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.

 

 

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.”

An immortal is a celebrity. Any doubts? – Ch 19

Life is full of variables and constraints. A single small decision can change your whole future or you might try to change it for years and nothing will happen. The chances and occurrences are random enough in a normal person’s life. But when you are a part of a community consisting of preternatural beings from vampires and ghosts to gods themselves, a blink of an eye can make your life turn upside down.

I was staring at Vaul and Ronan. Maya was pressed to the window as if afraid of touching Natasha. The effect of her exclamation only just sank in Agnishikha’s mind. She quickly stiffened and her lips went tight with eyes shooting sparks at Vaul. Before I could have said anything, Ronan assessed the environment in the car and hurriedly said. “Please don’t misinterpret it. It is not what you are thinking. We really cannot escort… Natasha in this car.” His eyes were wide with desperation and I knew the reason. If Natasha got angry enough, then no one was safe in her vicinity. Ronan quickly looked at Maya for support and she straightened in effort to have a little dignity. Her eyes were pleading when she said “Please forgive us Devi. We were unaware of your stature. I shall immediately provide an escort worthy for an immortal.”

Agnishikha and I gaped open-mouthed at her from the use of the formal word ‘Devi’ for addressing great women and goddesses. The gods had long since deserted us due to the start of Kaliyuga and such formalities were dwindling with time. There used to be a period when gods walked among humans in the Satayuga. Gods could be met with worshiping and meditation in the Tretayuga. the Dwaparyuga required grand ceremonies and  the best priests to even steal a glance of a god. And now in the Kaliyuga, the only way to see a god in person for a common man was to go under tapasya. The preternatural community was still graced with the appearance of a god once or twice in a decade, but for all the others seeing a god was impossible. So hearing a word only used in the ancient times was as much a shock as their proclamation was.

Natasha surely noticed our gaping jaws and took the reins in her hands. She smiled at Maya and said. “Don’t be a fool. I’m more than comfortable in this vehicle. Please don’t waste time in calling out for another one.” Her words were for Ronan as well as for Vaul. Maya glanced uncertainly at Ronan for direction. She nodded when Ronan jerked and slid out of the car. Agnishikha groaned and muttered something about ‘pompous’ and ‘show off’ with some words not meant to be uttered from a lady’s mouth. Natasha rolled her eyes but followed Maya and I went out of the car at the same time Vaul did. Ronan was saying something to Maya who was nodding enthusiastically. Vaul strode towards Natasha and prostrated in a formal sashtang dndawat; the most formal namaste. Natasha looked pleased but hastily helped Vaul up on to his feet. There was a peculiar tugging at my aura as if someone was touching an artifact kept in an air-tight box from the outside. It was a brush of aura being used and I realized that the god part of the aura was being used. I turned to face the SUV and my jaw dropped open from what I saw.

There was a shimmering pool of sparkles surrounding the car like a haze and everything was blurry and wavering inside the cloak of sparkles. both silver and gold sparkles surrounded the vehicle which looked as if it was inside a pool of water. Slowly the hulk of the car was all I could see and by the silence around me, Natasha and Agnishikha were busy ogling it too. Somehow I made it out that the silver sparkles were being led by the gold ones as if the silver provided bulk and the golden guided them. The car was merely a red patch amidst the sparkly haze. I thought I watched the car lengthen; or it was my mind playing tricks? The height was getting less too. Slowly a part of metal separated from the bulk and started elongating and compressing weirdly. It was too hazy to look anything clearly. But the coarse thing I saw was that the SUV was divided into two different parts. One small and one large. The disfiguring went on for a few minutes and now all I could see was two red shapes through the haze.

Suddenly all the sparkles seemed to form an opaque wall and everything was blocked from view. Then with a flash as bright as a 1000 watt lamp, the field bulged outwards and I turned to cover my eyes. I was aware of the aura dissipating behind me and I squinted to get the violet spot off my vision. A few sparkles still fizzled here and there but what I saw in the middle made my jaw drop further if possible. There was a limo in all its glory with an off-road bike at its side. Both vehicles were blood-red and the limousine was equipped with off-road wheels and what appeared to be hydraulics. The bike was a simple one with deeply grooved tires. Ronan and Maya walked towards us, beaming. Maya had a sheen of sweat covering her face and there was a slight swaying when she stood upright. But her eyes told she was proud of her work.

“Devi, please allow us to escort you to your proper vehicle. Maya shall take your companions separately.” Ronan said with another namaste. Natasha glanced at me and Agnishikha and nodded to herself. “Agnishikha here will ride with me if you don’t mind. Akshat shall accompany Maya.” Natasha said with a cold look at me. She  was truly being childish. I had taken authority despite of being her shishya and she was now taking a chance to ride in a Limo from me as a punishment. It was also a great loss to not hear the ‘how’ of making such changes to material.

Agnishikha smirked at me and strode to the Limo with Natasha and Vaul. I was left with Maya as we watched them depart. Vaul’s driving didn’t change a bit despite of the Limo which went straight ahead tramping a bush as high as my waist. I kept staring at the residue sparkles the vehicle left for a little while even after it left.

A cough brought me back to the present and I realized that the bike was the vehicle left for me and Maya. She was looking pointedly at me and I glanced nervously between her and the bike. Remembering her encounter with me in my attempt to make idle talk made me fidget a little. She harrumphed and almost snarled at me. “Are you going to wait here whole day? Don’t you have the decency to not keep a girl waiting for long?” Her voice was as cold as her eyes at me. I again looked at the bike and considered the possibility of her at my back with me having no protection against her. The  thought brought an involuntary shudder and I asked her. “Can’t you drive? I don’t even know the way.”

My meek voice had the exact opposite effect of what I had thought. If looks could have killed, I would have been lying dead in uncountable pieces. Her stare decided everything and I strode to the bike. The key was already in there and I dragged it across the bushes to her. I sat and started the bike and the engine growled as a ravaging bear. Maya seemed to be pleased with my obvious amazement at the bike. That look was only momentary as she noticed me sitting waiting for her. “Don’t you dare break hard reaper. Or you shall regret even putting your hands on the lever.” She said in an utterly calm voice. Then she stalked towards the bike and jumped to sit behind me. I slid as far on the tank as I could and let her have all the sitting space. She didn’t even touch any part of my body and grabbed the seat with both hands instead. I shifted to bike into gear and it shot off through the dense bushes.

Maya gave a startled yelp and grabbed my waist as hard as she could. All her frostiness was gone as she clung to me desperately. I didn’t let the bike speed past 30, but the uneven terrain made the ride a roller-coaster. The dirt road was nowhere in sight so I was forced to follow the destruction left by Vaul’s driving. Girls were odd. Very odd. Agnishikha had slapped me when I accidentally locked both of us in a dog crate, and had smothered me with a whole lot of curses appropriate for a street thug. Then she became my friend and behaved like a school kid. Maya was also a little… peculiar. She didn’t even look at me without scowling, and now she was wrapped around my middle like an octopus. I was sure she would point it out as a ‘demand of situation’ later, and would act as nothing ever happened.

“Take the right trough here!” Maya shouted in my ear when we rode down another hill. The trampled grass left by the limo went straight ahead but I took her word for true and turned the bike right. After a few hundred meters, the dirt road came in our view and now I was driving steadily on a smoother, safer road. Maya slackened her grip a little and said in my ear again. “If you are trying to goad me into letting you drive faster, you are certainly being unsuccessful. Try harder.” She shifted a little and now she holding me with her hands on my shoulders. I was doing what? She didn’t make sense at all! Why would I try to go fast when she told me not to break too hard? Couldn’t she have told me exactly what she wanted? Well… Girls never say something straight. they have to make the simplest things complex.

The steady drone of the bike lulled me into my worries. I had been ignoring them for a lot of time. My friends, the veil, and what about the IRC? Had it also gone to Decain? I knew a few reapers who could have died instead of following such a person. But when even gods were allied to him, how much chance a reaper had? I had thought the veil was safe. But bad luck seem to really go with me and spread to the places I went and to the people I met. There was a large number of creatures whose alliances were still unknown. The Weres liked to keep out of the troubles of immortals. But I couldn’t help thinking about the pup I had met at the MP’s place; his son. Did I really left bad luck where I went? I had no idea.

Shaking my head to clear it, I increased the speed a bit and relaxed when Maya didn’t say anything. The road went through mostly low hills and sparse woods. I kept driving and after two or three hours, I met the sign of habitation. A stout stone house sat beside the road. A few men and women were standing guard with strange assortment of weapons. Some had pistols or rifles, and a few had swords and bows. Maya waved at them and they let us pass. She had been quiet for the whole of the journey. I tried to look at her in the rear view mirror, but couldn’t get her face into it.

There was a slight commotion a little ahead of us. A lot of people were gathered and I could hear shouts and cheers. A few were also chanting while others tried to climb over others to get to the center. The crowd thinned for a moment and a bright red limo came into my view. It was still a few hundred meters further, but I could see into the center due to the slight elevated ground on which the bike was. All of them were cheering loudly for someone. Their gestures were full of joy and happiness. And in the center of the crowd, standing on the roof of limo, waving to the people, was Natasha.

Read the full story here.

How to use Indian gods in fiction without offending them

The Indian culture is very flexible. India is a country where a Christian woman steps aside for a Sikh man to be the Prime Minister, who in turn takes his oath before a President who is a Muslim. But Indians are emotional. There is a very fine line between getting appreciated and offending the Indians. So we don’t find much professional fiction stories related to the Indian Gods. All of it is either folklore or stories for children.

But there are some writers who have successfully written stories about Indian mythologies without any controversies. Let us find how to slip through the Indian believes without offending them.

DO NOT

Never write about any birthchild of a Goddess.

The Indian belief is too strong about worshiping the goddesses as their mothers. And the Indian culture does not allow women to marry twice easily. So if you are writing about Indian goddesses having children, you are practically offending their mothers. Not a good idea.

Never get a God beaten or killed.

The Indian Gods are the power source of the will of the people. If you make them appear weak, you are offending the strength of people.

Never let a God stand up to the trinity. (Bramha, Vishnu & Mahesh)

The trinity is there to create, nurture, and destroy the universe. How can anyone stand up to them? Be careful to always keep them the highest authorities in the Hindu Pantheons.

Never make the Gods arrive on Earth

The Indian Gods’ power, especially the power of the trinity; is taken to be so much, that they cannot interfere in the working of the universe directly. If you make them appear on the earth, you are causing a huge power unbalance. It is also contrary to the peoples’ belief.

Try not to involve the Islam with the Hinduism.

The Muslim religion is a very strict one. You simply cannot meddle with it. An artist made a cartoon of their supreme and we know what happened. So try not to touch the Islam if you love your life.

How to bypass these problems?

Birthchild or Demigod

If you want to bring the story of Gods to the mortal realms, it will be hollow without godlings. But how to create them without offending the people?

→ There are a few Gods who specially carve for mortal women. Indra is the best choice for you.
→ You can also use Kamadev, the Indian god of love; to inflict sexual desires into other male Gods.
→ When you come to Goddesses,  the simplest option is a newborn to be blessed by her.
→ You can also put a bit of the essence of the Goddess into a baby through her will only.
→ The same can be done by Gods too.

So you will have an army of demigods at your disposal. 😉

Gods always win? Not fair.

No one is perfect. Even the great Gods have to lose sometimes. But how can you do so gracefully?

→ Make the God accept the expertise of his opponent and retreat on his honor.
→ Indian Gods never die. They are true immortals. So the best way to remove them from the story is to force them back to the heavens under the supervision of a higher God.
→ Research the Indian folklore. On More than one occasion, a god is outwitted by a person. Try to use the fact that Gods cannot be beaten with strength but by intellect.
→ Make any of the Trinity side against the God. They have a lot of authority over other Gods.

Trinity the Almighty?

The trinity is the supreme authority in the Hindus. You cannot beat them with strength or wit.

→ The only way to defeat any of the trinity is to gain a boon from them and then use it against them. It has been done several times.
→ Yoy will depict their own boon stronger than them and the faith of the people will be safe.

Gods on earth

The only god that comes on the Earth is Narada. Indian gods don’t come to visit the earth in person untill they are summoned.

→ The only way to call them is to make them happy with a devotee’s tapasya. If the devotee takes his body and soul to the brink of life just to please a God, the God appears to grant the devotee some boons.
→ Most of the gods take an avatar to come into the mortal realm.
→ Many gods come to earth in form of natural phenomena, like storm, water, wind or fire.
→ The trinity seldom come to the Earth, but when they do, their incarnations achieve great deeds.

Do not involve the Islam

Its a sensitive topic. You should better leave it alone. But there are many other pantheons to choose from.

→ The Indian subcontinent is a hub of religions. The Hindu, the Sikh, the Jain, the Buddhism; all of them have their roots in the Hinduism.
→ You can utilise the ancient pantheons like the Aaryan or the Vedic as well.
→ Then there is the option of going international. You can also include foreign Gods.

These are some most basic methods to go through the loopholes. You can improvise as much as you like.

I am open to all your thoughts.