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If Reva’s house was any big, it was nothing in front of the palace Aarav was looking at.

“Is this The Mauryan palace ?“He asked Reva as they were nearing to the large entrance.

“Well...yeah.“Reva said feeling embarassed.

The woman who was taking them in said,“Princess Reva there is no need to be ashamed of your blood, afterall this is the second largest palace in the Black world not to forget ”

“Second ? This? Well, cant imagine anything can be even bigger than this . I guess half of Kamhaan can fit in the estate that i’m looking at! Who has the largest though?“Aarav asked her.

"Phoenix clan. Our estate is not even half of it...shame” The woman said , Suddenly coming to a halt .

Where have i heard the name ? Forget it . Aarav thought.

Aarav saw that finally they had reached the entrance . He had to crane his neck to take a complete look at the door . He was mesmerized in the beauty , when someone placed a hand on his shoulder . It was Megha,

“Surprised? Its said , that in olden days kings and queens used to come on elephants , that’s the reason the doors are so large.“She said.

Pranay, Shiba and Mayank came too, Shiba came and held his hand tight and was also staring at the monument in front of her.

Then from nowhere , petals started showering on them , rose petals . And then a woman wearing heavy clothing made of gold came and stood before them . She was beaming at Aarav with a huge smile . She was the queen , no doubt about it.

From a vessel made of gold, she sprinkled some fragrant water at all of them , especially Aarav , and said,

“Welcome, I Subhadra queen of the Mauryan kingdom , welcome you wholeheartedly to the kingdom of the Maurya . Especially a welcome to Aarav , guess you’re here for the first time?”

“Um...yes,” foot stamp from Reva ,“Yes...your highness...” Aarav added.

“Well, please come...“She said and turned to go. Everybody followed .

Pranay came close to Aarav and said, “Man...i’ve visited like a million times , but i’ve rarely seen the queen , and you get a welcome from her? You’re a lucky bastard...”

“Just shut up Pranay. He saved Reva’s life , don’t be jealous .“Megha said .

“No, i didn’t . I’ve already told you this ...“Aarav replied to her.

“Shut the hell up ! My mother shouldn't know a criminal helped you !“Reva said.

“Alright , whatever.”

They reached the playground sized hall of the palace when the queen spoke again,
“Reva you come with me , while the rest of your clan and Aarav will be taken to the rooms .”

“I’m in the clan too..” Aarav murmured .

Reva gave a small nod , while the queen clapped two times . Two women came out of thin air and bowed to the queen and everyone else and asked to follow.

Everyone followed them. They took them through the stairs , two floors and finally reached a long corridor which had rooms and rooms , wherever the eye could see. When they walked further in the corridor , the women turned and again through a small set of stairs took to a hall which looked like dorm . One of the woman turned and said, “Master Pranay , Master Mayank , Miss Megha and Miss Shiba , these are your rooms . The girls can stay in the same room if you want , and all your belongings have already reached the rooms . After an hour , we will be coming back here to take you to dinner. Now please take some rest , the journey might have been stressful.” They bowed again and all of them bid their good byes to Aarav.

“ where should i go?”

“Master Aarav, you follow us , you have a special room prepared for you. Please follow us...”

“Great...i forgot i’m the VIP here . “He groaned and simply followed them . The women took him back to the corridor and again through the main stairs to the third floor , where there was another corridor . The woman said, “Master Aarav , the third room from the left is your room , the bath is ready and our most elegant and beautiful girl will come in a few moments and help you bathe , please take some rest.”

“What? Girl for bath? No , no ,no...i can freshen up by myself . And don’t worry , i’ll come to the dorm by myself . Please don’t treat me like VIP , i’m just a comrade like the others.“He said , getting frustrated by the treatment.

“But sir...”

“Aarav , please, you're older than me ....”He told them.

“Sorry , but we are servants . We aren't supposed to call you just by your name . And about the special treatment , they're the queen orders, she gave it herself . She said that there should be no mistakes in treating our guests , especially you. ”

“Alright , whatever , but no girl for bath or anything. ”

She nodded and the woman beside her gave a small laugh. They bowed to him and went away.

He went inside the room and saw that there was a large chandelier, a Double sized king bed with curtains in the centre of the room ,large windows with lamps hanging from them, almost covering the entire opposite wall, a large full length mirror , an almirah , a corner of the room had a small changing room , an opaque bathroom room at another end and some chairs surrounding a small table having some fruits .

He didn’t need a bath , since the journey was neither long nor tiring, so he decided to just freshen up a bit. After that , he took out a simple t-shirt and a jeans and headed downstairs eating an apple from the fruit bowl.

It was not even half an hour , before the women were to come in the dorm, so he decided he’d go to Pranay’s room. So he went back through the stairs to the dorm, and as he just turned to climb up the small stairs it wasn’t there . Nothing was there , apart from a cream coloured wall. He tried pushing it , but no use . He went back to the main corridor and saw that the stairs weren’t missing , he was lost.

“What the hell!” he said . He tried going back , so he went back upstairs and again , now his allotted room was missing. He started searching for rooms but miserably failed . He again climbed the staircase , and to his badluck , he reached a damp floor ,stinking and all mushy . He was hearing weird cries and shouts. He ran as fast as he could away from the place .

He crossed one floor after other , but not finding either floors . Finally fed up , he sat on the staircase itself waiting if someone could find him and help him out . As he sat there , he felt as if the staircase was moving , he ran back up , and to his surprise , this time he ended right in front of room with its door ajar.

Though he wasn’t planning to , but he entered the room and saw an old woman staring at the wall on a wheel chair.

“Excuse me...I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but i’m kind of lost , so can you please tell me how to find the ....”
What should he call it? Dorm? Guest room?

“....the common hall?”

No answer .
So he asked again, “Ma’am can you please tell? Please?”

No answer again.

So he went near the lady and faced her . To his horror, she was looking at the wall without blinking , with her head tilted and tongue lolling out .

“Bloody...sorry, I’ll just go ...”

Shaking as he turned to leave , the woman suddenly held his hand and pulled him close , She said or to say in a ruffling and rather terrifying voice she said,

“Bringing the girl was a mistake ! She will cause destruction and bring nothing but chaos ! Kill her ! Kill her before THEY find out she is here ! Kill her ...kill her!”

Aarav was scared as hell , he pushed the old woman’s hand away from him and ran hell outside the room. He ran and ran through the stairs till he reached a floor and finally heard a familiar voice ,

“Aarav? Where were you?“It was Reva .

Aarav didn’t think twice ,he was so scared , he didn’t know what he was doing. He simply went near her and hugged her .

Reva was shocked , “Uh...what exactly are u doing ?”

“I don’t know ...i’m scared as hell.”

Awkwardly she patted on his back and said,“Okay...whatever you’re scared of , its alright ...i guess.”

He pulled away and said ,“This palace is scary as hell , the stairs gave a complete tour of the palace and they took me to a damp place , i don’t know what that place was , but it was creepy...”

At that moment , the queen saw them, and said,
“Ahem...Reva? This isn’t place for romance for young love birds...”

Aarav quickly turned to face her , while Reva said, “Oh...sorry mom, we were just coming to the dining room , Aarav just got tricked by the stairs...and we are not love birds , mother...”

The queen gave a small laugh and said, “Yeah...yeah, young love , forbidden and all . Anyways , come on now ,we’re getting late.”

Aarav followed the Queen and trying not to fall back. The old woman’s voice was still ringing in his ears.As they were descending , she said,

“Usually , the stairs don’t trick everybody that walk on them , but to some certain people only.”

“Like who?“Reva asked her .

“I don’t know...unique in some or the other way. But i heard from my father-in-law , that once as Lord Silver had visited here long ago , he too was tricked. Well, its just coincidence thats all. We are here , by the way.”

Aarav wasn’t listening , he was still thinking about the old woman. And when he looked up , he was standing in front of a long dining table with far too many chairs to count . The queen clapped twice and the table shrunk , leaving only 7 chairs . One in the front and three on the sides each.

The queen asked them to sit and on the bigger chair , she sat . Aarav and Reva sat beside each other , though Aarav felt their chairs were too near to each other compared to the other ones .

None of the clan had come yet , so he sat thinking and saw Reva staring at him,
“What?“he asked.

“ things so unexpected “She said ,blushing.

“What do u mean ?” He asked her back.

“Nothing, forget it. As if it matters . Anyways , your face was like a scared cat .“She said.

“Well, i...alright i was scared . Okay? You’d be scared too when you see that old woman....she was scary.“He told her .

“Who are u speaking of?“She asked him.

“The old woman on the wheel chair ofcourse ...who else?”

“Oh...that means you saw my Nani. She’s not scary at all , infact she hasn’t been coming out since she lost her voice.”

“She what?“He asked ,shaking.

“Yeah, she cant talk at all . I haven’t seen her talking from the day i first saw her .”

Aarav was holding a spoon in his hand which fell after what he heard.

Then who the hell spoke to him if the old woman is mute ?

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