Chapter 251 – The Green Smoke Gives Warning
On the journey to the Garden of Zhou, Zhuang Huanyu had stayed in his carriage, seldom showing his face. Perhaps, he had been purposely avoiding Chen Changsheng. Chen Changsheng cared little for what Zhuang Huanyu did, to the extent that he did not even know that Zhuang Huanyu had left the Mausoleum of Books, came to Hanqiu City, and entered the Garden of Zhou. However, Chen Changsheng knew very well why Zhuang Huanyu had chosen to appear, and why he had come to him.
He was the Principal of the Orthodox Academy. Whether it was because of the position of the Li Palace or the words of the archbishop said before they entered the garden, all the cultivators of the northern sects looked to him for leadership. Of course, in handling matters, he had to be fair. The problem was, at this very moment, what would be considered fair?
He took a step forward, only to be blocked by Zhexiu.
A hint of scorn appeared in Zhuang Huanyu’s eyes.
Zhexiu’s face remained as impassive as ever. He slowly said, “You don’t need to handle this sort of thing.”
Zhexiu did not mean that Chen Changsheng could not handle the matter, but rather that there were people who could handle it for him.
The chilling sword intent that had come from the distant forest did not belong to Zhuang Huanyu, but another person.
The master and disciple from the Clear Void Monastery were very clear on this point, which is why they had so urgently taken their leave.
Just at this moment, the chilling sword intent arrived at the riverbank. It tore through the trees on the shore and tyrannically slashed at the body of that master from the Clear Void Monastery.
The master’s expression abruptly changed. With a shout, he wielded his sword with both hands to block the intent.
There was a sharp sound of clashing.
Waves broke out on the riverbank as the water was thrown into chaos, even revealing the pebbles on the riverbed.
Only then was everyone able to clearly make out the sword that had flown out of the woods.
The progress of that sword had seemingly been halted by the sword of the master from Clear Void Monastery, but it suddenly began to exude a great brilliance, like it was about to grow even mightier and sunder the entire riverbank.
With a massive explosion, the water flowing in the river was all sent flying about. Countless pebbles rolled about in chaos, and the riverbank was even more inundated in dust and smoke.
With a groan, the Clear Void Monastery master’s stomach was pushed down like it had been struck. His knees bent and then like a broken kite, he began flying towards the river, his two feet leaving a clear trail in the riverbank.
After being pushed more than a dozen yards, his progress finally came to a halt. His face was extremely pale and his stomach now bore the extremely clear mark of a sword slash, one corner of it bleeding blood.
The river water that had been shocked into the air fell down at this moment, drenching the master from the Clear Void Monastery, making him cut a rather sorry figure.
The young daoist hurriedly ran over to the other side of the river.
“A truly tyrannical ‘Mountain Spirit Splits the Cliff’.”
As he viewed this scene, Chen Changsheng silently thought to himself, back at the Ivy Festival, Qi Jian had used this Mount Li sword technique against Tang Thirty-Six. However, back then Qi Jian was not yet at Ethereal Opening. The ‘Mountain Spirit Splits the Cliff’ then and the one now were two completely different things.
He and Zhexiu both turned to the forest and they saw Liang Xiaoxiao and Qi Jian emerge.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
Although the river had begun to flow again, its sound was unable to mask Liang Xiaoxiao’s frigid voice.
On the opposite bank, the master and disciple were supporting each other and they were preparing to leave. When both were at the middle level of Ethereal Opening, the sword arts of Mount Li would be much stronger than that of the Clear Void Monastery. How could some little-known master from the Clear Void Monastery be on par with the Divine State’s Seven Laws? He had no other choice but to admit defeat.
Hearing these words, the Clear Void Monastery master turned around, a trace of anger visible in his pale face. “What do you want?”
Liang Xiaoxiao expressionlessly said, “Leave your things behind.”
His teeth clenched, the master from the Clear Void Monastery threw over the damaged magical artifact in his hands.
Liang Xiaoxiao, not willing to let them leave yet, continued, “Then come over here and apologize.”
The master from Clear Void Monastery shouted, “Don’t try and take advantage of me! Don’t try and wield the power of Mount Li against me, that’s too much.”
He looked at Chen Changsheng as he said these words. The rules of the Garden of Zhou were like so: that senior and junior from the Holy Maiden Peak could not defeat him, so the magical artifact naturally became his. He could not beat Liang Xiaoxiao, so he naturally had to leave the magical artifact behind. However, the master looked in askance towards Chen Changsheng because there was no requirement that he needed to apologize to the southerners.
As if not hearing that, Liang Xiaoxiao took the magical artifact and returned it to the Holy Maiden Peak’s Senior Tong.
For the southern continent to remain independent of the Zhou Dynasty and the Orthodoxy for so long was only because of the alliance between the Longevity Sect and Holy Maiden Peak. The disciples of these two great sects would commonly consider themselves as fellow martial brothers and sisters. It would not even be too excessive to call them disciples in the same sect.
Liang Xiaoxiao grasped his sword and began to head off to the opposite bank.
Chen Changsheng stated, “He is severely injured and he can no longer do battle.”
This sentence did not include the words ‘enough’, but they contained the meaning.
Liang Xiaoxiao stopped and turned to Chen Changsheng, his eyes cold. The Mount Li Sword Sect and the Orthodox Academy had many hard to resolve disputes. Unlike Gou Hanshi and the others, Liang Xiaoxiao had not spent time under the same roof with Chen Changsheng. In his eyes, Chen Changsheng had always been a most troublesome existence.
Zhexiu still stood in front of Chen Changsheng, his face impassive.
Although he was only at the initial stage of Ethereal Opening, one full level below Liang Xiaoxiao, there was no fear in his face, not even anxiety.
Just like he had told Chen Changsheng in the woods outside the Mausoleum of Books, if the battles in the Grand Examination had been ones of life and death, he would not even fear Gou Hanshi, so he had no reason to fear Liang Xiaoxiao, who was only ranked third in the Seven Laws.
This was the confidence born from being accustomed to life and death, from slaying countless demons.
Qi Jian knitted his brow as he looked at Zhexiu, then went to go stand by Liang Xiaoxiao.
Liang Xiaoxiao said somewhat mockingly, “You didn’t say anything before, but now you’re trying to be fair?”
Chen Changsheng thought about it, then he decided not to explain what he had been preparing to do.
Senior Tong from Holy Maiden Peak, who was the subject of this conflict, unexpectedly did not take part, and she attempted to say a few mediatory words instead.
Liang Xiaoxiao said nothing, but the look of derision on his face only got worse.
“From the time I entered the Mausoleum of Books, you’ve always seemed to be hostile towards me.”
Chen Changsheng earnestly asked him, “I don’t understand why this is the case.”
Liang Xiaoxiao looked like he had been asked an extremely stupid question. “I’m a disciple of the Mount Li Sword Sect. For me to have hostility towards you, isn’t that only right?”
Chen Changsheng pondered the matter, then pointed to Zhuang Huanyu. “He’s a student of the Heavenly Dao Academy, so why is it that he’s always been so hostile to me as well?”
Liang Xiaoxiao replied, “Perhaps the question that you should be pondering is that if the entire world hold enmity towards you, then isn’t it you that’s in the wrong?”
Chen Changsheng thought about this question in silence, then replied, “I’ve seriously considered this question, and I realized that it could also be the entire world that is wrong.”
Qi Jian lightly pulled on Liang Xiaoxiao’s sleeve.
Liang Xiaoxiao’s expression was indifferent, and he said no more.
Chen Changsheng shook his head, then he waded across the river to the master and disciple from the Clear Void Monastery.
Examining that terrifying sword wound on that master’s stomach, he said, “Your injury is too heavy. You two need to leave.”
The young daoist thought to himself that they had only been in the Garden of Zhou for half a day, not having gained anything, and now they already had to leave! An expression of unwillingness suddenly appeared on his face.
Chen Changsheng stated, “Just as your master said before, these are the rules of the Garden of Zhou.”
The young daoist looked at him and indignantly said, “You’re one of the great powers of the Orthodoxy, why didn’t you come and help us?”
Chen Changsheng did not respond, but he continued to measure the pulse of the Clear Void Monastery master. Lowering his head, he said, “You must leave quickly.”
The Clear Void Monastery master weakly nodded his head. Unlike his disciple, he was much more experienced in the ways of the world. He knew that although Chen Changsheng had not helped them, if he had not been present, the two youths from the Mount Li Sword Sect would have injured him even more severely.
He took out that gray string which he had received before entering the garden and shakily ignited it.
The dull green smoke rose up from that burning string and wafted over the river, gradually disappearing into the sky of the Garden of Zhou.
Chen Changsheng could faintly sense that as this green smoke disappeared into the air, it was producing a response from the space that separated the Garden of Zhou from the real world.
The laws of space were extremely profound, so logically, igniting a gray string was not enough to teleport a person dozens of li to the gate of the Garden of Zhou. So, what these gray strings most likely used was the inherent laws of the Garden of Zhou. There was even a high probability that these gray strings were a product of the Garden of Zhou, created many years ago.
The river slowly flowed by and the beaches on both sides slowly grew dry once more.
Although the young daoist was still unwilling, he knew that he had no other choice. Once his master left, he would also definitely have to follow him in leaving the Garden of Zhou. His cultivation and sword arts were simply incapable of opposing the experts in this garden.
With the slow passage of time, the gray string in the Clear Void Monastery master’s hand gradually burned to nothing.
The river still flowed, the water weeds still floated about indeterminately.
Nothing had happened.
The master from the Clear Void Monastery still lay on the riverbank.
Shocked, Chen Changsheng asked in confusion, “Could it be that the gray string doesn’t work?”
Zhexiu arched his brows, then he looked at the young daoist.
The young daoist stared blankly back at him, then he came out of his stupor. He took out his gray string and ignited it, his hands trembling from nervousness.
After a while, the young daoist’s gray string had also burned out, yet still nothing had happened.
He pinched the remains of the string, his face somewhat pale.
His master’s face was even more pale.
Liang Xiaoxiao’s ‘Mountain Spirit Splits the Cliff’ move had been too tyrannical. In only two bouts, his stomach had obtained a terrifying sword wound that even now continued to bleed. If he could not promptly return to the garden’s gate and be treated by the Orthodoxy priests, his life would really be in danger.
“Just what is going on here?”
The young daoist asked in panic as he subconsciously looked around.
The forest around the river was quiet and peaceful, yet now it suddenly seemed somewhat more sinister.
The events that had occurred on one side of the river had also finally shocked those on the other side.
Qi Jian, Liang Xiaoxiao, as well as the pair from Holy Maiden Peak came over, then Zhuang Huanyu came over as well.
“There won’t be a problem, right? My master, what’s going to happen to him? He’s still bleeding, he’s not going to die, right?”
The young daoist looked at Chen Changsheng. His face was filled with worry and expectation.
Liang Xiaoxiao looked at the wound on the Clear Void Monastery master’s stomach and creased his brow.
If the Ethereal Opening cultivators that had entered the Garden of Zhou were humanity’s hope for opposing the demons, how could the Saints let them so casually die? Back then when the rules for the Garden of Zhou had been established, the reason why they seemed so cruel and violent was because no matter how bitter the battle, or how vicious the people, at the very end the gray string could be used to directly leave the Garden of Zhou.
However, the gray string no longer worked anymore.
Chen Changsheng took out his needle box and he began to work on stemming the bleeding. Afterwards, he stood up and gazed into the distance downstream.