Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Amidst farewells and noisy arguments, time passed.
Although there was still no sign that Su Li and those southerners he represented had abandoned those convictions they had held fast to for countless years, everyone could already see through countless details that the confluence of north and south was now inevitable. At this time, a relatively trifling matter actually managed to suppress this grand affair.
It was called a trifling matter because it was that engagement.
According to the news from the Li Palace, during an extremely private conversation, the Pope had admitted that he had already annulled the engagement between Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong.
This news spread in secret through the capital and the various regions of the continent, but there was not a sliver of evidence. However, the continued silence of the Divine General of the East's estate and the Orthodox Academy gradually caused people to believe it.
At the Ivy Festival, the southern diplomatic mission had proposed for Qiushan Jun. At that time, the still-unknown Chen Changsheng pushed open the door and entered, taking out his marriage contract. And then the White Crane had come.
From that point until the present, this engagement had become the talk of the entire continent because it involved the three youths of the human world with the greatest prospects and most outstanding talent, and it was also involved with many other matters: the Orthodoxy, Holy Maiden Peak, the Divine Empress, the Qiushan clan, and the Mount Li Sword Sect. It could be said that the great powers of the continent had all been connected by this engagement.
Could it possibly just end like this?
If this matter was true, that it was Chen Changsheng who had gone of his own volition to the Pope and asked him to annul the engagement, how could the Divine General of the East's estate that had been ridiculed for so long deal with it? Now that the Heavenly Phoenix beloved, even worshiped, by all was confronted with this embarrassing situation, what was she feeling at this moment?
Because of these rumors, many people became very angry at Chen Changsheng, especially those worshipers of Xu Yourong.
But in the end, they were still rumors. No one could go up to the Pope and ask him directly, and so there was naturally no reason to go to the Orthodox Academy and give vent to their spleen.
Even if people wanted to confront Chen Changsheng and ask him just whether this was all true or not, it was very difficult to find Chen Changsheng. As a result, all these emotions could only settle and ferment. Perhaps anger, perhaps ridicule, or perhaps just looking forward to the spectacle—for all sorts of reasons and emotions, the entire continent increasingly began to look forward to Xu Yourong's return to the capital, to look forward to the battle between the two that seemed decreed by fate.
Chen Changsheng truly was very difficult to meet, because in the past few days, he rarely emerged, especially after the rumor of him asking the Pope to annul the engagement began to circulate.
Because of this matter, he felt rather apologetic towards Xu Yourong. Because she was a young lady, he resolved to maintain his silence and await Xu Yourong's return to the capital, thinking of some way to tell her the true facts of the matter. He would let her bring up the matter of his annulling the engagement before the entire world, and then he would take it from there. If it were done this way, perhaps she would not need to bear those strange gazes, even if they were gazes filled with pity. As for the inevitable jeers and sympathy that would befall one party of the engagement, he might as well take it. After all, he was a man.
For some reason, he had never met Xu Yourong, but he was very certain that she was not someone who would take the sympathy of others.
So when Tang Thirty-Six heard the rumors and came to ask, he only shook his head in reply.
As for the matter of engagements or the affection between others, the youth that had left the capital had not understood. Only after the Garden of Zhou did he know that these were both the same thing.
He loved a girl, that girl was dead.
He was once loved by a girl, that girl had left.
He hoped that the girl Xu Yourong would be more fortunate than him.
In this span of time, he did his utmost to avoid contact with other people, instead choosing to meet with the Black Dragon much more.
He would often to go to the space below the well at New North Bridge, bringing the Black Dragon all sorts of food, especially the big rice pan of the Orthodox Academy that she had mentioned by name.
Every time the Black Dragon feigned a gentle and quiet manner as it slowly ate, he would always crouch by the stone wall, researching the formation and chains that kept the Black Dragon imprisoned. It was just that he never made any headway.
On a certain night in the transition from autumn to winter, it was already three o'clock and three-quarters of an hour, yet Chen Changsheng was still not asleep.
He stood by the window, gazing at the great banyan tree already bare of leaves, and the lake which was already beginning to develop a thin crust of ice. He was thinking about some things, then heard the sound of singing coming from the other side of the wall.
Recently, he had often been able to hear these singing voices at night. He shook his head.
The Orthodox Academy had already become a famous sight of the capital. Because of the momentary pause in matches, far fewer people from the capital had come to sightsee, though the tourists from the outlying counties didn't decrease but actually increased. Adding together the students and lecturers of the Orthodox Academy, as well as the laborers, there were at least several hundred people. Where there was people, there was a business opportunity, and businessmen would never pass up on any opportunity. The shopfronts along the street directly across from Hundred Flowers Lane had all been bought or rented out, then remodeled into all sorts of business. There were inns and restaurants, and with each passing day, it grew ever livelier.
Every day, the inns and restaurants would do great business into the night. Some of their patrons were extremely famous people, but of course, even more were students of the Orthodox Academy. No matter how strict the academy's rules and how tightly the gate was guarded, students would always find means of obtaining victory over the gatehouse and the academy's walls and then enter those inns and restaurants and do those things young people love to do.
Like eating, drinking, enjoying music, chatting about life, stuff like that…
Naturally, the teachers of the Orthodox Academy wished to control the students, but couldn't. They also wished to expel those restaurants which brought so much activity, but it was very arduous. Not the Orthodoxy cavalry, the City Gate Department, nor the Imperial Guard could deal with those restaurants. As for Tang Thirty-Six, who truly possessed the ability to completely settle those restaurants and inns across from Hundred Flowers Lane, it wasn't convenient for him to appear, because two of those restaurants and one of those inns were opened by him.
Late at night, it was still bustling. The singing coming from the other side of the wall grew louder and clearer, drifting into the Orthodox Academy.
Chen Changsheng was just thinking about finding those velvet earplugs that Mo Yu had left here one night and stuff them in his ears to help him sleep, when he was suddenly allured by the words of that song.
The singer was probably one of the new students of the Orthodox Academy. His voice was very poor and he was probably still in the period where his voice was changing, but his voice was very loud. The lyrics of this song were very simple. They couldn't be described as elegant and could even be said to be rather crude, but they were filled with a flavor particular to youth. When paired with that young man's voice, the song seemed especially bursting with vigor and energy.
"Youthful teens are all kinds of red, you are the hero, if you want rain, it must rain, if you want wind, there must be wind, the carp that leaps over the Dragon Gate must be different…"
(TN: These are lyrics from the song 样样红 by the Chinese singer Huang An.)
Chen Changsheng stood by the window and quietly listened.
Listening to this song, he thought of the people and things he had encountered in his two years in the capital. He found it hard to keep calm as countless emotions surged forward like the tide.
Yes, surging forward like the tide.
He had once believed that this sort of description was an over-exaggeration of romance stories, but now he knew that it was all true.
He subconsciously caressed the stone pearls on his wrist and returned to the Garden of Zhou.
In the past few days, he often went to the Garden of Zhou, sitting on the plain in a daze.
Perhaps it was because he felt that it was much easier to communicate with those monsters than with humans.
Those monsters were very obedient. In accordance with his plans, they dredged the waterways and restored the plains and lakes. Adding on the self-repair that came with the reopening of the garden, the Garden of Zhou had already regained some of its old appearance.
The reason he was willing to spend his incomparably precious time and energy in the Garden of Zhou was that he wished to leave a memorial.
He stood at the end of the Mausoleum of Zhou's Divine Path, watching as below, the Mountain-toppling Fiend directed the tens of thousands of monsters in repairing the White Grass Path.
The monsters were a dense, black mass.
He felt this sight rather familiar, then he recalled that back then, he was here with her, watching as the monsters surged forward from the plain like a tide.
Thus, sorrow and longing surged forward like a tide.
On the official road to the south of the capital, a convoy formed of several dozen carriages was majestically advancing.
Several hundred cavalry of the south, riding dragonblood horses, kept vigilant watch over the surroundings, protecting the convoy.
Several dozen disciples from South Stream Temple, as well as the representatives of the various powers of the south, were sitting within the carriages.
The carriage in the very middle of the convoy clearly possessed the highest status because this carriage was being pulled by eight snow-white pegasi.
This carriage was huge, so it was more appropriate to call it an imperial carriage.
Xu Yourong sat within.
Her black hair spilled over her shoulders, contrasting against her skin that was like white jade.
The common people enjoyed using the phrase 'an appearance like a painting' to describe beautiful women, but her beauty was impossible to be rendered by ink and brush.
Her eyelashes were very long, her lips very red. Her face was flawless, her beauty pristine, yet it would place no pressure upon others.
Because her beauty was very serene.
Just like a tea hill after the rain, the surface of a lake right before a rain, the mists of Holy Maiden Peak, the smoke rising from the chimneys of a small village.
Her return to the capital this time was to bring the world an incomparably important piece of information.
In the past few days, both the Great Zhou and the South had been making preparations for the confluence of north and south, and the information she brought were the prerequisites, or permissions, for all this.
And then, she had to attend an appointment, an appointed battle.
The entire continent, even the demon princes of Xuelao City, was waiting to watch that battle.
In the view of many, compared to Demon Princess Nanke, that person was her true fated enemy.
Because he was once her fiancé, and now he had, in the eyes of many, annulled the engagement. He was a cold man that had brought her disgrace.
The convoy suddenly stopped. With several soft noises, a woman lifted the curtain and sat in the carriage. Looking at Xu Yourong with complex emotions, she said, "Martial Niece, we're almost at the capital."
The woman was an elder of the South Stream Temple's outer sect, He Qingbo, her cultivation at the middle level of Star Condensation.
Upon saying this, He Qingbo suddenly remembered something and revealed a tense expression. She said rather embarrassedly, "Qingbo misspoke, I ask the temple master for forgiveness."
"Martial Aunt does not need to be so polite."
Xu Yourong looked at her and calmly said, then walked out of the carriage.
As she moved, her black hair and her white ceremonial clothes floated in the air.
The front edge of her hair was incredibly neat, as if it had been cut by the sharpest sword. As it swayed back and forth, it made the expression in her eyes seem all the calmer and more powerful.
Her white ceremonial clothes were tied at the waist by a belt woven with many stars. There was no matching sword because she had come to the capital precisely to get a sword.
The Tong Bow rested in a corner of the carriage. She did not carry it in her hands because, for the moment, she did not want a certain person in the capital to see it.
That corner also held an umbrella.
Reaching the official road, she turned her gaze to that faintly discernible city on the horizon, slowly bringing her hands behind her back.
The capital had no city walls, nor did it have a city gate in any meaningful sense, so when she was small, she was mystified as to why there was a City Gate Department.
With her appearance, the surrounding cavalry of the South dismounted as quickly as possible and kneeled on the ground.
The South Stream Temple disciples that had gotten off the carriages and those ministers also began to kneel.
They kneeled because they had to pay their respects.
"Paying respects to the Holy Maiden."
Xu Yourong was still looking at the capital.
It had already been several years since she had last been back, but she was still no stranger to the capital.
Because her home was here, Mo Yu, the Princess of Ping, and many of the people she knew when she was small were here, the Empress was here, and now that guy was also here.
Two streaks suddenly appeared in the azure sky, one white and one gray, flying into the capital.
Seeing this, she came back to earth and realized that everyone was paying respects to her.
It had already been a few days since that incident, but she was still not used to it. She didn't know what words she could use to respond to these devout and respectful greetings.
Suddenly, she recalled that plain in the Garden of Zhou, those words she would often say when she was being carried on that guy's back. At the time, she would never forget to say those words to that guy, because those words represented her most heartfelt wish. Perhaps…it was the most fitting response?
Consequently, she gazed at the crowd and said, "May the Sacred Light be with all of you."