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Chapter 34 – Acknowledging a Teacher (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
From the moment his master had picked him out of the stream, the words Chen Changsheng had heard the most were: your fate is not good. Especially after that night at the age of ten when his body exuded that strange fragrance, those five words were like an annotation that was forever engraved in his heart.
If he wanted to change his fate, there were only two methods. The first was to cultivate to the Realm of Concealed Divinity, after which point he would naturally no longer be contained within the wheel of fate. But the Concealed Divinity Realm existed only in legends; not even that Dufu who was unparalleled throughout the world was able to enter the Concealed Divinity Realm, so this method was very doubtful.
The second method was naturally to defy the heavens and change fate. It was rumored, and also told to him by his master, that ever since the founding of the Great Zhou Dynasty, only three people had succeeded in defying the heavens and changing fate. All three possessed unearthly talent and unequalled strength while he was just an insignificant normal person, so how could he do it?
Whether or not he could do it, it was still something he had to do, so he had to participate in the Grand Examination, he had to obtain first rank of the first banner. Only this way would he have the opportunity to enter the Lingyan Pavilion that forbid entry to everyone, would he be able to see the portraits of those people and see what they had left behind.
The Lingyan Pavilion contained the portraits of twenty-four outstanding ministers that had served in Taizong's era. Afterwards, when other important statesmen died, their portraits were added to the pavilion. However, the truly important ones were still the original twenty-four. Those twenty-four portraits might possibly contain evidence and clues for the second successful changing of fate in the Great Zhou Dynasty's history.
Chen Changsheng awoke from his contemplation and withdrew his gaze from the Imperial Palace, turning his head to the girl sitting on the floor.
He really liked this child, but he could not accept her as his student. This girl lived in the Hundred Herb Garden and the demons had attempted to assassinate her last night, so her origins were assuredly extraordinary. The greatest possibility was that she was one of the descendants of the Imperial clan that the Divine Empress had banished to the outlying counties but then had been secretly brought back by the Empress. There was no way he could afford to provoke this sort of figure.
Moreover, he did not want to mislead another person's child.
"I need to wash up, and then I'm going to rest for a while. Go home and don't follow me."
As Chen Changsheng spoke, he deliberately made his tone and expression more indifferent. Without waiting for the girl to disagree, he left the library.
He could only hope that she would retreat in the face of these difficulties. At night, he returned to the library. Seeing that the girl was nowhere in sight, he finally relaxed and continued to draw in starlight for Purification, oblivious in his meditation as he awaited the coming of the dawn, and yet another night passed by.
He still did not know of the fact that the radiance of the stars had all entered his body, only that no change had occurred with his skin and hair, that no progress had been made with his Purification. But he was already used to this fact, though he was somewhat unaccustomed to the empty feeling around his right arm when he opened his eyes.
He was silent for a few moments, then he left the library and returned to his house to take a bath.
The steam exuded by the hot water within the wooden basin slowly creeped up the ivy on the walls and then was sliced into countless streams of silky smoke. He soaked in the water and leaned against the edge of the basin with his eyes closed, somewhat exhausted. The academy in the morning was so quiet that he kept feeling like something was missing.
Just like when he had opened his eyes and felt like his right arm was missing something.
There was no beautiful and melodious voice, no one clinging to his arm.
It was just that in these past few days, he had grown used to the existence of that little girl. Upon thinking about this, he felt somewhat embarrassed, his face a little hot. Only then did he realize that no matter how much he cultivated to calm his heart and pursue his heart's desires, he would never be able to completely escape the influence of vanity and other emotions.
He placed a wet towel over his heated face, not wanting it to be seen by the morning light.
Suddenly, a massive boom came from the academy wall next to the wooden basin. Dust billowed into the air as bricks collapsed into rubble.
Chen Changsheng took off the towel and stared in shock. Amidst the dust, he could faintly see that the academy wall…now had a large hole.
As the dust settled, Luoluo walked through the hole from the other side.
She turned her head and saw Chen Changsheng in the wooden basin. Exceptionally pleased, she said, "I didn't calculate wrong, it's right here!"
These words were not aimed at Chen Changsheng, but at those subordinates behind her holding masonry tools.
For a moment, the area behind the peaceful house, under the old wall, was abuzz with the sounds of construction.
None of the busy people even glanced at the wooden basin, almost as if they could not see the youth in it.
Seeing this frenzy of construction before him, Chen Changsheng felt like the temperature of the water in the basin was rapidly dropping, his body following suit. He was so stunned that he couldn't manage any words. Like a fool, he watched with mouth agape, finding this scene thoroughly preposterous, and his presence within it even more so.
Before long, a brand-new wooden door appeared in the academy wall.
Those people retreated like the tide into the Hundred Herb Garden. With the closing of the wooden door, the Orthodox Academy returned to its previous tranquility.
Except that there was an extra door and an extra person.
"With this, it'll be much more convenient to come every day, so I don't have to use the carriage."
Her hands on her waist, Luoluo gazed at the door with great satisfaction.
There was only silence. No one replied to her.
She turned to look and only saw Chen Changsheng looking like a frozen quail, his two hands holding the sides of the basin. His appearance was very amusing.
Luoluo seriously replied, "Teacher, please continue, no need to concern yourself about me."
Suddenly, Chen Changsheng turned extremely solemn, a limitless shock and fear appearing in his eyes.
He stared at the azure sky above her and said in a trembling voice, "Dragon?!"
Shocked, Luoluo turned around but only saw a cobalt blue sky, no dragon in sight.
Just then, the sloshing of water came from behind her.
She turned and saw that Chen Changsheng had already put on his outer clothes, jumped out of the water, and run off into the forest at an incredible speed. Dripping water as he ran, he cut the sorriest of figures, like a dog that had fallen into the water, or even more like a dog that had lost its home.
Luoluo couldn't help but laugh at this scene. Waving her hand at his back, she called out, "Teacher, you'll have to come back some time."
Chen Changsheng's figure vanished into the forest.
The smile on Luoluo's face gradually faded, making her seem somewhat sorrowful. She softly sighed, "Teacher, just why aren't you willing to accept me?"
Chen Changsheng was soaked all over, his black hair scattered, and his feet didn't even have shoes. He felt wretched, but did not dare return to the Orthodox Academy to change clothes. In the entire capital, he actually couldn't find a place to go. This was because he was ashamed to show himself in public and also couldn't find anyone to help him.
Although he still had the room in that inn outside the Mausoleum of Books, it was truly too far a distance to walk to the northern part of the city. He had no desire to be arrested by the city guard for his inappropriate dress and charged with the crime of being a hindrance to the view from the Imperial City. Ultimately, he was forced to go to the somewhat closer Heavenly Dao Academy.
He was successful in attracting the gazes and jeers of the Heavenly Dao Academy's students. To these, he could only act like he couldn't see or hear them. Finally, he was able to find Tang Thirty-Six's residence. Without hesitation, he kicked open the door and said respectfully, "Let me borrow a set of clean clothes and I'll owe you a favor."
Upon seeing his appearance, Tang Thirty-Six was firstly dumbstruck, and then he roared with laughter. It was just that the gap between the former and the latter was somewhat large, making him seem somewhat wooden, his reaction a little too slow. But to Chen Changsheng, this laughter was still grating on his ears.
"A rare visitor…truly a rare visitor…just what's going on with you?"
"Although I've never been willing to wear another person's clothes, I don't have any other option at this point, so I ask you to please hurry up a little."
Chen Changsheng's tone was extremely serious.
Tang Thirty-Six could sense that if he really did move slowly, this fellow really might get angry. Forcefully suppressing his laughter, he stood up and found a clean set of clothes for him, throwing him two towels as well while he was at it. "Wipe your hair and feet. Relax, these are new towels."
Chen Changsheng cleaned himself as quickly as he could, after which he gave a long and relaxed sigh and took measure of his surroundings. He discovered that this fellow really was a genius worthy of being ranked thirty-sixth on the Proclamation of Azure Sky. In a place like the Heavenly Dao Academy, he actually had a little house for himself. It was just that upon seeing the ground covered in balls of paper, leftovers of meals from days ago, and the tables, chairs, and bed randomly piled with bits of junk, he realized that although this house was big, there was actually no place for him to sit.
"Sit." Tang Thirty-Six was completely unaware of his present suffering.
"Sit where?" Chen Changsheng very seriously asked.
Tang Thirty-Six then recalled this fellow's peculiarity and grudgingly stood up, saying, "Let's go eat."
Following the paths of the Heavenly Dao Academy out of the school, Chen Changsheng once more attracted quite a few gazes. This time, however, it was not because of his sorry appearance, but because he was walking alongside Tang Thirty-Six. The students of the Heavenly Dao Academy were all flabbergasted, thinking, just who is this youth, actually able to talk and laugh with the lofty and cold Tang Thirty-Six?
After they seated themselves at an exceptionally elegant restaurant outside the Heavenly Dao Academy, Tang Thirty-Six suddenly recalled a matter and creased his brow. He asked very seriously, "I went to the inn once and saw the note you left behind…you really entered the Orthodox Academy?"
Chen Changsheng nodded his head, then asked, "What have you been doing these past few days?"
In truth, what he wanted to ask Tang Thirty-Six was why had he not come to find him despite knowing that he had entered the Orthodox Academy. After all, Tang Thirty-Six was his only acquaintance in the capital. Although he had always believed that by enduring loneliness, anything could be done, he still wouldn't mind not being lonely.
It was just that with his personality, it was truly too difficult to directly ask this question.
Upon hearing Chen Changsheng personally admit that he had entered the Orthodox Academy, Tang Thirty-Six's expression grew rather solemn. Seeing that Chen Changsheng had changed the subject, he thought that this guy did not want to talk about his own sorrowful affairs, so he replied, "The Ivy Festival is about to begin. Although I'm not afraid of anybody, I still have to make a few preparations."
Chen Changsheng thought, what's the Ivy Festival?
Tang Thirty-Six added, "Speaking of which, how did you end up looking like that? For the Grand Examination, I only want to get into the top three of the first banner, and I'm working every day until I'm exhausted. As your goal is first rank of the first banner, you're still in the mood to have water fights with other people? Or is it…you encountered some problem?"
"That place, the Orthodox Academy…I really can't stay there anymore."
Chen Changsheng thought of his encounters over the past few days, thought about how he could see that girl, no matter if he was opening or closing his eyes, taking a bath, or reading books. He couldn't help but feel rather dejected, an extremely rare emotion for him to experience.
Tang Thirty-Six thought that while Chen Changsheng had been studying in the Orthodox Academy, he had received endless cold and disdainful humiliations. He couldn't help but sympathize, so he patted Chen Changsheng on the shoulder and said, "If it's really no good, just leave. I…will write a letter and have you go to Wenshui to study."
Chen Changsheng sighed.
Seeing Chen Changsheng's miserable appearance, Tang Thirty-Six grew rather annoyed, thinking, back when you were ruthlessly denied entry to the Heavenly Dao Academy and Star Seizer Academy, you were so unperturbed and easygoing, or else why would I value you so highly? So why are you acting this way now? Could it be that the Orthodox Academy really is a cursed place?
"After some wine and sleep, you'll feel better."
He had the owner bring over two pots of extremely strong fine wine and pushed one pot in front of Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng looked at the wine pot, rather curious, then earnestly said, "I've never drunk before."
Tang Thirty-Six unsealed the pot for him and said, "If you're drunk today, then you've drunk before."
Chen Changsheng had worries on his mind, and truthfully, so did Tang Thirty-Six. Moreover, he had spoken the truth. The two youths were not too familiar and didn't understand each other too well, so since they naturally had nothing to chat about, they might as well take up wine cups and silently drink. This was what was meant by alcohol drunk to drown one's sorrows.
This sort of drinking was most liable to make a person drunk, especially for a guy like Chen Changsheng that was drinking for the first time.
Of course, Tang Thirty-Six's tolerance for alcohol was also not much to crow about.
"A genius like me doesn't have the time to attend some Ivy Festival, but that group of idiot students from the capital actually dare to doubt this young master's strength…"
Tang Thirty-Six looked beyond the balcony at those students wearing the uniform of the Heavenly Dao Academy and sneered, "This time, I'm definitely going to beat up the faces of those guys!"
Chen Changsheng was using both his hands to hold the wine cup, his eyes somewhat squinty. It was obvious that he was already drunk. He slurred out, "The Ivy Festival…just what is it?…Is…is there any…anything good to eat?…Is there wine?"
The capital had the Heavenly Dao Academy, Star Seizer Academy, Temple Seminary…in total, six academies with extremely long histories and extremely respected statuses.
The vicissitudes of history were all reflected on the ivy covering the gates of these six academies, so these six academies were called the Six Ivies. Only the students of the Six Ivies were not required to attend the pre-examination and could directly participate in the Grand Examination. From this, one could imagine the status of these six academies.
The Grand Examination's pre-examination was usually held in the summer. The students of the Six Ivies had no need to attend, but, not wanting their students to miss out on an opportunity to hone themselves, after the grades for the pre-examination were published, the Six Ivies would invite those students that had passed the pre-examination as well as their own students to attend a magnificent feast.
Because this feast was also attended by the students of the Six Ivies, it was much more intense than the pre-examination. History had already proved that the rankings produced during this feast would basically match up to the final ranking produced in the Grand Examination, so the feast gradually began to be regarded as a weathervane for the Grand Examination.
Of course, this ranking certainly did not include those students still in the south and those cultivating geniuses that did not tend to show off their skills.
This feast was called the Ivy Festival.
With Tang Thirty-Six's personality, he had only scorn for attending the Ivy Festival, but he had a relationship with the Vice Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy. A few days ago, his intentions had been deliberately exposed, causing him to suffer a few baseless rumors, and there were even a few young experts from the other Six Ivies that were also on the Proclamation of Azure Sky that revealed their contempt for his stance. As a result, Tang Thirty-Six decided to participate.
Because of this, he had closed himself up in the Heavenly Dao Academy in bitter cultivation. Even though he knew Chen Changsheng had entered the Orthodox Academy, he had no time to visit.
Chen Changsheng put down his wine cup, covered his lips with a hand, and burped. He somewhat embarrassedly murmured an apology and then said, "I wish you success."
Since the Ivy Festival was a comparison of strength between those so-called geniuses, it naturally had nothing to do with him.
He was thinking this way, but he had forgotten that the Orthodox Academy he was studying in was also one of the Six Ivies.
Of course, it seemed like the entire world had forgotten this fact.