Great Merchant – Dao Ming

 
 
 

Great Merchant – Dao Ming interlude 1


Great Merchant - Dao Ming (Interlude 1)

 
Previously on Dao Ming...

Tong frames his own brother for arson by sacrificing his own body, the villagers decides to disempower the Chief. Ming has escaped with his mom and dad.

3 Days after Li Fang Sing’s reincarnation in the Netherworld - Dominion Court

BANG BANG BANG

An elegantly dressed man, sitting in the center of a semi-circle, flanked by dignified individuals of various shapes and sizes, strikes the commandment tablet on the table in front of him before bellowing out. “Bring forth the accused!”

“Yes, Milord!” The head guard, acting as the court bailiff, answers before directing his subordinates, “Bring forth Zhu Wuneng, King Yanlou, Lin Bai!”

The side door to the court opens with a creak, followed by a column of guards who form a path toward to the dais situated before the gathered dignitaries. Encircling the representatives and the accused are benches filled with different creatures, with the benches sloping up like an endless, circular lecture hall, each layer rising the further away from the center they are.

“Hohoho, hello hello, this old altar cleaner, the ‘Earthly Tumbleweed’ greets the various masters of the realms.”

[T/N: This is another play on word with his titles, his original title being 天蓬元帥 and his current title 淨壇使者 - aka Cleanser of the Altar - and him jokingly refer to himself as 地踫芫帥 - Earthly Tumbleweed - in the prologue. I forgot the T/N it with the explanation, oops. 天蓬元帥 - Marshal of the Heavenly Tumbleweed, 地踫芫帥 - flip 天 into 地 (heaven is above, the earth is below kinda connotation) then keeps the pronunciation of 蓬元, and finally keeping 帥, it turns into “The Lilac Daphne (a plant that’s grow on graves apparently) Commander who bumps the ground” - since the reference is so convoluted, I just went fuck it and wend with ‘Earthly Tumbleweed’ to keep the first part and reflect his humbler, self-depreciative title that he seems to enjoy. I can’t guarantee this is the right reading of it though :P]

“GREETINGS, YOUR MAJESTIES OF THE KNOWN DOMAINS.”

“This humble servant greets the various Rulers.”

A pig-headed man, a stern-looking man in antiquated garb and a plainly dressed scholar present themselves.

The man places the commandment tablet down on the table before opening up the scrolls on top of his desk, reading it out loud. “The three of you are hereby accused of breaking the Cosmic Laws, by interfering with a Soul’s reincarnation. Do you have any words to defend yourselves?”

[T/N: 聯合界法 - Cosmic Laws, it actually translates into ‘United World Laws’, but 界 is used to represent a universe, and ‘Laws of the United Universes’ sounds dumb as fuck and a mouthful, thus ‘Cosmic Laws’. Similar for 聯合界會委員 - ‘Cosmic Assembly Members’ as opposed to ‘United Universe’s Committee, Committee Members’.]

“Ruler of the Immortal Scholar Domain (仙書界), may I ask, what is the exact law we broke and how did we break it?” The judge-secretary of King Yanlou asks with a bow.

“You and your superior work as the Magistrates who oversee Samsara, how do you not know?” The man asks back with narrowed-eyes and a stern voice.

“Please, humour me.” The judge-secretary bows one more, not a hint of insincerity in his voice.

The man makes a difficult face as his eyes dart back and forth. “Cosmic Law 146: Each soul is to be guided upon their arrival to the Netherworld, judged according to their karma done in life so that their Soul may be enriched to advance further in their Dao. No one may impede or arbitrarily deprive a Soul of advancement, violators will have their Soul fragmented and restart anew.”

“Thank you, your Lordship.”

“Hohoho, may I ask, how did we ‘impede or deprive’ a Soul? You may want to look at the Soul in question.” The pig-headed man asks in a jovial fashion.

The man places the scroll on his table, swiping it, as do the other Cosmic Assembly Members, looking up the Soul in question.

“The Soul’s past life is - Li Fang Sing. He disposed of the rightful king of the country who had the Mandate of Heaven, committing various atrocities without remorse. According to the Law of that Domain, he was to be guided to the 16th layer of Hell to experience equivalent suffering to understand the suffering he has wrought before his next Reincarnation.”

The Jade Emperor of the Green Jade Domain nods sagely, agreeing with the speaker’s representation of his Domain’s Law.

“Really now, please, look at his Karma pages.” The pigheaded-man randomly grabs a pear out of his robe, polishing it off on his robe before taking a bite with an ensuing crunch.

The guards and audience try to suppress their laughter at the man’s nonchalant behaviour.

Poof… Poof. Poof. Poof. Poof.

The scroll on each of the Cosmic Assembly Member’s desks releases a cloud of smoke, surprising them. The audience’s quiet laughter immediately changes into murmuring between themselves, wondering what’s going on.
I think this might be a reference to the counterfeit apple stuff as well. Actually, gonna add that in too.
“YOUR MAJESTIES, MIGHT I SUGGEST USING THE P-SILK MODEL? IT SEEMS YOUR CRAPPIE SCROLLS DON’T HAVE THE CAPACITY TO HANDLE IT.”

[T/N: Okay, I admit, I chuckled at this random dig at Apple. 皮絲 = something like skin-silk, sounding like PC , 砰渦 = something like a ‘bumping swirl’. 砰渦 = sound the same as 蘋果 which is pretty obvious what it’s referring to. So you had my rather poor attempt at keeping the pun above. Not sure if it’s also referencing the rather recent Apple counterfeit stuff. E/N: Hackintosh]

The Immortal Scholar representative motions to the bailiff, who immediately nods and starts fading away. Soon after, a line of servants appear from a side door opposite to where the accused came from, and place a plain looking gray scroll onto each Assembly Members’ desk before taking away the gold-silk scrolls that are still giving off small amounts of smoke.

“Nineteen minus Eighty-two?!” A mermaid with a pendant hanging over her forehead exclaims.

“What’s the matter, Grand Oracle of the Azure Dream?” The bearlike humanoid next to her asks.

The mermaid merely turns her head and then points at her scroll, which prompts the rather leisurely creature to open their own scroll.

“He sacrificed 82 years of his expected lifespan?! What did he do?!” The bearlike creature dangles its mouth in shock.

The air above the Rulers and the accused shimmers like a mirage, before it displays the contents like a projection, reflecting what’s being seen by one of the Assembly Members.

Gasp

“This… Soul was to be sent to Hell?”

“How… how can one Soul produce such a large effect? How many pages are there for those that plea for him?!”

“Which Dao does he belong to?! Which Dao is it?!”

The audience have now forgone the usual courtesy given to the Cosmic Court and is in the midst of an uproar. Likewise, the Assembly Members are staring at their respective scrolls with various expressions, ranging from amazement to numbness. The face of the Jade Emperor -ruler of the Green Jade domain- visibly darkens, flushed with a feeling of shame and anger that he hasn’t experienced in countless years. After quickly swiping the scroll at a speed faster than the eye can perceive for minutes, he suddenly stops.

“Great Verdant Vines, release thy hold, windows of the Heavens, be my eyes to behold.” The dark-faced Ruler recites a chant while holding a green amulet that seems to be both wood and mineral.

A green full length mirror appears in front of the man, the rippling green light drawing the attention of everyone in attendance. The audience hush as they crane their necks to see what’s going on. The three accused standing on the dais smile, including the normally stern, steel-faced King Yanlou, in understanding.


Inside the Green-tinged Mirror

“Ma! I don’t need to go to school! Let me just plow the field!” A bare-chested teenager complains while shouldering a hoe, standing in the doorway of a mud house.

“Shut up you dumb kid! When you can learn, learn! Why back in my grandpa’s day, none of the commoners could learn even if they had the money!” The middle-aged woman turns to the small statuette with a scholarly pose and white hair. “Oh, Great Official Li, please forgive my ignorant son. Damn idiot takes for granted that he can eat his fill and never have to worry about common diseases.” The woman puts her hands together before bowing to the statuette.

The Ruler flicks his sleeve and the view inside suddenly changes.

“We need the money NOW for the project.” A scholar with a topknot passionately argues before a gathering of officials.

“No, it can damn well wait!!! That public work will only create a temporary solution! It would deprive the area of resources in the future though! You want the region to go through a recession?!” A woman interrupts, pointing at the first man accusingly.

“Look, something still needs to be done immediately, but let’s look at the immediate aftermath of the project’s completion. We should scale down the project and use the saved revenue to connect the road between Tai Ching and Puo Ming.”

The man and the woman grab the third man by the collar. ““Stop it with the half-assed commitment! We have to look at the short/long term!”” Both of them give the man a quick punch. The other officials, seeing that, also start yelling and punching each other.

Gong

All the officials immediately stop what they are doing after the gong rings and immediately start straightening their clothes and hats.

“Whew, you guys want to grab a bite together?” The punched man, who also got his shots back in, asks the two that he was just arguing with not too long ago.

“Yeah, I heard this new place called the Red Maple Pavilion has some great wine, I could certainly use a drink, this project is just crazy.”

“Tell me about it, there’s no way to get resources to that area and develop it without the initial capital…” The first man sighs as he complains, before he narrows his eyes lewdly. “But I know you aren’t going to the Red Maple for the drink, but for that handsome waiter I keep hearing about, am I right or am I right?” The first man pokes fun at the woman, who blushes slightly and pouts.

“Hahaha, let’s go, let’s go! Otherwise those guys will take all the seats.” The man who asked the two subtly nods his head in the direction of the other officials, who seem to be having a similar sort of conversation.

The Jade Emperor flicks his sleeves again… and again… and again…

Each subsequent scene makes his face seemingly older, causing him to finally sigh and stop his spell. There’s nothing fantastic about the scenes save for the weird way the government is run, an unheard of Constitutional Triarchy, where a career bureaucrat will be appointed ruler for a limited term, with three independent government bodies that respectively look at the short, middle, and long-term before debating and fighting for fundings. But, that very ‘blandness’ of the scenes is what caused the Jade Emperor to become crestfallen. There’s no famine, no widespread conflict, a relatively large and stable, if lackluster, country that’s neither suffering nor is it too prosperous. Even the inevitable carnage caused by diseases that run rampant; their suffering is minimized through the immediate response of the government.

The country will fall eventually, as all others do, but that kind of rugged, natural peace will no doubt endure for a long time and be referenced for eons to come on that planet. For a man that was guided to be born as a commoner, for a Soul that young, for someone deemed to go to Hell, his very existence was what made that relatively vast country on that planet a better place. Compared to the so-called King with the Mandate of Heaven, it’s like comparing night and day.

Regret! The deepest of regrets! The Jade Emperor’s chest feels tight, as though an invisible hand is squeezing him. Had he spotted this talent, the management of his Domain would be so much easier! The shame and anger, that he, the Jade Emperor that sought Enlightenment would think that his Laws and management would be just and fair.

“OLD GREEN, DON’T MAKE THAT FACE. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO MANAGE EVERY SOUL IN A DOMAIN, EVEN US GODS MAKE MISTAKES.” King Yanlou pauses meaningfully. “AND PLUS, HE WOULDN’T HAVE ACCEPTED THE POSITION ANYWAYS.” The Magistrate consoles the dark-faced man.

“Hahaha, damn right!” The pig-headed man laughs cheerily, pointing at himself while eating a peach, causing the monkey with the golden armour sitting in the audience to roll his eyes.

“I vote that the charges be dropped and the three of them be rewarded at my expense.” The Green Jade’s Jade Emperor announces solemnly.

“I concur.” The bearlike creature agrees immediately. He’s a Ruler that values valor. The Soul in question might not have fought in a battlefield, but the steadfast courage and determination it displayed for the sake of others was obvious to see. To even completely overturn the calculated predictions of the Fate algorithm! These qualities, together they have engendered in it a deep admiration for this young, young Soul.

“And I”

“I.”

“I.”





Each of the Assembly members agrees to the motion, save for the Immortal Scholar and the Grand Oracle that have continued to scour the information within the scroll.

“Ahem.” The Jade Emperor coughs politely, signaling the two.

“Oh, um… sorry, what were we discussing?” The Immortal Scholar asks, his sword-like brows relaxing themselves as he looks up from the scroll.

“The Assembly votes to drop the charges and Green Jade offers to reward them instead.”

“Oh, yes, yes, let’s do that.” The man quickly nods, then pausing. “King Yanlou, if you don’t mind, can you send the Life Data of this Soul to me… eh… I mean us?”

The stern-faced Magistrate nods, as he expected as much.

“Um… it says here that the Soul has reincarnated into a new Domain called the Domain of the Endless Seekers, but I don’t recall meeting such a Ruler.” The Grand Oracle asks, her eyes seemingly glow while being clouded with a white haze, her Divination spell being blocked.

“That would be because the Ruler is the Domain itself.” Zhu Wuneng replies matter-of-factly.

Silence, absolute silence. It takes an unknown amount of time before someone accidentally coughs, breaking the oppressive silence of the Assembly.

“Which… which Soul was it that managed to succeed in the Dao of Creation?”

“Does it matter? It sacrificed everything to run an experiment. It created a Domain without Heaven, the Fate prediction algorithm will be useless, each Soul will truly be free of our influence.”

“Why…?” The Immortal Scholar asks.

“No offense to you, Jade Emperor. But Li Fang Sing is merely a recent example of those which slip through the gaps. How do we know we are guiding them properly? It’s not like any of us completely understand the entirety of a Dao, let alone the Grand Dao. And the Fate prediction algorithm, can we say for certain that’s it’s reliable in regards to the outcome of the Soul?” The pig-headed man suddenly tilts his head and turns toward the mermaid. “Ah, it seems the Grand Oracle has also come to a similar conclusion.”

The tens of thousands of eyes focus on the woman floating inside of the semi-circle where the Rulers are gathered, as though asking her for verification of Zhu Wuneng’s words.

“My Dao of Divination is somewhat close to the Dao of Fate, I can verify that at the very least, there are obvious flaws in the Fate algorithm… I suggest we immediately find a replacement while we take the program down.”

“But… then we would be ruling blind.” One of the Rulers chirps in.

“That’s the point, we leave it up to Fate, whatever it is.” The pigheaded-man points at the Ruler with a smile while tossing a peach towards the Mermaid. “The Ruler of the Domain of Endless Seekers has left ways for us to peek in on the Domain through connections to the Netherworld, use that as a medium and see if we can detect what Li Fang Sing’s reincarnation is like.”

The Grand Oracle nods slightly, closing her eyes as she holds the peach up with her left hand. Currents of energy swirl chaotically before coalescing together into a stream, flowing from her into the peach, and the peach into a ring shaped mirror, a Scryer’s Pool. Inside the mirror, a Faerie Ring inside a forest filled with white trees flares up into a white glow, before numerous sprites appear, dancing around. After a while, the disembodied, child-like voices chant together.

Garden of Origin, a small utopia,
Fate determines all births, deaths, and the chance meetings of the young and old.

A farflung villa, where a family will lay down their roots anew,
a task that’s too long for a life too short, alas it is also fate.

Connected fates are shattered, a family breaks apart,
Father, sons and brothers all drifts apart.

Corrupted officials, two-bit players,
Willing to sell false accusations for gold and silver.

Garden of Origin, a small utopia,
Fate determines all births, deaths, and the chance meetings of the young and old.