Nightfall Chapter 144
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According to the explanation given by Priest Moli of the Revelation Institute, Prince Long Qing suffered a cold on his way from West-Hill to Chang'an, and he had been recovering from it at the Peach Alley all this time, for which he hadn't been able to visit his brother earlier. Knowing that His Highness the Crown Prince was to make his return tomorrow, he forced himself to come and meet his brother despite not having fully recovered from his cold.
Being such an important figure of the Judicial Department of the West-Hill Divine Palace, and powerful enough to be on the verge of entering Knowing Destiny state, no one would believe that a cold would have any effect on him. Everyone knew that, Prince Long Qing simply didn't want to see the Crown Prince too soon. Nevertheless, if that was the excuse given by West Hill, they had no choice but to accept it as it was, unless they wanted to engage in direct argument, which obviously wasn't the case given the circumstance.
From the second Prince Long Qing walked into the courtyard, everyone's attention focused on him, especially the female Academy students, who couldn't help but whisper among themselves expressing their admiration for him. Having heard this excuse given by Priest Moli, they were curious to see how the Prince would respond, and whether he'd look awkward or ashamed.
Prince Long Qing didn't respond. He simply sat quietly at the desk below that of the Yan Crown Prince as Priest Moli explained, without showing the least bit of awkwardness. To be fair, his perfectly beautiful face showed pretty much no emotion apart from a calculated smile that was obviously out of courtesy. It was like proving to the audience that, I know it is an excuse and a very bad one, but it is nevertheless none of my business.
He looked so serious and solemn that it couldn't even be softened by his beautiful complexion. It was now that people started to remember the other extraordinary role of Prince Long Qing in addition to being a heartthrob and a prodigy in cultivation: he headed the Judicial Department of the Divine Hall, which bestowed him with unprecedented power and authority.
As both parties took their respective seats, they were properly introduced to each other. Upon realizing that the man accompanying Prince Long Qing was Zeng Jing, the Grand Secretary. The Academy students sat beneath them rose again to show their respect.
Zeng Jing was the official of Counsel who lived across the Xuanwei General back in the days. His inability to handle his household affairs angered Her Majesty the Empress, though in the end he managed to obtain the trust of His and Her Majesty by upsetting the noble families of Qinghe County. He then managed to work his way up swiftly to become one of the most important officials of the court.
The Academy students were obviously proud of themselves, but if they could not gain access to the Second floor after all, they would eventually end up becoming officials of the court, and they could not afford to upset such an important person. But for Ning Que who was sat at the corner faraway, he had in mind something else. He inquisitively glanced at this high officer from a distance and thought to himself, -you certainly didn't look so venerable back in the days when I was little.
"Wang Ying, humble student from Linchuan, I'm honored to meet the Grand Secretary."
"Zhong Dajun, humble student from Yangguan, honored to meet the Grand Secretary."
"Xie Chengyun from South Jin, honored to meet the Grand Secretary."
Xie Chengyun stood up elegantly and smiled as he greeted the Grand Secretary with folded hands. A few people noticed that he didn't refer to himself as a humble student, but this was not because of lack of respect for the Grand Secretary, but simply because he didn't want to come across as a lower being than certain people.
"Young Mr. Xie III is known for his intellect throughout the nation. I have heard about your outstanding performance during examinations in South Jin Kingdom even from here in Chang'an, and I'm very pleased to hear about your hard work and academic progress in the course of magic skills here at the Academy too."
Zeng Jing caressed his beard as he smiled at Prince Long Qing and said, "Your Highness is also known as an unprecedented prodigy of the times, and now that you will be admitted to the Academy, you should make friends with these outstanding and talented youths here."
Hearing this, Prince Long Qing nodded slightly, as if agreeing with the Grand Secretary. However, his movement was so subtle that it hardly showed any sincerity, and his beautiful complexion was similarly expressionless. It's not like he was arrogant or anything, but the very lack of emotion was an accurate translation of his attitude: he simply didn't give a damn.
An eagle would not bother despising a mere ant, nor would a great mountain look down on a tiny hump, since they simply didn't belong to the same world, and therefore they'd see no need to express any emotion. Though this lack of concern represented the greatest sense of pride and arrogance, making the one being disregarded experience the cruelest form of humiliation.
Xie, who was known for his intellect and elegance among those of the Academy was left standing in solitude for a while, before smiling desolately and finally returning to his seat. His smile looked slightly bitter if only anyone looked closely.
What happened was simply a minor interlude. The real problem here at the Victory House banquet remained hidden behind the curtains. The encounter of Prince Long Qing and the crown prince of Yan involved the internal conflict and struggle in regard to the crown succession of the Yan Kingdom, regardless of whether these two brothers competed for it or not. Princess Lee Yu was obviously on the side of the crown prince, and the fact that Prince Long Qing was accompanied by the Grand Secretary, though apparently ordered by His Majesty, no one could be sure that he wasn't a representation of the actual political inclinations of Her Majesty the empress.
The crown succession of the Yan Kingdom not only involves serious implications in the relations between the two nations, and it could further strengthen or weaken the power shift and balance between the two major imperial powers of the Tang Empire. Nevertheless, in the presence of the Yan nationals, the West-Hill priest and the students, both Her Highness the princess and the Grand Secretary were obliged to maintain the dignity and generosity as elite members of the Empire that they both represented.
"I have had the pleasure to accompany Prince Long Qing in his explorations of Chang'an and its surroundings, and I have been much impressed by the intellect and wisdom of His Highness, without yet mentioning his exceptional cultivation talent! I would assume that it must be a piece of cake for his highness to gain access to the Second floor of the Academy too."
Zeng Jing caressed his beard and openly praised Prince Long Qing. No one knew what this loyal servant of the Empress had in mind for blatantly praising a foreign guest in the presence of all the Academy students. It was rather inappropriate even considering his intention of suppressing the alliance between the princess and the crown prince of Yan.
The Academy student representatives who were present were the most outstanding elite of the Academy, with a high sense of pride and dignity that was engraved deep in their bones. They might not have heard about the crown succession at Yan Kingdom, but having seen how Prince Long Qing blatantly ignored Xie Chengyun earlier, they already disliked him greatly. Now that they heard Zeng Jing mention about the Second Floor, it suddenly reminded them that this young man was indeed their greatest rival.
Zhong Dajun raised an eyebrow and said, "It ain't that easy to get into the Second floor of the Academy."
The open culture of Tang made such interruptions under these circumstances not so unusual, especially among the impulsive. The Grand Secretary simply smiled and said nothing, as if he wasn't surprised at all by such response.
Priest Moli who had remained quiet throughout the banquet glanced over everyone coldly and said, "West-Hill Divine Kingdom is known for nurturing numerous outstanding talent, and Prince Long Qing is the most extraordinary genius of the Revelation Institute for the past decade. At the age of twenty he is at the verge of entering Knowing Destiny state, which places him at the top of the world among the younger generation. So you tell me, who should be given access to the Second floor of the Academy if not him?"
Being the deputy headmaster of the Revelation Institute, he enjoyed prestigious and respectable status. No one expected him to speak up in such a forthright and even impertinent manner. However, despite the boldness of his words, he cleverly backup up his claims with genuine facts and examples which gave him more credibility: indeed, who could ever be entitled to enter the Second floor of the Academy if not the strongest being of the younger generation in the world?
"Being on the verge of Knowing Destiny state should not be confused with the actual Knowing Destiny State."
Hua Shanyue, Senior Captain of the Gushan Commandery said sternly, "Many people claim to be prodigies in this world, and yet they lingered around that stage all their lives without being able to take a step further towards the Knowing Destiny state. I might not be as talented as Prince Long Qing, but he is only at the top of the Seethrough state right now, therefore I am skeptical of whether he can be considered as the strongest among the younger generation. I wonder if the Priest is trying to over-flatter the prince."
The Priest of the West-Hill Divine Palace had been highly regarded and respected throughout the nations they have visited. Nevertheless, as soon as they entered the city of Chang'an, despite the superficial kindness and courtesy at the official receptions, the vast majority of people felt the same as Hua Shanyue did at this moment. They utterly despised those Daoists who they regarded as mere magicians and clowns. As soon as they were overwhelmed by fury, there was no room for any further courtesy or subtleties, and they didn't even hesitate to escalate the dispute with all kinds of brusque skepticism and mockery.
Priest Moli did his best to contain his anger, he gave Hua Shanyue a harsh look and said coldly, "It's true that Great Lake, South Jin and Yuelun Kingdoms have all seen the rise of young and powerful talents. In contrast, I now beg to be enlightened on big names from Tang!"
Hua scowled right back at him and said, "Wang Jinglue of our great Tang Empire is currently serving under the Defender General, and his title is merely that of a bodyguard due to restrictions of the Imperial Center Administration. In that sense he's certainly not a big name, even though no one to date has been able to snatch the title of 'Invincible prior to Knowing Destiny' from him!"
These words hit the crowd really hard. Tang's Wang Jinglue didn't come from West-Hill, and he had nothing to do with Buddhism either. He ascended to his current level solely relying on himself, and he was known to be 'Invincible prior to Knowing Destiny'. Even though Prince Long Qing came from the Divine Palace and claimed to be an extraordinary cultivation genius, there was no way he could claim to be unparalleled before he really entered the Knowing Destiny state, or defeated Wang.
The placed succumbed to a brief silence which was quickly interrupted by a very calm voice, which belonged to Prince Long Qing who kept quiet throughout the banquet until now.
He raised his drink and looked at Hua Shanyue quietly, though it felt like he was gazing towards someplace really faraway, in the midst of the military camp by the massive swamp. Then he said coolly, "Invincible prior to Knowing Destiny...I've been wanting to change his title for a long time, unfortunately I haven't come upon the chance to do so."
"General Hua, I would much appreciate it if you could relay my message to Wang Jinglue, that I look forwards to seeing him in Chang'an."
"You must understand that, I am not at liberty to leave Chang'an right now."
Prince Long Qing withdrew his gaze and looked into Hua's eyes impassively, then he said, "if he couldn't make it on time, then I won't have the chance to change his title for him."
Gazing back at those calm and expressionless eyes, Hua felt a shiver deep down and decided to hold back what he was about to say. In the eyes of the Prince, he saw not the fury upon being challenged, but calm and confidence just like before.
Everyone present understood what he meant: if Wang Jinglue failed to make it on time, he'd not have the chance to change his title for him, not because he couldn't fight against Wang, nor because he thought he could lose, but because...
He was firmly confident that he would enter the Knowing Destiny state in the near future, and if he fought Wang then, the latter would still be able to maintain the title of "Invincible prior to Knowing Destiny". The sense of such certainty in making it to Knowing Destiny state, and the subtle disappointment he expressed about perhaps not being able to defeat Wang Jingyue...it was a kind of self-confidence and composure that required unimaginable experience, toughening and strength in life.
Seeing how everyone present was impressed by a prince of Yan Kingdom and enemy from the Judicial Department, Lee Yu looked obviously displeased and slowly frowned her brows. Thinking about the old men at the Imperial Center Administration, and thinking about all the young and powerful talents who gradually emerged over the past few years throughout the neighboring nations, it made her feel rather helpless.
For centuries, Tang had been a powerful empire with unrivaled military strength. Still and all, without the intervention of those at the back mountain of the Academy, it was extremely difficult to find anyone to counter external enemies at the individual level. Needless to say, such situation was utterly unfortunate.
She glanced over the Academy students who were present and thought to herself angrily, -if you really were the cultivation genius that Master Lv Qingchen placed such high hopes on, I wouldn't need to undergo such awkward circumstances seeing my dignity being challenged by this prince! - As she immersed in her thoughts, she still failed to find Ning Que amongst the crowd, and this made her even more frustrated.
At the alley beside Victory House, Ning Que stood by the horse carriage and as he waved impatiently at Sangsang he said, "Hurry up! Didn't you make a great fuss at home about wanting to see that Prince Long Qing up close?"
Sangsang went on to explain with a serious face, " Young master, I only mentioned it once and never made a fuss about it."
Ning Que spread his palms and said, "Fine then, would you like to see him or not?"
Upon getting a positive response, Ning Que took Sangsang to the Victory House and felt slightly sore for having to pay the attendant a piece of silver. Then they walked through the terrace which was no longer noisy, approaching the nice and quiet house. He was thinking to himself that, if Sangsang wanted to see him then he will take her to see him. He was now pretty familiar with Lee Yu, and there shouldn't be any problem anyway.
Having grown up together and relied on one another for so long, the two of them have developed the habit of always keeping an eye on whatever the other person liked and saving it for one another, such as fried-egg noodles or hot and sour shredded noodles, such as Lu Xue, or money, or even a prince.
In the midst of the quiet courtyard, everyone's attention was on the debate that took place earlier, and they were then so impressed by the powerful self-confidence in the calm words of Prince Long Qing that no one noticed how Ning Que brought Sangsang in.
As the music played and people whispered, Priest Moli sat there arrogantly as the principal guest, and Zeng Jing looked expressionless. The atmosphere was starting to feel tense.
Xie Chengyun stared at his cup and suddenly shook his head and smiled. He took a deep breath and stood up swiftly. He greeted Prince Long Qing and said to him, "I beg to be enlightened."
The courtyard suddenly quieted down, and the instruments stopped playing in the background. Lee Yu looked at Xie who stood there solemnly, and she showed him some respect and appreciation. But she couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed as she remembered that he wasn't one of Tang's own.
Half-kneeling on the floor, Prince Long Qing tidied his outfit and looked at Xie Chengyun straight in the eyes, finally showing a serious expression for the first time tonight, and he said: "After you, Brother Xie."
At the corner of the courtyard.
Sangsang half-kneeled behind Ning Que and carefully peeked at the front, then she whispered in disappointment, "Young master, we are too far away, even further than the other day out on the street, I can't even see his face clearly."
"Shush...don't interrupt." said Ning Que as he chewed a mouthful of pickled fish skin, "Didn't you see the show is about to start? It's a rare opportunity to witness a debate between two great intellectuals!"
Sangsang obviously had no idea of what the debate was, and she continued to peek with great wonder, asking, "Who do you think will win then?"
Ning Que took a sip and shook his head," I just hope Xie Chengyun won't lose too badly."
Nightfall Chapter 144
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Nightfall Chapter 144 summary
You're reading Nightfall Chapter 144. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Anthony Pryde already has 286 views.
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