Zhennan sat at a table alone, tending to his glass that was filled to the brim with liquor he didn’t like.
He squinted at the line and lines of text on his phone but it was no use. Seems like he’ll have to continue reading it tomorrow after he’s sobered up.
He had come here to try and feel better, but it was no use. It was just his luck that he somehow misplaced the important documents of one of the largest clients in his company, even though he had been so careful… He looked everywhere, but it was nowhere to be found, and now he was deciding if he should hand in his resignation papers first thing tomorrow morning or after his shift has ended. Obviously, he knows that employees should all hand in their resignation letters at least a month before leaving the company, but he’s the seventh secretary that Linghua’s had, so his position was a very special case- not to mention dangerous. After such a big screw-up, he was sure to be fired very soon after his boss found out.
Just what should he do…
It was the first time anything like this happened. He’s always been meticulous all his life… just what went wrong?
Perhaps everything will feel better tomorrow, he thinks as he walks towards the bar to get some orange juice instead. He reached into his pocket to grab a packet of milk candy, but bumped into someone he wished he didn’t.
It was his boss, Linghua himself. He really wished he could dig a hole and hide himself. It seemed like his boss was also not in the best of moods either. Usually, he was stoic and had a cold demeanor, despite his handsome face. But strangely, towards Zhennan, he would smile and was kind. He often tried cracking jokes while they were at work. However, this only made Zhennan more scared and wary of the man as he didn’t know whether to laugh or remain silent at his jokes. Most of the time, he would just nod and leave the room as quickly as possible. There was something else about his boss that unsettled Zhennan too, but he really didn’t want to admit it to himself either as he didn’t want to be prejudiced.
Zhennan thinks he should visit a temple soon to be cleansed of this apparent bad luck that has been following him as the packet of candy in his hands fell to the ground. At the same time, Linghua had also taken out a packet of pills but they fell to the ground as well. Quickly, Zhennan picked their dropped items up and stuffed the packets into Linghua’s out-reached hands.
“Zhennan, why don’t we have some drinks together?”
His boss had asked personally, so he couldn’t refuse.
Quickly chewing at the tasteless candy as he drank down his orange juice, trying to keep his mouth full so he would not have to engage in conversation too much. He could barely look straight at Linghua’s face without feeling guilty about those lost files. Linghua was now talking about something but he was a little too drunk and out of it to listen properly.
Just as he was about to open his mouth to probably say something stupid that he’ll regret the next morning, no words came out.
Instead, he just blacked out there and then.
When he woke up again, he was in pain. His head, his body, everything was throbbing pretty badly. It was probably the alcohol from last night.
“You’re finally awake.”
Zhennan opened his eyes but immediately shut them again after the bright rays of sunlight felt like they were attacking his brain.
“Take your time” The female voice said.
He let out a ‘mn’ before slowly sitting up, squinting a few before he could see properly.
There was a woman in some really archaic wear bandaging his forearm. Her hair was graying despite her youthful appearance. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help himself from thinking that the woman was very beautiful.
“You hit your head pretty hard, so I’m going to have to ask you to recite the rules of our clan one by one to me to make sure nothing’s broken in there,” she had explained, pointing at her own temple.
“Just ask him if he remembers his name, that should be enough, no?” Another voice had come behind this doctor’s, Zhennan notes.
It was another mysteriously beautiful woman, much like the doctor that was attending to him. Like her, this one was also dressed strangely.
Zhennan only stared at the two people dumbfoundedly. Were they both actors shooting a movie or something..? He was snapped out of his thoughts by the dark-haired woman, who nudged his shoulder.
“Your name, and the rules.” She demanded.
Zhennan could answer the first, but what rules was the woman referring to?
“Hey, Zhennan. Don’t you dare play dumb or else I will make you copy the laws of the clan a hundred times alone in the Silent Pavilion again.”
How did this woman know his name?
“You were too hard on him, Wenyi. He’s really not lying, you’ve probably traumatized him so much he lost the ability to speak too. You can’t be too harsh on him or he’ll grow to be a cold adult.”
“But the books said that he can take tribulations at least ten times more difficult than his peers of the same age!”
“Yes, but perhaps that doesn’t mean you can throw him into the volcano. He’s not a phoenix, he’s still a Herma, like us!”
Did the doctor just say the dark-haired one threw him into a volcano?
“He’ll be fine after a few more tries. We’re going back there after you patch him up.”
“What? Wenyi, don’t be unreasonable. Haven’t you heard a word of what I just said? He’s still a child! Just toss him inside the Dark Forest like a normal person. At least he’ll encounter a few monsters there that’ll rough him up, but they won’t kill him. Probably.”
These women are insane, he didn’t know if the Dark Forest was any better than a volcano, but it definitely didn’t sound any better!
Zhennan looked solemnly at the two very beautiful women arguing. Just then, the doctor passed him a book.
“I think a week’s bedrest should be sufficient for you to regain your memories. Here’s something to jog your memory.”
He flipped through the book, only to be greeted by a thick foliage of what appeared to be a numbered list of detailed rules. Cautiously, he got out of bed before slowly walking towards the sliding doors of where the dark-haired one had come in from.
These women are very pretty but, nevertheless, still insane!
As soon as he slid the door open, both women eyed his back warily.
“Hey… Zhennan. Wait there a second…”
Without looking back, he immediately bolted out of there before the dark-haired woman could change her mind. There must be someone outside that could help him!
Many pillars zoomed past him as he ran through the corridors leading out of the building earlier. However, as he ran, it seemed like his heart wasn’t the only thing thumping behind him. Turning around, he was greeted to the sight of the dark-haired woman earlier, only now, she seemed enraged as she chased after him.
“Oh? Seems like you still can run very well, so you were only pretending to be sick?” Her voice was still very calm and tranquil, a stark contrast to the very scary expression she wore on her face. “You better stop running from me now Zhen. Nan.”
It reminded Zhennan of his own mother. Which was all the more the reason not to stop running. If this woman was anything like his mother, he was sure he would not survive if he got caught!
He hopped outside the tiled path and began to run barefoot in the grass. This place was larger than he thought, just how much did he drink last night that he fell unconscious long enough to get abducted to this strange place..? It was too late to wonder that, as he was about to dart into the lush greenery he had spotted before from a distance away, a dark shadow suddenly hovered over him.
It didn’t give him a second longer to look up as a heavy weight pinned him down, effectively rendering him immobile and flattened to the ground. The pain of the impact hit him first, but he struggled in its grasp for a bit before he truly realized what had caught him. If the long, sharp talons affixed on his shoulders didn’t scare the soul out of his body, what came next surely did. A sweltering lick of flame grazed the side of his face, nearly burning his ear off.
That was when he suddenly realized why this place seemed so familiar. The dark-haired woman named Wenyi, why she knew his name, the strange rules and names they’ve recited to him earlier. Slowly turning his head, he squinted at the brightly burning beast on top of him. It was a Phoenix, and just like the one he had read about in the novel just yesterday before passing out, this one had six feathers on its tail, indicating that it was a very ancient creature. Usually, the number of feathers a phoenix has is indicative of how many life cycles they’ve gone through, and oftentimes, the older they are, the more powerful and potentially dangerous.
His sight then flew towards the book he was holding earlier. Now, it lay on the ground but it’s cover title was clearly visible to him, spelling out Secret Vermillion Forest City in four bold, red letters. In the novel that he read, there was a female love interest whom the protagonist rescued from a band of human traffickers. This girl hailed from the Secret Vermillion Forest City, where the people of Herma resided. It is said that their beauty was unrivalled and they descended from angels. It just so happened that the girl also owned a phoenix which might really be this exact one that was right on top of him. After all, it was said in the novel that a six-feathered phoenix was really rare.
Even as he was held down, he could see the dark-haired woman from a distance, at the corner of his eye. Her expression had slightly changed to one of worry, though she still looked angry. Behind her, the doctor from earlier whistled.
“Phew, that’s a big one. Must’ve followed him all the way from the volcano. It was probably attracted to his yang energy.”
The dark-haired woman clicked her tongue before pulling out a long, silver pole. Unlike the intricately designed weaponry that he’s read about in the novel, this one was almost no different to a broomstick’s handle. Only difference was that this equipment probably wasn’t used to take out trash, in the same sense one would to clean their house.
The doctor’s carefree expression also seemed to vanish as soon as she saw the other pull out that polearm.
“Hey Wenyi, don’t be too brash. I’ve signaled for the conservation and rearing department to come and handle this, so put that dangerous thing away.”
Wenyi ignored the other and began to approach the creature that was holding down her precious nephew.
At this point in time, it was just happily trying to groom Zhennan’s long, long hair. Only now did he realize that his neatly gelled hair from last night had become locks that reached past his shoulders. Seems like it had been tied up earlier, but the phoenix’s tongue must’ve broken the string that was holding his hair together. Well, whether the nasty bird was trying to groom or burn off his hair, Zhennan didn’t want to comment. He was wracking his brain, trying to remember if there was any mention in the novel of how the girl had managed to tame the phoenix.
Wenyi didn’t see it that way though. To her, the big monster bird looked like it wanted to turn Zhennan into manure and she was ready to make the phoenix’s seventh feather appear too. Luckily, before she could do anything rash, the aforementioned ‘conservation and rearing’ department really did arrive and rescue Zhennan out of there.
They put out phoenix’s fire, causing it to shrink and turn the size of a sparrow before using some special red cables to bind the bird so it wouldn’t reignite itself or fly away. After that, they covered him in a special blanket before taking the bird away.
He says that he was given a special blanket, but that was only because half his clothes had melted or been burned away so they gave him something to cover up with. Luckily his pants were still intact or else the rest of his pride would no longer be. Surprisingly, his hair and skin were both fine. A little singed, but he was not hurt.
Zhennan wished he could forget about the experience he had just trying to get out from under the fire-bird, but after being embarrassed in front of more beautiful women, he just wants to crawl into a hole and die. Perhaps this was divine retribution for losing those files.
Speaking of those files… just how did he get here? After seeing (and being squished) with his own two eyes, the creature that can only exist in legends, not to mention the magic that the people had used to save him, he could no longer deny that perhaps, this was now his reality.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed that chapter! There’s more to come in the next! There is still much world-building to do, and lore to explain about this strange and mysterious world that our MC has just transmigrated into!
By the way, have you noticed that the title is a play on the well-known chinese idiom “画龙点睛” which directly translates to Drawing a Dragon and dotting its eyes. It’s actually means to add on to perfection. The title which I chose is “猾龙点紧”, which translates to what the english title of the novel is hehe! They both have roughly the same pinyin (are almost pronounced the same way). That’s a bit of trivia for you guys 🙂