Chapter 01: Death by Sickness
Zhou Qing never knew that living could be so painful.
Because of a high viral fever, she had caught smallpox. She laid on her bed dazedly, cheeks deeply sunken, and her body slimmed to the bones…
A middle-aged woman’s loud voice could be heard from the other side of the door, “That sick woman in the family is still alive? Smallpox is an abhorrent disease. After she dies, we should quickly burn her body. Otherwise, it would infect everyone and bring bad luck that no one would be able to escape.”
Zhou Qing had never wronged Aunt Wu. She even paid from her pocket the expenses Aunt Wu needed just to cure herself when she was seriously ill.
And yet the first thing they wanted to do was to get rid of her.
Zhou Qing didn’t believe this at first. She always thought that being kind to people would bring blessings. However, the human heart was the most complex as she now thought differently.
Her eyes welled up with tears, sight became blurred, and her body trembled.
Her mother-in-law, Mother Luo, spoke in a grumbling tone, “My son was unfortunate to marry such an unfaithful wife that even after he fed her and her son well, she still wouldn’t let us live in peace even before she died.”
Zhou Qing froze for a moment. When she remembered her four-year-old son, tears fell even harder.
If she died, what would happen to her son? Mother Luo would definitely not treat him well. On the other hand, Luo Yu seemed kind but reality proved otherwise. Since he possessed a heart of stone.
Zhou Qing fell to the ground. She could barely feel the pain as she slowly crawled towards the door.
In the courtyard, Mother Luo and Aunt Wu heard the commotion and their faces turned ugly. They saw the door being slowly opened and Zhou Qing, with a hideous face, filled with pus poked her head out as she breathlessly said, “Mother, I’m going to die soon. Please treat Zheng’er well. Please, just consider me begging you!”
Zhou Qing kowtowed with all her strength. The muddy ground was full of gravel and debris. The crimson blood on her already festered and pus bumped-filled face slid down and stained the ground. This appearance was no different from an evil ghost.
Mother Luo drew a breath of cold air in fright as goosebumps spread all over her body. She spat on the ground and yelled, “Bit*h, why aren’t you inside? Are you trying to pass the disease to me? You are so vicious! How can a poisonous woman like you have a son? I advise you not to be too anxious. After you die, that little bastard will also accompany you……”
A fishy sweetness welled up within her mouth as Zhou Qing tore her heart out while coughing, even spitting out a mouthful of blood.
She was so thin yet her eyes widened as she pleaded, looking at Mother Luo.
Aunt Wu was also repulsed by Zhou Qing’s hideous look so she pressed herself against the wall and left. Mother Luo snorted coldly and went back to her room in order to coax her other grandson.
Before night fell, Luo Yu entered the house.
He was working in the Imperial Court as a retainer for an Eighth-grade Official, with a monthly salary of two taels of silver. Although it seemed like a lot, the daily expenses stretched his salary to the limit. Moreover, he was never around.
Their financial condition was so severe that Zhou Qing had to work at a laundromat. The owner of the laundromat somehow got sick with smallpox. Because of the open wound on her hands, Zhou Qing also was infected by the disease.
Luo Yu stood at the door of the woodshed. His face was calm, staring at the woman’s motionless body, as if his feet had taken root in the ground below.
Zhou Qing seemed to feel something. She slowly opened her eyes, muddy tears kept falling down her face as she pleaded, “A’Yu, Zheng’er is just a child. Please, take care of him, please.”
This one sentence already exhausted her remaining strength as Zhou Qing’s two hands propped herself up from the ground. A long time has passed, yet she didn’t hear any answer from him.
“You and I are husband and wife, just consider me begging, can’t you?”
“Good.” Luo Yu finally nodded his head. His phoenix-like eyes were so obscured that people couldn’t tell what his thoughts were.
The woman smiled and her body just collapsed, until finally, she just passed away.
After her death, Zhou Qing didn’t know how it happened but she found that she had been lying on a small earthen platform, unable to either leave nor escape.
People often say that ghosts who couldn’t let go of their families in the mundane world, would gaze at them from a platform, was this that platform?
Stumbling and crawling towards the edge of the earthen platform, Zhou Qing looked down into the distance and saw snow-white clouds churning. Surprisingly, the sight of the Luo family came to view.
She saw her corpse sprawled on the ground. Mother Luo was still a woman in the end. Though her demeanor was usually arrogant and domineering, she was still a bit frightened of the dead. As she stood next to Zhou Qing’s body, Mother Luo’s long thin face showed disgust, shivering in fear she asked, “This sick ghost is dead. What should we do with the body?”
Luo Yu, who read a lot of books and was more insightful than ordinary people, paused and said, “Smallpox is a repugnant disease. One must burn the body to ashes. Otherwise, we might get infected.”
People die like the fire in the lamp. Zhou Qing didn’t care about herself in the afterlife. Her only concern in the world was Luo Zheng, her four-year-old son.
In the beginning, Luo Yu’s mistake caused her to be pregnant to give birth to this child, Zheng’er called him father for four years, even raising a small dog and cat for four years would give rise to some feelings, and he promised. So he would take good care of Zheng’er, right?
She believed so in her heart, but at the back of her mind, she thought otherwise. Luo Yu might be soft-hearted, but he never displayed a trace of tenderness towards the mother and son.
The man’s handsome face was cold and solemn. As he brought out the canola oil from the kitchen, he poured it on Zhou Qing’s corpse and took out the fire fuse. The flames surged up like a beast that devoured people.
Luo Yu’s mother was horrified. Before the body was engulfed in flames, she looked at the woman’s round eyes and couldn’t help feeling a chill rise up her body.
The smoke outside the house would straight up choke people and make them cough. Luo Zheng felt something was wrong so he ran quickly towards the backyard. He looked at the burning woodshed and at Luo Yu, who carried a bucket of water to put out the fire.
“Mother… Where is my mother?”
Mother Luo threw a slap on his face, the woman who always worked had a very strong hand as Luo Zheng’s small face swelled, just like a steamed bun.
Luo Yu frowned, “Mother, Zheng’er is still my child. Stop it.”
“What do you mean your child? He’s just a sinful child, if the Zhou family hadn’t perished, who would raise such a debt collector?”
Luo Yu didn’t say a word, as he was having a tough time putting out the fire. The man was wheezing hard, the sides of his forehead were covered with beads of sweat.
At this moment, Zhou Qing’s body had already disintegrated into ashes, and the woodshed had become frail because of the blaze, and would not last long.
Because of exhaustion, Luo Yu went back to his room to rest. His mother looked at her son’s back, her eyes suddenly flashed.
She directly threw the inaudibly crying Luo Zheng into the woodshed. The child was not favored since childhood. Raised to be respectful, even when being strangled on the collar and face turning a purplish-red hue, he didn’t scream..
The door was sealed with a brass lock, and the windows were shut with wooden boards.
With eyes crawling with blood, Zhou Qing looked at her son cowering in the corner. His skinny arms were hugging his knees. His face was moist and wet, mumbling, “Mother, where are you? Zheng’er is thirsty and hungry ……”
The sharpest knife was relentlessly stabbing into the woman’s heart, the pain was unbearable.
Zhou Qing gritted her teeth and breathed heavily. She never imagined that the Luo family would be this ruthless. Zheng’er was only four years old and they wanted him to starve to death!
If only she had seen the true nature of the Luo family earlier, ceased serving her husband’s every whim, and complied with everything, she wouldn’t have ended up in this predicament. Not only did she die miserably, but her only son had also suffered.
The scene in the clouds did not disappear.
Following Zhou Qing’s cremated remains, Luo Zheng also perished. A full three days without water and food, her son died of thirst and starvation.
Luo Yu broke his promise.
The death of two who dragged the family was considered a good thing for the entire Luo family. Luo Yu’s mother could not hide the happiness on her face. Which part of her looked like she was mourning?
When a neighbor asked about the whereabouts of Zhou Qing and her son, she would say, “They were down on their luck. Both of them got smallpox, and my only grandson has died. God is really cruel.”
The neighbors were saddened, but no one thought that the grandmother had killed Zheng’er. After all, it was her only grandson, the only heir of the Luo family, how could she let him go?
Zhou Qing despised it!
She loathed it so much!
The excruciating pain in her heart made her scream and cry.
Time passed slowly. The woman, who initially suffered from a mental breakdown, became numb. After all, she was only a ghost, still trapped on the earthen platform and couldn’t do anything.
Three months later, dozens of Jin Yi guards in qilin suits arrived at the entrance of the Luo household.
Looking at the fierce guards, Mother Luo was scared out of her wits and asked, “Why have you come to my house, gentlemen?”
One man smiled and kindly asked, “Mrs. Luo, you have a grandson who is four years old, right?”
Even with the gentle and courteous attitude of this brocade guard, Mother Luo’s dread did not ease in the slightest. It was Luo Yu who steadied himself and asked, “Dare I ask if your honor is here under the orders of the commander?”
The guard nodded.
Luo Yu lowered his eyes, his scholarly appearance made him look innocent as he only heard him slowly say, “He is my sister’s child and was raised in this home. He has a deep attachment to the family. Even if the commander is to take him back, he cannot sever this relationship.”
The Jin Yi guard’s gaze seemed to contain a deeper meaning, “Official Luo, your sister has already been married, the young master is a drag for her.”
Luo Yu flat-out retorted, “How can the word ‘drag’ be used to describe blood kin? I hope you will bear with me and inform the commander that even if he takes Little Treasure away from the family, he is still our Luo family’s child.”
In the Great Zhou dynasty, from the hundreds of officials down to the commoners, everyone feared the Jin Yi Guards. This surnamed Luo looked weak, but he didn’t expect this man to have some backbone, daring to confront them for his nephew.
“Don’t worry, we will relay the message to the commander.”
After saying that, Luo Yu entered the inner room and someone took a four-year-old boy in his arms. The boy had decent features. The outline was not quite similar to the commander, or maybe he followed after his mother.
The Jin Yi guards came and went in great numbers.
When the people left, Mother Luo still hadn’t recovered when her legs went weak and she fell to the ground, trembling, “Son! Xiao Bao is not –”
Before she could finish her sentence, she was interrupted by Luo Yu, “Xiao Bao is the son of the commander, there is no mistake about that.”
Seeing this scene through the clouds, Zhou Qing couldn’t help but laugh in disbelief.
Luo Yu’s mother killed her son, and Luo Yu let his nephew take Zhenger’s place to enjoy his well-deserved glory and wealth. She wanted to cut open their chests and see if their hearts and livers were all painted black!
The more Zhou Qing thought about it, the more aggrieved she was. She couldn’t help but cover her face and cry, “If there is an afterlife, I will take revenge! If there is an afterlife ……”