Way of Choices

Chapter 197 – Unexpected Apathy

After an unknown amount of time, Chen Changsheng woke up. However, he felt very refreshed, and while looking internally with meditative introspection, he realized that all of the injuries he had received from the Grand Examination were already healed. Still, he looked at the black rock within his palm and stayed silent for a very long time. He did not feel overjoyed at all.

He vaguely understood that this black rock was what he was looking for. Other than the diary of Wang Zhice, the black rock was the main reason why Daoist Ji had him enter the Pavilion of Ascending Mist. According to what Wang Zhice had said, Emperor Taizu may have given him this black rock before the emperor’s death. Perhaps, it was extremely vital to the secret of changing fate.

The black rock was very important; however, he could not stop thinking about Wang Zhice’s diary.

After experiencing that springtime thunder, countless storms of wind and rain arose within his sea of consciousness. He saw many images, and he was able to understand many things by cross-referencing Wang Zhice’s records. However, he still could not come to a decision.

Changing fate required one to change the position or brightness of one’s Fated Star. Thus, changing the person’s position and role within the mortal world, and so…. the positions were related.

If it was impossible to change the brightness or position of one’s Fated Star, then to change the brightness or positions of the surrounding stars could also create a similar effect. The logic was the same. If you wanted to change your fate, you had to first change the fate of other people in your life. The closer the relationship between you and these people, the greater the change in fate you would experience.

Such as father and son.

Such as brothers.

Such as a lord and his subjects.

This truth was very cold and harsh.

Chen Changsheng could not confirm whether the images he had seen were illusions or truly history. For the whole night, his body had been drenched in sweat before being dried off. As a result, he felt very cold when he woke up.

If those bloody, yet cold images were indeed the true face of history, then were the two great lords of Zhou really such cold-blooded people? Was it really worth it to pay such a large price like performing terrifying acts to change fate? Immediately afterwards, he thought of the Divine Empress. If she was the third person who succeeded in changing fate, then how great of a price did she pay?

Were those bloody and cruel rumors that had long been circulated among the people true? Was her firstborn son from all those years ago really poisoned to death by the previous queen’s assassins or was he truly killed by the Divine Empress herself according to the rumors? Most of her children had never lived past the age of six. Was it really because the imperial palace’s environment was too dangerous at that time, or were the children some type of offering? Were they an offering to the stars?

Chen Changsheng’s body grew colder and colder. He did not want to continue thinking out of fear of where it would lead him. He could stay calm even in the face of death, but he, a fifteen-year-old, was still too afraid to approach these truths that had been hidden from the light too closely. He wanted to leave this place.

The Pavilion of Ascending Mist was still pitch-black like before. He was unable to see any light from the doors or windows, so as a result, he could not confirm the time. However, he knew from experience that it was already five o’clock, the time he woke up everyday.

He stood up and repaired the green stone wall. The Pavilion of Ascending Mist was a forbidden location deep within the palace, and it only opened up at most two or three times a year. With such sporadic openings, the slit in the wall that his short sword had created should not become discovered. Also, he really did not have any energy to care about this matter.

Logically, the Pavilion of Ascending Mist could block out all light and sound. However, in the next moment, a clear, distant ringing chimed from below, as if a person was hurrying over from far away to wake up the people in tranquil contemplation within the pavilion.

A soft wind blew as the chiming stopped, and the Pavilion of Ascending Mist’s large door slowly opened. The soft morning sunlight landed on the green stone floor and on the dozen or so paintings on the walls. Those people within the paintings once did countless good deeds for the Zhou Dynasty, but now, they could only see sunlight a few times a year.

Chen Changsheng walked out of the Pavilion of Ascending Mist with the soft wind and morning sun. He walked with the sounds of chimes; however, he could not calm his heart. Even as the soft wind entered his bosom, he could not become clear-headed and instead felt even colder.

Standing on the high platform in front of the Pavilion of Ascending Mist, he glanced at the morning sun, which had just risen above the horizon. Then, he looked over at the capital, which was being slowly awakened by the morning sun. The countless streets and alleyways seemed to be like the lines of a chessboard, and the countless rivers and water canals seemed like wires, which had been dropped on the board. The countless markets were like an infinite amount of squares, and countless people lived inside the countless residences located within these squares.

To change his own fate by changing the fate of others; could such a thing really be done? Even if those streets and alleyways became decadent…even if those residences fell into ruins…even if millions of people became homeless…even if there were endless wars and major floods….Did he still have to do it?

He remembered the last sentence in Wang Zhice’s diary again——There is no such thing as Fate, but only choices.

Yes, the experts of the world were split into two types: one who changed the fate of others to perfect their own fate, and others who completely disregarded fate, firmly believing that one could control everything connected to oneself. Even if fate proved itself stronger in the end, the latter would still hold their head high.

The father and son, Emperor Taizu and Emperor Taizong were the former, and Wang Zhice was the latter. What about him? Currently, he was still very weak, but if he became strong in the future and had to face this choice, what would he choose?

Looking at the streets and countless residences of the capital under the morning sun, Chen Changsheng questioned himself: What type of person should I be? What was more important: a complete life or a complete life?

TL: That’s what the author wrote. Just keep reading and it might resolve itself.

The two ‘complete’s and the two ‘life’s within the question had two totally different meanings.

Thinking of this question, he left the Pavilion of Ascending Mist. He walked down along the extremely long stone steps, and even when he had set foot on the ground of the imperial palace, he still did not have an answer.

Most of the people within the capital were still asleep, but most of the people within the imperial palace had already awoken. Some examinees were very sleepy with dark circles forming around their eyes. They had obviously not slept very well. Other examinees had not even slept a wink that night due to being so nervous, but most of the examinees were well-rested.

As for those young examinees who had come from various academies and sects, the most important goal of the Grand Examination was to enter the top three grades. Thus, they could obtain the right to enter the Mausoleum of Books and view the monoliths. They naturally made proper preparations and needed to guarantee nothing would affect them like becoming unfocused as they viewed the monoliths.

The several dozen stagecoaches formed a group outside the palace waiting to be called. The unusually spirited horses were treading softly but impatiently. The examinees stood next to the stagecoaches and were waiting to set off. After watching Chen Changsheng who was slowly walking from the palace, some people also began to grow impatient, such as the young scholars from Scholartree Manor.

The examinees noticed that Chen Changsheng’s hair was somewhat messy, and his expression was exhausted like he was very sleepy. It even looked somewhat haggard. Knowing that he definitely did not rest well spending the night in the Pavilion of Ascending Mist, perhaps maybe not even sleeping at all, they could not help but feel somewhat puzzled. They thought to themselves, even if you could only meditate in there for one night, you did not have to make this that hard on yourself.

Tang Thirty-Six was able to discern something more. Somewhat worried, he asked softly: “What happened?”

“It’s fine.” Chen Changsheng shook his head and replied.

He would not tell anyone about the experience he went through last night——even if it was Tang Thirty-Six or even Luoluo——He had walked into learning history’s cruel truth. Although discovering the secret was still in the far off distance, he had already seen the door or perhaps even obtained the key.

Regardless if it was the examinee’s or official’s attention, both were on Chen Changsheng’s body.

The news of finding the Garden of Zhou had already been publicly announced, or it was more accurate to say that it had been announced in the court’s upper echelon and various academies and sects. Last night, the royal court was celebrating with a feast, and Lady Mo Yu who represented the Empress formally announced that the Garden of Zhou would be opened following a month’s time.

Who did not want to enter the Garden of Zhou? Who would not want an opportunity to obtain the inheritance of the continent’s strongest expert? However, only cultivators who had reached the ethereal opening could enter the Garden of Zhou.

In regards to cultivation, viewing the monoliths inside the Mausoleum of Books, so that one could comprehend the Way was the most important. Now, it had become their last opportunity for the examinees to enter the Garden of Zhou. They had to make a breakthrough within one month and achieve their ethereal opening.

Under this dual pressure, the examinees were naturally very nervous. They knew they had to work extremely hard, even to the point where they would risk their lives inside the Mausoleum of Books. While thinking of this, Chen Changsheng’s gaze naturally became a bit perplexed.

Chen Changsheng had only just turned fifteen years old, and apart from a very small number of people like Qi Jian and Ye Xiaolian, he was younger than a majority of the Grand Examination’s examinees at the three ranks. However, he was currently the same as Gou Hanshi and Tianhai Shengxue and had already achieved ethereal opening. In other words, even if he did not travel an inch forwards in the Mausoleum of Books, he could still easily enter the Garden of Zhou a month later.

Thinking carefully, to achieve his ethereal opening at such an age, and even directly surpassing the Proclamation of Azure Clouds, he was already on some level that exceeded Xu Yourong. How could people not envy him? If it were not for Qiushan Jun’s performance on the matters relating to the Garden of Zhou to be overly dazzling, perhaps people would have felt Chen Changsheng’s performance was even more shocking.

The current Chen Changsheng was, without a doubt, the focus of the entire capital. However, he did not have this kind of self-awareness. Instead, he just sat silently next to the vehicle’s window and stared at the streets illuminated by the morning light. He was silent and appeared somewhat absent-minded.

Seeing Chen Changshang’s absent-minded state, Tang Thirty-Six said with his brows raised, “Indeed, I don’t know what kind of situations you’ve encountered. You don’t seem to need good luck from the Mausoleum of Books anymore as you can already directly enter the Garden of Zhou, but you need to get something straight. To us cultivators, the Mausoleum of Books is a matter of the utmost importance, even more important than the Grand Examination, the Garden of Zhou, or anything else.”

Chen Changsheng did not reply and continued to stare out the window.

Tang Thirty-Six continued to say, “You cannot necessarily see the immediate benefits of what you obtain from the Mausoleum of Books. Also, how far and to what extent we reach will still depend on how much of the Mausoleum of Books we comprehend. Countless people in the past have already long since proved this, and there have been no exceptions.”

Chen Changsheng understood what Tang Thirty-Six meant. Of course he knew how important the Mausoleum of Books was to cultivators. The issue was that he currently had insurmountable problems with his mindset.

Cultivating was obviously extremely important. If one reached the Concealed Spirit Realm, one could repeatedly replenish one’s meridians without ever needing to worry about the haunting shadow of death. If one managed to cultivate to the Grand Liberation Realm, a stretch of one’s hand was enough to pluck the stars. One could dictate one’s own fate and even become immortal, much less worry about other things.

The problem was that in the past, even Zhou Dufu could not even come in contact with the Concealed Spirit Realm spoken of in the legends, so how could he? As for his current ability, he had already placed first in the Grand Examination’s first rank and had begun to touch the secret of altering fate. Since he could not reach the Concealed Spirit Realm, was there still any point in him cultivating any more? He who had always been disciplined and hardworking suddenly began to grow lazy for some reason, even to the point where he thought living seemed pointless.

The morning sunlight was gradually flourishing, and the fifteen-year-old Chen Changsheng had suddenly lost all interest in cultivation. At that exact moment, he arrived at the only holy ground in any cultivator’s mind: the Mausoleum of Books.

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