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Backstory

        “As expected, even today, she has yet to awaken...” The man frowned at the sight of her daughter in deep unconsciousness. With a towel in hand, he gently wiped away the saliva dripping out from the corner of her mouth.

        His movement inadvertently awakened his wife who had fallen asleep at the bedside. Stretching her hand out, she lightly rubbed her daughter’s cheek, and asked worriedly, “Sumatra...is she really going to turn into a Druid like my little sister?”

        The mark around Sumatra’s eye glowed softly. The man could not help but frown at the sight, while his wife held Sumatra’s hand close to her own face; she could not hold back her tears at the thought of her daughter’s potential exile.

        Among the tribespeople, those with innate marks on their bodies would likely become Druids. If these marked people did not wake after two days of sleep, it meant that they were facing an “exigency” of Druid-hood. Few ones could overcome the “exigency”, but the majority of them succumbed to Druid-hood, and would get exiled from tribe forever.

        At the time, Sumatra in deep slumber knew not of her parents’ worries. She was enjoying herself in her dream at that moment —

        ‘Sumatra, I can see that you relish the dream world,’ said a woman with animal ears on her head — her skin contrasting between ink-black and snow-white skin, like a tapir.

        Sumatra wrapped her arms around the woman’s waist, and buried herself in her embrace, replied in a sweet voice, ‘it is because, auntie, in the real world, people detest me and avoid me...but here, you won’t!’

        Because of the strange mark at her eye, the tribespeople had always stayed away from Sumatra. Moreover, Sumatra felt that whenever her parents looked at her, their smile would always be forced. Yet, at her young age, Sumatra could not understand that her parents’ melancholy emanated from worry. To her, slumbering was her sole escape from the tribespeople and even her parents’ contemptuous expression. Besides, in her dreams, she could see her auntie who doted on her. Her auntie would teach her to communicate with animals and conjure the power of nature; she would transform the dream world into an auditorium, showing scenes in accordance to mythical stories to be played on stage.

        ‘Auntie, why don’t you live with us? Then, I can play with you even when I am not dreaming!’ Sumatra kept poutingly asked.


        ‘It is because I am a Druid. The tapir Druid is unique to our tribe, and to be passed on from generation to generation. The age and legacy of the Druid identity and power intimidates the tribespeople. Therefore, if a Druid is born in the tribe, they will be expelled and can no longer live with the people.’ Although the woman’s tone remained gentle as she spoke, her face had already clouded over with sorrow.

        ‘Then will I be expelled too? After all, I have learnt Druid’s magic from you, auntie...’

        ‘Right...and that’s what your parents are worrying for you.’

        ‘Then why do you still teach me the magic, auntie?’

        With her tender finger, the woman lightly touched the mark on Sumatra’s eyelid, answered, ‘It’s because you’ve been chosen by the tapirs. They hope that you can be their Druid. But, to attain Druid-hood, you must pass a test to prove that you have not only grown familiar with animals’ behavior, but also mastered the way to manipulate the power of nature with your own strength alone. Now is the time. Are you willing to take the challenge and become a Druid?’

        Upon hearing her auntie’s question, Sumatra looked away and thought for a while, then she said, “Though I still don’t quite get it, but I guess I’ll be like you after I become a Druid, right? If that’s so...yes, I do!’

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