Child B: Mom said it’s the mark of Druuu. It’ ll bring about disasters!
Child A: It’s Druir! My mom said if we talk to them, we’ll have nightmares!
When the two children saw Sumatra coming their way, they shouted in fear and ran.
Sumatra: They’re gone. Everyone’s like this...
Sumatra could not help but sigh as she gently touched her right eye. Since she was born, the only people she could talk to were her parents. All the other villagers avoided her because of the “mark” on her eye. The elders said it was an inauspicious mark and even the children believed this saying, so they treated her as if she was a freak and showed her no kindness by either ignoring her or mocking her.
Her life during the day was a lonely jail for Sumatra; only at night in her dreams could she release her child energy and play with the animals in a beautiful sea of flowers. Sumatra gradually felt that she belonged in her dreams rather than reality.
Sumatra: ‘Haha. You got me again, black piggie.’
???: ‘Sumatra, can we play with you?’
Sumatra: ‘Ah! You are...?’
???: ‘My name is Tenessa, your mommy’ s sister.’
That night, Sumatra happily played with a black “piggie” with white stripes. Suddenly, a tanned lady with white marks on her body walked up to Sumatra, with a crowd of black and white tapirs following the lady. Sumatra shouted and stepped back in fear as she saw the lady with the tapirs, but the small “piggie” walked to Tenessa and it was obvious that they were close. And what surprised Sumatra more was Tenessa mentioning her mother.
Sumatra: Mom’s sister? You’re...my aunt?
Tenessa: Looks like my sister hasn’t forgotten me. I’ve been waiting for this day to come, Sumatra. It’s good to see you in dream.
Tenessa held a little tapir in her arms and a smile spread across her warm and kind face. Just as Sumatra wanted to say something, the scene twisted before her eyes. After a blink, Sumatra returned to reality as she slowly woke up. She was filled with excitement and her heart could not stop pounding; she felt unfamiliar warmth flowing in her heart...
Since meeting Tenessa in a dream, Sumatra stayed with her every night. They talked and played together all the time. Hence, Sumatra's dreams lengthened and she would sometimes enter a coma-like sleep while the mark on her eye occasionally radiated.
One night, she passed Tenessa’s test and was chosen to become the next Tapir Druid. When she woke up from the dream, she could see sorrow and desperation in her parents’ eyes, yet she had no other choice but to fulfill her destiny and follow the tapir to leave the tribe.
Even when it was only the first night living with Tenessa, Sumatra already missed her parents. She used her limited power of nature to enter her parents’ dreams. The separated family members embraced each other. Although it was only a dream, what they felt and experienced was real to them. However, that was the only night she was able to dream of her parents. No matter how hard she tried, she could not enter her parents’ dreams again.
Sumatra: ‘Dad, mom, how are you? I want to see you...Boohoo...’
In her dreams, Sumatra’s face was covered in tears, but through her curtain of tears, she saw a little tapir lying on the floor weeping like her...
Sumatra: ‘Why is it crying too?’
Tribesperson: ‘Hey! It’s here! Come!’
Sumatra: ‘It’s our tribe...Ah! Don’t beat it!’
Father: ‘Please stop hurting our daughter. I now kneel to you. Please...’
Sumatra: ‘Dad and mom? Daughter? That tapir is me...?’
Seeing the little tapir getting beaten up by the tribespeople, Sumatra ran forward in an attempt to stop them, but no matter how fast she ran toward the tapir, she could never get any closer to it; it was as if she was walking on a treadmill. She was worried and anxious when her parents dashed out from the crowd to protect the little tapir. Sumatra called to her parents but they did not respond. Suddenly, Sumutra heard Tanessa speaking from behind...
Tanessa: ‘Sumatra, tell me. Why do you want to become a Druid?’
Sumatra: ‘I, I want to be like you...’
Tanessa: ‘To be someone like me... someone who is lonely, someone who can only have tapirs as friends?’
Sumatra: ‘No! I don’t want to part with my parents! And not with you either!’
Tanessa: ‘Sumatra, think back to when you first became a tapir and tell your parents the true reason why you're becoming a Druid.’
Sumatra gazed at the little tapir and focused her mind. She closed her eyes and her mind traveled through the crowd. When she opened her eyes again, she saw the backs of her strong-willed yet powerless parents in front of her — she was now the little tapir with circular ears. She dashed forward and firmly stood on her feet before her parents, sternly yelling...
Sumatra: ‘Dad and mom! From now on, I shall be the one to protect you!’
Seeing Sumatra standing up for them, her parents felt happy and relieved. Their tears turned into a smile. Just then, the dream began to crumble while Sumatra tightly embraced her parents as she murmured: “I will be fine. I will be fine”. She woke up after dawn and her aunt was sitting by her bed.
Sumatra: Aunt Tenessa, did mom and dad really hear me?
Tenessa: Everything you do with your heart never fails.
Sumatra: Auntie, I would like to learn more about Druids.
Sumatra trained her mind every day and learned from her aunt about how to control the power of nature. At first, she could only watch the tribespeople’s dreams as a by-stander, but she gradually learned how to fully immerse herself in other people’s dreams and interact with them.
She could even provide guidance to them in their dreams, helping them find their missing items, solve disputes, as well as avoid beasts in the real world. From her experiences, she understood that dreams were comprised of three main elements: people’s emotions, memories, and hopes.
With Sumatra and Tenessa’s help, peace returned to the tribe and every tribesperson slept well at night. However, there were exceptions — a number of children could not stop having nightmares and the frequency of nightmares kept increasing...
Sumatra: ‘There there. These tapir friends and I are all here for you.’
Child: ‘But...but he plucked out mother’s eyes!’
Sumatra: ‘This is only a dream! Your mother’s eyes are fine and she’s trying to wake you up.’
Child: ‘That man said he’s coming for my eyes next time! It’s terrible! Boohoo...’
Sumatra: Aunt Tenessa, all the children are having nightmares this week. Is something happening?
Tenessa: It’s not just the children. The adults are also having nightmares.
Tenessa: If this keeps happening, they will suffer a nervous breakdown, confusing dreams with reality, or even being trapped in dreams forever.
Tenessa: What a knotty problem...
Sumatra: One of the children said someone was going to pluck out his eyes. Does it have anything to do with this incident?
Tenessa: Plucking out eyes? A number of adults also said that. This could be a clue.
Sumatra and Tenessa were facing an unprecedentedly difficult situation: all the tribespeople were having nightmares. When dreaming becomes exhausting, people will soon confuse dreams with reality. One night, Sumatra and Tenessa decided to enter the dream of the child who had met the “eye-plucker” before. They hid in a corner and waited quietly for what would happen next.
Suddenly, the scenery of the dream changed and they were in a desert where sand blew everywhere and everything was grey and yellow. A figure flitted across the sand with a spoon in one hand, approaching the child.
???: ‘Now I have come to take your eyes.’
Tenessa: ‘Who are you? What do you want?’
Tenessa stood in front of the child and conjured the power of nature, attempting to drive off the figure, but he transformed into sand and darted into her eyes. Tenessa immediately fell onto the ground and tried to wipe the sand off her eyes, but her sight gradually blurred.
Sumatra: ‘What, what did you do to my aunt?’
???: ‘Dealing with her was easy.’
Sumatra: ‘How come...!’
Tenessa: ‘Su...Sumatra, be careful of his sand!’
???: ‘Sand is everywhere. You think you’ re gonna get away from me?’
Sumatra: ‘I'm not gonna let you do as you please!’
???: ‘Humph. I’ll leave this time, but let’s see how much you can absorb for the kid next time.’
The intruder transformed into sand again and darted straight toward Sumatra’s eyes. Sumatra hurriedly closed her eyelids and focused her mind on using teleporting magic. She dodged to the side of Tenessa while a tapir arrived in aid. It lashed its long nose and absorbed part of the sandstorm.
Watching how the tapir absorb the sand, Sumatra came up with an idea — she should imitate what the tapir just did. Sumatra summoned the power of nature and the mark on her eye shone with blinding radiance. With light as her cover, Sumatra was invulnerable to the sand. She inhaled deeply and absorbed the entire sandstorm! The weather in the dream cleared up, and the defeated intruder vanished into the darkness after his resentful words.
Tapir Druid - Sumatra: ‘Aunt Tenessa! Are you okay?’
Tenessa: ‘Looks like my power is deteriorating. Sumatra, you did great!’
After that night, the tribespeople's view on Druids changed. Not only did they defeat the intruder in the child’s dream, but Tenessa had also assigned tapirs as guards in the tribespeople’s dreams to protect them.
When the child woke up, he told his parents about Sumatra’s valiancy, so the tribal leader broke the village’s tradition and visited Sumatra and Tenessa with Sumatra’s parents. Upon seeing their family, the four embraced each other. Tenessa even cried happily when she finally reunited with her long-separated sister...