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Chapter 78 – Donglin's Remote County and Its Seven Stars
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The crowd had no response to Guan Feibai's comment, but Chen Changsheng was rather shocked—the 'four' and 'nine' in this statement naturally referred to the rankings on the Proclamation of Azure Sky. Guan Feibai was ranked fourth, so could it be that Luoluo was ranked ninth on the Proclamation of Azure Sky? He had only seen the rankings of the Proclamation of Azure Sky once on the wall outside the Temple Seminary, but he didn't remember just which name was ranked ninth.
"In the inn outside the Mausoleum of Books, I said to you before that besides Xu Yourong, there were two other people on the Proclamation of Azure Sky that I didn't want to provoke."
Tang Thirty-Six commented on the side, "A wolf cub from the north, and also…a mysterious girl. Of course, she's no mystery at all to you, so…there's nothing very tasteful about this matter. Speaking of which, when will you let me find some sense of superiority in front of you?"
Chen Changsheng finally recalled that Tang Thirty-Six had mentioned that there was a mysterious demi-human girl who was ranked in front of Zhuang Huanyu. Many people had already guessed that this girl should be the Princess of the demi-humans. He then recalled that on the first night of the Ivy Festival, he had asked Luoluo how she knew Zhuang Huanyu. Luoluo replied that her position was too close to Zhuang Huanyu and it would be difficult to not know him.
Which position? Now that he thought about it, she was naturally not talking about neighbors—the Hundred Herb Garden bordered the Orthodox Academy, not the Heavenly Dao Academy.
This 'position' was the position on the Proclamation of Azure Sky.
Even if Luoluo had no care for worldly matters, she would at least know the name and surname of the person right below her on the Proclamation of Azure Sky.
Chen Changsheng finally understood why even the proud Tang Thirty-Six had left Guan Feibai for Luoluo.
Luoluo's expression did not change. Her right hand gripped the handle of the Falling Rain Whip as she gazed at Guan Feibai and replied, "If we only needed to look at the rankings, what need would there be to hold the Ivy Festival? What meaning would the Grand Examination hold? Who's weaker and who's stronger is ultimately determined through fighting, or else why would Tang Thirty-Six have been able to beat your junior brother?"
Guan Feibai indifferently answered, "That's because a person was helping him with pointers."
Tang Thirty-Six was furious at this comment, yelling, "You speak like your senior brother doesn't have a mouth!"
Gou Hanshi extended a hand to stop Guan Feibai. Looking at Luoluo, he calmly said, "Your Highness's words are reasonable."
He then turned to Guan Feibai and said, "Junior Brother, in this match, you must earnestly use your full might. You absolutely cannot lower the might and prestige of the sect."
Guan Feibai argued no more. After a moment of thought, he unsheathed his sword and looked at Luoluo, saying, "Your Highness, please grant me your instruction."
Although the Great Zhou was strong and the capital vast, amongst this generation of youths, no one other than Xu Yourong was a match for this youth. If he only had his pride and his temperament that was constantly inflamed by rage, just what right would he have to be an inner sect disciple of Mount Li, much less one of the Divine Kingdom's Seven Laws?
When he held the sword in his hands, his expression instantly grew serene, and all arrogance vanished.
This arrogance now rested in his longsword.
It was a very ordinary sword.
The Mount Li Sword Sect naturally regarded a disciple of such shocking talent as Guan Feibai with great importance. Although they might not treat him like Qi Jian, bestowing the sword of the Discipline Hall, they would certainly have granted him a precious sword of surpassing sharpness, but he was not willing to accept it. He insisted on using this ordinary sword, because he had sworn an oath that until he surpassed his eldest brother Qiushan Jun, he would not change swords.
Everyone knew that Qiushan Jun's sword was called Dragonscale, but only those disciples extremely close to him knew that the sword their eldest brother normally used was extremely ordinary. It was just a random sword forged in the blacksmith in the village at the base of Mount Li, only worth three taels of silver.
He regarded his eldest brother Qiushan Jun as the model by which he should live his life, the goal which he had to exceed, so he was also only willing to use a normal sword.
The sword was ordinary, but the person was not. As the crowd on the steps watched Guan Feibai slowly walk to the center of the plaza, their expressions subtly changed.
As he walked forward, the Qi of this arrogant and cold young expert grew calmer and lighter, but the sword in his hand grew stronger and stronger.
He placed all his mind on his sword.
"You aren't worried?"
Tang Thirty-Six looked at Chen Changsheng's profile and discovered that his expression had not changed, which surprised him somewhat. He only needed to see Guan Feibai take the ten-odd steps into the plaza, to see how his Qi condensed onto his sword, to know that he was definitely no match for this person. Although Princess Luoluo was ranked higher than him on the Proclamation of Azure Sky, how could she beat this person?
Chen Changsheng gazed at the plaza and replied, "Luoluo will definitely win; what's there to be concerned about?"
Tang Thirty-Six was speechless as he thought, just because she calls you Teacher? Just where did such narcissism and self-confidence come from?
Everyone thought the same as Tang Thirty-Six. Upon seeing the powerful Qi and profound cultivation revealed by Guan Feibai, no one believed that Princess Luoluo had any hope of winning.
Only Chen Changsheng knew just what Luoluo had learned in these past few months in the Orthodox Academy.
Ninth on the Proclamation of Azure Sky? That was a matter of the past. Right now, not even he was sure just how powerful Luoluo was.
Watching Luoluo walk to the center of the plaza, seeing the breeze gently blow about her skirt, he suddenly developed a fierce desire.
In these months, the Orthodox Academy consisted of only him and Luoluo. What Luoluo had learned, the progress she had made, had all originated from him. Even if he wanted to be modest, even if he didn't want to take on this achievement, it was impossible not to—in other words, Luoluo was truly a student taught solely by himself.
He really wished to know: if Luoluo and Xu Yourong fought a match, who would be the victor?
He had not yet succeeded at Purification and it was impossible for him to cultivate. At present, it seemed that he would never have the right to carry out a conversation with that girl on the same level.
But Luoluo was his student.
If Luoluo could defeat her, might that not mean something?
This thought suddenly appeared and became difficult to wipe from his mind.
No matter what anyone thought of him, in the end, he was still a teen in the prime of his youth; how could he be lacking in the desire to excel over others?
Just when everyone believed that the second match between the Mount Li Sword Sect and the Orthodox Academy was going to begin, a voice came from the darkness.
Lady Mo Yu gazed at the plaza and declared, "Your Highness, with your status, even the smallest danger is unacceptable."
The crowd was silent. This was the problem that everyone had earlier been concerned about, and the Mount Li Sword Sect had also mentioned it. Luoluo did not care, but this did not mean that the Great Zhou Imperial Court didn't need to care. So then what of the match?
Gou Hanshi felt those gazes from the palace steps and understood the intentions of these important figures. After a moment of silence, he said, "Only compare techniques, and don't use true essence."
Guan Feibai slightly raised his brows at these words, but said nothing.
Everyone was well aware that the demi-humans' area of expertise was comprehension. Princess Luoluo was the White Emperor's sole daughter, and her talent was naturally extraordinary. Her bloodline was on par with Xu Yourong and Qiushan Jun. If not for the fact that demi-humans could not cultivate in human techniques, how would she have ended up ranked only ninth on the Proclamation of Azure Sky?
If, upon maturing, she were to learn the White Emperor clan's secret techniques, her strength would naturally be treated differently, but at present, she was still not an adult. Since it was impossible for her to use human cultivation techniques to circulate true essence, the quantity and purity of her true essence would assuredly be lacking when compared to the disciples of Mount Li Sword Sect with their profound cultivation methods.
Gou Hanshi's proposal to only compare techniques was tantamount to renouncing Guan Feibai's greatest advantage.
Mo Yu's statement and the gazes of the important figures on the steps were, from a certain perspective, quite unfair.
But Gou Hanshi had made this proposal of his own volition and Guan Feibai had used his silence to tacitly agree. The Mount Li Sword Sect was truly confident, the Divine Kingdom's Seven Laws truly proud.
Luoluo did not expect this development. Out of habit, she turned to Chen Changsheng.
Chen Changsheng was silent. He knew that Gou Hanshi's proposal was a choice compelled from him by the pressure of those human experts. This method of competition seemed to favor Luoluo, but only he knew that it actually disfavored her—because the problem of Luoluo's meridians being unable to circulate true essence due to her demi-human nature had long since been resolved by him.
With the bloodline of the White Emperor, Luoluo had already built up a terrifying amount of true essence in her body in only a few months. In terms of total strength, she now even faintly exceeded Guan Feibai, or at least matched him. It was precisely for this reason that he was so confident that Luoluo had no chance of losing tonight's match.
Now that they were competing in techniques and using true essence, the true loser of their greatest advantage was not Guan Feibai, but her.
Luoluo looked at Chen Changsheng.
Everyone looked at Chen Changsheng, somewhat confused. This was clearly a proposal to the benefit of the Orthodox Academy, so why was he so slow to agree?
Gou Hanshi thought that this youth was not willing to accept this arrangement out of pride, so he added, "You are also aware of the other intention behind this proposal."
He spoke not of the outcome, not of advantages of disadvantages, but of him and Chen Changsheng.
If they were only comparing techniques and not using true essence, then if this battle were to proceed as the previous one had, he and Chen Changsheng would inevitably open their mouths.
The two matches between the Orthodox Academy and the Mount Li Sword Sect would thus become one.
Gou Hanshi wished to use this one battle to put the Orthodox Academy back in its place.
Chen Changsheng looked back at Luoluo and nodded.
Luoluo calmly bowed and then turned.
Seeing this scene, the crowd was no longer as shocked as they were in the hall that she was actually being so respectful to an ordinary youth—or perhaps their shock was weaker, because in the match between Tang Thirty-Six and Qi Jian, Chen Changsheng had proved a great deal.
Luoluo walked onto the plaza.
Guan Feibai raised the longsword in his hand with an indifferent expression, holding it horizontally in front of his chest.
His mind was already as still as ice. In his eyes, there was no weak and cute girl, no demi-human princess who was involved with the overarching situation of the continent, only an opponent.
Luoluo raised the Falling Rain Whip in her hands. The tip of the whip howled through the air and then paused in the darkness.
A distance of ten-odd zhang lay between the two. Unless they used true essence or sword Qi to attack, they would not be in the slightest danger.
At this sight, Mo Yu contentedly nodded and the other important figures in front of the palace also settled down.
As long as Princess Luoluo did not suffer the slightest harm, nobody cared about the final outcome of the contest between the Orthodox Academy and the Mount Li Sword Sect.
No, the important figures gazed through the darkness at Gou Hanshi and Chen Changsheng standing on opposite ends of the plaza, very curious to know which would be the victor.
Luoluo raised the Falling Rain Whip, but the one to start was not her. Instead, it was Chen Changsheng, standing far behind her.
Any other proud young man or woman, such as Tang Thirty-Six or Guan Feibai, might feel rather unhappy, or at least somewhat conflicted, but Luoluo did not. The several months she had lived in the Orthodox Academy had planted a sort of understanding deep within her heart: everything Teacher does is correct, everything Teacher does is for my benefit.
So when she heard Chen Changsheng's voice, she raised her whip like a sword and, without hesitation, stabbed at Guan Feibai ten-odd zhang away.
This was the first stance of the Wind and Rain Sword of Mount Zhong, and also its opening move.
To open the battle with this sword technique surpassed everyone's expectations, because it was far too surprising.
Everyone believed that the first technique Chen Changsheng would have Luoluo use would be some extremely esoteric or extremely powerful technique of shocking wind and sobbing rain.
No one expected him to come out with such an ordinary technique.
The Rising Flurry of the Wind and Rain Sword of Mount Zhong only stirred a storm. There was nothing shocking about it, and no sobbing sounds could be heard.
It was just like he was playing chess and he placed his first piece on the three-three position. It was unremarkable, so commonplace that it was remarkable.
(TN: Chess here refers to Go, which has a nineteen-by-nineteen grid as a board. Three-three is a corner position and is a classic opening move.)
Some people were even disappointed.
The Falling Rain Whip flicked through the air, howling with a frightening might. In truth, Luoluo had not used her true essence, so this sword technique had all the form, but none of the spirit. From a distance of ten-odd zhang, it was naturally unable to wound Guan Feibai, but since this was a competition, he naturally had to receive the technique. The many seniors and experts in front of the palace all viewed the match, thoughts of victory and defeat in their eyes.
Normally, if confronted by such a commonplace and ordinary sword technique, Guan Feibai would assuredly just casually respond. However, tonight, it was not people that were fighting, but the Orthodox Academy and the Mount Li Sword Sect. For the Mount Li Sword Sect which had seemed able to control even the forces of nature to directly challenge the Orthodox Academy, which had already wasted away for ten-odd years, was already quite enough to shame the disciples of Mount Li Sword Sect. This was not even taking into account the fact that the junior brother that they had the most trust in had lost to a student of the Orthodox Academy, which had placed an enormous pressure upon them. Thus, he needed to very prudent. He waited for his senior brother's opinion.
As expected, Gou Hanshi's voice rose from the darkness.
"Donglin Seven Star Sword, third move."
The crowd watched the long sword in Guan Feibai's hand produce image after image in the night sky, yet they had no idea what to say.
Chen Changsheng slightly frowned. He confirmed that he had never seen this sword style before.
The Daoist Canon was like the ocean, and those sword styles recorded or mentioned in it were similarly vast. The sword styles containing the word 'star' were difficult to count, and there were ten-odd styles containing the phrase 'Seven Star'.
But he truly had not seen this Seven Stars sword style before, nor had he heard of it.
He said, "The final move."
Saying 'the final move' without mentioning the sword style meant that this was naturally the final move of the Wind and Rain Sword of Mount Zhong.
The final move was called 'Embrace the Rain into the Bosom'.
It was meant to both restrict and defend, the most rigorously defensive technique in the entirety of the Wind and Rain Sword of Mount Zhong.
Chen Changsheng had not heard of the Donglin Seven Star Sword, so he could only seek to minimize mistakes.
Mao Qiuyu, Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy, lightly stroked his long beard and sighed.
As an expert of the capital, his assessment naturally held the gazes of many others.
Xu Shiji asked, "Has Principal seen this sword style before?"
"I have not."
Mao Qiuyu shook his head and concluded, "So it is ingenious."
A voice suddenly rose from the crowd. "It's the sword style of Donglin County's Clear River Sect."
The crowd searched for the voice and saw that its owner was an inconspicuous young student belonging to the southern diplomatic mission.
A person asked, "The Clear River Sect? How have none of us heard of it before?"
The young student became rather nervous at all these gazes. He muttered out an explanation, "It's a very small sect. This student is a member of the Clear River Sect, so I know of it."
Mao Qiuyu sighed, "It really is ingenious."