Chapter 854 – Walking Out of the Ancestral Hall
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Chen Changsheng and the people of the Orthodoxy returned to the Daoist church.
The snowstorm did not stop for the entire night.
He also waited for the entire night.
There was no activity from the Tang clan, no sign of any turmoil.
For the past three years, the Tang Second Master had been the de facto administrator of the clan's businesses and internal matters. He had unquestionably been the most important person in this city.
But his disappearance seemed to have no effect on the city.
This once more proved that Wenshui City would forever be the Tang clan's city, and the Tang clan would forever be the Tang Old Master's clan.
What made the Orthodoxy and Chen Changsheng uneasy was that an entire night had passed, but the gate to the ancestral hall remained tightly shut.
Tang Thirty-Six had still not been released.
When the first light of morning struck the Wenshui, the final snowflake also fell, ushering in the end of the snowstorm.
The snowstorm had stopped so suddenly that no one had prepared themselves for it, just like the letter sent from the old estate to the Daoist church.
The streets of the city were piled high with snow. Reflecting the warm glow of the morning sun, they looked just like a burning grassland.
Chen Changsheng and the people from the Orthodoxy once more visited the old estate. This time, they were treated with much more ceremony than yesterday, the Tang Old Master personally waiting for them in the courtyard.
"I should have gone to the Daoist church to pay my respects to Your Holiness, but I still haven't recovered from a cold, and my rotten body can't endure the trip," the Tang Old Master said to Chen Changsheng.
Both his expression and tone were utterly devoid of sincerity, but no sincerity was needed. Both knew that this was just a show put on for others to see.
Chen Changsheng asked, "How is the illness of the chief branch's master?"
The 'illness' here was naturally referring to the poison.
The Tang Old Master replied, "Someone was already sent yesterday to request a master from the Longevity Sect to treat the illness."
'Treating illness' naturally referred to the fact that the Tang clan had confirmed that the Longevity Sect had the antidote, and with the Tang clan's ability, it naturally had the ability to obtain it.
Hearing this, Chen Changsheng finally relaxed. The poison of the Yellow Springs that covered Chusu's body might not be able to poison him and Nanke, but he and Nanke were not confident that they could eliminate the poison for others.
As they conversed, the pair entered the room. With all other gazes left outside, there was naturally no need for this false courtesy. They began to speak directly.
"Of course, it's best if there's an antidote, but it's fine if there's no antidote. If he dies, he dies."
The Tang Old Master said with an indifferent expression, "My second son also didn't think of this. Even if he managed to kill Little Tang yesterday, I still wouldn't have chosen him."
Because he had many sons, and he could still live a few more decades, even a century. He still had time to raise a qualified successor.
Chen Changsheng did not believe the Tang Old Master's words.
If Tang Thirty-Six had been killed yesterday, the Tang clan would assuredly take on the counterattack of Chen Changsheng and the Orthodoxy. If only to obtain the support of Shang Xingzhou and the Imperial Court, the Tang Old Master would have promoted the Tang Second Master to the position of clan head.
But Chen Changsheng understood why the Tang Old Master had said this.
The Tang Old Master wanted him to know that in a situation like yesterday's, he could refuse to give the Tang clan to the second branch, so today, he could still refuse to give it to the chief branch.
Because the relationship between Chen Changsheng and Tang Thirty-Six was too close, the relationship between the chief branch and the Orthodoxy had also always been too excessively close.
The Tang Old Master had ended the Tang Second Master's aspirations to be clan head, but he still chose to stand on the side of Shang Xingzhou and the Imperial Court.
He looked at Chen Changsheng and asked, "Do you perhaps not understand why I continue to firmly support your master?"
Chen Changsheng recalled the dog he had seen on the street yesterday morning. After a few moments of silence, he said, "I can roughly understand, because the two of you walk the same path."
"It's excellent that you used 'walk the same path', because many years ago, when the siege of Luoyang was lifted, I, your master Shang, and also Yin took the same path to return to the capital."
The Tang Old Master gazed at the well in the old courtyard, at the snow piled on its brim.
"In those years, I was traveling around the world, but whenever anyone found out that I was the young master of the Tang clan, whether it was the previous dynasty, the Daoist faith, or those rebellious princes, no one dared to show me the slightest disrespect. I simply had no opportunity to experience the dangers of society. I originally thought that all matters of the world were essentially like that. Even if some people might live more difficult lives, what did that have to do with me? In the end, I was that young noble master who lived a life of luxury and who no one dared to provoke. But who could expect that the demons would besiege Luoyang, and besiege it for three whole months? The countless horrors of those three months… in the end, just who would care that I was the young master of the Tang clan?"
The Tang Old Master slightly squinted his eyes, the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes suffused with some self-ridicule, but even more grief.
The flames of war had engulfed Luoyang for three months. Even the Red Falcons used to send messages had been secretly snatched up by some experts and eaten, and there was no hope of even finding a piece of tree bark to eat. The demons outside the city raped, murdered, and looted, while the scattered and leaderless soldiers within Luoyang went crazy from despair. The demons were eating humans all along the Wei River, and the humans within Luoyang were also eating humans. The waters had been filled with white bones.
Even someone of as hardened will as his did not want to recall more of the scenes from that time.
Of course, he wanted even less to see those scenes appear before his eyes again.
"'No chaos'. These are the two words that I have prioritized the most in this life.
"Exterminating the demons is the task in my life that I most want to accomplish.
"The Tang clan is strong enough. It has the right to choose, so which should I choose, between the Orthodoxy and the Imperial Court?
"I choose the strongest side.
"What does it mean to be strong? Other than whose punch is the strongest, one must also see whose punch is the steadiest."
The Tang Old Master looked at Chen Changsheng and said, "Your punch is still not strong enough, and as for steadiness, you are far inferior to your teacher."
Chen Changsheng knew that this was the Tang Old Master's final stance, and he had no objection to it.
"I have nothing else to say. I only want to take him with me. I originally came to Wenshui to pick him up, not to persuade the Tang clan to change its mind."
In the Daoist church, he had said the same to the Tang Second Master.
But the Tang Second Master had not believed him, replying with that scornful and silent laughing face of his.
The Tang Old Master's eyes were far stronger than his son's, so he could naturally see that Chen Changsheng was speaking the truth.
The entire matter had been just this simple. The matters of youths had always been this simple.
The Tang Old Master recalled the amusing events that had taken place countless years ago, when he and Shang and Yin had left Luoyang and started off to the capital. He fell quiet for a very long time.
Countless members of their generation had already died, and even though he and Shang Xingzhou still lived, they were gradually growing old. However, even they had been young once.
"I agree to your request." The Tang Old Master looked at him and added, "Now that I think about it, he should have already come out by now."
Wenshui City was much livelier today than it had been for the past few days.
The Tang Second Master had been imprisoned in some unknown place, the second branch had fallen from power, and an audit and purge were currently being carried out in tandem. However, the stores along the street were already open, and there were many more pedestrians.
The main street in front of the ancestral hall was even more raucous. The chief branch's stewards, managers, and subordinates accompanied Madam Tang as they waited outside.
Suddenly, the heavy wooden gate of the ancestral hall slowly began to open.
Tang Thirty-Six walked out.
Just like when he walked out of the Mausoleum of Books many years ago, his face was filthy and hair dirty, his body covered in dust and clearly much thinner. It was like he had suffered through some great ordeal.
But his eyes were even brighter, his expression much calmer, his temperament much steadier.
Upon seeing her son, Madam Tang felt her eyes go moist, but she forcefully suppressed her emotions, not daring to weep.
What happened next proved to the crowd that he was still the Tang Thirty-Six of the past.
Regardless of the fact that he had been imprisoned in the ancestral hall for half a year, that his expression and temperament were greatly changed.
He asked the crowd, "What of that useless old man?"
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