VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY
VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY
But there I was.
‘It doesn’t matter. I’ll leave soon. He’s not here anyway,’ I excused myself, taking a deep breath of the pleasant lemon-scented air of the place.
The room was simply furnished. There was an oval centre table topped with a black glass. Pencil scrapes fluttered on half of it and school books and notebooks covered the other half. An almost empty school bag lay huddled on the grey couch next to it. There were matching single-seaters on the other side of the table. A square dining table stood on one side of the room. It had only two chairs.
Besides this sombre furniture, there were three Disney cushions on the grey couch, artificial sunflowers with smiley faces in a vase, a flower-shaped wall clock, and a cute flower and bee shaped perfume dispenser in a corner. These childish whims and fancies served well to add cheer to otherwise too plain a room.
My eyes brushed past all these things, only to be arrested by a photo hanging on a wall. It showed a girl child holding the hand of a tall man. He was dressed in blue jeans and grey t-shirt. The attire suited his height and strong built well. The child was grinning at the camera. Her companion was looking down and smiling at her. It was a smile that could have forced any woman to become rude and stare with desire. I was glad it was just a picture that I was staring at.
The owner of that smile had moved to Delhi four months ago, renting a house very close to my cousin sister Rajni’s house. This was the first time I had come to stay at my cousin’s home since then. My mother had let me come. But she worried that he was too near, the son of a defamed family.
‘You know what his family history is. Stay away from him, no matter what Rajni tells you,’ she had ordered.
‘Too late,’ I murmured, staring at his picture and wondering what mother would say if she found out. But then, there were far worse things that I had hidden. Things that, I knew, would hurt my parents more. Far more.
Jyoti has over five years
of experience working as a freelance writer. This experience includes abridging
over 24 famous English classics like Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc.
If stories about ancient India, especially those with strong women characters interest you, then Avishi is a story you must read!
“Untie her.” Vyala instructed Manduka, his forehead revealing wrinkles of dilemma. Manduka was happy to comply. Except for a few scars on his shoulder, the man had an enviable physique. But it was his nose that Avishi felt was the pronounced feature of his face. It was as though it was abruptly turned crooked by his right nostril. She could see that the Outcast Lord made no attempt to hide his displeasure about the predicament she presented him. What worried her more was that she found herself incapable of even walking to the closest stone seat and had to limp leaning on Manduka. The wound seemed deeper than she had imagined it.
“We don’t kill women.” He began and paused noticing her unimpressed glare.
“Is that supposed to impress me? Is that supposed to cover up the other crimes you commit for that monster Khela?”
Vyala shook his head, a resentful smile appearing on his lips, but for only a moment. “Whatever we, the outcasts do would be a crime in the eyes of others…you are?”
“Avishi, the Ganamukhyaa of Ashtagani.”
“But he said that you are a traitor’s…”
Avishi glared back at him showing no inclination to explain. She saw Vyala sit on the stone seat next to where she sat.
“If Khela does not find a proof of your death soon, we would have to incur his wrath! An atrocity against the outcasts would not even be seen as a transgression by anyone.” His lips pursed for a long moment.
Avishi wondered if he expected a solution from her. Something she would have to help him out if she had to escape alive. But before she or Vyala could speak, a sound of heavy anklets was heard. Avishi turned to her right and saw a young woman, not older than seventeen autumns scurry and then clutch at her bulging belly. Her arrival only seemed to increase the gloom on the faces of both the men.
“Brother Vyala, did he not come with you?” Her shrill voice made Avishi think she was even younger than she looked. And impregnated at this age?
“Go back to your room, Majjari.” Vyala hissed.
But Majjari was in no mood to heed her brother’s words. She eyed Avishi, her head tilted to left and brows knitting. Her eyes then brightened.
“So, he sent me a slave!”
“Slave, do you know how to groom my hair the way Queens do?” Majjari approached Avishi taking her arm. “And mind you, slaves don’t sit when their mistress stands!”
Avishi had decided that her patience was at its tail end when she saw Vyala hurry and pull Majjari away, making her wince at his grip.
“Listen, you disgrace! Nobody is going to slave for you! Scurry back to your room and dare not show that inauspicious face of yours again!”
Majjari shook his arm away with a hiss. “Wait till I become the Queen, you, worthless dog!” Her tone broke. “I shall make Khela punish you! I bear his prince! Mind you!” The fierce frown stayed on her forehead long after she countered her brother. Avishi saw Manduka intervene and lead Majjari away with endearments that one would use with a toddler.
Vyala’s shoulders slumped.
“You let Khela impregnate your own sister.” Avishi shook her head at Vyala. “Lord Vyala, where do I even begin?”
“You are nobody to judge us Ganamukhyaa. Khela promised us a slow integration with his military if…”
“You loot and kill for him? He gets the spoils hiding behind the dread of Dandaka?”
Vyala’s jaw clenched. “You’ve never been to Dandaka, Ganamukhyaa Avishi. If you did, you would… Why in the name of Mother earth am I even justifying myself to you.” Vyala gathered himself signalling at two other outcast followers. “Take her inside and treat her wound.” Turning to Avishi for a brief moment, he added with a tone of finality. “I shall do my best to not kill you, but I can’t afford Khela’s wrath on my people. Not now, Ganamukhyaa.”
Future still hung in balance. Avishi had to come to terms with the fact that any attempt to escape from here will only complicate things for her. And she truly needed her wound to be tended. The knife that wounded her might have rusted. Tears of frustration threatened to flow out of her eyes. She told herself to bide her time and regain her lost energy.
Well, things were pretty bad in the land of
MarBryn. Magh, an evil sorcerer utilized unicorn horns and hooves to create his
magical potions and spells. Those he used, to increase his power and to conquer
everyone in his path. All of the unicorns from the Tribe of the Metal Horn were
now gone . . . except for twelve survivors.
Before the blue unicorn was born, Numen told
Alumna, the aluminum-horned oracle, that he had a plan to bring the tribe back
home to Unimaise. His prophecy was, “Only the blue unicorn can join with the
Moon-Star. Until then, no new unicorns will be born.” Blue was the last unicorn
born. Twenty years later, his horn was still covered with a plain blue colored
hide. There was not a glint of metal to be seen on it or his hooves. And he
still didn’t have any magic. But he was no longer scrawny and he had his wits.
Though no one else in the tribe thought he had a chance, Blue felt ready to
make Magh pay for his evil deeds. And he went off to do it alone. That was
Blue’s first mistake. If the entire tribe was not standing horn-tip to horn-tip
at the proper time and the exact place to help usher the Moon-Star Spirit into
Blue’s horn, he would die. Then, the rest of the tribe would really be
Readers will follow along two journey paths in
this book. Blue is joined in his travels by his mentor Gaiso, the Stag and his
friend, Girasol the Firebird as they try to find their way across a
danger-filled MarBryn to Muzika Woods. The rest of Blue’s tribe is forced to
follow another route due to Nix Nickle Horn’s unfortunate incident with a
Manticore. Nix, the great unicorn defender must safely lead the way for Ghel,
the Golden-Horned unicorn; Silubhra Silver Horn; Cornum the Brass-Horned
unicorn; Steel Horned Style; Cuprum the Copper-Horned unicorn; Tin-Horned
Tinam; Dr. Zinko; Iown the Iron-Horned unicorn and the others in an action
packed adventure to their destination in Muzika Woods. Both journey paths
converge there in the Nebulium Circle.
As Ved struggles with the financial strain caused by his accident and subsequent medical bills and figuring out whom to trust, Ved is forced to live in the moment, which is dark, terrifying and maddening as his past catches up with him. Will he finally know who he was and how his past actions affect his present?
Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation for a deep lasting future relationship – a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.
Truly inspirational builds upon the basis of not second guessing everything, and taking risks instead of regretting not taking them. A must-read for anyone. 5 Stars. – Bill McManus, Author, and creator of the Storytime Pup