Chapter 729 – A Battle of Wills between Master and Disciple
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
"Your life is mine."
As he spoke, Shang Xingzhou's expression was very calm, as if he was describing one of the simplest yet most unquestionable truths of the world.
The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, the starry sky will forever remain unchanging, and eggs are best fried with oil.
After hearing these words, Chen Changsheng very naturally thought of that famous sight that occurred in Mount Li's internal strife on that year.
Lord and minister, father and son, master and disciple: these were the three most difficult-to-break laws in the world.
At the time, when the Qiushan clan head spoke the words 'father and son', even an extraordinary individual like Qiushan Jun was forced to run his sword through his chest in order to break them.
How should Chen Changsheng handle it?
In truth, everyone knew that once the conflict between this master and disciple fully exploded, Shang Xingzhou would inevitably use their relationship as master and disciple to strike. Su Moyu, the students and teachers of the Orthodox Academy, and the priests of the Li Palace were deeply concerned about this fact, but none of them could think of a way for Chen Changsheng to respond.
Chen Changsheng had naturally mentally prepared himself for this and had imagined this scene many times, so he was not surprised.
He did not speak mostly because he was reminiscing.
When he heard his master's face, he recalled that scene at Mount Li. When he gazed at the snowbound trees around the lake, he recalled his conversation with Tang Thirty-Six.
It had been so very long ago.
At the time, he and Tang Thirty-Six stood on top of the great banyan and gazed at the capital in the twilight, the nearby Imperial Palace and the distant Li Palace.
Tang Thirty-Six had said many things. They had been warnings, and they could also be understood as slurs aimed at his master.
Chen Changsheng then began to recall the night the Pope returned to the sea of stars. Alone, he had trekked across the snowy grounds of the Li Palace for a very long time.
Before that, he had already told the Pope how he understood and would treat this relationship of master and disciple.
He was not Qiushan Jun, and Shang Xingzhou was certainly no Qiushan clan head. Suicide by sword had no meaning here.
He did not know that Senior Yu Ren had attempted such a method in the Imperial Palace, but even if he knew, he would not emulate it.
This was because such a method was established on a certain foundation: the Qiushan clan head cherished Qiushan Jun, as Shang Xingzhou cherished Yu Ren.
Chen Changsheng had coolheadedly affirmed a very cold and callous fact: his master had never liked him.
The moment he was thoroughly convinced of this fact, he gained true calm and freedom.
So then just as he had said to the Pope and just like how Tang Thirty-Six had taught him, he should speak.
"Thank you," Chen Changsheng said to Shang Xingzhou.
No matter if it was part of some disgusting and ugly scheme meant to do shameless harm against an infant, you saved me by the stream and raised me, so…thank you.
And then…well, there was no 'and then'.
He calmly looked across the snow at the person before him, his eyes bright, not a single word more coming out of his mouth.
After a long period of silence, Shang Xingzhou slightly narrowed his eyes and slowly said, "That is it?"
Chen Changsheng pondered the question, then asked, "Does Master want me to return the cost of living for those years? Then, how much money is it in total?"
He spoke very earnestly without the slightest hint of joking in his voice.
This had never been a matter to joke about in the first place.
Even if I admit that you saved my life, I've already thanked you. What more do you want?
You want living expenses? Then say it, and I'll completely return it. I have money now, and I also have a friend who's particularly rich.
That year on the great banyan tree, when Tang Thirty-Six had said this, his brows had soared upwards as if wanting to set the twilight ablaze. He had been remarkably proud of himself.
When Chen Changsheng thought of that image, he couldn't help but perk up his lips into a smile.
Shang Xingzhou also began to laugh.
His laughter was clear and bright, completely out of sorts with his age and experience, and completely different from that silent and unremarkable middle-aged Daoist in Chen Changsheng's memories.
The snow piled on the great banyan tree's branches rustled down.
The laughter suddenly stopped.
"In the entire world, only the three of us, master and disciples, can understand why I cannot let you remain in the capital."
Shang Xingzhou looked coldly upon Chen Changsheng and said, "Because you are His Majesty's only weakness, his only flaw."
Many people did not understand why Shang Xingzhou's attitude towards Chen Changsheng was so unyielding, but this was because they did not understand the affection between Yu Ren and Chen Changsheng.
Several days ago, in a raging snowstorm, the young emperor had stood in the snow and stopped Shang Xingzhou from leaving, the jade pendant gifted by the Qiushan clan head swaying at his waist the entire time. His resolve and will had momentarily safeguarded Chen Changsheng's life and it had further deepened Shang Xingzhou's fear.
If someone in the future were to use Chen Changsheng to threaten Yu Ren, what then?
Of course, Chen Changsheng was now the Pope of the Orthodoxy, so logically speaking, no one could possibly use him.
But if Chen Changsheng himself were to have other ideas, if he used the authority of the Pope coupled with the affection Yu Ren had for him, what would be the result?
Chen Changsheng understood, but he could not accept. He seriously said to Shang Xingzhou, "Master, you should be well aware that I am not that sort of person."
Shang Xingzhou's expression did not change. "People will always change."
He had lived in this world for a thousand years already. He had seen far too many sceneries change, seen vast seas transform into mulberry fields, and he had seen far too many people's hearts go through unforeseen changes.
He was keenly aware that as one's power and status changed, often for precisely these reasons, once-faithful subordinates would develop thoughts of sedition, once-companions willing to fight to the death for each other would turn their weapons against each other, and brothers would quarrel. Such things had occurred so many times in the history of the Great Zhou that they had lost all novelty.
Chen Changsheng had never seen those old trials and tribulations. He was still a youth like the new breeze of the early spring.
Yet he had already seen much decay and darkness.
He said earnestly to Shang Xingzhou, "I will not change into that sort of person."
Shang Xingzhou replied, "I don't believe you."
Chen Changsheng asked, "And Master will never covet the throne of the emperor?"
Shang Xingzhou replied, "I will not, because such an action will go against the very essence of my Dao heart."
Chen Changsheng replied, "Master, you believe that you can act in accordance with your heart and will never crave the power and glory of the world, so why can't you believe me?"
Shang Xingzhou responded, "Because I am well aware of where my own heart lies, but you are too young and simply have no idea where your heart lies, so how can you preserve it?"
Chen Changsheng now naturally knew that his master's goal in life was to complete Emperor Taizong's dying wish: to exterminate the demons, to strive for a truly radiant future for humanity, to lay down a foundation for the Great Zhou that would remain constant for ten thousand generations. For this, he was willing to pay any price…
Of the portraits in the Lingyan Pavilion, of the legendary ministers drawn upon them, how many had died under Daoist Ji's hands?
In order to overturn the Tianhai Divine Empress's rule, how many people in this world had already died, and how many more would die in the future?
Shang Xingzhou firmly believed that what he did was correct, firmly believed that he was correct. There was no guilt upon his heart, and no pressure.
His Dao heart had always been brightly lit. It was light as a goose feather. With the slightest turn, it could float up into the blue sky and drift about the seven seas. Yet it was also a boulder, so what if a flood drowned away all?
Chen Changsheng cultivated the Dao of following his heart, so he naturally understood.
It was because he understood that he would feel no mercy, only a dashing drive.
He could clearly see the only flaw in Shang Xingzhou's Dao.
Xining Village's old temple had taught him much, and Shang Xingzhou had also taught him much.
"You don't like me because I am Senior's only flaw, but there is still one even more important reason."
Chen Changsheng looked into his master's eyes and declared, "You are afraid to look at me."