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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
One summer's day this year, Tang Thirty-Six severed the hand of that lecturer from the Li Palace Academy. On the next day, he used a single strike to heavily injure that expert from the Tianhai clan and then won two more matches after that. On the third day, he cleanly and neatly won two more matches. On the fourth day, he won another match as easily as taking a walk on a fine day. On the fifth day, like a tiger swallowing up ten thousand li, he won four matches in a row. All in all, he represented the Orthodox Academy in twelve matches without suffering a single defeat.
The area in front of the Orthodox Academy's gate had become a sea of flowers. For the first time, the reality of the Hundred Flowers Lane finally coincided with its name. Even more joyous were the peddlers hawking flowers outside the lane and the bankers of the Four Great Markets that were taking bets. No matter how the odds changed or the contents of the bets adjusted, as long as people paid more and more attention, a businessman could always derive great profits from it.
Everyone was discussing just how long Tang Thirty-Six could keep up his unbroken stretch of victories. Simultaneously, they also discussed how the commentary the Divination Elder had given on this talented and famous young master of the Wenshui Tangs during last year's announcement of the Proclamation of Azure Sky was truly accurate. As long as he diligently cultivated, his cultivation and strength truly could easily rise by leaps and bounds, crossing a thousand li in a single day. There were even some that began to ponder, if there were a changing of the ranks this year in the Proclamation of Golden Distinction, just where would this seventeen-year-old end up?
As he had done for the past few days, Tang Thirty-Six stood amidst the sea of flowers, his expression calm, as if he wasn't moved in the slightest by this beautiful scene and the cries of those maidens. Meanwhile, his mind was occupied with rather trivial concerns—the past few days had been rather hot and the flowers brought in by those peddlers from the hills were a bit too lush. Standing in the sea of flowers, he felt like he was standing in a pile of fat and tender marbled pork.
"Truly extraordinary." From the crowd came a cold and indifferent voice. "I'm very interested to see, if there is a change in the rankings for Golden Distinction, just where you will be able to rank."
Along with this voice, a man dressed in black, his body exuding a chilly atmosphere, slowly stepped up to the gate of the Orthodox Academy.
This was a question that many people in the capital were curious to know the answer to, but no one could ask this question as well as this man, nor as forcefully. Because this black-clothed man was an expert of the Proclamation of Golden Distinction, ranked twenty-seventh and at the initial level of Star Condensation. His surname was Mu and his name Laoban, and he was called Mu Laoban. In fact, he truly was the owner of a business involved in graves and tombs.
(TN: Mu '墓' means grave/tomb, and Laoban '老板' means boss/business owner, so his name literally translated to 'Grave Boss'.)
Mu Laoban grew up in the south, in the Youling region. He cultivated in the sinister earthfire and his fighting techniques were strange and inscrutable. Even experts on the same level of cultivation found it hard to obtain victory against him in a one-on-one match. He was an honored guest of the Tianhai clan, just like Zhou Ziheng, and he also had the identity as a teacher of the Temple Seminary. As a result, he had the qualifications to challenge the Orthodox Academy!
Upon Mu Laoban's arrival, the temperature around the Orthodox Academy's gate instantly dropped quite a few degrees and a few hints of chill appeared from out of nowhere in the height of summer.
The crowd subconsciously edged outwards and the cries of maidens transformed into concerned whispers.
Those people who came forward to challenge the Orthodox Academy today were all people that had sent over letters of challenge the night before. Tang Thirty-Six cared little about this person's appearance and he had already made ample preparation. He knew that he was not Mu Laoban's opponent because he was not a freak like Chen Changsheng, able to surpass cultivation levels and defeat a Star Condensation expert.
Thus, he was not prepared to fight this person. He removed from his bosom a thick pile of silver banknotes.
"In one year, the Tianhai clan gives you three thousand taels of silver and one bag of crystals. At the moment, I don't have any crystals on hand, only thirty thousand silver banknotes."
Precisely as had been described in the report delivered by the Heavenly Fragrance Market, when Mu Laoban saw that thick stack of silver banknotes, his face immediately changed. His eyes grew bright and blazing and even the cold and sinister aura around him seemed to be greatly cut back. Just as expected of the extremely greedy, Tang Thirty-Six thought with a smile on his face as he watched the struggle taking place on Mu Laoban's face.
He then thought of how he had only needed one roast chicken during the Grand Examination to settle Zhexiu, and then he thought, with my exquisite bone structure and unique bloodline, I really am a genius at business.
At this scene, the spectators were all stupefied as they thought, you can also do it this way?
What made Tang Thirty-Six rather regretful, but made the spectators all the happier, was that Mu Laoban was ultimately able to resist the allure of money.
"I really do love money, but there are still many things in this world more important than it." Mu Laoban sighed at Tang Thirty-Six with sorrow. "You understand."
Tang Thirty-Six understood. To a vile and lowly man like Mu Laoban, something more important than money was naturally not anything like justice or promises. The only possibilities were that the Tianhai clan had some dirt on him, or else had more money.
Mu Laoban took from his disciple a black short spear and walked to the edge of the sea of flowers.
The short spear was forged from essence iron. For some reason, it was especially short. Presumably, the spear technique he used in battle was extremely sinister, but the most sinister was the terrifying poison dying the tip of the spear.
"Is this also okay?" Tang Thirty-Six yelled at the tea house across the lane.
The Li Palace priests had the duty of ensuring the Orthodox Academy's safety, but the person who truly had the qualifications to judge what was fair and unfair in the All-School Martial Exhibition…was in that tea house.
There were very few people in all of the capital who were aware of the fact that in the past few days, Archbishop of the Hall of Illustrious Persons Mao Qiuyu and Archbishop of the Hall of Subjugation Daoist Siyuan would sometimes sit in that tea house and drink tea.
No voices emerged from the tea house, indicating that Daoist Siyuan and Mao Qiuyu did not believe that the spear dipped in poison was against the rules.
Mu Laoban gazed at Tang Thirty-Six and chuckled, those white teeth in his fishy lips like the fossils of animals in the deepest depths of the ice. His voice was similarly cold and threatening. "Please."
"Please your ass," Tang Thirty-Six replied.
Mu Laoban's expression flickered and the sinister chill in his eyes grew stronger. "Could it be…the Orthodox Academy wishes to concede?"
"Idiot, the Orthodox Academy has more than just me."
Without any hesitation, Tang Thirty-Six sheathed his sword, turned, and walked to the gate, yelling, "Hurry and come out! This guy isn't willing to take money. I can't do anything else."
The gate was pushed open and Chen Changsheng walked out. As he crossed paths with Tang Thirty-Six, he couldn't help but grumble a little.
"Back when you said you could solve this, is this what you were talking about?"
"What did I do wrong? Drowning! When an army comes, you need a general to block it, and if the flood comes, the earth drowns it out. But not even thirty thousand taels worth of silver banknotes could drown that greedy guy, and it's not like I can beat him. So it has to be you."
(TN: ‘When an army comes, you need a general to block it, and if the water comes, the earth keeps it out’ is a Chinese idiom meaning that every problem has its corresponding solution.)
Chen Changsheng stopped and said rather helplessly, "Can we not do it?"
Tang Thirty-Six very indifferently spread out his hands. "Don't forget what we discussed."
Chen Changsheng nodded.
Over the past few days, it had seemed like only Tang Thirty-Six himself was going up to fight. The truth of the matter was that every night, they would meet in the library to discuss the next day's opponents. Even the heavily injured Zhexiu would occasionally offer a few incredibly incisive opinions. Together with the incessant flow of information from the Wenshui Tangs and the Bureau of Ecclesiastic Education, they were able to produce those twelve successive victories that shook the capital.
But they would eventually encounter an opponent that both he and Tang Thirty-Six would find impossible to handle. What would they do then?
They had established a single principle: no matter the outcome of the battle, they were not allowed to receive any irrecoverable injuries, such as damage to the sea of consciousness or Ethereal Palace, or a severed arm. As for any other injuries, there was not much need for concern. The Li Palace had sent over the cardinals with an extremely profound understanding of the Sacred Light technique to keep watch over the Orthodox Academy. Any minor injury was no problem whatsoever.
Seeing Chen Changsheng appear on the stone steps, the silent crowd suddenly exploded into cheers even louder than before.
Tang Thirty-Six, just about to enter the Orthodox Academy to rest, couldn't help but angrily mutter to himself upon hearing the cheers behind him.
In the twelve successive victories of the Orthodox Academy over these past few days, Tang Thirty-Six had been able to bloom with an unprecedented splendor, such that the people of the capital had even somewhat forgotten Chen Changsheng's existence. Only when he splendidly took the stage once more did they remember that it was he that was the Principal of the Orthodox Academy, it was he that was the most crucial figure, nay, the linchpin, of the Orthodox Academy's revival. And as everyone knew, it was he that was the strongest of the Orthodox Academy, even once surpassing cultivation levels and defeating the Star Condensation expert Zhou Ziheng…
Mu Laoban's complexion became more downcast. His eyes fixed upon the figure on the stone steps, he said, "Should I feel honored, or should I feel sorry in your place, Principal Chen?"
Chen Changsheng did not answer him. Placing his sword before him, he said, "Please."
Mu Laoban's face grew solemn as he slowly raised up that short black spear that was only two feet long.