Chapter 825 – A Prayer Mat
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Since hostilities would break out sooner or later, why not open with the most unyielding position?
If this were a chessboard, the Mount Song Army headquarters was just a casual move meant to symbolize the Li Palace's renewed voice to the continent.
The second move in Wenshui City was a deciding move, a move that would determine life and death.
The letter writer wanted to use the matter of Tang Thirty-Six to have Chen Changsheng take the toughest posture possible.
This attitude was for the Tang clan to see, but not for the Tang Second Master to see.
Although the chief branch had already lost power, the Tang clan was still the Tang Old Master's Tang clan.
The letter writer was gambling on the decision the Tang Old Master would make towards the Orthodoxy's most unyielding stance.
The greatest problem at the moment was that the circumstances of the Tang clan over the past two years already proved that the Tang Old Master supported the second branch. To put it another way, he had already made a decision between Shang Xingzhou and Chen Changsheng, and how could a figure like the Tang Old Master change his stance just because of the Orthodoxy's tough stance?
Before the Tang Old Master, the Orthodoxy first had to confront the Tang Second Master.
The middle-aged man rumored to already be in complete control of the Tang clan was unquestionably one of the most powerful men on the continent.
But in front of the quiet Daoist church, he looked like an ordinary middle-aged man.
Perhaps it was because the Archbishop of Wenshui was not as meek as usual, much less flattering him.
The archbishop seemingly treated him as an ordinary middle-aged believer that had come to pay respects to the Pope.
In the early morning, three Prefects of the Orthodoxy and one hundred cavalry had entered Wenshui City.
Afterwards, a great deal of noise had come from the Daoist church.
It was at that moment that the Tang Second Master came to the stone steps and communicated that he wished to pay respects to the Pope.
The archbishops had delivered the message for him, and then he had said that the Pope had just woken up and was still washing up, necessitating a wait.
This was a very commonplace matter. Although the Tang Second Master knew that it was just an excuse, he still needed to wait at the bottom of the stone steps.
But he didn't expect that he would have to wait for half a day. The morning light had driven away the mist in the forest and then transformed into the rare warm sunlight of the winter sun.
As time passed, the two Guardians and several followers standing behind the Tang Second Master gained rather nasty complexions.
Since the Pope had come to Wenshui, the Tang clan naturally had to send someone to meet him, but why did the Second Master have to wait so long? Were they showing off their power to the Tang clan?
If not for the fact that the Tang Second Master had remained quiet this entire time, they probably would have already started to make a ruckus.
This was Wenshui City after all. From a certain perspective, the head of the Tang clan was the true emperor here.
Whether it was Emperor Taizong or the infamous Tianhai Divine Empress, in this city, their decrees were never as effective as a single sentence from the clan head.
In their view, the Second Master represented the Tang clan, so not even the Pope could humiliate him so!
The Tang Second Master, his hands held behind him, had waited beneath the stone steps for half a day. Let alone anger, not even impatience could be seen on his face.
But this did not mean that his mood was so serene.
In reality, his mood was quite terrible.
In the coup three years ago in the Mausoleum of Books, he had played an extremely important role. The common people did not know of it, but everyone who had the right to know knew of it.
From that moment, he became an important character of the continent with the ability to tip the scales.
Although he had not yet become the master of Wenshui City, everyone knew that the day was not far.
Moreover, the Old Master had given over both the family business and the internal affairs of the clan to him.
He was already the de facto master of Wenshui City.
And after Tang Thirty-Six was imprisoned in the ancestral hall half a year ago, no one dared to question him, not even Xuelao City.
Even when he went to visit the emperor in the capital a month ago, he could walk straight into the palace without needing to send a message!
Just who would dare deliberately make him wait for so long?
Failing to kill you in the mountains was truly unfortunate, and I even let you enter Wenshui. Baishi, that dunce, just how was he discovered? But even though you've entered Wenshui, what can you do except rage around like a child? The great Pope… do you really think it's that great?
With a calm expression, the Tang Second Master thought these treasonous words as he gazed at the roof of the church nestled in the forest.
When he thought of those final words, he found them rather amusing. As he praised his wit, the corners of his lips perked upward.
In the past, the Archbishop of Wenshui at his side would assuredly ask very tactfully and ingratiatingly about what the Second Master was smiling about.
But it was different today. The Archbishop of Wenshui gave him a serious look and said, "Mister Tang, please do not forget your manners."
The Tang Second Master's smile suddenly vanished. He could no longer maintain his tranquil visage, transforming it into a frigid expression.
Just when all patience was about to vanish, the Daoist church finally issued a message.
The Tang Second Master and his party ascended the stone steps, crossing through the quiet forest and arriving outside the holy gate. Raising their gazes, they saw the pear tree.
There was no one beneath the pear tree. There was no snow or snow-like white flowers on the ground. Someone had recently washed the flagstones, leaving them wet and clean. Perhaps there was blood there before?
The sky was still full of clouds and the winter sun was still giving off its warm light. There was still quite some time before nightfall, but many lanterns had already been lit in the hall.
If one stood outside the holy gate and looked in, one would occasionally get the misperception that a sea of stars lay within.
The Tang Second Master walked into the holy gate.
The two Guardians and the Tang clan guards prepared to follow, but they were stopped.
The Archbishop of Wenshui looked at these people from the Tang clan and calmly said, "Please do not run around the forest, or else you might die."
As he was speaking to them, several dozen priests appeared in the back garden by the river, and two thick and heavy chains floated up to the surface, blocking off the river.
Due to the rules of the Tang clan, there were essentially no boats on the Wenshui, but the Daoist church had still prepared themselves for the possibility.
The Tang Second Master gazed at the sea of stars formed by the lanterns in silence, then raised his hand to indicate that his followers should wait.
After crossing that high threshold, he arrived in the quiet area in front of the hall and saw Linghai Zhiwang and An Lin.
The two archbishops stood on the stone steps in front of the hall, appearing like two sacred idols.
The Tang Second Master greeted them, and then slowly opened his mouth.
He was laughing, but there was no sound.
This was his habitual expression. At times, people would find it comical, at times abnormally terrifying, but no matter when, it would always be brimming with ridicule and malice towards this world.
Linghai Zhiwang expressionlessly looked at him like he was looking upon an idiot.
An Lin slightly nodded her head to return the greeting and then ignored him.
The Tang Second Master gradually ceased his laugh and said, "Using two archbishops to watch the door—has any other Pope done this before?"
He didn't wait for an answer. With a light brush of his sleeves, he pushed upon the door and entered.
Countless lanterns were lit within the hall, their bright rays of light shining upon his face.
He was rather similar to Tang Thirty-Six. They both had handsome faces, but his was even more indifferent.
In the next moment, that smear of indifference was finally dispelled, transforming into an indescribable emotion.
A prayer mat had been placed in the center of the church.
It was naturally there for people to kneel on.
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