“The rest of you are excused.”
Emperor Tang Mingshi waved his hand, indicating for everyone in the back garden to withdraw.
The young girl who played the guzheng delicately rose, her long, silky hair spreading out like a waterfall, slowly departing under the escort of the other singers and dancers. Tang Mingshi stared blankly at the girl’s figure, his gaze somewhat reluctant to let her leave, in spite of the very aggrieved look in his concubine’s eyes.
Very quickly, the back garden was empty.
The Daoist in grey robes stepped forward and said: “If this woman is to your liking, Your Imperial majesty, simply take her as a secondary concubine.”1
Tang Mingshi was honestly at a young and vigorous age, with great ambition in his heart. Upon hearing the grey-robed Daoist’s words, he came to his senses a bit. He took out a Five Dragons copper goblet and sipped some wine,2 downplaying his failure to uphold etiquette just then. “This woman currently enjoys a famous reputation in Chang’an, and she is the pet of the nobility. If We were to seize her forcefully like this, then we would be very lacking in face.”
“All people of the land are servants of the king. If these subjects dare mock Your Imperial Majesty, simply kill them.” The Daoist disagreed.
This Daoist was named Wu Tunan,3 monastic name Daoist Skyless.4 He was a Daoist under the imperial family’s employ, specialized in the arts of pill concoction. In the past, he served the Great Ancestor Emperor, and his own position was formidable. Even the current imperial family treated him with propriety. Back then, Tang Mingshi broke through to Saint Of War at the age of eighteen and unified his spirit and body. Later, he reached Greater Thunder Tribulation and seized the throne at age thirty. Other than with the imperial family’s background, the contributions of the Daoist’s pills could not go unnoticed.
Tang Mingshi said: “Compared to Daoist Skyless, We are not as mighty as Daoist, able to do as one pleases. Such pleasant words for the ruler of a country, but nevertheless, misgivings are everywhere. We must think of the country.”
“Thinking of the country is the same as wielding one’s power for their own desire.” Wu Tunan’s face wore a sneer. How could he not see through this emperor’s thoughts. He had heard that Lord Chang’an had recently made shocking and meritorious contributions, expanding his power enormously. Perhaps the emperor was thinking of finding an opportunity to get rid of Lord Chang’an.
Tang Mingshi matter-of-factly said: “Without authority, there is no country.”
“This Daoist is merely without a sky.” Wu Tunan laughed aloud.
Tang Mingshi sneered. The only person in the Great Chong Dynasty who would dare speak so unscrupulously to him was none other than the Daoist in front of him.
Wu Tunan said: “This Daoist also concocts pills to indulge in my own desire. But enough of that.” He then flourished his hand, showing a dazzling golden pill. This pill had an air of water and fire. It was an Inner Pill of the highest purity.
“Daoist Skyless, this Water And Fire Fortune Pill5 is complete?” Tang Mingshi’s eyes lit up.
“Just barely. Between the Six Layers of Lesser Tribulation and the THree Layers of Greater Tribulation, this should help you with no issue.” Wu Tunan said.
Tang Mingshi cautiously took the pill, overjoyed at the unexpected development. Even if he was the ruler of the Great Chong Dynasty, he could not help but be as giddy as a child in the face of such a superior pill.
“There has been a breakthrough in the ‘Bowl Stars Pill’6 that This Daoist recently wanted to refine. This Daoist wishes to ask Your Imperial Majesty for help finding some materials.”
It was said that the Bowl Stars Pill was the ultimate concoction art of the school that Wu Tunan studied. A lifelong pursuit, his decades of service in the imperial court was because of this.
Legend said that this pill could penetrate the mystery of “Star Generals.” Tang Mingshi had heard vague rumors, but he could not easily ask for clarification. He did not dare be neglectful and thus agreed.
Wu Tunan nodded in satisfaction.
Before he left, he suddenly recalled something: “This Daoist heard that someone in the Divine Warrior Examination composed the Hanshan Asks Shide saying?”
“None other than the son of Lord Chang’an.” Upon mention of this matter, the Tang Emperor’s expression immediately sunk.
Wu Tunan smiled. It seemed that this matter made this Emperor of the Great Chong very displeased.
“This dialogue shocked the Wanshou Temple. We did not think that even you would be astonished, too, Daoist Skyless. This child is very intelligent indeed.” Tang Mingshi was solemn.
“The Wanshou Temple has cultivated their Zen for centuries. They have countless classics. This is the first saying to have piqued This Daoist’s interest, and for it to surprisingly have come from the mouth of a young man not in the school, this is very interesting.”
“If there is time, This Daoist actually wants to see him.” Wu Tunan pondered. “Perhaps he has some grasp of This Daoist’s pursuits.”
“According to the timing, he should be coming to Chang’an. Your Imperial Majesty don’t you want to go throttle him?” Wu Tunan blinked.
The Tang Emperor showed a bitter smile. Indeed, he really wanted to, but he heard that even the Lesser Thunder Tribulation cultivator he had dispatched from the Four High Officials to kill the boy had vanished without a trace. In order to kill Lord Chang’an’s son, he would need to dispatch an even stronger cultivator. When that time came, all of the dynasty would be shocked.
“It seems this boy perhaps can truly obtain zhuangyuan in the Divine Warrior.” Wu Tunan meaningfully said.
“Then We shall wait and see.” Tang Mingshi disapprovingly smiled, evidently not very worried.
Wu Tunan turned and cheerfully left.
After he departed, the Tang Emperor’s expression immediately became grim.
When Chen Mo was still a day’s journey away from Chang’an, he landed the flying chariot. As the national capital, Chang’an had strict enforcement of the laws, and they forbade any cultivator from flying in the sky above Chang’an without authorization. In particular, it was a capital offense for any cultivator to ride a sword in the ten li perimeter around the imperial palace. Of course, with Chen Mo’s status, these laws had no way to bind him, however, Chen Mo did not want to be too ostentatious, which would otherwise draw unneeded trouble.
Now coinciding with the beginning of the court examination, all of the Great Chong Dynasty’s provincial jinshi were gathering in front of a hall, receiving the imperial family’s respect. However, only the top three candidates could actually think to step foot into the throne room. Right now, each traveler and their horse were assembled in Chang’an. Carriages both large and small as well as an endless line of boats came from all over. The scene was very spectacular.
While Chen Mo strolled, he also used the Divine Hawk Eyesight at the same time. Currently, his “School Of Mind Divine Intent” was already somewhat mature. His usage of the Divine Hawk Eyesight had already reached a new level. He could look through kilometer over flat ground, his sight clear as a blazing flame.
Chen Mo sized up all the juren participating in the Court Examination, a good preparation for the Divine Warrior Examination.
The juren able to enter the court examination were practically all Three Flowers Overhead strength, but those who were like Chen Mo, at the Saint Of War Realm that unified spirit and flesh, were few and far between. However, this was not strange. Three Flowers Gathered Overhead Saint Of War inherently required enormous experience, learning, and polishing to be achieved.
Chen Mo had two lifetimes of experience and three Star Contracts. Even his opponents had all been renowned Fiend Stars. With experience like his, to be able to reach Saint Of War was not strange at all. Other warriors basically could not achieve the same.
Thinking of this, Chen Mo recalled that unparalleled, absolute genius of the Great Chong Dynasty, Jiang Yanyu.
“I heard that she already broke through Saint Of War. She even has the strength to defeat a Thunder Tribulation adept. I wonder what experiences she’s gone through.” Chen Mo inwardly pondered.
With Jiang Yanyu’s existence, any other genius would pale in comparison.
This Princess Yanyu’s reputation was currently second to only the imperial family’s Star General, Huan Wen.
Just as he was lost in thought, a curse suddenly came from in front.
“You damned plebian, you would surprisingly dare to slander our Princess Yanyu, how bold of you.”
Chen Mo looked. The road was packed with a crowd of warriors heading for the capital. A group in particular was hurling curses.
Chen Mo walked over. He first spotted a youth in magnificent silken clothes in the middle of berating someone. This youth wore high-quality garb, and the belt on his waist was decorated with treasures. His aura faintly manifested two flowers. Beside him, his group of friends were also dressed fancily and impressively. From this glance, he saw these noble heirs were all wide-eyed with anger, furious to the extreme.
The one being rebuked was a malnourished and sickly man. His clothes were plain and simple. He had been through his fair share of tribulation, for this young man was still very courageous and unyielding in the face of these young masters’ threats.
Their argument attracted warriors who were curious about the commotion.
“How have I slandered her. If Jiang Yanyu does not have so many years of experience, how can she have surpassed a Three Flowers Overhead. Clearly there is a cover-up, a fraud.” The young man stood strong.
That leader young master dressed in silk disdainfully sneered: “An ignorant pissant like you simply cannot even see Princess Yanyu’s absolute talent, even if you are jinshi. This truly makes us lose face. Quickly apologize.”
“Believe it or not, that is up to you, but Princess Yanyu is hiding her age. Othewrise, she absolutely cannot participate in the court examination.” The young man was righteous and self-confident.
His words made everyone glare at him in disdain. To everyone’s ears, his resentment sounded uncannily like “sour grapes.”
Princess Yanyu was the idol of a generation in the eyes of Great Chong Dynasty’s young warriors. The man’s words offended many people present.
“Big bro, this brat is very obstinate.”
“Teach him a lesson, to think he would dare smear Princess Yangyu.”
“Let him know his place.”
Several aristocratic heirs showed sneers.
The youth threw a glance at all the spectators, arrogantly saying: “You publicly smeared the Princess’ reputation. I, Tang Lun,7 son of King Baisha,8 shall teach you a lesson today. I think there is no need for you to participate in the court examination.”
“The son of King Baisha?”
“So he turned out to be a prince.”
“I heard that the son of King Baisha admires Jiang Yanyu very much. This brat is about to suffer.”
King Baisha was the elder sister of the current emperor from the same mother. She was enfeoffed with Baisha Province, so she came to be known as Princess Baisha. When the bangyan of the Divine Warrior Examination married her, she was then bestowed the title of king. She was quite famous, and her martial arts were distinguished. Chen Mo could tell from his words that this guy clearly wanted to beat this unfortunate person in force, to gain a reputation as having defended Princess Yanyu’s honor. Chen Mo could not help but crease his brow.
Tang Lun waved his hand in a big motion. His figure spread out then pounced at the man, seemingly soaring up into the sky. In a flash, he flit past. The instant he launched himself, his hand seemed to become a crane’s beak, his arm wrapped around himself, and an intense wind blew, blowing in everyone’s faces. His entire person was like an enormous red-crowned crane in a direct assault. His crane beak fist was vicious to his enemy, heading destructively for his counterpart. His reathing was practiced, both defensive and opportunistic, surprisingly blending well together. Evidently, this martial art had reached the pinnacle stage for Mimicry Martial Arts, “Man And Fist As One.
Red-crowned Crane Form!
King Baisha’s signature skill, the “Crane Dances Over White Sands” had once intimidated the south.
That youth saw this, and his expression changed. He exhaled, manifesting a complete Essence Flower, two pairs of slashes blocking for him. Tang Lun’s technique, “Red-crowned Crane Skims Water,” was classified as a first-rate martial art. It was practiced to the point of perfection. How could a commoner warrior block it.
His fingers pecked, and the youth’s expression immediately flushed red. He had suffered internal injury. A second strike followed closely behind, pecking at his throat. Tang Lun showed clearly that he intended for serious injury, to make him lose the ability to speak.
When Chen Mo saw that he would act so viciously, he was unable to sit idly by.
Just as those fingers were about to peck him, with the youth’s face ashen, it was at this moment that another hand suddenly entered the world, shielding him. This hand was like clouds and mist, gently brushing the jab away. That biting cold crane seemed to enter a mist and lose its way. Tang Lun was astonished, and his other hand immediately put up a defense.
A mysterious force pushed him, repelling him.
“We are all court examination candidates. Your Distinguished Self, you act with such ferocity, is this to flout the law?”
Chen Mo coldly said.
“Who are you!!”
Tang Lun was endlessly irate. Very few people in his generation were able to stop his Red-crowned Crane Skims Water. He did not know what technique this guy used to unexpectedly dispel his attack so easily.
“Just a passerby who could not stand to watch.” Chen Mo calmly answered.
Tang Lun’s companions manifested their Three Flowers. Each had Three Flowers level strength as they stared angrily at Chen Mo.
Chen Mo’s breathing fully locked, restrained inside his body, but this instead made them feel he was unfathomable, not daring to make a move against him.
“Are you with this person who slanders the Princess?” Tang Lun said.
“Your Servant also disapproves of his words, however, this is a country of laws. If you truly wish to take revenge, then there will be opportunity in the court examination. This thinking of yours that you can receive the Princess’ approval actually violates the laws of the court examination. Are you not afraid of offending the imperial family.” Chen Mo said.
Tang Lun vacillated. With the spectators increasing more and more, he knew that matters had escalated to a breaking point. He ruthlessly said: “I have memorized your face. In the court examination, I will make you people who slander the Princess pay the price!”
Chen Mo was speechless. In his mind, he said, I wasn’t slandering her at all. But this guy had found himself a pedestal, and Chen Mo was not inclined to explain.