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Chapter 636 – The Monk by the Stream, the Daoist in the Rain
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The Tang Second Master fell silent.
The Great Guardian noted, "Tonight, it is a certainty that Xue Xingchuan will remain in the palace to supervise the Imperial Design. That person has massive stores of Qi and blood, and he's currently at his prime. If he and I were to fight, I wouldn't have much chance of success. In addition, the Divine Empress is very likely to have handed the Frost God Spear to him, so his strength is infinitely close to the Divine Domain."
The meaning behind these words was very clear. If Xue Xingchuan held the Frost God Spear, then only experts of the Divine Domain could defeat him. With the Tang clan's resources accumulated over a thousand years, perhaps they really could request an expert of the Divine Domain to act, but the Heavenly Slaughter Array within the Imperial Palace was specifically targeted at experts of the Divine Domain.
Seeing this insoluble situation, only with the Great Guardian risking an assault could there be a hint of success.
The Tang Second Master remained silent.
The Great Guardian assessed, "The Guardian of the Qiushan clan is not as strong as me, the Prince of Xiang is a cunning old fox who certainly won't appear in the capital before the situation is settled, and the Prince of Zhongshan is a madman. Besides me, there is no one else."
"No." The Tang Second Master shook his head. "Our Tang clan will always provide information, judgment, and money, but until the final moment is reached, we will not send a single person."
"Then who will break the Heavenly Slaughter Array? If we can't enter the Imperial Palace, then even if the Old Master himself came to the capital, there's no chance of obtaining the Imperial Design."
"That person said to the Old Master to let him handle this matter."
"With such great responsibility, to be suspicious of someone for this sort of matter has nothing to do with trust, but with ability."
The Tang Second Master defended, "Even I feel fear in front of that man, so believe that if he says he can do it, he can definitely do it."
He did not clearly state who this person was.
Tang Thirty-Six naturally could not know, but for some inexplicable reasons, he was very certain that the person being spoken of was Chen Changsheng's teacher, the once-Principal of the Orthodox Academy, Shang Xingzhou.
"Since the goal of everyone tonight is to invite the Divine Empress to return to the sea of stars, why can't you just save Chen Changsheng while doing it?"
He did his utmost to make his voice calm and indifferent, showing that he didn't care that much.
But he could not conceal it from the eyes of the Tang Second Master, who replied, "These two matters have no relationship."
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "If this is by direction of the Heavenly Dao, then having Chen Changsheng live might have some sort of effect on the Divine Empress's mind."
The Tang Second Master gave one of his silent laughs, then indifferently explained, "First, we are not acting as executors of the Heavenly Dao, but are discussing human concerns. Secondly, we are surnamed Tang, not Chen. We are not faithful officials or loyalists of those seventeen princes returning to the capital. Chen Changsheng's survival should not be for us to be concerned about, as we must ensure our own survival."
Tang Thirty-Six asked, "Then Second Uncle, did you ever think about what to do if we lose?"
The Tang Second Master smiled. "If that person can't break the Heavenly Slaughter Array and help us get into the Imperial Palace, then we will naturally return to Wenshui."
Tang Thirty-Six calmly replied, "You're just so sure that our Tang clan won't be affected in any way?"
"Of course, because no person will see that we once appeared in the capital."
The Tang Second Master advised, "Don't forget my previous words. Our Tang clan will never do business that will make us suffer a loss."
Tang Thirty-Six replied, "But you also mentioned Wang Po's name."
The Tang Second Master was not angered by these words. He sighed, saying, "Correct, besides Wang Po and Su Li, the two most disastrous business ventures the Old Master ever carried out in his entire life. If those two were here in the capital tonight—Su Li going to the Mausoleum of Books to hold down the Divine Empress, and Wang Po calculating the changes in the array, finding its weak points, and then going to the Imperial Palace with his single blade to fight a battle with Xue Xingchuan—why would our presence be required? The result? One insisted on living the life of an upright scholar with a poverty-stricken air, while the other person insisted on being a prodigal son living apart from the world yet still wasn't able to throw away a companion as beautiful as a flower. It's truly such a pity."
"I won't talk about how Wang Po was forced out of Wenshui by Second Uncle."
Tang Thirty-Six looked at his uncle and smiled, saying, "When the Tang clan needed them the most, the both of them just so happened to not be here. Perhaps it was because they could see that our Tang clan, no, your Tang clan only knows how to calculate fingers and speak of money, making them feel only disgust, let alone any sort of reverence."
His smile was very innocent, pure, dazzling.
The Tang Second Master quietly looked back. Suddenly, he raised his right hand and whipped it at Tang Thirty-Six's face.
With a crisp slap, Tang Thirty-Six crashed against the wall. He was a miserable sight, the left part of his face swelling and a trickle of blood flowing from the corner of his lips.
Yet he was still smiling, smiling very happily, making it all the more dazzling.
"I said before, I don't want to play these childish games with you," the Tang Second Master said gravely to him.
Tang Thirty-Six swayed as he stood back up. Taking a handkerchief from his sleeve, he carefully wiped the blood from his lips and said, "No, it's because you know what I said is correct."
The Tang Second Master smiled at him. "You truly believe that your second uncle doesn't dare kill you?"
Tang Thirty-Six smiled back. "In the Orthodox Academy, I already said before so many people, Second Uncle, that you've always wanted me dead. How can I think that you wouldn't dare kill me?"
Not waiting for a reply, he laughed and continued, "I believe the Old Master already knows of our conversation in the Orthodox Academy, and I also believe that Grandpa Great Guardian will also send this conversation back to Wenshui. After I get home, I'll also personally tell the Old Master of this matter, so if Second Uncle doesn't kill me today, it will truly be rather troublesome."
The Tang Second Master continued to smile. "You should know the Old Master's eyesight and temper better than anyone else."
Tang Thirty-Six laughed once more, saying, "Old people…no matter how good their eyesight, it's on the verge of getting cloudy. No matter big their temper, they still adore their only grandson. Second Uncle, even if you give birth to another and raise him to about my age, even with a sweet mouth like yours, you'll still need quite a few years, and I reckon that it'll be too late. So, Second Uncle, if you continue to live such a hedonistic life, or continue to silently endure, continue to act out the part of a hedonistic son even though everyone knows, perhaps you really have to kill me before I return to Wenshui, or else we won't be able to keep playing this game of you keeping me in the dark and me pretending to keep you in the dark."
As the two spoke, they were both smiling at each other, their faces both similarly handsome. Strangely, there was nothing harmonious about this picture, which instead caused others to shiver all over in fear.
What sort of uncle and nephew were they?
The Tang Second Master's smile finally faded. Looking at Tang Thirty-Six, he said, "This is forcing me to compete over the clan?"
Tang Thirty-Six laughed. "Our Tang clan…no, your Tang clan's favorite thing isn't using profit to control a person's heart? I also want to try."
Hearing this, the Tang Second Master once more noiselessly laughed, his mouth agape. He looked rather horrifying.
"Stop laughing like this, Second Uncle." Tang Thirty-Six's smile suddenly vanished as he earnestly said, "It's very foolish, truly like a blockhead."
Because it was closer to the night sky, on normal days when the stars came out, the peak of the Mausoleum of Books should have been brighter. However, tonight, the night was filled with clouds and devoid of stars, and thus the darkness here was deeper than in any other place in the capital. The screen formed of clear light on the Divine Path was made even clearer by this contrast, making even the smallest detail visible.
Just now, Chen Changsheng had seen on this screen the Orthodox Academy and the middle-aged man very similar to Tang Thirty-Six. He did not know who this person was, but he could guess. However, he could not imagine what would happen between uncle and nephew, nor did he know what the people of the Wenshui Tang clan were prepared to do in the capital.
The Tianhai Divine Empress probably knew more, but she did not care.
She had known beforehand that the Tang clan absolutely would send someone, that the Tang clan should send someone. How could the old man on the banks of the Wenshui who had been suppressed by her supreme authority for more than two centuries possibly miss out on tonight's opportunity?
Everyone that should have come had come.
"Those who shouldn't have come have also come."
The Tianhai Divine Empress's gaze left the scenes in the darkness and shot into the distance.
The distance here was a place extremely far away.
Earlier, whether it was the appearance of Zhu Luo and Guan Xingke, Wuqiong Bi and Bie Yanghong, the seventeen rebellious princes, or the Four Great Clans, none of them had been able to cause a single flicker of change upon her face.
Yet when she turned her gaze to that distant place, her expression finally grew a little more solemn.
The capital sat in the center of the continent. The place farthest from here might be the Great Western Continent, or perhaps the islands in the Southern Sea, or the boundless snowy plains to the north of Xuelao City.
Or the Cloud Grave.
In the Cloud Grave was a solitary mountain, and three hundred li out from the solitary mountain was a sparsely inhabited village. This village was called Xining.
Outside this village was an old temple, behind the old temple a small stream. It was said that this stream flowed from the solitary mountain within the Cloud Grave.
At some point, a monk had appeared at the stream.
This monk was dressed in a monk's robes, covered in dust and tears yet giving off a transcendent air.
This monk had a handsome and delicate appearance. It was difficult to put a specific age on him, but he was probably middle-aged. At the corners of his eyes were a few faint wrinkles. His eyes were tranquil and clear, containing a boundless compassion and love. It seemed like they could see incomparably distant places, could see everything.
This monk dipped his feet into the waters of the stream and sighed.
This sigh contained abnormally complex emotions.
His feet had already walked tens of thousands of li and he was too tired.
He and the rest of the members of his clan had been gone from this continent for almost one thousand years, too long.
A faint smile appeared on the monk's face. Rain suddenly began to fall from the sky above the stream.
The Cloud Grave was the final destination of all clouds and also the origin of all waters. This place was very close to the Cloud Grave, so this rain was the freshest rain.
Tens of thousands of li away, it also began to rain over the capital. The misty rain penetrated through the darkness, falling upon the streets and the mausoleum.
In the south of the city, on an ordinary street, a drifting strand of rain slightly deformed, rays of light refracting through it.
A Daoist walked out from the rainy night, out of empty air.
He stood in the dark street under the autumn rain, yet he gave off the feeling that he was not actually there.
He was at some place, any place in the world, his true position constantly changing and impossible to pin down.
The fine rain fell without a sound and on the two sides of this ordinary street, the people were all asleep. Not one person woke up.
Only he was awake.
The Daoist gazed further south towards the mountain mausoleum, his expression calm.
At the peak of the mausoleum, the Tianhai Divine Empress was quietly gazing through the darkness at him.
Chen Changsheng also saw the Daoist.
He silently cried out "Master", but he did not actually call out.
Because that Daoist did not look at him, only at the Tianhai Divine Empress.
He recalled that in his ten-odd years of life in Xining Village's old temple, his master would often only gaze at his senior brother, not at him. It was like he had never existed in his master's eyes.
"Empress, just abdicate," the Daoist said as he gazed at the Mausoleum of Books.