The days passed into weeks and weeks into months. Shiv’s training with Nigel turned his fragile body into a sinewy and agile. He now could move almost as quickly as Nigel. Although Nigel was still much faster and stronger, Shiv’s mind raced, he could calculate movements and thoughts of his sparring partner in a blink of an eye.
Zakhira had avoided Shiv throughout this time always confining herself to her chambers or the dungeon room, always bringing out new golden bracelets with the insignia of Esen for new recruits into the queen’s kingdom.
Shiv unstrapped his body armor and rubbed the sweat of his toned abdomen. The maid-servant looked at the ground, fearing she would gawk at Shiv’s chiseled body.
Shiv handed the damp cloth to the maid-servant and she bowed her head before turning and leaving.
“Shiv!” Nigel slapped Shiv’s back.
Shiv smiled. “That was a good session Nigel.”
“It sure was.” Nigel gave Shiv a large platter filled to the brim with various foods of the region, cured meats, unusual shaped fruits, vegetables and some lentil soup. Nigel tore a piece of bread from his plate before speaking. “In no time you will be ready for the war.”
Nigel poured some wine into two chalices. “The war is coming soon.”
Shiv stopped to think about what Hanuman had told him. The war between the God’s and the half-bloods. In the months that had passed by Shiv noticed many new faces. He imagined they came from the same realm as he did. A woman could conjure up creatures from fallen strands of her hair, a blind man could stun someone if he looked into their eyes. They all had powers of the God’s, they were half-bloods. Shiv however did not show any kind of power. “Why am I here?”
Nigel stopped from tearing the flesh off a large drumstick and looked at Shiv. “To fight with us in the war.”
“I am only human, there is no reason for me to be in this war.”
“You are more than human Shivie boy!” Nigel washed his mouth with some wine. “By now you must know about the God’s and the half-bloods?”
Shiv nodded his head. “The God’s are immensely powerful and the half-bloods are weaker.”
Nigel picked up a purple fruit and squeezed the juice in his mouth. “What the God’s have is control of a large power.”
Nigel scowled. “Yes, that hermit can control all plant life.”
Shiv thought of Hanuman for a second, he hadn’t seen his good friend since he started training with Nigel. In fact it had been a long time since he had seen anyone else or stepped outside of the castle.
Nigel continued. “The difference is that while the half-blood’s may have a lesser power as compared to the God’s we have more powers to use.”
“More powers?” Shiv raised his brow.
“Take Esen for example. She has power over the wind, that is the power that she inherited from her mother, but she also has the power of her voice. That power is unique to her.”
“So every half-blood have two abilities?”
“Two maybe more.”
“I don’t have any ability”
“Oh you do Shivie boy you do.”
Shiv frowned. Ever since he was dragged into this kingdom that was all that everyone talked about. Everyone said that he had powers, and even Esen ensured that Nigel and the four-foot tall guards were always around him to protect him. He did not see it however, in his mind he was just a regular human who was at the bottom of the heap in this realm.
“You can see my movements can’t you?”
Shiv looked up at Nigel.
“Ever since the first sparring session, you knew what I was going to do, you could spot an opening and your body moved as if it had a mind of it’s own.”
“Everyone can do that.”
“Not if they are up against someone who is ten times faster and stronger than them. Whenever you come up against me it seems as if we are evenly matched but in reality you are nowhere to my strength or speed.”
“But that is only one ability.” Shiv still did not believe Nigel but he felt happy that somehow he was accepted and he belonged. Where he came from the only person who accepted him, who felt comfortable with him was Hanuman.
“It will come in time Shiv.”
Shiv smiled and ate his lunch. It was a heavy lunch and he would have to work hard with Nigel to burn it off in their afternoon sparring session. When he had finished the maid-servant came in and took the plates away. Now that Shiv had transferred every morsel of food into his stomach he noticed that the plates were golden and they shimmered as the light from the never-setting sun shone into the arena.
Shiv watched as the maid-servant walked away toward the exit. Her scant clothing revealed a sensually curvy figure and Shiv remembered the first time he was in the throne room. Then he noticed that everyone was scantily clad but they did not shiver at the cold wind that blew over them. He thought for a moment and he does not feel that same chill.
Nigel laid on the ground with eyes closed. “Yes Shiv?”
“Why isn’t it cold?”
“When I first came here I remember freezing even with all of my clothes on.”
“And now you feel comfortable?”
Shiv pondered over what Nigel said. Comfortable. He did not want to admit that he was comfortable. In fact he was very much comfortable, not only content but exceedingly happy. For the first time in his life he was living like a king. He stayed in a large palace, people moving around and serving him, all the food he can eat. His life was definitely more comfortable. “Yes.”
“You have to thank Esen for that.”
“No, you have to thank my father for that.” Zakhira appeared from the tunnel entrance.
“Excuse me?” Shiv asked.
Zakhira pointed at the golden bracelets on Shiv’s wrist. “Those bracelets on your wrists.”
“These?” Shiv rubbed the wavy lines engraved on his bracelet.
“They are keeping you protected from the chill of Esen’s wind.”
“Esen keeps us protected.” Nigel scoffed. “Why are you here anyway? Aren’t you supposed to be with the queen?”
“She sent me here.”
“For him.” Zakhira looked at Shiv. “Come with me.”
“I did not come here to entertain your questions human.”
“He is more powerful than a human.” Nigel sat up and bent his knees.
“Really? Where are his powers then? Is gorging on food for three people one of his powers? I think you already have that covered Nigel.” Zakhira smiled.
Shiv noticed the smile of Zakhira, two deep dimples sat on her cheeks and her teeth were pearly white with one of the lower front tooth slanted to its side. This was the first time that he saw Zakhira smile and he wanted to tell her that she should smile more often because she looked beautiful when she smiled. Shiv hesitated, maybe it was because of his shyness but the truth of the matter was he was scared of Zakhira. Nigel had once told him: ‘To be the queen’s right hand means that you would need to have powers that need to be watched over, there is a reason why the queen does not lose sight of her.’
“He can match me on the battlefield, that is more than enough.”
Zakhira covered her mouth controlling her laughter. “Any one can match you on the battlefield.”
“I want to see you try.”
“Don’t test me nomad.”
“Zakhira lead the way.” Shiv stood up and tugged on Zakhira’s arm.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Isn’t the queen waiting?” Shiv smirked.
Nigel fell on the ground and closed his eyes.
Zakhira looked at Nigel as he snored himself to sleep. “What?!? How can he do that?”
“He had a heavy lunch.” Shiv release his grip on Zakhira’s wrist. It was the first time that he had felt Zakhira’s skin and it was very smooth just like silk. Strangely enough it was very cold as well, like he was touching ice.
Shiv followed Zakhira and watched her sensually move toward the exit. As he walked through the dark tunnel lined up with flaming torches he wondered why the queen had summoned him, more importantly why did she send Zakhira.
Zakhira on the other hand had a different thought. She wondered why Esen decided to bring a human who resembled Ryuu into their realm. He would serve no purpose and would only restart the war which had been dormant all this time. More importantly this human would only end up dead before the war would even start.
Meanwhile a lanky figure floated in from the cracked ceiling and into the throne room.
“Hanuman! What are you doint here?”
“It’s so nice to see you again queen.” Hanuman hopped off his staff and bowed before Esen.
“Nice to see you still have manners.” Esen stepped from her throne and walked toward Hanuman. “What do you want?”
“What are you planning Esen?”
“What are you talking about?” Esen’s voice became chalky as it always did when Hanuman came around.
Hanuman paced around Esen. “I see a lot more half-bloods here, more than normal.”
“I am trying to reunite my kind, there should be no reason why we all should be separated.”
Hanuman’s staff followed him as he slowed his pace. “You are not planning to restart the war are you?”
“The wheels of war already started turning, there is no stopping it.”
“What have you done?”
“Nothing that wouldn’t have come. I just made it faster.”
“Is that why you brought Shiv?”
“He will lead us to victory.”
“Has he found his powers yet?”
“Nigel is working on that.”
“He does not know how to use his abilities?”
“He will in time.”
“He will die!” Hanuman’s staff slammed on the jewel-encrusted marble. “I cannot stand idly knowing you will lead my son to his death!”
Esen approached Hanuman and touched his tree-like face. “I would never let anything happen to our son my love.”