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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
This Daoist surnamed Wu was not the least bit famous. In his entire life, he had only written three books, one of which was this illustrated collection of arrays. At the very beginning, Chen Changsheng had only casually glanced through this book, not holding much hope, but the more he read, the more he felt that something was wrong—the arrays that this Daoist surnamed Wu had recorded in this illustrated collection were all very simple, even somewhat clumsy. To those who had succeeded in cultivating the Dao, they weren't even worth a sneer, but in a few of this book's pages, he faintly sensed traces of the Boiling Stone Forest Array.
As time slowly passed, Chen Changsheng continued to study the book. He wasn't apprehensive or jittery in the least, his eyes calm and firm.
He had promised the Black Dragon that he would save her, so he would definitely do so. This year he could not, next year he could not, but there would eventually come a year when he could. He firmly believed that the Black Dragon would definitely not be imprisoned underground for another several centuries. Of course, all this was predicated on the basis that he would live past the age of twenty.
"Several nights ago, I saw a burning sword…it was so formidable."
A cold and clear voice resounded from behind him. At some point, the Black Dragon had noiselessly floated behind him. When the Black Dragon mentioned the burning sword, a hint of fear flickered through the depths of its dragon eyes. "That was…Su Li's sword?"
Chen Changsheng had long since ascertained the Black Dragon's gender, but he was still somewhat unaccustomed to hearing this sort of voice.
On the ten-thousand-li journey back south, because the Black Dragon had helped him suppress his injuries, she had consumed too much of her divine soul and spent most of the time asleep, but she was forced to admit that there was one other important reason she did not wake up: because she did not want to be discovered by Su Li.
At the time, Su Li was severely wounded, even weaker than a normal human, but the Black Dragon still held an instinctual fear of him. In the very first meeting by the hot springs in the snowy mountains, she had sensed that Su Li's sword…had once killed many of her race, even members that were stronger than her.
"Senior Su Li and the Divine Empress fought a battle. The final result…should be a tie, I think?"
"And what of you? You haven't come to see me for so many days. You must be very busy, but busy with what?"
"I was studying books related to arrays."
Chen Changsheng glanced up at the two massive images of the Divine Generals on the stone wall, then continued, "…the rest of the time, I was preparing for a battle."
"You're the next Pope—who dares to challenge you?"
"You can not fight with them."
"I can't with that person."
"…that fiancée of yours?"
For some inexplicable reason, the Black Dragon's voice became much more indifferent, its tone becoming much flatter.
Chen Changsheng did not notice this, saying, "I also don't know if she is or is not my fiancée."
Complex emotions flashed through the Black Dragon's eyes as it said, "Tell me about it."
After a moment's hesitation, he gave the Black Dragon a full account of what had happened in these past few days, whether it was the events before and after the Bridge of Helplessness or when he entered the palace in the snowy night. He didn't even conceal from it his subtlest and innermost emotions.
This was the first time he had narrated these matters between him and Xu Yourong. Although he had told Tang Thirty-Six, he had definitely left out a few details. But he hid absolutely nothing from the Black Dragon who had saved his life several times and who he deeply trusted—although he knew that with the almost endless life essence of the Dragon race, this Black Dragon had barely entered its youth, since it had already lived several centuries, he subconsciously treated the Black Dragon as a virtuous senior worthy of respect.
In brief, he deeply trusted the Black Dragon and also found it very convenient, so he said many things to it without excluding a single detail.
The underground space was peaceful, but then a sheet of frost suddenly appeared on the stone wall, covering the faces of those two legendary Divine Generals.
The Black Dragon floated down, Chen Changsheng reflected in its pitch-black eyes. Then, it slowly opened its mouth.
In his last few visits to New North Bridge, whenever Chen Changsheng researched the array and became mentally and physically exhausted from thinking of ways to help the Black Dragon break free of Wang Zhice's imprisonment, the Black Dragon would lower its noble head and breath out a faint and delightfully cold dragon breath. With its help, Chen Changsheng was able to drive away his exhaustion and refresh his mind, similar to the scene just a moment ago.
Chen Changsheng was already used to this, so when he saw the Black Dragon move, he very naturally closed his eyes, preparing to welcome the coolness speckled with frost.
With a howl, a low and somber dragon cry rose up.
Dragon breath fell upon Chen Changsheng's head and body.
This was not a cool breath speckled with frost, but the true dragon breath of the Black Frost Dragon.
In an instant, Chen Changsheng's body was frozen into a crystal-clear block of ice.
Water lightly slapped against the block of ice, sloshing as it did.
This was not the Luo River, but the small pool in the Imperial Palace. Due to an array, the Imperial Palace experienced spring in every season of the year. Although the pool was small, it had not frozen.
To Chen Changsheng, this was both good and bad.
A massive transparent block of ice bobbed up and down in the pool, his frozen body within.
The liquid state of the pond was a good thing because the sloshing of the water would melt the ice as quickly as possible. But it was also bad because the water in the pool was constantly bobbing up and down and the block of ice could not settle down, rolling over on occasion. Within, he found all this very difficult to endure and also very embarrassing.
The emotion of embarrassment would normally occur when one was discovered in an embarrassing situation.
If no one saw, then no matter if one was like Tang Thirty-Six, hugging a tree in a snowy forest while endlessly hiccupping, or if one was like now, in a block of ice bobbing up and down with the waves, none of it mattered. The reason Chen Changsheng felt so embarrassed at this moment was that there had been a person watching him from the start.
To be precise, it was not a person.
The Black Goat stood by the pool, its head slightly tilted as it gazed at the frozen him in the pool.
It had already gazed at him for a long time, seemingly finding it very interesting and never once leaving.
Thus, Chen Changsheng felt more and more embarrassed.
If he could have broken through this block of ice, he would long since have done it, but as expected, the dragon breath of the Black Frost Dragon was extremely unusual. It had actually managed to freeze his sea of consciousness and body together. Even though he now had a complete grasp over the Burning Heaven Sword and could condense sword intent into flames, he was powerless to break through the ice around him.
He had used a long time, but he had only been able to arduously melt a thin layer of ice from his face and barely get his eyes open.
As time slowly flowed on, the block of ice continued to bob up and down. The Black Goat continued to watch him, full of interest. It seemed to not understand what was he doing. Was he practicing some sort of Daoist technique?
The ice in front of Chen Changsheng's face continued to melt. After opening his eyes, he was finally able to open his mouth, so he hurriedly yelled, "Please help me."
Precisely because he called out, the icy water flowed into his mouth and nose, causing him to choke in pain.
Although the voice was very weak, the Black Goat was able to understand the movements of his mouth.
Just as it had done for the past two years, when Chen Changsheng needed its help, the Black Goat would always respond to his requests.
The Black Goat slowly ambled into the pool and used its horn to push the big block of ice onto the stone steps, then it gently exerted its strength.
With a crisp clack, the block of ice cracked open and Chen Changsheng fell out of it.
His body was completely soaked in icy water and he had been frozen into a miserable state. His face was pale and the cold had encroached on both his Ethereal Palace and sea of consciousness. He had actually suffered rather substantial internal injuries.
Frustration and fear flashed through his eyes.
Why had the Black Dragon become so cruel and ruthless? Just how had he offended it?
The clouds above the Imperial Palace gradually dispersed, revealed that weak and seemingly fake sun.
No matter how weak and unreal, it was ultimately still the real sun, its light warm and gentle.
Chen Changsheng removed from his sheath a set of back-up clothes. Because his hands and feet were frozen stiff, he required a long time to finish changing.
He leaned against a pillar of this cold and cheerless palace, closing his eyes and taking in the sun's light to warm his body.
The Black Goat slowly bent its forelegs and quietly squatted down by his side. Then, it also slowly closed its eyes.
Far in the future, when Chen Changsheng recalled this winter day, he would always feel a great sorrow and a faint sense of loss.
He was still very young at the time, so there were many things he did not understand, many details he did not notice.
Those details lay within the underground space illuminated by the Night Pearls and also at the side of the pool illuminated by the sun.
He believed that the Black Dragon was a senior, that it could be trusted, that he could conveniently describe to it the object of his affection.
This statement contained two absolute mistakes.
The Black Dragon was naturally worthy of his trust, but she was not his senior. When she listened to the story of Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong, she felt it extremely inconvenient.
Because she was a little girl, she had good enough reason to be angry.
In the cold and gloomy underground cavern, the little girl was eating.
She did not wish to eat before Chen Changsheng with the appearance of the Black Dragon, because that form would eat too ravenously without the slightest finesse, and she was afraid that she would scare him.
But Chen Changsheng did not understand, so she was very angry.
When she heard about Chen Changsheng's encounter with Xu Yourong on the Bridge of Helplessness, she was also very angry.
She used to think that if he never knew about this matter, it would be fine, but it turned out…because of the food or because she was angry or for some other reason, her cheeks swelled and her pretty little face was a picture of unhappiness, the bloody wound like a cinnabar birthmark between her eyebrows brimming with a fiendish aura, her dignified vertical pupils chock-full of grievance.
"Heartless youth! If you hadn't also obtained a wound between your eyebrows on the Bridge of Helplessness and seemed a little like me…I would have swallowed you up just then."
She took up a blue lobster with both hands and, treating it like a piece of sugarcane, fiercely and hatefully bit into it, at the same fiercely and hatefully thinking.
It didn't take long for the several dozen types of food that Chen Changsheng had brought to all be devoured by her.
Under her black dress, her belly slightly bulged.
Then, she slowly lowered her head and sat in the shadows.
In truth, she didn't care about what she ate.
Whatever she ate, she always ate alone.
She just didn't want to eat alone.
She had already eaten alone for several hundred years.
She wanted to eat together with someone else.
Maybe not even eat, just chatting would be fine.
Not even chatting, just sitting would be fine.