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THE DIVINE LORE

 

Tales of * the bor *

 

THE DIVINE LORE

 

 

 

ANITA J SEVENTY

 

 

Copyright © Anita J Seventy 2017

 

Published by Anita J Seventy, 2017.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, recording or photocopying, without the written permission of the author. This book is a work of fiction and Anita J Seventy is identified as the author. Names, characters and references to historical events are the products of the author’s imagination and are entirely fictional.

 

CONTENTS:

 

PART 1 THE BYGONES

PART 2 THE PRESENT

PART 3 YADU’s TALE

 

PART 1

THE BYGONES

Time:   294 B.C. Ancient India

Place:   Lachvi, a small village in the Himalayas.

YADU

IT was summer in the ancient mountains. The highest peaks on earth faced the sun then as they have done forever- with freezing majesty. The rays of the sun were bursting with warmth, but the mountains remained frigid to them and kept their shimmering caps of snow! Lower down, the glaciers lapped up the warmth and melted into rivers that gurgled down the mountains as thin silvery ribbons.  

Seasonal shelters of herders dotted the upland pastures and lightly beaten trails could be seen leading the way to villages scattered on the slopes below. One such trampled path led to the village, Lachvi. Lachvi was situated against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and overlooked richly forested vales and gorges. But, the village itself was sparse- stone huts were scattered around an old temple with open enclosures for the herds.

The villagers of Lachvi were mostly cowherds. They led simple lives that were deeply entwined with the mountains they lived on and the sky, water and fire that they worshipped. ‘Awk! Awk!’ the cry rang poignantly in the vales when the cowherds took their yaks and goats to the upland pastures at the crack of dawn. Nimble and gutsy, the lads and their herds scampered easily up the treacherous rocks to find fresh patches of shrubs and grass.   

Today, it was a bright summer day at Lachvi. The sky was clear and the mountain breeze was fresh and cool. The herds were out in the pastures- goats, yaks, and donkeys dotted the rocky slopes. While the animals grazed on the dewy mountain shrubs, their herders basked lazily in the warm sunshine. As the day wore on, the lads took off their upper robes and sprawled to lie down on the rocky outcrops. With drowsy eyes, they watched tiny  fur-birds flit in and out of their nests in the cracked mountain face.

‘Play us a song, Gopi!’ grunted one of the lads sleepily. Gopi was the oldest amongst them and played the flute melodiously. He raised his head and ran a slow gaze over the herds. The sun was very bright today and some of the goats had wandered to graze in the shade.

‘Play!’ grunted the lad again. Gopi took out his flute and began playing a rustic melody that sounded like the haunting wail of the widow raven. ‘Play something merry, Gopi!’ grumbled the cowherds, ‘It is for the mountain god to give us grief, not you!’ 

Oh! The lads may have hardly uttered the words when a cold gust of air blew over the rocks to take them by surprise. ‘Brrrr!’ they shivered, springing to their feet in alarm. Dark clouds had suddenly risen above the horizon. The lads had hardly rubbed their eyes open, when a cold gale began blowing strongly. ‘Hoooon…’ the wind wailed ominously, making the lads shiver with biting cold and fright.

‘Let’s hurry back!’ Gopi cried in a trembling voice. He looked down at the village. The spirals of smoke rising from the huts had faded- the villagers had snuffed out the hearths!

‘Look!’ cried a lad, pointing to the sky. The sun had rolled over to the west and was hurtling down the sky! The young cowherds gulped in their breaths and huddled close to each other. ‘Gopi, is the mountain god awake?’ they asked, stricken with fear.    

‘Yes!’ Gopi replied in panic. ‘Run!’ he yelled, scrambling up the rocks to gather his goats. Oh! There was a stampede as the panic-stricken cowherds scrambled behind Gopi to gather their herds. Soon, the lads had collected their herds and were racing down the trail that led back to the village. Dust flew off the ground as the herds stomped down the mountain amidst the wild clanging of bells. ‘Awk! Awk!’ the cowboys cried, prodding the yaks and goats with their sticks to run faster.

Gopi suddenly noticed that one of the lads had strayed behind. ‘YADU!’ he yelled to the lad, stopping in his tracks, ‘HURRY!’ Yadu was the youngest in the group but also the bravest one! He had stayed back on the rocky outcrop and was unfazed by the hue and cry. 

‘YADU!’ Gopi yelled again, climbing back on the trail. He found Yadu gazing at the horizon with an awestruck face. The sun had gone down and a pinkish haze lit the horizon like a garland of budroses. Gopi shivered. The air had become painfully cold. It was the freezing breath of the mountain god and it had blown away the sun! Soon, the mountain god would appear in his divine form to take his sacrifice. ‘Let’s go!’ Gopi cried, pulling Yadu’s arm roughly.

‘But, I want to see the mountain god!’ begged Yadu, his eyes lit with excitement.   

‘NO!’

‘But, I want to ride on him!’ he protested.   

‘Don’t be a fool!’ Gopi thundered.  He raised his stick and rained a few sharp blows on Yadu’s back and ears.

‘Aww!’ Yadu howled, running away from Gopi. Gopi lunged at the fleeing boy and grasping his scrawny arms firmly, began dragging him down the mountain trail. ‘Let me go!’ Yadu cried, wresting himself free from the older lad’s hold. Realizing that he had to either obey Gopi or be thrashed soundly, he ran off to gather his goats.

‘Hurrr…!’ he cried to his goats and began racing down the slopes with them. Gopi raced behind, hollering at them to hurry. They found the other lads and their herds waiting for them. Soon, they were all hurtling down the mountain together.

‘Jugnu will mock me tonight!’ Yadu blurted angrily as he caught Gopi’s eye in the bedlam.

‘What?’ Gopi snapped distractedly.     

‘Nothing!’ Yadu grumbled. Jugnu was the potter’s son and a bully. Only last night, when they had been squatting by the fire and chewing dry berries, Jugnu had slammed him on the ear and boasted that he had ridden the spirits of dead animals! Yadu had retorted that he would ride the biggest and most feared spirit that roamed the mountains- the mountain god himself! Bristling with deep disappointment, Yadu kept looking back as he raced down the slope with the others. The yak and goat bells clanged loudly as if to mock him- he was running away when he should have stayed back to ride the mountain god!

‘Run faster!’ Gopi yelled, whacking Yadu with his stick. Dark storm clouds had loomed over the sky and the wind was wailing loudly. Lightning crackled fiercely making the sky glow with a silvery haze. Massive claps of thunder rumbled to shake the mountains.  Trembling with fright, the lads and their herds trampled on each other’s feet to get back quickly to their homes.

The cowherds passed through a patch of dense forest on the way to the village. Gopi caught Yadu’s arm and whispered, ‘Watch your step! The spirits of the dead hide here!’ Oh! Yadu’s little heart thudded like a hundred drums as he ran forward. For every rustle, his heart skipped a beat and for every moo, his heart jumped into his mouth!

‘Keep off that one!’ Gopi shrieked, pointing to a gnarled tree by the side. The thirsty spirit of an old maid lived in the tree and he had seen it hanging upside down from a branch on a dark and stormy night!

The cowherds raced through the last stretch of the forest to come out in the open. Lachvi was yonder and they could hear the sound of beating drums coming from the huts.

‘Where’s Kaali?’ Gopi cried suddenly. While the herds scampered down to the village to find their enclosures, the lads halted in surprise. Kaali was a sick cowherd and was missing from the group!

“KAALI!’ yelled the cowherds, ‘KAALI!’

‘Look over there!’ Yadu cried, pointing downwards at the river.  One of Kaali’s yaks had strangely wandered to the riverbank.

‘Shhh…’Gopi shrieked. The old cave by the riverbank had caught his eye. It was lit with an eerie, iridescent glow and the mist rising from it was bitingly cold.  

‘What is it?’ whispered Yadu, his heart pounding loudly in his scrawny chest. 

‘Shhhhh…’ hushed the terrified cowherds, huddling close to each other, ‘The mountain god is inside the cave…he is taking his sacrifice!’

Yadu’s eyes widened with shock. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked.

‘Shh…’ scolded the cowherds, shaking with fear, ‘He is eating Kaali inside!’

While the other cowherds stood petrified, Yadu darted down to the cave. Braving the freezing mist bellowing out of it, he entered the mouth of the cave. Oh! Kaali was very much inside and was kneeling on the floor of the cave. His eyes were lit with devotion and he was looking fiercely at something. Yadu turned to look at what Kaali was looking- he saw a bright haze, iridescent and eerie!

‘My lord!’ Kaali whispered, stretching his arms towards the eerie haze.

‘Kaali…no!’ Yadu cried instinctively.  

The eerie haze moved towards Kaali. It was an apparition! It was the mountain god! Yadu was so shocked to see the divine form of the mountain god that he could not move or breathe. In a daze, he saw the mountain god pull Kaali into his embrace and swallow him with his iridescent divine form. Yadu tried to scream but his throat was frozen with shock. As if in a terrifying dream, he watched the mountain god carry Kaali deeper into the cave and disappear.

[*KAALI *]

KAALI was not the first cowherd to be eaten by the mountain god. For generations now, the mountain god had been appearing in his divine form to take sacrifice from the villagers of Lachvi. Heart-rending wails rose from Kaali’s hut that night- the mountain god had left no remains of Kaali. The morning after, however, his kin were festive. The mountain god was known to be generous- he always gave divine bounty in return for a sacrifice!

Large pots of thick yak milk broth cooked slowly on fires outside Kaali’s hut, spreading an appetizing aroma across the village. The broth would be served to all villagers after his kin had collected the divine bounty. At an auspicious hour, the village priest led Kaali’s kin to the forsaken cave where Kaali had been devoured by the mountain god.  He carried out purification rites at the entrance of the cave, following which the kin entered the cave to secure the bounty. 

They found it easily- cracks in the rocks glowed where the bounty was hidden. ‘Thud!’ the priest’s axe fell sharply on the ground. The rocks split to reveal a bunch of glowing stems. They were the divine stems of the  NahluNahlu  was the herb of the mountain god. The berries of this plant had miraculous healing powers- they cured all the aches and ailments of the sick and old. Traders from the kingdoms in the plains flocked to Lachvi to barter the  Nahlu berries for cartloads of utensils, gold ornaments and fine silk clothes.

Kaali’s kin rushed back to the village and planted the divine stems in the enclosures outside their huts. The stems took root and within days grew into shrubs laden with the divine berries. The berries glowed with a blinding radiance and had potent healing powers, making traders flock to Lachvi in hordes. Kaali’s kin gave away their herds and took to bartering the berries for fine gems, utensils and robes. Prosperity lit their huts. Oh! But, the light cast long shadows.   

On dark nights, when the moonthrush sang hauntingly of its sorrows, thin wisps of smoke rose from the Nahlu berries. The smoke had a rapturous effect and those who ventured near the shrubs and took in deep whiffs fell prey to shameful sicknesses. Thick, bluish veins welled up in their loins to fork out to their chests and legs. More horrifically, their souls were filled with a deep longing for the mountain god! 

‘Wake up, O divine one!’ they sighed, gazing dreamily at the faraway mountains. The healing glow of the Nahlu soothed their anguish a little. But, it also filled their dreams with beautiful visions of the mountain god.

Stricken with a fierce yearning, the sick cowherds wandered in a daze. From the high rocks to the dark forests and to the sweet vales, they searched every niche for the divine one. But, they did not find him. For, the mountain god, having taken his sacrifice, slept for months and at times, for years!

After Kaali’s disappearance, there was no sign of the mountain god for months. Then, one autumn dusk, an eerie chill crept into the sweet mountain air and the widow raven let out a spate of haunting wails. The elders were startled. They looked up and saw dark clouds looming in the sky. In a low whisper, they declared, ‘The mountain god is awake!’ 

Huddled around fires, the villagers trembled with fear. They clung to each other and kept an unwavering eye on the moon. The mountain god had the might of a thousand mountains. He always flayed the celestial bodies first! This night, the moon was tossed so hard across the sky that it caught fire. The silvery sliver suddenly turned into a flaming ball in the sky. The villagers trembled at the sight and whispered with deathly fear, ‘He is coming…’     

A terrified silence fell over the village as the villagers snuffed out their hearths and hid in their huts. Only the distraught kin of sick cowherds stayed out in the open to face the wrath of the mountain god. ‘Dum! Dum! Dum!’ the deathly beat of the drums boomed in the village as the kin of the sick chanted prayers to the mountain god to show mercy to their lads. 

Alas! The sick lads wanted no mercy. They felt the divine one tugging at their souls like the earth pulls the moon and longed to unite with him! ‘He is calling us!’ they whispered with eyes lit with devotion and began walking in a daze towards the high rocks. 

‘Stop them!’ their mothers wailed piercingly. But, to no avail. Not a single villager came out of his hut to stop the sick lads. The mountain god had to be appeased and put back to sleep again. Only when he fell asleep, would peace return to the village!

Well, peace did return to Lachvi. The dawn broke calm and serene. And, the breeze became sweet and fresh again. It blew gently across the village and as the day wore on, became laden with the heavy aroma of festivity. The kin of all the sacrificed lads had received the bounty from the mountain god! Prosperity was multiplying fast in Lachvi now!

[*KRISHNA *]

TIME flowed by Lachvi like a gushing stream. Five years passed after Kaali’s disappearance and yet another summer arrived in the ancient mountains!

Today, it was a dull day in Lachvi. The dawn broke with an overcast sky and thick clouds swirling down the mountains. By noon, however, the mist had thinned out and sunshine was warming the slopes. The sunshine fell on the huts in Lachvi too. But, its warmth was lost on the villagers. They were chilled to their souls with the death of their kin. Sickness had ravaged almost every family in the village now. So many cowherds were gone. The maids were gone too. And, now the mountain god was devouring the children.  

Only last night, three children had walked into the mountains with faces gaunt from sickness but radiant with devotion for their lord! The wails of their mothers had been so piercing that it seemed that the heavens would rip apart. 

The dawn brought no festivity to Lachvi.  No milk broth cooked in pots outside the huts. For, that matter the villagers did not light their hearths until noon. Only when the children began crying from hunger did their mothers get up to light a few yak dung cakes. The elders shunned food and water. They sat under an old tree in the temple enclosure to grieve quietly. The cowherds gathered around them and there were muffled sounds of weeping. 

‘The mountain god is evil!’ blurted a brawny cowherd, his brown eyes smoldering with rage. Oh! It was Yadu.

Eighteen years of age now, Yadu had grown to become the sturdiest lad in the village. He had suffered like the rest of the villagers. His father had walked into the embrace of the mountain god years back. And, his mother had died of sorrow soon after, leaving behind Krishna, his younger brother, in his care. Yadu had been forced to grow very soon and older than his years. 

On this matter, however, the villagers felt he was being childish. ‘Be silent!’ they scolded, shivering with fear.  An uneasy calm settled on the gathering. The villagers turned to the elders to give them some kind of succor. But, the elders were in deep despair themselves, their old shoulders sagging from the huge burden of grief that had come upon the village. ‘The village cannot give sacrifice to the mountain god anymore!’ they said in quavering voices. The gathering broke into a loud murmur.  How could they deny the mountain god?

‘Henceforth, we shall shun the Nahlu.’ the elders declared. A hush fell over the gathering. The village knew by now that it was the Nahlu that made them sick and walk into the embrace of the mountain god.

‘But…’ protested a few villagers. They were the aggrieved kin of the three children who had disappeared the night before.  They were waiting to collect the divine bounty!

‘You heard the elders…’ Yadu cried sharply, ‘We all shall shun the Nahlu!’ 

‘But…’ they began, but then stopped suddenly. Yadu had raised his stick and was glowering threateningly at them. ‘If you do, I shall beat you to death!’ he thundered.  

The kin believed Yadu!  The lad’s chest heaved with the courage of a hundred men and his arms had the strength of a hundred clubs. ‘We shall forego the bounty…’ they cried tremulously, ‘But, what if the mountain god directs his rage at us?’

‘I will slay him before that happens!’ Yadu replied fiercely. The villagers gazed at him with awe.  The whole village knew that he had no fear of the mountain god. For days he went about beating the rocky cliffs with his stick so that he could find the mountain god and slay him!

The elders were tired now and they decided to break the gathering. ‘All right, take your herds to pasture now…’ they declared, ‘And, Yadu, take Krishna along…the lad needs fresh air!’

‘Yes, Pitr!’ Yadu replied curtly. Darting a fiery parting glance at the villagers, he left to carry out the bidding of the elders. Soon, he had collected Krishna and the herds and was climbing the trail to the upland pastures.  

‘Awk…awk!’ his cry echoed poignantly in the vales as he shepherded the goats and the yaks to a patch of tender mountain shrubs.  The animals scampered to graze while he looked around for a spot to rest. ‘O wonder!’ he sighed, looking at the sky. The clouds had receded and the sun had come out. Flocks of white swallows were sailing in the sky and a cool breeze, laden with the scent of pine blossoms, was flowing gently down the slopes.

Yadu squatted on a jutting rock and took off his turban, revealing neat features and huge brown eyes.  Small beads of sweat glistened on his young forehead, which he wiped with his hand as he turned to gaze down the trail.  Krishna was coming up slowly. He was twelve years old and of slender built and wistful nature. ‘Come quickly, lad!’ he called, taking out a pouch of dry nuts.

Krishna climbed the rocks nimbly to squat beside Yadu.  ‘Look, Pitr!’ he cried, pointing to a clump of bright yellow budroses peeping through a crevice on the mountain rock face. Tiny furbirds were fluttering on them.

Yadu smiled.  He liked it when Krishna addressed him as ‘Pitr ’ or ‘father’! Since their mother’s death, he had reared Krishna like a child of his own body, granting his every wish but one- he did not allow him to wander alone outside their hut.

‘But, I want to hear the moonthrush sing with the other lads!’ Krishna would protest, ‘And watch the furbirds!’

‘NO! If, you go out wandering…’Yadu would bellow, ‘I will ask the mountain god to eat me up!’ 

‘No!’ Krishna would cry, his little body wracked with sobs. He could not bear to lose Yadu.  But, as he grew older, Krishna realized that if there was someone the mountain god would never eat up, it was his brother! For, the mountain god ate only those who sniffed the smoky wisps curling out from the Nahlu shrubs. And, Yadu began spitting rage at the mere mention of the Nahlu!

Krishna mostly kept to himself in the hut, playing his flute quietly.  Today, at the behest of the elders, he had followed his older brother to the pastures, out in the fresh breeze.

‘Play the flute, my child!’ said Yadu gently. He knew that his little brother loved playing rustic melodies when out in the open mountainside. Strangely, Krishna did not take out his flute. His hair flying lightly in the breeze, he stared at the faraway mountains with an unbroken gaze.

Yadu’s brow creased with worry. ‘Krishna!’ he frowned, pulling his brother tenderly into his lap and running his fingers through his wavy locks. He caressed his cheeks gently and covered his forehead with light kisses.

Pitr!’ Krishna whispered sadly, turning to meet his older brother’s gaze. His eyes were big and honey tinted like Yadu’s.  But the orbs were widened very strangely.

‘Krishna, my sweet child!’ Yadu cried worriedly, shaking his brother’s frail body. Krishna closed his eyes and did not respond. Yadu grasped Krishna’s hands and turned them over. They were as cold as ice.  A sudden madness gripped Yadu. He tore open Krishna’s robes. And he fell back, staggering with blinding shock. Krishna’s loins were swollen and his thin legs were covered with bluish veins.

Yadu’s mind went numb and his heart thudded so loudly that it made him go deaf.  Krishna opened his eyes for a fleeting moment. ‘I have to…. go…Pitr!’ he whispered brokenly, ‘He is awake…and he is calling me!’ 

Yadu stared blankly at the young face in his lap. With quivering lips and pleading eyes, Krishna was begging to walk into vile embrace of the mountain god! Yadu raised his stick and landed a massive blow on Krishna’s head. And, he continued hitting the boy until he lost consciousness. 

THE MOUNTAIN GOD

BY sundown, the villagers knew that the mountain god had not been appeased by the sacrifice of the three children the night before. He was still awake!  And, he would take another sacrifice tonight. A familiar chill crept into the village and the villagers retreated wearily to their stone huts and huddled in despair.  Lachvi wore a deserted look and there was deathly silence, broken occasionally by a mooing yak or a bleating goat.  

Yadu’s hut wore a deserted look too.  Krishna was inside, curled in blinding pain on a wooden cot. His brother had tied him to the cot, locked the hut and disappeared. ‘Pitr!’ called Krishna, his head bursting with pain. It was dark inside the hut and he could see nothing. Surprisingly, his clothes were reeking of mitthi oil!

‘My child!’ whispered a voice from far away. Krishna looked around in surprise. He felt a sudden awakening inside him, as if something had come alive inside his body!  

‘It is your soul, my child!’ said the divine voice, ‘I have awakened it…you can look at it now!’ 

Krishna closed his eyes and saw his soul! It appeared as a small, radiant knot inside his body and flickered like a lamp!

‘Look at me, my child!’ whispered the divine voice, ‘Can you see me?’

Krishna realized that he could see through his soul! He suddenly saw a spellbinding vision of the mountain god! The divine one was a very beautiful being with a blinding allure! Krishna was drawn powerfully to him.

‘Yes, my lord…I can see you!’ replied Krishna, trembling with joy.

‘My child!’ murmured the mountain god, ‘I have come to take you to my home!’ 

‘Your home, my lord?’  

‘Yes. Let me show you my home!’ replied the divine one radiantly, ‘You can see it through the sight of the soul!’

Krishna looked at his soul and saw forested lands and cold oceans. It was the home of the mountain god! He felt a powerful tug at his soul- as if the mountain god was pulling him to himself. ‘Rise, Krishna!’ whispered the mountain god. 

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied Krishna. Divine energy flowed from the mountain god to his soul and then onwards to his arms and legs. The energy took away all his pain and gave him strength. He untied himself effortlessly and kicking the door open, walked out of the hut in the night!

The villagers saw Krishna walk towards the high rocks in a daze. His face was lit with a mellow radiance and his eyes were brimming with devotion. Tears of sadness flowed down the wrinkled faces of the elders- Yadu would be heartbroken to find Krishna gone! Where was Yadu anyway?

Oh! Yadu had been hiding in the forest since dusk. He had been waiting for Krishna to walk by! He knew that, sooner or later, his little brother would walk into the embrace of the mountain god. That is why he had rubbed the pungent mitthi oil on Krishna’s clothes and body! The smell would help him follow Krishna to the mountain god!

He lay in wait under thick shrubs, his cudgel by his side. He watched the silvery moon climb the sky silently. The night wore on. Suddenly, the widow raven began wailing with sorrow. Yadu shivered. He was reminded of the night when his father had walked into the mountains, leaving him weeping and his mother heartbroken. The sudden rustling of leaves startled him. His heart thudding, he looked towards the sound. Oh! It was Krishna. He had broken through the hut and was striding fast towards the high rocks!

Yadu rose quietly from his hiding place and began following his younger brother like a shadow. He was holding his cudgel firmly and his jaw was clenched menacingly. He knew how he would save his little brother- he would slay the mountain god!

Krishna began skipping over the boulders to climb the high rocks. Yadu hurried behind but his brother was more nimble. He may have taken his eyes away from Krishna for only a moment, when, suddenly, Krishna vanished from sight! ‘Krishna!’ he cried, looking around wildly. Krishna was nowhere! Panic-stricken, he darted from one spot to another, when he suddenly picked up the faint smell of the mitthi oil. Sniffing strongly, he traced the foul smell to a narrow cleft in the rock face.

‘Thud!’ his cudgel landed on the cleft to split the rocks and widen it. Oh! There was a trail hidden behind the rocks leading to the other side of the mountain! The smell of the mitthi oil was rising strongly from it, indicating that Krishna had passed through it! ‘Krishna!’ he yelled, stumbling blindly on the trail. It was dark and the rocks were cold and hard. He hit against them many times before he came out in an open clearing. ‘Krishna!’ he cried, looking around with despair. Oh! His heart lurched suddenly to a stop An iridescent apparition was wavering in the middle of the clearing. It was the mountain god!

His younger brother was standing near the apparition, his frail body lit by the eerie radiance. The blood drained out of Yadu’s body and his head thudded in panic. The mountain god was pulling Krishna into his deathly embrace like he had once pulled Kaali! ‘NO!’ Yadu roared, charging forward with all his strength. ‘THUD!’ his cudgel landed heavily on the mountain god, its sound reverberating in the mountains like the clap of a thousand thunders. Surprised, the mountain god let go of Krishna!

Krishna’s embrace with the mountain god was broken. He was thrown to the ground. ‘Aaaaagh…’ he cried, reeling from the impact. In a daze he saw Yadu raise his cudgel to hit the mountain god again! But, before his brother could land the blow, the mountain god swallowed him with his divine form! ‘Pitr!’ he croaked hoarsely, stretching his hands out to reach his brother. Oh! But, the mountain god’s divine form had turned into a vortex and was spinning haphazardly towards the cliff! He caught a glimpse of Yadu trying to throw off the mountain god.

‘Stop, my lord!’ Krishna beseeched the divine one. He had the most horrible feeling that he was about to lose his beloved brother. To his shock, the vortex spun out of control and bounced off the cliff! ‘Pitr!’ he screamed, scrambling to the edge of the cliff. The vortex was hurtling fast down the mountain and before he could scream again, it vanished from sight. The last glimpse he had of Yadu was that he was holding his cudgel high and was trying to land another resounding blow on the divine one!

YADU

THE elders of Lachvi believed that Yadu had died. They also believed that before he died, he killed the mountain god! For, all the Nahlu shrubs dried up. And, all the sicknesses went away. Peace returned to the village after many generations!

Krishna, however, was disconsolate. Surprisingly, he believed that Yadu was alive somewhere in strange lands with the mountain god! ‘PitrPitr…come back!’ he wailed, wandering aimlessly in the high rocks. But, there was no trace of Yadu or the mountain god. The elders of the village tried to console him and the villagers took turns to watch over him, feeding him yak butter cakes. But, Krishna would not be consoled.

‘The mountain god is generous and loving!’ he sobbed, ‘I know him! He shall return my Pitr!’  But, Yadu did not return.

Time passed on. The villagers learned to live without any fear, which the elders declared, was the real divine bounty! At dawn the cowherds took their herds to pasture and at dusk they returned to the safety of their homes, singing rustic melodies that flowed hauntingly in the vales. 

On dark nights when the moon thrush sang poignantly of its sorrows, the villagers gathered around fires to sing tales of Yadu’s bravery and sacrifice. Krishna sat with them and wept and prayed for his brother’s return.

One day, Krishna’s prayers were heard. He was milking his goats, when all of a sudden he felt a familiar awakening. Startled, he closed his eyes. He saw his brother in a waking dream! Yadu was with the mountain god and said excitedly, ‘Krishna, run and tell everyone! I have reached the land of the gods!’

Pitr!’ cried Krishna, ‘Come back, Pitr!

‘Yes! Yes!’ Yadu cried, ‘I will be back by sundown. Milk the goats properly!’ And, then, Yadu’s voice faded away. 

Krishna was bewildered. That his brother had travelled to the land of the mountain gods did not surprise him at all. He knew that already and had told the villagers many times. What surprised him was that, Yadu was talking as if he had left just the same day. When, actually, more than three years had passed!

One day, Krishna felt the same awakening and he saw Yadu again.  ‘Pitr!’ he cried.   

‘Krishna!’ Yadu cried with uncontrollable happiness, ‘Krishna, the gods are giving me their powers!’ 

‘Come home, Pitr!’ whispered Krishna.

‘I shall be back in a few days. We shall bring Gotri’s new lamb in this world together!’ replied Yadu.

‘But, Gotri died years back!’ he wanted to cry out, but Yadu’s voice faded away.   Krishna was bewildered again. Pitr was talking as if he had gone only for a few days. When, actually, more than ten years had passed!

Time flowed fast in Lachvi. Krishna was an old man now. He wanted to meet his brother once before he died. ‘My lord!’ cried Krishna, thinking of the divine one. The mountain god must have heard his voice, for, suddenly, he saw Yadu!

‘I am coming home!’ Yadu cried excitedly, ‘I will be back by the next moon. The gods are sending a message for the king!’

Pitr…I am dying… come back….’ Krishna pleaded weakly. 

‘Krishna!’ Yadu cried worriedly, ‘What is the matter, my child?’

‘Come soon, Pitr!’ Krishna wept, ‘I don’t want to die before meeting you.’

‘Shhh! Krishna! Don’t lose heart!’ Yadu replied, ‘We shall celebrate the next moon together.’ 

The full moon night came. Krishna and the villagers waited by the high rocks. But, Yadu did not come. A few moons later, Krishna died of old age. The villagers died as and when they aged.

Generations passed in Lachvi. One fine day, Yadu did come back home. His feet landed on the same high rocks from where he was spirited away. Strangely, he felt as if he had gone only for a moon. When, actually, some two thousand and three hundred years had passed!

[* PART 2 - THE PRESENT *]

Time:   2049 AD

Place:   Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh, India

SHIV

THE winter was settling early in the Himalayan ranges this year. It was early September and freezing winds and heavy snowfall were already ravaging the slopes of the highest mountains of the world. Today, however, it had been a clear day and now it was dusk. The sky was a deep purple and the crescent moon peeked in and out of cottony clouds. The marmots were busy foraging the last bits of vegetation and here and there, a musk deer could be seen scampering in stray moonbeams.

Despite the inclement weather, a good number of campsites could still be spotted below the lower altitude mountain passes.  Human activity notwithstanding, the environs were peaceful. It was the natural peace of a Himalayan dusk.

Lower down on the Kinnauri slopes, a boy was playing with a hairy yak calf. The calf was darting in and out of rocky boulders and the boy was chasing it. ‘Bodhi’ he cried, skipping over some small rocks. Suddenly, he halted in his tracks and looked up with surprise. The sky had turned a deep crimson. Something was burning up there. The boy’s eyes opened wide with astonishment. The moon was on fire! ‘Ma!’ he yelled. 

A young woman came out of a wooden house situated lower down on the slope. Having attractive features and of a slight built, she was Taniya Sharma, a local police officer and the boy’s mother. She was wearing khaki trousers, a loose pullover and a traditional kinnauri cap and was holding a ladle in her hand. ‘What is it, Shiv?’ she asked wearily, impatient to get back her boiling pot. 

‘Look at the moon, Ma!’ Shiv cried excitedly.

‘What?’ she asked, looking up at the sky in bewilderment. The sky was ablaze with a strange reddish haze. She gasped with disbelief. The moon was in flames!

Suddenly, the mountains began quaking. ‘Down, Shiv!’ she yelled, dropping the ladle and running uphill towards the boy. The tremors became stronger and both the boy and his mother fell flat on the ground as stones hurtled by them noisily. Suddenly, just as they had begun, the tremors stopped! The two looked upwards in astonishment.  The reddish haze was gone! And, the crescent moon shone silvery and cold- as if nothing had happened at all!

‘What was that?’ Shiv asked with surprise. 

‘Strange!’ Taniya replied anxiously, ‘Let’s get back to the house!’

‘Bodhi!’ Shiv called out to his calf, even as his mother dragged him back to their house.

‘Look, mother!’ he cried suddenly, pointing uphill.  A clump of shrubs by the rocks was on fire!

‘Help!’ someone croaked loudly. A man was trapped in the middle of the fire and was crying out for help.

‘Oh my god!’ Taniya cried in alarm, ‘Run, Shiv…get a pail of water!’ The two picked up pails of water from the yard of their house and raced uphill. They poured the pails on the burning vegetation and doused the fire.

‘Aaahh!’ the man groaned as if in great pain. He lay in the midst of the blackened bushes, covered with soot. The boy and his mother peered at him anxiously. It was dark now, but they could tell that he was a very old man for his skin was wrinkled heavily. The man turned to stare at boy and the woman with surprise. 

‘Are you all right?’ Taniya asked sharply. The old fellow had to be drunk or asleep to be caught in a fire like this.  The man stared back silently. Sparks flew from his body as he shifted his body. 

‘Oh!’ cried Shiv, raising his pail to pour the little water that remained in it on the old man.  

‘Stop…I am fine!’ the old man gasped, breaking into a hoarse cough.  

‘Who are you, old one?’ enquired Taniya. 

‘I am Yadu!’

‘Yadu?’ It was not a local name.  As Taniya mused silently, Yadu looked at her with curiosity. ‘What is your name?’ he asked in a low voice.

‘Taniya Sharma, ASP, Himachal Police!’ Taniya expected the old man to be startled by her official designation. Surprisingly, the expression on the old man’s face did not change. Rather, he looked at the boy and asked, ‘And, what is your name, young one?’

‘I am Shiv!’ replied the boy.

‘Oh!’ Yadu sighed with moist eyes.    

‘Look, I can help you!’ said Taniya, ‘Where are you from?’

‘Lachvi!’

‘Lachvi?’ repeated Taniya with bewilderment. There was no village or town called Lachvi in nearby districts. Clearly, the old man was lost. ‘What were you doing here?’ she asked.

Yadu turned his gaze towards the moonlit mountains. Their peaks were shining pristine white. ‘I am looking for my lost ones!’ he said wistfully.

Taniya realized that this talk was getting them nowhere and the old man clearly needed help. ‘Ok. Let’s go to the house…and you can wash!’

‘Yes, Ma!’ Shiv piped in eagerly. He quickly got down on his knees and offered Yadu the support of his arm.

‘Oh!’ Yadu sighed, getting up. But his knees wobbled and he sat down shakily on the rock.

‘He is weak, mother!’ said Shiv, taking out his shirt and dusting off the black soot from Yadu’s body.

Taniya stared at Yadu with surprise. He was wearing heavy jewelry- gold anklets, bangles and chains adorned his body.  And, his hands were strangely crossed across his chest. She suddenly realized that the old man was stark naked! ‘Shiv, you stay here!’ she instructed her son, ‘I am going home to fetch some blankets!’

‘And some hot yak tea!’ Yadu sighed.

‘What?’ Taniya enquired.

‘Get some hot yak tea!’ repeated Shiv.

‘Oh…ok!’ replied his mother, striding down the hill rapidly.

The old man and the boy watched her disappear down the slope. ‘Good!’ Yadu sighed, reclining on the rocks. Shiv sat beside him and gave him a big smile. Smiling back, Yadu took off one of his chains and put it around the boy’s neck.

‘Wow!’ cried Shiv, fingering the heavy gold ornament with wonder. 

Yadu watched the boy with misty eyes. He was a thin bundle of arms and legs- just like Krishna!

‘Can I keep this?’ Shiv asked in a chirpy voice. He noticed that the old man’s eyes were moist. ‘What is the matter…umm…’

Pitr…you can call me Pitr!’

Pitr?’

‘Yes, it means father!’ 

‘What is the matter, Pitr?’ asked Shiv, ‘Why are are you sad?’

‘Nothing!’ replied Yadu, tears rolling down his face.

‘Can I keep this?’ asked Shiv, playing with the gold chain.   

‘Yes, you can keep it!’ smiled Yadu, ‘But, in return, I want your robe!’

‘Ok!’ replied Shiv, handing over his soiled shirt with a big smile. 

Yadu returned the smile and wrapped the shirt around his waist. The last thing he wanted was for the boy to see his loins, wasted from his divine travels!

IISUU AND MYRHIM

YADU had returned to Earth after a very long time. But, to him, it seemed that he had been away for only a short while!  The foul smell of the mitthi oil was still fresh in his mind- he felt like he had trailed Krishna to the mountain god only a few days back! Oh! How catastrophic the events of that fateful night had been!  Memories of his encounter with the mountain god came rushing to him and he felt the same shock now as he had felt then. In a waking dream, he saw himself going through the same ordeal again!

Once more, he saw Krishna, so frail and beautiful, standing near the eerie apparition!  It was the mountain god and he was pulling Krishna in his deathly embrace.

‘No!’ he roared, charging forward with all his strength. 

‘Thud!’ his cudgel landed heavily on the mountain god. The sound reverberated in the mountains like the clap of a thousand thunders! The mountain god let go of Krishna in surprise!

Yadu recoiled with a crushing pain and he felt his bones would break. ‘NO!’ he grunted to himself, struggling to keep his senses together, ‘I have to kill the evil one first!’ Tightening his hold on the cudgel, he was about to hit the apparition again, when the evil one pulled him tightly in his embrace!

The mountain god’s divine form had the power of a thousand suns. Yadu felt like he was swimming in an ocean of energy and his skin tingled as if bitten by a thousand ants! The energy dulled his senses to the rest of the world and suddenly, he could see only the mountain god! He tried to wrest himself free but they fell over the cliff and hurtled down the mountain together.

‘Let me go!’ he groaned, manging to land another blow on the mountain god with his cudgel. Oh! The evil one did not even flinch and pulled him closer.

Yadu tried to fight back but a sudden darkness descended on him. He found that he could not move anymore. His sight became hazy and his ears buzzed as if attacked by a swarm of wild bees. No longer could he see, hear or speak! ‘He has eaten me up!’ he thought in alarm. Just when he felt that he would suffocate to death, he felt something awaken inside him. A flame lit up inside his body!  

He looked at the flame with surprise. It was glowing like a festival lamp inside the darkness of his body. He realized that it was his soul- the sick cowherds had often spoken of seeing their souls glowing inside their bodies!

Yadu gazed at his awakened soul with bewilderment. Its light spread far and gave him new sight. It was the sight of the soul! Oh! He saw someone vaguely with his new sight, and just when he began peering to see who it was, he was startled by a divine voice.

‘It is me, my child!’ said the divine voice. Oh! It was the voice of the mountain god.  Yadu was seeing him, not from his eyes, but from his soul! He looked at the mountain god with shock. His soul was emitting a rapturous glow that was spellbinding and Yadu felt instantly drawn to him. ‘No, this is a trick!’ he reminded himself, suppressing the feeling of devotion flooding his soul. He knew that the mountain god was very evil and had devoured almost half of Lachvi!

‘I am Iisuu!’ the mountain god said, ‘And, I am taking you to my home, brave one!’

‘Is that where you took my father?’ confronted Yadu. Iisuu did not answer. Rather, he pulled him deeper into his divine form. Yadu had to submit helplessly- and the moment he did so, a crushing burden came to bear on his body. It was like the weight of a hundred mountains.

‘Aaargh….’ he groaned in distress. But, Iisuu did not let go of his embrace. Together they hurtled through strange curtains of light and darkness. Yadu thought he would be crushed to death, when suddenly the pressure came off! A strange cloud of rustling feathers cushioned him!

The ordeal suddenly came to a stop. The heaviness melted away and Yadu realized that he had arrived somewhere. ‘Where am I?’ he asked dazedly.

‘You are on Seabor. It is my home!’ replied Iisuu.  Yadu still could not see, feel or hear anything. His soul was alive but his body felt like the dead. He began sobbing loudly.

‘No, my child!’ Iisuu’s soul cried gently, reaching out to his wailing soul. But Yadu was disconsolate.

‘I want to go back to my village!’ he wailed.

‘Here, speak to your brother Krishna!’ said Iisuu. 

Yadu suddenly saw Krishna’s soul through his own. He burst with happiness and there was no way he was going to cry in front of his brother! ‘Krishna, run and tell everyone!’ he said bravely, ‘I have reached the lands of the mountain god!’

Pitr!’ cried Krishna,  ‘Come back, Pitr!’ 

Yadu sensed that Krishna was milking the goats. ‘Yes, yes!’ he replied tremulously, ‘I will be back by sundown. Milk the goats properly!’ Oh! Before he could say anything more, his brother’s soul faded away. ‘Krishna!’ he wailed, beginning to sob again. He felt sickened by at least a hundred fevers. ‘I am not feeling well!’ he cried.

‘It is because Goddess Myrhim is giving you a new body!’ Iisuu replied hesitantly.

‘What?’ Yadu cried in bewilderment. Suddenly, he saw someone else with the sight of his soul. She was Goddess Myrhim! Her soul glowed thousand times more blindingly than Iisuu’s and she held a divine scimitar!

‘Calm down, my child!’ she whispered, touching his soul with the divine scimitar. The goddess’s touch was like a miracle. The darkness inside him melted and suddenly, his sight and senses returned!

‘I can move!’ Yadu cried, thrashing his limbs with relief.  He sat up to look around. He was lying alone in a strange forest. Iisuu must have carried him here. ‘Where are you, my lord?’ he cried, looking around for Iisuu. 

‘I am here, my child!’ replied Iisuu. Moments later, he emerged from a clump of trees. Yadu froze with shock.  Iisuu was actually a one-footed creature with a white, squat body and in his chest, burned a strange hearth of coals.  He had luminescent eyes, nose, ears and a wide mouth. His skin was heavily wrinkled and his head was narrow, making him almost look like a cow! 

‘My lord, you look different!’ Yadu spluttered in shock.

‘Yes, my child. You look different too!’ Iisuu replied in a clear, mellow voice, and even as he said that, tiny slivers of lightning crackled out from his eyes.

Yadu looked at himself and was shocked. Myrhim had changed his body to make him look like Iisuu! His skin was deeply wrinkled now and in his chest burned a hearth of coals. ‘What have you done to me?’ he croaked, aghast. He touched his face in despair. Mercifully, she had not turned him into a cow! His nose and eyes still felt the same, although the skin was wrinkled.

Before Iisuu could reply, a horde of one-footed creatures suddenly came out of the forest. They skipped nimbly to surround Iisuu and Yadu.  ‘Meet my people, the iljjocks of Seabor!’ Iisuu declared divinely.   

‘Greetings, O Yadu!’ the iljjocks said in unison. They had white, squat bodies similar to Iisuu’s, but their faces were different. They resembled different animals- horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and so on!

A lesser lad would have fainted but Yadu had the courage of a hundred men and he faced the iljjocks like an elder from his village! ‘Greetings, O mountain gods!’ he said gravely.

‘You are a very brave human, Yadu!’ said one horse-faced iljjock jovially, ‘Unlike others from your village!’

Yadu realized that the iljjock was talking about the missing villagers of Lachvi! ‘Are they here too?’ he asked with sudden happiness, ‘I want to meet my father…and Kaali…Vishnu and everyone else!’

Strangely, his request was met with silence. The horse-faced iljjock looked at the others in confusion. It was Iisuu who answered, ‘They are all dead, my child! They died on the way to Seabor. You are the first one to have survived!’

‘I don’t believe you!’ Yadu cried in shock.

‘But, it is true!’ Iisuu replied gently. He came forward, and most strangely, placed his toe on Yadu’s toe. Yadu staggered as if hit by bolt of lightning. He realized that he had made a divine connection to Iisuu’s soul! Oh! In a waking dream he saw glimpses of the villagers dying on the way to Seabor.  

‘Why, my lord?’ he whispered, choked with anger and sorrow, ‘Why did you let them die?’ 

‘I was helpless!’ Iisuu replied, ‘The journey killed them.’

‘But, why did you abduct them?’ he asked with anguish, ‘Why have you abducted me?’

Iisuu faced Yadu’s distress calmly.  ‘It is for a divine purpose, my child!’ he said somberly.

‘What purpose?’

Iisuu hesitated for a moment and said, ‘It is a long story and eventually, you will be told everything! But for now, let me say that your people chart our future! You have been brought here to further that good purpose!’ 

Yadu stared at Iisuu blankly. He had never seen anyone in the village charting anything back in Lachvi, leave alone the future! Unless, the elders were doing it on the sly! 

Iisuu read Yadu’s thoughts and said, ‘I am talking about all the humans on Earth!’

‘But, the people down the plains are worse off!’ exclaimed Yadu. ‘We give them the Nahlu _]berries[_…’ he began loftily and then trailed off, suddenly reminded that the Nahlu was but, the bounty of Iisuu, the mountain god!

Iisuu smiled. ‘Yes, you gave them the Nahlu berries!’ he said radiantly, ‘And, now you will give them divine powers!’

‘Divine powers?’ Yadu baulked.

‘Yes!’ said the horse-faced iljjock jovially, ‘God Iisuu will give you divine powers…so that you can distribute them to all the humans. It will help you chart the right path to the future!’ 

Yadu looked at Iisuu in disbelief. He was the mountain god and he had the power of a thousand mountains. He couldn’t possibly give his powers to him. Why, the moment he got those powers, the path he would chart would be the one back home!  

‘Pikki will look after you!’ Iisuu smiled, reading Yadu’s thoughts again. He patted him fondly and skipped away into the forest. The iljjock horde followed him noisily. Only the horse-faced iljjock remained behind. He was Pikki iljjock!

‘Come, let us go!’ he said brightly. Yadu liked Pikki instantly. He realized that the iljjocks had unique voices and they could also be recognized by their voices.  

‘You are learning fast!’ said Pikki perceptively. 

‘How do you know?’ exclaimed Yadu.

‘I have divine sight. I read your soul with it!’ 

‘Oh!’

‘On Seabor, it is a tradition to read each other’s souls when we first meet!’ he explained.

‘What did you read in my soul!’

‘That you are very fearless and strong!’

‘Of course, I am!’ exclaimed Yadu, brightening up.

‘Would you like to read my soul?’ Pikki asked hesitantly.

‘Oh, yes!’ Yadu spluttered.

‘Put forward your toe then!’

‘What?’

‘Put your toe forward!’ insisted Pikki, ‘The toe is connected directly to the soul in an iljjock’s body!

Yadu looked at his toes with surprise. The right toe was enlarged and was sticking out noticeably.  He put it forward.  Pikki placed his toe on it and their souls made a divine connection at once!

‘You won’t have to do this when you have divine powers!’ explained Pikki.

Dazed, Yadu read Pikki’s soul. It was glowing like a flame in his body and revealed his nature. Pikki was honest and compassionate!

‘Pikki, tell me one thing…’ asked Yadu, warming up to him immediately.

‘Yes?’

‘Exactly, what divine powers am I going to get?’  

‘To have divine power means to have influence over the material things around you!’ Pikki elaborated, ‘On Seabor, we explain it in terms of ‘divine sight’ and ‘divine force’. Divine sight is how far you can see with your soul and divine force is how much force you can exert with it. I don’t know how much divine sight or divine force you are going to get?’ 

Yadu was dumbstruck. His soul had been awakened, but he still could not see anything with it! ‘Pikki, do you have divine powers?’ he asked in amazement. 

‘All iljjocks have divine powers. We have divine sight that allows us to see the smallest particle to the ends of Seabor. And, I can exert divine force…well, up to that tree there!’

‘Show me!’

‘All right!’ he replied and lifted a long stick lying from the ground without touching it! The stick flew up to the tree he had pointed to and then fell down! ‘I can lift it as far as the tree…I wish I could lift it to the Nors…maybe fly myself!’ he guffawed loudly. 

Yadu gaped in disbelief. His eyes wide with wonder, he asked eagerly, ‘How much divine power does Iisuu have?

‘God Iisuu?’ Pikki exclaimed, ‘His divine sight extends to the ends of the universe!’

‘Really?’ Yadu exclaimed. Having travelled away from Earth, he had realized that the universe was very vast and full of countless stars and planets! ‘He can see that far off?’

‘Of course!’

‘And, how much divine force can he exert?’

‘He can move mountains, oceans…whatever, on Seabor!’

‘Aha!’ exclaimed Yadu. Iisuu was the mountain god, and every cowherd of Lachvi knew about his powers!’

‘Goddess Myrhim is even more powerful!’ Pikki added.

‘Really?’

‘Yes, she is an omnipresent goddess!’

‘Omnipresent?’

‘Yes, she has subjects in every niche of the universe!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘She has power over every particle that exists in the universe- they are her subjects! She can move stars and planets!’

‘Really?’ Yadu gasped, his eyes open wide with surprise.

‘Yes. Her scimitar carries phenomenal power!’

‘Strange!’ murmured Yadu.

‘What is strange?’

‘That you are so powerful and you still say that my people chart your future!’

‘Oh, yes!’ Pikki chuckled, sparks crackling out of his eyes, ‘Myrhim created the humans to do exactly that. That is why she gave you such powerful imagination!’ 

Yadu looked at Pikki in surprise, ‘Myrhim created my people, I mean the humans?’

‘She created the iljjocks too! She is the mother goddess who created all life in the universe!’

‘Oh!’ Yadu cried in surprise. He remembered worshipping the mother goddess back in Lachvi. The villagers and their ancestors had been worshipping her for generations and he felt very comforted by the connection.

‘We admire the humans greatly!’ Pikki said brightly, ‘Myrhim gave you the best bodies and the wisest minds!’

‘Really?’ Yadu exclaimed with bewilderment.

‘We don’t like what she gave to the animals, though!’

‘What did she give them?’ 

‘Our ancestral faces!’ Pikki protested, ‘My face…’

‘Was given to the horses?’ Yadu guessed in a sudden flash of inspiration.

‘Yes!’ Pikki cried, aghast. Yadu saw the appalled expression on Pikki’s face and began laughing.

‘It is not funny!’ Pikki protested sullenly, ‘This has been the face of my forefathers for generations now. Myrhim should have created a new face for the horses!’

‘What about the dogs?’ Yadu laughed, ‘Whose face did they get?’

‘Hatti iljjock’s!’     

‘Ha! Ha! And, the goats?’

‘Miia iljjock’s! You are making fun of us, aren’t you?’

‘Yes! And, that of myself too! Look at what she has done to me!’ cried Yadu, looking at his new body. It was one wrinkled, slobbery mass and he could not make the head or tail of it. ‘How do I move this thing?’ he cried in despair.

It was Pikki’s turn to laugh, ‘Let me help you!’ he offered jovially.

Yadu stood up with Pikki’s support. He realized that his new body was very flexible- he could mold his limbs at will. Under Pikki’s guidance he attained the look he wanted- that of a two-legged man from Lachvi!  Oh! But, he was naked! ‘Pikki!’ he whispered urgently.

‘What?’

‘Can you give me a robe or something…’

‘But, why?’

‘I am not comfortable…’ he said. He looked down at himself and shuddered with shock. Oh! As a man, he was disfigured and his loins were marked with long scars! ‘Noooo!’ he wailed, slumping with despair and agony.  

‘Yadu!’ cried Pikki in alarm.

But, Yadu would not be consoled. He convulsed with deep sobs. Pikki embraced him and said, ‘Calm down! Soon, you shall have divine powers!’

‘But, I don’t want any!’ he sobbed.

‘Shh!’ scolded Pikki, ‘You are ordained to save us all!’ 

‘No…I don’t want to save anyone…’ he wailed, ‘…I just want to go home!’

‘Of course, you shall go home…Iisuu and Myrhim want to send you back as soon as possible!’

‘Really?’ he gasped, ‘When will they send me back?’

‘As soon as you are ready to return!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You shall return when you are ready to bestow the divine powers to others. Remember, Iisuu said that you have to distribute divine powers amongst humans like you once gave the Nahlu berries. Iisuu and Myrhim want all humans to be powerful!’ 

Yadu was stunned. He took one long moment to digest what Pikki had said. So, every cowherd in Lachvi was to get divine powers! Oh! How he would stand like a high priest outside the village temple, and distribute them like the holy offering. Yadu began feeling better at once! ‘Jugnu and Puru will not get anything!’ he said defiantly, ‘They are rogues!’ 

Pikki laughed. It was a loud, cackling sound and it startled Yadu. ‘Yadu, I know you are very strong!’ he chuckled, ‘But, even strong people need to feed…come, let’s find something to eat!’ 

Feeling cheered by the bonhomie with Pikki, Yadu took a few shaky steps forward.   

‘Here…hold me!’ said Pikki, clasping Yadu’s thin fingers with his own stubby ones. He held Yadu’s hand and led him deeper into the forest. ‘The forest is called Kirll!’ he informed cheerfully.  

Yadu was greatly reassured by Pikki’s strong grasp and while Pikki skipped forward nimbly on one foot, he was glad to walk on his two legs! As they walked on a narrow trail, he looked at the surroundings with curiosity. The ground was undulating and covered with tall and dense trees. The trees were loaded with glowing pods that were so hot that thin wisps of smoke were curling out of them! The smoke hung thinly in the forest and had the dry and scorched scent of burnt ash. ‘Nahlu!’ he cried, recognizing the trees. Kirll forest was full of Nahlu trees!  

‘The Nahlu is our fodder!’ an iljjock declared, emerging from a clump of trees. He was God Iisuu! Yadu recognized him because his body emitted a visible glow unlike the bodies of the other iljjocks. 

‘We call them kiks!’ Iisuu said, plucking a few pods from the trees and popping a few in his mouth, ‘They give us energy for sustenance!’

‘Open your mouth!’ Pikki said, plucking a few more kiks. Yadu opened his mouth instinctively, and Pikki tossed the kiks inside.

‘No!’ Yadu cried, spitting the kiks out quickly, ‘They will make me sick!’

‘No, they won’t!’ Iisuu said, ‘The [_Nahlu _]plants that grew in Lachvi were different…they were infected with germs!’ 

‘Germs?’ Yadu asked with bewilderment.

‘Yes. I used the germs to awaken the souls of the cowherds and make a divine connection with them. I wanted to bring them to Seabor but they all died on the way!’

Yadu glared at Iisuu with shock. ‘Do you have no regret that they died?’ he blurted angrily.

‘No!’ Iisuu replied tonelessly, ‘On Seabor, we do not fear or mourn death!’

Yadu was taken aback. He was still thinking over Iisuu’s words when Pikki handed him some kiks and said, ‘Here…eat some…they are free from germs!’  

He ate the [_kiks _]hesitantly. They had no taste but were bursting with energy! Pikki pulled his arm and said, ‘Come, we have work to do!’  

Feeling stronger, Yadu followed Iisuu and Pikki deeper into the forest. They found the iljjock horde busy picking ripe kiks and putting them carefully in wooden pails. Yadu mingled with the iljjocks and began picking kiks with them. They gave him a wooden pail of his own and soon, he was chattering avidly and telling them everything about his village, Lachvi. He beamed with joy as he spoke of his brother, Krishna.

Pitr!’ he heard Krishna’s voice suddenly. He swung around in surprise. Iisuu was standing behind him and had placed his toe on his toe! A divine connection had formed between their souls and the voice was coming through that connection.

Yadu saw Krishna’s soul in a waking dream! ‘Pitr!’ cried Krishna again.  

‘Krishna!’ he cried with uncontrollable happiness, ‘Krishna, the gods are giving me their powers!’ 

‘Come home, Pitr!’ cried Krishna.

‘I shall be back in a few days. We shall bring Gotri’s new lamb in this world together!’ replied Yadu. But, Krishna was gone! Just as he had come, he faded away. ‘I have to go back!’ Yadu cried, clutching Iisuu’s arm. 

Iisuu looked at Yadu for one long moment as said, ‘Patience, my child! Goddess Myrhim is waiting to meet you!’

‘Let us meet her then. I will leave after that.’

‘Of course, you will!’ said Iisuu, ‘Follow me!’

Iisuu led the way through the trees and Yadu, Pikki and the other iljjocks followed him. The forest suddenly ended and they came upon a vast water body. ‘It is an ocean!’ Pikki informed, ‘It surrounds the Kirll forest and is called the Iljjock Ocean!’ 

Yadu was bewildered to see the surface of the ocean- it was not flat! At places the surface dropped precipitously to make deep chasms and at places it rose to roll over as hills with a strange chilling allure.  

Iisuu molded his limbs into long fins and slid into the water like a fish. Yadu followed him along with the other iljjocks.  The water was unbelievably freezing, but he could swim in it with ease. He realized that his heavily wrinkled skin acted like a shield- it protected him from everything, including the bitter cold! Wonderstruck, he looked upwards. Seabor’s sky was one black fathomless expanse and the horizon was bathed with a wavering purple glow.

‘The day dawns at Seabor!’ Iisuu informed.

Yadu looked in amazement as three orbs rose one after another, showering piercing radiation on the lands and the oceans.

‘They are the Nors!’ explained Iisuu.

‘They look like suns!’ Yadu exclaimed.

‘No, they are not suns!’ Iisuu replied with a chuckle, ‘They are black holes that emit powerful radiation!’ 

Indeed, the rays emanating from the black holes were sharp like arrows and they set the sky afire with myriad patches of wavering radiation. Yadu noted that because of the piercing nature of the rays, he could see through the things around him! ‘Ha! Ha!’ he chuckled with delight. Jugnu would be so scandalized to know that he now had the power to not only to see through his turban and robes, but also to find the nose rings he had been stealing from the yaks all his life!

The iljjocks floated lazily on the surface of the ocean to soak the healthy radiation. Now and then, they turned their bodies to get an even roast. Yadu basked with them. As the day progressed, the ocean grew warmer and most surprisingly, the water came to an explosive boil. And, as the water boiled, the surface of the ocean  became flat!

‘Look!’ said Iisuu, pointing to the shore.  The boiling waters had receded from the land to reveal the terrain that had given them the shape- hills and chasms! ‘Seabor’s waters are different from Earth’s, they climb over the land when cold.’ he explained.

‘Seabor is very beautiful, my lord!’ exclaimed Yadu.

Iisuu grasped Yadu’s hand and pulled him closer. Yadu was now calm and receptive. Together, they spent what seemed like hours gazing at the beautiful sky and roasting in the radiation.  Soon it will be dusk!’ Iisuu sighed, gazing at the three glowering Nors. They had climbed high in the sky. ‘Let us meet Myrhim before the day is over!’ 

‘Where does she live?’ asked Yadu drowsily.

‘On the ocean bed!’

Iisuu molded his limbs into a streamlined shape and dived underwater.  Pikki iljjock, who had been keeping by Yadu’s side, tugged his hand and urged him to do the same. They molded their limbs to become streamlined and dived after Iisuu.

Yadu noticed that the water underneath was also very different- it was very clear and devoid of any vegetation or animal life.

‘We shall not speak as we go deeper!’ warned Pikki.

‘Why?’ Yadu asked with surprise.

‘Voices take long to die in the ocean. It is forbidden to speak in the open oceans- it keeps them clean!’

Yadu reminded himself to remain quiet. As they dived deeper, he heard a strange noise. ‘Hmmm! Hmmm!’ buzzed the oceans strangely. He strained to listen to the buzz. Indeed, countless voices could be heard echoing in the Iljjock Ocean!

Soon, Iisuu, Pikki and Yadu reached the bed of the ocean. Standing in the middle of a wide undersea basin was a wooden dome shaped structure. ‘Is this Goddess Myrhim’s hut?’  Yadu enquired, as they entered the doorway of the dome shaped abode.

‘Yes!’ Pikki whispered, ‘It is called a beshel!   

‘Myrhim will be very pleased to see you!’ Iisuu remarked, moving towards an inner chamber. The three entered the inner chamber to see that it was lit by a bright radiance. The radiance was coming from the goddess herself! She was seated in penance on a tree stub rooted to the floor of the beshel

Yadu had seen the goddess from the sight of his soul before, but this was the first time he was meeting her in person. He noticed that the goddess had a supple, wrinkled body like the iljjocks. The only difference was that she emitted a radiance that was blinding. Even God Iisuu looked pale in comparison!

Myrhim broke her penance and got up to walk to where Iisuu, Pikki and Yadu were standing. ‘Yadu, my child!’ she spoke in a warm, tinkling voice.

‘Yes, my goddess!’ he stammered, overwhelmed by her presence. He could not exactly put his finger on it- but he had noticed that whenever he was around Iisuu and Myrhim, he felt very exhilarated!

‘Come, sit next to me!’ she said, sitting on an old tree stub rooted to the floor of the beshel. Yadu sat next to her and Iisuu also took seat near them. Myrhim read his soul in accordance to the tradition on Seabor. ‘You are fearless!’ she said warmly, ‘That’s why you survived!’

‘That’s what I told him!’ Pikki piped in jovially, squatting on the floor.

Myrhim placed her toe on Yadu’s toe to allow him to read her soul. The sights and the sounds of the beshel faded away and he saw the goddess’s soul once more. It was blindingly luminescent and she had a divine scimitar from which flowed the power of a thousand suns. ‘My goddess, you are very powerful!’ he stammered in awe.

‘Yes!’ agreed God Iisuu, ‘She is the divine mother. You will be surprised to know that she created life on Earth with the power of her divine scimitar!’

‘I am not surprised. Pikki has told me about it!’ Yadu replied, looking at Myrhim with reverence, ‘And, we worship the mother goddess in my village!’

‘I know you do!’ she murmured with delight and patted him lovingly.

Surprisingly, Yadu felt deeply comforted by her touch. He had a fair idea of reading and judging souls now! Pikki, as he had judged earlier, was very honest and helpful. Iisuu’s soul was full of love and hope! He exuded a rapturous glow that pulled people with a very powerful divine attraction. Myrhim’s soul overflowed with maternal warmth and love- it offered great succor and comfort.  ‘Mother!’ Yadu said with reverence.   

‘My child!’ replied the goddess warmly, ‘Would you like to see how I created life on Earth?’

‘Yes!’ he replied, his eyes lighting up. Mouths could lie, but souls could not! Whatever she showed him through her soul would be true. He looked down at his toe. It was still placed over the goddess’s toe, connecting their souls to each other. Iisuu and Pikki came closer and looked into her soul directly with their divine sight.

Myrhim unraveled strings of her old memories and Iisuu, Pikki, and Yadu saw them with her. They saw the Myrhim’s soul descending on Earth when it was a primordial sphere of dark rock. Yadu was surprised to see Earth as a round globe. He had always thought it to be flat and mountainous!

They saw the goddess moving over Earth’s surface. ‘I want it to look like Seabor!’ she announced suddenly, ‘Help me dig the oceans, my lord!’ It was not clear to whom she was saying that but, suddenly, lightning with the power of at least thousand suns crackled in the rocky planet’s atmosphere and oceans were ploughed out and  filled with water! Oh! Earth transformed from a dull brown orb into a striking blue watery world!

The goddess went about creating a wide variety of plants with her divine scimitar. To create animal life, she released thousands of germs on in the warm oceans. The germs helped her create the first fishes. Yadu saw an exultant Myrhim watching the fishes, when suddenly an eerie and frightening lightning fell from the sky and the fishes died!

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu in shock, seeing the dead fishes float in the oceans. It had been a mass killing! Myrhim wept. Surprisingly, she looked very vulnerable and defeated. But, she still proceeded to create more creatures. They were also killed eerily. 

Yadu saw a distraught Myrhim begging for mercy for her children. She then went on a creating spree. She created larger creatures- amphibians and reptiles. Giant lizards roamed the Earth. Oh! The same eerie and frightening lightning fell from the sky and they were struck dead.

‘Who is killing them?’ Yadu asked with shock.

Whereas Iisuu and Pikki had a deathly expression on their face, Myrhim trembled with fright. Strangely, no one answered. Iisuu sighed, ‘Finish watching the rest of it, Yadu. We have work to do!’

Yadu went back to watching the memories Myrhim was sharing. He saw her creating birds and small warm-blooded animals. Large-scale deaths abounded, but now they were largely because of the goddess herself! She was releasing new germs from her scimitar to make the creatures mutate, because of which many were dying and others were evolving!

Monkeys and apes appeared in the forest on Earth. Over millions of years, Goddess Myrhim carried out many, many mutations to transform the creatures when finally, following a massive mutation, two legged humans walked on Earth! The goddess looked up at the sky and smiled exultantly. The humans were perfect! They would live and breed to fill the Earth with their tribes and communities.‘Be wise and make the God of Fate wise!’ she whispered to her human children before disappearing from Earth.

Yadu opened his eyes and saw Myrhim beaming! She was very proud of having created the humans on Earth! ‘Who is the God of Fate?’ he asked with curiosity.   

‘It is a very long story!’ sighed Iisuu, shaking his head.

‘Yes, it is a very long story!’ agreed Myrhim, ‘But, at least he should know why we created the humans!’   

‘Yes, he should know!’ piped in Pikki, nodding his head, ‘Tell him!’

‘I will!’ Myrhim nodded radiantly, ‘I want you to look at Nors, Yadu!’

Yadu looked up at the sky. It was dusk and the three Nors were setting. Their rays had become muted now and were barely reaching the bottom of the ocean. 

‘After death, the human souls migrate to the Nors. The souls of the dead humans, from time I made the first humans, have resided in the divine continuum that exists in the Nors!’ Myrhim explained, ‘It is not the living, but the dead human souls, who serve a divine purpose! Using the wisdom they attained in their lives, they chart the future of the universe!’

Yadu looked at the goddess with disbelief. The souls of the dead resided in the Nors? ‘But, the Nors are so far away from Earth!’ he blurted in confusion.

Pikki intervened. ‘There are countless Nors in the universe!’ he explained, ‘The ones nearest to Earth, that’s where the human souls migrate to after death!’

‘All the Nors have divine continuum in their cores that links them seamlessly!’ explained Iisuu, ‘Did I tell you…we took a shortcut through the Nors to travel from Earth to Seabor!’

‘We did?’

‘Of course! Travelling through space would have taken millions of years…through the Nors, it took us only a few moments!’  

Yadu looked at the Nors with amazement. He still found it difficult to believe that the souls of all his ancestors were up there. That too, from as far back in time when the goddess created the first humans! ‘How old are you, my goddess?’ he asked in confusion. 

Iisuu smiled and Pikki chuckled.

‘As old as the material universe, my child!’ she replied.   

Yadu’s eyes widened with wonder. Myrhim would have to be immortal to be as old as the universe.

‘But I am still young!’ she chuckled in a warm, tinkling voice, ‘Iisuu here is older than the universe!’

‘Really?’ he exclaimed with even more wonder. That one could be older than the universe sounded absurd to him!

The Nors had set and it was night now. The waters of the ocean had become super cold again. ‘Yadu, do you realize…’ Iisuu remarked, ‘You are the only human to know about us!’

‘Yes!’

‘When, every human should be knowing about us!’  

Yadu nodded his head in agreement. All the villagers would be astonished to know about the mother goddess and Seabor! 

‘It is all my mistake!’ whispered Myrhim, frowning with guilt.

Yadu stared at her with surprise. What mistake could the divine mother had made?

‘I sealed your souls while creating you!’ she explained tremulously, ‘If your souls had been open, you would have known all about us from the start!’ 

Iisuu and Pikki nodded.

‘It is now time to break open the seals!’ she said urgently, ‘And, awaken all human souls!’

‘Like you have awakened mine?’ Yadu asked hesitantly.

‘Yes!’ Iisuu replied fervently. 

‘I don’t know if the elders will agree to it!’  Yadu shrugged.

‘Exactly! We want you to go back to your people and tell them about Seabor….convince them to open their souls to us fearlessly!’

‘But…’

‘Or else, they shall die like the others from your village!’ Myrhim said tearfully.

Yadu gasped. He could not believe that the gods were entrusting him with such an important task. ‘Yes!’ he said excitedly, ‘I shall go back and remove everyone’s fears! I will convince them to open their souls to you willingly!’ 

Iisuu nodded with approval and said, ‘But, it will not be easy. Humans are very willful by nature!’

‘I shall meet the king and talk to him myself!’ said Yadu enthusiastically. 

Iisuu was silent for a long moment and then said hesitantly, ‘Talk to Krishna first, he is crying for you!’  

Yadu was taken aback. ‘Krishna is crying for me?’ he asked, ‘But, why? I told him I will be back soon!’

Iisuu placed his toe on Yadu’s toe. Like a distant flame, Yadu suddenly saw Krishna’s soul.

Pitr!’ cried Krishna. He sounded frail. 

‘I am coming home!’ cried Yadu excitedly, ‘I will be back by the next moon! The gods are sending a message for the king!’

Pitr! I am dying…come back!’ Krishna replied in a frail voice.

‘Krishna!’ Yadu exclaimed worriedly, ‘What is the matter, my child?’

‘Come soon, Pitr!’ he wept, ‘I do not want to die before meeting you!’

‘Shhh! Krishna…don’t lose heart!’ cried Yadu, ‘We shall celebrate the next moon together!’

Yadu turned to Iisuu in anguish, ‘I have to go back to Lachvi at once. Krishna is sick!’ 

‘He is not sick. He has grown old!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Time passes slowly on Seabor, dear Yadu!’ said Iisuu in a sad voice, ‘For one day that passes here, a hundred years pass on Earth!’ 

Yadu looked at Iisuu in disbelief. ‘How long have I been here, my lord?’ he asked in a dazed voice. 

‘More than eighty Earth years, my child!’

Yadu staggered with shock. ‘Then I must leave at once!’ he cried. 

‘You cannot!’ said Iisuu firmly, ‘Not unless you have been given divine powers!’ 

‘But, why?’ he protested.

‘You will die on the way back!’

‘I did not die on my way here!’

‘It was a miracle you survived!’ cried Iisuu, shaking his head.   

‘Give me the powers, then!’ Yadu cried, distraught with worry, ‘Krishna is dying!’

Myrhim intervened. ‘To give you divine powers, I will have to be yoke your soul to the souls of all the iljjocks!’  

Yadu looked at the goddess with despair, ‘How many iljjocks are there?’

‘Thousands!’ replied Pikki wryly.

‘What?’ Yadu cried in distress.

‘But, numbers do not matter!’ intervened Iisuu, ‘If you are yoked to the soul of one iljjock…you are yoked to all!’

‘Still, it will not be easy!’ said Myrhim, ‘A human soul has never been yoked to an iljjock’s soul!’

Yadu wept in despair, ‘What ever it is…do it fast! Krishna awaits my return!’

Goddess Myrhim was right. It was with great difficulty that she managed to yoke Yadu’s human soul to the iljjock souls. Some twenty-four Seabor days passed before Yadu was ready to travel back home!

‘How long have I been here, my lord?’ he asked before leaving Seabor.

‘More than two thousand, three hundred years, my child!’ replied Iisuu.

‘Oh yes!’ sighed Yadu, his tone clear but subdued.  A lesser lad would have given up. But, he had the courage of a hundred men.

Myrhim created a divine vortex around Yadu. Protected by the vortex and his tough iljjock skin, Yadu hurtled across many curtains of lights and darkness towards his home planet, Earth.

Oh! He hit the moon first like Iisuu had done many times before. And, from there he jumped to a spot on Earth that he reckoned to be the high rocks of ancient Lachvi!

Presently, he was sitting on the hilly spot where he had landed, in the Kinnaur district of the Himalayas! Lost in his reminiscences, he was watching the Kinnauri boy Shiv play with his calf in the moonlight. ‘Krishna!’ he sighed sadly.

‘Shiv!’ corrected the boy with a smile. 

‘Yes, Shiv!’ he sighed tremulously, turning to gaze at the faraway mountain peaks. They glistened white in the moonlight with long glacial tongues running down the slopes.  ‘The hills still look the same, you know!’ he said wistfully.

Shiv stopped playing with his calf and looked at him intently. 

‘The waters sound the same too!’ he said softly, straining to hear the faint sound of the river gurgling nearby.

‘Same as in Lachvi?’ asked Shiv, sitting next to Yadu. 

Yadu looked at the boy with surprise.  His brown eyes glistened with tears and he trembled, as if trying to suppress the storm rising inside him.

Shiv frowned. His young mind was trying to figure out what was making the old man so sad. ‘Do you want something, Pitr?’ he asked anxiously.

Yadu honey tinted eyes glazed with a faraway look, ‘Yes!’ sighed Yadu, ‘I want to hear the poignant cry of cowherds ringing in the vales…and, the moon thrush singing in the forest!’

Shiv listened with bewilderment.

‘I yearn to smell steaming yak butter broth…and fresh yak dung!’  

‘Bodhi can help you with that,’ Shiv said eagerly, ‘He is a yak calf, you know!’

‘What?’  

‘Here!’ cried Shiv, pushing the bleating calf in Yadu’s lap.   

‘Oh!’ murmured Yadu, stroking the little calf. Bodhi nibbled on his hand and a dam burst inside him. He could not hold back his sorrow anymore. Tears flowed from his eyes like a river in flood. His chest heaving heavily, he wept for all that he had lost- his village, his herds and his little brother Krishna!

‘Please don’t cry!’ cried Shiv tremulously, putting his thin arms around the strange old man.

‘I am lost!’ whispered Yadu, holding the boy tightly, ‘All that I knew and loved is gone! Gone riding on the arrow of time!’

‘We will find it again!’ assured Shiv, looking earnestly at the old man’s wrinkled face, ‘I will help you!’

But Yadu wasn’t listening. A deep sadness shadowed his eyes. Words trickled out of his lips like dewdrops, rapidly building into an ancient melody.  

It is true

My life has been but a dream!

There were dreams that I chased,

In the chasing,

I ran beyond my dreams!

Into the cold oceans,

Strange oceans,

Today, I return,

To the lands,

My beautiful lands,

Having lost all my dreams!

TANIYA

THAT the moon was in trouble came to be known to the entire world almost immediately. For the first time in living history, all creatures on Earth, humans and animals, united with a collective sense of uneasiness. If the spectacle in the sky had the humans traumatized, the trembling earth had the animals and birds in deep distress.

Massive tidal waves rose in the oceans. Coastal towns were flooded and media channels amplified humanity’s worst fear- that the end was near!

Strangely, within minutes everything became the same again.  The animals and the birds were the first to sense the return to normalcy. The earth was resolute and sturdy as ever and the moon was as it should be – a silvery crescent in the sky. Human hearts, however, continued to beat in untold fear. Yes, the moon was back to normal. But, it was not the old moon. The craters were gone! A new, smooth orb shone eerily in the sky.

‘What happened?’ the world searched for an answer. And, while the whole world searched in confusion, somewhere in the Kinnauri Himalayas, Yadu was crooning a rustic melody, unaware that he was the cause of all the trouble!

‘Shiv!’ Yadu said suddenly to the little boy sitting next to him, ‘Do I scare you?’

‘No!’ replied Shiv, smiling back. 

Yadu uncrossed his arms to let them fall by the side. In his chest glowed a hearth of glowing kiks

‘Hey!’ cried the boy, stepping back in alarm.

Yadu took a deep breath. Embers rose from the hearth in his chest but did not pass his thick wrinkled skin.  ‘Do you fear me, Shiv?’ he asked again.

‘Of course not!’ replied Shiv hesitantly. He touched Yadu. The old man was as cold as ice. ‘You are an alien!’ he said, matter of factly.

‘No, I am Yadu, a simple cowherd!’ replied Yadu.

‘Have you lost your way? Has your spaceship abandoned you?’ frowned Shiv, seeming to be in possession of deep knowledge on such matters.

Yadu looked at the boy with bewilderment. ‘No!’ he exclaimed, ‘I am not lost.  And, I have no spaceship!’

It was Shiv’s turn to be bewildered.

‘Well, I did jump off the moon!’ offered Yadu lamely.

‘But, why?’

‘To meet you all…I carry a message for the king!’

‘So, you don’t want to hide?’ asked Shiv, his boyish face falling with   disappointment.

‘Of course not!’ 

‘May I introduce you to all my friends?’ Shiv asked eagerly.

‘Of course!’  

‘Great!’ Shiv replied brightly. He pulled out the smartphone that his mother had gifted him for his birthday and clicked pictures of Yadu, himself and Bodhi. ‘Meet Yadu, my new friend. He is an alien! He jumped off the moon to be here with us at our cottage in the hills!’ he captioned the photographs and shared them with more than a thousand friends in the area.

Minutes later, Shiv’s phone began ringing incessantly. The news had spread like wildfire in the district and had reached the local police. The police had swung into action immediately. Red alert was sounded in the area and officials near to the reported site were asked to rush and investigate the matter.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Taniya Sharma, received her official summons while she was carrying tea and blankets uphill.  ‘Cordon off the area!’ she heard the instructions on the police wireless, ‘Do not touch anything. The site could be contaminated. And, segregate the boy!’ Taniya dropped the stuff she was carrying and her heart thudded to a stop. ‘Shiv!’ she gasped, racing uphill.  

She found the old man and her son exactly where she had left them. But, the old man’s chest was blazing weirdly. And, sitting near him was her little boy, Shiv!

Shocked beyond her wits, Taniya screamed, ‘Shiv!’ and lunged forward to pull the boy away. ‘Shiv! Are you all right?’ she cried, running her hands over his frail body.

‘Yes, Ma!’ replied the boy, startled by his mother’s strange behavior. The two looked at Yadu, who looked back at them with concern and bewilderment.   

‘Don’t move!’ cried Taniya to Yadu, pulling out her service revolver, when, suddenly a posse of armed personnel in protective gear ran in to surround them.

‘Ma…he is harmless!’ protested Shiv.

But, the boy’s protest was in vain. The police followed strict procedure. The area was cordoned off. Isolation tents were erected to create a high security protected zone around Yadu. Taniya’s wooden house was also converted into a protected enclosure and Shiv was placed there in isolation.

Within minutes, Yadu, the suspected alien, was made a prisoner of mankind!

DOGRE

THAT an alien had landed on Earth considered a practical joke at first. But, then the new, eerie face of the moon made people wonder. Shiv’s pictures had gone viral within minutes and there was tremendous curiosity worldwide as to what was actually happening in the Himalayas.

The Indian Government was very quick to react. Following the first credible reports by the Kinnaur district police, the home ministry swung into action immediately. A task force was constituted, and speedy clearances were given to leading scientists, experts, media and military personnel from all over the world to join in. For that matter, within an hour of Shiv’s photos going viral, Shantanu Dogre, Secretary of Home, was on his way to Kinnaur with his team.

A dynamic bureaucrat, Dogre was not a man who shirked from action. A special flight took him to the Shimla airport, following which he travelled by helicopter to the spot where Yadu was imprisoned. Within hours, Dogre and his team were sitting in the living room of Taniya’s house and listening to her brief with utter disbelief.

‘He says he is a local villager?’

‘Yes sir!’

‘And that aliens from the planet Seabor abducted him?’

‘Yes, sir!’

‘And, they reengineered his body like a lab specimen?’ 

‘Yes, sir!’

‘And, now they have sent him back?’

‘Yes, sir!’

‘Without a spaceship?’ 

‘Yes, sir!’

‘This is nonsense!’ thundered Dogre.

‘No, sir!’

‘Why do you say that?’ asked a member of Dogre’s team.

‘He says his skin protects him like armor. It sustains him, isolates him and allows him to travel through divine continuum!’

‘What the hell is that?’ asked Dogre, baffled.

‘It is a zero dimensional state that exists beyond the event horizon in the black holes!  Since it has zero dimensions, it has no restrictions of distance and time and connects all the black holes in the universe seamlessly. It allows practically instantaneous space travel!’

‘Bullshit!’ exclaimed Dogre, ‘Which village did you say he was from?

‘Lachvi!’

‘Where’s that?’

‘I wouldn’t know!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Yadu says it existed sometime in….’replied Taniya, pausing to weigh her words, ‘…well, in the 3rd century BC!’

There was silence in the room as Dogre and his team reeled from the missive. ‘That would be the time of the ancient Mauryan Empire!’ ventured a member of Dogre’s team in astonishment. 

‘I don’t believe this…and, he turns up now, more than 2300 years later?’ asked a baffled Dogre.

‘Yes, sir!’ replied Taniya quietly, but firmly, ‘Two thousand, three hundred and thirty eight years to be exact!’

There was silence again as Dogre and his team digested the weirdest story they had ever heard in their lives. ‘Let’s meet him!’ Dogre shrugged finally.

The Secretary of Home and his team stepped out of Taniya’s house. It was dawn.  A faint pinkish haze lit the horizon and the view of the snow capped mountain peaks was breathtaking. Taking a deep breath, Dogre strode uphill towards the enclosure that housed the alien.

Dogre and his team donned protective overalls and headgear before stepping inside the enclosure.  On entering, they found an old man seated on a cot in front of a log fire. He was wearing a loose robe tied at the waist with a cord. A local boy wearing protective overalls was sitting next to him with a calf.  The boy had taken his headgear off and the two were poring into a smartphone.

Bewildered, Dogre looked around for the alien, until his gaze came to rest again on the old man sitting on the cot! The man had raised his head now and was looking at Dogre and his team inquisitively. The light from the fire reflected from his face and chest, highlighting his leathery skin and the burning cavity in his chest.

‘Oh!’ Dogre exclaimed with a start, even as the others with him stepped back in alarm.

‘What’s the boy doing here?’ Dogre asked sharply.

‘He is my son!’ Taniya replied.

‘What?’

‘It is all right, sir. He is harmless.’

‘Who is harmless?’

‘The alien, Yadu!’

‘What the hell is going on here?’ thundered Dogre.

‘Yadu has threatened that if Shiv is not allowed to stay with him, he will fly back to Seabor!’ Taniya replied earnestly.

‘Nonsense!’ exclaimed Dogre, ‘He does not even have a spaceship!’

‘He has divine powers, sir!’

‘I beg your pardon!’  

‘He has powers over nature. He calls them divine powers!’

‘Powers over nature?’ repeated Dogre in disbelief, ‘What do you mean?’

‘He can exert divine force and move objects as far as the moon!’ replied Taniya, ‘Flying away from Earth will not be a problem for him!’  

Dogre looked away from the alien and turned his entire attention on the woman talking to him. She was mad! And, this whole thing sounded like one big gimmick to get media attention.

Suddenly, the old man said something to the boy and the boy spoke up, ‘Pitr is asking if you are the king. He wants to talk to the king!’

Dogre stared at the old man’s weathered face dumbstruck. ‘Oh!’ he stammered, ‘Please tell him that I am as good as the king. If he pleases, he can very well talk to me!’

Yadu looked at Dogre with twinkling eyes and folded his hands in greeting. Seemingly, he had understood what Dogre had said! Surprised, Dogre reciprocated the gesture. ‘I am Shantanu Dogre! What do you have to say to me, old man?’ he asked, noticing that Yadu had brown and very human eyes!

Yadu smiled and spoke in the local dialect. ‘I am not really that old. I lived in the village yonder with Gopi, Jugnu, Surya and the other villagers. One summer day, I left the village to travel across the stars. I thought I had gone only for a moon. To my surprise, I was told, that since then, some two thousand years have come to pass!’ he said in a hoarse voice.

Dogre and his team stared at Yadu, stupefied.

‘The villagers worshipped the sun, moon, water, fire and the mountain god! They were afraid in life and in death. A simple lot, they knew not what came before and what happened after. Since then, like the river yonder, time has flowed. Lachvi is now gone. But the ignorance lives on. People here still do not have strong hearts. There is still so much fear!’ said Yadu, looking deep into Dogre’s eyes, ‘The fear has to go. I am here to remove that fear, so that you can open your souls to the gods!’

‘The gods?’

‘He is referring to the people of Seabor as gods!’ explained Taniya.

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Dogre, waiting for Yadu to resume his monologue. But, the old man had closed his eyes and his shoulders had sagged. He had fallen asleep!

‘His skin is his support system!’ explained Taniya, ‘Every few hours, it goes into overload and he has to sleep to recover!’

‘Hmm!’ mused Dogre, ‘What did he mean by saying…open your souls to the gods?’

The young boy, Shiv replied. ‘Pitr’s soul is yoked to the gods. Soon, our souls shall also be awakened and yoked to the gods!’

‘I beg your pardon?’ cried Dogre, looking bemusedly at Taniya for an explanation.

‘I am not very clear about this one!’ frowned Taniya, ‘But, it could be exactly what my son just said!’

‘Well, what did he say?’ asked Dogre with exasperation.

Taniya weighed her words before saying quietly but firmly. ‘Some kind of alien biological warfare may be in the offing…. that would, in the least, twist mankind into billions of Yadus!’

YADU

THE Indian Government issued the first information bulletin within hours.

It is confirmed that a strange person with an alien appearance has appeared in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Eyewitnesses claim to have seen him falling from the sky as a burning meteorite. Investigations are in progress and confirmed reports shall be issued following detailed study. In view of the heightened international interest in the matter, a multinational task force, headed by the Secretary of Home, Mr. Shantanu Dogre, has been constituted by the Government of India to carry out detailed investigations on the matter.

Up in the Kinnauri Himalayas, Dogre was waiting for Yadu to wake up when he got a call directly from the Prime Minister. ‘Move him to the advanced research center at Noida. Pull all stops to deal with the matter- we have the whole world to answer for this!’ the PM directed tersely.

Noida was a township located on the outskirts of Delhi, and in recent decades had become a hub for the country’s most advanced research institutes in the field of life sciences.  

Within an hour, Dogre and his team were ready to fly back with Yadu to Noida under heavy armed forces cover. Taniya Sharma, ASP, Himachal Police, was instructed to accompany the delegation to provide support and vital evidence.

Yadu took a dip in a nearby river before leaving the mountains. The water was clear and forceful like the tears streaming down Shiv’s downcast face. He was not going with Yadu and his mother to Noida. He was going back to his boarding school in Shimla.   

Waist deep in water, Yadu chanted hymns facing the eastern sky. ‘We shall meet soon!’ he whispered to Shiv before walking away with Dogre.

The special plane carrying Yadu landed at the Noida international airport. Dogre and Taniya took him to the research center in a special ambulance under unprecedented security cover.

Yadu peered outside the window of the vehicle- the world outside was an unfamiliar forest of brick, stone and moving carriages. Even Seabor looked friendlier! He closed his eyes sadly and tears trickled down his wrinkled face. Every hope that he would have a feeling of being at home on Earth was crushed- his old world was gone without a trace!

Yadu was moved into a specially equipped ICU where a team of scientists and doctors frenziedly rushed through a battery of medical tests and scans. ‘What are they doing?’ he asked, holding onto Taniya’s hand like a child.

From the moment Yadu had told Taniya and her son the tale of his divine travels, Taniya had felt an invisible bond form between herself and him. She could almost read his mind and sense exactly what he was feeling. Right now, she could sense that he was feeling very lonely and sad.

Pitr!’ she said softly, clasping his gnarled hand, ‘They are specialists! They are examining you…it is good…they will find a way to fix your skin!’

‘Really?’ Yadu exclaimed in an impressed voice, toying with the many measuring devices that were clipped to his body.

Hours later, the medical team released a top-secret flash report to select task force members. Taniya opened the report on an authorized terminal in Yadu’s room and read the report out aloud. 

[_ Preliminary tests have confirmed that Yadu has an alien anatomy. He has no bones- his body is a loose conglomerate of multifunctional alien cells, held together by an alien skin. Stronger and more elastic than any known substance, Yadu’s skin provides and preserves a complete ecosystem. It not only isolates Yadu from all hostile environments, but seemingly also gives him the power to adapt to any ecosystem and mold his limbs at will.  _]

[_ Strangely, Yadu speaks earthly languages fluently.  The explanation given by Yadu is strange. He says he can read other people’s souls- an ability that, amongst other things, allows him to respond to anyone in his own language. Tests with old forgotten dialects and even with a newly invented language have tested true.  _]

Yadu’s claim of having divine powers, where such powers are defined as having the ability to exert mechanical force on matter and energy particles in a certain physical range, has been tested true. During a controlled experiment, using no energy source, Yadu shifted objects in a room. The results clearly defy a host of known physical laws, including the principle of conservation of energy, making us infer that it is an alien feature that lies in the domain of the supernatural.

[_ Yadu’s claim of being an ancient human is perplexing. The team has carried out a range of tests establish the facts. The results are, to say the least, most astounding. His DNA is 100% human, establishing his human origin beyond doubt. But, other details are shocking. The active part of Yadu’s human DNA is intact. His junk DNA, however, which constitutes more than 90% of a normal human’s DNA, has undergone catastrophic mutations. _]

[_ Shockingly, these mutations were carried out through multiple viral infections in Yadu’s reproductive cells- traces of which still exist! Yadu’s explanation to this is in terms of the human soul, an area that is supernatural and beyond the scope of known science.  Seemingly, the human soul has a system similar to other systems in the body. Like the brain connects to a spinal cord and then onwards to the nerves, the human soul connects centrally to the reproductive cells and then onwards to countless pathways. _]

In normal humans, the pathways to the soul are blocked at the site of the reproductive cells. In Yadu’s body, however, viral infections have opened the pathways, not only making him connect to his soul but also allowing the aliens, supernatural access to every cell of his body. As what can be termed as an out and out supernatural activity, the aliens have worked through Yadu’s soul pathways to reengineer the junk DNA in his cells and cause the catastrophic transformations.

[_ The information that Yadu has given to us on this supernatural activity is staggering. It seems this is not the first time the aliens have done such a thing to earthlings. Rather, the aliens have a long history of doing this- a history as old as life on Earth! _]

[_ Most astoundingly, an alien called Goddess Myrhim has mammoth powers over the forces of nature. According to Yadu, she is the progenitor of all life on Earth. She created all the plants, animals and humans on Earth in phases over billions of years. This, by mass scale genetic reengineering- resulting in the birth of new species and often, large scale extinctions of the old. _]

The gods are ready to awaken our souls!’ Yadu has stated this frequently and this statement could have many interpretations– the most dangerous being that the aliens are ready for another phase of genetic intervention.

In any event, alien warfare, as it has emerged, would involve the use of supernatural forces facilitated by potent viral agents. Therefore, being at a loss to propose any alternative strategy, the team recommends the speedy development of anti-viral defence weaponry, targeted primarily against the viruses detected in Yadu’s body.

DOGRE

TANIYA was in constant attendance to Yadu in the ICU unit. Having graduated from biology honors before joining the police, she observed the activities in the research center with keen interest. Her husband, Shiv’s father and an army man, had died on the border when Shiv was still a baby. Since then, Taniya had devoted herself to being a good mother and a competent officer.

Dogre had recognized her capabilities and great presence of mind in Kinnaur itself, and therefore, had given her the most important role of the task force. She had to keep an unfaltering eye on the alien-human and encourage him to divulge all possible information on the alien war plan!

Taniya was very excited about her involvement in the project. She knew that Yadu had forged some kind of a surreal bond with her. Remarkably, she had no apprehensions or fear about it. The bond had helped her to see the truth in Yadu’s statements and convey the same to Dogre and his team. Whereas the flash report had shocked the members of the task force, Taniya had not been surprised at all! ‘I know you have messed up my soul, Pitr!’ she chuckled loudly to Yadu.

Yadu was sleeping on the bed, his arms and chest clamped with probes. He looked frail and tired and his skin had turned dark and splotchy.

Pitr!’ called Taniya gently. She was wearing protective gear in accordance to regulation. 

Yadu opened his eyes and sighed. Frowning darkly, he looked at a thick glass partition across the room. There were people in uniform seated on the other side of the partition. They were top military personnel from various countries. Dogre was seated right in their midst, and they were all waiting for him to wake up.

‘Greetings to you, dear Yadu of Lachvi!’ announced one of the uniformed men, realizing that Yadu was awake and looking at them.

‘Greetings!’ he replied, his voice weak and low. 

‘Yadu, we have senior officers here…they wish to ask a few questions!’ said Dogre.

Yadu nodded, giving the officer who had greeted him a warm look.   

‘Why do you think the gods changed you, dear Yadu?’ asked the well-mannered officer.

Yadu smiled and said, ‘You mean my body…or my soul?’

‘Well, both…’ the officer stammered.

‘The gods changed my body so that I could survive on Seabor…and they awakened my soul…so that they could communicate with me and give me divine powers!’

‘How did they awaken your soul?’  

‘They used germs…Goddess Myrhim’s germs!’

‘You could have died!’ intervened another officer tersely. He was a senior military chief.

‘Many from my village died!’ Yadu replied expressionlessly. 

‘Do you realize that if any such thing is carried out on a large scale, a good part of humanity could die!’ asked the military chief coldly.

There was heavy silence in the room as the men waited for Yadu to respond. Strangely, Yadu said nothing. He only frowned. 

It was Dogre who broke the icy silence. ‘The viruses…how will they be released on Earth?’ he asked, ‘Do you know?

Yadu looked at Dogre for a long moment and then said calmly, ‘Of course, I do!’  There was shocked silence in the room.

The old military chief got up from his chair and paced impatiently along the glass partition. ‘Tell us, Yadu!’ he said tersely, ‘Tell us all about it. We have to find a way to stop it.’

‘NO!’ Yadu retorted, his voice trembling with anger, ‘You will not stop anything!’

The men across the partition were taken aback by the sudden turn in Yadu’s temper.

‘You shall not fight the gods!’ thundered Yadu, rising from the bed, ‘They have too much trouble on their hands, anyway!’

Yadu faltered as he stepped forward. Dogre noticed it immediately.  ‘I am calling the medical guys in!’ he said, reaching for the buzzer.

‘Wait!’ snapped the old military chief. Turning towards Yadu the chief spoke in a slow and firm tone, ‘Look, Yadu, this is not Lachvi. The world has changed since then. We have weapons now. We can defend ourselves. So, if you are afraid, let go of that fear and help us!’

Yadu took one look at the chief and spat on the floor. His eyes were burning with anger and his fists were clenched tightly. ‘Quiet…you old fool!’ he bellowed, staggering towards the partition, ‘I was not afraid then…and I am not afraid now!’

All the men rose from their seats, unsure of how to deal with a fuming alien human. Dogre pushed the buzzer. Oh! Even as lights flashed on the alarm panels of the ICU, Yadu swayed unsteadily and collapsed on the floor!

Pitr!’ shrieked Taniya, leaping towards Yadu. She grabbed his limp shoulders and shook him, but he did not respond.

Panic broke out as the medics rushed in. Yadu was put back on the bed. His eyes were closed and his skin has turned completely dark. The instruments flashed null reading and suddenly no one knew what to do!

‘Is he dead?’ whispered Dogre, trembling with shock. 

‘We don’t know!’ replied the medics, bending over Yadu to examine him physically. 

‘He is alive!’ said Taniya urgently, ‘He is trying to revive himself!’’

‘How do you know?’ asked Dogre with bewilderment, even as his attention was diverted by the sudden flutter amongst the medics.

Yadu had twitched to wakefulness. His eyes were still closed but he was whispering something, making the doctors race in and out of the room. Dogre watched in alarm as the doctors pumped injections into Yadu’s skin. ‘What are you giving him?’ asked Dogre anxiously.   

‘Liquid helium!’ replied a senior doctor, ‘He told us to give it to him!’

‘What?’ exclaimed Dogre, looking worriedly at Yadu. He was twitching fitfully and Taniya was holding his hand and rubbing his icy palms gently, as one would do to comfort a child.  

‘He is reviving!’ cried the doctors suddenly as the instruments clipped to Yadu’s body began beeping. 

Dogre moved forward to see for himself.  The instruments were flashing readings again! Yadu was still alive!

‘Lord, be thanked!’ muttered someone. 

Waves of relief washed over Dogre. More shaken than he had been his whole life, he bent to gaze at the alien human anxiously. Yadu looked so frail and wasted that he felt a sudden wave of compassion melt his insides. ‘He has suffered so much…when, he is only a simple cowherd!’ he murmured, overcome by emotion.  

‘His body needs liquid helium like we need water. Seabor is covered with liquid helium oceans. Can you believe that? Liquid helium oceans?’ someone exclaimed to Dogre. 

But, Dogre was not listening. Yadu had opened his eyes and was looking weakly at him. ‘Pitr, I am sorry!’ he murmured, clasping Yadu’s icy hand, ‘I should have taken better care you!’

Tears flowed down from Yadu’s eyes, ‘Take me away from here!’ he pleaded.

Dogre looked at him in bewilderment. Where on earth could he take him?

‘I know where we can take him!’ Taniya said suddenly.

‘Where to?’ asked Dogre warily.  

‘The ancient city of Varanasi!’ she replied. 

Dogre gazed at Taniya and Yadu skeptically. Something weird was flowing between the two of them and some of it was passing on to him! He hurriedly took a step back and began moving out of the room. ‘All right! I will take you wherever you want!’ he said distractedly before making a quick exit.

The last thing he wanted was someone messing up with his soul without him knowing about it!

VARANASI

DOGRE took Yadu to the ancient city of Varanasi. Overnight, a luxury hotel on the banks of the holy Ganges was converted into a maximum-security zone. Only one member of the task force accompanied them- Dr. Howard Stein, a world-renowned scientist and philosopher.  He was also an old friend of Dogre’s and his tennis and bridge partner!

The advisory to Stein from the other members of the task force was clear- ‘Take it easy. But, get the information out of him!’

Yadu’s health had returned with the daily liquid helium injections. His skin wore a healthy color now and the dark splotches were gone. Most wonderfully, he was gorging on earthly food. Most worrisomely, though, he was passing no waste!

‘When did you last urinate or defecate?’ asked a specialist. 

‘Oh!’ sighed Yadu and frowning hard, said, ‘That would be the day I left Lachvi!’

‘Wow! That would be 2,338 years back to be exact!’ exclaimed the specialist.

The other specialists flooded Yadu with a barrage of questions.

He answered them with a smile, and in a rare display of good mood, also gave them a detailed account of his departure from Lachvi and arrival in Seabor. Just when the medical team thought he would tell them more about his stay on Seabor, Yadu fell asleep. The medical team quickly put together a flash report, which when issued to the task force members in the research center in Noida, shocked them into further disbelief.

Preliminary examination of the information given by Yadu, the alien-human, has revealed startling facts about Seabor.  The planet is approximately the size of Mercury and is situated, most unusually, between three black holes! The black holes, or the Nors, shower the planet with powerful ionizing X-ray and gamma ray radiation, a fraction of which penetrates the atmosphere to reach the surface of the planet.

[_ Whereas the core of the planet seems to be made of heavy metals, its atmosphere, surprisingly, has abundant isotopes of helium, a light metal. The gravitational waves from the black holes, properties of which are still being studied on Earth, have had an unbelievable effect on Seabor's environment. Approximately 90% of the planet surface is covered with cryogenic liquid helium oceans. _]

[_Now, liquid helium has many strange properties. It is a superfluid and is superconducting which means that the viscosity is zero and the electrical resistance is negligible. It is no wonder that, as told by Yadu, ‘On Seabor, the water in the ocean climbs over the land and voices (electrical signals) keep circulating in the ocean and take ages to die down’! _]

[_ The landed part of Seabor is a thin belt at the equator, and is covered with radioactive forests! What is considered to be an extreme case of adaptation- to cope with the absence of sufficient thermal energy in the environment- the creatures of Seabor subsist on the nuclear energy provided by the  Nahlu pods or kiks! _]

[_ The creatures living on Seabor are well adapted to the extremely hostile environment. They have thick protective skins that isolate their bodies from the super cold and radioactivity. Their eyes give them X-ray vision and their mouths and ears emit and receive electrical/radio speech signals that travel far in the superconducting oceans. The nose is used only for picking up smells- it is not a breathing organ.   _]

That Yadu is not passing waste is no longer seen to be a concern, as the cavity in his chest is radioactive! It burns everything at the nuclear level! His skin, however, as determined by tests, is a phenomenal shield and stops any harmful radiation from getting out.

In the light of the above, the medical team is carrying out a battery of new tests on Yadu’s alien-human body and results shall be communicated to the task force in due course.

Yadu took well to Varanasi. The melodious clanging of the temple bells and the holy atmosphere of the ancient city comforted him. There were times when he longed for Lachvi and his people.  But, he was increasingly becoming comfortable with the new world around him.

It was a cool autumn evening. Dogre, Yadu, Taniya and Stein were seated on the terrace of the luxury hotel and were watching the magnificent ritual of the Ganga Aarti on the banks of Ganges, the holy river. 

Hindu priests stood in a row on the riverbank with flaming lamps. As thousands of devotees thronged behind them, they waved the lamps to the loud chant of hymns and the melodious clanging of bells. The air became misted with fragrant incense smoke as the devotees joined the prayers and floated lamps in the river.

‘O wonder!’ cried Yadu with joy, watching the river glitter like a newlywed bride. He took in deep breaths of the incense-laden air. He was dressed in robes of yellow silk with embroidered red borders, matched with a yellow turban, yellow shoes, thick gold bangles and gold earrings!

Pitr, you are looking handsome!’ complimented Dogre, ‘Almost like a nobleman of old!

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed Yadu. He was seated on a wheelchair and was slurping his favorite broth - grains cooked with milk and molasses- from an earthen bowl.

‘It tastes good!’ remarked Stein, taking a serving of the sweet broth. He had been living in India for almost a decade now and had become familiar with the local cuisines and the culture.

Yadu smiled, his honey-tinted eyes gazing warmly into Stein’s light blue ones. Stein was of a small built and he had a thick shock of white hair. ‘You remind me of someone from my village!’ he said, his eyes moist.  

Stein smiled. ‘Tell me more about Lachvi!’

Yadu’s eyes glazed with a sad, faraway look. ‘Lachvi is now forgotten. My people are gone. But, the sick villagers of my old village had what none who have walked these lands have ever had- a bond with the powerful mountain god!’

‘You mean Iisuu?’

‘Yes, God Iisuu!’ replied Yadu radiantly. 

‘Tell us about him!’ 

‘Oh!’ sighed Yadu, ‘Iisuu’s soul is filled with pure love. His soul exudes a rapturous glow is spellbinding. He pulls other souls to himself like a lodestone to rocky earth!’

‘Amazing how he traveled across galaxies and spirited you away. Clearly, he has phenomenal powers!’ Stein frowned thoughtfully.

‘Yes, he does!’ replied Yadu, ‘He has divine sight that extends to the entire universe!’

‘Wow! And, Goddess Myrhim…is she the same?’

‘Myrhim is an omnipresent goddess…she is more powerful than Iisuu!’

‘Omnipresent?’

‘All particles of energy and matter are her subjects and under the control of her scimitar. She can exert force on any niche of the universe- on the air, water and the lands!’

Dr. Stein screwed his forehead in thoughtful amazement.

‘You don’t believe me?’ asked Yadu.

‘I do!’ Stein replied earnestly, ‘I believe every word you say, Yadu, brave cowherd of Lachvi!’

‘You really do?’ Dogre intervened with surprise.

‘Oh, yes!’ Stein nodded, ‘It was just that, I was wondering, how did they ever come to possess such powers?’

Yadu laughed merrily. ‘Oh! The gods are descended directly from the bor!’

‘The bor?’

‘Yes. The bor was the divine world that gave birth to the omnipresent gods of nature and later, to the material universe!’

Dogre gaped. He glanced at Stein, who looked equally stunned.  

‘Where is the bor now, Pitr?’ asked Taniya curiously.

Yadu’s smile waned and his eyes became dull and sad. ‘It is lost…like Lachvi…gone riding on the arrow of time!’

‘When you talk of the bor?’ Stein asked slowly, ‘Are you talking of a world that existed before the birth of the universe?’

‘Yes!’ Yadu nodded, ‘To learn about Seabor and the aliens, as you call them, you will have to understand the bor first. The day I collapsed, even if I had tried, I could not have told you anything meaningful. To understand what the aliens are all about, you will have to understand their origin first!’ he explained earnestly.

Stein and Dogre shared a furtive sideways look. Yadu was talking! And, they had to get him to tell everything!  ‘Of course!’ said Dogre quickly, ‘We should understand the bor first!’

‘Yes, tell us about the bor and about the omnipresent gods who took birth in it!’ urged Stein, pulling his chair forward. 

‘You are the only one who can tell us, Pitr!’ said Taniya.

Yadu looked at Stein, Taniya and Dogre with adoration. Tears rolled down his eyes as he said, ‘It is true! I am the only one who can tell you the tale of the bor…it is called the divine lore…and it is the only reason why I am still alive and here on Earth! It is my destiny to give mankind the divine lore!’  He took a long breath and recited,

The lore of the bor is divine!

To speak of it is to pray,

And, even as I speak,

The purpose of my life beyond my times,

When all my people are long dead and gone,

Shall be truly fulfilled!’

‘Please begin, Pitr!’ urged Dogre.

Yadu hesitated for a moment and said, ‘The divine lore is the biggest gift I can give to anyone…and so…’

‘And, so?’ asked Dogre with bated breath.

‘I will share it only once!’

‘Please share it once with us!’ urged Dogre

‘I shall share it only with someone who is fearless enough to open his soul to me!’ declared Yadu.

Stein, Dogre and Taniya looked at him, stunned. 

‘One of you will have to be brave enough to open his or her soul to me!’ he clarified.

There was a silence on the hotel terrace as Stein, Dogre and Taniya sat musing over what Yadu had just said. It was late in the evening and a slight chill had crept in the air. Suddenly, Dr. Howard Stein said, ‘I will open my soul to you, dear Yadu!’

Dogre and Taniya gaped and even Yadu was surprised. He looked at Stein intently for a long moment and said, ‘Let us go inside, then!’

Taniya wheeled Yadu back to the hotel suite and soon, he was seated comfortably in a chair in the bedroom of the suite. He gazed silently outside the window. The light from the lamps floating in the river had faded. Occasionally, a boat passed by silently in the dark river waters. He turned to look across the room. Stein was sitting inside and Dogre and Taniya were waiting outside in the living room.

‘I see you have no fear!’ Yadu murmured, boring deep into Stein’s blue eyes. Stein nodded silently at the alien-human. ‘Good!’ Yadu said, ‘Come forward and place your toe on my toe!’

Stein walked over to Yadu. His right toe was sticking out of his foot and was strangely enlarged. Stein placed his toe on Yadu’s toe and at once, began feeling feverish. ‘Oh!’ Stein gasped, swaying unsteadily.

‘Close your eyes, brave one!’ Yadu said gently.

Stein closed his eyes and just when he thought he was going to pass out, he saw a flame light inside him like the wick of a lamp. ‘What is this?’ he exclaimed.

‘It is your soul!’ Yadu replied, ‘The germs I am carrying in my toe have opened the pathways to your soul!’

Stein’s eyes flew open with shock. He stared at Yadu’s toe in disbelief. Oh! The purported weapon of the alien attack- the virus- was loaded in his toe!  

‘Howard!’ Yadu interrupted his thoughts tersely.

Stein looked at him, shaken.

‘Look at your soul…with the sight it gives you…you will see my soul!’ Yadu urged earnestly.

Stein closed his eyes and looked with the sight of the soul. He saw Yadu’s soul and was blinded. Oh! Yadu’s soul was radiating power like the sun!

‘Now, read my soul and you shall find the answer to all your questions!’ instructed Yadu.

Dr. Howard Stein read the alien-human’s soul for some fifteen minutes. And then, helped him get into bed! When Yadu had fallen asleep, he staggered to the living room, where Dogre and Taniya were waiting, to slump on the couch like the dead!

DR. HOWARD STEIN

HOWARD, are you Ok?’ asked Dogre, jumping to Stein’s side. There was a flutter of activity as Taniya called the medics in.

‘What have you been doing?’ a senior doctor asked, bewildered.

Stein lay unmoving on the couch, breathing weakly.  ‘Nothing, I am fine!’ he gasped, getting up, ‘Just give a glass of water and I will be all right!’

Dogre gave Stein a glass of water and the doctors took a few readings. ‘He seems normal now!’ said the senior doctor.

‘I am feeling absolutely fine now!’ agreed Stein, ‘Thanks a lot guys! I have important work to do now!’

‘All right!’ smiled the senior doctor and got up to leave. He stole a quick glance of the bedroom to ensure that the alien-human sleeping well and then left. Yadu had given strict instructions that he did not want the medical guys hovering over him unnecessarily.

‘What did he tell you?’ asked Dogre anxiously, shutting the door behind the medics.  

‘Nothing!’ replied Stein with a glint in his eye.

‘No wonder you came out so soon!’ exclaimed Taniya, offering him a steaming cup of coffee.

Stein gave her a wry glance and exclaimed, ‘That’s because he opened his soul to me like a disk drive and asked me to read it like a file!’   

‘What?’ Dogre and Taniya gasped in disbelief.   

‘Did you download the file…I mean his soul?’ asked Dogre, his eyes wide with shock. 

‘Yes!’ Stein replied weakly, ‘I downloaded the entire data of the twenty four days he spent on Seabor!’

‘What happened to the divine lore…the tale of the bor…that he wanted to share?’ asked Taniya with surprise.

‘The divine lore is included in the information I have and it is truly staggering!’   

‘Wait a sec…’exclaimed Dogre ashen-faced, ‘First things first…what do you know about the alien war plan? Are we under attack?’    

‘No!’ replied Stein firmly, ‘No alien warships are going to attack Earth!’

Dogre looked skeptical.

‘It’s because they don’t have any warships!’ chuckled Stein.

‘What about the virus attacks?’ asked Taniya, ‘I am sure [_Pitr _]mentioned something to that effect in Kinnaur!’

‘No virus attacks!’ replied Stein firmly, ‘The intent of the aliens is benign!’ 

‘Benign aliens?’ exclaimed Dogre, ‘Wow! I like that!’

‘It’s so mind boggling!’ said Stein, shaking his head, ‘That I don’t know where to begin!’

He got up and walked to the balcony outside and took a deep breath of the cool night air. ‘Come here, you two!’ he beckoned lightly.

Dogre and Taniya went out to the balcony. They were on the top floor of the hotel and there was still considerable activity in the [_ghats _]by the river.

Stein looked up at the sky, his eyes lit brightly.  ‘What do you think of them?’ he asked, pointing at the stars shining silently in the sky.

‘Nothing!’ muttered Dogre impatiently. He wanted to discuss what Yadu’s information first!

‘It is relevant!’ chided Stein, ‘I am asking again. What do you think of the millions of stars out there?’ 

‘They look very peaceful to me!’ ventured Taniya hesitantly.

‘Peaceful, but dead!’ chuckled Stein wryly, ‘The universe is nothing but a massive graveyard of dead matter!’ 

Taniya looked up at the sky and shrugged, ‘Well, never thought of it that way before!’ 

‘Neither did I! But, now that I think of it, the odds are next to none that intelligent life on Earth could have originated from the dead stuff up there! I am amazed that I even standing in this hotel balcony!’ 

‘Maybe we just got lucky!’ muttered Dogre.

‘Lucky? A million processes may be running inside your body at any point in time. You think it all happened by luck?’

‘No one is denying that there is a creator!’ Dogre shrugged, ‘We have known him for ages…God!’  

Stein looked thoughtfully at Dogre and asked, ‘Who is your god, Shantanu?’

‘Lord Shiva! I am a devout Hindu!’

‘Hmmm…have you ever wondered why Shiva has never revealed himself to you?’

‘No, not really!’

‘Apply yourself. Why can’t you see him, communicate with him or maybe at least measure him with your instruments?’

‘Well, maybe because his state of existence is very different from mine. Maybe, his energy levels are such that I will die if I interacted with him. Maybe my soul is blocked…I don’t know…it could be anything!’

‘Exactly. It could be anything, and you will die without knowing about it!’ 

‘You have a point…why all the secrecy?’ intervened Taniya, ‘I am sure if I created something, I would want to interact with it to ensure that everything went according to the plan! I cannot understand why my creator has not interacted with me and told me, at least, what he expects from me!’ 

‘What if he does want to interact with you now?’ asked Stein, his eyes glinting brightly.

‘What do you mean?’ Taniya asked hesitantly.

‘And, what if, that interaction could possibly kill you? Would you still want to interact?’ Stein asked, his expression intense.  

‘I am not sure!’ replied Taniya, shaking her head.

‘Aha!’ exclaimed Stein.

‘How is it relevant, anyway?’ asked Dogre impatiently.

‘Just answer my questions!’ chided Stein, ‘I am asking you one…what if our creator, whoever he is…manages to interact successfully with one of us, and makes him the front man? “Go and tell the others about me and my world!”, he says to the front guy!’

Dogre and Taniya stared at Stein, astounded. ‘You are talking about Yadu, aren’t you?’ Dogre asked in surprise, ‘Is he that front guy?’

‘Yes!’ replied Stein, his eyes shining brightly, ‘He was abducted by the aliens…who purport to be our creators, for only one purpose. Yadu had to travel back to Earth…and break the news gently to us!’

‘What?’ exclaimed Taniya, ‘Is that all to it? He is here on some kind of a “friendly” mission?’

‘Yes!’ chuckled Stein.

‘I don’t believe you!’ frowned Dogre, ‘I am telling you, there’s more to it!’

‘Trust me!’ said Stein firmly, ‘He has been sent back to tell humanity things we should have known and don’t know as yet!’

‘Well, in that case, he is not doing his job, is he? He is not telling us anything!’ Dogre snapped in frustration.

‘Well, he has shared all that he knows with me!’ replied Stein with a wide grin, ‘And, I think he is expecting me to his job for him now! I have to narrate everything to everyone before he wakes up in the morning!’

Dogre and Taniya were stunned. 

‘You are thrilled about it, aren’t you?’ muttered Dogre with an impish smile.

‘Yes!’ replied Stein with twinkling eyes, ‘I am truly privileged. Although, narrating Yadu’s information with trueness, without losing the import, is going to be a major challenge!’

‘I think you should begin right away!’ smiled Taniya.

‘Yes, let’s get on with it immediately!’ said Dogre crisply.

‘Hmmm….’ mused Stein, ‘A part of the information lies in the domain of the supernatural and is abstract.’

‘I am not surprised!’ muttered Dogre wryly, ‘I find even quantum physics abstract! And here, we are talking of a world that existed before the birth of the universe.’   

‘Yes, you are right!’ agreed Stein,  ‘Twenty-four Seabor days…almost two thousand four hundred years on Earth…let us put it down as simply and truthfully as we can! Shantanu, are you ready?’

‘I will be… in a jiffy!’ he replied, proceeding to check the multiple recording devices installed in the suite.  The ones in Yadu’s bedroom room were recording 24×7 and the ones in the living room, where they were sitting, would be activated when Stein began the narration.

‘I am bit old-fashioned!’ said Stein, ‘Taniya, I suggest you type it all down as I speak…I would like to have a read of it later!’

‘Sure!’ said Taniya. She opened her laptop and placed it on the writing desk in the room.  

While Dogre and Taniya readied themselves, Stein ordered light dinner for all three of them. Yadu seemingly had had his fill earlier in the evening and would sleep through the night. 

 

IT was 8:30 p.m. in the night. 

Dogre, Taniya and Stein settled down in the living room to record a ‘key’ story telling session, as ‘told’ by Yadu, the alien-human. Yadu, when awake, would validate the recorded information to give credence to the word ‘told’!

‘Well, let’s start!’ Dogre declared, sitting in front of the recording console.   

Stein toyed with his coffee cup distractedly, ‘All that I have learned from Yadu is such a profound revelation. Our existing knowledge pales in comparison to what I am going to narrate now.’ 

‘Please begin, Howard!’ said Taniya, typing on her laptop, ‘The world is waiting to hear Yadu’s tale!’  

Stein nodded and said, ‘I shall begin from the point when Yadu dived down the ocean to meet Goddess Myrhim on his first day on Seabor!’ The task force team had already recorded the details of Yadu’s traumatic disappearance from Lachvi, his arrival in Seabor and meeting with the alien iljjock creatures.

‘Right!’ said Dogre, activating all the cameras and voice recorders in the room.

Stein leaned back on the couch and closed his eyes. He tried to remember the information he had read from Yadu’s soul and narrate it accurately. ‘I see them…there they are…Yadu and the iljjocks basking lazily on the surface of the ocean!’ he said in a clear voice.

‘What time would that be?’ asked Taniya, typing rapidly on her laptop.

‘The day Yadu landed on Seabor!’

‘Right. Yadu’s first day on Seabor, 3rd century BC on Earth!’ Taniya typed rapidly on her laptop.

Dr. Stein spoke the entire night, his voice rising and ebbing like the holy waters of the Ganges outside. While Dogre made the live recording, Taniya typed down the narrative.  And, the three stopped many times in between to add their interpretations.

 

 

PART 3

 

YADU’s DIVINE TALE

 

(As narrated by Dr. Howard Stein)

 

Time: Yadu’s first day on Seabor, 3rd century B.C. on Earth

Place: The Iljjock Ocean, Seabor.

 

A day had not passed since Yadu’s arrival on Seabor, and he was already adapting to his new environment! In the beginning, he had been very distraught, but as the day passed, he calmed down. He had been assured that he would be going back home soon. And, that he would be given divine powers before he left!

At this moment, Yadu was floating leisurely on the surface of the ocean with God Iisuu, Pikki and a horde of iljjocks.

‘Soon it will be dusk!’ said Iisuu gazing at the three glowering Nors. They had climbed high in the sky. ‘Let us meet Myrhim before the day is over!’

‘Where does she live?’ asked Yadu drowsily.

‘On the oceanbed!’

Iisuu moulded his limbs into a streamlined shape and dived underwater. Pikki iljjock, who had been keeping by Yadu’s side, tugged his hand and urged him to do the same. They moulded their limbs to become streamlined, and dived after Iisuu.

Yadu noticed that the water underneath was also very different- it was very clear and devoid of any vegetation or animal life.

‘We shall not speak as we go deeper!’ warned Pikki.

‘Why?’ Yadu asked with surprise.

‘ Voices take long to die in the ocean. It is forbidden to speak in the open oceans- it keeps them clean!’

Yadu reminded himself to remain quiet. As they dived deeper, he heard a strange noise. ‘Hmmm! Hmmm!’ buzzed the oceans strangely. He strained to hear the buzz. Indeed, countless voices could be heard echoing in the Iljjock Ocean!

Soon, Iisuu, Pikki and Yadu reached the bed of the ocean. Situated in the midst of a wide undersea basin was a wooden dome shaped structure. ‘Is this Goddess Myrhim’s hut?’ Yadu enquired, as they entered the doorway of the dome shaped abode.

‘It is called a beshel!’ replied Pikki.

‘Myrhim will be very pleased to see you!’ Iisuu remarked, moving towards an inner chamber. The three entered the inner chamber to see that it was lit by a bright radiance. The radiance was coming from goddess Myrhim. She was seated in penance on a tree stub rooted to the floor of the beshel.

Yadu had seen the goddess from the sight of his soul before, but this was the first time he was meeting her in person. He noticed that the goddess had a supple, wrinkled body like the iljjocks. The only difference was that she emitted a radiance that was blinding. Even God Iisuu looked pale in comparison!

Myrhim broke her penance and got up to walk to where Iisuu, Pikki and Yadu were standing. ‘Yadu, my child!’ she spoke in a warm, tinkling voice.

‘ Yes, my goddess!’ he stammered, overwhelmed by her presence. He could not exactly put his finger on it- but he had noticed that whenever he was around Iisuu and Myrhim, he felt very exhilarated.

‘Come, sit next to me!’ she said, sitting on an old tree stub rooted to the floor of the beshel. Yadu sat next to her and Iisuu also took seat near them.

Myrhim read Yadu’s soul in accordance to the tradition on Seabor. ‘You are a very brave lad!’ she said warmly, ‘That’s why you survived!’

‘That’s what I told him!’ said Pikki jovially, squatting on the floor.

Myrhim placed her toe on Yadu’s toe to allow him to read her soul. The sights and the sounds of the beshel faded away and he saw the goddess’s soul once more. It was blindingly luminescent and she had a divine scimitar from which flowed the power of a thousand suns. ‘My goddess, you are very powerful!’ he stammered in awe.

‘Yes!’ agreed God Iisuu, ‘She is the divine mother. You will be surprised to know that she created life on Earth with the power of her divine scimitar!’

‘I am not surprised. Pikki has told me about it!’ replied Yadu, looking at Myrhim with reverence, ‘We worship the mother goddess in my village!’

‘I know you do!’ she murmured with delight and patted him lovingly.

Surprisingly, he felt deeply comforted by her touch. He now had a fair idea of reading souls and judging the people on Seabor on the basis of that. Pikki, as he had judged earlier, was very honest and helpful. Iisuu’s soul was full of love and hope. He exuded a rapturous glow that pulled people with a very powerful divine attraction. Myrhim’s soul overflowed with maternal warmth and love- it offered great succor and comfort!

‘Mother!’ Yadu said with reverence.

‘Yes, my child!’ replied the goddess warmly, ‘Would you like to see how I created life on Earth?’

‘Yes!’ he replied, his eyes lighting up. Mouths could lie, but souls could not! Whatever she showed him through her soul would be true. He looked down at his toe. It was still placed over the goddess’s toe, connecting their souls to each other. Iisuu and Pikki came closer and looked into her soul directly with their divine sight.

Myrhim unraveled strings of old memories and Iisuu, Pikki, and Yadu saw them with her.

They saw the Myrhim’s soul descending on Earth when it was only a primordial sphere of dark rock. Yadu was surprised to see Earth as a round globe. He had always thought it to be flat and mountainous!

They saw the goddess moving over Earth’s surface. ‘I want it to look like Seabor!’ she said suddenly, ‘Help me dig the oceans, my lord!’ It was not clear to whom the goddess said that. But, suddenly, lightning with the power of at least ten suns crackled in the rocky planet’s atmosphere and oceans were ploughed out! And, filled with water!

Oh! Earth transformed from a dull brown orb into a striking blue watery world!

The goddess went about creating a wide variety of plants with her divine scimitar. To create animal life, she released thousands of germs on in the warm oceans. The germs helped her create the first fishes. Yadu saw an exultant Myrhim watching the fishes, when suddenly an eerie and frightening lightning fell from the sky and the fishes died!

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu in shock, seeing the dead fishes float in the oceans. It had been a mass killing. Myrhim wept. Surprisingly, she looked very vulnerable and defeated. But, she still proceeded to create more creatures. They were also killed eerily.

Yadu saw a distraught Myrhim begging for mercy for her children. She then went on a creating spree. She created larger creatures- amphibians and reptiles. Giant lizards roamed the Earth. Oh! The same eerie and frightening lightning fell from the sky and they were struck dead.

‘Who is killing them?’ he asked with shock. Whereas Iisuu and Pikki had a deathly expression on their face, Myrhim trembled with fright.

Strangely, no one answered Yadu. Iisuu sighed, ‘Finish watching the rest of it, Yadu. We have work to do!’

Yadu went back to watching the memories Myrhim was sharing. He saw her creating birds and small warm-blooded animals. Large-scale deaths abounded, but now they were largely because of the goddess herself. She was releasing new germs from her scimitar to make the creatures mutate, because of which many died and many transformed.

Monkeys and apes appeared in the forest on Earth. Over millions of years, Goddess Myrhim carried out many, many mutations to transform the creatures when finally, following a massive mutation, two legged humans walked on Earth!

The goddess looked up at the sky and smiled exultantly. The humans were perfect! They would live and breed to fill the Earth with their tribes and communities.

‘Be wise and make the God of Fate wise!’ she whispered to her human children before disappearing from Earth.

Yadu opened his eyes and saw Myrhim beaming! She was very proud of having created the humans on Earth! ‘Who is the God of Fate?’ he asked with curiosity.

‘It is a long story!’ sighed Iisuu.

‘Yes, the story is very long!’ agreed Myrhim, ‘But, he should know why I took the trouble of creating humans!’

‘Yes, he should know!’ piped in Pikki, nodding his head.

‘Look at Nors, Yadu!’ said Myrhim radiantly.

Yadu looked up at the sky. It was dusk and the three Nors were setting. Their rays had become muted now and were barely reaching the bottom of the ocean.

‘After death, the human souls migrate to the Nors. The souls of the dead humans, from time I made the first humans, have resided in the divine continuum that exists in the Nors!’ explained Myrhim, ‘It is not the living, but the dead human souls, who serve a divine purpose! Using the wisdom they attained in their lives, they chart the future of the universe!’

Yadu looked at the goddess with disbelief. The souls of the dead resided in the Nors? ‘But, the Nors are so far away from Earth!’ he blurted in confusion.

Pikki intervened. ‘There are countless Nors in the universe!’ he explained, ‘The ones nearest to Earth, that’s where the human souls migrate to after death!’

‘All the Nors have divine continuum in their cores that links them seamlessly!’ explained Iisuu, ‘Did I tell you…we took a shortcut through the Nors to travel from Earth to Seabor!’

‘We did?’

‘Of course! Travelling through space would have taken millions of years…through the Nors, it took us only a few moments!’

Yadu looked at the Nors with amazement. He still found it difficult to believe that the souls of all his ancestors were up there. That too, from as far back in time when the goddess created the first humans!‘How old are you, my goddess?’ he asked in confusion.

Iisuu smiled and Pikki chuckled.

‘As old as the material universe, my child!’ she replied.

Yadu’s eyes widened with wonder. Myrhim would have to be immortal to be as old as the universe.

‘But I am still young!’ she chuckled in a warm, tinkling voice, ‘Iisuu here is older than the universe!’

‘Really?’ he exclaimed with even more wonder. That one could be older than the universe sounded absurd to him!

The Nors had set and it was night now. The waters of the ocean had become supercold again. ‘Yadu, do you realize…’ Iisuu remarked, ‘You are the only human to know about us!’

‘Yes!’

‘When, every human should be knowing us!’

Yadu nodded his head in agreement. All the villagers would be astonished to know about the mother goddess and Seabor!

‘It is all my mistake!’ whispered Myrhim, frowning with guilt.

Yadu stared at her with surprise. What mistake could the divine mother had made?

‘I sealed your souls while creating you!’ she explained tremulously, ‘If your souls had been open, you would have known all about us from the start!’

Iisuu and Pikki nodded.

‘It is now time to break open the seals!’ she said urgently, ‘And, awaken all human souls!’

‘As you have awakened mine?’ Yadu asked hesitantly.

‘Yes!’ replied Iisuu fervently.

‘I don’t know if the elders will agree to it!’

‘Exactly. We want you to go back to your people and tell them about Seabor! And, convince them to allow us to open their souls to us fearlessly!’

‘But…’

‘Or else, they shall die like the others from your village!’ said Myrhim tearfully.

Yadu gaped. He could not believe that the gods were entrusting him with such an important task. ‘Yes!’ he said excitedly, ‘I shall go back and remove everyone’s fears! I will convince them to open their souls to you willingly!’

Iisuu nodded with approval and said, ‘But, it will not be easy. Humans are very willful by nature!’

‘I shall meet the king and talk to him myself!’ said Yadu enthusiastically.

Iisuu was silent for a long moment and then said hesitantly, ‘Talk to Krishna first, he is crying for you!’

Yadu was taken aback. ‘Krishna is crying for me?’ he asked, ‘But, why? I told him I will be back soon!’

Iisuu placed his toe on Yadu’s toe. Like a distant flame, Yadu suddenly saw Krishna’s soul.

Pitr!’ cried Krishna. He sounded frail.

‘I am coming home!’ cried Yadu excitedly, ‘I will be back by the next moon! The gods are sending a message for the king!’

Pitr! I am dying…come back!’ Krishna replied weakly.

‘Krishna!’ Yadu exclaimed worriedly, ‘What is the matter, my child?’

‘Come soon, Pitr!’ he wept, ‘I do not want to die before meeting you!’

‘Shhh! Krishna…don’t lose heart!’ cried Yadu, ‘We shall celebrate the next moon together!’

Yadu turned to Iisuu in anguish, ‘I have to go back to Lachvi at once. Krishna is sick!’

‘He is not sick. He has grown old!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Time passes slowly on Seabor, dear Yadu!’ said Iisuu in a sad voice, ‘For one day that passes here, a hundred years pass on Earth!’

Yadu looked at Iisuu in disbelief. ‘How long have I been here, my lord?’ he asked in a dazed voice.

‘More than eighty years, my child!’

Yadu staggered with shock. ‘Then I must leave at once!’ he cried.

‘You cannot!’ said Iisuu firmly, ‘Not unless you have been given divine powers!’

‘But, why?’ he protested.

‘You will die on the way back!’

‘I did not die on my way here!’

‘It was a miracle you survived!’ cried Iisuu, shaking his head.

‘Give me the powers, then!’ he cried, distraught with worry, ‘Krishna is dying!’

Myrhim intervened. ‘To give you divine powers, I will have to be yoke your soul to the souls of all the iljjocks!’

Yadu looked at the goddess with despair, ‘How many iljjocks are there?’

‘Thousands!’ replied Pikki wryly.

‘What?’

‘But, numbers do not matter!’ intervened Iisuu, ‘If you are yoked to the soul of one iljjock…you are yoked to all!’

‘Still, it will not be easy!’ said Myrhim, ‘A human soul has never been yoked to an iljjock’s soul!’

Yadu wept in despair, ‘What ever it is…do it fast! Krishna awaits my return!’

‘Not anymore, my child!’ Iisuu murmured in a low voice, ‘He is dead!’ The moments they had spent talking, months had passed in Lachvi. Krishna had passed away, waiting for his brother to return.

Yadu collapsed and wept uncontrollably.

 

 

IT was very late in the night.

Yadu and Pikki left Myrhim’s beshel and swam back to the Kirll forest. Pikki lay down to sleep with the other iljjocks under the Nahlu trees and Yadu slumped next to him in silent stupor. The darkness prevailed for some more time and then the sky began changing its hue. A new day was dawning on Seabor! Yadu gazed numbly at the purple glow wavering at the horizon and slipped into a dreamless slumber.

He woke with a start sometime later. His ears were buzzing like he had been attacked by a swarm of bees. He looked around, startled. There were no bees around him and he was lying alone under the trees. ‘Pikki!’ he called out tremulously.

‘Yadu!’ Pikki responded, rushing to him. Pikki had been picking kiks with the iljjocks nearby. The iljjocks left their tasks and slowly gathered around Yadu. They faces were very sad and suddenly Yadu was reminded of the events of last night. Krishna was dead.

‘No!’ he gasped, convulsing with grief and pain. It was like a huge boulder had been placed on his chest and crushing him to death.

‘Yadu!’ Pikki cried in alarm.

‘Yadu!’ cried an older iljjock, skipping closer. He was Hatti iljjock, the one whose ancestral face had been given to the dogs on Earth!

Both Pikki and Hatti massaged Yadu’s toe and helped him overcome his convulsions.

‘Yadu!’ whispered Pikki. He caressed his brow gently with his stubby hands. A dam burst inside Yadu and he broke into uncontrolled sobs. ‘Kriishnaaa…’he wailed heart-rendingly.

‘Shhh!’ consoled Pikki. But, Yadu would not be calmed and he continued wailing disconsolately.

‘I think we should call Iisuu!’ said Pikki worriedly.

‘Nonsense!’ snapped Hatti, his dog-face pulled into a tight frown. He shook Yadu roughly by his shouders and scolded, ‘Stop crying…your brother is still alive!’

His body wracked with sobs, Yadu replied brokenly, ‘No…he is not…God Iisuu told me that he is dead!’

‘His body is dead. But, his soul is still alive! Don’t you know that?’ replied Hatti earnestly.

Yadu gazed at him with bewilderment and his sobs eased a bit.

‘Look….’ explained Hatti, ‘Souls are conserved in this universe!’

‘What?’

‘All souls, iljjock or human, are indestructible. A soul resides in the body like a nascent bud. It matures with age. When the soul is fully mature, it sheds the body like a seedcoat and the body dies. The freed soul, in the case of the humans, migrates to the Nors. Krishna’s body has died, but his soul is well and alive in the Nors! ’

Yadu gazed at Hatti with disbelief.

‘Of course!’ said Pikki brightly, ‘There is nothing to cry about. Krishna’s soul would have migrated to the Nors after his death. If you remember, Myrhim also mentioned something to that effect!’

‘Yes, I remember!’ replied Yadu, looking up at the Nors. It was almost noon and the three orbs were glowing with the power of a thousand suns.

Pikki and Hatti followed Yadu’s gaze to look up.

‘Stop!’ cried the other iljjocks in shock. All of a sudden, the two averted their gaze and huddled closer.

‘What is wrong?’ asked Yadu, startled.

The iljjocks were trembling with fright and tears were running down their eyes!

‘Ugh!’ cried Yadu with disgust as he picked a very foul odor. The tears streaming down their eyes were tears of fright and they smelt like the air over rotten swamps.

‘Stop!’ cried Yadu, feeling choked.

Pikki noticed Yadu’s distress and jumped to his side, ‘No creature on Seabor looks directly at the Nors without shedding tears of fear!’ he explained.

‘But, why?’

‘God Hoon lives in the Nors. We are very frightened of him!’ blurted Pikki with a shiver.

‘God Hoon?’

‘God Hoon is the god of death!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘He is the one ordained to lead the universe on the path to death! He is very evil and he wields a scimitar that would make Myrhim’s look like an ornament!’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. He is the one who keeps the souls of your dead in the Nors!’

Yadu looked at the Nors with shock. Strangely, he felt no fright. ‘Krishna’s soul is with him in the Nors?’ he asked tremulously.

‘Yes!’

‘Pikki!’ said Yadu, grasping the iljjock with his arms, ‘I also want to go to the Nors!’

The iljjock gaped. ‘What?

‘Yes, please!’ begged Yadu.

‘You will have to die for that!’

‘Don’t be silly!’

‘There is no other way!’

‘Why?’

‘You will not survive in the divine continuum that exists inside the Nors!’

‘But, I passed through it when I travelled to Seabor!’

‘Then, Iisuu held you in his divine embrace!’

‘Iisuu can survive in the divine continuum?’

‘Yes!’

‘And, Myrhim?’

‘Of course!’

‘Then I shall ask them to send me to the Nors!’

‘They will send you packing back to Earth instantly!’ laughed Hatti with a loud cackle.

‘Why?’

‘They fear God Hoon…’ cackled the iljjocks in unison, ‘…a thousand times more than us!’

Yadu’s face fell and his eyes brimmed with tears, ‘I will talk to them…I am sure they will help me! Where are they …I want to talk to them immediately!’

‘They are busy finding a soulmate for you!’ informed Hatti.

Yadu gaped. ‘A soulmate?’ he spluttered.

‘Yes!’ replied Hatti, ‘A soulmate you shall marry!’

‘But, why?’ exclaimed Yadu, aghast.

‘Don’t you know that your soul has to be yoked to an iljjock’s soul?’ asked Hatti with irritation.

‘Of course I know!’

‘Well, that can happen when one of us turns out to be your soulmate!’

‘Yes, that is true!’ cried the iljjocks in unison.

‘But, I cannot marry an iljjock!’ cried Yadu with disbelief.

‘Why is that?’ asked Hatti sternly.

‘I will be exiled from my village!’

‘Well, so be it!’ replied Hatti in irritation.

Yadu glared at the iljjocks and thundered, ‘Take me to God Iisuu…I want to talk to him now?’

The iljjocks looked at each other, startled.

Pikki jumped to Yadu’s side and said, ‘Don’t be angry!’

‘Let him be!’ snapped Hatti.

‘Hatti!’ cried Pikki sharply, ‘Go away! You are not in a state fit to be near any one of us!’

Surprisingly, the iljjocks agreed with Pikki. ‘Go away, Hatti!’ they cried in unison.

Bewildered, Yadu watched the dog-faced iljjock sulk away.

Pikki grasped Yadu’s hand and motioned to the other iljjocks. The iljjocks gathered around him supportively and said in unison, ‘Come, we will take you to God Iisuu!’

 

Time: Yadu’s second day on Seabor (2nd century BC on Earth)

Place: The Kirll forest, Seabor.

 

PIKKI and the other iljjocks took Yadu deeper in the forest. The Nahlu trees were taller and denser here, and the kiks glowed in many radiant hues. ‘Where are we going?’ asked Yadu in agitation. Thoughts about his impending marriage were bothering him tremendously.

‘The best kiks grow in this part of the forest!’ replied Pikki iljjock, ‘It is harvest time and we will find many illjock hordes here!’

‘But, I don’t want to meet iljjocks…I want to meet God Iisuu!’ cried Yadu angrily.

‘Iisuu should be somewhere here!’ replied Pikki.

The scent of the smoldering Nahlu kiks became stronger, and the smoke that hung in the forest became thicker, as they wandered in deep Kirll. Lachvi’s forests smelt of cool pine and cedar and Yadu was slowly getting used to the warm, roasted scent of Kirll!

‘Look, Yadu!’ cried one of the iljjocks cheerfully, pointing towards the treetops. Yadu looked up and saw birds flying in the air!

‘They are the saykriles…they help us harvest the kiks from the top of the trees!’ explained the iljjock.

Yadu watched the saykriles pluck the kiks with their beaks and toss them in the air. The iljjocks ran around, using divine force to pull the kiks into the wooden pails they were carrying!

‘If the kiks burst, they become poisonous!’ explained Pikki.

Yadu noticed that the saykriles were dropping a lot of kiks on the ground and they were going waste. ‘Why don’t you climb the trees and pluck them yourself?’ asked Yadu.

‘We have no muscles…’ replied Pikki, ‘…unlike the humans!’

Yadu suddenly remembered that he had come to meet Iisuu on the important subject of his marriage. Iisuu was nowhere to be seen and Pikki was clearly, diverting him!

‘GOD IISSU!’ yelled Yadu.

Yadu’s voice boomed in Kirll, startling hundreds of saykriles to fly from the treetops. There was a riotous noise as they cackled loudly. The iljjocks ran helter skelter, trying to calm the saykriles. ‘Hush…hush…!’ they cried, calling the saykriles to perch on them. Gradually, the birds took perch on the squat-bodied iljjocks and peace was restored.

‘Hurr! Hurr!’ cried the iljjocks, driving the saykriles back to the work of harvesting.

Yadu was struck by how similar the cry was to that of the cowherds of Lachvi. He suddenly spotted Iisuu’s radiant cow-face in the melee and cried in consternation,‘God Iisuu!’

‘I am here!’ replied Iisuu, skipping nimbly towards Yadu. A dozen saykriles had taken perch on his body and were slowly flying back to the treetops.

‘My lord!’ began Yadu angrily.

‘Yes?’

‘I cannot marry without the consent of the elders of my village!’

‘I know that!’ replied Iisuu gently.

‘You do?’ asked Yadu with surprise.

‘But, Yadu…’

Yadu was not listening. ‘I will be exiled from my village!’ he yelled agitatedly.

‘But, your village does not exist anymore!’

‘What do you mean?’ he exclaimed, staring blankly at Iisuu.

‘It was washed away by the floods years back!’ Iisuu said gently.

Yadu slumped limply on the ground, shaken and completely lost.

‘My child!’ cried Iisuu, bending to embrace him. Yadu was so dejected that he was unmoved by Iisuu’s divine warmth. He leaned listlessly against a Nahlu tree and stared vacantly at the space in front of him.

‘Pikki!’ said Iisuu worriedly, ‘Take him to the bay…he needs grooming…don’t come back until he feels better!’

‘Sure!’ spoke Pikki brightly.

‘Sure!’ the iljjocks chimed in. A sudden flutter of excitement ran through the entire horde and the iljjocks broke into a loud and animated chatter.

‘You will soon all right, Yadu!’ sighed Iisuu, flooding his soul with hope and love. ‘You are a brave lad…and like Hatti has told you…the souls of your people are alive and safe in the Nors!’

‘The Nors?’ whispered Yadu, snapping out of his stupor.

‘Yes! But, there is no way you can go up there!’ replied Iisuu, reading his thoughts.

God Iisuu moved away from the horde, leaving Yadu with them. Pikki came to sit by Yadu and held his hand with his own. ‘Come to the bay with us!’ he said gently.

‘No!’ Yadu sighed listlessly, ‘I am feeling very tired!’

‘It is because you have not passed waste for almost a day now!’

Yadu looked at Pikki with bewilderment. Of course, he had not passed waste. No one had told him how to do it. ‘How do I do it?’ he asked with despair.

‘The enccollies will help you do it!’ said Pikki, ‘We will find them in the bay. Come, the others have already gone!’

‘All right!’ said Yadu, getting up unsteadily.

Pikki held his hand and the two walked quietly to the Iljjock Bay.

 

 

THE Iljjock Bay was on the northern edge of the Kirll forest. The water of the bay boiled constantly and plenty of weeds grew in the warmth. Every morning, the iljjock hordes groomed themselves in the bay, splashing playfully and cackling loudly.

‘Come!’ cried Pikki, wading into the bay. Yadu followed him.

‘Awk! Awk!’ cried Pikki, moving through the vegetation. To Yadu’s surprise, little creatures jumped out of the weeds to cling to Pikki’s body. They crawled to nodules on his belly and began suckling!

Yadu suddenly noticed that the weeds were teeming with thousands of such creatures! They lived inside the foliage, in nests made of straw and mud!

‘This is a ‘thudding’ dug!’ said Pikki, lifting a small toad like creature. It will clean all the waste from your body. He tossed the dug towards Yadu, and Yadu’s eyes widened with surprise as the dug began suckling on a nodule on his belly. He had not noticed before, but there were many nodules on his belly!

‘And, this is a besring!’ said Pikki tossing a small eel like creature at Yadu, ‘It will help you digest the kiks better!

‘And, this is an enccollie!’ said Pikki, tossing a star shaped creature at Yadu, ‘It will help improve your blood circulation and also regenerate your old body cells!’

The dug, besring and enccollie clung to Yadu and suckled hard at the nodules on his belly. He immediately began feeling lighter and refreshed, because, as Pikki had said, the creatures removed the waste from his body, improved his circulation and regenerated his old body cells!

‘These creatures belong to your bin!’ said Pikki, ‘They will now cling only to you. All iljjocks have bins that help them run their bodies!’

Yadu peered at his bin! The dug, besring and enccollie peered back at him through tiny beaded eyes and suckled hard. ‘I cannot believe this is happening to me!’ he laughed, shaking his head.

His laughter was contagious. The iljjocks shared Yadu’s mirth and laughed playfully with him. Only Hatti iljjock remained irritable! He glared at the joyous group around and muttered angrily.

‘Why is he cursing Myrhim?’ asked Yadu. He had overheard him mutter the goddess’s name.

‘Oh, nothing!’ chuckled Pikki wryly.

‘No, tell me about it!’ said Yadu keenly.

‘Ages ago, when the goddess created iljjocks on Seabor, she was a novice. She did not give much thought while creating their bodies. It was when they had trouble digesting food and passing waste that she realized that she had overlooked a lot of functions!’

‘What happened then?’

‘She created the bin creatures- the dugs, besrings and enccollies- to help my ancestors survive!’

‘No one on Earth has such problems. Not even the animals!’ wondered Yadu.

‘It is because Myrhim created the creatures on Earth long after she had created us!’ retorted Hatti irritably, ‘She created you with a well-practised hand.’ He had overheard Yadu and Pikki’s chatter and waded close to them.

‘Hatti!’ said Pikki sharply, ‘Go away before you harm someone!’

Hatti scowled and waded a short distance away.

‘What’s his problem?’ asked Yadu in surprise.

‘He is of age and cannot find a soulmate!’

‘Oh! Is that all?’

‘No, it is serious. The urge to settle down is building in his body and if he doesn’t find his soulmate soon, his will go mad with irritation and anger!’

‘As bad as that?’

‘Yes! But, Iisuu won’t let it happen! He will soon find a soulmate for Hatti!’

‘Shut up, Pikki!’ snapped Hatti, having overheard them again.

‘Come Yadu!’ Pikki said quickly, pulling Yadu away.

‘Wait!’ cried Yadu laughingly. His bin creatures were crawling over his body and tickling him. Pikki pulled again. Oh! Yadu fell over Hatti iljjock.

‘Are you trying to kill me?’ shrieked Hatti.

While Yadu tried to regain his balance, the iljjocks gathered around them to see what the ruckus was about. ‘Hatti!’ they cried, aghast.

This time, they supported Hatti! Yadu watched with surprise as the iljjocks helped Hatti get out of the water and they all headed back to the forest.

‘I did not fall on Hatti on purpose!’ he cried.

‘I know!’ said Pikki, ‘But, Hatti could have died!’

‘What nonsense!’

Pikki wrung his hands in despair and said, ‘I should have told you…our blood does not clot easily! The smallest wound can make us bleed to death!’

Yadu stared at Pikki in shock.

‘The dugs help us…but the clotting is very slow!’

‘So you mean, I can die from a small wound?’ asked Yadu, aghast.

‘Yes!’

‘Ridiculous!’ cried Yadu, ‘In Lachvi, I used to get wounded almost every day!’

‘What?’

‘Yes, I broke the bones of at least two lads every second day!’

‘Eeeekk…’ cried Pikki with a scandalized face, ‘You can’t do that here! The biggest wrong you can do on Seabor…is to physically assault someone!’

‘What if you get angry and you want to hit someone?’

‘Oh! Only Iisuu can hit…I mean punish someone!’

‘How does he do that?’

‘He wrings people’s souls!’ replied Pikki with a shudder, ‘It is worse than a thousand blows!’

Yadu shook his head in disbelief. He was getting to know new things every moment!

‘You haven’t seen anything, yet!’ chuckled Pikki, reading his mind.

They waded out of the water to sit on the rocky edge. It was dusk now. The brightness of the Nors had dimmed. One had set, and the other two were just over the horizon, illuminating the sky with wavering patches of crimson and green radiation.

‘Pikki…’

‘Shh…the bins are settling down for the night…listen to them sing!’

‘Oh!’

Yadu listened intently. The dugs, besrings and enccollies had snuggled in their nests in the fading radiance of the dusk. A poignant melody rose from them as they hummed themselves to sleep!

‘O wonder!’ sighed Yadu, feeling very peaceful. Inadvertently, he gazed at the setting Nors.

‘Look away!’ scolded Pikki.

‘Don’t worry!’

‘Are all cowherds fearless like you?’

‘No, most are cowards. Let us sleep here tonight, Pikki!’

‘No!’ replied Pikki in alarm, ‘We are not safe here…we should leave at once. The iljjocks are nice people. But, there are others on Seabor that are not so nice!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Yadu in surprise. The bay was so tranquil and the forests serene. And, as far as he could see, there was no one about!

‘All right!’ smiled Pikki, ‘Let us spend sometime here. I can see you really like this place!’

‘Yes!’ gushed Yadu, lying down on the rocks. Pikki sprawled next to him and both gazed at the sky in peace. The Nors had set and sky had become pitch dark. The humming of the bins could be heard faintly- the creatures were slowly falling asleep.

‘Where are the stars, Pikki?’ asked Yadu, straining to see far in the darkness above him.

‘What stars?’

‘On Earth, we always see stars at night!’

‘Not here!’

‘Why?’

‘The Nors are very powerful! They swallow anything coming from outer space, including rays of light!’

‘Really?’

‘What else do you see on Earth?’ asked Pikki keenly.

‘Well, there’s the moon!’

‘The moon?’

‘Yes, the moon!’ Yadu was about to describe the lunar phases to Pikki when suddenly they heard a noise.

‘Shh…’ whispered Pikki in alarm.

Yadu leapt up and listened intently. Someone was coming towards them from the direction of the forest.

‘Hide!’ whispered Yadu, pulling Pikki behind a tree. They watched with bated breath as the intruder burst out in the open. Oh! It was Rizzu iljjock.

‘Pikki! Yadu!’ cried Rizzu, looking around searchingly.

Pikki breathed a sigh of relief and came out of hiding, ‘Rizzu!’ he scolded, ‘You frightened us!’

‘God Iisuu is looking for you!’

‘We were just coming!’ said Pikki hurriedly,

‘Hatti’s samovar is to be held tomorrow!’ blurted Rizzu in a rush.

For a moment, Pikki was stunned. But then, he burst with joy, ‘O wonder!’ he cried, ‘Let us hurry back!’

‘Yes!’ cried Rizzu, ‘There is so much work to do!’

Rizzu skipped away quickly and Pikki and Yadu followed him.

‘What’s is a samovar?’ asked Yadu on the way back.

‘It is an iljjock rite. Hatti will surely find his soulmate tomorrow!’

‘Myrhim has decided to be present!’ informed Rizzu eagerly.

‘Why is that?’ asked Pikki in surprise. It was rare for the goddess to attend an iljjock samovar.

Rizzu looked at Yadu furtively.

‘What is it?’ asked Yadu in bewilderment.

‘It is your turn after Hatti’s!’ he blurted quickly.

Yadu staggered to a stop. And, the others stopped with him. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked sharply.

‘Nothing!’ stammered Rizzu in alarm.

‘No, tell him honestly!’ frowned Pikki.

‘Yes, tell me!’ urged Yadu.

Rizzu gave both of them a surprised look. He was taken aback by their kinship! ‘Iisuu and Myrhim have decided!’ he informed them calmly, ‘Yadu shall also find his soulmate tomorrow!’

 

 

THE three found the iljjock horde in the interior of the Kirll forest. The Nahlu trees were loaded with ripe kiks here and there was a riot of activity as the iljjocks and the saykriles went about plucking and storing the ripe kiks.

Yadu did not get an opportunity to fret over his impending marriage because the mood was festive. Also, God Iisuu was to be seen nowhere. Hatti skipped over to embrace Pikki and him the moment he saw them.

‘Come, Yadu!’ Hatti said jovially, pulling him to the iljjock horde,‘There is a lot of work to do!’

Yadu was glad that Hatti had forgiven him. He liked Hatti- he was outspoken and had a no nonsense attitude. Yadu began looking around to see what he could do. The harvesting activity was in full swing. The saykriles were plucking kiks frenziedly from the treetops and tossing them in the air. And, the iljjocks were running around, using divine force to push the kiks in wooden pails.

‘Help me with this!’ said Pikki, pointing to pail full of kiks. Yadu helped him place it on his head and lifted two pails himself.

‘Follow me!’ said Pikki, skipping into the forest.

Yadu followed him and soon they came upon an open clearing. Pikki skipped to a large pit by the side of the clearing. ‘We are filling Hatti’s pit of kiks!’ he said, emptying the pail of kiks slowly in an open pit. Yadu also emptied his two pails in it and realized that there were scores of such pits in the clearing.

Pikki led him to an empty pit and said, ‘Each one of us has a pit here. This one is yours!’

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu, looking at the pit in surprise.

‘Hurry up, you two!’ cried an iljjock, emptying his pail of kiks in Hatti’s pit, ‘We have to fill Hatti’s pit before the night’s over. He will be married right after the samovar!’

‘Come!’ said Pikki hurriedly, skipping back to the harvesting area.

‘What’s the hurry?’ asked Yadu, following quickly.

‘If we don’t fill his pit now…Hatti will go hungry later in life!’ remarked Pikki, ‘This pit of kiks will feed him for his entire life!’

‘But, why?’

‘Iljjocks do not work after marriage!’ explained Pikki, ‘All the iljjocks that you see working in Kirll are single iljjocks!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Yadu, ‘Where are all the married iljjocks?’

‘Married iljjocks have their settlements on the ocean floor. You will see them tomorrow when we go there for Hatti’s samovar!’

Pikki and Yadu came out in the harvesting area to find the iljjock hordes gathered around Hatti. They had stopped picking kiks and were strangely, poking Hatti on his belly and making him cackle loudly. Laughter echoed loudly in the Kirll forest as the iljjocks laughed loudly with him.

‘Why are they laughing like that?’

‘Hatti won’t get to laugh much after getting married!’ explained Pikki.

‘How dismal!’

‘What is dismal?’

‘Marriage!’ exclaimed Yadu, ‘No work and no laughter! Sounds like punishment to me!’

Pikki grinned.

‘What?’

‘No, it is not punishment. Rather, it is a very blissful state!’

‘I doubt it! What is bliss without few hours of hard work every day!’

‘You are right. But, we become busy with other things after marriage. Most wonderfully, we get to join the iljjock yoke!’

‘The iljjock yoke?’

‘Yes! The souls of all the married iljjocks are connected seamlessly through the iljjock yoke! It is a divine connection allows them to share their powers, thoughts and everything else!

‘Single iljjocks don’t get to join the yoke?’

‘No, single iljjocks chatter too much. And, the yoke has to be peaceful. Noise hinders the flow of power on the yoke!

‘Still sounds dismal to me!’ frowned Yadu.

‘Well, we have plenty of work to do. Let’s get back to it!’

The two worked late into the night with the others. They finished filling Hatti’s pit with kiks. The iljjocks also made a sturdy wooden beshel for Hatti and his soulmate with saws and chisels.

Yadu was very happy to contribute to the making of the wooden beshel. Using a sharp chisel, he carved beautiful motifs on the wooden walls of the beshel that Hatti appreciated very much.

It was very late into the night that everyone lay down to catch some sleep. Yadu also lay down under a tree to rest. He gazed drowsily at the kiks glowing on the branches above him and mulled over the events of the day.

Oh! Despite being shocked by almost everything he had come to know today, he realized that he was looking forward to see Hatti’s samovar and marriage!

 

Time: Yadu’s third day on Seabor (Ist century BC on Earth)

Place: The Kirll forest.

 

THE iljjocks woke up early next morning for Hatti iljjock’s samovar. They lifted the wooden beshel they had made for him and dived with it to the floor of the Iljjock Ocean.

Yadu dived down the ocean with at least hundred iljjocks. It was still early morning and the Nors were firing muted radiation on the oceans. By noon, the rays would grow sharper, piercing through almost every thing to give them see-through vision.

‘Ah!’ he sighed, taking in deep gulps of the oceanic water. It smelt like the rain soaked mud at his village and was very refreshing. He realized that in two days he had started feeling at home on Seabor! This was largely due to Pikki’s companionship and the congenial warmth of the iljjocks. The villagers of Lachvi would not have accepted a stranger as easily as the iljjocks had accepted him!

With every passing day, he was become more familiar with the sights and sounds on Seabor. He knew his way around the ethereal Nahlu forests very well now- as well as he did through the pine forests of Lachvi. He could tell the time of the day now by looking at the hues of radiation wavering in the sky- purple in the morning, orange at noon and crimson at dusk! And, when the oceans cooled to climb over the hills and chasms at night- he found them as chillingly beautiful as the moonlit icy mountain peaks behind his village!

Pikki nudged him and motioned to him to look downwards. He snapped out of his reverie and let out a loud gasp. Oh! Thousands of iljjock dwellings dotted the ocean floor and were glittering like a bed of stars!

The single iljjocks descended on the ocean floor and began searching for a vacant spot to fix Hatti’s beshel. Once a spot was found, a few iljjocks stayed behind to fix the beshel while Hatti and the others moved to the ceremonial altar in the middle of the settlement.

The altar was made of wood and lit brightly. Yadu saw no lamps and he peered to see where the light was coming from. It was coming from Myrhim and Iisuu! They were seated on tree stubs in middle of the ceremonial altar and lighting it up with their body radiance.

‘We can talk during the samovar!’ said Pikki.

‘Why?’’

‘We like to preserve the voices of our samovars in the ocean!’

‘Of course!’ nodded Yadu. He was thinking of telling Myrhim and Iisuu that he was unwilling to go through whatever they had decided for him, when the goddess suddenly said in her warm, tinkling voice, ‘Hatti, come forward. It is time to find you a soulmate!’

Everyone gathered around the altar with joy. Only Yadu was anxious. He stood in a corner, trying to find a way to catch Iisuu’s attention. But, before he could say anything, the rituals began.

Hatti swam to the middle of the altar to sit on a tree stub next to Iisuu.

‘Put your toe forward, Hatti!’ said Iisuu

Hatti put forward his foot obediently. His toe protruded out from thick folds of skin. Iisuu bent and squeezed his toe hard. ‘Ah!’ he cried sharply with pain as thick sap squirted out of his toe.

The single iljjocks stood in a spiral queue around the altar and one by one, began passing by Hatti. As they passed him they brushed their toes against his toe. Scores of iljjocks may have passed by when suddenly a tiny spark of lightning leapt out of one iljjock’s toe! Oh! He was Miia iljjock!

‘We have found Hatti’s soulmate!’ declared Iisuu with a radiant smile, ‘Miia iljjock!’

‘O wonder!’ cried Myrhim and the iljjocks with joy. Miia had the same nature as Hatti- he was very outspoken!

‘Hatti has found bliss!’ Pikki whispered happily.

‘Has he?’ frowned Yadu, peering at the altar, ‘What’s happening now?’

‘They are getting married!’

‘Just like that?’ asked Yadu in surprise.

‘What do you mean?’

‘In Lachvi we get married with…. pomp and finery!’

‘Here, we do it very simply. We just make our first zol crystals together!’

‘What?’

‘Look!

Yadu looked at the altar curiously. Hatti and Miia iljjock were sitting next to each other on tree stubs. Iisuu was bending over them.

‘What is he doing?’ asked Yadu, craning his neck.

‘Let’s go closer!’ said Pikki, pulling Yadu forward. The iljjocks standing in front of them gave way and soon they were standing near to the altar.

‘Yadu wants to see how we get married!’ Pikki informed Iisuu jovially.

Iisuu looked up in surprise and beckoned Yadu, ‘Come here…you will marry Hatti and Miia now!’

‘What?’ cried Yadu, taken aback.

‘Come forward!’ said Myrhim radiantly.

Yadu stepped up the altar hesitantly.

Iisuu pointed to the couple to be married and said, ‘You see their toes…press them together!’

Bewildered, Yadu looked at Hatti and Miia. They smiled at him and placed their toes on top of each other! Encouraged by their smiles, he bent down and pressed their toes hard. Oh! Thick sap oozed out of their toes and as it ran down, it mixed to harden into small luminescent crystals. The crystals glowed with the power of a hundred lamps!

‘Hatti and Miia!’ cried Myrhim with joy, ‘You are married now!’

‘Well done!’ exclaimed Iisuu, embracing the couple, ‘Your zol crystals are flawless!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ said Hatti, radiant with joy. He picked up a few crystals and handed them to Yadu, ‘This is for you. Keep them carefully for flawless zol crystals are the most precious resource on Seabor!’

Having said that, Hatti and Miia swam down the altar to the iljjock hordes waiting to embrace them.

Yadu looked with bewilderment at the crystals in his hand. His skin tingled from the energy flowing out of the crystals.

‘Give me one!’ said Pikki, swimming over.

‘Here!’ said Yadu, giving him one.

Pikki peered at the crystal and said, ‘It is flawless. It means they will have a successful marriage!’

‘How can you tell?’

‘A marriage is successful when a pair can mate their souls smoothly!’ explained Pikki, ‘The quality of the crystals give an indication as to how perfectly matched the souls are!’

‘Mating of souls?’ asked Yadu with astonishment.

‘Yes. Iljjocks mate their souls!’

‘Of course!’

‘You want to see?’

‘No!’ Yadu stammered.

‘Wait!’ said Pikki, looking around. Hatti and Miia were not to be seen. The rituals were over now and all the iljjocks were going back to their beshels. ‘They must be mating their souls!’ said Pikki, ‘Come let us have a look at them!’

Yadu baulked at the suggestion. ‘No, I don’t think it would be appropriate!’ he stammered.

‘Come!’ said Pikki, pulling him towards the newly married pair’s beshel.

‘I think we should leave them alone!’ protested Yadu.

‘No. I think you should see!’ insisted Pikki. Leading the way, he swam through the many beshels on the oceanfloor and Yadu followed close behind.

Soon, they were standing near Hatti and Miia’s beshel. Hands clasped, the newly married pair were standing outside on a vacant spot.

‘Look at their feet!’ whispered Pikki. Their feet were entwined and tiny sparks were crackling between their toes.

‘What are they doing?’

‘Our souls carry strings of lore!’ explained Pikki, ‘They are swapping them…Hatti’s strings are flowing into Miia’s soul and Miia’s strings are flowing into Hatti’s!’

‘I see!’ remarked Yadu in astonishment. He observed Hatti and Miia intently. They had beatific smiles on their faces and were surrounded by a radiant haze!

‘It is the glow of pure iljjock love!’ sighed Pikki.

Hatti and Miia separated.

‘They have swapped the first soul string!’ explained Pikki, ‘They will swap the rest over their entire lives!’

‘O wonder!’

Hatti and Miia were scratching the frozen floor of the ocean with their toes.

‘What are they doing?’

‘They are making a boondi!’

Boondi?’

Boondi is iljjock art! It is an expression of the supreme love between two soulmates!’

‘Amazing!’

‘Come, let us see what they are making!’ said Pikki, his horse-face alive with interest.

Using their sharp toes, Hatti and Miia, etched furrows on the oceanbed. They filled it with the thick sap oozing out of their toes. The sap hardened into luminiscent zol crystals and a glowing boondi began taking shape! Tears flowed from Hatti and Miia’s eyes spreading an odor that was mellow and rapturous!

‘They are tears of love!’ said Pikki with a catch in his throat, ‘Hatti and Miia shall live in divine rapture for the rest of their lives, mostly oblivious to the whole world around them!’

‘Is that a good way to live?’ frowned Yadu.

‘All married iljjocks live like this!’ replied Pikki.

Yadu noticed that the other iljjocks were busy doing the same activity outside their beshels. Etched all over the frozen floor of the ocean was intricate art made by the married pairs- the luminescent boondis! It was no wonder that the oceanbed glittered like a field of stars!

‘What are you two doing here?’ asked Iisuu, swimming to them.

‘I was just….’ Pikki stammered

‘It is all right!’ said Iisuu hurriedly, ‘Hatti and Miia, come here!’

Hatti and Miia left their boondi and swam to Iisuu.

‘It is time to connect you to the iljjock yoke!’ declared Iisuu divinely.

‘Yes, my lord!’ said Miia iljjock softly. His goat-face was suffused with the glow of pure iljjock love.

Iissu placed his toe over Hatti and Miia’s toes and sparks of lightning flew from his toe to theirs.

‘He is joining them to the iljjock yoke!’ explained Pikki excitedly, ‘Their souls will be linked seamlessly to the souls of all married iljjocks!’

Hatti and Miia swayed unsteadily, clutching to each other for support.

‘They are reeling from the power of the yoke!’

‘Really? How much is it?’

‘They can exert divine force to the ends of Seabor now!’

‘Not up to the Nors?’

‘Yadu!’ scolded Pikki.

‘All right!’

‘The yoke is a source of great divine power. That is why Iisuu wants you married. Once you join the yoke, you will have the power to travel back to Earth safely!’

‘I know that. You know what, Pikki, I don’t think I will be exiled for a toe marriage like this!’ Yadu ventured hesitantly, ‘Maybe I should marry an iljjock after all!’

‘Wonderful!’ cried Pikki with delight, ‘Iisuu will be so relieved!’

Yadu shrugged.

‘Let me tell him!’ said Pikki, looking at Iisuu. He was helping Hatti and Miia to get accustomed to the power of the yoke.

‘Wait!’ Yadu said.

‘Why?’

‘Put your toe forward, Pikki!’

‘What?’

‘Just put it forward!’ insisted Yadu with a wry grin, ‘I want to see if our toes crackle together!’

Startled, Pikki laughed. ‘It is not so simple!’ he exclaimed.

‘I know!’ smiled Yadu.

‘It is good that you ready to find your soulmate!’ said Iisuu, gliding to them. He was very pleased and smiling radiantly.

Yadu looked at him with surprise. He had been reading his mind again!

‘My lord, but…’

‘But, what?’

‘I cannot spend my entire life making a boondi!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed God Iisuu, ‘Don’t worry, Yadu of Lachvi. As soon as you are married, you shall go back home to Earth and work very hard!’

‘But, I don’t want to go back to Earth anymore! I want to go up to the Nors…my people are up there!’

Iisuu was taken aback. He became reticent and grim. ‘We cannot send you to the Nors!’ he said finally.

‘But…’

‘You promised to go back to Earth and speak to your king about us!’

‘But, that was when Krishna was alive!’

Iisuu was in no mood to listen. ‘You will go back to Earth in two days!’ he said tersely.

‘But, he has not joined the iljjock yoke yet!’ blurted Pikki, ‘Without divine powers, he will die!’

‘We will join him to the yoke before he leaves!’ replied Iisuu tonelessly.

‘How, my lord?’

‘By finding his soulmate before the day is over!’

 

 

GODDESS MYRHIM took the task of finding Yadu’s soulmate upon herself!

Later in the day, when the Nors had ascended the sky, and had made the ocean boil with their blistering radiation, she summoned the iljjocks to the ceremonial altar on the ocean floor. ‘We shall now hold Yadu’s samovar!’ she said in her warm, tinkling voice.

‘Put your toe forward!’ Iisuu said grimly to Yadu.

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied Yadu resignedly, sitting on a tree stub on the altar.

He grimaced as Iisuu bent and squeezed his toe hard. Thick sap squirted out. The single iljjocks made a spiral queue around the altar. One by one they passed by him and brushed their toes against his toe. Oh! Not a single one turned out to be his soulmate.

Iissu frowned with worry. Myrhim frowned too.

Yadu was feeling very exhausted and so Pikki took him to Hatti’s beshel to rest. Iisuu and Myrhim fretted in silence.

‘Farro!’ snapped Iisuu suddenly.

Farro was the leader of all iljjocks on Seabor. His ancestral face resembled a rabbit. On hearing Iisuu’s curt voice, he came skipping forward. ‘Yes, my lord?’

‘Farro, you know how important it is that we find Yadu a soulmate as soon as possible!’

‘I know!’

‘I am afraid…we will have to search among the married iljjocks now!

Farro looked at Iisuu in disbelief and shock. He trembled and said nothing.

‘But, they are all mated pairs!’ cried Myrhim in consternation.

‘The pair will have to separate!’ replied Iisuu gravely.

‘But, that would be devastating!’

‘I know. But, if do not find a soulmate for Yadu, we cannot connect him to the iljjock yoke!’

‘And if we do not connect him to the yoke, we cannot send him back home!’ ventured Farro in a trembling voice.

Iisuu nodded at Farro with approval. He had made him the leader of the iljjocks because of his wisdom and maturity. And, Farro had never let him down!

‘Yadu has to reach home alive under all circumstances!’ said Myrhim, wringing her hands with worry.

‘It is our best chance to get the humans to open their souls to us!’ said Iisuu, ‘If we let go of this chance….’

‘We could end up ruining our future!’ whispered Myrhim, ‘It is up to you and the iljjocks now, Farro!’

Farro’s rabbit-face trembled with anguish. If one of the married iljjocks turned out to be Yadu’s soulmate, separating him from his old soulmate would be devastating. But what had to be done just had to be done.

‘My lord, you may search among the married iljjocks!’ he murmured in a low voice, ‘I and my soulmate, Taani, shall lead the queue!’

 

 

FARRO stepped down from the altar to find that all the married iljjocks had gathered around! They had heard the entire conversation over the yoke and were fully informed of the matter. Separating a married iljjock pair was an unimaginable tragedy for them, but they supported their leader’s decision!

‘Go and bring Yadu!’ said Farro to one iljjock. The iljjock raced to Hatti’s beshel, where Yadu was resting to summon him.

‘It is all right, Farro!’ said Taani, skipping forward, ‘It is the right thing to do!’ Farro smiled at his soulmate but but deep down, he was trembling with anxiety.

Yadu arrived with Pikki and was led straight to the altar where Iisuu and Myrhim were sitting. ‘Let us begin the samovar!’ said Iisuu grimly.

The married iljjocks obeyed God Iisuu without the slightest mumur of protest and they began making a spiral queue around the altar.

Yadu saw the long line and felt faint. He was very tired and wanted to lie down. ‘My lord!’ he whispered weakly, ‘Please allow me to rest for some more time!’

Myrhim looked at him perceptively and said, ‘He is sick! I think we should provide him with a beshel of his own. As soon as he is better, we shall resume the search for his soulmate!’

‘Yes, my goddess!’ nodded Farro, ‘We will find him an empty beshel. There are many around!’

Yadu was astonished by the loving nature of the iljjocks. They had not the slightest meanness in their nature! Despite the danger he posed to them in terms of breaking a mated pair, they wandered all over the settlement to search for an empty beshel for him!

Farro finally picked an empty beshel for Yadu. It stood on a small trough on the floor of the ocean and its owner had died only one day back. Yadu entered the beshel and received the shock of his life! Oh! In the centre of the beshel stood the exact thing he wanted right now– a wooden cot!

‘Wonderful!’ he exclaimed, slumping in the cot. He looked around the beshel and received another shock! Oh! The room was cluttered with a potter’s wheel, clay sculptures, copper vessels and gold jewellery – all things very familiar to him!

‘This is so pretty!’ cried Pikki, picking up a gold necklace. He put it around his neck and asked excitedly, ‘Can I take it?’

‘Leave it, Pikki!’ scolded Farro, ‘You can attain ‘human’ things only after marriage!’

‘All right!’ shrugged Pikki, putting down the necklace with disappointment.

‘These are ‘human’ things?’ asked Yadu with surprise.

‘Of course!’ replied Pikki.

‘Well, they are inspired by the humans!’ clarified Farro.

‘What do you mean?’

‘The iljjocks are greatly fascinated by the human culture!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘We love to hear about it and emulate it!’

‘Who told you about it?’ exclaimed Yadu with astonishment.

‘Iisuu!’

‘God Iisuu?’

‘Yes! He often speaks about Earth and the people who live on it!’

‘So, he told you about the utensils we use for cooking…our art…and our ornaments!’

‘He showed us, actually!’ clarified Farro, ‘He has shared many visions of Earth on the iljjock yoke! We all know what your world looks like…your lands, water and mountains…your towns…even your village!’

‘My village?’ asked Yadu, with a catch in his throat.

‘Yes! You want to see a glimpse of Lachvi?’

‘But, Lachvi has been washed away!’ cried Yadu in a trembling voice, ‘Iisuu told me himself!’

‘Oh!’ cried Farro with shock, ‘I did not know that! What I have is an an old glimpse of it!’

‘Show me!’ whispered Yadu, his eyes wet with tears.

Farro placed his toe over Yadu’s toe gently. Yadu’s head swam and he suddenly saw Lachvi in a waking dream! Oh! The majestic snow capped mountains, the green vales, the stone huts and the bleating herds!

Farro shared a glimpse of the village temple! The priest was ringing a bell loudly to the chant of loud prayers!

‘O wonder!’ Pikki exclaimed, ‘I want a bell like that!’

‘I am getting two made!’ blurted Farro eagerly.

‘Really?’ Pikki replied, his eyes glittering with sparks.

‘But, from where?’ intervened Yadu, bewildered. As far as he remembered, the bell had been made by skilled ironsmiths from the plains!

‘The seamones make everything for us!’ replied Farro, ‘They take zol crystals in return!’

‘The seamones?’ asked Yadu in bewilderment.

His query was lost, because Pikki and Farro became busy chattering animatedly to each other about the bells!

‘How many zol crystals did you give the seamones?’ asked Pikki, his eyes crackling with excitement.

‘A hundred flawless zol crystals!

‘Why are you getting two bells made?’

‘One is for Iisuu!’

‘Iisuu wants a iron bell?’ Pikki gaped.

‘Yes!’ Farrro chuckled, shaking his rabbit-face with amusement, ‘Anyway, he spends half the day watching Earth with his divine sight!’

‘Really?’ giggled Pikki, ‘What does he watch?’

‘He reads their scrolls and listens to their melodies!’

‘O wonder!’

‘Myrhim is getting ivory sculptures and terracotta murals made for her beshel!’

‘Really, Myrhim too?’ exclaimed Pikki, his eyes wide with surprise.

Yadu listened to the chatter with amusement and interest. The zol crystals were the coins of Seabor- he understood that now!

‘What will I get for these?’ he asked, taking out the zol crystals that Hatti had given him!

Farro gaped. He counted the zol crystals in Yadu’s palm. They were ten in number and flawless! ‘Well!’ he said looking around, ‘Pick up any two things from this room!’

‘I am taking this gold necklace for myself!’ cried Pikki with delight, ‘What about you?

‘I will take the pair of arm bands!’ grinned Yadu.

‘What?’

Yadu pointed to a pair of gold ornaments.

‘Nice!’ said Pikki, picking them up, ‘Where do you wear them…on the nose?’

‘No!’ Yadu laughed, slipping the ornaments on his arms, ‘They are arm bands!’

‘They look grand!’ said Farro, his rabbit face puckered with amazement, ‘I am going to get a pair made for myself and Taani!’

‘Yadu, how do you wear this?’ cried Pikki, picking up a gem encrusted ornament

‘That’s a crown!’ laughed Yadu, ‘A king wears it on his head!’

‘Ha! Ha! I am a king then!’ laughed Pikki placing it on his head, ‘The king of all the horses on Earth!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ Yadu burst out laughing. Farro joined in too and soon the three were laughing heartily.

‘What’s going on here?’ Iisuu asked, entering the beshel. He looked at them in amazement.

‘We we just telling Yadu…’ replied Farro, his face twitching with mirth, ‘…that we take great pleasure in imitating the human culture!’

‘Oh yes!’ agreed Iisuu, ‘The humans are very creative. I take great pleasure in looking at them every morning with my divine sight!’

‘Every morning?’ asked Yadu with surprise.

‘Oh, yes! As the Nors rise on Seabor to begin a new day, I look at Earth and see all the activities happening there. I also share glimpses on the iljjock yoke!’

‘We wait to see Earth everyday!’ Farro replied eagerly.

‘Everyday?’

‘Yes, things change so fast on Earth- the kingdoms, the people look changed every day when we look at them!’

‘Has everything changed very much?’ asked Yadu curiously.

Iisuu smiled and said, ‘Would you like to have a look?’

‘Yes!’ replied Yadu eagerly, placing his toe on Iisuu’s toe quickly. He knew the way to connect to Iisuu’s soul very well now! Iisuu smiled again, and Yadu looked at Earth transparently through Iisuu’s divine sight!

‘Look at your home first!’ said Iisuu.

‘Where is it?’ Yadu asked, looking at the blue planet with bewilderment.

‘There!’ said Iisuu, teaching him to spot the Himalayan mountains.

‘Oh!’ Yadu gasped, looking at towering peaks and pine forests. The mountains were the same as ever!

‘Where are the cowherds?’

‘There!’

Yadu saw villages scattered on the mountain slopes. He looked closer and saw the people living in them. They were tending to herds as before. But, their clothes were different and they wore colorful turbans. Also, the deities in the temple had changed! The villagers now worshipped Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Most of them had started following the Hindu way of life!

‘Look to the west of the mountains!’ urged Iisuu.

Yadu looked to the west and saw empires and peoples that he did not recognize. He looked closer and saw that the Roman Empire was spreading its influence far and wide in Europe. And, that Julius Ceaser, the Roman general, was busy reforming the calendar!

‘He is so clever!’ Yadu exclaimed with astonishment.

‘Yes!’ nodded Iisuu.

‘What is it?’ cried Farro, ‘I want to see it too!’

‘All right!’ said Iisuu with a laugh. He shared the glimpses they had just seen on the yoke.

‘Humans are so clever!’ cried Farro, ‘Yadu, you should help us make a calendar for Seabor while you are here!’

‘I am not that clever!’ said Yadu, shaking his head.

‘Look at the roads they have made!’ cried Farro as Iisuu shared a glimpse of a Roman city, ‘We must get the seamones to make roads for us in Kirll!’

Iissu smiled and said, ‘Now, look to the east, Yadu!’

Yadu looked and was surprised to see the empires and people there!

The Han dynasty had established its rule in the east and and people were writing on parchments!

‘What are they writing?’

‘Accounts!’ answered Iisuu.

While Yadu looked bewildered, Farro understood!

‘Oh!’ he gasped, ‘It is exactly what we need…we are giving far too many zol crystals to the seamones!’

Iisuu laughed and pulled back his toe. ‘Enough for today!’ he said, ‘Farro, it is good that you are a quick learner. Keep the seamones busy…it is good for them…and for us. And, Yadu, get well soon!’

Having said that, Iisuu swam out of the beshel leaving Yadu, Pikki and Farro together.

‘How are you feeling now, Yadu?’ asked Pikki, ‘I think God Iisuu came in to check if you are better so that they could complete the samovar!’

‘No!’ replied Yadu, feeling an aversion to the rites, ‘I want to rest!’

‘All right, I will come back later!’ said Farro, making a move to leave the beshel. On his way out, he appeared to be mumbling to himself.

‘What’s he saying?’ asked Yadu curiously, lying down on the cot.

‘Oh, that!’ replied Pikki, lying down next to him, ‘He is talking to the other iljjocks on the yoke. They are probably seeking his advice on possible barters with the seamones!’

‘Seamones…seamones…’ Yadu repeated irritably, ‘Why isn’t anybody telling me who they are?’

‘Don’t worry, you will meet them soon!’ murmured Pikki drowsily.

‘Why I haven’t met them yet?’ he grumbled.

Pikki did not reply. He had snuggled into the comfortable cot and fallen fast asleep.

Yadu also closed his eyes. He had had enough for today! He also fell asleep, dreaming of snow clad mountains and the sweet vales.

 

 

YADU woke up to find himself alone in the beshel. He looked outside. It was late in the evening and the iljjocks were winding up for the day and retreating into their beshels. Pikki was nowhere to be seen.

‘Pikki!’ he called out hoarsely.

‘I am here!’ replied Pikki, swimming in with his hands full of kiks, ‘I borrowed some from Hatti!’

‘Oh, give me some. I am feeling hungry!’

‘Here!’

They quickly ate the kiks in companionable silence.

‘Who are the seamones, Pikki?’ frowned Yadu, tossing a few kiks in his mouth, ‘Are they the same people you said were dangerous when we were grooming in the bay?’

Pikki screwed his forehead and suddenly remembered, ‘Yes, they are the same. Seamones are God Aakaa’s people!’

‘God Aakaa?’

‘He is the divine soulmate of God Iisuu!’

‘They don’t live together?’

‘No! They can’t stand each other…God Aakaa lives with his people in the Seamone Ocean!’

‘Where is that?’

‘In the southern polar region of Seabor!’

‘Oh!’ mused Yadu thoughtfully.

‘Aakaa is the complete opposite of Iissu. Whereas Iisuu’s soul is a spring of hope and love, Aakaa’s soul is ravaged by hate and despair!’

‘Ah! Yadu, you are awake!’ exclaimed Farro, swimming in to join them, ‘What are you two talking about?’

‘I was telling him about the seamones!’ replied Pikki

‘Oh! Those people have truly tortured souls!’ said Farro with a grimace.

‘But, they are very industrious!’ added Pikki, ‘They have tall beshels in which they make all the things that we ask them to make!’

‘In exchange for zol crystals?’ guessed Yadu.

‘Yes! They take zol crystals and use them to power their underwater boats!’

‘Underwater boats?’ remarked Yadu with wonder, ‘I would like to see one!’

‘Sure!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘You must also meet God Aakaa. He is the reason why you are on Seabor!’

Farro was shocked by Pikki’s words. ‘Have you lost your mind?’ he scolded angrily, ‘Aakaa should never get to know that Yadu is on Seabor!’

‘I know!’ whispered Pikki nervously.

Yadu was bewildered. ‘What do I have to do with Aakaa?’ he frowned.

‘It is a long story!’ sighed Pikki.

‘But, he has to be told something!’ retorted Farro. Taking a deep breath he answered, ‘Yadu, I think you have been told that the souls of the dead humans reside in the Nors!’

‘Yes!’

‘Well, Aakaa has a divine connection with them!’

‘So?’

‘He has been trying to use that connection to rule over the souls in the Nors!’

‘But, why?’

‘So that he rules the future…remember what Myrhim told you…the human souls up there chart the future of one and all!’

‘Oh! That sounds very dangerous!’

‘Yes, Aakaa is very dangerous and vile!’ said Farro, wringing his hands with despair, ‘And, he keeps Iisuu very worried!’

‘Can he reach Krishna’s soul in the Nors?’ asked Yadu suddenly.

‘It is better if he doesn’t!’ replied Pikki, alarmed.

‘Why?’

‘Aakaa will torture him!’

Yadu sat up with shock. ‘You don’t mean it!’

‘Of course I do!’

‘But, how can he torture him from Seabor?’

‘His soul has a direct divine connection to the souls in the Nors…he can wring them hard, sitting here on Seabor!’

‘How terrible!’ cried Yadu, aghast, ‘Why doesn’t God Iisuu do something about it?’

‘There is nothing he can do directly!’ replied Pikki, shaking his head, ‘He has no control over Aakaa!’

‘But, he can do something indirectly!’ said Farro.

‘What is that?’

‘He can give divine powers to the humans so that they can fight back Aakaa!’

Yadu looked at Farro in astonishment. ‘Is that why he wants to give divine powers to the people on Earth…to fight Aakaa?’

‘Yes!’ cried Pikki, nodding his head vigorously, ‘To fight Aakaa and to save the souls of your dead…and to save our future too!’

Farro’s rabbit-face became very serious and he murmured, ‘Yadu, I hope you understand how important your role is in this fight!’

Yadu eyes widened with surprise. The truth suddenly dawned on him. Iisuu, Pikki and the iljjocks were all depending upon him. They were waiting desperately for him to get up, attain divine powers and then go back to Earth to unite the humans against God Aakaa! And, here he was, lying sick in a cot!

He took a deep breath and got up unsteadily from the cot. In a low but firm voice, he said, ‘Let’s do the samovar. I am feeling much better now!’

 

 

MYRHIM and Iisuu were overjoyed to learn that Yadu was feeling well enough to carry out the rites of the samovar. They were sitting together on the altar, when Farro and Pikki swam in with Yadu.

‘Iisuu, summon all the iljjocks for the samovar rites!’ Myrhim declared tremulously in her warm, tinkling voice.

‘Yes, my goddess!’ replied Iisuu, shaking his head with relief.

He summoned all the married pairs through the yoke. Most of them were settling in their beshels for the night, but came out readily on his call. They were fully aware of the divine purpose for which this samovar was being held- their future depended on it!

‘Here they come!’ sighed Myrhim, looking at the scores of married pairs swimming out of their beshels. Soon, hundreds of iljjocks had gathered around the altar on the ocean floor.

Yadu was amazed by the power of the invisible yoke. What would it have been like to have the yoke at Lachvi? The cowherds would have known instantly when Jugnu rode the animal spirits! And, when Surya went about stealing the calves of other cowherds! And, he would have known instantly when Krishna flayed his directive to go near the Nahlu berries! Tears trickled down his wrinkled face.

‘No, my child!’ smiled Iisuu, holding Yadu’s hand assuringly, ‘The sorrow in your soul shall soon be replaced by pure iljjock love. Come, let us find a soulmate for you!’

Yadu pointed his toe forward and Iisuu pressed it hard. Thick sap oozed out of it. The illjocks queued in pairs to pass by Yadu. First in the queue was the leader of the iljjocks, Farro and his soulmate Taani!

Farro and Taani were holding hands and were trembling with anxiety. Yadu realized that they were anxious because, if one of them turned out to be his soulmate, they would be separated forever.

Farro was wearing a thick metallic ring around his neck. Taani had gifted it to him. Yadu recognized it to be a cow ring!

‘Start!’ directed Iisuu, ‘We have to finish this fast and go to sleep!’

Farro wiggled his toe to touch Yadu’s toe. No sparks flew out. Their souls were not compatible; he was not Yadu’s soulmate! Taani did the same. He was not compatible too!

Oh! Farro and Taani embraced with relief and wept tears of love. They swam back to their boondi- to etch the tale of their pain and fear, for the boondi was but a tale of their lifelong love!

The queue moved on. Hundreds of iljjocks touched Yadu’s toe. But, none turned out to be his soulmate. Feeling tired and distraught, Yadu looked up at the sky. The Nors had set and the sky was lit with a haunting afterglow. Another day had passed on Seabor. A hundred years had passed on Earth. Feeling terribly sick, he did the forbidden- he began wailing loudly in the open oceans!

‘Shhh, my child!’ cried Myrhim, embracing Yadu. Oh! But, Yadu was discosolate. He continued wailing loudly.

‘Shhh!’ cried Iisuu, lifting a wailing Yadu and carrying him back to his beshel.

Myrhim followed him inside. Farro, Pikki, Hatti and a few other iljjocks also came in.

Iisuu put down Yadu gently in his cot.

‘I think he is sick!’ cried Farro iljjock with concern.

‘He is sick from the soul!’ exclaimed Iisuu, peering at Yadu’s soul with his divine sight.

‘It is because his soul is human!’ replied Myrhim, ‘The attempt to mate him with an iljjock has made him sick!’

‘What do you mean?’ frowned Iisuu.

‘It is clear…an iljjock cannot be a human’s soulmate!’ declared Myrhim.

‘How can you say that…how will we give him divine powers, then?’ despaired Iisuu,

Iisuu and Myrhim’s faces reflected deep despair.

‘My lord…look outside!’ whispered Pikki suddenly, ‘The seamones have arrived!’

‘What?’ Iisuu yelled irritably.

Everyone looked outside in surprise. A number of boats were descending on the ocean floor outside the settlement.

‘Get up, Yadu…stand with the iljjocks…they should not even get a whiff of your presence here!’ Iisuu cried pensively.

The boats landed on the ocean floor and groups of seamones emerged from them. They swam to the beshels to barter the things they had made to the iljjocks. One seamone however came looking for Myrhim and Iisuu. Because of the divine glow emitted by their bodies, he spotted the beshel they were in immediately and he swam directly to it.

‘Greetings!’ the seamone rasped, entering the beshel, ‘Goddess Myrhim and God Iisuu, I see that you are here too!’

‘Greetings Blumone!’ replied Myrhim impassively.

Yadu looked at Blumone with awe. He was tall and had a burning cavity in his chest like the iljjocks. He was rat-faced, and instead of the lone foot, he had a long tail. Whereas the iljjocks were squat, the seamones were long and graceful.

Blumone looked around the beshel with narrowed eyes and rasped, ‘There is a stranger on Seabor!’

Iisuu frowned,‘A stranger?’

‘Yes. We heard the cry of a stranger!’

‘It must be Ollie iljjock crying!’ said Pikki quickly, ‘He is unwell!’

‘Nonsense!’ rasped Blumone scathingly, ‘Ollie’s voice is known to us. He was a stranger!’

Yadu cowered behind Pikki and Farro. He should not have wailed out so loudly. His voice had traveled to the Seamone Ocean and alerted the seamones to his presence.

Blumone turned to Myrhim and asked coldly, ‘My goddess, did you hear a stranger’s voice?’

Myrhim glared silently at Blumone. Her brow was deeply troubled, ‘No!’ she said emphatically.

‘You are lying!’ Blumone said smoothly.

‘How can you say that?’

‘Well, I would like to inform you,’ he sneered with vile sparks flying out of his eyes, ‘God Aakaa knows that God Iisuu has spirited a human to Seabor!’

Iisuu glared at the rat-faced Blumone with shock. His visits to Earth had been carried out very discreetly and were spoken about only on the yoke. Not a word had escaped into the oceans- so how did Aakaa come to know?

‘Looks like Aakaa is growing his powers!’ Myrhim snapped scathingly.

‘Yes, my goddess!’ Blumone retorted gleefully, ‘He connected to the souls of some human villagers recently…they spoke of the Nahlu and the beautiful mountain god! The rapturous love that they carried in their souls for the mountain god told us that it could only be God Iisuu!’

‘It was Iisuu!’ replied Myrhim frostily.

‘Oh!’ said Blumone accusingly, ‘So, you know about it?’

‘Yes, I do!’

‘Of course!’ bristled Blumone angrily, ‘You have always favored the iljjocks!’

‘I am your divine mother, too!’ replied Myrhim impassively.

‘Yes. But, you not telling me anything about the stranger!’

‘Because, he is not a stranger!’

All people present in the beshel, including Yadu, looked at the goddess with surprise.

Goddess Myrhim glowed with her full divine radiance and tapped Blumone’s tail lightly with her toe. The seamone looked into the Goddess’s soul. Myrhim could lie from her mouth but not from her soul! ‘Look at who visited Seabor!’ she said softly in her tinkling voice.

Blumone looked and shrieked. Frightened out of his wits, he stumbled out of the beshel in a hurry. ‘Run!’ he gestured to the seamones outside. In no time, the seamones had scampered to their boats and raced away!

‘What happened to him?’ frowned Iisuu.

‘Who did you show him, my goddess?’ asked Pikki, ‘Who visited Seabor?’

‘Who else, but…Hoon, the God of Death!’ replied Myrhim with a shiver.

There was a moment of shocked silence in the beshel and then Iisuu gasped, ‘God Hoon?’

‘He visited Seabor recently!’ whispered Myrhim in a low voice.

The iljjocks trembled with fear.

‘What?’ asked Iisuu in shock, ‘But, I did not feel his presence!’

‘He was here for a few moments!’

‘But, why?’

‘He came here to see Yadu!’ replied Myrhim.

Iisuu was very upset. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ he asked in a trembling voice.

‘Iisuu!’ whispered Myrhim gently, embracing him, ‘He was gone before I felt his presence!’

‘He left without meeting me? How could he do that….’, whispered Iisuu in a lost voice. His face fallen, he gazed at the sky with sorrow. It was night and the sky was pitch dark.

Myrhim also seemed to be shaken by the mention of God Hoon. ‘Let us rest for the night!’ she sighed tiredly and made a move to leave.

‘Yes!’ replied Iisuu, and glided out with the goddess.

The iljjocks left for their beshels too, leaving Pikki to take care of Yadu.

Feeling faint, Yadu slumped in his cot. He knew that discussing Hoon with only make Pikki weep tears of fear! So, he closed his eyes and tried to sleep. But, he could not help wondering about recent events.

Why was Iisuu so heart-broken at not meeting Hoon, the evil one? Myrhim had mentioned that God Hoon had visited Yadu! ‘When did that happen?’ he wondered drowsily as he slowly slipped into a dreamless sleep.

 

Time: Yadu’s fourth day on Seabor (1st century AD on Earth)

Place: The Iljjock Ocean, Seabor

YADU tossed and turned in his sleep as he drifted through a bad dream. He saw the mountain god take his father captive and choke him to death. ‘Iisuu!’ Yadu screamed in his dream, hitting the mountain god with his cudgel. Oh! Iisuu vanished, leaving him alone with his dying father.

‘Father!’ he wailed, taking his father’s body in his arms. His father was freezing cold and he gasped, ‘Yadu…you must come to me…steal the scimitar…and come to me!’

‘Yes, father…’ he wept. The dream ended and he woke up with a start. He was trembling like a leaf.

‘Yadu…stop it!’ mumbled Pikki in his sleep.

‘Pikki!’ cried Yadu, embracing the iljjock tightly.

Pikki woke up in alarm. ‘What’s wrong? Why are you shaking?’ he gasped.

‘Oh…nothing…I saw a terrible dream!’

‘A dream?’ asked Pikki, bewildered, as iljjocks saw no dreams.

‘Nothing…I shall be fine!’

Both of them got up to sit on their cots. It was still night outside and the iljjocks were still asleep inside their beshels. ‘Let me get some kiks!’ yawned Pikki, swimming out of the beshel.

Yadu lay down again and wondered about the strange dream. His ears buzzed with a maddening rustling sound. ‘Stop!’ he cried, clamping his hands on his ears. Surprisingly, the buzzing stopped!

He shivered as he remembered his father’s cold dying body. ‘Yadu…you must come to me…steal the scimitar…and come to me!’ his father’s last words rang loud and clear to him. Taking in deep gulps of the fresh oceanwater, he wondered about his father’s wish.

Obviously, his father wanted him to steal Myrhim’s divine scimitar and go to where his soul was right now- in the Nors!

Oh! If he managed to steal the scimitar would he become God Yadu? He would hurtle through the stars like a whirlwind, knocking down the suns and the moons! He would soar to the Nors like his father wanted and surprise him and the dead villagers. Oh! How happy they would be to meet him again. Yadu trembled with hope and immense joy and began thinking how to steal the scimitar!

Well, the scimitar was not something that Myrhim carried with her physically. It was attached to her soul and you could see it only with the sight of the soul!

Pikki and Hatti came in and saw that Yadu was lost in his thoughts. ‘Stop dreaming, Yadu!’ said Pikki loudly.

‘What?’ replied Yadu, snapping out of the reverie.

He noticed that Pikki and Hatti were looking very worried. ‘Here, eat something!’ said Pikki, handing a handful of kiks to Yadu.

‘Is something wrong?’ asked Yadu, tossing a few kiks in his mouth. The kiks as usual, were tasteless. Myrhim seemed to have made many mistakes while giving him a new body, he thought wryly. Not only had she left an irritating buzz in his ears but also killed his sense of taste!

‘Iisuu has called everyone outside Myrhim’s beshel!’ said Pikki anxiously.

‘Why?’ asked Yadu, feeling too weak to go through another round of the samovar rites.

‘They are fretting over Aakaa!’ replied Pikki anxiously.

‘Aakaa?’

‘Since Blumone had told them that Aakaa is growing stronger…Iisuu has had not had a moment of peace. He fears that Aakaa will end up controlling our future! Which, of course, would be the most terrible thing to happen!’

‘What does Aakaa eat to become strong?’ frowned Yadu, ‘Iisuu should feed on the same things!’

Pikki and Hatti exchanged a surprised glance. ‘Aakaa feeds on souls of dead humans!’ replied Pikki blithely, ‘Well not exactly feed…he gets his strength from them…the larger the number of souls in the Nors…the stronger he is!’

Yadu coughed out the kiks he had eaten in utter shock. ‘Is God Iisuu doing nothing about it?’

‘Of course he is!’ replied Pikki.

‘He is preparing to take birth on Earth!’ said Hatti flatly.

‘What?’ baulked Yadu, not sure he had heard Hatti right.

‘Iisuu will take birth as a human!’

Yadu rolled his eyes in disbelief.

‘Myrhim will help him do it!’ said Pikki.

There was a long moment of silence as Yadu digested what he had been told!

‘You doubt it?’ frowned Hatti

‘Of course not!’ nodded Yadu, ‘If she can turn me into an iljjock, I am sure she can turn Iisuu into a human!’

‘Not exactly!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘She will use only a shard of his soul!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘The iljjocks were created from shards of Iisuu’s soul. A human will be created in a similar manner!’

‘Oh! Iisuu will still be around on Seabor?’

‘Of course!’

‘But, Aakaa is feeding on the souls in the Nors!’ remarked Yadu in confusion, ‘Why is Iisuu taking birth on Earth?’

Hatti took a deep sigh and explained, ‘People are dying in large numbers on Earth and their souls are flooding the Nors. They are causing Aakaa’s strength to increase!’

‘Why are they dying in large numbers?’ asked Yadu in alarm.

‘Wars and diseases!’

‘Oh!’

‘God Iisuu will try to bring an end to the wars!’ continued Pikki.

‘How?’ asked Yadu, puzzled.

‘By preaching the message of peace, hope and love!’ said Hatti radiantly, ‘Iisuu will take birth as a holy saint!’

‘As a saint?’

‘This is not the first time he is doing such a thing!’ said Hatti, ‘The last time he took birth, I think, it was somehere near where you lived…in the mountains!’

‘Really?’ cried Yadu with disbelief.

‘He took birth as a prince somewhere in the mountains. He renounced his royal life and became the enlightened one!’

‘Myrhim showed us a glimpse of the holy one…’ remembered Pikki vividly, ‘…his divine glow spread far and wide like the rays of the Nors and he attracted millions to him like Iisuu attracts all to himself! He healed so many with his teachings, filled their souls with love and hope, and scattered the feelings of hatred and conflict that cause wars!’

‘He was called Buddha, the enlightened one!’ recollected Hatti.

‘Yes!’ agreed Pikki, ‘He was the great Buddha!’

‘I think I have heard about him!’ said Yadu, frowning hard. Once, his herds had wandered to a monastery in the remote mountains. The monks had spoken of their lord in the same words as Hatti.

Yadu looked at Hatti and Pikki in awe.

‘Lord Buddha was not the first one!’ informed Pikki, ‘A number of holy messiahs have taken birth from shards of Iisuu’s soul. They have preached the message of hope and love and their divine glow is such that it clings to the souls of humans!’

Farro, the leader of the iljjocks entered the beshel suddenly to interrupt the conversation. ‘Why are you three still here?’ he scolded sharply, ‘Didn’t you hear God Iisuu calling everyone?’

‘We were just coming!’ cried Pikki, getting up quickly. Yadu and Hatti got up too and the three swam out the beshel quickly.

‘Hurry!’ said Farro, leading the way to Myrhim’s dome roofed beshel.

‘Has Myrhim opened the portal to the divine continuum?’ asked Hatti eagerly.

‘No!’ replied Farro, ‘They are waiting for us!’

‘Oh!’

‘God Iisuu is about to take birth on Earth!’

 

GODDESS Myrhim’s wooden beshel stood glowing with a faint glow in the darkness of the night. She and Iisuu were inside, getting ready to give birth to a holy human on Earth.

The iljjocks had gathered around Myrhim’s beshel. They were shifting places, making a formation that would channelize the power of the iljjock yoke to a maximum. The power would support Iisuu, when the goddess slashed a shard from his soul to create the holy saint!

‘Hurry!’ snapped Farro sharply, leading the way to the gathering. Pikki, Hatti and Yadu followed him hurriedly and were soon mingling with the iljjocks.

Myrhim created a haze of energy around the entire area with the power of her scimitar. It was like a protective shield that would allow nothing to flow out in the open ocean, including their voices.

‘Let us find the single iljjocks!’ said Pikki, even as Hatti disappeared to join the married iljjocks.

Pikki and Yadu were searching for familiar faces when suddenly Myrhim’s beshel lit up with a blinding radiance. ‘What?’ exclaimed Yadu, shielding his eyes with his hand. He saw a vortex turning inside the beshel. Its luminosity was so great that it could be seen through the wooden walls of the beshel.

‘It is the divine continuum!’ explained Pikki with reverence.

Yadu looked closely at the vortex and recognized it. Oh! It was the same vortex that he had seen near the mountain god in Lachvi!

‘It exists inside the Nors too!’ added Pikki, ‘It is free of all restrictions of space and time and therefore, is used by Iisuu and Myrhim to travel across the universe quickly!’

‘I know!’ exclaimed Yadu ‘It is through this vortex that Iisuu carried me to Seabor!’

Pikki and Yadu looked at the vortex, awestruck. It was spinning fast. Suddenly, Myrhim and Iisuu’s souls appeared inside the vortex. Yadu peered and got a shock of his life! Oh! The goddess was wielding her divine scimitar over Iisuu’s soul very dangerously.

He was so caught up staring at the vortex that they did not notice that there was sudden activity amongst the iljjocks. They had begun shifting their positions rapidly! ‘Hey!’ he cried as he was almost knocked to the ground by a pair of iljjocks.

‘They are making a new formation!’ cried Pikki, pulling Yadu backwards.

‘Why?’

‘It will multiply the power of the iljjock yoke and give support to Iisuu!’

Yadu looked at the iljjock pairs with amazement. They had made an egg shaped formation around the vortex and their bodies were swaying lightly even as their eyes were fixed on the vortex of divine continuum.

Suddenly, Myrhim let her scimitar fall on Iisuu’s soul and a shard broke away from it. ‘Aaaaagh…’ moaned Iisuu’s soul, the moan echoing like a clap of thunder. It convulsed with pain and pulled on the yoke for support.

‘Aaagh…’moaned the iljjocks, grappling to absorb the impact of the blow.

Inside the vortex, the goddess picked the shard with the tip of her scimitar. The shard glowed with the power of a hundred Nors!

‘It will pull millions to itself!’ gasped Farro iljjock, the leader of the iljjocks, exultantly.

‘And, its glow will cling to the souls it falls upon!’ gasped the iljjocks with reverence.

Yadu and Pikki stared at the vortex with eyes wide with wonder. Iisuu had recovered from the deathly blow on his soul. His soul was hovering near Myrhim’s soul. Suddenly, the vortex began spinning faster and glimpses of Earth became visible!

‘O wonder!’ sighed Yadu, mesmerized to see his home planet. He saw the blue sky, the clear bubbling water, the green trees and the golden sand through the vortex!

Myrhim was still holding the shard of Iisuu’s soul on the tip of her scimitar inside the luminous vortex. She seemed to be looking at Earth with her divine sight and she soon came to stop over a city called Bethelem.

Iisuu nodded and the goddess unleashed the full power of the divine scimitar.

Oh! The shard disappeared from the tip of her scimitar to reappear in the womb of a virgin maid in Bethelem!

Yadu was amazed to see the shard become the soul of a foetus inside the mother’s womb! Oh! Within moments, the foetus grew to become a baby. The baby took birth in an old barn and glowed with a rare divine radiance!

‘O holy one!’ whispered the iljjocks with reverence.

Surrounded by adoring sheperds and lambs, the mother cuddled the sleeping baby in her lap and soothed his radiant brow tenderly. Just when Yadu thought the baby would open his tiny eyes, the vortex vanished!

‘What happened…where did they all go…?’ he cried in surprise.

‘Nowhere!’ replied Pikki, ‘It is just that Myrhim has shut the portals of the divine continuum!’

‘Oh!

‘Come, let us go!’ said Pikki, looking around. The protective haze had disappeared and the iljjocks were going back to their beshels.

‘But, what about Iisuu and Myrhim?’

‘They are still inside the vortex…they will watch over the holy child for as long as he lives.’

‘That long…’

‘Yes! We shall not see them for at least a day!’

‘Oh!’

‘You need to rest! Come, Let’s go!’

‘Oh, yes!’ sighed Yadu. He looked around. A faint purple glow lit the horizon. It was close to dawn!

‘Or maybe, we can get groomed!’ said Pikki looking around. The married iljjocks were getting groomed on the oceanbed itself. They had sprawled outside their beshels and were turning lazily as their bin creatures- flocks of besrings, dugs and enccollies- suckled noisily at their belly nodules.

‘Yes, let us get ourselves groomed!’ agreed Yadu.

‘We will have to go to the bay…our bin creatures are there!’ said Pikki skeptically.

‘It is all right!’ shrugged Yadu, ‘I am feeling fine!

Pikki smiled with relief. He took the lead and Yadu followed him. Together, the two swam effortlessly to Kirll bay to get groomed.

 

THE Kirll bay was to the west of the oceanic iljjock settlement. The landed part at the equator of Seabor curved inwards to form a wide bay. The water was warm here and on its surface grew lush green vegetation making it a suitable habitat for the bin ceatures- the dugs, besrings and enccollies. It was a favorite spot for grooming and the single iljjocks could be found here early in the morning.

Yadu and Pikki swam to the Kirll bay to find the horde of single iljjocks frolicking there. There was a boisterous exchange of greetings following which they waded in the vegetation to find their bin creatures.

‘Hurr…hurr…’ called Pikki and his bin creatures leapt out of their nests to cling to him!

Yadu did the same and soon his dug, besring and enccollie had latched to his belly nodules and were suckling vigorously. ‘Ah!’ he sighed, feeling lighter immediately.

Pikki swam away to chat garrulously with the others and Yadu relaxed by floating lazily on his back.

The three Nors had ascended the sky now and were showering sharp rays on the bay, making the water boil. The effervescent vapor had a fresh and tangy smell and Yadu liked it very much. He took in deep breaths and gently patted the dug, saykrile and enccollie clinging to his chest.

Yadu could not help but wonder about the divine spectacle that he had seen a little while ago. The vortex of divine continuum seemed to work miracles! He remembered how in his dream his father had asked him to steal the divine scimitar. If given a choice, he would have liked to steal the vortex and travel to the Nors!

‘Are you all right?’ asked Pikki, interrupting his reverie. He had come around to check on him. Iisuu had given Pikki the task to look after Yadu and he was doing it very well!

‘Pikki, where did the vortex go?’ asked Yadu curiously.

‘Nowhere…I have told you before!’ replied Pikki with a yawn, ‘It is present in an underground chamber below Myrhim’s beshel and normally remains closed. She opens it only when she or Iisuu have to travel far away!’

‘Pikki, how did they get inside that vortex?’

‘They migrated their souls outside the bodies to enter the divine continumm!’

Yadu gaped with disbelief. After a moment’s silence he asked, ‘What happened to their bodies?’

‘They would have left them on the cots in Myrhim’s beshel!’

Stunned, Yadu stammered, ‘Can you also migrate your soul outside your body?’

‘No!’

‘But, you have divine powers!’

‘Not similar to Iisuu and Myrhim’s!’

‘But, you can expand your powers…try to do all the miraculous things Iisuu and Myrhim can do!’

‘Don’t be silly! It is foolish to even aspire to do the things they do!

‘Why?’ asked Yadu defiantly, ‘Why can’t we have the same powers as them?’

Pikki gave Yadu an amused look and said slowly, ‘Because we were born in the material universe and they were born elsewhere!’

‘Elsewhere…where? Yadu frowned.

‘Iisuu and Myrhim were born in a different world!’

‘Don’t spin tales…’

‘They were born in the bor!’

‘The bor?’

‘The bor was the primordial world of the gods!’

‘Where is it…somewhere nearby?’

‘It no longer exists…it died to give birth to the material universe!’

Yadu was astonished and confused.

‘The bor was the world that existed before the birth of the universe!’ explained Pikki patiently.

‘Aha!’ exclaimed Yadu, ‘So, that is how Iisuu is older than the universe!’

‘Yes!’ smiled Pikki.

‘All divine powers originated in the bor!’ said Pikki radiantly, ‘The omnipresent gods of nature took birth over there!’

‘You mean Myrhim’s divine scimitar originated in the bor?’ asked Yadu with eyes wide with surprise.

‘Yes!’

‘And, the divine vortex too?’

‘The vortex is nothing but a remnant of the old bor!’

‘A remnant?’

‘Yes!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘Divine continuum existed in the bor!’

‘So, the bor was a like…a huge vortex of divine continuum?’

‘Hmmm….’ mused Pikki, ‘It was more like a globe! A globe of collosal divine energy!’

‘How collosal?’ wondered Yadu, with eyes lit with interest.

‘Well, a small remnant of the bor created the entire material universe!’

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Yadu, shaking his head in astonishment. He suddenly noticed that he and Pikki were alone in the bay! The other iljjocks had finished grooming themselves and had left.

Pikki also noticed that they were all alone in the bay! ‘Let us leave if you are finished!’ he murmured, looking around warily.

‘Let us stay for a while!’ implored Yadu, ‘I like it here!’

Pikki nodded in acquiscence. He also liked lazing around in the bay. The others had left because they had to pick kiks. He was excused because he was taking care of Yadu!

Yadu was still wondering about Myrhim’s divine powers. ‘I wonder what it would be like to hold Goddess Myrhim’s scimitar just once!’ he murmured aloud.

‘Ha!’ chuckled Pikki wryly, ‘That is not possible!’

‘Why?’

‘Not even Iisuu can lift her scimitar. His soul is not strong enough!’

‘Really? But, he has the power of a hundred mountains!’ cried Yadu in astonishment.

‘Only omnipresent gods can handle such mammoth power. The only one who can lift Myrhim’s scimitar is Myrhim herself…or God Hoon!’

‘Oh!’ sighed Yadu with a fallen face. There was no way he could lift the divine scimitar, let alone steal it.

Pikki read Yadu’s mind and laughed aloud. ‘You should have taken birth in the old bor!’ he said, shaking his head.

‘What do you mean?’ retorted Yadu and then, narrowing his eyes, frowned, ‘You are making fun of me, aren’t you?’

‘No!’ laughed Pikki, ‘But, I can give you a glimpse of the old bor if you want. You should know what it was all about!’

‘The bor is gone! So, stop jesting with me!’ replied Yadu dismissively.

Pikki smiled and floated lazily on the surface of the bay. ‘No problem, I will see it alone, then!’

Yadu looked at Pikki with surprise. He had closed his eyes. ‘Pikki!’ Yadu cried, tapping the iljjock impatiently, ‘Don’t sleep…it is not even noon yet!’

Oh! Pikki’s body was hot like the kiks burning in his chest. The water around him had begun to boil furiously. Yadu realized that something weird was happening.

Yadu instinctively tried to pull Pikki to the edge when he opened his eyes, ‘Stop, I was not sleeping. I was just stealing a tiny glimpse of the bor. It was a very divine and exhilarating experience!’

‘Stop jesting!’ cried Yadu angrily, ‘You should have told me…the water was boiling!’

‘It is because of the energy of the bor!’

‘What do you mean?’ frowned Yadu.

‘The bor is gone!’ replied Pikki, ‘But, an iota of its energy still flows from the strings of divine lore!’

Yadu frowned, waiting for a proper explanation. Pikki had been given time off from picking kiks so that he could explain everything to him!

‘The bor was a globe of extremely dense energy!’ explained Pikki, ‘Surprisingly, it was living and was the source of all divine or supernatural powers. The divine powers vanished with the death of the bor , except for an iota that remained trapped in the souls of four gods who survived its death- Hoon, Iisuu, Aakaa and Myrhim! The divine powers were trapped mysteriously in the strings of divine lore that they carry in their souls.’

Yadu mused over the information in astonishment.

‘The strings are a source of divine power in this universe!’ continued Pikki, ‘God Iisuu has hundreds in his soul and they give him divine sight and the power to use divine force!’

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu in sudden understanding, ‘It all comes down to whether you have divine strings in your soul or not!’

‘Correct!’ agreed Pikki radiantly.

‘What about you?’ Yadu asked curiously.

‘I am carrying one string of divine lore in my soul!’

‘Only one?’

‘Yes!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘My soul is strong enough to bear the load of only one string!’

‘What about Hatti, Farro, Taani?’ asked Yadu, his eyes bright with interest.

‘It is the same for all iljjocks!’ replied Pikki, ‘Our souls can carry only one string! That lone string is the source of our powers and enables us to make the iljjock yoke!’

‘Oh!’

‘Also, it gives us a glimpse of the divine bor as it was in the past!’

‘Why hasn’t anyone given me the string yet?’ complained Yadu.

Pikki laughed.‘Your iljjock soulmate will give it to you when you swap your soul strings with him. That is why it was so important that you find an iljjock soulmate!’

‘But, I cannot have an iljjock soulmate!’ cried Yadu, crestfallen, ‘Isn’t that what Myrhim said?’

‘Yes, but you can still see the bor!’ replied Pikki brightly.

‘Really?’ asked Yadu, lighting up, ‘How is that?’

‘You can see it through the string in my soul. But, I will need to ask Iisuu first!’

‘We will not see him until later!’ cried Yadu impatiently, ‘And, I cannot wait…if I cannot hold the scimitar, at least I must see the bor!’

Pikki was startled by Yadu’s frustration. ‘What if your human soul crumbles when faced with the power of the bor?’ he queried skeptically.

‘My soul is strong, Pikki…I assure you, it is very strong!’ replied Yadu earnestly, ‘Or else, I would have died long back!’

Pikki gave Yadu a long, measured look and agreed, ‘You are right! I will show you the bor! But, first…’

Yadu embraced Pikki happily. ‘First, what?’

‘We will go back to the beshel…and top up your kiks…you will need a lot of strength to see the bor!’

 

 

PIKKI and Yadu had come back to their beshel in the iljjock settlement on the floor of the ocean. Yadu was lying on the cot and Pikki was rushing about, mad with worry. He was not sure how Yadu’s first tryst with the bor would turn out. God Iisuu would not spare him if Yadu got hurt in any way! But, Yadu was adamant to have a glimpse of the bor. And, Pikki was eager to support him in his adventure.

‘Eat as many as you can!’ said Pikki, handing Yadu a bowl of kiks.

‘All right!’ nodded Yadu, popping kiks in his mouth.

Pikki threw the doors of the beshel wide open. ‘So that we can call for help if something goes wrong!’ he explained nervously.

Yadu looked outside. It was early morning and the iljjocks were outside, etching their boondis on the ocean floor. The fragnant scent of love was everywhere! ‘It will be fine!’ he assured Pikki, his brown eyes crackling with sparks.

The two settled comfortably on a cot. ‘Are you ready?’ asked Pikki hesitantly. He was still skeptical if Yadu’s soul would be able to take the impact of the power flowing out from the string of divine lore.

‘Yes!’ replied Yadu brightly, putting forward his toe!

Pikki placed his toe on his toe, giving him access to his soul.

Yadu looked into Pikki‘s soul. Many strings of lore lay in it, twisted and wound together. One string, however, glowed with divine radiance! He looked at it, mesmerized. The string radiated tremendous power, and he could feel the waves coming out of it.

‘It is a string of divine lore!’ said Pikki with reverence.

‘Where did you get it from?’

‘From God Iisuu! When Myrhim created the first iljjocks from shards of Iisuu’s soul, a replica of the smallest string of divine lore passed to all of them mysteriously. The replicas were loaded with as much power as the original one in his soul. Since then, the iljjocks have been passing the string down generations. My father gave me my divine string and his father gave it to him…’

‘I understand!’ interrupted Yadu, ‘What is mysterious about it?’

Pikki shrugged,‘Iisuu says that. He says that the divine lore works in mysterious ways…almost like the bor behaved when it was alive!’

Yadu looked at Pikki, puzzled.

‘The bor was almost like a living thing!’ explained Pikki radiantly, ‘It had a beating heart and it had moods that changed with seasons!’

‘Strange. Let me see!’ urged Yadu.

‘All right!’

Yadu was surprised to see Pikki pick up strings from his soul like picking rice grains from a bowl. Only, there was no ladle. He used divine force to pick the string of divine lore that lay in his soul and began unraveling it from one end.

As Pikki unraveled the string, Yadu was hit by a jolt equal to being hit by a mountain of boulders and he felt a crushing force act on him.

‘Yadu…are you all right?’ gasped Pikki, his eyes blazing with a bright glow.

‘Uhh…uhhh…’ gasped Yadu, holding off the massive pressure crushing his soul. Just when he thought he could take no more and he would die, his ears buzzed with a familiar sound. It was like the rustling of dry leaves and miraculously, he felt his soul being cushioned. The pressure ebbed away! ‘I am fine!’ he replied with a grimace.

‘Good. Because, we are seeing the bor right now!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Yadu, looking around. There was blinding brightness in all directions and he felt as if he was suspended in empty space with Pikki! ‘Have we migrated out of our bodies or something?’ he asked excitedly.

‘No!’ chuckled Pikki, holding Yadu’s hand, ‘We are still sitting in our little cot in our beshel. But, because of the mysterious power of the string, we are seeing the bor in a waking dream!’

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu in surprise. He didn’t feel like he was sitting on a cot. Rather, he felt he was floating ethereally somewhere with Pikki, with his hands and legs and all!

Suddenly, waves laden with energy hit them like the scorching winds, making them shiver with exhilaration.

‘The bor was a globe of colossal energy!’ cried Pikki exultantly, ‘If we had entered the real one, we would have just vaporized!’

‘I am sure!’ replied Yadu, grasping Pikki’s arm to steady himself.

‘Look!’ cried Pikki, pointing at a little distance.

‘What?’ exclaimed Yadu, narrowing his eyes to adjust to the brightness in the bor. He suddenly saw clouds and clouds of bubbles. Pikki and he were floating in a sea of bubbles. He tried to catch the bubbles but the bubbles dodged him nimbly. ‘Is this air or water?’ he asked, puzzled.

‘Neither! These are boids!’

Boids?’

‘It is the primordial stuff that gave birth to ‘space’ later on!’

Yadu gaped.

‘Those who lived in the bor percieved the boids as bubbles floating around them!’ continued Pikki

‘Amazing!’ exclaimed Yadu, shaking his head. Flocks of boids flitted to him and nuzzled him like herds of lamb! ‘They are living!’ he exclaimed.

‘Of course they are! Shhh! Listen!’ warned Pikki suddenly.

Yadu listened carefully and picked up a faint thudding sound!

‘It is the heart of the bor…can you hear it beating?’ asked Pikki excitedly.

‘Yes!’

‘Kalh…kalh!’ the sound echoed in the bor. The boids pulsed in harmony with the beat and Yadu was astonished to see a throbbing sea of boids around him!

Pikki swept the boids aside and glided away.

‘Where are we going?’ asked Yadu, following him eagerly.

‘To the edge of the bor!’

‘The edge?’

‘Look…there it is!’

Yadu stared. The edge was where the energy began thinning and beyond which there was only darkness.

‘We are at the surface of the bor!’ explained Pikki walking to the edge.

Yadu noticed that the boids were thinly spread near the edge and they kept mostly to the middle of the bor.

Pikki peered at the darkness surrounding the bor and said, ‘That is the Outbor!’

‘Look like empty space to me!’ exclaimed Yadu.

‘It is not space…space is still something…there’s nothing out there!’

‘What do you mean?

‘It is pure nothingness, cold and barren! The bor took birth in an infinite ocean of nothingness…the Outbor is that ocean!’

Dreamlike, Yadu walked towards the edge and peered into the Outbor. It stretched over the bor like the night sky over Seabor. He shivered. The sky had never felt so close before!

He felt something nudging him from behind and he turned to look back in surprise. It was a flock of boids!

‘Oh!’ he exclaimed, patting the boids with his hands. More boids swarmed to him making him laugh with delight. ‘They seem so alive!’ he exclaimed.

‘They are alive!’ laughed Pikki, jumping in to frolic with the boids.

‘Really?’ cried Yadu in disbelief. The two played with the boids and the sound of their laughter echoed loudly in the bor.

Suddenly, Yadu had the strange feeling that someone was watching him. He looked around in surprise. There was no one about but he felt as if a thousand eyes were watching him!

His feet suddenly tingled and he looked down in alarm. Oh! Long and dark tendrils had appeared from nowhere and were wriggling in and out of his legs! ‘Pikki!’ gasped Yadu.

‘It is all right!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘They are the secrets of the bor!’

‘Secrets?’

‘Yes! This is how we would have seen them…’

‘If we had lived in the bor?’ completed Yadu.

‘Exactly! The gods who lived in the bor perceived them like this!’

‘Living boids and now living secrets!’ exclaimed Yadu, peering at the swathes of tendrils that had come out from nowhere and were now wriggling all over his and Pikki’s body! They were the ones he had felt watching him eerily.

‘What are they doing to me?’ gasped Yadu as the tendrils tightened their hold around him.

‘They are tying us!’ cried Pikki, gasping and laughing at the same time.

‘But, why?’

‘They are going to throw us out of here!’

‘What?’

‘They always do that to the iljjocks! But, they never do it to Iisuu or Myrhim!’

‘Why?’

‘Because Iisuu and Myrhim were born in the bor!’

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Yadu, allowing the naughty secrets to tie him. ‘Iisuu and Myrhim lived here…in this lonely world?’

‘It was not lonely always…in season, it teemed with gods!’

‘In season?’ asked Yadu, throwing out a secret that was trying to wriggle into his mouth!

‘The bor followed a cycle of two seasons, the season of life and the season of death.’

‘You mean like summer and winter?’

‘Yes. The season of life came upon the bor like a glorious summer! Hordes of gods with incandescent souls took birth to inhabit the warm nothingness of the bor!’

‘And, in the season of death?’

‘The season of death descended like deep winter. The gods died and the bor became desolate like this!’

And, that was the last Pikki spoke for that moment!

For, the very next moment, he and Yadu got tossed across the bor!

‘Whee…’ they yelled together as they whizzed through the bor and fell smack on the boids at the opposite end of the bor!

‘Ha! Ha!’ they laughed merrily, thoroughly enjoying their strange sojourn. The boids swarmed around them and nuzzled them fondly!

‘It is all so weird!’ gasped Yadu, his eyes streaming with tears of laughter, ‘I can’t believe that this strange world gave birth to the material universe!’

‘But, it did!’

‘I doubt it!’ exclaimed Yadu, shaking his head, ‘The bor is so small…the universe is so massive!’

‘The bor appears small because of divine continuum in it…and like I told you before…only an iota of the bor went in making the universe…let me show it to you!’

Pikki moved along the edge of the bor and Yadu followed him in surprise. Soon, they came upon a grainy bed of glowing embers. Pikki sat down on the grainy bed but Yadu flinched instinctively.

‘It is all right!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘We are seeing only a waking dream!’

‘Oh, yes!’ remembered Yadu, ‘But, it seems so real!

‘It is the power of the string of divine lore!’

‘What is this, Pikki?’ asked Yadu, fingering the embers lightly.

‘They are the carcasses of dead gods!’

‘Carcasses?’ said Yadu.

‘Yes! They piled here every season of death. But, this is the primordial matter that gave birth to the universe later on!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Yadu, looking at the bed of smouldering carcasses. It covered the edge completely on one side of the bor!

‘Come!’ said Pikki, pointing to an open portal in the bed of carcasses, ‘I want to show you something truly divine!’

Pikki and Yadu entered the opening to enter a brightly lit cavern. ‘This was called the haven!’ said Pikki, his face lit with reverence.

Yadu looked around the haven to get that eerie feeling of being watched again! ‘Ugh!’ he shuddered as something very vile slithered by his feet!

‘That must be Evil!’ replied Pikki.

‘Evil?’ he gaped.

‘Evil was a slave of the bor. It was he who killed the gods with divine venom to bring on the season of death! He lived in a burrow over there!’ said Pikki pointing to a hole in the bed of carcasses.

Yadu took a close look at Evil and exclaimed, ‘He looks like the log snake that lived in the abandoned well outside my village and devoured little children!’

‘Well, like the snake devoured the children to suck their sweet blood, Evil devoured the souls of the pristine gods to give them their deaths!’

Yadu suddenly noticed that the walls of the haven were hot and grainy like the bed of carcasses outside. On the walls were patches! And, in the patches, grew thick blossoms!

‘They are blossoms of joy and sorrow!’ said Pikki, following Yadu’s gaze, ‘We are seeing them as the gods saw them!’

‘Joy and sorrow?’

‘Yes! The bor had moods that changed with the seasons! Joy, Sorrow, Hope, Despair, and a range of other divine moods bloomed seasonally on the walls of the haven!’

‘I am amazed!’ exclaimed Yadu in disbelief.

‘The moods were so potent that the souls of the gods wavered with the changing moods the bor like wicks flickering in a gust of wind!’

‘Really?’

‘Let me show you!’

Pikki peered at the patches and plucked a bloom. ‘Smell it!’

Yadu took a whiff. The smell flooded his soul with the purest joy! ‘Is this a bloom of joy?’ he asked with disbelief.

‘Yes! Joy bloomed abundantly in the season of life!’

Pikki plucked another blossom and said, ‘Smell it…it is a blossom of sorrow!’

Thin and straggly, the blooms of sorrow were like the dark mossweep on grim winter rocks and they oozed a heavy, dank spoor like the mist on the swamps.

Yadu took a whiff and his soul was flooded with grief.

‘Sorrow bloomed in the season of death!

‘I feel like weeping!’

Pikki dropped the blossoms and moved deeper into the haven. Yadu followed him and they came upon pit from which were leaping tall flames.

‘What is this?’ exclaimed Yadu.

‘This is the Holy Knot!’

Yadu peered down the pit. A vortex was turning a slow spiral and shooting fierce flames.

‘The Holy Knot was the source of energy in the bor! The energy was infinitely more intense than anything found in the present universe and was called ‘zol’! It spurted from the Holy knot and was the fodder of the gods!’

Yadu went nearer to the flames and felt sheer power surge into his soul. Exhilarated, he turned to look at Pikki.

But, Pikki was gone!

‘Pikki!’ he called out sharply.

‘It is time to go!’ echoed Pikki’s voice from far away.

The bor faded from Yadu’s sight and he found himself back in his beshel, sitting on a cot! Pikki was sitting beside him and had removed his toe from his toe!

‘Pikki!’ protested Yadu, ‘Why did we leave the bor?’

‘One string of divine lore can show us only this much!’ shrugged Pikki.

Strangely, Yadu felt bereft. He longed to feel the exhilarating milieu of the bor again!

‘Let us go back!’ he urged.

‘Ssshh…’ Pikki hushed, ‘Iisuu is here with us!’

Startled, Yadu turned around. Indeed, God Iisuu was in the beshel with them! He suddenly remembered that Iisuu was watching over the holy child on Earth and they were not expecting to see him until later in the day. ‘My lord, how is the holy one?’ he asked, recalling the radiant face of the holy child.

‘They killed him!’ replied Iisuu in a low voice, ‘Crucified him….’

Pikki and Yadu looked aghast.

‘But, his radiance will cling to the human souls for thousands of years and fill them with hope and love!’ sighed Iisuu sadly.

Iisuu’s sadness must have flowed to the iljjock yoke. For, the iljjocks who had been etching their boondis outside on the oceanbed, began gathering around Yadu’s beshel.

‘My lord!’ said Pikki eagerly, ‘Yadu will tell his people about your efforts when he goes back to Earth!’

‘I assure you, I will explain everything to them!’ blurted Yadu eagerly.

Iisuu smiled at Yadu with love and pride.

Yadu got up from his cot and made a move towards the door.

‘Where are you going?’ asked Pikki in surprise.

‘Outside. To find a soulmate and get my very own string of divine lore!’

‘Sit down, my child’ smiled Iisuu.

‘But, my lord…’

‘Sit down! You know that an iljjock cannot be your soulmate!’

‘But…’

‘Goddess Myrhim is creating a special soulmate for you!’

‘A special soulmate?’ asked Pikki, rolling his eyes in surprise.

‘Yes! Myrhim will come here as soon as she finishes the task! For that matter, I am waiting for her over here!’

Having said that, God Iisuu slipped into penance.

‘I want to sleep!’ said Pikki tiredly.

‘But, it is still early morning!’ remarked Yadu.

‘Never mind! You must be tired too…let us sleep…I have the feeling we will have a very long day after we wake up!’

‘All right!’ nodded Yadu.

And, Yadu and Pikki, exhausted from their sojourn in the bor, slumped in their cots and fell asleep!

 

Place: Varanasi, India

Time: 10:38 p.m. 7 September 2049 A.D.

 

DR. STEIN paused the narrative. With trembling hands, he reached for the cup of coffee on the sidetable beside him. The brew had long become cold.

Stein had been narrating Yadu’s tale to Dogre and Taniya for more than two hours now. From the Kirll forest to the bottom of the Iljjock Ocean, and then finally to the dreamlike bor, he had taken them from one world to another, narrating Yadu’s experiences to the best of his capability.

‘Howard, you all right?’ asked Dogre in a daze. He had been recording Stein’s narrative and with amazement and disbelief.

‘Yes, Shantanu!’

‘You look very tired!’

‘I am just overwhelmed!’

‘Let me you get another cup of coffee!’ said Taniya, getting up from her laptop. She had been typing Stein’s words. She, too, was overwhelmed!

Taniya walked to the coffee maker and switched it on. While the water boiled, she darted a quick glance at the bedroom. Yadu was sleeping peacefully on the bed. He would wake up only in the morning. The beeper sounded and she poured the hot brew into three cups. Dogre helped her carry the cups to the table.

‘Howard, I must say, the description of the bor…needs explaining!’ said Dogre, taking a sip of the refreshing brew,

‘Well, the bor existed before the big bang!’ replied Stein, ‘It will not be easy to describe or understand a world that existed prior to the birth of the universe!’

‘A world that came from nothingness?’ muttered Dogre, ‘Doesn’t make sense to me!’

‘It does to me!’

‘How’s that?’

‘The universe may have started from the state of ‘nothing’; absolute nothingness being the ground state of the universe!’ frowned Stein thoughtfully, ‘It would a state characterized by perfect symmetry, i.e. when all parameters existed in exact pairs of opposites and cancel one another.’

‘Wow!’ exclaimed Dogre, ‘Put like that…it makes a lot of sense!’

‘It does?’

‘Yes! Think about it…in the beginning there was simply… nothing!’

‘That state of absolute ‘nothingness’ would be the Outbor, wouldn’t it?’ asked Taniya.

‘Correct!’ exclaimed Stein appreciatively.

Dogre frowned thoughtfully, ‘If originally there was just ‘nothing’…where did the bor come from?’

‘Hmmm…that would need a bit of explaining!’ mused Stein.

‘Please do that!’

‘So, you have the Outbor, which is ‘nothing’. It has no properties except perhaps that it is infinite! Now, the property of ‘infinity’ manifests itself randomly as latent energy. So, you have the latent energy winding up in the ocean in a tight knot, because of which, the state of symmetry tends to degenerate into a state of asymmetry. But, it cannot happen! Because, there is nothing, no parameter, not even time, that can enable the change of state!’

‘So?’ asked Dogre.

‘So, something very interesting happens!’

‘What happens?’ asked Taniya curiously.

‘The latent energy develops a ‘will’ of its own to allow the change of state! Consciousness is born!’

‘Wow!’

‘Primitive consciousness floats suddenly in the ocean of nothingness, followed by energy spiraling out from the knot, which we know better as the Holy Knot! An energy field comes into being around the Holy Knot, which we know better as the primordial bor!’

‘Wow!’ exclaimed Dogre in disbelief, ‘The ‘bor’ suddenly comes into being and it emerges as a package deal…it has consciousness, moods, et al!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed Stein, ‘But, you are right! The phenomenon of ‘consciousness’ came bundled with the various ‘moods’! The ‘heart’ of the bor was like a pulsing reservoir of consciousness!’

‘So, what we are effectively saying is that…’ intervened Taniya, ‘Consciousness came into being long before the birth of the universe?’

‘Yes!’ replied Stein, ‘It broke the state of symmetry. And, once symmetry was broken, and there existed an energy field, new parameters began appearing. Time began ticking forward. And, the asymmetrical forces of nature took birth, which supposedly, were the omnipresent gods!’

‘Aha! Forces of nature took birth?’ exclaimed Dogre jovially, ‘Now we have something substantial. I guess they went about creating the rest of whatever had to be created!’

‘Hold on…there is more to it!’ intervened Stein with twinkling eyes.

‘Go on!’

‘Like excited electrons tend to return to their ground state, the Outbor, which has now been disturbed by the appearance of the bor, seeks to return to its ground state! So, a reverse potential comes into play that acts to restore symmetry – to annihilate the positive asymmetrical forces with negative ones and to kill the positive energy with a negative one to return to the state of absolute nothingness! Evil, as seen by Yadu as a snake, is that reverse potential!’

‘Sounds very logical!’ said Dogre, nodding his head vigorously.

‘Yes, it does. But, the annihilation of ‘asymmetry’ did not happen in one go. Rather, it happened over many cycles, which supposedly are the seasons of the bor!’

‘So we have creation breaking out from nothing and then falling back to nothing cyclically, until all latent energy trapped in the Holy Knot is sapped and the state of absolute nothingness is restored!’ ventured Dogre brightly.

‘Brilliant!’ remarked Stein with a twinkle in his eyes,‘You seem to have it all sorted out!’

‘You bet I have!’ grinned Dogre.

‘Well, I do have a clear picture of the ‘bor’ in my mind now!’ ventured Taniya, ‘There’s the Holy Knot and you have this dense globe of energy around it…it is conscious and moody, and so it is living! Forces of nature exist and they are conscious too! A reverse potential exists and it is…’

‘Conscious too?’ queried Dogre in surprise.

‘Yes!’ chuckled Stein, ‘Evil was conscious too! Because of the divine continuum, the consciousness sort of seeped everywhere! The information I have on the bor is all about how Evil tried to destroy the bor, as it was ordained to do, and how the nature gods tried to fight back and save the creation. Sometime during the vicious fight, the universe took birth!’

‘What the…’ exclaimed Dogre, holding back the expletive, ‘It sounds explosive!’

‘It was!’ chuckled Stein, ‘We know it as the Big Bang!’

‘Howard, I am very curious to hear the rest of it!’ said Taniya eagerly, ‘I suggest you resume the narrative!’

‘Right!’ smiled Stein, ‘But, before we get to what happened in the bor, you will need to record all that happened at Seabor first!’

‘No problem!’ said Dogre, making a move to check all the recording devices.

‘I am ready!’ announced Taniya, ‘Please begin now!

Stein nodded and looked out of the window of the living room. It was night outside. The ancient city of Varanasi was gradually falling silent. The crowds thronging the bathing ghats on the banks of Ganges had dispersed and small vendors selling lamps, bangles, incense sticks, prayer booklets, sweets and a host of exotic offerings to the hindu deities were slowly closing shop. Occasionally, the bark of a stray dog could be heard from the city.

Dr. Howard Stein closed his eyes and taking a deep breath, resumed narrating Yadu’s tale from the point where he had left off.

 

 

Place: Iljjock Ocean, Seabor.

Time: Yadu’s fourth day on Seabor (continued), 1st century AD on Earth

 

YADU and Pikki slept peacefully in their beshel, unaware that all the iljjocks were chattering loudly on the iljjock yoke!

Iisuu had declared on the yoke that Myrhim was creating a special soulmate for Yadu. The declaration was recieved with stunned silence. Following which, animated chatter replaced the river of love flowing on the iljjock yoke!

‘Is he going to be a human?’ asked Taani.

‘Is he going to take birth on Seabor?’ wondered Farro, the leader of the iljjocks.

‘That would be very nice!’ remarked Hatti iljjock excitedly, ‘I need help to invent an iljjock script!’

Hatti was deeply fascinated by human scripts and his boondi was full of symbols and letters! He had been nagging Iisuu to teach him the Hebrew, Brahmi and the Chinese scripts!

‘A human is not taking birth on Seabor!’ Iissu declared dismissively on the yoke.

‘Who is it then?’ asked the iljjocks in unison.

‘She will be an iljjock!’ replied Iisuu, ‘An iljjock with a human soul!’

There was a long moment of shocked silence and then Farro sputtered, ‘What did you say…’she’?’

‘Yes!’ said Iisuu somberly, ‘She will be a ‘she’!’

The iljjocks mused in shocked silence. Myrhim was the only ‘she’ on Seabor because only she could give birth to new souls. The rest of the creatures were all ‘he’ who could not give birth to new souls. The young on Seabor were born only on the death of the old; whereby the dying creature passed his old soul to the newborn!

‘Yadu’s soulmate will be a ‘she’ in accordance to the rites of his village!’ affirmed Iisuu. His words echoed on the yoke, throwing the iljjocks into a quandary.

‘How will this iljjock-human take birth?’ asked Farro, bewildered.

‘Yes! Yes!’ cried the iljjocks in unison, ‘Who will give birth to her?’

Iisuu mused in grim silence for a moment and said, ‘One of you will give birth to her!’

‘But…’ protested Farro.

‘Whoever dies next will give birth to her!’ declared Iisuu firmly.

There was silence on the yoke as the iljjocks wondered about who was the oldest of them and about to die next. ‘Who is it?’ they cried in distress on the yoke.

‘It is me!’ whimpered Taani, Farro’s soulmate. ‘Farro!’ he cried, ‘I don’t want to pass my soul to a strange child. I want to die peacefully!’

‘Shhh…’ scolded Farro, ‘God Iisuu will protect you and your child. Nothing will happen. You will die safely!’

‘I hope so!’ said Taani tremulously.

Farro’s words echoed on the yoke and calmed the iljjocks. They had complete faith in God Iisuu. He would not let Taani suffer. Further, they wanted Yadu to have a soulmate as soon as possible. They knew Iisuu was sitting in his beshel, waiting restlessly for Myrhim to declare that she had created a suitable soulmate.

Pikki and Yadu continued sleeping in their beshel, unaware of the tumultous discussion on the yoke. It was only when Yadu’s ears began buzzing loudly, that he woke up with a start.

‘Ahhh!’ he groaned, clamping his hands on his ears. For a moment he thought he was back in the bor and a thousand eyes were watching him eerily. He opened his eyes to find that he was sleeping in his cot in his beshel!

Pikki woke up too. ‘Yadu!’ he cried hoarsely,‘Are you all right!’

‘My ears…’cried Yadu, ‘…they are buzzing again!’

Iisuu was sitting in penance in their beshel and listened to their exchange with bewilderment. ‘What is the matter with your ears?’ he asked in a surprised voice.

‘My lord!’ gasped Yadu, startled to see Iisuu sitting on the floor in front of him. He was about reply when the buzzing in his ears faded away, leaving him perplexed. ‘It is nothing!’ he said reluctantly.

The two got up from their cots and sat on the floor with Iisuu. Iisuu’s halo was accentuated by the glow of the setting Nors. Another day was ending on Seabor!

Yadu looked up at the sky. The Nors appeared as balls of fire from the bottom of the ocean. He recollected what the iljjocks had told him. Inside the Nors was divine continuum in which resided the souls of the dead humans. Was the divine continuum the same as that in the bor- replete with flocks of boids? Oh! Krishna’s soul must be floating like an angel amongst the boids!

The vision of the bor had flashed in his mind. Divine warmth flooded his soul, leaving him stunned. Oh! Even a fleeting memory of the bor exuded power. He remembered that Pikki had told him Iisuu carried more than a hundred strings of divine lore in his soul!

‘My lord!’ he asked suddenly, ‘How many strings of divine lore do you think my soul can hold?’

Iisuu smiled, ‘Maybe one, or maybe…even none! We will know only when you swap your strings with your soulmate!’

‘What do you mean ‘none’?’ protested Yadu.

‘The seamones cannot hold even one string of divine lore!’ blurted Pikki, ‘Their souls are very frail!’

Yadu was truly surprised. ‘No string of lore…from where do they get their divine powers then?’ he frowned.

‘They don’t have any divine powers!’ chuckled Pikki.

‘I don’t believe you!’

‘No, really! The seamones don’t have any divine powers!’

‘They don’t have a seamone yoke?’

‘Of course not!’

‘How strange!’

‘They are very bitter and resentful about it!’

Iisuu was listening to their banter with amusement. The two had bonded well together and Pikki had done very well in taking care of Yadu! ‘All right, you two…let us go…’ he said with a smile, ‘I see that goddess Myrhim has come out of her beshel!’

Pikki and Yadu turned to look outside. Myrhim was standing on the ocean floor but her glow could scarcely be seen because of the iljjocks crowding aound her. Iisuu swam out to meet her and Yadu and Pikki followed close behind.

Myrhim was waiting for Iisuu. The moment she saw him coming, she moved towards him and said anxiously, ‘I have given Taani’s baby the ‘special’ soul!’

‘Taani is about to give birth!’ cried Hatti, ‘We have to help him!’

‘Yes!’ said Iisuu, ‘If he starts crying on the yoke, it will cause great distress to others!

Myrhim and Iisuu swam hurriedly to Taani’s beshel and went inside. Hatti, Pikki, Yadu and a few iljjocks followed them.

Taani was lying on the floor of the beshel and groaning with pain. His soulmate, Farro, was sitting next to him and weeping. He was shedding pungent tears of sorrow.

‘What is wrong with Taani?’ whispered Yadu, aghast to see him is such a state.

‘Tanni is dying!’ said Pikki gravely.

‘I know!’ said Yadu looked at Taani’s convulsing body. His foot was strangely swollen and the toe had fallen out. ‘What is wrong with his foot?’ he asked again.

‘He is giving birth!’ explained Pikki.

‘Oh!’

‘His soul shall pass to his infant. She shall be born with all Taani’s soul strings and that of his ancestors!’

‘I see!’

‘The child will carry Taani’s memories!’

‘You carry strings too?’

‘Yes. I carry the soul strings of my fathers and forefathers!’

‘Pikki?’ asked Yadu, struck by a sudden thought, ‘Will I die like an iljjock?’

Pikki looked at Yadu, perplexed. ‘I don’t think so. Your soul is human. When you die, your soul shall go to the Nors!’

‘I see!’

‘Death is different for the iljjocks and the humans!’ sighed Pikki.

Taani seemed to be in great suffering and began groaning loudly. Farro felt his soulmate’s agony as his own and wept, ‘Why is he crying like this?’ .

‘Calm down, Farro!’ scolded Iisuu and turning to Taani, said gently ‘Push your soul to your infant!’ He caressed the dying iljjock’s swollen foot lightly.

‘Aargh!’ groaned Taani, writhing on the floor.

‘Taani!’ wailed Farro loudly on the yoke. He embraced his soulmate tightly.

‘Farro!’ snapped Myrhim, her voice sharp like a whiplash, ‘Keep away from Taani, or he will die as a coon!’

‘Awww…’ yelped Farro, pulling away from his suffering soulmate.

Pikki was perplexed. ‘It is strange that Taani is suffering so much. It will be terrible if he becomes a coon!’ he whispered grimly.

‘What is a coon?’ asked Yadu.

‘Shhh!’ hushed Pikki, ‘An iljjock becomes a coon if his body dies before the passing of his soul. The soul is left trapped in the body and it screams forever!’

Yadu looked at Taani, aghast. He was groaning with unbearable pain and his groans were now echoing loudly on the iljjock yoke, causing distress to all the iljjocks gathered outside.

‘He is not pushing his soul!’ cried Iisuu.

‘Taani, push your soul to the child!’ cried the iljjocks on the yoke.

‘His infant already has a human soul!’ wept Farro, ‘Where will Taani push his soul now?

‘Farro!’ scolded Iisuu, ‘Don’t scare Taani!’

The iljjocks fretted in worry. And, Farro was disconsolate. ‘Oh, Taani!’ he wailed, ‘The infant already has a soul. What will happen to your soul?’

‘Farro!’ scolded Myrhim sharply, ‘The infant will have both Taani’s iljjock soul and her own human soul! Taani only has to push!’

Farro looked at Myrhim, stunned. ‘You heard that, Taani…’ he cried in desperation, ‘Our child will have two souls…just push your soul and give birth!’

‘Yes, Taani!’ urged God Iisuu, pulling Taani on his lap, ‘You heard the goddess …your child will have your soul and a beautiful human soul too…now push…I am holding you!’

Taani looked at Iisuu with anguish and clutched him tightly. ‘Aaaaagh…’ he wailed, trying to push his soul.

‘My child!’ soothed Iisuu, pouring his strength into Taani’s soul, ‘Push harder!’

‘I think the infant is pushing Taani’s soul back!’’ cried Farro, grasping Taani’s swollen foot.

‘She is your child, Taani!’ urged Iisuu, ‘Talk to her!’

Taani’s body convulsed as he gave one huge heave. His soul suddenly passed to the infant. A baby iljjock began emerging from his foot and he began slipping towards death.

Taani iljjock died.

And, a baby iljjock fell from his foot to be born on Seabor!

The iljjocks burst with joy at Taani’s death. Farro was the most overjoyed! He pulled the infant in his arms and said, ‘She will be called Elli iljjock, the child of Taani and Farro iljjock!’

The baby iljjock’s eyes were closed. She had Taani’s ancestral ‘doe’ face and her skin was soft and wrinkled. Hidden in the folds of her skin was one tiny foot. She suddenly flailed her arms and squealed, ‘Father, let me go!’

Like every iljjock, Elli was born with her ancestors’ memories. She was born, fully aware of who she was, and the world she belonged to! She squealed again, trying to free herself from Farro’s tight grasp.

‘Let me hold her!’ smiled Iisuu, taking the infant iljjock from Farro. Elli beamed at God Iisuu.

‘Elli, my special child!’ smiled goddess Myrhim, taking Elli from Iisuu. ‘Yadu, come and have a look at your soulmate!’

Yadu stepped forward and looked at the baby iljjock in Myrhim’s arms with bewilderment. She was so young!

Pikki read Yadu’s mind and chuckled loudly, ‘She will grow in a day if she feeds properly at Kirll!’

‘Weee…father!’ squealed Elli, wriggling out of Myrhim’s arms. She jumped into Farro’s arms.

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed Farro joyfully, pushing her out of the beshel. ‘Run…I will chase you to Kirll!’

‘Yes, father!’ cried Elli, darting out of the beshel. She swam effortlessly in the ocean.

‘Elli, I am coming!’ yelled Farro, darting behind the sprightly newborn.

Yadu looked at Elli with concern. ‘Should I go after her?’ he asked anxiously.

Myrhim smiled. Iisuu smiled too. It was Pikki who said, ‘Farro will see her safely to Kirll but after that, she will be on her own. She has Taani’s soul and needs no teaching!’

‘Of course, she doesn’t!’ rasped a sharp voice derisively.

Myrhim and Iisuu looked in surprise at the doorway. A seamone was standing there! Yadu recognized him instantly. It was Blumone, the seamone who had come searching for him a day earlier!

Myrhim and Iisuu were shocked to see Blumone and they glowered at him angrily.

‘So God Aakaa was right!’ rasped Blumone scathingly, ‘There is a human stranger on Seabor!’

‘Blumone!’ said Iisuu curtly, ‘You should not have come here!’

‘My lord, I have come to meet the human! And, I can see that he is right here!’ sneered Blumone looking at Yadu with contempt.

There was a hushed silence.

Iisuu’s voice had echoed on the yoke and the iljjocks had been alerted to Blumone ’s entry in Farro and Taani’s beshel. Silently, they began building a formation around the beshel to crush the vile seamone.

‘Attacking me won’t help!’ rasped Blumone narrowing his eyes. He had picked up the movement outside the beshel!

‘Get out of here!’ thundered Iisuu.

‘God Aakaa knows that the human is here on Seabor!’ blurted Blumone and then pausing momentarily, sneered menancingly, ‘And, that he is called Yadu!’

Blumone’s revelation had the desired effect. Myrhim and Iisuu were shocked beyond belief! They glared at the seamone, shaken and speechless!

The seamone laughed. It was a vile, cackling sound that startled everyone in the beshel.

‘How did Aakaa learn about Yadu?’ asked Iisuu, glowering with rage, ‘What else does he know?’

‘He knows almost everything that goes on here!’ cackled Blumone scathingly, ‘But, there is one thing even he doesn’t know!’

Myrhim looked at the tall seamone with displeasure and anger.

‘God Aakaa does not know that there’s a plan afoot…to mate the human’s soul to an iljjock’s soul. I wonder how he will react, when he hears that?’

‘Get out of here!’ grunted Iisuu, trembling with rage.

Iisuu’s anger had the power of a hundred mountains. Oh! The things in the beshel began rattling even as the water inside began swirling stormily.

Blumone slid slightly backwards in panic. But, it was too late. Iisuu flicked his hand ever so slightly, and tossed him out of the beshel like a leaf blown by wind! Blumone staggered to his zolboat, and before Iisuu could grip his soul and wring the life out of him, jumped in it and spluttered away.

‘How does Aakaa know about Yadu?’ thundered Iisuu in rage to the iljjocks on the yoke, ‘I told you not a word should escape in the oceans!’

The iljjocks trembled with fear. Iisuu’s rage was like a force of nature- the water on the ocean bed swirled violently making all the beshels tremble.

‘They are not at fault!’ murmured Myrhim in a low voice, ‘No one has uttered a word in the open oceans!’

‘Then how did Aakaa come to know?’ asked Iisuu in anguish.

Myrhim looked wistfully at the Nors and thought for a moment. ‘Aakaa has a direct divine connection to the souls of humans in the Nors!’ she said plaintively, ‘It is likely that he has found the souls of Yadu’s dead kin!’

Iisuu looked at the goddess with alarm.

‘Knowing Aakaa, it is likely he has wrung all the information out of them!’

 

 

BLUMONE had run scared from the iljjock settlement. But, the moment he came away in the open ocean he cackled with fiendish joy. He knew that he had valuable information for God Aakaa and he would be earn a big reward for it!

‘Wheee…’ he shrieked, speeding his boat fast towards the polar Seamone Ocean. The boat was made of metal and could travel in water, land and air. It was powered by zol crystals and was therefore, called a zolboat by the seamones!

The zol cyrstals were precious resource for the seamones. They were a rich and natural source of electricity and they powered their boats and tools. In the absence of divine powers, the seamones sought solace from whatever power they could get from the zol crystals!

Fortunately for them, the producers of zol crystals- the iljjocks- were a good-natured people who gave crystals to them in heaps! Although, of late, they had become very demanding and had been asking for all sorts of strange human objects to be made in return!

God Iisuu was to blame for everything. He had this very irritating habit of peering daily at Earth with his divine sight, and sharing glimpses of human settlements on the iljjock yoke. The iljjocks became enamoured with human objects and hankered for them shamelessly. Since, all they knew how to make were the silly boondis, it was up to the skilled seamones to craft whatever caught their fancy. In return for plenty of zol crystals, of course!

Making human objects was very frustrating and not easy. Days were spent in trying to understand what a wooden cot looked like, or maybe even a copper pot. The seamones were not connected to the yoke; they could not see what the iljjocks had seen on Earth. Pottery and jewellery was the most difficult to craft and could be done by only those with tenacious minds. Cloth garments were so tricky that the few seamones who tried to make them had gone mad with despair.

Blumone had recently learnt to make metal ‘combs’ and had earned piles of zol crystals bartering them to the iljjocks. He had been told that the humans used the toothed objects to groom their hair. Since the iljjocks had no hair, they used them happily to clean their mouths or scratch the itch in their feet!

The zol crystals were stored in a compartment inside the zolboat and he took out a handful and tossed them into the fuel chamber of the boat. ‘Faster…faster…’ he rasped impatiently.

The zolboat entered the Seamone Ocean. Blumone was travelling all the way to the South Pole to find God Aakaa and tell him that he was right- the human Yadu was very much on Seabor!

Blumone ’s zolboat whizzed out of the ocean to soar in the air. He looked back with glee at the Kirll forest. From above, the forest appeared as a long, thin and green strip circling the equator. He was sure that the iljjocks had been hiding the human in that forest for days. Aakaa would be very shocked to know this and, he was sure, very pleased with his efforts. It was possible that he would reward him with the thing most precious to any seamone- a drop of Orgis!

Orgis was the divine venom from the old bor! God Aakaa carried loads of it in his soul in the old bor and came with it to the new material universe. Orgis cooled the despair and hatred raging in his soul and allowed him to remain sane. Aakaa’s brood- the seamones- had taken birth with the same tortured souls but with no Orgis in them. Thus, they were desperate to get even a tiny drop of Orgis from him. Once received, the drop resided in their souls forever and was passed from one generation to another, providing relief to an entire lineage!

‘O sweet Orgis!’ cried Blumone, his body trembling in anticipation. Like the souls of all seamones, his soul burned with despair and only Orgis could cool it and give him relief!

The zolboat had reached the seamone settlement now. Blumone glanced downwards. The seamone settlement floated on the ocean like an island of metal. As a people, the seamones were more industrious than the iljjocks. Their beshels were made of metal and multi storeyed – they towered all the way up from the oceanbed to high up in the sky, and in them flourished vibrant seamone industry.

But, despite their considerable progress, the seamones dwelled in deep despair. As

Aakaa’s descendents, it was their birthright to inherit his divine powers. Alas! They had inherited nothing but his despair.

Myrhim was to blame for their misfortune. It was all her folly. She gave them souls so weak, that they could not carry a single string of divine lore- the source of all divine power. If only she had given them souls strong enough, they would have not been cursed to a life of bitter resentment.

The seamones burned with jealousy whenever they saw the iljjocks. Their one-footed counterparts had it easy because of their divine powers. In comparison, the seamones had to work very hard to do basic things like harvesting kiks or moving about on Seabor. While the iljjocks travelled the oceans speedily using the power of the yoke, the seamones had to rely on zolboats powered by zol crystals, which again, were produced by the iljjocks.

Blumone flew over the seamone settlements to head further south. Aakaa lived in isolation near the South Pole and he would have to travel there to find him. A shiver ran down his body that sent his tail flipping. Aakaa was almost always in a hatefully violent mood and a danger to the lives of all those who crossed his path. He was known to be calm only when his own life was in danger!

No seamone dared to seek God Aakaa’s attention unless it was a matter of great importance. Blumone had made sure that the information he had was worthy of Aakaa’s attention and only then decided to seek his attention.

He was sure that Aakaa, who was fiercely jealous of Iisuu, would be very much interested to know what his soulmate had been hiding from him all along!

 

GOD AAKAA was born in the bor with God Iisuu. They were divine soulmates and opposite of each other. Whereas Iisuu’s soul was full of hope, Aakaa’s soul was full of despair. Iisuu followed the path of love and Aakaa found comfort in hatred.

It was a miracle that the two survived the dying bor and came out alive in the new material universe. Goddess Myrhim had used her omnipresent powers to help them migrate to the planet Seabor and had helped them give birth to their broods, the iljjocks and the seamones. Iisuu and the iljjocks had settled around the equatorial Krill forest while Aakaa and the seamones had settled in the Seamone Ocean towards the south.

Aakaa did not build himself a beshel. Rather, he dug a burrow on the oceanbed. The burrow was a labyrinthine maze of chambers and it is said, was very much like his abode in the old bor!

Not every seamone was permitted to enter Aakaa’s burrow. Only a few had ever gained entry. But, most of them wandered around it secretly. Aakaa carried loads of Orgis in his soul; the glow of the divine venom surrounded his abode like a halo and soothed the tortured souls of all seamones who ventured close to it!

Even now, as Blumone ’s zolboat dived to Aakaa’s burrow on the ocean bed, he felt the divine aura of Orgis soothe his soul!

‘If this is the effect outside the burrow, what would it be inside?’ thought Blumone with fiendish delight. He had never entered Aakaa’s burrow before and he trembled with excitement at the mere prospect of it.

Blumone leapt out of his zolboat and swam inside Aakaa’s hallowed abode. He was not disappointed. Inside, the glow of Orgis was more potent than the radiance of all the three Nors. Waves of rapture flooded his soul, making him shiver with delight!

He knew that he would be killed immediately if he did not have a reason good enough to seekAakaa’s attention. But, he was confident that he would not only get complete attention but he would also be rewarded with his very own drop of Orgis! The divine drop would give relief to his tortured soul and that of his descendents forever!

‘God Aakaa!’ he cried eagerly, gliding into an inner chamber. It was dark and cool inside. Etched on the walls were images of Aakaa made from luminescent zol crystals!

‘Quiet!’ rasped two seamones emerging from the darkness. They were slaves that Aakaa had taken recently to serve him, adopting a practice that was disgusting and rumored to have been picked from the humans!

‘Eeeeee…eeeee…’ horrifying shrieks echoed suddenly in the chamber, startling Blumone. He gulped and looked at the slaves with fright.

‘God Aakaa is in the chamber of coons!’ rasped the slaves.

The chamber of coons was an underground cavern, where Aakaa stacked the seamones he had killed in a fit of rage. The victims had died before passing their souls to their young and had become coons. Their souls had been left trapped inside their bodies to scream in eternal agony.

The deathly cries echoed in the chamber again. But, this time Blumone was not frightened. These cries came out of the burrow everyday and he knew what they were all about. These were not the cries of the seamone coons. But, these were the cries of human souls in the Nors!

‘He is wringing the human souls!’ rasped Blumone with glee. Aakaa had a divine connection to both, the seamones and the humans.

‘Yes!’ nodded the slaves, ‘Aakaa likes to hear them loud!’

‘How does he make them cry out loud?’ asked Blumone puzzled. He had always wondered how Aakaa made ‘souls’ cry out aloud in normal voices. Aakaa was very clever and constantly thinking of new, twisted ways to use his divine powers!

‘He uses his divine connection to the coons lying around him!’ replied a slave in a hushed voice, ‘Their voice boxes vibrate when the human souls cry in the Nors!’

‘What?’ cried Blumone aghast,‘But, they are dead seamones…and their souls are screaming themselves!’

‘That’s what everyone thinks!’ replied the slave, ‘But, Aakaa cannot tolerate to hear the coons scream. He has shut them up with drops of Orgis!’

‘The dead coons have been given drops of Orgis?’ cried Blumone in shock.

‘Yes!’ replied the slaves bitterly. After they had become slaves to Aakaa, they had learned things that no seamone knew!

Blumone ’s face twisted with bitter resentment. He remembered how his fathers and other seamones had begged Aakaa for Orgis for generations and they had got none. The shrieks echoed again and this time, clear voices could be heard. They were coming from the mouths of the seamone coons but belonged to the human souls in the Nors.

‘Shhh…let me hear them!’ exclaimed Blumone with sudden glee, ‘I want to hear what they are crying about!’

The slaves were surprised. Like all seamones, they found the humans and everything about them abhorrent. They left the chamber in disgust, leaving Blumone to eavesdrop on the shrieking voices.

Well, this was not the first time that Blumone had eavesdropped on such voices. Why, only yesterday, when he was loitering near the burrow, he had overheard a voice tell Aakaa that the human Yadu was safe and sound with the mountain god. He had gone to the iljjock settlement to check if it was true, and he had discovered to his utter shock that indeed, Yadu was alive and present on Seabor!

It was information that not even human souls could give to God Aakaa. That is why he had decided to rush to Aakaa’s abode and tell him everything.

He strained to listen to the wailing voices of the human souls. They were many and Aakaa seemed to be wringing them really hard and not inclined to let go of them in a hurry!

Blumone sat down comfortably on a wooden stub in the chamber and whilst enjoying a wide variety of shrieks and the cries, waited for Aakaa to come out of the chamber of coons and meet him!

 

BLUMONE had been waiting for Aakaa to emerge from the chamber for coons quite sometime now. The wails of the human souls echoing from it had titillated him immensely, each wail increasing his fiendish delight. Those had stopped now and he sat looking at the images etched on the walls. The images were etched with tiny zol crystals and they glowed luminously. There was one of Goddess Myrhim sitting on a stub and he chuckled loudly on seeing it!

It was entirely Myrhim’s doing that Aakaa had come to have a divine connection to the humans. According to the lore, when the goddess was creating the human souls, in order to make them strong, she knocked a tiny shard of Aakaa’s soul into them. It turned out that after death, when free souls of humans migrated to the divine continuum in the Nors, a divine connection formed instantly between them and God Aakaa!

Aakaa was greatly shocked when he connected to the strange new souls in the Nors like he connected to his own people, the seamones. He was even more shocked when he learned that the souls belonged to humans and that they had been created to do the most powerful task in the universe- they had to actively chart the future of one and all!

It occurred to him that there was a possibility, that he could chart the future for all instead. He only had to be the one controlling the souls in the Nors! Oh! Aakaa became delirious with joy and almost fainted. For, joy was a mood of life and not suited to his deathly soul!

Likewise, Iisuu almost fainted with despair when he learned about Aakaa’s new divine connection and dangerous intentions!

Thereafter, they clashed bitterly. And a massive fight ensued between them.

Aakaa became desperate to grow his divine powers, so that he could exert control over the souls in the Nors. And, Iisuu became desperate to stop his growing powers by all possible means.

Blumone was wondering as to who was winning among the two, when a slave came in to rasp, ‘God Aakaa will meet you now!’

‘Oh!’ exclaimed Blumone jumping from his resting stub.

Aakaa had funally come up from the subterranean chamber of coons. The slave pointed to an adjoining chamber and Blumone rushed into it eagerly.

‘God Aakaa!’ he cried, looking around for the terrifying divine creature. He trembled at the thought of meeting Aakaa because he was very destructive and killed without a thought when enraged.

Aakaa was lying on a wooden cot. He was roasting lazily in the radiation of the Nors pouring in through the rooftop windows of the burrow. He looked like a seamone but like Iisuu and Myrhim, radiated a divine glow. Suckling at his belly nodules were were the creatures of his bin- an enccollie, a besring and a large, thudding dug!

Blumone glided to him and kissed his tail. ‘My lord, I have seen Yadu, the human!’ he whispered fearfully.

Aakaa gave Blumone an ugly look and growled, ‘What?’

Blumone gulped nervously. Aakaa face was the truly frightening and his stench very foul. But, his soul was loaded with Orgis. And, that is what mattered to him the most. He took in deep breaths of the stench devotedly and said, ‘The human Yadu is on Seabor…he is with Iisuu and Myrhim!’

Aakaa was clearly stunned and looked at him in disbelief. ‘How long has he been here?’ he growled in anger.

‘Very long, my lord!’ babbled Blumone excitedly, ‘He has his own beshel in the iljjock settlement…and now has a soulmate too!’

‘What nonsense!’ growled Aakaa, ‘An iljjock cannot be a human’s soulmate!’

‘My lord!’ whispered Blumone in a low voice, ‘You don’t know what is going on over there!’

‘What is going on?’ growled Aakaa in a vile voice, giving the seamone a last chance to answer before he wrung his soul to death.

‘Myrhim has created a special soulmate for him!’ blurted Blumone and then told Aakaa all that he had seen and heard in the iljjock settlement. Yadu’s soulmate was an iljjock with a human soul!

God Aakaa was pondering angrily at what he had been told when a tall seamone entered the chamber. He was Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones. He was a learned seamone of a noble lineage and he had come to apprise Aakaa of the ongoing ventures.

‘Are you aware that a human is on Seabor?’

Surprisingly, the Triar was not shocked. ‘Yes, my lord!’ he murmured calmly, ‘His name is Yadu!’

God Aakaa trembled with rage. Blumone took one look at him and almost fled. He was sure both of them, the Triar and he, were about to be killed!

Surprisingly, the Triar showed no fear and stood unshaken. ‘Yadu has a soulmate now…Elli iljjock is her name!’ he said calmly.

Blumone looked at the Triar in shock. So, he had also been spying on the iljjocks! ‘Correct!’ Blumone intervened excitedly, ‘Elli iljjock is her name. She has two souls – one iljjock and one human!’

Aakaa got up from his cot and thundered, ‘What is going on Seabor?’ The creatures of his bin scampered away. To Blumone’s consternation, he began roaming in circles around him. He bowed his head and waited for Aakaa to wring his soul.

God Aakaa did no such thing. Rather, he stopped by Triar Seamone and snarled, ‘Have you seen the human yourself?’

The Triar looked at Aakaa with narrowed eyes. He was in a very dangerous mood and had to be placated very quickly, ‘Yes, my lord!’

‘Who was he with?’

‘God Iisuu!’

Aakaa drew in his breath sharply. ‘What was Iisuu talking about?’

‘He was telling the human that he has to go back to Earth as soon as possible!’

‘Ah, I wonder why?’

‘Live humans are a waste of time, that’s why!’ rasped the Triar sarcastically, ‘Only dead humans matter!’

Oh! Aakaa burst into peals of laughter. It was a loud, vile cackle and it echoed in the chamber eerily! Blumone cackled along with him nervously.

‘My dear Triar, you have absolutely no idea of what’s going on in Iisuu’s head!’ guffawed Aakaa.

‘What is going on?’ asked the Triar with bewilderment.

Aakaa stopped laughing and became thoughtful. Tossing a few kiks in his mouth he growled slowly, ‘Iisuu can fool you. But, he cannot fool me!’

Triar Seamone and Blumone were surprised to see Aakaa act calmly. He usually gathered his wits, which were formidable, whenever he sensed danger to himself!

Aakaa paced calmly in the room lost in deep thought. Just when the other two occupants thought that he had perhaps, forgotten about their presence, he turned to them and growled in a disturbed voice,‘I think Iisuu is planning something really big!’

Triar Seamone and Blumone looked at him in consternation. ‘What is it, my lord?’ asked the Triar anxiously.

‘I think…Iisuu is planning to make a human yoke!’

There was a long moment of shocked silence in the room as its occupants, including Aakaa himself, took in the import of the statement!

‘The human yoke?’ exploded Triar Seamone in disbelief, ‘How can the humans make a yoke when we don’t have one yet?’

‘It is very simple!’ snapped Blumone heatedly, ‘They just need to have strings of divine lore in their souls. The iljjocks will give them those by mating with them!’

‘Nonsense!’ gasped Triar Seamone, aghast.

‘I don’t think so!’ snorted Blumone scathingly, ‘Why do think Iisuu has brought the human Yadu to Seabor and is now mating him to one of his iljjocks! He has already begun the task of making the human yoke…and while we stand arguing here aimlessly…the human Yadu will go back to Earth and complete it!’

Lo! Blumone ’s words had a cataclysmic effect. Aakaa lost his cool completely and the chamber filled with a very foul spoor of despair and anger. Smouldering with fierce rage, he growled, ‘Imagine…countless human souls connected seamlessly to each other …Iisuu will rule over them like he rules over the iljjocks!’

The Triar trembled in alarm. ‘But, why is Iisuu making a yoke on Earth?’ he asked, flabbergasted, ‘Living humans have no powers!’

Aakaa glared at the Triar with fury, ‘Fool!’ he cursed, ‘How long do humans take to die? One Seabor day! Within a day of the making of the yoke, they would be dead. Their souls will migrate to the Nors and will carry the yoke with them. Iisuu’s real intention is to control their souls in the Nors after their deaths!’

‘So, God Iisuu wants to control the future?’

‘What else?’

‘But, this cannot happen!’ rasped the Triar in consternation, ‘He will be stealing your dream from you, my lord!’

‘He has always stolen my dreams from me!’ muttered Aakaa in a low voice, his eyes blazing with hatred and jealousy.

‘What are we to do now?’ asked the Triar in despair.

Aakaa paced in the chamber, murmuring distractedly to himself. Triar Seamone and Blumone exchanged distressed glances. If Iisuu succeeded in his plan- Aakaa would lose not just his most cherished dream, he could lose his sanity too!

‘Aarghh….’ groaned Aakaa hoarsely, slumping in his cot. His soul was on fire from the despair raging in it. Hadn’t it been for the Orgis he carried in it, he would have passed out. Clutching his head with his hands, he growled, ‘I won’t be defeated…I will kill that human Yadu first!’

‘Yes!’ cried Blumone, his eyes glinting vilely, ‘Kill that human now!’

‘NO!’ refuted Triar Seamone, the leader of seamones, angrily. Oh! Lifting his tail high, he hit Blumone with a sudden and mighty whack!

‘Eeeee…’shrieked Blumone, jumping away, ‘Why not?’

‘Because, Iisuu’s wrath will be on us…he will destroy us all with a tiny flick of his wrist!’

For a moment Triar Seamone thought Blumone had hit him back. Because, his soul was squeezed so hard that his eyes almost popped out! ‘Aaaaagh..’ he cried, writhing with pain. But, it was not Blumone. It was God Aakaa! He was wringing his soul from the wooden cot where he was sitting.

‘You are scared of Iisuu’s wrath!’ snarled Aakaa, his face twisted with hatred, ‘What about my wrath?’

‘Mercy!’ moaned the old Triar in agony.

‘Coward!’ snorted Aakaa, and let go of the old seamone.

The Triar collapsed on the floor and gasped with relief.

‘I am going to kill the human!’ glowered Aakaa menancingly, ‘You want to stop me?’

‘No, my lord!’ gasped the Triar. He was almost at the end of his life and the only thing he aspired for now was a safe death. He did not want to end up as a coon either at the hands of Iisuu or Aakaa!

‘Good!’ muttered Aakaa. He lay down on his cot and closed his eyes.

Triar Seamone and Blumone kept to their places in silence. They knew what Aakaa was doing! He was searching for Yadu on Seabor through the divine connection he had with the humans. Yadu would be found easily as his soul had been opened; Myrhim’s germs had opened the seal that would have blocked Aakaa’s access!

‘Aha!’ growled Aakaa suddenly. He had found Yadu’s soul in the Kirll forest. He was about to give him a tiny wring when suddenly he became aware that Yadu was in the company of many iljjocks! So, he just read Yadu’s soul surreptiously. The human’s soul was full of memories of his village and his brother Krishna!

‘I see another human roaming in Kirll!’ growled Aakaa suddenly in surprise.

‘What?’ Blumone cried in astonishment, ‘Another human?’

‘That must be Elli iljjock!’ moaned the Triar haltingly, ‘She has two souls one of which is human!’

‘Aha!’ growled Aakaa, his eyes glinting vilely, ‘Let’s have a look at her souls!’

Oh! Aakaa took one look at Elli iljjock’s twin souls and began laughing loudly. It was a harsh cackle that resonated in the chamber eerily.

‘What is it, my lord?’ asked Blumone eagerly. Triar Seamone, who was still sprawled on the floor also looked up with interest.

‘You won’t believe this!’ gasped Aakaa, doubling over with vile laughter.

‘What?’

‘Well…well…Iisuu is so desperate to get Yadu mated to an iljjock…’he gasped between peals of laughter, ‘He has made Myrhim give Elli a very…I must say…very unique souls!’

‘You are right, my lord!’ cackled Blumone in agreement, ‘I heard the Iisuu say that she has perfectly rounded souls!’

‘Did he say that?’ asked Aakaa, writhing in the cot with laughter, ‘They are so perfectly rounded…that she can be anyone’s soulmate!’

Blumone stopped laughing and looked at Aakaa, puzzled.

Triar Seamone frowned in confusion. ‘What do you mean…anyone’s soulmate?’ he rasped haltingly.

Aakaa also stopped laughing and got up to toss a few kiks in his mouth. His face serene, he stated in a measured voice, ‘Myrhim has created Elli’s souls in such a way that in no circumstance, she will fail to mate Yadu. But, in doing so, she has made Elli compatible with everyone, human, iljjock and seamone!’

‘What?’ gasped Blumone in disbelief, ‘She can mate a seamone too?’

‘Yes!’ growled Aakaa in irritation, ‘Did you not hear what I said?’

‘How is that possible?’ asked the old Triar, getting up shakily, ‘Our souls are too weak to hold the string of divine lore!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ sneered Aakaa with vile glee, ‘Myrhim has reduced the power of the string of divine lore in Elli’s soul greatly to fit Yadu’s human soul. It will fit a seamone’s soul too!’

Blumone could not believe what he was hearing. Trembling with a sudden rush of excitement he blurted, ‘Does this mean that Elli can be my soulmate and give me the string of divine lore?’

Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones, looked at him horrified and thundered, ‘NO! God Iisuu will kill us all!’

‘Thud!’ a sharp blow landed on the Triar’s face, making him cry with agony. Oh! God Aakaa stood glowering over him, his face twisted with disgust and hatred. ‘Coward!’ he spat in anger, ‘I will kill you before Iisuu even gets to you!’

‘No, my lord!’ wept the Triar, collapsing on the floor again.

Aakaa left him and paced angrily in the room. Blumone chuckled with vile glee! He could not believe that Aakaa was supporting him over the great Triar Seamone, descendent of the noblest lineage of seamones.

‘Capture Elli iljjock and bring her here!’ growled Aakaa suddenly to Blumone, ‘It is the only way!’

A long moment of shocked silence followed Aakaa’s declaration.

The old Triar forced himself to get up from the floor and looked at God Aakaa in panic. What was he saying? Capture an iljjock? Iisuu and Myrhim would know instantly and unleash their fury on the seamones.

Blumone, however, was not thinking on the same track! He was thinking about the prospect of attaining divine powers by mating Elli iljjock. Trembling with anticipation, he crept near Aakaa and offered, ‘Should I go and get her, my lord?’

‘Whack!’ Aakaa struck him with his tail and flung him out of the room! ‘OUT! And, don’t come back without her!’ he bellowed after him.

‘But, Elli is bethrothed to the human, my lord!’ murmured Triar seamone nervously.

Aakaa sneered, ‘Not anymore. She is bethrothed to all the seamones now?’

‘All the seamones?’ asked the Triar in a horrified whisper, ‘What do you mean?’

‘Instead of giving the string of divine lore to the human…’ snarled Aakaa, ‘…she will give the string of divine lore to all the seamones! Iisuu will not make the human yoke…I will make the seamone yoke!’

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Blumone with fiendish rapture. He had not gone yet and was eavesdropping outside the chamber. Lest he got whacked again for his indiscretion, he scampered out of Aakaa’s burrow quickly. Leaping into his zolboat he sped to the Kirll forest. He had to find and capture Elli iljjock!

Triar Seamone exited from the burrow too. It was night outside. He climbed into his zolboat and chugged away slowly to the only place where he could spend the night and despair over Aakaa’s vile plan in peace. The oceanbed Harappa farm!

 

Place: The Harappa farms, Seabor.

Time: Yadu’s fifth day on Seabor (2nd century AD on Earth)

 

THE Harappa farm was located on the floor of the Seamone Ocean, on the outskirts of the seamone settlement. Aakaa had named the farm, Harappa farm, after he shockingly wiped out a human settlement of the same name on Earth!

The mishap occurred many days back when Aakaa first became aware of his growing power over earthly creatures! What followed was a long story.

One day, Aakaa woke up startled to the sound of animal voices- thousand grunts, moos, neighs and roars. He was hearing the voices with his soul and so, he knew, had something to do with the divine connection he had with the human souls in the Nors!

‘But, they are voices of animals!’ he murmured in surprise. ‘Has God Hoon let the souls of animals in the Nors today?’ he wondered with shock

God Hoon was the fearsome god of death who resided in the divine continuum of the Nors. It was he who decided who came in and went out of the Nors. Thousands of souls of dead creatures migrated into the Nors at any point in time. Hoon decided who to keep and who to return to Earth for rebirth. The souls of animals were invariably returned to Earth!

Aakaa could still hear the animal voices and was bewildered. As far as he was aware, he had a divine connection to the humans and not the animals. Unless, Myrhim had been playing the fool with her scimitar!

Curious to find out what was happening up in the Nors, he rushed down to the chamber of coons. The chamber was walled with a thin layer of Orgis that had the power to not only soothe his tortured soul, but to also shield him from the divine sight of Iisuu, Myrhim and even the evil God Hoon. It was a hideout from where he peered covertly at the Nors everyday!

That day, he looked inside the Nors and he saw the same scene that he saw every day. Oh! Countless of human souls were suspended in the divine continuum, chattering to each other and to God Hoon, who was having a tough time trying to get them in some kind of order so that they served the purpose for which they had been created- to determine the course of the future intelligently!

Human souls were suspended in the divine continuum in a spiral formation. At the centre was a kernel and spiraling around it, were many fringes. Souls placed in the kernel were determining the course of future predominatly. And, souls placed in the fringes contributed in decreasing order of their placement away from the kernel.

‘Cursed devil!’ spat Aakaa, as he caught a glimpse of God Hoon’s formidable soul. Hoon punished him mercilessly whenever he caught him using his divine connection to spy on the souls in the Nors; and he hated him fiercely for that. Taking care that he did not give away himself, he watched what the old devil was doing!

Oh! God Hoon was busily sorting out the new arrivals in the Nors. These were souls of humans who had just died on Earth and had just migrated to the divine continuum in the Nors. Aakaa was shocked to observe that Hoon appeared to have greatly mellowed down from the evil devil he was in the old bor! The human souls were narrating the tales of their lives in great detail to him, and he appeared to be listening to all of them with great patience and interest!

The shrillest was a group of architects from a settlement called Harappa. ‘My lord!’ they declared proudly to God Hoon, ‘We designed the best drainage system our city could ever have!’

Oh! Hoon took a look at what they had designed and was clearly impressed. He picked them up with his divine scimitar and placed them in the kernel- they would now lead in charting the path to the future!

‘Puny junk!’ spat Aakaa, furious that the frail humans and not he, the mighty God Aakaa, was in charge of determining the future. He was about to reach out to one architect surreptiously, and give his soul a tight and a nice wring, when he heard the moos and the bleats again!

Lo! He suddenly saw souls of millions of horses, goats, cows, rabbits, rats, butterflies, insects, and what not. His divine sight clouded over as he saw countless germs too!

‘What the…’ he cursed, bewildered. Most weirdly, he had developed a faint connection to the animals on Earth!

Shocked out of his wits, he exited the chamber of coons and sent for the cleverest seamone on Seabor- Saramone!

‘My lord, this is very strange!’ exclaimed Saramone, when Aakaa told him about his new divine connection to the animals on Earth.

‘I think Myrhim is being spiteful!’ Aakaa growled angrily, pacing in a chamber in his burrow.

‘Why do you say so, my lord?’

‘She knows I want to be connected to the live humans on Earth…she has connected me to the animals instead!’

Saramone frowned and thought hard. He was the inventor of the zolboat and considered to be most intelligent on Seabor. Even God Aakaa, who prided himself on his sharp wits, sought his advice on many matters.

‘I don’t think it is Myrhim’s doing!’ said Saramone finally.

‘Why do you say so?’ growled back Aakaa.

‘She will never give you access to her tools!’

‘What tools?’

‘The germs on Earth!’ replied Saramone brightly, ‘They are the tools that she used to create the creatures there. She will never give you access to them willingly!’

‘But, I do have access to them!’ growled Aakaa. Even as Saramone looked on wide-eyed, he wrung the souls of hundreds of germs on Earth. ‘They are so boring! They don’t squeal like the human souls!’

‘My lord, I know what has happened!’ cried Saramone excitedly, his eyes crackling with sparks.

‘What has happened?’ growled Aakaa sullenly.

‘Your powers have crossed a critical stage!’

‘They have?’ asked Aakaa in surprise.

‘My lord, you get your power from the souls in the Nors. The greater their number, the greater your power! The souls in the Nors have increased to a point whereby you are now making a direct connection to the creatures on Earth!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Aakaa in shock.

‘Yes, my lord! I am sure you can exert divine force on the animals on Earth from here on Seabor!’

‘What?’Aakaa exclaimed. He tried exerting force on the souls of the animals. Although, his influence was too weak to move the larger animals, he found that he could innocuously exert divine force on the tiny ones, more particularly, the germs that Goddess Myrhim had left behind when she was creating life on Earth!

‘I also want to see the animals on Earth!’ cried Saramone eagerly.

Aakaa placed his tail on Saramone’s tail and showed him the animals on Earth through his newly found divine sight. Oh! They resembled the iljjocks and seamones so closely. He was taken aback to see the squirrels. Oh! Goddess Myrhim had given his ancestral face to the squirrels! -

Saramone saw the germs suddenly. They were present everywhere on Earth- in land, water and air. He looked at them as closely as he could.

‘Enough!’ growled Aakaa impatiently, pulling his tail away.

‘I know Myrhim uses life codes to create creatures!’ cried Saramone, ‘I was looking at the life codes of the germs!’

‘Germs are of no use to me!’ snapped Aakaa in irritation.

Saramone smile wickedly.‘That’s because you are not thinking, my lord!’ he retorted impudently.

Had it been someone else, Aakaa would have crushed his soul instantly. Not Saramone. Saramone was very clever and Aakaa liked clever seamones very much!

‘What do you mean?’ frowned Aakaa.

‘Germs can do you a lot of good…if you can make them mutate!’

‘Mutate into what?’

‘Into germs of disease!’ blurted Saramone excitedly, ‘The diseases will kill plenty of humans…their souls will flock to the Nors in large numbers…making your power grow in leaps and bounds!’

Aakaa was thunderstruck. He looked at Saramone for a long moment and then burst out laughing. ‘O wonder!’ he cackled with fiendish delight.

Saramone became feverish with excitement to see Aakaa so pleased. ‘We can try twisting the germs right now!’ he said in a trembling voice.

‘Oh yes!’ replied Aakaa exultantly, ‘Let’s do it!’

Harappa was the first place on Earth where Aakaa tried his new influence. It was one of largest settlements on Earth on that day. Saramone stood by his side, his tail placed firmly on his tail. Together, the two peered at the germs in Harappa and by using divine force, made the harmless ones mutate into disease germs!

The settlement was wiped away as thousands died of leprosy and tuberculosis. The Nors were flooded with human souls and as Saramone had inferred correctly, Aakaa’s power grew by a tremendous leap!

Aakaa became deliriously exultant at his achievement. He rewarded Saramone by giving him what he had given to no seamone to that day- a drop of Orgis!

Oh! How Orgis transformed Saramone’s life! His tortured soul got instant relief. The despair raging in it ebbed away, and he felt calm and at peace. The drop of Orgis would be passed down to his descendents for generations, freeing them from despair and misery.

Because of the calm releases in his soul, Saramone became even cleverer. He convinced Aakaa to convince Myrhim to create an undersea farm full of earthly animals. So, that the seamones could find some amusement and peace, he told Myrhim. When, the actual intent was to breed earthly germs to spread havoc on Earth!

Myrhim obliged. She created the Harappa farm on the floor of the Seamone Ocean with her divine scimitar. It was a wonder, actually. The flora and fauna was earthly, but adapted to the oceanic environment of Seabor. Tall banyan, mango, fir and spruce trees grew on the oceanbed farm through which swam flocks of deer, zebras, rabbits, rats and pigs! And, countless germs, of course, that Myrhim had left behind sticking on the trees and animals!

Saramone put a few seamones to work secretly. Scores of germ beds were built in the Harappa farm to breed mutated germs that were more virulent. The seamones worked on the germ beds night and day, and almost everyday, Saramone carried a small vial of new killer germs to Aakaa!

Aakaa looked at Saramone’s germs with his divine sight and using divine force, changed the lifecodes of the germs on Earth to match that of the killer germs. Oh! A slew of epidemics afflicted the humans on Earth. With every epidemic, thousands died and their souls flooded the Nors. Aakaa grew more and more powerful.

Tremendously pleased with Saramone’s effort, Aakaa made him the leader of the seamones. He came to be called Triar Seamone and his lineage was accepted as the royal lineage of seamones!

Soon, Saramone died and his soul passed on to his infant. The infant was given no name. For, he was of royal lineage and the new Triar! He and his descendents would now simply be called Triar Seamone!

Presently, though, Triar Seamone lay moping in a cot under a tree in the Harappa farm. He was perhaps the first in his noble lineage to have been kicked and derided by Aakaa like this. Only because he wanted God Aakaa to stop obsessing over the humans and be a good divine father to the seamones!

Triar seamone wanted to be a good leader to the seamones himself. The Orgis that Saramone, his worthy ancestor, had earned soothed his soul and kept him peaceful. Consequently, he did not easily give in to feelings of extreme despair like the other seamones. Only in matters related to the humans, did he become agitated and angry!

And, why wouldn’t he be? Since Myrhim had created the humans, they had influenced almost everything on Seabor. From the metals beshels and boats used by the seamones, to the pots and pans used by the iljjocks, everything was copied from the humans. Even the cot he was lying upon was a human object! The humans had corrupted Seabor’s culture disgustingly.

Oh! Even God Aakaa was deeply influenced by the humans. Recently, slaves had to be positioned in his burrow after he wrung the soul of a human king and learned about his opulent way of life. The Triar had communicated his disapproval to Aakaa on making seamones work as slaves. Aakaa, in reply, had given his soul a very hard and painful squeeze.

‘Phweee…’ whistled the Triar to his bin creatures. He has slept the night at the farm. It was now early morning and he needed grooming!

A besring, enccollie and a thudding dug jumped from the tree to find his belly nodules. They suckled vigorously on the nodules and he felt the heaviness in his body ease. A little while later, feeling lighter and refreshed, the Triar went for a long swim around the farm.

The farm was rich with a variety of foliage, animals and fishes. ‘Ugh!’ flinched the Triar, repulsed by them all. The creatures were all earthlings! Deers, cows, rabbits, bears, monkeys, lions and even bats and rats adapted to the ocean lived in the farm. They served the purpose of testing mutated germs, to be given to Aakaa for replication on Earth.

Aakaa had always considered Myrhim as gullible and foolish. And, he proved his belief by persuading her to create this farm of earthly germs and creatures. For days now, the seamones had been breeding germs on this farm and Myrhim had not picked it up. She saw their activities with her omnipresent sight, but she never understood them for what they were. She thought that the seamones were amusing themselves with the earthly creatures like the iljjocks amused themselves with jewellery, pots and the pans!

Triar seamone chuckled wryly as he swam by a flock of stags and hinds. It was a wonder that so many seamones were working on the germ beds in these farms and Myrhim and Iisuu were completely oblivious to it!

‘But, Blumone’s act will not go unnoticed!’ echoed a faint voice from the Triar’s soul. Oh! They were his ancestors speaking to him, which included the worthy Saramone! As the seamones did not have a yoke for support, the soul strings that they inherited from their ancestors remained active in their souls and often spoke to them to give them support and guidance!

‘I know, O fathers!’ fumed the Triar, ‘But, it is Aakaa who has sent Blumone abduct Elli iljjock!’

‘Aakaa is doomed…act with wisdom, dear child!’ echoed the voice of the ancestors. Even the vilest of seamones spoke wisely after death. So, Triar Seamone reflected deeply on what his ancestors had said!

It was true. Aakaa had a long history of inviting doom. Myrhim had almost killed him once for mauling a baby iljjock. God Hoon, the evil god of death, had punished him very severely on various occasions!

When God Hoon had first caught Aakaa wringing the souls in the Nors, he had ripped off all strings of divine lore from Aakaa’s soul with his divine scimitar! He had taken away Aakaa’s power to exert significant divine force. Aakaa had dwelled in unbearable suffering for days after the incident and the entire seamone community had borne the brunt of that suffering.

What would happen if Myrhim or Hoon came to know that Blumone was on his way to capture an iljjock with the intent of forcefully mating his soul to hers? Triar Seamone shivered with fear. It would the end of all seamones!

‘Suumone…Mayymone…Akkimone…’ snapped the Triar suddenly to the seamones working nearby.

‘Yes, Triar?’ they replied in surprise.

‘Run and stop Blumone immediately!’ he snapped to them urgently, ‘You will find him near Kirll!’

‘Stop him…why?’ they asked, bewildered.

‘Beat him up!’ rasped the Triar, ‘And, just bring him to me!’

The seamones looked at the Triar with shock and disbelief. Beating someone? It was the worst possible crime! ‘Blumone will die a coon!’ they stammered.

‘Do as I say immediately!’ thundered the Triar angrily. ‘Or we will all die as coons!’

Suumone, Mayymone and Akkimone exchanged worried glances. The Triar had to be trusted and obeyed. He and his royal lineage had always protected the seamones unflinchingly. Abandoning the chores they were doing, they jumped into a zolboat and headed in the direction of the Kirll forest. They would stop Blumone from whatever he was doing and haul him to the Triar!

 

 

IT was late in the morning now. Yadu was busy harvesting kiks in the Kirll forest. He and Pikki had come to Krill soon after Elli’s birth and had joined the horde of single iljjocks. Yadu had a soulmate now and would be married to her when she came of age. Until then, he would work hard to fill his pit of kiks!

Picking kiks was hard work indeed. The saykriles whizzed high on the Nahlu treetops, plucking ripe kiks and tossing them in hundreds in the air. The iljjocks ran around collecting them before they fell on the ground and became poisonous. They used divine force to pull the kiks gently into wooden pails that they used to fill their pits.

Since Yadu could not exert divine force yet, Pikki helped him fill his pail with kiks, which he carried dutifully to his pit. He decided that he liked the frentic activity of picking kiks much more than the lazy boondi making on the ocean floor!

‘What a day!’ he yawned loudly, taking in deep breaths of the smoky aroma of the glowing Nahlu pods. The laughter of the iljjocks rang loudly in the forest, reminding him poignantly of the cowherds chortling gaily in the vales of Lachvi.

Yadu looked up at the sky. It was almost noon now. The three Nors were shooting blistering radiation, making the oceans boil noisily. Having spent the whole morning racing around to carry pails of kiks, he felt tired and longed to get himself groomed.

He recognised his besring, encollie and thudding dug very well now! This morning they had raced to him eagerly when he had gone to the bay for grooming with the other iljjocks. Suckling hard at his belly nodules, they had removed the heaviness from his body and left him feeling sprightly and refreshed.

Yadu slumped under a Nahlu tree and closed his eyes.

‘Get up, Yadu!’ cried Pikki, skipping past with a pail full of kiks. By the time Pikki dumped the kiks in his pit and skipped back, Yadu had fallen asleep!

‘He is tired!’ cried the iljjocks, ‘Let him sleep!’

Yadu was dreaming. It was very strange dream. He saw that he was back in the bor and there were boids all around him. They had flocked to him and were nuzzling tenderly against him. In turn, he was stroking them like he would rub his yaks and goats! Suddenly, he heard wails. Surprised, he raised his head to look around, when the boids parted suddenly to show where the wails were coming from.

There was a fire! And, people were trapped in that fire!

Yadu peered anxiously. The people seemed familiar. Surya, and Jugnu and Kaali were burning in the fire! They were badly wounded and crying for help!

‘Surya…!’ he yelled, making an attempt to reach them. He stumbled. Someone had grasped his legs and was pulling him back. He looked down to free himself and froze with shock. It was Krishna!

Pitr!’ he sobbed.

Yadu looked at his younger brother in disbelief. A dam of emotions burst inside him and he lunged to embrace Krishna. ‘Krishna!’ he gasped, grasping his younger brother’s body with his hands. Krishna was freezing cold! And covered with bruises and wounds.

Pitr….’ he whispered again.

‘Krishna!’ replied Yadu. He wanted to ask how Krishna got hurt but his throat was so choked with emotion that he could not speak.

‘Aakaa tortured me…’ wept Krishna.

‘Aakaa?’ asked Yadu in anguish.

‘Yes!’ cried Krishna, ‘God Hoon saved me!’

‘God Hoon?’

‘Yes! I told him that I wanted to see you once…I waited very long for you, Pitr!’ wept Krishna.

Bewildered, Yadu tried to make sense of what his brother way saying, when suddenly, Krishna slipped away from his grasp and the next thing he knew, he raced away to jump in the fire with the other lads.

‘Come back Krishna!’ yelled Yadu. But, like sand slipping between his fingers, the dream slipped away from him.

‘Krishna!’ screamed Yadu, waking up in cold sweat. He realized that he had been dreaming and that Pikki was looking down at him worriedly. Shaking uncontrollably, he burst into tears.

‘Yadu!’ cried Pikki, aghast, ‘What is the matter?’

‘Krishna!’ sobbed Yadu, ‘I saw him…you were right…his soul is alive!’

‘Of course, his soul is alive!’ replied Pikki eagerly, popping a few fresh kiks in Yadu’s open mouth, ‘His soul now lives in the Nors!’

Yadu looked at the glowing orbs in the sky with anguished eyes. He had a sinking feeling that Krishna and the villagers were trapped in a fire over there. ‘Krishna, speak to me!’ he cried, staring fiercely at the Nors.

‘No!’ admonished Pikki in panic, ‘Look way!’

‘He was talking about Aakaa…and Hoon!’ he murmured incoherently, tears flowing down his eyes, ‘God Hoon saved him, Pikki!’

Oh! The moment he mentioned God Hoon’s name, his ears began buzzing and the air around him rustled. It was the same sound that he had heard so many times. A wave of warmth embraced him and soothed his soul! He got the weird feeling that a thousand eyes were watching him!

‘Pikki!’ cried Yadu, ‘Did you hear that?’

‘Hear what?’ replied Pikki uneasily.

‘The buzzing…the rustling…like leaves drifting in wind…’

‘No, I heard nothing!’

Yadu shivered. ‘I think it is Krishna!’ he blurted.

‘Krishna?’

‘He is reaching out to me!’ continued Yadu fervently, ‘I can feel it!’

Pikki looked bewildered and thought for a long moment. ‘It is not possible!’ he said finally.

‘But, why?’ protested Yadu.

‘His soul is in the Nors, inside the divine continuum. He cannot reach anyone outside and no one can reach him!’

‘Don’t lie, Pikki!’ retorted Yadu angrily.

‘I am not lying!’

‘You are forgetting…you told me yourself that God Aakaa can reach the souls in the Nors!’

‘I am talking about normal people like you and me!’ shrugged Pikki.

‘Aakaa is not normal?’

‘Well, he is not like us. He is from the bor…his access to the souls in the Nors has a background that goes back to the old bor. There is no way you or I, or any creature born in this universe, can have such divine connections or access!’

Pikki’s words made Yadu very distraught. His face fell and his eyes dimmed with sadness.

‘Are you all right?’ asked Pikki anxiously.

‘Pikki…’gasped Yadu haltingly.

‘It was just one of your dreams! Forget it!’

‘It was no dream!’ replied Yadu pensively, ‘I am sure of it!’

‘Krishna’s soul cannot cross the barrier of the divine continuum and make your ears buzz. I am sure of it, too!’

Yadu glowered at Pikki. Deep in his soul, he knew it was Krishna who was making his ears buzz. Maybe, his little brother had attained divine powers! He was a clever little lad. ‘I don’t believe you!’ he said tersely and firmly.

Pikki shrugged. ‘You can ask God Iisuu tommorrow!’ he suggested.

‘I will!’

‘He will be here in the morning!’

‘All right!’ agreed Yadu. Feeling drained, he slumped on the ground.

‘I think we should sleep now!’ yawned Pikki and lay down next to him.

Yadu nodded and wrapping his hands around his chest, looked up at the sky. It was dusk now and the last patches of crimson radiation were wavering in the evening sky. The iljjocks were also settling down for the night.

‘Go to sleep, Yadu!’ murmured Pikki drowsily and drifted into sleep.

Yadu sighed and closed his eyes. The nights on Seabor were short and he knew he would not get much sleep tonight. His mind was restless and filled with thoughts of Krishna. He would now get peace only when he learned the truth from God Iisuu!

 

Time: Yadu’s sixth day on Seabor (3th century AD on Earth)

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor

 

GOD IISUU arrived in Kirll before the break of dawn next day. The iljjocks were still asleep under the Nahlu trees. Yadu was flitting restlessly in and out of sleep. From the corner of his eye, he saw Iisuu moving between the trees and he sat up in surprise. As usual, God Iisuu’s radiance made his thick iljjock skin tingle and exhilarated his mind and soul.

Yadu got up quickly and ran behind Iisuu before he disappeared from sight. He chased him to the top of a nearby hillock. The first rays of the Nors fell on this hillock and God Iisuu sat in penance everyday over here.

Iisuu sat down on a flat rock and turning his face towards the horizon, closed his eyes and slipped into penance. Yadu was reminded of the holy sages that prayed on the remote mountains of Lachvi. There, the early morning breeze carried the fresh scent of dewy pine. Here, the air was heavy with the dry and scorched scent of the Nahlu.

Yadu waited for Iisuu to come out of his penance before approaching him. Iisuu looked at him and smiled. Before he could say anything, Yadu asked, ‘My lord, will you show me what’s happening on Earth right now?’

‘Yes, my dear child!’ replied Iisuu with a laugh. He placed his toe on Yadu’s toe. Yadu looked at Earth through Iissu’s divine sight!

Yadu looked at the mountains first. They were still the same, pristine and majestic. But, the villages were bigger and many viilagers had now become farmers. In the plains, trade had increased both to the east and west. The Buddhist, Christian and Hindu scriptures had spread far and wide in the world!

‘The creativity of the humans never ceases to amaze me. I learn new things every day!’ murmured Iisuu radiantly, ‘I was reading the verses of the Bhagwad Gita a little while ago. It states the philosophy of life so lucidly!’

‘Writing has become widespread on Earth!’ exclaimed Yadu in astonishment, ‘Hatti has been after me to learn a script…but, it is beyond me!’

Iisuu smiled and showed him more glimpses of Earth.The Roman Empire had declined in the west and the Han dynasty has collapsed in the east. War and disease had caused mass deaths everywhere. Disturbed, Yadu pulled back his toe from Iisuu’s toe.

‘Are you all right?’ asked Iisuu with concern.

‘No, my lord!’ blurted Yadu, ‘It is just that…my ears buzz at times and I hear strange rustling sounds!’

Surprised, Iisuu rolled his eyes and mused over Yadu’s problem. Suddenly he laughed loudly, ‘You know what has happened…Myrhim has made mistakes when she was changing your body. She is not perfect, you know!’

‘No, my lord!’ protested Yadu. He sat down next to Iisuu and said, ‘I think it is something else!’

Iisuu looked at Yadu perceptively. He had read Yadu’s mind but he still wanted him to say it aloud!

‘I think Krishna is reaching out to me!’ said Yadu hesitantly, ‘I can feel his presence around me!’

‘No, my child, that is not possible!’ replied Iisuu gently, ‘The divine continuum inside the Nors is completely disassociated from the universe outside it. The souls of the dead have no link, whatsoever, to those who are alive. What you saw was only a dream!’

Yadu was not convinced and he shook his head disbelievingly.

‘Trust me, your brother’s soul is with God Hoon and in his good care! There is simply no way he can escape God Hoon’s attention and make a connection to you!’ declared Iisuu emphatically.

Iisuu was sincere and true in his words. Disappointed, Yadu dropped the discussion and got up to leave. While Iisuu resumed his penance, he walked back slowly to the iljjocks.

The iljjocks were now awake and heading to the Kirll bay for grooming. Pikki skipped to him and announced, ‘It is is my last day of work today!’

‘What do you mean?’ muttered Yadu, distractedly.

Pikki beamed, ‘I have found my soulmate!’

‘Really?’ cried Yadu with surprise, ‘Who is she…I mean he?’

‘Jerro iljjock!’ replied Pikki, pointing to a bear-faced iljjock walking with a little away from them. Jerro looked at them and gave them a warm smile.

‘How nice!’ exclaimed Yadu, smiling back at Jerro.

‘Pikki and I are getting married soon!’ said Jerro in a deep voice. He had the same nature as Pikki- he was honest, compassionate and a very helpful iljjock!

‘What’s the hurry?’ chuckled Yadu, ‘You are going to be very bored after marriage, anyway!’

Pikki and Jerro laughed loudly at Yadu’s words.

‘We have come of age!’ explained Pikki, ‘The urge to mate is slowly building in our souls. If we don’t swap a soul string soon, we will end up demented!’

‘How terrible!’ exclaimed Yadu, aghast.

‘It is not!’ protested Pikki, ‘Come, let us groom ourselves!’

They had reached the Kirll bay. The iljjocks were splashing in the boiling water and whistling to their bins shrilly. Hordes of besrings, enccollies and thudding were jumping out of their nests to cling to the iljjocks and suckle on their belly nodules noisily!

Yadu and Pikki also waded in whistled to their bins. Soon, their bin creatures had also latched to their belly nodules and were suckling hard to improve their digestions, blood circulation and clear the waste. Feeling lighter and refreshed, Yadu could not help but marvel at how well his old human body took care of itself!

Pikki seemed to eating constantly. Even now his mouth was full with kiks!

‘Why are you eating so much?’ asked Yadu curiously.

‘I want my first zol crystals to be flawless!’ replied Pikki, chomping the kiks vigorously.

‘Oh!’ nodded Yadu.

Pikki stuffed more kiks in his mouth!

‘I will be so lonely after you get married!’ cried Yadu suddenly.

Pikki smiled and held Yadu’s hand, ‘No iljjock is ever lonely or unhappy!’

‘Why?’

‘Because, our soulmates fulfill and complete us!’

‘Of course!’ muttered Yadu dully.

‘After I am married…’said Pikki gently, ‘…your soulmate shall give you company!’

‘I doubt it!’ exclaimed Yadu, remembering the little baby iljjock he had seen a few days back.

‘She is grown up now!’ informed Pikki with a smile, ‘Elli will take over from me and keep you company!’

‘I see!’ murmured Yadu, unsure of what to say.

‘Let us go back now. I have to finish filling my pit of piks!’ said Pikki hurriedly, ‘Or I will go hungry when I am old!’

The two waded out of the Kirll bay and hurried back to the Kirll forest. The saykriles were busy tossing kiks from the treetops and the glowing pods were flying in hundreds in the air.

‘Yadu!’ called out someone in a thin voice. Yadu turned around in surprise. A young iljjock was standing there and smiling widely at him!

‘Elli!’ called Pikki jovially, ‘Come and help me gather kiks. I have hardly worked for the past few days and my pit is almost empty. This way, I will never get married to Jerro!’

Jerro looked at Pikki in surprise. ‘Let’s help Pikki fill his pit!’ he yelled to the iljjocks.

The iljjocks responded immediately. All of them started throwing pails of kiks in Pikki’s pit. His pit would be filled with kiks to the top before he got married!

Yadu also raced around throwing pails of kiks in Pikki’s pit. Elli ran by his side! He looked at her curiously. She was nimble footed and was gathering kiks with great speed, occasionally breaking into peals of laughter. Every peal sent a strange shiver running down his soul!

‘It is because she is your soulmate!’ chuckled Pikki, noticing his wonderstruck face.

Elli heard Pikki too! She smiled and dropped her pail of kiks. Even as Yadu watched in astonishment, she jumped to his side and squeezed his hand tightly!

Yadu felt as if a bolt of lightning had hit him! Some kind of invisible energy flowed from Elli’s body to his, surrounding them in a magical haze. He had the strange feeling that he had been searching for her all his life and he had got her now!

They all spent the rest of the day picking plenty of kiks for Pikki’s pit. Yadu worked by Elli’s side. She filled the pails with her divine powers and he carried them to Pikki’s pit. By the end of the day, Yadu was very exhilarated and happy! He knew it was because of Elli. She was so lively and playful- simply a bubbly reservoir of happiness. Just being in her presence gave him a tremendous sense of wellbeing and fulfillment!

‘This is pure iljjock love!’ explained Pikki wistfully, ‘Once you have it…it fills your soul completely…you don’t need anything else to live your life!’

While Yadu coped with strange new emotions raging in his soul, Elli cried, ‘The Nors are setting…it is time to finish the work!’ and ran off with her pail to gather kiks.

Yadu watched Elli disappear among the iljjocks in a daze. He felt strangely bereft. Filled with a longing to be near her, he raced behind her to gather the last kiks of the day. Pikki’s pit was full so he dumped the kiks in his and Elli’s pits!

‘One more!’ cried Elli, looking at the horizon. The Nors had set and the sky glowed with myriad patches of crimson and orange radiation.

‘All right!’ laughed Yadu.

The saykriles tossed the last kiks in the air and cackling loudly, began settling down on the treetops. There was a frenzy of activity as, laughing raucously, the iljjocks raced to pull the kiks into their pails and fill the last one for the day. Yadu laughed and ran with them, feeling rapturously lightheaded and happy.

By the time they finished, the sky had become dark. The chill of the surrounding ocean had crept in and was subduing the warm, smoky scent of burnt ash that hung in the forest. The iljjocks covered their pits with leaves and began lying down on the ground to sleep. Yadu also covered his pit and looked around for a spot to sleep. Pikki was gone with Jerro!

‘You will sleep with me!’ said Elli, pulling him to an open grassy patch. A shiver of rapture ran through Yadu’s being. He followed Elli to lie down with her on the patch. Oh! What a day it had been!

‘Elli!’ sighed Yadu, wanting to talk to his soulmate. But, Elli had fallen asleep. She was still holding his hand! He looked at her with amazement. He had never thought that he could feel so wonderful about anyone or that someone could make him feel so complete!

The forest became cold and silent as the iljjocks slowly fell asleep. Yadu could hear the strains of the bin creatures singing in the bay faintly. Dreaming that he was back in Lachvi and showing the mountains and his village to Elli, he also fell blissfully asleep!

 

 

Time: Yadu’s seventh day on Seabor (4th century AD)

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor

 

YADU woke up next day with his ears buzzing loudly. Iisuu reckoned that Myrhim had erred with his ears. So, he reminded himself that he would raise the issue with Myrhim when he met her next.

The buzzing in his ears stopped suddenly. Unwittingly, his thoughts flew to Krishna. He got up from the ground and looked up at the Nors. The Nors were up in the sky and burning fiercely. Iisuu had assured him that Krishna was safe in the Nors and Yadu believed him instinctively.

Suddenly, he remembered Elli! They had fallen asleep together. ‘Elli!’ he called, looking around. Elli wasn’t there.

‘Yadu!’ called Pikki, skipping up, ‘Get up…it is my last day here at Kirll…I will be married tommorrow!’

‘Have you seen Elli?’ asked Yadu, rubbing his eyes.

‘No!’

They looked around. The iljjocks were moving leisurely towards the Kirll bay for their early morning grooming. ‘Let us go to the bay…’ said Pikki, ‘…we will find Elli there!’

‘Pikki, I am feeling uneasy…’ blurted Yadu suddenly.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Pikki in alarm.

‘It is like Elli is pulling my soul!’ said Yadu, bewildered, ‘Can that happen?’

‘Of course!’ exclaimed Pikki, ‘Being her soulmate, you will feel her distress transparently!’

Yadu’s face turned ashen, ‘Elli is in trouble then!’

‘Search for Elli!’ Pikki yelled loudly to the iljjock horde.

The iljjocks stopped in their tracks and looked at Pikki in alarm. ‘What’s wrong?’ they asked in surprise.

‘Elli iljjock is in trouble!’ Pikki yelled, ‘Spread out and search for her…she should be here somewhere!’

All the iljjocks knew how important Elli was to Iisuu and Myrhim. Without another word they spread quickly in the Kirll forest and began looking for Elli.

Yadu wandered around, his anxiety increasing with every passing moment. ‘Elli…Elli…’ he yelled, wandering between the trees.

‘Pikki!’ cried Jerro suddenly, ‘Come here!’ He had climbed to the top of the hillock and he could see as far as the shore to the ocean. A zolboat was bobbing in the shallows!

Pikki rushed to the spot where Jerro was standing. ‘It is Blumone ’s zolboat!’ he cried angrily, ‘What’s he doing here?’

‘Have you found Elli?’ yelled Yadu, rushing up the hillock. He had come running on hearing Jerro’s cry.

‘No. But, Blumone is here!’ replied Jerro, pointing to the shore.

Yadu’s eyes widened with shock the moment he saw the zolboat bobbing in the water. ‘Elli is in there…I can feel it!’ he cried, leaping down the hillock.

Pikki and Jerro leapt behind Yadu. On the way down, they were joined by scores of other iljjocks. Soon, a huge horde of iljjocks was stomping down to the shore.

‘Aargh!’ groaned a voice in pain, as the iljjocks stampeded over a pile of dry leaves. The horde stopped and looked at the pile with surprise. Yadu leapt forward and brushed off the leaves quickly. Oh! It was Blumone. He was lying on the ground, his hands and tail tied together! And, he was groaning loudly!

The iljjocks were shocked to see Blumone in this state. He had been thrashed and was bruised all over!

‘Blumone! What are you doing here?’ asked Pikki sharply.

Blumone grunted in reply.

‘Where’s Elli?’ thundered Yadu.

‘I don’t…know!” replied Blumone haltingly.

The iljjocks glared at the seamone angrily. Blumone was lying! Oh! Before anyone could say anything else, Yadu picked up a wooden stick and brought it smashing down on the lying seamone’s head.

‘I know where Elli is!’ yelled Yadu, ‘And, I know that you were trying to harm her!’

The iljjocks stepped back in alarm.

‘Stop, Yadu!’ exclaimed Pikki, aghast, ‘You cannot hit him like this…’

Yadu threw away the stick and bolted down to the zolboat to find Elli.

‘Blumone what are you doing here?’ snapped God Iisuu’s voice suddenly.

The iljjocks turned in surprise and were shocked to see God Iisuu standing behind them. Elli had tugged at his soul for help too! Startled, he had come rushing to Kirll to find Blumone lying wounded on the ground.

‘I am dying!’ wailed Blumone grasping his head with his hands. He was in a trauma. Never in his wildest thoughts he had imagined that he would be beaten up like this! ‘That human tried to kill me with a stick…’ he shrieked hysterically.

‘Why are you here, Blumone?’ repeated Iisuu, his face dark and forbidding.

Blumone shivered violently. God Iisuu had the power to pry open his soul and force the truth out of him! ‘I have come to capture Elli iljjock!’ he blurted in fear.

A wave of shock ran through the iljjocks.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Iisuu, his eyes crackling with ugly rage.

‘Elli is bethrothed to me!’ rasped the seamone vilely, ‘It is God Aakaa’s bidding!’ Before he could explain any further, Elli staggered out of the zolboat on the shore.

Yadu had found her tied to a crank inside. He had untied her and was now helping her to walk steadily.

‘Elli, my child!’ cried Iisuu, shocked to see her bruised all over.

‘My lord!’ gasped Elli, ‘Blumone carried me to the zolboat when I was sleeping…he tied me inside…but, three seamones came out from nowhere…they hit Blumone and threw him in the forest before fleeing!’

The iljjocks stared at Elli speechless with shock. A seamone had tried to abduct an iljjock! What was Seabor coming to?

Iisuu gazed at Elli’s bruises and his body began trembling with rage. Such was the power of his rage that the ground quaked and the water on the shore swirled stormily.

Blumone screamed.‘Forgive me, my lord!’ he gasped beseechingly to God Iisuu. He knew that the moment of his death was near.

His premonition was right. God Iisuu turned into a mountain of fury. Bolts of lightning crackled from his eyes and within moments, Blumone was burnt to death.

The iljjocks shook with fright to see the seamone’s charred corpse. The dead body lay still, but the eyes glinted dully. Blumone was now a coon. His soul was trapped inside his body forever.

‘Put him in the zolboat and send him back to Aakaa!’ thundered Iisuu.

‘Yes, my lord!’ whispered Pikki, shivering violently. Using divine force, he lifted Blumone’s corpse and dropped him inside the zolboat. Unaware of how the cranks in the zolboat worked, he pulled all of them. The zolboat jerked to a start and zig zagged wildly in the ocean to disappear over the horizon.

God Iisuu’s face wore a very grim and dangerous look. ‘Elli and Yadu will be married tommorrow…’ he snapped shortly, ‘…after Pikki’s marriage to Jerro!’

‘But, we have not filled our pits yet!’ cried Elli in surprise.

‘It doesn’t matter!’ he retorted harshly. Turning to the iljjocks, he directed, ‘Fill their pits with kiks today. I want them married tommorrow!’

 

 

AAKAA was sleeping in his burrow on the floor of the Seamone Ocean, when a piercing scream rattled his soul. ‘Who is that?’ he growled angrily. It was Blumone! Now that he was now a coon, his soul screamed endlessly. It was a scream that only his divine father, God Aakaa, could hear!

‘Blast the fool!’ thundered Aakaa as the screams became more piercing and louder, ‘Is someone here?’

‘My lord?’ whispered a slave, gliding unobtrusively into the room.

‘Iisuu has killed that fool…’groaned Aakaa, holding his head with his hands, ‘…tell someone to bring his dead body here so that I can shut him up!’

The slave swam out hurriedly to dispatch the directive to Triar seamone when he heard a commotion outside the burrow. Triar seamone had arrived. Shockingly, he had brought Blumone’s coon with him. Some seamones had found Blumone ’s zolboat coursing wildly in the Seamone Ocean and had intercepted it to retrieve his dead body.

Triar seamone chuckled quietly as he carried Blumone ’s corpse to Aakaa. He had managed to stop the vile fool Blumone successfully!

He entered Aakaa’s chamber to dump the dead body on the floor in front of him. The body was wasted but the eyes glittered eerily. Blumone ’s soul was screaming to be free.

‘Quiet!’ yelled Aakaa, holding his head in despair. He quickly transferred a drop of Orgis from his soul into Blumone ’s soul and the screams faded away!

‘To think he was scheming to make us all coons!’ muttered the Triar covertly and sarcastically to his ancestors, ‘When he cannot take the screams of one coon!’

‘Take him away!’ growled Aakaa, kicking the corpse.

His slaves picked Blumone and hurriedly carried him to the chamber of coons.

Aakaa gave the Triar a withering glance and growled, ‘Do you know what a human king would do if one of his soldiers was killed like this?’

‘No, my lord!’ replied the Triar, bewildered.

‘He would declare war!’ scowled Aakaa angrily.

‘But, Blumone’s dead!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘How can we war against a dead seamone?’

‘Not against Blumone you old fool!’ exploded Aakaa with rage, ‘I am talking about a war against Iisuu and his retarded brood!’

‘War against God Iisuu?’ gasped the Triar in disbelief.

‘Yes. It is time I killed a few of his people!’

‘But, we could all die as coons!’ panicked Triar seamone.

‘I don’t care!’ growled Aakaa derisively.

‘But…’

‘But, what?’Aakaa growled. Bursting with rage, he gave the Triar’s soul one hard, cruel wring!

‘Mercy, my lord!’ gasped the Triar, writhing with excruciating pain.

Aakaa let go of him and began pacing around the chamber restlessly.

The Triar slumped on the ground helplessly and wept.

‘I want you to start make weapons immediately!’ growled Aakaa suddenly, ‘Do you understand?’

‘Yes, my lord!’ groaned the Triar haltingly, ‘But, my people are working on the germ beds!’

‘Forget the germ beds!’ retorted Aakaa angrily, ‘I have decided to make the seamone yoke first! And, for that you will have to…’

‘Capture Elli iljjock?’ asked the Triar horrified.

‘Yes!’ growled Aakaa, his face taut and unrelenting, ‘I want you to capture Elli iljjock and bring her here!’

Having made his point, the cruel divine father that he was, Aakaa kicked the Triar out of the chamber.

 

 

Time: Yadu’s eighth day on Seabor (5th century AD)

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor

 

YADU decided that Elli would be a proper wife of his. She would be married to him in accordance to the traditions of his village, Lachvi!

To ensure the same, Yadu decided to approach God Iisuu when he came to Kirll for his morning penance. He rose quickly before the break of dawn and went straight to the hillock where Iisuu could be found everyday before dawn. He found Iisuu sitting on a rock, surrounded by a halo of radiance.

Iisuu was waiting for the kiss of the first rays of the Nors. His eyes were closed and myriad expressions were flitting on his face. Iisuu’s divine sight was powerful enough to look anywhere in the entire universe. But, as usual, he was looking only at Earth!

‘Yadu…come and see!’ he cried, pulling Yadu close, ‘Look at what the Mayans have built!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied Yadu, deftly placing his toe on Iisuu’s toe, to see what Iisuu wanted to show him with his divine sight!

Yadu saw a congested town full of limestone platforms, carved altars, step pyramids and lavishly decorated palaces. ‘It is magnificent, my lord!’ he cried with wonder.

‘The Mayans have studied the stars to build that!’ informed Iisuu radiantly.

Yadu shook his head in disbelief and exclaimed,‘They are just too clever for me!’

‘Ha! Ha! You are speaking like an iljjock now!’ laughed Iisuu.

Inadvertently, Yadu looked at his home- the Himalayan mountain range. They stood rugged and unchanging, even though the world around them was changing fast!

Down in the plains, the Guptas had built a massive empire. Yadu saw large towns and even larger armies, equipped with thousands of horses, spears and bows and arrows. Traders and merchants abounded, carrying wares that he did not recognize. The royal court was gilded with gold and the nobles wore ostentatious ornaments and clothes!

‘Writing has become prolific and the humans are rapidly building their knowledge!’ Iisuu observed keenly, ‘The curious ones are looking at the sun and moon with instruments. There is tremendous progress in the fields of literature, art, and science. I was reading the poet Kalidasa’s delightful compositions a little while back!

‘But, I am sure the cowherds are still the same!’ shrugged Yadu, removing his toe from Iisuu’s toe.

‘Well, the social fabric has changed a lot since your time!’ replied Iisuu with a smile, ‘Now, tell me what brings you here?’

Yadu hesitated for a moment and then blurted quickly, ‘May I get married to Elli in front of the holy fire!’

‘You may!’ agreed Iisuu without a moment’s hesitation, ‘Is there anything else?’

‘Never mind!’

‘What is it?’

‘I wish to make an offering of yak butter and sweet milk broth to the holy fire…but there are no yaks on Seabor!’

‘Hmmm…’ mused Iisuu, ‘You will get the offering!’

‘You are very kind!’ cried Yadu happily.

‘Now go and complete the other preparations…I can see there’s a lot going on inside your head!’

Yadu left Iisuu and ran back to where the iljjocks were sleeping. Dawn was breaking now and the horizon was lit with a wavering purple haze. The saykriles sleeping on the treetops were slowly tittering awake. Down below the trees, the iljjocks were still asleep!

Elli was also sleeping under a tree. With branches of glowing pods bending over her, she seemed to be sleeping in a cradle of lights. Yadu saw her and smiled. He shook her by the shoulders and said, ‘Get up, Elli! We have to make bridal robes for you!’

‘What?’ she replied, opening her eyes drowsily.

‘Come!’ cried Yadu, pulling her to an open clearing where he had gathered a pile of glittering Nahlu husk. Using needles, he began weaving a robe from it and urged Elli to do the same. Elli began weaving eagerly. As her hands flew to weave the husk, she noticed that Yadu was rubbing his ears too frequently!

‘What is wrong with your ears?’ she asked hesitantly.

‘Nothing!’ replied Yadu. His ears were buzzing again!

‘Hey!’ she cried suddenly, ‘Everyone is leaving for Pikki and Jerro’s marriage!’

‘Let’s go too!’ replied Yadu, picking up the unfinished robes.

They swam with the other iljjocks to the bottom of the Iljjock Ocean for Pikki’s marriage. The iljjocks carried a wooden beshel and small pails of kiks for Pikki and Jerro. Yadu already had a beshel in the iljjock settlement and would occupy the same one after his marriage to Elli!

The horde alighted on the oceanbed settlement and while a few iljjocks became occupied with erecting Pikki’s beshel, the others proceeded to the ceremonial altar in the middle of the settlement.

Myrhim and Iisuu were seated in the altar, their presence radiant and exhilarating. Gathered around them were all the married iljjocks.

‘Come forward, Pikki and Jerro!’ said Myrhim in her warm and tinkling voice.

Pikki and Jerro ascended the altar and stood close to each other. Iisuu went up to them and said, ‘Put your toes forward!’

The two put their toes forward and placed them on one another. Lightning crackled between their toes. Iisuu bent over and squeezed them hard. Thick sap oozed out to harden into small luminescent crystals. The crystals were flawless and glowed with the power of a hundred gems!

‘Pikki and Jerro!’ cried Myrhim with joy, ‘Your souls are perfectly matched to each other. You may safely swap your soul strings now!’

Pikki and Jerro entwined their toes together obediently. Swaying unsteadily, they swapped their first soul strings!

‘You are married to each other now!’ declared Iisuu to the joy of all iljjocks. He then proceeded to place his toe on their toes. ‘Herewith, I join you to the iljjock yoke!’ he declared as a flash of lightning crackled from his toe to theirs.

‘Welcome to the yoke, Pikki and Jerro!’ cried the married iljjocks on the yoke.

Pikki and Jerro heard the voices through their souls. They looked eagerly into their souls and saw the souls of hundreds of iljjocks shining like lamps. Shining brightest was the divine soul of God Iisuu- it pulled with a force of attraction more than that of a thousand Nors!

Pure iljjock love flowed on the yoke and it flooded Pikki and Jerro’s souls to make them sway with rapture and fulfillment. Their toes entwined, they proceeded to swim to their new beshel to begin their boondi!

It was now Yadu and Elli’s turn to get married!

Yadu and Elli swam to the middle of the nuptial altar, dressed in their bridal robes. The iljjocks chuckled with delight and wonder to see them dressed like this!

‘Bring the offering!’ said Myrhim radiantly, gesturing to a pair of iljjocks.

The iljjocks carried in a sealed pot of steaming yak milk broth. A thin spout would allow the broth to be served at the bottom of the ocean!

‘O wonder!’ cried Yadu with delight, wanting to taste the delicious broth. But, then he remembered that he had no sense of taste anymore.

‘Let me see…’ frowned Myrhim thoughtfully. Oh! She touched Yadu with her divine scimitar and he got his sense of taste back.

‘I burnt your taste buds by mistake…’ she explained apologetically, ‘I have revived them!’

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Yadu.

‘But, your ears are all right!’ she said, bewildered, ‘Why do you say that they don’t sound well?’

Yadu was about to explain the weird buzzing sound that he heard often, when Iisuu intervened, ‘It is time to get married, Yadu!’

The iljjocks followed Iisuu’s directions excitedly to light a fire with dry Nahlu sticks on the oceanbed. The sticks caught fire because of the zol crystals lighting them up. Iisuu peered sideways at Earth, and read hymns directly from a scroll in a priest’s hand over there! Yadu and Elli were married in accordance to human rituals.

Myrhim was very eager to serve the yak milk broth that she had prepared with so much care.

‘Give us taste buds too!’ urged the iljjocks.

Myrhim touched them all happily with her divine scimitar and gave them taste buds. The illjocks could now enjoy the sense of taste! While the iljjocks slurped the yak milk broth with great delight, Yadu and Elli now proceeded to unite in accordance to the iljjock rituals!

‘I join you two as soulmates!’ declared God Iisuu radiantly, entwining their toes with his own.

Yadu staggered as lightning crackled between his toe and Elli’s. An avalanche of divine power flooded his soul and he would have collapsed had it not been for Iisuu holding him steadily. Zol crystals rolled out of his and Elli’s toes, and as they rolled out, the pressure that had built up, slowly eased out.

‘Welcome…Yadu…Yadu…Elli…Elli!’ the voices of hundreds of iljjocks filled Yadu’s soul. He found that he was linked to them transparently and was astounded by the massive power flowing from them- it was the pooled energy of all the iljjock souls!

‘We are on the iljjock yoke!’ murmured Elli, dazed.

‘You can marry each other now!’ declared Myrhim and Iisuu together.

In a daze Yadu and Elli entwined their toes and looked into each other’s souls with the sight of the soul. Elli’s soul strings carried memories of her iljjock ancestors and one string of divine lore. Yadu recognized the divine string instantly. It glowed with blinding power!

Yadu’s soul strings carried memories of Earth- his village, herds and his kin!

‘Elli, swap the string of divine lore first!’ urged Iisuu, ‘It is time to give Yadu divine powers!’

Elli nodded and chose the string of divine lore. The chosen string duplicated. One string stayed with her and the other flowed to Yadu!

Oh! As the string flowed into his soul, Yadu found himself gaining divine powers. To his disbelief, he could now see all air, water and land particles on Seabor. Further, for particles up to a certain distance, he could not only see them, but he could also feel them and move them like his own body parts!

‘My lord, I have divine sight!’ cried Yadu in awe, ‘And, I can also exert divine force!’

‘Good!’ nodded Iisuu with relief, ‘Now transfer a string from your soul to Elli’s soul…to complete the swap!’

Yadu chose a soul string carrying memories of his childhood. It duplicated and one of the strings flowed into Elli’s soul while the other stayed with him. She saw towering mountains, green forest, and herds of cattle. And, glimpses of Yadu’s younger brother Krishna and his cowherd mates!

‘Yadu and Elli, you are married to each other now!’ declared Iisuu, weeping fragrant tears of joy, ‘You may join the iljjock community as a married pair!’

The two looked at the iljjocks gathered around the altar in a daze. Farro, Hatti, Miia, Pikki, Jerro, and the others were standing around them. They were all weeping with delight, making the surrounding water smell strongly of the fragrance of joy. Glowing radiantly, Elli and Yadu swam out of the altar to join the community. They embraced all the iljjocks by turns.

Later, they retreated to their beshel on the ocean floor to begin their lives as a newly married iljjock pair!

 

 

TO settle down in their new lives, Yadu and Elli became busy doing small chores that the iljjock pairs did everyday!

Yadu dug a pit in a corner of their beshel for storing the pile of kiks they had brought with them from Kirll forest. The kiks would last them for some ten days and then they would have to swim back to Kirll to get another pile from their pits.

Elli became busy sorting the zol crystals they had produced together. They would barter these crystals with the seamones for things that they wanted. Elli fancied getting colorful bead necklaces made for herself- she had seen the women from Yadu’s village wearing them!

It was high noon and the iljjocks were out on the ocean floor, etching their boondis lazily. Elli swam out of her beshel and began looking around for a spot on the frozen ocean floor to begin her boondi.

Soon, Yadu also finished his chores and joined Elli outside the beshel. Just being near her made him feel fulfilled and happy. He felt an overwhelming urge to swap soul strings with her again! Since, they were out in the open ocean, he decided to call her through the yoke.

‘Elli!’ he called longingly.

Elli looked at him with surprise. ‘Yadu!’ she smiled, ‘It is time to begin our boondi!’

‘Be silent!’ scolded the iljjocks in irritation. Unless it was truly something important, no one spoke on the yoke and disturbed others!

Eager to start their boondi, Elli entwined her toe around Yadu’s toe. A flash of lightning crackled between them, making them tremble with blinding rapture. Glittering zol crystals spurted out of their toes, and with each crystal that rolled out, the pressure that had built up inside their souls eased away.

Surrounded by the magical haze of love, Elli began etching furrows on the ocean floor and pushing the crystals in them. Yadu joined her and soon, their boondi began taking shape!

As the boondi grew, the love between Yadu and Elli also grew. It flowed into the yoke and in turn, more love flowed back to them from the iljjocks. Until it reached to a magical crescendo, whereby they were swimming in an ocean of rapturous love and joy.

Yadu allowed himself to be lost in the magical haze of love. Wanting to remain in this state forever, he now understood why the iljjocks could not tolerate the slightest disturbance on the yoke!

For the rest of the day, he made his boondi dazedly with Elli. The day passed and late in the evening when the Nors lit the ocean floor with a poignant reddish glow, he retired to the beshel with Elli.

As Elli lay down on her cot, Yadu tried to remember what they made in their boondi. Elli had made strange lines on the ocean floor!

‘What were those lines?’ he asked curiously.

‘Oh! I drew the mountains that I saw around your village!’ she beamed,‘What did you make?’

Yadu frowned as he struggled to remember what he had made.

‘I think you made pictures of the Nors!’ said Elli brightly.

‘Oh, yes!’ he replied, remembering that he had etched the Nors. ‘I want to look at them again!’ he murmured, making a move to get up and peer at the boondi again!

‘No, not now!’ cried Elli, pulling him back, ‘We have to swap our soul strings or they will get entangled!’

‘Oh!’ he exclaimed, and lay down next to Elli.

Like a true iljjock pair, they entwined their toes and fell asleep. As they slept, the next string was swapped between their souls!

‘O wonder!’ sighed Elli in her sleep as she saw more of Lachvi. She saw colorful robes worn by the maids and heard poignant songs sung by the cowherds.

Similarly, Yadu learned more of the iljjock ways. There were more than a thousand formations to channel the energy flowing on the iljjock yoke and he had to learn all of them. He was just about to grasp how to make an attack formation, when a familiar buzzing sound startled him!

‘Is that you, Krishna?’ he cried in his sleep, searching desperately for a glimpse of his dead brother. He saw only darkness and the rustle grew louder. He cried out again. Oh! How he cried. But, he did not get an answer.

Oh! His cries echoed shrilly on the iljjock yoke, waking up the iljjocks. The iljjocks were also swapping soul strings, and as they came awake, the strings snapped, making them cry out with searing pain.

‘Yadu, stop!’ cried Elli in agony.

‘YADU!’ yelled the iljjocks with rage.

Yadu woke up, startled.

‘Yadu, what have you done?’ cried Elli in disbelief. She looked outside their beshel in sudden fear!

Oh! The iljjocks were gathering outside in rage. Driven insane with pain and rage, they were instinctively making a formation to crush Yadu’s soul to bits.

‘No!’ cried Elli, rushing outside the beshel. She flailed her arms wildly to scatter the iljjocks.

‘Elli, stop!’ cried Yadu, rushing after her.

Oh! Suddenly, he felt a crushing force come down on him, making him convulse with unbearable pain. The iljjocks were crushing his soul with their collective divine power

‘Aargh!’ groaned Yadu with excruciating pain. He heard Elli cry too and that made it worse. He thought he was just about to die, when he heard God Iisuu thunder, ‘STOP! What are you doing?’

Startled, the iljjocks scattered. The crushing force vanished, but Yadu passed out! When he came back to his senses, he saw God Iisuu standing over him!

‘He ruptured our soul strings…’ the iljjocks were shrieking on the yoke, ‘…we could have died to become coons…he is not fit to be on the yoke!’

Iisuu looked at Yadu sternly and asked, ‘Why did you cry on the yoke?’

Yadu looked back at him helplessly. He could not talk about the weird buzzing in his ears without making a fool of himself. ‘I don’t know!’ he murmured weakly.

‘Why don’t you tell him the truth?’ cried Elli, glaring at God Iisuu.

Iisuu was surprised. And, the iljjocks were shocked. No iljjock looked at God Iisuu that way. Elli iljjock, of course, was half-human!

‘My lord, it is something that Yadu heard!’ declared Elli in a strong voice, ‘I heard it too!’

‘Well, what did you hear?’ asked Iisuu tersely.

Yadu searched his memory for the sound. He knew that he could retrieve his memories from the strings in his soul by using divine force and he did that now. An eerie rustling sound echoed over the yoke and this time around, Iisuu and the iljjocks heard it too!

Oh! Iisuu froze with shock. He staggered as if a thousand blows had hit him in the face. ‘I want to hear that again!’ he croaked in a low whisper.

Yadu retrieved the memory from his soul again. Iisuu and the iljjocks heard the weird sound again! ‘I have to find Myrhim!’ whispered Iisuu, his face deathly pale.

He left the gathering speedily but did not have to go far. Myrhim had come rushing out of her beshel!

Goddess Myrhim’s face was as deathly pale as Iisuu’s. She normally ignored the chatter she heard on the yoke with her omnipresent powers, but this was clearly a sound she could not ignore!

The moment the goddess heard the deathly rustling, she dropped everything that she was doing and hurried outside her beshel to find out what was going on. She found Iisuu with iljjocks and it took her a moment to ascertain what had happened!

‘Yadu, we have to talk!’ she said urgently, entering Yadu’s empty beshel and pulling him behind her!

God Iisuu also followed in quickly! Elli, Pikki and Farro, the leader of the iljjocks, followed close behind. The other iljjocks waited outside and listened anxiously on the yoke.

‘Let me hear that sound again!’ whispered the goddess inside the beshel.

Yadu retrieved the memory again even as Iisuu and Myrhim peered into his soul anxiously. After listening to the strange sound, the two exchanged a shocked glance.

‘Yadu, my child!’ asked the goddess, ‘For how long have you been hearing this?’

‘Since the time I landed on Seabor… no, now that I recollect…I heard it first when I was travelling from Earth to Seabor!’

Iisuu stared at Yadu with shock.‘I heard nothing!’ he protested to Myrhim, as she looked at him enquiringly.

Myrhim seemed to be deeply flustered by Yadu’s revelation. She pulled Iisuu aside and began speaking to him confidentially through soultalk.

Meanwhile, Yadu and Elli looked at their wounds.

‘This is serious!’ cried Pikki, aghast to see the bleeding wounds on Yadu and Elli’s fragile bodies.

Yadu smiled. Pikki was not angry with him anymore and neither were the iljjock. They had come out of their angry spell and were chattering worriedly on the yoke!

‘Close the wounds by using divine force!’ they cried urgently on the yoke.

Yadu and Elli entwined their toes and tried to force their wounds close. They managed to close small wounds, but a few large ones remained open.

‘I don’t want to become a coon!’ wept Elli in despair.

Agonised to see Elli so distraught, Yadu was about to shout for Iisuu, when he heard a familiar rustling sound buzz in his ears. Elli heard it too and her eyes flew wide open! ‘Shhh…’she whispered to Yadu, motioning him to keep completely quiet.

Oh! The touch of a thousand feathers caressed their wounded bodies and the warmth of a hundred Nors seemed to flow through them without burning them. The warmth healed them completely and they looked at each other in disbelief!

‘It is a miracle!’ whispered Pikki, his horse-face trembling with shock.

Oh! He was not the only one in the room to be flabbergasted. Iisuu and Myrhim stood stupefied, as if hit by a hundred scimitars!

‘Do you know that was?’ asked Iisuu in a trembling voice finally.

‘I don’t know!’ replied Yadu, not wanting to mention Krishna’s name at all.

Myrhim and Iisuu read Yadu’s mind and shook their heads. ‘No!’ remarked the goddess, ‘That sound does not belong to a human!’

‘To whom does it belong to then?’ asked Elli, bewildered.

‘There is only one who we know by that sound!’ replied Myrhim, ‘Hoon, the God of Death!’

‘It is true!’ burst God Iisuu with uncontrollable joy, ‘That was God Hoon! Yadu has been hearing him all along!’

‘God Hoon?’ gasped Pikki and Farro and the iljjocks, reeling with shock. Iisuu’s joyful voice had echoed loudly on the yoke, and all the iljjocks had heard what he had said! They huddled close together, shedding tears of fear, which they did instinctively whenever they heard Hoon’s evil name.

Myrhim was strangely flustered. She trembled with happiness and anxiety by turns. And, she stared fondly at Yadu!

Yadu was confused and disappointed. He was hoped secretly that Krishna was the one buzzing his ears. But, it turned out to be God Hoon. God Hoon? Why?

Elli shared Yadu’s confusion and held his hand in worried silence.

‘No wonder you survived while others from your village died!’ burst out Iisuu suddenly, ‘We thought it to be a miracle when, God Hoon had protected you!’

‘The mighty devil is merciful to Yadu!’ agreed Myrhim, clasping her hands happily.

Yadu looked at Iisuu and Myrhim with bewilderment. Iisuu was almost weeping with joy!

‘God Hoon matters everything to them!’ remarked Pikki.

‘Why is that?’ asked Yadu, puzzled.

‘His scimitar carries the most power in this universe!’

‘Why is Iisuu weeping?’

‘He has a deep emotional bond with the devil running back to the old bor!’ whispered Pikki.

‘I see!’ nodded Yadu.

While Elli looked at Iisuu and Myrhim’s radiant faces with wonder, the iljjocks gathered outside the beshel broke into an excited chatter. They had heard everything through the yoke!

‘Yadu is blessed!’ declared Farro, the leader of the iljjocks.

‘Yes! Yes!’ agreed the others.

Yadu smiled, overwhelmed to receive the love and admiration of the iljjocks. He turned his thoughts to the one responsible for it- Hoon, the evil God of Death!

He tried to remember all the instances when he had felt God Hoon’s presence. He recalled that when Iisuu had carried him from Earth to Seabor and when Pikki had taken him on a dreamlike sojourn to the bor, he had felt a killing pressure on his soul. Just when he had thought he would die, the pressure had eased and he had felt as if he was floating on a cloud of feathers. Someone had cushioned him from death. That someone, he realized, had been Hoon, the God of Death himself!

Yadu recalled the strange dream he had had of lads from his village. What had Krishna said? That God Hoon had saved him from Aakaa’s torture. And, fulfilled his death wish of meeting Yadu once!

Although, Yadu had not seen God Hoon, he knew him instinctively by now. Hoon was the one watching him with thousand eyes. He was watching him even now. Like a father! Like a true god! He was the one that his village worshipped, and the one that the villagers could see riding on dark stormclouds. Yadu was sure of it. For generations, the people of Lachvi had been his staunch devotees. Yadu had become his devotee now!

Enlightened, Yadu looked up at the sky. Dark stormclouds were looming up there too! ‘My lord!’ whispered Yadu fervently, searching for a glimpse of the mighty Hoon in the swirling clouds. He saw nothing. He folded his hands in prayer and gratitude and whispered, ‘My lord, show yourself for I am your devotee and I want to see you!’

Oh! As if in response, the skies erupted. Massive thunder and lightning crackled over the entire iljjock horde gathered outside Yadu’s beshel!

The iljjocks screamed and huddled together, creating a minor pandemonium.

Iisuu and Myrhim rushed out of the beshel and looked up in disbelief. The goddess fell on the cold ocean floor and raised her arms in obeisance. Iisuu raised his arms too. Both divine creatures glowed with their full radiance, as they looked up to the most powerful omnipresent god in the universe- Hoon, the God of Death!

The storm abated as quickly as it had started. It became quiet and peaceful again. While the iljjocks skipped away to the safety of their beshels, Iisuu and Myrhim went back into Yadu’s beshel again!

They were exultant and expected everyone inside the beshel to be the same. Pikki, Elli, and Farro were suitably thunderstruck. Yadu, however, appeared to be disappointed!

‘I asked him to show himself!’ he blurted without hesitation, ‘He ignored my request!’

‘What?’ cried Myrhim, her mouth open wide with shock, ‘You summoned the God of Death to Seabor?’

‘No…yes!’ replied Yadu, confused about the implications of what he had done, ‘I just wanted to have a look at him!’

‘You did nothing wrong!’ spoke up Elli supportively, ‘For that matter, even I would like to have a look at him!’

‘No!’ protested the iljjocks in fear over the yoke, ‘He is evil and we don’t want to see him!’ They had retreated to their beshels but were listening intently to everything that was being said inside Yadu’s beshel through the yoke!

God Iisuu’s face wore a grim and weathered look. ‘Yes, he is evil! And, he is the harbinger of death!’ he declared on the yoke emphatically, ‘But, evil is not be feared. Death is not to be feared. Both have a purpose in the cycle of creation!’

‘How could evil has a purpose, ever?’ asked Hatti, bewildered.

‘It is a long story!’ shrugged Iisuu sadly.

‘And, cannot be told easily!’ added Goddess Myrhim.

Silence prevailed on the yoke. The iljjocks knew that the answers to Hatti’s question, and the many questions they had asked in the past, could be told only by reciting the divine lore! And that Iisuu could never bring himself to recite the entire divine lore. He wept too much.

‘So, you told God Hoon that you wanted to see him?’ smiled Myrhim, looking at Yadu with widened eyes.

‘Yes, I did!’ replied Yadu eagerly.

‘Do you still want to see him?’ asked the goddess.

‘Of course he does!’ intervened Iisuu, ‘And, I want all iljjocks to see him too and get rid of their fears. Has anyone thought why God Hoon is so merciful to Yadu?’

The iljjocks wondered in silence.

‘The lad is fearless!’ continued Iisuu radiantly, ‘He had no fear in his heart when I abducted him from Earth. And, the one divine mood that God Hoon abhors, is fear. It is a trait of his that goes back to the old bor!’

‘My lord!’ said Farro, having made up his mind, ‘I agree with you. We have to overcome our fears. We are willing to see God Hoon!’

‘But, how will we see him?’ intervened Yadu, ‘He is gone!’

‘You can see him through the strings of divine lore!’ suggested Goddess Myrhim, her face lit with happiness. A true mother, her happiness lay in the achievements of her children, however small and insignificant. And, she was very happy that the cruel, evil Hoon had appreciated Yadu and had been merciful to him!

‘But, the lone string that we have in our souls…’murmured Farro illjock thoughtfully, ‘…shows only the bor to us!’

‘The goddess will load another string in Yadu’s soul!’ declared Iisuu, ‘A string that will show you God Hoon!’

‘Another string?’ exclaimed Pikki, ‘You mean Yadu’s soul will carry the load of two strings? Is it strong enough?’

‘No, it is not!’ replied Elli worriedly, ‘He will die!’

‘He won’t!’ chuckled Iisuu, ‘He has the God of Death on his side!’

‘No, seriously, my lord!’ protested Elli, ‘His soul will not be able to take the load of two strings of divine lore!’

‘Yadu’s soul may scatter from the additional load!’ agreed Farro.

Goddess Myrhim looked at the worried faces in front of her and smiled, ‘I will reduce the power of the second string suitably!’

‘Also, Yadu’s soul is linked to the iljjock yoke now!’ added God Iisuu, ‘The load of two strings will be shared by all the iljjocks!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied the iljjocks in agreement. Their faith in God Iisuu was more than any fear they harbored.

‘Come out, then. All of you! And, share the load!’ snapped Farro, their able leader.

‘Oh no!’ they moaned lazily. Apparently, the night was going to stretch long and there would be no more swapping tonight.

There was mayhem as the iljjocks flocked out to gather around Yadu’s beshel. Guided by Farro, they shifted places to make a suitable formation. The formation would pool the power of the yoke and provide critical support to Yadu’s soul when Myrhim loaded it with another string of divine lore.

Meanwhile, the goddess was sitting in a corner in Yadu’s beshel and looking bemusedly at each and every string that lay inside her divine soul! She was searching for a string that was rich in lore but less in power!

Myrhim had made mistakes many times in the past and she wanted to make none this time. The slightest mistake on her part, she knew, could shock Yadu into certain death.

AFTER a long search, Goddess Myrhim found a string of divine lore that was perfect for Yadu’s soul. It contained memories of all three omnipresent gods of the bor!

‘Are we ready?’ she asked, looking around the beshel nervously.

Yadu was sitting on his cot. Elli was sitting next to him, her hand in his hand, and her toe entwined with his toe. God Iisuu was standing next to them. Pikki and Farro had already moved outside to join the formation.

‘Are you ready Farro?’ asked Iisuu through the yoke.

Farro iljjock was spearheading the iljjock formation outside Yadu’s beshel.‘Yes, my lord!’ he replied, motioning to the others to brace themselves, ‘The yoke is ready to take the impact!’

‘Are you ready, Yadu?’ asked Myrhim.

‘Yes, my goddess!’ he replied. Elli grasped his hand tightly. She was supporting Yadu’s soul through her toe and the yoke. Being his soulmate, she would play an important role if Yadu’s soul sank for some reason.

Goddess Myrhim took in a deep breath. Using her divine scimitar, she picked the selected string of divine lore from her soul, reduced its power considerably, and placed it very carefully in Yadu’s soul.

‘Oh!’ gasped Yadu, falling back. He was hit by an avalanche of power similar to the one he had faced when Elli had given him his first string of divine lore. He thought he would pass out from the tremendous energy crushing his soul, when the yoke came into action.

‘Now!’ grunted Farro and the iljjocks absorbed the excess power flowing from the new string of lore into their souls, giving instant relief to Yadu.

The wild swaying in Yadu’s head stopped and the haze in front of his eyes cleared. Oh! He found himself suspended in divine continuum. He was back in the bor. And, Elli, Pikki, Farro and the iljjocks were there by his side. They were seeing the bor in a waking dream and were blinded temporarily by the stupendous energy levels around them.

Yadu looked for Iisuu and Myrhim. They were standing a little away from them in the divine continuum, and Iisuu was looking around with tears in his eyes. This was the world he had taken birth in, and later, lost!

This time around, Yadu knew what to expect from a visit to the bor. Soon, when his eyes were adjusted to the brightness, he would see flocks of boids and swathes of secrets around him, all behaving like living creatures!

Well, he saw them almost instantly, but they were not flocking around him or anyone. Startled by the presence of so many iljjocks in the bor, the boids and the secrets were watching warily from far off! It was only when Iisuu made his presence obvious did they come scampering fondly to him and everyone!

‘Eeee…’ squeaked the iljjocks with delight as the boids nuzzled them hard and the secrets slipped in and out of their feet!

Hordes of boids flocked to Myrhim and basked in her divine glow. She was born in the bor and they took to her presence naturally. Myrhim laughed in her warm, tinkling voice and stroked them fondly. ‘They behave so mysteriously alive!’ she laughed to Iisuu.

‘I know!’ replied Iisuu, a tear escaping his eye, ‘As if they were living in the present and not in the past!’

‘And, as if we were truly present in the bor…’ added Elli, her eyes wide with wonder, ‘and not seeing it all in a waking dream!’

‘You must remember,’ interjected Farro, ‘The bor was the original source of all divine powers. It had many divine traits that would seem strange to us now…but they were perfectly normal at that time!’

‘It gave birth to the omnipresent nature gods!’ smiled Iisuu, moving up to them, ‘God Hoon was one of them. We came here to see him…I wonder where he is?’

‘Oh, yes!’ exclaimed Elli, suddenly remembering why they were all here.

‘God Hoon was one of them?’ asked Yadu in surprise, ‘You mean there were others too?’

‘Oh, yes!’ replied Myrhim radiantly, ‘God Hoon was only one of the three omnipresent gods of the bor! The other two were…’

‘The mighty God of Time and Goddess Mystery!’ Iisuu interjected, his face lit with joy, ‘You will see them all shortly!’ Apparently, just saying their names out aloud seemed to give him great joy.

‘Where are they?’ asked the iljjocks in unison, looking at their desolate surroundings.

‘Looks like we are in the season of death!’ murmured Pikki, ‘All the gods are dead!’

‘Only the ones with seasonal souls are dead!’ chuckled Iisuu, ‘The three omnipresent gods had perennial souls- they are alive and very much around!’

‘Really?’ frowned Hatti, his dog-face screwed inquisitively, ‘Where are they then?’

‘They are everywhere!’ replied Iisuu with twinkling eyes, ‘Look carefully.’

The iljjocks looked and saw no one!

‘The omnipresent gods had subjects in every lap and wave of the bor!’ explained Myrhim, The subjects gave them the power to feel any niche of the bor and migrate their souls anywhere!’

‘I see nothing!’ declared Yadu, having screwed his eyes to the maximum.

‘Patience!’ smiled the goddess, opening the palm of her hand. Oh! Tiny drops rained on her hand like pearls. ‘Guess what is this?’

‘You are seeing moments of time, the subjects of the mighty God of Time!’ declared Iisuu with a wide smile, ‘You won’t believe this…but they are alive too!’

Their mouths wide open with shock, the iljjocks stared at the moments raining on the goddess’s hand. Because of the mysterious power of the divine lore, they were seeing the moments as the gods who once lived in the bor saw them.

‘Eeee…’ the iljjocks shrieked with delight as they suddenly noticed that the moments were raining on them too. For that matter, they were raining everywhere like a gentle shower!

Iisuu grinned with utter delight. What was a normal spectacle to him, seemed to be a fantasy to the iljjocks. ‘The God of Time lives nearby!’ he chuckled, ‘Let us pay him a small visit!’

Iisuu and Myrhim led the way and the iljjocks followed close behind. They all knew where they were headed- to the edge of the bor.

Yadu and Elli chattered with the group as they went along. Soon, the boids began thinning out and giving way to an ocean of stark nothingness. This ocean was the Outbor and it surrounded the bor from all sides.

‘Look!’ cried Iisuu, pointing to a spot just inside the edge of the bor.

The iljjocks looked and they gasped. An ethereal fortress towered in front of them, built from columns of glistening moments!

‘This is Awaad, the divine abode of the God of Time!’ informed Myrhim, ‘It was made of raw moments. The moments were loyal subjects of Time and they poured in every realm of the bor to make him omnipresent!

Iisuu took a step forward and fingered the ethereal walls of the fortress adoringly. ‘My lord!’ he whispered in a voice trembling with emotion, ‘Your Iisuu has come to see you! Won’t you show yourself?’

Oh! Moments caved in beneath Iisuu’s fingers and a portal opened. Blinding radiance poured out of the portal to stun the iljjocks momentarily. Their eyes adjusted soon and they peered curiously inside the fortress.

A radiant arrow was standing loftily inside. The head of the arrow seared through the spires and the tail was rooted firmly on the floor. The shaft of the arrow was thick and furrowed. Moments were rising from the shaft to the arrowhead- to rain across the bor like glistening pearls.

All of a sudden, a divine visage flickered on the arrowhead. ‘It is the mighty God of Time!’ whispered Myrhim in a daze, ‘You are seeing his naked soul as those who lived in the bor saw it!’

The iljjocks gasped collectively. The cut of his features was exquisite and his eyes were meltingly beautiful- they pulled with a strange mystical allure. One of them even had a mild squint.

Iisuu wept poignant tears of joy on seeing Time, and his joy flowed on the yoke and flooded the souls of the iljjocks.

‘He was the most powerful god of the bor. A more perfect divine being could not exist. He had an incorruptible and divine character…he had a divine will that was as resolute as his arrow, and he inspired unshakeable faith in others!’ Iisuu gushed, even as the flickering face disappeared from the arrowhead.

The portal to Awaad closed just as it had opened, leaving the onlookers bereft.

Yadu was deeply impressed by the God of Time. He was looking stunned at the closed portal, when he felt his feet tingle strangely. Dragging his eyes away from Awaad, he looked down in surprise. Oh! Swathes of dark tendrils had come from nowhere and were tying his feet vigorously.

‘Hey!’ he cried in alarm, trying to shake the secrets away from his feet.

‘Careful, Yadu!’ scolded Myrhim, bending down to finger the secrets gently, ‘These secrets are the subjects of Goddess Mystery!’

Iisuu wiped his tears and smiled at the secrets. The secrets abandoned Yadu and wiggled over to Iisuu. Even as the iljjocks broke into delighted laughter, they wrapped themselves all around God Iisuu!

‘Ha! Ha!’ Iisuu laughed with the iljjocks, greatly tickled by the slippery subjects of Mystery!

‘Come, let us pay Goddess Mystery a small visit!’ declared Myrhim gaily, pulling Yadu and Farro behind her.

‘Follow us!’ instructed Farro to the iljjocks, hurrying to follow the goddess.

Myrhim moved away from the edge, back to the main body of the bor. The flocks of boids became denser and she pushed them out of her way. ‘Look!’ she cried, pointing to massive swathes of secrets swirling in front of her. The iljjocks noticed that a dense mesh of secrets was spread all across the body of the bor!

‘This mesh was called the Urk!’ explained Iisuu, ‘It was the abode of Goddess Mystery. Her naked soul lived in this mesh like Time’s naked soul lived in Awaad!’

‘The Urk!’ repeated Elli, gently fingering a living secret. Oh! The secret flinched and curled away.

‘That was a secret that I just touched, Yadu!’ cried Elli with wonder.

‘I know!’ cried Yadu with amazement.

‘The secrets were loyal subjects of the goddess and they stretched as long tendrils to every realm of the bor to make Mystery omnipresent!’ continued Iisuu.

‘If the gods were like stallions, Mystery was a mare, the only mare in the bor! She had a divine womb from which she gave birth to the gods!’ added Myrhim, pushing aside a thick mesh of tendrils.

The iljjocks looked at what the goddess was showing to them. It was the divine womb! They saw it as the gods living in the bor saw it- it looked like a massive hollow of a tree and all tendrils seemed to be radiating from it. The tendrils branched in all directions like a tree, and through the gaps in the branches, flowed tremendous divine energy!

‘Mystery was the divine mother of the gods!’ informed Myrhim.

‘She was my mother too, and an infinite reservoir of maternal love and caring!’ whispered Iisuu, touching the Urk lightly. ‘Show yourself, mother…your Iisuu is here!’

The iljjocks looked at the Urk with eyes wide open with anticipation.

‘There!’ whispered Myrhim, pointing at a divine visage glowing in the shadows.

The iljjocks looked at Mystery, mesmerized. She was the epitome of motherly beauty, intriguing and warm. The countless secrets that she harbored in her soul made her visage look indescribably bewitching. Her massive divine form, the Urk, swished hauntingly in the bor.

Alas! The vision of the divine mother disappeared as soon as it had appeared. The iljjocks felt doubly bereft as Mystery’s visage faded away.

‘Surprisingly, she was very strong!’ added Iisuu with a huge smile, ‘Tremendous divine strength was hidden in her tendrils… she could even overthrow Hoon, that is, if you took away his scimitar!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed the iljjocks

‘If Mystery was your mother!’ Pikki asked Iisuu with curiosity, ‘Who was your father, my lord?’

‘The God of Time was the divine father of all gods!’ interjected Myrhim, ‘For, it was he who released all the birth moments!’

‘What about God Hoon?’ asked Yadu suddenly, ‘Where are his subjects and where did he live?’

Iisuu smiled. ‘Hoon was the third omnipresent god in the bor and the ‘devil’ to the rest of the gods!’ he replied, ‘If the God of Time gave the gods life, Hoon gave them death! He had a divine scimitar with which he killed the gods!’

‘A scimitar like yours?’ Yadu asked Myrhim.

‘Much more powerful than mine!’ replied the goddess with a shrug.

‘Hoon was a strange god. He was, surprisingly, the God of Boids!’ continued Iisuu, ‘His subjects were the boids drifting in the bor!

‘The boids gave Hoon the tidings of every niche of the bor and made him omnipresent!’ added Myrhim.

‘Where is his abode?’ asked Yadu.

‘I guess it is time to pay God Hoon a short visit!’ smiled Iisuu.

Iisuu led everyone to the other side of the bor. Moving through flocks of boids, they came to a bed of glowing divine carcasses.

‘I have seen this before!’ exclaimed Yadu loudly, turning to Pikki.

‘Shhh!’ hushed Pikki, ‘We came here when we visited the bor earlier!’

‘We entered a cave where we saw ‘moods’ blooming like flowers!’ whispered Yadu, straining to remember.

‘The cave is called the haven!’ chuckled Pikki, ‘Look, Iisuu is going right in there! Let’s follow him!’

Iisuu entered a portal in the bed of carcasses to entern a deep and brightly lit cavern. ‘As you all know, this is the divine haven!’ informed Iisuu to the iljjocks following him inside, ‘It was the original abode of God Hoon, or the devil, or the God of Boids! He was known by many names!’

‘Hoon lived here?’ asked the iljjocks, shivering uneasily.

‘Yes!’ murmured Myrhim, sharing their discomfort.

‘That’s Evil!’ cried Pikki as a vile shadow slithered past them.

‘Evil helped Hoon to kill the gods!’ informed Iisuu.

The iljjocks huddled closer and looked around with lowered eyes for a glimpse of God Hoon. There was no one about!

Yadu was not afraid and he wandered around. The haven was exactly as he remembered. In a pit in a corner, burned the source of the energy of the bor- the Holy Knot. Huge flames flared from it sporadically, lighting the patches on the walls with bright radiance. On the patches, grew blooms of the seasonal moods of the bor.

‘They look so neat!’ he exclaimed, pointing to a patch of sorrow blooms, ‘As if someone has been taking care of them!’

‘Yes, they were well cared for!’ informed Iisuu with a catch in his voice, ‘God Hoon tended to them when the bor was still alive. The gods called him the devil for his deathly acts. But, he acted only to preserve the bor!’

‘If Time was the most beautiful and incorruptible god in the bor…’ said Myrhim, ‘Hoon was the most scintillating and talented one!’

Iissu added, ‘He had two faces, actually. His first one was that of the vicious devil…he worked passionately with Evil to orchestrate the orgy of death. The other one was that of the skillful God of Boids…he worked wonders to preserve the fragile cycle of the seasons. In the season of death, he cultivated a crop of sorrow blossoms and grew moods such as anxiety, despair and fear to drive the gods to their deaths. In the season of life, he harvested blossoms of joy and grew moods such as faith and hope to prolong the life of the gods!’

‘After how many seasons did the bor die?’ asked Hatti with interest.

‘The bor died after giving eight seasons of life!’ replied Iisuu with a loud sigh, ‘It had only so much divine blood in its heart!’

‘Blood like ours?’ asked Hatti, puzzled.

‘No!’ exclaimed Myrhim, ‘The divine blood flowed from the heart of the bor to the souls of the gods and gave them their consciousness! Each season it gave a good part of its blood to the gods to make them come alive and conscious.

‘Every season of life, it lost a lot of its strength!’ sighed Iisuu, ‘Small shards of energy broke off from the surface of the bor and cracks appeared on the bed of carcasses. Although, in the early seasons, it did not matter! Because, the bor healed miraculously in the season of death!’

‘How did it do that?’ asked Farro with wonder.

‘By putting the Time and Mystery to sleep, and pulling their blood back from them!’

‘What?’ exclaimed the iljjocks in unison.

‘The bor had a very strong survival instinct!’ chuckled Myrhim, ‘In the season of death, when the poignant spoor of sorrow had soothed its beating heart, the bor pulled back blood from the omnipresent gods and used it become strong again. It pulled back all the broken away shards, and restored itself to its original shape of a smooth, rounded globe!’

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Elli, ‘Why did the bor die then?’

‘Because, by later seasons, it had lost too much blood!’ sighed Iisuu, ‘As seasons passed, the strength of the bor flagged. The healing became slow and onerous, and seasons of death began ending with shards of energy remaining cut off and cracks not filling up!’

‘God Hoon had a big role in the healing of the bor!’ added Myrhim, ‘While Time and Mystery slept during the season of death, Hoon being the skillful one, stayed awake and tried to heal the bor with his divine scimitar, often working like an artist and healer rolled into one!

‘Hoon took many solitary turns around the bor in the beginning of every season of death!’ narrated Iisuu sadly, ‘His boids swirling behind him in a thick plume, he sighed with sorrow at every wound that marred the body of the bor. It was only in the fifth season of life that he realized…that the bor was having trouble hosting a full season of life!’

‘What did he do then?’ asked Hatti curiously.

‘But, it was not for him or Time to stop the cycle of seasons!’ replied Myrhim with a shiver, ‘It was for the bor to stop the seasons itself. But, like a wounded but courageous warrior who keeps battling, the bor continued bearing new seasons. It bore the next season of life and the ones after that too!’

‘Inevitably, a time came when the bor did not have the strength to bear a full season of life anymore!’ added Iisuu in a low voice, ‘But, the bor still bore the new season. This was the eighth and the last season of its life. Aakaa and I were born in this season. The bor was in ruins…we never got to see the bor in its full living glory!’

‘But, the divine lore that you carry in your souls,’ frowned Farro, ‘Surely that tells you about the early seasons!’

‘The divine lore that I and Myrhim have, was captured in the last season…it tells us only about the last and eighth season of the bor!’ replied Iisuu.

‘But, God Hoon does carry the lore of the earlier seasons in his soul!’ clarified Myrhim.

‘I don’t think we will see Hoon today…’ murmured Pikki, looking around with a sigh of relief, ‘Let us leave now!’

‘Yes, yes!’ agreed Myrhim hurriedly, ‘Let us go back now!’

‘Good!’ murmured the iljjocks, also feeling relieved.

But, Yadu was disappointed.

Iisuu was disappointed, too. He glared at the iljjocks. They had to stop being so fearful! ‘Well, I know how to bring him out!’ he snapped, ‘Stand right where you are!’

While the iljjocks huddled in a corner and cowered uneasily, Iisuu motioned to the flocks of boids drifting outside the haven.

Oh! The boids obeyed Iisuu and started pouring inside the haven. Flocks barged in and started piling themselves on the Holy Knot. It was when the flames of the vortex began dying out, that everybody heard a familiar rustling sound!

It was God Hoon. He had showed up near the Holy Knot and was pushing the boids away from the Holy Knot gently!

Hoon’s naked soul was like flawless crystal, scintillating and brilliant, and his features were rugged and striking. He did not have the perfect beauty of Time, but he exuded a divine charisma that was overpowering! The devil of the bor held a divine scimitar that crackled with deathly power.

Those present in the haven reacted very strongly to his divine presence. The iljjocks almost passed out with fright. Myrhim trembled uncontrollably. Iisuu shook with both, fear and faith. And, Yadu’s mouth just fell open with shock.

God Hoon seemed to be looking at Iisuu and Myrhim with deep irritation. He was about to say something when Evil came slithering to him. Oh! Evil bit his master devoutly and climbed all the way to his soul. Hoon’s naked soul, that had been clear like a dewdrop, suddenly turned very dark and forbidding! He suddenly became so shockingly vile and deathly, that Yadu could take it no more and he fainted in his cot.

Well, he had been seeing a waking dream in his cot! And the moment he fainted, the dream stopped. The bor disappeared and he found himself back in his cot!

‘Aargh!’ groaned the iljjocks as they snapped out of the waking dream too, and found themselves back on the ocean floor outside Yadu’s beshel.

Iisuu and Myrhim had been inside the beshel all along and they tried to revive Yadu. ‘Yadu!’ cried Iisuu in alarm, shaking him hard.

‘Uhhh…ho….’ groaned Yadu, waking up and looking around. Iisuu and Myrhim were bending over him and Elli was lying next to him. She was holding her head strangely.

‘Elli!’ cried Yadu, shaking her gently.

‘It is my head…it is swimming…’ moaned Elli, ‘…something has happened to the yoke!’

‘Yes! Yes!’ agreed the iljjocks from outside. They were all swaying unsteadily on the ocean floor.

‘Something is wrong with the yoke, my lord!’ complained Farro, the leader of the iljjocks to God Iisuu, ‘We are unable to see anything on it!’

‘Nothing is wrong with it!’ replied Iisuu with a laugh, ‘It has become temporarily unstable because of the power flowing from the second string of divine lore in Yadu’s soul! You will see everything when it stabilizes!’

Within moments, the yoke stabilized. Indeed, nothing was wrong with it. It was just loaded with considerably more divine power!

The iljjocks were so delighted that they decided to forego precious sleep and spend the rest of the night trying out their new powers!

 

THE night had been very eventful for the iljjocks. First, they had been woken up rudely from their sleep by Yadu’s cries. Later, they had been asked to come out to support Yadu. He wanted to see God Hoon in the middle of the night, and Iisuu decided that not only Yadu, but also all the iljjocks would see Hoon! Thus, the decision to load a second string of divine lore into Yadu’s soul was made. Myrhim carried it out with great care, because of which Yadu and the iljjocks had made a very rewarding sojourn of the bor, at the end of which they found their powers greatly increased!

Their divine sight had increased considerably. Whereas earlier, they could see particles only within Seabor, now they could see far beyond Seabor, right up to the Nors! Whereas earlier they could exert divine power upto distances that were very near, now they could exert divine force upto distances as far as the Kirll bay!

‘Wonderful!’ declared Iisuu joyfully, ‘The yoke now has sufficient power to support Yadu when he travels back to Earth!’ He was resting in his own beshel but was closely listening to the chatter on the iljjock yoke.

‘Yes!’ concurred Myrhim, ‘Once Yadu and Elli finish swapping their soul strings, Yadu can safely go back to Earth!’

Yadu heard them through the yoke and was strangely disappointed. He was on the ocean floor with Elli and the iljjocks, trying out his new powers.

‘Go back to Earth?’ he murmured to himself distractedly.

‘Is something wrong?’ asked Elli.

‘How many days have passed since I came to Seabor?’ he asked on the yoke.

‘Eight days!’ replied Farro, ‘And, the ninth day is going to start soon. Let’s all catch some sleep now!’

‘Yes, let’s sleep now!’ agreed the iljjocks tiredly.

‘Eight days!’ repeated Yadu in a daze. Eight hundred years had passed on Earth!

The iljjocks had dispersed and were all going back to their beshels to rest now. He also swam back to his beshel with Elli.

Feeling gloomy, he lay down to his cot to rest. Elli glided over to a pit in the corner of their beshel to get kiks for herself and Yadu.

Later in the night, Yadu gazed silently at the sky. It was dark and empty. No stars twinkled over Seabor because the Nors sucked all the light rays coming from outer space. But, it did not matter to him anymore! He no longer missed seeing the stars. His past life was now dead and gone. He had begun feeling at home on Seabor now.

‘Go to sleep, Yadu!’ whispered Elli, grasping his hand lightly.

He looked at Elli vacantly, realizing that he now wanted to stay with her and the iljjocks for the rest of his life!

Yadu no longer wanted to go back to Earth! Ever.

 

Time: Yadu’s ninth day on Seabor (6th century AD)

Place: Iljjock Ocean, Seabor

 

THE morning dawned bright and radiant next day on Seabor. The Nors rose as blistering fireballs in the sky and set the ocean to a violent boil. The water boiled noisily to load the air with fresh vapor. But, the noise did not pollute the ocean. For, it was material sound and the ocean kept no memory of it! The waters of the ocean kept memory only of the sparks that flew out of the mouths of the creatures that lived in it. And, plenty of such sparks were flying out now as the iljjocks threw all caution to the wind trying out their newly attained divine powers!

‘Ha! Ha!’ the laughter of the iljjock pairs echoed in the oceans as they moved the clouds with their enhanced powers and created beautiful patterns in the sky.

‘Haw! Haw!’ guffawed Yadu, Pikki and Hatti, as they and some iljjocks, tried to work out a new formation that would allow them to leap to the Nors. That, they would not survive the leap, was beyond their consideration for the moment!

‘He! He!’ giggled Elli as she used her new powers to lift a pile of kiks straight from the Kirll forest to her beshel on the ocean floor. She managed to lift them but dropped quite a few on the way!

Yadu leapt to her side to help and tried to do the same. He dropped more on the way, sending Elli rolling with delight on the wooden floor of their beshel!

‘SHHH…’Iisuu thundered loudly on the iljjock yoke, admonishing everyone for being so irresponsible. It would take years for the noise to die in the oceans!

The iljjocks became quiet. Hiccupping loudly, they returned to their early morning routine of getting groomed by their bin creatures.

Yadu and Ellli went back to their beshel to eat the fresh kiks they had lifted from Kirll. They tossed kiks in their mouths and reveled in the soulful warmth of their companionship.

Yadu gazed at Elli with wonder. Each moment that he spent with her, he felt gloriously alive. For each moment that he spent apart, he became listless and despondent. If he had to go to Earth, even for a short while, he knew he wouldn’t be able to cope!

‘Elli,’ Yadu said hesitantly ‘Shouldn’t we go slow with the swapping… what do you think?’

‘No!’ she replied with a shocked face, ‘Rather, we should go faster!’

‘Why?’ he asked in a hurt voice, ‘Do you want me to go back to Earth as soon as possible?’

‘Of course not!’ she cried, ‘But, if you had to leave early for some reason, without having swapped all soul strings, I will die as a coon!’

‘I see!’ he nodded dully. Elli was thinking like an iljjock. She was not scared of death. She was scared of beoming a coon! Yadu shivered as he remembered what Pikki had told him about the screaming souls of coons.

‘You are right!’ he said suddenly, ‘Let’s finish the swapping as soon as possible!’

Having fed on enough kiks to sustain them for days, the two swam out to resume making their boondi. Yadu entwined his toe around Elli’s toe. A flash of lightning crackled between them, making them shiver with rapture. Glittering zol crystals spurted out of their toes, and with each crystal that rolled out, the longing that had built in their souls eased a little!

Surrounded by the magical haze of love, they began etching furrows on the ocean floor and pushing the crystals in them. Both etched pictures of their perception of the bor. For that matter, most iljjocks pairs etched pictures of the bor that day!

The day passed rapturously.

It was now dusk. The Nors were setting, bathing the sky and the ocean with wavering hues of red. Soon, the water would cool down and start climbing the lands- the shore would become undulating and glimmer with an ethereal icy sheen!

The iljjocks began retiring to their beshels to rest. Yadu and Elli also went back to their beshel and lay down on their cots with their toes entwined. Within moments, they were asleep and swapping the next lot of soul strings. This time, however, they picked for themselves the strings they wanted from each other’s soul!

While Yadu picked strings from Elli’s soul that would tell him more about strategic iljjock formations, Elli picked strings from Yadu’s soul that would tell her more about the animals and plants on Earth!

‘There are thousands plants and animals on Earth…I am sure you have not seen them before!’ whispered Yadu to Elli in his sleep.

‘But, I have seen them all!’ replied Elli surprisingly.

‘Really?’ he exclaimed aloud, opening his eyes.

Elli opened her eyes too. ‘Yes. I have seen them on Seabor…at the Harappa farms!’ she murmured drowsily.

‘Harappa farms?’

‘Yes. I will take you there tomorrow. The seamones breed the earthly animals there!’ she replied.

‘No, I don’t want to go!’ he yawned, ‘A seamone may try to harm you again!’

‘Not a chance!’ she retorted, ‘They must be very scared of our new divine powers now!’

‘Do they even know about them?’ wondered Yadu drowsily.

‘I am sure they do!’ yawned Elli, ‘The oceans hide nothing!’

And, then she and Yadu fell asleep.

Elli iljjock was right. The oceans hid nothing!

The seamones had managed to keep track of the strange events happening in the iljjock settlement since last night. For that matter, even now, Triar Seamone, their leader, was crouching outside Elli and Yadu’s beshel and eavesdropping on them!

 

 

TRIAR seamone had recognized Elli iljjock the moment he had seen her. Unlike the other iljjocks, she exuded a divine glow, although very muted. But, it was very obvious that she had been created to be different. As God Aakaa had stated, she had been created to be a universal soulmate!

Even now, the Triar was looking intently at the doe-faced Elli sleeping next to Yadu inside their beshel. Their toes entwined, the two were swapping soul strings. His squirrel-face taut and harsh, the Triar stared bitterly at Elli’s toe. He felt a vile longing to twist his tail around it and pluck the string of divine lore from her soul forcibly!

Oh! How the Triar’s stance on the matter had changed. He had got Blumone killed simply because he did not want him to force an iljjock and get the seamones involved in an act that was wrong. He wanted to be a wise leader of the seamones and wanted to support what was right!

To him, the ‘right’ thing for all seamomes to do, as defined by his ancestors, was to try to lead normal lives! They had to overcome the despair raging in their souls and to find ways to convince God Aakaa to give them precious drops of Orgis, the divine venom that would cool their souls and make them peaceful!

Recent events had, however, changed that definition of ‘right’ for the Triar. So much had happened in the past day, and affected him so deeply, that he was now convinced that his ancestors had been wrong all along. And that, surprisingly, God Aakaa had been right!

And, to think it all began only last night.

Then, Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones, was busy working with a coterie of seamones in a multi-storeyed beshel in the seamone settlement. It was a tall beshel that stood on the ocean floor and rose above the surface to tower in the open air. They had gathered on the rooftop terrace and were trying out a pile of weapons made by the metal smiths.

Actually, God Aakaa had taken Blumone’s death at Iisuu’s hands very bitterly. He had ordered him, the Triar, to prepare for a bloody battle with the iljjocks. Since then, the seamones had been working day and night to make weapons- spears, bows and arrows! The designs, of course, had been lifted from the humans but with a difference- the seamone weapons were powered by zol crystals!

Last night, the Triar and his coterie were busy testing the first batch of the weapons on the rooftop. They wanted to see how far would the weapons travel!

‘Whoa!’ cried the Triar, shooting a spear into the air. The spear travelled a short distance in the air and fell in the ocean. ‘Oh, no!’ he rasped and dived into the ocean to retrieve the weapon. Oh! How he loved to guzzle the cold water at night. But, the moment he hit the water, he was too shocked to guzzle anything. The ocean was buzzing noisily with hundreds of screams and shrieks!

The screams belonged to the iljjocks. They were shrieking loudly and their voices had travelled across the oceans to reach the seamone settlements!

‘Why are they screaming in the middle of the night, my lord?’ queried his coterie in astonishment. They had dived after him to retrieve their fallen weapons.

‘I don’t know!’ he replied, puzzled.

‘Maybe they are dying!’ echoed the voice of his ancestors from his soul. They spoke to him dutifully to give him guidance and support.

‘What?’ the Triar exclaimed.

‘You said something?’ asked the coterie.

‘Oh, nothing…my fathers are jesting…they are suggesting that the iljjocks may be dying!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ rasped the coterie with glee, ‘Well, at least we will be saved the effort of killing them!’

‘It would be a big relief!’ shrugged the Triar, and swam back to the zol-powered platform that would take him back to the rooftop again.

He ascended to the rooftop and saw that thunderclouds had gathered in the sky. ‘Strange!’ he exclaimed as the other seamones from his coterie joined him

‘A storm in on the…’ began one of them, but before he could finish, the skies erupted with massive thunder and lightning. Oh! Huge waves rose in the ocean and lashed against the beshel they were standing on. The beshel shook violently and just when they thought it would be uprooted from its moorings on the oceanfloor, the storm stopped!

‘Aahhh…’ shrieked the seamones in fright. They were holding on to siderails on the terrace for the support.

‘Jump into the ocean!’ yelled the Triar, ‘The storm can come again!’

They all jumped from the rooftop to the ocean. Only, to find hundreds of seamones swimming in the water! Oh! Almost the entire seamone community had jumped in the open ocean in panic. They were all getting in their zolboats and racing them far away from the quaking beshels!

‘Triar! Triar!’ screamed two seamones, racing towards their leader, ‘We have something to tell you!’ They were coming from the direction of the Iljjock Ocean!

‘What is it?’ asked the Triar, stopping his zolboat. They were two seamone informers whose duty was to constantly roam in the Iljjock Ocean and spy on the iljjocks!

‘My lord, the ljjocks….’gasped one of them, jumping into the Triar’s zolboat. He was oozing a very foul spoor of despair and anxiety.

‘The iljjocks what?’ asked the Triar anxiously.

‘The human Yadu…’ gasped the other informer.

‘What about him?’

‘The human disturbed the sleeping iljjocks…the iljjocks almost killed him…but, then something happened…Iisuu and Myrhim came out…and suddenly…’

‘Suddenly what?’ asked the Triar, his face deathly pale.

‘God Hoon…’ cried the informers, shivering with fright.

Triar seamone froze with shock and fear. ‘God Hoon what?’ he cried hoarsely.

‘The storm happened!’ cried the seamones, shaking violently, ‘This storm happened after they called out his name…’

‘Nonsense!’

‘The human called him, my lord!’

‘What do you mean?’ exploded the Triar in anger.

‘We heard Iisuu say that Hoon has been protecting the human!’ gasped one of them.

‘Yes. Yadu is protected by God Hoon himself!’ whispered the other, ‘Or else he would have died by now!’

‘What?’ cried the Triar, truly flabbergasted. Tears of fright were flowing down the eyes of the two seamones in front of him, spreading a cold and dank odor around them.

‘What they are saying makes sense!’ echoed the voice of the Triar’s ancestors from his soul.

‘What makes sense?’ he asked back, startled.

‘The human could not have survived for so long without help!’

‘You think God Hoon was helping him?’ he asked in surprise.

‘No, that seems too far-fetched! Hoon helps no one.’

‘Exactly! Hoon has the power to destroy the entire universe! Why would he bother with a puny human?’

‘Well, as the leader of the seamones, you need to check this out yourself!’ echoed the voice of his ancestors.

‘All right!’ agreed the Triar, looking around to see how the seamones were faring. The storm had abated and the seamones were returning to their beshels. Turning to the seamone informers he said, ‘I would like to visit the iljjocks straightaway!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ they rasped, jumping into their beshel.

‘On second thoughts!’ whispered the Triar’s ancestors to him, ‘The last time such a storm occurred on Seabor was when God Hoon paid us a visit!’

The Triar ignored the frightening comment and recalling his duty as the leader of the seamones, sped his beshel towards the iljjock settlement. The two informers who had brought him the information sped behind him.

A short while later, they glided quietly to a stop on the bed of the Iljjock Ocean. They saw a huge gathering of iljjocks in the middle of the settlement. They were standing around a particular beshel in some kind of a formation.

‘Whose beshel is that?’ asked the Triar in a whisper.

‘The human Yadu’s!’

‘Oh!’

‘Myrhim and Iissu are inside with him!’ whispered one informer.

The Triar looked intently at the iljjocks. From far off, it was very difficult to tell what they were doing, but they were standing very still, as if they were sleeping or in a daze! ‘What is going on?’ he asked, bewildered.

‘It is something to do with their yoke! We will have to wait until they scatter…they will tell us themselves!’

‘I will ask God Iissu myself!’ murmured the Triar, ‘The seamones have a right to know!’ As the leader of the seamones, he wanted to do the wise thing by being straightforward with God Iisuu and the iljjocks.

He settled into a long wait with his seamone companions. They were about to fall asleep when they suddenly saw the iljjocks move from their still positions. Rather, move wildly! They were all staggering on the oceanbed, their limbs out of their control!

‘Have they gone mad?’ asked the Triar, his squirrel face puckered with astonishment.

The seamones with him were so taken aback that they did not know what to say.

‘Come, let us find out!’ he said, leaping out his zolboat. The other two seamones followed their leader and soon they were all going around the iljjock settlement, innocently pretending to have come there for zol crystals!

‘Come tomorrow!’ waved Miia iljjock dizzily.

‘What’s happened to all of you?’ frowned the Triar.

‘Oh that! Myrhim has loaded the yoke with more divine power!’ explained Miia.

Thunderstruck with the iljjock’s reply, the Triar stopped in his tracks. Unable to control the rising resentment inside him, he blurted, ‘Why would she do that?’

‘God Iisuu wanted it!’ smiled Miia.

‘Oh, as simple as that?’ he rasped, feeling very wronged. ‘How did she give you more power?’ he asked bitterly.

‘She gave Yadu another string of divine lore!’ declared Miia, swelling with pride.

‘Is his soul so strong?’ he retorted, burning with jealousy now.

‘No! But, Myrhim did something…she reduced the power of the string somehow…don’t worry it all worked out fine!’ muttered Miia, and wandered away to join his soulmate, Hatti.

He glared at the departing iljjock with frustration and jealousy. ‘How can Myrhim be so unfair?’ he blurted, livid with rage, ‘How can she give them another string of divine lore when she has given us none!’

‘Aakaa was right!’ replied his companions bitterly, ‘It is time we just killed them all in war!’

The Triar was so still in shock by what he had just learned that he looked at his companions vacantly. ‘Leave me alone for sometime over here!’ he rasped in a low voice, ‘Both of you go back…’

‘But…’

‘Leave me alone, I say!’ he thundered, ‘I have something on my mind!’

The seamones obeyed their leader and departed in their zolboat. Triar Seamone remained behind.

‘What do you have on your mind?’ echoed the voice of the ancestors from his soul.

‘I don’t know!’ he snapped, irritated by the noise the iljjocks were making. Oh! They were out on the ocean floor and trying their new powers. They were moving the water in the ocean and the clouds in the sky!

Anxiety and rage flooded his soul like never before. He was the only seamone who had a drop of Orgis in his soul. Even that did not cool the despair and hatred raging in his soul now. ‘We are cursed from birth!’ he remembered Aakaa’s often-repeated words, ‘They would rather not have us at all!’

‘No!’ cried his ancestors, ‘Be wise, dear child. Don’t support Aakaa! Rather, you should ask him to give Orgis drops to all seamones. Once your souls are stable and strong, Myrhim will give you the strings of divine lore herself!’

‘Wrong!’ he snapped, livid with anger, ‘She will never give us anything. If she had to, she would have done it already!’

‘That’s because she doesn’t want Aakaa to misuse them!’ echoed the voice of the ancestors.

‘Nonsense!’ he fumed, blinded by rage. Oh! What a fool he had been to think that he could change the destiny and lives of seamones! The truth was the seamones mattered to no one, not even their ancestors!

‘Forgive me, Blumone!’ he rasped, weeping tears of shame and anger, ‘I should not have stopped you. You were right in abducting Elli iljjock!’

Having said that, the Triar suddenly wiped his tears and began moving towards the iljjock settlement!

‘What are you doing?’ panicked the ancestors.

‘Quiet!’ he snapped back.

It was night and the iljjocks were all asleep in their beshels. He swam to Yadu’s beshel and looked inside.

Oh! He recognized Elli the moment he saw her. ‘So, it is true. Myrhim has made her very special!’ he murmured vilely to himself, He looked at her intently. She was sleeping in her cot, her toe entwined with her soulmate Yadu’s toe. He was about to leap forward when suddenly, Yadu turned in his sleep.

‘Run!’ screeched the ancestors.

Oh! Taking sudden fright, he ran away from the beshel.

A short distance away he realized his folly and turned back. ‘Shut up…and don’t frighten me!’ he cried to his ancestors, ‘I am capturing Elli tonight!’

‘NO!’ thundered the ancestors, which included the legendary Saramone, ‘Iisuu will here the moment you touch Elli…he will punish you exactly as he punished Blumone…he will scorch you to death…you will end up a coon…do you understand?’

The Triar could not but listen to his ancestors. It was almost dawn now and the iljjocks would wake up any moment. Staying for a moment longer could be fatal to him. He leapt into his zolboat and sped away!

He sped to his favorite haunt, the Harappa farms, and slumped on his cot beneath a tall tree. His bin creatures- a besring, enccollie and a dug- leapt of their nests to latch on to his belly nodules. They had only begun suckling at them when, all of a sudden, the oceanbed quaked!

Oh! Waves stormed through the farms, washing the animals and birds from one end of the farm to another. His bin creatures were also washed away. His cot was saved because it was chained firmly to the ground!

‘What…’ he gasped, holding on to his cot as huge waves swirled in the farm. All of a sudden, the storm stopped. The waters became calm again. The farm was in a mess – trees were uprooted and animals were bleating loudly. Most importantly, the germ beds in which he cultured mutated strains for God Aakaa to replicate on Earth were destroyed!

‘It is the iljjocks, my lord!’ cried the seamone workers in the farm, ‘They are showing off their new divine powers!’

Triar seamone was aghast. ‘I should have abducted Elli iljjock when I had the chance!’ he muttered in despair to himself.

‘No!’ seethed his ancestors.

The Triar spent the whole day tossing in despair and doubt. At dusk, when the setting Nors bathed the sky with a vibrant orange hue, he succumbed to hatred and jealousy.

Oh! Late in the night, when the water of the ocean had climbed over the land to become chillingly beautiful, he crept quietly with a few seamones to the iljjock settlements!

While the other seamones wandered in the iljjock settlement pretending to collect zol crystals, the Triar stood outside Yadu and Elli’s beshel like a deathly shadow. He looked inside. The two iljjocks were lying on their cots and were surprisingly murmuring in their sleep!

He heard Elli murmur drowsily,‘Yes. I have seen them on Seabor…at the Harappa farms!’

‘Harappa farms?’ asked Yadu.

‘Yes. I will take you there tomorrow. The seamones breed the earthly animals there!’ replied Elli.

‘No, I don’t want to go!’ yawned Yadu, ‘A seamone may try to harm you again!’

‘Not a chance!’ she retorted, ‘They must be very scared of our new divine powers now!’

‘Do they even know about them?’ wondered Yadu drowsily.

Elli murmured something in reply and there was silence after that. Hearing no voices, he peered inside. Yadu and Elli were fast asleep! He felt like forcibly taking the string of divine lore from her soul but then reminded himself to be patient. The cataclysmic events of last night had made him change his stance and led him here. He had to be very careful and prove himself right to himself and his wrongly righteous ancestors!

Even now, Triar Seamone was standing outside Elli’s beshel, unable to believe his luck! ‘So, they are going to the Harappa farms tomorrow!’ he murmured with glee,‘It will so easy to capture her over there!’

‘Don’t even try!’ protested the voice of his ancestors.

‘Quiet!’ he snapped angrily to them and quickly swam to his zolboat.

‘Go the farms!’ he rasped sharply to the seamones waiting for him, ‘Get everyone out of it…I repeat, no one will go near the farms until I tell them to! Elli and that human are planning to visit the farms tomorrow!’

Stunned, the seamones nodded silently. They jumped in their zolboats and sped away to carry out the instructions of their leader.

‘Ah!’ sighed Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones, with great satisfaction. He loaded more zol crystals in his zolboat’s hearth and sped towards the south.

‘Where are you going now?’ queried his ancestors in panic.

‘To God Aakaa!’ he replied tersely, ‘I will need his support on the matter!’

Day: Yadu’s tenth day on Seabor (7th century AD on Earth)

Place: Seamone Ocean, Seabor.

 

NEXT morning, Yadu and Elli got up early to visit the Harappa farms. ‘Follow me!’ Elli said, swimming towards the Seamone Ocean.

‘Is is far off?’ asked Yadu, talking directly to Elli’s soul with his new divine powers. He was instinctively mindful of not speaking in the open ocean now!

Elli gave Yadu a mischievous glance and replied, ‘Yes! But, we can swim fast using the power of the iljjock yoke!’

‘No!’ replied Yadu, ‘The iljjocks will kill me if I disturb them again!’

‘No, they won’t!’ chuckled Elli, ‘Not is they want to be punished by God Hoon!’

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed Yadu. Suddenly, he was reminded that his ears had not buzzed for almost a day now!

Yadu and Elli informed Farro, and sucked power from the yoke to streak through the ocean! ‘Where are you two going?’ asked Iisuu in surprise. He was seeing them through the yoke seamlessly.

‘To the Harappa farms, my lord!’ replied Elli gaily.

‘No!’ Iisuu refused sternly, ‘Not after Blumone tried to capture you…. come back at once!’

‘We shall be back by noon!’ protested Elli.

‘Let’s go back, Elli!’ urged Yadu uneasily, ‘I don’t want any seamone coming near you!’

‘It is all right!’ interjected Myrhim indulgently, ‘You can see the Harappa farms! Yadu will feel very happy to see the animals, birds and fishes there!’

After the Blumone incident, the goddess now listened intently to the iljjock yoke for distress calls.

‘No!’ Yadu refused emphatically, ‘I do not want to see any animals, birds or fishes. I just want Elli to be safe!’

‘But, I want to see them!’ cried Elli petulantly, and raced ahead.

Yadu saw her disappearing from his sight with a deep foreboding. He had had the same terrible feeling when Krishna had disappeared on the high rocks to walk into the embrace of the mountain god.

‘Stop, Elli!’ he yelled, racing behind her.

‘It is all right, Yadu!’ assured Iisuu reluctantly, ‘Let us not worry too much… I shall be watching you constantly. And, let us not forget…God Hoon is watching the two of you too!’

‘Iisuu is right!’ assured Myrhim in her warm tinkling voice, ‘Have a look at the farms and come back by dusk!’

‘All right!’ agreed Yadu, hurrying behind Elli.

‘Elli, slow down!’ he cried, catching up with her.

‘The Seamone Ocean begins from here!’ said Elli, shooting speedily through the water, ‘And, there lie the Harappa farms!’ she said, pointing to the oceanbed.

Yadu looked down and was surprised to see a vast expanse of greenery growing on the oceanbed. They were trees from Earth- he could already make out the tall peepal and banyan trees!

‘Come!’ said Elli excitedly, diving to the oceanbed. She darted into a forested clump and disappeared from sight.

‘Elli!’ called out Yadu anxiously, darting behind her. ‘O wonder!’ he exclaimed, suddenly noticing that parrots, canaries and hens were swimming past him. Also, flocks of sheep and goats were nibbling on tender underwater shrubs!

‘Yadu!’ squealed Elli loudly from somewhere.

‘Where are you?’ cried Yadu, darting deeper into the forest. Oh! Elli was sitting on a rock, crouching under a cloud of colorful butterflies!

‘This place is beyond my dreams!’ she giggled radiantly, ‘My soul is singing with joy!’

‘I am not surprised!’ replied Yadu, relieved to find her, ‘It is because one of your souls is human!’

‘The seamones breed the animals here…to amuse themselves!’ she said, aloud.

‘I see! Are we allowed to talk openly here?

‘Yes. The trees absorb our voices!’

Yadu looked around. The forest seemed familiar and inviting! The chirping of the birds and the bleating of the goats- he remembered the sounds and listened to them with with profound joy!

Feeling at home and very happy, Yadu swam to the goats and the sheep to tend to them! ‘Awk! Awk!’ he cried, caressing them gently.

‘Mehhh…’ the goats bleated weakly.

‘Elli!’ he cried suddenly, ‘These goats are sick!’

‘How do you know?’

‘I just know! I am a cowherd…these goats and sheep are sick…’ he cried, grasping a hen wading past him, ‘And, this bird is sick too!’

‘Really?’ cried Elli, bewildered. She lifted a goat kid and stroked it gently. It had festering boils all over its body. Yadu quickly prepared a paste from herbs growing nearby and rubbed it on the boils. ‘That should make it feel better!’ he exclaimed.

‘Yadu, let us spend some time here!’ suggested Elli, letting the goat kid skip away.

‘What about our boondi?’

‘We can make it here!’

‘All right!’ he agreed reluctantly, ‘The animals need tending too!’

Elli chose a spot in an open clearing for etching a boondi. And, Yadu made a temporary shelter next to it from the broken branches. Using their divine powers, they flew kiks from Kirll into their shelter!

Exhausted with all the hard work and feeling the pressure that had built inside their bodies, they entwined their toes. Lightning crackled and bright zol crystals rolled out in heaps! ‘O wonder!” cried Yadu. The crystals were unusually bright and flawless!

‘It is because the oceanbed is lower here. The lower the bed, the better the crystals!’ explained Elli.

For the rest of the day, Yadu and Elli made their boondi in a haze of rapturous iljjock love. In between, Yadu took off to tend to the goats, deers and sheep. Elli swam with him, asking about the various trees and animals. He could not answer all her questions because there were trees and animals that he had never seen before!

‘This is a cocoa tree!’ said Elli, pointing to a tree that had pods grew directly on the trunk!

Yadu looked at the tree blankly. ‘Maybe they grow in other places on Earth!’ he reasoned, swimming through bamboos that whispered when waves passed through them!

‘Look!’ she cried, pointing to nests hidden in the undergrowth. They were nests of bin creatures!

‘Great!’ he exclaimed, ‘This is exactly what I need!’

‘Let us groom ourselves!’ she said, swimming to the nests.

The two coaxed the besrings, dugs and enccollies to groom them. After a little cajoling, the creatures crept out of the nests and suckled on their belly nodules, making them feel lighter and relieved!

Elli wished to spend the night at Harapaa farms.

‘No!’ Iisuu refused outright, speaking through the yoke, ‘That is a seamone farm!

‘There is no one here!’ protested Elli, ‘We are completely alone!’

‘NO!’

‘It is all right!’ intejected Myrhim, having looked at every niche of the farm with her omnipresent sight, ‘There is no seamone out there!’

‘Only one night!’ pleaded Elli, ‘It is so blissful here!’

‘All right!’ agreed Iisuu reluctantly.

Yadu and Elli spent the night in soulful bliss. They slept inside the temporary shelter with their toes entwined and swapped as many soul strings as they could!

Iisuu and Myrhim kept a constant watch over them, ready to unleash divine force if any seamone even tried to venture close to the farms!

The night passed. Not a single seamone ventured close to the farms and Yadu and Elli slept undisturbed. And, because they slept deeply, they ended up swapping plenty of soul strings!

‘Why are the seamones keeping away?’ wondered Iisuu with bewilderment.

‘They may be just scared!’ replied Myrhim, ‘I don’t think we should worry too much about them!’

‘In that case, let us stay here for a few more days!’ pleaded Elli. ‘Why don’t you say something too?’ she glared at Yadu.

‘My lord, we will finish the swapping faster if we stay here for a few days!’ ventured Yadu.

‘Which will be very good!’ spoke Myrhim indulgently, ‘The faster you finish swapping, the better it will be for all of us! Iisuu, I think you should agree now!

‘Do I have a choice?’ frowned Iisuu, but then decided to agree to the idea. ‘Finish the swapping and come back as soon as possible!’ he instructed Elli and Yadu through the yoke, ‘The goddess and I shall keep a strict watch over you!’

 

Day: Yadu’s eleventh day on Seabor (8th century AD on Earth)

Place: Seamone Ocean, Seabor.

TRIAR SEAMONE, the leader of seamones, hadn’t slept or eaten for a day now. He had been sitting on a stub in the outer chamber of Aakaa’s burrow, waiting to meet God Aakaa!

‘When will he come out?’ he snapped for the hundredth time to the slaves standing morosely around him.

‘We cannot tell!’ replied the slaves, shaking their heads, ‘He has become obsessed with a deadly germ you gave to him in one of your visits. He spends a lot of time in the chamber of coons these days!’

‘What?’ the Triar exclaimed, trying to recall the germs he had given to Aakaa. He remembered giving him some germs that he had grown on rat fleas in the Harappa farms a few days back. ‘Did he use that germ, then?’ he asked gleefully, ‘How deadly did it turn out?’

The slaves looked at the Triar uneasily. Aakaa had instructed them to keep their mouths shut about all that happened in the chamber of coons. But, Triar Seamone was their leader and also the only seamone who carried a drop of Orgis in his soul!

Oh! The slaves grinned vilely and brushed their tails gently against the Triar’s tail to connect directly to his soul!

‘What are you doing?’ asked the Triar warily.

The slaves trembled as they felt the direct glow of Orgis. It soothed their tortured souls and made them shiver with rapture. ‘My lord, we are calming ourselves so that we can tell you everything that happens over here!’

The Triar glared at the impudent creatures and swallowed his anger. He was keenly interested in their information!

‘My lord, the mutated germ that you gave to Aakaa caught his fancy quite a lot!’ blabbered the slaves, ‘He studied its lifecode intently for one whole day and since then, has been tweaking the lifecodes of the germs on Earth to great success. Rampant plague pandemics have afflicted the humans causing largescale deaths. Villages and cities have been wiped out. The Nors have been flooded with the souls of the dead!

‘Really?’ rasped Triar Seamone, thunderstruck. He was very pleased to hear that his hard work had been so successful.

Oh! His ancestors, that included the legendary Saramone, were even more pleased than him. ‘This is great news, dear child!’ their excited voices echoed loudly from his soul, ‘You must abandon your plan to abduct an iljjock immediately!’

‘Why is that?’ rasped the Triar in irritation.

‘Because, the seamones have a good chance of getting their rightful share of Orgis from God Aakaa now!’

‘How is that?’

‘Gos Aakaa is very pleased! And, the last time he was very pleased, he gave Saramone a drop of Orgis…it is that drop that you carry in your soul and comforts you!’

‘What nonsense!’ the slaves muttered derisively. They were still connected to the Triar’s soul through their tails and had heard the voices of his ancestors!

‘Quiet!’ snapped the Triar, pulling his tail away, ‘Those were my revered fathers!’

‘Come what may, Aakaa will never ever part with a drop of Orgis now!’ declared the slaves bitterly.

‘Why do you say that?

‘The divine venom, Orgis, protects him from Iisuu, Myrhim and even God Hoon! The chamber of coons is lined with a thin layer of Orgis that hides his presence when he is down there. With his obsession with the humans rising, he needs every drop of Orgis more than ever before!’

‘Obsession with humans?’ queried Triar Seamone grimly.

‘Yes!’ rasped one of the slaves angrily, ‘He spends most of his time spying on their dead and wringing their souls. His mind is full of thoughts about humans now- what they eat, how they dress, how they curse…he called me Hannibal the other day!’

‘Is that a curse?’

‘No, it a human’s name!’

The Triar looked at the slave in shock. That their divine father, God Aakka, was increasingly becoming ‘humanized’ was a serious matter, indeed!

His ancestors thought the same! ‘Get the Orgis off him before he forgets the seamones completely!’ their voices echoed urgently from his soul.

‘All right!’ snapped the Triar, his eyes glowering with jealousy and hatred. He mused for a moment and then ordered one of the slaves sharply, ‘Send a message to all seamones…I want them gathered outside immediately…when God Aakaa comes out, we will all plead to him to give us Orgis, no matter what! He can be the divine father of the humans if he chooses, but he will have to give us our rightful bounty first!’

 

WELL, if God Aakaa had a choice, he would have immediately travelled to Earth and asserted himself as the ‘divine father’ of the humans! Alas! Myrhim had barred his access to the divine continuum and he had no choice but to be holed in his burrow at Seabor.

These days, he spent most of his time hiding in the chamber of coons. He did that to peer at the Nors secretly. Even now, while Triar Seamone was outside, waiting to meet him, Aakaa was busy using the divine connection he had to the Nors to indulge in the hideous act of torturing human souls!

The environment inside the chamber of coons was eerie. Seamone coons lay scattered all around, lighting up the place with their glowing souls. Aakaa had transfered a drop of Orgis to their souls to stop them from screaming. He had done it reluctantly, as the limited amount of Orgis he had in his soul was from the old bor, and he did not want to part with any of it.

Later, as more and more coons began stacking up against the walls, he discovered that their glowing souls formed a hazy shield that effectively blocked Iisuu, Myrhim and even God Hoon from looking inside the chamber with their divine sight!

Oh! That was when Aakaa threw all caution to the winds and went after the human souls in the Nors, wringing and torturing them as much as he pleased. Thousands of souls wailed with unexplained suffering in the Nors and in no time, God Hoon figured out Aakaa’s misdeeds. Boiling with rage, he paid a short visit to Seabor and without uttering a word, clutched Aakaa by his soul and rendered him powerless by stripping all the strings of divine lore from his soul!

God Hoon wanted to kill Aakaa right then and there and destroy his unholy divine connection to the humans. But, Myrhim begged for his life, pleading that if Aakaa died, all the seamones would die too. Hoon left Seabor, warning Myrhim that if Aakaa ever got out of hand ever again, he would not only hack Aakaa to death with his scimitar, but finish off Iisuu and her too! He would not tolerate any interference with what he was busy doing in the Nors- charting the future of the universe by using clever human souls!

Oh! For a long time, a mutilated Aakaa lay half-dead in his burrow, wailing and groaning insanely! Then, he remembered that he still retained his connection to the humans, and the growing number of souls in the Nors would make him regain his powers, albeit slowly. He got up, went down to the chamber of coons, and began wringing human souls with fierce vengeance! Only, this time, he made sure that he wrung only one or two at a time and only for a short duration, to avoid getting caught again!

Indeed, his powers grew over time and in weird ways. Oh! One fine morning, he was surprisingly to have gained access to the germs on Earth. With Saramone’s assistance, he began spreading diseases in the human populations on Earth, his intention being to kill as many as possible. Thousands of souls flooded the Nors and his powers grew by leaps and bounds!

His biggest titillation, these days, was to watch souls arrive by the hundreds in the Nors and rattle God Hoon with tales of their suffering. Even now, he sat in the chamber of coons, enjoying the spoils of a smallpox epidemic that he had brought about by just twisting the lifecodes of the smallpox germs on Earth!

‘O wonder!’ he growled with fiendish glee as thousands of souls of the dead flooded the Nors and Hoon struggled to find them places.

Human souls were suspended in the divine continuum in a spiral formation. There was a kernel at the centre and spiraling around it were many fringes. Hoon picked the souls of clever and creative humans and placed them in the kernel. Others found places in the fringes.

God Aakaa focused his divine sight firmly on the kernel, for that was where all the action was taking place! The wise souls in there were chattering avidly to each other, trying to select the best path to the future democratically! ‘Hoon has given them too much liberty!’ murmured Aakaa disparagingly.

Things had progressed a lot from the times of Harappa when Hoon had plonked the architects of its underground drainage system in the kernel. The spread of reading and writing spurred the increase of knowledge and creativity amongst the humans.

For some time, Hoon placed souls of great kings and queens, peasants, farmers, architects, priests, porcelain makers and warriors in the kernel. Of late, the souls of great mathematicians, architects, poets, musicians and artists had been increasingly finding place!

Aakaa was more interested in the warrior types. He wanted a great general whose soul he could wring, teach him a thing or two, and take over the activity in the kernel!

He searched in the kernel for a great military general. He spotted the souls of Imhotep, Socrates, Homer, Aryabhatta, Aesop and Euclid and Pythagoras working together! Just when he thought he found not find anyone, he spotted the soul of Alexander the Great! Alexander was in the kernel with Chanakya, his contemporary, and both were busy devising tactical workarounds to paths that were inevitable in the future!

‘Ah, what a prize catch!’ he growled softly, focusing his divine sight on them. Oh! Like a predator jumping at his prey, he lunged at their souls and wrung them hard. The two groaned with suffering and realized that, shockingly, they were under the control of an invisible force!

Meanwhile, Aakaa convulsed with fiendish joy. Faint paths leading to the future became visible to him; he had seen them many times in the old bor! Just when he was about to select a path forward, Alexander yelled, ‘God Hoon!’

Oh! Aakaa dropped the two souls like hot coals and rapidly broke his divine connection to the Nors. His divine sight reverted back to Seabor and he found himself gasping in the chamber of coons on Seabor!

Frightened out of his wits, he rushed out of the chamber and swam up a narrow tunnel to race back to his burrow.

Aakaa entered his burrow to find Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones, waiting for him. ‘Go away!’ he growled with irritation and slumped in his cot. There was a sudden flurry of activity around him, as his bin creatures leapt to his belly and began suckling at his belly nodules, and his slaves rushed a platter of kiks and began popping them in his mouth!

Suddenly, Aakaa realized that the leader of seamones was still in the room. And, hundreds of seamones were gathered outside his burrow on the oceanbed! With great irritation, he turned his thoughts away from the Nors and focused them on his surroundings. ‘What’s going on here?’ he growled angrily.

‘I have some terrible news for you, my lord!’ replied Triar Seamone gravely.

‘What is it?’

‘The iljjocks have attained significantly more divine powers?’

‘How come?’

Triar Seamone described in detail about how Myrhim had loaded another string of divine lore in Yadu’s soul and granted to him and the iljjock yoke more divine powers. ‘My lord, the iljjocks can crush all our settlements with a simple formation!’ he rasped worriedly.

Aakaa fumed and fretted in silence for a while. Then turning to the Triar he scowled, ‘I don’t care. Get out of here!’

Stunned, the Triar stressed, ‘They can kill us all in a moment!’

‘So, what do you want me to do?’ growled Aakaa in irritation, ‘Fight with Myrhim?’

The Triar shivered. This was the moment he had been waiting for. ‘No, you need not fight with Myrhim or Iisuu. But, you can make us very strong!’

Aakaa looked at the Triar with narrowed eyes. ‘What do you mean?’

‘You can give us Orgis to make us stronger!’

Aakaa looked at the Triar for one stunned moment and then, burst into loud laughter. ‘Get out of here before I kill you myself!’ he snarled vilely, ‘You are no use to me now, anyway!’

‘No use to you?’ repeated the Triar dully, his face ashen, ‘What do you mean?’

‘The humans give me everything that I need now!’ growled Aakaa fiendishly, ‘What do you give me? Despair and defeat? You are a bunch of losers and I am tired of hearing your nonsense everyday! So, just get out!’

There was a loud collective gasp as the Triar and the seamones gathered outside listened to their divine father’s words with disbelief. They stood in silence, numbed with shock.

Alas! God Aakaa was not finished. ‘Don’t fret over your cursed souls when you die!’ he added cruelly, ‘I will stack your coons in the chamber below! I need plenty of them, anyway!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ whispered the Triar, feeling dizzy and weak. He staggered out of the burrow in a daze and joined the hundreds of seamones standing outside on the cold oceanbed. They were oozing the foul scent of despair, making the water stink. Oh! The agony of rejection was so sharp that they were burning with hatred at their own existence.

‘Go back to your beshels!’ he croaked brokenly to them.

Without uttering another word, the seamones dispersed and boarded their zolboats to leave the cursed place.

The Triar also climbed into his zolboat. He pulled on the cranks listlessly and was about to head to the Harappa farms, when he suddenly remembered that Yadu and Elli were present there. Oh! In all the talk about Orgis, he had forgotten to tell God Aakaa that he was planning to take Elli iljjock captive!

‘Aaaaagh…’ he cried in frustration, beating himself with rage.

‘Stop hurting yourself, dear child!’ echoed the voice of his ancestors from his soul.

‘Quiet!’ he exploded in rage, ‘You destroyed me today!’

‘You did the right thing!’

‘NO!’ he snapped in frustration, ‘You made me talk about Orgis…when I should have talked about Elli iljjock!’

‘It is good you talked about it to him straight! At least, we are left in no doubt that Aakaa has no intention of bequeathing Orgis to the seamones, ever!’

‘Yes, I have no doubts about God Aakaa intentions anymore!’ rasped the Triar bitterly, his eyes burning with hatred and humiliation. He looked in the direction of the seamone settlement and muttered, ‘And, I am going to do something about it immediately!’

‘Don’t do something foolish!’ warned the ancestors in panic, but their voice was lost. The Triar was busy speeding his zolboat towards the seamone beshels and not listening to anyone anymore.

 

 

TRIAR SEAMONE, the leader of the seamones, sped to the same multistoreyed beshel where he had been testing weapons a few days back. The beshel was made of tall columns of glistening steel and soared from the oceanbed to the sky; the process of smelting iron and making steel had been lifted originally from the humans but had been improvised upon by the use of zol crystals.

The Triar landed his zolboat on the ocean floor near the beshel and tied it to a pier jutting from the ground. He swam to the moving platform built on one side of the beshel and stepped onto it. The platform rose quickly to take him above the surface of the water and stopped at the top storey. The Triar alighted from the platform to enter a large hall.

This hall was the biggest community hall in Seabor. The seamones used this hall for holding their samovars and marriages. Their marriages were similar to that of the iljjocks- married soulmates swapped their soul strings over the period of their lives. But, their samovars were different- instead of toes, their tails crackled together. Also, no zol crystals rolled out of their tails!

The Triar went up to the ceremonial altar at the centre of the hall. God Aakaa had conducted all the ceremonies on this altar in the past. He wondered if he would do it anymore. He remembered his hateful words and trembled with rage.

‘Calm down, dear child…’echoed the voice of his ancestors from his soul, ‘Aakaa will come around!’

‘I don’t think so!’ he replied, convulsing with jealousy and hatred, ‘The humans are giving him all that he needs now!’

‘Yes!’ rued the ancestors, ‘There us little we can do about it!’

‘Wrong!’ he sneered, ‘In fact, there is plenty I can do…’

‘What?’ asked the ancestors in alarm.

‘Suumone…Mayymone…Akkimone…’he called to the seamones who had just entered the hall looking for him.

‘Yes!’ they rasped, rushing to him.

‘Call everyone inside…quickly!’

‘Yes, Triar!’ they nodded and went outside to call all the seamones. They had no yoke, so sending a message was an onerous activity that involved shining zol crystals in the ocean! The crystals were a source of raw electricity, and Aakaa had once ridiculed them by sneering, that if the humans had been given such a source, they would have built communication tools in a day!

Moments after the summons went out, seamones began trickling in the hall and slowly, the hall filled up.

Their leader watched them assemble with bitterness. ‘Humans! Humans! Humans!’ he snarled, livid with hatred and anger.

‘My lord,’ rasped Akkimone, a member of the Triar’s close coterie, angrily, ‘Order me to shoot all the spears and arrows that we have made!’

‘Shoot them where?’

‘At Earth!’

‘Shut up, you fool!’ thundered the Triar, ‘The spears won’t even cross Seabor!’

‘But, we have to do something!’

The seamones looked at their fuming leader expectantly.

‘Yes, we have to do something…we have to wipe out the human race…before they wipe us out!’ snarled the Triar fiercely, his eyes throwing sparks of rage.

‘Yes! Yes!’ cried all the seamones with glee, ‘But, how will do that?’

‘By breeding a killer germ so deadly, that it will wipe out humans from the face of Earth!’ whispered their leader, his eyes lit with a deathly glint.

The seamones looked at Triar, stunned. ‘It will take us a few days…but we can breed such a killer germ!’ they cried eagerly.

‘Good!’

‘We must begin working on the germbeds immediately!’ they cried in unison.

‘Then leave!’ instructed their leader, ‘And, start working!’

The seamones began filing out of the hall, seething with vengeance and eager to begin their task with fervor.

The Triar did not follow them out. Rather, he went up to the airy terrace on the rooftop. He looked at the sky. It was late in the night and the sky was dark. The rugged skyline of the settlement was behind the beshel; in front, stretched the vast expanse of the Seamone Ocean. The water was still warm and the air smelt of fresh vapour.

‘Don’t act in haste!’ echoed the voice of his ancestors from his soul, ‘You are inviting doom by targeting the humans!’

‘I don’t care!’ he snapped back. He turned to leave the rooftop when he suddenly spotted birds flying towards him. Screwing his eyes, he looked closely. They were the trained pigeons that he reared at the Harappa farms!

The pigeons alighted on his shoulder. They were holding something in their claws. ‘What have you brought for me?’ he muttered, opening their claws. They were clutching zol crystals!

He looked at the crystals in awe. They were unusually bright. He touched them gently with his tail. Oh! A shiver of rapture ran through his body. The crystals belonged to Elli iljjock!

‘O wonder!’ echoed the voice of the ancestors, ‘It means Aakaa was right. Elli can be a soulmate to the seamones!’

‘Elli can be my soulmate?’ he cried, trembling with excitement.

‘Of course!’

‘She will give me the string of divine lore?’

‘Why not?’

‘And, to other seamones too?’

‘Well, yes!’

‘I don’t believe this…it means that we can finally make the seamone yoke?’

‘Seems like it!’ replied the ancestors anxiously, ‘But, Iisuu will kill you all if you do!’

‘Yes, he will!’ he mused slowly,‘But, on the other hand, he may spare us!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘He has spared God Aakaa many times in the past!’

‘You are not Aakaa, dear child!’ cried the ancestors in despair.

Oh! But, their dear child was not listening to them anymore! He was fired by the idea of having a seamone yoke and he was trembling wildly with excitement. ‘I cannot let go of this opportunity!’ he was muttering to himself over and over again.

Without wasting a moment more, he rushed to get onto the moving platform. The platform took him down to the oceanbed, where he found his zolboat quickly. He untied it and pulled on the cranks to race in the direction of the Harappa farms.

‘Are you going to capture Elli iljjock!’ asked his ancestors in panic.

‘Don’t stop me!’ he snapped, pulling on the cranks to make the beshel go faster.

‘No, wait! Be wise and tactical!’

‘What do you mean?’ he grumbled, after a moment’s pause.

‘Divert the enemy first!’

‘What enemy?’

‘Myrhim and Iisuu!’ cried the ancestors, ‘Send them away from Seabor first!’

‘What do you mean?’ he cried in bewilderment.

‘Create a crisis on Earth with your killer germs! They will go running to save the humans!’

Stunned, the Triar stopped his zolboat. He was almost halfway to the Harappa farms, but the wisdom in what his ancestors were saying struck a chord with him, and he stopped to muse over it. ‘Of course!’ he exclaimed, ‘It would be wise to pack off Iisuu and Myrhim to Earth, first. Capturing Elli in their absence will be easier and safer!’

‘Correct!’ agreed the ancestors, ‘If you have to do it, do it wisely!’

‘A killer germ…that’s what I need…’muttered the Triar, ‘It will create the havoc that I need on Earth!

‘There is only one small impediment, though!’ interjected the ancestors sombrely.

‘What?’

‘Elli is already mated to the human. If she mates anyone else now, she will die a coon!’

‘We will dump her in the chamber of coons!’ dismissed the leader of the seamones harshly, ‘Iisuu will never hear her screams!’

‘God Hoon is merciful to her soulmate, Yadu!’ persisted the ancestors tersely, ‘What if Hoon gets rattled?’

The Triar mused for a long, anxious moment. Finally, with a determined face, he declared harshly, ‘It is a chance I will take. I am assuming that, if we ever get caught, God Hoon will blame Aakaa and not us!’

‘It is possible!’ agreed the ancestors, ‘Aakaa would be heavily involved in spreading the disease on Earth, anyway!’

‘For the moment, I need to focus on getting the killer germ as soon as possible!’ the Triar announced tersely. He turned his beshel around and began heading back to the seamone settlements.

‘You are right! Just make sure that the killer germ is so deadly that Iisuu and Myrhim have no choice but to travel to Earth to save the humans!’

‘Yes!’ the Triar nodded his head viciously, sparks flying out of his eyes. He sped his zolboat faster, convinced that he had a great plan to send Iisuu and Myrhim packing to Earth!

Well, unknown to the Triar and his vociferous ancestors, God Iisuu was already on Earth!

The plague and smallpox epidemics that had killed thousands on Earth in the past days had been enough to make him and Goddess Myrhim fly into panic! They had watched large numbers of humans suffer and die helplessly, and they could not understand, or see with their divine sight, what was causing the ailments!

But, the situation was very grave. They could see that clearly, and before it spiraled out of control, they decided to intervene in the matter directly. Myrhim rushed to open the vortex of divine continuum present in her beshel and Iisuu’s soul rushed out of his body to migrate into it. His soul bypassed billions of stars and planets to travel to Earth almost instantly!

 

Yadu’s 12th day on Seabor (9th century AD on Earth)

Place: Iljjock Ocean, Seabor

 

GOD IISUU’s soul appeared like a bluish apparition on a city called Constantinople on Earth. He carried an iota of the divine continnum along with him. It would allow his soul to move freely on Earth for the time he was there and finally, travel back to Seabor.

Iisuu had seen the plague epidemic begin in this city a few days back. It had spread to the east and west and wiped out huge populations. He wanted to see what had started the epidemic. Well, a few days on Seabor were a few hundred years on Earth! He wondered if he would be able to ascertain anything now!

But, diseases were still rampant. People still suffered from a number of fatal ailments. Oh! Iisuu reached out to touch the suffering human souls. The ailing felt a sudden divine succor they could not explain!

Goddess Myrhim had created the humans with a well-practised hand. She had sculpted them well- tightly muscled limbs, delicately featured faces, and creative minds- their bodies were perfect! While creating their souls, though, she had made a huge mistake- she knocked in a tiny shard from Aakaa’s soul into their souls!

The shard had made them violent and hateful. It had also subdued the creativity of most humans, making them dwell in the ordinary! It was also the reason why Aakaa had a divine connection to the free human souls in the Nors!

Iisuu looked at all the humans in Constantinople with his divine sight. He caressed their souls gently and revived the glow of love. The glow had been emitted by the souls by the many holy men who had taken birth from the shards of his soul since times immemorial. It had sunk in the souls of whomsoever it had fallen upon and had been passed by one generation to another, strengthening the will to live and making them inclined to pursue the path of hope and progress!

God Iisuu noted with great satisfaction that, despite all the conflict and violence, the human society as a whole was progressing forward! Monks, scholars, popes, poets, musicians, writers and artists were enriching the human culture with their thoughts and works and promoting belief in what was good and beautiful!

He noted with great astonishment that some humans were even beginning to explore the path of science, using their intelligence to counter the diseases afflicting them!

‘But, what is cause the diseases?’ he wondered, looking deep inside the ailing human bodies with his divine sight. Oh! He discovered what was making people fall sick. Multiplying germs! The germs that Myrhim had used to create life on Earth had gone wayward and were causing fatal sicknesses!

He left Earth instantly and traveled back to Seabor through the divine continuum. His soul came out of the vortex in Myrhim’s beshel and entered his body lying inertly on a cot.

God Iisuu rose from the cot to thunder to Myrhim, ‘It’s your damned germs!’ He had picked up a few colorful expletives during his sojourn to Earth!

‘My germs?’ asked Myrhim in surprise.

‘Yes. Do something. Vanquish all germs on Earth!’

‘I cannot!’

‘But, why?’ cried Iisuu angrily.

‘I will have to travel to Earth to do that…the germs are all over the planet…and, I cannot leave Seabor!’

‘Why can’t you leave Seabor?’ asked Iisuu, startled. She could roam the entire universe because she was omnipresent. She did not even need the divine continuum to do that!

Myrhim wrung her hands nervously, ‘I am worried that Aakaa may do something foolish behind my back!’

‘But, we cannot let the humans die like this!’ cried Iisuu with anger and bewilderment, ‘The future is at stake!’

‘If Aakaa dies!’ declared the Goddess, ‘There will no future left!’

Iisuu looked at Myrhim incomprehendingly, ‘Why will he die?’

‘Hoon may not spare him this time!’

‘I agree! But, how does that affect the future?’

‘He carries Orgis in his soul…the divine venom that purged the bor!’ replied Myrhim in a deathly whisper, ‘If Aakaa dies, the Orgis will spill out of his soul and put the universe irreversibly on the path to death!’

Iisuu’s face turned ashen. He stared at the goddess in shock and disbelief. ‘I have seen the bor face death!’ he cried hoarsely, ‘Nothing like that should ever happen again. Not a drop of Orgis should be allowed to spill in the open!’

Myrhim nodded anxiously.

‘But, what about the germs on Earth?’ asked Iisuu in exasperation, ‘The humans will be wiped out!’

‘No, they will not!’ asserted the goddess.

Iissu looked at her with doubt and anxiety.

‘The humans were designed with a very powerful immune system. They will recover and become resistant to the germs on their own!’

‘Really?’

‘Yes! All the epimedics that we have seen in the past few days have given the humans phenomenal resistance! I don’t there will be any serious epidemic now!’

‘Good!’ exclaimed Iisuu with relief.

Feeling hopeful that everything will be allright, he left Myrhin’s beshel. It was early in the morning and the Nors were shining brightly. He went back to his own beshel and after eating kiks, shared memories of his recent visit to Earth on the iljjock yoke!

The iljjocks were enthralled to see beautiful visions of the humans and their art and culture. They saw exquisite porcelain pottery, listened to haunting melodies and read poignant poems and writings. For them it was a treasure trove- it would give them wonderful ideas to etch in their boondis and create truly memorable art.

Yadu and Elli were still at the Harappa gardens. They also saw visions of Earth on the yoke. While Yadu spent the day listening with interest to soulful melodies, Elli read poetry aloud!

Both were spending a time of bliss at the Harappa farms. Their human souls were at peace with the earthly plants and animals around them. They were working hard, sleeping a lot and swapping plenty of soul strings!

This night, just before drifting to sleep, Yadu talked to Iisuu on the iljjock yoke and confirmed that they were fine and would continue their stay at the farms until they were finished with the swapping.

Iisuu was very pleased with their progress. ‘Are there really no seamones around?’ he asked pensively.

‘No, my lord!’ replied Elli.

‘Strange!’ murmured Pikki, the new leader of the iljjocks. Farro iljjock, their old leader had died, and Pikki had succeeded him.

‘The animals here are sick!’ Elli shared.

‘We cure them everyday…but they fall sick again!’ Yadu added.

‘I will tell Myrhim to have a look!’ assured Iisuu, ‘But, first I want you two back!’

‘Yes, my Lord!’ Pikki said, ‘Yadu has to spend time with me…before he goes back to Earth!’

‘Yes!’ the iljjocks agreed with a wide yawn.

‘Now, everyone go to sleep!’ directed God Iisuu.

One by one, the iljjocks fell asleep and the yoke became silent. Yadu and Elli also fell asleep, feeling both happy and sad. Happy to spend another day together at the Harappa farms, and sad at the thought that Yadu would leave the day they finished swapping all their soul strings!

Another day had ended for the iljjocks. They slept in peace. Not knowing that for some on Seabor, the day had not ended yet. Down south, out in the Seamone Ocean, the seamones were working day and night in their tall, metallic beshels.

They were working hard on makeshift germ beds to crossbreed the deadliest earthly germ ever! Every day, when the first rays of the Nors fell on the seamone beshels, Triar seamone, their leader, collected germs from all the germbeds and took them to God Aakaa to look at!

Having played with the germs for a considerable time now, God Aakaa kept a good memory of their lifecodes.‘It is the same old strain!’ he would growl, throwing the germs on the Triar’s face, ‘I need new strains to break the resilience of the humans!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ the Triar would sigh in despair. He would speed away from Aakaa’s burrow, waiting for the day he would have a strain so deadly that it would cause unprecedented devastation on Earth!

 

 

Yadu’s 17th day on Seabor (14th century AD on Earth)

Place: Seamone Ocean, Seabor

 

FINALLY, the day arrived when the seamones were confident that they had bred a strain of germs powerful enough to wipe out the entire human race.

‘Aakaa will be pleased!’ rasped Triar Seamone with glee. He took the vial of the germs and jumping into his zolboat, sped to Aakaa’s burrow.

He entered Aakaa’s chamber to find him sleeping on a wooden recliner. The place reeked of a very foul stench- it was the smell of despair and hatred. But, the Triar still took in deep pleasurable whiffs. Because, riding on the stench came the rapturous glow of Orgis!

‘Wake up, my lord!’ he rasped, delirious from the glow of the divine venom.

‘What is it?’ growled Aakaa, opening his eyes.

Triar Seamone waited while Aakaa’s slaves gave him kiks to eat in golden goblets and wait- golden robes to wear! ‘The human kings live like this!’ whispered the slaves.

Triar Seamone was not amused. Rather, he was disgusted. The robes and the goblets were grotesque. How could Aakaa submit to the humans like this? Burning with jealousy, he rasped bitterly, ‘My lord, have your kiks later…I have something important to say!’

Aakaa was surprised at the Triar’s audacity. He would killed him for this had he not read his soul already.

‘I have a germ that will wipe out the humans!’ continued the Triar excitedly.

‘But, I don’t want humans to be wiped out!’ snapped Aakaa.

‘Neither do Myrhim and Iisuu!’ rasped the Triar, ‘That’s the point…they will definitely try to save the humans. And, while they are busy saving them, I will abduct Elli iljjock!’

‘Brilliant!’ growled Aakaa with glee, ‘Give it to me!’

The Triar handed the vial to Aakaa. Aakaa took one look at the lifecodes of the germs and nodded his head. He got up from the recliner and cackled loudly, ‘I can see the Nors flooding with human souls!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ cried the Triar with relief. He could not believe that they finally produced the killer germ and that Aakaa had approved its lifecode!

‘Follow me!’ growled Aakaa, moving down to the chamber of coons.

Stunned, the Triar glided behind Aakaa. He could not believe he had been asked by Aakaa to keep him company in the underground chamber while he tried the killer germ on Earth! The only seamone to do that in the past was Saramone, his worthy ancestor.

Giddy with exhilaration, he followed Aakaa into the chamber of coons only to stumble forward with shock. The environment inside was decidedly macabre with dead coons stacked all around. There were so many faces he recognized- Haanimone, Rissumone and Oomnismone- they stared eerily at him with a dull glint in their eyes. The drops in the Orgis in their souls created a divine shield that isolated the chamber from the rest of the universe. Not even Myrhim or for that matter God Hoon, who had omnipresent sights could see what Aakaa was doing inside!

Aakaa went up to the middle of the chamber and sat down on a rickety wooden rest. His face twisted with malevolence, he cried exultantly, ‘The humans shall face my scourge again!’

Even as the Triar watched thunderstruck, Aakaa tweaked the lifecodes of the germs on Earth to match the deadly strain bred by the seamones.

Oh! Disease spread amongst the humans like wildfire. It was plague, but like never before. Men, women and children had swollen lymph nodes the size of eggs; the infections being unbelievably virulent and showing no signs of stopping. Hundreds of millions died in the landmasses of Europe and Asia and cities and villages were wiped out with corpses rotting in piles on the streets. The humans called it the Black Death and no one was left alive whereever it cast its shadow.

Jumping with horrendous glee, Aakaa looked to see the state of affairs at the Nors, the abode of Hoon, the God of Death!

Oh! Complete havoc reigned over there. Calamities had happened before, but never like this. A puzzled Hoon was struggling to cope with the hundreds of thousands of human souls migrating to the Nors after their bodies had died on Earth! He was listening hard to their tales of suffering to pin down what had caused such a massive pandemic to happen, but to no avail. He even looked at Earth with his omnipresent sight but could see nothing strange or changed!

Aakaa roared with laughter so loud, that the chamber of coons shook. ‘You know what…’ he gasped in between to the Triar, ‘Once, I got a chance to rule the force of death in the old bor! But, even that was nothing compared to this!’

Triar Seamone, the leader of seamones, knew that he had managed to deliver a massive blow to humanity and although he hadn’t said it yet, Aakaa was finally proud of him! He was so thrilled and his body shook with exhilaration so great, that he thought he would pass out. But, he forced himself to remain sane. Because, the great task for which this massive charade of death had been organized, was still left to be done- Elli iljjock was still to be captured!

‘My lord!’ he reminded Aakaa in a trembling voice, ‘It is time to capture Elli iljjock! I must leave now!’

‘No, wait!’ stopped Aakaa. He looked at the iljjock setlement with his divine sight and growled angrily, ‘Iisuu and Myrhim are still around!’

GOD IISUU had been lulled into complacency by Myrhim’s assurances. She has assured him repeatedly that the humans had a very robust immune system, and the germs and the diseases they caused, kept it active and going. Also, that there was no germ that she had left behind on Earth that the human immune system would not overpower!

This moment, he was sitting inside his beshel and watching Earth with his divine sight. He was trying hard to listen to organum, a type of music being sung in a monastery, but his attention was constantly being diverted. Rat fleas had spread plague in the cities and villages again and so many had fallen sick and were dying from it.

Iisuu kept telling himself that the situation would come into control in a short time- many years on Earth- but the time passed and there was no respite. He watched with horror as instead of slowing down, the disease became even more rampant! It was when he saw people in the villages leave all their chores to carry the dead that he rushed to Goddess Myrhim’s beshel in panic!

Iisuu found Myrhim extremely agitated. She had also been watching Earth with her divine sight! ‘They are suffering so terribly!’ she cried in an agonised whisper to him,

‘I know!’ he cried and sat down next to her. They looked at Earth together. ‘Slow down…slow down!’ they whispered, wishing that the germs would stop multiplying so fast. They were expecting the rate of infections to slow down with time, as it had always happened in the past.

But, the rate of infection showed no signs of abating. Also, the disease crossed landmasses to spread widely on Earth. The humans called it Black Death and hundreds of millions succumbed to it. Numb with shock, Iisuu and Myrhim watched almost half of the human population die in a very short time!

‘Something is terribly wrong, my goddess!’ cried Iisuu in panic, ‘You have to do something…or I fear, it will be the end of the humans!’

‘No, it cannot be!’ cried Myrhim, wringing her hands in despair, ‘The epidemic should stop soon. Their natural immunity will kill the invading germs!’

But, seemingly the immunity was failing. The plague germs were mutating faster than the immune system could kill them!

‘Do something, my goddess!’ thundered Iisuu, flying into a rage, ‘Before, it becomes too late!’

Myrhim flew in a state of panic! She knew that the situation on Earth was not normal- there was a true danger to the very existence of the humans!

Iisuu caught hold of her and looked intently into her eyes, ‘If you are worried about God Hoon doing something behind your back over here, I will watch him through the divine continuum while you are gone…and call you the moment something goes wrong…is that all right?’

‘All right!’ agreed the goddess. The vortex of divine continuum in her beshel was linked seamlessly to the one inside the Nors and Iisuu would be able to keep a watch on Hoon from Seabor.

‘Now, just leave!’ said Iisuu firmly.

Goddess Myrhim did not waste a moment more. In a flash, she migrated out of her body and was gone. Iisuu also migrated out of his body and entered the vortex of divine continuum. From there, he could watch what God Hoon was doing inside the Nors, as well as what Myrhim was doing on Earth!

Alas! He did not know that instead of them, he should have been watching Aakaa! Aakaa had set up this vile trap and was watching his every move from the chamber of coons with his divine sight!

Aakaa was hiding in his underground chamber, but he came to know the moment Myrhim’s soul left Seabor. He also guessed that she had reached Earth when she alighted on the blue watery planet. Because, the moment she landed on Earth, she began killing the germs by the millions with her divine scimitar!

‘Run…’ growled Aakaa tersely to the leader of the seamones, ‘The time could not be more perfect…Myrhim is busy on Earth and Iisuu has entered the isolation of the divine continuum…run and get Elli iljjock now!’

Without saying another word, Triar seamone rushed out of Aakaa’s burrow to the zolboat tied outside. A special zolboat had been made for this occasion- it was covered and had a door that could be locked by a sliding a bolt! Two seamones were waiting for him inside the zolboat. They started the boat quickly when they saw the Triar rushing out and in no time, were speeding to the Harappa farms1

‘Finally, the moment has arrived!’ rasped the Triar, rubbing his hands with glee, ‘Finally, the seamones will have a yoke!’

‘Yes, but be careful!’ echoed the voice of his voluble ancestors from his soul, ‘You cannot afford to make a mistake!’

‘Yes!’ agreed the Triar and then, turning to his seamone companions snapped, ‘Approach the farms very slowly…we have to do this without making the slightest noise… and without leaving the slightest trace of any kind in the ocean!’

 

 

TRIAR SEAMONE and his companions landed their zolboat quietly on the ocean floor on the outskirts of the Harappa farms. Then, they dragged it stealthily through the trees close to the spot where Yadu and Elli had made their temporary shelter.

‘Remember, I want no struggle!’ whispered the Triar to the seamones with him. They were all trembling with anxiety.

Making their way quietly through the shrubs and undergrowth, they soon came upon the temporary shelter. Yadu and Elli were sleeping inside with their toes entwined!

The seamones stared at Elli iljjock. She glowed with a divine radiance, although muted. The glow fell on them and a wave of longing passed through their souls. Yes, Elli was a universal soulmate. She could be their soulmate too, and give them the string of divine lore!

Oh! They almost lunged to capture Elli when the Triar stopped them. He looked at them angrily and made a sign that they should all withdraw from the spot. He swam back to zolboat and the two seamones followed him, puzzled.

‘I don’t want a skirmish!’ he snapped on entering the zolboat, ‘I want Elli to come to us herself!’

‘But, how?’ asked the seamones, bewildered.

‘We will set a trap!’ he replied tersely

At the Triar’s bidding, the seamones pushed the zolboat nearer to the sleeping iljjocks. They camouflaged it with branches and leaves and threw the door open. Then they pulled some sheep and goats inside. Once the animals were tied them to the cranks, they poked their bodies with dry twigs. Oh! The sheep and goats bleated loudly.

‘Hide quickly!’ snapped the Triar and his companions, ‘Any moment now, they can walk in to free the animals!’

The seamones hid among the bleating animals and lay in wait for Elli and Yadu to walk into the trap they had set up!

 

 

THE iljjocks were fully aware of the crisis on Earth. They had heard every word spoken between Iisuu and Myrhim through the yoke, and knew that the goddess’s soul had left for Earth, and that Iisuu’s soul had migrated to the vortex of divine continuum.

Iisuu’s soul was now cut off from the yoke and the iljjocks were waiting for him to connect back and tell them all about the events on Earth. Until then, distraught with worry, they chattered loudly on the yoke.

The boisterous chatter woke up Yadu and Elli, who were sleeping in their temporary shelter on the Harappa farms. Yadu heard Pikki say something about germs having gone wayward when suddenly he heard loud bleating. Elli heard it too and woke up rubbing her eyes. ‘From there!’ she cried, pointing to the foliage nearby.

Yadu swam towards the foliage and Elli followed behind. They saw the animals tied to strange metallic rods. ‘Who has done this?’ he wondered, looking around bewildered

‘Oh, my poor creatures!’ exclaimed Elli and began untying them. Yadu bent down to help her and soon, almost all the animals had scampered away. To their surprise, the moment the last goat swam away, a door shut on them, locking them inside what seemed an enclosure!

Three tall seamones suddenly shook off branches to reveal themselves and Yadu and Elli realized with shock that the enclosure they were in was actually was a closed zolboat! Without saying a word, the seamones pulled the rods quickly, which were actually, the cranks of the zolboat! Even as Yadu and Elli watched bewildered, the zolboat spluttered to a start and began racing at a very high speed across the ocean.

‘Hey!’ yelled Yadu, leaping at the seamones,‘Let us out!

‘No!’ rasped one seamone, pushing him away

‘Let us out!’ cried Elli angrily, ‘Or I will smash the door open!’

‘You will die at this speed!’ warned a seamone, and pulled on the cranks to make the zolboat go faster.

Yadu realized that he had to something very quickly. He picked a broken branch lying on the floor and thud, thud, landed massive blows on the seamones. ‘Stop this thing now or I will kill you all!’ he thundered, hitting them hard on their heads.

‘Aaahh…aaahh…’ cried the seamones, collapsing with pain and shock.

‘Stop the zolboat, Yadu!’ cried Elli urgently.

‘Yes!’ cried Yadu, lunging at the cranks. Not knowing how they worked, he pulled them randomly.

‘God Iisuu…help…help!’ yelled Elli through the yoke, even as the zolboat veered wildly in the ocean.

‘Elli…Elli?’ asked many voices in surprise. They were the iljjocks and they were shocked to hear Elli calling for help.

‘Elli?’ yelled back Pikki in alarm, ‘What is the matter?’

‘The seamones are taking us forcibly somewhere in a zolboat!’ replied Elli in a trembling voice.

‘What?’ cried Pikki in shock, ‘Wait…where are you right now?’

‘Somewhere in the Seamone Ocean!’ replied Elli.

‘Don’t worry, Elli!’ yelled Pikki, ‘We are coming after you…but, stop the zolboat immediately!’

‘I am trying!’ yelled Yadu, pulling the cranks. He yanked a crank so hard that it broke.

‘What are you doing?’ shrieked one of the seamones, reviving. He tried to pull Yadu away from the controls, ‘You will kill us all!’

Yadu whacked that seamone so hard with the branch he had in his hand that he collapsed again. He struggled to stop the zolboat, but to no avail. The zolboat continued speeding and soon the seamone settlement came into view. Tall structures rose from oceanbed to the sky.

‘We are in trouble!’ cried Elli, looking outside. At least a hundred seamone zolboats had surrounded them!

‘Yadu…Elli…where are you?’ the desperate voices of the iljjocks came through the iljjock yoke, ‘We have reached the seamone settlement!’

Oh! Using their divine powers, hundreds of iljjocks had hurtled through the oceans to reach the settlement within moments!

‘We don’t know!’ replied Elli, ‘There are tall beshels all around us!’

‘We can also see them…’ cried Pikki in panic, ‘…in which beshel are you right now?’

‘We are still in the zolboat…’ replied Yadu, looking around. The seamone settlement was a jungle of tall structures.

‘Look for some sign…’ cried Hatti iljjock, ‘…some identification mark!’

Before Yadu could reply, their zolboat glided to stop on the oceanbed beside a tall structure. Hundreds of seamone zolboats stopped around them.

‘Let’s break open the door and run!’ he said urgently to Elli.

‘Wait!’ exclaimed Elli, looking outside. Hundreds of seamones had surrounded their zolboat and were pushing it.

Suddenly, their zolboat started rising! The seamones had pushed it on a metal platform attached to the structure. The platform rose upwards to take the zolboat to the upper part of the structure that lay above the surface of the ocean- somewhere at the top.

Yadu was looking around for a way to jump out without hurting themselves, when all movement stopped and the door flew open. Water from their zolboat gushed out and air filled inside!

‘Come!’ cried Yadu, pulling Elli behind him. They had to make a quick escape. But, the moment they stepped out, they staggered with shock. There was a sea of seamones outside, gathered in what seemed like a very large assembly hall.

Yadu and Elli glared stupefied at the crowd, and they glared back at them vilely. Yadu was about to push Elli back into the zolboat and face the crowd alone, when one of the wounded seamones lying on the floor of the zolboat got up. ‘Triar Seamone!’ cried the crowd in shock when they saw the wounded seamone. He was their leader, Triar seamone!

The Triar staggered out. ‘Hurry!’ he rasped to the crowd of seamones, ‘We have very less time. The iljjocks are somewhere outside!’

Lo! The seamones quickly started making spiral queues around what seemed like a ceremonial altar.

‘Have the coons been brought in?’ asked the Triar urgently.

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied the seamones, pointing to the glowing dead bodies ringing the hall. They had been brought in from the chamber of coons to make a divine shield around the hall.

Whereas Yadu looked at the activity and the dead bodies with bewilderment, Elli was aghast. She discovered suddenly that she and Yadu had been cut off from the iljjock yoke! The Orgis shield cut off everything and provided an isolation that was complete.

‘Yadu!’ she whispered with a tremor in her voice, ‘The iljjocks won’t find us here! We have to get out of here fast!’

Elli’s distress made Yadu’s soul sink. He had the most ominous feeling that something very terrible was about to happen.

‘NOW!’ he cried, and both he and Elli used divine force to scatter the seamones.

Oh! The air in the room swirled violently, throwing the seamones against each other. ‘Aaahh…aaahh…’ shrieked the seamones in pain, feeling hit by a hundred blows.

Yadu threw the door of the hall open and both he and Elli rushed towards it. They reached the door and were just about to run through when suddenly, a seamone entering the hall from outside blocked their way.

‘God Aakaa!’ recognised Elli with shock.

‘Aakaa?’ exclaimed Yadu, looking at the tall seamone from head to tail.

God Aakaa was the vilest seamone ever. His body glowed with incandescence like Iisuu’s but that glow was the so deathly that Yadu felt shivers run down his body. But, he ignored his uneasiness and was about to push Aakaa over, when suddenly, he almost fainted from a sharp pain in his soul!

Oh! Aakaa was assaulting his soul.

‘Stop!’ Yadu wanted to say, but he could not. Strangely, he could not move any part of his body anymore. The torment soon became unbearable and to his horror, he realized that Aakaa was assaulting Elli too!

Yadu and Elli were tossed like wicks in wind. Yadu tried to retrieve control his body but at least ten seamones caught hold him. From a distance, he saw at least ten seamones holding Elli and tying her to a column in the altar. Her toe was made to stick out in the open.

‘Stop!’ his soul cried in panic, as he saw the seamones making the horrific queues again. But, no one was listening. He was cut off from the yoke.

Aakaa stood in the middle of the altar and growled, ‘For ages, Myrhim has denied the seamones. She did not give you the string of divine lore when she could have given it to you easily to make the seamone yoke. But, now you have Elli iljjock… you will take the string from her soul and make the seamone yoke!’

‘No!’ cried Elli, struggling to regain control of her body. But, to no avail.

Triar seamone was the first seamone to ravage Elli’s soul. He wound his tail around Elli’s toe and a small flash of lightning crackled. His soul looked into Elli’s soul and searched for the string of divine lore . He found it easily among the other strings- it glowed radiantly with divine power! His soul singled out the string of divine lore and it duplicated. ‘Give me my string, Elli iljjock!’ rasped the Triar in a trembling voice.

‘No!’ grunted Elli, resisting.

Oh! The Triar forcibly pulled one string into his soul. A physical assault would have been more bearable. Here, Elli’s soul was taking a beating and she groaned with horrific suffering!

Yadu was not spared the suffering. He felt Elli’s pain like his own. As each seamone filed by Elli and wrenched his string of divine lore from her soul, Yadu felt as if something was being wrenched from his soul. ‘ELLI!’ he groaned, trying to reach out to her and alleviate her suffering. But, she was beyond all soothing.

She was in a state of extreme shock and devastation and she was slowly slipping towards her death. Once dead, Elli would wake up screaming as a coon.

Yadu’s soul hung on fiercely to Elli’s soul, not letting go of her even for a moment. He believed that as long as he was holding her, she would not die.

Revoltingly, while he felt as if was drowning in an ocean of suffering, the seamones in the hall appeared to be rejoicing!

The seamones were delirious with joy because, for the first time in many generations, they were talking to each other through their souls! Wonder of wonders, the seamone yoke had come into place!

 

 

IISUU had promised Myrhim that he would keep a watch on God Hoon until she returned to Seabor. His soul had migrated into the vortex of divine continuum in Myrhim’s beshel and he was doing the needful from there- he was watching Hoon in the Nors and also watching the goddess on Earth!

He watched Myrhim swing her scimitar and kill germs of plague by millions. Soon, the infection subsided and humans stopped dying from the disease. The epidemic ended.

Iisuu looked at the Nors. The influx of souls in the Nors had lessened and clearly, Hoon was very relieved. He saw Hoon looking at Earth intently. Hoon seemed to be very pleased by Myrhim’s intervention and the fact that she had the situation under her control!

Satisfied that Hoon posed no danger anymore and the fact that the goddess would be back in Seabor shortly, Iisuu came out of the vortex.

All of a sudden, he was startled by the cries of distress on the iljjock yoke. ‘What is going on?’ he asked anxiously through the yoke even as his soul entered his body.

‘God Iisuu!’ wept the iljjocks. Strangely, the voices seemed to be coming from afar.

Iisuu rushed out of his beshel. The settlement was empty! ‘Where are you?’ he yelled with shock.

‘In the seamone settlement…we are searching for Elli and Yadu!’

‘Elli and Yadu?’ asked Iisuu, his face turning ashen, ‘Where are they?’

‘The seamones have captured them!’

Iisuu staggered with shock. He said in a deathly voice, ‘Hold on, I am coming!’

Within moments, he crossed the oceans to reach the seamone settlement. The iljjocks gathered around him, showing him the structures they had brought down by using divine force. They had found them to be empty.

‘The seamones are hiding somewhere…and they have Elli and Yadu!’

Iisuu looked at entire Seabor with his divine sight and he saw nothing. His soul sank with despair. Aakaa was probably using Orgis as a shield!

‘They are in one of these beshels!’ cried Pikki, weeping.

Seething with rage, God Iisuu unleashed his massive divine powers and the beshels around them began crumbling down. Soon, only a cluster of structures remained. Iisuu was about to flatten them when he suddenly became aware that Myrhim had returned to Seabor.

Myrhim needed no telling. She learned of every event that had happened in her absence by listening to the iljjock yoke. And, she saw where Aakaa and the seamones were hiding by listening to the newly formed seamone yoke!

The seamones had strings of divine lore in their souls now, and the power from the strings was leaking infinitesimally through the thin shield of Orgis- the goddess picked it easily with her omnipresent sight and she rushed immediately to the seamone settlement to find Iisuu!

‘The seamones now have a yoke!’ she told Iisuu, her face ashen with shock. ‘And Yadu and Elli are in that beshel over there!’ she said, pointing to a tall structure still standing at the far end of the settlement.

 

 

YADU woke up to consciousness to find that he was lying next to Elli. ‘Elli!’ he croaked aloud, trying to get up. But, his hands and legs were not in his control. In a flash, he recalled their ordeal and almost fainted. He remembered the how horrifically Elli’s soul had been ravaged and how he had felt her every pain. Strangely, his soul felt fine now. And, Elli’s soul also felt fine. Only that, she was not responding!

‘The human has woken up, my lord!’ rasped a harsh voice. Yadu looked in the direction of the voice and saw Triar Seamone, the leader of the seamones. He looked around. He was lying on the altar with Elli and they were surrounded by at least a dozen seamones! God Aakaa was standing in front of Elli!

‘Elli!’ cried Yadu, trying to get up again.

‘We should leave before Iisuu finds us!’ whispered the Triar in a quaking voice to Aakaa.

‘NO!’ thundered Aakaa, ‘I want to see Iisuu helpless and defeated!’

‘He will kill us!’ whispered one of the seamones, edging towards the door.

‘Don’t move!’ growled Aakaa, ‘Or, you will end up a coon like Elli iljjock here!’

The seamone stopped and whispered, ‘She is not a coon, my lord!’

‘How do you know?’

‘The human would have writhed from her screams otherwise!’

Aakaa swung his head to look at Yadu. His body was still but his face was peaceful. Clearly, he was hearing no screams and Elli wasn’t screaming! But, Elli’s body was like the dead!

‘How can that be…’ growled Aakaa, looking into Elli’s soul with his divine sight. ‘Strange!’ he murmured.

‘What do you see?’ asked the Triar curiously.

‘She had two souls, one iljjock and the other human!’ replied Aakaa, ‘The two souls have fused strangely!’

Before he could say anymore, the beshel next to theirs came crashing down.

The seamones panicked and ran towards the doors. There was a stampede as they tried to rush out to find their zolboats. God Aakaa and Triar Seamone did not move. They were waiting to see Iisuu’s enraged face!

Yadu’s face was peaceful, but his soul was in turmoil. Elli’s soul was not responding and he was very worried. Mustering all his strength, he shook her soul hard. But, to no avail. He tried again. Just when he thought his own soul would scatter, he heard a familiar buzz in his ears.

‘God Hoon!’ he whispered in shock.

The buzzing grew louder. Oh! How could he have forgotten his protector, the mighty Hoon, he thought with remorse. He should have called him when the seamones were abducting him and Elli!

‘Elli… my lord…save her!’ he beseeched from the bottom of his soul.

Yadu had never prayed like this before. And, never before had his prayers been answered like this. Divine energy flowed in his body and his body revived! He suddenly thrashed his arms and legs, taking those present in the hall by surprise!

God Aakaa stared at him in disbelief. He was about to squeeze him back to senselessless again when, suddenly, the hall caved in. Their beshel had crashed to the oceanbed! The walls crumbled and water gushed in. Oh! Standing outside on the oceanfloor were Iisuu, Myrhim, and hundreds of iljjocks!

‘IISUU!’ growled Aakaa sardonically, ‘You took so long in coming…I have been waiting for you!’

God Iisuu’s face trembled with rage and his eyes were shadowed with a deathly look. ‘What have you done, Aakaa?’ he thundered.

‘I have made the seamone yoke!’ Aakaa cackled with vile and insane laughter, ‘Myrhim wouldn’t give the string of divine lore to the seamones…so they snatched it forcefully…from Elli’s soul!’

‘AAKAA!’ roared Iisuu, blinded with pain and rage.

‘Iisuu, no!’ cried Myrhim, trying to stop Iisuu from attacking Aakaa, ‘Calm down!’

Iisuu had listened to Myrhim many times in the past and pardoned Aakaa for his ill deeds. But, this time the deed was unpardonable. Iisuu took one look at Elli and exploded with rage. His eyes crackling fiercely, he wrung Aakaa’s soul and began crushing it with his divine powers.

‘NO, IISUU!’ shrieked Myrhim, trying to stop his aggression, ‘Elli and Yadu need your attention first!’

Pikki and the iljjocks rushed to the broken altar where Elli and Yadu were lying. Yadu was weeping. Holding Elli tightly against his chest, he was trying to revive her soul.

‘Pikki!’ cried Yadu in a lost voice, ‘Look what has happened to Elli!’

‘Yadu!’ whispered Pikki with tears streaming down his eyes, ‘Do not worry…she will soon be fine!’

‘Yadu!’ said Hatti urgently, ‘Did you call God Hoon…we heard you on the yoke!’

‘Yes!’ replied Yadu distractedly, ‘He helped me get up!’

‘Call him again…’ said Hatti urgently, ‘I am sure he will do something to revive Elli!’

‘Yes!’ agreed Pikki, ‘You must call him again! Only he can save Elli!’

‘God Hoon!’ sobbed Yadu heart rendingly, ‘Save my Elli…and in turn, take my life if you will!’

Oh! Seabor quaked with a thousand thunders. Huge waves swirled in the oceans to raise a massive storm. ‘God Hoon!’ whispered Myrhim, aghast.

‘WHAT…HOON?’ gasped Aakaa, wresting himself free from Iisuu’s hold.

‘Yes!’ thundered Iisuu, looking up at the sky. It was dusk but the Nors were still glowing fiercely, as if fired by Hoon’s deathly rage. ‘Punish this cursed creature mercilessly, my lord!’ appealed Iisuu, trembling with anger, ‘And, punish his vile brood too!’

Hoon did not listen to Yadu’s prayer. Elli showed no signs of recovery. But, he listened to Iisuu’s appeal.

Iisuu declared later that it was Hoon’s evil scimitar that fell on the souls of the seamones. For, the ill-gotten string of divine lore was ripped from the souls of the seamones in one scorching flash. The seamones lost the yoke faster than they got it. Worse still, their souls had been maimed, making it excruciatingly painful for them to live, as well as to die.

In a daze, Yadu saw Iisuu and Myrhim rush anxiously towards him and Elli.

Myrhim scooped Elli’s inert body in her arms and flooded her soul with maternal love, ‘My child, I am here now…you will be fine…’ she wept, touching Elli’s face with her own.

Iisuu picked up Yadu and murmured gently, ‘You have been very brave, my child!’

Yadu nodded, and letting out a deep breath, sank into deep sleep.

 

 

Time: Yadu’s 19th day on Seabor (16th century AD on Earth)

Place: The Iljjock Ocean, Seabor

 

IT was a bright morning on Seabor today. The Nors showered blistering radiation on the land and the oceans. The wholesome scent of kiks from the Kirll forest blended with the fresh vapour from the oceans to spread a heady scent. But, the effect was lost on both- the seamones and the iljjocks.

The seamones had suffered unimaginable loss. Their souls had been wounded and their tall settlements flattened. Cursed was the day when their leader decided to abduct Elli iljjock and attain divine powers.

The iljjocks also dwelled in deep despair. They had been standing outside Myrhim’s beshel for more than a day now, waiting for Elli and Yadu to revive. Elli was still critical and Yadu was unconscious. They were lying inside Myrhim’s beshel in two cots, and there were so signs of revival.

Today, at the crack of dawn, Myrhim had opened the vortex of divine continuum and placed Elli’s inert body near it. ‘Only Hoon can grant her a peaceful death!’ she had whispered, her face ashen with worry.

If Elli became a coon, she would be the first iljjock to become a coon. The iljjocks prayed for a peaceful death for her. They waited for Iisuu to announce the safe birth of her child and her subsequent death.

God Iisuu was fraught with worry. ‘If Elli becomes a coon!’ he cried in alarm, ‘Her screams will unsettle the yoke!

Pikki and Hatti were sitting with him inside Myrhim’s beshel and they nodded at his statement. An iljjock becoming a coon would have serious implications. Whereas the iljjocks could not tolerate even the slightest disturbance on the yoke, Elli’s piercing screams would drive them all to madness and violence.

‘My goddess, sending you to Earth was a seamone ploy!’ muttered Hatti angrily to Myrhim, ‘They just wanted to capture Elli!’

‘Yes, it was a ploy!’ replied Myrhim grimly, ‘But, it is good that I went!’

‘Why do you say that?’ asked Iisuu. Since Myrhim’s return, he had had not a chance to talk to her about her trip to Earth.

Myrhim opened her soul to Iisuu and shared her earthly visit with him. Iisuu’s eyes widened with disbelief.

‘What is it, my lord?’ asked Pikki in alarm.

‘I do not believe this!’ cried Iisuu, shaking his head.

‘What is it?’ asked Hatti curiously.

‘You won’t believe this…Aakaa has been causing the epidemics on Earth all along!’

‘What?’ cried all the iljjocks in shock. They were roaming outside Myrhim’s beshel, and were listening to all that was being said through the yoke.

‘How did he do that?’ asked Pikki, puzzled.

Iisuu shared what he had seen in Myrhim’s soul on the yoke. The iljjocks saw a faint divine connection running between Aakaa and the animals on Earth. They also Aakaa use divine force to change the lifecodes of the germs on Earth!

‘I discovered this when I was killing the germs with my scimitar!’ said Myrhim grimly, ‘The moment I touched them, I saw a divine connection running from them to Seabor…and when I looked carefully, I saw them connecting to Aakaa’s soul!’

‘Did you kill all the germs?’ asked Pikki and Hatti worriedly.

‘No!’ replied Myrhim, ‘Germs are required to keep the human immune system strong and going! The humans will not survive without a functional immune system!’

‘You mean Aakaa can continue manipulating the germs to create epidemics on Earth?’ asked Iisuu, aghast.

‘Of course not!’ said Myrhim forcefully.

Iisuu frowned, waiting for Myrhim to elaborate. The iljjocks also listened through the yoke.

‘Well, I did not wipe out all the germs. But, I did something to weaken Aakaa!

‘What did you do?’ asked Iisuu, puzzled.

‘The source of Aakaa’s powers are the souls in the Nors! As they rise in number, Aakaa’s powers expand as well. His new power over the germs on Earth is a perfect example. So, I have done something to weaken his divine connection to the Nors!’

‘Tell us quickly, my goddess!’ burst Pikki eagerly.

‘I created humans knights to fight Aakaa’s influence!’

‘Human knights?’

‘They are humans with two souls…like Elli!’

‘Two souls?’ exclaimed Iisuu, flabbergasted.

‘One human and one iljjock!’ elaborated Myrhim, ‘I realized when I created Elli…that the presence of two souls gives me the flexibility to create special traits…whereas Elli was created to be a universal soulmate…the humans knights will have the ability to see and slash Aakaa’s masked connection to the souls in the Nors!’

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Iisuu.

‘Show us a human knight!’ cried Hatti and his soulmate Miia, excitedly, ‘Do they look different from the others?’

‘No!’ replied Myrhim, ‘They look like the other humans!’

‘But, they are very different!’ interjected Iisuu with a knowing smile, ‘They are gifted humans who stand out among millions!’

‘You know them?’ asked Hatti with surprise.

Iisuu smiled. ‘I did see them differently from other humans on Earth!’ he chuckled, ‘But I did not understand why I was seeing them like this!’

‘But, one of their souls is an iljjock soul!’ frowned Pikki, ‘You should have seen them transparently like you see one of us!’

‘That iljjock soul is sealed along with the human soul!’ explained Myrhim, ‘Iisuu will not see them as clearly as he sees you!’

‘Show them to us!’ cried Pikki and his soulmate Jerro, together.

‘They were truly gifted humans!’ sighed Iisuu, remembering more about them, ‘They lived great lives…and now they are in the Nors, fighting Aakaa!’

‘Are they now dead?’ asked the iljjocks with disappointment.

‘The ones Iisuu is remembering are dead!’ remarked Myrhim, ‘He is right in calling them gifted. I did not forsee this…but the combination of a closed human and an iljjock soul led to an explosion of imagination in these humans! They are all so delightfully creative, that I create a few everyday!’

‘Everyday?’ exclaimed Pikki, startled.

‘Yes!’ smiled the goddess, ‘I create them from here through the divine continuum! I created two last night…and, I must say I felt the same joy that I felt when I first became a mother!’

The iljjocks looked at Myrhim with surprise. She was glowing with a soft radiance that was very warm and mellow!

‘Can we see them?’ asked Pikki with wonder.

‘Iisuu will show them to you on the yoke!’

Iisuu smiled. He was aware of the two knights Myrhim was talking about! He took a fleeting glimpse of them and shared it on the yoke!

The first knight was a lissome, bearded man making a sketch!

‘He is making the design of a flying machine…’ exclaimed Iisuu, his chest swelling with pride, ‘My Leonardo is a painter, architect, engineer, scientist, philosopher and what not!’

‘Oh!’ cried the iljjocks, looking the twin-souled human with awe.

The second knight was a sculptor. He was chiseling marble with great concentration. ‘My Michaelangelo is no lesser!’ said Iisuu, tears of joy flowing from his eyes. The sculptor was making the likeness of the holy child who had taken birth from a shard of Iisuu’s soul!

The iljjocks were astounded. They wanted to see more, when suddenly they heard a groan. It was Yadu. He had come out of unconsciousness! He was lying on a cot inside Myrhim’s beshel. Myrhim, Iisuu, Hatti and Pikki were inside with him and had been watching over him when they had been diverted by the talk about human knights.

‘Yadu, my child!’ cried Myrhim, moving quickly to his side.

‘Yadu!’ cried Iisuu, Pikki and Hatti together, rushing to stand by his cot.

Yadu stirred.

‘Wake up, my dear child!’ cried Iisuu in a choked voice.

Yadu opened his eyes and he saw Iisuu’s glowing body hazily. He also saw Myrhim’s glowing body. He could not see the others clearly, but he could feel their presence on the yoke. The yoke was very silent. And, Elli…Elli was not on the yoke. His soul sank. ‘Elli!’ he croaked in desperation.

‘Elli is safe!’ said Iisuu gravely, ‘Don’t worry!’

‘Where is she?’ he cried, flailing his arms in desperation, ‘Why can’t I see her on the yoke?’

‘I will take you to her!’ said God Iisuu in a worried voice. He picked up Yadu and carried him to an underground chamber below Myrhim’s beshel. The vortex of divine continuum was present in this chamber and Myrhim had placed Elli’s inert body near it with the hope that Hoon, the God of Death, would show mercy on her and grant her a peaceful death!

Yadu saw the vortex of blinding energy and Elli lying lifelessly on the cold floor near it. ‘What is she doing here?’ he asked in a trembling voice.

‘She is waiting for God Hoon to give her a safe death!’ replied Iisuu.

‘But, she is not ready to die, not yet!’ he cried weakly.

‘How do you know?’ asked Iisuu, bewildered.

‘God Hoon saved her from death!’ he gasped, getting down from Iisuu’s arms, ‘Why would he save her if she had to die!’

Stunned, Iisuu watched Yadu stagger to Elli’s inert body. He picked her up and began carrying her back to the beshel.

‘What are you doing?’ cried Iisuu with shock, ‘She could end up a coon!’

‘She will not become a coon!’ he cried, fighting back his tears.

Oh! Yadu carried his soulmate’s body all the way outside Myrhim’s beshel, to the ceremonial altar on the ocean floor and laid her gently on it. He slumped by her and declared on the yoke, ‘I have faith in God Hoon! He was the one who saved Elli from death. He will not let her die now!’

The iljjocks gathered around the altar and looked at the Elli and Yadu in grave silence. Myrhim and Iisuu stepped up the altar as well, and looked at them with bewilderment. Elli was in an unknown frozen state because of the extreme shock she had suffered and they did not know how to bring her out of it. All they knew was that it was important for Elli to die peacefully.

Tears flowed down Yadu’s eyes as he saw Elli’s wasted body. Was it only a day before that they were living so rapturously at the Harappa farm? ‘Elli!’ he sighed, caressing her brow longingly, ‘Wake up!’

‘Yadu!’ explained Iisuu gently, ‘All Elli would want now is for her soul to pass on safely to her child!”

But, Yadu was not listening. He touched Elli’s toe with his own toe. It was cold. ‘Elli!’ he cried brokenly, ‘Wake up!’

‘Yadu!’ scolded Myrhim sternly. The goddess was about put him to sleep with a tap of her scimitar, when suddenly, the water on the ocean floor vibrated with a loud rustle.

Startled, the iljjocks looked around anxiously. They knew it was God Hoon! They felt fear, but they did not care. Because, only Hoon’s divine intervention could heal Elli now.

Yadu heard the rustle too. ‘Help me, father…for I have lost!’ he wept, bursting into loud sobs.

Oh! God Hoon showed his mercy. A tiny flash of lightning crackled between Yadu and Elli’s toes and all of a sudden, Elli’s soul came out of its state of shock and let out a faint sigh!

The iljjocks did not hear anything because Elli was not connected to the yoke anymore. But, Myrhim heard the sigh! Iisuu heard it too! Yadu had heard it first because he was her soulmate! ‘Elli!’ he wept, scooping her in his arms and holding her tightly to his chest, ‘I knew you would come back!’

The iljjocks stood thunderstuck as they realized that Elli’s soul had revived!

‘It is a miracle!’ gasped Iisuu, bursting with joy.

‘Yes!’ cried Myrhim, shaking her head in disbelief. She gazed at the Nors with astonishment and exclaimed, ‘I don’t believe this…but, Hoon, the God of Death, is now a saviour!’

The iljjocks gathered around Yadu and Elli, delirious with joy. Throwing all caution to the winds, they chattered loudly in the open ocean. Everyone wanted to talk to Elli, which they did through Iisuu and Myrhim’s souls! Because, although Elli’s soul had revived, it was still isolated from the yoke and her body was still unresponsive!

‘She will heal slowly!’ assured Iisuu.

Myrhim nodded, and looked at the poignant scene with joy. The clouds of despair seemed to be lifting from her children, the iljjocks! All because of Hoon’s mercy! She looked at her other children on the planet- the seamones- with her divine sight. Had Hoon been merciful to them too?

She peered inside Aakaa’s burrow. He was not to be seen. As usual, he was probably hiding in the cursed chamber of coons! Myrhim could not help but feel worried. What was he doing there now?

AAKAA had seen Hoon’s scimitar fall on the souls of the seamones. He fled because he was expecting it to fall on his soul next. Surprisingly, Hoon did not punish him! He let him escape!

He fled to the only place where Hoon would not be able to see him- the chamber of coons- and hid there. His head pounding, he slumped between the dead coons in the chamber. That Hoon had spared him was very astonishing! But, the reason was obvious. His soul was loaded with Orgis, the divine venom that had purged the old bor. There was no Orgis left in the present universe, except for the small measure that had remained in Aakaa’s soul!

‘Ha!Ha!’Aakaa laughed loudly and raucously. He knew for certain what he had always suspected- Myrhim and now even God Hoon dared not kill him because he was in possession of Orgis. If he died, the Orgis would spill out of his soul to spread in the material universe and put it on the path of certain death like the divine bor! He had the power to purge the universe and that power was greater than all other powers!

Emboldened by the fact, he came out of hiding from the chamber of coons. He entered his burrow to find the leader of seamones, Triar Seamone, curled on the floor and moaning with suffering. All the other seamones had also gathered outside his burrow and were moaning loudly from the burning ache in the souls.

‘My lord!’ wailed the Triar loudly, ‘We are doomed now!’

‘He should have just killed you all!’ muttered Aakaa under his breath.

The Triar clung to Aakaa’s tail and wept. ‘Save us, my lord!’ he begged.

‘Get off!’ cried Aakaa, pushing him away. He looked for his slaves. They were outside with the others and groaning with agony.

‘Rosamone just died, my lord!’ whispered the Triar. Rosamone was the oldest seamone.

‘He was about to die anyway!’ snapped Aakaa.

‘He died, screaming with unbearable pain!’ whispered the Triar with a shiver, ‘And….’

‘And, what?’

‘His newborn has taken birth screaming in pain!’

‘Why?’

‘The child is born with a wounded soul!’ moaned the seamones from outside.

Even, Aakaa was shocked. Apparently, Hoon had slashed the souls of the seamones so deeply that he had given them lasting wounds. ‘What do you want me to do?’ he growled angrily.

‘Give the child a drop of Orgis…we cannot let our children suffer!’ begged the Triar with tears streaming down his face.

‘NO!’ refused Aakaa without a moment’s hesitation, ‘The Orgis is mine and I will not give it to anyone…it is what is keeping me safe and alive! Now get out of here and let me rest in peace!’

The Triar glared with hatred and disbelief at Aakaa.

‘GET OUT!’ thundered Aakaa, his eyes throwing a shower of sparks.

His shoulders drooping from despair, the Triar seamone turned to leave Aakaa’s chamber.

‘Wait!’ growled Aakaa suddenly. ‘I have something for you to do!’

‘NO!’ roared the seamones in protest from outside.

‘What do you mean?’ cried Aakaa angrily

‘A drop of Orgis for the Rosamone’s baby first!’ chanted the seamones angrily.

‘All right…all right!’ snapped Aakaa impatiently, ‘Bring the child here!’

The baby seamone was brought inside the chamber. He was screaming with pain. And, because he had not been eating, he was still very tiny. Aakaa transferred a drop of Orgis to his soul and the baby stopped crying.

‘Feed him kiks…quickly!’ wept the Triar with relief, ‘Rosamone’s soul will now be in peace!’

‘Yes!’ cried the seamones tearfully and took the baby away.

The Triar kissed Aakaa’s tail in deep gratitude and asked in a choked voice, ‘What do want us to do, my Lord?’

Aakaa paced the room excitedly. ‘I looked into the human’s soul carefully when he was in my grasp!’ he growled with a vile grin.

‘What did you see, my lord?’

‘Iisuu opened the pathways to Yadu’s soul when he brought him to Seabor…do you know how he did it?’

‘No!’ replied the Triar, puzzled.

‘By infecting him with a germ!’

‘A germ?’ exclaimed the Triar.

‘Yes!’ growled Aakaa, ‘I saw the germs…but I did not have the time to see their lifecodes!’

There was a moment of silence as the Triar wondered what Aakaa was getting at! ‘What do you want us to do, my lord?’ he asked slowly.

‘I want you breed the germ that opens the pathways to the human soul!’ growled Aakaa exultantly.

‘But, why do you want to open the human souls?’ asked the Triar pensively, ‘Haven’t we faced enough?’

‘You ask too many questions!’ sneered Aakaa and wrung the Triar’s soul.

Oh! The Triar almost died from excruciating agony.

‘Mercy!’ wailed the seamones from outside.

Aakaa let go of the Triar and oozed a very foul and frightening odor. ‘I want to open the human souls so that I can connect to them directly…don’t forget there is a shard of my soul in their souls…I will make the human yoke with them and not Iisuu!’ he declared grandly.

The seamones burned with jealousy and hatred. How could Aakaa make the yoke with the humans, when he had failed so miserably in making one with them?

The Triar was calmer and wiser. Gasping for breath, he croaked, ‘We will help you make the human yoke! But, we want something in return!’

‘What is that?’ growled Aakaa menancingly.

‘A drop of Orgis for each of our children!’

‘Hmmm…I will see!’ scoffed Aakaa gruffly, ‘It depends on how soon you can give me the germ that opens human souls!’

‘It will take at least ten days! There are thousands of germs on the Harappa farm…we will have to search for the right one to breed!’

‘Nonsense!’ thundered Aakaa, ‘Iisuu would have finished making the human yoke by then! I want it in two days!’

‘The beshels and the germbeds are all destroyed!’ protested the seamones, ‘We will have to build them back first!’

‘Five days!’ growled Aakaa dismissively, ‘Until then, I shall just amuse myself! The Nors are teeming with interesting human souls!’

Having said that, Aakaa went down to the chamber of coons. And, Triar Seamone hobbled outside. Oozing a very foul scent of despair he spoke sharply, ‘Half of you will work on the germbeds. Others will build weapons of war!’

‘Weapons of war?’ asked the seamones in surprise, ‘For what?’

‘To destroy the iljjocks!’ replied their leader bitterly, ‘We shall wound them… like they have wounded us!’

 

 

GODDESS MYRHIM and God Iisuu were waiting for Elli to heal completely. Elli’s soul had revived but she was still isolated from the yoke. Also, she still could not move her body and lay motionlessly in her cot in Yadu’s beshel.

The iljjocks tried many formations that would bring her back on the yoke, but they hit a block. Iisuu and Myrhim were not touching her soul, lest she suffer a reversal.

Yadu, being her soulmate, had a direct connection with her soul. He talked to her constantly and tried to heal her with old remedies from his village, Lachvi!

Once, he rubbed sweet smelling pine oil briskly on her body to give her a massage. ‘Can you feel my hands, Elli!’ he asked eagerly.

‘No!’ sighed Elli faintly.

Yadu’s face fell and he stopped giving the massage.

‘Forgive me!’ she sighed.

‘No!’ he replied, fighting back his tears, ‘It is you who has to forgive me!’

‘For what?’ she asked weakly.

‘I could not protect you!’ he cried, clenching his fists.

There was a poignant moment of silence between them, and then she whispered, ‘You are saving me even now!’

‘I am doing nothing!’ he replied, overcome with frustration.

‘Yadu…’ grunted Elli.

‘Yes?’

‘I am feeling suffocated!’

‘What is wrong?’ asked Iisuu anxiously, entering the beshel. He and Myrhim had heard Elli’s soul cry out and had rushed to attend to her.

‘She is feeling suffocated!’ Yadu cried in panic.

‘Let me see!’ said Myrhim and pulled Elli gently in her lap. Realizing that she could no longer avoid probing Elli’s soul, she touched it gently with her scimitar to find out what was bothering her.

‘My goddess!’ whispered Elli, feeling Myrhim’s soothing touch.

‘Yes, my child!’ replied Myrhim in her warm, tinkling voice. ‘You soul is unusually strong!’ she murmured with surprise.

‘Let me see!’ said Iisuu. He also probed Elli’s soul and was surprised.

Both of them looked intently and saw what Aakaa had seen earlier! Elli’s seamone and human souls had fused together! And, the fused soul was loaded with a swathe of new soul strings. The strings were dark and obscure!

‘Where did these strings come from?’ asked Iisuu with shock.

Myrhim did not reply and touched the strange new strings gently with her divine scimitar. Oh! Like coal turning to gold, the strings shed their darkness to shine with blinding radiance!

‘Elli!’ whispered Myrhim with shock, ‘What can you see with your divine sight?’

‘The entire universe, my goddess!’

‘And, how much force can you exert?’

‘I move nearby planets…but I am scared!’

‘What?’ exclaimed Iisuu in disbelief.

‘She is as powerful as you, Iisuu…do you know that?’ exclaimed the goddess, her eyes wide with wonder, ‘She is carrying strings of divine lore in her soul! Not one or two, but the complete lot!’

‘How did that happen?’ whispered Iisuu, reeling with shock. His voice echoed on the yoke and the iljjocks were equally shocked. Wonder of wonders, Elli iljock was carrying the complete divine lore!

‘God Hoon has given it to her!’ whispered Yadu in a dazed voice, ‘As a divine blessing!’

‘Yes, you are right!’ agreed Myrhim tremulously, ‘He recast her wounded soul with his divine scimitar and made it strong enough to carry the complete divine lore!’

Iisuu was struck by a sudden thought and his eyes widened with shock. ‘These are probably the same strings that Hoon ripped from Aakaa’s soul!’ he said to Myrhim, ‘He has gifted them to Elli now!’

‘Aakaa will lose his sanity if he ever learns of this!’ stammered Myrhim with an ashen face, ‘He must never know!’

Yadu listened distractedly to the ongoing conversation. His attention was more on Elli’s inert body. ‘Why can’t Elli move her body?’ he interrupted in frustration.

‘Hoon disconnected her soul from her body before giving her the divine lore!’ explained Myrhim, ‘If he hadn’t done that, Elli’s body would have disintegated from the power of the divine lore!’

Yadu’s face fell. ‘How will she ever get up, then?’ he asked with anguish.

‘I don’t think she will ever get up!’ replied Myrhim with despair.

‘Give her a new body, then!’ he cried in desperation, ‘Like you gave a new body to me!’

Myrhim shook her head. ‘I cannot!’

‘Why?’ asked Iisuu in surprise,‘Your scimitar has the power to give life and make a new body around a soul!’

‘It is not possible!’ cried Myrhim, distraught, ‘I will have to give her a body similar to yours and Aakaa…a body that can bear the power of the complete divine lore!’

‘Give her a body similar to mine, then!’ frowned Iisuu.

‘Why don’t you understand…such bodies can be made only with a hot scimitar!’ explained Myrhim, ‘My scimitar does not have that hotness anymore…the universe has cooled down!’

‘I am feeling suffocated!’ cried Elli suddenly, ‘Please free me!’

‘We have to do something!’ cried Yadu angrily, ‘Elli cannot continue like this!’

‘Yes, we have to do something!’ agreed Iisuu.

‘There is only one way to free Elli’s soul now!’ replied Myrhim gravely.

‘What is that?’ asked Yadu urgently.

‘Her new soul is pristine and untouched. She can mate with Yadu again, give birth and die!’

‘You mean she will swap all her strings with Yadu again?’ wondered Iisuu thoughtfully, ‘Can Yadu’s soul take the load? This is divine lore we are talking about!’

‘Not in the normal circumstances!’ replied Myrhim, ‘But, if I transfer each string with my divine scimitar and reduce its power greatly before I place it in Yadu’s soul…it should work. I will also reduce the power of the strings in Elli’s soul so that she can reconnect to her body and give birth!’

‘Wonderful!’ exclaimed Iisuu.

The iljjocks had been listening in astonishment to the entire conversation through the yoke. Pikki could not believe what he had heard. He swam inside the beshel and asked, ‘If Yadu gets new strings of divine lore, will the iljjocks get it too?’

‘Of course!’ smiled Myrhim, ‘Yadu is a part of the yoke! The iljjocks will share the load of every string like last time!’

‘O wonder!’ cried the iljjocks, astounded. They could not believe that they were about to get the complete divine lore! Pikki, Hatti, Miia, Jerro, and the rest became very jubilant. Elli became jubilant too when she heard about it from the goddess!

‘Did you hear that Yadu?’ she cried elatedly,‘It will be such a big achievement for the iljjocks!’

‘Yes!’ agreed Yadu, ‘We will become as powerful as Iisuu!’

‘No, we will not!’ she refuted, ‘You heard what the goddess said…she will reduce the power of the strings greatly!’

Yadu shook his head in disagreement, ‘I think we are going to end up with phenomenal power!’

The iljjocks shared the same view. They chattered excitedly on the yoke as never before. Pikki wondered how far into the universe would they see with their divine sight? Hatti wanted to know exactly how much divine force would they have? The rest of the iljjocks expressed a common interest- would they be able to fly to the Nors?

 

Place: Varanasi, Earth.

Time: 1:35 am, 8 September 2049 AD

 

DR. STEIN opened his eyes tiredly. He had been narrating Yadu’s tale for almost five hours now and was drained. He looked at Dogre and Taniya to see how they were faring.

Dogre looked as if he had been blasted from the planet. And, Taniya was deeply engrossed in typing what he had just narrated.

For the past five hours, they had been listening to- for that matter, practically living through -Yadu’s experiences on Seabor with astonishment and disbelief.

If Myrhim’s revelation about how she created life on Earth was mind-boggling; Iisuu and Aakaa’s involvement in mankind’s affairs was just plain shocking! Further, the description of the extinct bor - the world purported to have given birth to the universe- was truly confounding and needed to be corroborated with hard, logical explanations!

Stein straightened his cramped legs and got up to check on Yadu. He walked over the adjoining bedroom and peeked inside. The alien-human’s wrinkled body was emanating a soft glow. Stein smiled. No earthly instrument would detect that glow. He was seeing it only because his soul had been awakened!

Stein walked back to sit on the couch while Dogre got up to open the door of the suite. The hotel catering staff walked in with tea and light refreshment that they placed on the table and left. The three walked over to the table and took quick bites of the snacks and sipped hot lemon tea. It was late in the night and there was a slight chill in the air. Taniya switched off the airconditioning before sitting in front of her laptop again.

Dogre took a sip of his tea and chuckled loudly.

‘What?’ asked Stein with twinkling eyes.

‘You know what…I wouldn’t mind trading places with that cowherd fella in there!’ said Dogre, pointing to Yadu, ‘Amazing what this guy got to see and face!’

‘A lot of it was very painful for him!’ frowned Taniya.

‘You are right!’ agreed Stein, ‘But, I am amazed that these guys, Iisuu and Aakaa, have been interfering on Earth for the past many thousand years…and we did not even suspect!’

‘That aliens would look up to us as some kind of technological geniuses…’ exclaimed Dogre, ‘is so unbelievable!’

‘It is!’ agreed Taniya, ‘But, you mustn’t forget that these aliens have supernatural powers…that no technology can equal!’

‘Of course!’ nodded Dogre, ‘So, Yadu is about to get the mother lode of all supernatural powers- the strings of divine lore!’

‘Yes!’ Stein laughed.

‘Hey, wait a sec…he has not transferred any of the divine stuff to you, has he?’ asked Dogre on a sudden thought.

‘Of course not!’ denied Stein categorically, ‘He only let me read the stuff in his soul…there’s a difference!’

Dogre shook his head, not entirely convinced!

‘Well, let me finish the narrative!’ suggested Stein, ‘Things will be easier for us to understand and explain!’

‘All right, let’s finish the tale!’ agreed Dogre, switching on the recording devices in the room.

Ten minutes later, the three settled down for another session of narration and recording.

‘I will resume the narrative from the point when Myrhim begins transferring the divine lore from Elli iljjock’s soul to Yadu’s soul. As she transfers the strings, Yadu, Elli and the iljjocks shall witness the events of the last season of the bor as they happened.’

‘Only the last season?’ asked Taniya.

‘Yes!’

‘Wait a sec!’ interrupted Dogre, ‘We made some interesting hypotheses regarding the origin of the bor earlier…Taniya, will you please read them out…it will help us to listen to the stuff on the ‘bor’ with some kind of perspective!’

Stein smiled in agreement.

‘Let me see!’ replied Taniya. Scrolling back, she read out what she had written earlier.

‘The universe may have started from the state of ‘nothing’; absolute nothingness being the ground state of the universe. It would a state characterized by perfect symmetry, i.e. when all parameters existed in exact pairs of opposites and cancel one another.’ Taniya read from her laptop.

‘Correct, go on…’

‘So, you have the Outbor, which is ‘nothing’. It has no properties except perhaps that it is infinite! Now, the property of ‘infinity’ manifests itself randomly as latent energy. So, you have the latent energy winding up in the ocean in a tight knot, because of which, the state of symmetry tends to degenerate into a state of asymmetry. But, it cannot happen! Because, there is nothing, no parameter, not even time, that can enable the change of state!’

‘Hmmmm…’

‘The latent energy develops a ‘will’ of its own to allow the change of state! Consciousness is born! Primitive consciousness floats suddenly in the ocean of nothingness, followed by energy spiraling out from the knot, which we know better as the Holy Knot! A force field comes into being around the Holy Knot, which we know better as the primordial bor!’

‘Wow!’ murmured Dogre.

‘Now that the symmetry is broken and an energy field exists, new parameters appear. Time begins ticking forward. The asymmetrical forces of nature take birth, which supposedly, are the three omnipresent gods, Time, Mystery and Hoon!’

‘Correct…’ nodded Stein.

‘Like excited particles tend to return to their ground state, the Outbor, which is now disturbed by the appearance of the bor, seeks to return to its ground state. So, a reverse potential comes into play that acts to restore symmetry – to annihilate the positive asymmetrical forces with negative ones and to kill the positive energy with a negative one to return to the state of absolute nothingness. Evil as seen by Yadu as a snake, is that reverse potential!’

‘Amazing!’ said Dogre, shaking his head.

‘But, the annihilation of asymmetry did not happen at one go. Rather, it happened over many cycles, which supposedly are the seasons of the bor.’

‘So we have creation breaking out from nothing and then falling back to nothing cyclically, until all latent energy trapped in the Holy Knot is sapped and the state of barren nothingness is restored!’ recalled Dogre, ‘I was the one who thought up of that!’

‘Correct!’ smiled Taniya.

‘To expand on that…’ chuckled Stein with twinkling eyes, ‘Fissures of uncertainty appeared in the bor, which is deemed to be the Urk, the divine abode of Goddess Mystery.’

‘Did you get that from the Principle of Uncertainity?’ frowned Dogre

‘Interestingly, yes! If you think about it, the various aspects of the bor can be easily related to our existing domain of knowledge!’

‘The fissures of uncertainity become a fertile breeding site for new parameters to spurt out as equal plusses and minuses. The creation becomes more complex as state of ‘nothing’ splits along the fissures to yield equal halves of primordial matter and antimatter, order and disorder. This, supposedly, is the origin of the tuths and cuds, deemed to be Mystery’s children- the gods!’

‘Order and disorder– things are getting very abstract now!’

‘Well, at the sub-particle level, things do get abstract… human perception at that level is very limited!’

‘Hmmm…’

‘Initially, the omnipresent gods operate with only their instincts. This goes on for seven seasons of life. But, as the bor approaches its eighth and last season, there is a major development!’

‘What is that?’

‘Consciousness was born with a powerful instinct to survive! Driven by that instinct, ‘consciousness’ combines with ‘order’ to yield primitive intelligence!’

‘Wow!’

‘Now, intelligence turns out to be a major game-changer! The nature gods were ordained to follow a certain sequence for the complete annihilation of the bor and the restoration of symmetry. Once they become intelligent, they go against their instincts and disrupt that sequence to create glitches! Each time the reverse potential builds up to finish off the final season of the bor, they scatter it with their new found intelligence!’

‘Well, I am truly stumped!’ exclaimed Dogre, his eyebrows raised so high that they almost touched his hairline!

‘Don’t forget that the bor was living and conscious!’ chuckled Stein as a rejoinder, ‘It had ‘divine moods’ that it used initially to control the cycle of seasons, and later to save itself from ultimate death!’

‘Ah, I remember…joy and sorrow…blooming like flowers on the walls of some cave…that had the Holy Knot burning at the back somewhere…’

‘Flocks of living boids behaving like herds of cattle …’ added Taniya, ‘…living secrets behaving like mischievous…I don’t know what…and of course, the ‘bor’ being a globe of energy in an ocean, the ‘Outbor’!

Awaad, the abode of Time, made from ‘moments’ standing on the edge…’ recalled Dogre, ‘…and Urk, the abode of Mystery, made from secrets, spread all over the bor…I am trying create a picture in my mind!’

‘Let me draw a sketch to help you!’ offered Stein. He picked up a paper and pen and drew a rough diagram quickly!

‘Here!’ he said, placing the paper on the table, ‘I have drawn a vertical cross-section of the bor!’

Dogre and Tina peered to have a look at the diagram.

 

 

 

‘This is the main body of the bor…it was basically a globe of extremely dense energy that became disfigured with time!’ explained Stien pointing to the irregular shape that he had sketched, ‘The surface of the globe or the ‘edges’ have become craggy because of the shards that have broken off!’

‘This is the ‘Outbor’!’ contributed Dogre, pointing to the label written at the bottom of the diagram, ‘It is the ocean of nothingness that surrounded the bor from all sides and from which the bor took birth!

‘This is the Holy Knot…!’ added Tina, pointing to the symbolic flames that Stein had sketched.

‘It is burning in the cave like haven!’ observed Dogre.

‘Deposited on the roof of the haven and all along the edge on one side of the bor, are the carcasses of gods…’remarked Stein, pointing to the ‘bed of carcasses’ label at the bottom of the diagram, ‘…well, to us that would be primordial matter and anti-matter!’

‘This is Evil’s burrow!’ pointed Taniya, ‘It is in the bed of carcasses…near the haven!’

‘So, this is what the Urk looked like?’ exclaimed Dogre, pointing at the radial sketch in the middle of the bor, ‘Like a neuron?’

‘Pardon my sketching skills…Yadu saw it more like a tree!’ murmured Stein apologetically, ‘But, this thing in the middle is the womb, or the point from where all the plusses and minuses poured out every season of life…bits of matter and aniti-matter, order and disorder, all having consciousness, and therefore termed as ‘gods’!’

‘And, at the end of every season, having splurged the energy, they all went back to nothing to complete the cycle!’ remarked Dogre.

‘Mystery’s soul resided in this!’ asked Taniya, pointing to the thin tendrils spreading from the womb.

‘Yes! And that tower at the top…that is where Time’s soul lived!’

‘It was named Awaad!’ recalled Dogre, ‘I wonder if these names are real…they cannot be…surely, no ‘language’ existed in the bor!’

‘It is a valid observation!’ nodded Stein, ‘I must add, the answer is not simple!’

‘Well?’

‘Reality is what you perceive. The bor’s reality was very different from the reality of the present material universe. The perception of those who lived in the bor was very different from those who live in this universe!’

‘What are you getting at?’

‘As creatures of this universe, we need a ‘bridge’ or a ‘converter’ to be able to see or understand the bor! That ‘bridge’, surprisingly, are the strings of divine lore! They have the mysterious power to close the ‘perception’ gap!

‘You mean the strings of divine lore ‘translate’ the bor to us, or show it to us, in a way that we can understand it?’

‘Exactly. And, since in your world, everything has a name…you will hear names. I am making a wild guess, but the names ‘Awaad’, ‘Urk’, etc. may have been incorporated in the divine lore by Hoon or someone after the formation of the universe!’

‘You mean like changing the ‘settings’ menu in a new scenario!’

‘Maybe!’ Stein shrugged.

‘Well, the picture is fairly clear now!’ frowned Dogre, taking in a deep breath, ‘And, this sketch will help us a lot in explaining everything to the task force!’

‘I suggest we resume the narrative now!’ intervened Taniya, typing the next heading quickly, ‘I cannot wait to go back to Yadu’s and Elli’s world!’

‘I am ready!’ nodded Dogre, scanning the recording devices quickly.

Dr. Stein smiled indulgently at his companions, and leaning back on the couch, resumed the narrative from where he had left off! Back to Seabor, back to the day when the iljjocks had just learned that would be recieving the complete divine lore and were very excited about it!

 

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor

Time: Yadu’s 19th day on Seabor (cont)- 16 th century AD on Earth

 

GODDESS MYRHIM had decided that the Kirll forest was best suited for carrying out the swapping of strings between Elli and Yadu’s souls. The forest was situated on a thin strip of land that ringed the equator of Seabor. It was the only landed part on the planet and the only place isolated from the oceans! The seamones would not be able to eavesdrop over there and would not even get a whiff of what was going on! Also, there were plenty of kiks nearby!

‘It will take me at least ten days to swap all the strings between Elli and Yadu’s souls!’ she confided to Iisuu.

‘Ten days?’ cried Iisuu, aghast, ‘Half of the iljjocks will become insane by then!’ The iljjocks had strong and constant urges to mate their souls. In order to receive the divine lore, they would have to suppress their urges, which if they did for long, would surely drive them to insanity!

‘Let us finish it in two days!’ he suggested.

Myrhim shook her head in refusal. ‘Elli is still very fragile!’ she replied ‘The swap has to be done gradually!’

‘All right!’ Iisuu sighed heavily, ‘Let me do something about it!’ He subdued the divine mood of love flowing from his soul to the yoke considerably, thereby dulling the urges felt by the iljjocks.

‘Pikki, take everybody to the Kirll forest!’ Myrhim directed the leader of the iljjocks, ‘We will be there for many days!’

‘All right, my goddess!’ replied Pikki, jovially. He announced the shift to the Kirll forest through the yoke, asking the iljjocks to carry their precious things with them, lest the seamones came by to steal the things from the beshels in their absence!

The iljjock settlement on the oceanbed of the Iljjock Ocean bustled with activity as the iljjocks packed jewellery, pots and pans and their other things and moved to Kirll forest in pairs.

Once, they had all gathered in the Kirll forest, the goddess gave them plenty of work to do! Half of them had to clear a part of the forest to make a huge open clearing so that everyone could sit down together. The other half had to build a wooden altar in the centre of the clearing. Elli and Yadu would lie on the altar on a bed of leaves when Myrhim carried out the swapping!

The single iljjocks were at the other end of the forest, and also not on the yoke. So, they would not be disturbed!

Pikki and his iljjock hordes put their divine powers to good use as they quickly cleared an open space and built a ceremonial altar in its middle. The moment a soft bed of Nahlu leaves had been laid on the altar, he informed Myrhim, ‘We are ready, my goddess!’

‘We are ready, Iisuu!’ the goddess’s soul informed Iisuu’s soul directly, ‘You can bring Elli and Yadu now!’

Iisuu was with Yadu and Elli in their beshel on the oceanbed and the moment he heard Myrhim calling, he scooped Elli in his arms. He would carry Elli to the Kirll forest and Yadu would follow close behind.

‘Elli is here!’ announced Pikki, the moment he saw Iisuu emerging from a large wave in the ocean.

There was a sudden frenzy of activity as the iljjocks hurried to take their places in the open clearing. Once Iisuu had placed Elli’s inert body on the soft bed of leaves on the altar, they began sitting on the cold ground.

‘You can eat your kiks now. We will begin shortly!’ Myrhim directed them and went to sit on an old tree stub with Iisuu. The two began discussing the scenario on Earth animatedly. Seemingly, Myrhim was on a creating spree, and she had created two more human knights! Named Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, they were doing pioneering work in the field of mathematics and astronomy!

‘I am telling you, Iisuu!’ she declared to Iisuu with widened eyes, ‘The humans are on the verge of a scientific revolution!’

While the other iljjocks listened to Myrhim with interest, Yadu focused his entire attention on Elli. He ate his kiks quickly and lay down beside Elli on the altar.

‘Elli’ he called, reaching out to her soul. He had been talking to her constantly to alleviate the feeling of suffocation.

‘Yes!’ she sighed forlornly. She was tired of being trapped inside her body and had come close to letting out a scream a few times!

‘Elli, you know, I am a man of faith now!’ chattered Yadu, ‘I mean, I am an iljjock of faith now!’

‘An iljjock?’ she chuckled.

‘Yes! I have tremendous faith in Myrhim, Iisuu and…’

‘God Hoon!’ she interrupted softly, ‘Do you know how many times you have told me that?’

‘How many times?’

‘At least a thousand times!’

‘Really? I wonder why chose me as his favorite! My ears don’t buzz anymore, but I can feel him around me!’

‘Really?’

‘Of course, you want me to call him?’

‘NO!’

‘Ha! Ha! You are scared of him!’

‘Don’t laugh, Yadu…he may be listening…and he is evil!’ scolded Elli cautiously.

‘All right!’ replied Yadu, becoming sober.

‘Yadu, you will fly to the Nors one day…I can see it!’ she teased.

‘No, I will not leave you and go anywhere!’

‘But, I will be dead soon!’ she cried in surprise, ‘I will be, won’t I?’

‘Of course, you will be dead soon!’ assured Yadu, fighting back the feeling of despair. He could not bear to see Elli’s soul to be trapped like this. But, he could also not bear to see her die. In matters of death, he could not help but feel like a human!

Myrhim and Iisuu finished their discussion and they came to stand by Yadu and Elli on the altar.

‘Are you ready, Yadu?’ asked Myrhim in her warm, tinkling voice.

‘Yes!’ replied Yadu pensively, ‘But, I am concernd that God Aakaa may try to disrupt the proceedings?’

‘He will not!’ muttered Iisuu angrily, ‘I will stand guard when Myrhim swaps your soul strings!

‘Don’t worry, Yadu!’ said Pikki, the leader of the iljjocks, skipping up to the altar quickly, ‘We have been alerted now…Hatti and Rizzu have been eavesdropping on the seamones by turns!’

‘Good!’ commended Myrhim, ‘Did they hear anything?’

‘Nothing much, my goddess!’ replied Hatti, skipping up, ‘The seamones are occupied with rebuilding their beshels…although, I did hear some loose talk about a human yoke!’

‘A human yoke?’ exclaimed Iisuu

‘Yes, my lord! I heard some seamones mumbling that Aakaa has gone mad…he could not make the seamone yoke…. so now he is hankering after a human yoke!’

‘This is ridiculous!’ cried Iisuu in dismay.

‘How is he planning to make it?’ asked the goddess in consternation, ‘The human souls are sealed!’

‘He will just wring them open forcibly!’ Yadu spoke bitterly, remembering how Aakaa had wrung his soul.

‘Nonsense!’ Iisuu dismissed the notion, ‘If the humans could be forced into making a yoke, I would have done it long back. They will just die! That is why we took all the trouble of bringing you here…so that you can convince them on our behalf. They will open their souls to us one day, but willingly and safely!’

‘Iisuu, this is not the time to argue!’ declared Myrhim worriedly, ‘It is the time to act! And, we will have to act fast…Yadu has to leave for Earth as soon as possible…and start the work of making the human yoke!’

‘You are right!’ nodded Iisuu, ‘Let’s not waste anymore time…let’s finish the swapping fast…so that Yadu can depart to Earth as our emissary!’

‘Yes, please!’ sighed Elli, ‘I am aching to be free!’

Myrhim decided to do the easy part first. Using her divine scimitar, she transferred Yadu’s strings to Elli’s soul first.

Now, came the difficult part! Elli’s soul strings, which had duplicated, contained the power-laden strings of divine lore. They had to be transferred one by one to Yadu’s soul without harming him or her!

The goddess picked the first string of divine lore from Elli’s soul with the tip of her scimitar. It glowed blindingly- the colossal energy of the bor flowed mysteriously through the strings of divine lore even though the bor was gone! She reduced the power of the string with her scimitar and placed it neatly in Yadu’s soul.

The string still had enough residual power to make Yadu reel. ‘Mercy!’ he gasped, even as divine energy surged through his soul. He thought he would collapse when suddenly, the support of the yoke kicked in. The iljjocks rallied behind him and absorbed the huge surge in their souls.

He steadied himself and found that he was back in the bor again. He was seeing the bor in a waking dream and the feeling was now very familiar. There was tremendous exhilaration and there was the feeling of being suspended, in what he recognized now as the divine continuum! Blinded by the collosal energy pouring in from every direction, Yadu was surprised to hear loud chatter and joyful laughter!

Oh! It was the iljjocks! Pikki, Jerro, Hatti, Miia and many other iljjocks had accompanied him to the bor and were having the time of their lives in the surreal surroundings of the bor!

Moments were dripping like light rain from the arrow of Time. Mystery’s secrets were drifting gently as long tendrils. And, Hoon’s boids were floating in and out of the tendrils.

Although, the divine milieu changed as more and more iljjocks joined the waking dream! The living flocks of boids, startled by so many strangers, came close to nuzzle but then, darted away warily! The secrets clustered together in swathes, making everyone feel that they were being watched by thousands of eyes!

‘Yadu!’ cried Elli joyfully, grapsing his hand. Elli had joined the waking dream too! As his soulmate, she was bonded to him irrevocably and would accompany him wherever he went!

‘Elli!’ cried Yadu happily, ‘Are you feeling better here?’

‘Yes!’ cried Elli, twirling with delight, ‘I am feeling…so liberated…as if, I have become well again!’

‘Oh Elli!’ he cried with relief, holding back his tears. He could not believe that he was seeing Elli as she had always been- a wild and playful lass!

‘I want to race with the boids!’ she said excitedly. Oh! She took off like a gazelle, darting in and out of the boids playfully. Like flocks of lamb, the boids scampered with her, making her burst into loud laughter.

‘Elli!’ cried Yadu, racing behind her.

‘Come!’ she laughed, grasping his hand. Oh! As if in a beautiful, magical dream, they raced hand in hand between the boids, feeling very exhilarated and happy!’

Suddenly, Yadu realized that they had come very far from everyone. ‘What?’ exclaimed Elli as all of a sudden, darkness descended on them!

‘Elli, are you all right?’ yelled Yadu, his soul sinking. He tried to feel her in the darkness.

‘Yes!’ she replied, breaking into sudden laughter and swishing away the darkness.

Oh! They were swathes of secrets! They had ambushed them and were now trying to tie them up!’

‘Hey!’ cried Yadu as secrets wiggled in and out of his legs, tickling him.

‘Yadu and Elli!’ a voice boomed suddenly. It was God Iisuu! He and Myrhim had joined the waking dream after all the iljjocks on the yoke had joined the same. They were amazed to see everyone enjoying to the fullest! They too, looked very happy to be back in the bor, even if it was in the past!

‘O wonder!’ sighed Myrhim wistfully, opening her palms to catch the falling moments. She looked as wonderstruck as the others! Only Iisuu looked calm and unsurprised.

The iljjocks gathered around Iisuu and Myrhim close to the edge of the bor.

‘We are in the seventh season of death!’ explained Myrhim. ‘The eighth season of life is just about to start. It would be the bor’s last season of life….’ she trailed off.

‘Look how wounded the bor is!’ cried Iisuu, pointing at the edge.

The iljjocks looked where Iisuu was pointing. They could easily tell the bor from the Outbor. The energy of the bor glowed with blinding radiance, whereas the nothingness of the Outbor was dark and cold. The wounds that Iissu was talking about were the sharp crags on the edge! Small islets of energy had broken off from the main body of the bor to make the edge look as if it had been shredded!

‘Listen to its heartbeat!’ said Iisuu with a catch in his voice, ‘It is so faint!’

The iljjocks strained to listen.

‘Kalhh…kalhh…’ they heard an almost imperceptible beat.

‘Where’s the heart of the bor?’ asked Yadu curiously.

‘Below the Holy Knot!’ replied Elli. She was shivering!

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Yadu with concern.

A thin cold, thin mist had come up suddenly and was swirling past them. Yadu took a few whiffs and stangely, felt overcome with sadness and grief!

‘It is the spoor of sorrow!’ exclaimed Hatti.

‘Yes!’ said Iisuu, ‘It is coming from the haven! Let’s go and have a look!’

The iljjocks knew their way in the bor now! They knew that the entrance to the haven was in the bed of carcasses, which was a short way up the edge. They walked behind Iisuu and Myrhim along the edge. Soon, they came upon deposits of glowing embers. These embers were the carcasses of gods who had died in the past seven seasons of life and were deposited on one side of the bor to make a grainy bed.

‘There!’ said Elli, pointing to an opening from which blinding radiance was pouring out.

The iljjocks peered inside. They saw flames leaping out of Holy Knot at the far end. The walls were covered thickly with sorrow blossoms.

‘Let’s go from here!’ cried Hatti, as the spoor of sorrow sank in his soul and made him weep tears of grief.

‘Yes!’ cried the other iljjocks, feeling miserably sad.

‘This was the thickest crop of sorrow blooms ever!’ remembered Iisuu, his voice sad and wistful, ‘There had been no healing in this season of death. As a result, the bor was steeped in sorrow and in no mood to bear the next season of life!’

‘The season should have turned by now!’ remarked Myrhim

‘Yes!’ nodded Iisuu, ‘By now, the first blossoms of joy should have bloomed, heralding the onset of a new season of life!’

‘How do you know the season should have turned?’ asked Pikki in surprise.

‘We can see Time fretting in his abode, that’s how!’ chuckled Myrhim.

‘Come, let’s see the mighty God of Time fret!’ smiled Iisuu.

The iljjocks trembled with excitement. They had not forgotten the last time they had seen him- he was so bewitchingly beautiful!

They moved through drifting boids and secrets to reach the other end of the bor. Awaad, the ethereal fortress made from moments, stood on the edge at this end!

The portals of Awaad were wide open and the God of Time was sleeping inside. The shaft of his arrow was curled loosely on the floor and his head was slumped down. Suddenly, Time raised his head and murmured in a silvery voice, ‘Damn!’

‘Uhh…’ gasped the iljjocks collectively.

Time’s beauty was exquisite and his divine presence spellbinding. They saw him open his eyes drowsily and sniff a few times. Frowning with irritation, he fell asleep again!

‘Why was he sniffing?’ asked Yadu in a daze.

‘He was checking out the spoor of joy!’ chuckled Iisuu, ‘As far he is concerned, he is ready to race on to the next season of life. Look at his arrow…it is swollen stiff with divine blood!’

Indeed, the shaft of Time’s arrow was swollen, making him fidget with discomfort.

‘Why is the blood flowing to his arrow?’ asked Hatti, puzzled, ‘Is it not supposed to flow only to his soul?’

‘In case of Time, it also flowed to his arrow and gave him a very strong divine will!’ explained Myrhim, ‘He could stop or start the flow of moments from his arrow at will. This is the same divine blood that flowed back into the bor’s heart in the season of death and gave it the strength to heal!’

‘The God of Time had an incorruptible and astounding divine character…he had a divine will that was as resolute as his arrow!’ added Iisuu glowingly.

Time suddenly opened his eyes again. ‘O wonder!’ gasped the iljjocks. His eyes were mesmerizing!

‘Look carefully!’ said Iisuu, ‘One of his eyes has a squint. It is the eye that looked into the future and gave him his mysterious allure!’

‘Look, Goddess Mystery is also getting irritated now!’ chuckled Myrhim, looking at the Urk.

The iljjocks saw Mystery’s warm and intriguing face flit restlessly from one swathe of tendrils to another. It settled finally on the divine womb that, surprisingly, was terribly bloated.

‘Her womb is bursting with eggs for the new season!’ explained Myrhim, ‘She is restless to give birth!’

‘Shh…she is looking at us!’ hushed Pikki suddenly.

‘Can she hear us?’ whispered Yadu, gaping at the goddess’s drowsy face. Her womb was distended like an overripe pomegranate fruit and she was shifting it uneasily.

‘Of course not!’ chuckled Iisuu, ‘We are seeing them in the past!’

‘I know!’ exclaimed Pikki, shaking his head, ‘But, everything seems so real!’

‘Shh…now watch!’ scolded Iisuu. ‘They are about to make a big scene!’

‘Yes!’ chuckled Myrhim, ‘Their instincts are telling them that it is time to get up and begin a new season of life. And, the bor is still moping in sorrow!’

‘Do they know that it is going to be last season of life?’

‘No!’ replied Iisuu wistfully, ‘Wisdom came just before death…very late into the last season did the gods realize that the bor was dying!’

‘What happened then?’

‘A lot of divine events took place! And, they happened very fast!’

‘More events took place in this season than all the earlier seasons put together!’ Myrhim informed with a smile, ‘Fortunately, they were captured in the strings of the divine lore as they happened!’

‘We will be seeing the complete eighth and the last season of life in a waking dream!’ affirmed Iisuu, ‘That is, if Myrhim manages to transfer all the strings from Elli’s soul to Yadu’s soul successfully!’

The iljjocks huddled closer together in what was- they had to remind themselves frequently- only a waking dream!

They stood in a small group on one edge of the bor and looked eagerly at the flocks of boids and the tendrils. The flocks were drifting at great speed towards Awaad. Apparently, the mighty God of Time was fed up of being sorrowful. He had become very restless and was peering into the future to see if he could begin the new season of life forcibly!

 

 

Place: The divine bor

Time: Prior to the birth of the material universe

 

Divine Lore 

 

THE God of Time had never felt more miserable in his life. ‘Damn!’ he cursed, tossing restlessly on the floor of his abode.

His arrow was so engorged with divine blood that he felt that his head would burst. His instincts told him that it was time to stand straight and race into the future. But, the bor was not giving him any sign that he could do so.

He looked at the edge of the bor with his omnipresent sight and frowned. The crags were deep and the shards of energy that had broken away had not joined back. They were still floating in the Outbor. The season of death had passed and the bor had not healed. All the moments that he had showered on the bor had gone waste!

‘O ruin!’ he complained in his silvery divine voice, sniffing loudly. Ugh! The spoor of sorrow was still hanging thickly in the bor. He frowned and looked inside the haven where the moods of the bor bloomed. The walls were covered with a dense crop of sorrow blossoms. The blooming was untimely, and it enraged him so much when things did not happen on time.

Vexed, he turned his attention to the beating heart of the bor. ‘Kaaalh… kalllhhhh…’ the bor thudded erratically. The bor was not even keeping its beat steady!

‘Damn!’ he grunted impatiently. He could not let the beat of the bor falter without doing something about it.

The God of Time was an omnipresent god, and a vein ran from his soul directly to the heart of the bor. Divine blood flowed from the heart to his soul through that vein. To bolster the beat of the bor, he did the opposite. He pushed blood from his soul back into the heart! Lo! The beat became steady and strong at once.

‘Good!’ he murmured with satisfaction, listening intently. The beat was echoing loudly in his abode, Awaad.

Surprisingly, his divine intervention did not go down well with the bor. The bor broke into a loud lament like a divine hag crossed. ‘Hooooon….’ it rumbled ominously. It was a weak rumble, but it rose from its heart and made all the boids and tendrils quiver.

‘Desecration!’ Time frowned, as the ramparts of his abode shook violently. He waited for the bor to calm down with an unrelenting expression on his visage.

But, the bor refused to be calmed. ‘Hoooon…!’ it rumbled again, this time loudly and angrily.

The God of Time was taken aback by the bor’s sudden change in mood. He sniffed in surprise. Lo! Anger had bloomed in the haven.

Now, Anger was not a good mood at all. It made him lose control over his arrow. ‘Damn!’ he muttered, as his arrow flew wide open and a deluge of moments rolled out. The moments rained all across the bor, making the boids bounce merrily and the secrets wiggle mischievously.

Enraged by the sudden mayhem, Time turned his neatly contoured head towards the haven and glared at the cursed anger blossoms. The mood was so terrible that he wanted to get rid of it immediately. Instinctively, he shot a thick stream of moments over the new anger blossoms to make them wither away.

Alas! He was lying crookedly on the floor of his abode and could not point his head directly at the blossoms. A number of moments found their mark but a good number missed it, too. The ones that found the mark scorched the irritating blossoms. But, the ones that missed their mark spurred a new source of irritation- they rolled into Mystery’s quiver and woke her up!

Lo! Goddess Mystery was shocked into sudden wakefulness by the moments raining in her quiver. Her tendrils quivered and a thousand sighs swished in the rippling energy of the bor. ‘Uhhh…’ she yawned, looking around bemusedly.

‘O ruin!’ she sighed huskily, as moments continued piling in her quiver. She was very uncomfortable as her womb was bursting with the eggs of the new season. The falling moments were only increasing her discomfort.

‘Hooon…’the bor rumbled suddenly, as if trying to attract the goddess’s attention. Startled, Mystery looked across the bor with her omnipresent sight. The energy was rippling languidly from one edge to another. She sniffed. Oh! Sorrow and anger were in full bloom in the haven. The bor was in a very foul mood!

Ugh!’ the goddess cringed, troubled by the disturbing spoor of anger. She could not bear to be angry in her vulnerable condition.

Now, Mystery was an omnipresent goddess with a direct connection to the bor. A divine vein ran from her soul to the heart of the bor. ‘Stop!’ she cried, tugging hard at the vein and urging the bor to change its mood.

But, the bor refused to respond to Mystery’s distress. It continued being angry and blooming dense thickets of anger blossoms in the haven!

‘Damn!’ the goddess cursed heatedly. The heavy spoor of anger was sinking in her soul and causing her great distress. She was looking for a way to calm herself, when suddenly, the Urk, her massive divine form, broke into tremors.

‘No!’ she cried, trying desperately to stop her tendrils and her womb from shaking so violently. But, to no avail. Her womb shook so hard that its mouth gaped open!

Lo! Before she could react, a huge pile of eggs rolled out in the bor. ‘Stop!’ she shrieked, trying to sweep the eggs back into her womb with her tendrils. But, the eggs broke and scattered in the energy of the bor!

‘Aaaa…aagh…’gasped the goddess in dismay, ‘Stop, O bor!

Alas! The bor was deaf to the goddess’s plea. It continued being nasty and angry and made more anger blossoms to bloom on the walls of the haven.

The goddess recoiled in panic as the spoor of anger became stronger around her. ‘My eggs!’ she whispered, stricken with a deep foreboding. Her womb was still convulsing violently and to stop more eggs from falling out, she closed the mouth of her womb. ‘Aaaaagh…’ she grunted, pulling her womb tighter and almost squashing the eggs with her insides.

Mystery was on the brink of losing all her eggs for the new season.

Instinctively, she knew that there was only one way to get out of this precarious situation- she had to give birth to the gods quickly and finish with it! But, to give birth, she needed the God of Time’s help. He was the one carrying the birth moments in his arrowhead- the gods would take birth only when he dropped the birth moments on the eggs!

The goddess looked at Awaad in desperation. The ethereal fortress of moments stood at the edge of the bor, glowing with the blinding aura of its divine resident, the mighty God of Time. Dazed by the radiance, she faltered a little. But, then her instinct to protect her unborn children prevailed. She decided to force her way into Time’s abode and compel him to disgorge the birth moments of the gods!

Now, this was not a simple as it appeared! The omnipresent gods had to keep a safe distance from each other. Their massive divine forms held the body of the bor together- the energy could cave in or rip apart if their naked souls came too close or drew far apart.

But, the goddess was not concerned about that at the moment. Right now, she just feared for her eggs. And, her maternal instinct was her most incorruptible instinct of all, surpassing even her instinct for survival!

Dark tendrils wiggled into Time’s hallowed abode making way for the goddess’s soul to migrate inside-which she did speedily. But, the moment her soul stepped inside the portal, Awaad broke into tremors. But, Mystery did not pay attention. She was desperate for her children, the gods, to take birth and would not be deterred by anything.

‘My lord!’ she whispered, searching for Time’s naked soul. She looked around and spotted Time’s arrow lying on the floor. His naked soul was inside his arrow and it shone radiantly through the furrows on the shaft. His divine visage was flickering on his neat, contoured arrowhead. Apparently, he had been expecting the bor to give him a sign to start the new season and had fallen asleep while waiting for it!

‘Wake up, my lord!’ whispered the goddess, stepping closer to Time’s arrow. .

Time stirred and turned his visage towards the goddess. ‘Damn!’ he murmured drowsily.

‘Uhh!’ she sighed, spellbound by his beauty. The cut of his brow was exquisite and titillating secrets lay hidden in his eyes. The goddess was about to leap at the secrets and devour them, when suddenly she felt sharp pain in her womb. The womb lay outside Time’s abode but she was connected to it omnipresently and could feel it.

‘Aaaagh….’ she groaned loudly. The eggs were squashing her insides and her womb was at the point of bursting. ‘Help me, my lord!’ her soul wailed, drawing dangerously close to Time’s arrow.

Time was bewildered by the goddess’s proximity. His instincts told him that he should just throw her soul out of his abode. But, the season of death was still not ritually over. His instincts also told him that it was not the time to get up and splurge moments- he should just continue sleeping!

‘Give me the birth moments!’ the goddess cried, poking his arrow with her tendrils.

‘Hey!’ Time spluttered, recoiling from her touch in shock. The sudden movement of his arrow raised a small storm- Awaad quaked violently and a huge pile of moments fell from his arrowhead to roll out in the bor!

Time glared at the goddess with divine rage. He was shocked by her audacity to enter his abode and put the bor in grievous danger. ‘Go away!’ he thundered in his silvery divine voice.

But, Mystery was beyond stopping now. She came closer to him and without a moment’s hesitation, embraced his arrow tightly with her tendrils!

‘NO!’ he yelled, trying to push her away. But, the goddess was strong. And, she used her strength to do the unimaginable- she gave his arrow a tight and a powerful squeeze. She was attempting to, most brazenly, force out the birth moments!

‘Release the birth moments!’ she snarled viciously, squeezing his arrow again.

Time shuddered. And, with him shuddered Awaad. Divine rubble made of raw moments broke off from the ramparts. It fell in the bor, causing huge waves of energy to rise and lash against Awaad.

‘Hoon…’ rumbled the bor stormily, trying to stop the goddess.

But, Mystery was now like a possessed fiend. She ignored the bor and continued squeezing Time’s arrow!

But, Time would no longer be forced. Divine wrath kindled in his arrow. And, the wrath incited him to use his full might against the goddess. Lo! He pulled back his arrow as far as he could and released it abruptly. Mystery’s soul went flinging out of the open portal of Awaad and fell in the bor!

The goddess was tossed out so hard that the tendrils carrying her soul broke away from her massive divine form, the Urk. ‘Mercy!’ she gasped, scrambling to migrate back into the Urk.

She had hardly secured her soul and calmed down, when she spotted the God of Time coming out of his abode. His soul was riding out on an arrowlet and his perfect features were twisted in an unrelenting frown. Clearly, he was not done yet. The goddess had crossed all divine limits and he was out to punish her!

‘Mercy!’ she wailed, gazing at his pitiless eyes. They were flaming with divine wrath.

‘Spare me!’ she cried again, her soul cowering inside the Urk. But, it was too late. The God of Time had already locked his fiery gaze on her quiver.

‘Aaagh…’ she screamed, as flames leapt from his eyes to scorch her quiver. Lo! The divine flames burned the moments in her quiver- and as the moments burned, her divine form began freezing in time.

The goddess had a sudden foreboding that her unborn children were in danger. ‘My eggs!’ she cried in panic, flailing her tendrils disjointedly. She even tried to cover her womb with secrets.

But, like dying souls attract scavengers even before they are dead, a sinking Mystery pulled the shadow of evil upon herself. ‘No!’ she cried hoarsely, struggling to hide her womb. But, the shadows of evil grew longer on her divine form. Desperate now, she struggled to pull herself up. But, she failed. A few last moments were left in her quiver now, and it was like she was gripped in an eternal vice.

Gradually, her sighs died away, and even her senses began fading away. Groggily, she saw a scimitar rise from the shadows and loom evilly over her. It was the divine scimitar- the tool of the devil, Hoon!

The goddess stared at the scimitar helplessly. ‘No, God Hoon!’ she tried to cry brokenly. But, she could not.

Vaguely, she felt the scimitar fall on her womb like a thousand mallets. It broke all her eggs even as she froze completely in time.

 



 

 

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor

Time: Yadu’s 19th day on Seabor (cont)

 

THE iljjocks came out of their waking dream with a shudder. They were sitting on the ground in Kirll and seeing the divine lore with their eyes wide open. Tears of fear flowed down their faces, as they always did whenever they sniffed the spoor of evil. And, they had sniffed plenty of it when they had seen the menancing shadows of evil in the bor.

Iisuu, who was standing on guard a little away from the gathering, offered them solace through the yoke. He also helped the power flowing through the yoke to stabilize. The yoke was loaded with the power of one more string of divine lore now!

The additional power made the iljjocks yell with joy. They could now see with their divine sight what they could not see with their eyes- thousands of colourful stars and planets that lay beyond the Nors!

‘O wonder!’ Pikki cried with amazement when he saw a cluster of blue and red stars not very far from Seabor.

‘My lord, can we make our boondis for a short while?’ asked Hatti excitedly, wanting to capture a few spiral constellations quickly.

‘Yes, my lord!’ cried the iljjocks in unison, eager to capture what they were seeing in their artforms.

‘No!’ refused Iisuu, ‘Myrhim is ready to transfer the next string of divine lore from Elli’s soul to Yadu’s soul!’

The iljjocks looked inquisitively at Elli and Yadu. They had been shaken by the events they had seen in the bor, but since Elli could not move, both lay quietly on the wooden altar that the iljjocks had made for them. Myrhim was sitting by Elli’s side. ‘Elli, are you all right?’ she asked in her warm and tinkling voice.

‘Yes!’ replied Elli strongly. The brief sojourn in the bor had relieved her of the feeling of suffocation and had made her feel better. ‘Why did God Hoon break Mystery’s eggs?’ she asked Myrhim.

‘He was the evil devil, that’s why!’ answered Pikki disparagingly. ‘Here, eat some kiks!’ he offered to Yadu.

Yadu took the kiks and sat up to eat them.

‘The bor made him the evil devil!’ remarked Myrhim, ‘He was only obeying the bor!’

‘Really?’ exclaimed Pikki with surprise, ‘But, why did the bor want him to break the eggs?’

‘You will see for yourself when I transfer the next string of lore into Yadu’s soul!’ replied Myrhim radiantly.

‘I suggest you do that immediately!’ advised Iisuu. He was finding it difficult to see the waking dream on the yoke and keep an eye on the seamones at the same time!

‘Gather around!’ Pikki called everyone urgently. The iljjocks had scattered to feed on kiks and on Pikki’s call, they gathered around the altar quickly.

This time, Myrhim picked not one but two strings of divine lore from Elli’s soul with her divine scimitar, and placed them in Yadu’s soul. As usual, Yadu reeled from the impact and the yoke helped him absorb the sudden flow of divine power. The strings sank in his soul, and as they sank, the memories stored in them unraveled. The iljjocks were immediately taken back to the past and they began seeing the bor in a waking dream. Iisuu and Myrhim joined the waking dream, too.

‘We will see Hoon’s side of the story, now!’ informed Iisuu, pointing to the edge of the bor.

The iljjocks looked and saw God Hoon’s soul moving in the bor. His visage was ruggedly arresting and his evil spoor was gone, making his soul shine like a clear dewdrop. As he moved about, flocks of boids followed him, giving him a long, shimmering plume!

‘Hoon had two faces!’ reminded Myrhim, ‘One of the volatile devil and the other of the skillful God of Boids. Right now you are seeing him as the God of Boids!’

The iljjocks looked at Hoon with curiosity. He was moving along the edge and busy doing something with his divine scimitar.

‘He is trying to pull back the small shards of energy that have severed from the bor to fill the crags!’ explained Myrhim

‘Hoon toiled very hard to preserve the cycle of seasons running in the bor!’ added Iisuu.

‘We know!’ nodded the iljjocks. They knew very well how passionate Hoon became when it came to protecting the bor. His soul was also connected to the heart of the bor like Time and Mystery. But, whereas their veins were joined at the surface, his vein ran deep into the heart.

‘Thud! Thud!’ rang his scimitar loudly as he toiled to rejoin a small shards to the bor. But, to no avail. The shards had floated too far into the Outbor and would not join back.

‘O ruin!’ he cried angrily, hitting his scimitar so hard that bolts of lightning crackled out from it.

The iljjocks cowered with fear to see him like this. Even as they watched, Hoon transformed from the benign God of Boids to the volatile devil. His soul became shadowed with evil and he began exuding an eerie and chilling spoor.

This was the Hoon the iljjocks feared- a truly evil and forbidding soul. Petrified, they watched him fume and fret over the ruined state of the bor. Just when they thought he had calmed down, he began moving towards them angrily.

‘Eeeee…’ they shrieked, falling back in terror.

‘Shhh… he is not really coming towards you!’ scolded Myrhim, ‘We are seeing the past!’

‘We know!’ stammered the iljjocks. Still, they shut their eyes tightly. Massive destruction normally took place when Hoon flew into an evil rage like this!

It was only when he had swept past them like an evil storm did they open their eyes to look around.

Surprisingly, Hoon had not destroyed anything. He had only stomped back in anger to his abode, the haven!

 

Place: The divine bor

Time: Prior to the birth of the universe

 

Divine lore 

 

‘DAMN!’ Hoon cursed loudly, pacing in his abode angrily. Something was grievously wrong with the bor, and he did not know what that was.

‘Why is the bor not healing?’ he ranted in frustration, ‘Why is the heart thudding so feebly?’ If only he knew what was wrong, he could put it right with the divine power of his scimitar!

Hoon went over to the walls of the haven and pulled out a few blossoms growing on them. They were anger blossoms! ‘What the…’ he exclaimed heatedly. He was used to tending to blossoms of joy in the season of life and that of sorrow in the season of death. But, anger? He was so surprised by the thin, straggly blooms of anger that had sprung up so suddenly in the haven.

He ran his gaze intently over the grainy patches. The thickest crop of sorrow blossoms was in bloom, interspersed with the disturbing anger blossoms. Lo! Even the buds of joy that he had nurtured for the new season had shriveled away.

‘O ruin!’ he spluttered hoarsely. The God of Time would never begin the new season of life if sorrow and anger continued blooming like this. ‘The cycle of seasons will be upset!’ he declared in despair, ‘I have to uproot the cursed blossoms before such a thing happens!’

Lo! Hoon began uprooting the deathly blooms with his divine scimitar. ‘Thud! Thud!’ rang his scimitar loudly as he dug out the sorrow and anger blossoms frantically. But, the more blooms he uprooted, the more sprung up to take their place!

‘Stop it!’ he yelled to the bor, throwing his scimitar away. Hoon’s divine voice was hoarse and deep and it echoed loudly in the haven. But, to no avail. The bor remained steadfastly sorrowful and angry.

Surprised that the bor was ignoring him and being rather stubborn, Hoon stomped over to the pit of the Holy Knot to have a look. The flames rising from the vortex were doused, when they should have been leaping high. Bewildered, he looked at the heart of the bor, which lay directly below the Holy Knot.

The three omnipresent gods, Time, Mystery and Hoon, had a direct divine connection to the heart of the bor. Divine veins ran from their souls to the beating heart of the bor, allowing them to exert divine force on the bor and vice versa.

Hoon’s vein ran deeper than the others- he could look deep inside the heart and feel the moods swirling inside. Time and Mystery could feel only the moods that were in bloom in the haven, but Hoon could also feel the moods hidden in the heart of the bor.

He looked deep inside the heart and staggered with shock. Fear was swirling in the divine blood that filled the bor’s heart. Lo! Not joy or sorrow, but the bor was stricken with the divine mood of fear!

God Hoon swayed unsteadily. He loathed fear. It was the most disruptive mood of the bor, and when in bloom, always ended up disturbing the cycle of seasons. As if on cue, the bor broke into a woeful lament.

‘Hooonnn…’ it rumbled mournfully.

Alarmed, God Hoon read the bor omnipresently. He read all his subjects, the boids, to get the tidings of every niche of energy that rippled from one edge to another. A massive storm had built up and huge waves of energy were lashing about in the bor. Startled by the turmoil, he migrated quickly outside the haven to get a clearer look.

Lo! Time was awake in his abode. And, Mystery was awake too. And, their naked souls were, shockingly, inside Awaad!

‘Desecration!’ he burst out in rage. Time and Mystery’s proximity had built up massive stress in the body of the bor. It was no wonder that the bor was stricken with fear!

Hoon took one look at Awaad and shuddered with shock. Awaad was quaking violently and divine rubble was falling off its ramparts. Trembling with rage, he was about to storm into Awaad and separate Time and Mystery, when suddenly he sniffed the venomous spoor of Evil!

Lo! The storm had woken up the bor’s old slave, Evil. He slept in a burrow in the bed of carcasses and was slithering out of it.

‘Evil!’ Hoon drawled hoarsely, taking in deep whiffs of the eerie and chilling spoor of evil. He was the devil and the bor spoke to him through Evil. The slave would tell him exactly what was going on!

‘Hisssss….’ cried Evil, slithering around Hoon vilely.

Hoon bared his naked soul. It shimmered brightly, highlighting his rugged visage. His features were shadowed and were clearly extending an invitation to Evil to enter his soul and turn him into the devil!

Evil needed no invitation. He forked out his fangs and bit Hoon’s soul readily. ‘Hurry!’ drawled Hoon hoarsely, as the slave crept into his soul, striating it with dark hues of evil.

Lo! With a shudder, Hoon transformed from the God of Boids to the evil devil.

‘Good!’ the devil drawled hoarsely, feeling the power of evil crackle through his divine scimitar. It gave him a vicious edge and turned him into the most deathly force in the bor! The same force he would now use to separate Time and Mystery!

The devil moved rapidly towards Time’s abode like a storm in an ocean. Approaching the open portal of Awaad, he peered inside. ‘What the…’ he spluttered in shock. Lo! Mystery’s tendrils were entwined around Time’s naked arrow.

‘Desecration!’ he burst in disbelief. He could not believe that Mystery was forcing herself on Time like this! He raised his scimitar and was about to fling it with deathly force at the goddess’s soul, when, suddenly, his attention was diverted to her distended womb. Lo! Evil was urging him to throw the scimitar at the womb.

‘But, why?’ the devil asked, looking with bewilderment at the womb. The divine womb was in the middle of the Urk and was bloated heavily. It was bursting with countless eggs for the new season.

‘Ugh!’ Hoon grunted with disgust. He remembered the last season when hordes of gods had taken birth to ravage the bor.

‘Hisss…’ a faint voice echoed from his soul. Evil, was telling him again to hit the womb. In a flash, the devil understood, why! The bor feared the eggs in the womb…it feared the birth of the gods!

‘Of course!’ exclaimed the devil with a shudder. Countless gods would take birth from the eggs the goddess was carrying and they would completely destroy the bor. He seethed with rage and was about to destroy all the eggs when, all of a sudden, Mystery’s soul came hurtling out of Awaad!

The God of Time had flung her out of Awaad!

‘O wonder!’ drawled the devil with glee. He watched the goddess scramble in panic to the safety of her abode, the Urk. But, her ordeal had not ended. Time was out to punish her for her misdeeds! He rode out of Awaad on an arrowlet and scorched her quiver with his fiery gaze!

‘Ha! Ha!’ laughed the devil evilly, watching the spectacle with fiendish delight. The moments in her quiver were drying up and soon she would freeze in time. Already, she was flailing her tendrils helplessly!

‘Hiss…’ echoed Evil’s voice from his soul.

‘I know!’ he snapped back, ‘I can destroy her eggs easily now!’

The devil lifted his divine scimitar and loomed evilly over Mystery.

‘No!’ she beseeched hoarsely. But, he was deaf to her pleas. The evil intent of the bor was clear and he had to act upon it quickly.

‘Thud!’ his scimitar fell on her womb to deliver a massive blow. The blow was only one. But, the goddess’s divine form convulsed many times. By the time she had stopped convulsing, all the eggs for the new season were broken!

‘Death to the gods!’ the devil declared fiendishly, gazing at Mystery’s frozen divine form. She would now wake up only when Time filled her quiver again. He was satisfied with the outcome of his evil act and he knew that the bor would be satisfied too!

Indeed, the bor’s mood began changing for the better. It calmed down and the ominous rumbling stopped. Wonder of wonders, the blooms of sorrow and anger began wilting in the haven!

Evil also began receding from Hoon’s soul gradually. ‘Hiss!’ he cried, leaving the devil’s soul and slithering back into his burrow. He had woken up only to destroy the eggs. He would fall asleep now and would continue sleeping until the bor woke him up to carry out another evil act!

Bereft of evil, the devil’s soul became clear like a boid. He turned into the God of Boids again! He was about to migrate back to his abode when he suddenly noticed the open portal of Awaad.

Hoon gazed warily inside. The God of Time was in great discomfort and was tossing restlessly. His arrow was swollen stiff with divine blood and he was desperate to start the new season of life. But, the bor had not given him the sign to do so!

The God of Boids was not surprised. Unless the healing was complete, the bor would never give a sign to begin the next season of life. Therefore, it was very important that the healing had to be carried out as soon as possible!

Hoon migrated to the edge of the bor to do the same. The state of devastation was dismaying. The goddess’s recent blunder of intruding into Time’s abode had worsened the damage done to the bor. More shards of energy had broken off from the bor to float out in the Outbor. The edge was crowded with small shards and wore a terribly shredded look.

The God of Boids knew that only when all these shards joined back, would the bor be willing to host a new season of life. ‘We have to work very hard!’ he sighed to the bor.

‘Hooonnn…’ the bor rumbled back weakly.

God Hoon unleased the full power of his scimitar and toiled with all his skills. Grunting loudly, he began pulling back the castaway shards in real earnest. .

 



 

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor.

Time: Yadu’s 20th day on Seabor (17th century AD on Earth)

 

THE iljjocks came out of the waking dream abruptly. The divine lore unraveling from the new strings in Yadu’s soul had come to an end, making the bor fade away from their sight.

‘So now you know why God Hoon broke the eggs?’ Myrhim asked with a sigh.

‘Yes!’ replied Pikki iljjock indignantly, ‘The bor drove him to break them!’

The iljjocks looked at his horse-face thoughtfully and nodded in agreement.

‘I am confused!’ Hatti muttered bemusedly.

‘Why?’ Myrhim asked.

‘Breaking all the eggs…how did that help anything?’ he asked, his dog-face thoughtful.

‘Good question!’ remarked Iisuu, skipping up from where he had been standing. Tired of keeping guard, he joined the gathering and sat down with the iljjocks on the ground. ‘It did not help anything at all!’

‘What do you mean?’ exclaimed Yadu, sitting up right.

‘In retrospect, it did not slow the death of the bor?’

‘Mystery’s eggs were broken for nothing?’ asked Elli, aghast. The sojourn in the bor had eased her feeling of suffocation. Although her body was still not responsive, she could hear Iisuu’s voice clearly with her soul.

‘Yes!’ replied Iisuu with a shrug, ‘Although, the act of ‘breaking eggs’ was a sign that something very important had happened…’

‘That the bor was turning wise?’ guessed Pikki.

‘Correct!’ nodded Iisuu, his cow-face lighting up, ‘Wisdom was one of many divine moods hidden in the heart of the bor. But, as the bor neared its death, it realized that wisdom was a miracle mood! It gave hope to the bor when everything seemed hopeless!’

‘Really?’

‘Yes, wisdom helped the bor make a divine plan to survive. And, as the bor grew weaker and weaker…it relied on wisdom more and more…’ his voice trailed off.

A poignant moment of silence followed as the iljjocks pondered over Iisuu’s words.

‘You must remember that the bor had a very powerful instinct to survive!’ remarked Myrhim.

‘A very powerful instinct, indeed!’ Yadu remarked wryly, ‘It killed the gods for its own survival every season!’

‘The season of death served a purpose!’ responded Iisuu gravely, ‘It healed the bor and allowed it to bear new seasons of life!’

‘The bor had not healed in this season of death!’ Elli wondered, ‘How did it bear the new season of life, which we now know, was its last?’

‘You will soon see for yourself!’ replied Myrhim with a smile, lifting her scimitar to pick the next lot of strings from Elli’s soul.

‘Wait!’ intervened Iisuu, ‘It is almost dawn now…let us rest for a while!’

Oh! The iljjocks realized suddenly that the night had passed. It was almost dawn now and the sky was lit with a faint purple glow.

‘No!’ protested Elli, ‘I don’t want to sleep. I want to see more of the divine lore!’

‘Yes!’ agreed Yadu, ‘I also want to see more!’

‘Yes!’ agreed the iljjocks on the yoke, ‘Let us finish with it!’

‘All right!’ agreed Iisuu, shaking his head, ‘We shall sleep when it becomes too exhausting for all of us!’

Myrhim nodded in agreement. Seeing that Elli was a lot stronger now, she picked a big bunch of strings from her soul and proceeded to place them in Yadu’s soul!

‘It is too many!’ exclaimed Iisuu, his eyes wide with alarm. But, Myrhim had already let go of the strings!

Iisuu and Myrhim watched the strings sink in Yadu’s soul with great apprehension.

‘Mercy!’ gasped Yadu, reeling from the power flowing from the strings. He felt as if his soul was being crushed by thousands of mountains. Just when he thought his soul would scatter, he felt someone cushion him from the killing stress. It was God Hoon! Before Yadu could react, the divine touch vanished.

‘My lord!’ he whispered, getting up to look around.

‘No!’ Myrhim rapped him on his knuckles, ‘Do not move!’

Lo! Not Myrhim, not Iisuu and not even the iljjocks knew that God Hoon had saved his life yet again. Only Elli, his soulmate, knew what had happened! ‘It’s allright!’ she whispered in a trembling voice, ‘We will see him in the bor in a moment!’

‘Oh, yes!’ he nodded, dazed.

He lied down on the altar quietly and let the divine lore unravel from the new lot of strings that had been placed in his soul. As Elli had said, a moment may have passed, and they all began seeing the bor in a waking dream again! They saw flocks of living boids tumble over each other to race to the edge of the bor.

‘What’s happening over there?’ the iljjocks whispered curiously.

‘Shhh…’ hushed Pikki, ‘God Hoon is working over there!’

‘Really!’ Yadu whispered eagerly, ‘Let me see!’ He peered through the huge cluster of pulsing boids and caught a glimpse of God Hoon. Lo! Hoon seemed to be staring at him and the iljjocks and had a very ferocious expression on his visage.

‘Eeee….’ Yadu gasped. The devil’s gaze was so deathly and piercing that it rattled him down to his soul.

‘He is not really looking at us!’ Elli said with a nervous laugh.

‘He is not?’

‘Of course not…we are seeing the past!’

‘What is he looking at, then?’

‘The broken shards behind us!’

‘I see!’ exclaimed Yadu, turning to look behind. He and the iljjocks were standing on one edge of the bor, and indeed, hundreds of shards cluttered the Outbor behind them.

Yadu turned to look at God Hoon again. He had averted his gaze and seemed to be surrounded by a haze of crackling lightning. He had unleashed the full power of his scimitar and was making one last attempt to heal the bor!

 

Place: The divine bor

Time: Prior to the birth of the material universe

 

Divine lore 

 

‘Krrr…boom…thud…krrr…’ the deafening noise echoed in the bor as Hoon went whizzing along the edge like a powerful storm. He had unleashed the power of his divine scimitar and was exerting full force to pull the shards of energy back into the bor.

Oh! But, the moment he brought back some shards back, others broke away. It was like the bor had lost the strength to hold its body together, because of which, almost half of its body had shredded to float away as small shards of energy in the Outbor.

His soul shimmering like divine crystal, Hoon looked with despair at the craggy edge. The Outbor had made long inlets into the bor. It was no wonder that the bor had become so moody! The wounds were just too grievious. As far as Hoon could remember, the bor had been moody before, but never like this. ‘How could you break the eggs for the new season?’ he drawled to the bor with bewilderment.

‘Hooonnnn…’ the bor rumbled weakly.

Puzzled by the bor’s weird behavior, he decided to return to his abode. His subjects-the bubble like boids- flocked behind him in droves as he migrated to the haven. They brought to him the tidings of every niche of the bor. He read them as he went along and was surprised to learn that huge waves of energy were surging out of the Holy Knot! The bor was doing something drastic to the Holy Knot!

Alarmed, Hoon rushed to the haven. He entered it to find it lit with unusually blinding brightness!

‘Mercy!’ he drawled hoarsely, his rugged features illuminated by the bright glow. He looked at the pit of Holy Knot. Huge flames were leaping out from the flaming vortex to singe the roof of his abode.

He darted to the pit and looked down. The Holy Knot was turning a fast spiral and shooting bits of zol in thick streams. ‘Whoa!’ he exulted, soaking the wholesome bits of energy.

Zol was the fodder of the gods. Every season of life, the Holy Knot spouted a full pot of zol to feed them. Mystery’s children, in particular, were gluttons for zol! They plundered the zol greedily and dropped divine scum, sullying the bor with filth. ‘Desecration!’ Hoon grunted with disgust as he remembered the scum that piled on the bed of carcasses every season.

All of a sudden, the Holy Knot churned violently and threw up fierce tongues of zol. ‘What the….’ Hoon spluttered, falling back. He looked at the bits of zol flying around him with bewilderment. This was the fiercest outburst of the Holy Knot that he remembered.

‘Hey…hold on!’ he drawled, and went forward to cool the bellowing flames. He pushed a thick cloud of boids at the vortex to douse the divine flames. But, the flames would not be doused. Truly puzzled now, he looked through the vein running out of his soul and peered at the heart of the bor. The divine mood of fear was still swirling with great force in the heart!

‘O bor, what do you fear now?’ he drawled harshly, stoking the Holy Knot with the divine scimitar. Oh! Huge flames leapt out of the vortex to engulf his soul. ‘What the…’ he spluttered, brushing off the burning zol.

The flames died down but only after setting the walls of the haven on fire! Hoon looked around, aghast. Lo! His patches had also caught fire.

‘No!’ he yelled, rushing to put out the fire with his divine scimitar. But, the fire was fierce and soon all the blossoms had burned out, including all the buds for the new season!

‘What have you done?’ he yelled in anger at the bor. His labor of many seasons had been burned down. Trembling with wrath, he began uprooting the charred blossoms frantically.

‘What is this?’ he cried, flinching back suddenly. The charred blossoms were full of divine nettles! Even as he gazed in alarm, the nettles began drifting towards him. Hoon sniffed them. They were nettles of longing! Longing was a divine mood of the bor that affected the gods in pairs- it bloomed when the bor wanted to bring two omnipresent gods together!

Before Hoon could react, the nettles had stung his soul! ‘Damn!’ he roared in anger. The last thing he wanted was to join forces with Time or Mystery and labor with them on something!

But, the nettles had done their work! The sting spread in his soul making him pine with a deep yearning. For whom or what, he was still to find out! Feeling anguished, he moved away from the Holy Knot. The brightness of the burning zol bothered him and he just wanted to languish somewhere cool and quiet.

The bor had many rare divine moods hidden in its heart. Over the seasons, he had pulled them all out and savored them. The moods had left a permanent residue in his soul. The outer veneer of his soul was clear like a boid, but deep inside, it was colored with myriad hues of rare moods. The residues of Hope, Faith, Anger, Despair, Shame and many divine moods glittered in his soul making it look like a scintillating divine treasure!

Some of these fine moods like Pride, Humour and Contempt had never bloomed in the haven but were Hoon’s favorites. He savored them frequently and they had come to define his divine persona. Generally, he treated Evil and his acts with pride, the antics of the bor with humour, and the frivolities of Goddess Mystery and her pesky brood with downright contempt!

For the moment, though, he was despondent with the emptiness that came from the divine mood of longing. The bor had played very vile trick on him and he saw no humour in it at all. He lay near Evil’s burrow, soothed by the chilling spoor emanating from it. He had noticed that the slave was awake!

‘Maybe the bor has paired me with Evil!’ Hoon exclaimed brightly, beginning to feel better immediately. ‘Evil!’ he called out hoarsely,

Evil’s wakefulness was untimely, but Hoon was not surprised. The bor had been behaving rather viciously lately, and Evil helped it to be vicious.

‘So what does the bor want me to do now?’ Hoon drawled hoarsely, baring his naked soul to the slave.

‘Hiss….’ the slave responded. He raised his venomous hood and bit Hoon’s naked soul.

Hoon exulted with rapture as the power of evil flowed through his soul and shadowed it with deathly hues. ‘It feels so good!’ he drawled. With great pride, turned into the devil of the bor!

‘What now?’ the devil asked, his scimitar crackling fiercely.

‘Hiss…’ a voice echoed from his soul. Hoon knew instinctively what he had to focus on. ‘The Holy Knot?’ he muttered with surprise.

The devil went over to pit of the Holy Knot and looked down at the flaming vortex. The Holy Knot was ripe with a new pot of zol. It was the pot for the new season. He touched the pot with his divine scimitar. It was huge!

‘It is a very big pot!’ he murmured, ‘The biggest I have seen!’

‘Hoonnn…’ rumbled the bor faintly.

‘The bor fears the pot!’ realized the devil with a shudder. The bor wanted him to get rid of the pot of zol! Because, a big pot meant more zol, and more zol meant a longer season of life, which the bor was in no state to bear!

The very thought made the devil’s visage twist evilly. He lifted his scimitar, and with one vicious swipe, picked the pot up and held it on the tip. Bits of zol streamed out of the pot and spread in the haven. Some bits escaped out of the haven and fell on Awaad, the abode of Time!

Lo! Time raised his head in surprise. But, before he could react, the devil hid the pot! He pushed it inside Evil’s burrow quickly!

Evil reacted to the devil’s action instantly. In one lightning action, he leapt out of the devil’s soul and slithered behind the pot. Darting quickly into his burrow, he coiled over the pot to hide it from everyone’s view!

Lo! The pot for the new season was gone.

‘Hooonnn…’ rumbled the bor faintly. The devil had done exactly what it had wanted and it was satisfied. Its mood flipped at once- blossoms of joy sprung up profusely in the haven and those of sorrow and anger wilted away!

God Hoon noticed the changing crop of blossoms and shrugged with relief. ‘O wonder!’ he drawled, taking in deep whiffs of the light and fragnant spoor of joy. Evil had departed from his soul and his soul had become clear again. He was now the God of Boids, and he beamed with joy!

That the bor was now feeling joy implied that its fears had abated! It also meant that it was ready to host the next season of life. Delighted that the cycle of seasons would continue, Hoon began tending to the joy blossoms in real earnest. A lot of chores had to be done before the bor could welcome the new season of life properly!

‘Thud! Thud!’ his scimitar beat rhythmically as he began clearing the burnt blossoms and began tending to the new ones. Although, he was caught up in his work, he could not help but wonder about recent events. The bor’s evil behavior had put them in a very peculiar situation.

Mystery’s eggs were all broken. But, what would a new season of life be without the gods?

And, the pot of zol was gone. What would it be without zol?

 

 

SOON, joy was in full bloom in the haven. Thickets grew on the walls, oozing the fragrant spoor of joy. The warm spoor spread across the bor and swept away the stale spoors of sorrow and anger.

‘Uhhhh…’ the God of Time sighed, sniffing the fresh spoor drowsily. It had crept inside his abode through the open portal and the many cracks.

Time’s divine eyes were closed and he was flitting in and out of sleep. Divine blood, that gave him consciousness and his divine will, was flowing turbulently in his arrow now. But for one tiny nudge, he would be fully awake! The spoor of joy gave that divine nudge. It teased his arrow, and gave him the sign for which he had been waiting for so long.

Lo! The God of Time opened his eyes and came awake in the bor.

‘O joy!’ he murmured, sniffing the new blossoms with delight. He looked outside the open portal of his abode and stretched his arrow. Oh! He felt very strong- his arrow felt sturdy enough to carry the full season forward!

Lo! The God of Time unfurled his arrow with a sudden flourish. ‘Whoa!’ he roared, standing straight in his abode. His head seared majestically through the spires of Awaad and his tail dug deep into the floor. All of a sudden, his arrow stood tallest in the bor!

Time’s divine eyes glazed over with a mystical look. He was looking at the future- it was the divine path that he saw with his bewitching eyes and the path on which his arrow would tread forward. The eye with the squint gave him a glimpse of the far future and the other eye showed him the near future!

‘I see a big season of life ahead!’ he declared, trotting on the path that he saw ahead. Within moments his arrow had picked up speed and he was racing forward at a steady pace.

Lo! A new season of life had begun in the bor. ‘Kalh! Kalh!’ the bor thudded in harmony with Time’s trotting arrow, its beat echoing from one edge to other.

‘The beat is strong and good!’ Hoon observed from the haven. He was tending to the blossoms of the new season and listening intently to the echoing beat.

Time heard him and rode out of Awaad on an arrowlet. He stopped by him and murmured ‘God Hoon!’

‘Yes, my lord!’ replied Hoon.

Time had plenty of bounty to distribute in the new season. His arrowhead was overflowing with moments and he was showering them like gentle rain across the bor. He had stopped to fill Hoon’s quiver and he did that generously.

‘Ah!’ the devil chuckled with devilish delight as he felt the moments jingle in his quiver.

Having filled the devil’s quiver, Time sped to Mystery to give her the bounty. ‘Wake up, Goddess Mystery!’ he murmured, stopping by the goddess.

He seemed surprised to see the goddess frozen. For a moment, his radiant visage became shadowed, but then, the shadows cleared just as quickly, and he began filling Mystery’s quiver!

Hoon watched them rather wickedly. Contempt was written over his rugged visage and he smirked, ‘Dimwits!’

This because, although, Time was the mightiest god in the bor, he could not remember a thing! Neither could Mystery! Both went about their lives without an inkling of what had happened in the past!

Only one god kept memories of the past and he was the devil, Hoon! A ‘wit’ of sorts, only he carried strings of divine lore in his soul. The strings had the power to capture the shadows of moments gone, and they revealed to him memories as far back as the first season of the bor!

The God of Time filled Mystery’s quiver generously. He did not have the strings of divine lore in his soul, so he did not remember that he was furious with her only a little while ago! ‘Wake up!’ he murmured to her in his clear silvery voice.

Lo! Mystery woke up with a start. She flailed her tendrils awkwardly, filling the bor with countless sighs. ‘My lord!’ she replied radiantly to Time. She too, remembered nothing of her past ordeals!

Time gazed intently at the goddess. The arch of his brow twitched ever so slightly and mysteriously. Mystery was bewitched by the secrets that lay in his squinted eyes, but this time, she kept her distance from him!

‘My goddess!’ Time said, ‘I have a task for you!’

‘Yes, my lord!’

‘Find the pot of zol!’ he frowned, ‘It is missing from the bor!’

Whereas the goddess looked bewildered, Hoon turned pale with shock. He dropped his scimitar and glared at Time with disbelief. The God of Time may be a dimwit and not remember anything, but he was not a lesser god because of it! He had formidable powers of hindsight as well as foresight that did not let anything escape his attention!

Further, his utterances were divine! They etched themselves on all divine souls indelibly. That the zol pot was missing was now etched on Mystery’s soul. She would now look for it until she found it!

‘The zol pot!’ she whispered, looking around bemusedly.

Lo! Even as Hoon watched in alarm, Mystery began searching the zol pot in each and every niche of the bor!

 

 

MYSTERY was an omnipresent goddess. Her massive divine form, the Urk, was spread in every niche of the bor. The Urk was made of tendrils that were actually secrets that had been devoured by the goddess over the seasons. The tendrils drifted languidly in the waves of energy rippling in the bor.

Free secrets were plentiful in the bor and were the loyal subjects of Mystery. They flocked to the goddess’s soul so that she could devour them and make them a part of the Urk. Presently, the goddess was hunting for secrets that would reveal the whereabouts of the pot of zol.

‘Come, one and all!’ she said graciously to all the secrets flitting freely in the bor, allowing them to merge with her godly self. One by one, the secrets disappeared into her soul to emerge as long swirling tendrils.

With so many new tendrils, the goddess became bewitchingly beautiful. ‘Oh!’ she cried, preening with joy. Sighs floated out of her soul to echo hauntingly in the bor, drawing the divine attention of both, Time and Hoon!

Hoon watched the goddess with consternation as she stretched her long tendrils in the bor. He knew that she was looking for the hidden pot of zol and that he had to stop her from finding it! He approached her massive mesh of tendrils with his massive plume of boids, so that he could grasp her and divert her.

‘Uhhh…’ sighed the goddess, keenly aware of the devil’s closeness. Before he could come nearer, she brushed her tendrils against the boids and sent them jingling! Lo! Divine melody flowed in the bor. The melody flowed poignantly whenever the divine forms of two omnipresent gods tangled with each other. Both, Mystery and Hoon, swayed gently with the melody.

The poignant strains flowed to Awaad too. Surprisingly, the God of Time frowned. The new season was waiting for the pot of zol, and the goddess was busy whiling away all her moments making divine melody!

Time rode out of Awaad on an arrowlet and stopped by the Urk. ‘Find the pot, my goddess!’ he thundered, filling her quiver again.

Startled, Mystery looked at Time. She noticed the dangerous flicker in his eyes and stammered, ‘But, my lord, the pot is missing from the bor!’

Time was bewildered. The flicker of rage faded from his eyes and they became hazy. ‘But, the season cannot go forward without zol. We have to find the pot!’ he said serenely.

‘Look into the future, my lord!’ whispered the goddess.

Time looked into the darkness of the Outbor with a mystic, faraway look. He was looking into the far future. The squint in his eye widened as he looked as far as he could! The moment his eyes narrowed to look intently at something he had seen, the bor rumbled loudly.

‘Hoonnnn…’ the groan echoed from one edge to another.

‘Stop!’ cried the devil angrily, beating his massive plume of boids against Awaad. The bor wanted the pot to be hidden, and Time had to listen to the bor.

But, the God of Time would not be stopped. He continued looking at the future intently. He saw the bor stricken with fear! And, he saw the zol pot! Looking at Mystery and Hoon majestically, he uttered the first prophecy of the season,

 

:I see Fear:

:I see a big season:

:O bor:

hail thee::The pot hides with Evil:

 

Time’s prophecies always came true. And, they embellished themselves on all divine souls in the bor.

‘I see!’ whispered Mystery wickedly. The moment the prophecy sank in her soul she knew what to do!

‘So, the pot hides with Evil!’ she snarled, migrating rapidly to the bed of carcasses. Evil’s burrow was in the bed of carcasses and she knew that she would find the vile slave over there.

‘STOP!’ thundered the devil threateningly, wanting to stop Mystery. But, she was unstoppable now!

Secrets raced ahead of the goddess as she made her way to the bed of carcasses. The secrets knew where Evil was, and they revealed his whereabouts eagerly to the goddess. The goddess migrated fast to the mouth of Evil’s burrow and snarled, ‘Come out, slave!’

The poor slave was coiled inside his burrow and twitching in extreme discomfort. He was deeply repulsed by the zol he was hiding, and he slithered out of his burrow to confront the goddess. ‘Hisss!’ he rasped, raising his hood threateningly.

‘Go back to your burrow, Evil!’ the devil yelled, jumping in the fray.

‘No!’ countered the God of Time, stopping by to join the dispute.

Lo! It was a divine event that had not happened since the birth of the bor. The three omnipresent gods of nature had come dangerously close and were facing each other in a situation of major conflict!

Tension crackled powerfully between them and it rippled all across the bor. Stormy undercurrents jolted the countless boids and secrets surfing the waves of energy lazily. They were alerted to the fight happening near Evil’s burrow and they gathered around the warring gods as silent spectators.

Mystery and Evil were at the forefront of the fight and they glared at each other fiercely. The goddess was ready to spring at Evil and pull out the pot of zol from his burrow. Evil was ready to bite her if she did anything of the sort!

Impatient to get going on his way, Time decided to intervene. ‘Give her the pot of zol, slave!’ he snarled, his visage fierce and ruthless.

‘Hisss…’ retorted Evil in defiance.

Enraged by the slave’s impudence, Time locked his fiery gaze on Evil’s quiver.

‘No!’ the devil cried hoarsely, brandishing his divine scimitar. It was crackling with divine power and ready to attack.

‘God Hoon!’ Time exploded with divine rage, ‘Abandon the slave. He is putting the bor in danger!’

‘He is disrupting the cycle of the seasons!’ snarled Mystery.

Lo! Time and Mystery’s utterances wrote themselves indelibly on the devil’s soul and made him stagger. Although, he owed allegiance to Evil, he was also responsive to Time and Mystery! They had omnipresent instincts when it came to sensing danger to the bor. He could no longer ignore the fact that for quite sometime now, he had also been sensing great danger to the bor!

‘Let go of the pot, Evil!’ the devil murmured in a daze.

‘ Hisss…’ wailed the slave in shock. His instincts told him that the devil could not abandon him. But, the devil had moved away from him- he had left him at the goddess’s mercy! For the first time in his vile life, Evil was on his own. And, he was facing the might of Goddess Mystery.

‘Shoo!’ she snarled, beating him savagely with her tendrils.

‘Hissss….’ he retaliated.

The two divinities fought fiercely. But, the battle was one-sided. Whereas Mystery was an omnipresent divine power, Evil was a mere slave. Lo! In one quick divine movement, she flung him away and pulled the pot out of the burrow.

‘Aaghhh…’ Evil wailed, slithering away to hide in the bed of carcasses.

Meanwhile, the goddess raised the pot of zol victoriously and said to Time, ‘My lord!’

‘My goddess!’ he replied, beaming with joy. He pointed his arrow at the pot and shot a sharp stream of moments at it. The moments pierced the pot and bits of zol began drizzling out.

Time, Mystery and Hoon watched in wonder, as pushed by the streaming zol, the pot began ascending gloriously over the bor. The fresh zol falling from the pot fired the energy already rippling in the bor and made it blindingly radiant.

Lo! Day dawned on the bor. This day would stay for the whole season, that is, until the pot ran out of zol!

‘O zol!’ murmured Time, soaking in the bits of zol falling from the pot. The zol gave him strength and the rising pot gave his arrow direction. For the entire season, he would point his arrow at the pot and chase it as it rose higher and higher above the bor. Impatient to get going, he began racing behind the rising pot of zol in real earnest.

With Time gone and her task done, Mystery also left. She had also been soaking in the bits of zol and feeling lazy, retreated to the middle of the Urk.

Hoon stayed behind and was surprisingly, disturbed. He had thrown off Evil and now he was feeling miserable. He could not believe that he had betrayed Evil, his devout companion of so many seasons!

He looked around in a daze. Divine glitches notwithstanding, the new season of life had ascended fully on the bor! Moments were raining in a downpour, stirring up flocks and flocks of fresh boids.

It was a glorious divine spectacle, but it angered Hoon. Surprisingly, the bor had accepted the outcome of the fight quietly!

‘How could you?’ he ranted hoarsely, tugging hard at the vein that ran out of his soul. How could the bor shimmer so gloriously, acting as if it had no role to play in the foolish acts that led to his betrayal?

 

GOD HOON retreated into his abode, the haven, having realized that his devilish act of hiding the pot of zol had been rather desperate and foolish!

Severe divine stress had built up in the body of the bor. It had been so tangible that Time had felt it. Mystery had felt it too. Hoon had felt it but he had ignored it. Only when Time and Mystery warned him did he accept that his massive plume of boids was on the verge of ripping apart. It was then that he had abandoned Evil and let the goddess pull the pot out of hiding!

‘O Evil!’ he cried with remorse and anger, remembering how savagely the goddess had thrashed the slave. Surprisingly, he felt guilt! Guilt was a rare mood hidden in the heart of the bor and he was feeling guilty of having spurned his long time companion!

But, there was no way he could have ignored Time and Mystery’s warnings. All right, they were dimwits. But, they had very powerful instincts and divine characters. Time was incorruptible when it came to taking the bor onwards to the future, and Mystery was incorruptible when it came to saving it for her children. They would never let the bor fall into trouble. But, why had the bor invited trouble in the first place by hiding the zol pot?

To find the answer, he looked into the bor’s heart. Surprisingly, he did not find it in its usual place below the Holy Knot. It had shifted to lie below Time’s abode! It had been beating so feebly and erratically, that to prop it up, Time had pulled it under his arrow and was feeding it with his own blood!

‘Damn!’ cursed Hoon hoarsely, looking at the bor’s heart from far. In addition to fear, the deathly moods of despair and anxiety were swirling inside!

Lo! The bor was in a dire state. It was ailing! Only Evil could tell him the nature of the ailment, because he spoke for the bor. But, the vile slave had vanished in the bed of carcasses.

‘Evil!’ Hoon called hoarsely. He went out to the bed of carcasses, and with his massive plume of boids swishing behind him, began searching in every nook and cranny for the vile slave. He would not rest until he had found the slave and had forced him to divulge the cause of the bor’s pathetic state!

 

 

MEANWHILE, Time and Mystery were busy getting on with the new season of life.

This season, Time felt very strong. He held his head high above the spires of Awaad and when he looked down, he saw his shaft standing thick and straight. Having journeyed through many seasons of life, his arrow was furrowed with shadows of all moments past.

The pot of zol had risen high above the bor . It was a very big pot and it was full- the glow was blinding and it lit the bor brightly. Time looked at the full pot with joy. It was still early in the season and there were many chores to do.

‘It is time to harvest zol!’ he pronounced and then, shot a thick stream of moments at the pot. Zol poured out like divine fodder, filling the coffers of Awaad! Time’s abode glittered resplendently from the glow of the stored zol. When Awaad’s coffers became full, the zol poured over Urk, the divine abode of Mystery!

‘O wholesome zol!’ she cried huskily, soaking the divine fodder with her countless tendrils.

Satiated, both Time and Mystery began working busily to give birth to a full season of gods. Chimes rang as Time made divine quivers for the gods. And, sighs swished as Mystery twisted dry tendrils to make nests in the Urk. It was divine melody and it flowed poignantly in the bor.

Alas! The melody offered no comfort to Hoon, the devil. His troubles had not passed over.as Evil was not to be found anywhere! ‘O ruin!’ he drawled with despair. Others felt the joy that was in bloom in the haven. He also felt the moods hidden deep in the bor’s heart- the bor was still stricken with anxiety and fear!

Hoon’s massive plume of boids quivered with distress. The quivering disturbed the usual flow of energy in the bor and was picked up by Time and Mystery instantly.

‘God Hoon!’ murmured Time in his silvery divine voice, stopping by the bed of carcasses. Time had finished making the quivers for the new gods and his arrow was slowly getting engorged with the birth moments.

‘Ugh!’ cried Hoon, turning away with contempt.

Startled, Time filled Hoon’s quiver and sped back to his abode.

Soon, Mystery came by. She had finished making the nests and was caressing her bloated womb with her tendrils. ‘God Hoon!’ she sighed warmly.

Hoon turned away from her too. ‘Your eggs are wasted!’ he sneered contemptuously.

‘No, they are not!’ she replied huskily.

Hoon’s soul darkened with evil shadows at once. Even without being bitten by Evil, he could be the evil devil. It was because his soul carried residual evil from past seasons. Exuding a chilling spoor, he grasped her tendrils angrily with his boids.

He was about to shake her violently, when all of a sudden he reeled with shock. The goddess was carrying life in her womb! He could see nascent divine souls shining through the cracked eggs!

Lo! Mystery’s fertility was indestructible. Cracked eggs notwithstanding, the gods would take birth to flood the bor!

‘Desecration!’ snarled the devil, trembling with divine rage. His rage was so great that it affected the mood of the bor. Joy wilted in the haven. And, anger bloomed again! The bor was extremely angry- it had failed to kill the gods! On one hand, its beat was sinking and on the other, a seasonful of gods was on the way!

Now, anger was a very disturbing bloom. Spiny and straggly like all blooms of the season of death, its spoor enraged one and all.

‘ Damn!’ cursed Time, his soul heating up with anger. His vision clouded over and his arrow swayed unsteadily resulting in disastrous consequences- the bor began swinging from the past to the future and back to the past again!

‘Damn!’ cursed Mystery, her soul heating up with anger. She was out in the bed of carcasses and was having difficulty migrating back to her womb because of Time’s wild swaying. ‘Stop!’ she cried, thrashing her tendrils wildly.

‘You stop!’ Time exploded with anger, as the tendrils beat against his abode and made his arrow loll even more precariously. He began having trouble holding the beat of the bor. But, the goddess would not be stopped. She thrashed even more wildly.

She also thrashed her tendrils against the devil’s plume of boids making him also flare up with anger. ‘Stop!’ he yelled hoarsely, bringing down his massive plume of boids heavily on her tendrils to hold her still. Surprisingly, the moment his boids entangled with Mystery’s tendrils, the bor’s anger subsided. Anger wilted in the haven!

The omnipresent gods sensed the change in the bor’s mood instantly and calmed down.

‘Mercy!’ Time cried with relief, as anger dissipated from his soul and his arrow became steady. Mystery also sighed with relief. She waited for Time to become completely steady before she migrated back to her womb in the middle of the Urk.

The devil was left alone near the bed of carcasses again. Surprisingly, he felt bereft by the goddess’s departure. Alarmed, he looked down at his soul. A knot had welled up in his soul- it was a knot of longing! Remembering the nettles that had stung him sometime back, he became suspicious that the bor may have paired him with the goddess!

‘Damn!’ he groaned with despair. Oh! The divine mother of the gods disgusted him completely!

Seeking to confirm his suspicion, he decided to have a close look at the goddess’s soul. He migrated to the middle of the Urk where Mystery was busy tending to her bloated womb. Approaching close to her, he looked at her soul intently.

Mystery’s soul was naturally bewitching and rich with intrigue. But, it was masked with titillating veils that really, revealed nothing. He was about to turn away in irritation when the veils parted fleetingly. He caught a glimpse of her naked soul and froze in shock!

In the midst of the countless secrets residing in her soul, there was a knot. It was a knot of longing! Indeed, the nettles had stung her soul and paired her with him!

Hoon reeled with shock. It was no wonder that he had been feeling so weird- never before had he been so keenly aware of the goddess’s divine form! His boids were still entangled with her tendrils and that he did not feel like pulling them away!

In a daze, he remained entangled to the goddess. Surprisingly, the goddess allowed him to do so! He stared at her beguiling visage darkly. She gazed at his rugged features in awe. While they looked at each other enraptured, their divine forms swayed divinely in the bor!

Mystery was bewildered by what was happening to her. The new knot in her soul was bursting with the nectar of longing. The nectar doused her maternal instincts and made her yearn fervently for the devil!

Instinctively, she grasped his boids and pulled him closer! Lo! Lightning crackled between her and Hoon’s massive divine forms, making them tremble with divine rapture. Shocked, Hoon pulled away. Divine melody flowed in the bor as his boids untangled from her tendrils!

‘O wonder!’ exclaimed Time, listening to the poignant strains flowing in his abode. Gazing into the future he prophesized, ‘Longing has bloomed in the bor to serve a divine purpose!’

Time’s utterance wrote on all souls in the bor, including Hoon’s soul. But, he was not surprised by the prophecy at all. He had guessed the bor’s evil plan!

His rugged features shadowed, he looked at Mystery’s burgeoning womb slyly. Of course, longing had bloomed to serve a divine purpose. A very evil purpose! The death of the unborn gods!

 

GOD HOON had the killing all planned out. He would build a powerful bond of longing with the goddess; once her maternal instincts were doused by fervent longing for him, he would kill the unborn gods!

To further his evil plan, he migrated to the haven quickly and began cultivating nettles of longing with great fervor.

‘Thud! Thud!’ his scimitar rang loudly as he pulled out the old nettles and worked on them. Soon, he had nurtured fresh blossoms loaded thickly with nettles of longing!

‘Good!’ he drawled hoarsely, looking at the scores of nettles rising up from blossoms.

They surrounded him and stung his soul sharply. ‘Aaagh….’ he groaned, dropping his scimitar.

‘Let’s see!’ he murmured, glancing at his soul. A small knot had welled up- it was a knot of longing and it was bursting with nectar. This time, long and thin strands ran from it to a smiliar knot in the goddess’s soul. These were strands of longing and they were pulling him powerfully to the goddess.

Hoon emerged the haven to carry out his plan! His soul was as clear as it could be, but his rugged features were lit with an evil glow. He looked harshly at the goddess. She was flustered to see the new strands emerging from her soul and was touching them with surprise. The strands were transparent- she could see through them! The goddess looked and was shocked. Lo! The devil’s soul was at the other end.

‘God Hoon!’ she whispered in a daze.

‘My goddess!’ he replied hoarsely.

Mystery saw him coming towards her. Their divine forms entangled once more, and as each boid entangled with a tendril, melodious strains flowed in the bor . It was divine melody and its haunting strains were like fire- they ignited a powerful inferno of longing in her soul!

Lo! The goddess abandoned all her maternal chores and became focused on only one thing- when the devil came close enough, she would pull him in a fierce embrace and explode with divine rapture!

The devil smirked. Longing was one explosive divine mood- distance burned the gods with anguish and nearness with rapture!

The goddess gazed spellbound at Hoon’s soul as he came closer. Beneath the clear veneer, glinted myriad hues. They hues belonged to the different divine moods of the bor that had sunk in his soul over the seasons. The hues hidden in his naked soul titillated her more than a thousand secrets could!

Shivers of rapture ran through the goddess’s divine form and she whispered tremulously, ‘My lord!’

‘My goddess!’ he replied hoarsely. His state was no different from that of the goddess. His soul was being pulled with a longing so fierce that he was finding it very difficult to resist. Lest he forget his original intent, he willfully let evil rise to the fore of his soul!

As he drew closer, the strands running between their souls became short and taut and began dripping with nectar. The strands would soon burn out in a burst of divine rapture for longing was a very fickle and shortlived mood.

‘I have to do something fast!’ he murmured darkly. He spread his magnificent plume of boids and grasped her tendrils firmly.

Lo! A wave of blinding rapture ran through her divine form and she let out a thousand bewildered sighs. Not spurning him away, she turned to face him. His soul was surprisingly shadowed with evil, but she was oblivious to everything except the powerful rapture flowing in the strands between them!

Unable to bear the fierce yearning anymore, she pulled the devil in a close embrace. Lo! Lightning crackled between the two omnipresent gods, powerful and blinding. A flood of rapture swept them away, and in that moment of supreme rapture, the devil realized that he had the power to make the goddess obey his will!

Sweeping up her tendrils with his massive sea of boids he murmured, ‘Kill the unborn gods!’

The goddess stared at him in a daze.

‘The bor wants to kill the gods!’ he snarled urgently, ‘Drop all the eggs…now!’

Hoon expected Mystery to obey him instantly. Surprisingly, she did no such thing. Rather, she struggled to dispel the haziness clouding her instincts!

‘Mercy!’ she gasped, her soul in a divine turmoil. The longing raging in her soul made her want to submit to the devil. But, her maternal instinct was telling her to spurn him!

Well, Mystery’s maternal instinct was her most incorruptible instinct. No feeling of longing or divine rapture could subdue it or overpower it. She would never let her children die!

In one lightning action, the goddess pulled her tendrils together and gave a massive heave- she tried to throw the devil’s massive divine form away from hers. The strands of longing between their souls snapped to showers of sparks. ‘Go away!’ she snarled menancingly.

The devil staggered from the blow. But, he was not to be thrown off so easily. His grip on her tendrils was strong and he was armed with the most deathly force in the bor- the force of evil! Realizing that the goddess intended to disobey him, his rugged visage began blazing with evil rage.

‘Death to you all!’ he thundered, giving Mystery’s womb a massive jolt.

Lo! The jolt was so powerful that the womb gaped open.

The goddess shuddered with shock. ‘No!’ she shrieked. But, it was too late. Huge piles of eggs fell out of her womb and even as she watched in utter dismay, they were swallowed by the swirling energy of the bor.

Shockingly, the devil was not done. To ensure that the gods died a sure death, he unleashed the power of his scimitar and began slashing the eggs mercilessly. ‘Die!’ he snarled, tearing the unborn souls to bits.

‘Noooo!’ wailed the goddess, hitting him desperately with her tendrils to stop him. But, to no avail. The devil went around like a whirlwind and in no time, the bor was swamped with the mutilated remains of the gods!

The goddess gazed at the godly clutter floating in the bor with disbelief. Lo! The devil had killed all her children!

‘Aarghh…’ she screamed in pain. Her scream was so piercing that it seemed it would rip the bor apart.

Divine rage rose in the goddess’s soul. The rage was so fierce and blistering that it threatened to burn everything, including the vein that ran from her soul to the heart of the bor!

‘Hooon….’ rumbled the bor faintly. It tried to push the divine mood of Peace through the vein to calm her down. Alas! Peace could not enter the goddess’s soul. There was so much rage and pain inside, that unless she let them out, nothing else would enter her soul.

And, all the pain and rage was directed at the devil. The goddess became aware that his boids were still shamelessly entangled with her tendrils. Lo! Exploding with the fiercest fury, she threw him off her divine form with all her strength!

Mystery’s strength was phenomenal. Massive claps of thunder and lightning crackled as the devil’s boids tore away from her tendrils! Shock waves rippled through the bor and a massive storm broke out.

‘Hooonnn…’ wailed the bor, as enormous stress built inside its body and threatened to tear it apart. Frightening sounds of tearing and ripping rose from the edge and gigantic waves of energy rose to crash against the Urk. Huge waves also hit Awaad, the abode of Time, and lashed against its ramparts.

The God of Time had been trotting on placidly. That longing had a divine purpose, he had already seen in the future. But, that the devil and the goddess would behave like this, he had not seen! The future had given him no warning, and within moments, the situation had just spun out of control!

A fiercer storm had not risen in the bor before and Time struggled to control it. ‘Stop!’ he roared as the ramparts of his abode shook violently. Before he could do anything, a flank of Awaad collapsed!

‘No!’ he cried in alarm. But, it was too late. Waves of energy rushed inside his abode and hit his arrow, making it loll wildly.

‘Whoa!’ he roared, trying to steady his arrow with the sheer power of his divine will. He had just steadied himself when another gigantic wave rushed in to hit him hard. Lo! It hit the tail of his arrow and uprooted it from the floor!

All of a sudden, he lost his hold on the beat of the bor! And, for the first time ever, the beat of the bor sank!

 



 

Place: Kirll forest, Seabor.

Time: Yadu’s 21st day on Seabor (18th century AD on Earth)

 

THE iljjocks came out of the waking dream in shock. They had been seeing the divine lore without resting for almost two days now. Myrhim had been transferring strings of divine lore from Elli’s to Yadu’s soul, thereby helping them with the swapping.

It was early morning now, and the iljjocks were seated in a large gathering on the cold ground of the forest. Yadu and Elli were lying on a wooden altar in front of then. All of them were stunned to see the events happening in the bor. They had never expected the bor to die so early in the last season of its life!

‘Is the bor really dead?’ wondered Pikki with shock.

Pikki was the leader of the iljjocks and he had taken care of Yadu when he had first arrived on Seabor.

‘You will know when you see the rest of the divine lore !’ replied God Iisuu, skipping to the gathering. He had been standing on guard and had keeping a watch on the seamones with his divine sight- lest they tried to disrupt the ongoing swapping of strings between Elli and Yadu. Only when the swapping was complete would Elli be saved from becoming a coon and only then, would Yadu would be able to return to Earth to begin the critical task of making the human yoke!

‘I suggest all of you eat kiks and take some rest!’ he directed the iljjocks through the yoke. God Iisuu was the divine father of the iljjocks- a shard of his soul was present in their souls and they were connected to him seamlessly.

‘Yes!’ agreed Myrhim, ‘We should all rest for sometime!’

The iljjocks obeyed Myrhim and got up to wander in the forest. They would eat kiks, and maybe doze for a short while under the glowing Nahlu trees. Later, they would try out their new divine powers- enhanced because of the new strings loaded in Yadu’s soul and the yoke!

Yadu was still lying on a bed of leaves on the altar with closed eyes. ‘Get up and eat some kiks!’ scolded his soulmate Elli, talking to him through her soul.

She was lying next to him and was incapacitated. Her soul was no longer connected to her body, rendering it inert and motionless. She felt trapped inside her body and was eagerly waiting for the swapping to complete so that she could give birth and die in true iljjock tradition!

‘I am doing something!’ Yadu replied to her distractedly.

‘I know what that is!’ she chuckled. She was his soulmate and she could read him transparently!

Yadu had a very hard and solemn exterior because of his early life on Earth- the early death of his parents and the responsibility of bring up a baby brother had toughened him. But, deep inside, he was very playful and lively. Very much like Elli herself! Since he had come to possess divine powers, he took great delight in exploring the celestial bodies in outer space. He watched them with childlike wonder and at times, shifted their orbits by applying divine force!

‘Yadu!’ scolded Elli, ‘You can do this later…get up and eat now!’

‘All right!’ agreed Yadu and opened his eyes.

‘What is going on here?’ asked Iisuu tersely, coming up to them. He remained tense and anxious these days, and would remain so until the swapping was complete.

‘Nothing, my lord!’ replied Yadu, getting up hurriedly.

‘Good!’ remarked Iisuu, ‘Have you eaten?’

‘I was just going to get some kiks!’ Yadu replied quickly and left to get kiks for himself. Elli would not feed, as her body was unresponsive.

‘How are you feeling, Elli?’ Iisuu asked, looking at her two souls with his divine sight. Myrhim had given Elli an iljjock soul and a human soul to make her special – she had been created as a universal soulmate.

‘I am fine!’ replied Elli strongly. Her body was still unresponsive, but her soul could respond to Yadu, Myrhim and Iisuu.

‘Good!’ said Iisuu distractedly. He had been keeping a very strict watch on the proceedings for the last two days. Aakaa and the seamones were a truly desperate lot and they could do anything to disrupt the ongoing swapping.

‘The sojourns in the bor are very liberating for me!’ continued Elli enthusiastically, ‘I don’t feel trapped in the bor!’

‘Good!’ exclaimed Myrhim, coming up to the altar, ‘Where’s Yadu?’

‘I am here!’ replied Yadu, coming up quickly with his mouth and hands full of kiks.

‘Should we begin transferring the rest of the strings?’ she enquired.

‘No!’ refused Iisuu, ‘I think the iljjocks should rest!’

‘But we don’t want to rest!’ protested the iljjocks. They had finished eating kiks and were in no mood to sleep!

‘What do you mean?’ Iisuu scolded them, ‘I won’t have you all going mad!’ With great difficulty, by using the power of the yoke, he had been suppressing their urge to mate!

‘We won’t!’ Hatti iljjock replied eagerly, ‘The moments spent in the bor are truly precious to us and we don’t want to waste time by sleeping!’

Hatti’s moving words left Iisuu and Myrhim spellbound. They exchanged a surprised glance and shook their heads in disbelief.

‘But, I would like to groom myself!’ Yadu said hesitantly. He had never begun a day without performing his daily rituals. It was early morning and he needed to groom first!

‘Oh, yes!’ supported Pikki jovially, ‘Let us groom ourselves first!’

‘Yes, yes!’ muttered the iljjocks in unison.

‘All right!’ Iisuu yielded, ‘But, return quickly!’

‘Elli, I will be back soon!’ said Yadu, bending to kiss her cold forehead.

‘All right!’ replied Elli’s soul.

Yadu and iljjocks left for a quick turn around the Kirll bay. Their bin creatures- dugs, enccollies and besrings- lived in the vegetation growing in the warm water of the bay. They would suckle on their belly nodules to relieve them of their body waste and make them feel light and fresh.

Iisuu and Myrhim sat down on tree stubs in the open clearing and waited for them to return. Surrounded by a divine halo, they conversed animatedly. Their conversation veered unavoidably to the topic of the human knights!

Myrhim had given the human knights two souls like Elli- they had been created to spot Aakaa’s invisible connection to the Nors and slash it to lessen his influence. It turned out that, because of the two souls, they were creative geniuses in their lifetime on Earth! The goddess was so enamoured of them, that she spent all her free moments giving birth to new knights on Earth. Iisuu was equally enamoured- he managed to spot them almost immediately after their birth and took great interest in their lives and creative works.

‘You have an army of knights up in the Nors now!’ Iisuu remarked with admiration.

‘Yes!’ nodded Myrhim, ‘They are all doing a good job of fighting against Aakaa!’

‘I kept track of many of them!’ informed Iisuu, ‘Akbar, Kepler, Shakespeare, Newton, Galileo, Leeuwenhoek, Harvey, Bacon…I know them like Pikki or Hatti!’

Myrhim nodded in appreciation. ‘Because of their efforts…no major epidemics have occurred on Earth in recent times!’ the goddess beamed.

‘I guess we should not worry about Earth anymore!’ exclaimed Iisuu.

‘You are right!’ frowned Myrhim, ‘We should worry about Seabor now!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘The seamones are busy making weapons…spears, bows and arrows!’

‘I know!’ replied Iisuu grimly.

‘Are they planning to attack us?’ she asked worriedly.

‘Maybe!’

‘Aren’t you worried?’

‘No!’

‘Why?’

‘I alone am enough for them!’ Iisuu replied wryly.

‘Yes you are!’ Myrhim agree, ‘But don’t forget…the yoke cannot take a single coon!’

Iisuu was about to reassure Myrhim, when Elli groaned. ‘I am feeling suffocated!’ she cried suddenly, ‘Take me back to the bor!’

‘Sure, my child!’ assured Iisuu, jumping to her side.

‘Aaagh…aaagh…’ she groaned loudly.

Myrhim looked towards the bay in panic. Oh! The iljjocks were hurrying back. Yadu had heard her cry and had told everyone to rush back!

‘I am back, Elli!’ he cried, rushing to embrace her inert body.

‘Let us get back to the bor urgently!’ said Pikki hurriedly, directing the iljjocks to gather around quickly.

‘It is good you all have refreshed yourselves!’ remarked Iisuu with satisfaction. He patted Elli gently on her forehead.

Myrhim sat beside Elli. ‘I think I should load as many strings as possible this time!’ she said anxiously.

‘Why?’ Iisuu asked.

‘I have a feeling that we may be attacked soon!’

‘You worry unnecessarily!’ remarked Iisuu and left to stand on guard.

Yadu quickly lay down on the ground next to Elli.

‘Yadu!’ warned Myrhim, ‘I am going to transfer a big bunch of strings this time!’

He nodded, bracing himself for a massive jolt of divine power.

‘Wait!’ said Pikki urgently. The iljjocks shifted positions to make a supporting formation around Yadu.

‘Don’t worry, Yadu!’ Iisuu assured through the yoke, ‘God Hoon will save you…like last time!’

‘I know!’ Yadu replied in surprise. Iisuu knew that Hoon had saved him the last time!

‘I also know about it too!’ smiled Myrhim, ‘Otherwise, I would not have dared to suggest that we load such a huge bunch of strings!’

‘What if he does not save me this time?’ Yadu baulked.

‘I am sure he will!’ assured Myrhim in her warm, tinkling voice.

Oh! Yadu watched unsurely as the goddess picked a thick bunch of strings of divine lore from Elli’s soul and placed them in his soul!

As usual, his soul was hit with an avalanche of divine power. The iljjock yoke helped him bear the load. Iisuu took a lot on himself. Surprisingly, he did not feel crushed this time! He did not feel as if he would die!

‘Your soul has grown stronger!’ gasped Iisuu through the yoke.

‘But, how?’ Yadu gasped back in surprise.

‘The same way Elli’s soul suddenly became stronger!’ the iljjocks spoke in unison through the yoke.

Well, that was the last the iljjocks spoke for a long time on the yoke. For, the divine lore began unraveling from the strings and they found themselves suspended in the divine continuum of the bor!

They shuddered to see the state of the bor in the aftermath of Mystery’s violent fight with the devil. The devil had forced the goddess to drop the eggs from her womb, and then proceeded to kill the unborn gods inside the eggs. Mystery had flown into a massive divine rage. She had thrown Hoon off so violently that the body of the bor had almost ripped apart. A violent storm had risen in the bor. It had been so violent that it had untethered Time’s arrow, causing the beat of the bor to sink!

The iljjocks were appalled to see the massive divine forms of Time, Mystery and Hoon sway wildly in the bor like trees caught in a violent windstorm.

‘Aargghhh….’ Mystery wailed on seeing the smithereens of her unborn children drift loosely in the bor. That she was unable to save them, made her writhe with unbearable agony.

The skirmish had caused colossal damage to the bor. Huge shards of energy had broken off away from the edges; almost half of the body of the bor was gone. And, with it had gone half of Hoon’s boids. Hoon had almost collapsed on seeing the damage. ‘Oh, what have I done?’ he whispered to himself in a state of extreme shock and despair.

Lo! The bor’s heart had fallen completely silent. For the first ever in its divine life, the bor had stopped thudding.

 

 

Place: The divine bor

Time: Prior to the birth of the universe

 

Divine lore 

THE God of Time’s distress was the greatest of all. A greater calamity had not fallen on his arrow before. Never before, had his arrow been uprooted like this! Unbelievably, he had lost his grip on the beat of the bor!

‘DAMN!’ he roared, wobbling forward. It was in his divine character to race undeterred to the future. That he was tottering like this made him burn with anguish and rage.

‘Whoa!’ he cried, trying to bring his runaway arrow under control. He knew that if didn’t do something quickly, the situation would spiral beyond all saving. The moment to exercise his divine will had come; in fact, the moment was sitting right on his arrowhead and just about to roll off!

Instinctively, he searched for the zol pot. Oh! It shone like a beacon of life above the stormy bor. He pointed his head towards it and found his direction again. Gradually, his arrow stopped swinging between the past and the future!

His head was fixed but his tail was still flailing loosely. ‘Aaaghhh…’ he cried, digging his tail into the floor of his abode. His arrow trembled violently a few times and then became stable.

Sighing with relief, Time began treading steadily towards the future. His pace was slow and had a very calming effect on the bor. The swirling waves of energy lost their fury and began dying out. The storm in the bor abated slowly.

Time still had to find the heart of the bor and get it beating again! He tugged at the divine vein connecting his soul to the heart of the bor. It had fallen slack! The heart was no longer below Awaad- it had shifted to lie quietly somewhere else in the bor.

Troubled, he turned to gaze at the far future. His brow twitched delicately and the squint in his eyes widened. The far future was dark and hazy. He narrowed his eyes to look at the near future. Lo! He saw that the nettles of longing were still in full bloom and were about to cause more trouble.

‘NO!’ he thundered. Divine rage flickered in his eyes and with one fiery glance he scorched the moments falling on the nettles. The nettles froze in time. And, so did the knots of longing in Hoon and Mystery’s souls!

A deathly silence now prevailed in the bor! The bor was now quiet like the surrounding Outbor. And, in this strange silent world, the omnipresent gods trembled with bewilderment and shock.

Mystery’s soul was frozen with grief. She gazed blankly at the small pile of eggs left in her womb. Hoon wandered aimlessly on the edge, staring at the massive rips and tears in a dazed stupor. Time trotted on, only because he could not stop.

God Hoon rugged features had never looked so haggard. His dark, evil swagger was gone. And, rare divine moods such as shame and guilt colored his soul. The moods choked him and made him want to weep.

Feeling very restless and anguished, he migrated to Awaad to see how the God of Time was faring. It was a miracle that he had managed to control the storm in the bor- his instincts were mystifying. Even now, he was holding his head high above the spires of his abode and was struggling to do something!

Time’s visage was marred by divine sweat and the squint in his eyes was widened rather oddly. He was exerting all his might to look far into the future. He observed that Hoon’s was near and gasped suddenly,‘Hold me tightly!’

‘What?’ Hoon drawled in surprise.

‘I need to tilt my arrow…hold me tightly!’

‘All right!’ Hoon replied, and hurried to do as told.

Hoon rose magnificently to the occasion by directing all his subjects, the boids , to fall behind him. He extended his plume by pulling them all in- this massive plume he wrapped tightly around Awaad.

‘Good!’ murmured Time, feeling supported from all sides. Leaning back on Hoon’s plume, he tilted his arrow such that his tail pointed towards the haven.

‘What are you doing?’ Hoon enquired, puzzled.

‘Finding the heart of the bor!’

‘Where is it?’

‘It is lying below the Holy Knot!’ declared the God of Time.

‘Really?’ Hoon exclaimed in surprise.

When Time’s arrow had been uprooted, the heart had shifted back to its original place below the Holy Knot! Time had found it by squinting very far into the future!

‘What are you going to do with it?’ Hoon drawled sharply.

The God of Time turned his beautiful visage towards Hoon and gave him a melting divine look. ‘I am going to make it beat again!’

Hoon stared at him, thunderstruck. He put his entire might behind Time’s arrow and waited impatiently for him to do whatever he was planning to do!

Time extended his tail to the Holy Knot. The closer he went, the clearer his vision into the future became. Soon, he could the bor’s heart clearly. Alas! It no longer looked the same. It had become small and shriveled!

‘O bor!’ he frowned, digging his tail into the silent heart. Hoon supported Awaad with all his strength, allowing Time to bore deeper. It was a rare moment of bonding between Time and the devil, and in that moment, the bor found its beat again!

Lo! The bor’s heart began thudding again. Albeit, very faintly.

‘Mercy!’ Time gasped with relief. Very gently, he pulled the heart beneath his abode. The beat became stronger and began reverbrating from one edge of the bor to another.

‘O wonder!’ drawled Hoon, bursting with uncontrollable joy. It was like the divine world of the gods had come alive again!

He had not noticed earlier, but a lot of things were connected to the beat of the bor. Like the energy rippling out of the Holy Knot! The moment the heart began thudding, fresh waves of energy began rippling out of the Holy Knot, restoring the flow of currents in the bor!

The currents teased his plume- the boids squirmed to get out and ride on the rippling waves with their companions, the secrets!

‘Let them go!’ said Time in his silvery voice.

‘Yes, my lord!’ he agreed, letting the boids race away. They mingled with the secrets to form large flocks that rode on the waves playfully.

Having restored the bor to some semblance of normalcy, the God of Time glanced at at the pot of zol shining above the bor. ‘It is time to do the chores!’ he sighed in his silvery voice.

‘Yes, my lord!’ Hoon drawled hoarsely.

Time became busy harvesting zol and filling quivers even while racing onwards to the future.

‘I must also return to my seasonal chores!’ Hoon sighed heavily. He was about to migrate to his abode, when he suddenly became aware that the vein running out of his soul had become taut again. Instinctively, he looked through it and saw the bor’s heart.

Lo! The heart looked so old and frail. Very little divine blood was left in it- it had given all its blood to the gods over the seasons. And, the little blood that was left in it was stricken with heartbreaking fear!

Hoon frowned, his rugged features turning dark and forbidding. He despised the divine mood of fear. Because of fear, the bor had made him act foolishly not once but twice now! Damn it, but what was the bor fearing now? The eggs left in Mystery’s womb?

He glanced at Mystery sharply. She had come out of her grief! Her tendrils were swaying languidly and she was hunting leisurely for new secrets. She remembered nothing of the recent tragic events!

But, Hoon remembered everything! The strings in his soul had captured everything clearly. The killing of the gods, the goddess’s wild rage, the uprooting of Time’s arrow and the horrifying wounds inflicted on the bor. Also, the evil present in his soul, that had spurred it all!

Hoon looked at his soul and frowned darkly. It had changed a lot since the first season. The outer veneer of his soul was still clear like a boid , but a lot had changed inside. Divine moods had sunk in his soul to color it with myriad hues- they gave him the versatility that he needed to heal the bor in the season of death. But, that was not significant!

Significant were the knots left behind by Evil. These knots were residual evil and they gave him the raw power to act lethally. Hoon relished the chilling rapture of evil and the vicious edge it gave to his scimitar. He enjoyed doing evil acts- but only when they ended in protecting the bor and not in a fiasco!

He was musing grimly over the last fiasco, when Time rode up to him on an arrowlet. ‘God Hoon!’ he murmured, stopping to fill his quiver. He was about to speed away when Hoon said sharply, ‘Stop, my lord!’

Time heard him and looked at him in surprise. Hoon’s soul was clear but his rugged features were shadowed devilishly.

‘Scorch all your birth moments!’ Hoon said hoarsely, ‘The bor still fears the unborn gods!’

Time frowned and replied firmly, ‘No, the bor does not fear the unborn gods!’

Hoon glared at him angrily. Why was the omnipresent dimwit not seeing what he was seeing?

Time looked back at him with his bewitching eyes. ‘Look through my eyes, and you will see what I am seeing!’ he directed, arching his brow majestically.

The devil was stunned. He did not remember an instance when Time had allowed someone else to look at the future through his eyes! ‘All right!’ he stammered hoarsely.

The God of Time dropped special moments in the devil’s quiver. And, in those special moments, the devil saw the future through Time’s eyes. Lo! He saw a bor full of gods and the haven bursting with blooms of joy!

‘You see, the bor no longer fears the gods!’ Time murmured serenely.

Hoon knew Time’s divine sight could not be wrong. But, what of the long tongues of fear swirling inside the bor’s heart? Why could not Time see them?

‘You are blind, my lord!’ he said harshly, ‘You cannot see what I see!’

Time looked at Hoon with narrowed eyes. Whereas the devil’s rugged visage was grim and shadowed, Time’s beautiful visage was mysteriously radiant.

‘I am not blind!’ Time said in his clear, silvery voice, ‘It is you who has new sight!’

‘New sight?’

‘Yes, you have the sight of the wise!’

Hoon gaped.

‘You are affected by the divine mood of wisdom!’

Hoon glared at Time in shocked silence. His perfect features were glowing ethereally in the radiance of the zol pot and he was looking intently at the cold and dark Outbor.

Gazing at the endless ocean always cleared Time’s vision into the far future. He looked wistfully, and uttered a divine prophecy:

:I see miracles:

:I see Wisdom in bloom:

:O bor:

thy Fears::Gods shall soon be wise:

 

Like all Time’s divine utterances, this one also wrote on all souls in the bor. It wrote on the devil’s soul too.

Lo! Before Hoon could react to the new revelations, the divine mood of wisdom bloomed profusely in the pit of the Holy Knot!

 

WISDOM was different from the other divine moods. To begin with, it did not bloom on the walls of the haven . It bloomed in the pit of the Holy Knot. Also, the blossoms were very different- they looked like divine weeds laden with needle like spores.

As Time had prophesized, miracles started happening with the blooming of wisdom!

Lo! The moment the first wisdom spores bellowed out of the pit of the Holy Knot, fear vanished from the bor’s heart. Its mood changed to pure joy, and joy only. New joy blossoms wiggled out in thickets to bloom in the patches in the haven!

‘O joy!’ Time sniffed with delight as the light spoor flowed through the portal of Awaad.

‘O joy!’ Mystery sighed huskily, twirling her tendrils with delight.

The divine milieu of the bor altered. The spoor of joy wafted to every nook and cranny and spread cheer. New boids and secrets sprung up to spread freshness and liveliness; they drifted in the waves, pulsing in harmony to the thudding beat of the bor.

Time and Mystery resumed their seasonal chores. Zol streamed from the pot shinng above the bor and they basked in its wholesome warmth. Swaying rythmically to the beat of the bor, they nurtured the few eggs left in the goddess’s womb and began preparing for the birth of the gods!

The devil did not return to his chores immediately. He idled in the haven, confused and angry! His life was slowly slipping out of his control and he did not like it at all. He had to thrust away Evil when he had not wanted to do it! And, wisdom had taken over his soul when he had not even savored it!

The bor was blooming joy, but he felt no joy. Because, this season, the bor had changed. He had changed! Nothing was the same anymore. ‘It is you who has new sight…the sight of the wise!’ Time’s utterance echoed repeatedly in his soul, making him restless and angry.

‘Damn!’ he cursed in frustration. Moving closer to the pit of the Holy Knot, he looked at the new wisdom weeds. The weeds were full of spores and had spread all over the pit!

‘You have given me new sight?’ he drawled hoarsely to the wisdom weeds. Apparently, the spores had permeated his soul over the seasons and made him wise.

Hoon was wondering exactly when that had happened, when he felt a sharp tug at his soul. Lo! It was the bor. It was tugging on the vein running to his soul!

‘What now?’ he asked in bewilderment.

In response, divine energy flowed from the heart of the bor to his soul. Now that Evil had gone missing, the bor was conveying its will to him directly! Hoon knew instinctively that the bor wanted him to nurture the wisdom blossoms, and that it wanted him to do it fast!

Hoon obeyed the bor. He leaned over the pit of the Holy Knot and stoked the weeds of wisdom with his divine scimitar. A thick cloud of spores rose from the weeds and crackled brightly in the flames!

‘Damn!’ he grunted as the spores pierced his soul like a thousand thorns. They sank in his blood and mixed with it to make long strings of divine lore!

‘What the...’ Hoon exclaimed, reeling from the onslaught. Havoc was raging in his soul- the new strings of divine lore were entangling with the older ones to make a divine mesh. Lo! The first primitive mind was forming in the world of the gods!

‘O wonder!’ Hoon drawled, having a vague idea of what was happening. All he knew was that he was growing in wisdom with every passing moment. Now, he could not only keep memories of the past, but also tell true from the false!

‘I have the sight of the past!’ he drawled with devilish humour. If Time could look into the future, he could now look into the past!

A treasure of memories lay in his soul, captured in the strings of divine lore. He had been retrieving them all along, not knowing that they made him the ‘wit’ that he was, giving him the power to go against his instincts, and at times, even beyond them! In comparison, Time and Mystery were limited to doing only what their instincts told them to do. Although, Time seemed to cross his limits mysteriously when cornered into a glitch!

Hoon reclined comfortably by the Holy Knot and indulged in the pleasure of going through past memories. He picked old strings and began seeing past events in a waking dream. He recalled his deathly acts with Evil and began humming them exultantly. Lo! Divine lore flowed in the bor.

The strange new melody caught the attention of Time and Mystery. They listened for a long bewildered moment and then returned to their chores. The lore did not permeate their souls- it just slid off, as there were no wisdom spores in them!

‘Dimwits!’ Hoon drawled dismissively. He decided that he would sing to the bor, the only one to have some wisdom! Digging into the treasure of memories, he sang soulfully to his oldest and most cherished companion, the bor!

Seven seasons of life had passed and the eighth one was ongoing. With every season, the pot of zol had grown bigger, making everything else grow bigger with it!

‘Hoonnnn…’ rumbled the bor with joy. Hoon was humming memories of the first season- the bor had been so young and strong then!

The God of Time had been the first one to take birth from heart of the bor! He had taken birth as a small arrowlet and how he had grown with passing seasons. Moments had piled around him to give him his abode, Awaad, and now his arrow stood the sturdiest and the tallest in the bor!

Goddess Mystery had taken birth from the heart of the bor moments after him. She took birth as a tiny tendril and how she had grown! She had countless tendrils now and they made her abode, the Urk. The Urk had grown so huge that it stretched all across the bor- from one edge to another!

Hoon had been the last one to take birth from the heart of the bor. He had taken birth with only a few boids and how he had grown! He now had countless boids spread across the bor that flocked behind him and gave him his magnificent shimmering plume!

If Time and Mystery had turned out to be the good gods of the bor, he had turned out to the bad devil. For, he was closest to the bor’s heart and a natural partner of the bor’s devout slave, Evil!

And, Evil! Evil had taken birth as a tiny divine snake in the first season and how he had grown! He was now like a vile serpent loaded with venom vicious enough to wipe out a season full of gods!

Hoon remembered that at the end of the first season of life, when he and Evil had finished killing the gods, the bor had armed him his divine scimitar. It had crackled with great divine power and had helped him pile the dead carcasses outside the haven and also heal the damage done to the bor!

Suddenly, Hoon stopped humming. Where was Evil, anyway? Quivers of moments had passed since he had seen him last! ‘Evil!’ he said harshly, looking outside the haven . He migrated to the slave’s burrow in the bed of carcasses. Evil was fast asleep inside his burrow- he had grown bigger since the last time he had seen him!

‘ Wake up, Evil!’ whispered the devil in a choked voice. He poked the slave with his scimitar- they shared a very passionate bond. Together, they had spent seasons killing the gods and bringing on peaceful seasons of death!

‘Hissss…’ Evil whimpered, twitching drowsily.

‘Ugh!’ Hoon grunted with disgust. Evil was oozing a very foul divine stench. ‘You are sick, Evil!’ he drawled hoarsely.

Evil nuzzled the devil’s scimitar listlessly. He was sick because he was mutating- he did it every season to grow his powers.

‘Go back to sleep, Evil!’ Hoon murmured, patting the slave tenderly. Sleep would make Evil mutate faster and recover from his sickness.

‘Hiss!’ replied Evil drowsily.

Evil slipped back into sleep again and Hoon left him to migrate to the edge of the bor . He was surprised to see wisdom spores everywhere- thick clouds of spores had swirled out of the haven and spread in the bor! Awaad was covered with a haze of wisdom spores. ‘The gods shall be wise!’ Time’s prophecy echoed in Hoon’s primitive mind.

‘Is the God of Time becoming wise?’ he wondered, peering inside Awaad curiously. Indeed, wisdom spores were swirling around the shaft of Time’s arrow! But, they were having trouble piercing it and reaching his naked soul. The shaft was inpenetrable.

‘Open your soul to wisdom, my lord!’ Hoon drawled darkly.

Time heard him but did not heed him! He was ruled by his divine instincts and his instincts told him that he could not open his soul to anything!

‘Damn!’ Hoon grunted in despair. Time would not be made wise easily! He turned his divine attention towards Mystery. She was getting ready to give birth!

‘Desecration!’ he spluttered in anger, remembering how the bor had feared the birth of the gods. If only the goddess could remember that, too!

‘It is time to make you wise!’ he said menancingly to Mystery. Using his boids, he pushed clouds of wisdom spores towards her tendrils.

‘Uhh!’ sighed Mystery, looking bewitchingly confused. For a moment he thought that the wisdom spores had pierced her soul. But, then he saw that the spores had been by stopped by the thick veils that covered her soul!

‘Discard the veils, my goddess!’ he drawled hoarsely.

‘No!’ she replied sharply. Her instincts were telling her to keep her soul veiled and she would do exactly that. She turned away from Hoon and wandered away to give birth!

‘Dimwits!’ Hoon muttered in despair. He also retreated to his abode to do his seasonal chores.

Joy was in full bloom and he tended deftly to the seasonal blossoms. He then moved to the Holy Knot to tend to the new wisdom blossoms. Lo! They needed no tending- they had spread all over the pit like a crop gone wild! Spores were rising in huge clouds and crackling noisily in the flames of the Holy Knot before bellowing out of the haven.

‘Wisdom rules!’ Hoon drawled wryly, looking outside the haven. The rippling waves of the bor were carrying the wisdom spores everywhere! Astonished, he looked at the heart of the bor . Wisdom was ruling over there too- it was the only mood swirling inside the heart! Ah! Sooner or later, the bor would force Time and Mystery to also become wise.

Feeling weary of the drasic changes that had happened this season, Hoon reclined by the Holy Knot and began humming old memories. He recalled his past skirmishes with the gods. Oh! Seasons of life had always ended violently with Goddess Mystery fighting fiercely to save her children.

Hoon was dwelling on his memories when the goddess suddenly began wailing. ‘What now?’ he wondered with surprise. It was unusual for Mystery to cry like this- unless, of course, Evil had done something!

Puzzled, Hoon looked outside the haven. Half-eaten secrets were hanging from Mystery’s soul. She was convulsing with shock from what they had revealed to her!

‘Stop that terrible wailing!’ he yelled irritably.

‘Aaaagh…’ she wailed even louder.

‘What is it?’ he yelled again.

‘I cannot give birth!’

‘Wonderful!’ Hoon exclaimed, ‘But, why?’

‘Evil has stolen the divine roost!’ she declared accusingly in a shocked voice.

 

 

THE divine roost was a knot in the bor. Mystery’s children got their traits from this knot. They were born in pairs of tuths and cuds- the tuths had traits that were the exact opposite to the traits of the cuds.

The body shells of the tuths were soft and clear whereas that of the cuds were hard and foggy. The tuths were orderly and the cuds disorderly. The tuths carried a charge that was the exact opposite what the cuds were carrying- they could not come close without sparks flying out! Only one trait was common to them- both carried similar divine blood. It came from the heart of the bor and gave them their consciousness!

Hoon was truly confused. Why had Evil stolen the divine roost? And, that too without his help? ‘Evil!’ he said sharply, moving towards the slave’s burrow. Evil was tossing restlessly inside it. He was still mutating and was very sick.

‘Ugh!’ Hoon grunted with revulsion. A very foul stench was rising from the burrow. ‘Come out, Evil!’ he urged, prodding the slave with his divine scimitar.

‘Hiss!’ whimpered Evil, slithering out of the burrow sluggishly.

Hoon pushed his subjects, the boids, inside the burrow to search it. The boids raced in and conveyed the tidings to him quickly. The burrow was empty!

‘The roost is not in here!’ Hoon drawled in surprise.

‘Evil has shifted it!’ Mystery accused with consternation.

‘To where?’

‘Under the Holy Knot!’ she revealed.

‘What?’ the devil gasped. ‘Have you shifted it under the Holy Knot?’ the devil asked Evil.

Evil did not respond and began slithering away.

‘Wait!’ cried the devil, not wanting him to go. But, Evil did not heed him and slithered away to the bed of carcasses.

‘The gods are ready to be born!’ declared Mystery, moving towards where the divine roost was- in the haven and under the Holy Knot!

The devil was aghast. He could not believe what was happening. How could the goddess roost on the Holy Knot? The flames would be extinguished!

‘NO!’ he yelled, leaping to stand in the way of the goddess.

‘Move!’ she snarled, flexing her tendrils dangerously. The goddess was very strong; tremendous strength was packed in the countless tendrils!

The atmosphere became charged as both refused to give way. Lightning crackled between their divine forms and it seemed that the bor would have to face the brunt of their skirmish again.

The God of Time intervened. He rode out of Awaad on an arrowlet and stopped by the devil. ‘It is time to give birth to the gods!’ he said grimly, his visage twisted in a harsh frown.

‘But, she cannot roost on the Holy Knot!’ the devil thundered, his soul glistening with evil and his divine scimitar lifted high and crackling fiercely.

The moment he said that, the three omnipresent gods felt a strong tug at their souls. Lo! It was the bor. Divine energy flowed from the bor ’s heart to their souls- the bor was trying to tell them something directly.

Surprised, Time gazed into the future. He squinted his eyes as wide as he could and pronounced,

 

:I see life:

:I see gods taking birth:

:O Holy Knot:

hail thee::Mystery shall roost on thee:

 

The prophecy hit the devil like a blow from his scimitar! Mystery was going to roost on the Holy Knot and he could not stop her. Because, not only the God of Time, but also the bor was shockingly on her side!

‘Desecration!’ he thundered with rage, his primitive mind churning with confusion. He looked inside the heart of the bor- how it could ever support such a wild notion!

The divine mood of wisdom was still swirling vigorously inside the heart. Hoon had a sinking feeling. Ah! The bor was taking all its decisions under the influence of wisdom. True, wisdom gave the bor many choices, but the choices could be wrong! Already, the bor had made foolish choices this season- what with the hiding of the zol pot and the blooming of nettles of longing. Those choices had caused more damage than good to the bor!

‘Hooonnn…’ the bor rumbled. It was scolding Hoon for his wild thoughts!

But, the devil was convinced.‘You are just being foolish!’ he ranted angrily to the bor, ‘What we need is just a good season of death. No new moods…no wisdom!’

‘Hooonnnn…’the bor rumbled in divine rage. It rumbled with so much ferocity that the flocks of boids and swathes of secrets drifting in the rippling energy were shocked to stillness.

While Hoon was connecting to the bor, Time and Mystery were getting impatient to give birth to the gods. More particularly the God of Time, because the birth moments were sitting on top of his arrowhead! ‘Roost on the Holy Knot!’ he commanded the goddess harshly.

‘Yes, my lord!’ she replied. She evaded the devil and began moving fast towards the haven. Enraged, the devil raced behind her. But, he did not stop her. He was confused between what was right and what was wrong!

They reached the pit of the Holy Knot and peered down at the flaming vortex. The Holy Knot was turning slowly, shooting long flares of zol.

The goddess suddenly looked bewildered. How was she to roost? Her womb was out in the bor, in the middle of the Urk! Her tendrils flailed wildly as she tried to drag her womb inside the haven.

‘Stop!’ shrieked the devil in panic, ‘You will blow out the Holy Knot!’

Mystery halted instantly. Her divine instincts warned her that the Holy Knot could not be extinguished. Even the God of Time looked perplexed. He looked into the future with his mystic eyes and saw nothing!

The goddess listened to her instincts and began retracing her steps from the haven.

‘Wait!’ said the devil suddenly and harshly.

Lo! Even as Mystery watched startled, the devil, skilled that he was, used his divine scimitar to pull her womb gently inside the haven!

‘Oh!’ gasped the goddess.

‘Hoonnnn…’ rumbled the bor faintly, flooding Hoon’s soul with divine energy and the rare divine mood of Gratitude!

Hoon was stunned. Gratitude was a mellow mood and he had never savored it before. It had a soothing effect and lessened his anguish about the weirdness of all that was happening!

‘Sit on the roost, my goddess!’ Time declared tersely, filling Mystery’s quiver to the full.

The goddess obeyed. The very next moment, she pulled up her womb and squatted down heavily on the pit of Holy Knot! The Holy Knot spluttered. But, the divine roost that had shifted to lie underneath it, burst open!

Two streams of divine particles spurted out of the roost to enter the open mouth of Mystery’s womb and permeate the eggs inside. The particles reached the nascent souls of the gods and aggregated around them to form body shells. Lo! Tuths and cuds took shape. Those with clear and bright shells were the tuths and those with foggy and dull shells were the cuds.

Relieved to see the tuths and cuds take shape, Time looked into the future and declared with surprise, ‘I see the gods rising wise!’

‘What?’ Hoon exclaimed.

‘The gods shall rise wise!’ Time repeated.

Stunned, Hoon looked at the divine womb. Dense clouds of wisdom spores were entering the mouth of the womb and piercing the tender souls of the gods. As prophesised by Time, the gods would be born wise!

‘It is time for the gods to be born!’ Time declared majestically. Pointing his arrowhead towards the mouth of the womb, he shot a thick stream of birth moments. The moments fell on the gods and they instantly twitched to life! They wiggled out of the eggshells, took one look at the world around them, and promptly fell asleep!

Mystery was overwhelmed with pure maternal joy. ‘My children!’ she whispered tremulously, caressing the tuths and cuds with her tendrils. She picked them and began placing them in their nests. These nests were outside in the Urk and the goddess had prepared them very laboriously.

The God of Time helped the goddess by keeping her quiver full. As and when she placed the gods in their nests, he stopped by them and tied tiny quivers on their backs. These quivers would hold their moments, and Time had prepared them very laboriously!

Hoon looked at the divine spectacle thoughtfully. It was clear to him that the bor had shifted the roost below the Holy knot for a purpose– it desperately wanted the gods to be born wise. Wise gods would be more inclined to protect and preserve the bor!

His mind was growing, too. The constant onslaught of wisdom spores had been winding the strings in his soul into a bigger mesh, and he could now indulge in longer and more convoluted thoughts!

Thinking hard, Hoon wandered to the edge of the bor and gazed at the Outbor. It was stark and endless and had never changed. In comparison, the bor had changed every season. But, one needed wisdom to understand and react to the changes! Perhaps, wisdom would help restore the old glory of the bor, after all!

Hoon was left in no doubt that wisdom was the divine mood ruling over the bor, and that the bor was desperate to make everyone wise. ‘Ha! Ha!’ the devil laughed suddenly. ‘You shifted the divine roost to make the gods wise!’ he chuckled to the bor, ‘What will you do to make Time and Mystery wise?

‘Hoonnn…’ rumbled the bor weakly.

‘If you want…I can tear Time’s arrow to expose his soul!’ Hoon drawled with devilish delight, ‘And, I can rip the veils from Mystery’s soul to expose her to the wisdom spores!’

‘Hooonn…’ rumbled the bor faintly.

Musing darkly, Hoon migrated to Time’s abode to have a close look at what was going on over there.

Awaad stood resplendently and Time was holding his head high above the spires- he was racing on without a worry creasing his magical brow. Disappointed to see nothing happening there, Hoon migrated to Mystery’s abode to see what she was doing. The goddess was busy placing the newborn gods in their nests with her myriad tendrils. She was beaming with joy and showed no care for anything except for her children.

Hoon’s soul darkened with outrage. The dimwits so oblivious to the ruin around them! And, unless made wise, they would continue like this for the rest of the season and end up causing even more ruin. It was so important to make them wise!

Desperate to do something quickly, Hoon let the evil in his soul rise to the fore. Only by becoming evil could he do something! For long moments, evil thoughts swirled in the devil’s mind. Finally, he decided what to do. He would grow the sharpest spores of wisdom and come what may, knock them forcefully into Time and Mystery’s souls with the power of his divine scimitar!

Lo! Wielding his scimitar menancingly, Hoon stomped to the pit of the Holy Knot and began tending furiously to the wisdom weeds growing over there.

 

MYSTERY’s divine visage wore a warm and radiant look. The tuths were twitching to wakefulness in their nests. ‘My children!’ she whispered warmly as the tuths gurgled in the nests.

‘♫♫’ the divine gurgle flowed in the bor melodiously.

‘O wonder!’ murmured Time, stopping by the nests in the Urk. He began pouring moments in their quivers and a pious tinkle filled the bor. The notes lifted the mood of the bor and fresh sprigs of joy wiggled out in the haven.

‘O joy!’ sighed Mystery and Time together with delight. Their divine forms swaying in harmony, they began tending to the gods as they did in every season of life. While Mystery prepared to bond to the gods, Time went about topping their quivers with moments. Intermittently, they paused to gaze with bewilderment at the devil’s quivering plume of boids!

Lo! The devil’s plume was quivering because he could not find Evil. He had harvested very sharp wisdom spores, and he wanted to knock them into Time and Mystery’s souls immediately. But, before doing that, he wanted to pack as much power he could into his scimitar! Evil would give that vicious edge to his scimitar. ‘Evil!’ he yelled, wandering impatiently on the bed of carcasses.

Time heard Hoon and rode up to him on an arrowlet.

‘ Damn!’ cursed Hoon on seeing Time’s mystic eyes fixed on him. That was the problem in being omnipresent- he could not do anything without Time and Mystery looking at him! ‘I am looking for Evil!’ he drawled hesitantly.

Time immediately went up to a crack in the bed of the bor and said radiantly, ‘He is in here!’ He filled Evil’s quiver, and being a dimwit, sped away without the faintest suspicion!

The devil was delighted to find Evil. ‘Come out, slave!’ he yelled, poking in the crack.

Evil came out of the crack to slithered towards the devil.

‘O Evil!’ the devil cried with relief, glad to see his old companion again. Evil had completed mutating and was oozing a fresh spoor. Whereas the chilling spoor made others choke with panic and fear, it invigorated the devil and sharpened his deathly instincts.

‘Ah!’ sniffed Hoon, taking in deep whiffs of the fresh spoor. He waited for Evil to bite him and enter his soul as he always did when he was awake. Surprisingly, Evil ignored him! He slithered by the devil and wandered in the bed of carcasses, searching for something!

Bewildered, the devil followed the slave. He observed Evil intently. Evil was roaming on bed of carcasses and gathering fallen moments- moments that had fallen inadvertently from the arrow of Time and lay sprinkled like pearls on the bed of the bor . Fallen moments were Evil’s secret weapons- they allowed him to go against the will of Time and forcefully turn the season to death!

Hoon tapped Evil with his divine scimitar.

‘Go away!’ Evil hissed back forcefully.

The devil froze with shock. Lo! Evil had mutated to grow a divine voice!

‘Evil?’ cried the devil in anguish,‘What has happened to you?’

In response, Evil glared at Hoon silently.

Lo! Time rode by again. As usual, he had mysterious insight into what had happened and he declared, ‘Evil has mutated to free himself from the bor!’

‘What do you mean?’ the devil baulked.

‘He is no longer a slave. He has a will and a voice of his own!’

Time utterance wrote on the devil’s soul and he was aghast. How could Evil do such a thing? The bor needed him. He, the devil, needed him!

The devil was musing darkly about the strangeness of what had happened, when he felt a choking numbness. It was fear- a mood that he hated the most. ‘Oh, no!’ he groaned. The deathly mood had bloomed in the haven!

He went back to the haven in irritation. ‘Damn!’ he thundered angrily, on seeing that new blossoms of fear had wiggled out in all patches. Thin and straggly, the blossoms were speckled with divine boils that oozed the spoor of doom- numbing and deathly. Because fear was so disturbing in the nature, the bor kept fear hidden in its heart. It bloomed rarely, and when it did, it always caused great disruption.

Cursing loudly, Hoon began pulling out the fear blossoms frantically with his scimitar. But, to no avail. More blossoms wiggled out to take their place- the spoor of fear spread fast in the bor to reach all divine souls!

Fear hit Time in the middle of his arrow, gripping his soul in a strong vice. ‘Damn!’ he cursed, faltering in his trot. Fear hit Mystery and the gods like a deathly whiplash. Frightened, the gods clung to each other.

Fear disturbed even Evil! He began slithering restlessly outside his burrow.

Hoon approached him and asked harshly, ‘What does the bor fear now?’ Evil knew the reason behind the changing moods of the bor instinctively. Now that he had a voice, perhaps he would tell the same!

Evil glared at Hoon silently.

‘Speak up!’ Hoon thundered, ‘Or, I will hack you to bits!’

‘The bor fears the Outbor!’ Evil blurted.

‘What nonsense?’

‘The bor fears the Outbor!’ Evil hissed again.

‘But, why?’

‘The Outbor is eating the bor!’

‘What do you mean?’

Evil pointed to his burrow and slithered away to hide in the bed of carcasses.

Hoon looked inside the slave’s burrow. A very foul stench was rising from it- it was the same rotting stench that came from Evil when he mutated every season.

‘Ugh!’ cried Hoon, revolted by the stench. Despite the revulsion, he pushed his boids inside the burrow to have a better look.

Lo! The bottom of the burrow had caved in, and the energy of the bor had been pushed back. The cold nothingness of the Outbor had seeped in- the Outbor had broken in through Evil’s burrow! Or rather, as Evil had stated rather puzzlingly, was eating the bor!

Hoon staggered with shock and his massive plume of boids quivered violently, startling Time and Mystery. Time rode out of his abode on an arrowlet and stopped by Hoon. Mystery also migrated to be present near him. Together, they looked grimly at the incoming Outbor.

‘Hooonnn…’ rumbled the bor weakly. Fear spurted more furiously in the haven and it made all divine souls shiver.

‘Mercy!’ whispered Mystery huskily, pulling her frightened children close to her massive divine form.

The God of Time instinctively decided to enter the burrow. ‘Follow me!’ he murmured to Hoon in his silvery voice.

Both, Time and Hoon’s souls began moving towards the burrow.

‘Stop!’ hissed Evil. He came out from hiding suddenly and tried to stop them for entering his burrow.

‘Evil!’ the devil exclaimed, ‘Move away!’

‘No!’ Evil hissed to the devil, ‘Keep out of my burrow!’

Hoon was confused– whom to heed, Time or Evil?

His instincts told him to listen to Evil, but his new mind told him to be wise, and listen to Time! Wisdom prevailed, and he decided to be wise and follow the God of Time!

‘You said that the bor fears the Outbor!’ the devil said tersely to Evil.

‘Yes!’ hissed Evil.

Lo! The devil pushed him aside and said roughly, ‘In that case…I have to find out why!’

Shocked to be spurned by the devil again, Evil slithered away to vanish in his hiding place in the bed of carcasses. The devil regretted to see him go, but he had to do something about the bor’s fears! He saw the God of Time enter the mouth of the burrow and he followed behind quickly.

Time’s soul led the way like a flaming torch and Hoon’s soul followed close behind. ‘How will we migrate into the Outbor?’ Hoon asked with bewilderment. They were omnipresent only in the bor and had no subjects in the Outbor.

Moments later, he was shocked to see Time migrate easily into the cold nothingness of the Outbor! Lo! The God of Time was omnipresent in the Outbor as well. Wherever he went, he dropped moments to make a divine trail. Hoon traversed on the trail to migrate in the Outbor for the first time in his divine life!

He was still wondering about Time’s unbelievable reach, when he suddenly shivered. It was the cold nothingness of the Outbor- it was making his boids shiver. ‘Uhhh!’ he grunted. They had come very far in the Outbor!

The God of Time turned around and murmured, ‘Look at the bor from here!’

Hoon followed Time’s gaze. They could see the entire bor from where they were hovering, and the sight was appalling. They could hardly see the body of the bor because of the clutter surrounding it. This clutter was nothing but small shards of energy that had broken off from its body. From faraway, the surface of the bor- or the edges as seen from inside the bor- appeared to be irregular and craggy. It was a far cry from the smooth and large globe of energy that it had been in the first season.

‘The seasons of life have wounded the bor, my lord!’ said Hoon hoarsely. Boids had broken away with the shards of energy, and as the God of Boids, he had felt every break like a gash in his own divine form.

Time looked away from the bor and gazed wistfully at the nothingness around them. His visage looked even more meltingly beautiful in the darkness of the Outbor.

‘I don’t understand!’ wondered Hoon, ‘There is nothing here that the bor should fear!’ He had had a good look at the stark environs of the Outbor.

Time’s eyes glazed over with a mysterious knowing look. ‘Listen to the wails!’ he said quietly.

Hoon strained to listen. He heard nothing.

‘The Outbor is slowly preying on the bor!’ he declared grimly.

Hoon was puzzled. The Outbor was a vast, barren expanse with no divine power. How could it ever prey on the bor, which had so much power?

‘The force of death lies in the Outbor!’ declared Time harshly.

The devil was surprised. He was familiar with the force of death! It was the force that flowed through his scimitar and helped him kill the gods. But, he had always thought that it flowed from Evil! What did the Outbor have to do with it?

He looked at Time darkly. Maybe, his instincts were going all awry! ‘If only I could heal the bor!’ he murmured, his rugged visage no less mesmerizing in the darkness of the Outbor, ‘The bor will have no reason to fear anything. It fears because it is fragile!’

‘The miracle divine mood of Wisdom shall heal the bor!’ Time declared brightly.

Hoon was surprised, again! Time was not wrong. Indeed, the divine mood of wisdom had the power to work miracles! But, for miracles to happen, Time and Mystery had to first become wise!

The devil gazed at Time’s naked soul broodingly. He would not get a better chance to knock some wisdom spores in it! His soul darkened with evil and very stealthily, he pulled out some spores from his own soul and loaded his divine scimitar with it. He was just about to hit Time’s soul with it, when suddenly the God of Time turned his visage towards him and declared wistfully, ‘No, the way to wisdom is not through your scimitar!

Shocked out of his wits, the devil halted his vile act midway.

‘The way to wisdom is through the tuths!’ pronounced Time radiantly.

‘The tuths?’ exclaimed Hoon, putting his scimitar down.

‘Yes!’ declared Time, pointing towards the bor, ‘Even now, the tuths are making Mystery wise!’

Hoon looked at the bor and then back at Time in open astonishment. Definitely, Time was not poorer for want of wisdom! His powers were so expansive, that he was aware of just about everything happening around him, and that too, before it happened!

Unaware of the devil’s growing admiration for him, Time began retracing the trail back into the bor. Hoon followed him, lost in his long-winded thoughts.

Aha! So, the gods were making Mystery wise.

A wiser Mystery would do well for the bor. Time would then, remain the sole dimwit in the bor!

 

 

TIME and Hoon came back to the bor to find Mystery struggling with the gods. She was having trouble making mother-child bonds with them!

‘Come, O tuths! O cuds!’ sighed Mystery huskily, pushing the infant gods to the bottom of their nests. At the bottom of each nest were raw tendrils that would make the divine connection between her soul and the souls of her children.

The tuths were awake and the cuds were asleep. ‘♪! ♪!’ squawked the tuths restlessly. Fear was still in bloom in the haven and its chilling spoor terrified the tuths and made them cower and hide under the sleeping cuds.

‘My lord!’ she complained to Time, ‘The gods are not bonding to me!’

Time gazed at the pot of zol turning slowly above the bor. Looking mystically beautiful in the radiance falling from it, he said to the goddess, ‘We should feed the gods first!’

‘Yes!’ she agreed readily.

Time shot a sharp arrowlet at the pot, making bits of zol rain on the newborn gods. The wholesome spoor of the divine fodder dispelled the spoor of fear from their souls; the tuths stopped their raucous squawk and began feeding greedily!

Lo! The mellow notes of the gods feeding spread in the bor. The melody greatly invigorated Time and Mystery. Time raced to fill thousands of quivers even as Mystery swayed gracefully. Her divine form was now lean and her tendrils swished languidly to fill the bor with haunting sighs.

‘It is time make bonds with the gods, my goddess!’ Time said to Mystery.

‘Yes, my lord!’ the goddess sighed. She poked a tuth with a raw tendril. The tuth stopped feeding and turned to suckle at the raw tendril. Lo! The first mother child bond of the season was made.

‘O wonder!’ cried Mystery with a shiver. Maternal rapture flooded her soul and she could see the tuth’s soul transparently now and the tuth could see her back! Secrets flowed from Mystery to the tuth whereas the spores of wisdom flowed from the tuth to Mystery!

Lo! The spores of wisdom flowed to her soul and created havoc- they mixed with her divine blood and knotted it into strings of divine lore.

‘Mercy!’ sighed Mystery, swaying unsteadily. Her tendrils beat against Hoon’s massive plume of boids.

‘My goddess!’ drawled the devil hoarsely, grasping her firmly with his divine form. He wanted her to become wise as soon as possible and was ready to knock the spores in the goddess’s soul, if required!

All the tuths were now suckling at the raw tendrils at the bottom of their nests. Mystery made mother child bonds with all of them.

More wisdom spores permeated into her soul, knotting her divine blood into more strings of divine lore. The strings entangled with each other to create a mesh in her soul.

‘♪♪’ the tuths gurgled with joy, reveling in the goddess’s divine warmth. She, in turn, became painfully befuddled. For that matter, she was reeling by the time all the tuths had bonded to her!

‘Goddess Mystery is now wise!’ Time declared radiantly. Mystery now had a primitive mind!

The bor reacted instantly to the divine event. Its fears abated and its mood turned to joy again! Lo! The blooms of fear wilted, giving respite to all divine souls.

 

 

GODDESS MYSTERY had a lot of trouble coping with her new mind! She found herself swimming in an ocean of confusion and struggled to tend to her children.

The tuths took to the energy rippling in the bor very well. Feeding ravenously on zol, they were soon fully-grown. Their bodyshells had a soft, filmy exterior and the zol they had ingested made them glow luminously.

In comparison, the cuds were still shriveled. They slept most of the time and surprisingly, would not feed on zol! ‘Wake up!’ sighed their mother, poking them tenderly with her tendrils. But, they did not wake up. She continued poking them repeatedly.

Hoon came out of the haven and watched the divine spectacle with consternation. Every season, the cuds woke up at a certain time. They had a role to play in keeping the cycle of seasons running. Mystery, because she remembered things now, was poking them more than the usual!

‘It is not time for them to wake up!’ he snapped harshly at the goddess.

‘Huh!’ exclaimed Mystery, bewildered.

Hoon gazed at the cuds darkly. He realized that a wiser Mystery was going to more difficult to fight when the time came to turn the season to death. Oh! How he missed Evil!

The devil was suddenly filled with a deep yearning for Evil and his chilling spoor. He would need the power of evil to force the goddess to behave! Or, the cycle of seasons could be disrupted.

‘Evil!’ Hoon yelled hoarsely, searching for the slave’s whereabouts with his omnipresent divine form. Surprisingly, Evil was lying sick in his burrow and was mutating again!

‘Evil!’ cried the devil with anguish. He began migrating to the slave’s abode to soothe him to wellness again. He had only taken a few steps forward when he felt a powerful tug at his soul. It was the bor! Lo! The bor wanted him to stay with Mystery and her children and not bother with Evil!

‘But, why?’ the devil protested, looking at Mystery and her children with anger. He was about to withdraw sullenly into his abode, when he noticed suddenly that tuths were engaged in some strange divine activity. They were catching the shadows of the moments from the present and the immediate past and stringing them into new divine lore!

The devil watched with shock as the tuths began trilling broken notes. They were trying to sing the memories they had captured. Lo! Divine lore flowed in the bor once more.

Hoon stood over them like a silent forest and listened intently to what they were singing. They sang praises of their divine mother’s warmth and bewitching beauty. Also, they sang praises of their divine father’s mighty will and spellbinding radiance. Oh! The devil bristled with impatience- he was waiting to hear them sing about him!

Eventually, the tuths sang about the devil. They sang of his rugged allure and of his deathly power. They also sang of his wisdom and how he had abandoned Evil!

‘I have not abandoned Evil!’ the devil cried sharply with indignation.

The tuths did not pay attention to him and began singing about the bor. They sang of the bor being broken and ugly, and frightening them by blooming the divine mood of fear!

‘Stop!’ thundered the devil, flying into an evil rage, ‘This is nonsense!’

Startled, the tuths stopped singing. Large flocks of boids had surrounded their nests menancingly! ‘Mother!’ they cried, terrified of the devil and his subjects.

The devil responded to their cries. ‘Listen to me, dimwits!’ he drawled angrily, ‘I will tell you about the bor!’

Lo! The evil devil transformed into the scintillating God of Boids. His soul became bereft of all evil and turned clear as a boid. He spread his magnificent plume of boids to the ends of the bor and bared his soul to the radiance of the pot of zol shining above the bor. The radiance of zol highlighted the myriad hues in his soul, making it glint like a treasure of divine gems.

Humming soulfully, Hoon sang of the early seasons of life when the bor was unspoilt and strong. He sang of the glory of the Holy Knot, the fragrant moods and the wholesome zol. He sang of the divine melody that flowed poignantly in the bor.

The tuths listened to him wih rapt attention. They began singing melodiously after him and soon they were all singing in harmony.

‘Sing about the season of death!’ whispered Mystery suddenly.

Hoon stopped singing and looked at her in surprise. She had been listening to the divine lore intently. Whereas the lore slipped off her soul earlier, now it sunk in her primitive mind! Ah! This was a new Mystery- a wise Mystery!

‘Sing, my lord!’ she urged huskily. She wanted to hear about the seasons of death from Hoon because she slept through them and he stayed awake!

Hoon hesitantly began singing of the season of death. He sang of time slowing down and a beautiful freeze settling on the bor. He sang of peace and tranquility and of the piercing spoor of sorrow. The sorrow became sharper and sharper until the bor healed and the Holy Knot went into bud. It produced a full pot of zol for the new season!

Apparently, the strains of the divine lore were reaching the fragile heart of the bor. For, the moment he sang of the budding of the new pot of zol, the bor groaned heartrendingly. Its divine mood changed from joy to sorrow. The blossoms of joy wilted in the haven and thin and straggly blooms of sorrow sprung in their place!

Bewildered, Hoon stopped singing. This was no time for sorrow to bloom- in the middle of the season of life!

‘Hoonn…!’ a frail groan rumbled from the depths of the bor.

‘Mother!’ wailed the tuths, frightened by the strange rumbling and the disturbing spoor of sorrow.

‘My children!’ whispered Mystery, trying to calm down the gods. Oh! But, the gods would not be calmed.

‘Mother…!’ they wailed, pointing at the bed of carcasses.

Lo! A vile cloud was rising fast from the bed of carcasses. It was Evil! His fangs were hanging out and he was slithering on the bed with great vigor.

The God of Time had been deaf to the divine lore, but he was not blind to the rising of Evil. It was untimely. The season of life was not halfway yet and Evil’s fangs were hanging out to perpetrate death. The moment he saw Evil’s fangs from the spires of Awaad, he rode out of his abode in divine rage. ‘Desecration!’ he murmured, glowering at the slave.

Even as the gods watched in consternation, Evil’s venomous spoor spread to the Urk. It crept to the nests where the cuds were sleeping. Surprisingly, the cuds woke up suddenly!

‘♩! ♫!’ they wailed discordantly, thrashing restlessly against the tuths.

‘Stop!’ shrieked the tuths, pushing them away.

‘Calm down!’ cried Mystery, trying to soothe the cuds and bond with them. But, the cuds pushed her away. Instinctively, she knew that they had been disturbed by Evil. Surprisingly, she turned to the devil for help!

‘God Hoon!’ she whispered, clutching his massive divine form with hers.

Hoon looked at her in shock. Her newfound wisdom was making her behave like this! She was thinking that he being the devil would stop Evil!

‘My lord!’ she whispered, grasping his boids tightly with her tendrils. Lo! A bolt of rapture cackled between their souls, making their divine forms shiver. The knots of longing that lay latent in their souls had revived momentarily.

For a moment, Hoon was stupefied from the burst of divine rapture. But, no sooner had the moment passed, he came to his senses. He would not stop Evil- the slave was dearer to him than anything else. Also, Evil had always spoken for the bor and although, he had freed himself, he still spoke for the bor! Time would have prophesised otherwise!

‘Go away!’ he cried hoarsely, shrugging the goddess away. He pulled his boids away from the tendrils roughly and took his soul back to the haven!

Mystery reeled from the divine rejection. Her massive divine form, the Urk shook with tremors, stirring the energy flowing in the bor. She realized that she would have to do something about Evil herself.

The goddess looked at Evil. Lo! How Evil had mutated to grow this season. His divine form was now massive, and his spoor was frighteningly deathly.

‘Mother!’ trembled the tuths with distress.

‘Shhh!’ murmured Mystery drawing them closer, when suddenly she noticed that the cuds were crawling out of their nests.

‘Go back!’ she scolded harshly. But the cuds would not be stopped. Surprisingly, they found Evil’s spoor fresh and invigorating! They shed the wisdom spores from their dark souls like irritating thorns and crawled fast towards Evil.

‘Stop!’Mystery cried with distress as the cuds slipped down her tendrils, to drop on the bed of carcasses.

Evil was slithering like a giant serpent on the cracked bed. He hissed on seeing the cuds crawl up to him. ‘Come, my subjects!’ he hissed vilely.

‘Keep away from him!’ Mystery snarled, beating the cuds with her tendrils. But, to no avail. The cuds embraced Evil and fell behind him like one vile army.

Lo! The cuds were now the divine subjects of Evil!

 

 

THE devil was furious with Evil. Since Evil had become a free soul, he had been avoiding him! He knew Evil was upto something and not telling him what it was!

Hoon stood by the Holy Knot and gazed down the pit broodingly. The wisdom spores were still swirling up in clouds, crackling loudly in the flames. They sharpened his mind and made him wonder about what Evil could be hiding from him! His rugged features dark with anger, he decided to find out the truth from the bor!

‘Tell me about Evil!’ he drawled, looking deep inside the heart of the bor through the vein running from his soul.

‘Kalh! Kalh!’ the heart beat faintly. Its mood was still heavily in favor of Wisdom! Spores of wisdom swirled inside thickly. Surprisingly, there was sorrow as well! Long tongues of sorrow swirled with wisdom.

The devil’s visage wore a grim, evil look. Something had made the bor very sorrowful. Sorrow had bloomed in the haven and was giving wrong signs to Evil. The blooming of sorrow was unnecessary and untimely. Instinctively, he began pulling out the sorrow blooms.

‘Thud! Thud!’ rang his scimitar as he uprooted the thin straggly blossoms from the patches. But, the more blossoms he uprooted, more wiggled out again. The bor would not let go of its sorrow!

Bewildered, Hoon poked the glowing embers of the Holy knot with his divine scimitar. The flames were surprisingly dim, like they would normally be when the Holy Knot went to bud. He became confused. The Holy Knot normally budded in the season of death- why was it budding in the season of life?

Feeling uneasy, Hoon migrated out of the haven to the open bor. He gazed at the pot of zol shining above the bor. It was a large pot and it was still full. The season of life still had a long way to go.

‘Evil!’ he bellowed harshly, searching for the old slave. Evil was out on the bed of carcasses, collecting fallen moments with his subjects, the cuds!

‘Yes!’ hissed Evil, slithering to him. His quiver was full with fallen moments. Lo! He was almost ready to turn the season to death, when the season of life was not even halfway through!

Hoon looked at him in astonishment. Evil was about to disrupt the cycle of seasons! Which was something Hoon would not allow- his instinct to get the seasons going was incorruptible.

‘Drop the moments… it is too early in the season!’ he yelled harshly to Evil.

‘No!’ hissed back the slave.

‘Look at the pot of zol…it is still full!’ thundered Hoon, poking the slave angrily with his divine scimitar, ‘Go to sleep, Evil!’

‘No!’ refused Evil, baring his fangs.

The devil gazed at Evil’s fangs with shock. They were fully-grown and ready to produce Orgis, the divine venom that killed the gods. ‘Desecration!’ he snarled in rage. He was about to rip out Evil’s fangs with his divine scimitar, when he was stopped by a fierce tug at his soul. It was the bor!

‘Hoooonnn…’ a weak groan rose from its depths, making waves of energy ripple against his plume of boids. Bewildered, Hoon stopped. The bor sent divine energy surging to his soul- it was telling him something about Evil!

He looked at Evil intently. A thick vein ran from the slave’s soul to the bor’s heart, similar to the souls of the omnipresent gods. Evil was bonded to the bor just like them and was acting for the bor!

‘I speak for the bor!’ Evil hissed, ‘Get out of my way!’

Stunned, Hoon fell back. Earlier, he had spurned Evil and now, Evil was spurning him!

Hoon was not the only one to be disturbed by the untimely maturing of Evil’s fangs. Time and Mystery were also disturbed!

The three omnipresent gods migrated near Evil and surrounded him. They watched him warily. Whereas Hoon and Time gazed at him with mounting rage, Mystery poked him with her tendrils menancingly.

‘Hoonnnn…!’ the bor rumbled weakly again.

Lo! It sent energy surging to the souls of all three omnipresent gods, desperately giving them a sign to not stop Evil.

Time, Mystery and Hoon heeded the bor instinctively and watched Evil with bewilderment. The slave was slithering fast on the bed with his army of cuds behind him. They were searching for something.

All of a sudden, Fear bloomed in the haven and this time, the dreaded blooms sprung in dense thickets, oozing the ominous spoor of doom. ‘Damn!’ exclaimed Hoon, choked by the deathly spoor.

The spoor of fear reached the tuths in their nests. ‘Mother!’ they wailed, trembling with fright.

‘Shh!’ whispered Mystery, cuddling them with her tendrils. She tried to soothe them, but they would not be calmed. They had fed on plenty of zol and their body shells were loaded with scum. Trembling violently, they began dropping divine scum!

The first tuth dropped divine scum in the bor. Then, all the others began doing the same, squirting their impious droppings unhindered in the bor.

The scum fell on the bed of carcasses and piled there. Hissing loudly, Evil swept the divine scum into his fangs. Lo! The scum began turning into droplets of venom inside the fangs. This venom was Orgis, the divine venom that killed the gods!

Thunderstruck, Hoon whispered hoarsely to the God of Time, ‘My lord, the season has turned to death!’

 

 

THE God of Time was startled by the Hoon’s declaration. His brow arched with a deep frown and he gazed grimly at the zol pot. It was still full and was shooting zol fiercely. The season still had a long way to go. But, Hoon had declared the season was fast approaching its end!

‘What is that?’ Hoon drawled, making a sign towards the Outbor. An eerie radiance was lighting the farther reaches of the Outbor.

The God of Time gave the radiance a long look and declared harshly, ‘It is the force of death!’

Shocked, Hoon looked at the eerie radiance with disbelief. He had been the harbinger of death every season, but he had never seen the force of death. ‘How do you know?’ he asked, confounded by Time’s insight.

‘Life loses force and death gains it as I trot forward in the future!’ murmured Time, and then turned his divine attention to Evil.

Hoon was puzzled by Time’s cryptic utterance. He looked at Time’s soul intently. There was a knot in there that was lit by an eerie radiance- the same radiance that was lighting the Outbor! Lo! Time’s soul was in some way linked to the force of death!

Thunderstruck, Hoon could not help but turn into the viciously evil devil! What secrets was Time hiding- how was he connected to the force of death? He was about to look deeper, when suddenly Time cursed, ‘Damn!’

Orgis, the divine venom, was dripping from Evil’s fangs. The cuds were flocking to him in droves and licking the Orgis. It was sweet and it gave them strength. They began feeding voraciously and their body shells began growing larger!

‘Damn!’ Mystery cursed with a shudder. No wonder the cuds would not feed on zol! Their fodder was Orgis, the divine venom! Fear gnawed on Mystery’s soul. ‘Stop them!’ she cried in desperation.

‘My goddess!’ snarled the devil fiercely, ‘Evil speaks for the bor. No one will stop him!’

While Mystery gazed around in fearful confusion, Time was enraged by the devil’s utterance. ‘Evil is acting untimely…and will be punished!’ he thundered.

Lo! Before the devil could react, Time turned his blazing eyes towards Evil and scorched his moments.

Amazingly, Evil’s quiver did not run empty. He had a store of fallen moments that the God of Time could not destroy! Using the fallen moments, Evil fed the venom to the cuds and hissed, ‘Now, go and kill your soulmates!’

Oh! Evil’s utterance made the tuths shiver with distress in their nests. The cuds were fully grown now. Hissing softly, they began crawling up Mystery’s tendrils.

‘Mother!’ wailed the tuths, suckling hard on the mother-child bonds. Mystery clutched the tuths with her tendrils and tried to calm with her maternal warmth.

‘Shoo!’ she snarled, lashing at the cuds with the tendrils to throw them off. The cuds scattered momentarily, but they crawled back quickly. They carried a divine charge that was opposite to the charge carried by the tuths- it gave them a homing instinct that guided them to their soulmates!

The cuds homed to the tuths and caught them in their divine embrace.

Lo! The bodyshells of the tuth-cud pairs coalesced, and the Orgis spread from the cuds to the tuths, to put their souls on fire. There was one flash of supreme rapture and their souls were gone! Purged. All that remained were dead carcasses, glowing eerily because of the zol ingested by the tuths in their lifetime!

‘Aaargh…aargh…aargh…’ Mystery wailed heartrendingly. The mother-child bonds had been torn and were dripping with her divine blood. Writhing with agony, she tried to revive her children with her tendrils. But, the carcasses would not be revived. They floated out of the nests to glow as dead wicks.

Mystery’s divine form thrashed violently in the bor. It hit against the devil’s boids. The waves of energy swirled around the Urk, causing a storm to break out in the bor. Surprisingly, the devil gave her support and grasped her tightly. He knew that her suffering had only begun! More cuds were now crawling up her tendrils to mate with the remaining tuths in bursts of deathly rapture.

‘Noooo…!’ wailed the goddess heart-rendingly as the gods began falling dead around her. ‘My lord!’ she shrieked turning instinctively to Time for divine succor.

Time had retreated to his abode and surprisingly, seemed to be struggling to hold his arrow straight! Because of the death of the gods, the force of death had come to act on his arrow- his arrow was bending over itself! It happened at the end of every season- Time bent his arrow and curled on the floor of his abode to bring the season to a close.

Mystery stopped wailing. Countless torn mother-child bonds had shocked her into the deepest divine suffering. Frozen with grief, she watched Evil open his vile mouth and swallow the carcasses. Most carcasses disappeared in his vile divine form. A few piled on the bed of carcasses outside the haven.

Meanwhile, Time was resisting the force of death. ‘Stop!’ he thundered, struggling to stand straight. But, the force of death was colossal and it bent him! Time’s head slowly descended from the spires of Awaad, and with it descended the pot of zol! Normally, this happened at the end of the season when the pot ran empty. But, right now, the pot of zol was almost full!

Desperate to stand straight, Time squinted his eyes to look into the future. ‘Damn!’ he exclaimed in alarm.

‘What do you see, my lord?’ asked the devil, confused and angry. He was angry because for the first time in his divine life, he was not the one perpetrating the spectacle of death! Lo! Evil was doing everything alone!

‘I see the pot of zol sinking back into the Holy Knot!’ declared Time, his brow lined with furrows. He was exerting his entire might to stop falling down.

‘What?’ cried the devil, staggering with shock. He looked at the pot of zol. It had descended to hover above the haven. Evil was slithering on the bed of carcasses with an open mouth, waiting for it to fall lower!

But, the pot did not fall lower. Because, all of a sudden, Time’s arrow stopped bending! As a result, the pot stopped falling. Somehow, the force of death had stalled!

The surviving tuths had stalled the force of death! Using their wisdom, they had thrown the cuds out of their nests and had gone into deep hiding, thereby averting their deaths!

Feeling some respite, the God of Time exerted his might to straighten his bent arrow.

‘Lower the pot!’ hissed Evil urgently to the devil.

The devil was taken by surprise. Evil was asking him for help!

‘The bor wants the pot back!’ hissed Evil venomously.

‘Help me straighten my arrow!’ Time yelled to the devil suddenly, ‘The season of life cannot end midway!’

Lo! The devil was in a quandary again. He had to decide who to help, the old slave Evil or the mighty God of Time?

‘Quick!’ hissed Evil.

‘Quick!’ thundered Time.

As expected, the devil felt a frail tug on his soul. It was the bor! And, it wanted the pot back! Desperately.

The devil hesitated no more. Lifting his divine scimitar, he flung it hard at the pot of zol. The pot fell down and rolled straight into Evil’s mouth! Evil caught the pot deftly and slithered like lightning towards the haven. On entering the haven, he moved quickly to the pit of the Holy Knot and dropped the pot into the pit!

Lo! The bor gave one massive quake and gulped the pot back! It was rather untimely, but all of a sudden, night descended on the bor!

 

 

A NIGHT like this had never descended on the bor. A night usually fell in the season of death. The zol pot would have run empty and the gods would be dead. The energy rippling in the bor would become dull and tepid and Time’s arrow would have curled on the floor of Awaad to fall asleep.

This night had come in the midst of a season of life. The gods were all alive and Time’s arrow, although bent, was still trotting on!

There was riotous cacophony as tuths who had survived death, tittered in the Urk raucously. They were stringing divine lore about Evil and the force of death!

‘Shhh!’ whispered Mystery, slipping in and out of stupor. She was in a prolonged state of grief because of her primitive mind. Memories of the past were swirling in her mind, making her see the divine event repeatedly. She saw Evil killing her children again and again!

‘Evil, I will vanquish you!’ she snarled, trembling with rage as she saw the venom of Orgis killing her children in a deathly haze of rapture.

But, Evil had fallen asleep in his burrow to mutate again! And, the cuds had also fallen asleep with him on the bed of carcasses. They were also mutating with Evil!

‘God Hoon!’ she thundered, beating her tendrils against his boids.

‘My goddess!’ he drawled back in surprise. His had migrated to the edge of the bor and was brooding over a season gone awry.

‘You have wronged the gods!’ she cried in divine rage.

‘It was the bor’s will!’ he replied dismissively, and began moving back to his abode. The goddess followed him, trembling with aggression.

Hoon went over to the Holy Knot and the goddess followed him there. She was about to hit Hoon’s soul with her tendrils, when a thick cloud of wisdom spores rose to blind her!

‘ Look!’ he murmured, looking down the pit of the Holy Knot. Momentarily confused by the sudden rush of wisdom, she abandoned her intention to attack him and followed his gaze to look down the pit of the Holy Knot. Lo! The Holy knot was flaming with its old ferocity- the vortex was swirling fast and spitting out fire like it always did in the midst of a season!

‘Look!’ he drawled hoarsely, pointing towards the patches on the walls. The untimely blossoms of sorrow and fear had withered away! And, sprigs of joy had wiggled out like they always did in the season of life. ‘The death of the gods has revived the bor, my goddess!’ he said hoarsely, ‘Feel its heart and you will know!’

Mystery was stunned. It was true! She had felt the heart of the bor grow stronger after the death of her children. But, her soul still ached for her dead children. The severed mother-child bonds were still raw and they made her feel deep agony.

‘Kalh! Kalh!’ the beat reverberated strongly in the haven . Mystery peered down the pit of the Holy Knot again. Wisdom was in full bloom- the weeds had grown thick and were bursting with spores.

Suddenly, she felt a powerful tug at her soul. It was the bor ! It was responding to her agony- divine energy flowed to her soul from the heart of the bor and swept away all her grief. The cut mother-child bonds healed and she felt much better!

‘O wonder!’ cried Mystery as wisdom spores rose in clouds to pierce her soul. They also bellowed to the nests in the Urk to pierce the tender souls of the surviving tuths. The tuths grew wiser. She grew wiser too!

Lost in her thoughts, the goddess gazed at Awaad. Time was trudging on with a bent arrow. Far off, the Outbor stretched starkly and endlessly.

Sighing loudly, Mystery looked at the surviving tuths. The godly souls were flickering like wicks in wind. Lo! With the pot gone, there was no zol to feed on. ‘Mother!’ cried the tuths weakly, ‘Give us zol!’

Mystery soothed them through the mother-child bonds and tried to give them her strength. ‘My lord, the gods need zol!’ she said urgently to Time.

But, Time was in a precarious situation himself. Divine sweat glistened on his brow as he struggled to stop his arrow from collapsing. He had the incorruptible instinct to take the bor forward to the future and he was doing it by the sheer force of his divine will.

Mystery trembled and held her children close. ‘Sing to us, mother!’ whispered the tuths weakly.

‘Yes, my children!’ she replied, and began humming the divine lore. Divine melody flowed in the bor as she sang of the secrets that lay in her soul.

The tuths suckled on the mother-child bonds and listened to Mystery’s soothing tones. One by one, weak and doused, they fell asleep.

Lo! The strange night continued in the bor!

 

 

THE God of Time was fighting a losing battle to straighten his arrow. Surprisingly, it was not the force of death that was pulling him down now. It was the bor!

The bor was tugging hard at his soul, giving him desperate signs to drop to the floor of Awaad and just fall asleep!

‘No!’ groaned Time, his brow taut with furrows. He was determined to resist the pull of the bor and keep on trotting forward. His instinct to take the bor forward to the future was so incorruptible that he wouldn’t even listen to the bor!

Time was the only omnipresent god who put himself above the bor and at times, did not listen to the bor! Hoon, who was fiercely protective of the bor, had on numerous occasions connived with Evil to force him into obeying the bor!

But, this time, the bor was adamant to put Time to sleep. It tugged repeatedly on his soul, disturbing and distracting him!

‘Stop!’ cried Time to the bor, as he began losing his sense of direction. With the zol pot gone, his arrow was treading forward unsteadily. His eyes had become misty, clouding his view into the future.

The bor gave one might tug and Time’s arrow tottered. Moments tipped from his arrowhead to pour out in a deluge. The moments flowed to the Holy Knot!

Time looked into the near future to see what was happening. Lo! There was hectic divine activity taking place under the Holy Knot. The bor was splitting the pot of zol that it had gulped into two smaller pots!

The God of Time looked at the Holy Knot omnipresently. There were two small pots under it. One of them was turning rather fast. Lo! It suddenly disappeared. The bor had hidden the pot somewhere!

One pot was still left under the Holy Knot. Time pointed his arrowhead at it to get his direction back. Oh! But, the bor played wicked with him. It shifted the pot around, making Time’s arrow sway from one side to another.

‘Steady, my lord!’ cried Hoon, aghast. He had been watching the stand off between Time and the bor with astonishment, and was unable to understand what was going on!

‘Steady!’ cried Mystery, as the bor swung between the past and the future.

But, the warning came too late! Time’s arrow had bent too low and was swinging wildly now. Moments poured from its arrowhead in a deluge and it came crashing down on fall on the floor of Awaad!

Lo! Time stopped in the bor. It began ticking again. But, at a slower pace!

Trembling with shock, Mystery migrated to Awaad and looked inside. Oh! Time lay sprawled on the floor of Awaad. His arrow was curled closely and he was struggling to stay awake.

‘My lord!’ she whispered in panic.

Time turned his divine visage towards the goddess. It was radiant and there was a mysterious glint in his eyes. Looking into the near future, he made a divine prophecy.

 

:I see longing in bloom:

:I see thee with Hoon:

:O Mystery:

:A miracle awaits:: Thou shall heal the bor:

Having made the prophecy, Time fell asleep. Moments dripped sporadically from his arrow and time became very slow in the bor.

Lo! The season of death had begun in the bor.

Hoon had been watching all the divine events intently and was not surprised at all. The bor needed healing and it had brought on an untimely season of death to revive itself!

With the onset of the season of death, peace settled in the world of the gods. A fading glow lit the bor and the beat echoed faintly from one edge to another. Sorrow bloomed in the haven and its poignant spoor spread like mist in the energy of the bor.

‘O wonder!’ drawled Hoon, gazing around with heavy sadness. With time having slowed down, the bor had fallen into a beautiful freeze, like it did every season of death. The flocks of boids and swathes of tendrils stood quivering gently in the standstill energy.

Hoon still had a full quiver of moments that he could spend! He would use these moments for healing the bor. He wandered to the edge of the bor and went to every sharp inlet and tried to pull the broken shards of energy back with his scimitar. His rugged features strained, he was exerting all his power, when he felt a stirring his soul. He looked at his soul in surprise. The old knot of longing had revived and was flowing with nectar again!

Lo! Time’s prophecy had come true. The divine mood of longing had bloomed in the haven again!

 

 

I SEE longing in bloom…a miracle awaits…thou shall heal the bor!’ Time’s prophecy echoed in Hoon’s soul like a loud gong. ‘Damn!’ he groaned as the nectar spread from the knot in his soul and made him yearn for Mystery again!

Hoon knew that longing had bloomed once again for a divine purpose. His and the Mystery’s omnipresent divine forms, when entwined very close, had miraculous powers to heal the bor. Longing had bloomed to bring him and the goddess together!

He felt divine energy flow into his soul. It was the bor! It was urging him to begin the task of healing. He had to harvest a good crop of longing blossoms and pull the goddess’s soul dangerously close to his soul!

Hoon migrated to the haven and began tending to the patches in real earnest. ‘Thud! Thud!’ rang his scimitar as he reaped a thick harvest of longing blossoms. The blossoms were laden with countless nettles of longing that rose in clouds to sting his soul.

‘Mercy!’ sighed Hoon, as the knot in his soul began overflowing with nectar. The nectar spread in his soul and made it burn with yearning for the goddess.

He migrated out of the haven to see how the goddess was faring. Oh! He could not see her naked soul as it was covered with titillating veils. Only when she was stung by plenty of nettles, would the strands of longing come into place between their souls.

Time was passing very slowly in the bor as moments dripping from Time’s arrowhead were very few and far between. Hoon realized that it was going to take a long time for the nettles to reach the goddess. So, he went back to his chores! He migrated to the edge of the bor and began working over there in real earnest.

Well, there was no way the nettles could move fast in a frozen bor and reach the goddess’s soul! For Time’s prophecy to come true, the goddess would have to come close to the nettles by using the moments in her quiver!

But, Mystery was using the moments in her quiver for some other purpose. She was using them to search for the zol pot! Her maternal instinct was driving her to find zol for her children. The gods were sleeping in the midst of the season and therefore, not feeding. Unless, they fed on zol soon, their body shells would all spoil and become useless.

‘I have to find the zol pot!’ she murmured huskily, hunting for secrets that would lead her to the pot. She devoured a secret that revealed to her that the pot was where it should be, under the Holy Knot!

‘Take me to the pot!’ she murmured to the secret, which was now a long graceful tendril stretching from her soul.

Mystery’s soul migrated into the haven through that tendril. Oh! The divine mood of longing was in full bloom in the patches. Surprisingly, the tendril did not spread directly to the Holy Knot. Rather, it darted elusively between the blooms, making the goddess’s soul do the same! Before she realized what was happening, the nettles had bored through the tendril and pierced her soul!

‘Mercy!’ cried Mystery, reeling from the numerous nettle stings. She stopped and tried to ward off the nettles. But, it was too late. The old knot of longing in her soul had revived and thin strands of longing stretched out from it. The goddess looked through the strands and was shocked. Lo! The devil’s evil soul was at the other end!

She gazed at his soul in a daze. It glittered with so many secret hues that she could only look spellbound. ‘O wonder!’ she sighed, drawn powerfully to him. She suddenly noticed that he was busy doing his chores.

Hoon was at the edge of the bor, laboring to heal it. ‘Thud! Thud!’ rang his scimitar loudly as struggled to clear the clutter that had caused shards of energy to separate. Piles of dry tendrils, old nests and quivers clogged parts of the bor and he slashed them with his scimitar to clear them. The sharp edges gave him gashes, tearing boids away from his massive plume.

But, the boids healed the bor. For, wherever they flowed, they cleared paths to restore the flow of energy.

‘The devil is a healer!’ she sighed, and then suddenly remembered why she had come to the haven in the first place. ‘Oh! I have to find the pot of zol!’ she whispered huskily, wanting to move towards the Holy Knot.

The tendril through which she was migrating took her forward. Surprisingly, it did not take her directly to the Holy Knot. Rather, it took a long-winded path that passed through the blooms of longing. More nettles pierced the goddess’s soul and the strands of longing between Mystery and the devil thickened! The goddess felt irresistibly pulled towards the devil again. She turned away from the Holy Knot and gazed at him in a daze. Hoon had moved further and was healing other parts of the bor. Alas! The parts that he had healed had become clogged again!

Mystery felt an aching need to migrate to the edge of the bor and help the devil. But, she did not do so. Her maternal instinct stopped her from doing anything except search for the pot of zol!

‘O zol!’ she whispered, remembering her hungry children. She was about to squander all the moments to retrieve the pot from beneath the Holy Knot, when she saw a secret flit to her. The secret was so tempting, that she devoured it instantly. Lo! The secret revealed to her that her children would get zol only after the bor had healed completely!

For a moment, the goddess was confused. But the moment she saw the devil struggling at the edge of the bor, the truth dawned on her! The bor wanted her to work with the devil to heal the bor!

‘My lord!’ she whispered, giving in to the fierce longing raging in her soul. She began migrating to the edge of the bor as fast as she could!

The devil heard her. ‘Good!’ he drawled hoarsely, looking at her approaching soul intently. He noticed that all the moments trickling from the sleeping arrow of Time were falling on the nettles of longing. Lo! The nettles burst together, spreading nectar so potent, that even the sleeping gods shivered in their nests!

‘My lord!’ whispered the goddess, drawing close to the devil’s dark, but irresistibly captivating soul.

‘Yes!’ replied the devil hoarsely.

The devil and the goddess were caught in a rare divine moment. Their souls were burning so fiercely for each other that their minds dulled. Driven by a powerful instinct to unite, the two omnipresent gods faced each other with trembling divine forms.

The devil’s naked soul was colored so many secret hues, that the goddess was drawn to him like lightning to thunder. Mystery’s soul was like a bottomless pit, so warm and melting, that the devil was drawn to her like darkness to light!

The strands between their souls were now dripping heavily with the nectar and their yearning had climbed to a crescendo. His boids were trembling violently now, and unable to hold back anymore, he gripped her tendrils with a fierce jolt. Lo! Blinding divine rapture crackled between their souls making them float on divine flames. They felt that they were drowning in an ocean of rapture. Instinctively, they entwined their divine forms such that their souls could glide in the bor effortlessly!

The devil and the goddess glided in the bor with enchanting grace. Wherever their went, the combined power of their divine forms smoothed rough edges and pulled back broken shards. The healing was miraculous- shards that were scattered far in the Outbor also joined back to the bor.

Lo! The clutter surrounding the bor began disappearing and the span of the bor began expanding! Soon, the bor had a single body- one large, tranquil expanse of energy that was as pristine and unbroken as it was in the first season!

The devil and the goddess glided around the bor in a rapturous haze many times, unaware that the bor had healed. And, that the pot of zol hidden beneath the Holy Knot had risen!

Like a ball of molten fire, the pot rose from the pit of the Holy Knot to hover above it. The first few bits of zol escaped from it to fall the devil and the goddess’s divine forms!

Oh! But, Hoon and Mystery were lost in a flood of yearning for each other. Their minds had scattered and their instincts were doused. Their souls had come very close to each other and the strands of longing between them had shortened to become thick and taut and were pulling them to each other with an inexorable divine force.

The two were moving to break all divine rites and engage in a soulful embrace. Like a violent storm destroying everything in its wake, the two would meet to destroy the bor. Because, they had miraculous powers to heal the bor within limits! Beyond that, they were omnipresent gods. Any further closeness between their souls would tear the bor!

Huge waves of energy lashed against the boids and the tendrils, trying to separate the devil and the goddess. But, the two were oblivious to everything else but each other. The strands of longing between them were now dripping heavily with nectar and as they drew closer, they began burning with showers of sparks. The rapture they felt was blinding and they longed fiercely to unite as one.

‘Hoooonnn…’ rumbled the bor, as collosal stress built up in its restored body. Only the God of Time could stop the devil and the goddess now. But, he was still sleeping!

Lo! The bor stirred a massive storm and sent huge waves of energy crashing against Time’s abode. The ramparts of Awaad quaked violently, and the God of Time who was sleeping inside it, was forced to come awake!

He woke up from his sleep to be startled by the commotion around him. Raising his beautiful visage drowsily, he looked outside the portal of his abode and his eyes flew open with surprise. The pot of zol had risen and was shining just above the Holy Knot!

There was no way the pot of zol could be up, and he would remain lying down! ‘O wonder!’ he murmured in his silvery voice, and pointed his head at the pot. He got his direction and was about to open his arrow to rise, when a huge wave of energy came lashing in and knocked him down again!

‘Damn!’ he grunted in rage, noticing that a massive storm was raging in the bor! He looked at the near future with narrowed eyes and turned numb with shock. The devil and the goddess were about to unite in a moment, and that cursed moment was sitting right on top of his arrowhead!

Lo! By the sheer power of his divine will, Time did not that let that moment fall from his arrowhead. In one big movement, he pointed his arrow at the pot of zol and rose with a mighty jerk. Lo! While his arrow seared through the spires of Awaad to stand tall in the bor, the pot of zol streaked explosively between the between the devil and the goddess’s souls to throw them apart!

Such a divine event had not happened in the bor before! The devil’s massive plume of boids was torn away from Mystery’s countless tendrils so ruthlessly, that the bor shook with booming claps of thunder and lightning for a long time. The beat of the bor faltered, but it did not sink. Now that it had healed, it had regained its old strength- it was once more, one smooth, rounded globe of swirling energy!

Gradually, the storm died down and calm returned to the bor. Surprisingly, there was silence in the world of gods. The beat of the bor could be heard, but apart from the thudding, there was silence. The gods were still asleep. And, the devil and goddess had not revived yet!

Their quivers had run empty just before they had been thrown apart, and they were lying frozen in time! Hoon’s soul was lying in a huge cluster of boids and Mystery’s soul was lying in a huge swathe of tendrils. The boids and the tendrils, being their subjects, were lying frozen like them, quivering only when stray moments fell on them!

The God of Time was waiting for all blossoms of longing to wither away before he filled their quivers again! ‘Good!’ he exclaimed, glancing at the future. The patches in the haven were clear of the cursed blooms! He rode out of his abode on an arrowlet and stopping by Hoon and Mystery’s souls, filled their quivers to the full.

‘Wake up!’ he murmured radiantly to them in his clear, silvery voice, ‘The day has dawned!’

Lo! Hoon and Mystery came awake in the bor. They looked groggily at Time and realized that indeed, day had dawned again! The pot of zol was shining above the bor with blinding radiance!

Leaving the two of them to gather their wits, Time pointed his arrow to the ascending pot of zol and sped away.

Hoon and Mystery rose sluggishly and read their subjects to read the bor omnipresently. Lo! The season of life had begun from where it had left. With only one difference- the bor had healed and was bursting with joy! Joy had bloomed in the haven like a crop gone wild!

Mystery suddenly noticed that her children, the tuths were stirring in their nests. ‘My children!’ she whispered, bursting with joy. She migrated back to the Urk quickly and began cuddling them warmly with her tendrils.

Hoon was too stunned to do anything. He looked at the healed span of the bor with disbelief and wonder. The broken shards cluttering the edges were gone! The bor had healed to become what it had been in the first season of life- strong, pristine and joyful!

Lo! He leapt with joy. ‘Whoa!’ he roared, migrating quickly to the haven. There was a huge crop of joy blossoms that he had to tend to!

‘O wonder!’ murmured Time, his visage glowing with spellbinding beauty. He was aware that the bor had regained its lost strength. Not that he remembered anything- he just had mysterious powers of insight!

‘Kalh! Kalh!’ the beat of the bor echoed strongly from one edge to another, its heart thudding in perfect harmony to Time’s arrow.

‘Whoa!’ Time roared radiantly. The time to take the season forward had come. Picking up speed, he began chasing the pot of zol. The pot of zol rose higher and he chased it even faster!

Lo! He would catch up only when the season had ended!

 

 

THE season of life flourished in the bor once more! The zol streaming from the pot fell on the tuths and stirred them into activity. ‘Zol!’ they cried hungrily.

‘Yes, my children!’ Time murmured, shooting a thick stream of moments at the pot to send zol raining over the nests. There was a bustle of divine activity as the tuths fed greedily on zol and Time raced around filling their quivers.

‘Mother!’ cried the tuths, tugging hard on the mother-child bonds they had with Goddess Mystery

‘Yes!’ she replied, flooding their souls with maternal warmth. Divine lore flowed hauntingly in the bor as the tuths began stringing the shadows of moments gone. They sang spiritedly of the miraculous recovery of the bor, its flowing energy, and of fresh and sparkling boids and secrets everywhere.

Surprisingly, Mystery listened listlessly. The tuths sensed her despondency and tugged hard at her soul. She did not respond to them. The tuths sang about Evil and of the cuds, still sleeping on the bed of carcasses. She did not even respond to that!

Lo! The goddess was numb with suffering. She had been hiding it all along, but from the moment her soul had been torn so cruelly from the devil’s soul, she had dwelled in blinding agony. Her ethereal sojourn with the devil had left her achingly bereft.

She looked around dully. Life was bustling in the Urk. The tuths were busy feeding on zol and the wholesome spoor of zol hung over the nests. The spoor of joy had sunk in their souls and because they had become wise in this season, they were singing divine lore joyfully.

It was a blissful divine spectacle, typical of a season of life. Surprisingly, it gave her aching soul no succor. The strands of longing running from her soul had snapped, but the knot was still alive! It was like an open wound and it made her distressed. ‘Oh!’ she moaned, and a thousand sighs floated in the bor.

The God of Time sensed her anguish and stopped by to fill her quiver. ‘You are suffering, my goddess!’ he frowned.

‘Yes, my lord!’ she replied dully.

Time gazed far into the future with his eyes. The squint in his eyes widened until he could see no farther. Suddenly, his eyes gleamed mysteriously. ‘Follow me!’ he said to the goddess and headed towards the haven.

‘Yes, my lord!’ she whispered, following him reluctantly.

They entered the haven to find it empty. Hoon was not in his abode, and in his absence, the moods of the bor had gone wild. Joy was blooming thickly on the patches on the walls and wisdom spores were bursting in clouds from the pit of the Holy Knot. Irritated by the spoor of joy, the goddess turned to leave, when Time snapped, ‘Wait!’

The goddess lingered impatiently.

‘A new divine mood shall bloom to give you respite!’ Time declared radiantly.

‘A new mood?’ she asked huskily.

‘Yes! Look at those blossoms there…’ replied Time, pointing to some new sprigs that had just sprung up.

The goddess looked at them omnipresently. The blossoms had nettles! ‘No!’ she cried, aghast, ‘Longing has bloomed again! I don’t want to be hurt again!’

The God of Time looked at the blossoms for a long moment. His visage was lit by the glow of zol. And, his eyes were meltingly beautiful as always. Turning to the goddess, he declared in his clear, slivery voice, ‘They are blossoms of love…the divine mood of Love has bloomed in the bor!’

He sprinkled moments on the new blossoms and leaving the goddess to herself, sped back to his own abode.

Mystery watched the moments fall on the new blossoms with bewilderment. Time’s subjects carried out his will dutifully. Soon, the nettles were bursting with nectar and they rose to sting her soul. ‘Mercy!’ she sighed as the nectar spread in her soul. Lo! The old knot of longing matured into a knot of love!

Now, Love was a magical divine mood! It was as uplifting as it was fulfilling. ‘O wonder!’ the goddess sighed, as she felt her anguish melt away and her aches disappear. She twirled giddily, her soul surrounded by a magical haze of love.

The nettles continued stinging her and soon, long thin strands stretched out of her soul. She peered curiously through the strands- the devil’s soul was at the other end! The old knot of longing in his soul had also matured into a knot of love!

Lo! Mystery and Hoon were now connected through a bond of love. Unlike the divine mood of longing, which was fickle in nature, the divine mood of love was more enduring. It would allow them to look into each other’s souls unhindered, and combine their powers to keep healing the bor!

Unaware that the bor had bonded him to the goddess with strands of love, Hoon hovered at the edge of the bor and gazed broodingly at the Outbor. Flocks of boids nuzzled him tenderly as he stood lost in his thoughts. He did not pay attention to the love flooding his soul because he thought it was coming from the bor!

Well, while he was musing darkly over all that had happened in this season, unknown to him, the goddess was looking at him unashamedly through the strands of love!

It was only when she migrated very close to him, almost came up behind him, did he realize that something weird had happened between them! Swerving sharply, he looked at her soul and gaped.

Lo! Long, thin strands of love were running between them and he could see her naked soul despite the veils shielding it. Shockingly, she had the same unhindered view into his naked soul!

The devil trembled with divine rage. He could bear to be so open to anyone, leave alone the goddess. He lifted his divine scimitar and was about to slash the strands, when he felt divine energy rush to his soul. It was the bor! It wanted him to put his scimitar down…and just let it be!

‘Damn!’ he cursed with irritation and anger. Leaving the goddess by the edge, he stomped back to his abode in a huff!

Mystery was bewildered. She was feeling his anger and despair as if it was her own, and she could not understand why he was reacting so irritably to the new bond between them. Keenly aware that his massive plume of boids was quivering with rage, she grasped it tightly with her tendrils, and whispered huskily, ‘Calm down, my lord!’

‘No!’ he roared angrily, flinging her tendrils away from his boids.

‘Oh!’ she gasped, falling back with shock. She was about to retaliate, when all of a sudden, she caught a sudden glimpse of his soul. The residual evil had risen to the fore, making it glisten vilely!

‘Ugh!’ she cried with disgust. She had a natural aversion to evil, and feeling deeply repulsed, she withdrew deep inside the Urk.

Languishing inside a thick mesh of tendrils and unable to find any solace, she began thinking with her primitive mind. The devil had not spurned the bond of longing, so why had he spurned the bond of love?

Mystery was a wise soul now and she wanted an answer! So, she decided to look at the devil’s soul through the strands of love and explore every niche of it.

Secretly, she reached out to the devil’s soul! So many titillating secrets were hidden in the devil’s soul. The goddess looked at them spellbound, but dared not open them. She savored the myriad hues in his soul- joy, sorrow, hope, despair, humour and many others- and trembled with unbridled delight!

Feeling bolder, she explored the vein that ran from his soul to the heart of the bor and gave him his divine blood. She saw that a huge knot had grown at the base of the vein. She looked at the knot for a long moment and then, all of a sudden, shuddered with shock.

Lo! It was a huge knot of love. Hoon had a powerful bond of love with the bor- it was through this bond that he looked inside its heart deeply!

‘Oh no!’ the goddess groaned with a sinking feeling. She realized that the older and bigger knot of love with the bor was making him spurn the newer one with her!

‘Damn! Damn!’ she cursed angrily, feeling her anguish return. The divine mood of love had bloomed to give her respite. But, it seemed it would give her only suffering and pain!

 

 

THE huge knot of love in the devil’s soul had grown slowly over the seasons. His primary instinct was to preserve the bor- the bor had made that instinct incorruptible by binding him with the divine mood of Love.

Hoon was not the only one to be bound this way. The bor had bound Time and Mystery with divine moods too!

Time’s primary instinct was to take the bor forward to the future. To strengthen that instinct, the bor had bound him with the divine mood of faith. A knot of Faith had grown at the base of the vein that carried his lifeblood.

Mystery’s primary instinct was to protect her children fiercely. To strengthen that instinct, the bor had made a bond of courage with her. A knot of Courage had grown at the base of the vein that ran from her soul to the heart of the bor.

The knot in Hoon’s soul was grown to become huge whereas the knots in Time and Mystery’s souls had remained small. This, because, love was the only divine mood that had the power to grow!

As seasons passed, the bond of love between Hoon and the bor had grown stronger and the knot had grown bigger. So much so, the bor had become fully transparent to him. He could look deep insdie its heart and feel its changing moods- its joys, sorrows and fears- as if they were his own!

This season of life, however, things had been different. Wisdom had made the bor wicked and it had started hiding things from him! He had become lost and confused, because of which his mind churned with labyrinthine thoughts.

The bor had broken the cycle of seasons to steal the pot of zol. Why?

Evil had freed himself from the bor. Why?

The bor was pushing him, the devil, closer to Time and Mystery. Why?

Hoon stared at the pot of zol turning above the bor. The pot was much smaller than the one that the bor had swallowed. Why?

Troubled by so many troubling questions, he wandered restlessly on the smooth edge of the bor. Unknown to him Mystery was feeling his anguish as if it was her own! Although her soul was far off in the middle of the Urk, she was looking at him transparently through the strands of love. Her brow became lined with distress and she felt a powerful urge to reach out to him and vanquish all his troubles.

She crept upto him and whispered hesitantly, ‘My lord!’

Hoon received the goddess calmly, although broodingly. ‘My goddess!’ he drawled wryly, ‘Do you see any new secrets in the bor?’

‘New secrets?’

‘Yes! The bor had done something secretly to the pot of zol!’

Bewildered, Mystery looked at the pot of zol. It was shining brightly above the bor and looked very normal.

‘It is much smaller than it should have been!’ clarified Hoon.

‘Really?’ the goddess exclaimed, and began searching the bor for new secrets with her omnipresent divine form.

‘I see no new secret!’ she declared finally.

‘Oh!’ frowned Hoon sullenly.

The God of Time sensed his despondency and came to stop by him on an arrowlet. He filled his and Mystery’s quivers generously with moments. Before speeding away, he arched his brow and declared in his silvery voice, ‘I saw the bor splitting the pot into two. One is shining up there!’ he said, pointing upwards, ‘The other one lies hidden!’

Hoon frowned in astonishment. The bor had split the pot into two? Many weird events had happened in this season, but this was the weirdest of them all. Why did the bor do such a thing? And, why did it decide to keep both him and Evil out of it?

Obviously, he was being kept in the dark deliberately and he was not amused by it! Humour was an interesting divine mood, but not when the bor tried it on him!