Chapter 235 – Paying Respects to the Pope
Confused, Chen Changsheng asked Luoluo, “What do you mean by softhearted?”
Luoluo sighed. “Xu Yourong is a disciple of the Holy Maiden Peak and she is doted upon by the empress, so much that even her father benefits from it. In addition, after the Grand Examination, everyone knows that teacher was specially chosen by His Holiness. In the current state of affairs, you and her are rivals.”
Chen Changsheng still did not understand. When he was leaving the Mausoleum of Books, Gou Hanshi had even told him that being rivals did not mean that they could not support each other, then what about being softhearted?
Luoluo continued, “Regardless of if the Garden of Zhou contains Zhou Dufu’s legacy or some other magical powers, in the end, who ends up with what will depend who is faster and stronger.”
Chen Changsheng felt that if Tang Thirty-Six were here, he would probably say, “Don’t tell me it won’t be the virtuous?”. Thinking about that guy’s expression, Chen Changsheng could not help but smile.
Luoluo maintained her solemnity. “Teacher, can’t you be more serious? I’m not joking around.”
Chen Changsheng hurriedly apologized, then asked, “Are you saying that we can steal from each other in the Garden of Zhou?”
Luoluo replied, “As long as there’s no loss of life, nobody can object. This is why I said you can’t be softhearted.”
After a moment of silence, Chen Changsheng asked, “And then?”
“Teacher is very willing to do things for old time’s sake, and whenever you meet girls, you end up at a loss for what to do.” Luoluo cautioned him, “The young lady has an old relationship with Teacher, and she is so beautiful. I’m just worried that if you two meet in the Garden of Zhou, she won’t need to do anything except say a few soft words, and then you will be completely bewitched by her.”
He did not even know what Xu Yourong looked like, Chen Changsheng thought to himself, so what ‘old times’ were there to be sentimental over for? Not taking this lying down, he responded, “The person you describe seems really annoying, how can that be me?”
Luoluo thought to herself, ‘when I was throwing a tantrum, you said that you could not do anything, but this time you respond.’ It was only out of respect for her teacher’s dignity that she had not directly pierced through Chen Changsheng’s fragile guard. She said with heartfelt words, “At the very least, teacher must remember, the more pretty the girl, the more they will attempt to deceive others.”
Chen Changsheng looked at her and smiled, “Then, why is it that this pretty girl has never tried to deceive me before?”
Luoluo was somewhat startled, then she began to giggle and playfully hit him. She happily said, “Teacher, you’ve been with Tang Tang for too long. You’re getting better and better with your words.”
She seemed very happy, but in truth, she felt somewhat guilty. She thought to herself, if teacher knew that I was the same age as him, would he think that I was deceiving him?
Because of her guilt, she inevitably lost some control over the power of her punch. Coupled with the tree being slippery from the rain, Chen Changsheng almost fell off.
Luoluo quickly grabbed him, her eyeballs flitted about, searching for a new topic. Adopting an aggrieved expression, she said, “Teacher, I also want to enter Ethereal Opening.”
Chen Changsheng was least able to handle this sort of situation. In somewhat of a panic, he immediately began to console her. “As I said before, there are many people at Ethereal Opening that are no match for you, like me.”
Luoluo thought about how Chen Changsheng would soon be going far away. In a very short time, she would no longer be able to hear such warm and comforting words. Now, her expression truly seemed aggrieved as she said, “The problem is since I can’t enter Ethereal Opening, I can’t go with teacher to the Garden of Zhou.”
Chen Changsheng thought it over, then said, “Even if you were at Ethereal Opening, would the Divine Empress or His Holiness allow you to go to such a dangerous place as the Garden of Zhou? Guardian Jin wouldn’t allow it either.”
Luoluo sighed, “Teacher’s words really aren’t very comforting.”
Chen Changsheng felt somewhat ashamed. “I really am no good at this.”
“Teacher, if you aren’t going to see the young lady, then why is teacher going to the Garden of Zhou.”
Luoluo suddenly sincerely asked. She knew that Chen Changsheng was someone that valued his time. Yet, he always spoke of the following his heart’s desire. However, no matter how she viewed the choice to leave the Mausoleum of Books for the Garden of Zhou, it seemed to carry with it a sense of urgency.
Chen Changsheng said nothing. He used his hand to rub her hair, but gave no explanation.
Luoluo did not ask again.
The spring rain was like many lines blown about in all directions by the lake wind. It fell upon their faces and bodies. They got a little wet, but they were not in too sorry of a state. Chen Changsheng used his hand to push a strand of wet hair covering Luoluo’s eyes to the side.
Luoluo looked at him and giggled.
Chen Changsheng also laughed.
Luoluo said, “Teacher, in a moment, come with me to the Li Palace. His Holiness wants to see you.”
The smile on Chen Changsheng’s face immediately disappeared.
In the evening, a carriage emerged from Hundred Flowers Lane and arrived at the Li Palace.
Guarded by more than a dozen demi-human experts and priests of the Orthodoxy, Luoluo continued on the carriage along that Divine Avenue to the Hall of Pure Virtue, passing the Temple Seminary and the Li Palace Academy.
Under the guidance of two bishops, Chen Changsheng followed a never-before-walked Divine Avenue to the main hall of the Li Palace.
In the blood-red light of the sunset, there was no sense of powerful armies, only gravitas and solemnity.
The priests and students walking on this Divine Avenue realized who he was and made way for him.
At this point, it was known throughout the continent that this student from the Orthodoxy Academy, who had made the capital buzz with his disturbance, was specially selected by the Pope.
Of course, he had been famous before that. No matter what title he carried, such as Xu Yourong’s husband-to-be or the first place upon the First Banner in the Grand Examination, they were all worthy to attract the gazes of the populace. Not to mention that not long ago, he had viewed the entire front mausoleum of the Mausoleum of Books in one day, causing the capital to be bathed in starlight last night.
Several hundred gazes followed Chen Changsheng on the Divine Avenue. Those gazes were complex… shock, admiration, envy, and even reverence.
Yes, the present him was finally worthy of being revered by others.
It had nothing to do with his level of cultivation or strength. It lay in his talent as well as the powerful figures behind him.
Chen Changsheng’s mood at the moment was also very complex.
From the announcement of the rankings in the Grand Examination, he had known that there would be a day when he would be summoned by the Pope.
It was just that he had not imagined that the day would come so fast. He had just come out of the Mausoleum of Books and now, he was at the Li Palace. He felt somewhat unprepared. He nervously thought to himself, in a little while I should ask those questions to ensure I get answers for them, then the Pope will not use his staff to beat me to death.
The numerous gazes that followed him made the Divine Avenue seem endless. Before, he felt somewhat out of place. However, he now was thankful for it, because it gave him enough time to organize those questions in his mind.
Even a longer Divine Avenue eventually had an end. Gates were pushed open one after another. The twilight gave way to darkness, and the Li Palace also grew dark. At last, they finally had arrived in front of the incomparably vast main hall of the Li Palace.
Standing amidst the dozens of sculptures of previous Saints and knights, taking in the solemn and radiant atmosphere, Chen Changsheng was speechless from shock.
Without time to appreciate any more of the atmosphere, he was taken to a side hall. The eaves of this hall extended out much further than normal palace halls, blocking out much of the light from the sky. Not even speaking of the fact that it was the time where twilight gave way to the night, even if it was high noon, this place would still be dark and quiet.
The two bishops retreated without a sound, leaving Chen Changsheng to stand on the stone steps.
This hall had no one else, so it only took a glance for him to see the Pope.
The Pope was an elderly man. He had no crown or staff and he wore a coarse robe made of hemp. At the moment, he was watering a pot that held a green leaf.
This tall and thin old man was impossible to describe in terms of power and prestige, because he had long surpassed a secular concept like authority.