RETURN OF THE MASKED MAN
“Hand over the girl! ” One of the six men said. They were wearing masks , white coloured with red coloured eyes.
Aarav said to shiba, “Shiba , go and stand near the compound wall, and no matter what , do not get away from it!” She nodded and stood near the wall. Aarav followed her and stood some distance away from her.
“Boy, we are not in a mood to kill, don’t try and persuade us to do it.“the same person said.
Aarav stood still, he didn’t reply , so the men took it as a ‘no’ and charged . First the man closest to Aarav charged , he was fast. In a moment he was standing in front of Aarav.
Aarav blocked his sword just in time to avoid the sword from hitting his face. He pushed the man away, just to get a blow from on the back by another one of them. The sword cut through his back and the pain was blinding. He fell on the knees.
“You still have a chance boy, let us take the girl and we won’t kill you!” the man said again.
“If i wanted...to hand her over, I wouldn’t still be standing...here ...” Aarav said in pain.
He stood up with the help of his sword and again faced them. Then the man who had attacked first slashed his sword , but another one also charged.
Then he remembered his training with Pranay,
If u want to be a good swordsman , first you should learn to analyse your enemy, He had said.
Aarav started to analyse , he observed that the men were strong ,men not swords, he thought. After training for so long, he was able to clearly differenciate between a strong hand and a strong blow.
These men clearly had strong hands , so he made up his courage and said,
“Shiba , close your eyes!“, she did.
Aarav quickly bent , pulled his sword away from contact and the next moment , the guy who had attacked first , was crying in pain as his hand was fallen on the ground now .
He didn’t wait, he kicked the second guy’s hand and hit as hard as he could with the hilt of his sword on his head, and the man was now unconscious.
“Smart!” said one of the guys. “But not strong...” another one charged , Aarav dodged him , and remembered what Megha had thought him.
If u ever get a chance to dodge your opponent , whatever weapon it is , jump over him and attack.
He did the same , but instead of his sword , foolishly he hit the guy with his leg, straight on his face and luckily the guy fell .
Three down three to go. Aarav thought.
“Shiba are your eyes closed?“He asked. “Yes..” Shiba said with her scared voice.
But before he knew , two of the three had already charged at him. He missed the first, but got a straight hit on his stomach. Aarav fell to the ground holding his gut , which was paining like hell now.
He got a kick on his seared back , and the pain intensified. He couldn’t keep his eyes open due to the pain. But from the corner of his eye he saw that the men had crossed him and were now pulling Shiba by her hair.
The main guy among the six, bent down and said, “Why are u struggling so hard boy?”
Aarav tried standing up , but all he could do , was to turn over , so that now he was facing the evening sky. “Kill him...” Aarav heard the man saying . And one of them, stood over Aarav an lifted his sword high in the air to put it in Aarav’s chest.
But something jolted inside Aarav’s chest and suddenly everything around him stopped , he could only hear fainting footsteps . His sword had fallen away from him, he took it in his hands , and the moment he touched the sword , his pain relieved . He wasn’t feeling the pain anymore . He quickly stood up and slashed through both of the men in seconds and ran to see , that the boss was taking Shiba , who was struggling to let go the grip.
“Leave her..″ Aarav said. The man was shocked. He turned and saw Aarav , who was fully covered in blood , was standing in the evening sun .
“I SAID LEAVE HER!” Aarav screamed and charged . The man put Shiba down just to get a slash from Aarav the next moment. The man dodged and raised his sword.
In a second Aarav was back on the ground with a cut on his stomach. Again everything slowed down and his pain got reduced when he got his sword back. He got up and charged , faster than ever.
Another slash and you’ll be gone bastard . Aarav thought.
But no, the man was intact , standing there sword against sword, holding Aarav’s weak attack like nothing was pushing him at all.
The man laughed and said, “I get it! You’re a warrior blood , but boy you’re not the only one ...” He pushed Aarav back, “...those tricks won’t work on me, boy!”
“What do you mean?” Aarav asked him .
“You don’t know do you? Alright, a bit of knowledge wont hurt before dying. Warrior bloods have a special ability . While fighting , for any particular reason, like determination, hate , love , anything...these emotions trigger an ability that increases the body movement exponentially . Either you become fast or the surrounding becomes slow. But its a rare ability. Its should be an honor to fight someone like me!”
“So does that mean in my case the surrounding becomes slower? “Aarav .
“Yes, boy that seems to be the case . But while i'm attacking, my attack speed becomes so much , that my surrounding almost stop moving ...”
The man disappeared. No , he’s moving . Aarav thought .
Everything slowed down , but still Aarav couldn’t see the guy. Something went past through his ear , he turned , but got a slash on his other side.
“You’re a weakling, boy ! Even with such a strong ability and sword , you’re useless , a loser! ”
The man said , while he was giving one after the other slashes on Aarav . He couldn't defend a single one. The man again said, ” Boy, you cant even save yourself , and you're trying to save someone else? Its a shame to see someone as weak as you share ancestors with me.”
Straight kick in the rib. Aarav fell again , but before he could touch his sword , the man picked it up. “Not a chance! Just another tip, if u rely on your sword for healing yourself , one day it will rebound and give out whatever it has healed, but alas , youre however dying so-” He threw the sword at Aarav and it hit his cheek ,a trail of blood slid down his cheek.
“And now,....DIE!” He raised his sword , and slowly and slowly it was coming closer .
This is it... Aarav thought . This is it !
And he closed his eyes, he remembered his mother , how she took care of him even though she hadn’t given him birth. He remembered his brother from another mother , his best friend , Pranay , and then the scene of his first kiss with Disha came to his mind. The scene was going on in front of his eyes, and when their lips were about to meet , a loud scream and he heard a sword clunk sound when it hit the hard ground .
But it wasn't his own scream, he didn’t have the stamina to even talk , so he opened his eyes and saw blood all over his body , and someone was crying in pain beside him. It was the guy who was about to kill him, but who did this? .
Then someone’s shadow fell over him, a similar shadow, a masked face ...The justice Blade. He turned his face towards the fallen man ,
The attacker’s voice was gone just as the masked man put a sword right his chest. The masked man bent to talk to Aarav , “You need to grow stronger boy, the man wasn't wrong when he said you’re weak. Wake up , the girl needs you...”
He turned to go , but Aarav said, “Wait! Don't go! Why are u helping me? Who are you? And who is the priest?”
“Dont worry about that boy, the next time we meet , i will answer everything!”
A flash of lightning and the masked man was gone . Aarav touched his sword , though his pain felt less, but yet he didn’t feel well. He said,
“Shiba...” he stood up and went near her, she was standing near the wall and tears could be seen in her eyes.
He texted his location to Pranay and the moment he sat beside Shiba he was on the verge of collapse. He didn’t know how long he waited for them, but the moment a warm and familiar hand kept a hand on his shoulder he collapsed.
When he woke up , he was in his bedroom at Reva’s place . His was just wearing a pant , rest he was sleeping bare chested . His hands and back were bandaged . He opened his eyes and saw two eyes staring at him , he felt those were Disha’s , so he said,
“Disha...why...are u here ?”
Then a familiar voice said, “Guys...i think he’s hallucinating!”
“Give him this...” Said another voice and then Aarav felt a burning sensation in his throat. Then he felt his senses were coming back. His body pain was vanishing , then he opened his eyes and saw Reva sitting beside him . He sat up and saw that she was tensed . The first thing that came to his mind...
“Where’s Shiba? ”
“She’s with Mayank, downstairs...can u stand?” Megha asked
“Yeah...” Aarav said and Reva held his hand and he stood up to go downstairs . Megha went out.
“Why do u keep getting yourself in trouble? And...wear something...you’re half naked!” Reva said giving corner glances at his bare chest.
Aarav put his shirt on and followed Reva downstairs, there everybody was sitting . Shiba saw Aarav and came running and hugged him.
“Are u okay?” She asked.
He sat on the couch and Megha spoke first. “Who was it?”
“I don’t know, but they were after Shiba...glad he helped , or Shiba would be gone i'd be dead.”
“Who’re you speaking of?” Mayank asked .
“Justice blade , he helped ..again. He’s saved me twice now.” Aarav said .
“That guy is dangerous , why is he saving you?” Mayank asked .
“I don’t know , but he said we’ll be meeting him again. By the way, Mayank where were you yesterday?“Aarav asked him.
“I was making arrangements for us to go...”
“Mauryan kingdom of course! To the grand feast!” Pranay said.
“That woman was serious?“Aarav asked him. But Reva replied, “She’s my mother and also the queen of the Mauryan clan , you idiot! She’s invited you herself , for something you didn’t even do.”
“I tried my best to save you , you’re speaking as if you were too brave . You had already given up and were crying...” Aarav said her.
“You were the one crying! Be glad Justice blade saved your ass...“Reva replied back.
"Yeah , right. 'Aarav , save me . I don't want to die , please...' " He mimicked her.
"Asshole ! "
“Will you two ever give up? We have important things to do before leaving!” Megha told them.
“She started ...” Aarav told her .
“You know Aarav, she was sitting beside you all the time you were asleep , for two days?” Pranay said.
“What? Why ? I mean..alright, sorry and thanks...“Aarav told Reva. ,“Wait a minute...two days? And we are leaving today? Guys i need to go! My mom will be home soon...i’ll meet you in the evening !”
“You’re leaving? Dude you just woke up!” Pranay protested .
“Pranay...listen, i don’t know why, but i have a bad feeling about going...and if by any chance something happens to me...” Aarav said , but couldn’t find the words to complete the sentence.
“Hey, we’re just going for a week or even less, what bad can happen? And not to forget , there’s our own army that defends the kingdom!" Pranay told Aarav by standing up and placing a hand on his shoulder. He continued , “...But what bad feeling?”
“I...dont know. Guys i've been wanting to tell this to you from a long time, but..i’ve been getting dreams , about war, blood and killing for a very long time now. I’m in someone’s body...i think its the same Silver guy .He can't be THE SILVER right? I mean...its totally stupid...i haven’t even seen the guy.”
Everybody except Shiba who was busy playing with Baby Aarav , were in shock. Megha said,
“Why did u hide this from us?”
“Pranay knew, i always tell him everything, but...i felt you people will just think that i’m mad or something , so i just didn’t tell." Aarav replied.
“That’s the reason my mother told me that you were different“Reva said , “But yeah , i think you’re a mad , those dreams just mean nothing.”
“Hey, can you atleast not make a fool out of me all the time?” Aarav asked her.
“Don’t you two start again. Aarav , i know its rude of me, but i seriously think that you should stop thinking about that , we need to make arrangements too. So if u really wanna go , then go fast and come back quick .” Megha said.
Aarav nodded and started to leave when Shiba came and pulled him down ,
“What is it, Shiba?” Aarav asked .
“Let me come with you! ” She said with twinkling eyes..
“You know what happened that day right? I’ll be back before you know it . Just be a good girl , i’ll be back soon , Okay?” Aarav told her. She thought for a while and finally nodded.
So Aarav took his bike and headed back home. He parked his bike and rang the doorbell . No answer . Thrice he rang but no answer again . He tried calling his mom, he heard the ring from outside , but she didn’t pick up. He got tensed . He thought of breaking the door , but if he did so, if by any chance someone was inside , they’d get alert.
So he decided to climb from the outside to his room. He did so and reached his room , just to see everything was strewn here and there . His clothes , his books , everything. He pulled out his bracelet , and now the cold metal of Galade was touching his hands. He slowly pushed the room door open , and headed downstairs .
Aarav slowly peeped his head and saw that the house too was the same, rummaged . He reached the hall, but no sign of his mom. Finally when he stepped foot in the kitchen , blood touched his feet . He stepped closer and saw ...