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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The new Proclamation of Azure Sky had nothing new about it. The most famous person on it was actually Xuanyuan Po. In the Elder of Heavenly Secrets' concise and comprehensive commentary, this bear youth's techniques were extremely compatible with his body and were given an incredibly high assessment. As for the other new names, the vast majority were young men and women of not even fifteen and not many people recognized their names.
On that night last year, Chen Changsheng had drawn down an entire sky of starlight in the Mausoleum of Books, allowing many people to easily pass that most difficult barrier that was the threshold of Ethereal Opening. That bitter and miserable scene that would occur three or four times out of ten in the past years did not occur. Those familiar names once on the Proclamation of Azure Sky had all been removed and gone to the Proclamation of Golden Distinction.
Tang Thirty-Six had left the Proclamation of Azure Sky, but he was unable to enter the Proclamation of Golden Distinction. With his current position at the upper level of Ethereal Opening, this was an almost unimaginable occurrence. Upon hearing this news, he remained silent in the Orthodox Academy for a very long time. Only when he heard that Zhexiu and Su Moyu had also failed to make the list did he grow happy again.
With Chen Changsheng's assistance, although Zhexiu's Tide Rush of Blood had not been cured, he had once more made a breakthrough in cultivation. Coupled with his innately powerful and fearsome fighting power, the only reason he was not able to enter the Proclamation of Golden Distinction was that he had been too heavily injured in Zhou Prison and had not displayed his strength for a very long time.
Tang Thirty-Six and Su Moyu were unable to enter the proclamation only because the competition for this year's Proclamation of Golden Distinction was too fierce.
The demi-humans, who were scarcely visible on the Proclamation of Azure Sky, gave a full display of the particular characteristic of their race to explode in strength in the middle phase of their cultivation. They took up a full quarter of the rankings, and those three young demi-human experts ranked at the front were even rated by the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets as having a future chance of threatening the fifth-ranked demi-human expert on the Proclamation of Liberation, Xiao De.
The most shocking of all was Zhong Hui. This youth who had obtained third rank on the first banner in last year's Grand Examination had been cast into the gloom by the radiance of Chen Changsheng and Gou Hanshi, so much so that many people found it hard to remember his name. Who could have imagined that in this short span of a year, he had actually been able to break into the peak of Ethereal Opening! As a result, he seized fourth place on the Proclamation of Golden Distinction.
It was a pity that no matter how outstanding this Scholartree Manor student's performance was, it was still unable to completely suppress the dazzling radiance of a few certain individuals.
Gou Hanshi had viewed the monoliths in the Mausoleum of Books for half a year. After returning to Mount Li, he engaged in a duel by a cold stream with an initial level Star Condensation expert belonging to Xiao Songgong's faction and easily won.
This battle alone sufficed to have the Elder of Heavenly Secrets personally place him on the third rank of the Proclamation of Golden Distinction.
There was no second, because the first rank was shared by two people.
Upon seeing those two names, whether it was the denizens of the capital or the female disciples of South Stream Temple's outer sect, all were filled with emotion and shook their heads in silence.
Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong.
Whether or not that marriage contract had really been rendered invalid, it seemed that these two names would appear together until the end of time.
Many people thought that this was not predestination, but the entanglements of fate, not anything good to talk about.
Then what of the name that had always been tied to Xu Yourong's in the past?
Qiushan Jun had already successfully broken into Star Condensation, so he naturally could not remain on the Proclamation of Golden Distinction. He ceded the first rank to Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong.
But what stunned the entire continent was that his name was not to be found on the Proclamation of Liberation.
Qiushan Jun was too young, so it was only natural that he could not be put on the same level as those experts on the Proclamation of Liberation's upper ranks. Nobody believed that he could challenge powerful figures like Wang Po and Xiao Zhang, but given his current level of strength, he should still have been able to enter the tail end of the Proclamation of Liberation.
If he were truly able to enter the Proclamation of Liberation, even at its bottom-most rank, he would still be the youngest expert on the Proclamation of Liberation in the past one hundred years.
The entire continent had anticipated the arrival of this day, but all their hopes had come to naught.
The explanation the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets had for this was that because of the opening of the Garden of Zhou and the following demon conspiracy, and then adding on the self-stabbing during the internal strife of Mount Li, Qiushan Jun had been severely wounded and had not displayed his abilities for an entire year. As a consequence, it was impossible to appraise his current level of strength, so it could only be saved for later.
This explanation was very clear, but it was utterly lacking in persuasiveness. What sort of place was the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets? Even if Qiushan Jun had not confronted an enemy, could it be impossible to assess his level? This wasn't even discussing the fact that last year, Xuanyuan Po had entered the Proclamation of Azure Sky similarly without a single fight, so how was he able to be ranked?
The Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets gave no further explanation and very few people knew the real reason.
The world was very lively, but Mount Li was very quiet.
Before Su Li left, he had left a message: the disciples of the Mount Li Sword Sect should not be afraid of getting into trouble, but they shouldn't cause any trouble either.
"With the confluence of the north and south, the situation is unstable and those Zhou people and noble families of the south are too crafty and secretive. Since we're not their match, just live quietly in the mountain."
These were his original words.
After Su Li left, there was a feeling of sinking down to the bottom and then rising up once more.
The second generation experts of the Sword Hall, Mount Li's most powerful experts, were all quietly resting due to their injuries. At present, Gou Hanshi and the other third generation disciples were administering affairs. Many people believed that these young swordsmen would find it very challenging to stabilize Mount Li. However, after that bloody battle in the mountain creek in which Guan Feibai severed sixteen hands, the Divine Kingdom's Seven Laws proved to the entire south why they were called the Seven Laws. This was because they strictly maintained discipline, their Dao hearts brightly lit. In the future, they would assuredly enter the Divine Kingdom amongst the sea of stars.
After removing the final effects of the internal strife, Mount Li finally returned to peace.
Gou Hanshi and the rest attentively studied, cultivated, planted crops, and in these calm days, comprehended the true meaning of the path of the sword.
On a certain night, Gou Hanshi awoke from his meditation and gazed off at the distant mountains. He only saw the silver starlight, but the once-familiar scene was suddenly accompanied by many different meanings and sounds.
He thought of his childhood, those difficult days in which the feeble mother and only son accompanied each other, and a sparkling and translucent aura appeared in his eyes.
His body seemed to leak starlight and was also sparkling and translucent.
"Congratulations to Second Elder Brother!"
Guan Feibai, Liang Banhu, Bai Cai, and several dozen more of the Mount Li Sword Sect's third generation disciples happily called out as they gazed at the beautiful sight on the cliff edge.
Gou Hanshi turned around to look at his junior brothers, saying, "The sea of swords is boundless, but all of us must dauntlessly move forward."
Guan Feibai replied, "Back at the Grand Examination, if Chen Changsheng had not gone crazy and put his life on the line and Senior Brother had not taken pity on him for his difficulties in cultivating, how could he have snatched first rank of the first banner? Today, Senior Brother has succeeded in entering Star Condensation, but I don't know if he'll have the face to mention this when we meet again at the Boiling Stone Summit."
Gou Hanshi calmly replied, "Chen Changsheng has not even learned of this matter yet. In addition, a defeat is a defeat, and is it glorious to not dare to put one's life on the line? Let alone the fact that I'm older than him, a step ahead on my path of cultivation. On what aspect should I be proud? Junior Brother, these words of yours are extremely improper."
"Although he hasn't actually talked about it, everyone is saying…the future Pope, tsk tsk, truly grand."
Cold arrogance on his face, Guan Feibai proclaimed, "Senior Brother is overflowing with kindness and does not want to make him lose face, but I don't care. When the time comes, I will definitely fight a bout with him."
Gou Hanshi shook his head, advising, "If you really have a mind to compete for superiority, there's no harm in waiting for the war with the demons to begin. You can compare with him to see who can kill the most demons."
Upon hearing the word 'demons', Liang Banhu slightly lowered his head while Bai Cai worriedly glanced behind him at the dwelling illuminated under the starlight.
Liang Xiaoxiao had colluded with the demons. He was Liang Banhu's brother by blood.
As for the person in the dwelling…her mother was a demon.
Logically, Gou Hanshi should have paid more attention to such details, but he had deliberately chosen to not refrain from using this word. In his view, since they were all disciples of Mount Li, fated to live and die together, to interact with each other day and night, to speak out these things, to thoroughly discuss them, and to talk about them until no one cared, was truly in accord with the path of the sword of Mount Li.
Seeing that the mood was rather downcast, someone attempted to joke, "If we're really judging merit based on number of kills, then whether it's Fourth Eldest Brother or Chen Changsheng, I'm afraid none of them can catch up to that wolf cub. After all, this sort of matter isn't based solely on whose swordplay is better."
He had originally wanted to make a joke, but the result was an even gloomier mood.
At present, there were several names that could not be mentioned in Mount Li.
The door to the dwelling slowly opened and Qi Jian walked out.
Currently, she was garbed in female clothes. There was still a juvenile air about her and her body was very thin, causing others to feel pity for her.
Guan Feibai said, "Junior…Sister, it's late and cold, and your illness is not cured. Why did you come out?"
Qi Jian softly replied, "I heard all of you mention him."
Guan Feibai consoled, "Even though he managed to win successive victories over us in the matches of the Grand Examination, I don't bear him any ill will. On the contrary, he's one of the people that has obtained my hard-won admiration. But Martial Granduncle is doing this for your sake. In the end, he's still a demi-human–human hybrid…"
"And so what?" Qi Jian's pale and petite face was filled with stubbornness. "My mother was a Demon Princess, but he could marry her, so why can't I marry a demi-human?"
Guan Feibai was at a loss for words, mumbling, "But Martial Granduncle said, he doesn't have long to live."
Qi Jian's petite face paled even more, asking, "Could it be that everything he says is right?"
From the moment Su Li had forbidden her from leaving, Qi Jian had not once called him 'father'.
Gou Hanshi sighed and prepared to saw a few words of consolation.
"There's no need to talk."
Qi Jian said grievously, "If Eldest Brother were here, he would definitely help me think of a way, not be like you lot, only thinking of staying penned up in this mountain."
Mount Li's Martial Granduncle had left, Mount Li's Eldest Brother had also left, and no one knew where he had gone.
His name could not be found on the Proclamation of Liberation and he was seemingly impossible to find in the world.
In the distant snowy plains of the north, there was a rather obscure military fort called 'Seven Li Xi'.
It was said that many years ago, this place was the territory of the Xi race. Later on, the Xi race was utterly wiped out by the demons as they encroached southwards. When the human army triumphed in their northern expedition, they ended up occupying this area.
This place was the closest to the Demon Army and farthest from the human world.
Today, the general and his lieutenants were engaged in a night-long meeting. Amidst the curling smoke, their faces plastered with worried frowns could be seen.
It wasn't because the demons' wolf cavalry had once again come harassing and killing, nor was it because there was a problem in the supply chain. On the contrary, in the past few days, Seven Li Xi had been very peaceful and secure. Even the taverns in the city were mixing much less water in their wine and those cultivating experts who usually had nothing but cold expressions were all smiles.
When encountering the demons' wolf cavalry, Seven Li Xi's roaming cavalry had obtained victory after inconceivable victory.
The reason for the frowns of the general and his lieutenants was that they were calculating how to give military merit to this roaming cavalry group, especially that young officer.