Chapter 238 – The Cinnabar Birthmark Between Her Eyebrows (Part One)
Mei Lisha walked back into the hall, then asked the Pope, “What did the two of you talk about?”
The Pope thought about it, then said, “We talked about everything, but… it was like we did not talk about anything.”
After he said those words, he shook his head. “That child asked about things that had nothing to do with him. I heard none of the questions that I thought I would hear. He did not ask about the Orthodoxy, or about the stars. He did not ask about the Heavenly Tome Monoliths, nor did he ask about the so-called intentions.”
In the entire continent, the greatest authority on deciphering the Heavenly Tome Monoliths was this hemp robed old man. Not even the southern sects’ Holy Maiden could exceed him in this aspect. In the Mausoleum of Books, Chen Changsheng had been enlightened on some matters, but he also had many questions. Yet today in the Li Palace, he had not mentioned a single word about it.”
“He still lacks confidence.” Mei Lisha said in his coarse and slow voice.
“Although the child has not lived for many years, he is not stupid. To suddenly experience so many earth-shaking events, there is no way that he could wholeheartedly trust us.”
The Pope was unconcerned and smiled, “Later on, he will naturally find out that all that we have done has always been for his own good.”
Mei Lisha became silent at those words. Then he said, “Before, I worried that he was maturing too slowly. But now, it seems that he has grown far faster than anyone had imagined. Should we not constrain it somewhat?”
The Pope did not answer.
Leaving the Li Palace, Chen Changsheng felt that his waist was somewhat sore. Previously on the Divine Avenue when all those hundreds of priests had been greeting him one after the other, even though he had only given them a slight bow in return, it was still somewhat strenuous.
Leaving those countless gazes and returning to his company of one, he felt somewhat disoriented. He turned around to look back at the Li Palace. Seeing those silent and speechless stone pillars, he also became silent and speechless. Within that palace, he had enjoyed countless sceneries, yet for some reason, he had a faint sense of unease, even fear.
He had long ago guessed that his master was no ordinary man, but he had not guessed that his master was this special. Moreover, for the past year, he had put his heart and soul into cultivation and the Grand Examination and he had no time to think about these things. It turns out that tonight, the truth about it all came to light in the Li Palace. The shock was so severe that it made his body turn cold.
Just as the Pope and Mei Lisha had just discussed, there were many things Chen Changsheng had not mentioned in the Li Palace, and many question that he had not asked. For instance, he had not brought up that he had a senior. If the Orthodoxy truly needed a successor, then his senior was far more suited for the position. He had also not brought up the special situation in his body. The Pope’s eyes were as deep as the ocean, seemingly able to see through all. Perhaps the Pope already knew everything about Chen Changsheng, like the two daoist youths in Xining Village’s old temple. Like the knowledge he had comprehended from the Heavenly Tome Monoliths. Like how the meridians in his body were all broken. Yet the Pope did not mentioned them.
The Pope and Mei Lisha had both said that nothing would happen to the Xining Village, but how could that be possible? The Divine Empress would absolutely send someone to hunt down and kill his master and senior Yuren. He was uncertain if master and senior would be able escape. Furthermore, nearly two decades ago, the Orthodox Academy was destroyed by the Pope and the Divine Empress. The Pope even personally took action. Why did the Pope care for him so much? Was it because of those reasons? In his old age, was the Pope getting nostalgic? Those sorts of reasons were very hard to believe. He could not completely trust the Pope, even though the Pope seemed so compassionate, so worthy of his trust.
Phrases like tongue twisters bounced around in his head. To believe or to not believe, why and why not, his expression became somewhat frustrated. He absent-mindedly thought, if what the Pope said was really true, then from tonight on, his life had apparently entered a completely different stage.
From Xining Village to the capital. From the old temple to the Orthodox Academy. By the will of others or by his own will. The greatest shadow that hung over his head through all this was the Divine Empress.
The Divine Empress herself was a peerless expert of the Saint Realm. She relied upon the thirty or so Divine Generals to control the Great Zhou’s millions of soldiers. She had the devotion and loyalty of Yu Wenjing, Zhou Tong, Mo Yu, and the Tianhai Clan as well as the love and reverence of the masses. It could be said without a doubt that she was the continent’s most powerful human.
If it was any other person in Chen Changsheng’s situation, they would have committed suicide long ago.
However, it was just as the Pope had said, even the Divine Empress was unwilling to come in direct conflict with the Orthodoxy. This was because in this world, the only establishment that could be considered her equal was the Orthodoxy. The Orthodoxy had been the religion of the Zhou Dynasty from its founding and it possessed countless believers and millions of priests. This was why the Pope could speak with such confidence.
And he… he was now the successor to the entire Orthodoxy.
As Mei Lisha had told him on the Divine Avenue, he no longer needed to lower his head to anyone.
However, this good fortune had arrived just too suddenly, so how could he believe it?
It all returned to trust and reason.
These matters were all too complex. Although Chen Changsheng was an erudite scholar of the Daoist Canon, even knowing the most profound and incomprehensible scriptures by heart, he still was not very good at this sort of thing.
This was because all of this had to do with the will of the people.
He wanted to find someone to consult with, but Tang Thirty-Six was still in the Mausoleum of Books. Even if he were here, he would definitely just say the opposite of whatever Chen Changsheng said. Luoluo’s status was too special and sensitive. Even if her status was disregarded, no matter how Chen Changsheng would say it, she would definitely take him at his word. What sort of consultation would that be?
Despite the vastness of the capital, he could not find anyone to speak with about what had occurred to night. This made him feel very lonely.
In the deep night, the lights of the Li Palace still shone as brightly as ever. Chen Changsheng turned into a dark and quiet alley, his right hand resting against the hilt of the dagger at his waist.
He circulated the qi in his body, and his breathing gradually calmed.
There was a faint noise, like a choked bang. However, the dagger had never left the sheath. It was only sword energy.
It was a sword energy of the Wind and Rain Sword of Mount Zhong.
Borrowing this sword energy, Chen Changsheng also used the Yeshi Step. Amidst the chilly wind, his figure suddenly disappeared. With his deceptive movements, he suddenly disappeared into the night, his destination unknown.
After a while, several people suddenly appeared around the dark alley.
The eyes of these people had the remnants of shock.
They all looked each other in the eyes and immediately knew who each of them worked for. Without any sort of warning, they all scattered.
The technique that Chen Changsheng had used to leave seemed simple, but it was actually rather complex.
Those people that the great powers of the capital had sent to monitor him were unable to track him down.
At last, Chen Changsheng had finally entered the ranks of the experts.
The ringing of the bell in the Li Palace announced to the entire continent that Chen Changsheng was the new principal of the Orthodox Academy. This news shocked the people of the world once again.
From the Imperial Palace to the Tianhai Clan, to the Divine General of the East’s Mansion, there were many people who could not sleep because of this news. They incessantly analyzed exactly what this would mean.
As the target of all this speculation and discussion, Chen Changsheng was currently in the southern part of the capital, strolling through a bustling night market.
He first went to the famous Quyuan Roast Lamb restaurant at the head of the street and ordered an entire roast lamb. Afterwards, he began to purchase things from the vendors on the street.
Half an hour later, he appeared under tree outside the New North Bridge.
It was a late spring night, but the temperature was not as cold as it had been the past few days. There was not much dew on the blades of grass.
In the distant imperial city, the lights in the corner of the wall illuminated the ground. The light made the tender buds sprouting from the trees seem particularly green, like freshly-picked tea leaves.
This place was very close to the walls of the Li Palace and it was thus heavily guarded. The night ospreys atop the wall who monitored nighttime activity were especially watchful, their eyes shining like pearls in the darkness.
Chen Changsheng hid his body in the shadow of the tree and began to feel out his surroundings. When the squadron of imperial guards was off in the distance, when the night osprey perched on the southeast corner of the wall turned its head left on schedule, he suddenly made his move. With the tiniest of puffs of sound, two balls of dust rose up from under the tree. Two clear footprints had been left behind, but he had already disappeared without a trace.
After a while, the dust gently fell back down, and coincidentally covered up those footprints.
During all this, his body was like a ghost, arriving above the mouth of the abandoned well.
To arrive at the well from under the tree had only taken him one step.
Right then he only had time to think, if the Pope was lying, he would most definitely have fallen into an extremely miserable situation. Would this be considered a sort of test of his trust?
He landed perfectly in the abandoned well, not even his clothes had touched against the wall.
This sort of accuracy was truly somewhat shocking.
The bottom of the well was once again dug up.
Chen Changsheng fell from the bottom of the well directly into that seemingly abyssal underground space.
He immediately became enshrouded in endless darkness. He could only see the extremely faint glimmer of starlight, and he could only hear the increasingly harsh whistle of the wind.
He fell for an unknown amount of time. The air around him suddenly became viscous, and the speed at which he descended naturally began to slow.
At the end, he floated down to the ground like a leaf. As he put his foot down, there was a cracking sound. He had probably stepped on a piece of ice.
He had already come here multiple times, so he was not alarmed. Taking out a night pearl, he began to illuminate his surroundings.
Along with the shine from the night pearl, the several thousand night pearls that studded the ceiling of this subterranean space slowly began to glow. The pitch-black world became as bright as day.
There was a groaning sound. That was the sound created from the distortion of space.
Chen Changsheng lifted his head and saw the mountainous body of the Black Dragon slowly float over.
The body of the Black Dragon was truly too enormous. As it moved, the sound of the cold wind became increasingly mournful.
The Black Dragon stopped in front of him, and its palace-sized head filled Chen Changsheng’s vision.
Chen Changsheng happily smiled, then waved at it and said, “Zhizhi, I’ve come to see you.”
The Black Dragon’s eyes were indifferent, its whiskers lightly moved to and fro.
As they moved, countless flakes of frost fell from its body, before being blown by the wind into Chen Changsheng’s face.
Chen Changsheng used his hand to wipe off the frost, not at all distressed.
He saw the mischievous look in the dragon’s eyes and he knew that it was just teasing him, or else punishing him for coming to see it in so long.
After, he saw the wound in between the dragon’s eyes.
In comparison to the Black Dragon’s head, this wound was very small.
However, in Chen Changsheng’s eyes, this was a fierce and terrible wound.
He clearly remembered that the Black Dragon never had this wound before.
“Who did this?” He asked gravely.
Even if the Black Dragon was imprisoned under the Imperial Palace, that did not mean that it could randomly become the target of insult and torment.
To leave such a frightening wound on its brow, it was imaginable how powerful that person was.
However, Chen Changsheng did not care. He only thought of demanding justice for the Black Dragon.
That was because right now, he was very angry.