You have to feel lucky when you evade a madwoman gunning for your head on a platter. And when you evade her on your own and save three other people with yourself, It is your right to feel proud. But as usual, things were a bit different for me, when my driver’s owner told me we were in a place that separates heaven from hell.
“What?” My eyes bugged out in shock as I tried to look out of the window. There was only one thing there. Darkness. Pure and complete darkness. The only light was on the ceiling of our van and the darkness seemed to eat it when it crossed the threshold of the van. “We are in the veil?” I was still in disbelief as I tried to calm down. Wasn’t the veil like… Thin? How can a boundary be wide enough to accommodate a car? Rocky guessed my confusion and cleared my doubts. “The veil is not as thin as a veil. It is more of a No man’s land between the living world and the underworld. And when you used your aura to accelerate the car to the required speed, you helped me teleport us all to the veil.” I let that sink in. The boundary was not hair thin. That meant with correct alignment of one’s aura he could have teleported here. But what about the dark nothingness? “What is the matter with all that blank space?” Rocky squinted out of the window then sighed. “I miscalculated your aura’s strength. We overshot our destination by almost 23 kilometers. And all you can see is darkness because you are still unregistered in the veil. Be glad that you have a god’s aura or you would be asleep like Princess here.” I nodded as he took out his Mani. He closed his eyes and mumbled something in Sanskrit. There was a glow outside and an arrow mark appeared a little ahead of us. I was also able to see the road we were currently on, to find it made of granite. Rocky came to the front and slapped the gargoyle lightly. “Stop pretending Liam, and get your furry ass here to help me register them. I need a witness.”
Apparently the gargoyle was awake and sighed while he adjusted his legs to go to the middle row. Both of them touched the Mani and started chanting something. Their eyes were closed, and as one, they touched Agnishikha on her forehead first then repeated the same with me. A tingle started at their touch and it traveled like a wave from my scalp to my toes. It felt like something had twisted itself free inside me. I had to stifle a gasp when I looked out. Instead of the pure blackness, there was faint murky white haze over everything. I could only see 10 feet or so.
I looked back when Agnishikha woke up from her slumber yelling something about “Vasu” and pink leather. She quickly noticed us and blushed deeply. “I didn’t say something in my dream, did I?” Rocky looked uncomfortable while Liam forced down a laughter. I grinned at her and said. “Don’t worry. It was only about Vasu in pink leather” Rocky looked horrified as Agnishikha mumbled something about wild dreams. Liam winked at me and we both laughed.
Rocky snapped when his phone started ringing. Network in the veil? I had to get that provider too. He talked briefly then motioned for Liam to get back. He shifted to the drivers seat and restarted the van. Meanwhile Liam took off his shirt and hat. “Princess? Akshat? You will be starting at the Hell academy tomorrow. We are lucky as there is not a single batch after this for a whole month.” Rocky told us pompously. His demeanor changed slightly when he talked to Agnishikha. She hesitated, then asked. “But I don’t have any of my stuff. Are we permitted to shop here in the Veil? And which currency is used here? There are shops here, aren’t they?” Rocky smirked and Liam wheezed. “Don’t fret about it newbies. You shall see it yourself in a bit. And I promise you this much, your jaw will be on the floor when you reach there.”
Liam was true to his word. I was expecting something medieval; like castles and huts or tents and camps. what I saw instead made my head spin. There were five skyscrapers made of steel and glass. Four making the corners of a square and one is its dead centre. The central skyscraper was four times in width as compared to the ones at the boundary. It was also somewhat smaller than the rest. The most remarkable thing about it was that it seemed to be covered in a swirl of colours. Blue, Green and white. The rest of the city ranged from temporary cabins to Villas and Mansions.
Rocky and Liam were smiling cockily at our reaction on seeing the city. True to their words, it was breathtaking. There were a lot of people moving around in the streets. I looked at them and found that they were from every known preternatural race. There were Wizards, Witches, Demons, Dains, Weres, Pishaachas, Betals, and many others I didn’t recognize. I was surprised to find some humans as well as ghosts in the crowd.
Slowly we crawled towards the central tower. The sights were remarkable from the van. We reached the tower in about twenty minutes, and Liam stayed in the car to park it. We approached the tower and a security guy from his looks stepped out to intercept us. rocky smiled at him and held out his hand. “Two new initiates for the Academy.” I thought it odd that Rocky held his hand out for a complete stranger to take. But his purpose became clear as the guard took his hand in his own and went rigid while his eyes got a glassy look. They stayed like that for a few seconds and I shared a glance with Agnishikha. Abruptly the guard left Rocky’s hand and rubbed his own. “Everything is in order. Please proceed.” We smiled at him as we stepped into the coolness of the building’s reception area. Agnishikha looked questioningly at Rocky and he said. “We don’t keep Identity Cards. Our aura is registered into the database of the veil and Any person with a sensory use of aura can track us.” It was a good way to keep track of people since no two persons had the same aura and you cannot copy it. We halted at the reception desk where a middle age woman was working at a paper thin laptop. She said without glancing at us “You know the way to the Head’s office Mr. Parvatesh, and please don’t ask me to call you with that sick nickname of yours. I know that Parvat means mountain but I don’t want to listen to your babbling right now.” She had a faint smile at her lips and Rocky proceeded without saying anything.
We went through a set of passageways to a deep mahogany door with the plaque “HEAD”. Somebody had doodled a head beneath it and the outcome was scary. We were about to knock when a faint thump came from inside followed by a woman’s shriek. “Give me Parvatesh or the next one will be twice as much thick!” We all froze and looked at Rocky. His face was ashen as a grunt came from inside. “Go to hell bitch” followed by another shriek and a crashing sound. It sounded like someone was torturing the head and before we could do anything, Rocky bolted into the room.
It was a mess inside. The first thing I noticed was the high ceiling about 20 metres from ground. The second thing was an old man lying face down on a table with his pants off and a wrinkled women with straight white hair jamming a foot long pipe into his posterior. With a jolt I realized It was the same churail we had escaped from and she was mauling the Head. A thing stream of blood was flowing down his legs and I was glad he was turned away from us so that its source was hidden from our view.
The churail jerked at our entry and an evil smile spread on her face. The head groaned and said “Good timing Mr. Parvatesh.” The churail knocked his face down on the desk and he was knocked out cold. She threw his body across the room and I had a view at something fleshy flailing down his front. He was aroused? Before I could do anything else, a tingle at the base of my neck told me someone was manipulating aura and before I even opened my mouth to cry out a warning, I froze.
It was like I had turned into a statue. I was hardly able to breath with my chest unmoving and my eyes were jammed open. The churail had her wand pointed at us and only one thing came to my mind. Crap!
She hobbled forwards slowly. Her clothes hazy as if made of smoke. She reached Rocky and without any warning, smacked him on his face. He tumbled down like a statue and there was a soft crunch as something broke. It was his finger, taking the brunt of the fall. The churail flicked her wand and he floated to her feet. She looked straight into my eyes and said. “You better choose your side wisely demigod, or you are going to suffer just like him.” With this she took his pinky and snapped it like a twig. I was utterly horrified. How could someone do that to a person? But she was a churail and she gained her power by sacrificing newborns.
I tried to move my aura and throw everything, anything at her. But she laughed as my attempts brought out no effects. She moved her wand to her lips and licked it suggestively. The motion seemed odd, scary for a woman as old as her. Then she bent and broke Rocky’s right index finger. I tried to cry in protest but nothing happened. I was a statue. Completely helpless. She laughed and licked her wand again. “You want to be free? Pledge your loyalty to Decain and you shall find yourself free of any bindings. I tingled at the malice coming from her and was shocked to realize it wasn’t a tingle from her, but a tingle from my ever present anchor.
An idea formed in my mind as she bent down again and with a crack broke his wrist. She laughed merrily and licked her wand again. I had to align my anchor to harm her as much as I could. Before I could do anything, a jaggedly spiked mace appeared in her hand. She waved it in my face and cooed “Last chance”.
As she licked her wand and held it in her mouth and lifted her mace above Rocky’s head, I twinged my anchor towards the ceiling and whooshed towards it. She looked up to find me gone and before she could do anything, I aligned my anchor towards her head.
I dropped towards her like a projectile and she didn’t see me until the last moment, when I collided head on with her and she hadn’t even had a chance to scream. With a thump and tangle of limbs we rolled once, and then I heard a squish and a gurgle. I was on her back and she was lying face down, with Rocky to my right. With a sudden tingle, my paralysis ended and I heard Rocky softly cry out in pain. My body hurt due to the collision too, but I was running on full adrenaline. I shivered as something slipped into me from the churail and I hastily got up and away from her. Agnishikha was on her knees besides Rocky, crying and I yelled at her “Get help you idiot! You can snivel afterwards too!” She shook her head as I backed from the churail and she said “We are safe now. You killed her.” I did what? i looked at the prone churail and there was black blood pooling under her head. A white piece of something was protruding from the base of her skull and I flipped her with my feet to look better. Her eyes were white in shock and her mouth was wide open. In its dead centre was her wand. I had killed the churail by shoving her own wand through her mouth into her skull.
There was a cough from the fallen head and he smiled weakly at me. “I like your first day present, Akshat.”