Chapter 730 – The Darkest Shadow
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
(TN: Way of Choices will be on break from December 25th, 2017 – January 7, 2018)
On the day in which Eunuch Lin entered the Orthodox Academy to proclaim the decree, Chen Changsheng had said something similar.
Shang Xingzhou had been in the Li Palace at the time and was speaking to the Pope. His response then was very similar to his response now.
There was still a hint of childishness on Chen Changsheng's face, but anyone could see the firmness of his demeanor.
He knew that his view was correct.
The Tianhai Divine Empress was already dead, the Pope had returned to the sea of stars, the Demon Lord had fallen into the abyss, and Wang Zhice had secluded himself from the world. There were now very few people in the world that could serve as Shang Xingzhou's rival.
His Dao heart was brightly lit, his Dao completely unhindered, his cultivation unfathomably profound.
He reigned over the Great Zhou Dynasty and possessed the friendship of White Emperor City.
He seemed invulnerable, in a state of near-perfection.
But he still had a hole, a flaw.
His flaw was not some other person, but the fact that he had never liked his young disciple Chen Changsheng.
By Xining Village's old temple ran a small stream. Flowers floated upon this stream and flowed downstream.
The temple held three thousand Daoist scriptures, but the three people within, the master and his two disciples, cultivated only one: following their heart.
Following one's heart was an incredibly formidable Dao.
To stand under the starry sky and hold one's head up with a clear conscience, to turn one's head with no regrets. Only this way could one revere nothing, fear nothing, possess a brightly lit Dao heart and an unhindered Dao.
In the ten-some years spent in Xining Village's old temple, Shang Xingzhou had never once taught Yu Ren and Chen Changsheng any sort of Dao, only had them read Daoist scriptures, but once they began to interact with actual cultivation methods, they advanced with flabbergasting speed. Chen Changsheng had taken three years to break into Star Condensation while Yu Ren had been able to freely walk about the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. All this was entirely because of their Dao.
Correspondingly, this Dao had extremely high demands on one's heart, requiring it to be like a snow lotus at the peak of a lofty mountain. Not a single speck of dirt could be allowed to stain it.
How could one prevent oneself from being confused by external things? How could one possess an unshakable will and self-confidence?
Only one word needed to be remembered: heart.
All one needed was to convince themselves.
If one could convince oneself that this way was correct, that it was in accordance with one's heart, then…one would naturally be following one's heart.
This sounded very simple, but it was not actually simple at all.
If one searched in the deepest depths of one's soul, if one ensconced oneself in a dark room cut off from the world, how many people could truly say that they were without regrets? Who could so firmly believe that everything they had done was correct?
Several hundred years ago, Shang Xingzhou had still been a member of the legitimate line of the Orthodoxy. He could have walked along the path set for him until he became Pope, but he chose another path. He used the identity of Daoist Ji to live in this world, and when Daoist Wu was painting the portraits of the Lingyan Pavilion, he was responsible for sending the subjects of these portraits back to the sea of stars. The subjects of these paintings were all heroes of humanity, all meritorious ministers of the Great Zhou, and they had all died under this scheme. Some of them had been willing to face their deaths, such as Divine Generals Qin Zhong and Yu Gong, but what of the other dukes?
The heroic spirits of the Lingyan Pavilion had always been watching Shang Xingzhou. Perhaps those resentful souls that had died even before that in the Hundred Herb Garden had also been watching Shang Xingzhou this entire time. The innocents who had died in this recent chaos were presumably also watching him. Yet none of this could affect Shang Xingzhou's Dao heart, because he had many reasons with which to convince himself.
He viewed with contempt those so-called ruthless characters who severed their emotions, loathed most of all schemers like Black Robe who did not dare see the light of day. He regarded himself as Emperor Taizong's successor, and since his heart embraced the world, he could naturally disregard the small details. This was the necessary price to be paid so that the Great Zhou Dynasty could last ten thousand years, so that humanity could have a radiant future.
But there was still one matter that even now Shang Xingzhou had not been able to find a suitable reason to convince himself of, and that matter was Chen Changsheng.
Yes, the wooden basin floating in the stream, the infant in the basin, and the Golden Dragon's hanging whisker had all been part of his scheme.
But when he first laid eyes on Chen Changsheng, this was not the Duke of Wei, not Wang Zhice, not Tianhai, not a general who reigned over a region, not some rich scion who possessed wealth beyond imagination, not a concubine seeking power through beauty, not a repulsive eunuch, not some impassioned scholar from the Kingdom of Wu who liked intellectual conversation, not some old and experienced chancellor who adored feathers. This was just…an infant.
This was an infant who could not even open his eyes, an ignorant and unaware infant, an infant without good or evil or thought.
He could not find a single reason to convince himself that what he did was correct.
In those fourteen years, every time he saw Chen Changsheng, a doubt would appear in his mind, a shadow cast over his Dao heart.
Life in Xining Village's old temple was very simple, and to not meet was manifold times more difficult than meeting.
Chen Changsheng transformed from an infant into a youth like the spring breeze.
The shadow over Shang Xingzhou's Dao heart had already become as thick as the night.
"I know that Teacher feels no guilt about me, that good and evil have no part in this affair. It is just that you are unable to convince yourself, and convincing yourself has always been the most important."
Chen Changsheng said to Shang Xingzhou, "So to you, my existence is a very frightening thing."
Before Buddhism was destroyed, it once had a phrase called a 'heart obstruction'.
He was currently Shang Xingzhou's heart obstruction.
Shang Xingzhou was willing to exhaust all his resources to remove this heart obstruction, as only this way could he ensure his Dao heart was brightly lit.
He hoped that Chen Changsheng would die, but he could not personally do it, as it would have no effect. On the contrary, it would only cause the heart obstruction to deepen and leave him without means of wiping it away.
Several days ago, even if Yu Ren had not used such a resolute method to have him stay in the palace, he would not have gone to the alley of the Northern Military Department, but to the Li Palace.
Back on the Divine Path of the Mausoleum of Books, he had passed Chen Changsheng on the Divine Path without even glancing at him and made no efforts to stop him from bringing down the Divine Empress's body because he had already thought of what to do afterwards.
He wished to use these matters as justification for Chen Changsheng to very naturally die at someone else's hand.
He had approached success quite a few times.
For example, when Eunuch Lin had wanted to sweep away the threats and hindrances that prevented the young emperor from holding power, he used the Tianhai Divine Empress's remains to make trouble. In secret, he had wanted to use the matter to kill Chen Changsheng, yet he had not succeeded.
For example, Xue Xingchuan's bitter misfortune and Zhou Tong as a lure had been meant for Chen Changsheng to strike out on his own volition, after which he would be killed.
"Unfortunately, none of them succeeded," Chen Changsheng said.
"I did not think that you had already understood all this, but it does not matter."
Shang Xingzhou's face was rather regretful. "If not for Wang Po, you would have died that day at Tie Shu's hands."
When Eunuch Lin suddenly attacked the Orthodox Academy, Chen Changsheng had already understood everything, but he still felt rather sorrowful over his master's regret.
Shang Xingzhou continued, "I swore an oath to your martial uncle that I would not attack, and the fact is that I never did. Neither Lin nor Zhou was an intentional plan on my part; it was all natural. If you persist in remaining in the capital, more and more such things will happen, and none of it will have one sign of my influence."
It was difficult to tell what was true and false in these words, but there was no need to tell.
Man's intentions were always drifting between true and false. Even if one saw all its varieties, one would still not be able to make out the distinction.
On the academy wall on the other side of the lake, ten-some blue-clothed Daoists appeared.
These Daoists all had unfathomable cultivations and an indistinct killing intent drifted about their sleeves.