Sneak peek into the Last Army

Let me give you a sneak peek into the Last Army.

Man is hollow,
Life is a shell,
Don’t you dare say,
that All is Well.

-the Prophet Joshua

3017, The arrival

Joshua was hiding beneath the rubble. He was holding his breath, body tensed for the moment they discover him. It was his ill luck to fall asleep in a basement while foraging. Fires from the last battle were still hot when he had risked himself to get a fortune of weapons and armor; and now he was trapped. It was one of the bigger battles he had seen in his 473 years. A god and a very dillapilated group of defenders had assembled to waylay a contingent of foot, to find themselves trapped within two flanks of cavalry. The battle was short & brutal. Not even a single one of the defenders had been able to escape. And when they killed the god, even a mere mortal like him had been able to feel it from miles away & he had immediately departed to arrive at the massacre scene as soon as possible.

But a box full of canned food had found its way into hia hands and he didn’t try to save for later. So he ate and ate, and finally settled into the basement to sleep. But when he woke up, he discovered that an even larger army of darklings was camped over him, and the basement was right beneath the command centre.

He heard the footsteps recede as a voice called out. “All clear. Bring him in.” Joshua sagged with relief at these words and thanked the gods; if any of them was left.

He stiffened at the sound of more feet and a raspy voice called out “Good Evening, lord. I see that you have….” The voice was interrupted with a bang of flesh on wood. A heavy male voice called out “Don’t try my patience, slave. Tell me why have you abandoned your post, and begone.” His words were followed by silence and Joshua heard someone shuffle. “As you wish, Lord. Their army is divided into 6 legions and the fourth is about to appear in the mortal realm within the hour, at exactly where we are. I took the liberty of making them believe that no more than 5000 darklings are stationed here. They will find a surprise when they arri…” This time the voice was interrupted by a swish, a thud, a swish, bang and a groan. Then silence.

Seconds passed by. Then the heavy male voice called out, with a definite hint of fear. “W-who a-are you? ” A swish and a thunk sounded and a voice called out. “I am Akshat, scout of the 47th legion.” It paused then continued “Remember this Joshua,” Joshua became still as a rock. “We are thousands, and when you will look at what happened up here, do not forget that I was only one. Hope is not yet lost. the Last Army survives” Then there were sounds of receding footsteps. How had that person known Joshua was beneath the floor? And what had he done to the others? Joshua was just thinking about creeping out for a look when he saw & heard; rather felt the biggest explosion he had seen in his life. Of pure Golden light, it made the earth shake like a thresher and Joshua thought of only one thing before the rubble hit him on his head. Akshat was not someone to mess with.

Stories about the prophet had many beginings. Most of them are quite close to the truth. The Prophet Joshua emmerged from the ground with blood smeared on his face and saw around him in every direction he could see – heaps and heaps of dead bodies; darkling bodies. He remembered even then, “The Last Army survives.”

When friends are murdered by Gods – Ch 22

Have you ever come across Déjà vu anytime in your life? Sometimes people tend to think they know something that is going to happen before it happens. It might be a slight premonition in form of a dream or it might actually have happened with you already. Such occurrences can make a person amazed or they might make him unsettled. I, living in a whole different sort of community; obviously fell into the latter category.

“Wake up dude! You are going to miss the breakfast!” A loud voice rattled me out of my fitful slumber. I was huddled in a corner of my room with a blanket wrapped around me and my table was positioned like a bunker wall. I had had one of the nightmares which compelled me to hide in the corner of the room to hide from the collapse. The problem was that there was no collapse. “Do whatever you wish man. I did my job.” There was a last bang of Utkarsh’s fists on the door and then receding footsteps told me he had left. I sighed and slowly got up to get dressed for the day.

A good six months had passed since my imprisonment in Lord Varun’s prison dimension. On my second day here, I had the bad luck of coming across a screaming banshee, and it resulted in a nightmare so severe that I still can’t sleep without waking up in sweats. The eeriness of the similarities between my arrival in the Veil and the Blue Hell was quite unsettling. I was enrolled in an almost army like institution, was provided accommodations; and finally I was given a loan. The prison city, which I came to know was called the Blue Hell by its inhabitants; was slightly different from the Veil. Just slightly. The credit system in the Veil was based upon slightly different things than that of the Blue Hell. But the similarities were bold enough to wake me every night expecting Natasha on my chest or getting startled whenever somebody called for me fearing it would be Lord Varun. I knew very well that I was being absurd and it was all psychological. But it’s even harder to overcome a fear which has you in its clutches psychologically and you know about it.

The shower water was lukewarm on my skin and only then I realized the coldness of my own body. Huddling in the corner was definitely not good for my health. I was in constant unease as I expected the dimension to collapse as it has done in the veil and it was taking quite a toll on me. Going through the exact same chores as that of the veil disturbed me further. I had repeatedly tried to meet Natasha and ask for her help but she was rarely available for any kind of business other than helping in the workings of the Blue Hell. The immortals were quite happy to have another immortal to share their responsibilities with. The result was a distraught me with a severe case of Déjà vu, and my life was a complete mess with this new system of working society.

When I reached the mess hall, it was half empty and the other half people present were about to finish their meal. I quickly went to the counter and let the vendor scan my aura. Things worked here quite different from the Veil. Unlike the place between Heaven and Hell, the Blue Hell held a fair quantity of common-everyday-normal human beings. The supernatural community outnumbered them two to one, but still it was a fair number of prisoners who couldn’t do anything to help the society significantly. The production of food was the responsibility of several apprentices and seniors who worked under the personal supervision of one the immortals. The sandwiches I took were their product and I shortly joined Utkarsh. “Sorry for the delay. I didn’t sleep well.” I said to him in an attempt of a nonchalant voice. He had his mouth completely full with boiled rice and gravy and it took him some time to chew and reply. “Why don’t you visit the medical wing? It will definitely offer a great deal of entertainment to us. Or you might go to the builders to build back your brain from scratch.” He finished with a laugh.

The construction and maintenance here was handled by another group of apprentices and seniors working under another one of the immortals. Then there were the medical services. No one grew ill in the Blue Hell, but skirmishes between the two factions of its inhabitants resulted in quite a few injuries. The training and instructions took its own toll on the apprentices and they also piled up a huge number of hurt people. A different similar team of apprentices, seniors and an immortal looked after it. Another such group was devoted to the production of necessary products like clothes and other materials, and yet another such group created the main body of the force protecting the city; and sometimes raiding the other faction.

We were the last two to leave the mess hall and he kept talking cheerfully as he took me to my classes again. It was his duty to take me through my basics before I could join the regular classes and he certainly enjoyed ordering me about. We left the tower and he raced me to the survival grounds. “Okay hero. Take a bamboo stick & a couple of stones, and make a nice little fire. Your time will decide if you get your lunch or not.” He was taking me through basic survival which was the last of basics I had to learn. We had already done combat in which he took pleasure in beating me senseless, aura manipulation in which I surpassed him in the first hour and the heavenly arts, which were not necessary for the basics. “Why don’t you try to make it?” I replied under my breath as I started scraping the side of the bamboo for dry kindling. There were a lot of people going through different tasks in the grounds and it reminded me of the fact that some people chose not to go under apprenticeship.

The people left were mainly those who couldn’t, or didn’t get under apprenticeship, or the normal human beings. They were quite a problem to the elder immortals who organized everything in the beginning, and thus they chose to make the most powerless the most powerful ones. The humans were led to become the ruling part of the community. All the major decisions and judgments were made by them. They served as Blue Hell’s governing body, and they coordinated with the immortals to handle the matters. Other prisoners, mainly those who couldn’t get under apprenticeship worked as the police. The production of food and stuff was fairly limited, so everyone had a definite quota for what they could take. Contributors to the storehouse also got a little extra ration of things to take, and so got the humans by default. There was no currency and the normal commerce proceeded as exchange of rations in the storehouse. It was the extreme of completely virtualized economy.

I was much impressed by the workings of the educational system too. All the students under apprenticeship had four definite courses to complete. Just like the apprenticeship in our dimension, these four were survival, combat, aura manipulation and heavenly arts. What I knew in our dimension came up close to being a pitiful copy of this system. A few eons ago, lord Varun had released an immortal from the slaves and he had carried this idea with him. The slaves didn’t follow this way and they only knew what they could find by spying. The apprenticeship here was on a whole different level than in our dimension. On the whole, it was a surprisingly well coordinated system for a society of a prison.

I managed to get a pitiful flame growing as the second hour approached and was about to point it out to Utkarsh when a sudden draft smothered the flames. I looked helplessly at him and he burst out laughing. Utkarsh was a jolly fellow and he kept the mood light wherever he went. But once I had witnessed him getting angry and his student still flinches when she spots him. Agnishikha had little time for meeting with me and days went past without us talking. Natasha had called upon me a couple of times to check on my progress with Utkarsh. Of course she had undertaken my apprenticeship but she was quite happy to let Utkarsh do his work and point just a little bit when she thought necessary. I had asked her about the veil but she had obviously refused to discuss it.

“Don’t bother to do it again. I’ll let it pass. I think it might be the time you are approved for your introduction in the class.” Utkarsh told me as I got up wiping sweat from my face. Agnishikha had joined her official apprenticeship a week ago and she had immediately grown an admirable group of friends due to her skill in combat. She was devious with a quarterstaff and hand to hand fighting & Utkarsh seemed to regret his many attempts to offend her when she was still under training. “Shall we go on for lunch then?” I asked him and prepared myself for his denial. He was about to say something when his face jerked towards the tower.

I looked at it too and my jaws dropped to find a glowing nimbus of blue light on its top. My body froze in shock as the memory of the collapse reeled back to me. The faces of my friends and the distortion of the place as it crumpled swam before my eyes. It was as if my eyes had glued themselves to the glowing nimbus and it was quite some time before I was aware enough to feel Utkarsh shaking me. “…all right dude? Do you need to sit down?” I jerked my face from the nimbus and asked Utkarsh. “Is that… Lord Varun?” Somehow, instead of feeling scared, I was strangely numb. I realized that I was shaking with anger. As time had passed, I had slowly let go of my belief that my friends survived the collapse. The only person to blame it upon was Lord Varun. I didn’t know the punishment of assaulting a god if you live long enough to receive it. Nonetheless I was determined to make Lord Varun pay for what he had done.

“Everything with his aura isn’t him buddy. Lord Varun has not enough time to visit us. We despise him and the feeling is mutual. That is the signal of another arrival. Come on, let us continue to lunch. It is going to be quite a while to our turn at escort.” Utkarsh replied in what could have been considered as a half mocking, half envious tone. We shuffled with other people on our way to the mess hall. Lunch was still a couple of hours away, but I wanted to eat well due to my hasty breakfast. We were joined with Ileana and Rachel when they left the combat grounds with Rachel limping slightly. “You are still stuck at that?” Utkarsh asked her as she tried to walk straight and winced. “I think Akshat will learn to kick faster than you and he took a whole week to break that bamboo.” Ileana was trying to stifle her smile as Utkarsh howled with laughter. Rachel scowled at him and replied back. “If you can kick that good, why haven’t you passed apprenticeship yet? Oh yes! I forgot that the most you could do with your aura is turn a page. Too bad, huh?” Her voice had almost an acrid acidity and Utkarsh immediately lost his smile. His lack of aura manipulation was a sore spot for him.

Most of the preternatural prisoners here were demons. The living world contributed as all of the human population and a few other creatures. My suspicion about our teachings in our world had confirmed itself. The demons were simply another kind of population with a lot of non vegetarian appetite and slightly extreme customs. They believed in living out loud and never cared for their well being. It was all given in the booklet we were provided and there was a whole lot of other information in it too. Description about lord Varun’s prison, the boundaries between the two factions and the basic introduction to each captive species were a few articles at the beginning and I had simply forgotten to read further.

The day passed slowly as I waited for my official introduction into the class. All of my friends were in it and Utkarsh was the oldest student. He was still stuck due to his inability for the manipulation of aura and he had achieved a honorary position among the other students. It was the duty of the oldest students to teach the new, and Utkarsh had the bad luck to train me. If other candidates for apprenticeship appeared then they were taught by the next senior-most students and so on.

I waited patiently in my room as the consistent blue haze lulled me into a light slumber. The light was almost fading when a knock came at my door and woke me up. I rubbed my eyes and trudged to the door. It was one of the apprentices with a sign of the army faction and he certainly seemed irritated. “Come with me. The Devi Natasha wants to see you.” His tone was as sharp as a whiplash and I left my room after locking the door with a gesture Utkarsh had taught me. It was a gloomy journey up to the 17th floor where Natasha had established her working quarters. I asked him as we walked another set of staircases. “Do you know why am I summoned?” I worked hard to keep my voice polite and firm enough at the same time so that he couldn’t overlook my question. He glanced at me and grunted. “It has something to do with today’s arrival. That gargoyle said he is a friend of yours.”

My head jerked up as I caught what he had implemented. There was only one gargoyle who was my friend – Liam. A lot of possibilities appeared to me and I was lost among them as I kept walking up the stairs. Liam’s presence here meant he was also captured by Lord Varun. This relieved me as it meant at least some of my friends were safe. But wait a minute, Liam never left Rocky. He was alone here that meant… I negated the possibility and hastened my steps. When we reached Natasha’s quarters, I was panting badly. Six months of hurrying up and down these steps had allowed me a lot of stamina. But climbing 17 floors at once was still a great deal tiring. The apprentice knocked at the door and Natasha’s familiar voice chimed out. “Send him in!” He looked puzzled by her command but immediately followed it and I hurried inside.

Yep. It was Liam alright. But he had half of his left arm in bandage and a good part of his left ear looked cut off. He hurled him at me when I entered and clung to me tightly. I was buried in his fur for some time so I couldn’t see the other person present in the room. When Liam moved aside and perched on my shoulder, I saw that Agnishikha was in the room too. She had her face in Natasha’s lap and was crying with a lot of tears. All of my senses went on high alert and I fiercely asked Liam. “What happened?” Natasha gave me a look devoid of all expressions and turned back to comfort Agnishikha. “it was not Lord Varun Akshat.” Liam replied in his wheezy voice. “It was Decain. He had spies among us. And when the time was right, he sent two of his generals with your brother to annihilate the veil. We tried to fight back but the attack was too furious. We had many casualties. Seth was taken.” He finished with a croak. I took him in my hand and put him on the table. “Tell me all of it.” I said to him as his ears drooped. “We were cornered but we fought back. All of us were holed up in a storeroom. Then a golden fireball struck the roof and it collapsed.” He looked directly into my eyes and said with a tone of finality. “Rocky and Lisa are dead.”

Life in an extra-dimensional Supernatural Prison – Ch 21

Some People are more easily excited than others. Some are also known to break into hysterics if their pen breaks or one hair falls off their head (Stupid, huh?). Most of the people in the latter category obviously fall into the first too. For example, girls are more prone to breaking into tears on the sight of mice or vermin which is considered stupid; but they handle things like giving birth quite bravely where many men usually faint. But you come across many opportunities in your life when you just want to slap the next person due to their stupidity.

I was staring at Agnishikha’s swollen face and had a strong urge to either kill her or commit suicide. The way she was talking made me think that she only took into the numerical value of the time gap. Obviously 11,986 years was a long time for being trapped, but when you calculate the actual passed time in our world, it comes near to almost 98 years. And for an immortal, that is like no time at all. “Then what is the problem Agnishikha? We can have more time to plan and prepare for the time when we escape.” If we escape. Agnishikha blinked and looked at my face as if looking for the first time. She scanned me for a few second and then continued in the same flat, dead voice. “Are you a child Akshat? Or are you so stupid that you can’t count figures? One year is equal to three days! Don’t you get it?”

I had a strong urge to grab my hair and scream in frustration. I knew that the girl was scared half out of her wits, but this was intolerable. I barely caught myself from shaking her. “That is exactly what I am talking about. One year here is equal to three days in our dimension. So we aren’t losing much time!” I was shouting when I finished. Girls were good to look at, and they were beautiful too. But there was seldom any girl who was beautiful, and had at least an ounce of brain matter in her head. Agnishikha jerked back as if singed by my words and stared at me with her eyes as wide as biscuits. And then to infuriate me further, she assumed a scornful expression. Of all things to do, she stood to loom over me and planted her fists on her hips. “And you are telling me now? When I was scared to death that if we were able to return, nothing could have been done? Couldn’t a boy possess a gram of wits in his head?” She threw up her hands in exasperation and stalked off to her room banging the door behind her.

I was staring at the door with my mouth wide open. What was my fault if her dim brain couldn’t interpret a thing except for the numerals? Was it my fault that she had an empty brain? And of all things, she was accusing me? Girls were truly weird. I decided to leave her alone to sulk. It was quite a while since I had a chance for grooming myself so I trudged towards the shower. It was a nice experience after such a hectic day. I had barely had a chance to brush my teeth when we were summoned to Lord Varun in the morning and the trek through the forest had taken a toll on my hygiene. It was almost dark when I came out from the long soak and knocked at Agnishikha’s door.

She opened it wearing a bright red Kurti and black jeans. It was odd the way globalization had affected the preternatural community. The Hindus used to wear only traditional Indian clothing when interacting with other races. The 20th century brought about a huge change in the lives of our ancestors with the intermingling of different cultures. Many creatures from different pantheons started to explore other cultures and ways of life. Hinduism wasn’t unaffected. We received a lot of foreigners interested to know the Hindu way of life. Similarly, many of our people also went to explore other cultures. The result was a supernatural globalization. Now, the Indian subcontinent housed creatures from the Greek, Christian, Egypt, Cyprus, Celtic and many other pantheons. Few of them joined us, the rest of them wanted to only explore our way. We were certainly affected by their ‘exploration’ too, as we had already started into western culture in the mortal world. The desertion of Gods also didn’t encourage us towards keeping with only our way of life, and slowly and more slowly, we were trapped in the glorious event of modern globalization. It was true that we performed our holy ceremonies in our traditional ways, but our day to day life had a strong impression of western culture.

She stared blandly at my face, quite defiant in admitting her mistake about the time gap. I didn’t goad her to accept my point and said. “Let’s go visit Natasha. I have no idea what are we going to do here. And I definitely need some supplies since I don’t carry my closet in my handbag.” I didn’t wait for her reply and turned to walk away. She stood rooted to her place as if deciding between yelling at me or hitting my head, then slammed the door and briskly trotted up to walk beside me with her nose in air. I still had an impression of a strange kinship with her as I had felt upon our first encounter. I hoped it wasn’t some more complex mumbo-jumbo because I was truly tired of the problems of my life. Last week had been the most hectic thing one could have gone through, and I really didn’t like it.

“Do you have any idea what might have happened to Seth and others?” I asked in an attempt to bring down her temperament. Her expression softened for a moment and then she slumped. “I don’t know. I hate being helpless but that’s what we are. The most we can hope is that somehow they were able to teleport to either side during the collapse.” Her tone clearly suggested she wanted to believe so too. The fact that I had escaped and they could not made me feel the ‘survivor’s guilt’. But wait; wasn’t I trapped in a God’s prison? If they escaped then it meant they had a better fate than mine. I shook my head to clear the thoughts. I had only known them a few hours of my life. But it was as if they constituted a large fraction of me. It would have been nice to have a way to talk with them.

We approached the ground floor, which we knew by the enormous gateway on the front of the tower. It let through the only unaltered fading light and we were finally able to get out of the feeling of being underwater. The dim moonlight cut through the blue haze as a lighthouse does in the night and I instantly noticed Maya talking with a few boys at one of the waiting benches. We approached her and before I could have said anything, Agnishikha said. “Hey Maya. Do you have any idea what are we supposed to do next?” Her voice had a careful tinge in it which showed her caution as well as formality with her. The chatting stopped and all of them looked at us. Maya cleared her throat and introduced us. “Guys, meet our newest arrivals, Agnishikha and Akshat. And you guys meet your classmates Rachel, Kunal, Ileana and Utkarsh. You will be studying with them in the upcoming days.” They smiled and waved at us and I did the same with a nod. Maya continued. “As for what you would be doing, your command lies with the immortals, and you will shortly be joining your formal apprenticeship with them. As for now, you have to visit Ronan at the 8th floor and receive your lodging arrangements.”

I nodded and turned with Agnishikha to go to Ronan. There was no lift in the building and we walked up to the central staircase. The tower must have been made by engineering unknown to mankind because there was not any support to the stairs. The walk took us a short time while we walked in silence. Agnishikha’s demeanor had changed since coming here and I really thought that she was under some kind of pressure. Losing my friends was hard for me and Agnishikha had probably had more than a crush on Rocky. Lord Varun’s reason of destroying the veil was a mystery to me. It could not have been due to my disobedience because our imprisonment was a living proof of that. Had he joined Decain? It was definitely a possibility. But if that was so, we were as good as dead. We came upon a pair of giggling twins who were whispering something in the supply closet at the 8th floor’s landing. They tried to act sober when they noticed us and started towards the stairs. Agnishikha smiled and asked them. “Where can we find Ronan? Would you mind telling us?” They looked startled at being addressed and one of them giggled nervously. The other returned Agnishikha’s smile and told us to go to the third room in the next corridor. We left them as they broke into another bout of giggling and turned right. There were only a few people going about in the tower and it seemed almost deserted. On the third door a bronze plaque read ‘Second Authority – Fourth division’. On another, slightly newer plaque below it there was a single word in capitals ‘RONAN’. Below it, there was something scratched in a little smaller font. ‘The Cannon’. We shared a look and I knocked on the door twice.

“Come in!” The familiar voice of Ronan called us in. The room we stepped into was the perfect cross between bleakness, formality and aggressiveness. Ronan sat in a straight-backed leather chair with a gleaming wood table as a companion. It seemed to be crafted with a single piece of wood. How it was possible, I hadn’t had an idea. “I have been expecting you two for quite a while. I am amazed your curiosity died so quickly at the sight of a soft bed.” He was mocking us and I didn’t feel like being mocked. Before I could have a chance to retaliate, Agnishikha got a chance to release her pent up frustration “I would like to see you chased away by your own people and then being hunted by an immortal as you run towards a place you didn’t know existed, and on top of that if you make a god your enemy and get locked into a freaking prison dimension all in a span of 48 hours, then isn’t it fair to get at least a little sleep?” Amazingly, her shrieking didn’t crack the glass of the windows as she thumped her hand on the table in front of Ronan. His eyes were crinkling with amusement as he carefully brushed the paper plain which Agnishikha had crushed under her fist. She was breathing as hard as a raging bull and I thought better than to say anything.

Ronan eyed her intently and turned to me. “And do you have to say something as well?” His voice didn’t reveal even a hint of his familiarity with me. It was as if he didn’t even know me. I shrugged and said “Nope. I think I share the same feelings as her.” He nodded and then said to Agnishikha. “And that young lady; was the last thing you got to say without punishment. Starting now, I am your senior and you will be punished is you insult me, or any other senior.” He waited to look at us piercingly. I remained quiet and Agnishikha’s mouth was agape with the ineffectiveness of her shouting. Ronan plucked two booklets from his desk and threw them at us. “Here is the basic rules and guidelines’ booklet. You will be following each and every rule with utmost respect. It also contains the workings and history of our prison society so you better look at it too. And even after that if you have some doubts, ask one of your seniors. Any questions?” He finished with a clear note of dismissal.

The newfound alien instinct in me to retaliate at being cornered stirred and I asked impulsively, without giving much thought. “What is the purpose of all this? We aren’t getting out anytime soon. So why do we need to go through this apprenticeship and all this?” I was surprised by the amount of rebellion in my voice. Ronan eyed me with his brows raised. He clearly didn’t expect me to say anything. He sighed and stood up. He went to the window and waved his palm in front of it so that a square patch of underwater blue glass brightened and light permeated the room as if from the window of a sunken ship. “Almost every person here is uneducated in any type of particular skill. When the first immortal were imprisoned here, they devised a course of study to educate the prisoners in the art of survival and utilizing the aura. Their purpose was to find out something to fill the free part of prisoners’ time and to make them useful. They planned on creating an elite force of creatures from everywhere and to escape out of this prison. The first six immortals were all from six different pantheons. They all skimmed the best out of their knowledge and put it all together to create the best kind of training and education a being can receive.” He turned to face us. “We still plan the same with a few side aims as well. We use our study to create an elite force of warriors who are also the best in manipulating aura. As you can see, the population here is too large to survive only as weapons. You can find a lot of beings specialized in the art of creating food and other living necessities out of aura.” He paused to settle comfortably on his chair and continued. “So you must train yourself to be the best you can because we might get the chance to get out any moment now. Or perhaps never. But we are going to emerge as the most proficient army in the known universe.”

We were interrupted by a knock exactly at that time and Ronan called for the person to come in. He was a short, stocky boy with a well chiseled body which Maya had introduced to us. His biceps were as solid as rocks and his shoulders could have rivaled any wrestlers’. His skin was fair to the point of being pale which clashed profoundly with his jet black hair. The most noticeable thing in his face was his eyes – The color of sparkling blue. “You called me, Sir?” He asked Ronan in a casual way. There was a certain mischief in the way he carried himself that emanated an aura of adventure around him. “Yes. You must have heard about these two. Meet Akshat and Agnishikha.” He turned to us and continued. “This is Utkarsh and he will escort you to your cabins in the apprentice section. You may leave.”

Agnishikha opened her mouth as if to say something but stopped mid way and stalked off the room. I shared a confused glance with Utkarsh and we followed her after a brief nod to Ronan. As we came out into the corridor, Agnishikha was muttering imperiously standing to a little side. “We should leave her alone. She has been at boiling point since the morning. BY the way, Nice to meet you.” I said to Utkarsh as we marched to Agnishikha. Utkarsh stole a quick glance at her and furtively increased his face to keep a little ahead. “So, you guys had a little bit of trouble with the slaves, as I have heard. Is that right?” He asked me to break the uncomfortable silence. As with all extra dimensional places, I didn’t need to know his tongue to understand what he was saying. I sighed and replied “Not so much. But yeah, it was a lot confusing at the moment. But that fellow cleared our doubts before they could havr appeared with his offer to carry our heads on plates to Lord Varun.” Utkarsh looked at me as if puzzled. He asked “They actually told you their motives? I was half on my way to their city when I found out what they were planning. I was lucky to escape with all my body parts intact.”

My doubts were cleared instantly about what I had guessed about him. There was a crazy light in his eyes as he talked about how he escaped with the help of his boon granted by Lord Hanuman. Utkarsh definitely had a liking for adrenaline infused adventure, and his enthusiasm about it made me think he was on the verge of craziness too. I kept making idle conversation with him as he led us to the 3rd floor and pointed out the boys’ and the girls’ sections to me and Agnishikha. She stalked off towards the girls’ section and He followed me into the boys’. Just as Agnishikha was turning to go into her section, Utkarsh leapt into the corridor and yelled. “Hey girl!” This brought her attention on him directly and he continued without a single thought. “Please comb your hair next time when you march into official meetings. It looks like the tail of a skunk!”

My mouth was open as I watched him laughing with mirth as he clapped on my back. Agnishikha must have broken through her shock because I heard her cursing a long time before she came on the head of corridor. Just as she was coming up on us with her teeth in a ferocious snarl, she hit a boundary of invisibility and bounced back. At this point Utkarsh was rolling on the floor in laughter and Agnishikha’s cursing grew vile to the point of hurting ears. She saw the futility of her ramblings after a few minutes and stood glaring at me as if it was my fault. “I am going to kill you.” She said in a deadly calm voice and turned to walk back towards the girls’ side.

Utkarsh had somehow managed to stand up and was grinning foolishly at her retreating back. “You, my friend are in big trouble.” I said to him and his grin widened if possible. “Don’t worry man. Girls or Boys can’t go into each others’ sections. So chill out and have fun.” He clasped my shoulder and led us to a small door on the far side of the corridor just like the twenty others. He opened it with a gesture at the lock and we stepped inside. It was a square room with the side width of about 10 feet and there was a bed, a pair of chair and table, a closet and what appeared to be a weapons’ rack as furniture. All was dyed gray, or looked gray in the blue light of the underwater tower. He slumped on the bed and sighed heavily. “You never told me. Did you really refuse heaven to Lord Varun to get here?” He asked me as I sat on the chair. That was definitely something I didn’t wanted to discuss. So I tried to evade the topic. “Yes. He came to us ordering like we were his slaves or something and I didn’t like his manners. What if he is a God? We also have self respect.” I shrugged and turned to him. “How did you end up here? And when?”

A wide smile again broke up on his face. He said “You will have to hear the full story then.” Seeing my nod he continued “I was born in Ireland in a small town. My parents didn’t have any relatives and the local populace despised them for some reason. I didn’t get to play with anyone my age, and so I started wandering off into the woods alone. I felt peculiarly aware of the animals. Once I spotted a little monkey trapped in a thorn bush and I couldn’t get him out. Out of frustration, I commanded the bush to move aside and it did. That was the start of my exploration into my abilities. I told my parents and they seemed very happy. My grandpa too had the same kind of abilities and that was the reason for the hate of townspeople for us.” He smiled deviously and said in a evil voice. “You are generally afraid of things you don’t know about.” With a laugh at my startled look, he continued.

“I continued exploring my abilities in the woods and one such evening when I was lifting a boulder the size of a house with my left hand, a procession of the local priests saw me. I was barely 10 years old and they fled on my sight. I immediately returned to my house but didn’t tell my parents about the incident. As was my habit, I went to sleep in a little storeroom built on the outskirts of the woods. At midnight, I was raised by cries and shouts. I peeked out and was greeted by the sights of two bodies burning on crucifix and my house ablaze. There were about 150 men shouting curses and mumbling prayers there and I wept while I hid. It was morning when I was awoken by my neighbor. She was a kind Indian woman who had come to Ireland for a couple of years with her husband. I was afraid that she was going to burn me too, but she took me to her house and fed me while I cried. The priests had removed the bodies and had deposited them in a lake in the woods.

“The lady helped me hide for a month, then she managed to smuggle me with her when she returned to India. She went all the way in ships so I could hide more easily. With my abilities it was fairly simple. So I came to India and immediately fell in love with Hinduism. I felt a strange bias towards lord Hanuman and devoted myself to his way of life. He met in one of my dreams and blessed me with a boon. That was how I came face to face with a devotee of Lord Varun. It was my bad luck that when I was having a little fun with her, Lord Varun passed by and I ended up here. That’s the soul of the story.” He finished with a glorious bow.

I stared at his smiling face and thought about his terrible past. But wasn’t it too late for witch burnings? I frowned and asked him. “And when did you come here?” As usual, his grin widened and he said dramatically. “I’ve been here for 10 years.” I performed a calculation in my mind. If he was here for 10 years, then it meant the time passed in the living world was… a month? I sighed in relief but his grin grew wicked. “Don’t feel relieved my boy. I am senior to you by 10 years. You might want to start thinking about obeying orders.” I looked at him to see if he was joking. My face grew slack as I noticed his wicked grin. Then he burst out laughing. “You are such a sissy. Come on man. I was just joking. This is going to be your room, and the first in the corridor is the warden’s. Feel free to get your clothes and uniforms from him any time you want. My room is the fourth to your left. Get comfortable and meet me in two hours for your tour & dinner.” With a salute he got up and left the room.

I was certain. He was definitely crazy. It was going to be an interesting stay.

 

 

Technology and the Ramayana

  Ramayana is an epic narrated by Maharishi Valmiki. It follows the adventures of Lord Ram and his family in his conquest to defeat the Asura King Raavana to get his wife back and the creation of his ideal society. Ramayana depicts idealism. Every character, every incident is ideal. It has tried to show how […]

A prison city of the water God – Ch 20

Surprises are an important part of our daily life. If everything would have been previously planned and we were aware of every upcoming thing, then our lives would have been mechanical. I don’t think we would be different from robots. But it doesn’t mean that you come across such a surprise that your heart chokes or you die laughing about its incredulity. As I am a part of a very unpredictable preternatural community, the chances of coming by such surprises increase exponentially. And to die of laughter is a very bad way to die.

I was staring wide-eyed at the scene below me. The people were crazy to go near the limo, and the only thing keeping them from toppling the car was the mass of people all around it. Natasha was beaming foolishly and waving arms at the mob below her. They didn’t seem to mind the twigs and leaves sticking out of her pink frock and hair, or her rumpled appearance. Maya was also looking at the people in shock and she didn’t even notice when I pushed her off the bike. There was no sign of Agnishikha anywhere near the car, and it was impossible to find her among that mob.

Suddenly people started parting to make way for a group of people on the far side of car and the cheering and shouting lessened first, and died downed completely. I couldn’t that far with my naked eyes but I was sure there were two men and three women marching towards the car. Natasha noted them too and slid off the car. The party stood there for a moment and then marched back the way they had come, this time with Natasha. The crowd cheered at their departure and kept murmuring for a while after they left and slowly dispersed thereafter.

Maya cleared her throat loudly behind me and I slowly turned to face her. She had been as cold as frost with me for no reason I could comprehend. She was staring at me tapping her left foot. I tried to grab a chance of escape before her onslaught began. “Why didn’t you tell me an immortal is a celebrity?” Somehow I managed to lace my words with accusation without cracking my voice. She was caught off guard and fumbled for words before speaking. “There are only four immortals in this prison. The complete workings of this place are watched over by them and we bide our time while them teaching us. One more immortal means more chances of learning something new because one immortal has about 5000 students to teach. Got it?”

The woman should have been a lecturer. The way she droned on and on and on would have put her on the list of the best lecturers ever. She was looking at something behind my back and before I could have a chance of opening my mouth, she said “Now would you please stop staring at me like a madman and take us to the city?” She made it sound like it was me who was snapping at her. Women truly are weird. I shook my head and got on the bike. She followed me with a reproachful look and settled herself with her hands on my shoulder. I thought better to say anything about she saying me not to touch her and drove off towards the city.

It was a very strange place. The buildings were made of concrete, brick, stones, steel and glass with no particular arrangement. They were at most 6 stories tall and the roads were well placed in a grid. There was no sign of asphalt on the road. They seemed to be made of entire blocks of stones. As we moved further into the city following a main road, the buildings got much simpler and simpler. All of them were brick or stone with hardly any sign of glass. A tall tower made of shining blue stone seemed to be our destination. The closer we got to the tower, the shorter the buildings got. Now I could have seen a few huts as well. More than a few people called to Maya and she waved or yelled back at them. Everything seemed to be like a normal town, except for the wide variety of creatures.

Half of them were of Indian origin, and half belonged to other Pantheon. There was a group of manticores and once I saw a red demon with horns and forked tail. An original demon. More than a few coyotes roamed the streets and a whole lot of vampires were hanging out near a butchery. There were fairies and a lone banshee, a centaur couple with their foal and once I got a glimpse of a mermaid in a pond. Overall the ride through the city was as much as exciting for me as my first use of telekinesis was. I had no idea what animosity these creatures had with Lord Varun and why had he kept them prisoners.

A lot of thatched roofs could have been seen now, and they suddenly gave way to a spectacular ring of glass and crystal buildings. The ring was about half a kilometer across, and in its center, stood the sparkling blue tower. Sunlight falling on its surface made it appear like clear, blue water. There were a lot of people milling about, and immediately my attention went to a red limo. It was the same Natasha had ridden, which was being led into an unseen ramp to the basement of the tower. A red carpet was being rolled in and there were a lot of people clearing what appeared to be glittering ribbons from the ground.

“Take the right ramp into the basement.” Maya spoke flatly in my ear and I obeyed without any ado. The doorway to the ramp was half under and half above the ground, built into the wall of the tower. I slowly dragged the bike through and parked on an empty spot. Maya quickly got off and I handed the keys to her. She smirked and shook her head. A silvery glow surrounded her and she pressed the key on the tank. Silver sparks enveloped the tank and a small flash forced me to avert my eyes. When I looked back, the key was molded into the tank like a sticker. Maya took in my wide-eyed stare and snorted in obvious contempt.

“Stop gaping like a fool. I simply bonded the key to the bike. Now only an apprentice or a senior can remove it and take the bike. Everything is public property here.” She was pleased with herself and motioned me to follow her. We crossed the parking lot which was full with a wide assortment of vehicles. There were buses, trucks, bikes, cars, a whole lot of SUV’s, and quite a few sport cars. There was a door built-in the far wall without any handle to open it or any keyhole. Maya simply channeled a wisp of her aura into the are where a keyhole should have been, and the door opened to reveal a staircase.

It was as if the system here worked just like the veil. There must have been a sensory system which recognized auras. We climbed up a few flights of stairs and on the third landing, Maya undid another door to let us out in a brightly lit corridor. Its two ends were transparent blue glass and they let in a blue-tinted light which created and illusion of being underwater. We were a little higher up than the adjacent ground and I guessed it to be second or third floor. The basement had different scale of floors than the upper stories. She led me to a bright reception area with no one but a sleepy teenage guy sitting on the counter.

“Hey Chris. Can you register him? He is one of the latest arrivals.” She said with such a warm tone that I jerked to look around if someone else was present. Her voice was completely different from when she was shooting bullets at me. Chris yawned and blinked to clear his eyes. Then a wide smile split his face. “Hi Maya! Did the slaves caused any problem?” He asked while shuffling the papers on the table to pick up a paper-thin tablet. It was a casual question and she replied just casually. “Nope. As always whining about licking our creators’ feet.” Chris nodded without looking at her and his fingers danced on the tab’s screen. “Your name?” He asked me without looking up from the tab. It was weird the way their tones changed when they addressed me. I decided not to point it out and replied as warmly as I could. “Akshat”. He looked up from the tab at my face for just a moment and asked “Akshat… what?” It was as if he was being forced to move his legs backwards while walking forward. He had to be cold to me due to whatever had passed between him and Maya, and he was also befuddled by my friendly tone.

“Only Akshat. No surname, no title.” I replied with a bright smile and a goofy shrug. He nodded while he typed and asked me for my other credentials. I kept replying as warmly as I could, and his tone grew much friendly towards me with a building frown on Maya’s face. It went on for quite a while as he took in my aura for the levels and shook his head understandingly on me being unaware of my godly ancestors. Finally we were done and I departed with a warm handshake. Maya had a permanent scowl on her face and she kept trying to snarl at me on one thing or another. She let me to the fifth floor and knocked on a door in a corridor with a dozen others similar to it. A shuffling of feet came and the door opened to a red-eyed grumpy Agnishikha. Maya smirked at me and departed with a sneer.

Agnishikha had gone back in the room and I followed her in. It was a small sitting room with three doors leading to two bedrooms and a kitchen. She was slumped on the chairs and I hesitantly sat across her. She glanced at me and sniffed loudly. I raised my eyebrows and she sat a little straighter. “I have bad news.” She said in a creaky voice. The way Agnishikha used to behave, it was clear it was either something as simple as a broken nail or the earth colliding with the moon. I nodded despite of my desire to laugh and she said in a dead flat voice.

“Time doesn’t run the same here Akshat. The eldest immortal trapped here is here for 11,986 years. “One year here is equivalent to three days on earth.”

A merry ride with a Demon, Dwarf and a Princess in an SUV – Ch 18

Many prisons have special accommodations for special criminals. Most of the special prisoners are either highly dangerous or too important to be left among the others. But if one of the ‘criminals’ has not committed any crime except offending the jailor, or all of the ‘criminals’ are held for that same ‘crime’, then it becomes a bit complex to provide luxuries.

I had seen a little bit of Lord Varun’s dimension and there was nothing except wilderness around the path we were traveling. There wasn’t even a sign of a village or any kind of human habitation at all. It was a little bizarre for my taste since I had grown up in the huge, densely populated plains of North India, where an orchard of about 1000 mango trees  was the biggest chunk of vegetation that I could have called a ‘forest’. It had been half an hour of walking since I spotted a flat part of the forest floor large enough to lie down. So it was a relief for me when the trees started thinning and we were greeted by a sudden end to the forest.

The land rose and my view was blocked at the crest of a hill about two miles ahead. The forest stretched to our left and right to the foot of mountains on one side and perhaps water at the other. It was as if someone had taken a ruler and had sketched down the line which was the border of the forest. Probably it was exactly the case. Lord Varun was very neat in drawing the boundaries. Ronan was waiting for us near the foot of the hill with that demon girl. The ladies emerged from the forest muttering angrily with their hair full of twigs and leaves. It was amazing that the forest had left so much of its impression on them while Ronan was as fresh as ever. I looked at my clothes and was content that my clothes didn’t look like a result of wrestling with a tree man.

“If it had been a minute longer, the forest would be burning now.” Agnishikha muttered while stamping through the last bushes. Natasha was in a similar mood and I kept my mouth shut while trotting towards Ronan. He was talking with that girl and both of them fell silent on our approach. The girl stole glances at Natasha while trying to hide it without much success. I was certain her 12 year old appearance had to do a lot with it. “What now? How are we moving further?” Agnishikha asked Ronan, trying to straighten her clothes and snag her hair out of the mess it was. He glanced at the demon girl who nodded and turned towards the hill. “Any moment now. Just wait.” Ronan replied without looking at her. Natasha sighed and tried to pry apart her pink hair with telekinesis. The demon looked at us sharply and her eyes widened after knowing who was using the aura. She opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted as a loud rumble sounded and an SUV soared up from the hill’s crest.

We stared in awe as the bright red vehicle bounded towards us. Rocks and shrubs seemed not to matter to its driver who kept rolling the monster over them. With a loud squealing of tires and squelch of freshly dug soil, it lurched to the left and came to a sliding halt pointing towards the direction it had come. The door banged open and a huge belly preceded the fattest man I had ever seen and probably the shortest too. He barely came up to my chest and was as thick as his width. His face was wrinkled with a worried frown with his eyes on Natasha. I seriously needed to talk to her. She wasn’t behaving even a bit like a kid. The lost look on her face hinted her deep in solving calculus problems, as I thought.

“All well, Vaul?” Ronan asked him casually. The fat man nodded absently and replied. “Trista passed her apprenticeship today. She created a glass full of petrol from 14 sugar-canes. She also created a void as big as my closet. Your arrival is awaited.” He ended with a stiff back. Ronan smiled and turned to us. “Please feel free to choose any seat except the shotgun.” The wave of his arm invited us onwards and we dragged ourselves into the vehicle. I shared the rear with no one while Agnishikha, Natasha and the other demon girl settled in the middle. We shot forward just as Ronan slammed his door shut.

Vaul liked to drive off-road and he never wavered from the straight line we were moving on. A hard packed dirt road curved with us to the right bypassing the hills but Vaul leaped straight over them. “Are any of you an Apprentice?” The demon girl asked in an attempt to start a conversation. She was a little hesitant in asking the question and somehow I knew there was a capital “A” in Apprentice. Agnishikha, being full on volatile for strangers, snapped at her. “Apprentice? Whose? In what?” She truly had no idea how to behave with strangers. I sighed heavily. I had tried to get her attention but catching an eye is not easy from behind. Natasha sniffed and replied to the girl. “None of them had ever had a chance to go through it. Tomorrow was going to be their first lesson of apprenticeship.” The girl looked startled to hear the answer from a 12-year-old kid. Natasha really needed to work her character out. The girl fell quiet after that.

I was hardly able to sit straight as the SUV jumped over rocks and trenches and skidded through mud and shallow ponds. Vaul truly had no intention of leaving his straight line. Agnishikha grumbled about not knowing anything and the demon girl stole curious glances at her. I really didn’t like the silence. “I still don’t know your name.” I tried to cheerfully talk to the girl. She slowly turned to face me and replied after studying my face for a moment. “I am Maya. And no need to introduce yourselves. I know it all.” She smirked and turned her back to me. It was truly peculiar the way girls behaved. You could offend them by just looking or you could make their day by smiling at them.

I settled back and tried to divert my mind from what was happening. My life had really turned upside down. Seth, Lisa, Rocky, Liam, Dean Branat and all those people in the veil were probably dead. Or worse. Only because I had refused Lord Varun. It was truly amazing how quickly my mind adjusted to the things going on. A few days ago, going to Atlantis was the biggest of my concerns. It turned to doing good in the Hell Academy and to help my friends when I was in the veil. And now what I wanted most was to escape this prison and try to help gather the lost part of Kalki’s soul. The thought of leaving all this mambo-jumbo never even came close to my mind. It was my life. And leaving the preternatural community was not something I wanted to do. However hard it was to survive or be happy, but It was my life.

“What is an Apprentice, Natasha?” I asked her without giving a thought to what the other people would think. It was not everyday when an adult asked a kid for advice. Maya and Agnishikha both turned to face us and I was clearly able to see Ronan’s eyes at me from the rear view mirror. Surprisingly Vaul kept his full attention on the road.Natasha sighed heavily and shifted to face me slightly. “Every godling has to learn controlling the part of the godlike aura in his body. Everyone has his special talent too, but they learn a complete different sort of ethe… use of aura. It becomes more than a second nature to use aura afterwards for them. Apprenticeship is the first step in that education. All preternatural beings having heavenly aura are eligible to learn it.” She quickly burrowed her head into her chest after speaking and fell silent. She had stopped halfway in speaking that word and seemed flustered by it. It rang something in my head but the word didn’t come into my mind.

Ronan loudly cleared his throat and asked hesitantly. “Um… Akshat? Will you please explain why am I sensing an immortal’s aura inside the vehicle?” His eyes searched questioningly over Natasha and Agnishikha. It was nice to know that he asked me except any of the others. Agnishikha was clearly on edge and his speaking to me drove her off it. “That is because Natasha is an immortal you fool!” Agnishikha’s voice carried all her frustration in one go. Ronan turned in his seat to look at me. His face clearly showed that he thought Agnishikha was joking. Maya was also looking at me waiting to hear some sort of explanation. But when they saw my expression and knew it to be true, their eyes widened to the point of obscuring their whole faces. Maya’s jaw was hanging open and Ronan had his face as white as marble.

At that exact moment Vaul stamped on the break and the car slid to a halt. Slowly he turned completely back and said in a pained voice. “Then I am afraid I cannot take you any further.”

Gods also have toys – Us – Ch 17

Consider a situation when you are a fish and are trapped in a fishbowl by a person who might break the bowl, pour out the water, snatch you out of the bowl, forgot to feed you for who knows how long or simply flush you into the toilet. And if that person likes you as much as a worm in his undies, It goes even better. The condition was not much different for me as I was trapped by Lord Varun in a dimension created by his will, and I was not much more than a plaything for him.

We all jumped to stare at the man who had appeared out of nowhere and was standing as lax as if he was in his backyard. Before we could have said anything to him, there was a rustle of leaves followed by a thump on the other side of the clearing and we turned to find another man growling at the first. “You shall not touch a hair on their bodies while I am alive, slave.” The last word flew out of his mouth as a curse and he spat at his feet. He was hardly old enough to be called a man but held a shotgun with apparent ease which told us that he had used it quite often.

There were sounds of leaves shifting and thumps all around us as more people appeared out of the dense foliage to accompany the two. There were clearly divided into two groups. The first two men who had shown themselves to us were not the leaders. The man demanding our heads was standing behind a stocky one. He was well built and carried an AK 47 at his shoulder. The second man to reveal himself also stood behind someone certainly neck to neck with the leader of the first group; at least physically. He carried a pair of revolvers on his thighs with hands ready to take them out at any moment. All of them were armed in some way. Their weapons ranged from a Swiss army knife to swords and gyns to a bazooka. Surprisingly all of them appeared to be bored, if not relaxed. The presence of so many weapons was no big deal for them.

“What do you want?” Agnishikha snarled at them while sliding into a defensive crouch and trying to face both the groups at once. Natasha studied them with a frown on her face. I was wondering what to do myself. The leader of the first group smirked and spat at the ground besides him. “Didn’t you hear girl? We would be obliged to take your heads to Lord Varun if what I heard you speak is true. You disgust the creators who gave us life and everything we have. I have nothing to do with your sort. Unless you want to start a war against Lord Varun himself?” There was a mad glint in his eyes as he asked and hoped for the affirmative. Agnishikha was about to shoot back a fiery retort at him but Natasha grabbed her hand and jerked her to a halt. She shook her head slightly and looked at me pointedly. If we opposed openly against Lord Varun at that moment, We were sure to be hit by at least one of the shots going off from one of the groups.

“I knew it the moment you appeared here. You are all cowards but can’t accept the Lord’s grace. I can’t stand your sight anymore.” The man spat again and turned to walk briskly away. The one who had showed himself first looked at us with a mixture of hatred and disgust on his face and turned to follow his retreating group. I didn’t relax until they were long out of sight and then turned to face the other group. Some of them had also left and the rest were looking at us. “What do you want?” Natasha asked them in plain exasperation. They looked puzzled to find a child talking in such a way. The leader stiffened and said. “I don’t think you are fans of Lord Varun or have stumbled upon this dimension accidentally?” He had a no-nonsense tone of voice and his demeanor was almost pompous. I didn’t let any of the ladies to blast him with the flaming furnaces of their speech and replied quickly. “No. You were eavesdropping at us from the moment we appeared, I presume? So you must have guessed we are trapped here. The way you behaved clearly showed that the other group was a devotee of Lord Varun. Will you please tell us what is going on here? And why are those devotees of Lord Varun trapped here as well?”

The leader blinked and turned his stare at me. The girls were shooting daggers and I had clearly interrupted what they took to be their right – to talk. The leader cleared his throat and said. “I am Ronan. Ronan Pierce. For the moment know this much that we are prisoners here the same way as you are. Accompany us and you shall be told what is all this about.” He motioned the rest of his group to leave and all left immediately, except one girl standing on the fringe of the meadow. She was a demon by her aura and a young one at that. Natasha was about to say something when Agnishikha strode forward and cocked her hip in an ignorant pose. “How do we know you are not pawns of Lord Varun and mean us no harm?” The way she talked was a clear imitation of her badass behavior. She was trying to intimidate Ronan. Her mouth slacked open when he replied “You Don’t.” And turned to retreat slowly.

I didn’t want to miss the chance of knowing more and he was certainly better than the other group who wanted to skewer us given the first chance. I grabbed Natasha by her hand and she shot me a frown, but didn’t resist as I trotted to join Ronan. He was deliberately walking slow to let us catch up. Agnishikha stood gaping at us for more than a few seconds and followed us stumbling shortly after. We all were together by the time we reached the trees. The demon girl nodded to Ronan and turned to vanish into the dense foliage bounding. “I’m Akshat. This is Natasha and Agnishikha.” I told Ronan and he acknowledged us with formal nods. He frowned at Natasha again but kept his mouth quiet. Agnishikha was muttering under her breath and I caught a few words as “dumb”, “mule” and “insolent”. Ronan didn’t pay her any attention at all.

“Why are you here? If I may know.” He asked politely. The pompousness was present ever so slightly but I ignored it and replied. “We denied heaven in Lord Varun’s face.” I pointed at Agnishikha and me. “And she helped us escape. Only that she accidentally let Lord Varun guide the teleportation to end us here” I said nodding at Natasha, who seemed lost in her thoughts. Ronan was staring at Natasha as if seeing her for the first time. If a 12 year old girl stood up to a god, I would definitely be staring. “You must’ve had strong reasons to deny heaven in a god’s face. Well… None of that is for now.” He gave his head a slight shake and continued through the forest. Agnishikha was quite for so much time that when she spoke in a normal tone it was startling. “Is there an end to this forest? Where are we going?” She had an almost normal tone. Almost. Ronan glanced at her and said “We will walk for another hour. Then it would take about 3 more to get to our destination. The city Heandash.

A city? Never could have I guessed that Lord Varun would create a city for his prisoners.

What to do when you are offered a place in heaven – Definitely not the obvious – Ch 15

Imagine the moment when you open the door and you find out a God is there waiting for you. Impossible, right? Wrong. When you belong to my world, it is possible that you enter a temple to pray and find the God hanging out there to meet his devotees.

I was looking blandly at the guard who had a hint of smile on his face. It turned to confusion when he noticed our looks. Agnishikha was opening and closing her mouth to form words she couldn’t utter. Lord Varun? Here to take us? Wasn’t I in enough trouble as the situation was? But what could have I done before a god did not matter. He could simply bring all his essence here and I was gone. Forget his full, even a fraction of his concentrated essence was enough to disintegrate me into pure energy itself.

The guard cleared his throat and I fumbled to make some words. Rocky beat me to it and strode forth to ask. “Might you be aware of the reason of his presence?” His tone was polite and formal. The guard nodded and replied in the same formal way. “These are the only two godlings currently engaged in any supernatural community. It is best for them to learn with other godlings under the protection of the realm of Gods.” His voice had an edge which pointed the reply as a prepared one. Rocky looked uncertain as Agnishikha found her composure once again and asked the guard. “Didn’t the Gods pay no heed to our warnings about Decain earlier? What has changed now?” Her tone carried her fiery intent well enough. The guard bristled and lost all pretense of acting nice. “Look lady. I am not the person responsible for this or the priests of lord Varun who might answer your questions. I am just here to fetch you and tell you what has been told to me.” He sounded exasperated and there was definitely a hint of truth in what he said.

Meanwhile Seth and Lisa had also arrived at the door and it was getting a little uncomfortable. The guard looked at all of us and continued. “Now will you please accompany me to meet him?” He dared us to deny it and I decided to better comply. A god was not who I wanted as an enemy. I liked to live and leave peacefully. Before Agnishikha could shoot any more of her blazing words at him, I nodded and said. “Okay. Take us to him.”

All of them had a little surprised look on their face as the guard asked for our hands. Agnishikha offered hers unconsciously and we were pulled through a blur to be teleported into a waiting area as it looked. The guard immediately teleported back and we were left in that room. I dearly waited for my graduation from the Hell Academy since it was the day I was to be allowed to teleport from anywhere to any public place in the veil (If I ever managed to do so).

The room we were in was empty except for a pair of plush sofas decorated with velvet designs. There was no one in sight. Or i thought there was not. A cough came from behind us and we turned back to find the person who made it. A gasp left our lips as we met the sight. There was a tall column of water suspended in mid air as if made of jelly. I could bet my life that the water was pure by just looking at it. The water inside it swirled and swished as if someone was shaking the container the water was held in, except there was no container.

A humanoid shape slowly formed as the column came nearer. Gradually the water took solid form and a man appeared out of it. He was wearing simple clothes, perhaps a bit formal. A white shirt and dark blue pants suited him well. He had a handlebar mustache with a hint of two day old stubble. An expressionless face made him look as if weighing us. Agnishikha immediately bowed into a formal namaste. “Lord Varun”. She said respectfully with a hint of awe on her face. I followed a bit later and his lips seemed to twitch as if in distaste.

Before I could do anything else, there was a tug at my aura and several people appeared out of thin air with a swish of flowing clothes. Maharishi Kalson was the most prominent of them all with Natasha a startling appearance in her wild pink. I expected them to bow to Lord Varun or at least a curtsy. They surprised me by taking almost defensive stances. Jacqueline was also with them and she let out at what passed as a barely restrained snarl.

“May I ask you how did you find out this place?” It was Maharishi Kalson. He seemed as professional as ever but a tightness to his mouth betrayed his calmness. Lord Varun glanced at him and suddenly I could feel a chill dampness around me. The room seemed a lot colder under Lord Varun’s glare. He answered calmly. “I am amazed how arrogant you… immortals are. Did you really believe a puny extension of the space can hide you from a God’s eyes? You overstep every threshold of foolishness ever known.”

His face still did not betray any emotion but he seemed on the verge of a smirk. Natasha hissed and stepped forward but she was held back by Jacqueline. Maharishi Kalson appeared to be at a loss of words for a moment. But he mended the bit of uncertainty by nodding at him and looking at me & Agnishikha. Lord Varun smiled and turned to us. “You don’t seem to be much at the first look, but you might be useful once you join your brothers and sisters in heaven. Prepare for departure.”

I blurted out before I could think of holding myself back. “But why? Why do you come for us now? We are as content and as safe here as anywhere else.” there was a sharp intake of breath from anyone as the words hung in the room. I had forgotten that I was before a god. A sheet of cold passed over me and my whole body went rigid. It was as if I was again entrapped by the churail’s spell but a little differently. I was able to move muscles all over my body. But to no visible effect. Lord Varun had taken the water inside me in his control. Agnishikha immediately went down on both her knees and bowed her head to him. “Please forgive his ignorance Lord. He meant no disrespect. He is unaware of the customs he should follow.”

Lord Varun turned his glare to Agnishikha and spoke indifferently. “And might you be from a royal clan, demon?” He asked mockingly and made the word ‘demon’ sound as an insult. Agnishikha looked as if she wanted to throw something at him. Her face was scarlet, whether from anger or humiliation I didn’t know.

Natasha broke free of Jacqueline’s grasp and spat. “Don’t stretch us to the point of breaking lord. You might see another Dev-Asura war unraveling due to your ignorance.” She made the word ‘lord’ sound like an insult and Lord Varun turned to look at her. He was obviously misled by her 12 year old appearance and looked at Kalson mockingly. “Well… I didn’t know you lacked wit enough to grant a child immortality. I fear you humans have degraded yourself beyond the limits. We might have to interfere.”

Everyone looked visibly worried at his words. Natasha was again struggling against Jacqueline who had apparently caught her again. Lord Varun turned his attention back to us and the cramps holding me strengthened a bit. I let out a grunt of pain and was seriously thinking about going on offensive and try using my anchor when suddenly with a huge rumble, the whole building shook. All of us except Lord Varun staggered with the overwhelming amount of aura accompanying the wave. Without a conscious effort I broke out of Lord Varun’s grip. It was as if I was trying to pysh open a door which opened by pulling instead. The first look of shock appeared on his face. It was missed by everyone else as they were scrambling in glazed stares to contact everyone telepathically. Somehow I had the notion that the veil was shrinking.

Seeing everyone scattered, Lord Varun lunged for me. His feet became a spiraling jet of water adding speed to his flight. But Natasha was bounding towards us as fast as Lord Varun and she jumped for our hands. I didn’t know what happened but there was definitely a look of utter hatred and perhaps a gleam of content in his eyes as Lord Varun watched Natasha teleporting with me.

Everthing blurred out and I scrambled to grab Natasha. Before I could have gotten any hold on her, the blur sharpened as we teleported in a meadow in the middle of what appeared to be a forest. Natasha was clutching Agnishikha in her other hand who hastily straightened.

The meadow was full of forest sounds. The sound of insects, birds and wind caressing the trees. The sky was a startling blue and there were no clouds in sight. A stream was flowing through the clearing and a wild array of colorful flowers bloomed on its banks. The air itself was pure to the point that it made itself noticed. It was completely different from the hustle and bustle of the modern cities. I frowned upon how the word ‘modern’ came to my mind.

Natasha suddenly growled and slumped down on the grass with her head in her hands. Agnishikha broke away from staring at our surroundings and looked at me uncertainly. Natasha grabbed a fistful of her hair and howled like a 12 year old. “He tricked me! That rotting piece of God tricked me!” I shot a worried glance at Agnishikha and asked Natasha “Um… Natasha? Who tricked you? And where have you brought us?” My voice was as meek as I could make. I definitely didn’t want to bring the wrath of a pissed immortal upon myself.

Agnishikha sat beside Natasha and warily put her hand on her shoulder when she ignored my question. She jerked to her with a quickness that made both of us flinch. If one could put molten lava into eyes, that was the way Natasha’s eyes looked. She stared at Agnishikha and said in a dead, flat voice.

“Lord Varun has trapped us in a dimension of his own creating. We are the slaves of his will.”

The revelation – A dark Kalki? – Ch 14

When you have been running on adrenaline for three days without any sleep, its only natural that your body gets tired as hell. And then if you get a chance to sleep, you wake up only after the morning. So much for saying. When you are me, You are raised by an immortal jumping on you and telling you that you are the incarnation of one of the trinity and a bunch of other immortals are going to kill you. Fun, Isn’t it? No. It is not.

It took my mind a few seconds to decipher what I was hearing. I was Kalki reincarnate? Was she serious? And when the meaning seeped in completely, I jumped right out of the bed. I expected Natasha to fly off me and land somewhere on the wall. I wildly looked for her in the dark room only to find it without any hint of pink. Looking down, I was a little confused by seeing me still in my bed. Hadn’t I jumped? That was when the truth hit me. I was dreaming.

I slumped back on the bed and looked at my bedside watch. It showed 3:46 in the morning and I sighed heavily. It was going to be another day with headaches for me. I shut my eyes and tried to sleep again. But the dream lingered as if it was some kind of premonition from my subconscious. I decided to try the world famous trick and started to count sheep in a field. Slowly I lost count and started counting in a loop till 12. This time, I forgot when I was awake and gradually faded into slumber.

My slumber was disturbed by a loud squealing and stamping of feet. Groggily I opened my eyes and looked to find what the commotion was all about. Agnishikha was squealing in delight and was jumping up and down while holding Liam’s hands. The gargoyle was bobbing up and down in mid air and looked green. Seth and Rocky were laughing at Lisa who was red faced and was holding what looked like a tissue box. She quickly stepped through the bouncing couple and vanished into the bathroom. Seth found me looking at him and immediately his smile vanished. He touched Agnishikha on her shoulder and whispered something to her. She let go of Liam’s hand who shakily shifted to Rocky’s shoulder. I was being stared by all of them and their looks were a little ominous.

I stood up and stretched. It was creepy the way they were staring at me and I was completely freaked out. “Hi guys?” I asked hoping against hope that their expression might change. They said nothing and a voice came from behind them. “Just tell him and let him decide what it means. Cut out the drama and excuse me.” It was Lisa who had washed her still red face and pushed through the lot to face me. “Your choice Akshat. Bad news first or good news?” I liked that girl for this very reason. She was solid. I didn’t want to start my morning with a bad news so I chose to hear the good one first. “Um… The good news? And please stop staring at me like that. Its creeping me out.” As if my words broke them out of some kind of trance, all of them mumbled apologies and settled on the closest things they could find. It was a chair for Seth, bed for Agnishikha, table for Rocky and Lisa pulled me down back on my bed with her.

“I think Lisa might want to say the good news.” Rocky said and Lisa sighed. “Okay. The good news we found out at the greater Novem concerns the alliance of the other pantheons. The Greek and Roman Pantheons have decided to sit on the sidelines and watch it all unfold. They will decide to interfere only if we are on the verge of loosing. The Celtic, Jain, Sikh, Islam, Maayab and a few other pantheons have decided to stay neutral because ‘It doesn’t concerns them’. A few gods from each of them have decided to join Decain but they are ignoring that part of the situation. Our most successful exchange is with the Norse. They are considering it as the beginning of the Ragnarok and are ready to join us at the moment Loki gets free. This is the greatest advantage for us since none of the Norse have joined Decain.” She finished with a smile.

If that was the good news then I was certainly disappointed. Not that it wasn’t a good thing, but what were the chances of Loki getting free if Decain found out it might help us? I was certainly hoping for the help of other gods but when our own had refused us, who would like to do so?

“And for the bad part… Liam will tell you.” She said and patted my arm as if assuring me. Liam jumped from Rocky’s shoulder and settled on Lisa’s outstretched arm. He cleared his throat and said. “Decain has sent us a message.  He claims he has the person who holds three parts of Kalki’s soul out of the dozen. And he is the same person who attacked Seth’s tribe. The worst thing is… Decain claims ‘He is the brother of that reaper godling you are hiding in your dungeons.'”

They all became silent as they let me respond. The Godling they were hiding? And he was a reaper? it meant that… I looked up into their faces in horror. I had a brother? And he was supporting Decain? That was unexpected. And how could he hold three parts of Kalki’s twelve?

I had a lot of questions swirling in my head. You have to be a little unsettled if your brother was an evil pawn who had killed a whole tribe. I looked at Seth expecting his anger or loathing for me. But what I found was only sympathy. I turned to Liam and asked. “How can he possess three parts of Kalki’s soul?” It was a little surprising when my voice came out normal and steady. Liam looked taken aback and he glanced at Rocky. With his nod, Liam wheezed. “It is possible to wrench out the part of a living god from one’s soul if a higher God wills it. If he is your brother, his bloodline allows him to possess a god’s soul. if Decain has the blessings of a higher god and if he has the skills to do the transfer and he has found the beings having Kalki’s soul, then he might…”

He left the sentence hanging and dropped on the bed. The way Liam’s ears twitched and the jerkiness of his glances showed that he was scared. Agnishikha tried to cheer us up and said. “Did anyone notice the number of “if”s and “might”s in Liam’s explanation? Come on guys! That is a lot of variables even for Decain! And relax… None of our gods shall side with him. And those who will do so, don’t have enough strength to bless him. So calm down. He is not getting the most important part he needs and our side wouldn’t help him at any price.”

Her voice had a tinge of hope mixed with forced happiness. Overall it sounded like she needed some convincing herself. Everyone was lost in thoughts as I pondered upon what she said. None of us shall help him… A chill went down my spine as I recited Liam’s explanation about Chaos. “Um… Guys?” It drew their attention and from the look on Lisa’s face, she had reached the same conclusion as me. “Aren’t there creatures of Chaos in the same class as our higher Gods? What if they helped him?”

The silence which followed my words was so foreboding that I wished I had not pointed it out. Lisa was thinking something from the look on her face and she asked Rocky. “Wouldn’t the soul of Kalki change if it is bound by a Chaotic creature? I mean… The power of the Kalki avatar resides in the fact that Kalki has almost all of Lord Vishnu’s aura. Wouldn’t the aura change if someone from the other side blesses it?”

Her hope was obvious the way she asked the question. If the soul was changed, then it would not be Kalki any longer. That would cause a lot of different possibilities as it meant other Gods from the trinity could interfere.

Rocky was uncomfortable when he looked at Liam for the answer. His discomfort was obvious and Seth replied in his stead. “No one can say for sure. If that being from Chaos has an aura even a little bit similar to Lord Vishnu then they will consume each other. But the most probable thing is that the chaotic aura may taint Kalki’s and make it evil.” He paused to emphasize his point and continued. “It would be like covering a pure white football with a black balloon. It would hardly affect the use of the ball, but it will be black instead of being white.”

He finished his explanation and looked at Lisa for her reaction. Her lips were clamped in worry. Agnishikha was deep in thoughts and the same was the case with everyone. It was a very bad thing if it happened. No ordinary god could defeat my brother and we will have to go looking for the rest of Kalki’s part of souls for even a little fighting chance. Even then, It would be hard to make the possessors of the souls fight together.

“Don’t worry guys. The Novem will see to it. We just have to do our part.” Agnishikha said as if closing the topic. “Who is coming for breakfast?” She asked as she got ready to head out. Everyone stood in unison and Seth held back to walk with me. “Don’t worry Aksh, we will figure something out. Just hope that Kalki doesn’t become dark.”

I smiled weakly at him. Agnishikha opened the door to find a guard with his hand raised to knock. He stepped back and said politely. “Princess Agnishikha, reaper Akshat, Lord Varun is here to take you to the realm of Gods.”