"Mom, I'm kind of nervous because this will be my first time flying alone. Do you think I'll be fine?", Vanessa asked her mom while twirling her long blond hair nervously.
"I won't be able to see you till next week.", she continued.
Vanessa's mother gently held her hand in response.
"You'll be fine since we'll keep in contact, okay? I'll Facetime you after I get off work later, okay?"
Vanessa still felt slightly nervous but somehow, most of the discomfort passed after watching her mother's radiant and innocent smile. Vanessa's mother was the type of person that could immediately light up the room with a seemingly simple smile and say the perfect words for any situation.
"I'll send you a text the moment I land in Norway then, have a good day at work mom!" Vanessa smiled back.
"Have a safe trip, honey! Be nice to your uncle and make sure to take pictures."
And as the mother and daughter duo started to separate and go on their ways, none of them could imagine what kind of awful events were going to ensue on the plane trip...
"So this is it. We're about to die," a middle-aged man with a skinny face and slicked-back hair said as he looked out of the plane window at the sea below.
Most people around Vanessa were anxious and outright terrified but very few appeared calmer than the others.
"Stop talking George and just pray.", an elderly woman said to the middle-aged man. She seemed calm, but she had a somewhat tense aura around her. Her forehead was practically dripping with beads of sweat.
"It'll be over before you know it," a seemingly youthful man said in a foreign accent Vanessa couldn't recognize.
While Vanessa sat quietly in her seat and looked out of the window, her stomach started to churn and a myriad of thoughts started to flood her mind. The left wing of the plane was partially destroyed and burning. As the wing gradually turned into more and more debris, she saw that there was nothing but sea around them. They were stuck between the UK and Norway with no land in sight and it was as if the sea was moving closer and closer.
Slowly, all the screams and sounds of terror faded away for Vanessa as the plane spiraled out of control.
The thought that she could be experiencing the last moments of her life filled her with the most horrible anxiety she had ever experienced in her life because she didn't want to die. At the same time though, a large part of her was extremely thankful because she had lived and experienced at least a small part of life.
Though, she still felt like it was way too soon for her time.
Suddenly, the elderly woman beside Vanessa started screaming and grabbed her arm. The plane started to shake more and more violently, but as Vanessa started to feel panicked again, she looked at the scared old woman beside her. She had completely broken out of her façade of being calm and the man called George was seemingly passed out.
Weirdly enough for Vanessa, she resembled an older version of her mother with snow-white hair instead of blond hair and a more weathered face. Vanessa was too out of it to make out what she was saying in the chaos, but her having a resemblance to her mother made her feel unnaturally calm again. Her mother's infectious positivity continued to remain a ray of light even in the darkness of her death.
All of a sudden the realization hit her. They were going to hit the sea in a few fleeting moments. She was going to die. And as she closed her eyes for the last time in this lifetime and hugged the elderly woman back, she thought to herself, "This life was too short, at least let me be born as a princess or something nice to make up for it next time!" After a split second of excruciating pain and sounds, everything fell silent.
Unexpectedly, after a brief period, she felt the sensation of falling and floating at the same time and she could also feel something resembling the sea breeze hitting her face.
"What the hell?"
As she cautiously opened her eyes, she saw that she was falling down a pool of ink with no end in sight. And as if the situation wasn't strange enough, she could faintly hear unintelligible mumbling all around her. Vanessa still tried to keep her calm, but it was getting harder and harder to do so as time went on.
"Is someone there?", she asked slightly unnerved.
"You're dead.", a monotone voice responded, louder than the other mumbling voices she could hear. It felt as if it was coming from all around her and somehow, even from inside her.
"Obviously, who are you?"
Another more high-pitched version of the voice chimed in, seemingly from her left ear.
"You might be confused for a while. This whole process can be overwhelming for some. Don't try to force anything, just let it happen."
And as the voice finished its sentence, her vision started to fade as if something had clouded her eyes. All she could see was absolute darkness.
"You're not going to be dead for long though, you're merely transitioning.", a low-pitched version of the voice said seemingly from her feet.
Then, even the sound of the other mumbling voices started to fade. It was all so strange to her. "Wait, where am I going?"
"You don't need to worry about that, you've been accepted.", the first voice said to her, still echoing from all around her.
"What do you mean accepted?"
None of the voices responded. Even the feeling of the cool sea breeze and falling vanished. She felt truly alone in the void of darkness.
"Well, wherever I'm going can't get worse than hell I suppose.", and with that last thought, she felt the final vestiges of her consciousness slipping away...
After an undetermined amount of time, a faint light came into her sight. The light felt warm and welcoming to her and shone brighter and brighter as she approached it. But as she approached this silvery white tunnel of light, she could sense a malevolent presence waiting for her at the end. She didn't know what it was but something about it frightened her to the core.
On the other side of the tunnel, she could make out a pair of voices very faintly. They weren't speaking words that she could understand, but the tone and urgency of their speech was unmistakable.
Abruptly, she felt a second malevolent presence lurking nearby. She couldn't see it but she could sense it watching her from a distance. The presence she felt at first felt strange in comparison, but this one felt stronger than the first one and unnervingly, much colder. A feeling of dread overtook her as she continued to uncontrollably glide forward, leaving the vengeful presence behind.
The tunnel began closing in around her and she realized that the light was not ahead of her, it was below her all along. She tried to reach out with her hands to break her fall but found herself passing through the light and continuing to fall. The voices she heard got louder, but she still couldn't make out what they were saying.
Her face grew hot then rapidly cold and as she fell through what seemed like clouds, and landed face first in the water. There was no splashing sound and the impact that should have been there, was not there at all. The distant voices grew even louder, to the point where she felt like they were about to deafen her, but were still incomprehensible, almost like they were in another language.
The water was crystal clear and looked like it was bottomless. The space she was in was filled with nearly blinding light. As she tried to paddle with her hands and feet, she felt like she was not moving forward. It also felt like there was no force dragging her downwards as she stayed partially submerged. The water was still flowing calmly all around her as if she was stuck in place.
Without warning, the water got hotter and hotter until the pain was unbearable. She shrieked as her skin began to burn and crackle. Strangely enough, the water did not even show signs of being heated up. Her skin bubbled and peeled off in large sheets as her entire body began to turn black and crisp like a burnt steak.
A figure materialized out of thin air and watched her blackened body burn. The figure then swooped down to her side and gently touched her burnt body with a finger.
The finger went through her body and into the water beneath her chest. He pulled it back out and examined his fingertip. It was stained by a slight purple color.
"Undying? No, it's not quite that...", he said to himself.
"Just as I thought...", he sighed.
Vanessa gasped as she began to feel her skin start to regenerate. It was a very uncomfortable process however after it was done she felt more alive than she had ever felt.
She looked herself over. Her skin was back to its regular pale shade. She wiggled her fingers and toes and found that all her body parts had been more than restored to normal. She was practically glowing with energy at this point.
"Interesting...", the man said to himself.
Vanessa looked up and saw a young man, no older than twenty staring down at her. He wore a black robe and a silver ring on every finger. His skin was deathly pale and he had slicked back black hair. He looked back at her with dark circles around his bright red eyes.
"Hello.", he said to her with a strangely glowing grin.
Aihan is a continent where mankind has trained and refined the Art for thousands of years. In their quest for immortality and godhood, early cultivators created many methods and approaches to train body and mind. Great sects grew and eventually split and splintered into countless other sects.
The generations have left behind a world where martial prowess and cultivation is the norm. Many bigger sects have divided further and further into more sects, and the current cultural landscape is one of fantastic academies and sects for everything from swordplay to magic and more.
Follow Jian Li as she starts her journey in this foreign and dangerous but exciting new world!