Yu Youwei glanced at Chen Mo and wore a leisurely and charming smile.
“We have requested Lady Youwei to play her guzheng as entertainment.” Tang Mingshi said.
Yu Youwei’s spotless hands played the instrument. Heavenly sounds immediately made everyone in the banquet fall into revelry.
“This court examination of the Divine Warrior Examination is the most magnificent event since our dynasty’s founding. The Two Lords have produced talents that do not lose out to the princes of the imperial family. We are very gratified.” Emperor Tang leisurely smiled, looking around at his subjects.
They raised a toast to him.
Jiang Ruxiu warmly said: “Your Imperial Majesty is exaggerating. The fortune of Jiangnan is the fortune of the dynasty. Jiangnan Mansion serves the Tang Family faithfully, as did our ancestors before us.”
“Lord Jiang Nan serves with his body and soul. It is truly good that he says such things.” A crowd of state officials praised him.
Very naturally, everyone then shifted their lines of sight to the other lord – Lord Chang’an.
Chen Zhangtian was unmoved. He indifferently raised his cup: “Your Imperial Majesty is wise and decisive, the fortune of the people. Chang’an Mansion naturally will assist the Human Sovereign in building this peace and prosperity.”
Everyone slightly changed, noticing what Lord Chang’an’s words referred to. Chang’an Mansion would assist the Human Sovereign in establishing peace and prosperity through the world, but if the imperial family had a muddleheaded idea to act against Chang’an Mansion and disturb these flourishing times, then Chang’an Mansion would not let itself be trampled over.
“Good.” Tang Mingshi laughed aloud, his voice sonorous as a bell, incomparably resonant. “Peace and prosperity are what all people yearn for. The current dynasty is unprecedented. In the north, Supreme General Chen Qi crusades against the Northern Barbarians, deterring those lowlives. At the East Sea, Supreme General He Yuanyang1 intimidates the island nations. And soon, our humiliations at the Southern Border and Western Regions will be wiped away. It is all thanks to everyone’s love and support that the generals are able to succeed today. Come, We shall first raise everyone a toast.”
Tang Mingshi drank his fill.
“Long live Your Imperial majesty!” The officials immediately hailed.
Chen Mo also drank, inwardly analyzing Emperor Tang’s intentions.
“Emperor Tang then said: “Today, Our mood is very good. Yu Youwei, we heard Chen Mo helped you supplement an ancient poem some time before?”
Yu Youwei deferentially replied: “Answering to Your Imperial Majesty, this indeed happened.”
“Chen Mo, that poem was very well composed. We hear that the second half is still missing?” Tang Mingshi asked.
Everyone looked at Chen Mo at the same time, as if they were all very eager for Chen Mo to be able to complete the second half.
Chen Mo did not expect this situation to occur: “Answering to Your Imperial Majesty. This is what Your Servant received in a dream. Your Servant is unable to recall the second half.”
Emperor Tang said: “That is truly a pity. This poem was so well made, presumably you think so, too, Yu Youwei.”
“This verse is a superb work, as if crafted by Heaven itself. It is indeed regretful that it is not complete.
Emperor Tang nodded and smiled: “We are somewhat eager to listen. Feng’er, after you returned to the palace, you stayed in seclusion and concentrated on your research. How was it?”
Crown Prince Tang Feng stepped forward and replied: “Father Emperor, Your Son is untalented. A verse was received from a dream.”
“You have also received something from a dream? Ha, ha, well, then, let everyone listen and compare yours to Chen Mo’s.” Emperor Tang indicated.
“Then I request Lady Youwei play.” Tang Feng gently asked.
Yu Youwei faintly smiled. There was no ripple in the mood as she very quietly played the guzheng. The banquet hall was instantly absolutely silent. Chen Mo’s supplement to the ancient poem was already famous throughout the Great Chong Dynasty. Everyone was eager to hear what the latter half would be like.
Yu Youwei reached the verse, “those young men leave behind women worried for their return,” and Tang Feng recited: “And when he hears of the injustice in the world, ten years spent grinding swords and riding boats…”
The first verse immediately won everyone’s admiration.
Chen Mo’s “like white clouds fading into the distance, those young men leave behind women worried for their return” thus came to an abrupt stop. The scenery could be said to have reached a peak, leaving a profound and long-lasting mood, a lingering reflection.
Tang Feng very skillfully changed this scenery. A long poem merely about scnery was naturally very dull. He changed the scenery to a grand hero, a shining knight who trained his sword in seclusion, riding upon the river in his boat alone at night, vowing to use the sword in his hand to sweep away the wrongs in this world, making that shining guqin’s bright moon henceforth tell of his legend.
Even Chen Mo had to admit he was very impressed with Tang Feng’s shift.
The artistry of his revised second half was very impressive. It appeared flawless. The preceding section was composed so well, it would take many successors to finish supplementing the latter portions. Chen Mo would dare to guarantee that this crown prince’s so-called single-minded research was perhaps actually finding another scholar to do so.
However, it did not really matter whether or not what he composed as an original work. No matter how clever, artistic or impressive his work, it was still very flawed when joined to Chen Mo’s preceding portion of the River On A Spring Night. Just the usage of the words themselves was not at the highest level. Anyone well-versed in music could understand at once the disparity between them.
Other people applauded, praising Tang Feng’s verse, as if promoting that it surpassed Chen Mo’s. This made Elder Sister Chen Luan very disdainful – he merely leaned upon what Little Brother wrote, what was so good about that, being a parrot.
Chen Mo smiled, unconcerned. He watched Yu Youwei, noticing that she wore a small smile, but she did not stir at all, not losing her manners in the slightest. It was as if what Tang Feng composed was very good yet insufficient to move her.
Yu Youwei, who had practiced the ancient song for so many years, was naturally more aware than anyone else that the verse Tang Feng had composed did not match with Chen Mo’s.
“Yu Youwei, how do you feel compared to Chen Mo’s?” Emperor Tang curiously asked.
Yu Youwei said: “His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince’s supplement is majestic and impressive, passionate and hot-blooded. It makes Youwei unable to help but admire that knight in the verse. It is distinct compared to His Highness Chen Mo’s.
“This must mean you favor it, Yu Youwei. Then it appears this song has been decided?” Hearing these words, Emperor Tang’s mood was very good.
“If His Highness Chen Mo truly cannot remember, Youwei feels that no one else can surpass His Imperial Highness the Crown prince.” Yu Youwei threw another spear at Chen Mo.
“Little Brother.” Elder Sister nudged Chen Mo.
Right now, if Chen Mo could finish supplementing the latter half of the poem, he could thoroughly topple His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, making the imperial family lose significant face. Everyone present could see that Emperor Tang wanted to use this banquet to strike down Chen Mo’s recent momentum, and the first step was to make an issue of Yu Youwei’s ancient song, suppressing Chen Mo’s fame.
While everyone very eagerly looked at Chen Mo, Emperor Tang’s heart was a bit uneasy. If what this brat received from his dream was false and was deliberately left behind, then the imperial family would be humiliated.
Chen Mo smiled and answered without thinking: “I cannot.”
Hearing these words, Emperor Tang breathed a sigh of relief, inwardly astonished that he would surprisingly be so pressured by a child into being unable to draw breath. This was simply a disgrace. Emperor Tang hastily adjusted his mood. Fortunately for him, no one noticed this detail.
Chen Zhangtian still was aloof. Lord Jiang Nan still was elegant and graceful, yet Princess Yanyu smiled thoughtfully.
A fleeting instant of disappointment flashed through Yu Youwei’s eyes. She smiled and said: “Since Your Highness Chen Mo says so, Youwei sees that this ancient poem’s supplement has been decided…”
“Oh, right, this song has yet to be named. Your Highness Chen Mo must have received the poem’s name in the dream?” Yu Youwei was unwilling to give up.
“I have some fuzzy recollection. It is called something Spring River…Something of that sort.” Chen Mo pretended to rack his brains.
“Youwei shall add on and call it River On A Spring Night.” The corner of Yu Youwei’s mouth slightly curled.
“Good, Lady Youwei supplements it well.” Chen Mo was taken aback, praising her.
“Congratulations, Your Imperial Majesty, congratulations. River On A Spring Night has been completed by this dynasty. The Great Chong Dynasty will inevitably raise the level of song and dance, your time at the top of the world is around the corner.”
A group of officials could not help but utter praise and flattery again.
Emperor Tang, who completed the first step in restricting Chen Mo’s verse, was in a very good mood. Everything was proceeding according to his plan. The second step was to defeat Chen Mo’s Zen scripture. It was necessary to make his prestige in Zen completely fade from memory. Emperor Tang narrowed his eyes, inwardly sneering as he looked at Chen Mo innocently chatting and laughing with his sister.
“Big Sis, what are you sighing about?” Chen Mo disapproved.
“That was supposed to be your composition, I really can’t bear to see that Tang Feng trample over your influence.”
“Reputation like this is fleeting. There is still something else even more important.”
Chen Luan was perplexed. Chen Mo shot a glance out of the corner of his eye at Yu Youwei, who was lost in thought.
The next portion of the banquet was for Emperor Tang to greet the number one jinshi of every province. The best jinshi of each province and county were the greatest genius warriors of the Great Chong Dynasty’s youth. In the future, they would be the pillars of the nation. The powers they bore on their backs were the targets of recruitment from everywhere.
But two anomalies appeared in this Divine Warrior Examination, Princess Yanyu and Chen Mo. Others were eclipsed under their halos.
Chen Mo himself was mindful of them. The other provinces’ number one jinshi mostly were Three Flowers Gathered Overhead, but they were far from reaching Saint Of War, which unified spirit and body, let alone possessing something on the level of Chen Mo’s Bagua. Several of them actually had this level. Some were even taking the first steps towards Lesser Thunder Tribulation, but they did not present a threat.
Father’s preparations beforehand actually made Chen Mo surreptitiously vigilant. From the verse just now, Emperor Tang wanted to curb his recent momentum in Chang’an. Up next should be that classic, Hanshan Asks Shide.
I wonder what trick he has up his sleeve.
Chen Mo was somewhat excited.
This grand feast was at its halfway point.
The continuously grave and unruffled Priest Compassionate Emptiness suddenly said: “Your Imperial Majesty, today’s talents are all future pillars of this dynasty. Poor Monk has a request.”
“Abbot, whatever request you may have, please speak freely.” Emperor Tang said.
“The dynasty is rooted in Zen as its model. In the Divine Warrior Examination’s metropolitan examination, many characters have emerged that stunned Poor Monk. This Poor Monk is quite gratified.”
Saying this, everyone subconsciously glanced at Chen Mo. Everyone knew that Chen Mo’s Hanshan Asks Shide had astounded the abbot. Could this brat be eyed by the Wanshou Temple’s abbot?
“Abbot’s intent is?”
“Poor Monk would like to use this opportunity to test every warrior’s understanding of Zen.”
Tang Mingshi smiled: “This is as it should be. Abbot, please do not hesitate. Ladies and gentlemen, the rest of you have no opinions?”
Everyone gave their consent in ingratiation. Zen was the Great Chong Dynasty’s number one school. To be able to be tested by Zen was the greatest honor for any warrior.
“Has Abbot thought of a topic?”
“The topic is very simple. All students, speak about the goal of Zen, its understanding and significance.”
“Then how is the victor decided? Understandings of Zen are not all the same, it would be perhaps very difficult to convince other people.” Jiang Yanyu suddenly spoke up.
Priest Compassionate Emptiness: “This is simple. So long as their understanding can move everyone present, that will be it.”
“Reason in this world moves the heart. To judge the victor by heart, presumably everyone can be convinced.”
Jiang Yanyu muttered and nodded, not opposed.
At this moment, the other jinshi all began to rack their brains about their understanding of Zen. The atmosphere was extremely solemn for a moment. Priest Compassionate Emptiness lightly grinned, and then he said: “Whoever wins over the most hearts with their Zen comprehension, before the court examination, This Abbot can open and allow this person entry into the ‘Bodhi Cliff!'”
Everyone was suddenly shocked.
- 賀遠陽 ↩