Five Times

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Chapter 26

James and Lara reached the reception and stopped dead in tracks. The moment Adhi saw Lara at the reception along with James, he couldn’t believe his eyes and he was completely shocked.

Not only Adhi was shocked, but everyone was amazed at seeing Lara there. They hoped for James to return to them and give the ring back but seeing Lara, who was sick the previous night, bought confusions to everyone.

No one knew where and how to start the conversation. Regaining the composure and setting the confusion aside, Abi asked, “How are you now, Lara?”

Lara shot up at once at Abi and returned a pleasant smile. “I am fine. Thanks, Abi,” she said in a calm tone.

Her composed tone itself affirmed everyone that Lara was fine. Adhi felt happy for Lara, but at the same time, he was scared.

Whether Lara will return the ring or will she fight for the ring? Adhi was puzzled.

Lara too was puzzled. Should I explain the conversation between me and James about the ring or should I have to jump directly to the point?

Soon, Lara made a decision and she didn’t want to waste any time. She looked at James for support and he readily gave it by nodding his head.

Lara then cleared her throat and said, “I know why every one of you is here. Come, let’s go, and throw the ring in the sea,”

Everyone gasped like they couldn’t believe their ears. They exchanged relieved glances and felt like winners.

Adhi gazed at James for confirmation and he smiled affirmatively and said, “I am sorry for yesterday, because…”

Even before he could finish, Adhi stopped him and said, “No need to feel sorry. At least you agreed now. Thanks, James,”

“He was too much worried about me. When I woke up normally, he too became normal. And then, when I told him to understand the importance of throwing this ring, he readily admitted his mistake,” explained Lara.

“Hmm… I can understand Lara. That’s okay,” said Adhi.

“Okay fine. Now, let’s quickly start the next step. The faster we act, we can save as many lives,” said Abi’s dad.

“Yeah… you are right, uncle,” said Adhi. “Let’s go to the beach,”

The next instant, everyone started.

Intelina sat in the room sadly, disappointed for not getting her ring till this time. She was free totally but she felt empty without the ring.

She could have escaped from Whalros place the moment she was free. She didn’t have to come back to the same prison after meeting Diya at the beach. But she didn’t want to take so much risk. She thought of the consequences that will follow her escape.

I have no ring and so no power. If I escape from this place, Whalros will find it soon and will come in search of me. Apart from that, it will create unnecessary doubts to Whalros like, how did I manage to escape… what about the ropes…

Intelina inhaled and exhaled a long breath. She was tired of thinking about this, yet he couldn’t stop.

Even if he couldn’t track me, he will become aware that, something is helping me to get out of the magical ropes. He will then become cautious and start planning something more vicious. No…No… I can’t allow him to think like that.

But she was desperate to get the ring back. “Did that little girl conveyed my message?” She asked to herself.

Suddenly all roped tied back to her and she sat straight awaiting Whalros’ presence. Her breath quickened and she consoled herself to control her feelings.

Whalros shouldn’t get even a small clue from my uneasiness, Intelina thought.

The high thud sounds came as a warning that said Whalros was coming tensed. The next moment he appeared in front of Intelina with a hard face.

Intelina pretended to be afraid of his sight and widened her eyes. Whalros didn’t speak a word; instead, he analyzed Intelina as he did always.

Her ring is with another one who shares the same face as her. It even touched water many times because of the foolish acts of some whales. But, it made no difference to the queen of the ocean. She was still under my control. How is that possible?

Intelina tried to capture Whalros’ serious thoughts. Why is he looking at me like this? I hate to the core being watched like an anonymous thing.

Whalros was trying to get some clue from her. He stared at Intelina’s eyes constantly. She managed to look directly at him without fear. She too glared back at him furiously, but not for too long. She averted her gaze not wanting to show him that she was nervous.

Whalros, at the same time, wanted to move smart so as to get things as much as possible from Intelina. He already sensed something fishy.

He waited for a while and said, “I got your ring,”

“What?” Intelina shouted back at Whalros. He clearly touched her nerve.

“Yes! I got your ring,” He said, this time with more confidence.

Intelina’s breath grew heavier. She felt like fainting. She couldn’t even guess whether he is telling the truth or not. Her last hope drained all of a sudden.

“No… you are lying. I don’t believe you,” she said in between her breaths.

“How do you know that I am lying? Who said to you?” Whalros asked, tension filling his whole body.

“No one said to me anything. How could anyone get to me? But I believe that you are lying. It’s my instinct that tells me you are a liar,” she snapped at Whalros.

Whalros was a little bit satisfied with this answer that Intelina was under his control and no one even tried to help her.

“Your instinct is right. I didn’t get the ring. But I know where the ring is,” he said and paused.

Intelina was startled to hear this.

“A little girl has that ring now, which is of no use,” Whalros lied and noticed Intelina’s shocking reaction.

“What? The ring is with the little girl?” She sounded shocked.

“Yes...” he sounded high.

“No... You are lying again,” she said. Whalros noticed a ray of confidence in Intelina’s eyes when she told this. After all, he waited for this to happen.

“I saw it with my eyes. It is in the little girl’s fingers,” he increased the pressure.

“I won’t believe,” she was stubborn.

“I don’t want you to believe me. I saw it,” said Whalros.

“No… I am sure the ring is not with the little girl,” she snapped. Whalros noticed her stern nature and a light smirk crossed his lips.

Intelina didn’t fail to notice his smirk. It was only after that she realized that she was too confident and had given him a place for doubt.

She cursed herself for her carelessness. He made a complete fool of me. Intelina rolled her eyeballs in all directions without knowing what to do.

Soon, she managed herself and said, “First, you told me that you got the ring. Now you are telling that the ring is with some little girl,” she paused.

“How can I believe this?” she sounded. But she lost the confidence and boldness she had at first. Her voice shook and showed Whalros that she was nervous.

She did every possible thing to be cool and make him believe that she was still under his ropes. But a slight doubt started blooming in Whalros’ heart.

“Also, I know where the ring is. It is with a girl who looks like you,” he said and noticed Intelina’s reaction.

She went speechless. He even saw her. What will he do now? Will that girl throw the ring in the sea?

Tears rolled down her cheeks unknowingly. She cursed her luck for failing her at the last hour.

“I know something is wrong. But I couldn’t find what that is. I will find it soon,” Whalros warned Intelina and left the place in a hurry.

Everyone reached the beach and walked towards the sea like there was no tomorrow. Their legs pained but no one cared.

Everyone reached the sea and stood glancing at Lara. She took her hand, looked fondly at the ring, caressed it and kissed it slowly.

“You really helped me a lot. I won’t forget you anytime. I miss you,” Lara said to the ring.

If it as some other time, all others could have laughed at Lara for talking to a ring. But now, everyone knew about the situation and also about the ring. Everyone missed the ring.

Lara loosened the ring and took it in her hands. She looked at it painfully and glanced at everyone.

“Throw it, Lara,” said James calmly.

Lara remembered the moment James put this same ring on her fingers. Her eyes moistened.

Brushing the past memories away, with a heavy heart, Lara swayed her right hand that clasped the ring to throw it into the sea.

The moment she swayed her hand, her wrist was grabbed by something hard and she couldn’t take her hands back.

Lara shockingly turned the other side only to be taken aback. A loud scream escaped her mouth followed by others scream too.

Whalros was standing there grabbing Lara’s wrist with one hand. He smilingly took the ring with another hand and left Lara.

All the seven of them stood there bewildered on watching Whalros. Everyone panicked and started screaming. Help… help…. They shouted, but nothing helped.

Whalros let out a thunderous laugh that shook them totally.

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