JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF THE SUN
For two straight days, Aarav was wandering aimlessly around the kingdom , ofcourse after getting well away from the palace . When he left the palace before dawn broke , he seemed determined , as if the land of the sun was a park ,and he go there asking out directions .
But on the first day itself he realized that it sure wouldn’t be easy. So , he started asking people , he would ask them ,
“Where is the land of the sun?”
First the people would look at him , at his whole posture . He had thrown away all the mortal clothes he had , packed some books he had brought with him, and bought some new set of clothes that depicted the common folk of the kingdom. So after looking at him, some would laugh , others would think and say no .
" Boy , there is no such place ”
“Guess you’re drunk !”
“This is the Black kingdom boy, not a fairy tale , don’t you have any work?”
All of them would mock him . He eventually got tired and stopped asking them .
He bought a map of the entire kingdom and started searching for names of towns , but none were called ‘land of the sun’. Yet he kept searching at sign boards , or any stop and listen to travellers , they were easy to recognize. The person who was wearing the weirdest attire , was sure to be a traveller .
He was easily getting food in ashrams , and temples for free . He had slept on trees for the two nights . Now it was the third day , and at dawn , he started towards the nearest town , it was a long journey , so when he reached it was nearly afternoon , and he was hungry as hell.
Looking at the town , he clearly knew that it was a trading town , because every one was busy selling and buying . He didn’t waste his time searching for temples ,as for food , he ended up having food in an old looking restaurant , and sat on a table and ordered for a meal .
It was deserted , if not for some weird looking guy smoking hukka at the corner , and a drunk woman at the other corner . As he munched, four people entered in , all men , dresses in green cloaks .
They sat on the nearest table , and ordered food , one of them said ,
“It’s tough selling things in this town , bloody copy cats !”
“True ! We were the ones who began selling the cloaks , but just in a month , almost all corner shops now sell them . Looks like our business is in trouble ...” Another said .
“Well , whatever it is , but their quality wouldn’t match the thread quality of the land of the sun...”
Aarav almost spat out whatever shit he was eating after hearing that. He stood up , took his plate and headed straight to the table where the men were sitting .
“Excuse me ?” He asked them.
The men looked at him, “Yeah?” one of them asked.
“Are you people from the land of the sun?“He asked them.
“Yeah , boy , why do you ask?”
“Actually , i need to go there to meet someone , can you please tell me where it is?”
Listening to his request , the men started laughing . One choked on his bottle of drink .
“Uh..what’s funny?” He asked them.
One of them said ,“Tell me , how old are you ?”
“Man , people from this side of the kingdom are dumb as a sheep . Tell me boy , where does the sun rise ?“He asked .
“That’s it , eastern most part of the kingdom is the land of the sun. It was famous earlier , but eventually we were forgotten .” He said.
Aarav felt so stupid, even Shiba would have realized it . Thinking of her...
“Thankyou , sir . Very much...”
He was about to leave when one of the men called him ,
“Say , our carts are going back to bring the stock , if u don’t mind , we could take you there . What say?”
“But ...i don’t have enough money to pay you...”
He laughed and said, “We’re traders , boy , we don’t always make deals for money . You look like a soldier to me . All we need is protection ...can you help? Taking you there is our responsibility, but instead , you should save us ....”
“From whom? ” Aarav asked them.
“How about we talk to you about it while on the road to the east?“He asked .
“Sure...” Aarav told them and headed along with them to their carts .
As the traders as said , they headed towards the land of the sun , as soon as they reached the carts. They had four carts , one for each . Aarav sat on the last cart. The man accompanying him said ,
“So boy , who are you?”
Aarav thought he could clearly tell the guy his name , but thought he shouldn’t .
“I’m Shamant ...”
“So Shamant , why do want to go the land of the sun exactly?”
“I’m meeting someone there , they’re gonna help me save someone ...So , what protection were you saying about? “Aarav asked him , trying to avoid the details about himself.
“Yeah...so there’s a town , we’ll reach there in the morning. There’s a person there , a wealthy landlord , greedy bastard. All he wants is profit , while coming from our village , he takes our cloaks , and while returning back , he needs whatever we have earned by selling the cloaks . He says its the tax we have to pay for trading .”
“Why do you give him? Or just take another route to avoid him. ”
“That’s easier said than done , the other route passes through the forest , and that’s the last route anyone would take . And about giving him what he asks , he has a ....thing , a monster that he threatens every trader that passes by . Its a vicious beast , and that landlord controls the thing. ”
“You heard it , some say its the man’s own son , turned to a monster because of his sins in his previous life , some say the landlord himself turned his son into a monster for more profit , either the reason , that thing is dangerous ...”
“And you believed that? ‘Sins of the previous life ’?”
“I’ll tell you a thing Shamant , the people of the eastern side of the kingdom , they’re innocent and kind and untouched by the big town’s cruelsome system . Their beliefs might sound a bit too much sometimes , but they’ll be the last people on this realm to turn dark...”
“So what do you sell?” Aarav asked him.
“Well , we trade for cloaks made of threads grown on the land of the sun, they’re the best ...”
" Why’re they so special?“He asked him.
“You see , the land of the sun is the first place in the Black kingdom where the sunrays fall , so those pure rays of the morning sun , and the pure heart and hard work that the people put in the fields to grow the thread , that makes it special.So , how about we take a halt and have some food ? ”
Aarav slept in of the make shift camps of the traders , and before dawn broke , he and all the others were ready to leave .After two hours of further more travelling , the carts finally came to a halt .
“This is it , this is the town of the landlord I was saying about ....”
“Well , we’ll first see what he does , just keep going .” Aarav told him , and so they went on .
When they had almost reached the end of the town , Aarav saw barricades stopping their way, so the carts came to a halt , in front of them many other such carts , who just like them , were waiting .
Aarav got down and followed the men , when they reached the check post , a bored looking man sitting in the post said ,
“Ah...its you people . Do you have the money? And who’s this young man?”
“They wont pay you , its their hard earned money !” Aarav told them.
“What did you say boy? Do you have a deathwish ?“The man said , staring into Aarav’s face .
“I said , THEY WON’T PAY! Are you deaf ?” Aarav asked him . The man didn’t speak , instead he got up and came out , and picked up a bow and arrow , and sent a bow flying towards the direction opposite to Aarav.
After ten minutes , a middle aged man , fat like a balloon , with a bald head , came to them . And behind him , two harassed looking men were pulling a box covered in a white cloth.
“Did someone say they wont pay?” The bald man asked .
“Yeah , i’m not paying , and neither are any of them.” Aarav said pointing at all the carts waiting in front of the barricade . Listening to what Aarav said , all the men and women riding their carts , were coming out to watch the commotion.
“Alright then , if u really have such an urge to die ....” The bald man said and pulled the white cloth away from the box to reveal a cage , and inside it sat a creature , with big eyes , big hands , and a big face , but a tiny body and legs.
It was looking at the bald man with its huge eyes . It beared its fangs and roared . All the people ran back to their carts , Aarav said to the traders.
“I think you should stand back....” They didn’t need a second warning , they ran back.
So Aarav faced the bald man...
“This need not go bloody , so just leave the ...thing be , and we can settle this out , you dont want me to pull out my weapon.” Aarav told him.
“Foolish kid , what will you have huh? An army ? A mace ? Just pay and go and you need not to die.”
“I’m telling you again , just quietly leave and let the people have their money back...”
The bald man shook his head , and without warning , pulled the latch to the door to let the monster out .It came out and started looking at Aarav with its large eyes.
The bald man kicked him and said , “Go on you wretched dog , kill him , he’s talking too much .GO!”
He again kicked him , so the monster slowly started coming Aarav. It gained pace and jumped on Aarav , and he simply moved aside , so the monster fell on its face . It leaped again and almost had Aarav’s hand in its mouth , just when he ducked.
“Kill him already! You piece of garbage!” The man yelled.
The monster didn’t move and Aarav felt hurt , hearing that word . He somewhat knew that the creature was harmless ,it was just being forced to do the man’s bidding . Aarav saw its big eyes , and he saw loneliness and fear. So he decided that he should not scare it by pulling out his sword.
Aarav raised his hands and talked to the creature...
“Hey...uh...can you understand me?”
The creature stared at him , and slowly nodded . “Can you speak?”
It nodded and started making weird click and clock noises. At first Aarav didn’t understand a word , then slowly he was getting it .
“I’m Boogey” ,The creature said” this man caught me three years ago when i was strolling through these weird lands. He is very cruel and makes me do all his dirty work for food . Please help me , i dont like scaring innocent beings . I can’t say no to him , or else he will hide my coin forever ”
“Boy , what on earth are doing? You wretched creature , kill the bastard , or i will burn you to toast !“The bald man was yelling .
“You seem like a good person ...” Boogey said (clicked) ,” I tried asking others , but they were too scared and couldn’t understand what i was saying , so please help me! Get my coin .”
“What ...coin?” Aarav asked .
“Its a round thing , made of the purest Argentum found in my world , if i loose it , i’ll die ...”It said and tears rolled down its eyes .
Aarav didn’t know what coin he was talking of , but he was sure that it was important to this guy.So he faced the bald man and said ,
“Hey baldie , return whatever you have taken from this...guy. Or you’ll pay!”
“Looks like you have made friends with my slave , now he wont attack you , is it ? Alright then , listen up you filthy little creature , if u don’t kill him , i’ll melt your coin.”
“No...no...” Boogey clicked and clocked , " Friend , if he does that , it will cause havoc in my world and i won’t have any choice but to attack you ...do something!"
Aarav nodded , “Stay back ...” He said , and slowly started walking towards the bald man.
“Listen up , how about we make a deal ? I have something that will interest you...how about you give it back its coin , in return of ...”
Aarav slowly pulled his bracelet , to reveal Galade . The bald man’s eyes glinted with greed .
“What is the surety that its real?”
“What is the surety that you have the coin?“Aarav asked him.
“Smart lad , aren’t you? Alright here it is...” He removed a large silver coin from his pocket, it was almost the size of the palm , and started showing it to Aarav .
“I agree ...i’ll place the coin of the ground , you place the sword beside it , Barter the coin with the sword ...” He smiled thinking that the boy was so foolish to exchange the coin for such a treasure .
They both placed the sword and the coin slowly , Aarav quickly picked up the coin and kept the sword where it was .
The man was shocked to see , he said ,“Uh...aren’t you gonna try and take both ? ”
“Do you want me to?” Aarav asked him .
The man smiled and happily picked up the sword, the moment he touched it , his hands were set ablaze , he started yelling in pain and eventually dropped the sword out of his hands .
Aarav simply picked it up and put it back on his hand as its bracelet form.
“Now how about giving back what’s not yours?”