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“So where exactly are we going ?” Aarav asked Ashwathama as they were now far off from the land of the sun.

“To the forgotten village of serpants.” he answered as he was walking ahead of him , “Its time we pick up the pace , its already getting late...”

“We could have left in the morning , if u were in a hurry...“Aarav told him jumping over a huge rock.

“The door to the village of serpents opens at night at that too once a fortnight . Today happens to be the right day so we cannot miss it...” He said now almost jogging .

After an hour of jogging and running at a slow pace , they finally reached the edge of a lake.
“And here we are...”

“Its in this tiny lake? Underwater?” Aarav asked looking at the lake ahead of him.

“No , its underground. The path is through this lake , ready ?”

Aarav nodded . All their things were in the small pouch that could accommodate almost anything that we put in there . The old man took a long breath and dived .

Total concentration breathing , Aarav thought , and let the breathing flow throughout his body , and jumped.

The lake only looked tiny , but on the inside , it was much larger . The old man made a signal to follow , and Aarav followed him. They swam till they reached the far bottom , where he began searching for something on the sand bottom . Finally he found it and kicked it once . Aarav heard something rumble , and suddenly , beside them , near the walls of the lake , a door opened .
Aarav and the old man went in and it was a tunnel , pitch dark , then a small speck of light at the other end that grew larger and finally they were out.

Aarav breathed easy , and took a moment to normal his breathing .

“Its day time?” Was the first thing that came out of his mouth, as he started towards the shore following the old man.

“Time works a bit different here . This land connects the Black world to some other dimension. Now , before we go , i’m telling you just one thing . If it comes down to saving the life of either me or you , you will save your weak self , and head back through this same path. Clear?”

“What do you mean? You haven’t even told me the exact reason why we are here in the first place...”

“I’ll tell you , but first we need to get to safe grounds , come on...”

He crouched and started moving towards the land once he kept foot on the wet land. Aarav followed him and he took him near an old tree. Where he tapped twice on the huge trunk and said ,
"Aham Brahmasmi"

“Who’s it?” Asked someone from the inside .

“Ashwatthama ...”

The tree’s roots parted to reveal a path going straight down .“Follow ...” Aarav heard the old man say.
So he simply crouched and continued . The path led to a set of corridors , but they kept on going straight till they reached a large set of double doors . They opened and Aarav saw a huge room with a central table , and people sitting around it , 8 of them . They stood up and bowed , and sat back except for one person . He joined his hands and said ,
“We were waiting for you , Justice Blade .” He said ,“Please , have a seat...”

Aarav saw that while they were in the corridor , the old man had put up his mask. Aarav followed and sat beside the old man , and asked him ,
“Hey , old man who are these people ?”

“Mean while you’re here , atleast have the courtesy to call me Blade . And listen to what they say , carefully...”

The same man stood again . He said ,
“Welcome great warriors , I the ruling minister of the village of the serpents welcome you . As you can see and have already heard , the king of this kingdom has gone mad with the power of the demon lord Vritra , and is causing havoc in all the kingdom . As his minister and most importantly a concerned citizen of this kingdom , we need your help.”

“What help would a snake-blood need? Are your reptiles not helping you enough?“Said someone from the people sitting on the round table.

“The thing is , Master Bheema , the people of this kingdom, whom you’re calling reptiles are scared to face the legendary monster...”

“Monster?” Aarav whispered .

“Shut up and listen...” Blade(old man) said .

The minister continued , “And for that reason , we need the help of the legendary 8...”

“But what caused your king to become such a thing?” Blade asked .

“The potion , Master Blade , he drank a whole vile of the serpent blood , thinking he would help the people , but it turned to become a bane rather than a boon .Because of his majesty’s blood similarity with the demon lord Vritra , that caused the blood to trigger the trait of the serpent . ” He said in his calm voice.

“What will we get in return? We need a rather good bargain if we are wishing to go against such a blood trait...” Said another guy from the table .

“We won’t just risk our lives for gold and silver , Dear Minister ..” Another said .

“Sure Master Shifu , and Master Bhoj , we will be giving you much more than just gold . The treasure of the Serpent village is all at your giving . Even the coin!”

Everybody seemed shocked to hear that , but Aarav had no clue what that meant.
“You’re bidding too high , Minister ...” Said an old voice “We are not as strong as we were back then . I cannot afford to lose my old life .I’m sorry ...” He didn’t say a word further and simply walked out of the room , following him 4 more went away , leaving Blade , the man who was Bheema , and another man and ofcourse Aarav.

“Uh...what’s going on ?“Aarav asked .

“They’re old now ...” He said .

“So , my lords , I assume you will be helping us ?” The minister asked .

“Sure as hell , i’m ready to go back on the battle field , what do you say Blade?“Master Bheema said , beating his knuckles .

“You knuckle head Moron , when will you ever grow up, old man ?. You’ve even grown white beard...And yeah , i’ll do it...” Said the other guy who had remained .

“Sure , i’ll be happy to help. ” Blade said .

“Sure enough , my lords , but you know that the coin will go to a rightful hand , yes?“Minister said .

Everybody agreed and yet Aarav was clueless . The minister said ,that on the coming dawn , following the normal time , they will head to the lair of the monster , till then , he asked all of them to rest.

They were waiting in a hall , when Master Bheema approached Blade and said,
“Who’s the lad, Blade?”

“Apprentice.“Blade replied , and Aarav had no problem being called weak , common , fool , idiot or anything by the old man . He never praised him .

“Your students turn out to be extraordinary , just like the last one , isn’t it blade?” Asked the other guy.

“Not at all Chirayu , this one isn’t , i assure you...” Blade replied .

“Come here lad ...” Master Bheema called Aarav . Slowly he walked towards the big guy. Master Bheema was huge , with boulder sized biceps and a rock solid chest . He had a red coloured band tied on his forehead holding his long hair together. He beamed and patted on Aarav’s back . If he was the Aarav before training , he sure would have fallen on the ground .
“What’s your name ?”

“Aarav , nice to meet you , Master Bheema ...”
Though i’ve never heard a word about you
,Aarav thought .

He shook hands with the big guy , but the moment he touched Aarav’s hand , his happy , smiling face was gone . It had turned serious , and that too a scary one .
“You already own two of the pieces don’t you ?” He asked.

“Two pieces...?” Aarav was clueless .

“Ah....Bheema , not that again...” Blade interrupted ,“...I’ve told you , there is no one powerful enough to hold more than a piece , and you’re saying this idiot has two? Trust me , big guy , he cant hold one.”

What the hell is going on? Aarav had no clue at all .
Aarav saw that the guy who was called Master Chirayu, was eyeing him . This old man , was skinny and clearly looked older when compared to Bheema and Master Ashwa . But Aarav something weird about the man . Was it cowardice ? Or cunning? But he stopped because the Minister was back and he had asked them to follow him .

Master Bheema simply walked away , thinking hard and glancing at Aarav . Blade came near him.


“What’d i do now?” Aarav asked him .

“You stay away from those two ...Is that clear? And remember what i said about saving your own self ...” Aarav could feel the intense of his speech . Usually , the old man was calm and peaceful , but now he was surely acting strange.

The Minister took them out of the hidden room , to an opening in the woods with a rough path ahead of them . He had asked to go straight and they will find the lair of the serpent .

“Why do you think didn’t he come along?” Aarav asked Blade.

“I dont know , maybe scared...” He said as he was walking ahead .

“Or it may be a trap...” Said Chirayu.

“ Chirayu , you never trusted anyone, eh?” Bheema asked him . The two men began talking about their good old days , while Aarav and Blade were walking ahead of them . Aarav asked him ,
“Hey , old man , who are these people anyway?”

“Well , you see , after Silver was gone , the strongest of warriors came along to join hands in forming the Legendary 8 . Elite amongst the elite. Bheema here , is the strongest man i have ever known , he is strong as an elephant . And the other guy , Chirayu , is the smartest , while normal people think about two steps ahead , he has the whole battle planned out with all possibilities.”

“What about you?” Aarav asked him.

“We’re here ....” Blade said ignoring Aarav’s question .

They had reached the place . And Aarav saw that it was a large cave that seemed never ending atleast from the outside . All he could see were torches that went deeper and deeper into the cave .
They finally came to a halt at the mouth of the cave.

“Creepy isn’t it?” Bheema asked him ,“Blade , do you think the lad should come in with us?”

“Ofcourse , he may be weak , but his sword handling makes mine look feeble .“Blade said .

I will never understand this old man! Aarav thought. Once he says i’m the worst swordsman he’s ever seen , now he’s comparing me to him.

“That’s a very high praise if u ask me ...” Chirayu said .“I’d love to see you in action ” And he winked at Aarav. Creep.

They stepped inside the cave and at once all the torches went out , and the door to the cave was closed as if it never had opened.

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