As Edouard’s eyelids fluttered shut, the world around him faded into the calm embrace of sleep. His breathing slowed, and he drifted into a deep, enveloping slumber, one that seemed to pull him into another realm altogether. Time lost its meaning, and reality blurred at the edges.

After what felt like an eternity, Edouard’s eyes fluttered open. He found himself lying in his bed, the morning light casting a soft glow through the curtains. He rose, a sense of unease nagging at the back of his mind. It was as if he had awoken from a dream within a dream, the line between reality and illusion momentarily blurred.

He walked to his father’s room, his steps hesitant, his heart heavy with a foreboding sense of loss. The door creaked open, revealing an empty, cold space. Klaus, his father, was nowhere to be seen. A pang of worry shot through Edouard; his father was always there in the mornings, his presence a constant in the otherwise shifting sands of Edouard’s world.

He began a methodical search of the house, moving from room to room with increasing urgency. Each empty space added to his growing sense of dread. The silence of the house echoed around him, a stark contrast to the usual morning bustle.

Entering a seldom-used room, Edouard was met with an unusual sight. The floor was covered in a shallow layer of water, its surface still and reflective, like a mirror to another world. Hesitantly, he took a step forward, and the floor gave way beneath him. He fell, seemingly endlessly, into a large pit.

Landing softly on a damp ground, he found himself in a surreal, subterranean world. The air was cool and moist, and the sound of dripping water echoed off the stone walls. In the dim light, he noticed a wooden chair with an old, worn book resting upon it.

Drawn to the book, Edouard approached the chair, his footsteps splashing in the shallow water. He picked up the book, its cover worn and pages yellowed with age. As he opened it, he was greeted by pictures of himself and his family, their smiles frozen in time. But alongside the familiar images were words in a foreign script, mysterious and indecipherable.

He pored over the pages, each photograph a gateway to memories long buried. There he was, a younger version of himself, laughing in his father’s arms. Another page showed a family holiday, the sun setting over a tranquil sea. But as he delved deeper, the memories turned bitter. Images of arguments, of doors slamming, of his father’s increasingly distant gaze.

A surge of anger welled up inside Edouard. He tore the pages from the book, his heart racing with a mix of sorrow and rage. The memories, once sweet, now turned to ash in his hands. He cried out, a primal sound of pain and loss echoing in the cavernous space.

His eyes caught sight of a matchbox on the chair. He picked it up, hands trembling, and struck a match. The small flame flickered in the darkness, casting eerie shadows on the walls. In a moment of despair, he threw the lit match onto the book, watching as the flames consumed the pages, the images curling and blackening in the heat.

The fire spread quickly, the dry pages serving as perfect kindling. Edouard’s gaze was fixed on the growing blaze when he saw a figure bound to a wooden pole amidst the flames. It was his father, Klaus, his hands and feet tied, his eyes wide with fear.

As the flames reached the wooden pole, his father began to scream, the sound piercing the air and shattering Edouard’s heart. “I wish you were here,” Edouard sobbed, his voice lost in the roar of the fire.

Suddenly, as if responding to his plea, the flames extinguished. The room fell into darkness, the only light now coming from a faint, ethereal glow. Turning around, Edouard saw a figure walking towards him, a silhouette in the dimness.

It was his mother, her presence both comforting and haunting. Edouard wanted to run to her, to embrace her, but he found himself frozen, unable to move or speak.

“Don’t let your hatred blind you, my child,” she said, her voice echoing softly. “Hatred will take everything from you, burn your world to the ground. Give your father a chance. He cares for you, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. Don’t stand in the way of forgiveness. Remember, I’ll always be with you.”

Her words resonated in Edouard’s heart, a mix of pain and hope stirring within him. As he closed his eyes, a tear trickled down his cheek.

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