Chapter 244 – Outside the Garden of Zhou, a Storm Came (Part One)
“Although no one has ever seen the Yellow Paper Umbrella with their own eyes, this umbrella is extremely famous. There are even some people in the Pavilion of Divination that say that if the Tier of Legendary Weapons was ever revised, amongst the various famous weapons and tools of this era, this umbrella is most qualified to enter the Tier.”
Zhexiu continued, “Don’t say that you and Tang Thirty-Six are friends… even if we considered that you are the new Principal of the Orthodox Academy and Tang Thirty-Six is a student of the Orthodox Academy, the Tang clan still wouldn’t need to use this umbrella to win your favor. Not to mention… the Tang clan has never bribed or curried the favor of anyone.”
Recalling those angry words that Tang Thirty-Six had said back at the Mausoleum of Books, Chen Changsheng felt that they were correct. Regardless of if it was the Heavenly Dao Academy or the Temple Seminary, a third of their expenditures were paid by the Wenshui Tangs every year. Even if the Old Master’s most precious grandson was a student of the Orthodox Academy, he still did not need to show such special care.
However, just at this moment, Chen Changsheng began to think of something else.
“If that Junior Martial Uncle were to see this magical artifact, which he had spent such painstaking effort on, appear in the hands of a junior like me, would he be unhappy?”
“If it were you, would you be unhappy?”
“So, he will also be unhappy.”
“Then… would he steal or even kill somebody for it?”
“Stop thinking that your seniors are all so reckless. In addition, back there in front of the hall, how could any of those priests imagine that the Tang Family’s Old Master would give you the Yellow Paper Umbrella as a commemorative gift? As long as the Tang clan says nothing and you say nothing, who will know?”
“But fine, since it’s such a potent magical artifact, in the future, there will be definitely be a time where I have to use it.”
“When that time comes, we’ll talk about it.”
“I’m just afraid that on the day I do use it, what if I provoke the Mount Li Sword Sect?”
“The Ivy Festival, the Grand Examination, your engagement with Xu Yourong… haven’t you provoked them enough?”
“That’s true. The next problem is… how do you use this Yellow Paper Umbrella?”
Zhexiu thought about it, then said, “Try pouring your true essence into it.”
That was the most common method of using a magical artifact.
Chen Changsheng complied with these instructions and he slowly sent a wisp of his true essence into the metal ball.
As he sent true essence into the ball, the ball sent back a sort of wondrous feeling into his sea of consciousness.
Within the metal ball, he sensed an undulating surface, like countless hills.
Using his eyes, it was very clear that the outside of the metal ball was very smooth, so these undulations should be on the inside of the ball.
His true essence slowly followed the contours of the hills, finally arriving at the central area of the ball.
A flash of brilliant light sparkled there, like thunder and lightning, or like a star coming into being.
A gentle breeze rose up in the hall. The metal ball in his palms trembled as the lines on its surface split apart.
Accompanied by metallic clacks, the opening metal ball underwent endless transformations, constantly reforming itself.
Several metallic membranes, which formed the canopy of an umbrella, appeared.
That was closely followed by the shaft, and then the handle.
Not long after, an umbrella had appeared in Chen Changsheng’s hands.
From the canopy to the handle, the entire umbrella was constructed of metal. It practically shined in his hands, like a piece of silver that had just come out of a furnace.
The gentle breeze continued to circulate around the hall.
Soon after, something happened which made both Chen Changsheng and Zhexiu very worried.
When the gentle breeze touched the bright metal surface, it began to change. Some places on the umbrella turned black, while other places on the umbrella turned dark. In a few breaths of time, the formerly shiny surface had become mottled all over. It was like it was constructed from plain oil paper then submerged in layers and layers of dust, making it extraordinarily filthy.
“What happened?” Chen Changsheng nervously asked.
Even the handle he was grasping had turned black and old, like it was made of wood.
“Don’t panic yet.”
As he saw the umbrella change, Zhexiu was also shocked at first, then he calmed down. However, his eyes seemed to grow brighter and brighter.
He thrust out his hand to Chen Changsheng and asked, “Let me use your dagger for a moment.”
Chen Changsheng glanced at the dagger on his waist, then shook his head. This was a treasure gifted to him by the Old Master of the Tang family, there was no way that he could have it be slashed at.
“Even Qiushan Jun’s Dragonscale Sword would probably be unable to scratch this umbrella.”
Zhexiu expressionlessly said, but he did not push the matter. Instead, he lifted his right and said, “Hold the umbrella tight, I’m going to attack it with all my might.”
Chen Changsheng hurriedly grabbed the handle tight. Just as he had done this, he saw Zhexiu send his fist flying towards him.
After breaking into Ethereal Opening in the Mausoleum of Books, Zhexiu was much stronger now than he had been at the Grand Examination.
Chen Changsheng could only see several straight line piercing through the air and heading directly at his face.
For a split second, Chen Changsheng could even faintly make out the knife-like claws at the heads of those lines.
He even felt like Zhexiu really wanted to kill him.
However, at this moment, it was too late for him to do anything but tightly hold onto the umbrella.
The handle of the umbrella slightly trembled.
Suspended in the air in front of him were five distinct scratches, but then the scratches slowly dissipated.
He had a vague understanding that the powerful force that Zhexiu had directed at him had been completely absorbed by the fluctuating Qi that hung on the edges of the umbrella. Then by some sort of method or by some mysterious means, the energy had all been set down into the ground, dissipating the force so much that Chen Changsheng did not even feel the slightest aftershock.
It truly was worthy of being a magical artifact that even the Junior Martial Uncle of Mount Li was unable to afford.
The defensive capabilities of the Yellow Paper Umbrella were truly too powerful.
Zhexiu watched in silence as his claw marks slowly disappeared from the invisible curtain hanging under the edge of the umbrella.
Chen Changsheng asked, “Is that it?”
Zhexiu indifferently replied, “Is that not enough?”
Chen Changsheng replied, “Since this umbrella was so famous… I thought it would be much more impressive.”
Zhexiu replied, “Solely with regards to defense, this umbrella can resist the attack of a Star Condensation expert. That’s already pretty impressive.”
Chen Changsheng thought to himself, even if your talent is exceptional and you can not be compared to the average Ethereal Opening cultivator, is it not taking it a bit too far to put your attack on par with that of a Star Condensation cultivator?
Even though he thought this, he naturally did not say it out loud.
He thought of something else and asked, “Do you think that this umbrella perhaps has another use?”
Zhexiu replied, “I don’t know.”
Chen Changsheng said, “Maybe I should go and ask the Tang Old Master.”
This umbrella had already become an extremely unremarkable item, just like any other shabby old umbrella.
Zhexiu looked at the umbrella in Chen Changsheng’s hand, then after a moment of silence, he replied, “It’s very obvious that this is the first time that this umbrella has been opened since it was constructed, I think… not even the Tang’s Old Master would understand all the abilities of this umbrella. If you really wanted to know, I think the only way would be to ask that Junior Martial Uncle.”
Chen Changsheng decided to end the discussion there, then he stimulated his true essence through the umbrella handle to collapse the umbrella. With the clashing of metal, the umbrella furled in upon itself so quickly that it left after images. In the end, it returned to being a metal ball resting in his palm, but it no longer possessed its shiny luster. Now, it looked like a pebble that had been freshly excavated from the dirt.
Northwest of Wenshui City lay the Qin Mountains.
The Qin Mountains extended for one thousand li. From its northeast foothills flowed a great river. On both sides of that river, there was an endless expanse of fertile land. This was Tianliang County.
Chen Changsheng’s destination was very far from this place, separated by many miles from the capital of Tianliang. However, the great families of Tianliang’s capital had long ago sent countless experts to surround the city.
That was because this year, the Garden of Zhou was appearing in Tianliang County’s Hanqiu City.
The Garden of Zhou was a miniature world. It opened once every ten years, and each time it appeared in a different place. Sometimes,it appeared in Jiangnan, other times in Dongshan. Sometimes it would appear in the snowy plains, sometimes it would be at the edge of the capital, or right outside Xuelao City. Twice, it had even appeared in the great ocean that lay between the Great Western Continent and the continent.
The fleet of carriages that had come from the capital arrived in Hanqiu City at dusk. Only one night remained before the Garden of Zhou would formally open.
Considering all the various Ethereal Opening cultivators from across the continent along with their teachers and seniors, there was at least several hundred people waiting in Hanqiu City for the opening of the Garden of Zhou.
For many people, this last night seemed particularly long. Many young cultivators could not bear to stay holed up in the inns and they had long left, going to a forest right outside the city.
Behind the forest, one could see white-capped snowy peaks, burning in the twilight. However, there was nothing else to see.
The youthful cultivators whispered to each other while viewing the twilight, but none of them dared approach that forest.
That was because right outside the forest, there were several grass huts, and in these grass huts sat several powerful individuals.
Sitting (坐) in these huts, suppressing (镇) everyone with their might, these were the overseers (坐镇).
Those overseeing the Garden of Zhou this year included one of the archbishops of the Sacred Halls, two Divine Generals of the Great Zhou, and an elder of the Longevity Sect.
Yet, what made those young cultivators the most afraid of approaching that forest was the person sitting in the most forward hut.
In the hut sat a middle-aged man, his long hair spilling over his shoulders. His bearing was relaxed and easy going, yet he looked around with an extremely cold expression.
Those cultivators from Hanqiu City paid their respects from a distance, full of reverence. Yet the middle-aged man paid them no mind.
No one had any sort of objection to this.
That was because the middle-aged man was the Sect Master of World-Severing Sect, and also the master of Tianliang County’s Zhu clan.
The greatest noble family of Tianliang was of course the Chen clan of the imperial family of Zhou.
However, the Chen Imperial Clan currently resided in the capital. Ever since Wang Po’s Wang clan had declined in power, the Zhu clan became the de facto premier family of Tianliang County.
Of course, this man’s status in the cultivation world was even more heaven-shaking.
That was because he was Zhu Luo of the Eight Storms of the Cardinal Directions.
The Solitary Drunk Under the Moon, Zhu Luo.
The Five Saints, the Eight Storms of the Cardinal Directions and the members of the Proclamation of Liberation were considered to be the pinnacle of experts on the continent.
Compared to the Five Saints, the Eight Storms did not have as much secular influence, but in terms of cultivation, they could not be considered to be weak.
The expert was known as the Solitary Drunk Under the Moon not because he was addicted to alcohol, but because three hundred years ago, he traveled to the distant snowy plains in the north. There, outside Xuelao City, he saw the moon with his own eyes and composed a poem. After he composed this poem, he demonstrated the power of the Saint Realm by beheading the number two Demon General with one blow, shocking the world.
Thus, the World-Severing Sect cultivated severing the emotions and exterminating one’s nature.
The poem that he composed under the moon had a line, “To drink alone is to have no relations.”
Everyone knew that this expert’s temper was not very good.
As a result, no one dared to approach his hut.
Even the pegasus seemed to sense the cold and frightful pressure emanating from that grass hut and it lowered its head in acknowledgement.
Chen Changsheng caressed its wings to console it, then he looked in silence at the slim yet tyrannical figure of the man in the hut.
Some people took notice of the crest of the Li Palace on the carriages and they guessed at who was in them. The quiet scene gradually began to grow noisy. One could faintly hear some people whispering, which one was Chen Changsheng? In the dim light of the twilight, the snow white color of the Pegasus stood out. Many people looked over and thought to themselves, can it be that this unremarkable youth is that person?
At this time, a cold voice came out of the hut. “So you are Chen Changsheng?”