Life is interesting when you are a reaper. It becomes exciting when you have to flee everyday to stay alive. You might be an adrenaline junkie and like it when it goes a step further and you find that the people who you were running to are bigger bad guys than the ones following you. I don’t care how much adventure loving you are, but when it goes a step further and you are hunted by gods, I strongly advice it is the time to change your field of work.
But for me, it was impossible. Once a reaper, always a reaper. I was hiding below a van from a god looking for the bounty upon my head. I was inside a protective square-circle kind of something drawn by a Naaga’s Mani to protect us. The demon princess, the gargoyle and the Naaga himself was staring at me. I was waiting for the moment when they throw me out of their circle to save their lives. Breaking the awkward silence the gargoyle croaked.
“I think he’s gone.” Rocky looked sharply at Liam and he cowered immediately. Agnishikha cleared her throat and said. “Why did you made this circle Vasu? There are more strong circles which could have been made perfectly during the available time.” She looked embarrassed and I frowned at Rocky. His ears became red and he sputtered while saying “I did not mean anything princess. It is not what you think. Stronger circles wouldn’t have gotten ignored.” He was blushing furiously at the end and I looked at Liam to find him looking confused as well. Rocky tried to finish whatever he was talking about with Agnishikha and motioned us out. We all crawled back outside but stayed within the drawn figure. Liam asked “What did Princess mean about the circle?” Rocky went red and tried to smack Liam. “Knock it off! Will you? Its nothing” Liam bobbed out of his reach and looked utterly lost. I also wanted to know, so I asked Agnishikha. “What is all this fuss about that circle?” She blushed and glanced at Rocky nervously. He turned away, embarrassed. Agnishikha hesitated for a moment then said. “The circle Vasu used to cloak us was not for protection. It is made when an Icchhadhari Naaga mates. It is supposed to keep the mating couple out of probings of mundanes. A being possessing aura intentionally avoids it since interrupting a mating Naaga can be disastrous. I really don’t know why he made that circle instead of a protected one.”
She wasn’t meeting my eyes but I got it. She must have always dreamt of being in that circle with her crush, and now it had become true. But I liked the Naaga’s thinking as well. The hunters would be looking for either me unprotected or in a heavily protected area. No one would look twice at a mating circle. I smiled at Rocky and gave him a thumbs-up. He sighed and slumped.
Liam was collecting the residuals off the figure. Three out of four candles were almost intact and the fourth was half spent. Before I could say anything, Liam said. “The single burnt candle means aura somewhat equal to a minor god. It was probably some sort of messenger or a highly powerful immortal.” I nodded at his abilty to almost read my mind. He resumed on erasing the square first, then the circle.
“Where was he from, Liam?” The Naaga asked while rummaging in the trunk. Liam looked thoughtful for a moment and then his eyes went glassy for a second. They turned back to normal when he blinked. “She was a local. Not a goddess but a very powerful churail.” Liam told him and he groaned. “Please tell me she had a flying carpet?” Liam’s eyed went glassy again. Then he replied “No. She wasn’t on a carpet. She was manipulating her aura to fly.” He looked scared when he stopped erasing the last part of the circle and turned to Rocky. “It was her, wasn’t she?” Rocky faced Liam and sat to his level. “Don’t worry Liam. I wouldn’t let her touch you.” Liam looked positively scared. He shuddered and his ears slumped. He looked at Rocky then wheezed. “Don’t worry Rocky. I am not scared of her anymore.” But the little two-feet creature looked utterly shaken. Rocky slapped his back in a friendly way anfLiam perked up. But his ears were still slumped.
Agnishikha came to our side of the van and asked the Naaga. “Who is this she Vasu? And why is Liam scared of her? ” I wanted to know that too. Liam and Rocky glanced at each other and nodded. Liam turned to us and there was fear and determination in his eyes as he said “She is a churail of a side branch of the Shoorpa demon clan. Her name is Nakhila and she was my previous mistress.”
There was a silence as it sinked in. That was why there was a companionship between Liam and Rocky. Usually gargoyles remained slaves for life, which was forever, considering their immortality. A gargoyle can be freed only if his saviour tricks him from his previous master out of pure goodwill. If there is even a little bit of selfishness for the rescue, the gargoyle will be slaved to the saviour instead. Such events occured rarely and I was lucky to stand before Liam.
Before I could say anything, Agnishikha asked “That’s why you are here in India, is that right Liam?” Liam nodded at her. “Due to the lesser extent of christianity in India, there is only place for three gargoyles in the country. I was only 27 when I was yanked from the doorstep of my church at Goa. That churail was an ugly thing and used me for all sort of evil recon. Until the day she tried to trick a Naaga into giving her his Mani and lost me instead. He was Rocky’s father.” Agnishikha looked surprised. “Vasu? Parvatesh freed him? But i thought he was as evil as my father, being his personal bodyguard! ” Rocky looked surprised. Agnishikha realized too late that she had talked about her father and tried to mumble an apology and stopped midway. By the way she was jerking It made me seriously think that the demon princess had a coil inside her. Rocky smiled at her. “So you finally found out? I am glad that you did. My father was hard only at his work. You will never find a more gentler person than him. He stayed with the Lord all the time to soften his cruel ideas as much as he could.”
Everything was packed and Rocky motioned us all into the van. Agnishikha sat next to rocky in the middle row and I sat shotgun with Liam driving. He put on his headphones and glasses again and we were once more on the road.
I was thinking about my gold aura. None of them had said a word about it. I was glad that they hadn’t thrown me out yet, but taking chances was not my specialty. I turned back and just as I opened my mouth, a tingle at the back of my neck warned me about a danger coming. I looked sharply through the left window as both demons did the same. Our aura had warned us about another being with it and Liam nervously set his headphone down. “Its her”. He squeaked. How did she find us I didn’t know. Rocky swore loudly and told Liam. “Evacuation Liam. Full force.” Liam didn’t look sure. “We don’t have time to go that fast Rocky.” Rocky was under the pack seat and when he returned he has a silver hoop of i foot radius with him. He motioned us to hold it and turned to Liam. “We are not doing this by fuel. We are doing this by our aura.”
Liam wrapped his tail around the hoop as he lurched to avoid a stopped car. We missed barely by a hair’s breath, but the witch hit it head-on in her madness to follow us. She was flying like a bat with a purplish haze round her. “Put whatever you can into the loop. i shall tune it to increase the van’s speed.” I looked at him questionally and he said hurriedly. “We have to reach 163 kmph before the churail hits us. Hold on tight and lend me your aura.” I was about to argue but the princess beat me to it. “And what happens when we reach163?” She was almost mocking. Almost. Rocky huffed and replied. “It will take us through our aura from here to our destination. We need speed to match the frequency required for the jump.” I smiled and put my hands on the van. Slowly I aligned my anchor to the front of the vehicle and it accelerated. I glanced back to see the churail an inch from the van and we vanished.
It was dark where we had landed. The tingle of travelling still clung tightly to me. The overhead light flickered on and rocky slumped in relief. “We lost her.” He said. Liam and Agnishikha had eyes closed and hands folded. They seemed to be asleep. “What is this place, Rocky?” I asked and with a mischievous smile he replied.
“We are between heaven and hell Akshat. We are in the veil.”