Chapter 1: Heaven Official’s Blessing
Among the gods of the heavens, there was a famous laughing stock known throughout the three realms.
Legend has it that eight hundred years ago, there was an ancient country within the Central Plains called Xian Le nation.
The ancient nation of Xian Le had vast territory, abundant resources and content citizens. The country had four treasures: delicate beauties aplenty, thriving arts and literature, treasures of gold and jewels, and last but not least, their renowned Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
This person, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince..….one could say he was a strange man.
The Emperor and Empress considered him to be the apple of their eyes. They doted on him immensely and would often proudly proclaim, “In the future, my son will surely become a wise monarch, leaving a reputable impression for generations to come.”
Yet, in regards to what came with royalty, of riches, power and honour, the Crown Prince had no interest in any of them.
What he was interested in, quoting the very words he often said to himself, was——
“I want to save the common folks!”
The young prince cultivated in earnest. During this time, two short stories became widely circulated.
The first story occurred when he was seventeen years old.
That year, the nation of Xian Le held a magnificent Offering to the Gods parade.
Although this tradition had already been abandoned for numerous centuries, one could imagine the grandeur of the event through the surviving ancient texts and verbal stories.
Offering to the Gods day, Martial God Main Street.
Both sides of the Main Street were overflowing with a sea of people. The aristocrats were seated on top of high buildings as they exchanged friendly chatter, while the imperial guards cleared the way with their impressive armour clinking. Young girls danced gracefully as their snow-white hands scattered flower petals like rain, filling the sky as far as the eye could see. It made people question whether the dancing maidens were more beautiful or the flowers itself. Melodious notes sounded from within golden carriages and floated throughout the whole Imperial City. Behind honorable guards, sixteen white horses with golden bridles walked side-by-side as they pulled forward a magnificent platform.
Located on top of the tall, magnificent platform was the focus of everyone’s attention. There stood the martial artist who would perform a show to please the Gods.
During the festive heavenly parade, the martial artist would adorn a golden mask, don splendid garments and wield a sword in one hand. He would perform the role of the first military deity in a millennium to have subdued demonic beasts——Martial God Heavenly Emperor Jun Wu.
Being selected as the martial artist who would perform such a show could be considered as receiving the utmost honour, and thus the selection criteria was extremely strict. This year, the one who was chosen was none other than His Royal Highness the Crown Prince. The entire nation was convinced that he would become the most marvellous martial artist who performed such a performance since the beginning of time.
However, on that day, something unexpected occurred.
The guard of honour made his third lap around the city walls, passing through one side with a dozen or more tall city walls.
During that time, the martial god on the magnificent stage was just about to land a killing blow on a demon.
This was the most exciting scene, and thus the people on both sides of the Main Street were fired up with passion. The people on the city walls were also becoming more rowdy as they started outdoing each other in sticking their heads out to see, both struggling and shoving.
At this exact moment, a young child fell from the top of the city gate tower.
Earsplitting screams pierced the heavens. Just when everyone thought that the young child was about to splash blood onto the Martial God Main Street, the Crown Prince lifted his head slightly before he leapt up and caught him.
The people only had enough time to glimpse a bird-like, white figure flit through the empty sky before the Crown Prince landed safely with the young child. His golden mask had fallen off, revealing the young and handsome face previously hidden behind it.
In the next moment, a crowd of ten thousand began to cheer.
The common people were delighted, but the Taoist ministers from the Imperial Household had some headaches.
They would never have thought in a million years that such a gigantic mistake would have occurred.
It was ominous, too ominous!
Every lap the magnificent platform does around the Imperial City represented a prayer for a year of the country’s peace and prosperity. Now that it had been interrupted, wasn’t that the same as incurring disaster?!
The ministers were worried to the point they lost hair like rain. After they pondered over the past and the now probable events that might occur in the future, they invited over the Crown Prince and tactfully suggested, Your Highness, can you face the wall for a month2 to show your repentance? You don’t have to actually do it, just the gesture to show your intent would be enough.
The Crown Prince smiled before replying, “No need.”
He explained his thoughts, “Saving people isn’t something bad. How could the Heavens fault me because I did the right thing?”
……And if by chance the Heavens do decide to blame you?
“Then the Heavens would be the ones who are wrong. Why should the people who are right apologize to the ones who are wrong?”
The ministers were speechless.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince was exactly this type of person.
He had never encountered anything he wasn’t able to accomplish, and he had also never met anyone who didn’t love him. He was always right, and he was the heart of the world.
Thus, the ministers felt great pain in their hearts as they thought, “What the hell do you know!?”
However, it wasn’t convenient for them to say more, and they also didn’t dare do it. His Highness wouldn’t listen to them anyway.
The second story also took place in the year the Crown Prince was seventeen.
According to the legends, on the south side of the Yellow River existed a bridge called the Yi Nian3 Bridge, where a famous ghost wandered for many years.
This ghost was utterly terrifying—dressed in ruined armour with flames from hell following its footsteps. Its whole body was also covered in blood and pierced by numerous blades and arrows. Every step he took left behind the traces of both blood and fire. Every few years, it would suddenly appear during the night. It would wander about at the foot of the bridge and stop travellers to ask them three questions:
“Where is this?”
“Who am I?”
“What will you do now?”
If one did not answer correctly, they would be completely swallowed up by the ghost in one bite. However, nobody knew what the correct answers were supposed to be. Thus, after several years, this ghost already swallowed countless pedestrians.
The Crown Prince heard about this matter one day while he was wandering about. After he found Yi Nian Bridge, he began to guard the foot of the bridge continuously until he finally met the ghost haunting the bridge one night.
The ghost appeared in a flash, and sure enough, it was as eerie and terrifying as what the rumors had claimed. It opened its mouth to ask the Crown Prince the first question, which the Crown Prince replied to him with a smile, “This is the human realm.”
However, the ghost replied, “This is the abyss.”
Beginner’s luck; it was only the first question, but he had already gotten it wrong.
The Crown Prince thought to himself, he was going to answer the questions wrong anyway, so why wait for the ghost to finish asking? Thus, he pulled out his weapon and began to fight.
This battle lasted until the sky became twilight and the land was covered in darkness. The Crown Prince was highly skilled in martial arts, while the ghost became even more daunting and dreadful. One man and one ghost fought on that bridge until the positions of the sun and moon had practically switched, before finally, the ghost was defeated.
After the ghost disappeared, the Crown Prince planted a flowering tree at the foot of the bridge. At that moment, a Taoist passing through saw him scatter a handful of golden soil to help escort the ghost to its next life. He asked, “What are you doing?”
The Crown Prince then spoke his famous eight words: “Body in the abyss, but heart in paradise.”
When the Taoist heard that, he smiled slightly before transforming into a General deity clad in white armor. He stepped onto a magical cloud, summoned a strong wind, and then flew off into the sunlight. The Crown Prince only realized then that, by a lucky coincidence, he had unexpectedly encountered the Martial God Heavenly Emperor himself who had descended to the human realm to subdue demonic beasts.
All the Gods were already paying attention to this extremely outstanding martial god after he had leapt into the sky on the day of the Offering to the Gods Parade. After meeting him at the foot of the Yi Nian Bridge, immortals began asking the Emperor: “What do you think of this Royal Highness, the Crown Prince?”
Emperor Jun also answered with eight words: “This child’s future is limitless, impossible to measure.”
That same evening, the sky above the Royal Palace became unnatural as wind and rain caused havoc.
And amidst the lightning flashes and thundering rolls, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince ascended into godhood.
As long as someone ascends, the Heavens would always quake once. When His Royal Highness the Crown Prince ascended, it immediately made the entire Heavens shake three times.
To achieve immortality through one’s efforts and insights was truly hard.
It required innate talent, high cultivation, and the right opportunity.
To be reborn as a respected god, more often than not, was an endless, lifetime journey.
A youngster ascending into godhood and becoming an arrogant brat in the Heavens wasn’t something that hadn’t happened before, but there was also plenty of people who bitterly exhausted their entire life cultivating, yet still did not achieve immortality. Even if they came across a chance from Heaven, if they didn’t overcome the heavenly tribulation, they would either die or become a waste. Countless humans, like the grains of sand in a desert, lived a life of mediocrity from start to finish, unable to find their right paths due to their ignorance.
And so this Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, was undoubtedly the Heaven’s beloved darling. The things he wanted, there was nothing he could not obtain. The things he wanted to do, there was nothing that was impossible for him to accomplish. And when he wanted to ascend into godhood, he really ascended into godhood at age seventeen.
Originally, the Crown Prince was already popular with his people. Coupled with how he was the Emperor’s and Empress’ greatly missed, beloved son, they commanded temples in the Crown Prince’s name to be built vigorously in many parts of the nation. Statues were erected and everyone assembled to pay their respects. The more believers he had, the more shrines were built, and thus he lived longer and became more powerful. As a result, in just a couple of years, Xian Le nation’s Crown Prince flourished and reached the peak of his power.
——Until three years later, when Xian Le descended into chaos.
The reason for the chaos was due to the Emperor’s cruel governing, which prompted a rebel army to rise for justice. However, though the fire of war had already started blazing in the human realm, Heaven’s Godly Officials could not meddle according to their wishes. Unless it was a result of demons and ghouls overstepping or violating their boundaries, what happened must be allowed to happen. Disputes happened everywhere in the world, and every person believed their own actions were justified. If every deity interfered—today you will help and support your country, while tomorrow he will help his descendants take revenge. Wouldn’t that result in immortals coming to blows frequently, something that might eventually cause all life to be destroyed? In his Royal Highness the Crown Prince’s case, it was something he should keep out of even more.
But he didn’t care about that. He told Emperor Jun, “I want to save the common people.”
Though Emperor Jun had accumulated spiritual Godly power for thousands of years, even he did not dare to lightly say those words out loud. When he heard the Crown Prince, his mood could be easily imagined. However, Emperor Jun couldn’t do anything about him and could only helplessly say, “You cannot save everybody.”
The Crown Prince replied, “I can.”
Therefore, he descended to the human realm with no second thoughts.
The people of the entire Xian Le nation naturally celebrated. However, since ancient times, folk tales had long tried to warn people of a truth: the event of an unauthorized immortal descending to the human realm would absolutely not bear a good result.
Thus, the fires from the war did not die down, and instead began burning even more wildly.
It wasn’t that His Highness the Crown Prince did not do his best, yet it would have been better had he had not done his best. The more he strived, the more complicated the war became. The people of Xian Le were beaten til their heads fell and their blood flowed, suffering disastrous casualties. Finally, a plague swept throughout the whole Imperial City and the rebels broke into the palace, ending the war.
One could say that when Xian Le nation had been struggling on whilst at death’s door, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince had been the one to directly suffocate them.
After the nation was wiped out, the people suddenly realized something:
So, it turned out that their Crown Prince deity was not as formidable or perfect as they had imagined.
To put it more vulgarly, wasn’t he just an useless figure who was unable to accomplish anything, but liable to spoiling everything else?
Unable to vent the suffering they had felt after losing both their homes and their beloved ones, angry people covered in wounds rushed into the Crown Prince’s palace halls. They pushed down his Godly statue and burned his shrines.
Eight thousand temples burned for seven days and seven nights—burning until they completely disappeared.
From then on, a Martial God known for protection and peace faded away, and a demonic God who attracted disasters was born.
When people said you were a god, then you were a god. If they said you were sh*t, then you were sh*t. Whatever the people said you were, that was what you became. It had always been like this.
No matter what, His Highness the Crown Prince couldn’t accept this fact. What he could not accept even more was the punishment given to him: banishment.
His cultivation was destroyed, and he was to be thrown into the human realm.
From childhood, he had been spoiled a thousand ways as he grew up, so he never suffered the pains and difficulties of normal people. Thus, this penalty made him fall from high in the clouds down into the mud. And in this mud, it was the first time he experienced starvation, poverty, and the feeling of filth. It was also the first time he did things he had never imagined himself ever doing: pilfering, robbing, violently cursing, and abandoning himself to despair. Prestige entirely lost, self-esteem completely gone, he became as ugly as one wanted him to be. Even the most devoted attendants were unable to accept him changing in this way, and thus they chose to leave.
Body in the abyss, but heart in paradise. These eight words were carved almost everywhere in the stone tablets and boards of Xian Le nation. Had they not been almost entirely burned away in the war, if His Royal Highness the Crown Prince were to see them again, he would be the first to rush up smash them.
Because the one who personally said the phrase had already proved that when his body was in the abyss, his heart was not in paradise.
He ascended quickly, and descended even quicker. The Martial God’s words and his graceful glance, having met both demon and god by chance on Yi Nian Bridge. They seemed as if they were things that had happened yesterday. The Heavens sighed for a bit, for the things that happened in the past remained in the past.
Many years passed when one day, a loud sound shook the Heavens. That Royal Highness the Crown Prince ascended to Godhood for the second time.
Since ancient times, Gods who had been banished treated it as a setback leading to a total collapse, before degenerating into a ghost or a demon. There were very little people who were able to reverse their fortunes and return after being banished. This event of ascending for a second time was something entirely worthy of only the vigorous and the strong.
What was even more vigorous was that right after he ascended, he charged into the Heavens to beat up and murder everyone in all four directions. Thus, the Crown Prince had only ascended for about the time it took to burn one incense stick before he was kicked down again.
One incense stick4. It could be said that it was history’s quickest and most violent, yet brief ascension.
If one said that his first ascension was something to be praised, then his second ascension could only be called a farce.
After these two times, everyone in Heaven turned their backs on this Crown Prince. But although they abandoned him, they still felt a bit on guard. After all, after he was demoted once, he was driven to such a state of desperation. Now that he was banished twice, would he become a demon and retaliate by abusing the common people?
Who knew that after he was demoted again, he did not become a demon and quite sincerely adapted to his banished lifestyle. There were no problems at all, and the only problem was just he was really too earnest.
Sometimes he performed on the streets, masterfully singing or playing both wind and bowed instruments of all kinds. Even breaking a giant stone on his chest was nothing difficult for him. Although they had long heard that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince could sing and dance and was multi-talented, to actually see it in a situation like this really made one’s mood become complicated. Sometimes, he even industriously and conscientiously accepted rubbish.
All the gods were astonished.
For things to become like this, it was really unimaginable. It was to the extent that nowadays, if someone told the other that, “You gave birth to a son who is Xian Le’s Crown Prince”, that would be much more malicious than cursing out the other party’s descendants.
In any case, he was once the peerless beauty His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, who had been ranked as Heaven’s Official. To achieve this state, there really wasn’t anyone else like him. The so-called nickname ‘laughingstock of the three realms’ was exactly due to this reason.
After laughing, those who were more sentimental would perhaps sigh. The proud and aloof son of the Heavens from the past truly disappeared.
His Godly statues toppled over, and his ancient nation was destroyed with not a single believer left. Slowly, he became someone gradually forgotten by the world. Thus, no one knew where he had wandered off to.
To be banished once was already extraordinary shame and humiliation. To be banished twice, no one could ever climb up again.
After many more years, there was suddenly a day where the Heavens was once again disturbed by a loud noise.
It was extremely violent as the ground quaked and the mountains shook.
The altar lamps that burned day and night trembled as their flames danced violently. Godly officials who were awakened departed from their own palace halls, rushing about as they asked, Who is the upstart that ascended? This place is shaking so much!
Who knew, just after sighing ‘how amazing, how amazing’, at the next glance, all of Heaven’s Gods felt as if they were struck by lightning over and over again.
Are you still not finished?!
That famous weirdo, the laughingstock of the three realms, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince from the legends, he he he —— he f*cking ascended to godhood again!
1. The country is named Xian Le, which can also be read as Xian Yue. However, the author made a note saying that we should read it as Xian Le. Xian Le means Heavenly Happiness while Xian Yue would have meant Heavenly Music.”↩
2. Facing the wall and meditating, AKA the ministers want the prince to reflect on his actions.”↩
3. Yi Nian Bridge has a lot of meanings. Yi = One, while Nian could mean thought, memory, longing, yearning. I kept it in pinyin because I wasn’t sure which meaning it was trying to convey.”↩
4. One incense stick = approximately 5 minutes RIP poor MC.”↩