The Book of Fate

Two People.
Two Worlds.
One Book.

The Great Storyteller has one of the biggest creations in mind that the universe would ever witness since its beginning. But worlds apart they stand on a wobbling ground, and find each other's supporting hands...

Everything is written by The Storyteller and everything would end with the tip of his pen. How would this story end?

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3. Land Of Enchantress And The Enchanting


 

The sweet smell of flowers overwhelm the my senses as I walk deeper into the fray. The sound of squabbles between vendors and bargaining witches is a sight to behold. Nothing over here ever gets boring and in the outskirts of Nareesia , entertainment is found in every corner of the street. Couples argue, infants scream against their mothers' embrace, their heads bloat into a red ball of tears. Musicians play veritable instruments made of scrap metal, colourful sparkles pop in air with each pull of a string and beat of the drum. The dancers keep up their spirits by collecting paizas from the surrounding crowd while still coordinating as they leap up in the sky, trapezing and somersaulting in air till the time their stomach gets sick(which it never does of course, but I wonder if they just hide it). The gamut of colourful sight in one place reminds me of what I had missed every single day of my life. If this isn't magic then what is? 

"I don't like this." Rahbia clutches her satchel tightly until her knuckles go white. "I-I don't like this at all, something might go wrong. " 

Her eyes flit in different directions and back to me within a fraction of second, sweat dripping down her temples like water.

"Calm down for once, Rahbia. There is nothing to be afraid of," I say. 

I advance forward when I hear a gasp, a hand grasps my arm, pulling me backwards that I almost trip on my ankle.

"Rahbia!" 

Rahbia's nails dig into my skin as she strides- almost running- ahead of me without looking back. 

"Ra-Rahbia! You're hurting me! Stop!"

She vehemently shakes her head, walking faster than before. "Nonononono..."

I bump against someone, not even getting time to stop and apologize. Maybe ignoring each other is something acceptable in the markets with so many people around; another new experience for me. I look back and see a tall man in long tunic, a light shade of blue and white uniform in stark contrast with the black boots and the long cape running down his back with a long sceptre in his hand, his gaze fixed on me. A shiver runs down my spine. 

"A palace guard... " 

"We have got to go!" 

I don't know where Rahbia is taking me, I am not scared but I don't want to leave this place, this beautiful sight, just to run away from a potential danger. The palace guard couldn't see me, but I am definite he might have felt my presence, for I felt his when his eyes bore into my skull. It's the worst feeling ever, being looked through by them. Even though they don't have the power of sight, their power of intuition and soul reading has always scared me. They cannot see, but they can. 

I can hear the tip tap of horse shoes behind us, getting closer and closer. No one else seems to notice us, they walk past, engaged in their own lives. Everything odd around me has always been looked at suspiciously. But the life outside is completely different from what I have been told. Everyone has a life and anything odd isn't odd, there is enough oddity in the world to dim the oddness out and look like it's normal. Because it is normal, and odd at the same time. 

We turn around into a dingy street, shaded from the sun, away from the crowd. Rahbia pulls me into a dark corner as we wait for them. My heart beats against my chest not that I am scared but because of running for the longest time in my life. This day has been full of new experiences for me. Full of life. This couldn't get any better. 

The guards haven't followed us, if they's had known about our presence they would have locked our feet then and there with their empty gazes. 

Rahbia collapses on her knees, wheezing and coughing. "I... cannot… do... this anymore. No."

I settle down and take a moment to catch my breath. It feels like someone has pushed pins inside my chest, and my teeth tickle so much they might pop out in order to escape the tyranny. 

"I am very, very sorry, ma'am. I hope I didn't hurt you." She grabs my hand with both her sweaty palms and brushes my knuckles against her eyelids one at a time. It's a gesture I dread the most -apologising-which Rahbia often does for silliest of mistakes. 

"It's okay-it's okay! I forgive you." 

Nothing on this street stirs, nor is there any sound to be heard unlike the markets which bustled with life. It's like someone has turned off a switch in the world and everything went dark over here. The shops look empty and there is no stall to be seen. The shadows of the shops fall on the ground, hiding this place from the warmth of the sun. It is the most isolated part of the town I have ever been to. 

"Hissssssssss"

A black cat leaps out from behind one of the dumping drums, making me jump. Its warm golden eyes shines in the dark as it stares at us. It bares its sharp teeth and hisses at us again. It's nothing like my cat Woopy. 

"Your highness, stay away from the stray, it might hurt you!"

"Don't call me that, someone might hear you!" I turn towards the cat whose eyes were shining now. 

"Hello, kitty," I stretch my arms out, gesturing it to come closer. "Can you lead us the way to the palace, from somewhere that is away from the market? Please."

Its curious golden eyes looks back and forth from me to Rahbia and it opens its jaws again. 

"Yes." It's very low and shrill, almost a meow, that only I can understand. 

"What did it say, your highness?" 

Before I can answer, the cat is on its way. 

We follow the cat through narrow passages, walking in the gaps between the shops. I can't see a straight path to the castle, only a series of narrow winding streets where I might have gotten lost if the cat wasn't there. It doesn't feel we are getting any closer to the palace but I think it's just because my legs are aching, walking more than I normally do. 

The cat leaps on a shop's window sill and scratches on the glass. 

“What are you doing? Kitty, we have to go, there isn't enough time,” I say. 

“Madam, this stray doesn't know where it is going.”

"Wrrrrrong," it hisses. 

“See? It's just one aggressive stray cat who is trying to fool us.” Rahbia folds her arms and raises her chin. "I think we should leave it and go."

"Oh no, it was saying-"

The door of the shop clicks open and a man in a long black robe, with the longest beard I have ever seen on a man, steps out. 

"Ah, my Nadiah, brought us some friends, eh?" the man says, his grey moustache twitches up into a smile. 

“Meow,” Nadiah says, which actually means 'meow'. Nadiah brushes past the man's leg and walks into the shop. 

The shop is bigger than it looks from the outside. Its every inch of space is occupied by shelves and books and books and books. Dim light emits from the fireplace and a lantern sits on top of a round oak table in the middle of the shop, surrounded by a lifetime supply of worn out bundles of scripts and binded books. The old bearded man introduces himself as Maharshi Kush.  

Maharshi Kush swishes his hands in air, chants some unintelligible words and snaps his fingers. A glass of purple-red liquid appears on the table along with a bronze plate full of snacks. I suddenly feel ashamed I still haven't mastered this trick, mum doesn't know, she will be highly disappointed if she does. 

My teacher, Maharshi Vaidhya is the most knowledgeable of all Maharshis in our Kingdom and obviously the most respected. As far as I remember, he told me once that Maharshis are not allowed to perform magic in any way provided the Kingdom is not in any grave danger. The life of Maharshis is supposed to be secluded from others and unique, they live a disciplined life and vow to never use magic for their own benefits or anyone else's, they can only use it for the protection of the Kingdom and that too in only some specific circumstances. 

And Maharshi Kush doesn't even look like a Maharshi. 

“Ah, nah, I don't,” he mumbles. 

“Excuse me?” I say, confused by him talking all of a sudden.

“I don't look like a Maharshi, but I am.” The way his eyes shine and his beard twitches tells me he is smirking and trying hard not to laugh. 

“You read my mind,” I say. 

“Oh I was certain he is a fraud, miss, we shouldn't have been here in the first place!” Rahbia emphasises, her face getting redder every minute. She can never hide her nervousness, poor girl. 

“Stop gibbering nonsense, girlie, I'm not even talking to you anyway. I just want to speak with this lady over here...” He winks. “Princess Plavini.”

The way Rahbia's lips tremble, I think she is about to cry. No one knows how I look, no one outside the palace at least. And no one is supposed to know that I am outside the palace. 

“Ah, you are one sneaky brat, eh? I wonder what Your Majesty might do when she knows you're out on your own with your little friend. I know your parents wouldn't give such a magic-less princess like you any liberty to show yourself to the crowd waiting for you to become the next Queen Enchantress. I even doubt they'd-”

“-Stop reading my mind!”

“Why not?”

“Maharshis can't use magic.”

“It is my choice, little lady. I have powers, I use them, if you don't, then don't get so jealous.”

“Enough!” I pound my fist on the table, spilling drops of purple liquid all over the oak. 

He tuts, shaking his head. “Alas our future Queen Enchantress has no tolerance. Such a shame, being an heir to the most powerful woman in the world without possessing any powers of magic that is important for a Queen to have... But no need to worry, your highness, I have been waiting to talk to you about this, just didn't know how to reach you...”

“What are you talking about?”

“I know the reason why you are out here and I know what'll give you all the powers you need.”

Everyone has tried that, every single wizard or witch who was ever sneaked inside the palace to give a 'cure' to the lack of magic I possess. All mantras and ceremonies have been performed since the day mother realised my lack of power and skill, everything done for nothing. Some said I have a curse, some said I will posses the powers in time. But the time has already arrived and I am still don't posses enough magic... Which means I am not suited to be the Queen Enchantress. 

This is what first drove me out of my palace, I begged Rahbia to guide me out of it. Maharshi Kush is right, my parents are yet ashamed to present me to their subjects, that they never let me out of palace grounds. Rahbia, like all the servants is magicless, so she couldn't fly me out of the palace or make us both invisible so she did everything she could have to sneak me out after a of emotionally blackmailing her. I strongly believe that it's impossible for the daughter of the Queen, the most powerful witch in the Kingdom, to be the least powerful of all, and if the confines of the palace cannot give me my powers, I can always find it outside... 

I didn't  realise when Maharshi Kush left and came back, but now I see him sitting right beside me with a thick black leather bound book in his hands. It had frayed ends and it looks as old as the beginning of life, all its papers crushed against one another in undulating folds. Embossed in gold, it has big letters written in blocks, in the middle of the cover- LAND OF GLASS AND STEEL. 

“What is it?” I ask. 

Without another word, Maharshi Kush hands me over the book. 

“You should drink the potion now.” He says nudging the glasses of purple liquid to Rahbia and me. 

All of a sudden, I don't know why I trust him, I don't know why I think he knows everything he is doing. I don't know why I think he understands me and I don't know why I obey him and drink the tasteless purple liquid. But in the next moment, I find myself in my room. The book lies on my lap, waiting to be opened.

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