A Journey

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
In Kharna, a village in Vintage India, a young boy named Jay tries to solve the riddle of his life. Experience his Journey from childhood to adulthood as he tries to solve his mysterious past and another mystery, both of which could permanently change him and his life. Will he succeed? Or will he fail?

Submitted: October 03, 2014

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Submitted: October 03, 2014

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A Journey By: Ali Al-Lawati

 

Chapter 1

Somewhere, in the middle of a village, a woman was running in fear, the chattering of the people didn’t mind her, the noise of the chickens, cows and other animals didn’t mind her as well; her goal was one. She kept calling his name, people kept staring and they tried to offer help, but she ignored them blindly. Mud left stains on her clutched red and yellow sari. Until suddenly, she stopped, panting, but she wasn’t tired, she remembered. “The oak tree. Of course.” She looked to her right and ran, towards the jungle out of the village.

She left the large wooden gates and into the open, without the request of any help from the guards. The word “nature” can be distinctly understood in this large open field of beauty; the large pond in the middle that splits between the village and the jungle, so clear that when looking at your reflection, you’ll feel as though you have a twin staring at you from upside-down. So fresh, so clean. The fresh green grass that never stops to move harmoniously with the wind, as though dancing in the field, brushing your ankles. The trees that act as guardians of nature, standing tall at each side and beautiful flowers of different colors finding comfort under them. The different animals find this place beautiful and they appear out into the field as they please, as though they own this place, along with the finishing touches of the clear blue sky, the white doves and the White Mountains in the horizon. The woman continued running, sweat pouring from her face as she stopped to remove her silver ghungroo anklets, which proved noisy in this circumstance. She kept on running, picking up her pace, feeling more tired, until finally she stopped at the edge of the jungle, she looked at the massive oak tree standing in front of her, the guardian of the gate, challenging her to enter, but she didn’t mind what was behind the oak tree, what minded her was the branches of this tree. She started looking cautiously at the oak tree, raising her head slowly towards the top, until she found what she looking for; a boy lying on a branch resting his head on his left hand, he was looking up at the sky. “Jay!” The woman called. Indeed his name was Jay and he was her son. The boy gasped and opened his eyes wide, “Jay! Come down this instant!” The mother, Rani called again. He changed to his seating position and looked down towards his mother, wining: “but mother, it’s—“

“Come down, now!” She was tired and was sweating, she didn’t want to listen to any other answer from her son. Jay huffed and like a serpent, slithered smoothly down the oak tree and didn’t miss one step, some people thought that he was gifted with the gift of climbing. He reached the ground, feeling the blades of grass brush his ankles. “Didn’t I tell you not to go to this oak tree nor this jungle ever again? You did it twice now and you mustn’t do it the third time.” She opened her eyes as a final warning. “I know mother,” Jay said, but his mother was walking already, her back to him, “but this time it was different.” She stopped in her tracks, with weary eyes she turned around and looked at him, “what did you see this time?” Jay, with surprise in his eyes, started: “this time, I didn’t only see parts of the dream, but this time, it was complete, or that’s what I think. It started with me on a horse with two of my partners next to me, they were on horses too, we were at the field when I heard baby cries,” this worried his mother, “we started heading towards the sound when we reached the edge of the jungle and we saw a little brown basket under this very oak tree, the sound was coming from it, then it stopped. I woke up after that.” He looked at her, as though waiting for an answer and he got one, “yes, this time it’s very different, but it’s not real—“ “But mother! What about the oak tree? It was the same.” Jay interrupted, but she didn’t answer his question, instead she said, “come on, your father has held an important banquet with the other village leaders, we should be ready for it.” Jay wined, “Oh, not those meetings again! They are very boring and the worst thing is, I have to sit and listen.” Rani continued walking, but she had a grin in her face which showed agreement.

Chapter 2

Later that day, Jay was getting ready for the royal banquet. He is of the Veer family, the Veer family’s blood is of royalty. Each year a gathering or a banquet gets held between the four leaders of different villages, in this case, the four leaders are all brothers including Jay’s father, Dhananjay Veer, the oldest, Bharat Veer, Hari Veer and Rajindar Veer the youngest of the brothers. Back then, their father, Baldev Veer used to rule the four villages all together, for they were all united and were considered one village, but when he became old and felt that he couldn’t rule anymore, he has split the village into four and passed it to his four sons; to prevent any harm, jealousy or conflict between the brothers. Till now, the villages are in peace and every village is friendly to the other.

“Can’t I just wear something simple for once?” Jay wined again, he used to hate wearing the usual heavy shirt and trousers, covered with the long silky, beige robe that reached his ankles, the red belt and the big brown boots that made his feet heavy and gave him an unbalanced walking. He then sat on the cushion, waiting for the headband when he heard footsteps, delicate, easy footsteps and he knew who it was. He turned his head sideways and gasped in amazement, it was his mother, wearing the most beautiful white sari ever that doesn’t even need light to shine, and the earrings were of diamond, her henna was of the most unique design, her shoes were made of emerald. She looked flawless and Jay thought that he saw an angel. “Mother, you look beautiful.” Jay said with wide eyes, “thank you my ??ra (meaning “lion”, pronounced sher), I was just going to ask you this question.” She replied with a smile on her face. Jay also noticed something else, “mother, is that bracelet new?” He asked, “Good eyes my son, well yes, your father bought it for me, this bracelet is eight hundred years old! And it looks so new.” She turned her arm, showing the golden bracelet. “Come on now, we shouldn’t be late for this banquet, your father said that it is very important this time, let’s go.” She tied the red headband around his head. They started walking, but before opening the door towards the dining hall, she held his hand and said, “Don’t forget your rules of walking, speaking, listening and eating.” Jay looked away and made a disgusted face.

Chapter 3

“Ah! There is my son.” Jay’s father, Dhananjay said with a happy face, Jay walked in the dining hall towards his father, who was sitting on the soft chairs and greeted him, maintaining his posture and smile, but inside he was full of whines. Rules are so annoying, he thought, and not the turban again! It’s his father’s turban that annoys him and makes him curious as to why he wears it every day and at every event without taking it off? He never saw his father remove that beige turban, not even once. Then he ventured forth the endless cloth covered dining table and reached his uncles, he greeted them, “Namaste C?c? (meaning “uncle”, pronounced “chacha”) Bharat.” Then he stepped sideways to his other uncles and greeted them, they all replied with happy faces and kissed him in the cheek with their moustache-covered mouths, which felt like spikes. Their wives looked down, covering their faces with thin veils as a sign of respect to the princes and people. Then he finally returned back to his father and mother and sat next to them, emitting a long, soft sigh of relief, but his sigh broke when he felt a nudge on his leg by his mother’s emerald-made shoes as a sign of silence. The royal dining hall has four large windows covered with large red curtains, on the top hangs a large unique chandelier covered with candles, the walls are nailed on with large gold-covered frames containing drawings of their ancestors during their golden days and at the very center of the back wall, the great framed drawing of Baldev Veer, strong, handsome with eyes that strike any person in the heart, informing him of his greatness and that he is a Veer, the face of true royalty and power. They started eating the food, the women half-lifting their veils and eating while the others ate freely, which always made Jay wonder and look around, he looked at the curtain covered windows and felt his stomach tie up in knots, he liked the windows when they are open and free so that he could see the world and breath the fresh air. Without the windows, he felt like a prisoner struggling to live on in this life. As he was eating, he started feeling something tickling on his back, he ignored it, as he must obey the rules, then that tickle became an itch that’s when he realized it was a mosquito bite. The itch started annoying him and he couldn’t take it anymore, he started moving his back slowly on the chair to scratch it, but it was of no avail, he tensed his muscles and gritted his teeth, that’s it! He thought angrily and started scratching his back. He felt his mother’s nudges but he ignored them, he knew that his uncles are looking at him, but he didn’t care, it felt good when he scratched it, then he stopped. He looked around and as he predicted, his uncles were staring at him, even his father through his bushy eyebrows, he could tell that his mother was furious. To cover the feeling of embarrassment, his father cleared his throat and gestured with his hands as though saying, “continue” and the others did. Jay looked at his mother, but she didn’t look back.

Once they were done, the women left while the men –including Jay- made their way towards the meeting chamber. They were all talking while Jay was behind them all, his mind clouded with thoughts of his terrible mistake that he made in the dining hall, what was I thinking? He thought, what might mother be thinking right now? What about father? My uncles? What would they be thinking of me? Or worse, of my mother and father? I have embarrassed them. He shook his head in regret, and then the world slapped him back to his consciousness when they reached the large open stone door guarded by doorkeepers and into the open chamber filled with four large comfortable silver chairs and a circular table in the middle of the chamber. They all sat down, except Jay and his father, who was mad in rage. “Dev!” He called one of his servants in a booming voice, “y-yes your highness.” He rushed into the chamber, sweat pouring from his forehead, “how may I help you, your highness?” Dhananjay looked at him with stern eyes, “didn’t I tell you to bring an extra chair for my young son?” Dev looked around and said, “I’m t-terribly sorry your highness, I must have f-forgot.” He gulped down forcefully in fear, “forgot?” Dhananjay looked at him, raising one eyebrow, this will not end well, Jay thought. “Well for that, you are punished. You are to be locked away for two whole days in your room with no food and water, let’s see you learn from that mistake. Now bring the chair!” Jay’s father commanded. Dhananjay may be kind, but he was known for his strictness, even on his family. A fifth chair was brought into the chamber and Jay sat down. They started out slow, with Dhananjay speaking, “so Bharat my brother, how is life in Chilar?” Chilar is the name of the village Bharat rules, “it is all going well” he replied, “Everything is under control. We are in the middle of building a canal in the village that water flows in it. My people will have the freedom to take water whenever they want.” The uses of “we” and “my people” impressed Dhananjay greatly. “That is good, an excellent idea. Now, Hari? What about you?” He turned to Hari, who also looked confident in his face and in his reply, “of course, life in Baniasali is now easy for my people, crimes have been minimized, more markets, more food and more water. We are planning to start a trade.” Jay’s father nodded in amazement. Then his expression suddenly turned serious when he turned his head towards Rajindar, who looked at him with a half-smile on his face. “Rajindar, any news about your son?” Jay was at the tip of boredom; since none of his uncles’ sons came, but when he heard that question, he shot his head upwards, looking at his uncle Rajindar, who was not smiling anymore, instead, he turned pale and replied, “he is still under treatment, but in a very critical state. Doctors say that there might be no cure for this disease.” He looked down, tears welling up in his eyes. The youngest of the brothers with only one son diagnosed with a disease, that’s what pained his brothers the most and made them feel pity of his son’s state. “We are all very sorry for you and your son and we all pray for his recovery.” Dhananjay held his hand, “we are all with you.” It seemed that those words lifted his spirits and refilled his hope. Once they settled, Bharat asked a question that Dhananjay hoped to never hear in presence of Jay, “Speaking of news, what of Agnimukha?” Dhananjay looked at him as if Bharat committed a crime, Jay had a puzzled expression and looked at both of his uncles. Once Bharat realized his mistake, he quickly said, “Or no need of that futile discussion.”

Five minutes later, the meeting officially started. Dhananjay –with his beige turban on his head- started, “I am happy that you all came to my home and I appreciate your care and love, for I also care about you and love you all.” Jay rolled his eyes at his father’s recurring words, but he was still puzzled about his father’s turban and the mysterious Agnimukha. “I have grown, age starts to finally empower me now. My years ruling Kharna were beautiful, filled with memories, unforgettable memories, but now I have to pass my leadership and title to an heir” he looked at Jay and held his shoulder firmly, which pained Jay but he ignored it; he didn’t want to embarrass his father anymore, “my son, Jay Veer.”

Chapter 4

Jay didn’t know what he was feeling after the Royal Banquet, was it happiness? Was it eagerness? Was it anxiety? He didn’t know, but as the years went by, it became clearer as to what he’s feeling and that was fear, nervousness and uneasiness. As he grew up, he understood leadership more and knew about its importance and its dangers and the identity of the mysterious Agnimukha was still in his thoughts. For light didn’t shed it. He started learning rules and making decisions even more that he lost his “nature boy” personality, he forgot about his friends: the trees, the grass, the mud, the flowers, the animals and even more, but that forgotten personality will not become permanent.

One clear day, when the sky was blue and the sun was yellow, fourteen year old Jay was sitting on a chair, his back straight, shrouded in his thoughts. His mother said something but he couldn’t even hear her voice. He blindly saw her leaving his room. He was thinking of his father, is it really true that my father will pass his leadership to me? He was doubting his father’s words, nervousness got the better of him. “Namaste, Camatk?ra (meaning “Marvel”, pronounced Chimmatkar).” Suddenly a voice called out to him, it was very familiar to Jay. A voice he will never forget. He looked up and –just as he predicted- he saw his best friend in front of him, there was no mistaking his childish face and that small scar on his eyebrow. “Vikram!” Jay exclaimed, he reached out his hand and shook his friend’s hand, but then he shook his head and hugged him. “Whoa, Jay it’s been only two years, silly. Still, I also miss you.” They pulled away, Jay looked at him, he still has his bad haircut, Jay thought. As Jay motioned for Vikram to sit down, he said: “So Vikram, I thought you had a splendid time in the city, Vaishali judging from the letters you sent to me. What made you come back here?” Vikram looked at him with an expression that said “do you really want me to answer that?” with his taper cut hair, but he finally did by saying: “Well yes, I did, but my father has work here now” he flexed his fingers, which was his habit, “and I also want to see my best friend.” “Thank you.” Jay simply said. “What about you? How is your “royal” life?” Vikram asked, “My life here in Kharna is—“ “Wait” Vikram suddenly interrupted him, Jay had a look of concern on his face. Vikram looked around then stared at Jay, “what are we doing here? We should be outside, on the real ground, talking. Come, let’s go.” But before he could even stand, Jay replied, “Why do we have to if we are here? Mother forbids me from going outside at this time and besides, I have horseback riding with pita (father) after forty five minutes.” Vikram looked at him with a smirk on his face, “well, we can postpone it.” That made Jay furious, “no! This is important, fate has given me a mission to be the next leader of Kharna and I must accept it, unlike your lives.” Then Jay stopped short, he knew he said the wrong words, he regretted what he said, surprisingly Vikram didn’t argue or fight, instead he said, “Look at you” he made a small pause, “this is not the Jay I know. The person sitting in front of me is not Jay. The Jay I know loves nature and the outside world, where is that friend of mine? I must have come to the wrong place.” He turned around and as he was making his way towards the door, he heard Jay’s voice call out to him, “Wait. We can at least go to the lawn.” Vikram faced Jay, letting out a sigh of relief, “I think there is still some Jay left in you.”

The door opened and the two friends stepped out, welcomed by a nice breeze and smooth grass, the two took off their shoes –like old times- and made their way towards their favorite tree; an apple tree with three branches enough for the two to rest their heads on. The two fourteen year olds raced by climbing the branches, whoever reaches the third wins. Vikram reached the tree first and placed his hand on the trunk, as he placed his foot, he saw Jay with his hands on the trunk and made his way up, tension rose in Vikram’s head as he made his way up, but it was clear as to who would win and Jay won. “That’s the fiftieth time.” Vikram grunted.

As the fifteen minutes rolled by, the two were lying on their backs, eating apples when Vikram said, “so, did you find out the secret of your father’s mysterious turban?” Jay stopped, but didn’t look at Vikram, he had a look of concern on his face, “No I didn’t, I’m afraid that if I ask my father, he might become furious.” Vikram was surprised, “but wasn’t this your lifetime mystery?” Vikram asked. “Yes, it is and will stay like that until I shed light upon the matter. For now, I have a question for you.” Vikram flexed his fingers, “tell me.” Jay took a short breath then asked: “do you know someone by the name of Agnimukha?” Vikram looked up to Jay, who had his back facing him, “yes, only by the facts that he’s the most notorious rulers of all India and that this village had a history with Agnimukha. Why do you ask? And isn’t it better if you asked your father or mother about this? They might know more.”

“It’s because I did ask my mother five years ago when I was but nine years old, all she said was that he was a bad man and Agnimukha’s name was mentioned in my father’s banquet day.” Vikram flexed his fingers which made a loud crack sound, then he said: “You know? You should have confidence in yourself. Go ask your mother again.” Then he looked around and said: “Isn’t it time for your horseback riding with your father?” Jay looked at the sky, feeling the breeze and said: “It can wait.” And they both flashed grins at each other.

Chapter 5

Two days later, after spending them locked in his room as a punishment from his father, Jay heard the door unlock and after a minute, he opened the door and felt a small touch of hallway wind, which made him feel alive and free again. A servant greeted him and Jay greeted back, but as he turned his head towards the front he saw someone waving to him, Jay was puzzled, he took a few steps forward and realized immediately that it was his friend Vikram. “I was coming to visit you when I noticed this.” He was pointing at a large book at a huge shelf. Jay sighed, Vikram is really obsessed with books. He stood in front of him and said, “so what? It is a book.” Vikram flexed his fingers and said, “It is not just any book, it is “The door of secrets” by Lakshman Singh. It is a very rare book, contains the secrets of the Egyptian World, dark secrets. What’s puzzling is why it is left here so carelessly when it should be in a secret compartment, locked away from the naked eye?” From this concept, Jay realized that Vikram might be right. He stood next to Vikram and stared at the book. His eyes widened when he realized that not a speck of dust is on it, all the other objects in the shelf are worn out and dusty, except this one. It looks like it has been used often. “Let’s have a quick look.” Vikram said with a sly smile. Jay gave a stare at Vikram as though saying “what’s the point?” But then Vikram fired back, “please, I have longed to hold this book and open it, turning the pages, exposing the secrets to myself and myself only. We’ll just take a quick look.” After a large sigh, Jay nodded. Vikram started reaching for the book, feeling his pulse rise high the closer his right hand gets to the book, sweat poured from his forehead and then finally, he touched it, he ran his hand on the smooth side and then, with a single breath of anxiety, pulled it.

At first they thought that the book was stuck, because it wasn’t coming out, but then they heard something that made them jump. They heard a loud rumble coming from inside the shelf, or maybe beyond it. The two looked around, making sure the servants haven’t heard the sound and then –to their astonishment- the shelf started sliding sideways, revealing a path in front of them. The path had stairs to descend and was well lit by torches placed on the sides of the wall. Jay looked towards the dark bottom, what could be in store for us there? Surely fate has brought us to this mysterious place and I have to find out. The two stepped forward and finally –without wasting any more time- descended down the cracked marble stairs. With every step, Jay’s heart pounded harder and louder, Vikram was descending excitedly and quickly. Such a character Vikram is, Jay thought. Indeed, Vikram had the personality of discovering things and reading the most historic books ever known, he had the “ancient son” personality. The two finally reached a small wooden door with a curvy golden handle. Vikram took a quick glance at Jay then twisted the handle.

Chapter 6

Vikram pushed open the wooden door, leading them to what looked like a store chamber. Jay and Vikram gasped in awe as they saw the massive chamber filled with artifacts and relics dating back to nearly hundreds of years old. The place must hold something very valuable, Jay thought. Vikram roamed around, eyeing each artifact he could see, while Jay searched the area, looking for something that would give meaning to why they came here. Jay believed in fate and he would stop at nothing to find out. Vikram was eyeing a portrait when he suddenly heard Jay calling out to him, Vikram quickly turned his face, only to find his best friend at the most stern of faces staring at a small brown object. First, Vikram couldn’t make out what it was until –taking a few steps forward- he realized that it was a small basket gleaming in the faint darkness. Vikram nearly scoffed at the sight, but before he could do that, Jay interrupted, “don’t you realize what it is?” Vikram shook his head, “a basket?”

“Not just any basket, this is the exact same basket in my dreams, the same brown basket under that oak tree.” Jay suddenly slowed down, can it be? That my dream is not actually a dream, but a memory? Vikram’s eyes were wide now, he couldn’t believe it. “You have to ask your mother Jay. It is the only way to shed light upon this dark mystery.” Jay nodded and then Vikram said, “Jay, you have to come see this.” Vikram led, Jay followed. The two reached the former place where the portrait hung, it was massive and had a golden frame and each corner had a small sculpture of a lion’s face. It showed a drawing of six men, all of which Jay knew, except one, at the far left. “The five men are obviously my father and uncles, but who is that sixth man in the far left? A former brother perhaps?” Jay saw Vikram shaking his head, “no, that is not your uncle, that is Agnimukha.”

Jay’s heart pounded, he was completely bewildered, Agnimukha? The most notorious men ever lived? Next to my father and uncles? How? The questions swirled around Jay’s head, so that is the reason fate brought me here, the portrait and the basket. Both mysteries I haven’t solved yet. He stepped towards the painting for a better view and removed a torch to make the painting bright and visible. There, at the far left, arms crossed, stood Agnimukha. He had long coal-black hair, a straight face and a very attention-gaining scar starting from his upper lip and extending till the lower lip. He had two brown stern eyes and a nose that looked like it was broken for some time. His broad shoulders made him look like a beast wearing armor. Jay then swayed the torch towards his uncles who all looked the same, but younger and then his eyes caught on his father; he had the turban on his head. The same mysterious beige turban that he doesn’t remove. So that must mean that this is the era my father and uncles are leading the villages, Jay thought. His father looked younger and stronger, now he’s older and weaker. Jay finally made up his mind to ask his mother and solve those three riddles that haunted him. Suddenly Jay felt a small nudge on his left torso, he looked to his left and saw Vikram pointing towards the right side with a shaky right finger. He looked to his right and gasped in fear. There, standing in front of them was Jay’s mother, shocked at the sight.

Chapter 7

Vikram ended up leaving the royal house, while Jay sat miserably in his room on a chair near a fireplace. A glum face took over him. Jay looked at his mother as she was pacing around nervously playing with her fingers, a drop of sweat poured from her face, and started speaking: “Mother—“

“How did you find out about the place?” His mother interrupted him, “do you know how much trouble I will be in now if Dhananjay finds out about this?” Jay looked puzzled, “trouble? Mother, what could you possibly mean?” she took a deep breath, “I vowed to your father to never let you near that place.” Jay stood up angrily, “you’re wrong mother! Why are you hiding my life’s mysteries away? I’ve had enough of the dreams and I demand to know it. Am I not old enough to know?” he looked at his mother, waiting for an answer. She sniffed and looked at his eyes, “promise me you’ll never tell anyone, not even Vikram.” There was a small pause, “promise?” she asked again. Finally Jay nodded and sat down, along with his nervous mother. Finally the secret will be revealed, Jay sat with anticipation, waiting for the light to emit from his mother. “Years ago, your grandfather used to rule the five villages. In fact, the villages were all united as one. When your grandfather reached old age, he passed down his leadership to all his five heirs, who are your uncles and divided the once large village to five small villages, each brother ruled one village. Back then, the Veers were great friends with the Acharyas, the Acharyas are also of royal lineage, that is, Agnimukha’s family. Dhananjay and Agnimukha were very close friends, they were childhood friends. Like you and Vikram, they shared everything together, laughed together, played together. Agnimukha became a ruler of his village, Kansola, before Dhananjay, that was when he changed. He sided with power and “evil” is what he became. For riches and power, he waged war against Kharna and that war was so deadly, it lasted for two years. The outcome appeared when your uncles sided with your father and managed to make Agnimukha’s forces retreat. To ensure that Agnimukha’s forces fully retreated away, Dhananjay –along with two of his soldiers- went to the outskirts of the village, they went towards the forest to search for any of Agnimukha’s soldiers hiding and that was when they heard a baby’s voice” Jay’s heart was pounding hard, “the baby was crying” she pointed towards the window, Jay looked towards it and saw that his mother wasn’t just pointing to the window, but to the oak tree. “They found you there, in a small brown basket. Jay, your dreams were real and the dream that you saw five years ago was true, you were your father riding the horse in that dream, Jay. Then, Dhananjay took you and returned back to the village.” She looked down, Jay was breathing hard, tears flowing. His mother looked up and saw him in this state. She gasped and quickly hugged Jay, sobbing. “Don’t cry Jay, don’t let me see you cry, you make me cry.” Jay pulled away, “so I am not of real blood?” His mother just stared down, crying. “The turban is also a mystery to me, Jay. I can never know the answer. You will, when the time comes, but your father will not tell you, as a terrible curse will befall on us if he did. You will know it when you wear it Jay.” He breathed fast, the thought in his mind: I’m adopted. The words echoed in his head, he was shrouded in sadness and anger. He stormed out his room, he heard faint calls from his mother, but he ignored them and ran away, towards the outside world.

Chapter 8

It was a restless night for Jay, who was sitting on his bed, shaking, the words I’m adopted plagued his head, his knees were on his chest and his heart was in pain. All those years, thought Jay, and I never knew. Who are my real mother and father? Why did they leave me? What is the turban’s secret? Jay felt that he may never find the answers, except the last question, when he wears it and becomes the next leader of Kharna. Jay lied down and forced himself to sleep a dreamless sleep.

“Jay!” The sound of his mother attacked his ears and he woke up suddenly to find her full of tears and shaking, “we have to run.” Jay was still half-asleep and confused. She quickly made him stand and tugged his hand, leading him. “Mother where are we going?” Jay asked, but she ignored, as Jay regained his full consciousness, he immediately heard screams echoing through the walls, he looked around and heard more screams. More and more screams of terror. Jay started breathing fast, then he heard an explosion and realized that it came from outside. He ran with his mother and as he was doing that, he suddenly saw soldiers fighting inside the very house, but who were they fighting against? Jay did not know…yet. A door swung open suddenly in front of them and a soldier with swords appeared, Jay’s mother screamed and turned towards the left and ran with Jay. Jay knew that those are the enemies. “Where is father?” Jay asked, his mother answered: “he told us to go to the safe house and take the secret tunnel.” Jay’s eyes widened, “is he fighting?” His mother did not answer, he stopped her. “Mother, is he—“

“Yes. It is a war. Agnimukha’s back.” Jay fell silent. His mother turned, held his hand and continued running. They made it outside with a few soldiers by their sides, fires erupted from everywhere, houses were destroyed, people were killed, trees were on fire and Jay witnessed them all. He saw the walls of his royal house break and enemies were barging in, fighting Kharna’s soldiers. It was a chaotic sight. Jay looked towards the front and saw the old safe-house come into view. Jay scouted for his father, but with no avail. He scouted for Vikram and failed at that too. An explosion startled Jay as he saw fire dropping from the sky. Judging from the projectiles, he realized that they were catapulted. Agnimukha’s weapons are far too advanced. Jay realized. They finally reached the safe-house, but instead of entering from the front, they hurried towards the back. Once they reached there, Jay’s mother motioned for the soldiers to guard the secret entrance to the tunnel. Jay never entered the secret tunnel, but now it was time. They never entered the place at all, all that Jay’s mother did was command the soldiers to push a seemingly giant rock to reveal the passage, Jay touched the rock and to his surprise, it was very light! “It’s an illusion, son.” His mother explained. The two descended a ladder that led them underground. Jay looked up and saw the rock close the entrance. They hurried off towards a wooden door and pushed it open, a small room was revealed. Without hesitation, they entered the room. “Now this is where we will be for the night, hopefully.” Jay nodded. His mother sat down and Jay lied down, his head on her lap. She stroked his hair smoothly and beautifully, “everything will be alright.” From these words, Jay felt that he is safe with his mother, his peace.

The chaos finally reached its end with two results: one was that Agnimukha’s soldiers successfully retreated and two was a rather tragic result. A result that no one expected, a result that made Jay’s mother faint and Jay cry. Certainly, it was an expected result. Dhananjay Veer’s turban was removed.

Chapter 9

The funeral took place two days after Dhananjay’s death. In whites, Jay stood silently staring at his father burning at the stake. His soul will rest, father, I will miss you, but I vow to you that I will lead Kharna with no flaws and I will successfully avenge you. I promise father, I promise. Vikram, the name made a tear flow in his cheek, you too.

Chapter 10

The promise made Jay more serious and angry, Vikram’s death made him even more. His target was only one: Agnimukha. Jay wore his robes and exited his room, waiting for his mother. Jay’s mother appeared, “Jay, are you ready?” He looked at her eyes, “mother, why did father choose me to be the next leader? I am not of royal blood. What will I do if people find out?” He had millions of questions to ask her, but she calmed him with a touch on the shoulder and said: “Jay, your father believed in you. He knew that you have the ability to do so, he had great faith in you. He treated you like a real son and you are one of us, Jay. You are strong my ??ra, you are strong. He believed in you, now you have to believe in yourself.” The words made Jay form a small clam smile, his mother held out her hand and he held it.

The coronation day, where he will be the leader of the village has finally arrived. Jay will not only become the leader of Kharna, but he will also start fulfilling his revenge on Agnimukha. In addition, he will uncover the truth about the mysterious beige turban that once belonged to his blessed father. Jay’s mother left him alone outside the meeting chamber, which was the location for the coronation to take place. What is different is that it will be a secret so that Agnimukha does not get word of it. Jay entered the large chamber and saw his four uncles, who looked miserable and sad. They stood up from their chairs and greeted him. A few minutes later the time finally came; one of Jay’s uncles, Bharat, stood up and carried the turban, Jay looked at it, it looked very majestic, but now without an owner. Jay started feeling nervous as to what might be the secret of the turban. The questions why won’t the turban be removed? Why does it have a curse? will finally be answered. The turban was closed and wasn’t loose. Bharat offered it to his nephew, “Firstly” Bharat said, “You will have to read this oath.” With his left hand, he presented a scroll that had an oath written on it. Jay looked at the scroll and read it, with a right hand on his chest: “I vow to take this oath. I vow to be the next leader of this village, I vow to never lose my people’s trust, I vow to lead my village not to darkness, but to light, I vow to help the needy, I vow to be honest, I vow to be fair, I vow to risk my life for my people, I vow to protect my village from evil. With this oath, I sell my soul to the Lord and may he guide me to victory and salvation.” With shaky hands, Jay held out his hands and finally touched it. It felt smooth, he held it up and slowly lowered it towards his head. Jay felt his heart might burst as the turban touched the hairs of his head, then –like removing a band aid- Jay quickly fitted it in his head. He waited while breathing fast. He saw his uncles step back, which made him very nervous and sweat. Then he felt something happen in his head, the turban was fitting his head by itself! It twisted and turned by itself and Jay gasped, is this magic? Then the twisting stopped, the turban was a perfect fit. A short pause happened, before could Jay emit a sigh of relief, he winced as he felt a sharp pain everywhere in his head, he clutched the turban, but that only made it worse. He wanted to scream, but he held on. The pain seemed to pierce inside his head, through his skull until Jay realized that it is piercing through, but not pain only, the source as well. His questions were fully answered when he realized that small needles were piercing inside his own skull. Such design, that he never realized it. He formed the conclusion himself in his thoughts:

Long ago, there existed a village named Darva. It was known for its black magic and rituals. The most common of all, the nail-piercing black magic. I may not know the reason, but what I do know is that we are one of the victims of the village’s black magic. The turban was given to us as black magic and we have to obey them forever, or a terrible curse will fall on us. The turban, if its owner is dead, has to be passed down to the next descendant of his lineage in order to prevent the curse from happening and we are them. Now it is my turn to protect my family, rule Kharna and avenge you, my father. For good.

 


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