Chang Sheng said, while patting Tang’s sides apologetically.
After seeing the continued lack of any reaction from the Orthodox Seminary group, the Temple Seminary student snickered a few times before finally quieting down.
Following the Divine Avenue, Chen Chang Sheng and the others continued advancing, continually getting closer to the palace ahead and were close enough to make sight of the steps leading to the palace. The trees planted here were no longer green pagoda trees, but were evergreen trees that continued to flutter in an abundance of green, tinged with a hint of the chill of the season.
The 13 Divisions of Radiant Green, this school wasn’t as prestigious as Li Palace College, but due to the majority of its student body being comprised of females, the Orthodoxy Education Board decided to provide a more central location for its campus in to avoid disturbances.
Under the evergreen trees, students of the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green observed them.
The majority of their attention was directed towards Tang Thirty-Six, though their expressions were rather ardent, they were wont to break modesty, flitting their gaze to the sides occasionally, adding an allusive sense of cute tenderness to their actions. Even though Tang Thirty-Six was infuriated by the earlier actions of Temple Seminary, at this moment his expression softened somewhat.
Opposite to the location of the 13 Divisions of Radiant Green, there was a quiet-looking campus comprised of several small buildings, which were unlike the other buildings of the palace complex that had imposing architectural designs. The campus conveyed a sense of beautiful serenity to the observer, this was the Li Palace guesthouse; envoys of the Southern States who were to participate in the Grand Examination were currently staying at this location.
Remembering that the groups from Li Shan Sword Sect and Holy Maiden Peak were currently staying at this campus, Chen Chang Sheng unconsciously turned his head around to take a look. Under the Cedrus trees he saw a group of young girls that were presumably students of Holy Maiden Peak, but there was no sight of students from Li Shan Sword Sect.
Li Shan Sword Sect was a branch of the Longevity Sect, while Holy Maiden Peak’s most important branch was the Nan Xi Institute (Southern Creeks Institute), more accurately, the Nan Xi Institute was of its inner circle. To have been chosen to participate in the coming Grand Examination, these young maidens were probably mainly students from the Nan Xi Institute and of a high level in their cultivation.
Thinking that these girls were probably fellow students of Xu You Rong from the same sect that had spent a considerable amount of time with her, Chen Chang Sheng was suddenly faced with an awkward situation he didn’t know how to handle. As the fiancé of Xu You Rong, would it not be customary for him to greet them?
When he looked at the students of Nan Xi Institute, they were also looking at him; as fellow students of Xu You Rong, they were obviously curious about this youth.
(TL by bbkgs)
Due to the fervent gazes of the female students, Tang Thirty-Six had to continue maintaining his look of icy refinement, upon hearing what words were uttered, his expression deepened further, with a steely gaze directed towards the source of those words and confirming that they were uttered by a student of Temple Academy.
Chen Chang Sheng extended an arm to block his advancement, shaking his head while doing so.
His purpose for coming to Li Palace today, was to meet Luo Luo about an important matter, he had no time for delays.
Though he couldn’t completely ignore the slights, he wasn’t about to erupt in fury over them. Anger, envy, grievances, heart-ache, sadness… all of these emotions were detrimental to health and a waste of time, and thus held little value to him.
Tang Thirty-Six gave the Temple Academy group a cold stare before following Chen Chang Sheng onwards.
Jeering started coming from amongst Temple Academy group, unhappy at the implications of warning from Tang’s stare, with one person exclaiming: “The truth is the truth, are we not allowed to state the truth? The National Precept Academy only restarted accepting students this year, yet you want to emulate the pressure tactics of the academy of the Divine Way?”
Seeing Chen Chang Shen’s continued indifference, Tang Thirty-Six took a deep breath and decided to ignore the taunts, “I’ll treat it like as if I am deaf today, but after finishing our business at Li Palace, if there are still people who dare to taunt me, I’ll be dealing with them then.”
In the palace complex ahead, Temple Academy, Li Palace sub-Academy and 13 Jade Departments were connected by a single wall and the bell tolls could be heard by all. Not long after passing the Temple Academy, they approached the entrance to Li Palace sub-Academy.
Here, the two sides of the divine avenue was lined with green pagoda trees that didn’t shed leaves in autumn, the surroundings were blanketed in a haze of green, a fitting match for the status of the academy.
News of a visit from National Precept Academy had already spread across the campuses of the three academies, resulting in an ever increasing number of people rushing out from their respective schools and arriving at the divine avenue. Curious onlookers on both sides of the avenue gazed towards Chen Chang Sheng’s group, with the western side being especially crowded, creating a rather impressive spectacle.
Students of Li Palace sub-Academy were especially numerous, standing under the pagoda trees, staring at the group from National Precept Academy who were calmly advancing across the avenue. Some of the students couldn’t help but admire their actions, were it to be themselves, with how much difficulty would they be able handle the pressure of so many stares and yet maintain such a steady pace?
“Senior Su has arrived!”
This caused a slight commotion amongst the students of Li Palace sub-Academy, with younger students automatically moving aside to create a pathway.
A single youth, a clergyman, with an air of quiet and refined elegance emerged from the opened path, arriving at the divine avenue.
This youthful clergyman was representative of this generation’s students for Li Palace sub-Academy. His standing in this academy was analogous to that of Zhuang Huan Yu at the academy of the Divine Way. In the recent Ivy League gathering’s second round, he was the one who achieved first place.
Achieving first place in the martial round of the Ivy League gathering was supposed to be a very prestigious achievement, yet sadly, for this year’s gathering, Luo Luo crippled Tian Hai Ya’er in the first round, while the third round was dominated by several brilliant battles. National Precept Academy had usurped all the glory and subsequently, very little attention was paid to the results of the martial round.
Even though Su Mo Yu didn’t express any of his thoughts on the matter, he was still of the younger generation and couldn’t have been pleased with the results.
“Gou Han Shi… was actually incapable of dealing with this person?”
Having observed the ordinary looking youth on the divine avenue, he found himself confused and said: “Could it be… the council of Divine Ordinance (Tian Ji Ge) were wrong on their evaluation of Gou Han Shi?”
In preparation of breaking through the upper stage of the zuozhao (Meditative) realm, he had to preserve his zhenyuan (True Essence) to use alongside medications supplied by his teacher. Due to this, he didn’t attend the third night of the Ivy League gathering at the imperial palace, missing the chance to witness the bout between National Precept Academy and Li Shan Sect. Only obtaining accounts through his other senior students and peers.
Though he had heard a lot of accounts about what happened, he still couldn’t understand how National Precept Academy obtained victory against Li Shan Sword Sect. Especially the youth named Chen Chang Sheng, how did he manage to go toe to toe against Gou Han Shi?
Having finally seen Chen Chang Shen in person, he could confirm that he had yet to successfully baptise himself. Without a successful baptism, no matter how mature or learned one may be, you cannot understand the intricacies of heaven and earth, let alone develop a strong spiritual sense. Yet Gou Han Shi still couldn’t achieve victory in the end…
Therefore he could only conclude that Gou Han Shi was not as able as rumoured.
“Senior Su’s words ring true, I dare say, in the coming Grand Examination, if senior were to be suitably cautious, there shouldn’t any problem in overcoming Gou Han Shi.”
Other students of the academy uttered their endorsements of this view, yet, these were all learned people, and Gou Han Shi was doubtlessly still a member of the Seven Laws of the Divine Nation and ranked second amongst their number. Having managed to leave the proclamation of Azure Clouds and leaving his mark upon the Jade Heavens, he was naturally a gifted individual. Thus, they were measured in their encouragement to Su Mo Yu.
They were not so kind, however, in regards to the people of National Precept Academy.
“That Chen Chang Sheng can’t even successfully complete his baptism, the Ivy League gathering was probably just a fluke.”
The Li Palace sub-Academy student said, while looking at Chen Chang Sheng and shaking their head.
After observing female students of the 13 Jade Departments and some of the female students from his own school staring in adulation at the fluttering green garments of the youth from National Precept Academy, the student churlishly added: “In my view, that Tang Thirty-Six is also nothing more than a sham.”
Su Mo Yu, lightly frowned, replying in refutation: “If I am not incorrect, the three members of National Precept Academy who will participate in next year’s Grand Examination, will all be strong competitors. Your attitude of putting down others is not a good thing, Tang Tang is not someone you should underestimate.”
The fellow student knew of his senior’s adherence to propriety and quickly answered: “Senior’s instruction is correct.”
(TL by bbkgs)
Luo Luo had the bloodline of the White Emperor and its characteristic trait of ample zhenyuan. Having instructed her at the National Precept Academy for the past few months, she reached the upper stage of the zuozhao realm. If the yao race’s advancement is similar to that of a human’s, then she is probably also on the verge of entering a perilous stage of her cultivation.
Thinking up this point, Chen Chang Sheng began having feelings of regret and trepidation; if something were to happen to Luo Luo, he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself. He now had a deeper understanding of entering the tungyou realm, and more importantly, he also had medicine.
Having thought of this, he immediately got up and raced towards the small wooden lodging at the front entrance and asked Jin Yu Lu, “When will Luo Luo… Her Highness get to leave Li Palace and go outside?”.
Jin Yu Lu, who was in the midst of drinking, found Chang Sheng’s actions to be rather puzzling. He lightly squinted his eyes while passing ginkgo seeds to his mouth and asked, “What’s wrong?”.
Chen Chang Sheng saw Yu Lu’s expression and thought to himself that it must be troublesome to arrange matters and said, “I have something I need to tell her, therefore I need to see her… if it’s not possible, then could I trouble Your Grace to help me pass on a letter?”.
Jin Yu Lu threw the seeds into his mouth, and while chewing, he answered in a murmuring and muddled voice, “That’s all?”.
Chen Chang Sheng was slightly confused, what did he mean by “that’s all”?
“If you want to see her, then just go, there’s no need for me to pass on a letter.”
Jin Yu Lu raised his wine cup and drank it in a single gulp and subsequently began clicking his tongue at the burning sensation.
Chen Chang Sheng became even more confused, staring blankly and questioning, “I’m… allowed to see her?”.
“Her Highness is at Li Palace and therefore she cannot leave, this is for her own personal safety, but you are Her Highness’ tutor and therefore not a threat. If you want to see her, then go to Li Palace, who would stop you?”
“Your Grace, why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”
“You never seem to leave the grounds of this National Precept Academy, so I presumed you wished to concentrate on your own cultivation.”
“What is it?”
“I… thank you…”
“I’m not feeling any sense of gratitude.”
It was already late and therefore unsuitable for travelling to the Li Palace, thus, the next morning, in the early hours, scant before the fifth hour, Chen Chang Sheng took a break from his usual routine and woke up early.
He subsequently roused Tang Thirty-Six and Xuan Yuan Po from their respective slumber and used rousing scents on Jin Yu Lu, who was still feeling the aftereffects of his drinking.
Metallic wheels, rolling upon the azure stones, sending out a clackety racket as a horse-drawn carriage rolled by, its passengers: two humans and two yao, headed towards Li Palace.
Li Palace was the residence of the Pope and the heart of National Precept, it had also long been held as an equal to the Imperial Palace. Situated in the western sector, it covered a vast expanse that was visible from even a distance of over 10 li; from Neo-North Bridge, you could still make its countenance.
In the year 1573 of the Radiant Calendar, the National Precept was founded, 800 years had already passed.
Yet, from the time the Heavenly Scriptures descended, and the door to the Radiant Path first opened to the continent, its history could be considered over 10,000 years in length.
The Li Palace, as a monument to the National Precept, was naturally sublime.
The palace complex occupied an expanse that was seemingly endless, with a divine avenue that was wide enough to accommodate the passage of eight carriages running side-by-side. The main palace where the Pope resided was situated in the deepest region, with an expansive white stone clearing before it, littered with dozens of lesser buildings and structures that collectively formed the wider complex.
The Li Palace sub-Academy was also situated within this palace complex, but it was structured slightly differently from what people would normally expect. Though it was a member of the six Ivy League academies, 13 Jade Departments and Ancestral Temple, it was also comfortably integrated with the palace, akin to both being one and the same, with the palace aptly being referred to as ‘Academy city’ by some.
A noted attraction of the capital, the ‘Li Palace Ivy’, was partially referring to the three academies linked through a single wall that was bounded in seemingly endless vines. Though the main attraction referred to the greenery surrounding the main palace of the Pope.
Chen Chang Sheng and the others left the National Precept Academy before the skies had even begun to brighten. By the time they reached Li Palace, it was half past five, which was the time for morning meals, Jin Yu Lu marvelled at the youth’s scheduling of time and couldn’t stop himself shaking his head while smiling in bemusement.
At the outermost perimeter of Li Palace, there were countless stone pillars of a height beyond 30 odd metres, with a width that would require several men to completely encircle. Each pillar was distanced hundreds of metres from each other and upon a cursory glance from afar, seemingly ordinary, yet from a close distance, the uniformity of the pillars gave a sense of indescribable grandeur.
Upon getting closer to the pillars, Xuan Yuan Po discovered that the pillars did not contain a single seam or joint, and became mildly slack-jawed with awe; each pillar was carved in whole from a single piece of rock. From where did the crafters of these pillars find such large, flawless rock in the quantities needed, and how did they manage to transport said rocks to the capital?
With the morning wind flowing across, and rays of sunshine streaming from above; the stone pillars with nothing in between them; above the pillars was nothing except the empty skies, akin to nothing being able to obstruct their reach to the heavens above. Occasionally a stray bird would flutter across, yet this could do nothing to detract from the calm scene before them.
Yet, these pillars were the entrance to Li Palace.
If someone were to enter the palace grounds without permission, or after the grounds were closed, they would activate the wards that are in place, though what kind of wards were placed, is a mystery to all, since for countless years, no one has dared to trespass Li Palace, with the last time the wards were triggered being too distant for memory.
The stone pillars did not prevent the passage of Chen Chang Sheng’s group, upon handing over their documents, they were quickly granted entry. Those guarding the entrance did however pass strange glances over the group, their curiosity driven by the fact that Chen Chang Sheng’s documents indicated they were from the National Precept Academy.
National Precept Academy, the name was an obvious indicator of its relationship to the National Precept. But this was history of decades past; since the previous principal’s involvement in the Imperial Chen clan’s rebellion and the academy’s subsequent repression by the Pope, this relationship had long since broken.
This was the first time in years that National Precept Academy had appeared before Li Palace. The three students of this academy were already infamous in the capital, not to mention their equally infamous doorkeeper, Jin Yu Lu.
Morning rays blanketed the stone pillar’s upper region, faintly highlighting some patterns.
Chen Chang Sheng had previously applied at the Ancestral Temple, but the location was the Wang Jiang Branch, prepared especially for applicants, so this was his first time being here.
He retracted his gaze and followed Jin Yu Lu, heading forwards onto the divine avenue. Both sides of the avenue was lined a multitude of trees, though it was the height of autumn, and fallen leaves had stripped branches bare, it was still difficult to gaze past the thick of trees to see the view beyond.
Half past five, the morning meal of Li Palace, was also the time when the students of Li Palace sub-Academy, Ancestral Temple and 13 Jade Departments would have their morning cultivation practice.
Far away, near the walls of the complex, faint sounds drifted by of book recitals, from the two sides of the divine avenue, sword qi swept through the air, alarming countless birds. Alternating auras of chill and heat also streamed through the woods.
Tang Thirty-Six upon seeing the flashes of swords, could feel the familiar presence, which roused his interest. Amongst the students practising their morning cultivation, there were a lot of talented individuals, amongst them, he could also sense the presence of a few that were by no means weaker than himself, only, he couldn’t tell which academy they were from.
Chen Chang Sheng, as wont his appreciation of time and learning, was also interested in the scene before him, even going as far as to nudging slightly closer towards the place of interest. But upon remembering the matter of Luo Luo, he didn’t still his step so that he may observe further, but rather increased his pace, heading towards the end of the divine avenue and the grand palace that laid ahead.
Suddenly, he stopped.
Jin Yu Lu and the other two youths also came to a stop.
This was because something strange had occurred.
On the two sides of the divine avenue, parallel to their position, where there were originally a flurry of sounds from blades slicing through the air, was suddenly strangely quiet.
Chen Chang Sheng looked off the side of the avenue path and continued advancing forwards, with Jin Yu Lu and the others following on.
In step with their own, the sounds from both sides of the avenue also slowly came to a stop, wherever they went, silence followed.
Akin to wind through the woods, bringing along a message; akin to a strange atmosphere slowly spreading.
As the group reached the half-way point of the avenue, with a fair distance still separating them from the dome-like palace ahead, the two sides surrounding the divine avenue was already completely silent.
Subsequently, a murmuring started, not the buzzing of springtime caterpillars feeding on the leaves of mulberry trees, but the sound of a multitude of footsteps.
Hundreds of young men and women came out of the woods, standing on the two sides of the divine avenue, gazing upon the group of Chen Chang Sheng.
These people were students from the Ancestral Temple, 13 Jade Departments and Li Palace sub-Academy.
Their lining was obviously not a welcome, but observance.
The gazes were varied in their emotions, including curiosity, vigil, disdain or loathing.
At the Ivy League gathering, with the National Precept Academy having won against the Li Shan Sword Sect, and Xu You Rong’s betrothal, Chen Chang Sheng was already famous. Academy students that didn’t participate in the Ivy League gathering were incredibly curious of Chen Chang Sheng.
Since the National Precept Academy was off-limits, and Chen Chang Sheng’s group didn’t leave, there wasn’t any chance of approaching Chang Sheng’s group. Upon hearing the news of students from National Precept Academy visiting Li Palace, including Chen Chang Sheng, they were scantly going to let this chance slip by.
They wanted to see for themselves the visage of Chen Chang Sheng, what kind of person was he, to want to marry Xu You Rong!
Yet, there were also a lot of gazes on Tang Thirty-Six, though these gazes had different emotions behind them than those that were gazing on Chen Chang Sheng. The gazes were mainly filled with adulation, with the majority stemming from female students of the 13 Jade Departments.
A young genius from the proclamation of Azure Clouds, the young master of an established clan, dashing features, and an icy-cool attitude, no matter what angle you approached this from, Tang Thirty-Six was the manifestation of a maiden’s fantasy. If one were to also include the fact that the Wen Shui Tang family had a wealth that was even the envy of the government, Tang Thirty-Six’s status in the hearts of these girls was possibly even above that of Gou Han Shi.
Tang Thirty-Six’s expression was ice cold, with an unwavering gaze, a look of indescribable pride and elegance. Yet this look, aroused the fancy of several girls, almost prompting them to release excited cries. Chen Chang Sheng and Xuan Yuan Po were slightly surprised, being used to seeing his lazy and mischievous side, they had almost forgotten that he was celebrity.
The gazes of the girls filled with adulation, lessened the effect of any hostility that was creeping in and out of the gazes from both sides of the divine avenue. Chen Cheng Sheng calmed himself, ignoring the hostile stares landing upon him, and quietly carried on forwards, that invisible pressure was something only the one experiencing it can truly understand.
They first passed the woods directly outside of the Ancestral Temple, the gazes of students from this academy were the most hostile.
Tian Hai Ya’er was not a particularly sociable person, but he was still a student of the Ancestral Temple, students and teachers alike of the academy were relying upon him to stun the world in the following year’s Grand Examination. Yet the result was his crippling at the hands of Luo Luo, after the Ivy League gathering, discussions in the capital was particularly harsh on the Ancestral Temple, it, alongside Li Shan Sword Sect, were the two biggest losers of the incident.
The teachers and students of Ancestral Temple didn’t dare to touch Luo Luo, therefore their grudges could only fall upon National Precept Academy, or more specifically, upon Chen Chang Sheng’s group.
Chen Chang Sheng ignored the gazes and passed by the grounds of Ancestral Temple.
Suddenly, at that moment, a sound arose from the group of people at the side of the divine avenue.
“So it’s only someone that can’t even achieve baptism.”