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When the plain and clean sword glow rose from the forest in the southwest region of the Mausoleum of Books, Shang Xingzhou's right hand that had been hanging at his side moved.
He was prepared to grip his sword.
Wang Po's reaction was faster and more straightforward.
He gripped the hilt of his blade.
Shang Xingzhou was now in the same situation as Wang Po. If he moved, he would have to face those sword glows and Wang Po at the same time.
Just a moment ago, it was he that made it so that Wang Po could not move. The situation had now been reversed.
The sword glows continued to increase in number, densely filling the sky as they rose from various parts of the Mausoleum of Books.
The sword glows flying through the sky were dulled by the light of the sun, but their sword intents became more distinct. They formed flickering lines that wove together into a tight net.
The entirety of the rain of Sacred Light arrows crashed into the net of swords.
In a dense and ear-grating clattering, grinding, and hacking, the arrows began to splinter and break.
There were far more arrows than sword glows in the Mausoleum of Books.
But the sword glows also carried Sacred Light, and it was purer and thicker than the Sacred Light attached to the arrows.
As the arrows broke, milky white rays of light began to shine, illuminating the south face of the Mausoleum of Books with startling clarity.
The several hundred sword glows gradually faded, returning to the ground.
The arrows in the sky had all been sliced to pieces that were now drifting down like catkins, blown willy-nilly by the wind.
White dresses were also fluttering in the wind.
Several hundred disciples of South Stream Temple began to emerge from the forest, from the sides of the stone paths, by the shallow canals.
It was like several hundred white flowers had suddenly bloomed on the mountainside of the Mausoleum of Books.
The disciples of South Stream Temple had been in the Mausoleum of Books this entire time.
They had used some unknown method to bypass the surveillance of the Imperial Court, and even the priests of the Li Palace.
Of course, not even this green mountain could hide their sword intents from Shang Xingzhou's eyes.
But Wang Po had used the Dao of his blade to successfully obstruct Shang Xingzhou's gaze.
At this beautiful, even magnificent sight, Shang Xingzhou thought of a phrase, causing him to glance at Wang Po.
After several hundred years, the Human race welcomed another generation of blooming wildflowers.
Wang Po's appearance had heralded the start of this generation.
In the southern region of the Mausoleum of Books, white dresses swayed.
The sword array had been formed, Shang Xingzhou held within.
All the disciples of South Stream Temple had appeared here.
This was without question the strongest form of the South Stream Temple sword array in the last one thousand years.
Not even the sword array that Zhou Dufu had encountered when he was forcing his way into Holy Maiden Peak exceeded it.
Shang Xingzhou was on the Divine Path, not deep within the sword array. Moreover, an array had to have a gate of life.
Logically speaking, he should have been escaping at his fastest speed right now, but he did not.
Because he knew that since the architect of this plan had put all their mind into it, they would definitely not have left a gap.
Xu Yourong appeared on the Divine Path, standing at a higher place than Shang Xingzhou.
She was dressed in white robes. Her expression was calm and her face beautiful.
If Shang Xingzhou wanted to break out of the South Stream Temple sword array, this was the only path.
Just a moment ago, it was Wang Po that was prepared to intrude upon the Divine Path and Shang Xingzhou that wanted to stop him.
Now, it was Shang Xingzhou who had to intrude upon the Divine Path.
Attacker and defender had instantly been reversed.
In the current situation, it seemed like Shang Xingzhou was contending against an army alone.
But he said nothing and Xu Yourong said nothing, because both of them knew that just as the positions of attacker and defender could be reversed at any moment, so could the numbers on both sides.
It had nothing to do with whether one was in the right or in the wrong. It was just a matter of cold and uninteresting numbers.
Dust rose from outside the Mausoleum of Books. The Orthodoxy cavalry and the Imperial Guards were in a stalemate while two divisions of terrifying black-armored cavalry were rushing over.
Many of the army's and ministries' experts had already infiltrated the Mausoleum of Books.
A flock of birds would occasionally rise from the trees in alarm, crying out in fear as they flew into the distance.
The places where no alarmed birds could be seen and where no activity could be observed were actually even more dangerous.
The assassins of the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets and the blue-clothed Daoists of the Monastery of Eternal Spring were probably in the forests there.
Flying carriages were extremely difficult to make and similarly expensive. They were also very slow, so they had always been regarded as flashy and useless.
In the entire continent, only the capital and Xuelao City had them. Many people believed that this was just the humans and demons flaunting their capabilities, treating flying carriages like decorations.
But the Prince of Xiang had chosen to take a flying carriage to the Mausoleum of Books today.
It naturally wasn't because he was concerned that the streets of the capital were packed with troops, and it also wasn't because he was in a hurry.
He didn't have a mount like a Red Cloud Qilin, but it was completely within his capabilities to fly over.
He had chosen a flying carriage precisely because they were slow.
He sat within the carriage, his two hands on his plump belly as he incessantly sighed.
Flying carriages… time… why can't you be just a little slower?
The princes of the Chen clan had never been ones to just sit back to drink and eat all day. They were superb horsemen, and many of the princes had already traveled from their homes to the Mausoleum of Books.
They were not surprised to discover that Prince Chen Liu was not present, but when they saw that flying carriage in the sky, they couldn't help but frown.
The Prince of Zhongshan had arrived much earlier. He stood by a river bank some distance away and gazed at the Mausoleum of Books with chilly eyes. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking.
The Old Lady of the Mutuo clan and the head of the Wu clan had also arrived, though they were standing on the south side. Just like the Prince of Zhongshan, they were also standing on a river bank.
All three were people who knew many secrets but still did not have a complete understanding of the situation, so they had the subconscious desire to stand a little farther.
Other than those attending the Grand Examination, all the experts of the south had come to the Mausoleum of Books.
Three tall and thin men stood at the very front, their bodies dressed in hempen clothes and covered in sword intent.
They were from Mount Li and were elders of the Sword Hall. Killing was their area of expertise.
The Eastern Stallion Divine General stood in front of his troops, looking at those three Sword Hall elders with a rather gloomy expression.
He had once worked together with these three elders in the snowy plains of the north. He knew how formidable they were and would naturally not underestimate them.
"Once the army arrives, gather up all the array masters. Be sure to kill these three people at the first moment."
At these words, the Xiaoling Divine General was quiet for a few moments, then he asked, "How many array masters will die that way?"
The Eastern Stallion Divine General harshly said, "It's worth it, or else we'll all die to the swords of those three."
Shang Xingzhou calmly gazed at Xu Yourong. He was not angry for having fallen into a trap, nor was he nervous. No negative emotions could be seen. On the contrary, he seemed very interested in all this.
He had worked together with her in White Emperor City. At the time, he had greatly admired her talent, intelligence, and resolve.
As her elder, he even felt that Chen Changsheng could not match up to her, even though Chen Changsheng was his disciple.
Today, he admired her even more.
The experts of the noble clans and sects outside the Mausoleum of Books, and even Wang Po, were all her chess pieces, and they were willing to be her chess pieces. This was a most extraordinary feat.
She had gathered this momentum to compel him to return to the capital and pushed the situation to this point. Her tempo was as clear and well-defined as a horse stamping through ice and snow. The entire plan had been extremely beautiful.
The question was, what did she plan to do next?
"Several decades ago, Emperor Xian's illness worsened and Tianhai went back on her word, unwilling to hand over the throne. From that moment on, whenever I set forth on a great undertaking, I would always ask myself, 'After that?' Only by directly asking one's Dao heart can one get the true answer and know what oneself is truly thinking. If I had thought those two words back then, perhaps I would not have met her in the Hundred Herb Garden, and so there would naturally be no need for what happened later on. Now, it is your turn to answer this question. You wanted me to come back to the capital. I came back, so now… what happens after that?"
Shang Xingzhou's voice was very calm and flat.
Xu Yourong's voice was also very calm. "If you are not willing to agree to my request, there will be no 'after'."
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