TOMAS Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 Wind Crane: Prelude

Where is this?

Why am I enveloped in darkness?

Why am I here?

“Ugh, my head hurts!” Luo Di struggled as she sat up in the darkness, supporting herself with one hand as she held her head with the other. She looked around; the darkness engulfed her and she was surrounded by silence. Luo Di narrowed her eyes, trying to recall what she could. She remembered crossing the road as she got off work, and a car that headed straight for the pavement as it ran the red light. She couldn’t react in time and was caught in the collision. Then, everything went black.

Her eyes widened. “Am I dead?!”

She couldn’t accept this; the fact that she might have lost her family, her friends, and everything she loved was too much to take in. Around her, the darkness persisted.

She sat on the floor in a daze. Suddenly, a bright light appeared out of nowhere. Luo Di shielded her eyes with a raised hand, and as her eyes accustomed to the glare, she made out a man in the light, walking slowly towards her.

To be exact, it was not a man. Luoqiu stared at the figure garbed entirely in black; his face was solemn, his skin an alabaster white, and he glided smoothly above the ground as he advanced towards her.

“Luo Di.” His voice was cold and flat, without any trace of emotion.

Luo Di raised her head. She did not cry, but her eyes were tinged with a mixture of desperation and hope.

“Are you the Grim Reaper?”

“My name is Phantom, and I’m the Grim Reaper in charge of this area.” Phantom looked at her as he spoke curtly. “Although you are dead, your time has not yet come.”

“What does that mean? Are you saying that I’ll still have a chance to go back to my life?”

Phantom did not respond to her question. “Your situation is…special. Because of that, those above have decided to give you a chance. You can choose to complete a mission for us using a body in a parallel world, and the issues about recording your life should be completed by the time you are done. Meanwhile, your own body will remain in the hospital in a vegetative state as your soul takes up host in the other body. So now, you have to choose.”

He looked away from her elated expression, and continued, “Do you choose to remain here as a wraith, or to complete the mission in the parallel world and then decide if you want to return to your own body? Tell me your choice.”

“Of course I want to complete the mission in the parallel world and return to my body!” Luo Di did not hesitate at all.

“Good,” Phantom said expressionlessly, “Now let me brief you on the details of your mission and the parallel world.”

Luo Di looked up at Phantom, eyes focused and unblinking, keeping all the excitement and feelings to herself as she listened carefully to Phantom’s words.

“The place that you will be going to is a parallel world of ancient times. The strongest kingdom in the world is the Xuan Dynasty, slightly similar to the Han Dynasty in your world. There are some differences between the two, but you must determine them yourself. It is a parallel world, so you won’t have to worry about affecting the history of your world whatever you do, even though the two dynasties are similar. However, if the body you borrowed in that world dies before you complete your mission, your soul will dissipate as well. And when you return to your current world upon completion of the mission, the body that you resided in in the parallel world will also die, as the original host of the body has already passed away. But if you so decide to remain in the Xuan Dynasty, that will be a different matter altogether.”

Luo Di nodded in understanding. “So what is the mission?”

“Don’t worry.” Phantom floated towards Luo Di, and pulled her up on her feet. “The body that you will reside in was called Feng Luodi, the daughter of the Chamberlain for Justice. She died from an untreated cold when she fell into the water. As for your mission,” Phantom paused, “it is simple yet difficult at the same time.”

“You are to find and locate the 10 famous Guqin* of the Xuan Dynasty: Sonorous, Resonance, Green Ivy, Burnt Ends, Cascades, Cloud Nine, Ringing Tunes, Abysmal, Rising Wind and Wind Crane. You are to find these 10 Guqin, and play any modern song on each of them with the exception of Sonorous, you can play the other nine in any setting, and in any order. As for Sonorous, you have to play it the last of them all, and at a specified location. I will tell you the details about playing Sonorous again, when you have played the other 9.” Phantom looked at Luo Di, “Do you understand?”

*the original 10 names of Guqin are as follows: 号钟 (Sonourous)、绕梁 (Resonance)、绿绮 (Green Ivy)、焦尾 (Burnt Ends)、飞泉 (Cascades)、九霄 (Cloud Nine) 、遗音 (Remembrance)、独幽 (Abysmal)、扶风 (Rising Wind)、风鹤 (Wind Crane).

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