OMF V1C7 A Twist of Fate

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Fate’s Scribe Shun Tao sat on his ta and relished in a cup of tea. Finally, that scroll of fate was done. He had found a good compromise and the Heavenly Emperor had seemed very satisfied. For now, he could take some time for himself.
Shun Tao sighed and picked up the scroll of fate, a small smile lifting up the corners of his mouth when he looked at the white jade. This fate was precious. He’d better put it away and wait for the crown prince to return from his trial.
Yes, he’d do that, Shun Tao decided and stood up. He went to the cupboard next to his desk where he stored the fates important gods would experience on their trials. He searched for one of the covers he used to wrap the more important fates in and opened the scroll of fate to take a last look before stowing it away.
A gap glared back at him.
Shun Tao froze. His heart beat faster and cold sweat covered his forehead. A gap in the crown prince’s mortal life? At the beginning of his trial? No! Never! He certainly hadn’t left anything empty! How could he leave anything to chance?! What in Heaven’s name had happened?!
He carelessly threw the cover aside and perused the scroll: The birth of the human Zhong Jing Yi as the son of two mortal commoners was described, however … Why was his mother still alive? Her death and the villagers’ curses from the following years were completely missing!
Shun Tao staggered back, fell down at his desk and looked at the scroll in a daze. His arduously prepared fate … Gone! If the mother didn’t die … Shun Tao winced. If she didn’t die, wouldn’t that mean that Zhong Jing Yi’s whole life would develop differently?!
As fast as he could, Shun Tao skimmed the rest of the fate: A better part of it had vanished or was currently disappearing.
Shun Tao dropped the scroll as if it had burned his hands. “This can’t be happening!” He rested his elbows on the table and hid his face in his hands. How did this happen? And more importantly: How would he break it to Tianjun? Or maybe … Could he keep it a secret?
He closed his eyes and imagined how he would meet Tianjun the next time.
The Heavenly Emperor would say: ‘Fate’s Scribe, our son Jing He has already been in the mortal realm for one week. That equals seven mortal years. Shouldn’t he have passed his first trial already? How did he fare?’
Then he, Shun Tao, would start to sweat and firmly claim: ‘To answer Your Majesty, everything is well. Crown prince Jing He has passed his first trial with flying colors. Just now, he escaped with his father.’
Then the Heavenly Emperor would say: ‘As expected of our son!’ And he would laugh and stroke his beard.
At least, that would happen in the best case. But it could very well be that the Heavenly Emperor already knew that his son’s fate had changed. After all, would he really leave his precious son whom he guarded jealously and who should become the next Tianjun to boot to his own devices? Wouldn’t that be an invitation to the demons to locate him in in the human world and rob his clueless mortal self of his immortal soul? That would be a disaster to the Nine Heavens!
No, it was quite probable that the Heavenly Emperor would already know what had happened to his beloved son. In that case, he’d holler: ‘Shameless! Fate’s Scribe, how dare you lie to us! The fate of our son has already gotten off-track! What do you have to say in your defense?!’
Then he, Shun Tao, would throw himself to the ground and beg forgiveness: ‘Forgive me, Your Majesty! Your servant didn’t intend to fool you, I —’
The Heavenly Emperor with his irascible temper would surely interrupt him at this point: ‘Enough! You have put our beloved son in jeopardy and can’t be forgiven! Guards, drag this traitor out and let him be struck by lightning until death!’
Shun Tao leaped to his feet, his chest heaving from fear. No, he couldn’t keep this from the Heavenly Emperor! He wanted to run to report and beg forgiveness but then he noticed that he didn’t know what to report. He needed an explanation at the very least.
“Aiya! Why did I have to become the Fate’s Scribe? I should have taken Senior Yue Xia’s job! Nobody gives him a hard time just because he ties the red thread for a god on his trial!”
He sat down and picked up Jing He’s fate once again. Well, he couldn’t claim that the crown prince would make things difficult for him. Thinking of the gentle temper of this person Shun Tao’s bad mood lifted a bit.
The problem lay still with Jing He’s father. But who could fault the Heavenly Emperor? Disregarding that he had the right to demand every possible punishment if something happened to Jing He he had every reason to do so. Jing He was of great importance to the gods. In contrast to a Fate’s Scribe like Shun Tao who could be replaced anytime, there was nobody else to take the crown prince’s position.
Shun Tao sighed, lifted his hand and willed the fate of the mortal Zhong Jing Yi to appear on the scroll as it had developed until now:
A Daoist stops at the Zhong’s village and offers his help to Madam Zhong and her neighbor Miss Lian. Madam Zhong gives birth to a healthy son whom she assumes to be blessed by the gods. Her neighbor Miss Lian follows the Daoist but is unable to find him in the darkness. When Mister Zhong returns with the physician, she is still searching for the Daoist while Madam Zhong and her son are out of danger. The physician returns home after a short examination. Mister and Madam Zhong name their son Jing Yi.
A Daoist? Shun Tao dropped the scroll slowly and stared into space. A Daoist who prompted a young woman to follow him into the darkness and let a mother believe that the gods had blessed her son? Could it be that one of the gods really was the culprit behind this?
Then all of this might just be a coincidence. Certainly, nobody would want to mess with the crown prince’s fate deliberately. As long as he adjusted it a little everything would be on track again.
Satisfied, Shun Tao rubbed his hands, ground the ink and picked up his writing brush. It would be laughable if he wasn’t able to cope with such a small, unintended change in a mortal’s life after all those years as the Fate’s Scribe.
He thought for a moment, then wrote: After Madam Zhong’s neighbor Miss Lian still can’t find the Daoist by the next morning, she tells the other villagers about the happenings of the previous night. Rumors are afloat and soon, the villagers demand that a Daoist takes a look at Jing Yi. When the Zhongs refuse, a brawl breaks out in which Madam Zhong loses her life. Now, the villagers believe more than ever that Zhong Jing Yi is cursed …

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