The Mystery of Kraghon
(~7000 words, Fantasy) - Bio at the end
Living the life of an adventurer had been good for him. The pumping of adrenaline, the thrill of victory and the ecstasy offered by the places all over the world enticed him. As he lay there staring at her eyes, he saw his death. Yet in her eyes, he also saw love. He had heard people say that when you are about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes. That was not true. He saw only her. She was his one true love and his last vision on earth.
He walked into the pub with his hood covering his head. He was a tall man with a broad frame but it was his crossbow and sword that attracted quite a few eyes. He looked at the barman and raised two fingers. The man nodded. He knew who was under the hood. He smiled knowing that the man under the hood was a generous tipper. The adventurer lowered his hood as his blond mane fell forward gracefully to cover his eyes. Immediately, a lot of the womenfolk turned to stare at him. He simply smiled. The stares did not bother him. He was used to awes and the stares and had had his fair share of women. Several men stared at him with contempt. The man looked untidy and weary but he had a charm that diverted the attention of the women they wanted to impress.
He sipped his drink slowly enjoying every drop touching his tongue. He loved the whisky served at that pub. He closed his eyes and enjoyed feeling the drink all over his mouth. After the warmness was lost, he swallowed. As he did that, he slowly pushed the other mug to the young brunette who walked forward to talk to him. She had been the first woman to pick up the courage to walk up to him. Taking the mug, she stared speechlessly at his perfect face slowly reaching forward to touch him. She leaned closer to him and ran her fingers over his beard. As he offered no resistance, she began to feel his sculpted body within his coat. After a sip of the drink, she loosened up and settled herself on his lap and moved her lips close to his cheek. He paid no attention to her as she planted a wet kiss on his cheek. He had a second drink which he finished much faster. Gently brushing aside the woman who was now nibbling his ear, he pushed a gold coin at the barman and muttered, ‘Keep the change’
Women at bars were not his type. Even if they were, he had no time for them now. This was a boost for his ego. He was comforted by knowing that he was still attractive and he had given the woman a free drink to make him feel that way. He had to meet his employer and mentor, to present him with the prize of his latest adventure. He moved majestically towards the door, pulling his hood back on. People stared at him in silence. He walked to his horse. He stroked its mane gently. This was not the horse that he rode on usually. He looked at the object that he kept in his pocket.
It was the prize of his latest adventure. He looked at it as the memory of the entire journey came into his mind. He had waded through an ocean, crossed a dangerous desert and reached an oasis halfway across the world for that prize. He had lost his beloved horse, Snowmane in the pursuit of the object. He was closer to Snowmane than he was to most humans. A twelve-year bond had ended and he was still getting used to riding a different horse. The adventurer had raided the tomb of King Cryseus of the Outland to find the healing crystal that he held in his hand. It was now time to deliver the treasure.
He walked with his steed towards his employer’s place. He was known to all in this place. Within moments, he had passed the sentries of the palace and was in front of King Arden. He did not kneel but bent down to look at the floor intending to bow. The solitary room, the king’s private chamber, had the familiar smell of incense and flowers. It was something that had never changed in all the years that the adventurer had known King Arden. A lot of work went into creating such a setup. The king had a dedicated area in his garden where he grew a special flower. It was harvested daily and boiled in a chamber within the palace. The vapour passed through a system of pipes where the vapours were mixed with incense which was burned throughout the day. The vapour combined with the smoke and passed through a filter which kept the particles away. The fragrance was calming and was diverted to several areas of the palace by the same system of tubes. A fortune was spent in maintaining this setup but the King was fond of it. A King could have whatever he wanted.
‘You are early’, said the king looking surprised to see the adventurer.
The adventurer nodded, now looking the king in the eye. He quickly caught a glimpse of the north-east corner of the room. His sharply trained senses would not miss anything. The king’s only son lay huddled on a bench. His face was void of any colour. It was gaunt and the man was shivering. The last time the adventurer remembered seeing him, the prince was about to set on a journey to establish trade with the nearby island of Oryza. It was the prince’s first mission so there was a lot of attention to the departure. King Arden had ensured that it was a grand celebration. It was the same day that the adventurer had set out to find the healing crystal. Unlike the prince, his departure was quiet. He preferred it that way.
The prince looked quite the opposite of what he was now. He looked confident and could not stop smiling on that day. He walked with pride and arrogance. Now, the adventurer could see the shadow of the man who was destined to rule the land. The prince now lay curled in fright.
‘Have you?’, began the king.
‘Yes’ , said the adventurer presenting the crystal to the king.
The king gasped in relief and rushed from the throne towards the adventurer. He snatched the amber crystal from the adventurer and looked at it fondly. The crystal was a few inches away from the adventurer’s eyes. It was yellow in colour but the material was semi-transparent. Within the amber crystal, he could see several tiny gold spots. For a moment, King Arden looked at the crystal like it was his new-born. After a very long silence he spoke, ’Stay in the palace for a while young man. We shall meet a little while later. As for your reward......’. Kind Arden looked around for attendants but nobody was nearby. He walked towards the door but the adventurer shook his head. King Arden was like a father to him. He had been living on the streets when the King came across him. The adventurer had saved the Queen from an accident in the marketplace. The King had taken him in and treated him well. He was never treated like a son but he was loved. The adventurer was grateful. He never sought anything from the King. King Arden was not perfect but the adventurer continued to serve him loyally. He had no trouble finding gold and Arden was generous. ‘What happened to the prince, my King?’, asked the adventurer.
‘That can wait till the evening’, said the king raising his hand to dismiss the adventurer. Over the years, the adventurer realised that he had mistaken the king’s gratitude for love. Over the years, the King used the adventurer to gain more treasure but the adventurer did not mind. He could not forget that the king took him in that he had nothing. Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with the king on many things, he continued to be loyal to him. He always had a place to stay in the palace.
He was escorted to the guest tower in the palace. A warm bath had been made for him with fragrant oils and bath salts. He bathed himself and found a delicious feast awaiting him. After eating sumptuously he was made to rest with soothing music. He slept like he hadn’t in days. He had dreams that made him smile in his sleep. He was sleeping in a soft bed after more than two months.
As he relaxed, his weapons were taken to be polished and sharpened. He slept the entire day and when he woke up, he realised that it was almost evening. The sun began to set as he slowly opened his eyes. A palace maid stood beside him. In her hand she held a platter with ale and snacks. In her eyes, she feasted herself on the adventurer as he stretched and yawned. Taking notice of her, he accepted the platter and showed her out of his chamber. When he had enough refreshments, he dressed up to meet the king.
It was a long time since he last walked without weapons. He felt exposed and vulnerable. He walked briskly towards the king’s chamber. He was allowed into the chamber by the sentry who closed behind him.
The king had brought a table to the centre of the room. The prince lay on the table covered with a blanket and his eyes cold. There were dark circles around his eyes and his skin was pale. There was pain in face as he twitched from time to time. The king had a goblet in his hand and nodded as the adventurer stepped into the room. He took a deep breath and stared at the prince.
‘When you last came to visit me, my son was leaving to establish trade with Oryza. It was a good journey. Oryza is not far from here. I had sent him on an easy mission to give him a taste of success. He exceeded my expectations. The mission was successful. My boy signed his first trade agreement. When I received the news, I was proud beyond anything in the world. To the north-west of Oryza lies Kraghon, the island of the Venom women’, said the king and choked. The adventurer tried to talk but the King raised his hand to stop him. Clearly, King Arden wanted to talk.
The adventurer had heard rumours about Kraghon but he waited for the king to continue.
‘The island was once a beautiful kingdom. My grandfather’s father had flourishing trade with the people of the island nation. It was ruled by the young Queen Electra, the prettiest woman the world has ever seen. She was so beautiful that she could tempt the Gods yet she was so just and humble. As she reached the age for marriage, many sought to marry her but she refused all proposals. Kings, warriors, merchants and holy men tried in vain to convince her to marry them. The entire island was blessed with beautiful women. You must have heard this mentioned in many poems in even faraway lands. Following their Queen, the young women of the island rejected marriage too. Their beauty was so enticing that most men could not comprehend this. The women were irresistible. Enraged and driven by lust, several men attacked the island to kidnap women. After protecting their women initially, the men who were natives of the island also joined the invaders. It was one of the most brutal invasions in history. What was done there was so bestial that all written records were erased to save people the shame of their descendants learning about this. Those poor women were hunted like animals for sport and ravaged. This continued until only the queen and a handful of her fraternity remained. She was valiant but she knew that she could not overpower the invaders. Seeking no alternative, the queen and her fraternity prayed to God to save them. God appeared in front of them and offered to drive the men away but the Queen wanted him to destroy every man on earth. God would not grant this request and told them that man and woman were parts of nature’s balance. God would not let the sins of a few affect all men in the world. The Queen even offered herself to convince God but she was denied. Cursing him, the Queen turned to the devil. The devil was cunning. She asked if the queen would like to destroy the men herself for what they had done. God implored them not to accept the devil’s offer but in vain. The Queen was filled with so much grief that she could not see reason. The devil offered them agelessness and multiplied their beauty so that they could seduce anyone. She gave them the power to confuse minds. It is rumoured that anyone who saw the Queen would instantly become her slave. Finally, she gave them poison in their lips. Their ultimate weapon came to be known as the kiss of death. God begged the queen to think one last time. But vengeance had clouded her soul. From then on, there was no turning back. The Queen watched from the top of her castle as her army of seductresses destroyed the army that attacked the land. Very soon, they paid the price for siding with the devil. They began to lose their minds and soon, they existed only to kill men’
The king took a deep breath and had a goblet of wine to drink. He did not offer the adventurer a glass. The adventurer looked on as the king calmed himself to continue. He had heard the story once before but he had not believed it. The king took a deep breath and continued.
‘Every man who stepped on the island met a brutal death. A hundred years passed beyond which people could not tolerate the plight of men. Kraghon is at the centre of many trade and travel routes. Any man who stopped there was killed. People from various parts attacked the island over the years and cut and burnt whomever they caught. This was very difficult as most men were seduced and turned against their comrades before they could attack. To seduce a man, all the Queen had to do was look him in the eye. Tens of men died for every woman that was killed. Very soon, only the queen remained. Combined with her natural beauty, she was even more powerful. After all, all she had to do to hypnotise a person was to look into their eyes. Fifteen years of trying to hunt and the men of the world decided to avoid the island. The island is the only place in the world that contains a special fruit called Red Berry. It is said to be sweeter than any fruit on the planet. In many kingdoms, the island has been the main topic of talk in bars. Men dare each other for a test of courage and skill to go into the island and return with a Red Berry. Not many have been fruitful. My child tried to do it so stupidly. He went in with a group of men to try and slay the queen’, said the Kind sadly. He stared blankly at the adventurer. This time, the wine did him no favour. He took a deep breath and lifted the blanket that covered the prince. His left leg was severed at the ankle and it looked nauseating.
‘What happened?’, asked the adventurer in shock.
‘He was tempted by people at a bar in Oryza to find the Red Berry. Foolishly, he accepted the challenge. He and his crew of fifteen others went into the island. There …’, the King broke off for a moment, unable to continue. He took a deep breath and finally spoke in a sombre tone. ’She turned his men against him. He fought bravely but it was fifteen men against my little boy. She came to him and mocked him. He fought as hard as he could but he had to run away to save himself. He was found on the shores by the remainder of the crew from the ship. My ancestors were one of the few people responsible for the first attack on the island. She recognised him for whom he was from his crest. She mocked him and left him as his men killed themselves.
The king stroked the prince’s hair and spoke, ‘I have understood this much from his muttering. I pray that nobody has to go through what my son went through. Hearing him was painful. I can only imagine his pain. I sent you to find this crystal for a different purpose but I now have use for it’, said the King gravely.
He brought a huge goblet to the table. From inside the goblet, he took the crystal. The usually amber crystal now had a bright yellowish glow, dripping with the liquid from the goblet. The king placed the crystal in a box and poured a little amount of the glowing yellow fluid in the goblet into a smaller vessel. He poured the liquid drop by drop on the severed foot. Each drop fizzed as it touched the wound. The prince groaned, too weak to scream from pain. Slowly skin started to grow back as the king made his son drink from the goblet. His body relaxed and his face calmed. He slowly fell asleep as the king stroked his hair.
‘I want you to kill her’, said the king abruptly.
‘What?’, croaked the adventurer in disbelief.
‘No more ruthless killing. No more lost lives. No more lost sons. No more. Take one life to save many’, said the king. The man looked at the adventurer. For the first time, his eyes sought obedience.
‘Your majesty’, began the adventurer nervously, ‘I am an adventurer. I am not an assassin. Besides, she did this only to save herself. I see no reason to kill the woman.’
‘No reason?’, asked the king in disbelief. ‘No reason?’, he asked again, except that this was an anguished cry. ‘Is this not enough?’ screamed the king furiously pointing at the prince. His foot was growing back slowly as the king spoke. ‘Fifteen people have lost their lives. You always tell me that you will do anything for me. You said that you owed me. Were those mere words?’, asked the king tearfully.
The adventurer looked the king in the eye. The man had lost his sanity on seeing his son’s plight. The life that the adventurer had was the one that the king had given him. Everything that he had was due to the grace of King Arden. He had enjoyed the favour of the king for quite a long while. The man had been the father that he never had. The adventurer had been uneasy about their relationship for quite a while. It was clear now. The King saw him as someone he could command, nothing more. He could not wait to see his love for the man fade away. He would do as he was commanded but he had to move on for the sake of their relationship.
The adventurer looked straight into the eyes of the king and spoke, ‘I have always looked at you as the father I never had. I will do this for you. I will do all that I can to stop her. I do not know if I will succeed but I will make an attempt. I do not know if I will succeed but I give you my word that I will make an attempt in which I will end her menace. I do not want to kill her but I will make an attempt because you asked me to. That is unfair by my conscience but I will either stop her or die at her hands. I shall leave in a while but I will never return to this kingdom.’
‘My boy!’, exclaimed the king in shock.
The adventurer raised his hand to silence him and spoke, ‘I shall leave tomorrow by dusk on foot. I will meet you in the morning. I have made up my mind. Wish me a good adventure, my King’. The adventurer bowed to the king and left for his chamber.
He refused to see anyone for the remainder of the day. He gathered his weapons and lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. He knew that he would never see the palace again regardless of the result of his adventure. When it was almost midnight, he went to the place that gave him the spirit of adventure as a kid. The dimly lit library offered pleasant warmth as he entered it. He looked for books on the destination he had to reach. He found a handful of books and began to read. It was almost dawn when he returned to his chamber to rest.
He was woken up sometime before noon by a chill breeze. He saw Arden sitting opposite him with a gaunt look. He seemed to have been there for a while. The king had never been to the adventurer’s chamber before.
‘Look here, my lad’, he began as the adventurer rubbed his eyes and wished the king. He held the adventurer’s hand and spoke, ‘Forgive me, my lad. Perhaps I was a bit emotional yesterday. I don’t want you to do this. I would never impose anything on you. I want you to stay here with me. Forgive this old man for asking you such a thing. Please stay with me.’
‘I really want to do this. It will be my best adventure. I want to see this woman who can seduce even the Gods. I want to visit this island. I have always seen you as my father. You had every right to ask me anything you wanted. You have but to name what you want from me, my king.’
Sensing finality in his tone, the king embraced the adventurer and said, ‘This palace will always be open to you’
He got ready to leave when the king thrust a glass vial into his palm. The adventurer looked at the king questioningly. The king spoke, ‘This is some of the potion made from the healing crystal. It will heal any wound. Take care of yourself, my dear lad.’
He bowed one last time to the king and set off on his journey. Three days later the adventurer was nearing the island of Kraghon. The ship he sailed in stopped a mile away from the island. He believed that a boat would be detected and refused to take one. He dived into the ocean and swam like a shark. He swam towards the shore to a point where the trees were dense. He reached the shore and stood awed at the scenery. The island was lush green and trees grew as they pleased, uninhibited by mankind. About a mile from the city stood the walls of the city. It was the fortress of Queen Electra. Plants had grown all over the wall and almost concealed the entire wall. The only visible structure was a tower from the palace on the farthest corner. It was probably the Queen’s tower that he had read about. It was the tower from which she watched her army prey on the invaders. He moved cautiously to avoid detection. In a matter of minutes, he had scaled the wall of the city. He was ready to shut his eyes at the slightest movement. He knew that as long as he did not look into her eyes, he would not fall under her spell.
A forest stood beyond the wall. The books in the library had no information about this. The walls of the castle enclosed a huge city that would have rivalled King Arden’s. There was a river running through it. The reflection of the blue sky on the clear water and the reflection of the trees on the banks offered it grandeur. The adventurer stood mesmerized on seeing the spectacle. This view alone was enough to incapacitate a man. He found a tree whose branches were well concealed and mounted it to rest for the night. The tree gave him a good view of the waterfall from which the river flowed. For seven days he waited with not even a glimpse of the queen. He set a camp cautiously over the One the eighth day, he was shaving his beard when he heard the fluttering of wings. He mounted the tree and took out his scope. Then he saw her. She truly was the prettiest woman in the world. She had stopped ageing at either her late teens or her early twenties. The birds and animals of the island were now her subjects. They moved
with her like escorts. The whole scene was spellbinding.
He watched her closely as she disrobed and stepped into the water. She stepped into the water gracefully. She smiled with childish delight as she waded the water and swam like a majestic swan. Her body was slim and her fingers were slender. The diamond rings on her finger glittered. She was used to being alone and she had no reason to expect threats. Her eyes shone brightly and made him realise why she could seduce people by just looking eye to eye. Her hair extended to her waist and was as black as the night. He knew then that he could never kill her. She looked so very beautiful and smiled an elegant smile that could be paralleled by none.
He wanted to go to her. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to caress her. It was silly to try to kill this woman. She was to be worshipped and cherished. His arm felt heavy and he dropped his telescope. Only then did his senses come back to him. He realised that she knew that he was watching her. He had not been spying on her. She had carefully laid out a trap and he had now lost his cover. He was no longer a secret visitor to the island. He mounted the cliff that was nearby and did the only thing that could defend him from the queen. He stood there awaiting her. He did not want to attack.
After seeing her, he was not sure if he could.
He waited for hours but she did not come. He walked down the cliff cautiously at dawn the next day. He went back to the tree from which he had spied on her. He looked around for signs of any movement when a hand touched his shoulder. His heart began to beat so hard that he felt that his ribs would break. He wanted to do nothing but to turn and look at her face even if it meant instant death. He shut his eyes as tightly as he could as she turned him around.
‘I am not here to kill you’, said the adventurer.
‘I am not sure you can do that, love’, she said in a beautiful voice and a haughty tone.
‘Open your eyes and look at me’, she said.
He shut his eyes tightly and asked, ‘Why do you want to kill every man on this island?’
‘Why talk of all that?’, she asked. He could sense that she was walking around him. She placed her hands on his shoulder as she moved around. She was confident. She knew that she had caught him. This time, there was no haughtiness in her voice. She hissed, ‘Men deserve to die. You do too’.
He did the only thing that struck his mind. When he felt her move behind him, he ran. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. From the corner of his eye he saw that she was beginning pursuit. He ascended the cliff with lightning pace. He stubbed his toe on a rock and stumbled forward. She was gaining on him. She gave a yelp of delight when the ground below her gave way. It happened so fast. The look of delight had not left her face as she began to fall. The hunter was now the hunted. The adventurer dived forward to catch her before she fell into the pit that he dug for her. He managed to catch her by the hand but realised that he was looking at her in the eye.
For a moment, he waited to lose his senses but nothing happened. Her eyes widened in shock. His eyes slowly moved downwards. Protruding from beneath her chest was a huge wooden spike. That was when the adventurer realised that he had become a murderer. ‘No!’, he screamed. Mustering all his strength he pulled her off the spike and put her on the ground. The woman panted heavily and he knew that her breathing would stop at any second when he realised a bulge in his pocket. He felt his pocket and took out the object. It was the vial containing the potion made from the healing crystal. Quick as a flash, he poured half of it on the wound and the remainder into her mouth. She looked at him in fear as he poured the potion into her mouth and winced for a second. She brought her hand upward and clutched his collar and then, her body became limp. Just before she passed out, she saw tears in the man’s eyes and then it all went black.
Seventeen days passed. The adventurer looked worn out and had not bothered to shave or sleep. Thanks to the potion, her breathing had not stopped. However, she had not opened her eyes. He laid her on the bed he made for her with grass and leaves. He had nursed her wounds and covered her body with a blanket. He was next to her, night and day. For every cough, every sniffle and every deep breath, he checked for any sign of consciousness. He waited for a long time and finally without being able to go on, he passed out from exhaustion.
When he woke up, she was sitting with the blanket covering her on the other corner of the tent he had made for her. He stared at her and she at him for what seemed to be hours. Finally he spoke, ‘I am sorry.........’
She raised her hand to stop him and spoke. It seemed as though she had not spoken in a long while. ‘My name is Electra’, she said.
‘I know’, he nodded. He was terrified that he was looking at her eyes but he did not turn away. He knew that it was pointless.
‘You remind me of men who used to live here, the good ones. They were the kind of men who did not see women as objects of lust. That was until my father was alive. After that, they changed. We drove them out and became what I am today. Men have wanted us for our bodies and have hunted us to satisfy their lust. But .... ’, she said and stopped to look at the wound inside the blanket. The wound had healed completely. She covered herself and spoke solemnly, ‘I thank you for saving my life. You were not obligated to but I am grateful’
‘I am sorry for the type of men whom you have seen but not all men are like that. You have killed many innocent people due to your thirst for vengeance’, said the adventurer.
She looked at him with surprise. The adventurer was nervous as he spoke but he was not nervous about speaking his mind. He was honest and that was refreshing. Reluctantly, the Queen and the adventure began a conversation. Very soon, they became comfortable.
They spoke from then on for hours. Neither of them had ever laughed so much in a long time. It was a new experience for both of them. Finally, she walked up to him and held up to his hand.
‘What are you doing?’, he asked, looking dazed.
‘I am the Queen of this land. You have saved my life. I owe a tour of my palace to my saviour at the least’, she said gratefully and kissed the man on his cheek. It was one of those moments when you know that it is right. The adventurer was surprised that she kissed him. She was so beautiful. He could not believe that she was the one who had killed so many people. He moved forward to her lips but she stopped him with a terrified look. He wondered if he had misunderstood her when she quickly kissed his other cheek. ‘My lips are poisoned, love. You will die the moment my lips touch yours. That is the price of my agelessness. I don’t want to kill you. I want to be with you’, she said as she embraced him.
‘You haven’t seduced me have you?’, asked the adventurer still looking dazed.
‘If I had, you’d be dead love’, she said calmly.
‘You truly are beautiful’, he said as she blushed crimson red turning even more pretty. She took him on foot towards her palace. The walled citadel consisted of four marble buildings, one of which was her private palace. It must once have been a properly planned city. There was a place for everything. Water from the river was diverted to reach the dwellings. There was also a system of drains that emptied into the river just outside the citadel. The adventurer was amazed by the architecture. Even King Arden’s kingdom did not have such planning. Just like the rest of the island, the palace too had plants grown all over it but somehow, that increased the beauty of the palace. They reached the highest tower and looked out the window as they embraced. The queen of Kraghon had found her mate.
Three days later, they lay on the bed as he held her palm and stroked her fingers. He kissed her fingers and spoke, ‘How are we going to do this, love? You are ageless and may live forever unless someone kills you and I am a mere mortal. How are we going to make this work?’
‘I will live as long as you do, love. We shall have many children each with my beauty and your heart and valour. When you die’, she said looking directly into his eye, ‘I will too’
They had not told the words ‘I love you’ to each other and the adventurer felt that they did not need to. Some things were better left unsaid. She placed her head on his chest and closed her eyes. He glanced downwards at her flawless face and stroked her hair as she smiled, enjoying his touch. He glanced downwards at her flawless face and stroked her body. He had found another person who loved him for who he was and she had found someone who loved her for something more than her looks. Life was perfect on the island that had no other people. Electra was the treasure the adventurer had been searching for his whole life. They fell asleep locked in embrace but were rudely woken up by the chirping of birds. The adventurer opened his eyes lazily as the queen rushed to the window pulling on a robe as she went. She returned with fury.
‘People’, she said splashing water from the bedside table onto her face. ‘People with weapons’, she said as the adventurer rushed to the window and looked at the shore with his telescope.
‘Wait here for a while. I will finish them in minutes’, she said moving towards the door.
‘Wait’, said the adventurer holding her hand and continued, ’The ship bears the crest of my homeland’. It was King Arden’s crest. ‘I will talk to them’, said the adventurer.
Convincing her that he could reason with the invaders, the adventurer dressed up and left to meet the people giving her his telescope. He ran towards the people. On seeing him, they lowered their weapons. Heading the group of eleven men was the prince. He looked weary but his eyes shone brightly. He reminded the adventurer of the arrogant boy he used to be.
‘Your majesty’, he called as he moved forward, ‘The king wouldn’t want you here’
‘I am the king now’, said the prince gravely. He paused for a moment. ‘Have you found her?’, he asked hopefully.
‘Killing her will give you nothing’, said the adventurer, understanding that the prince was there for revenge. It had only been a few days but he knew how much regret Electra had due to her vengeance. She was ridden with guilt despite her powers. He did not wish King Arden’s son to go through that.
‘My father said the same. He asked me to leave the woman alone’, barked the prince.
‘Yes your majesty. I am sure that he would have. Your father was wise’, said the adventurer.
‘That is why I killed him’, said the prince angrily, ‘Now tell me if you have found her’
The adventurer looked at the prince in shock. The prince had killed a man he considered as a father. He had killed the man who was both a teacher and a mentor to the adventurer. His heart now fumed with rage. ‘Not until I am dead, you heartless brute!’, he screamed, unsheathing his sword and holding it with his right and his crossbow in his left.
‘Fool. Don’t die for that whore. I shall forgive you for your insolence and spare you if you tell me where she is’, said the prince, taking out his own sword.
He needed no time to make up his mind. The adventurer kicked the prince hard on the chest and swung his sword at the prince’s companions. Three heads separated from bodies in the first few swings and the adventurer had shot an arrow into the eye of a fourth man. He sprinted towards a nearby tree as seven men pursued him closely. He kicked hard on the tree and swung his sword as he rose up in the air killing two more men. He landed awkwardly and turned to face the five men when he heard a movement behind him. He moved instinctively but the prince’s sword grazed his thigh making a deep cut. The adventurer flung his crossbow at the prince as he fell to the ground. The five men surrounded him with raised swords as the prince fell to the ground with a grunt.
As they moved in for the kill, he swung his sword at the knee of the nearest man putting him in the way of the other four swords. He rose to his knees as he pushed his sword into the heart of the man in front of him. Moving his head away from the next man’s sword, he plunged his sword into his neck. As he let down all his defence in that move, he waited for a sword to strike him from behind but nothing happened. He turned to see the men drive their swords into each other’s necks. Standing behind them was Electra clad in a warrior’s attire. He saw her eyes and lost track of everything. Her power was intense. She shook him roughly to bring him back to his senses. He turned to look at the prince. The prince aimed his crossbow at Electra and got ready to fire a poisoned arrow. His heart almost stopped in fear as he flung his sword at the prince instinctively. Almost at the same time, the prince fired his weapon. He dived at Electra and pushed her out of the way. When he lifted his head off her, he was pleased to see that she was safe. He turned to look at the prince who had been impaled by the sword thrown at him.
He attempted to get up but he could not. He looked down. The poisoned arrow had struck him right below the knee. Then the pain hit him. He wanted to scream but no sound came out. Then he heard a scream. Her scream hurt him more than the poisoned arrow. She hugged him tightly and cried her heart out.
‘It’s alright’, he said with a smile. ‘You’re alright’
‘You .... Look ’, she tried to speak but she choked.
He would die soon as the poison was spreading. He was losing feeling below his hip. They did not have the healing potion anymore. He spoke to her despite the pain in a calm whisper, ‘I’ve been with women before but there has been no one like you. The three days that we have been together was like being in heaven. I have no regrets. I have someone who loves me’, he said and he kissed her full on the mouth. They kissed with passion for a few wonderful seconds. When they broke apart, he said ‘I love you’ and seeing love in her mystifying eyes, he dropped dead. The adventurer, who grew up an orphan, died as the king of Kraghon.
Days later, the search party from Arden’s kingdom arrived on the island only to find the Queen of Kraghon dead. She clasped hands with a man they could not recognise. People soon inhabited Kraghon. To this day, in the tallest tower of the palace, one can hear the sound of a man and a woman laughing and chatting.
This is the story of how the Devil’s pact with the women of Kraghon ended. It ended with the only thing that he feared. Love.
Author Bio : I am a banker by profession and a writer by passion. I am an aspiring novelist, currently building my writing profile by submitting my short stories to reputed publications and podcasts. I've recently signed up with a literary agent and am looking to get published next year. I am available on Instagram @VVRamanWrites
This is a conversation between the lead characters in my completed manuscript, 'Zach and the Goddess'. This is a contemporary-fiction set during the later stages of the covid pandemic.
"My father says that a god is like a parent to us. My parents tell me when I do something wrong. They teach me what is right", said Zach earnestly.
Kali smiled and took his hand. There was a small burn in his index finger. "How did you get this?", asked Kali.
"I got burned by a candle", said Zach.
"Did your parents not warn you about the fire?", asked Kali calmly.
"Warn me? They used to scare me saying that the fire will hurt me", said Zach.
"How did you get hurt by fire? Were you not scared by it?", asked Kali.
"I was terrified but I was curious. I did not believe that something so beautiful could hurt me. As I grew up, I was more curious than afraid", said Zach.
"Your parents did not warn you when you were older?", asked Kali, smiling.
"They were stricter than before. I remember my father got very angry one time", said Zach.
"That did not stop you, did it?", asked Kali.
"It did not", said Zach, looking down at his feet.
"Now?", asked Kali.
"I know better", said Zach shrugging.
"What about your parents?", asked Kali.
"They know now that I know what fire can do to me", said Zach.
"When you go near the fire, do they still threaten you?", asked Kali.
"No. They understand that I know enough about fire. They tell me to be safe but they don't scold me when I get close", said Zach calmly.
"Why should god be any different?", asked Kali.
The story features a boy who has run away from home. The story deals with abandonment issues, positive body-image, humanity and religion. The story steers away from any controversy and talks about how people should treat other people.
Why is it a good fit? Trident Media group is one of the best literary agencies globally. I believe that I have one of the best scripts that appeals to a wide audience. I want to take my script to only the best.
The hook : A nine-year old boy and a Goddess go to a theme park
Synopsis : Feeling unloved by his parents, nine-year-old Zach runs away from home. He decides to go to Wonderland, the happiest place in the world. During his journey, he comes across a mysterious woman who claims to be a goddess. After some skepticism, Zach believes her. She joins him on the journey during which they discuss prayer, God, religion and the purpose of life. The goddess shows Zach how mankind misinterprets things and makes him realize that his parents loved him more than he understood. She helps him make a choice that could undo his terrible mistake
Target audience : Ages 9+, parents of kids aged 9+ and people who love philosophy
Bio : I am a banker by profession and a writer by passion. I've been published internationally for research but I have a fondness for storytelling. I have recently signed up with a literary agent for two of my manuscripts. I am based out of India. I have published a short story series on Amazon titled 'Scribbles in the back-benches'.
Platform : @VVRamanWrites (Instagram)
Education : MBA and Bachelors in Engineering
Experience : Internationally published researcher, Aspiring Novelist
Personality / writing style : I hope to be a writer who can handle multiple genres and write stories that bring happiness to my readers. My fiction is based on reality though I try to experiment on genres
Circle of Life
(This is based on my short-story with the same title. I hope you enjoy it)
Once, in a dense wood
A rock split a vast river
Looking like a throne
A frog sat on it
I am king! Croaked the frog
Gobbling a tiny bug
A sharp pain hit him
When a snake swallowed him whole
Some king! The snake scoffed
He felt a sharp pain
A falcon took him, smiling
She was the true king
A hunter took aim
The animals were silly
God smiled, ending his fate
(For more such content, follow me on Instagram @vvramanwrites)
A Realistic Dream
(I've recently signed up with a literary agent so this could actually happen to me. Like most of my writing, this will be close to reality)
As a child, most of my aspirations were limited to chocolates, action-figures, sports equipment and food. I still am that person but I now have a few more goals. As I grew older, my father made me wiser (a bit). I now have a set of goals which include
- financial stability
- a writing career
- funding my travel and
- working on causes I believe in
I promised myself that my first paycheck would be split into five parts. Two years into the journey, nothing has changed.
Firstly, I'd have to treat my friends and family who have been supportive of my writing. The first part of this unexpected windfall would do that. I'd take them to a restaurant or take them on a trip (two birds with one stone) depending on the check. It could be anything between a meal at our favourite restaurant to a week in Bali.
The second part would involve adding some money to my savings. I'm a person with a background in finance. It would be very unlike me if I did not have savings on my mind. I have a diversified portfolio and I'd add money to this portfolio in my preferred proportions.
A writing career is my passion. While I love interacting with people and fans (I hope so), I'm not the best when it comes to marketing. I will set aside some money for a PR agency to help me build my presence as a writer. Who knows? If I can live from what I write, my passion and my profession would be the same. Isn't that a dream?
I love to travel. I travel once every quarter (at the least). I travel solo, with friends and with family with equal happiness. There have been a few trips that I have been postponing due to financial reasons. This would be the time to revisit the best of those plans.
Finally, I'm a person who loves to help people. I looked at a lot of causes and there were only two that resonated with me. 'Education for All' and 'Clean Environments'. I focused on the first. On October 18th 2021, I started the VK Scholarship (DEEPAM Venkatachalam - Kalyani Scholarship). I'd like to develop this and fund the education of a minimum of a hundred kids from underprivileged backgrounds.
I was once told that life doesn't wait for us. We need to try making every moment count. In every moment in my life now, I am working on all my dreams. That has made me one of the happiest people I know. This check for my writing, would help me do it better. Let me keep hoping.
(Thanks for setting up this topic. I don't know if I will win but was fun to write what was on my mind)