Shuang Er came back from her thoughts after a while.
She could tell that the young Taoist priest was not trying to sneer at her intentionally. Instead, he really didn’t take her words into consideration. Looking at his serious and calm expression, she felt her anger rising up within her.
She said angrily, “You will die.”
Chen Chang Sheng opened his eyes and said, “Everyone will die.”
Shuang Er said, “You know that I didn’t mean it that way.”
Chen Chang Sheng said seriously, “Thank you for informing me about the situation.”
Shuang Er’s face turned angrier by the second and she said, “The Madam wanted to annul the engagement, there definitely will be payback. Why did you have to get upset and tell her that you came to cancel the engagement? Did you do it so that you can get your pride back? If you really did make a decision based on your pride, it’s still fine but why did you change your mind at the last moment? Such an attitude is surely not pretty.”
“Actually….I really did come to cancel the engagement, whether if you choose to believe it or not. However, I don’t want to cancel it anymore.”
Chen Chang Sheng tilted his head and pondered seriously. A smile gradually appeared on his immature face because he ascertained that he found a reason which could be used to convince himself, and he said, “Because….you guys never asked for my name.”
Shuang Er did not understand.
“From entering the estate till now, whether the Madam or you, neither of you have asked for my name.”
Chen Chang Sheng looked at her and said, seriously, “My name is Chen Chang Sheng. I know this name is really crude, but my master wished for me to live a long life. (Chang Sheng means longevity in Chinese) The intention is really nice, so I kept this name.”
After saying these words, his eyes became bright and his attitude became decorous.
Shuang Er suddenly thought that the ordinary young Taoist priest revealed some sort of luster. It was probably due to that serious temperament. After understanding his reasons, she no longer felt confused or bewildered.
Ever since he entered the Divine General’s Estate, no one asked for his name. Although he was treated this way, he didn’t show any anger or the feeling of having been humiliated. When he was talking to the Madam or Shuang Er, he behaved politely all the time, without lacking in any courtesy. Even though he appeared slightly inflexible and old-fashioned, strangely, the people who made him unhappy were the ones who were eventually worse off than him.
It’s not that he was good at making people unhappy, but he was serious when doing the things he thought he should do. His decision to cancel the engagement felt right to him in that others can’t deny the choices that he makes himself. Because the people who made him unhappy weren’t able to ignore his decisions, they were left feeling worse than him.
Shuang Er had lived on the Divine General’s Estate since she was a child. Because of her master, she had a high status. Even the Divine General and The Lady of the estate wouldn’t criticize her. Moreover, she had never encountered people like Chen Chang Sheng. Chen Chang Sheng made her feel insecure and she wasn’t used to it.Not sure if she wanted to convince Chen Chang Sheng or herself, she softened her tone and said,
“On the entire continent, only My Lady possesses the blood of the phoenix. She is unique!”
“My senior brother had a quote in his notes. I’ve always thought it was very rational, now I give it to you, hopefully you can understand it later on. He said: everyone in the world is unique.”
Chen Chang Sheng gave her a serious look.
At the end of the long street there was a shabby stone arch bridge. Under the bridge was not Luo River, but instead, it was a small unnoticeable river. Chen Chang Sheng walked on the bridge and turned back to looked at the Divine General’s Estate. He felt that the region was quite prosperous. Among the countless big houses, Xu Mansion was the most outstanding one. He involuntarily shook his head.
After he went into the capital, he didn’t go visiting famous attractions. He also didn’t have any urge to go see the Mausoleum of Books. Instead, he simply cleaned up a bit on the side of the Luo River and walked directly to the Divine General’s Estate. He wanted to cancel the engagement. He really was in a rush. If he married the Divine General’s daughter, but he couldn’t cure his disease, he would be wasting her life. Why would he implicate her? Even if it was curable, it would probably still take many years.
Out of goodwill, he did not want to waste someone else’s youth , but he didn’t expect that he would face the supercilious looks, contempts, and ridicule of others at Xu Mansion. Now he recalled that after he reached the age of ten, the temple had not receive her gifts anymore. The two sides stopped interacting with each other, which meant the opposite side already had the intention of breaking the engagement. Today he had come to the Capital to actively cancel the engagement. This was originally a simple thing, a thing that both sides wanted but he didn’t expect to encounter such an outcome. Therefore he changed his mind on the spot.
He did not cultivate and he was not a Taoist priest, but he had read the Scriptures of The Way (Taoist canon) since childhood so he was deeply influenced by them. His destiny was gloomy from the start, therefore, during his journey he chose to follow the will – The so called “follow the will” was basically to feel at ease. Traveling for so long to reach the Capital in order to cancel the engagement was following the will. Not canceling the engagement was also following the will — The Divine General’s Estate was impolite so he didn’t want them to feel at ease, because then he wouldn’t feel at ease.
Of course, Chen Chang Sheng only wanted the Divine General’s wife, who hid coldness behind her kind face, and the maid, whose eyes only looked at the sky, to feel harried for a while. After a few days, he would still return the marriage contract. Life and death matters more than a grudge, Miss Xu’s lifelong happiness was obviously more important than the cold reception and supercilious looks he received. He still thought that way.
However, it was still not a happy event. Sometimes, Chen Chang Sheng himself would even forget that he was only a 14 year old boy, but in the end, he was still but a boy. He had his own pride, so he would feel unhappy after being humiliated.
He walked down the stone bridge and bought two sesame seed cakes from a street shop. He squatted on the stones near the river and ate the cake while looking at the distant Divine General’s Estate. He felt slightly sour. He knew where the feeling originated from, but he also knew that if he let such a feeling overflow it would hurt his own health and wouldn’t help in solving the problem.
On the Luo River, the boats were like clouds. On the long street, on the opposite side of the river, there were wolf riders from the west. Even from a really far distance, people can still smell the rancid scent from the huge wolves’ mouths. There was a shadow flowing by the river surface. Looking up, he saw a horse with two white wings dragging a gorgeous wagon to the North. At the distant archer tower, red eagles kept arriving and departing to transfer military info. At the farther green sky, there were more flying mounts from the military, like annoying dragonflies outside the temple…
This is the Capital of the Zhou Dynasty. There were countless scenes that country-folk couldn’t even imagine. Chen Chang Sheng was biting his sesame seed cake. Opening up his eyes, enjoying these pictures, and comparing them to what he read in the Scriptures of The Way, he thought that maybe he could get to see legendary creatures such as the turtle that had carried stone pillars for over 3000 years at Li Palace. He was not sure if there was still dragons in the Imperial Palace. He heard that the most noble and rare Golden Dragon had not shown up in the secular world for several tens of thousands years. Would he get to see it in the future? Oh, there was also the phoenix….. Thoughts like these ran through his head while he ate.
The sesame seed cake smelled very good but it was very hard as well. It took some effort to eat it. Chen Chang Sheng originally thought that he had already forgotten about what he experienced at the Divine General’s Estate and had successfully rid himself of the sour feelings, but after thinking about the word “phoenix,” he automatically recalled the phoenix blood that he heard today. He recalled Xu Mansion’s young Lady who possessed the phoenix blood, and recalled the gifts he received from many years ago….
He looked at the last piece of sesame seed cake in his hand. Dazed for a while, he put it into his mouth and carefully chewed thirty two times. Swallowing it into his stomach, he took out a handkerchief from his sleeve and cleaned up the cake crumbs. He stood up and packed up, before disappearing in the crowd.
He did not notice that in the corner, not far away, there was an unimpressive wagon. At an unimpressive place on the wheel, there was a bloody phoenix symbol. Of course, even if he saw it he wouldn’t know that this symbol represented the Divine General of the Eastern Decree’s Estate– After young Miss Xu was born, the Divine Empress had presented the bloody phoenix to the Divine General’s Estate as a new emblem. This was a high prestige and some sort of declaration.
Looking at the area under the bridge, the warhorse, that appeared cold and aloof in front of the wagon, had unicorn’s blood. Inside the wagon, the old lady’s eyes were also very cold, but there was also surprise, caution, and worry in her eyes.
After Chen Chang Sheng left the Divine General’s Estate, she had followed him. She didn’t know that after the youngster saw the Zhou Capital he would continue to remain that calm. He didn’t look like an uneducated country child at all . That was because she didn’t know the youngster had already read countless books since he was very young. In the books he had already seen countless landscapes and traveled countless miles.
Xu Shi Ji sat in his study room. His enormously built body spread a slight scent of blood. Ten yards away from the window, the birds were hiding their heads beneath their wings and dared not to make any noise. The strong bloody presence proved the horrific power of this Great Zhou General but it also showed that he wasn’t in a good mood.
The reason for his irritated mood was the jade pendant on his table.
“When my father was still the Prime Minister, he was deeply trusted by the Divine Empress. He was sent by her to Mount Tai to perform a ceremony for the dynasty. The demon race tried to sabotage the event by sending out Gong Yang Chun to assassinate my father and he was severely wounded. It was so bad that even The Pope couldn’t heal his wound. Only until a traveling Taoist traveled past Tai Shan City and healed his wound did he live. Therefore this marriage vow was made.
Madam Xu whispered, “Then that Taoist must have had some extraordinary skills.”
Xu Shi Ji raised his head and looked at the bright sky out of the window, “We live in a world with unlimited possibilities and countless heroes. That Taoist was regarded as a saint in the field of medication and healing. Of course he was extraordinary. Why else would father vow to marry Rong Er to his heir?”
Madam Xu was nervous, “Right now the most important thing is that marriage vow…..If that Taoist has no background and isn’t some important figure, then this situation can be handled much smoother, without many interruptions.”
Xu Shi Ji answered expressionlessly, “Teach that young Taoist to be a little more sensible.”
Madam Xu lowered her voice so low that if one didn’t listen carefully it couldn’t even be heard, “The young Taoist didn’t seem like a character that can be placated by simple gifts. What if he stands his ground? The Mausoleum of Books is going to open next year and the Southern Saints are definitely going to send people here. I’m afraid that they are going to propose to the government. We can’t mess up during a time like this.”
Xu Shi Ji closed his eyes slightly, like a tiger going to sleep, “Then just burn him into ashes and throw them into the river.”
The raining season was arriving soon and the water level of the River Luo was about to rise. Ashes or bones, once they sunk into the river, they will all disappear in an instant.