“We could have directly gone to the Phantom.”Disha told her mother who was busy reading a magazine from the mortal world with her specs on her nose ridge, as they travelled through the outskirts of the Vardhana Kingdom’s capital in the chariot after coming out of the royal entrance for the door of split.
They had initially decided that they would directly go to the Phantom’s capital through the door of split , but when they were half way , a pigeon came out of no where and handed her mother a letter which had the seal of the Vardhanas , a huge eye with three concentric circles . After reading it , they sent a pigeon to the Phantom kingdom saying they would be late , and headed straight to the Vardhana dynasty capital.
“Are you going to tell me atleast? Why are we going to the capital ?”Disha asked her mother.
“Great Lady sent an immediate summon.”She said without looking up.
“Granny called? Why?”
“ Ask her when you meet her , now don’t act like a cocky kid , and let me read . Its very important.” She said and went back to reading.
Important my ass ,Disha thought , Some starkid signed a movie , or some actor proposed someone and got rejected or some stupid jerk actor's broke up or some lame hook up news.
Disha was watching through the slit in the curtains as they entered the city. She had always despised this place , but she loved the people of the kingdom . Their kingdom stood second in population , wealth and size after the Phantom kingdom in the four great kingdoms which were divided in the seven continents parallely in the mortal world.
Their chariot came to a sudden halt and only then did the queen lifted her head .
“Aasha? What happened?” She asked.
Disha’s maid servant, Aasha, answered from outside the chariot .
“My queen , the citizens have blocked the road.”
“Long live the queen!”
“Hail the Queen!”
“We love our queen!”
Disha could hear the peasants cheering .
“Disha , go out and talk to them.” The queen said .
“But you’re the queen!”Disha told her.
“Don’t you see? I’m busy.”
Not busy , Disha thought, ashamed.
From the day the queen , the real queen, who was Disha’s birth mother and none other than the king’s first wife , had died when Disha was 3 , they had accepted Disha as their princess and queen . They never had even thought of her step mother as a royal family member . So whenever they came to the kingdom , the queen would remain as hidden from the citizens as possible .
Disha climbed down and joined her hand to the citizens. They were still cheering for her , and stopped when they saw her . She talked to them , and paid her respect to the city temple along with the peasants . Then finally after two or three more hours , she was finally pressing her face in the soft bed of her chamber in the palace.
She dosed off to sleep then and there , and was woken up by Aasha .
“Princess Disha? Please wake up , the Great Lady has summoned you.”
“Will you ever let me sleep peacefully Aasha?”She asked her as she freshed herself.
“I would love to Princess , but the old lady had urgent business.”
“Then i have no choice.”Disha said.
“But princess , your hair aren’t set proper...”Aasha said.
“Don’t worry Aasha , granny wouldn’t mind.”Disha told her as she exited her chamber straightening her hair with her hands.
She had always loved her old granny , not only because just like Disha , and all the kingdom folk , Granny also disliked the queen , but because her granny had been the only person who actually gave her some time.
But she was getting really old, she had even stopped coming downstairs to the dining halls and demanded food in her own chambers . Her chamber was at the top most floor of the kingdom’s tallest tower . So Disha was almost out of breath when she reached the iron door to knock on it . The guards placed outside smiled at her.
“Is it my little princess ? Open the doors Sagar!” Granny told the guard with her frail voice . The iron doors creaked open , and Disha saw the dim lit room. Light flickered from the candles as she swayed past beside them and the light showed the hanging tapestries of the Vardana sigil , the eye with three concentric circles in it.
Her granny was sitting on the table with her eyes closed and with a crystal ball in front of her . Disha had seen the room before , but never at this time of the night.
“Is my little doll well?” Granny asked as she opened her old eyes.”Please , have a seat dear.”
Disha sat on the chair facing Granny .”You summoned me?” Disha asked her.
“Did the maid tell you that? That little runt , no child , i didn’t summon you , i called you for a chat.”Granny said.
“Its the same you know...”Disha told her as she poured water from the jar into the glass.
“Its different , we summon servants , not grand daughters. “Granny said,”You look more like your mother now . And i can see you have your father’s courage , mother’s beauty and their prowess as well. Unlike that other useless grandson of mine...”
“Do i really look like Mother? “Disha asked her granny , looking at her reflection in the glass sphere.
“Sure do . I know there’s no one to tell you that . That old bitch never looked after you at all.”Granny said .
“Who?” Disha asked.
“That step mother of your’s , who else? Anyways , do you know why i called you here?”Granny asked.
“Alright , so tell me Disha , what do you see in the sigil of the great Vardhanas ?”Granny asked.
“I see an eye , with three circles for a pupil . And I also know that it’s actually something that great-grand-dad came upon playing chess.” Disha said. “You told me this once.”
“I remember , you were one hell of a cocky girl with a lot of questions in your child brain . But Disha , now see in the sphere with all concentration , and then answer my question , What do you see in the sigil of the Great Vardhanas?” Granny asked , placing her hands over the glass sphere.
Disha glanced into it , she saw nothing but her own face . Then, mist started forming in the sphere, she saw a woman on fire , naked , with wings on her back . She kissed someone who was lying on the ground , and spoke something . Then the sphere started getting closer and closer to the woman , like a zoom-in , her face was a carbon copy of Disha . Almost like seeing herself , but with a killer look ,then she saw it , the sigil of the Vardhana clan was her eye . The sphere suddenly became white again , and all she could see was her reflection.
“Now , tell me , what is the sigil of the great Vardhanas?” Granny asked again.
“I-its a real eye , the eye of some woman on fire.”Disha told her ,”Granny , what was that? That vision?”
“Not any woman , Disha. The eye you saw was the eye of the greatest skinchanger’s that ever lived . “Granny said.
“Skinchanger?” Disha asked.
“Yes , to know about our clan ability , you should first know about a story . Long ago , when Lord Silver held peace between the worlds , he saved the life of a man . That man , had two daughters, twins to be particular , one named Poornima , and the other named Avantika. Both sisters had tremendous powers . Avantika was a skin changer , and Poornima was a skin shifter . Both the sisters were beautiful , bold and strong , that’s true , but the one day younger sister , Avantika , the skin changer , was intelligent too. One could transform herself into animals , and that was Poornima.
But Avantika , the kind and gentle one, and never realized that she was the real deal among the two . She was a skin changer . Do you get it till here?”
Disha nodded. So Granny continued.
“Alright . So Poornima the skin shifter , later came to be called as Shubhanka . The lady love of Lord silver , who was none other than the same woman who killed him. She could change into any being she tamed . No animal was left , except for one , the legendary bird , Phoenix.”
“Isn’t that a black clan?”
“True , it is . Poornima , was the strongest ever born skin shifter of the three worlds. Now mean while , Avantika the skin changer , was still unaware of her powers . And once , on a very fine day , she saw a falcon with red flaming wings flying high in the sky , and with all her mind and heart , she thought , how would it feel to fly ? , and her wish came true. The bird which she tamed thinking was a falcon , was a phoenix bird. And she became a first ever skin changer to tame a phoenix . ”Granny said.
“What? How ? Did she become a skin shifter too?” Disha asked.
“No , she became a skin changer . A person who can transfer his soul into any being...”Granny said , “...and also the legendary phoenix.” She added in a whisper.
“But why suddenly a story?”Disha asked as she picked up an apple from the table.
“Why , you ask? The story isn’t complete ,Disha . Poornima came to know the powers of her one-day- younger sister . All she wanted was to get hold of the phoenix bird. But to do that , she had a missing piece.”Granny said.
“Yes , tell me Disha , who was the woman who killed Lord Silver?”Granny asked.
“You said it was Poornima , who was being called Shubhanka.”Disha said .
“Yes. As i told you , Avantika was a skin changer , and all her powers were in her eyes , so Poornima killed her own sister to get her eyes , all of this just to get a hold of the phoenix bird . But she payed a heavy price . She lost her ability of skin shifting into animals , and all she could shift into , was a half-human form of a phoenix bird , which you saw in the ball. Later , she was the woman who led to the discovery of the Black clan, Phoenix .” Granny said ,tapping the sphere.”Now tell me , whose eye did you see , Avantika’s or Poornima’s?”
“Avantika’s eyes in Poornima’s body!”Disha said, as she realized.
“ But Granny , you aren’t saying the reason why you are telling me all this.”
“Now , while dying , Avantika was 8 month pregnant with the child of a knight in an army . When she died , Avantika’s child was saved by a woman , who used to work in this very palace. The baby was a girl, and that girl grew up with the king , who is none other than my son . The girl was his friend , and later on became his wife and the queen of the Vardhanas , and came to be known by the name , Sandhya Vardhana .”
Disha’s heartbeat almost skipped. She couldn’t believe what she just heard ,
“But she’s my...”
“Yes , Disha , you’re mother . You’re the living descendant of the woman who tamed the phoenix just by looking at it . You’re the only alive skin changer in the three worlds who possesses the eye to tame a phoenix . The ability can only pass on through a female blood line , so its passed on to you.” Granny said.
“Is that the reason why i look like her too?” Disha asked.
“Yes , it is . And as for the sigil , your great grandfather didn’t come up with the sigil while he was playing chess , he was prophesized by a sorcerer about the future of his clan . So , the sigil of the Vardhanas was changed from a mere star , to a symbol that resembles your mother’s eye. And also your’s if you learn the art of skin changing . “Granny said as she drew the symbol on a paper.
“But am i even capable of learning such a thing?”Disha asked.
“Never underestimate your self , Disha. You have to live up to your blood , so that you can be of use in the greater good in coming dark future.”Granny said.”There is one last thing you should learn , the symbol represents something very important . The three circles represent three lives.”
“That means , if you die while skin changing , you will have two more lives to spare. But i dont know the deeper truths about it . To know about your ability , and learn it , there is only one person who can help you , the very same person who prophesized our clan symbol . He’s known as the priest. “Granny said.”And as to where you will find him , the very same place where my useless grandson is being wed.”
“The Phantom kingdom! But how can he be alive if he was alive when great-grand-dad was?”Disha asked.
“Some mysteries must remain as they are . And one more thing before you leave , the priest asked me to convey you something , i dont know what he meant , but he said , you will find who you are seeking for....”
Aarav, the answer came in her mind with the speed of light.
Here it is.