Way of Choices (Ze Tian Ji) is a massive (1251 chapters!) Chinese web serial xianxia/xuahhuan novel. It has sometimes been called "Chinese DBZ."
A golden dragon descends from the heavens to consume a most delicious smelling infant floating in a basket, before being driven off by Daoist Ji, a wise healer and hermit. Daoist Ji adopts the baby boy as his disciple, naming him Chen Changsheng.
Ten years later (fourteen in the TV adaptation), Chen is gathering herbs on the mountainside when he begins exuding a strange odor that causes all the wildlife to raise a ruckus, and makes his brother disciple's mouth water. Daoist Ji diagnoses these symptoms as a condition causing certain death when Chen turns twenty, something no medicine can help with. His only options for survival are to either change his fate (supposed to be impossible—and while at least three people have done it anyways, they aren't around to explain how) or to cultivate through at least five stages of ascending enlightenment and become a divine being beyond both death and fate (at least theoretically possible, but the wisest and purest take centuries to achieve this, and his qi meridians are too messed up to make this realistic) within ten years (five years in the TV adaptation).
So Chen sets out to do both: attempting to purify himself towards divinity while pursuing knowledge on how to change fate.
The story has also been adapted into a live-action TV show, called Fighter of the Destiny. There is no complete translation available, but you can read up to chapter 982 in English here. Currently being made into an ebook series.
Way of Choices contains examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Chen's sword, Stainless. In the TV adaptation it's called the Purity Sword.
- The Ace: Qiu Shan Jun, prize pupil of the Li Shan Academy and the man who demons fear.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Demons, though later chapters seem to indicate this may not always be so
- Animal Motif: The Phoenix for Xu Yourong, the Dragon for Qiu Shan Jun, the cicada for Chen, the peacock for Nanke.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Very very late spoiler. In the wrong hands, Chen's unique constitution can be used as a sacrifice to bring forth the apocalypse.
- Badass Bookworm: Chen is one of only three known youths to have read all 3,000 Scrolls of the Way, a vast collection of the history and philosophy of cultivation. As such, he breezes through even the hardest of written examinations, and his bookishness and intelligence are frequently commented upon.
- Bag of Holding: The scabbard for Chen's Sword is one of these. In the show, it is called Blade-Hidden, or the Vault Sheath in the book.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Chen must either quest to save his life, or resign himself to certain death.
- The Chessmaster: Black Robe, a human traitor and strategist serving the Demon armies never fails.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Tang 36 swears profusely.
- Chekhov's Gun: Intentionally invoked in a Crowning Moment of Funny: in a moment of childish playfulness, Tang 36 runs around the Orthodox Academy hiding the legendary swords Chen retrieved from the Sword pool in unlikely places, just on the off chance that in a hundred years someone will stumble across one and start a legend. Chen later ends up using the swords himself.
- Enlightenment Superpower: An integral part of the setting, with five stages of enlightenment before one ascends to divinity. Regular mortal > Purification > Meditation > Heartseeking/Ethereal Opening > Star Condensation > Saint and two more divine levels.
- Gambit Pileup: Chen has a knack for getting caught up in these pileups by other masterminds, and often provides the final push to swing the scales for one mastermind over the other.
- A God Am I: Most of the cultivators who have reached the Divinity stage look upon the rest of humanity as ants.
- Healing Hands: It may be easier to list the characters who don't display healing powers at some point. Most literally when Chen massages illness right out of Luoluo. Chen Changsheng is by far the best at it even aside from his skills as a doctor even compared to his master.
- Hero of Another Story: Qiu Shan Jun has numerous offscreen adventures, sometimes with Xu Yourong.
- "Inescapable" Prison Easily Escaped: The Tong Palace. The only ways out are to be released, to break out with the awesome power of a semi-divine Saint, or to walk out past the dragon. Guess which way Chen takes.
- Insufferable Genius: Tang 36. Who considers Chen this, at least a little.
- Iron Woobie: Chen has grown up knowing he will die young but he never lets it get to him. Perhaps because of this no matter what he faces, he never stays down for long. Negative emotions are bad for your health he says. So the few times he does get upset or sad really stand out.
- It Amused Me: Against all opposition and threats to make him change his mind, the Pope revealed that he appointed Chen as his successor simply because he wanted to. Nothing more.
- Ki Manipulation: Cultivation leads to someone having far more ki, or Essence depending on the translation, than anyone could normally accumulate.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- A few instances, most notably Bai Hai, who attacks and captures Xu Yourong when she's wounded, poisoned and weak, so he can drink her blood and steal her power. He dies from the poison in her blood.
- A positive example when the Cinnabar Pills, originally made by Chen to save others, ultimately saved his life.
- Love Letter: Chen is engaged to marry Xu Yourong ever since they were both children, and Daoist Ji saved her father's life. They write to each other often.
- Meaningful Name:
- 'Changsheng' is Chinese for "live long". Pretty on-the-nose for someone who has to go on an epic quest to escape an early death.
- Tang 36, who renamed himself after placing only 36th (of a class of 148) on the Qingshin Honor Roll.
- Phrase Catcher: Whenever an important character meets CCS for the first time, they will invariably ask "You are Chen Changsheng?"
- The Quest: To change fate and save Chen's life.
- Rank Scales with Asskicking: The Empress herself is the strongest person alive, and is the only one to have reached the legendary Concealing Divinity stage necessary to change fate.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Chen finally learned to curse and swear due to being around Tang 36 for a long time.
- Screw Destiny: Chen's entire quest is to do this.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: As Chen grows used to his new position as the next Pope, he becomes very comfortable using up his position to screw the rules or authorities.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Tang 36 brings this up every time someone tells him that he's breaking the rules.
- Smug Super: Su Li, at every opportunity possible. Every compliment he gives to anyone will end with self-praise.
- Too Awesome to Use: The Thousand Li Button can be used once to teleport anyone to anywhere. However, it is so extremely rare and valuable that some people who own one would rather die than use it to escape danger.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Many people think of Chen as a "good person", and unless he changes his fate, he will die within a few years.
- Tournament Arc: Early in the story, to win access to an area of the capital with a scroll that might contain a hint as to how to change fate.
- Trickster Mentor: Daoist Ji has definite shades of this in the show.
- Vampiric Draining: Bai Hai attempts this on Xu Yourong in the Garden of Zhou arc. It doesn't end well.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Yao Fei Beastmen are people who can take the shape of animals at will, or possibly animals who can take the shape of people.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Played With, fate can be changed, but it's difficult enough that just ascending to godhood is considered an easier way of escaping fate.
- You Didn't Ask: Novel only: Yuren surprised a lot of people when they discovered that he could talk. It's just that no one ever asked him to speak and he never saw a need to speak. In the animation, it was made clear that he could talk from episode 1.