Chapter 19 - Changing the World
“The gates have been taken care of, but Heaven’s Laws are still running rampant. Who knows what kind of new threat will arise?”
“What do you want from me?” Li Yiming went straight to the point.
“We’d like to invite you to join us in doing what’s right. We’ll be fighting an endless war if we simply stay on the defensive and eliminate the threats as they come. However, if we can get to the core of it and eradicate the evil from this world...” The president proposed.
“We’ll spread belief in human virtue, put simply.”
Li Yiming remained silent. It was a simple solution in theory, but how could he hope to achieve to do something that countless men wiser than him have failed to accomplish throughout history?
“This is an opportunity. What happened at Shangbei will surely shake the beliefs of people all around the world. With a reasonable explanation, the people will surely join our cause and we will be able to achieve what humanity has never been able to do before.”
“You’re not wrong, but is it really enough?” Li Yiming was not completely convinced. A slight deviation from the planned course, and it could result in mass panic among the population.
“The people are scared,” Pan Junwei remarked.
“But the temples and monasteries are full,” the president added.
“Should we make use of the existing religions?” Li Yiming asked, as it seemed like a convenient way to guide public discourse.
“We can inspire ourselves from them, but we have an asset they don’t.”
“What would that be?”
“Guardians,” the president said.
Li Yiming agreed. Indeed, the presence of people possessing extraordinary powers and capable of almost miracle-like feats was a strong incentive for joining any kind of organized religion.
“After exposing the public to the existence of Guardians, and especially after broadcasting what happened back in Shangbei, all we need is a leader figure for people to support and get behind.”
Li Yiming sank into a long silence. The president’s suggestion now seemed somewhat feasible.
“If we succeed, the course of history will be changed forever. Perhaps the short term effects will not be obvious, but we’ll be able to get rid of the threat of domains once and for all,” The president insisted, his eyes glimmering with hope.
Li Yiming was almost convinced. It was undoubtedly the best option they had, but he still could not shake away his fear after the confusion and bloodthirstiness he had experienced back in Shangbei.
“We can use what happened in Shangbei as an incentive to convince the public of the righteousness of our cause, as well as the threat that mere evil desires can pose. Once a public consensus is formed, the people will work toward improving themselves and each other.”
“So you do want to create a new religion…”
“Well, to put it simply, yes,” The president answered honestly.
“What do you need for me, then?”
“To be precise, we would like to seek Liu Meng’s help,” Pan Junwei said.
“Liu Meng? For what?” Li Yiming grew even more concerned, as he was more worried about Liu Meng than himself.
“We want her to be the goddess for our religion.”
“The best way to resonate with people is not through abstract principles or even cogent logic. The people will need an example, someone to follow. We need Liu Meng to be that particular someone. The entire world has witnessed what she's capable of, so she already has what it takes to become a goddess on Earth,” Pan Junwei explained.
Liu Meng’s power, along with her timely appearance during the chaos had already convinced many that she was a mythical figure among the common people.
“I refuse.” Liu Meng’s voice was heard as she came down the stairs with a cold expression. However, as soon as she sat right next to Li Yiming, she dove lovingly into his embrace. For a moment, the president almost thought that she was replaced with an entirely different person.
“It’s a good idea, but I won’t be your goddess. I can only fulfill one role right now.” Liu Meng made it abundantly clear that all she wanted was to be with Li Yiming.
“Well… we don't actually need someone, do we?” Li Yiming was abashed, but his heart was nothing but overjoyed.
The president and Pan Junwei exchanged a frustrated glance. Even someone like the president would have given everything to become a legendary figure for potentially the entire country, and yet Liu Meng turned down the offer without any hesitation.
“We don’t need someone. As long as we have a clearly defined vehicle to convey the message, it should be enough. We can call it… Heaven’s Laws,” Liu Meng added.
* * *
It was not long before the biggest cultural promotion — or brainwashing — in recent history began. It started in academia, with a sudden emphasis on the study of ancient and religious texts. A book called Goodness was soon released and was widely distributed with the help of the authorities.
Even laws were soon amended for the new reality. Though strict, they garnished much public support. The public was constantly bombarded with news about guardians, their purpose in the world, and the work they did to protect society.
This was the first step in gaining the public's trust. Fang Shui’er, who was a public figure before the ordeal at Shangbei, became the natural replacement for Liu Meng. People cheered and crowds formed wherever she went, as the footage of her descending from the clouds in her crystal armor and iridescent wings had left a lasting impression.
The tales and the origin of the gates were turned into a movie. Through it, the public mass finally began to appreciate the destructive consequences a seemingly small evil thought can ultimately have. Instead of simply being reigned in by law, many were inspired to become more self-disciplined in attaining virtuous behavior. People were no longer obeying the law simply because they were afraid of being fined or being sent to prison, but rather because they knew it was best for themselves in the long run.
It did not take very long before the morality of the general society improved vastly. It was not as if all of the evil suddenly disappeared overnight, but those who were committing it now cowered in fear, knowing that they were being watched, and, in due time, would be punished.
The four cities which had been victims to the onslaught of the ghosts, starting with Shangbei, were quickly being rebuilt. However, the people who were behind the ultimate victory, aside from Fang Shui’er, all vanished from public scrutiny.
Li Huaibei returned to his small fishing village. There was one less sage in the world, and one poor drunkard who drank himself to sleep, and then back to waking up every day. Wherever he went, he would always bring a yellow scarf, an old gourd, a broken metallic piece from a blade. Instead of sleeping at night, he would spend hours and hours staring at the dark canvas of the night sky, on which many stars were shining.
The Hanzhou district in which Pure Water Herb Hall was in continued to be revamped. The tea house was run by a strange duo, consisting of a little girl no older than eight years old who seemed to be the owner of the shop, and a young waiter who took care of her during her parents’ absence. The two soon became the subject of affection for the neighbors.
Some neighbors would stop by to chit-chat for a bit, while others volunteered to perform repair work whenever it was needed. Others arrived at the tea house with food simply to share it with Bai Ze and Chen Jiawang.
It was not long before Bai Ze’s curiosity led to many hobbies, and the tea house soon became a library, with books ranging from ancient poems all the way to standardized tests filling the shelves.
As for Liu Meng and Li Yiming, no one had seen them since the day the president left.