C2 – Reborn

“Master… master… It’s time to wake up…”

Zuo Shaoqing’s eyes fluttered as he slowly regained consciousness from his disoriented state. A gentle, familiar voice whispered in his ear, although he couldn’t immediately place its owner.

Had he survived? Memories of being hit by lightning flooded back— the searing, excruciating pain was still vivid. How was it possible he was still breathing?

Why hadn’t death taken him? After the massacre of the Zuo Family by his own hand, he was prepared to descend into the abyss with them. Maybe they’d all ascend the torturous mountain of blades or plunge into the fiery pan side by side.

For the last six years, his sheer loathing was the driving force behind his will to live. If he hadn’t imprudently practiced that peculiar cultivation technique, causing a reversal in his meridians, he could have waited longer to witness the Zuo Family’s rise and eventual catastrophic fall.

“Master San, you must rise soon, or it’ll be time for the homage…” The soft voice lingered, pulling Zuo Shaoqing back to the present moment.

His eyes flickered open, locking onto the speaker with a mix of astonishment and confusion.

“Nanny Liu?” When Zuo Shaoqing spoke, something felt amiss. Why did his voice sound as youthful and vibrant as it once was?

Strikingly, wasn’t this compassionate woman the very one who cared for him since childhood? However, he recalled that at fourteen, that cruel woman had driven Nanny Liu from the Zuo Family.

“Master, are you alright?” Nanny Liu, noting Zuo Shaoqing’s unusually pale complexion, expressed her concern. Checking his temperature with her hand, she was relieved to find he wasn’t feverish.

Grasping her coarse hand and sensing its warmth, Zuo Shaoqing was reassured that this wasn’t some illusion.

But how was this possible? Even if the lightning hadn’t claimed his life, he shouldn’t find himself here. And considering Nanny Liu’s appearance, it wasn’t conceivable for her to have been in Tianfeng for seven years.

Had he traveled back in time? Did the cosmos deem his heinous act of killing his parents as so grievous that he was condemned to relive his life as penance? Or maybe it felt he had endured enough and decided to offer him a fresh slate?

Ironically, he’d prefer sipping on Grandma Meng’s Soup, reincarnating, and erasing every trace of Zuo Shaoqing and his previous disgraceful existence.

“Master, don’t linger in bed. To truly honor Third Madame’s departure, you must continue to live your life fully.”

A shadow momentarily passed Zuo Shaoqing’s gaze as he inquired with a raspy voice, “Did Aunt… leave?”

His mother was the Third Aunt from Zuo’s Mansion, once the apple of Zuo Yunwen’s eye. Consequently, her life was comfortable while she lived.

Zuo Shaoqing recalled that she had departed from his life when he was thirteen. Subsequently, his status in the Zuo Family drastically declined, and the evil woman had his remaining loyal attendants removed or even killed.

“Young Master, I understand your grief, but the truth remains – your Aunt has passed on. You must regain clarity,” admonished Nanny Liu.

Reflecting briefly, Zuo Shaoqing realized she was right. Grief had consumed him for days after his mother’s death, to the point where he hadn’t ventured outside the confines of his courtyard.

His father remained distant, and the house’s madame looked upon him with disdain. The familial atmosphere transformed into a stifling cage overnight, earning him further unsympathetic views.

Yet, these events belonged to a life he once lived. Regardless of why he survived, he was no longer the Zuo Shaoqing from seven years prior.

“What time is it now?”

“The hour approaches. If you don’t rise now, you’ll soon be off, and there’s no telling what schemes await you this time.”

A smirk played on Zuo Shaoqing’s lips. What more could they throw at him? Just the same old, tired tactics. While internally dismissive, he outwardly responded with compliance, “Understood, I’ll get dressed.”

With Nanny Liu’s assistance, Zuo Shaoqing donned a smoke-hued cotton robe, lovingly hand-stitched by his mother. It saddened him to think that by next year, he’d no longer wear garments made by her hand.

Freshened up, Zuo Shaoqing consumed a bowl of warm porridge before stepping out into the courtyard. The early winter morning carried a crisp chill, invigorating the senses.

He paused, casting a reflective look over the unassuming courtyard. In a year’s time, the Zuo Family would depart Youuxi Town for the capital. And soon after, he’d serve as a mere pawn for Ministry of Personnel President Wu Steel, used in the games of Zuo Shaoyan.

Mrs. Xue would say she was doing all she could to reciprocate the Zuo Family’s kindness, given her limited means. Such grand sentiments! Perhaps her own son should experience firsthand the trials he faced.

Turning away, a frosty resolve overtook Zuo Shaoqing’s expression, a deep-seated animosity evident. Though he might not strike them down himself in this lifetime, he’d ensure their fate was grimmer than death itself!

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