“You’ve already died and become a ghost. Faster!”
“You are a prince? You ruled over tens of millions of citizens and thirty thousand armored horsemen? In the Netherworld Kingdom, you human princes are nothing!”
A tall, powerful-looking demonic soldier, his face mean and vicious, snarled angrily as he lashed out with his whip repeatedly. The whip flashed like lightning, striking on the bodies of the souls of the dead. He struck the ghost who had been arrogantly proclaiming that he was a prince several dozen times, only stopping when the ghost’s soul had almost dissipated.
“I should’ve died. So that means... this is the Netherworld Kingdom?” Ji Ning appeared out of nowhere. He couldn’t help but stare with curiosity at the unfamiliar surroundings. When he heard the arrogant boastings of the prince, Ji Ning couldn’t help but feel suspicious; “Ten million citizens? Thirty thousand armored horsemen? In the modern Earth, where would one find thirty thousand armored horsemen?”
“Faster!” The massive, glowing minotaur demon soldier stared at Ji Ning and brayed.
Ji Ning followed the rest of the regiment.
Countless men in white clothes formed into a line, like a long, sinuous dragon, as they slowly moved forwards. At the end of each line, more people in white would suddenly appear. Some of these white-dressed people would shake their heads and sigh. Some would weep. Some would brag and curse. Some would stare in astonishment.
“My father is the Devil King of the Great Snowy Mountain. How dare you strike me! I’ll eat you! Grrr!”
“Stop hitting me!”
The ghosts who had just reached the Netherworld Kingdom didn’t know they were dead. Many of them were roaring in anger as they were beaten, but quickly, they were beaten to the point of understanding... that they were dead. No matter how glorious they had been in the past, in death, they now had nothing.
Time passed quickly. Ji Ning walked for a very long time in that endless line of ghosts. He didn’t dare to say anything. If he spoke, he might be whipped by that minotaur. He had walked in a daze for a long time already. Fortunately, ghosts didn’t get hungry or thirsty.
One day, after a long, long period of dazed walking.
“Ji Ning!” A thunderous sound seemed to echo in the world. The countless ghosts all raised their heads to stare at the sky. Ji Ning stared at the sky as well. From the horizon, an enormous black cloud began to roll over, and atop that cloud was an enormous minotaur god who was glowing with black light.
This enormous minotaur god was over a hundred thousand meters tall. He was like a massive mountain. The black cloud he was on quickly flew over from the horizon.
“Ji Ning.” Atop the massive black cloud, the minotaur god stared downwards, his eyes shooting out twin lofty golden rays of light, covering the entire area below and illuminating the body of Ji Ning, who stood there like an idiot.
The glowing light from the eyes of the minotaur god wrapped around Ji Ning’s body, and Ji Ning disappeared from within the ranks of the ghosts. Those ordinary minotaur soldiers were all silent, none daring to make a sound. All of the ghosts were in a state of shock. Only a long time later did they recover.
Within the boundless black clouds, the titanic minotaur god stood.
He stretched out his hand, and on top of his palm was a tiny little dot. Ji Ning.
Ji Ning was totally shocked.
An enormous minotaur god was standing in front of him, and he was standing on its palm?
“Ji Ning.” The minotaur god peered down at the tiny little speck in his hands.
“I have come at the orders of the Lord of Cui Palace to come receive you.” The minotaur god spoke to the tiny speck in his hands, and then with a wave of his hands, Ji Ning was placed into an empty void area. The minotaur god then rose his black cloud and quickly disappeared into the horizon.
In the Fengdu City of the Ghost World.
Within a quiet study, there was a bookshelf and a table next to it. A blue robed man in his middle years was flipping through a book.
Ji Ning stood there in front of him.
“Why does the Lord of Cui Palace wish to see me?” Ji Ning was wondering. He had no idea who this ’Lord of Cui Palace’ was and had never met him. He was just an ordinary person. How could he possibly know any Immortals? If he had a powerful background, then he wouldn’t have been tormented by his illness his entire life. So why had that Lord of Cui Palace sent the minotaur god to bring him here?
“He summoned me, but then he doesn’t speak to me.” Ji Ning sneaked a glance around the room.
The study was very simple. The only decoration was a single painting.
“That’s...” Ji Ning looked at it carefully. This was the painting of a girl. Her feathered clothes were filled with natural grace, and the smile on her lips was even more enigmatic than those on the Buddhas in the temples on Earth. In the blink of an eye, Ji Ning became enamored with studying that painting. The woman in this painting, in terms of appearance or hair or clothing, was extremely alluring.
“Oh?” The blue robed man raised his head and glanced at him, glancing at the painting in surprise. “I didn’t expect that he would have such powers of perception.”
“Wake up!” The blue robed man shouted quietly.
The world of vacant pondering which Ji Ning had been in just now was totally shattered, and he was totally woken up. Only now did he remember that he was in the Lord of Cui Palace’s place.
Lord Cui had closed his book and was looking at him. Ji Ning’s expression instantly changed. This was because from his current position, he could see the words within the hands of Lord Cui: “Book of Life and Death.”
Lord Cui was reading the Book of Life and Death?
“I’ve just been reading about your life.” Lord Cui smiled towards Ji Ning.
Ji Ning was startled.
His previous life appeared in his mind like a dream. His father was a leading researcher in a bioscience program. His salary was extremely high. His mother was an ordinary teacher. His life should’ve been great since he had been born into such a family, but unfortunately, he suffered from constant diseases. The doctors all said that it would be a miracle if he would live to fifteen or sixteen.
Therefore, he couldn’t go to school, nor could he play around with his peers. Every day, just by walking for half an hour, he would feel exhausted. His weak body, constantly tormented by illness, caused his childhood to be very lonely. He had heard long ago in the hospital that others were discussing how he should die in his teens. This sort of terrifying feeling of knowing your death was coming soon had tormented his childhood, causing him to be even more of a loner.
Fortunately, he had his books and the internet.
The books and the internet gave him a ‘mental world’ which allowed him to avoid the fate of having a twisted personality. Through books and the internet, he ravenously acquired knowledge about the world, and his heart slowly grew calm, making him more rational in the way he viewed the world.
He knew that in the world, there were children who were even worse off than him. After all, he still had his parents and he had enough to eat.
He was searching for his value in life. He couldn’t just stay here and wait to die, right? While he was alive, he had to do something. And thus, he had asked for a hundred thousand Chinese dollars from his parents and began to do business online. He originally had wanted to make his life more interesting, but unexpectedly, he really had incredible achievements.
After many years, he had earned an enormous fortune.
But despite that, his illness constantly reminded him that he wouldn’t be able to live for much longer. As his parents didn’t need him to support them, he felt that leaving the money there would be a waste. Thus, before dying, he handed out all of his money, giving it to the poor and sick children throughout the country.
“I can’t change my own destiny, but I can change the destiny of those countless poor, sick children!”
This was the deepest desire in Ji Ning’s heart!
After handing out all of his money, he hadn’t expected that one day, while he was taking a walk in the streets outside the hospital with his parents, he had simply died.
“Your life was bitter since you were born," Lord Cui said softly. “But bitterness didn’t twist you. Instead, it spurred you on to astonishing accomplishments. You not only made a huge sum of money, but more importantly... you gave it all away!”
“Eighteen years of age. Dead.” Lord Cui sighed. “For one to be willing to sacrifice one’s self to rescue a stranger is quite rare.”
Ji Ning said, “Palace Lord, you praise me too much. If I had lived a long life, I might not have been willing to do this. According to the doctors, at most I would’ve lived another three months. For me to trade those three months of life to allow a little girl to gain dozens of years in her life was worth it!”
Lord Cui laughed, then casually flipped open the Book of Life and Death. His gentle voice carried an infinite majesty. “Ji Ning, in your life, you saved over ten thousand people. Your merits are great. For your reincarnation, you shall be reborn into... the Heaven Realm!”
“The Heaven Realm.” Ji Ning murmured quietly.
Lord Cui sighed, “Only those who accumulate great karmic merit can enter the Heaven Realm. On Earth, it is very hard for one to reach this level. Knowingly or unknowingly, by giving up your vast fortune and helping all of those children, you accumulated enormous karmic merit. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be able to enter the Heaven Realm.”
“Palace Lord, what do you mean?” Ji Ning was confused.
“People are born pure and without malice,” the Lord of Cui Palace replied. “Children are totally pure, but later on, the vagaries of life cause them to change... if you were to have helped adults, you might’ve helped some kind people, but it is hard to say who is kind and who is evil. If you had helped evil people, it would’ve reduced your karmic merit.”
Ji Ning now realized what he meant.
“The Book of Life and Death had preordained that you would only live to be sixteen. However, because of your accumulated merits, you were allowed to live until age eighteen.” Lord Cui sighed.
“What?” Ji Ning was shocked. “Are you saying that the fates contained within the Book of Life and Death can be changed?”
“Of course they can be changed. Why can’t they be changed?” Lord Cui laughed. “For me, adding a hundred years to a person’s life is nothing. Even if the Heavens wanted you dead, they would still give you a chance to survive, much less the Book of Life and Death. A person’s destiny is preordained, true, but it can be changed later on.”
Ji Ning now understood.
It was true.
The ancients said, “If Heaven commits a sinful act, one can go against it; but if you do a sinful act, then you will not be allowed to live.” If Heaven wanted you to die, it would still give you a chance at life. The Book of Life and Death was nothing more than preordained destiny, which one could try and change afterwards.
“I believe there are many people who accumulated great merit. Palace Lord, why did you summon me alone?” Ji Ning asked, puzzled.
Lord Cui laughed. “Because... you and I are from the same hometown.”
“From the same hometown?” Ji Ning was stunned. “Are you also from...”
“Right. According to the words you ‘modern’ people use, I’m also from Earth!” Lord Cui laughed. “But that was back in the era of the Sui and Tang dynasties.”