Chapter 725 – Coronation
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
Everyone knew that Shang Xingzhou did not like his student Chen Changsheng.
As for the reason, Yu Ren and Chen Changsheng had some inkling and were currently understanding more and more.
But to the people beyond Xining Village's old temple, this had always been a most incomprehensible question.
From a familial perspective, Shang Xingzhou had raised Chen Changsheng since he was a baby. Even if it had all been part of his plan from the start, Chen Changsheng still should have been someone that was worthier of his trust than other people. Even from a logical perspective, perhaps Shang Xingzhou wanted to achieve the unprecedented feat of a complete unification of humanity so as to defeat the demons, but in truth, supporting Mu Jiushi to ascend to the throne of the Pope and making an alliance with the Great Western Continent were not necessarily any better than having Chen Changsheng become Pope and granting the Imperial Court the full support of the Li Palace.
No person could understand Shang Xingzhou's mind, and even the Pope's speculations had been groundless. After Chen Changsheng and Shang Xingzhou had brushed past each other on that morning in the Mausoleum of Books, all this had very naturally occurred, but in those stories, Shang Xingzhou had never once made his position clear, never once declared that he wanted Chen Changsheng dead. Even if this was a secret known to the entire world, it had never once been written down on paper, had never been attached to an action. Only tonight, in his confession to Yu Ren, did Shang Xingzhou reveal for the first time his intentions to the world.
The starry sky instantly dimmed as an invisible killing intent enveloped the capital.
Whether Chen Changsheng lived or died hinged upon his own efforts and upon Shang Xingzhou's stance, and now it was closely tied to the life or death of another mighty figure.
The Li Palace had long since made its position clear. The Pope would not permit Shang Xingzhou to harm Chen Changsheng in any way.
The problem was, how many more days could the Pope live?
On that night in the Li Palace, ultimately not a single incident occurred. The shreds of starlight torn apart by the falling snow and scattered clouds fell upon Madam Mu's clothes, making her sublime beauty seem almost unreal.
As dawn was just about to break, Shang Xingzhou finally left the Imperial Palace, arriving amongst the gray eaves of those five exquisite, beautiful, and divine old temples of the Li Palace.
By the time he made his formal appearance, Madam Mu had already left, bringing away with her the snow-filled sky and starlight.
Excluding the Pope, the Li Palace would only ever permit one Saint at a time inside. Any more would mean a war against the Orthodoxy.
On that night, Shang Xingzhou and the Pope engaged in a very long conversation, most likely the last conversation they would have in their lives. Nobody knew what they discussed or whether the Imperial Court and the Orthodoxy reached any sort of agreement, but starting from the next day, a warm spring breeze descended early over the capital, an atmosphere of reconciliation gradually spreading over the capital. Zhexiu and Mo Yu were brought to the Grand Court of Revision. The former was dispatched directly to the north by the military while the latter returned to the Orange Garden under house arrest.
It was still winter and this spring breeze was naturally fabricated. Everyone knew that this situation might persist for a very long time or suddenly fall apart at a moment's notice.
Nobody knew how many more days the Pope could last, or whether Shang Xingzhou would abide by that promise he made that night after the Pope returned to the sea of stars.
The mood in the capital gradually grew tense once more. Many people were already able to see the violent gales and torrential rains—no, it was winter, so it should have been called a blizzard.
In the midst of this unease and expectation, as the new year approached, a great snow fell over the capital, completely engulfing the streets and buildings of the capital in a dazzling display of white.
The Li Palace cloaked in white was astonishingly beautiful.
Chen Changsheng supported the Pope as they walked out of that quiet and serene palace and came to the largest of the plazas in the Li Palace.
In these past few years, he had been a frequent visitor to the Li Palace, but the place he most often visited was that quiet and serene palace hall. This was his first time coming with the Pope to this place.
The white snow over the gray stones of the plaza was like a layer of felt. Those stone pillars which seemed disorderly, yet were actually set according to some vague law, were already covered in white. Chen Changsheng's spiritual sense could clearly sense that an extremely ancient Qi was hidden below the plaza. If it was an array, then it was no weaker than the Imperial Design.
He gazed into the distance at the vague silhouettes of the palace halls in the snow. He knew that these were the famous Grass Moon Hall, Pure Cassia Temple, the Moss Institute… The Li Palace had six halls, each hall holding a precious treasure that symbolized the Orthodoxy's history and unparalleled might, thus resulting in the gradual appearance of the Six Prefects.
He knew why the Pope had brought him here.
The firm and sacred Qis rising up from the Grass Moon Hall, the Pure Cassia Palace, and the rest of the six halls were currently acknowledging their allegiance to him.
"The snow this year is too great."
The Pope's gaze pierced through the snow into the distant north, his wrinkled and spotted face showing concern for the future. " With the internal discord of Xuelao City, the unprecedented weakness of the demons, who knows how many tribes will be at odds against each other through this storm, how much slaughter it will incite? With the beginning of spring next year, the wolf cavalry will assuredly march south."
A snowstorm was both very beautiful and very cruel. The demons would certainly suffer enormous damage, and with the rebellion, it was simply impossible for Xuelao City to recover its strength in such a short time. Under these circumstances, for the Pope to conclude that the Demon Army would march south next year seemed completely groundless, but Chen Changsheng understood that this prediction was certain to come true. The demons were a most insane and frightening species. The weaker they were, the more bloodthirsty and cruel they became. This was because they clearly understood that only in this way could they pass through their most trying hours.
The Pope sighed, "Since both sides loathe each other, it would be best to leave as soon as possible."
These words seemed without head or tail, and only Chen Changsheng could understand them. After the coup of the Mausoleum of Books, many people had guessed that he wanted to leave the capital. In truth, he had wanted to leave all this time, but he was keenly aware at the time that his master would not let him leave unless he was dead.
It now seemed that the conversation between the two Saints that night in the Li Palace had managed to change some things.
"Very well," he replied.
The Pope looked at him and said, "You are my chosen successor. No matter how many years pass, you must return."
Chen Changsheng replied, "Whenever I am needed, I will return."
The Pope said, "He wishes to speak with you."
Chen Changsheng thought this over, then agreed, "Okay."
As the Li Palace emitted light, the snow falling from the sky seemed like the heavenly flowers scattered about the Divine Kingdom, possessing an intoxicating beauty.
The priests and cavalry of the Orthodoxy and all levels of clergy stood in the plaza, occasionally illuminated like the rising sun over the vast ocean.
The Great Hall of Light shone with incomparable brightness. It was impossible to look at directly and possessed an indescribable majesty.
Within the great hall, several thousand cardinals and archbishops bowed, their faces pious and reverential.
The stone wall slowly parted. Under the stone gazes of the twelve sages and the spirits of the Divine Kingdom, the Pope and Chen Changsheng walked out of the light.
The Pope received the Divine Crown from Mao Qiuyu and placed it upon Chen Changsheng's head.
Chen Changsheng gripped the Divine Staff and walked to the very front, to receive blessings and to grant them.
His body was somewhat stiff, but his expression was exceptionally solemn. Not a single hair was out of place, and not a single mistake in the process occurred. Even the finest of requirements in the Daoist scriptures had been fulfilled. It was perfection.