Chapter 881 – A Conversation That Will Be Recorded in the Annals of History
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Chen Changsheng said, "I have never thought about putting South Stream Temple in danger."
"Your Holiness, I understand you. If this were three years ago, I would put absolute trust in Your Holiness's words, but just as I said, time can change many things."
Huai Ren sorrowfully said, "After three years, Your Holiness has changed. If so many people had not died in the snowy mountains, if Linghai Zhiwang had not gone to the Mount Song Army headquarters, if Your Holiness had not gone to Wenshui City, if Your Holiness were not standing next to me right now, I perhaps would have believed Your Holiness. Now, however, I cannot.
"All the continent knows what Your Holiness intends to do.
"From the Mount Song Army headquarters to Wenshui City, Your Holiness intends to seize the venerable Daoist and the Imperial Court's allies outside the capital and bring them under Your Holiness's banner. Your Holiness has even succeeded in changing the Tang clan's stance, so how can Your Holiness let Holy Maiden Peak go?
"Did Your Holiness ever think about why, though everyone knew what Your Holiness intended, the venerable Daoist has never attempted to stop Your Holiness? Because he does not need to care, because when you were attempting to cut off his limbs, his gaze had fallen on this place several years, on Holy Maiden Peak, the place that should have been Your Holiness's strongest ally."
Chen Changsheng quietly listened, making no attempt to reply.
"The rebellion of a student might not see success in a lifetime. Even if Your Holiness persists until the end, the human world will fracture, and the demons will avail themselves of the chaos to invade. When that time comes, how can Your Holiness confront the destitute and suffering believers, confront the bones on the side of the road, confront the past Popes of the Orthodoxy? Give up. I have spoken with the venerable Daoist in the capital. He has promised me that as long as you are willing to give up the throne of the Pope, you can cultivate in South Stream Temple or Mount Li as you please, your safety assured."
Huai Ren gazed at him as a senior would gaze at a junior, yearning to hear the answer she wanted to hear.
Chen Changsheng serenely replied, "I cannot accept your request."
Huai Ren felt somewhat disappointed. "Why do you insist on opposing your teacher?"
From that moment three years ago when he carried the Tianhai Divine Empress's body down from the Mausoleum of Books, this was a question that many people wanted to know the answer to.
Linghai Zhiwang, Daoist Siyuan, the Cong Province Army headquarters, and even the Mount Li Sword Sect had reasons to be wary and hostile towards the Imperial Court and Shang Xingzhou, but Chen Changsheng did not.
Whether one viewed Shang Xingzhou through the lens of history, or from the standpoint of the common people or the officials, there was nothing that could be criticized about him.
It was true that the methods he used before and after the Mausoleum of Books were very harsh, but anyone who aspired to succeed at great undertakings would have done the same.
He truly had used Zhou Tong, but when Zhou Tong died, he had issued an imperial decree charging Zhou Tong with ten-some crimes.
If a war was inevitable between teacher and disciples, Chen Changsheng would never be able to stand on the side of justice, no matter what.
But as he had once said to his martial uncle the Pope, his teacher would not let him live, so he had to oppose him.
As time passed, many things changed, but he knew that this matter had not.
The battle in the mountains and those ruins that had once been a lake and garden were the clearest proof of this.
If it was just this reason, he still had no right, no reason, to bring the entire Orthodoxy, the Mount Song Army headquarters, the Cong Province Army headquarters, the Tang clan, the Mount Li Sword Sect, Holy Maiden Peak, and perhaps the entire continent into this assuredly bitter conflict. As Huai Ren said, he could not do this, even if he was the Pope, the most authoritative figure on the continent.
Of course, Chen Changsheng was unwilling to see this sight as well.
But he knew that if he did not want this sight to become reality, he needed to prepare as if it really was going to happen.
Concessions and compromise could not obtain true peace—they were surrender. The truth that had been obtained after so many years of war with the demons had seemingly been forgotten by many humans.
He was currently the Pope, so he had to bear the appropriate responsibility for the Orthodoxy, for all of the human world.
"If everyone thinks this way of me, then everyone is wrong."
On the distant plains, the winding thread of the Tong River was growing dimmer and dimmer. Chen Changsheng looked in that direction and calmly said, "I do not do these things so that I can obtain supreme authority, or because I am obsessed with killing him for my own safety. Even though he's tried to kill me so many times, I still have never thought about killing him. It's not because he's my master, but because I also know, as you know, that if I were to kill him, the entire continent would be plunged into chaos. I do these things only to ensure that the Orthodoxy has the ability to serve as a counterweight to the Imperial Court."
Huai Ren asked, "This being the case, why does Your Holiness want the Orthodoxy to serve as a counterweight to the Imperial Court?"
Chen Changsheng explained, "Martial Uncle once said to me that kind people need to be even more on their guard… Being on guard requires the corresponding ability, or else it will be nothing more than a joke."
Huai Ren understood his meaning and sighed.
"Holy Maiden Peak is in the distant south, but the Li Palace is in the capital, very close to the Imperial Palace. We must bear this responsibility. Just like when the Tianhai Divine Empress reigned, if not for Martial Uncle, just who could know how many houses would have been knocked over by the fierce waves of tyranny, how many innocents would have been drowned away?"
Chen Changsheng declared, "Right now, the Imperial Court needs a strength that can counteract it. Right now, Master requires an existence that can threaten him. Otherwise, the Imperial Court will begin to act wantonly, and Master will become a monster. Martial Uncle chose me to be the Pope precisely because he knew that only I could lead the people of the Orthodoxy in playing this role."
Huai Ren noted, "But what Your Holiness has done has already surpassed being on guard and become preparations for war."
"I was still on guard at the Mount Song Army headquarters and the Tang clan, just giving a warning."
Chen Changsheng said, "If the Imperial Court and Master have made a mistake and not corrected it, I and the Orthodoxy will correct it for them."
Huai Ren questioned, "By correcting, Your Holiness means killing people and seizing power?"
Chen Changsheng said, "Killing people is because people like Ning Shiwei, Zhu Ye, and Tianhai Zhanyi are people that should be killed, and the Tang Second Master colluded with the demons, which was even more deserving of death. Seizing power is because the Orthodoxy requires authority. More importantly, the Imperial Court and Master have already proved that their candidates have no right to hold this authority."
Huai Ren looked into his eyes and asked, "And if the Imperial Court continues to make mistakes? If the venerable Daoist persists in these methods?"
Chen Changsheng thought for a only a few moments before replying, "Then I can only think of ways to overturn this Imperial Court of his."
Huai Ren sighed. "In the end, you still return to this beaten track of cruelty."
Chen Changsheng replied, "Different roads might end up merging, but the reasons for starting the journey are not at all the same."
Huai Ren wondered, "If one ultimately reaches the same end, is the reason one started important?"
"There is a large difference between killing in self-defense and killing while committing robbery, and a very important one. I must believe that I am correct."
Chen Changsheng said a phrase that he had not said for three years: "Because I cultivate the Dao of following my heart."
In this moment where the sun had set behind the mountains but the stars had not completely revealed their true forms, the mountains of the south experienced their duskiest moment.
The flowering trees on the edge of the cliff swayed in the wind, seemingly astonished that it had become so quiet.
After some time, Huai Ren replied, "This is Your Holiness's Dao, Your Holiness's war. Must Your Holiness bring Holy Maiden Peak into it after so many years of peace?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "I think that this is a matter for Yourong and the disciples of South Stream Temple to decide."
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