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Chapter 880 – Closing the Temple
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The White Crane understood Tang Thirty-Six's meaning. It flapped its wings and soared into the sky, making its way towards the summit of Holy Maiden Peak.
Wind gusted through the courtyard, rustling the blossoming trees. Tang Thirty-Six waved his hand and s.n.a.t.c.hed a few petals in the air, then walked back into the thatched cottage and asked Huai Ren, "We're not Xiao Zhang, so we count as guests, correct?"
Huai Ren knew what he had done but did not expose him. Smiling, she answered, "Those who come from afar are naturally guests."
Tang Thirty-Six asked, "Since we're guests, why is there no tea?"
Huai Ren remained serene. "Ping Xuan, serve tea."
The South Stream Temple disciple that had been prostrating behind her this entire time now rose and exited the cottage.
As she pa.s.sed Tang Thirty-Six, Tang Thirty-Six called her to stop and gave her the petals he had just s.n.a.t.c.hed. In a gentle voice, he said, "Sister Ping Xuan, I like to drink scented tea."
At this sight, the three elders and all the disciples present couldn't help but shake their heads as they thought, truly the behavior of a young master; it really makes one feel annoyed.
Even if the water was already boiled, brewing the tea still required some time, and the idle chatter that went along with sipping tea took up even more time.
By the time Tang Thirty-Six was holding his cup of scented tea and discussing Fuchun Province's flatbreads with the senior sister called Ping Xuan, he had bought enough time.
The clear cry of a crane sounded through the sky, and with the howling of the wind, the White Crane slowly descended into the courtyard.
The South Stream Temple disciples were flabbergasted that someone was on the crane. Could the Holy Maiden have come out of her seclusion early?
The rider of the White Crane was not Xu Yourong, but a young man.
Seeing the young man, Ye Xiaolian and many other disciples prostrated. Some of these disciples had not gone to Mount Han and the capital, so they were currently wondering in shock at just who could possibly be able to ride the Holy Maiden's White Crane. Seeing their fellow sisters prostrating and recalling the stories they used to tell, they came to their senses and hurriedly bowed as well.
"Paying respects to His Holiness the Pope."
Chen Changsheng nodded. He spoke a few words to Ye Xiaolian and those other South Stream Temple disciples he was familiar with, then entered the thatched cottage.
Huai Ren and her two martial sisters were already standing, calmly waiting in the cottage for his arrival.
Chen Changsheng apologetically said, "Entering without invitation is truly inappropriate, but my heart was fraught with worry. I ask for your forgiveness."
Huai Ren calmly replied, "Presumably, Your Holiness the Pope had a misunderstanding, thought that South Stream Temple was suffering internal strife, and was concerned for the Holy Maiden's safety, and so went straight to the summit."
Chen Changsheng truly had felt this way at the very start, but it was currently not convenient for him to directly admit to it.
Huai Ren continued, "But South Stream Temple currently has a grand announcement to make to the world. Your Holiness the Pope has happened to arrive just in time, adding to its glory. I thank Your Holiness for the visit."
These words made Tang Thirty-Six feel a creak in his heart. He knew that this was the major event that Ye Xiaolian had been concerned about.
Chen Changsheng somewhat gravely asked, "What announcement is this?"
Huai Ren said with a most tranquil expression, as if discussing a most routine and trifling matter, "South Stream Temple intends to close the temple after the conclusion of the new year's festivities."
Hearing this, Ping Xuan, Yi Chen, and the other second-generation disciples felt a slight shock run through their bodies. They turned to Huai Ren, wanting to say something, but ultimately chose to remain silent.
Ye Xiaolian and the other young girls of South Stream Temple showed unwilling expressions, but they also did not speak.
Chen Changsheng was somewhat puzzled by these words.
Wasn't Xu Yourong currently secluded in the cave at the summit? Who else wanted to go through closing the temple?
And then he recalled a certain pa.s.sage he had read in the book 'Miscellaneous Stories of the Southern Altar'.
There were three ways in which South Stream Temple closed the temple.
If a cultivator of South Stream Temple entered seclusion, this could be called closing the temple.
All of South Stream Temple could go through closing the temple, in a similar way to a cultivator entering seclusion.
During the days in which the temple was closed, South Stream Temple would not interact with the outside world, and the seals and arrays of Holy Maiden Peak would activate. One could consider it as being cut off from the world.
Chen Changsheng looked into Huai Ren's eyes and asked, "The closing of the temple Your Reverence speaks of… is cutting off South Stream Temple from the world?"
Huai Ren seemed numb to the emotion in his eyes, and she calmly replied, "Correct."
The thatched cottage was quiet for a very long time.
Chen Changsheng walked to the door, looking out at the beautiful scenery outside. He asked, "For how long?"
Huai Ren walked behind him and softly said, "Ten years."
Hearing this, the disciples of South Stream Temple remained as downcast as before. It was obvious that they already knew of this.
Ten years…" Chen Changsheng muttered to himself.
The lives of cultivators far surpa.s.sed ordinary people, and living two hundred or three hundred years was very normal. Cultivators of lofty cultivation could even live from six hundred to one thousand years.
In the span of such long lives, ten years was a very brief moment of time—one's youthful face would not turn old, and one's hair would remain free of white.
But to these young girls of South Stream Temple, being cut off from the world for ten years was still very difficult to accept.
They could only see the clouds of Holy Maiden Peak, but not the clouds of the world outside. They could only see the flowering trees of the plateau, but not the flowering trees of the outside world.
They could only see each other. It was impossible for them to see the people outside.
If one did not consider these things, but considered this matter from Chen Changsheng's view, then if South Stream Temple closed the temple for ten years, the Li Palace would lose its strongest external ally for ten years.
He finally understood the reason for the diplomatic mission from the Imperial Court that Xiao Zhang had spoken of in Fengyang City.
Who was most willing to see South Stream Temple close its temple for ten years? His teacher Shang Xingzhou, of course, and also everyone else in the Great Zhou Imperial Court.
The Prince of Xiang and Wuqiong Bi, two experts of the Divine Domain, had personally come with the diplomatic mission to ensure that this matter could proceed smoothly.
Deducing from these points, one could conclude that these three elders of South Stream Temple had suddenly concluded their travels, returned to the mountain, and forcefully demanded that South Stream Temple be closed due to the influence of Shang Xingzhou and the Imperial Court.
Thinking of this, he glanced at Hu Thirty-Two and thought, with such a major event taking place at South Stream Temple, why has the Orthodoxy not heard anything about it?
Hu Thirty-Two gave an imperceptible nod, using his eyes to indicate that he would investigate.
Those were all matters for afterward. The most pressing matter at the moment was to change the minds of these three martial grandaunts of South Stream Temple.
"Can we speak alone?" Chen Changsheng asked Huai Ren.
Huai Ren replied, "Everything is as Your Holiness desires."
The sun was setting behind the mountains.
The graceful ridges of the mountain through which the Tong River ran were very high, so the sun quickly touched them, making it seem rather like twilight.
Chen Changsheng stood on the edge of the cliff, gazing at the distant setting sun. He was silent, his thoughts inscrutable.
"Yes, it truly was the venerable Daoist master who sent someone to find us, and then personally convinced us to end our wanderings early."
Huai Ren stood beside him, her face, still young and beautiful, seemingly plated with a layer of gold in the light of the setting sun, making her appear abnormally dignified and holy.
"To the disciples, being cut off the world is truly difficult to accept, and presumably the Holy Maiden would disagree as well, but I still insist."
Huai Ren turned to face him and calmly said, "Your Holiness, you should know that there are three levels of closing the temple. A cultivator closing the temple means that they are entering seclusion, the temple itself going through the closing means being cut off from the world, but the very first meaning of closing the temple was South Stream Temple and the Li Palace uniting as one1. If I do not want that last event to occur, I can only choose the second."
Chen Changsheng replied, "'Idling by the South Stream's Window', written by the first Holy Maiden, described this last form of closing the temple. Her words clearly stated that although South Stream Temple was created by her, she still hoped that it could ultimately reunite with the Orthodoxy. What I and Yourong want to do is completely in accord with her thinking. How is it inappropriate?"
"That is a matter from countless years ago, and time can change many things. South Stream Temple now has its own lineage, so why should it end this lineage and unite with the Li Palace? Crucially, if all goes according to Your Holiness and the Holy Maiden's will, South Stream Temple is very likely to step into an abyss of destruction."
Huai Ren looked into his eyes, calmly and firmly declaring, "I cannot simply watch as Your Holiness and the Holy Maiden bring South Stream Temple into this war."
1.'合' can mean 'close', but it can also mean 'combine/merge'. This same '合' is also the 'unity' of the Unity Sword Art.↩
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