The autumn wind rustled.
The closer Wang Chong got to the grand hall, the more nervous he felt. Perhaps only when you lose someone will you know how dear they were to you.
He lived his previous life in a daze, caring for nothing at all and not allowing anything to bother him in the least. It was hard to imagine that just having a meal would make him so nervous.
“This should be what they call fear of returning to one’s homeland.”
Wang Chong mumbled. Lifting his head, he saw a massive gate with two lion heads on it, one on the left, one on the right. His family’s dining hall was just in front.
The Wang Family wasn’t a great clan of nobility and as such, it wasn’t tightly restricted by traditions and decorum. However, it was still a clan of generals. His mother might not have created many rules to limit their actions, but they still had to maintain the etiquette befitting of a great clan.
The Wang Clan had many offsprings. However, regardless of who it was, and this was including his father as well, as long as they were in the capital, they had to return home for the weekly family gathering. Everyone would gather around a huge round table and share a harmonious meal.
This was the last day of Wang Chong’s grounding. This was also his first family meal gathering in the last seven days. However, what Wang Chong was bothered with wasn’t this.
If things progressed as how it did in his previous life, at this time, his father should have returned home by now. Due to his father’s official duties, he often left the home early in the morning and returned only late at night. Even as his son, he wasn’t able to meet him whenever he pleased.
After that incident, his father would swiftly leave the capital to the military barracks. Most likely, for the next half a year, he wouldn’t be able to meet him.
If he wants to prevent that incident from happening to change the destiny of his clan, this family gathering will be the best opportunity for him to do so, as well as the final one.
However, will his father believe him?
Recalling how he was then, Wang Chong went silent.
One reaps what he sows. In his previous life, he always thought of himself as a transcender and acted like a hedonist. Taking life as a mere game, he committed many different ridiculous actions.
In the very beginning, he obstinately wanted to wander this world leisurely and fool about. As such, he stayed out day and night and made a lot of bad company.
The ‘Ma Zhou’ which his little sister spoke of was one of them.
In his previous life, Wang Chong was a straightforward and honest person. He didn’t think deeply into things. He often thought that since they were friends, they should treat each other with sincerity. Never would he thought that the other scions were so scheming. On the surface, they treated you as their brothers but behind your back, they threw multiple daggers at you.
These fellows made use of his name to fool about outside. In the end, he was even labeled with the sin of raping a female villager in the daylight.
The other matters could be forgiven, but ‘raping a female villager’ was truly overboard. Even his father who was often out in the fields and rarely interfered in his affairs, upon knowing of this matter, rushed back in the middle of a night.
Wang Chong was then grounded for a week due to the affair.
He had completely disappointed his father due to this matter. In the period after his transcension, even though he was rebellious and often committed inappropriate actions, he hadn’t fallen to such a point.
But raping a female villager…
This was already challenging the moral boundaries of his father. From then on, his father gave up all hopes on this son of his and never bothered with him again.
Wang Chong only realized a long time after the incident that he was done in by Ma Zhou and the other bastards and he was extremely depressed for a long period of time.
Even though he knew of these, he probably wouldn’t be able to explain it all to his parents clearly. Besides, if it wasn’t for his inability to see through the true colors of others, he wouldn’t have been betrayed like that. Given the current emotions his father and mother were experiencing, there was no way they would listen to his words.
After all, what proper things could an ignorant playboy possibly do or say?
At this point, Wang Chong felt intense bitterness in his heart. He had no choice but to swallow his bitter gourd that he had sowed himself.
“No matter what, I can’t continue acting like a jerk. I have to change father’s impression of me by hook or by crook.”
Wang Chong was fully aware that he only had this family meal gathering to change the notion that his parents had of him. He had to make them understand that he was no longer the same person as he was.
He had to slowly regain their trust.
Wang Chong took a deep breath. At this point, he already knew what he had to do.
The gate was tightly shut. Upon seeing Wang Chong, the two sturdy-built guards dressed in uniforms bowed their head to greet him.
The two men looked had broad shoulders and a towering stature. Their presence felt like an indomitable heavenly tower and with a single look, it was clear that they had undergone numerous wars in the battlefield.
“It has been tough on you two.”
Wang Chong paused for a moment beside them and sincerely thanked them.
He remembered these two guards. They were specially chosen by his father, Wang Yan, from the military barracks to guard the residence.
Only with a long journey will one know the stamina of his horse, and only with time will a person’s heart show through. In his previous life, Wang Chong didn’t care much about these guards, not knowing their names even. After the incident which caused a pandemonium in the family, when all of the others guards and housekeepers had left, only these two guards and a few other housekeepers stayed closely by their side, protecting and serving them.
Until the arrival of the great catastrophe which killed the two guards just like how it did with countless other people, they carried out their responsibilities loyally until the very end of their lives.
Only at that moment did their names etched deeply into Wang Chong’s mind. One of them was called Shen Hai and the other Meng Long. They were the two most loyal guards of the entire residence.
The two guards stared at Wang Chong in astonishment. In the past, this young master often acted haughtily and arrogantly, thinking that it was unbefitting for him to speak with such lowly guards.
To think that he would make the initiative to greet them as well, this was the very first time he had did so!
The two of them could see the amazement in the others’ eyes!
Wang Chong knew what they were thinking of, but he simply smiled silently. The solidification of a river doesn’t happen in a single day of frost. The impression everyone had of him in the past was simply too poor. It would be difficult to change the conception they had of him in a short period of time.
However, after making the first step, he will continue to make the second and the third. One day, they will comprehend that he had truly changed.
Placing his hands on the lion head knocker, Wang Chong pushed with great force. Jiya, the door creaked open, echoing loudly in the grand hall. After which, he stepped in.
Before Wang Chong could clearly make out anything, the deep aroma of various delicacies that made one salivate reached his nose. In the massive room, a large table that was sufficient for more than a dozen people to sit by it was placed in the middle. There were more than twenty sumptuous dishes placed on it.
“It has been long since I have eaten something so luxurious.”
With a single whiff, his appetite was hooked. Wang Chong felt his stomach protesting in hunger. Thinking about it, in the seven days which he was grounded, the food he ate was mostly bland, far from the current spread that laid out before him.
However, despite the lavish spread before him, something was amiss about the atmosphere before him.
Wang Chong felt a chill in his heart. Lifting his head to take a glance, he saw the grim expressions on the faces of his father and his mother. None of them were looking at him.
Even though the aroma of the food was lingering around the dining table, there were two people who weren’t moving at all. On the other hand, his voracious little sister was burying her head in the food. A hand of her held a pair chopsticks while the other cupped a bowl. Her mouth moved non-stop as food disappeared swiftly into her mouth. From his angle, he could only see the two braids on her head bouncing up and down.
This little sister of his only had two hobbies, one was to eat and the other was to play.
Wang Chong almost died from shock the first time he saw her eating. How could this be a little girl? It was obviously a ravenous beast!
However, when one considered her astounding strength, it all made sense.
In his family, his little sister was the only one who was allowed eat outside of official mealtimes. His voracious little sister usually made a lot of clanging sound with her bowls and utensils while eating, yet this time, her mouth was wide opened but not a single sound was produced. It was clear that there was something wrong with the atmosphere.
The air in the grand hall felt so thick that it could suffocate.
“You! Are! Done! For!”
While grabbing her bowl and eating frenziedly, she shot a look of sympathy towards Wang Chong. She could already see the tragic fate that was about to befall her elder brother.
This little girl may be innocent, but she was exceptionally vindictive. She hasn’t forgotten how her elder brother lied to her just now!
Wang Chong didn’t have the time to bother with this infuriating little sister of his. He knew that even though the punishment had ended, but this matter was far from over.
Unlike previously, Wang Chong didn’t walk straight to his seat and bury himself in the food like an ostrich. Instead, he circled around the dining table over to his father and mother and stopped before them.
Upon seeing Wang Chong’s actions, his little sister’s mouth opened wide.
What was her brother doing? Didn’t he know that father and mother were still at the peak of their anger? It was suicidal to run over to them at such a moment!
However, something that left the little girl even more shocked occurred:
“…I am at fault for this matter. I will sever my relationships with them and stay away from them in the future.”
Wang Chong apologized with a lowered head.
The little girl raised her chopsticks and stared at her brother intently. She was so astounded that her lower jaw was about to fall to the ground. What happened? To think that her brother would take the initiative to confess to his mistakes.
Surely she had heard wrongly?
Rubbing her eyes, she confirmed that she wasn’t hearing things.
In the grand hall, the heavy and still atmosphere lightened slightly.
Seated in the main seat of the dining table was a middle-aged lady dressed in an emerald silk robe with her hair combed into a bun. At this moment, disbelief flashed across the eyes of the beautiful lady as her face twitched slightly.
This child actually admitted his faults?
Zhao Shu Hua couldn’t believe her ears. She had lectured him over this matter innumerable times, even resorting to caning and grounding to change his mind, but he had no intentions of listening to her words at all.
Sometimes, Zhao Shu Hua thought of herself as a failure of a mother. This made her extremely depressed, just that she had never expressed it before her children.
But this time, he took the initiative to admit his faults. Did this child really change for the better?
At that moment, Zhao Shu Hua was a little afraid.
She wished dearly that her child had truly changed for the better, but she was afraid that it would turn out to be just her wishful thinking. After all, his performance in the past was simply too abhorrent.
“You unfilial son! You still know how to admit your mistakes?”
It was an ice-cold voice. It came from Wang Chong’s father, Wang Yan. He had a stern face and he had a piercing gaze that exerted intense pressure onto one, as though one was faced with a spear stabbing straight toward them.
In the 《Book of Rites》, it is stated that ‘A father should be loving and a son should be filial’. Although Wang Chong felt pressured by Wang Yan’s gaze, he knew that his father was already keeping his might in check so as to not injure him.
“What are you saying? Do you think that it is impossible for Chong-er to repent on his actions? Didn’t you hear him admit his faults?”
In the beginning, Zhao Shu Hua was worried that Wang Chong was simply saying those words to console her. Even so, upon hearing Father Wang’s words, she immediately became displeased. It was a rule in the royal court that ladies mustn’t interfere in politics and as such, Zhao Shu Hua never interfered in Father Wang’s military and politic work.
However, as Father Wang was often out commanding the army, the residence and the four children were mainly supervised by Madam Wang. In the matter of educating the children, Madam Wang held absolute authority in the family.
Father Wang might have total authority over commanding the army in wars, but at home, his authority was beneath that of Madam Wang.
Wang Chong’s head was lowered, but he could discern their expressions clearly. His father still had a steeled face and he refused to look at him face-on. However, his complexion had soothed slightly and it was no longer as tightly-knitted and stern as before.
Clearly, his apology wasn’t completely useless.
“I will listen to father’s reprimand. Chong-er was too stubborn and foolish in this past, thus causing father and mother sorrow. From today onwards, Chong-er will change anew.”
Wang Chong said with his head still lowered.
That single sentence caused Father Wang and Mother Wang to raise their heads. Both of them could see astonishment in the others’ eyes. To think that he wouldn’t retort upon being lectured, perhaps the sun had risen from the west today!
His apology might just have been on the spur of the moment, but his response clearly wasn’t so. Could this unfilial son have truly changed for the better?
“Chong-er, don’t listen to your father’s words. Hurry up and sit down. As a family, we should be eating together harmoniously, it isn’t appropriate for you to have that stiff expression on you.”
Mother Wang hurriedly says.
Un, Wang Chong answered. He walked obediently to his seat and sat down. His face was still lowered and he sat there quietly. Father Wang and Mother Wang hadn’t started eating yet, so Wang Chong also remained motionless.
This action of his caused another wave of astonishment to Father Wang and Mother Wang.
“This child has really changed.”
The one who felt the happiest and relieved at this moment was Mother Wang, Zhao Shu Hua.
Who doesn’t hope for their own son to soar to the heavens as though a dragon?
Yet, the behavior of this child of hers broke her heart time and time again. Could it be that her prayers had been answered, and this child finally became sensible?
At this moment, Zhao Shu Hua almost burst into tears from the happiness gushing through her heart.
Wang Family referred mainly to Wang Chong’s family whereas Wang Clan referred to the entire clan, including the extended family.