The thundering explosion of a firework1 ripped apart the last day of the prologue to Chen Mo’s court examination.
Resolving his elder sister’s Servant Star matter and sending Gu Wuyi off last night left Chen Mo feeling very exhausted. Today, early in the morning, he heard a series of thunder-like rumbles coming from outside.
After cultivating and tidying himself, Chen Mo left the Laurel Chamber. He saw a few maids currently lighting fireworks in the courtyard with Chen Lin nearby instructing them.
“Fourth Brother, why are you getting up so late? Don’t tell me you went and spent the night at Yu Youwei’s?” Chen Lin said ambiguously.
“Second Brother, what are you doing? You’re disturbing people’s dreams.” Chen Mo rubbed his forehead.
“This is me giving you a ‘higher high.'”2 Chen Lin twitched his mouth. It turned out there was this tradition in the Divine Warrior Examination, that on the day before the court examination, each of the major juren would light fireworks to pray for blessings. The higher the firework reached, the higher achievement in the court examination. Those who were in the top hundred for the court examination were called high achievers,3 and this practice was thus named higher high.
It would be a more spectacular sight at night. At that time, all of the jieyuan and juren gathered in CHang’an would fall over each other in their eagerness to light fireworks and obtain first place.
Chen Mo thought to himself, No wonder the fireworks are endless. Chang’an’s sky was filled with the scent of smoke and fire. He had even thought it was New Year’s.
“Fourth Brother, these are Cloud Piercer Arrows I bought for you at the ‘Fireworks Shop.’ They’re pretty explosive. Tonight, let the people of Chang’an watch.” Chen Mo hand over a firework that looked just like a rocket.
Chen Mo lit several in amusement.
At this time, Supervisor Chen came to the Laurel Chamber and ordered: “Lord Father calls for you in his study, Your Highness Mo.”
Chen Mo let his Second Brother play with the maids as he followed the supervisor to his father’s study room.
Ever since Chen Zhangtian returned from the pre-court banquet, he had kept himself occupied. He had also sensed Huan Wen’s menacing threat, arranging the Long Saber Guard’s affairs over the past several days. “How is your Zhangtian Seal?” Chen Zhangtian did not lift his face.
“Answering to Father, Son has had minor achievement.” Chen Mo could not just openly say, Lord Father, Son has already combined the Zhangtian Seal and created a power that is even stronger than yours.
Chen Zhangtian finally lifted his gaze. The corner of his mouth seemed to curl with a smile. “If you have anything you require, feel free to go directly to the Zhangtian Pavilion. Uncle Chen will help sort everything out.”
“Tomorrow is the court examination. In accordance with etiquette, you should go to your mother’s tomb for worship.” Chen Zhangtian said.
Although he knew that mother was not dead, he still needed to put on a show of this required etiquette for outsiders to see. Chen Mo nodded. Chen Zhangtian had nothing else to say, explaining a few more things before letting Chen Mo leave.
Because this worship was only for appearances, Chen Mo did not call for attendants. He alone brought some offerings and incense to his mother’s mausoleum at Monarch Mountain.
Chen Qingzhi’s previous intrusion into the mausoleum had destroyed the concubine’s tomb. Chen Zhangtian had already dispatched people to repair it, making it much more grand than before.
However, Auntie’s power was honestly too formidable. The ice and frost she created required those artisans and cultivators to use every kind of Divine Fire to barely melt even a little bit.
Chen Mo lit the incense and placed the offerings, bowing three times in the tomb.
“Son has grown up. In the future, I’ll definitely go to the Inner Star Field to look for Mother and lessen your burden.”
After visiting the grave, Chen Mo left, walking down Monarch Mountain. Atop the mausoleum behind him, a white-robed woman quietly stared at his figure.
Along the way down the mountain, Chen Mo pondered whether or not to return to Changluo’s Four Ladies Mountain to visit Zhongli Mo and Nianyou. Although he had stayed for only a month in Chang’an, too many things had transpired that it seemed a year had passed. He quite missed them.
All of a sudden, a young woman in a white helmet and black robes stood in the middle of the path down the front side of the mountain. The girl wiped clean that silver spear in her hands, her movements extremely tender.
Chen Mo was startled, his pace unable to help but slow.
The girl’s side profile was extremely beautiful. That kind of beauty was as extraordinary as the shining stars and the bright moon, as if granted by the Heavens. She wore soft silver and white armor, and the garments underlying those were black as night, covering her slender figure.
But Chen Mo was not in the mood to appreciate that glittering good look of hers that was as splendid as the stars. In fact, Chen Mo had met her not too long ago at the imperial palace.
Earthly Attacking Star “Seven Stars” Huan Wen.
Among the Star Generals, if the Star Position was a single word, then there were only two reasons for that. One was that she possessed feats that were as heaven-shaking as the classics, from which she received the recognition of the Xuannü of the Nine Heavens and obtained a single word Star Position. For example, Auntie the Heavenly General Star had the military accomplishment of “Magnificent Army Avoids The White Robe.”
The other reason was that they may have received the consideration of the Xuannü of the Nine Heavens, inheriting for themselves a Star Name with a single word Star Name.
Star Generals who possessed single word Star Names exceeded other Star Generals in every aspect. This was comparable to the Xin Dynasty’s Wang Mang period. Those with single character names had noble status.
In the Great Chong Dynasty, Chen Mo had not heard that Seven Stars Huan Wen had any significant military achievements. However, Huan Wen had a saying a famous saying once renowned in the Star Fields, “both unable to leave a mark on history and reviled by the people.” It highlighted her erratic and merciless aspects.
To be able to be among the martial generals, with a lofty single word Star Name like Earthly Attacking Star at Earthly Star Concentrated Fiend Stage, Huan Wen was the strongest foe in every sense.
“Are you afraid of This Highness?” Huan Wen arrogantly lifted her head. She sensed the psychological change in Chen Mo’s pace.
Against a Star General like this, any warrior would naturally be automatically stricken with fear. Chen Mo was a bit better at self-control than others, but there was still a small change.
“Lady, do you recognize me?” Chen Mo cupped his fist.
Huan Wen sneered: “This Highness has no interest in the name of a dead man!”
Chen Mo was unfazed, “Have I offended Lady in some way?”
“Chen Mo, you’ve stood out too much recently. Chang’an is This Highness’ domain. This Highness cannot tolerate a man pushing himself into the spotlight.” Huan Wen kicked off on her legs, the spear twirling in her hands. Seven Stars leisurely said: “I have come to kill you!”
“The Cold Night Locked Moon Spear. So you are Your Highness Huan Wen.” Chen Mo’s tone sank.
Huan Wen belonged to the Tang imperial family. Her true identity was known to all, but ever since the Tang imperial family produced a Star General, Emperor Tang finally began to retrieve several decades of fortune. Otherwise, back when the Great Ancestor Emperor died, the Tang imperial family would have been supplanted by every major vassal.
Star Generals were eternally youthful. Though the Huan Wen in front of him appeared sixteen or seventeen years old, her true age after inheriting her Star Name could perhaps be a hundred.
“Your Servant is Chen Mo of the Chang’an Mansion…”
“No need for introductions, just die!” Not letting Chen Mo finish speaking, Huan Wen cackled, raising her spear and stabbing it towards Chen Mo.
This thrust of silver light was resplendent, arriving in a mere blink of an eye. Compared to the martial arts abilities of warriors, who knew how much more brilliant this attack was. Chen Mo had already experienced the terror of Huan Wen’s spearmanship once directly before. He was already somewhat responsive to her sneak attack this time.
As he took a step back, his fists moved, the Bagua punch-intent suddenly emerging and intercepting the spear.
“Your Highness Huan Wen, Your Servant has not offended you, has he?” Chen Mo’s voice sank. “Are you not afraid that the world will mock you for killing me before the court examination?”
What he said was actually true. A Star General’s position was sublime. A martial general like her would not commit to any favor or grudge with ordinary warriors, so as to avoid destroying the reputation of her Star Name, so Chen Mo never imagined that Huan Wen would surprisingly make a move to kill him. But Chen Mo had forgotten that Huan Wen was a character who uttered, “both unable to leave a mark on history and reviled by the people!” Towards a trick like reputation, the more known she was, the better. Who cared if it was fame or infamy.
As expected, Huan Wen sneered: “This Highness wants you to die, yet you dare talk back!”
The spear moved, its form instantly vanishing.
Peak spear-light brushed past him like a white steed flitting by.
Chen Mo’s body was instantly torn apart with several cuts deep enough to show bone. His body was repelled by the spear attack. A sharp spearpoint thrust towards Chen Mo’s neck. Chen Mo grabbed Northern Dipper out of thin air, and with a roar, circulated his Star Energy to block the strike.
Huan Wen retreated in surprise at this sudden change in Chen Mo’s power.
The woman steadied herself, her figure graceful and elegant. “This is your weapon? Hm…Is this all you are capable of?”
“To be able to be looked upon by a famous Star General, I, Chen Mo, was not born in vain.” Chen Mo carefreely smiled.
“Then just die.” Huan Wen’s expression was cruel as she grabbed her spear and attacked again.
Her figure moved to and fro. Omnipresent killing intent was reflected in front of Chen Mo. Chen Mo used Northern Dipper to ward it off, once again borrowing the Bagua to defend.
“Qian Three Unbroken”
“Kun Six Severed”
“Li Center Empty”
The Bagua’s techniques were used with Northern Dipper, but these mediocre martial arts were like paper to a Star General the likes of Huan Wen, completely harmless.
Huan Wen sustained several dozen blows, considerably bored.
This man, whose name moved Chang’an and received the recognition of the Wanshou Temple’s abbot, was only capable of this much?
This level of ability simply disgraced her fury.
Huan Wen was enraged. She cursed: “Playing house, are you.” As she spoke, the spear broke through Chen Mo’s Northern Dipper. A ray of Star Energy directly knocked Chen Mo off balance.
Cold Night Locked Moon was right in front of his eyes, ice-cold killing intent practically chilling his lungs, making Chen Mo’s entire body shiver. But Chen Mo restrained the urge to use the Qiankun One Qi, and neither did he use the Northern Dipper Sword to defend. This was because he knew that although he was capable of bringing pressure and trouble to Huan Wen, revealing his final trump card was even more dangerous.
Thinking of this, the the spear pierced through Chen Mo’s lung and thoroughly ended his resistance.
Chen Mo dripped with cold sweat from the pain. He gripped the spear’s shaft with one hand, swiping Northern Dipper at Huan Wen’s head with the other.
Huan Wen’s left middle finger easily flicked Northern Dipper’s brute force away. The woman pushed down on the spear, her murderous aura ripping apart Chen Mo’s organs. Chen Mo’s face contorted from the pain.
“Kneel to This Highness and admit your mistake, and This Highness shall spare you today.” Huan Wen smirked. “Otherwise, This Highness will help bury your bones and ashes alongside your mother.”
“Lord Chang’an received the title from the Great Ancestor. He does not kneel even to the imperial family. Your Servant Chen Mo kneels to Heaven and to my parents, but never will I kneel to you.” Chen Mo grit his teeth. It was so painful, this Huan Wen’s killing intent that remained in his body was so painful, he nearly fainted over.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha.” Huan Wen guffawed: “Is This Highness supposed to be impressed with your courage. Compared to your father, Chen Zhangtian, you are much more like a man. Then am I to release you on account of respect?”
The woman’s topic shifted. She malevolently smiled: “Did you think that I, Huan Wen, would do such a thing? The more courage you are, the more disgusted This Highness is. Men should just bow obediently before us Star Generals. Today, This Highness will have you kneel before me!”
Star Energy ran through the spear. Huan Wen gripped the spear with one hand and pushed downwards.
All of his bones, muscles, and meridians seemed to shred under her oppression, completely corroding away. Immense pain made blood spurt between Chen Mo’s teeth. Very quickly, his mouth filled with blood, and her formidable strength pressured Chen Mo’s knees into buckling, kneeling bit by bit towards the ground.