Chapter 195 – There is no such thing as fate
“Now that I think about it, His Majesty is really a great person. He is cold-blooded and carries a formidable stance all the time. He did not accept his fate rather he faced it head-on. He also began to decide the fate of others. He did not wait to be chosen by Emperor Taizu but replaced him to become the second emperor of Zhou Dynasty. He chose to slaughter his brothers and anyone who might have come in his way. By becoming the only alive son of Emperor Taizu, he also became the rightful heir to the throne. After this, there was no scope left for further discussion on the bloody hearsay about changing the fate. After Emperor Taizong ascended the throne, if one would consider the history of Zhou Dynasty in the coming several hundred years, one would come to know that it was a highly efficient decision not just for the prosperity of Zhou Dynasty but also for the entire human world. In the past, his cavalry repeatedly fought with the wolf-riders of demon race and gave them a crushing defeat, and later in Luoyang City, that Big Brother also had to face a crushing defeat at his hands, but after looking closely at the details of those battles one would find out that in the end, both Big Brother and Demon King were inferior to him. He really was this era’s most powerful man, so it was not a surprise that the world finally fell into his hands. Of course, so many incidents happened in the course of events and I really had no means to cheer him up.”
“Things that happened afterward were still as expected of such a great persona. His Majesty began to rule diligently and his careful governance gradually brought peace to the continent. The national strength of Zhou Dynasty was increasing day by day while Emperor Taizu was finally bored of the game of Mahjong and beautiful maids. He closed his eyes and returned to the starry sky (heavens). Perhaps this was the reason or because a long time had passed since I was put under house arrest with Emperor Taizu, His Majesty did not let me continue to stay in the palace and made me hold the position of a teacher at Star Taker Academy. Teaching and reading at the same time, I could not ask for more. I was very grateful, moreover, I was aware of His Majesty’s real intention behind this. It seemed like war with the demon race should not be too far.”
“After the Hundred Herbs Garden incident that night, His Majesty and I were no longer friends, but a ruler and his minister. Although there were many things I was not willing to do, I was certainly willing to participate in this war with the demon race. His Majesty was planning to wash off the shame and humiliation inflicted on the entire human race because of the Treaty of Fallen Willow. As far as this matter was concerned, everyone was attentive including the military personnel, ministers, and the civilians. It took a few years but they were eventually ready to join the punitive expedition to the north in order to take back the dignity and pride of human race from the demon race. His Majesty selected me to become Deputy Marshal and this annoyed a lot of people. In the main hall of the imperial palace, Fat Cheng was very angry and all of my friends said that I could only draft military strategies on paper. I was not at all suitable for commanding troops especially because I had never participated in any battle, then how could I play such an important role?”
“Regarding this, I did not have to give any explanation, but I was very clear on one point. If His Majesty wanted me to hold the position of Deputy Marshal then I was ready to use all of my accumulated experiences from the several years I had invested in Star Taker Academy, all the while preparing for the upcoming war. In addition to that, I also wanted to safeguard the future of human race or die on the battlefield while trying my best to defeat the demon race. Or perhaps I wanted to drift away from the battlefield and go look for her big brother, but I gave up on that because this war was not going to last for one or two years. Since I had already decided to do my best for this, I was following the simple rule of do or die. I seriously thought that it was necessary to get rid of the threat of demon race from the human world, so even if this war would last for a century, it still was not going to affect my determination.”
“Fortunately, we won.”
After reading this, Chen Chang Sheng took a deep breath. Although his main motive to read this memoir was to find out the secret of changing one’s fate, he could not stop the upsurge of emotion in his heart when he read about that famous war with the demon race. Indeed, there were few words in the note regarding the war and did not account for so many hardships and losses that humanity must have faced back then.
Fortunately, the humanity eventually won.
“After the victory, it was time to give merits to the deserving performers on the battlefield. His Majesty decided to build the Pavilion of Ascending Mist for the purpose of hanging the portraits of the most exceptional warriors inside the pavilion. I knew that my portrait would also be made and felt somewhat weird about this because I always thought that this kind of thing should be done after the death of war heroes.”
Chen Chang Sheng stopped reading all of a sudden and subconsciously looked around. In the illumination of the legendary glowing pearl, he looked at the portraits of those famous heroes and felt as if they were still coldly looking back at him. This made him feel somewhat cold inside his heart.
“After the Pavilion of Ascending Mist was ready, Wu Daozi started to make portraits for us, but not long after, Zhang Sun died, the Dukes of Zheng State and Wei State also died ……The heroes slowly began to die one after another. At this time, a rumor began to spread among us old fogies; it said that His Majesty, like his father, had also collaborated with the Pope to offer sacrifices to the stars and ultimately managed to defy the heavens to change his fate and won the war. And these sacrifices were none other than his 24 generals.”
“Six days after the burial of Du Ruyu, autumn rain greeted the earth when Wu Daozi came out from the palace and secretly came to see me. He used to be a high-spirited Saint in Luoyang City, but right now he looked like a white-haired old man with a look of terror in his eyes. He said to me that after making the portraits of the 24 generals, he would also die. I knew that he had also heard the rumors but I did not tell him whether his fear was logical or not. In fact, I did not know what I should say to console him, so I helped him sneak out of the capital. Later, I heard that he went to the Galan Temple. There was a reason why I did not say anything to him and that was because I did not believe that it was possible to go against the heaven’s will to change one’s fate. In the palace, Emperor Taizu had indeed nodded in a drunken state and also said those words before his death because I think that old people are eager to lie but are unwilling to die when they are lonely. Perhaps, he was trying to regain his own authority and power by trying to put on a mystical aura to seek attention.”
“Only a few months later, when Qin Zhong was confined to bed due to a year old injury, that I actually started to think seriously about this thing called ‘fate’. I began to think that Emperor Taizu and His Majesty not really used some kind of mystical method to sacrifice people to the stars to change their fates. I rarely went out to see Qin Zhong, was counting on Taoist Ji who had received an order from His Majesty to treat him. But, after seeing the look on Taoist Ji’s face, I finally confirmed that there was something wrong.”
Chen Chang Sheng’s hands trembled slightly.
Wang Zhi Ce’s narration finally began to touch the core of this matter. However, this kind of strong reaction was not because the memoir mentioned many legendary names, for example, that Big Brother, who should be the autocrat defeated by Emperor Taizong in the battle of Luoyang. His reaction was because of the sudden appearance of his master’s name.
“As I write down these words in my personal notes, 17 out of 24 heroes have already died and it seems like my turn will come soon. All these years, I have followed the wishes of His Majesty. I have not held an office in the imperial palace and continue to teach in Star Taker Academy. Whenever I faced difficulties looking up something, I used to directly ask Qin Zhong, that is before he died. I believe that even if His Majesty is really sacrificing the lives of his loyal subordinates to the stars, he would still not hide something like that from Qin Zhong. And just as expected, not just Qin Zhong, the other people of Rain Palace also knew about this matter.”
“That night, I watched over Qin Zhong whose real age was several times older than me. He was silent for a long time since he knew that I did not know or understand. Qin Zhong said to me that since His Majesty spoke to them beforehand, so they were able to embrace their deaths so confidently and openly. He further said, His Majesty treated him with respect, like a friend, saved him several times, so giving his life for His Majesty was quite obvious.”
“Like Qin Zhong, the other heroes were also ready to willingly sacrifice their lives for His Majesty. But that does not include me because I do not want to.”
“A king wants his official to die, but the official does not want to die.”
“His Majesty has always been suspicious of me, no wonder he never told me about this matter. And it seems like it is also difficult for me to give my loyalty to His Majesty.”
“That night, when Qin Zhong left this world, I realized that I have never known my position in this world. I have never before regarded His Majesty as a ruler. I realized that deep in my heart, I am still that young scholar who is on a journey to his destination with several dreams and desires still burning in his eyes. And His Majesty is still a confident and carefree prince whom I met in Luoyang and thought he was my friend.”
“The most critical point is that I can die for a lot of things. Even when His Majesty’s life was threatened, I was willing to sacrifice my life for him. I was also willing to sacrifice my life in order to defeat the demon race and safeguard the future of human race and help build peace for coming ten thousand years. In fact, I was willing to die many times in the snowfields to save my comrades, but I do not want to die for this kind of thing.”
“And that is because I do not believe in this kind of thing.”
“I do not believe in this whole going against the heavens matter.”
“Before the foundation of Zhou Dynasty, Emperor Taizu captured Luoyang City, then he took control of the capital, and eventually ascended the throne in front of Mausoleum of Books, not because he sacrificed the lives of the philosophers to the stars to light up his own star, but because he was extremely fortunate to have those outstanding sons. Under some unspeakable pressure, his outstanding sons competed with each other on a remote county named Tianliang County and subsequently stepped on the continent’s stage and displayed their dazzling brilliance and glory. Qi Wang was the best among them, he knew when to be patient or ruthless. He was someone who could see the bigger picture and had a greater vision than his brothers. He could be called someone very close to perfection, if not perfect. Without these princes, Tianliang County would never have attained today’s peaceful scenery”
“As for the so-called fate, it is nothing but a result of wild speculations put forward by the people who did not know the inside story. Emperor Taizu led an army of 30,000 men and headed east of Qishan. He won 17 cities and had to face three most tragic and most dangerous battles, but he still managed to find a way out and came out alive, not because he depended on his fate, but because Chu Wang and Qi Wang borrowed help from the 3000 wolf riders of the demon race. Talking about the final solution of the encirclement of Luoyang City, Emperor Taizu and his son used the method of fooling one’s own vassals to fool the enemy or the entire world. Whether Big Brother was killed in Luoyang City or not; if people do not know then how will I know?”
“The secret behind humanity’s victory over the demon race lies in the national strength. It lies in the preparation that had been going on since Ming Dynasty was in power. It lies in the teamwork by forming an alliance with the Yao race and also lies in the strong motivation to work hard that was induced by a strong leader. Not to forget, the attack of blizzards for six consecutive years in the north, the civil strife in demon country, the slaughter of the demon tribe of wolf-riders at the hands of Demon King in order to suppress the rebellion. How are these events even related to going against the heaven’s will to change one’s fate? Then what about the sacrifice of 24 heroes to the stars? The causes of their deaths are indeed questionable, but in my opinion, it is just a trick of His Majesty. As they say, a king who isn’t active dies early…… ”
On the last page of the notes, Wang Zhi Ce said so.
“The world doesn’t have the road because the road is under your feet. Only you can decide which road you must take and that is what decides your unique journey. Only you can choose your own position on this stage we call the world.”
(TL Note: Search for poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. This note is only for those readers who appreciate philosophy and poetry.)
“Position is relative! I wanted to become an official so I became one. If I did not want to become an official then I would not have become one.”
“Therefore, there is no such thing as fate, but only choices we make and they are entirely in our control.”
TL Note: [TRIVIA AHEAD]
There’s a different theory that acts like a contradiction to the statement written at the end of this chapter. It states that the choices we make are also governed by our ‘fate’. So, you cannot be sure that ‘you’ are the one making those choices and ‘fate’ has nothing to do with it.
I guess the novel directly challenges this theory. We will find out later in the story.
There’s a debate on this topic that started ages ago and has been going on for thousands of years in various ancient cultures and lost civilizations including the Mayan Astrology of Mayan Civilization and Vedic Astrology of Ancient Indian Civilization. Interested readers can Google and learn more about these contradicting theories.
I still need time to finish various tasks related to this novel. So, I am not in a rush to move Ze Tian Ji to the main project section. However, it will become a ‘main project’ soon.)