Aarav woke up . He felt he had a very bad dream , he had gone berserk and killed 5 men .
“What a nightmare...” He said. He looked around, he was sleeping in a make shift camp in a sleeping bag. His body was aching and head was pounding .
He pulled the tent zipper down and headed out . They had stopped at the edge of a lake , which was in the waste land .
He saw that the clanmates were all sitting in the bright sunlight . He was still feeling awkward to face them , especially Reva after the commotion of her anger yesterday . But why couldn’t he remember anything after that ?
“Hey guys.“He said raising his hand for a hi-fi .“Why are you looking at me that way?”
“You’re alright?“Pranay asked adjusting his eye-patch,“Even after what happened yesterday?”
“What are you people talking?“Aarav asked them.
“Aarav, you really don’t remember ? You... killed 5 men!” Megha said.
It wasn’t a dream? , Aarav thought . The sudden realization made his legs tremble , he couldn’t be a murderer , could he? He fell on his knees , the rocks pierced his legs , but it felt like a tickle compared to the pain he had in his heart due to the guilt .
“I..killed them...? ” He asked particularly to no one .“I’m a murderer.”
The guilt made his body shiver , tears rolled down his eyes .
“They were doing their job...And i...killed them!” He yelled and started hitting his fists at the ground .
Somebody came and stopped him , and hugged him , it was Reva . She placed a hand on the back of his head while he rested on her shoulder.
“Calm down...you’ll hurt yourself.“She said , while he cried like a baby.
“They were father and husband and son to someone , they had families...but i..killed them...I’m a monster!”
“No you’re not...“she said .
“Yes i am!”
“Aarav , calm down...“Pranay said kneeling beside him .
“How can i?...I’m a murderer!” Aarav cried.
He couldn’t take the guilt , he pushed them away , and pulled out his bracelet , before he could bring it near his neck , a firm hand held his wrist . It was Mayank.
“Get a hang of yourself .“He said . With his other hand , Aarav tried pushing Mayank away , but another hand held him . It was Pranay.
“Leave me , i don’t have the right to kill anyone ....I HAVE TO ATONE!”
“HOLD YOUR WITS!” Reva said slapping him ,“DON’T BE STUPID.”
“THINK ABOUT US , THINK ABOUT YOUR MOTHER...”
SLAP! SLAP! SLAP!
Yes , Mother , she’s the only person for whom i have to sink the guilt ..., Aarav thought . He seemed to calm down , he again dropped to his knees and his sword fell beside him. He put his face in his hands , and wept for long . None of his friends disturbed him , they felt that this was something that he has to do by himself. Finally , he got a hang of himself , and had some food pills .
Only after that did they finally resumed their mission again .
“Are you...alright?” Reva asked him while they were headed towards the Phoenix kingdom .
“Yeah , i feel somewhat better . Sorry for being a pain.“Aarav said.
“Its alright...I should be apologizing too...for not understanding.“She said .“I shouldn’t have acted childish because you left us.”
“Its not.“Megha said ,“Reva’s stupid , and never forgets to act like one , but i acted like a kid ...”
“Um..did you just ...call me a stupid?“Reva asked.
“No..i actually deserved it.” Aarav said.
“You idiots....stop apologizing to each other , will you?“Pranay intervened.” Hold it till our mission’s done...And you to love birds...get yourself a room once we’re done...stop the romance.“He said pointing at Aarav and Reva.
Megha awed , while Mayank broke into a laughter .Reva’s cheeks turned pink .
Aarav suddenly realized something , something was truly off...
“Uh...guys, isn’t it , you know, a bit too quiet?”
“Its good right , we haven’t encountered anyone ...“Pranay said.
Megha shook her head , even she understood Aarav’s concern,
“I feel it too, its far too quiet for a highly maintained border . Something’s not right...”
“What’re you people talking about?” Reva asked .“I dont see anything particularly off.”
“You should’ve been the first to realize , you’re the strategizer here...“Megha said,“..The border areas are highly disputed , and are heavily guarded , but as far as i see , i dont see any guards . Infact , i dont see anyone!”
Aarav observed too , as far as wastelands and grasslands go , they should’ve spotted people as soon as they entered the borders . But , all he could see was empty lands .
All of them came to a halt .
“We should have a farther look.“Megha suggested.
“I’ll see what i can do...” Aarav said , and was about to use one of the chakras , when Reva held his hand and stopped him.
“You should..probably , not try anything.” She said.
“Besides...“Pranay said,“Its not just you who’s learnt new tricks...” He winked and pulled his sword out .
“Earth style...rising rock...“He said stabbed his sword in the ground. The ground beneath them shook , and slowly the mud below Pranay started moving and rose high , taking him with it. It rose , higher and higher till it reached the height of a 4 storied building.
“What the hell is that?“Aarav said.
“He learnt it from his clan’s secret book...” Megha said,“...he said he had found the book in the storeroom , but he can’t bring it down yet.”
“MAYANK, DO IT!“Pranay yelled from above.
“ON IT.“Mayank yelled back. Aarav watched , as Mayank pulled his maces from the rings he had on each hand . He took a step back , and smashed the maces at the huge pillar Pranay had brought up .
He fell , though he didn’t look scared.
“He’ll fall...“Aarav said looking above.
“You just watch...“Megha said. Reva waved her hand and in midair , and Pranay’s fall slowed down , and in a moment he was landing easily , but just when he was about 6 feet from the ground , something happened and Pranay fell on his butt.
“Ow...you should learn to maintain it for long.“Pranay said massaging his butt.
Reva sticked her tongue out ,“I’ve just learned it...“She said.
She looks so cute when she acts childish,Aarav thought.
“What have you learnt? Psychic ?“Aarav asked her.
“No...controlling the wind.“She said .“My mother taught me the basics ...”
“Great team work ...“Aarav said , though he felt bad for he couldn’t help.
“What did you see?“Megha asked.
“Nothing , its too damn empty...Now i’m feeling the weirdness too.“Pranay said.“Bloody hell , i’m getting the bad vibe here...”
“We can’t waste anymore time...“Mayank said.“Its almost afternoon , before the sunset , we should be in the city...”
Their pace slowed and they became more cautious about their surroundings . Megha was checking every boulder and pile of mud to see whether someone was hiding . While , Pranay , frequently used the rising rock to have a look ahead .
Aarav , though was concerned about their mission , was equally worried about the other day , when he killed 5 men . He had no exact reason for the outburst , other than the sword of silver .
Was it because of the sword? Is it its power that’s caused the over powered water fists ?
As he was thinking , someone shook him from his reverie . It was Megha .
“Um...are you alright? You seem lost...“She asked.
“I’m thinking. Anyways , what about Pranay? Has he found something?”
“Bloody eye-patch. I dont know whether he’s even seeing something with one eye...“Reva said .“Hey , eye-patch , see something?” She asked Pranay as she helped him jump down from the pillar .
“You better stop calling me that .And yeah , no sign at all , but we can see the main road now , heading to the city...“Pranay said.
“Lets go on then...we can’t waste any more time.“Aarav said .
Whatever’s going on , i fear we’re not already late., he thought.
Finally , when it was just before sunset , did they see the outline of a city. It was a huge one sure enough , and way more larger than the capital of the Mauryan kingdom.
“Look...“Mayank said.“We’re almost there. Keep your guards up!”
Everybody looked tensed , and the most tensed was Megha . She had something going on in her mind . And comparing to all the other clan members, she was always the smartest and most calm at all the other situations .
Pranay saw her , and asked,
“Megha ,what is it?”
“Its...nothing , lets just move.“She said.
Without wasting any more time , they reached the city out skirts , and there they finally found guard posts . And also men sitting , some distance away facing the city walls . They hid behind boulders to avoid getting spotted.
“Guys...“Pranay said.“What sort of guards sit facing towards the city? Shouldn't they see the other way?”
“What the hell is going on?” Reva said.
“Where’s the sound?” Megha asked.
“What sound?” Aarav asked her.
“Sound of the city, she means...“Mayank said.“Its a city , and a huge one at that. So why the hell is it so quiet? I’ve been here before , and a market’s there , right after we cross the walls . There has to be noise right?”
“That’s what i was worried about back there.“Megha agreed, “I’ve been here too , long ago , when i ran away . After being in the underground for some years, i came here for tourneys . This place is no less than hell. I fear something’s happened...”
Aarav gulped . The last thing he needed was more trouble . and he had no intention to go savage again , breaking people’s ribs and spines. And also he hadn’t told about the sword of silver to his friends . And he had no wish to tell either , if he did , he was sure he’ll be taken back to the Mauryan kingdom and presented in front of the queen assuming that he was the seventh incarnation , though he himself didn’t know whether that’s true.
They slowly crept near to the guards who were sitting facing the city, but to their surprise, they were..
“Asleep?” He said.“And how are all of them asleep at the same time ?”
“Not all are asleep.“Megha said,“This one’s not breathing.” checking the pulse of one of the guards. They walked near the guardposts , and saw that there too , who ever was on duty were fast asleep .
“What the hell is going on?” Reva said. She raised her hands and the palms glowed red . Megha pulled out her nun-chucks , Pranay his sword and Mayank his maces. Aarav slowly pulled his sword , Vajra, out from his wrist.
“Hey , where’s galade?” Megha asked.
“Uh...i just did some modifications.“Aarav lied, trying not to sound suspicious .
“As far as modifications go...“Pranay said,“Galade was a long sword , double bladed , and this one’s a pure Katana .”
“Well...you see...galade was...broken while training , so i had to get a new one.“Aarav said.
“Don’t fool us , Aarav...“Megha said, “Everybody knows a holy sword cannot be broken.”
Well , i didn’t ..., Aarav thought .
“And your face gets all weird when you lie...” Reva added.“...and cute , and embarrassed...”
“Alright , alright...“Aarav was thinking about a lie to say,“...you see , Galade was troubling to master water and thunder techniques , so i had it melted and forged into this one...and also this...” He showed them the dagger that was actually what remained of Galade.
“But , either way , the Katana is way cooler than the long sword . In that cloak and mask , you look like a ninja . Mind if i hold it?” Pranay asked.
“Will it not burn your hand?” Aarav asked him.
“No...“Megha said,“.. after melting, holy swords loose their abilities, so it wont hurt him...”
Aarav gave him the Katana. He wanted to avoid the conversation of the sword as much as possible, so he said,
“Guys , i don't know , and its better we dont waste time on this. So shall we go on , we have a mission , i guess?”
“Guess you’re right...“Said Pranay who was swinging Vajra , and looked impressed.
They were heading straight towards the city , Mayank , Megha and Pranay were walking in the front , while Aarav and Reva were in the back.
Aarav was feeling that this mission had a bad vibe from the beginning itself , so he had planned this for earlier but hadn’t got the chance. So before anything goes even more worse , he had something to give her.
He pulled out the dagger and said,
“Give me your hand...”
“What?” Her cheeks turned pink .
Aarav placed the dagger in her palm and closed her hand over it .
“Keep this with you.”
“Well , i dont know ...but i have a bad feeling that this mission will not end well . So if anything happens to me...then...”
“Nothing will happen to you, or anyone ...“She said, “Dont talk rubbish.” She placed a hand on his cheek .
“Listen Reva, i ...i wanted to tell you something from the day i returned , I-I ..i really like you. I dont know why, but my heartbeat gets goes beyond control whenever i’m around you. And i’m really sorry for leaving you like that all of a sudden ...I dont know if you like me or not , but i like you...”
“You...Idiot! Did you really said that in such a place? We’re on a war field...I don’t even know if i’m angry or surprised , and neither do i know if i should kill you or kiss you...but i like you too.”
“You decide...“Aarav told her and she smiled and kissed him. It lasted for a minute or an for an hour or for a day , neither of them had a clue , until someone faked a cough.
“OH MY GOD! Aarav did u propose her...?” Megha said.
Awkwardly, Aarav and Reva pulled away from each other , with Reva blushing pink.
“Why did you have to interrupt , idiot ?” Reva said,“There’s something called privacy...”
“Do you really think you can get privacy on a road?” Megha asked.
“I told you two to get a room later on , lovebirds , but before that, have a look ahead.“Pranay said.
“Right...“Aarav agreed and went to see what they had found . They were at the city main gate now , and as Mayank had already said , there was a market attached to the main door , there were shops lined in front of them, but that wasn’t the reason for them to stop , the actual reason was that the people were all lying on the road , facing the sky.
They were lying like corpses , all over the place .
“Are they all.....dead?”