Gargoyles are creatures of churches. They either live under the protection of a holy man or are slaves to demons. A free gargoyle is open game for everyone who wants complete knowledge of aura around them. Since there are hardly any Christians in India, and lesser in north India, finding a gargoyle is a rare occurrence. Well… if a gargoyle finds you, then its even rarer.
I was gaping at him, my eyes wide as coins. I completely forgot about the demon beside me until she hissed at the gargoyle and tried to catch him through the bars.
“I knew you were following me!”
I hastily aligned myself to face both of them at once. It was strange that I had exposed my back to a demon. Our similar auras must have caused this. The gargoyle was sheepish when he perched on the door of the van.
“It was for your own good, princess.”
I glanced at the demon. Princess? That explained a lot about her story. I turned at the sound of a man entering the van. He was garbed in black from head to toe. But it were his eyes which told me he was an Icchhadhari Naaga, were-snakes for the rest of the world. They were native shape-shifters of India. His eyes were pure gold and slanted as all reptiles. Grace flowed from his every movement. The demon beside me stared wide eyed at him.
“Vasu! I thought you were dead! They even showed me your dead body sent back from the plains! What are you doing here?”
Apparently she was quite friendly with him and hugged him when he opened the crate to let us out. They were busy hugging and I was trying to find escape routes when the gargoyle turned to me.
“Don’t leave Akshat. You are not safe.”
Right. As if i didn’t know about the cell hunting me. The gargoyle studied my expression and held out his tiny hand to me.
“You can call me Liam. I have been following you for quite a while and you really impressed me with that train stunt of yours. I was about to jump in to save your neck but you managed it yourself quite fine.”
I shook his cool hand and turned to the Icchhadhari. He was looking at me and smiled. “You are one brave fellow, you know that? I am Vasuki Parvatesh. But you can call me Rocky.” I shook his hand to find it warm. Not cold like other Naagas. He looked at my gaze and winked.
“Its a curse of a Churail. Don’t worry about it.”
But I saw worry in his eyes. It was not natural for a Naaga to have warm blood. It was opposite to their every natural instinct. Liam landed on his shoulder.
“I presume you have acquainted yourselves with each other?”
He said looking at me and the demon. Before I could say anything she replied.
“Not really, but he is an interesting one.” She turned towarda the Naaga and continued “Hey Vasu! Did you know all they teach us about the reapers is crap? And we are considered monsters here. And they also have no idea about any of our classes or clans.”
She seemed eager to talk to the Naaga, and by the spark in her eyes, it might be that she had a crush on him. I was left out and felt very un-informed.
“Exactly who are you guys? And why did you help me? The way she was reacting to me made me think you demons consider us savages. And what about the Hell academy?”
The Naaga looked at me and folded his hands in a formal namaste.
“I am the personal bodyguard of the royal family of the Raavana demon clan. The lady here is Princess Agnishikha, heir to the royal family. We have been looking for individuals like you having a mixed parentage. And I would be deeply sorry to inform you that the Reaper Cell knows about the Xanthis army and are on their side.”
I didn’t know what to say. I simply couldn’t forget what I had been told about demons and the ones I had seen in the reaper cell prisons. These two here were a lot more civilized. They could have easily passed as normal human beings. And I felt a strange kinship between me and the female demon. But what they were saying was completely absurd. The reaper cell hunted demons. I have been trained all my life to hunt them. The only odd thing being there had been no visits of the Yamadooots since my arrival in the Cell. When I thought about it from the demons’ point of view, I definitely found a pattern. We were sent to specific areas to hunt specific demons a lot lately. The Cell’s activity kept going less and less as the demon activity grew. And they sent only a few chosen reapers to hunt the demons. With a jolt I realized my three assassins were also from that group. Their story explained a lot, but I simply couldn’t believe a demon, could I?
The Naaga looked at my indecision and said.
“You don’t need to believe me right now. I cannot expect you to do so. But I can show you the proof if you accompany me.” The gargoyle bobbed his head in agreement. The female demon was looking at me expectantly. I was not an idiot to walk in a demon’s lair, but they could have killed, tortured, and hurt me a lot if they wanted to. The night was quite and they could have gotten away quite easily. But I needed some proof of goodwill if I was going willingly with them.
“I will go with you.” Their faces looked eager as I scanned them. My gaze stopped at the Naaga’s face. “But as a proof of goodwill I want your Naaga-Mani” A Naaga’s life force was connected to its Mani. The more power the Mani held, more powerful the Naaga became. Everyone looked at me stunned. The female looked outrageous and was about to say something when the Naaga snorted and took out a bright green crystal from his inner pocket. He tossed it at me and I caught it. I felt the strong amount of aura emanating from it. It was like touching a rock of water and i felt it slip in my hand. I looked at the Naaga and saw him like he originally was. without the aura giving him a more human like appearance , he almost looked like a snake now. His eyes were more pronounced and his scarred face had a tinge of green in it. He slipped his tongue out and I shuddered finding it forked. I threw the Mani back at him. He looked shocked, surprised and there was a hint of admiration in his eyes as I motioned him to keep it.
“I am not a monster as you people think. I just wanted to see your honesty.” The gargoyle laughed and the princess stared at me wonder in her eyes. the Naaga was smiling and to escape the babbling, I asked him.
“So… where do you want to take me? To see the proof? Somewhere here in Kolkata?” I was in Kolkata and the area was called Sonagachi. “The first thing we should do is to make your trail cold so that the IRC doesn’t follow you.” The Naaga said and the gargoyle groaned. “Oh come on Rocky. I don’t want to puke anymore.” I was a little unhinged by the gargoyle talking to his demon master in such a way. They always used ‘Master’ in a sentence addressed to their owners. The Naaga smiled devilishly and turned to face the female.
“Watch it closely, Princess. This is how I orchestrated my death.” He moved a few paces back and drew an equilateral triangle on the ground with a stick. Then he started mumbling in Sanskrit and touched his Mani to every apex of the triangle. The Mani seemed to leave some of its greenish glow on the ground each time it touched the triangle. He motioned me forward and to give him my hair. He had trusted me with his Mani, which is considered to be a Naaga’s soul. I knew that body parts were powerful tool in demon magic. But I had to return his trust and I plucked a few hairs from my head and handed him. He touched my hair with the Mani and chanting in Sanskrit, put them on the three glowing points on the ground. He retreated slowly from the triangle and made a circle around it with His Mani. It left a blackish part near my hair and I watched it closely to find it the same colour as my aura. He stepped back a few more places and stowed his Mani back into his pocket. He stopped chanting and closed his eyes in concentration. The air became still around us and every sound seemed to die. I could clearly hear my heartbeat and looked around nervously. The gargoyle was sitting on the van, and the Princess was staring at the figure on the ground with wide eyes. The Naaga suddenly jerked open his eyes and collapsed at my feet. The female demon started to move forward as me but the hair at the back of my hair tickled and instead of going to the unconscious Naaga, I grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the triangle. I had barely moved five feet when I heard a loud rumble from the sky and looked up find a pure golden thunderbolt heading straight for me.
The area washed in pure golden brilliance and it hurt my eyes even when I had shut them close. The lightning didn’t struck me. The triangle was hit. Their was a tremendous boom of explosion and we all were thrown backwards. I hit the side of the van and my breath whooshed out when the Naaga landed upon me. Just as quick as the lightning had come, it vanished and we slid to the ground. i waited for a few seconds waiting for the pain to hit. But nothing was broken and I slowly sat up. The triangle was covered in smoke and i looked for the princess. She was also slowly getting up and hobbled to me when she noticed me. There was a rattle from within the van and the gargoyle crept out. His eyes were wide with fear and shock as he stared at me.
The Naaga coughed and slowly opened his eyes.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He croaked. I helped him get up against the van and the Princess got him a bottle of water. He leaned on the van and stared at me. He took a sip and coughed.
“What was it Vasu?” The princess was truly scared. He pointed at me.
“It was his aura. The aura in his three hairs.” I snorted. “Excuse me?” I said. “If you haven’t looked already, My aura is black. I am a reaper you idiot. Not a god.” Only Gods had gold auras. Goddesses had silver. The Naaga seemed unfazed.
“No. Look at the triangle” He pointed at it and I looked. I was shocked to see my body lying there in the clearing smoke, burnt and battered. Their was no trace of the triangle. “I used the aura in your hair to replicate your body. The bolt was the colour of your aura and the power it contained was the amount in your three strands of hair.” I looked at him to see if he was joking. But their was genuine fear in his eyes. The female demon looked confused. “But Vasu. He has the same aura as mine. The amount is same too. How can some one change his aura? Its not possible.” She was right. But my body and the lighting said otherwise. “Changing the aura is not possible. But binding it? It can be done.” It was the gargoyle speaking. All of us looked at him questioningly. He inched closer to me and looked right into my eyes. “Your aura is black because it is bound. Someone didn’t want you to use your full potential and I agree with him.” I was utterly shocked. MY aura was not mine? Was it some kind of joke? But before I could say anything The female demon asked. “But why would anyone want him not to reach his full potential?” The gargoyle sighed and turned to her. “You saw how much power his hair contained. He could have blown an entire country by mistake if he had his full aura.” The gargoyle took my hand and closed his eyes. He shuddered at what he was doing. Gargoyles can discovered everything about a person by reading their aura. They were handy to have with, as they could scan anyone by scanning the area to find someone with distinct aura. He opened his eyes and said.
“I have read your aura Akshat. The reason your aura is gold and was bound, is in your history. Your great-grandfather is a living god.”