by Falguni Kothari
Date of Publication: November 5, 2015
Available now on Amazon Kindle
“Once, gods and demons walked the Earth free as any man. There was a time of great feasts and warrior glory. Until that stupid game of dice!”
~ The Canons of Kali Yuga
Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.
Spanning the Cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.
Karna scanned the area outside the back gate, his senses sharp and open to pick up the colorful residual aura that vanishment left in its wake. He hoped he wasn’t too late, as the high-energy charge remained visible only for a short time. And there it was—a colorful haze by the pair of rusty wrought iron gates. The jumble of colors spread across a very large area, which meant several demons had materialized, not just one. Better to sneak-attack the bunch.
Chanting the mantra of invisibility, Karna began to track his quarries.
Lit only by the crescent moon, Kolkata’s roads were devoid of any animation at this late hour. Homeless souls snored, spread-eagled on the pavements amidst their scant belongings. A quick mantra had packages of food and clothes appearing between the rags. A mongrel dog, curled up next to a legless man, started awake. He sniffed at the packages, then followed Karna’s unseen movements with alert eyes, but other than twitching his ears did not raise an alarm. Karna winked at the scruffy black-and-brown mutt whose soul was a striking shade of emerald-yellow. The dog was slotted for a human rebirth soon. He added an order of dog biscuits and an extra-large bone to the bounty and moved on.
Halfway down a shabby shop-lined street, Karna caught sight of the interloper coming out of the Kalighat Kalika temple at the end of the lane. The daitya was approximately nine feet tall and, unlike a bald raaksasa, had ropes of white hair falling to his waist. His bare chest was drenched in blood. And, he wasn’t using anything more than a pair of jeans to conceal his fanged identity. Human blood had the same effect on asuras that soma juice had on Celestials and a triple shot of espresso had on humans. The daitya was punch-drunk on power. It had made him stupid.
The demon was hunting for fresh victims but luckily—or unluckily for him—none were about this late at night. Before he thought to expand the search area, Karna began to sprint toward him. A chant activated the Soul Catcher. Karna opened his palm and another mantra summoned Asi, his deadly sharp Celestial dagger. The adamantine blade turned red-hot as soon as he wrapped his fist about the sun-crested hilt.
The demon’s obvious brutality toward a human gave Karna permission to slay first and ask questions later. He sprang forward, flying at his target with both arms raised, and buried the blade in the middle of the demon’s forehead. The demon went rigid and opened his mouth wide in shock. Before he could scream for help or mercy, his humungous body went slack, dropping to the pavement like a sack of potatoes. Karna quickly recited the death-rite mantra and the moment the asura’s red soul detached from its temporal form, the opalescent sunstone of the Soul Catcher swallowed it up.
That was the handicap he had to work around. Unless he killed the asura himself and separated the temporal body from the soul, the Soul Catcher was redundant.
One down. How many more to go? Karna dragged the dead body inside the temple, shut the doors and armed himself again. A noxious, oppressive energy swirled through the space. The antechamber was unlit and empty, but the carved wooden doors leading to the flame-lit inner shrine stood ajar. The mingled smell of stale flowers, sandalwood incense, blood and pure fear hit him before he came across the two lifeless bodies of the pundits behind Kalika’s idol. Chunks of flesh were missing from the corpses, and they’d been completely drained of blood.
Karna hunkered down, squashing the pity and fury that roiled through him. Violence was one thing—he was a violent soul. But some demons thrived on cruelty, and that was unacceptable.
He pressed his hands over the three lines of sandalwood paste marking the bald foreheads of the holy men, then discharged enough radiation to cremate them on the spot. There wasn’t another option tonight. He couldn’t leave the bodies to be discovered and speculated over. But he could and would make sure the souls reached their rightful destinations. Praise karma the human souls had been left untainted. If they’d been possessed by evil before death, they’d be turning red already.
About the Author
Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. She’s published in India in contemporary fiction with global e-book availability, and will launch her mythic fantasy series, The Age of Kali, in November of 2015. When not writing or dancing or being house-wifey, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with readers.
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