Chapter 195: There is No Such Thing as Fate
‘Now that I think about it, His Majesty was a really extraordinary person. He arrived in front of Fate with a cold-blooded and formidable attitude. He did not accept Fate’s arrangement; rather, he began to decide the Fate of others. He did not wait for Taizu to choose him; rather, he chose instead and killed everyone, leaving Taizu with only one son. Therefore, the emperor’s throne or the bloody fate changing rumor didn’t matter anymore, and there was no need for any more discussion. Regardless, both the Zhou Dynasty and entire human world needed this kind of extremely effective decision. In the past, his cavalrymen suffered greatly under the hands of the Demon race during the battles within Tianliang County. After that, he suffered a disastrous defeat by the hands of Elder Brother in Luoyang City. However, regarding everything that had happened, both the Demon Lord and Elder Brother were weaker than him. He was indeed the most powerful man of this era, so the world fell into his hands. This did not exceed my expectations. Of course, too many things had happened during this process, so as a result, I really could not feel happy for him.’
‘What happened next did not exceed my expectations either. His Majesty began to work diligently in politics, and he devoted his heart to ruling the country. As a result, the continent slowly became peaceful, and the power of the Zhou Dynasty flourished greatly with each passing day. His Majesty Taizu finally grew impatient with playing games and the beautiful female servants. After closing both of his eyes, he returned to the stars, and perhaps, too much time had already passed. His Majesty did not permit me to continue staying in the palace, so he let me teach at the Star Seizer Academy. I could also read as I taught, so I did not object and was very grateful. Furthermore, I understood the real reason why His Majesty had sent me to Star Seizer Academy because the days of the northern expeditions against the Demon race were not far away.’
‘After that night in the Hundred Herb Garden, His Majesty and I were no longer friends. Although there were many things I was unwilling to do, I was willing to participate in fighting against the Demon race. His Majesty wanted to wash off all shame from the Treaty of Fallen Willow, so every lord, subject, soldier, and citizen worked diligently. In just a few years, the preparations for the northern expeditions were complete, and His Majesty directly made me a vice-commander. This stirred up a large amount of gossip in the government. Fatty Cheng was the angriest. Everybody knew each other, and they felt I could only strategize on paper. I had never actually led any soldiers, so how could I hold such an important position?’
‘I did not try to explain myself at all. I understood very clearly why His Majesty wanted me to become the vice-commander. This wasn’t only to take advantage of what I had prepared in those few years at the Star Seizer Academy, but to also force me to decide my future. Perhaps, I would die on the battlefield against the Demon race, or I would drift far away from the battlefield to find her or Elder Brother. However, I remained because the matter of conflict with the Demon race lasted more than one or two years. Since I had decided this, whether I died or left, I had to help the human world resolve the threat of the Demon race before doing so.’
‘Very fortunately, we were victorious.’
After reading this part of the diary, Chen Changsheng breathed in deeply. Although he was only interested in the secrets of changing fate, he still could not help but be filled with emotion when he read the renowned general’s story in that great war against the Demon race. Wang Zhice had downplayed that one simple sentence, yet he did not know how much blood had been spilt nor how difficult it was.
Very fortunately, humanity was victorious in the end.
‘To the victor go the spoils. His Majesty decided to build the Pavilion of Ascending Mist and hang all of the people’s portraits who had performed meritorious services inside. I knew that my own portrait would certainly be hung inside. However, it felt extremely weird because I always felt that hanging portraits was like honoring the dead. This was something that should only be done after one had died.’
While reading this part that Wang Zhice had written, he unconsciously looked around. Borrowing the light from the Luminous Pearl, he looked at the several dozens of portraits belonging to those worthy subjects and renowned generals. A familiar feeling blossomed in his heart, and the people within the portraits seemed to stare at him silently in the soft light. Chills ran down his spine.
‘After the Pavilion of Ascending Mist was built, Daoist Wu began to help draw portraits of us. Not long after, Zhang Sun died, the Duke of Zheng died, and the Duke of Wei also died….. All of those people who had their portraits hanging in the Pavilion of Ascending Mist slowly passed away. It was also at that time when a rumor began to spread between us old men. It said that in the beginning, His Majesty was the same as his father. In order to have victory over the Demon race, he worked together with the Orthodoxy to make an offering to the stars, and he succeeded in changing fate in the end. As for the offering that His Majesty had given to the starry sky, it was the souls of the twenty four great subjects and generals within the Pavilion of Ascending Mist.’
‘It was a wet day filled with autumn rain on the sixth day after Du Ruyu was buried. Daoist Wu came out of the imperial palace and met us in secret. The saint of painting in Luoyang City who was originally full of high spirit already had a head full of white air, and his eyes were filled with fear. He told us that once the portraits of the twenty four people were completed, he would also die. I knew that he had heard of the rumor of His Highness defying fate and had guessed something. I did not say anything and came up with a plan to secretly send him out of the capital. It was said that he arrived in Jialan Temple. The reason why I did not say anything was because I did not believe in anything like changing fate, including the nods from Emperor Taizu when he was drunk in the palace or what he had said before he had died. I thought this was all a lie of the old man who was unwilling to step out of the limelight, scheming to regain his own authority and powers, and wanting to give the journey of his life an even more mysterious feel.’
‘I really began to think about the word Fate. I began to think whether Emperor Taizu and His Majesty had really used some secret technique to change Fate through an offering to the starry sky. That had occurred several months later when Qin Zhong was already bedridden from his old injuries. I went outside for a rare opportunity to meet him, and I just happened to see Daoist Ji who was ordered to treat him by an imperial edict. Seeing Daoist Ji’s expression, I finally confirmed that this matter was questionable.’
While reading this paragraph and holding the diary, Chen Changsheng’s hands slightly trembled.
Up until now, Wang Zhice’s storytelling finally began to tackle the heart of the matter. However, Chen Changsheng did not react so severely because of this, but rather the diary had mentioned too many names of legendary figures, for example, that Elder Brother. He should have been Zhou Dufu who had defeated Emperor Taizong in a single battle at Luoyang. And now, his master’s name was actually mentioned.
‘When I was writing this down, seventeen of the twenty four honored subjects from the Pavilion of Ascending Mist had already died, and it was almost my turn. During this period, I followed His Majesty’s wishes. I never took up a position in the government, but I only taught at the Star Seizer Academy. If I wanted to investigate these matters, it was a tad difficult, so I could only ask Qin Zhong directly before he had died. I believed that even if the emperor had used his loyal subordinates’ lives as an offering to the stars, he could not hide it from Qin Zhong. As I had expected, not only did Qin Zhong know, but Yu Gong and a few other people also knew of this matter.’
‘That night, I looked at Qin Zhong who seemed countless times older than he actually was, and he stayed silent for a very long time. I did not understand why he still calmly accepted it even though he knew and even though His Majesty had told him the truth beforehand. Qin Zhong told me His Majesty, the emperor, had served him many times and saved him several times. So to give his life for His Majesty was the right and natural thing to do.’
‘There were many people like Qin Zhong and Yu Gong, who willingly sacrificed themselves to His Majesty’s plans for world domination, but I was not included. I was unwilling.’
‘The Lord wanted his subject to die, but the subject did not want to die.’
‘His Majesty was suspicious of me for many years, but I only had the utmost loyalty towards his Majesty.’
‘What Qin Zhong had said that night before he died was correct. I had never corrected my own position, and I had never treated His Majesty as my own lord. I was still that young, perverted scholar who had forgotten why I set out on my journey. I still believed that His Majesty was that young, unrestrained prince from before, and I still believed he was my friend.’
‘The most important thing was that I could die for many things. Even when His Majesty’s life was in jeopardy, I was willing to sacrifice myself. To be victorious over the Demon race and to have the country maintain peace for tens of thousands of years, I was willing to die. In fact, when I was originally in the fields of snow, I almost died countless times, but I was unwilling to die as a sacrifice to the stars.’
‘It was because I did not believe in such a thing.’
‘I did not believe in changing Fate.’
‘For Taizu to found the Zhou Dynasty, to take down Luoyang and the capital in succession, and to ascend the throne in front of the Mausoleum of Books, it was not because he had really offered the lives of his sons to the stars nor established his own Emperor Star. Rather he was extremely lucky to have such outstanding sons. Under some indescribable pressure, these outstanding sons contended with one another, and they all burst forth with dazzling radiance on the stage of Tianliang County and then the stage of the whole continent. The Prince of Qi was an even more outstanding son among them, and he endured patiently with ferocity. The overall situation made him seem strong or even perfect. Without these sons, how could the Chen family of the Tianliang County obtain the glory of today?’
TL Note: Where did the Chen family come out of you wonder? Taizu and Taizong are a part of the Chen family, the same family that revolted and the one Chen Liuwang is a part of. Basically, the previous emperor (and husband of the Divine Empress) was the son of Taizong, who passed away leading to a power struggle with the Divine Empress and the Chen family over the throne.
‘As for this thing called Fate, it could not be further from the guesses of the common people who did not know any inside information. Taizu led a great army of thirty thousand eastwards through Fork Mountain and conquered seventeen cities in a row. The last three battles were the bloodiest, as well as the most dangerous, but he had never relied on Fate to escape the jaws of death. Instead, the Prince of Chu and the Prince of Qi borrowed three thousand wolfriders from the Demon race. As for breaking through the encirclement at Luoyong, he used a secret method to trick his enemies and commoners, but he could not trick his closest subjects. The night when Elder Brother killed a massive number of people in the city of Luoyang, maybe other people did not know, but how could I not know?’
‘The reason why humans could defeat the Demon race was because of the country’s strength, the wise lord, the preparations, everybody pooling together their efforts and wisdom, the alliance with the Fae, the tens of thousands of citizens devoting their lives to battle in the northern blizzards for six years straight, and finally because the Demon race suffered from internal disorder. In order to suppress the groups of rebels, the wolfriders suffered heavy casualties. How did this have anything to do with changing fate? As for the twenty four lauded subjects being offered to the stars? Their deaths were indeed questionable, but to me, it was just an approach of His Majesty to unite them through joys and sorrows as their lord. They just died together.’
On the very last page of the diary, Wang Zhice wrote in this way.
‘In the beginning, the human world lacked paths. The paths only formed underneath our feet while we walked. They depended on how we walked and how we chose our position.”
“Our position was relative. If I viewed the lord as lord, then I was his subject. If I did not view anybody as lord, then I was not a subject.”
“Therefore, there is no such thing as Fate, but only choices.”