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Reaching the end of the steps and arriving at the divine avenue; apart from the guesthouse that was hosting the envoys from the South, the other school campuses were engulfed with the sounds of chatter. The woods on both sides of the avenue were teeming with the figures of people, with many others choosing to directly stand on the divine avenue.
There were also teachers from Li Palace College, Thirteen Divisions of Radiant Green and Temple Seminary present; even some clergy members from the main palace had come to join the crowds as onlookers. The reason for this bustle, was naturally, due to the words of Tang Thirty-Six from this morning.
The clergyman that was leading Chen Chang Sheng’s group was not of a low position within Li Palace, upon seeing this chaotic scene, he frowned his eyebrows and gave out a few quiet words of admonishment, which prompted the teachers to start trying to maintain some semblance of order; the teachers drove off students who had wanted to block the advance of Chen Chang Sheng’s group and had them stand by the side of the avenue.
As Chen Chang Sheng and the other two youths walked along the divine avenue, hundreds or more gazes from the students amongst the woods on both sides of the avenue fell upon them, this scene was very similar to the one they had experienced in the morning; but this time, even more gazes were filled with scorn and disdain. A student from one of the schools suddenly cried out: “Tang Tang, if you’ve got the guts then don’t run away!”
This was obviously directed to the words of Tang Thirty-Six from this morning and drew rounds of loud laughter from the crowds. Given Tang Thirty-Six’s character, he was loath to continue moving, but upon a cold stare from the leading clergyman, he decided it was best not to draw any further trouble for their school and only angrily said: “I really hate being called Tang Tang.”
Seeing Tang Thirty-Six having to endure their taunts, the students felt elated. They knew that the cold-looking clergyman was strict and thus no one dared to intrude upon the divine avenue, but they used the opportunity to continue hurling verbal abuse towards Orthodox Academy.
“Apart from having the support of Her Highness, what else can you do by yourself?”
“If it wasn’t for Her Highness’ arrangement, would you have even dared to go down those steps?”
“Not necessarily, he can still take out his marriage vow to use as a shield.”
“That’s right, the fiancé of Xu You Rong, who would dare to offend him?” said another student while clicking their tongue.
Continuous insults flew out from both sides of the divine avenue, filled with contempt and derision; asking who would dare to offend; until it finally turned to jeers that called him a sponger.
Tang Thirty-Six’s expression became increasingly ugly, while Chen Chang Sheng lightly dipped his head and continued forwards, with both hands in his sleeves, akin to not being able to hear anything and showing no signs of being affected. This was the same as that rainy autumn day, when Orthodox Academy was besieged; he knew that the cause of this hostility wasn’t due to the conflict from this morning, or due the young girl from Holy Maiden Peak, the cause was solely due to her.
The girl called Xu You Rong.
Yet the blame couldn’t be laid upon her, it wasn’t her fault.
Therefore, all he could do was to endure.
Suddenly, the jeers ebbed away like a fading tide, Chen Chang Sheng lifted his head and saw that a serene, quiet and gentle looking youth was standing upon the divine avenue; under the scolding of clergy and orders from teachers, the divine avenue was devoid of other people, yet upon this wide and empty path, this student had appeared.
Su Mo Yu, from Li Palace College.
Su Mo Yu ceremonially greeted the clergyman, before turning to gesture a greeting (揖手) to Chen Chang Sheng
“Their words have been rude, I apologise on behalf of Li Palace College.”
“No need.” replied Chen Chang Sheng.
Su Mo Yu didn’t seem to have any intention of leaving the divine avenue and continued to stand on the path.
Tang Thirty-Six’s eyebrow twitched and he said: “What is the meaning of this?”
Su Mo Yu shook his head and once again, ceremoniously bowed towards the clergyman, before saying: “With Priest Huo here, us students wouldn’t dare to be insolent.”
The clergyman surnamed Huo didn’t say anything, only having a mildly pleasant expression on his face.
“You don’t want to fight, yet you continue blocking the way, what kind of intention do you have?” asked Tang Thirty-Six, with his eyes narrowing.
Su Mo Yu ignored him, looking towards Chen Chang Sheng and saying: “I have some words for you.”
“Please speak.” Chen Chang Sheng replied.
“Have you thought upon the reason why everyone is being so rude towards you?” asked Su Mo Yu.
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t reply; the answer was already evident.
“Everyone’s words are indeed unseemly, tinged with envy and lacking in grace, but… that does not mean they are without logic. That which you are in possession of, no matter how it is looked at, does not seem to be something you should be in possession of.”
Su Mo Yu quietly looked at him and continued: “This is because, you are not strong enough.”
Upon the utterance of those words, Tang Thirty-Six and Xuan Yuan Po had a change in expression, even the teachers of Li Palace College and Temple Seminary that were observing from the sides of the avenue had expressions of disapproval upon their faces.
“Whilst it is correct that on the night of the Ivy League gathering, your exchanges with Gou Han Shi on The Way seemed to be a contributing factor towards Orthodox Academy’s victory over Li Shan Sword Sect… I do not believe this to be the case, all I can believe is that you are lucky enough to be blessed with many strong comrades. Her Highness has the gifted bloodline of the White Emperor and is a genius herself; your acquaintance with her can only be explained as luck. Along the same lines, Tang Tang is a young genius that is ranked on the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, if it wasn’t for his arrogance and over-reliance on talent leading to his splitting from Heavenly Academy, why else would he enter Orthodox Academy?”
Chen Chang Sheng remained silent.
“What is strength? Being strong, and also being able to help your companions become strong, that is true strength. For the coming Grand Examination, I do not assume to be able to place upon the head rankings, but I do hope for Li Palace College to have a greater number of people being ranked, than those from Heavenly Academy or Star Seizer Academy; becoming the leading school of the Six Ivy League schools.”
“At the very least, I wouldn’t become a burden for Li Palace College, but you? At the Grand Examination, would you be able to rely upon luck or niceties like you did at the Ivy League gathering? What use is there to being well-read? What use is there to having knowledge that doesn’t lose to Gou Han Shi? If Gou Han Shi hadn’t already successfully cleared his Ethereal Palace, how could he rank second amongst the Seven Laws of the Divine State and even garner respect from Qiu Shan Jun?”
Su Mo Yu looked at him with a sober expression and said: “A person that only reads books, but doesn’t know how to apply the knowledge can be found in abundance in provincial schoolhouses, you might think that you can help your companions, but you are wrong, they are the ones helping you, without them, you are nothing more than a hopeless scholar; you will only be a liability for Orthodox Academy.”
Tang Thirty-Six derisively asked: “It seems like you’re even more concerned with our school’s performance than we are.”
Su Mo Yu lightly inclined his head, not hiding his expression, “I am a very traditional person, like many of the other traditionalists of Li Palace and the various schools, we yearn towards the illustrious past of Orthodox Academy, the memory remains poignant. We wish to see the revival of Orthodox Academy and that is why I have said these words today, in order to spur you towards working harder; I hope that by the time of the Grand Examination, you would have completed your Purification, though you would still be a burden, it would at least be less unseemly.”
Upon finishing those words, he stepped off the divine avenue.
Chen Chang Sheng had rarely come across such an earnest, serious and stiff person, leaving him feeling forlorn and dejected, upon being reminded of himself, he started feeling sorry for Tang Thirty-Six and the others.
Tang Thirty-Six didn’t consider Su Mo Yu and Chen Chang Sheng to be the same type of person; though both could be considered stiff, opinionated and stubborn, Chen Chang Sheng would rarely force his views upon others.
He knew Chen Chang Sheng was feeling dejected and looking at Su Mo Yu only made him feel even more unpleasant, thinking to himself: “What makes you think you can stand upon a pedestal and dictate to us the future of our school?”
He derisively laughed and said: “Was there any meaning to the nonsense you just said?”
Su Mo Yu looked at him with a prideful face and said: “When you rank before me on the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, you can come and tell me that my words today are wrong.”
Tang Thirty-Six tidied his green gown and loftily said: “Then let’s battle.”
Su Mo Yu replied with a stiff attitude: “I will not fight you.”
Tang Thirty-Six was surprised, asking: “If you won’t fight me, how am I supposed to surpass you?”
Su Mo Yu replied: “I promised the principal that I will preserve my best state for the Grand Examination, therefore I will not raise my hand.”
Tang Thirty-Six was incensed, saying: “How shameless can you get?”
Upon hearing these words, students of Li Palace College started rebuking him; Su Mo Yu remained calm, as if nothing could sway him and replied: “We will meet at the Grand Examination, there’s no need for you to rush.”
Tang Thirty-Six angrily said: “So you’re saying I can’t do anything until the proclamation is re-issued?”
Su Mo Yu calmly replied: “You can say that.”
Tang Thirty-Six was infuriated to the point of insanity, deciding to ignore the presence of the clergyman surnamed Huo, ignoring the teachers that were standing on both sides of the divine avenue; he placed his hand upon the hilt of his sword and prepared to strike Su Mo Yu.
Chen Chang Sheng extended his hand and placed it atop of Tang Thirty-Six’s, shaking his head.
He could tell that Su Mo Yu, the young genius of Li Palace College, was not someone who delighted in humiliating his opponents, he merely had an awkward personality that was too conservative and methodical, a traditionalist. Someone that respected authority and subsequently placed a lot of importance on things such as the Proclamation of Azure Clouds and promises that are made. The situation did not allow for Tang Thirty-Six to raise his hand, ignoring the elders of Li Palace that were currently standing on both sides of the divine avenue, even if Tang Thirty-Six was to raise his blade against him, judging by Su Mo Yu’s character, he might just continue standing in position, allowing Tang to attack him as he pleased.
Furthermore, there was indeed a problem, even if Tang Thirty-Six was to carve Su Mo Yu into the resemblance of a flower, or defend him with a flower of words, it still wouldn’t change the problem identified by Su Mo Yu.
Not being able to cultivate was a sore spot, it was also the reason for his words lacking weight, the reason why others would talk down to him whilst calling him a sponger, the only thing he could do right now, was to think of some method that could allow him to successfully Purify, only this could change the opinions, the prejudice the world had on him, only then could he prove himself at the Grand Examination.
Of course, he had a more important reason for participating in the Grand Examination, but that still required a solution to his Purification, Su Mo Yu only managed to make his problem all the more starkly apparent.
Someone else was also displeased with events. Xuan Yuan Po looked at Su Mo Yu, gritted his teeth and said: “You’re telling us what it means to be strong? With that scrawny body of yours?”
“You? Wait till you’re ranked upon the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, then you can talk to me.”
Su Mo Yu gave him a single glance, before turning around and heading towards Li Palace College, the crowds erupted in laughter.
Compared with the trunk-like body of the yao youth, Su Mo Yu had only the typical frame of a young human, giving the impression of an extremely frail body, his words, nonetheless, had a strong effect.
Strength, was not related to the shape or build of the body.
A genius that ranked 33rd on the Proclamation of Azure Clouds; a yao youth that had only just recently left the Red River and came to the human Capital to start learning how to cultivate; between these two, what comparison could there be made?
Xuan Yuan Po considered for a while, but no matter how much he thought, he couldn’t think of a rebuttal.
Chen Chang Sheng looked at him and gave a slightly apologetic smile.
Upon this moment, Xuan Yuan Po heard someone cry out his name.
The voice was really faint, from very far away, but he heard it clearly; it was indeed someone crying out his name.
He turned around to face the inner part of Li Palace, slightly baffled and said: “Who’s calling me?”
The yao race’s hearing ability was better than that of an average human’s, even though he could hear the voice, the human students that were around the divine avenue couldn’t hear anything, and thought he was trying to change the subject in avoidance of the earlier embarrassment, prompting bouts of laughter.
But within a moment, the sound finally travelled from some deep part of Li Palace and reached their location.
That voice was very clear and distinct.
There wasn’t anyone “crying” out Xuan Yuan Po’s name.
This was someone “proclaiming” Xuan Yuan Po’s name.
“Xuan Yuan Po, the Capital’s Orthodox Academy, Azure Cloud ranking One-hundred and Forty Eight.”
The autumn wind swept by the woods, with golden leaves shimmering; silence surrounded the divine avenue.
Xuan Yuan Po dropped his jaw, not understanding what was happening.
Countless eyes rested upon him.
Within the autumn trees, the students were too shocked for words.
The Proclamation of Azure Clouds had begun a new proclamation?
How could this be?
How did this moron manage to place upon the proclamation?