“Oh no, where am I?”
He knows that he is in his dream right now but he is totally lost right now. He is in a huge room with a lot of chairs and some sort of counters? The design of the room is unfamiliar to him. It is like it comes from another place, unlike his own. There are some people in the area but it seems like nobody is waiting for services. Only some personnel are doing their job at a leisure pace behind the counters and there are two guards at the door.
A sudden blaring sound screeching his ears and flashes of orange hurting his eyes. The silver room is now filled with flashes of orange coming from above. They seem to come from tubes that he totally did not see before. He only knows how to use candles. Where on earth he is now?
Personnel inside the room jolt in surprise when they hear the alarm and see the light. Some of them were running, leaving the room, and some of them rushed to finish their work. Suddenly he heard a voice from his back.
“The portal has opened again. Some guardians are waiting at the door for any travellers.”
That person is now in front of him, her back is facing him. She wears all black clothes to him. He had never seen these clothes that these guys were wearing before! Where is he? A woman in white from behind the counter walks towards the woman in black, addressing her.
“We are currently preparing for the arrival while waiting for news from the team.”
The woman in the black nods in understanding. She suddenly rotates behind, facing the door located slightly behind him.
“If it is a false alarm, I hope it is a good sign.”
His stomach dropped. He knows that face.
“Haoran, wake up!”
Oh, his time here is up.
It has been a few days since he had the weird dream. He and other juniors just back from a night-hunting excursion in the village near his sect. They are cultivators. The case of a haunted mansion at the edge of the village. Thankfully, they managed to exorcise those spirits and came home with minor injuries. He just finished cleaning his room when his roommate walked as fast as he could towards their room.
“What is the matter now, Yichen?”
“Sect Leader and Elders called all the juniors to the Lotus Hall immediately!”
Both of them rushed to the meeting.
When they arrived at the hall, it was filled with other juniors as well. All of them are anxious with the sudden meeting like what is actually happening right now? Nobody knows.
The sect leader and some elders arrived a few moments later and stood at the front. The juniors stood in lines after bowing to arriving parties. The sect leader comes forward, giving his announcement.
“Today, as the Zhou Manor Sect Leader, here I have appointed my adopted son, Zhou Zihao as the Sect Heir.”
He did not hear any words that came from his father’s mouth after that. He felt that his world had imploded into darkness. He just laughed at his misery. His laugh shocked everyone in that hall.
“Sect Leader, this one is truly sorry for his rudeness but actually, I am not sorry at all. At least, I know why my father never looked at me or acknowledged me. Do you know why? Because he hates me. He hates my mother. His wife. Or a former wife maybe? She left or was forced to leave because of you 13 years ago, right? Father, I know you hate me but I am your son too! You love Zihao more than me, but save me some faces too!
He stormed out from the hall, ignoring his friends’ shouts.
He is now standing in front of the cave at the back of the mountain. Based on his mother’s letter, he must go to this place if he wants to find her when he grows up. He never knew why his mother left when he was a toddler, but he was glad in a way and angry at the same time. He was glad that she could leave this place but angry at her on why she left him alone here. He knew that Grand Uncle loves him but it is still not enough. He felt guilty for his decision and hoped that Grand Uncle would understand his action.
After that announcement, he rushed to his room to pack his things into the travel pouch. He did not bring many belongings with him like he did not have a lot of them in the first place. He just took three sets of clothes, soap, his mother’s box, some money, his two favourite books, an entrance token, and his sword and dagger for security. He put all of them into the pouch except the sword and dagger and fled to the mountain at the back of the mansion.
He was searching at the cave entrance when he saw a slot at the cave wall. Wait, he knew that shape. He scrambled into the pouch to take out his mother’s box. He took his mother’s token from the box and compared it to the slot. It matched! He put the token into the slot and suddenly his breath is taken out of him. His surrounding becomes blurred and some azure lights surrounded him. A voice called him,
“What is the thing that everyone has that usually you need to ignore but sometimes, you need to follow it ?”
He quiets for some time before answering,
“For me, it is fear. Usually, fear is something you need to ignore usually especially in doing tasks. However, it has to be followed in order to leave something that we do not have any hope for.”
The lights around him become brighter and he felt his breath left him.
“Is he okay?”
He slowly opened his eyes and saw some people surrounding him. However, his sight is only to the woman in black. He cries and smiles at her,
“Ibu (mother), it’s me Haoran or Hafiz.”
His mother embraced him with tears. The warmth is comforting.