Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book 1 - The Herald - Chapter 1 - (Agati) Arrival

Chellamma woke up with a start, her heart beating furiously and sweat flowing down her dark skin. Something had disrupted her sleep and despite the comfortable weather with its strong cool breeze, she was feeling like her house was an oven. Unable to breathe, she exited her small thatched hut to escape the feeling of asphyxiation. She raised her head upwards and braced her sides allowing the cool night air to flow into her lungs easily. As she took another deep breath she noticed a bright light in the sky continuously increasing in intensity. She completely forgot about her shortness of breath and stared intently at this most unusual occurrence. The air around her began to get warmer as the light got brighter. A tingling sensation ran over her skin making the light hair on her arms stand up.

Still the light grew in intensity. She felt entranced, rooted in place unable to look away. It seemed to be calling to her and she found it impossible to resist. She suddenly realized that the light was not in the sky but was moving steadily in her direction. Yet she remained still, something willed her to stay, almost as if it were her destiny. The light was almost upon her, the air was charged and soothingly warm. In a matter of seconds it got extremely bright, Chellamma thought she might go blind. But she felt enveloped in a peaceful countenance and she felt like lying down. She slumped to the ground, all her energy sapped. Her eyes closed as she passed out , just as the bright light faded out.

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Rangarama was drunk! He knew his wife would scream at him all night for spending time at the gambling den. Well she would have to curb her tongue tonight because he had made a killing today. Rangarama was definitely very pleased with himself. As he waddled along towards his home he felt the air get warmer. "Nothing odd about that! The toddy must have been working its magic", he thought. Yet he had never felt this lightheaded and warm from drinking the horse-piss they served at the den before today.

Wham!

"Get out of my way." He turned to face the idiot that had knocked into him. Looking up he realized that in his drunken state he had slammed into some stacked barrels. Just as he was about to be on his way, something caught his eye up in the sky. He rubbed his eyes and wondered if something else was in his drink this night. He was astonished to see a bright light shooting down to earth through the sky. And it was heading straight for Chellamma's house. In the moonlight, he watched as she emerged from the house and stood immobile as the light hurtled toward her. "Move you stupid woman. What is she doing?" Rangarama muttered under his breath as he ran towards Chellamma, hoping to reach her in time.

He was too late! The light hit her and there was a bright flash. He had to shield his eyes from the radiance, his approach brought to an abrupt stop. As the light faded away he looked towards Chellamma fearing the worst. She lay on the ground completely still. He approached her cautiously to check if she was still alive. Once he got close enough he noticed that her chest was rising and falling. "She's alive! Thank Muruga!" Looking closely he noticed that not only was she unhurt, she was asleep and her mouth formed into the most pleasant smile he had ever seen. She looked like she was in heaven. He lifted her up and took here into her hut and laid her down on her bed. He would come check on her in the morning. As he walked out the hovel, he wondered what was this wondrous thing that he had seen this night.

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Streaks of light filled the hovel, piercing the thatched straw that formed the sides of the roof in her house. Chellamma opened her eyes, waking from her slumber and realizing she had never slept so soundly in all her life. She felt at peace, however such energy filled her body that had not existed in her old bones. Oddly though she had a unusual feeling, like a thought at the back of her mind which seemed to elude her concious faculties. 

Epilogue - III

The encompassing darkness was making it exceedingly difficult to traverse the rugged terrain. Normally this would not be much of a challenge for the solitary figure as her green eyes could navigate in almost no light, but this unnatural darkness seemed to impede even her accentuated senses. Sweat poured down the grey-brown skin of her neck and into the tanned bull-leather vest she wore. In better conditions she would have leapt from rock to rock with the grace of an eagle soaring over the air currents, but instead she crouched low and close to the ground her pace slowed to a crawl.

Always aware about the importance of finishing her task with due haste and running out of options she called upon simple magic, always aware of the danger of being discovered. Drawing upon the latent natural forces inherent in the ground and air around her, she cast the incantation.

"Ujjvala"

The darkness seemed to recede somewhat and her spirits rose. The elder needed her to scout this terrain quickly and she quickened her pace. As she moved onward the terrain sloped upward with fewer boulders to block her progress. A noisome smell filled her nostrils suddenly and she shifted her stride towards the increasingly disturbing smell. Her sensitive nose made out the alarming smell of blood in that noxious scent wafting in the evening breeze and she bolted in its direction terrified of what she might find. When she got close to the source of the acrid odour she abruptly slowed her pace, crouched down and approached cautiously. As she came into view of the area, her eyes widened in horror. She beheld a scene of gruesome carnage, a massacre she could not imagining ever witnessing. What seemed to be bodies or parts of bodies were strewn all over what was once a campsite. Feeling emotions she never normally experienced, her eyes welled up with tears seeing the dismembered body parts of her people. It looked like the travelling tribe of forest dwellers had been ambushed and brutally slain. Her people were vicious warriors yet even she could not comprehend why there were no signs of struggle and how a murder this brutal could be committed.

This was a tragedy. She piled up the bodies on a single pyre and after giving them last rites she lit the bonfire. She dashed back towards the fort to bring this grim news to her commander. Her mood became more sullen as she disappeared into the ever enveloping darkness.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Epilogue - II

Blood flowed out of the open wound on his forehead, the bright red ichor staining the light brown skin of his cheeks. Undeterred he battled on, his two blades Suraarihantŕ and Dazamaarikaa singing to the tune of his movements. Clasping the twin blades tightly in his hands at shoulder width from each other and pointing outward he began a hypnotic dance through the sea of ashen skinned enemies, cutting and slashing at them. Many panicked and fell back to the blade-dance, blood flowing from wounds on various parts of their bodies. By now the warrior had reached deep into the ranks of the enemy, but was surprised to find his enemies forming a wide ring around him, beginning to chant loudly in unison.

"Janyavrtti! Janyavrtti!"

A giant mace came crashing down on his side, cracking the earth stained with the blood of him and his enemies. He glanced to the side to confront red eyes burning with rage and hatred. In front of him stood a large warrior maiden, her body clad in ceremonial armour made of bronze and decorated with gold filigree. She towered over him almost double in height, her sharp teeth locked in a furious grimace. The gigantic female lifted up her implement of war for another strike, her muscles rippling with effort. Anticipating the attack he lifted Suraarihantŕ to deflect and Dazamaarikaa to prepare a counter-attack. The dusky maiden swung her mace at his torso intending to break his spine, her dark matted hair blowing in the dry breeze. Using Suraarihantŕ he deftly directed her strike towards the ground again and readied Dazamaarikaa for the inevitable stab as the maiden staggered furious her attack had not connected.

"Muulabandha!" boomed a voice behind the maiden.

Roots burst forth from the ground, first enclosing and constricting around his feet and started moving up his legs towards his chest. Desperately he hacked and slashed using Suraarihantŕ at the thorny bramble suppressing his instinct to cry out in pain, the hand holding Dazamaarikaa already clasped by the ever-growing vines. The maiden, now recovered was advancing, her mace raised in the air her mouth foaming with anger.

With a flick of his wrist the warrior sliced through the vines restraining Dazamaarikaa. Just then the maiden's mace came smashing down on him. He quickly strafed left causing the mace to bludgeon through the rest of the roots and freeing himself to return to balance. The mystic who had rooted him came into view, his lips pursed and intensely concentrated gaze rested on him. The yaksha's skin was ashen and the intricate colourful paint that covered his hard features did little to hide the excessive number of ornaments pierced into his skin. As he began chanting silently, he laid a hand on the maiden's shoulder. Her stature and muscles began to grow in power and she let out a piercing roar. The mystic slumped to the ground, his body needing recuperation from the energy siphon of the incantation.

Surrounded by enemies and watching the magically invigorated elite maiden charging to finish him off, the warrior braced himself intent on taking out as many enemies before he himself would be overwhelmed. The female swung her mace downward towards the warrior's head intending to crush his skull. The warrior held his blades above him hoping that would halt the downward movement of the sledge. Suddenly there was a bright flash of light and the warrior and rest of his army disappeared from the battlefield, leaving no trace save their shed blood. The maiden's mace came crashing down sending shockwaves in all directions, yet that did not compare to the astonishment on the faces of the hardened yaksha army.

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1) In sanskrit Suraarihantŕ means demon-killer; *demon was a racial qualifier in Indian society and bears no similarity to the semitic term
2) In sanskrit Dazamaarikaa means the killer of 10
3) In sanskrit Muulabandha means deep-rooted

Epilogue - I

"Is everything ready? Its bad news from the fronts. We have little time before the evacuation," whispered the earnest voice under the saffron hood, gesturing a greeting to his companion. His calloused hands were barely visible outside his flowing robe.

"Yes, the final stage of the procedure is underway at Vishwasthal. Hurry on there while I wrap up here," said the seated figure after he broke out of his trance.

The younger man knew he would not get to observe the greatest migration of his people but his job was one of much greater importance.

The old robed man hobbled down the stone altar, the cobbled steps worn but still showing the intricate artistry that they had borne for many a century. He took a last look back just as the youthful acolyte settled into a deep trance. The sounds of the nocturnal fauna and the feeble light of the moon were the only signs of life on this cold night. The man hurried along soothing his mind with a silent prayer.

As he approached his destination, the mellifluous chorus of a thousand voices in unison rang in his elderly ears. The dulcet drone of the chants were as mesmerizing as they were powerful. The bright lights of a million lamps soon came into view as he came around the bend and exited the thick jungle into an enormous clearing. At the heart of this clearing stood a grand pedestal with a trio of stone thrones. On them were seated three simply clad men, in white, blue and black. Around them thousands of men women and children all echoed the chant in perfect harmony and intense concentration.

"... He created life from the words of eternity ... "
"... He maintained life from the balance of the spirit ..."
"... He renewed life from the destruction of the old ..."
"... They sustain the promise of life for us and our children ..."

The old man proceeded to the pedestal and walked up to one of the men dressed in white. He prostrated himself before his better and said,

"The last acolyte of the creator has begun his task. I will now take my place among our people and we can complete the ceremony."

With that, he walked into the crowd and added his voice to the chorus. The three men stood around the pedestal and raised their hands in unison.

"... Hail to the creator, blessed of life ..."
"... Hail to the preserver, gentle and kind ..."
"... Hail to the destroyer, just and strong ..."
"... Save us our doom ..."
"... Take us now ..."
"... Take us now ..."
"... Take us now ..."

The mass of humanity chanted vigorously these last words until it peaked to a crescendo, there was a bright flash of light and everything went out. NO sound, NO light and NO sign of the glorious pedestal. The sounds of the surrounding forest assaulted the sudden silence.

It had been done!!