Friday, December 30, 2016

The Blue Stone

Krishi breathed in the air again and savoured that feeling. Because the air here was.....pure. Not noxious like the ones that they had to breathe in when they were in the outer caves which they had to pass to sneak their way inside the Dome.

"STOP"

The sign board before him read as Krishi saw a group of Androids.

"Androids ahead," Krishi said loud enough to carry to the back of the passenger craft. And then Krishi got out of the stolen craft and stopped. Theirs was the only vehicle on the road. The roads had very little traffic. But considering that there were hardly more than a few thousand inside the Dome, Krishi was not very surprised with that.

"Specify reason for visit." The steel eyes of the android studied Krishi as Krishi had swiped the illegal card which he had purloined from a Upper Level Member the evening before.

"Provision Delivery." Krishi said struggling not to wince, thumbing at the craft behind him. He had been injured in the shoulder real bad yesterday, in another 'incident'. The problem was that the shoulder was throbbing real bad and Krishi could not understand why that was so. Krishi had been injured a lot. As an Outsider, that was almost the norm, which was why it was helpful that he healed fast. Except this injury and of course the scar on his right hand which he had since the time he was little.

But then none of these thoughts actually made its way to his conscious thinking. Because Krishi was studying the Androids. These damned Androids seemed to be upgrades. There was a high chance that they could actually sense that he was injured and continue further scanning of him or the craft that he was driving. Krishi knew that he could not have that. Not now.

If these Androids had been humans, Krishi knew that he would be long done in. His face was a dead giveaway. Any human would have known almost immediately that Krishi could not be an Upper Level Member. He neither had the money to bring himself as part of the locality and according to his educational reports he was supposed to have an 'addled brain' - one that could neither be taught nor learn. Which was why he was abandoned as an Outsider – the one who does not belong inside the Dome, along with thousands of people like him.

And then there was the Dome. The Dome. The one goal of all the Outsiders.

The Outsiders were all forced to live outside the Dome. The Dome which kept the harmful radiation away from the humans after the destruction of the ozone layer.

Right now, inside the Dome, the Uppers hardly wanted to waste any time checking the roads, which was why they created the Androids to man the roads and the Androids were created for one purpose – Shoot any person not having the Upper Level Member Card.

And frankly Krishi was not even surprised. But he was sadly curious. He could not believe why the Uppers who were after all humans just like them, would deny the Outsiders the opportunity to stay inside the Dome. The reasons which the Uppers gave to deny Outsiders from joining the group ranged from abysmally stupid to apparently wrong. But then nobody had the guts to point it out to the Uppers. The Uppers made the law and that was that.

Krishi looked at the Dome again and realized that the shield was a brilliant transparent shade letting the sunlight come in without letting the air come inside. They probably recycled the air inside, which explained why the air was so pure here. The Dome was the only place on earth right now where people could actually roam around in daylight because of the shield and more importantly where any plants could grow.

"All parameters met. Let the craft pass," the Android told Krishi, who nodded and took the card back. He was not sure whether he could use it again. But it made sense to keep it with him. He never knew when he was going to need it again.

Krishi was about to get inside the craft again, when he saw a convoy coming.

Swearing angrily, Krishi slipped inside the vehicle. He banged on the craft wall behind him. "Keep silent. A convoy of Uppers is right next to us." Krishi said tightly, as he was trying to comb his unruly hair and was pulling his shirt open to cover all his scars on hands. Already there was hardly any noise from the prisoners who were inside his craft. And now in the following silence, Krishi could almost feel their fear - the human prisoners of the Uppers.

None of them knew what experiments the Uppers carried out on the captured Outsiders in their "Institute". Only one thing was clear, any Outsider who were sent to the Institute were never seen again. Ever.

"I am unlocking the panel to the driver seat," Krishi said as the Stop sign before him by the Androids had still not been removed. "If the convoy stops me, one of your get in the front and drive the vehicle away." Krishi said pressing the button to unlock the panel, allowing people from the back of the truck to come to the front.

"You?" A voice came from the back of the craft was listless with barely any emotion. But Krishi did not grudge his passenger that. He had rescued prisoners from the Uppers before, just before they were sent to the Institute and frankly none of them had spoken for weeks.

"I can take care of myself," Krishi said hoping his voice did not shake or that he sounded slightly more confident than this.

"Take care," This time the voice had slightly more emotion and Krishi noted a slight concern in the voice and decided that that was all he was going to have right now.

Krishi heard movement and saw an Android bend down and talk to him through the window.

"Let the convoy of the Elders pass through." The Android told him.

Krishi nodded as he pulled his craft back and let the other vehicle pass. He tried to hide himself back...hoping....hoping....

Krishi breathed a sigh of relief as the craft drove away turning into the next lane.

The Androids had lost all interest in him as Krishi drove away the craft breathing a sigh of relief.

*******

The craft of the Elders stopped in the next street as they watched the craft being driven away.

"Why are you driving the craft?" Kira demanded watching her old grandmother - Madam Alarnia, driving the craft.

"Seems the right thing to do. Especially considering what date it is today," Madam Alarnia said.

"What?" Kira asked confused.

"They were Outsiders," Madam Alarnia told her granddaughter Kira, with a small smile as she pointed at the craft which had driven away. "Though they have the van of the Provision Delivery and the driver is dressed like the driver, they are definitely outsiders. And he had a scar."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Kira asked looking shocked at her grandmother.

"Have you ever wondered why you have had this scar in your hand?" Madam Alarnia asked completely ignoring Kira's question.

Kira saw her hand and frowned as she saw the deeply wedged scar in her hand. "Why is this relevant right now?" She asked.

Alarnia smiled sadly looking at her granddaughter. "You are wise and unlike your uncle you are not cruel!" Alarnia said shaking her head.

"Cruel?" Kira asked, "Are you talking about the Institute?" Kira asked Alarnia sharply.

Kira had fought with her uncle so many times first asking him to open the Dome to all. Her uncle gave no reasons for it. But he refused. When Kira started pushing the people inside the Dome to open the dome, when her uncle had almost had Kira thrown in prison. It was only because Alarnia had interfered that Kira was let go. Kira realized that she could not be openly defiant of her uncle because most of the people inside the Dome supported her uncle.

Kira learnt a very important lesson after that. She still did her work but in the background helping the prisoners escape when they were in prison, before they were taken to the "Institute".

"Do you know what your uncle is trying to find there in the Institute?" Alarnia asked Kira.

Kira frowned and shook her head.

"Open the box, Kira," Alarnia said as she handed over an ornately carved box to Kira.

Kira watched her grandmother stunned, "You asked me never to open it!" Kira said.

"That did not stop you from doing it." Alarnia said with a small smile.

Kira looked slightly embarrassed. "How did you know I tried to open it?" Kira asked.

"Because that is exactly what I would have done if anyone had asked me not to do something," Alarnia said giving a throaty laugh.

Kira said nothing as Alarnia asked her again, "What did you see inside the box?"

"A stone! A blue stone!" Kira said as Alarnia gasped.

"Was the stone glowing?" Alarnia asked Kira sharply.

"It was bright!" Kira said shrugging.

Alarnia was silent for some time.

"Take the box and travel outside the Dome!" Alarnia told Kira.

Kira looked shocked. "What...?" She asked not able to believe what she was hearing.

"Your uncle has not been able to find out whom he wants because he does not realize that power of this kind would not rest in one person!" Alarnia smiled at Kira nodding to herself,"There are two of you," Alarnia told Kira.

"What?" Kira asked again.

"Take the stone kid and find the other man who would have a scar like yours and I am sure that together the two of you can bring down this Dome and also dash your uncle's ambitions," Alarnia said nodding at Kira as she pointed to the Dome in the sky.

Kira looked confused as her grandmother handed over her weapon, pushing Kira out of the vehicle.

"Go now," Alarnia said and then nodded to herself. "But beware of one traitor."

"What?" Kira asked.

But Alarnia gave her no answers as Kira was all alone and her grandmother drove off the craft from there.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

To catch a thief, just break his heart...

 "He confessed to the murder and how she helped him in the entire thing! And she is not at her home. We are on the hunt for her!" Deputy Commissioner of Police Reyansh Miran spoke hurried as he removed his police cap when the DCP spotted Shankar Churl sitting at one of the tables at the canteen. The DCP had a small note of pride in his voice as he nodded at Shankar Churl, as he placed his cap on the table and sat opposite to Shankar. "Your hunch paid off perfectly and now we also know that...." Reyansh stopped talking as he was studying Shankar.

Slowly, the other sounds and the general hubhub of conversation among the other police personnel in the canteen and Shankar's expressionless face, made its way to Reyansh's subconscious. DCP Reyansh was a great judge of people. In his line of work, where Reyansh met criminals on a regular basis, it was not just an important skill, it was a question of survival. And it really helped that Reyansh was brilliant at trusting the right people. Reyansh was a man of sharp intelligence and had an average height and built and he was just the sort of man who would be lost in a crowd. And Reyansh knew that that was one of his greatest USP. People always looked at him and tended to underestimate him and told them all their secrets thinking that he just could not connect the dots. And plenty of criminals in jail had made the same mistake and were now in prison because of that, which probably explained why Reyansh was the youngest DCP in the city.

But Reyansh knew that Shankar Churl was one of the few people who just did not make that mistake. There was a part of Reyansh which actually realized that he was one of the few people whom Shankar genuinely respected and Reyansh knew that that did not happen often.

Reyansh studied Shankar who normally had laughing brown eyes with a broad forehead and a lean, wiry body and decided that with Shankar's rugged handsome features, it was almost impossible for Shankar to get lost in a crowd. Shankar stood out in a crowd, which was exactly why Reyansh was shocked, when eight years back, Reyansh learnt exactly what Shankar did for a living. Though, Shankar's visiting card described Shankar as the General Manager of an Import-Export firm, Reyansh learnt that the real and only way to describe Shankar's occupation, was to call Shankar a thief. Plain and simple.

And in those eight years which followed Reyansh had never been able to pin anything on Shankar. Hell, Reyansh could not even predict what Shankar was going to hit next, let alone protect what Shankar was after. And as Reyansh profiled the man, he realized that Shankar was completely non-violent, inventive, imaginative and improvised a lot, which was the most important reason, why Shankar had not even been in the radar of the police as a possible suspect for any of the thefts in and around the city of Sthapan.

And Reyansh because of some deep inbred instinct, kept his suspicions about Shankar to himself, instead of reporting it to his peers and superiors. After Reyansh studied the robberies which could have been committed by Shankar, Reyansh finally had realized the futility of going after Shankar. Which was why Reyansh did the next best thing – Reyansh made Shankar an ally. The two men had an unspoken agreement whereby Reyansh turned a complete blind eye to Shankar's activities, and Shankar in turn gave solid information to Reyansh of all the real bad elements in the city of Sthapan, which Shankar learnt in his line of work. Both the men had a neat symbiotic relationship whereby neither crossed each other's path and both were happy.

And all that came unraveling yesterday morning.

Reyansh honestly did not know what that was all about. Shankar was found dead drunk in the richest five star hotel in the city where the the royals of Sthapan were showcasing the jewels of their ancestors to the public for the first time. After that time, everything seemed to be going downhill for Shankar. Shankar disappeared from the radar for the next seven hours and was found two kilometers away from a place where there was a burglary cum murder was committed in the outskirts of the city of Sthapan – the very same murder for which Shankar was about to go to prison for.

Either it was sheer dumb luck or Shankar was really smart and Reyansh was more inclined to think that it was the second option because of which Shankar was able to find the real killer and now Reyansh even had the confession from the killer.

The problem was that all this demanded that if not anything else, the least Shankar could do was be happy about it. But Reyansh realized that Shankar was listless – which was the wrong expression for any guy to have after they had avoided the death penalty.

Shankar was staring out of the canteen window barely paying any attention to what Reyansh was saying.

"Shankar?" Reyansh asked hesitatingly.

"The security guard at Informatics said that she saw a gray-eyed woman with me!" Shankar murmured.

It was with great difficulty that Reyansh was even able to figure out what Shankar had said, let alone understand why this observation was important.

"Yes!" Reyansh said finally because Shankar had stopped talking. "I thought that was exactly what helped you, find the real culprit..."

"DCP!"

Reyansh turned sharply as Inspector Naren Silantel was nearly shouting as the Inspector came hurriedly inside the canteen. Reyansh wondered why Naren was breathless and wondered whether he had run down his cell phone battery again. The inspector could have called him instead of running after him. Reyansh pulled his cell phone and saw that his cell phone was fine as he studied Naren.

"Yes Naren, what is...?" Reyansh asked getting up, picking up the police cap and his cell phone and as Reyansh loosened the gun in his holster. Reyansh knew that the move was completely useless and that they could have no problems inside the Headquarters which a few hundred police officers swarming the place. But Reyansh was a creature of habit and some things he just could not help himself.

"The..." Naren fumbled, catching his breath eying Reyansh and Shankar a little nervously. And Naren's expression confused Reyansh. In the three years that Naren had worked for him, Reyansh had never seen Naren nervous. The Inspector fumbled a lot and made slight mistakes. But the inspector learnt and he looked like a good man to have around.

But Naren's expression or his nervousness looking at Shankar made no sense to Reyansh.

"The murderer.." Naren blurted out still nervous, "He wants to talk!"

Reyansh stared at Naren. And what really surprised him was that Shankar was shaken out of his reverie as he was staring at the Inspector, and Reyansh was slightly disconcerted to note that Shankar had a very strange expression on his face.

"The murderer just confessed. What else would he want to.." Reyansh started.

"He wants to talk to Shankar Churl!" Naren said swallowing.

Reyansh blinked. Somewhere in Reyansh's head, it registered that there was a thud as Shankar got up forcefully from his chair and his chair had fallen back hard.

The canteen fell silent. Almost as silent as a tomb as Shankar made no move to pick up the chair.

Shankar came ahead of Reyansh. "He asked for me?" Shankar repeated and his voice was soft and Reyansh could feel the underlying dread in the voice.

"Specifically for you!" Naren said nodding.

Shankar turned to see Reyansh and for once Reyansh saw naked fear running in the brown eyes.

"I need to see him!" Shankar said and it looked at Reyansh like he was struggling with himself. "Please!" Shankar almost seemed desperate.

Reyansh nodded as the three men walked hurriedly out of the canteen and Reyansh was thinking far too many things – the murderer could not know Shankar was here. But the murderer did know it and he wanted to talk to Shankar. Why? And why did Shankar know about this?

Reyansh was having a difficult time keeping up with Shankar as the man raced up to the custodial imprisonment building. There was a part of Reyansh wondering why Shankar knew so much about the police headquarters and dismissed the thought as irrelevant. As of now, Reyansh trusted Shankar and he had to let that be.

Naren led the two men to the last prison in the ground floor of the building as Shankar followed the Inspector closely.

Reyansh saw the murderer from behind and decided that the murderer was either very stupid or really insane and right now the accent was on the insane button.

Though the three men were standing outside the prison, the murderer had no eyes for any other person other than Shankar.

And Shankar was looking curiously huddled, almost afraid as he studied the murderer as Naren opened the door a little hesitatingly as Reyansh nodded his head.

"Why?" Shankar murmured staring at the killer.

Reyansh was slightly afraid because Shankar's hands were almost trembling.

"I was warned about you!" the murderer said looking at Shankar a small smile in his face.

"Who are you working for?" Shankar asked and his voice sounded hoarse, barely above a whisper.

"For such a smart guy, can you not be a little more careful?" the murderer asked in a taunting voice.

Shankar swore angrily.

Reyansh was completely not prepared for what happened next as in a swift move, Shankar pushed Reyansh back back and pulled Reyansh's gun from the holster.

Reyansh fell hard on Naren and both the men fell on the ground scrambling to get up.

Shankar's hands were trembling as he was pointing the gun at the murderer.

Reyansh cursed himself as he pulled himself up as he saw Shankar who was looking nearly insane and the gun in his hands trembled real bad.

"I do not use weapons! That is for fools!" Reyansh had a flash as he remembered something that Shankar had told him just a few hours back.

"Shankar!" Reyansh said struggling to control himself. "Put the gun down! You are going to do something you are going to regret!" Reyansh said slowly, as he heard a loud click of the safety hatch of the gun coming out. And if Reyansh was honest with himself, he realized that Shankar was beyond reason.

Naren who was beside Reyansh, pushed himself up, looking confused. Reyansh cursed himself because he had always known that Shankar knew how to use a gun. The man just did not prefer it. Until now.

"Where is she?" Shankar demanded and his hands were trembling worse than ever. Shankar looked at the murderer with barely controlled rage and using the butt of the gun hit the man hard on the cheeks.

The murderer was handcuffed and could not protect himself well as he toppled falling hard. Shankar was panting hard and Reyansh nearly winced as he wondered whether today was the day when Shankar was going to turn a murderer.

Slowly with deliberate viciousness, the murderer wiped his mouth and saw that there was some blood in his hands. He looked at Shankar. "Answer the phone!" The murderer said in a poisonous tone.

Reyansh blinked staring at Shankar and the murderer, both of whom were looking beyond reason. And Naren and Reyansh nearly jumped as Reyansh's cell phone rang loudly and Reyansh winced because he thought that Shankar had pulled the trigger because of the sudden noise.

But the scene before him was anticlimatic.

Shankar looked defeated and lost as Shankar dropped the weapon as the gun fell on the floor of the jail cell with a loud clatter.

Naren hurriedly took the gun away as Reyansh pulled out his cell phone.

"Hello!" Reyansh said hopefully in a calm voice noticing that the number was unknown hoping that his people could track down the caller real fast.

"I want to speak to Shankar! Shankar Churl, the thief!" The smug attitude, the slight accented voice, and an arrogance. These things Reyansh could figure out almost immediately from the slight muffled voice on the cell, as he handed over the cell phone to Shankar who was beginning to look haunted. Actually Shankar looked slightly more than haunted.

And Reyansh was beginning to understand.

Shankar nearly dropped the cell phone as he took it with trembling hands and put the cell phone on speaker.

"Shankar..."

Reyansh winced as he realized whose voice it was. And nothing could take away the fact that the speaker on the other side of the cell phone was sobbing and terrified. Badly.

"I am sorry, Sri!" Shankar's voice sounded dull, almost dead. Shankar could not even bring himself to look at the murderer who was looking at Shankar almost smugly. "I am so sorry!" Shankar said in a broken voice.

"Don't do it..." The speaker spoke hurriedly and Reyansh winced against as there was a thud and groan as the speaker was hit hard as Reyansh saw Shankar's hands tremble real bad as they heard a quick change of hands on the other end. Shankar snarled as his face went almost impossibly cruel.

"My man for your girl!" Another voice came on the other end of the phone and the voice was curt and arrogant. "I will send you the details of when and where when you get him out of prison! And do not waste your time tracing the call."

With that the call was abruptly cut.

There was a silence. A huge silence and Reyansh honestly did not know what to say.

"What did she do to you?" Shankar voice was brittle and he looked like he was struggling to control himself. "I do not know who is doing this. But your problem is with me. Why did you go after her?" Shankar whirled angrily looking like he was going to rip the murderer, piece by piece.

This time Naren was smart and came before Shankar pushing the man back.

"We had no intention of going after her." The murderer almost laughed. "You should have been a good boy and taken the murder rap and gone to prison. You unfortunately did not. You were able to solve the murder and now she is paying the price for it!"

This time Shankar lost it as he snarled and pushed Naren to a side and punched the murderer hard.

The killer winced and fell back as Shankar slowly throttled the man who was struggling to breathe.

It happened faster than anyone could blink as the murderer was slowly dying.

Naren brutally pulled Shankar back as Shankar was panting hard and the murderer was retching, struggling to breathe.

"Shreya is not gone, you bastard!" Reyansh yelled slapping Shankar hard. "We can still find her!"

The murderer had overcome his coughing spasm and he laughed and a maniacal laugh filled the prison....

A Magi is the Realm of Alternia

Chapter 1
"Guilty! Arlan, son of Kartal, you have been found guilty of the heinous crimes against the City of Alternia!" Norana, the daughter of Wild Centaur Lorrik, pronounced the verdict in the Ancient language of Alternia. Norana's lean face was grim as her thin lips had a vicious smile as she studied the human convict standing before her.
There was silence in the courtroom of Justice, which was hardly surprising. Other than the sightless and silent Orolon Guards, the human convict and his twin who was acting as his representative and Norana and nine Council Members of Alternia, there was no one else in the room. Even the Enchanted Recorder of Proceedings which was a must in all legal proceedings was absent in the room. What actually happened inside the court was known to only to the twelve people.
Initially, Norana as the Chief Presiding Officer was in half a mind to refuse the man’s sister the right to be present during the proceedings, but then Norana realized the obvious. The human female was the convict's twin. Other than the Dome which protected the Alternians from the dark forces, absolutely nothing could prevent one twin from knowing what happened to the other twin. They were connected, not just by their magic but by their blood too.
And the silence was broken by a wail of frustration. Aarvi, daughter of Kartal was never the one to observe protocols. And she was definitely not going to take anything lying down. It was her brother whose life was on the line. And he had done nothing wrong.
"YOU ARE MAKING A MISTAKE!" Aarvi shrieked angrily, getting up, her entire body shuddering with anger. "I am his sister!" She yelled. "I have sensed him. I know all of his feelings. He did not commit this murder..."
An fiery red energy ball shot at Aarvi with the force of a sledgehammer.
"NO!" Arnav shouted, as he barely any time to react. Ignoring his handcuffed hands, he pulled his sister hard as both of them fell hard on the ground as the energy ball missed the two of them by a whisker.
Serma, daughter of Therk, an Equain, was watching Aarvi with hatred as her energy ball disintegrated behind in the wall of the courthouse, almost disintegrating the wall behind.
And the fall did absolutely nothing good to Arnav. His entire body jarred as he fell hard and the handcuffs burnt his chest as his sister fell on him.
Aarvi looked horrified as Arnav was whimpering as she hurriedly pushed herself away from him as he was wincing even worse, swallowing painfully. The cuffs had burnt into Arnav's chest, branding him as he was struggling not to shout.
"Sorry! I am so sorry!" Aarvi whispered looking horrified at Arnav, as the Orolon Guards came forward and mercilessly lifted the barely conscious human to his feet and pushed him on the chair of the accused. Arnav stumbled and nearly fell again, but no one said anything.
Aarvi was pushing herself up horrified as she was still trying to sense Arnav who still was refusing to let her sense him.
"You think we are fools!" Serma, the Council Member, demanded angrily. "We have given this human..." Serma saw Arnav with something less than contempt as she spat out the word. "...every single opportunity to explain himself. He has stubbornly kept his mouth shut and the proof against him is overwhelming! He is..."
"COUNCIL MEMBER MITRAN LOVED HIM LIKE HIS OWN SON!" Aarvi yelled. "And you are here trying to hang Mitran's murder on my brother and you are doing that by threatening and coercion!" Aarvi looked angrily at the entire Council. "You call this a fair proceeding?" She demanded looking so furious that it looked like her head was going to burst into flames.
Aarvi felt Arnav tiredly trying to pull her back to her chair. She was trying to ignore it, but she realized that her brother was tired. Too tired.
"Why are you letting them do this? Why don't you say something?" Aarvi whispered as she sat angrily next to Arnav.
Arnav said nothing as he was just swallowing painfully as Aarvi was frustrated. "Why don't you let me feel you, Arnav?" Aarvi demanded in a half snarl, half-yell.
If the Council Members noticed the interruption by Serma, none of them made any comment about it. In fact, all of them approved of it as Noorana angrily replied to Aarvi. "May I remind you, Aarvi, daughter of Kartal, that you brother killed such a great man like Mitran in cold blood," Noorana said loudly in the same vicious tone.
All the Council Members nodded fervently as Aarvi let out another snarl of frustration. Because she just realized that she was a fool in thinking that these people would be nice to her brother. They did not need to be nice, but they could have at least been fair to him. If not for anything else, than at least for the fact that Arlan had been one of the youngest and most brilliant Council Members in all of Alternia.
And it looked like for all that Arnav had done for the people here, he had just managed to earn the hatred and jealousy of all the other Council Members, who were now looking to punish him for aspiring to become a Council Member. And the first on the list was the Presiding Officer – Noorana, daughter of Lorrik. Because Aarvi knew that Norana would have wanted the entire trial to have been witnessed by the public. Because the last two days of trial had been nothing other than the humiliation of her brother who despite being a human was one of the most powerful wielders of white magic in the entire realm. And Aarvi knew that people like Noorana saw humans as less than worthy as wielders of magic.
But until now, Noorana she could not voice her opinion. Not until there were humans like Arnav in Alternia.
But all that changed, two days back.
And Norana fortunately had no choice in the matter of the proceedings being public. In the seven thousand years where the Council Members guarded the boundaries of Alternia from the Dark Specters which lay beyond lay beyond the Dome, a Council Member had never been questioned. Ever. Council Members served Alternia for their entire life which was why they were the most powerful group of people in the entire realm. But for the first time, a Council Member had done something unpardonable and because such a thing was unprecedented, the other members of the Council decided that the proceedings had to be private.
And the Council Members had no fear that the convict's representative – the twin would say anything to the public. The convict himself had said absolutely nothing. Right from the start of the proceedings two days back when the Dark Matter handcuffs were slapped on the accused to prevent him from using his powers and though the handcuffs had burnt him and was sapping his energy, the accused had said nothing. He neither objected to it nor explained any of the overwhelming evidence which was against him. His sister had tried to ask the Council Members to at least get the handcuffs off the man and give him some rest, at least during the trial instead of being sent back to the common prison which was manned by the horrifying Shades. But no one had listened to her requests.
The Council Members stubbornly refused to give the human anything because instead of the the tired human who was struggling to stay awake, the Council Members saw a dangerous human who was known to collude with Spectres. Such a man did not deserve any kindness or even fairness. It was only because it was required that a proceedings be conducted before condemning any Alternian, that even proceedings were conducted in the matter.
And so two days later, the human was stripped of all his powers as the Council Member and was made a convict – and whose fate was something that Norana along with the other Council Members, was going to decide. And Norana wanted nothing more than to just destroy the man. Completely. Unlike other humans in the city of Alternia, who barely had a grasp of magic, this particular human was powerful, with magic running deep in his blood. And despite this, with all his gifts, the human had just wasted it away. The human had killed another Alternian Council Member – the beloved Eliten – Mitran, son of Ramal, in cold blood. And as if the act itself was not enough, the human had colluded with the Dark Spectres to bring about this ghastly act.
Highly censored news of what happened inside was made known to the public to assuage the curiosity and outrage of the public. The public of Alternia had after all trusted the human – trusted him with their lives to keep them safe within the borders of the Dome and he had committed an unpardonable act.
"As I was saying," Noorana said in a furious voice. "Arnav, son of Kartal, you are guilty on both the charges and the Council will decide on the punishment to be awarded to you!" Noorana waved her hands as a papyrus appeared before her as she viciously pushed the papyrus towards the Council Member sitting farthest away from her.
Aarvi, winced and was unable to stop the tears as she heard the words of Norana. She clutched Arnav's hands because her hands were trembling. The next instant, Aarvi let Arnav's hand go. His hands were burning because the handcuffs were destroying his very essence, his magic, his self. And because of their connected magic she could feel his pain as soon as she touched her. Though all the other times she could feel him even without all this, ever since the trial, Arnav had completely closed himself up to her.
During the entire two-day trial, the only time Arnav had seemed to object was when Aarvi was dragged into the entire mess. But then Arnav had realized almost immediately that the Council Members would bring her into this. Though their agenda was not made public, Arnav knew that the only reason Aarvi was here was for the Council Members to ascertain whether Aarvi was also a party to the entire thing. Aarvi was after all as powerful as him and could have been a Council Member herself. Merely because she showed no inclination for the job, despite Mitran's best efforts, Aarvi did not join the Council in any capacity. She wanted to be a Healer and she enjoyed her work and Arnav made sure she stayed away from his world.
And now she was here, brought into his world only to watch him being stripped of everything that made him what he was.
Noorana and the others were nodding to each other as they were waving across the papyrus in front of them recording the punishment to be made to the human.
Ignoring the pain, Aarvi hugged him tightly, as Arnav could feel her trying to reach his mind. He could feel her wince but she ignored it as she was sobbing.
"Aarvi!"
Aarvi looked shocked as Arnav spoke to her mind for the first time since all this had started. Aarvi was heavily disoriented because the first thing she felt was the pain from Arnav's body. Aarvi wondered why the man was silent despite this much pain and nearly snarled as Arnav suppressed all his feelings almost brutally and continued, "Do not act surprised!" Arnav almost hissed into her mind.
And Aarvi was furious. She could usually hear Arnav's thoughts so clearly that most of the times she could barely make out the difference between her own thoughts and his words. But right now, Arnav's thoughts were coming like both their thought patterns were not in sync. Aarvi knew what that meant. Arnav was trying to control himself so that Aarvi could not sense all his feelings.
Aarvi was still furious as she tried to reassemble her features knowing that all the Council Members were still discussing the punishment, and that Arnav did not want the Council Members to know that Arnav and Aarvi were communicating with each other.
"Whether I killed Mitran or not, does not matter right now. The only reason they are not after you is that they do not think you know anything about this!"
Aarvi was still struggling with her features trying not to cry, as she could feel Arnav's anguish.
"We are humans and we can use magic. We can make magic more powerful from sheer imagination. That makes us dangerous. More than dangerous. The Council has just realized it. So I want you to take Dini..." Aarvi could feel Arnav fumble as the feelings in his mind were threatening to get out of hand. But then that was no surprise. Aarvi's five year old daughter Nandini and Arnav were very close. Way more closer than Aarvi could be with her own daughter. And Arnav was the only person who could call Dini. Nandini let no one else call her with that particular nickname.
"What will I tell her, Arnav?" Aarvi asked sobbing. "She sent me here telling me that I was to come back with you!"
Arnav was clutching his head because he was finding it impossible to control himself as he was trying not to think of that child. Nandini...Arnav brutally stopped his emotions as he was determined not to think about Nandini.
With great difficulty, Arnav controlled himself as he watched that four more Council Members were still marking his punishment.
"...I want you to go to the outskirts of Alternia! Stay there! Away from the radar of the Council Members. Try to lead a normal life and draw no attention to yourself. In the region of Taraman, people mind their own business. You can start afresh there. They would not ask you too many questions. And Taraman is not completely under the control of the Council. Besides whatever or whoever killed Mitran, is dangerous. Mitran is strongest Magi in our land. If anything could destroy him, that cannot be good! And that thing is here in this place. So stay away from here. And the only person who is strong enough to counter something as bad as that is Dindin!"
Aarvi looked shocked at Arnav as he looked at her tiredly.
Arnav knew that Aarvi had understood what he had said but all he could feel from her was a numb, hopeless dejection.
"Do you understand?" Arnav asked her tiredly.
"What went so wrong, Arnav?" Aarvi asked finally. She could barely even think the words as she was sobbing even worse.
Aarvi felt almost a detached anguish from Arnav.
"We are paying for what mom believed in, sweetheart!" Arnav told her finally. "Mom was a human and she wanted to prove that humans could wield magic. She did and she was a Council Member. One thing she never managed to get from her peers was respect, which she wanted us to have." For the first time, Aarvi could feel Arnav's anger. It seemed almost like uncontrolled anger and Aarvi had never seen her brother like this. He was always the calm one. The one who could think out of any situation. Aarvi was the hotheaded one in the family – the one with the tantrums and the mood swings. But the way Aarvi was feeling, she was not even sure she could feel anything anymore. She was numb. Numb to the point of almost nothing making sense to her. Even Karan – her husband's death, had not broken her so much.
Right now, all Aarvi saw was a good man who deserved none of the cruelty which he was facing. Arnav was after all a great believer in white magic. He genuinely believed in love, which for him was the most powerful magic in the world. And now, the people in Alternia hated him, the Council Members hated him...all with a mad unexplained passion and they were all hell bent on destroying him for what he was.
That is the reason I do not wish to fight this one! If I prove my innocence on this one, the Council could find something else to hang me with. They need me out because of what I represent. I am a pawn. My powers are human, but these fools do not realize that Dindin is the most powerful among them all. She has the capacity to combine the power of both humans and the Dragons, the blood she gets from her father’s side! Her father is a Dragon Sorcerer and people think that she is human. Dindin is still young and she needs to be protected. And these Council Members are so hell bent on me that they would ignore Dindin! She is all that matters right now!”
Aarvi’s heart was beating so hard that she could barely even breathe. Her brother was condemning himself to hell just to protect her daughter. Even thinking that seemed so wrong, on so many levels that Aarvi was feeling sick. More than sick.
The second last of the Council Member – a Krug – a short, powerful woman by name Harana, waved her short stubby hands over papyrus as her tail twitched a little – a sure sign that Harana was angry.
The papyrus flew to the present leader of the Council Oran – an Abselum – powerful beings which had a powerful bit of blood magic of their own, and who could destroy entire legions with their powers of mind. Oran saw the papyrus and nodded at it curtly.
The papyrus flew back to Noorana and Aarvi was suddenly feeling alone. And she had never felt that way. Ever. No matter what the problem, she always had Arnav with her.

But now he broke all connections with her. Finally and completely. "Why...?" She whimpered, but the question died in her throat as Arnav was stubbornly watching ahead ignoring her and Noorana started speaking. "The Council has reached their unanimous verdict!" Noorana said studying Arnav's tired brown eyes. "You shall be exiled, Arnav, son of Kartal. Exiled from the Realm of Alternia! Gone and never to come back!"

A Cold Blooded Killer

You killed me!”
It was always the same. Her tired croaky voice as she was lying on the hospital bed, barely alive. But the words she spoke always hit him. And it hit him exactly where it hurt. And it kept hurting. No matter what he did. The darkness which was around her left her and followed him.
He was trembling because of the darkness had now surrounded him. The darkness which screamed her words at him. The rigid impenetrable darkness. And this darkness was not the normal darkness. It was menacing. He knew that the darkness had stored every single nightmare he had ever had in his life and was just waiting for the right time to unleash it on him.
He did the only thing he could do. He ran. And he was running without any particular aim or direction, letting himself be guided completely by his blind panic. That dark panic, which did not allow him to think. That merciless old enemy – fear, which he had thought he had controlled. As he ran mumbling, trying to outrun the darkness he realized that he had been a fool. He thought fear could be controlled. But that was foolish. Fear could never be controlled. It could never went away. It just waited patiently. Waited for the person to fall, waited for them to fail and when they did, fear raised its ugly head and destroyed everything….everything good which came in its path.
The darkness was almost on to him as he was struggling to breathe.
No!” He whimpered as he saw that he was surrounded. “I didn’t do….”
Much to his horror, he could not talk. He could not move. He could not do anything. Other than wait for the darkness to take its prey.
And he could not stand as he collapsed heavily. And that was when the darkness hit him.
Karan screamed as he was still gasping for breath barely able to make sense of anything as he was sure that the darkness had engulfed him.
Karan! Sh! It was a dream!”
That was probably the sweetest voice he had ever heard in his life. Revathi was beside him and holding him. Instead of pushing him away like the cursed man that he was, she was near him. She was near him and holding him. Her firm hands holding his trembling hands and she did not think he was disgusting. He did not think that he was a loathed creature.
But then she did not know. She did not know what he had done. If she knew, Karan was sure that she would not be so kind to him.
It took some solid five minutes for his gasping to reduce to a normal breathing pattern and still his hands had not stopped trembling.
And in all that time, she said nothing. She caught his hands but she said nothing as he was afraid to meet her eyes as he was struggling not to break down.
Stop this and keep your mouth shut, Karan! She does not need to know. His mind screamed at him. Because you are nothing other than a murderer. A cold blooded killer.
Do you want to talk about it, Karan?” Her voice was always gentle. Calm. She did not push him, but then she was no pushover either. She knew that he was battling demons of his own, but she did not shy away from him.
Karan was silent studying the bed sheet as the cool air from the window assaulted him. No! He was going to keep silent. His torture was something that only he could face…
Revathi looked at him and seemed to realize that he was going to go back to his silence and said nothing and she slowly got up. But her movement signified so many things. She had trusted him. And in return all she asked was a chance to share his pain…
Karan suddenly caught her hands tightly.
I killed my mother!” Karan said hurriedly before he lost the will to talk. Revathi deserved to know. If not for anything else, at least for everything that he had put her through.
There was a silence and Karan waited for her to look at him with a disgusted face. The look that he always felt people should give him….but no one did, because no one knew. No one, except him and now Revathi.
What happened?” Revathi asked and she sounded confused. “You told me that you lost your mother at the age of ten! I do not understand….” She started.
Karan let her hands go, but she held it firm and her eyes did not waver. He saw nothing judgmental in those eyes and it looked like she genuinely wanted to know.
My mother was suffering from cancer for more than a year!” Karan said letting a shuddering breath. He could still remember his mother’s lean, emancipated body and it did nothing other than terrify him. His mother had been so healthy. But all the remained of her was bones and rags. His mother was dying painfully and the disease was eating her. She could not fight back. She could do nothing other than endure.
For over a year, my mom could do nothing!” Karan said and he did not even know that there were tears in his eyes. He still remembered how before all this, his mother used to take him out everywhere. She loved him so much and she laughed so much. Her tinkling laughter was the most beautiful thing he had heard.
And it all changed in a day. Cancer, the report said.
A lady who was up before him and finished all her chores even before he was awake, could not wake up from her bed. She could do nothing other than try to get up and painfully slump back on the bed. And the ten year old Karan knew that his mother was in pain, Unbearable amount of pain, but she still said nothing.
A year of suffering later, my mother was put on the ventilator because of the congestion in her chest,” Karan said closing his eyes, swallowing painfully as the air in his chest felt thick.
Hell, he could not breathe. He remembered how his mother was struggling to draw a breath and every breath was an agony and realized that this was how she must have felt. Every single time....
Her eyes were pleading with me, Revathi!” Karan said in a gasping breath. “My mom knew she could not live life the way it was meant to be lived. She could not talk. She could do nothing and her eyes were pleading with me to shut down the breathing apparatus!” Karan’s heart was beating so hard that Karan could hear absolutely nothing other than his heart beat - the loud heart beat which seemed like a death knell....
Karan clutched Revathi’s hands so tightly that both their hands trembled as he continued.
And I shut down the ventilator! I thought I was helping her!” The words were torn from Karan's mouth as he looked horrified with himself.
And Karan just could not talk anymore, and he hugged Revathi tightly as he was trembling badly. He knew that Revathi was going to leave him and go away. He knew that she was going to hate him. Probably she could even go to the cops. But right now he needed some human contact. Anything. Anything just to help him breathe normally. And after that he felt he could be ready. He had to be. He had after all killed someone. Not just someone. He had killed someone who loved him more than anyone else in the whole world.
Karan had no idea how long he remained in Revathi’s embrace and strangely she said nothing.
Slowly like a man in ague he pushed himself back and studied her face. Waiting to see that expression on her face. One he prayed he never saw.
But Karan was confused. Because he saw nothing in Revathi's face. Nothing at all.
Why do you think what you did was wrong, Karan?” Her voice was gentle. As always. There was no hatred in her face. Karan realized that she did not understand the horror of what he had done and Karan was left wondering why such a smart woman did not understand something so simple. It was so clear.....
And her words kept resonating in his mind.
Karan blinked as he saw Revathi and saw a small tear in her eye. A beautiful single tear.

You did not put an end to a life that day, Karan!” She said gently making no effort to stop her tears. “You put an end to pain!”

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Geeks - A Short Manual

 GEEKS – A SHORT MANUAL

STATUTORY WARNING – TRY YOUR BEST NEVER TO FALL FOR A GEEK OR A NERD. They try their best to push you away, anyway. If despite this you feel that you have found your man please continue. (The reason for using the word “man” is because nerds or geeks are mostly male. There have of course been exceptions)
DONTS:
1. Never use the words Geek, Nerd or any other equivalent word within hearing distance* of subject.
*One of the most important things you have to know while dealing with geeks is 'hearing distance'. It varies not from subject to subject but from what exactly the subject is doing right now. If the subject is doing the non-nerdy things (normal, mundane things that we do everyday), they can practically hear every single breath you take. If they are in their zone, the hearing distance is...well non-existent. Unless by some miracle you actually make them lose their focus, they will not take in a single word you say.
2. If subject wearing high powered glasses pretend it does not exist.
All geeks by nature have been teased or bullied in their childhood, either for their glasses or for just being a nerd. Talking about it leads the geeks to become their equivalent of 'sad'. When Geeks get sad, they talk....talk and talk about physics/maths/chemistry equations that as usual you would not have a clue as to what they are saying.
3. Never take Geeks out to party/movie with you.
The part that it would be awkward for them is obvious. The more important fact is that you would feel awkward around them with the party. They would not have a clue about what to do and they would resort to their normal behaviour which is pointing out exactly how unscientific the entire thing is. And trust me it really puts you off.
PS: Movies are a definite 'no'. I do not know why but geeks just can never keep their mouth shut during a movie. They have to comment about every single scene, every single shot and they have to point out how badly the movie was made.
4. Kindly never accept any fashion tips from geeks. It could range from being outright bad to embarrassingly silly.
5. Please do not nag. Not because it is boring because it is extremely putting off for us. Geeks have a very short attention span in normal things. They forget things like nagging almost immediately. You would think you have told the same thing to him for at least hundred times. The geeks would have forgotten the previous 99 times very effortlessly.
6. If they have kept a tab open in the computer or a book open at a particular page, never ever read it. If you do read it, you would feel the equivalent to being drowned under sea, except that this time it would be drowned inside information and plenty of it.
And the geeks would most definitely have some marker about why they kept that particular tab open or the book open at that particular page. If you read it, they would get a feeling you are messing around with their things which leads them to 'become sad'. Refer to 1.
7. Never ask a geek a question. They are incapable of answering any questions to the point. The way the answer is given you would undoubtedly feel that it was better not to have asked the question in the first place.....
WHAT TO EXPECT
1. Expect a very high degree of mess surrounding them and try your best never to comment on it. If it really gets on your nerves, you can just throw the entire thing in the trash when the geek is not around. Trust me, they would never know it is not there. They would just continue with the next thing.
2. Geeks could range from being completely neat (freakishly neat) to being stiflingly dirty. I have not yet found the perfect way to deal with that.....
3. There would be more books than any other item in the house. Sometimes there could be beakers or glass tubes filled with vile liquids. KINDLY DO NOT TOUCH THEM OR BE OVERCOME WITH CURIOSITY AS TO KNOW WHAT IT IS. Refer to 7 from DONTS

One of the best things you can have with a nerd around is absolutely nothing in the home ever stays broken for long. Any broken tap, any cracked machine, any unworkable tool will be healed and working like a charm, in no time. The trick is to point out the faults of the machine within the 'hearing distance' of the subject. I do not know why but geeks can never tolerate if anyone talks badly about machines. It really gets on their nerves. They somehow feel obligated to get the thing working as soon as possible.