The girl hurried through the dense, wet forest encroached on the path menacingly. It was difficult to see beyond the trees lining the narrow path. The Sun was fast setting behind the mountains. Her village was still a few hours ago, and the strange heaving sounds of forest had already awaken the creatures of darkness. It was for the first time that she was going home alone in evening through the dark forest in the monsoon season. Her father was counting his last breath that made her to hurriedly go back to her village from her grandma’s house. She was following all the safety rules dictated to her since childhood to escape from the terrible monsters lurking in the dense foliage, waiting to pounce on her if she made a single mistake during her journey. She had heard many stories about the forest monsters. Villagers accused Chandravanshi king vikramasen for all the attacks happening on innocent people of his kingdom. They considered him as the most treacherous ruler among the chandravanshi rulers. She remembered the words told by her village head few months ago,
“Dear Tejashwini, you are the most astonishingly beautiful girl of our village and this has become a matter of concern for us. Our king Vikramasen spends more time absorbed in wine-drenched carnal pursuits, and less time in improving our lives. His long, grey eyes always wander in search of beautiful damsels to appoint them as his attendants. They have to perform various functions including guarding the king’s person, controlling access to his chambers, entertaining him with music, bathing and dressing him, gratifying his sexual needs, and tucking him into bed at night. Even many people believe that these forest monsters work for our king only to full his royal treasury – the rajakosh and enhance his collection of most beautiful damsels from the kingdom. These monsters always involve in brutal crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping of innocent people. They love the darkness and always attack from the back. Very soon you will be eighteen, so you have to be very careful from these monsters. I am gifting you a sword for your self-defense from these monsters.”
Suddenly her heart skipped a beat as she heard a strange heaving sound. She immediately drew out her sword suspecting an attack from behind.
“Aah it’s hurting… !! Please leave me. Please let me go. Aah… aah leave me… aaaaahh.. !!!”
Phone keeps ringing twice.
“Um hello” Vikramasen receives his phone with a drowsy voice after coming out from his dream.
“Good morning. Are you still sleeping!! It’s 10 am now. Wake up dear. I have even come to my office now and oh ghosh!! You are still in your bed.” Ashwini speaks out with a soft voice.
Vikramasen and Ashwini were married a year ago. Ashwini was very beautiful, graceful, and distinguished looking, with her long oval face, her translucent ivory complexion with just a hint of aqua, her piercingly magnetic, blue eyes and her long, silken, auburn hair. Vikramasen was the only son of the chairman of the famous Asen group. Asen group was one of India’s leading business conglomerates. Vikramasen lost his father few months ago in a car accident.
“Hmmn! good morning, yesterday was very hectic for me after attending several board meetings and taking some crucial decisions. Papa’s death has really given me sleepless nights to fulfill his dream to make Asen group as a focused corporate, leveraging its knowledge, leadership and operations to add lasting value for its stakeholders and investors. Delhi is burning from the scorching sun of summer. You say how everything is at your place?” Vikramasen murmured politely on his apple iPhone.
Ashwini; a software engineer by profession always wanted to pursue her entrepreneurship dream that was easily fulfilled after she fell in love, and married with one of India’s most eligible bachelor of recent times. She was enjoying the post of chairman in one of the leading IT Company of India under Asen group.
“Everything is fine here in Bangalore. Today’s schedule is really hectic with several meetings to attend. I will be busy for the whole day today. What are your plans for today?”
“Nothing for today, I want some rest from my hectic schedule to look fresh and energetic on one of the most important day of my life; day after tomorrow. I will be reading few historical books today. Please come soon. I am missing you lolz. Love you.”
“ I am also looking forward for that day, and am feeling really proud of you for getting the CNN IBN Youth Icon – Young Indian Leader of the Year award. That’s really good; enjoy your favorite time pass. I will return tomorrow after finishing my work here. I am missing you too. Love you too and take care of yourself.”
“There is another bad news; Tejashwini’s dead body has been found in the forests. You have lost your father and elder sister.”
Village head stammered these words to Ashwini; a 12 year old pretty, charming young girl, born, as if through an error of destiny, into a family of Brahmins.
“An ideal king should be eloquent, bold, endowed with sharp intellect, strong memory and keen mind. He should be amenable to guidance. He should eschew passion, anger, greed, obstinacy, fickleness, and backbiting. Vikramasen does not owe any qualities of an ideal king. Mother earth is weeping at the betrayal right now-Brahmins were supposed to be her guardians, the protectors of righteousness, devoutness, godliness, honesty, fairness, truth, virtue, dignity and integrity. Instead we have become common whores, available to the highest bidder for the night!” roared Saktya to the village head.
He was a hideous-looking man. His clean-shaven head was tough, black and leathery and he boasted a sandalwood-paste trident on his forehead. He was the most renowned teacher in all of Chandravanshi kingdom. He was once insulted in the feast of wisdom; the annual banquet hosted by the king for learned Brahmin gurus from all over his kingdom. After that incident he took a sacred oath to expunge vikramasen from history by expelling him from his kingdom and give chandravanshis an able and benevolent ruler. Since then he was continuously visiting villages across the kingdom. He was in Tejashwini’s village when the news of her rape and brutal murder spread out in the entire region. Saktya continued,
“The nightmare shall end soon. I promise. But you need to stir yourself from this troubled slumber. One must awake, see the rays of the sun, and realize that it was all just a terrible dream. Help me village head ji.”
“What do I possess that can help you saktya?” asked village head.
“Give me Ashwini.”
The living room of Vikramasen was cool and dark. The curtains had been partly drawn to block out the harsh afternoon sun, and the air-conditioning had been set to the lowest possible temperature.
“Good morning. Wake up dear. It’s already 11 am now. I came back 2 hours ago and you are still sleeping.” Ashwini whispered in the ears of her husband.
“Good morning. You just broke up my sweet dream which I saw today.” Vikramasen said his wife with excitement on his face.
Ashwini smiled and lowered her long oval face to kiss the forehead of her loving husband. Her long, lustrous, wavy hair was touching her husband’s long grey eyes.
“Common wake up now, mother is waiting for you downstairs. I want to take some rest now.”
Soon, Ashwini lay down on her bed and went back to her memories, years ago.
“My soul that has remained enveloped by the darkness of poverty, disease and feudalism, there is a single light that shines bright! I see the light! Do you?”
Her uncle Saktya, a fat man with long beard and moustache had yelled at the 12 year old, pretty faced young Ashwini. This girl had lost her lawyer parents in a tragic car accident that led to wonderful and tragic consequences. The destiny had made young Ashwini to face poverty, isolation and other social stresses at the age of 10. Her uncle has termed her parent’s tragic death as a brutal murder, but the authorities failed to prove it and the case was dismissed forever.
“The light is intense, it’s incandescent, and it’s the brightest light I have ever seen. This light can illuminate, this light is pure, this light is unadulterated energy, and this light is the light that shall envelope me and my soul where your parents still exist crying for justice. That light is you”
Saktya had murmured these words to Ashwini with tears rolling off from his eyes in pain, despair and betrayal. She had planned revenge at the age when other girls of her age still did not knew the real meaning of this word. God helped strong Ashwini and at the age of 18 she was one of the most beautiful damsels of India. Her wise uncle was busy in executing the plans of revenge, and destiny played its role when Vikramasen fall for her just by looking at her for the first time.
That day, Ashwini and Vikramasen were lying on a soft cotton sheet that had been spread under the wide branches of a giant tree in a corner of a sylvan grove with Ashoka, Bhavya, Champaka and Nagara trees in blossom. The ground lay heaped with fragrant flowers that had fallen off the branches.
“I simply adore you”, murmured Vikramasen into her ear as he absentmindedly ran his fingers through her wavy hair.
She smiled at him. “Liar! You adore being with me so that you can play your naughty games,” she admonished. “I wish to marry you, Vikramasen. There’s no man I’ve loved more. Why must we go through this unbearable secrecy each time to be with one another?”
“Sweetheart, let’s get married right here, right now!” said Vikramasen suddenly serious, taking her completely by surprise.
“How? No fire? No priest? No guests?” asked an intrigued ashwini.
“In our ancient Hindu scriptures there are eight types of marriage. One of them-legally recognized by the scribes-is known as a Gandharva Vivah. It’s a simple secret ceremony between a man and a woman with no third party present. We simply garland each other, exchange vows, kiss, and there you have it. It’s done!”
Within a few minutes they were both holding crude, but love-inspired garlands, eagerly waiting to put them around each other’s necks. Both stood up and faced one another. Vikramasen tenderly placed his garland around ashwini’s neck and, holding her face, said,
“My dearest, sweetest love. I promise to worship you for the rest of my life. I shall protect you with my life and shall always honor and cherish you. From this day onwards you’re my wife, before the eyes of god.”
With tears in her eyes at the intensity of the moment, Ashwini placed her garland around vikramasen and whispered,
“My husband, my life, my love. Nothing has ever given me more joy than to wed you. I promise to be ever faithful to you and to always respect and obey you. You are, and always shall be my one and only true love.”
Ashwini awoke from her memories suddenly to the sound of footsteps approaching towards her room. Her eyes were drowning in the tears of memory.
“Hey dear! What happened? Were you crying?” asked an intrigued Vikramasen.
“No! It’s nothing. These are tears of happiness which roll off from my eyes as you are getting the CNN-IBN award tomorrow. I am really proud of you and I love you.” replied ashwini with her soft voice.
“I love you too dear. Common lets go and do some shopping for tomorrow’s award ceremony.” Both of them went downstairs.
“I am sorry Vikramasen, I never wanted to hurt you but tomorrow is the day for which I and uncle have waited for 10 years. My parent’s soul will never get peace if I leave this golden opportunity to take revenge from your family for killing my parents, and making me an orphan at a very young age. I am going to break my marriage’s promise to be ever faithful to you.” Ashwini whispered to her soul, while both of them hurried to their BMW car.
The kiss was a lingering one. She seemed to lightly graze her lips over his, causing little sparks of static that travelled down his spine as he craved for the impassioned ritual to move towards its gratifying conclusion. Ashwini was undoubtedly a celestial creature. Her translucent ivory complexion with just a hint of aqua, her sensuous mouth, her piercingly magnetic, blue eyes and bronzed skin were an invitation for jealousy from the goddess. Her mischievous eyes were partially covered by her cascading, silken, auburn, long, lustrous wavy hair as she bent over his face, planting little pecks of exquisite joy upon his eyes, nose and lips.
King Vikramasen lay back on the silken bedspread in the chamber of the pleasure palace. Sounds of a veena wafted in from the antechamber as one of the courtesans played with chords from Raga Hindol-the raga of love. Along the north-eastern wall of the room stood a golden basin that had been filled with pure rose water and opposite stood a large golden lamp that had been lit with sandalwood oil. Vikramasen was in a state of tender bliss. Allowing himself to submit to Ashwini’s ministrations, he sighed contentedly. He tried to recall which great guru had suggested that the path of nirvana was complete and utter submission to the divine. Was this delectable creature anything less? He reached out his arms to pull out her face downwards towards his own while his lips sought to quench their thirst from her moist clove-and cardamom scented breath. He was on fire. His throat was on fire! Vikramasen let go of her hair in panic while clutching at his own throat as he felt the compound of arsenic and mercury scald his lips, tongue and throat. He tried to scream but no sound emerged from his larynx-it had already been destroyed by the sankhiya poison on her lips. The ambrosial Ashwini continued to cradle his head in the warmth of her shapely bosom as she felt the living breath silently escape from him. The tall, broad shouldered king was a dead man now. The peacocks in the royal garden outside continued to dance, quite oblivious to the agony of the king inside.
Inside a nondescript home, Saktya listened to Ashwini intently as the glow of the two oil lamps on either side of his study desk threw ominous streaks of alternating shadow and light on his grimy complexion. He did not show the slightest emotion or exuberance as he received her detailed report of the assassination. But he couldn’t help laughing inwardly. The fool Vikramasen had allowed himself to believe that the celestial creature in his bed was Ashwini-twinkle, twinkle, little star, indeed. Hah! Little had the imbecile realized that Ashwini was his trained vishkanya-a poison maiden. In fact, Saktya had personally supervised the creation of an entire army of such maidens. He has identified young and nubile girls whose horoscopes foretold of widowhood from the kingdom. These beautiful damsels would be sequestered at an early age and fed a variety of poisons in graduated doses, making them immune to their ruinous effects. By the time each of Saktya’s vishkanyas reached puberty, they were utterly toxic. A simple kiss with an infinitesimal exchange of saliva was lethal enough to kill the strongest bull of a man
“What…” whispered a groggy Vikramasen as he was woken up gently by Ashwini.
“Wake up, Vikramasen,” whispered Ashwini tenderly, her hair falling over his face, teasing his cheeks. “Careful now” murmured Ashwini softly, as he looked at her longingly.
Within moments, Ashwini grazed her lips over his, causing little sparks of static that travelled down his spine as he craved for the impassioned ritual to move towards its gratifying conclusion.
“No just leave me. Get off me now” stammered vikramasen with a frightened expression on his face.
“What happened” cried an intrigued Ashwini.
“You are a vishkanya. You are a murderer. With this lingerie kiss you have exchanged your saliva and it’s lethal enough to kill me now. I am going to die very soon. Why you did this to me Ashwini?” cried vikramasen loudly at ashwini with irrepressible anger.
She had grown red with surprise and anger, and she growled between her closed teeth,
“What happened to you dammit? It was just a simple kiss. What do you mean by this vishkanya sort of thing? Wake up from your stupid dreams.”
Vikramasen suddenly grew pale again and stammered:
“No! No! No! It’s not a dream. I am going to die and I will not let you live without me anymore. You will have to die with me now. I love you ashwini and I will not let you to leave me alone. We will live together after our death too.”
He was a tall, broad-shouldered man. He seized her wrist with savage brutality, and squeezed it so violently that she was quiet, though she nearly cried out with the pain. He was trying to crush her fingers in the strong grip of his large, muscular hand, and she, livid with pain, tried in vain to free them from that vise which was crushing them; the agony made her pant, and the tears came into her eyes. She turned towards him, looked him full in the face, raised her voice and said,
“why are you doing this to me?”
He was stupefied and agitated, and his violent nature gaining the upper hand, he exclaimed:
“because I love you ashwini. You have already killed me. I don’t want to lose you at any case. So you have to die before my veins stop working under the ruinous effects of the poison, you have already fed me.”
One day later, Saktya was retiring to his living room and was poring over the newspaper. Suddenly, he became stagnant after reading a news report on famous Asen group in the FrontPage.
“Of all the notorious celebrity deaths, suicides, and murders that have occurred throughout the annals of Indian history, none was as bizarre and gruesome as the murders that occurred yesterday. In the morning, upon arrival for housecleaning duties, the maid found a terrifying sight. Dead bodies of Vikramasen and his wife Ashwini strewn about the house and grounds in a bloody mess. Vikramasen was the only son of the chairman of the famous Asen group. His wife Ashwini was holding the post of chairman in one of the leading IT Company of India under Asen group. Asen group is one of India’s leading business conglomerates. The dead bodies have been sent for post mortem report. CBI has been handed down the case of brutal murder of this celebrity’s couple. Government of India has termed it a great loss to the nation. All the leading political parties and celebrities all over the world have expressed their condolences to the Asen family. Few months ago, Asen group had lost their chairman and father of Vikramasen. This is another major setback for the leading business group of country yesterday. According to the initial reports, Ashwini was shot in the face and was stabbed brutally. Vikramasen was shot on his head and had several wounds on his face. The security guards failed to hear the screams because of the loud music blaring on the stereo in the living room. Vikramasen had millions of followers on his Facebook page. He was going to get the prestigious the CNN IBN Youth Icon – Young Indian Leader of the Year award yesterday in a grand ceremony that has been pros ponded for now. His last Facebook status was
‘tomorrow is a big day for me. Thnks guyz for ur support nd well wishes tht had made me to get this prestigious CNN IBN award. In last 3 days read several books based on ancient Indian history. Came to know facts about Chandravanshi kings and vishkanya!!!”