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Chapter 102 – Contemplating the Present on the Dew Platform
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Xue Xingchuan, leading the Red Cloud Qilin, welcomed the woman at the exit of the passage. This second-ranked expert of the continent's thirty-eight Divine Generals was extremely deferential at this moment. The Red Cloud Qilin he led was in an even more unbearable state. Its body incessantly shook and it found it impossible to stand straight. The hammer of fire that was its tail swung back and forth, seeming very pitiful.
The middle-aged woman slightly raised her brow.
Xue Xingchuan did not know why his mount was acting so strangely today. After rising, he attempted to explain, "The Empress's divine prestige is limitless…"
The middle-aged woman was the Divine Empress of the Great Zhou, the most revered master of the world.
"It has nothing to do with me, and there's no need for you to be nervous either." She recalled the scene of that youth from the Orthodox Academy tightly gripping his sword on the other side of the door. She walked up to the Red Cloud Qilin and gently caressed its neck. After a moment, the Red Cloud Qilin calmed down.
"Next time, stand a little farther, or else it truly might escape and die," she advised Xue Xingchuan.
Xue Xingchuan shivered slightly at these words as he thought, could it be because of that ordinary youth, Chen Changsheng?
"You still think he's really so ordinary?"
The Divine Empress seemed to be able to see into the minds of all and know what they were thinking. She indifferently continued, "If he really was an ordinary youth, how could he vie on an equal level with Gou Hanshi at the Ivy Festival? If he didn't have any ability, would he be able to push out all those old codgers and have them appear before my face?"
Xue Xingchuan fell silent, because at this moment, it was not convenient for him to speak, especially today, when the Empress had clearly displayed a stance of displeasure towards the Orthodox Academy. This meant that during the day, when he managed the matter of besieging the Orthodox Academy, he might have already committed a great offense.
Of the Night Pearls embedded in the Dew Platform, only one was lit. The Black Goat that carried the name of Black Jade stood by this Night Pearl, its head lowered to rub its nonexistent horn against the surface of the pearl. Mo Yu was in front of a desk, grinding ink. The night wind at this high altitude blew against her cheeks, making it a little messy.
Hearing a sound, she turned around and saw the Divine Empress ascending the platform. Hurriedly, she went to assist her.
"Empress, the autumn rain has washed the sky several times, making it a perfect night to view the stars, but Empress came late."
The Divine Empress replied, "I've already seen it tonight."
Mo Yu was somewhat startled. She cautiously asked, "Where did Empress see it?"
The Divine Empress answered, "The Hundred Herb Garden."
Mo Yu was slightly shocked at this answer, thinking to herself, everyone in the palace knows that after Emperor Xian died, the Empress has never once been to the Hundred Herb Garden. Why was tonight an exception?
"You went to the Orthodox Academy today?" the Divine Empress casually asked.
She did not say 'I hear you went to the Orthodox Academy', because she was the Divine Empress, and she did not need to speak in such a roundabout fashion.
The chill in Mo Yu's heart increased and she dared not hide anything. She softly affirmed, "Yes."
The Divine Empress raised her right hand and lightly caressed Mo Yu's delicate cheek. "And you were the one to do all these things?"
Mo Yu knew that the Empress was asking about the two consecutive bloody incidents that had taken place today, as well as the role the Tianhai clan had played in the matter.
She did not clearly understand the Empress's position, so she did not dare to casually admit to it. She softly replied, "I would not dare."
"How would any of them dare to act without first asking you? The Orthodox Academy is so close to the Imperial Palace."
The Divine Empress lightly said to her, her hand continuing to caress Mo Yu's face.
Mo Yu noticed the barely discernible smile on the Empress's lips, and her heart froze solid, fear running through her veins.
She had no idea that the Divine Empress was just recalling that youth from earlier, comparing the feel of their faces on her hand.
Mo Yu lowered her head and explained, "The matter of the engagement has to be resolved…Xu Yourong used the engagement as an excuse and isn't willing to marry Qiushan Jun. The confluence of the north and south…"
"So what about the confluence of the north and south? I already said, if Yourong doesn't want to marry, she doesn't need to marry, but…no one believes what I say."
The Divine Empress drew back her hand. Holding her hands behind her she walked to the edge of the Dew Platform and looked down upon the capital in the darkness, her voice somewhat desolate. "All of you always feel that I put the world above all else, so what does the sacrifice of a few girls' developing romances count for? So none of you believe, not even Yourong believes, and thus…all methods possible are used."
Mo Yu fell silent for a few moments, then said, "Even ignoring the matter of the engagement, I also think that youth is rather strange. The time he appeared was far too coincidental."
The coincidence she spoke of was the disastrous effect the engagement between Chen Changsheng and Xu Yourong had on the policy of the Great Zhou, and the Orthodox Academy he resided in was also a symbol the conservative factions were using to oppose the Empress.
Without turning around, the Divine Empress said indifferently, "Was it not you that let him enter the Orthodox Academy?"
Mo Yu's expression grew slightly apprehensive as she said, "Yes, but I was thinking that there might have been someone encouraging things in secret, borrowing the pressure of the Divine General of the East's estate and Xu Yourong's letter to misguide me into making a wrong decision, thus allowing Chen Changsheng to appear before the people of the capital."
"And why does his appearance matter?"
"He has the surname of Chen. I suspect that those people want to intentionally have the people of the capital associate him with the Imperial clan."
"…Then what have your investigations turned up?"
"His teacher truly is Daoist Ji…but nothing else could be found. According to the information sent from Xining, the old temple is still there, but it's deserted."
Upon hearing the name 'Daoist Ji', the Divine Empress fell silent for a very long time. Suddenly, she ordered, "Stop investigating."
Mo Yu was somewhat astonished, confused as to why she was given this order.
The Divine Empress quietly gazed up at the starry sky. Fate was there, but no one could clearly see their own fate, and neither could she.
But she had the confidence to control her own fate. Not even the heavens could disrupt that.
Was that youth the baneful star upon her fate?
How utterly ridiculous.
She commented, "The capital is vast."
Mo Yu was a little perturbed, confused as to the meaning of these four words.
"The continent is also vast, the heavens even vaster, but none of them can compare to the vastness of my heart."
She slowly said, "Could I possibly be unable to hold an additional academy?"
Mo Yu was even more stunned. Even if it displeased the Empress, she intended to make her opposition known.
The Divine Empress did not turn. She raised her right hand to signal that no further discussion on this topic was needed.
This was the first time she had displayed her stance on the Orthodox Academy, and also the final time.
Her attitude towards the Orthodox Academy depended upon her attitude towards Chen Changsheng. She knew of Chen Changsheng's illness and felt a slight pity. Whether he was being used by someone or something else, she had decided to give him a chance, a chance to prove that he could live.
"Stop disturbing that youth, at least before the Grand Examination."
Mo Yu's shock was beginning to fade when she heard the Empress's order. Puzzled, she asked, "Why the Grand Examination?"
The Divine Empress replied, "A child that up to now has still been unable to cultivate wants heart-and-soul to obtain first rank of the first banner in the Grand Examination—do you not think this is very interesting? Do you not find this child very interesting?"
Mo Yu recalled Chen Changsheng's wooden appearance and thought to herself, what's so interesting about him?
Then she looked at the figure standing at the edge of the Dew Platform and suddenly felt that the Empress was somewhat different today, but she could not say how.
"Those people have moved to the Li Palace. In the future, I will no longer let anyone live there or disturb the tranquility of that place, so you should stop appearing in my dreams…yes, even if you do appear in my dreams, can you chat about happier things and not always complain?"
The Divine Empress calmly gazed at an empty spot in the sky and quietly said to herself, "Today, I went to the Hundred Herb Garden to drink tea."
Right now, the only thing in that part of the night sky was the void, but twenty years before, a star of incomparable brilliance once shone there.
It was an emperor's star.
That star held a very important meaning to her, just like the Hundred Herb Garden.
Several hundred years ago, she was forced out of the palace and cultivated in seclusion within the Hundred Herb Garden, staying within for several years.
In those several years, Emperor Xian would come in through that door and meet with her.
She was a Daoist nun, and because of certain matters, she had no idea how many people of the court were spying on her in secret. She didn't even know if there were the spies of others amongst her closest attendants. Even though she dared to meet Emperor Xian, it was not easy to do anything more.
What she and Emperor Xian did in the Hundred Herb Garden the most was to drink tea, wordlessly looking at each other, communicating a thousand lines through tears. (TN: The final part of this line is a reference to a poem by Su Shi, a Song Dynasty poet, which he wrote after seeing his wife in a dream ten years after she died.)
Occasionally, when the night was dark and everyone asleep, when no one was by their side, the most intimate action she and Emperor Xian would have was to caress each other's face, to foolishly stare into each other's eyes.
"Tonight, I saw a youth who was very similar to you."
The Divine Empress smiled and said to the night sky.
But right after, her smile instantly faded and her voice grew extremely cold and callous. "He just so happens to also have the surname of Chen."
The autumn rain fell intermittently, not continuously as that of spring, but its gloomy cold was still rather irritating.
The autumn remained as if nothing had happened, but in reality, many events had taken place.
The Divine Empress had not given a single word of her opinion towards this crisis in the capital, but everyone who had the right to know her opinion knew of it.
Thus, the capital returned to peace and tranquility.
The southern diplomatic mission lived in the Li Palace Academy as if apart from the world.
As for the slim and graceful idol of the world that was Princess Luoluo, no more news was heard of her, other than that she was also in the Li Palace.
The Tianhai clan was gathering rare treasures all over, apparently in preparation for the marriage next year of Tianhai Shengxue and the Princess of Ping, but Tianhai Shengxue himself had returned to Snowhold Pass.
Of the students who had passed the pre-examination for the Grand Examination, some of them had been recruited by the great academies, while others assiduously prepared in their inn rooms.
The center of gravity around which the capital's life revolved and the focal point of its discussions had already shifted to the approaching Grand Examination.
As one of its past focal points, the Orthodox Academy was currently extremely peaceful.
After that bout of autumn rain, no one dared to come and make trouble for the Orthodox Academy, nor did the Orthodox Academy have any intention of repairing its gate. The broken-down academy gate was left there, a silent jeer aimed at the Tianhai clan. Perhaps this was what it meant to find problems too broken to fix and so just leave them be.
The heart of the capital remembered the magnificent sight of the Zhou under the Chens, and the number of people who loathed and detested the Tianhai clan was beyond measure. Gradually, the broken-down gate of the Orthodox Academy became a famous sight. Every day, people would come to see, thus displaying their opposition to the Tianhai clan, and even the Divine Empress.
The Orthodox Academy's gatehouse was also a part of the sight—someone who had taken part in the war against the demons, and it was a legendary figure like Jin Yulu! One couldn't even hope to see such a person in other places, but here, one could see Jin Yulu every day.
As for the youths of the Orthodox Academy…amongst the crowd who stopped outside the Orthodox Academy's gate to look, whenever they discussed Xu Yourong's fiancé, their faces would be full of disdain and contempt. However, their voices were all very soft, and no one dared to yell a curse.
Because now, everyone in the capital knew that there were many stones in the Orthodox Academy…
The gate of the Orthodox Academy became a scenic view, but very few people dared to step within this scenic view.
Of course, there were some people who simply didn't care about these things, who could even sleep inside this scenic view.
Under the sunlight, the autumn forest outside the window was suffused with a golden light, a very beautiful scene.
Chen Changsheng drew back his gaze from the window and looked at the waterfall of black hair running down his sheets, feeling somewhat helpless. He thought to himself, just what is going on here?