Note that the Chinese address for princes/princesses/subordinate monarchs is gender neutral.
Chapter 162 – Combustion
Translated by: bbkgs
Edited by: bbkgs
TLCed by: bbkgs
The Sword of Hithering Light is a sword art and also a physical sword, it is Heavenly Academy’s dao sword, or more accurately, it was Vice-principal Zhuang’s personal sword.
The sword isn’t listed upon the Banner of Hundred Arms, but its power is comparable to the weapons listed in the last section of the banner.
If a normal person was to receive three attacks from the sword in succession, no matter how perfect their Purification might be, they would still be cleaved apart, or at the very least, suffer heavy injuries, unable to stand; yet, Chen Chang Sheng pulled himself up by supporting himself on the wall.
He had however, suffered fairly heavy injuries, blood trickled out from the sword wounds on his chest, a rather frightening visage.
“So it’s only up to this degree?”
Zhuang Huan Yu looked at him with an expressionless face, after a momentary pause, he continued, with a slightly harsher tone: “Being only to this degree, what right do you have to be Her Highness’ tutor?”
The “Highness” referred to was obviously not Princess Ping Guo, neither would it have been Prince Chen Liu, it was Her Highness, Luo Luo.
“If you really did completely grasp Discerning Steps, perhaps you could make me vigilant, but your Discerning Steps is, in the end, fake, or perhaps better said to be a forgery; fitting in form, but spurious in truth.”
He continued: “How could it possibly be used for battling? It’s nothing more than an illusion, all that’s needed is for me to close my eyes; your motion technique cannot fool the world itself.”
Zhuang Huan Yu looked at him, continuing his speech: “The same as the method you taught Her Highness for controlling True Essence, it may seem brilliant, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a twisted method that cannot lead the way forwards, using nothing more than minor smarts. If you really wished for Her Highness to have a wonderful future, you should have her continue to stay at Heavenly Academy, using discipline arts researched from the orthodox schools to solve her problem.”
That’s right, this was the reason for his anger against Chen Chang Sheng, this was why he felt dissatisfied with him.
He had hoped that Chen Chang Sheng could be stronger than this, proving to himself and the world that he had the qualifications to be Her Highness’ tutor; unlike this, being so easily beaten by himself, being, in the end, nothing more than a fraud.
“That’s something we will handle ourselves, thank you for your suggestion, but I don’t see myself accepting it,” said Chen Chang Sheng, raising his right arm and using his sleeve to wipe away the blood on his jaw while looking at Zhuang Huan Yu.
Zhuang Huan Yu’s arrow-like brow twitched, he looked at Chen Chang Sheng, displeased, and said in a harsh tone: “Don’t tell me you still wish to obstinately remain reprehensible? Reality has already proven, no matter how perfect your Purification or how strong your defence, you still aren’t a match for a truly strong opponent, your True Essence volume is far too small and your cultivation level is far too low.”
Chen Chang Sheng remained silent, his head lowered, gazing at the short sword’s hilt he was tightly clenching.
Zhuang Huan Yu saw that Chen Chang Sheng didn’t give any response and for some reason, became even more enraged and said, in a frosty voice: “Cultivation is a grand learning; battles in the end, rely upon the use of True Essence for combat. Since ancient times, cultivation first requires Purification, then Meditation, Ethereal Opening; each stage has its reason.”
He continued: “Purification is a requirement for Meditation, but isn’t a means for battling, for your True Essence levels to be so meagre, you must only be at the lower stage of Meditation, yet you seek to use your Purification for achieving victory against your opponent; such arrogance and ignorance, am I wrong in saying you’re on a twisted path? If it was just yourself then so be it, yet you wish to take Her Highness on a path she will not be able to return from?”
The tower was quiet, only the cold voice of the young expert from Heavenly Academy and its strong reverberation could be heard, landing upon the sand covered floor.
“His level is too low, nothing else can be done, in the end, it seems Chen Chang Sheng really could only reach this far.”
In the secluded and tranquil room on the second floor, the voice of Star Seizer Academy’s principal could be heard, it was slightly morose, regretful, yet also conveyed a sense of relief that everything will soon end.
The room was very large, with everyone sitting in their respective positions, remaining silent. Hearing the voice of Zhuang Huan Yu drift in from outside the window, they all came to this same conclusion.
In the previous match, Chen Chang Sheng managed to win against that youthful expert from Shuang City that was ranked around 20th on the proclamation because he had utilised his motion technique to its maximum speed, his sudden usage of Discerning Steps had also caught his opponent off guard and they lost in the end to the power Chen Chang Sheng could bring to bear in close combat.
But his opponent this time is Zhuang Huan Yu.
Zhuang Huan Yu is Heavenly Academy’s most outstanding student, cultivating discipline arts from orthodox schools, each step of his cultivation was exceptionally robust and stable, never rushed, there were also teachers from the academy giving advice and instruction.
His experience was remarkably extensive, being able to rely upon using only his True Essence and manoeuvres to maintain an absolute advantage, directly crushing Chen Chang Sheng and not giving him any chance to get close; this naturally ensured there was no chance of any surprises happening.
“Principal Mao Qiu Yu’s illustrious disciple, is indeed outstanding,” said the Bishop of Temple Seminary in melancholic praise.
The personages in the room had been observing the battles for some time.
Having seen both Zhe Xiu and Gou Han Shi battle, they knew that Zhuang Huan Yu wasn’t the strongest in terms of cultivation level, but he was the most stable.
Perhaps it could better be said that it would be difficult for him ignore levels and defeat someone stronger, Gou Han Shi for example; but against someone weaker, they would absolutely be unable to defeat him.
Especially after observing this current battle, they all had the feeling that Zhuang Huan Yu’s ability was possibly even greater than rumoured, even if he was to go against Her Highness or Zhe Xiu, he could possibly put up a fight, with the outcome hard to predict.
How could his current opponent, Chen Chang Sheng, possibly be his match?
That’s right, the observing personages and Li Palace clergy that were located in different rooms, all of them had already affirmed Chen Chang Sheng’s loss.
After multiple battles, they could confirm, this Orthodox Academy student that couldn’t cultivate a few months ago, had completed his Purification, but he was only at the lower stage of the Meditation Realm; whether in terms of capacity or purity for True Essence, or even in other aspects, he was still vastly inferior to the true experts that were participating in the examination.
Chen Chang Sheng being able to reach this point, entering the final 8, apart from luck, was due to his unimaginable speed and physical strength.
At this point, his luck had already lost all meaning, because his opponent is a true expert; no matter how great a speed or strength, it was meaningless, those true experts can directly crush him through their cultivation level and True Essence volume, as long as they didn’t make a mistake in battle tactics, the way that youthful expert from Shuang City did, Chen Chang Sheng didn’t have any chance of victory.
The difference between levels wasn’t something that could be bridged through determination or courage.
“So True Essence volume really is the most important thing?” Chen Chang Sheng said to himself as he looked at the short sword that was tightly gripped within his hand.
Zhuang Huan Yu looked at him and lightly frowned, not knowing what he meant by saying those words at this moment.
Chen Chang Sheng’s face did not reveal any sort of expression, appearing rather rigid, no one could tell that he was currently struggling within, unable to make a decision as to whether if he should take the risk.
A cultivator’s True Essence came from the night stars, in guiding Starlight for Purification, Star Brilliance, which contained a mysterious energy, would enter the cultivator’s body at the same time. Upon Meditation, once it came into contact with the cultivator’s divine sense, or perhaps better described as ignited, it would convert into True Essence the cultivator can freely manipulate.
Chen Chang Sheng’s True Essence volume was indeed meagre and exceedingly impure, his meridian channels are broken, how could he make the True Essence flow freely?
Yet, his body contained vast quantities of Star Brilliance, in other words, were he to wish for it, he could come to possess greater quantities of True Essence, but that would involve a massive risk.
In the underground space beneath that abandoned well at New North Bridge, in front of that Black Dragon, for some reason unknown to him, he had managed to pass the bottleneck of Purification and successfully perform Meditation.
His body was currently much stronger than it previously was, but he still had difficulty in deciding to once again enter Meditation, because failure would likely mean death.
The medical record contained within the Classic of Meditation’s addendum and his own experience all provided proof for this conclusion.
Going against the spectre of death and taking on such a risk for the first time, required courage; attempting it for a second time required even greater amounts of courage.
Luckily, he had already experienced imminent death twice; once at the Ivy League gathering and another on the day he had forcefully entered Meditation in the underground space, in front of the Black Dragon.
Having experienced death, something that had been on his mind for many years; its real significance was that it allowed him to come to an understanding – when facing death, he would never have surrendered, but now, he also wouldn’t be as fearful as he used to be.
Just as with his current situation, facing against a strong opponent like Zhuang Huan Yu, he wouldn’t surrender, neither would he be afraid.
He raised his head and looked at Zhuang Huan Yu, saying: “Since it’s come to this, I’ll give it a try.”
Try what? Apart from himself, no one within the tower knew, none could guess.
Chen Chang Sheng closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then expelled as much of it as he possibly could.
It was as if an air bubble had gurgled out from an underground fount.
In that breath, his lungs became almost devoid of air, suddenly becoming empty, devoid of everything.
His sea of consciousness awoke, its surface gently undulating with small waves.
A trace of extremely dense divine sense, emerged from within his sea of consciousness, drifting upwards, travelling towards some unknown location in the deep-blue sky above, as if it were leaving this expanse of Heaven and Earth.
Within but a moment, that divine sense returned from the heavens to the ground, shrinking, from without to within, entering his body and arriving at that micro Heaven and Earth.
His divine sense transformed into a gust of wind, freely traversing that Heaven and Earth.
The wind was he; he was the wind.
He saw the nine broken mountain ranges, saw the endless wild plains and saw that lake which was suspended within the air.
Finally, he saw that snow plain.
The snow plain was separated into tens of fragments by exceedingly deep fissures.
In comparison to the meditative introspection he had done some days ago, the snow plain was much thicker, even at this time, there were snowflakes continuously falling.
For these past few days, he had incessantly guided Starlight into his body.
The snowflakes were all extremely pure Star Brilliance, all they needed were to be inflamed by divine essence and they would become a clear water that could nourish this world, a clear water that is True Essence.
In the words of Zhuang Huan Yu, of many others and the countless words recorded upon the scripture; for cultivators, the most important thing, is True Essence.
Chen Chang Sheng remained hesitant for a long time.
He truly was unafraid of death, but he didn’t want to experience that pain once more, because that pain really might cause him to go into a coma, if that were to happen, this match would naturally result in a loss.
But it was something that had to be done.
Hesitation is just hesitation; that gust of wind didn’t halt, it drifted towards a fragment of the snow plain in the Southeast.
Akin to a wildfire descending upon a mountain that is overflowing with dry leaves.
An explosion rung out, the snow plain fragment was violently set ablaze.
In the tranquil and secluded room on the second floor, the important figures all sat in their respective positions silently, waiting for Chen Chang Sheng’s concession of defeat, the end of this match and the final outcome to this year’s Grand Examination, with the tradition faction’s plot, or perhaps attempt, suffering a heavy setback.
Yet, at this moment, an aura suddenly appeared within the tower.
That aura was rather frenzied, intensely fiery, akin to someone having lit a pyre on the floor below that was exceedingly large in size.
Mo Yu’s expression faintly trembled, she stood up, her court gown left behind a blur within the dark room as she instantly moved herself to the window side.
Her gaze went behind the window blinds and rested on the floor below, her face was expressionless, but her eyes revealed a strange glimmer.
All the important personages within the room were experts of a high level, how could they possibly not be able to tell what that aura represented? No one at this moment, was concerned with the ability level Mo Yu just displayed, they all arrived, one after the other, beside the window, looking down towards the lower floor, following what they saw, their expressions immediately changed, momentarily becoming speechless.
Before the stone wall below, Chen Chang Sheng closed his eyes and stood atop the sand, beside his bare feet were grains of sand, soaked through by the blood that was trickling down from his body.
That frenzied and fiery aura, came from his body.
Everyone could clearly feel that his cultivation level was in the process of rising, the True Essence within his body was increasing and his presence was becoming more powerful.
Under the perception of divine sense, he became increasingly radiant.
Akin to a real pyre.
“How could this be possible?”
“How could this be possible.”
They all stood by the window, witnessing this scene, the expressions on their faces became extremely strange, extraordinarily shocked.
Chen Chang Sheng was actually commencing meditative introspection at this moment, transitioning Star Brilliance into True Essence.
The problem was, apart from at the very beginning, when entering the Meditative Realm from the Purification realm, could such a strong aura leak out into the surroundings, all while the cultivator completely burns the Star Brilliance they had previously amassed into True Essence.
After that, the cultivator’s transitions of Star Brilliance into True Essence would be nothing more than a trickle, how could there possibly be such a big disturbance?
Was this Chen Chang Sheng’s first meditative introspection?
Impossible, from the previous few matches, they all clearly knew that he had completely moved from Purification to Meditation in his cultivation, otherwise, his body wouldn’t have any True Essence flow.
Then, what was this current scene?
Could it possibly be, that this world can have someone that could undergo their first meditation twice?
Silence filled the tower.
Everyone was shocked to the point of being speechless.
Whether be it those important figures by the window that were highly knowledgeable, or the Li Palace clergy.
Zhuang Huan Yu was even more shocked, unable to say anything.
The temperature within the tower instantly surged.
Chen Chang Sheng closed his eyes, the sand near his feet rose into the air, the clumps of sand that were formed from his blood, after being scorched by that formless heat, dried and broke apart in turn.
All the blood evaporated into smoke.
Within the dancing sand, Chen Chang Sheng’s complexion became increasingly red, it could be perceived that his body was becoming increasingly hot.
Seeing this scene, one of the Archbishops from the Holy Church lightly held his brows, calming slightly.
He didn’t know how Chen Chang Sheng could undergo his first meditation twice, but he could tell that the youth wasn’t able to control the Star Brilliance’s burning within his body.
“If this continues, even if he doesn’t burn to death, his mind will be damaged from the heat,” said Prince Chen Liu in a worried voice.
Only by successfully completing Purification, could a cultivator’s body withstand the temperatures and the power that came from transitioning Star Brilliance into True Essence in their first Meditation.
But Chen Chang Sheng’s current Meditation was evidently rather strange, the amount of Star Brilliance that was burning within his body seemed slightly excessive, his body’s temperature was hard to restrain, continuously rising.
The Tower of Purging Dust became increasingly hot, outside of the tower, there was suddenly the sound of cicadas, as if Summer had arrived early.
Deep within the Li Palace complex, there is a palace.
Within that palace, in a corner, there is a grey flowerpot.
Within the pot, there is a plant, with multiple green stems, yet there existed but a single green leaf.
The edge of the green leaf was slightly withered, lightly curled.
“One’s memory really does worsen when getting old, to have actually forgotten the watering.”
His Holiness walked up to the flowerpot, gazing at the green leaf and sighing.
He then picked up a wooden ladle and extended it towards the pool besides the pot.