Chapter 241 – The Big Rat in the Pile of Junk
The black rhinoceros pulled the carriage away from the New North Bridge and pulled it to the Orange Garden.
One of Zhou Tong’s subordinates knocked on the front door of the Orange Garden. Mo Yu, who had just been preparing to go to bed, slightly frowned at the man standing in her main hall. “You may not have to attend the court, but I still have to wake up early.”
Zhou Tong looked around at the famous paintings on the walls and said, “I was just with Her Majesty at New North Bridge just now.”
These words were very abrupt, and sent without any reason.
Mo Yu’s expression suddenly became very serious. “What do you want to say?”
“I want to say, I am very afraid.”
Zhou Tong said these words calmly and his face held no trace of fear, and yet, for some reason, this Orange Garden, whose spring warmth was maintained by a spell, suddenly dropped a few degrees in temperature.
Mo Yu stared into his eyes and realized that the pale whites of his eyes were bloodshot, making them somewhat ghastly. She asked, “Just what are you afraid of?”
Zhou Tong gave a nervous laugh and asked, “Are you not afraid?”
Mo Yu indifferently replied, “I have no time to keep an adult like yourself company while you go senile.”
Zhou Tong forced down his smile and expressionlessly said, “The entire continent knows what the greatest problem currently facing humanity is: the position of the Emperor of the Zhou Dynasty. Although the Her Majesty has thought of returning the throne to the Chen Imperial clan, she is unresolved. She knows that if she doesn’t, then the entire Tianhai clan will be completely annihilated. Even though they say that the Tianhai clan is not synonymous with Her Majesty, Her Majesty still bears the surname Tianhai, so how can she steel herself to see a tragedy such as that play out?”
Mo Yu frowned and said, “As you said, the entire continent knows this.”
Zhou Tong continued, “So Her Majesty has always hesitated. The Tianhai family has taken her hesitation as a chance. In the eyes of Prince Chen Liu and all the other princes in the counties, this hesitation is the shadow of death. Her Majesty’s continued reticence also has another reason: The Li Palace has never made their position clear.”
After a moment of silence, Mo Yu replied, “So just what are you trying to tell me?”
Zhou Tong expressionlessly said, “I want to say, tonight, His Holiness finally made his position clear. He does not agree. The Orthodoxy does not agree. So now, will Her Majesty continue to hesitate?”
Mo Yu did not respond.
After the Grand Examination, many people realized who Chen Changsheng’s original master was. The Pope had personally admitted it——Chen Changsheng’s teacher was the previous principal of the Orthodox Academy, the firmest supporter of the Imperial clan. Almost two decades ago, he had joined hands with the Imperial clan in an attempt to overthrow the Divine Empress’s regime.
Tonight, the Pope allowed Chen Changsheng to become the principal of the Orthodox Academy.
The position this decision represented was extraordinarily clear.
If the Divine Empress insisted on keeping the Tianhai clan on the throne, the Pope and the Li Palace would no longer stand on the same side with her. They would assume the same role that the Orthodox Academy played in the past.
Mo Yu asked, “You believe…the Empress has already made up her mind?”
Zhou Tong was silent, then said, “Her Majesty can willingly abdicate in exchange for the continued existence of the Tianhai clan.”
“Preposterous!” Mo Yu angrily declared, “How can the Empress abdicate? And if the Imperial clan could be trusted, why would the Empress have hesitated for so many years?”
“What if His Holiness acted as a guarantor?” Zhou Tong stared into her eyes and said, “You think that even if Prince Chen Liu ascends to become Emperor, that he would dare to ignore the Orthodoxy?”
Mo Yu was somewhat stunned by these words. Only after a long period of time had passed did she finally speak. “If it really is this way…”
She suddenly smiled, “Then that’s also fine.”
“For the position of Emperor to be smoothly handed over, for the world of humans, of course this is good. For the Tianhai clan to continue existing, even if not as well-off as it was before, this is also fine.”
Zhou Tong looked at her with a smile that was not really a smile. “But for the two of us, where is the benefit?”
Mo Yu calmly said, “The Empress will naturally arrange things for us.”
Zhou Tong replied, “Such disrespectful words. One day, Her Majesty will inevitably board a raft and swim upon the sea of stars. When that day finally comes, where will the two of us go?”
Mo Yu had no answer.
Zhou Tong continued to look into her eyes as he continued speaking, “Under His Holiness’s orders, you have done many things. Why has the Empress never blamed you? Because the Empress can sense very clearly the unease in your heart, just like the fear in mine…Those people in the Li Palace have never liked either of us, so you planned to ease your way into good standing.”
Mo Yu met Zhou Tong’s gaze and calmly replied, “So what? When that day really comes, there’s really no way for you to survive. There are simply too many people who want you dead. As for me…I only want to live, I don’t care about much else.”
Zhou Tong once again gave that forced smile. “Is that so? When some member of the Chen Family becomes Emperor, and you’re given a choice between death and becoming his woman, would you be willing? Then I don’t care either.”
There was a subtle change in Mo Yu’s expression. Somewhat jittery, she shouted, “Just what are you proposing?”
Zhou Tong replied, “First, at the very least, we must ensure that Her Majesty does not decide rashly.”
Mo Yu pensively said, “You want to break the tacit understanding between the Empress and His Holiness?”
Zhou Tong replied, “I wouldn’t dare to. I only want His Holiness’s position to lose its effectiveness.”
Mo Yu shook her head. “You can’t kill him. The Empress would absolutely not allow it. He has done too much for the Zhou Dynasty. At the very least you can’t go and kill him now.”
Zhou Tong said expressionlessly, “I’ve killed many meritorious ministers and generals.”
Mo Yu stared into his eyes. “But he has made an even greater contribution.
To break through from the Meditation realm to the Ethereal Opening realm was the most difficult to pass of the three bottlenecks of cultivation. This was because it was the first time most cultivators would experience a life or death situation. With the slightest lack of caution, one could easily end up going insane. If the mind was unclear, one might die on the spot. The proportion of people that died this way was extremely high. For countless years, there had been many cultivators that were on the threshold of Ethereal Opening, but did not dare to attempt to step over it.
When Chen Changsheng had deciphered all seventeen monoliths of the front mausoleum, he had triggered that starlight phenomenon. This indirectly helped dozens of monolith viewers break through. In only one night, humanity suddenly welcomed many more Ethereal Opening cultivators into its ranks. Even the sum of all the disciples who broke through to the Ethereal Opening realm every year from the Six Ivies, the Scholartree Manor, and the Holy Maiden Peak could not exceed the number that broken through into Ethereal Opening in that one night alone.
In the future, just how many of these people would enter Star Condensation and become true experts?
As Gou Hanshi had said, everyone should be thanking Chen Changsheng. Every school and sect should be thanking him. The Zhou Dynasty and all of humanity should be thanking him. Tonight, when the Pope had directly appointed Chen Changsheng as the new principal of the Orthodox Academy, there was not a single word of protest within the Orthodoxy. Presumably, tomorrow there would be no one outside the Orthodoxy who would protest. This was because they all understood that this was merely repayment for a meritorious service.
Zhou Tong went silent for a very long time, then suddenly said, “Tonight, Her Majesty said that he was a real person.”
Mo Yu was astonished at these words. She had not imagined that the Empress’s evaluation of Chen Changsheng was so high.
“He has merit, and so I’m not allowed to kill him. He’s a real person, so I’m not able to kill him, but in the end, something must be done.”
Zhou Tong shook his head and walked out of the Orange Garden, incessantly murmuring to himself like a nagging old lady.
Mo Yu gazed at his back with some concern.
In the Orthodox Academy’s small building, that warm bedding truly did smell very good.
She did not wish to never be able to smell it again.
Even if the bedding was even warmer and more comfortable, it would still not be enough to break Chen Changsheng’s schedule.
At five in the morning, he promptly woke up, opened his eyes, washed his face, and rinsed his mouth, then went with Xuanyuan Po to the Mausoleum of Books.
The soldiers responsible for watching over the mausoleum probably had not heard about the Orthodoxy’s new appointment, so they were the same as ever.
One after another, people emerged from the Mausoleum of Books. There were some monolith viewers that had entered in previous years, but there were even more of this year’s Grand Examination examinees. These people were like Chen Changsheng, preparing to go to the Garden of Zhou. When they saw Chen Changsheng standing outside the stone doors, they were like the soldiers, not knowing that he was the Orthodox Academy’s new principal. However, regardless of that, they all sincerely paid respects to him, even if some of them had unnatural expressions on their faces.
Only after Gou Hanshi had sent Qi Jian and Liang Xiaoxiao out did Chen Changsheng learn that Tang Thirty-Six was still on that mental journey of his. Regretfully, he had no other choice but to turn back and leave.
That same night, after Chen Changsheng had treated Zhexiu with acupuncture, Zhexiu went to the library to meditate. Chen Changsheng and Xuanyuan Po began to tidy up the kitchen— It was unknown when Tang Thirty-Six would leave the Mausoleum of Books, and Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu would probably stay in the Garden of Zhou for at least a hundred days. As a result, the kitchen would most likely be unused for an extremely long time, so there were many things that needed to be tidied up before they left.
“I can’t go again. I’m really useless.”
Xuanyuan Po said these muffled words as he sat by the basin and washed dishes, his back facing Chen Changsheng.
Only cultivators at Ethereal Opening were permitted to enter the Garden of Zhou.
Chen Changsheng looked at the demi-human youth’s tall and sturdy back and recalled how similar it was to how he found him last year at the night market. Consoling him, Chen Changsheng said, “It’s no problem, you just need a little bit more time.”
Indeed, Xuanyuan Po innate talent was very exceptional, or else he would not have been so well-treated by the Star Seizer Academy. Only that on the first night of the Ivy Festival, he had been too severely injured by Tianhai Ya’er and his entire right arm had been crippled. Although under Chen Changsheng’s treatment it had slowly recovered, he still had to train it from scratch, but it would only be a matter of time before he returned to his former strength. In addition, with Chen Changsheng’s research on methods for the demi-humans to cultivate with human methods, he would certainly explode with power one day.
Chen Changsheng naturally began to think about Tianhai Ya’er, the little monster that had once caused many people to feel nervous. He could not help but shake his head. He found it impossible to disperse that sense of loathing he had. It was just like how some women would always be afraid of rats. Regardless of if they were experienced and knowledgeable, or if they never left the walls of their own home, even if they were a Star Condensation expert; they had all at one point shrieked at the sight of a rat.
A sudden scrambling sound arose from the corner of the kitchen, followed by the sound of squeaking. This sound was very weak. If Xuanyuan Po and Chen Changsheng had not been cultivators, they probably would not have been able to hear it.
“Eh? I just cleaned this place a few days ago, how can there be mice again?”
Xuanyuan Po stood up and wiped his hands off on his clothes. He randomly picked out a thick piece of charred firewood from the stove and walked over to the corner.
Amidst the pile of junk in the corner, there was something faintly moving.
“It’s pretty big!”
Xuanyuan Po’s eyes went wide. He tightly held the firewood and slammed it down with all his strength.
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, did it really require such strength? Even if the rat was beaten to death, the floor would suffer a few cracks as well…suddenly he felt that something was not right. That sound had felt somewhat familiar. He opened his mouth and moved his hands to stop Xuanyuan Po, but he was too late.
With a muffled bang, all the junk was turned into dust. The upper half of the firewood suddenly disappeared. That terrifying strength sent dust flying everywhere.
As the dust settled, Xuanyuan Po stared at the still-moving thin and long black-colored animal on the ground. In complete shock, he yelled, “What in the world is this? It’s actually not dead!”
That black-colored animal flew in front of Xuanyuan Po’s eyes.
Xuanyuan Po thought it was a snake or some limbless lizard, but… how could it fly?
There was a slap as the black animal used its tail to give him a slap.
Xuanyuan Po stared blankly at this scene before him. His mouth opened wider and wider, his tongue grew increasingly clumsy. Losing his mind out of fear, he yelled, “Dragon…dragon…dragon…dragon!”
He then fainted straightaway.