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The Mount Li Sword Sect and South Stream Temple were both being lodged at the Orthodox Academy.
Gou Hanshi's group and Ye Xiaolian's group were both very familiar with each other, and they were also very familiar with the people of the Orthodox Academy.
The moment Tang Thirty-Six and Guan Feibai met, they began to engage in their old routines of frigid irony and scorching satire, calling each other all kinds of wonderful names and issuing every kind of jeer.
Everyone else had already gotten used to this sight and was rather bored of it. Too lazy to mediate, they retired to the rooms Su Moyu had arranged for them to wash up and rest.
On the same night, a sumptuous feast was held in the Orthodox Academy. The small kitchen on the other side of the lake was once more put to use, and a few of the thinner blue lobsters were even sent over for free, much to the pleasure of Ye Xiaolian and the other girls of South Stream Temple. However, the Mount Li Sword Sect disciples, who were born in poverty, still found it somewhat difficult to accustom themselves to a life of luxury.
Of course, Guan Feibai took the chance to jeer at Tang Thirty-Six again.
As the night deepened, though the bonfires along the lake were not yet extinguished, several of the Mount Li Sword Hall elders, Ping Xuan, and Yi Chen brought away the members of their sects that did not like excitement, but Tang Thirty-Six was not prepared to let the festivities end. He called over Chen Fugui, Fu Xinzhi, and Chu Wenbin and had them compete with Bai Cai and the others in drinking wine. For a moment, a fierce battle stirred and it seemed like time had gone back to that year's Ivy Festival.
Gou Hanshi laughed at this scene, then, unnoticed, he turned and walked toward that house in the darkness.
On the balcony at the top floor of the house, he saw Chen Changsheng bathed in the starlight.
Gou Hanshi calmly and earnestly bowed, then he sighed. "Just getting a meeting with you now is truly very difficult."
He did not address Chen Changsheng respectfully because he had already bowed to the Pope. He was now speaking with an old friend.
His comment also had two meanings.
Other than the effects brought about by Chen Changsheng's change in status, Chen Changsheng had also spent the last few days deep within the Li Palace, never once showing his face.
Whether it was an old friend like Gou Hanshi or an influential figure like the Mutuo Clan's Old Lady, they found it very hard to meet with him.
No one understood how Chen Changsheng was able to remain so calm at such a tense moment, acting like this matter had nothing to do with him.
Was he not worried about unrest in the capital and the specter of war?
Chen Changsheng explained to Gou Hanshi, "I've spent the last few days practicing my sword."
This had been the explanation the Li Palace had made to the world.
Gou Hanshi could sense his Qi and was sure that he was still very far from that threshold, which confused him even more.
At such a tense moment, if there was still no chance of breakthrough, how could one put all their mind on cultivation?
Even if you want to do this, how can you calm your mind? Are you not worried about walking the path to madness?
Gou Hanshi suddenly saw Chen Changsheng's eyes and vaguely understood something.
Chen Changsheng's eyes were bright and clean, like the clearest of streams, free of the smallest impurity.
How could one calm one's heart? Only if one's mind was at peace.
Gou Hanshi asked, "Just what is Junior Sister Yourong planning to do?"
Chen Changsheng shook his head. "I really don't know."
Startled, Gou Hanshi asked, "Then how can you be so calm?"
Chen Changsheng did not directly answer the question. Instead, he asked, "Before coming, what did your senior brother say?"
Gou Hanshi smiled at these words, as he now essentially understood everything.
Before the disciples of the Mount Li Sword Sect set off, Qiushan Jun had not said anything, nor had he given any sort of order, because the entire continent knew how he would choose.
Even if Xu Yourong had decided to flip over the world, Qiushan Jun would still support her.
Chen Changsheng could naturally do this as well.
Gou Hanshi walked to the edge of the balcony, looking down at the bonfires along the lake and the lights of countless homes beyond the academy walls. "This matter is truly very difficult."
He was well-versed in the Daoist Canon and was the strategist for Mount Li. On the journey, he had attempted to deduce Xu Yourong's thoughts ten-some times, all of them pointing to the same place.
Even now, no one was sure what Xu Yourong wanted to do, but some people had obtained the same conclusion.
Both involved killing people, but compared to the killing of Zhou Tong attempted by Wang Po and Chen Changsheng three years ago on that snowy day, it was many times more difficult to kill the person that Xu Yourong wanted to kill.
Chen Changsheng said, "Perhaps you are all wrong."
Gou Hanshi thought, Junior Sister has created such a display that she won't just give up.
Chen Changsheng said, "I feel that she will choose a simpler method."
Gou Hanshi felt he understood what was being implied and asked, "He is your master. Do you think he will agree?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "I think there's a forty percent chance."
Gou Hanshi asked, "Victory?"
Chen Changsheng pondered the question, then replied, "Still forty percent?"
Gou Hanshi shook his head and said, "Only twenty percent."
This was his view, Qiushan Jun's view, and the view of the Mount Li Sword Sect Master.
Wang Po had only a twenty percent chance of defeating Shang Xingzhou.
Chen Changsheng knew that his insight in this aspect was inferior to the Mount Li Sword Sect's, so he fell silent.
Gou Hanshi suddenly asked, "If Shang Xingzhou doesn't return?"
After some thought, Chen Changsheng answered, "I don't know."
Gou Hanshi looked at him and said, "I must know."
Chen Changsheng gazed at the lights of the capital's countless homes and thought of that night three years ago, his eyes turning grave.
"I only know that I don't like people dying and I don't like war, especially here."
After a pause, Gou Hanshi said, "This is a blessing for all the people."
Chen Changsheng bid him farewell, but he did not leave immediately. Instead, he went to a room on the first floor.
It was the outermost room, guarding the stairs—Zhexiu's room.
Chen Changsheng opened the wardrobe and gazed pensively at the thin garment within.
Just like three years ago, everyone knew that Wang Po had come to the capital, but no one knew where he was.
Some went to the ginkgo tree of Tanzhe Temple, and others searched day and night for him by the shores of the Luo River, but not a trace of him could be found.
If the present Wang Po did not want to be seen, who besides Shang Xingzhou would be able to see him?
From a certain perspective, he was only willing to be seen by Shang Xingzhou.
On a certain morning, the tense atmosphere manifested into reality.
In a single night, the Imperial Palace received several dozen memorials.
These memorials came from the princely estates, the ministries, and the young and vigorous military factions represented by the Eastern Stallion Divine General Peng Shihai.
They had only one request: Execute the leftover evils of the Tianhai government.
To assign Wang Po as a leftover evil of the Tianhai government was naturally completely unreasonable.
This was just the Chen princes and the ministers finally making their stances clear.
At the same time, several dozen letters were delivered overnight to Luoyang's Monastery of Eternal Spring.
These letters contained real blood.
All the officials of the government, military and civil, had wept blood onto their letters.
If the venerable Daoist did not come out, what would happen to the world?
If Chen Changsheng wanted to meet Wang Po, he probably could, but he had no such intentions.
The letters sent to Luoyang also failed to attract any of his attention.
Other than the one night he went to meet Gou Hanshi in the Orthodox Academy, he remained deep in the Li Palace, seeing no one.
Daoist Siyuan hurried back from Fenggu County while Linghai Zhiwang exhausted himself to the extreme keeping a watch on the Imperial Court and the army. Hu Thirty-Two was even busier, shedding a great deal of weight.
They stood outside the stone room, helplessly watching Chen Changsheng in the middle of his sea of swords.
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