For various reasons, this afterword is short and written very loosely.
1. 'If fate gives it to you, you should take it, but if fate doesn't give it to you, you shouldn't try to force it.' This is what the story of Way of Choices is about. At the start, I was prepared to write a story about a true Dragon, true Phoenix, and true person, but because I was worried that I wrote Qiushan Jun too well, I did my best to forcefully lessen his role. At the same time, this story is about the word '离' (leave), whether it's the Li Palace or Mount Li. Of course this story is also about 'thank you' and 'you're welcome', but in the last several dozen chapters, I hesitated for a long time before finally deciding to conceal these words, because I didn't want to keep thinking about farewells.
2. Why did I want to write a story about youths? Because I'm gradually getting older, and my blood is cooling. I'm very afraid that, just like I've written so many times in the book, I will gradually become a fat koi slowly sinking into the mud. I want to remind myself that I cannot decay, cannot be afraid. Even if I don't dare to fight, silence is also a sort of stance. When Chen Changsheng said to Xu Yourong that in the war with the demons he was willing to pay with his life, but he did not want to change the way in which this world interacted, and then Xu Yourong reminded him that he couldn't say this to others, that's what I meant.
4. The following miscellaneous details were not put into the main text out of length concerns, but they're rather interesting: the Black Dragon's favorite food is braised chicken wings, because she hates Phoenixes. The diets of Nanke and Xu Yourong don't contain birds. The Heavenly Tome Monoliths are shards of a world and are all connected with each other. Right now, they can transmit sound, but in the future, they can be used to traverse space. In the second-to-last chapter, when Wang Po decided to not take revenge on the Chen Imperial clan and I had Xu Yourong say 'dying for one's country…', that was something I decided on before I even started writing the book and I forced it in here. With regards to Tang Thirty-Six, other than that line about how he's rich both mentally and physically, I also wanted him to say: "I'm not targeting anyone, everyone present is…" Chen Changsheng has an illness, so this is the first thing on his mind when he sees someone, thinking that everyone is ill. This was why he was able to tell that Mo Yu, Su Li, Nanke, Xuanyuan Po, and even Tang Thirty-Six on the night that he was injured, were all sick with a single glance.
5. Reader 'Joy of Life' asks: "Daddy Mao Ni, in chapter 110, 'One Flower, One World', you said at the end that you had confirmed who Tang Thirty-Six's real-life counterpart was, and you also said that you would announce this when the book ended. I'm worried that you won't see this when the book ends, so I'm sending this to you ahead of the time." The answer: that person is my good friend Blue Butterfly.
6. A few years ago, when I was writing novels, I loved my readers. Now, I don't love, I respect them. Everyone, please take care of yourselves. This is very important.
7. I should still love this world even more and work even better.
8. In August, I will publish a new book. As for the topic, name, personality, and essence, I haven't thought of them yet. Oh, I've suddenly thought of a story. It feels very flashy…
The above are all my sincere and heartfelt words. Not one bit of it is feigned.
I wish everyone good health and that everything goes as you wish.
These words seem very cliché, but they are also sincere.
Three years ago, in the May of 2015, Binggo and friends began to translate Way of Choices, introducing it and its characters to the English-speaking world, and to me. I remember reading those translations for the first time and falling in love with the characters, the poetic descriptions, the sedate pace that took the time to appreciate the beauty of the world in which the characters lived. Over the years, Way of Choices was in the hands of multiple translators, and I would like to thank all of them: Binggo and friends for first taking up this wonderful novel, bbkgs for stepping in when Binggo dropped it, and Pipipingu for bringing the novel to Gravity Tales. I would also like to thank Michyrr, who was the faithful editor of Way of Choices for the great majority of the novel, and who was never afraid to give his opinion when my prose was ambiguous or off. Of course, I also have to thank Mao Ni for writing this work and the readers for enjoying this work with me.
I suppose I’ll mimic Mao Ni and write out my thoughts in a list:
1. I intentionally didn’t put any footnotes in the last few chapters so as to not detract from the reading experience, so I’ll just put those footnotes here. Chen Changsheng’s final attack is based on the Guardians of the Four Directions: The White Tiger in the West, the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermillion Bird of the South, and the Black Turtle of the North. Chen Changsheng seems to have omitted the Black Turtle, however. Prince Chen Liu’s last conversation with Chen Changsheng was a reference to how Prince Chen Liu is based on Li Longji. Historically, Li Longji was Emperor Xuanzong, who is often praised as presiding over a golden age of Chinese history. The Man in the Iron Mask refers to the famous prisoner who was rumored to be the twin of French King Louis XIV. Cardinal Richelieu was a powerful minister under the French King Louis XIII. I suppose this would put the Sacred Light Continent as 17th Century Europe?
2. I found it amusing that Mao Ni poked fun at his own choice of an open ending for Way of Choices while ending Black Robe’s story.
3. I once saw a comment when I posted one of the title poems for Way of Choices that wondered why someone would quote the words of a monster like Mao Zedong. After some thought, I realized that the life of Mao Zedong is actually a very appropriate example for this book: an old man who was once a young man with ideals. While he was a hero in the early stages, he was a monster in his later life, perhaps like the old Demon Lord? In short, he’s a stark example of what happens when the old remain in power for too long, when one begins to focus on the ends and not the means.
4. My favorite character was the Divine Empress, so I’m happy to see that she’s back in goat form. I wonder what she was doing outside Xuelao City though? Was she going to come to the rescue if Chen Changsheng was in danger? The world may never know.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of you once again for accompanying me on this journey. May all your choices follow your heart.
Thanks for coming on this journey with us.