After sitting for exams four days in a row, Sophia still did quite well. It might have been due to her illness that she was not able to get first place, but she had no problem in making it into the top ten.
Once exams were over, it was the start of winter break so she headed home to enjoy her holidays. That day, Michael had prepared a feast for her at home. Stanley also brought Sean along to join in.
When Michael came out of the study, he found the three of them—Sophia, Stanley, and Sean—playing a game in the living room.
He watched them for a bit and took a look at their group in the game. They were a group of four with one unknown player called ‘Baby Hero’.
Even though the name sounded unfamiliar, he was a skilled player. He easily beat Stanley and the rest. Even when the three of them teamed up, they were still unable to beat him. Useless.
Michael could not contain his curiosity. “Where does this Baby Hero come from? Why haven’t we seen him before?”
Before Sophia could answer, a child chirped from the corner, “Dad, it’s me, Nicholas! I can play games now too!”
Michael walked up to take a closer look and noticed that his robotic arm was connected to the USB port of the computer. In the game, Baby Hero was having a three-on-one match with them.
While Sophia was playing, she said, “Linus upgraded Nicholas. He can play games now. You can add him on Messenger too and message him about anything; he will reply to you.”
That is just unheard of!
When Michael took out his phone and logged in to Messenger, he noticed that there were two more people in their seven-member gaming group. One was Daniel, and the other was the newcomer Baby Hero. He even left his own message: ‘I love Mommy, Daddy, and Nate!’
His display picture was a group photo of him and Nathan.
Baby Hero automatically added Michael as a friend.
Baby Hero: ‘Dad!’
Michael was baffled. He is a real robot. He can chat in the gaming group while still battling Sophia in the game.
Baby Hero: ‘Uncle Harry, Mr. Eighty Thousand. Come and play a game of mahjong!’
Harry: ‘You have my respect! I’m scared of you. I’m not going. I’m going to lose my underwear as well at this point.’
Daniel: ‘Can you stop bringing up that eighty thousand? Are you all hoping to use this against me for the rest of my life? Call me Daniel or Uncle Daniel.’
Baby Hero: ‘Okay, Mr. Eighty Thousand. No problem, Mr. Eighty Thousand.’
Daniel: ‘Linus, teach your robot properly, will you?’
Linus: ‘Haha. Sorry, Mr. Eighty Thousand. I may have written the program, but some of the data was keyed in by Sophia. Not my problem.’
With the phone in his hand, Michael switched between sneaking glances at the robot and at Sophia who was gaming.
This technology irks me!
His Messenger notification went off. It was a message from Baby Hero, ‘Daddy, what are you stealing glances at me for?’
Oh my god!
When the blissful winter break started, the family of three made their way to Riverdale to spend the holidays. Their car stopped at the entrance of what once was Harper’s Mansion but now was the Edwards Residence. Stepping out of the car with the dog behind him, Nicholas cried, “Wow! Such a big house! I’m going to live in a big house now! I’m so happy!”
Michael could not shake off the feeling that the robot was a spy and felt slightly apprehensive around it. Hence, he subconsciously tried to keep some distance between them.
Wrapped up in her fur coat, Sophia entered the Edwards Residence and was greeted by a patch of red as all the plum blossoms had bloomed. The big blossoms had fallen and piled up on the ground, contrasting with the white snow. It was a picturesque sight.
Ever since they took over this place, Michael did not make any big changes to it. Once in a while, he sent someone over to clean. It was normally left empty or rented out, to film crews that he was familiar with, to use.
Some of the shots in the documentary film were taken here.
Since the plum blossoms were in bloom now, they were able to admire the snow and flowers.
Taking Sophia’s hand, Michael entered the plum blossom forest with her. The flowers were falling endlessly. Nicholas had run off into the distance with the dog, leaving behind a string of paw prints and wheel imprints in the ground.
Standing under the falling flowers, Sophia caught one and took a sniff of it. The fragrance rushed up to her nose and she looked up to take in the intoxicating scent.
From behind her, Michael watched the plum blossoms fall onto her face and lips. It seemed like she was exuding a divine radiance around her and her soul was drenched in the fragrance of falling plum blossoms.
The family of three had planned to stay there for a few days. There were many helpers both inside and outside of the residence.
Today, someone had hesitated and lingered around at the entrance of the Edwards Residence. His messy footprints were left all over the snow.
Richard Harper had come alone. But looking at the piece of property that was once his, he no longer had the courage to move forward.
That property once belonged to the Harper Family. That piece of property had witnessed a hundred glorious years under the Harper Family. The house was still the same as before, and even the bus stop nearby was still named after Harper’s Mansion. However, the owners of the place had changed a long time ago. It felt as though the Harper Family’s era was now over.
Gazing at the house, Richard thought he could see the past glorious days of the Harper Family, but it was now gone forever.
A while later, he mustered up the courage to walk up and knock on the big, red door. He wanted to visit the new owners of the place. If they had the chance to get close, he would make that place his again.
After just a couple of knocks, a response came from inside.
“Who is it?”
The person who opened the door was dressed in black and was wearing black sunglasses—he looked very unusual.
Richard presented a friendly smile and said, “I’m Richard Harper, the son of the previous owner of this place. I wanted to visit the new owners here.”
The man in black eyed him a few times, then let him in. “Please, come in.”
As Richard followed the man in black inside, he walked past the familiar landscape and still felt the same atmosphere the place used to have. It still had the same magnificence, but it did not have the same owners anymore. Feelings of desolation grew within him.
When they made it to the previous Harper’s Mansion and entered the previous Harper Family’s living room, Richard sat in there as a guest.
“One moment, please, Mr. Harper. Madam will be here shortly.”
The housekeeper left after bringing him a cup of hot tea. Sitting on the soft cushion, he realized that the interior and furniture did not change one bit. It still had the classic and quaint style to it. The red wooden furniture with gold lining still looked the same as before
He got up and started walking around. Looking outside the window, he could see the plum blossom garden and the small lake not too far away. There was also a stone bridge over the lake. The white snow along with the red flowers gave the place a picturesque view. He used to roam in that plum blossom forest, but today, that was all history.
While he was deep in thought, he spotted something moving in the snow. It was a Samoyed playing in the snow.
The robot had an umbrella in one hand and a leash in the other as he walked the dog in the snow.
Richard thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. Focusing once more, however, he still saw a robot walking a dog.
The weather was freezing, but the dog wanted to go out for a walk. If the owner did not want to budge, then it was up to the robot to walk the dog.
At that moment, Richard broke into a cold sweat and re-evaluated his perception of the fortune and power this new owner had.
A robot walking the dog. This isn’t something just any wealthy family can do.