“Zakhira, where are you ?” Esen’s voice sang softly in Zakhira’s ears and she cringed. “Father, the queen is summoning me.”
Shesha raised his head and hissed. “Then you must go child, you must take Shiv to the seer.”
“It is his destiny to undertake this quest and it is your destiny to accompany him.”
“No! I don’t want to go, I don’t want this responsibility! Why does the lives of everyone in this realm have to rest on my shoulders?”
“Shiv!” Shesha craned close to Shiv. “We all are part of a greater plan, I don’t have the answer to all of your questions but the seer will make things clear to you.”
“Is she that powerful father?” Zakhira interjected.
“She knows all and can see events unfold, she can manipulate a person with her words and make the world move to her will.”
“Then how can I trust her?” Shiv asked.
“Because you have a part of me with you.”
Shiv touched the loosely hung gauntly on his belt and frowned. A few months ago he was easily living the life of a rickshaw driver and all he cared about was when he would get his next morsel of food. Now he had the lives of God’s, half-blood’s and even human’s riding on his back. No one should have this kind of power.
“We have to go.” Zakhira tugged on Shiv’s arm and he stumbled backwards until he forward-faced the bridge. He followed Zakhira as she hopped on the special stones. A despaired howl echoed from below.
“The monster.” Zakhira said. “He eats souls.”
Shiv looked over into the abyss as he stepped from the last stone and landed onto the landing. He thought that he should just jump into the abyss, it seemed like the easiest choice. Someone else could take his burden, maybe Zakhira, she was the daughter of the King of Gods after all. He stepped closely and listened as his heart beat quickened. He had never felt this way since Nigel pinned him under his large boot. No. Shiv thought that Hanuman would have been disappointed if he did so. Hanuman was always there for him and pulled him out of darkness, he wished that he was around so that he could get the counsel of his good friend. Shiv followed Zakhira through the iron gates.
“Where did the monster of the abyss come from?” Shiv looked back as the door to Shesha’s lair closed. “Such a powerful monster, is it a God?”
“No. The monster is not a God or a half-blood, it is not born or created, it has always existed.”
“The monster of the abyss comes from the hearts of everybody, you, me, the God’s everyone.”
“What do you mean?”
“Greed, blood-lust, hunger for power. These and many more feed the monster making it stronger.”
“I thought it fed on souls?”
“The monster is more powerful than anything, all of those souls are God’s, half-bloods who seek to control the power of the monster.”
“They are controlled by the monster instead.”
“No one can control the monster, that is why it is kept in that dungeon.”
“Can’t it escape?”
“It is protected by a magic incantation, no one except me can open it.”
Shiv wanted to ask the most obvious question that he had an idea to the answer. “Why is your father there?”
“Esen wants to control him, the most powerful of Gods cannot be released, one wrong step and he is dead.”
Shiv ran up the steps and reached the floor of his room. He walked slowly behind Zakhira and noticed that she did not keep five steps ahead of him, rather she walked closer to him, almost next to him.
A shrill echoed through the hallway, a piercing shriek that was only followed by sobs.
“What is that?”
“She is one of the God’s that Esen captured during the war.”
“Why is she crying?”
“She is being tortured.”
“She has a very unique ability. Her tears produce enchanted jewels.”
“Enchanted jewels?” Shiv asked.
“Jewels that can make ordinary weapons burn through forests, cut down mountains and drown people in dry land.”
“Nigel told me something about that.”
“This is how we can build an army that can rival the Gods, by giving soldiers with abilities that can withstand and deal more damage to the Gods.”
“So the war really is starting.”
Zakhira bowed her head and a tear rolled down her cheek. “It is sad really.”
“What is sad?”
“Gemma, like my father she is one of the twelve ruling Gods. Unlike my father she is not kept in place by a being much stronger than she is, only normal binds and chains keep her in place.”
“Is she not powerful?”
“She is…was the finest warrior in this realm, she can slice an army down with just a dagger.”
“Then why doesn’t she escape?”
“How can you escape when your limbs have been torn away from your body?”
Shiv took a deep breath, he couldn’t believe what he heard. The thought of living the rest of his life, helpless only to fulfill the whims of those who controlled him. He realized that he was no different from Gemma, everyone around him wanted him to do something for them. The only difference was that he still had his limbs.
“We’re here.” Zakhira stopped in front of Shiv’s room.
Shiv didn’t hear her and continued walking forward.
“Hey! Were at your room!” Zakhira slapped Shiv’s head.
“Ow!” Shiv turned back and looked at Zakhira. “What was that for?”
“Your room?” Zakhira pointed to her right.
“Listen don’t think too much of what my father told you.” She clasped Shiv’s hand. “The seer will give you the answers that you are looking for.” She looked straight into Shiv’s hazel eyes and focused on the speck of gray. The same gray that reminded her of Ryuu. She ran her hand across Shiv’s face. Zakhira closed her eyes and leaned close to Shiv.
Shiv pushed her back and pulled her hands from his face. “Goodnight.”
“Oh yes…goodnight.” Zakhira turned around and shook her head. What am I thinking? He is not Ryuu! He make look like him but he is just a mere mortal!
Shiv noticed that his door was slightly ajar, a cold wind blew in as he pushed the door open. He walked into his room and looked around. The large mirror at the entrance reflected his image fluidly like a pond would. He moved his hand and the reflection pool followed him as he walked through his room. The pool reflected small tables with bowls of fruit, a pitcher and a couple of clay drinking glasses. He walked to a large terrace which overlooked the garden where he walked with Hanuman. The life bushes, a taste of what this realm had to offer, still stood there taunting little winged creatures to their death.
“The view is more beautiful over here.”
Shiv turned around and was surprised to see Anastasia standing in the living room. The silvery light of the full moon illuminated her curvaceous naked body. “What are you doing here?”
Anastacia smiled and walked toward Shiv. She ran a finger down his chest and looked up at him longingly. “The queen told me to cater to your every need.”