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Chapter 615 – The Cry of a Young Phoenix Is Just Clear, Nothing More
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
After some time passed—perhaps very long, perhaps very short—Chen Changsheng awoke from his daze and fled far away.
The little Black Dragon watched his back vanish into the darkness, her face revealing a tinge of fiendishness, especially those vertical pupils of hers. The emotions within them were abnormally cold.
The restriction Wang Zhice had left behind on the stone wall made it impossible for her to recover her true strength, but if she was willing, she could still easily snatch Chen Changsheng and eat him in one bite, or else how could she be the so-called 'taboo' of the Imperial Palace that no one dared to mention?
But she did not do it. The anger in her pupils gradually dissipated, leaving only loneliness, chagrin, and obstinacy.
She clearly understood that Chen Changsheng had escaped not because he was afraid of being eaten, but because he wanted to escape from something else.
Without the Black Dragon's help, Chen Changsheng had no means of using that pool to return to the surface. The path he chose was the one he had taken on his first time, when he had entered the underground space by accident. He pushed upon the heavy stone door and returned to the cold palace which he had not seen for a very long time. When he saw the distant Weiyang Palace, he couldn't help but feel somewhat emotional.
At the time, Mo Yu had used some miraculous ability to borrow the array of the Imperial Palace and transport him from Weiyang Palace to imprison him in this place. She probably did not expect that he really would bravely venture into the underground space to confront the legendary 'taboo', thus finding a thread of hope. Similarly, he also did not expect that although the 'taboo' was cruel and ruthless on the surface, in reality, it was a somewhat naive and ignorant dragon girl, nor that he would actually have so many connections and stories with this girl.
Standing under the autumn tree by the Black Dragon Pond and examining the famous Tong Palace Array, he fell into deep thought. He was well-versed in the Daoist Canon and had also done considerable research on the topic of arrays. Although he was not at the level of Xu Yourong or Gou Hanshi, amongst the world's cultivators, he would still be considered quite outstanding. It was for this reason that when he was imprisoned by this array, he was able to discover that its roots were deep within this pond.
For the purpose of eliminating the restriction left behind by Wang Zhice, he had prepared for a very long time. Together with Xu Yourong's help, he was confident that it would take at most ten years for those two chains to corrode and lose effectiveness, and the little Black Dragon would regain her freedom. If she were to cultivate that copy of the Scroll of Time he had left in the underground space, she could shorten the time even more.
However, by that time, he would no longer be here.
This was what was meant by 'Thousands of years pass, the white clouds wander carelessly, things are the same but the people are not, the sapling has grown into a lush canopy'.
But in the end, there were still some people or matters that could not be let go.
South Stream Temple had a divine artifact that carried the same name as the famous array of this cold palace. They were both called the Tong Palace.
The Tong Palace was in her hands.
She was probably in the Imperial Palace right now, not far from where he was.
Chen Changsheng circled around the pond, following the stone path to the Tong Palace's back door. Coming to a forest, he gazed at the distant cluster of palace halls.
He did not like dying alone, but he did not want her to see him leaving this world.
In a little while, he was prepared to go to the Garden of Zhou. Nobody was there, nobody could enter.
But before that, there were still some things he needed to do.
From the forest in front of him came a rustling sound. Several of the now yellowing, but still vigorous green, leaves were falling down.
The Black Goat emerged from the forest, slightly tilting its head to the side as it looked at Chen Changsheng, seemingly somewhat puzzled. Silently, it asked why he appeared here today instead of by the pool.
Chen Changsheng clasped his hands and bowed towards the ground at the Black Goat, very seriously prostrating himself towards it, saying, "Many thanks for these last two years of your care."
The Black Goat turned its head towards a certain hall amongst that distant collection of palaces.
Chen Changsheng understood its meaning and shook his head, saying, "I'm not going there."
The Black Goat turned back around and calmly looked at him, its gloomy eyes like the deepest darkness.
"I've lived my entire life seriously, or perhaps rigidly, because I hoped that I could live a few more years this way. Now that I've confirmed that there's no way for me to live a few years longer, after carefully thinking about it, my greatest regret is that I've never lived an unbridled life. I cultivate the Dao of following my heart, but just when have I ever truly followed my heart?"
From the moment he had confirmed that he was going to die, Chen Changsheng had never divulged his true thoughts to any person, but now he was pouring his heart out to the Black Goat.
"So before I die, I've decided to something that I've always wanted to do. If I can succeed, I think that I'll be very happy."
Kill to the east, kill to the west, kill everything, but it was still all about the word 'kill'.
Kill everyone that opposes you, then there will naturally be no one left that opposes you. Kill and cut down this world that dares to defy your will, and this world will naturally obey your will. But if everyone in the world submits? How to deal with things beyond the world? What about the hearts of the people?
After hearing the Divine Empress's words, Xu Yourong fell quiet for a very long time.
This was the Empress's tyrannical proclamation and also the Empress's teachings to her sole successor.
She had to ponder this for a while. At the same time, she had to silently calculate and plan.
Back when she had said to Chen Changsheng that she was entering the Imperial Palace to request the Empress's assistance, Chen Changsheng had said that there was no meaning to it.
Seeing the Divine Empress's cold attitude, it seemed that this really was the case.
In truth, this was a result that anyone could have predicted.
But she had still come to the Imperial Palace.
So that she could do all that was humanly possible and then leave the rest to the heavens? Because she hoped that she could beg for several dozen days of peace and quiet for Chen Changsheng?
No. Though she was a person of the Dao, she had her own edge and did not practice the principle of nonaction.
From the moment they left Mount Han to last night, she had always been calculating, her forefinger never leaving the Fated Star Plate.
She was attempting to see the Heavenly Dao, to pull apart the dense fog of fate and see the true path forward, but all the results of her calculation were the same.
In order for Chen Changsheng to escape from his fate, the only, almost illusory, string of fate had its other end connected to the Empress's body.
Logically speaking, this punishment of the Heavenly Dao that Chen Changsheng was suffering had always been the oath that the Empress had sworn to the starry sky taking effect, and the person that wanted him to die the most was also the Empress. Thus, if she wanted to untie that string of fate, it was only right that the solution be found on the Empress's body.
But she knew that the meaning faintly displayed by fate was not this.
To see a mountain as a mountain, as not a mountain, as still a mountain…mountains were still mountains in the end, but their meanings were completely different. (TN: This line is a modification of a Zen koan.)
So she left the Orthodox Academy and came to the Imperial Palace.
She firmly believed that this action would bring about some sort of change, yet a long time had elapsed between her arrival and now with no change occurring.
The porcelain cup still turned under her finger, seeming to never have stopped from daytime until the dark night, like a water wheel in a river, like time itself.
"The art of deduction is ultimately to see all possible changes, yet the Heavenly Dao is indescribable and uncountable, so how can it be calculated?"
The Divine Empress suddenly placed the porcelain cup on the table and glanced at her. This single glance seemed to have already seen through all matters.
After a pause, Xu Yourong responded, "Although we cannot truly touch it, we can still get somewhat closer."
The Divine Empres rebuked, "Right now, you can't even clearly calculate the minds of others, so why speak of getting close to the Heavenly Dao?"
Xu Yourong's face somewhat paled because she had faintly sensed that the change she was waiting for had already occurred, but…that change was not what she wanted.
"You laid down a sword array in the Orthodox Academy and even requested the Li Palace to send assistance. You then came to the Imperial Palace to see me, believing that you could cut him off from the world, cut me off from his world. You would wait for the Heavenly Dao to naturally move as you attempted to find the tiniest change, but you calculated so much, yet you forgot to calculate one thing."
The Divine Empress calmly gazed at her and said, "You forgot that he was also calculating."
Xu Yourong knew that she had made a mistake.
If Chen Changsheng himself left the Orthodox Academy, what then? If she was not present, no person could prevent him from leaving.
The Empress had summoned her into the palace precisely to create this sort of opportunity for Chen Changsheng.
In other words, when she was attempting to choose a way out for Chen Changsheng, the Empress had long since understood what sort of choice Chen Changsheng would make.
"Empress, how can you understand him? Is it because you two are mother and son?" Xu Yourong gazed at her, her voice becoming somewhat clear and cold.
The Divine Empress replied, "When the moment came, you still did not forget to mention this matter in order to pluck at my heartstrings. You're quite a persistent child."
Stubbornness appeared on Xu Yourong's beautiful face as she asked, "But is what I said not a fact?"
"Of course it's not a fact." The Divine Empress's voice seemed as heavy as jade or gold. "I understand him solely because I've understood him before."
She stood up and walked once more to the window, gazing beyond the palace halls into the distance.
The evening clouds of twilight had transformed into a vast sky of stars. Her voice was also much more indifferent than it was in the daytime, seeming somewhat cold.
"In the eyes of ordinary folk, the so-called Saints know all, yet they do not know that after crossing that threshold, we still stand on the red dust of the mortal world. The reason Saints do not err is that Saints cannot err. Once they err, the red dust will cover their bodies and they will find it a great challenge to free themselves of it."
These words accompanied a clear and cold voice to fall upon Xu Yourong's ears and heart.
"I have never feared such things as the Heavenly Dao, or fate. It wants to make you and me oxen and horse, but I will make it my oxen and horse. I will take up the reins and harness, hang a heavy plow upon it, and use it to open up new lands and expand the kingdom, use it to make good weather for crops. Yet now that I look at it, my heart which thought of putting the Heavenly Dao to use was admitting that it had a use, admitting that it was in some way more powerful than my own abilities. And this was the greatest mistake I made back then. The moment I made this conclusion, my soul was stained with dust that I can never wash off."
The Divine Empress turned to gaze at Xu Yourong.
Perhaps because she was speaking of the Heavenly Dao, her expression was very solemn and serene, her perfect face suffused with a divine aura.
Xu Yourong clearly understood that this was also a teaching, and besides that, there was a true meaning that probably no one other than her had heard.
Ever since she was a child, this sort of scene had occurred many times, so she had long since grown accustomed to them, but this time was different.
Because the Empress was speaking of the most mysterious, most high, most wondrous Heavenly Dao, but the contents were extremely disrespectful to the Heavenly Dao.
Furthermore, she vaguely understood why the Empress was telling her this.
"In the future, there will come a day where you will be as strong as me. I hope that you can be even stronger, so I will not permit you to make the same mistake I did."
The Divine Empress looked into her eyes and said, "If the Heavenly Dao is before you, you should cut it down. If threads of affection are before you, it's even more proper to cut them down."
When Xu Yourong heard this final line, she received proof of her conjecture and her body went cold.
"You are my successor."
The Divine Empress walked in front of her and looked down upon her, calmly continuing, "Any person or matter that will harm your Great Dao, I will kill and cut down."
Xu Yourong's face paled even more. Her usually incomparably bright eyes slightly dimmed.
"Qiushan greatly pleases me, but you would not accept him. This also greatly pleases me.
"You love Chen Changsheng. Although there are many aspects worth liking about him, I still do not like him.
"Your life should not be wasted on these senseless things.
"So the more you care about Chen Changsheng, the more I want to kill him."
Xu Yourong said nothing for a very long time.
Her face continued to pale until, finally, it was like snow, utterly devoid of any other color.
But her eyes had gradually regained their former brightness, like a mountain forest once more welcoming the morning sun after a fog.
Then, the snowy plain seemed to grow a winter plum, seemed to gain a splash of red. The plum blossom gradually bloomed and her face grew redder and redder.
With a hum, a gale howled through the hall and two pure white wings, ten-odd zhang in length, opened behind her back!
She flew into the air, exuding fierce rays of light and a divine and powerful Qi.
She burned the Heavenly Phoenix true blood in her body, raising her cultivation to its peak, even surpassing the upper limits that her body could bear.
She was the Holy Maiden of the Orthodoxy, representing holiness and light, carrying the infinite divine might granted by the starry sky.
She was still only at the peak of Ethereal Opening and of course had not truly entered the Divine Domain, but in her current state, she already had some of the characteristics and aura of the Divine Domain, completely capable of fighting a battle with the top experts of the Proclamation of Liberation. Even the few experts on the level of the Storms of the Eight Directions would require some time and techniques in order to completely suppress her.
She had never thought about threatening the Divine Empress, only striving for some time so that she could break this plan that might have been created by the Heavenly Dao or by the minds of men.
Even if she could only release some light, if she could light up the Great Zhou Imperial Palace, perhaps she could illuminate the capital and let the Li Palace see.
However, in the next moment, the wind in this palace hall ceased.
The holy light exuded in all directions vanished without a trace.
The two pure white wings behind her drooped weakly to the floor.
A hand was clutched around her throat.
It was the Divine Empress's hand.
It seemed a very delicate hand, but now it was incomparably terrifying.
The Divine Empress's body was not at all tall or large, but her hand held Xu Yourong aloft in the air.
Two black wings a hundred-plus zhang long unfurled behind her, breaking through the two walls of the vast palace hall, slowly rising up and down in the darkness.
This scene seemed abnormally mystical and monstrous, yet it also had a sort of hair-raising beauty.