Chapter 728 – The Conversation in the Snowy Night
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
In the late night, the cold was even more severe. The layers of ice and snow surrounding the abandoned well were as hard as stone.
A small hand appeared along the brim of the well, white and clean under the lanterns shining from the Imperial City. Not even all the snow in the sky could be as white or as cold as this hand.
The small hand exerted itself, snow rustled and crumbled, and a girl climbed out of the well. This sight was truly very similar to a certain horror story.
The girl stood in the snow. As her breath met the air, it transformed into an enveloping fog of crystals. It wasn't because her breath was hot, but because it was too cold.
She wore a black dress, somewhat shabby and very old. It posed a striking contrast to this world of white snow.
After several centuries, Zhizhi finally left that gloomy and, to her at least, particularly cramped underground world, stepping into the world of humans once more.
The current human world had long since forgotten that particularly ruthless Black Frost Dragon from many years ago, and she also found the human world incredibly strange.
Her spiritual soul had once been forcefully extracted from her dragon body by the Tianhai Divine Empress and inserted into the black jade ruyi so that she could accompany Chen Changsheng to the Garden of Zhou. In that period of time, she had seen the streets of the capital, the green trees by the lake, the hustle and bustle of Wenshui, and that valley under the twilight. However, all that lay before her eyes now was still so strange.
She was no longer a spiritual soul, but real and complete.
Her bare feet could clearly sense the looseness and warmth of the snow.
The ends of her hair could clearly sense the gentle and pleasing touch of the winter winds.
She could use her own eyes, not her consciousness, to see the real snow. She could even see the real starry sky behind the clouds of snow. Ah, the countless stars—even after hundreds of years, all of you are still in the same place, still shining with that same beautiful silver light. But will my hometown of the southern islands still have the same old appearance?
The sense of strangeness and sense of reality constantly tangled and clashed against each other in her mind, ultimately transforming into the most real sense of timidity.
She had no idea that, in the near future, she would become the newest legend of the human world, even though her existence as a noble and powerful dragon was a legend in itself to humanity. She was only afraid of this strange world.
This world was the world of humans, the human world that was brimming with humans, and humans were what she was the most afraid of.
Any being, noble or lowly, powerful or weak, at its weakest, most perplexed, and most frightened moment, would always search out its most familiar support. This support might a tree, a stone, perhaps a window, and it might even be a person.
Zhou Tong's mind on the verge of death was dazzled, so it only knew to crawl towards the alley of the Northern Military Department.
At this time, her mind also held only one name: Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng was the being in the world that she was the most familiar with and that she trusted the most. In addition, for a few reasons secret to her, she firmly believed that he had to take responsibility for her. Thus, after she came to her senses, she began heading without hesitation towards the nearby Orthodox Academy, her bare feet stamping out a clear trail in the snow.
The Orthodox Academy and the neighboring Hundred Herb Garden were both under heavy guard. The Orthodoxy cavalry and the troops of the Imperial Court had sealed off the entire block. Both sides silently stared at each other from their respective camps, the atmosphere extremely tense. Nobody knew what might happen next.
The situation in the capital was constantly changing. After the Pope returned to the sea of stars, it was still not possible to tell what the people yearned for, but assessments were slowly beginning to favor the Imperial Court. Teachers and students had left the Orthodox Academy in great numbers, leaving only one-third of the original number behind. The eighteen female disciples of South Stream Temple and Su Moyu had naturally remained, but all of them understood that it was impossible for them to influence what happened next in any way. The only two people that could truly decide the end of all this were currently under the great banyan tree by the lake.
No one in the capital could sleep tonight, because many people knew that the master and disciple were conducting their final negotiation.
The snowstorms over the past few days had been rather fierce. The Orthodox Academy was just like all the other places in the capital, buried under a thick mantle of snow. The dead grass by the lake had been utterly drowned. Only in a few slightly depressed areas could one see a few tips of dead grass that seemed to exude an aura of obstinacy.
The great banyan tree had shed its leaves long ago, but its bare branches were still as firm as ever, sturdy enough for quite a few people to stand atop them.
Chen Changsheng was not standing on the tree, but on the snow-covered ground beneath it, as his teacher was also standing in the snow.
This was the first time this master and disciple had met after that morning in the Mausoleum of Books. On that day, they had passed each other on the Divine Path like strangers, gazing straight past each other. This time, their gazes truly met and so each of them could clearly tell how the other had changed since that period in Xining Village.
Chen Changsheng was already Pope, but he did not wear the Divine Robe, did not bear the Divine Crown, and did not grip the Divine Staff. Instead, he wore the uniform of the Orthodox Academy, his hair meticulously combed into the simplest of Daoist topknots. What ran through his black hair to fasten his topknot was not some precious ebony hairpin, but a normal wooden chopstick.
Shang Xingzhou had a full head of black hair with no hint of white which was similarly combed meticulously. His face carried a noble and composed aura, exuding an indescribable elegance and ease. However, his clothes were very simple: just a blue Daoist robe. He did not truly seem like the supreme individual of the present age, but a normal Daoist.
If someone were to see this sight, they would get the impression that from a certain perspective, this master and his disciple were very similar. This was not merely an external similarity, but it was also in that deep tinge of indifference on their faces and that sense of disaffection hidden behind their calm exteriors.
Chen Changsheng was prepared to open his mouth and speak, but he realized that he had no idea what to say.
It had already been several years since he last spoke with the man standing across from him. To cultivators, a few years was a very short amount of time, but he still felt it to be very long, so long that the memories related to Xining Village and that old temple had become somewhat hazy. At the very least, memories of certain things had already become difficult to clearly recall.
He could still clearly remember the mottled spots on the walls of the old temple after the Daoist scriptures were moved. He still clearly remembered that on the night before he left, his senior brother had cooked four vegetable dishes, each having a different taste and style, and that one of them had contained a lot of garlic. And yet he could not remember what his final words with his master were.
At this time, Shang Xingzhou spoke.
"I picked you out from the stream. Although I knew beforehand that you would be in the stream, without me, you would have drowned in the waters of the stream or been eaten by the old dragon. In short, I saved your life and raised you into an adult, so your life is mine."
Tonight was the final night, and tomorrow would be a new day, a new day like so many countless new days before it, but the first day for the new continent. Tonight's conversation in the snow would decide whether the people of the capital and the entire continent would be able to pass the morrow as they had for the past several years, peacefully and happily welcoming the rising sun of the new year.
No one could have imagined this conversation to have started so suddenly and advanced so unyieldingly that the prologue sounded just like the ending.