The Red Rage [KK#3]

The swirling crimson cloud was everywhere. The warrior princess ran along the long, pillar lined corridors of the palace at Shaktinagar. A soldier burst out of a guard room. A swing of her sword and she had nearly decapitated the man.

Loud screams of death rent the air. Women and children wailed in the streets. Ashes and smoke rose to mingle with the red haze that seemed to drive everyone to frenzy. Kamsakanya, the warrior princess, was now up on the ramparts. She ran like a deer, expertly dodging or deflecting the arrows that were shot at her. She ran full steam into the archer. Her momentum plunging the blade into the man’s gut, picking him up bodily by the sword hilt. She paused for just a moment, to pull out her sword from the dead man. 

One flight below, Kamsakanya saw a group of her elite guards. They were guarding a man who limped. A man, who… who had actually betrayed her. Yes! Hari, her lover, her soulmate! He had betrayed her, left her to die at the hands of the enemy. She screamed out, her bloodcurdling yell causing the group of four warriors and Hari to be rooted in fear.

She leapt down, a height of ten hands. Rolling as she hit the floor. The four Asvaghosha warriors immediately had their swords and shields ready.

Kamsakanya moved like lightning. She slashed low, hobbling one man. Turning around, she leapt and landed a massive kick on the shield of another. The man was thrown away by the force of her kick. He fell hard, his shoulder dislocated. In a flurry of strokes, she gutted one. The last one was skilled with his sword. He lasted longer. Had he not tripped on a discarded weapon, it might have been a battle of the equals. But that was all in theory. Kamsakanya was already turning towards the injured soldiers on the ground, as the man clutched his slit throat in disbelief.

Having slain the soldiers, Kamsakanya ran towards the limping Hari. The handsome man was now on his knees, praying to her about how much he loved her, how much he wanted to live with her. She planted her powerful foot on his chest, pushing down hard, feeling his muscled chest resist, and then give away slowly. “Kamsin, listen to me…. I am your Hari… Do you not feel my love for you? ….Pl..Aaaaarrhgg…” His plea was rendered short as she broke a rib. Kamsakanya pointed her sword tip at the base of his neck. Her muscled arm striated with its tendons, held the sword perfectly still: “Feel my lovely sword as it cuts through your throat, betrayer!” Thunder rent the air as Hari saw death in the eyes of Kamsakanya…

__________

She got up with a start…. Sweat streamed down her forehead. She had clenched the thin linen sheets in her palms. Her lover, her husband, Hari, had woken up… he was trying to comfort her – his hands on her cheeks.

Kamsakanya caught Hari’s wrist in a steel grip. “What did you do, Hari? Why did you leave me there?” Wincing in pain, Hari said “Leave you where, Kamsin, we were sleeping, don’t you remember? I must’ve been a nightmare, Kamsin… another bad dream for you…”

Letting go of his wrist, Kamsakanya exhaled. Wiping her sweat with the clenched sheet, she said “That was no dream. – it was too real to be a dream.”

She turned around to face Hari. In the early morning light, Hari’s handsome face was streaked with his hair. He looked her with trepidation, his brow furrowed with worry. Then he reached out to pull Kamsakanya into his arms. “Hush, darling… I am here… With you… at your side… And I will never let you go from me.” She put an arm around him and pulled herself towards him. She closed her eyes and inhaled his musky sweat – the sweat of last nights’ toil.

__________

That night, she’d wrestled with him. Her almost superhuman strength against his wrestling-honed body. He’d used all his skills to avoid being pinned, managing to break away from her holds. He grunted and sweated, using all his not inconsiderable strength and a lifetime of wrestling skills to stay on his feet.

They had wrestled in their private courtyard, away from the view of the palace guards. The hemp-lined arena cushioned the body from hard falls and throws. Their grunts softly echoed in the hall. Afterwards, he had been too tired to get back on his feet. She had tenderly carried him in her arms to the bedchamber. She had laid him down on the bed and had untied his loincloth. Tenderly, she massaged his sore spots, her fingers working magic. When he was ready, she worked magic with her mouth, draining him in more ways than one. Exhausted, they had slept in each other’s arms.

__________

Hari was a skilled wrestler – one of the best in Rupashakti. He had been deceived and maimed by a foreign wrestler. Even though his wrestling days were over, he would still spend time in training the young apprentices in the wrestling akhadas. He was also consulted by the Rupashakti military on unarmed combat.

Because of his limp, Hari couldn’t run. But that still made him a formidable opponent on the wrestling mat. Of course that didn’t prevent Kamsakanya from prevailing over him in most matches; she was a prodigious learner, especially when it came to wrestling or dancing.

Her taut and toned body and a gleaming, bronze skin made her look like the Goddess Shakti. In her friendly wrestling matches with Hari, Kamsakanya had learnt all the tricks of the trade. Her skills, combined with her strength, ensured that there was no wrestler in the kingdom who could hope to match Kamsakanya in wrestling.

Kamsakanya had been the most famous dancer in Rupashakti, until the day Mushtanda, the foreign wrestler had cheated in the match and hurt her lover Hari. That day was the turning point in her life, when she swore to take revenge on the big wrestler.

Kamsakanya had been prodigiously strong even when small. Her dancing and natural athleticism, combined with the strength in her arms and legs, had helped her to defeat the villain. She had proclaimed her victory by stamping her powerful foot into the man’s face.

In the days that followed, she had come to know that she was the daughter of the king of Rupashakti. She had been born out of his passion-filled affair with the temple dancer of Shaktinagar. Her mother had died during her delivery, but her father had ensured that she had received the best of education and training in the performing arts.

Kamsakanya had been anointed the crown princess, and was being groomed to take over the reins of the kingdom after her father. She had blossomed into her role as a warrior-diplomat with ease. Recently she had successfully settled a troublesome border dispute with a northern kingdom. With this, her reputation had grown. Not only in Rupashakti, but in the neighbouring kingdoms as well. Kamsakanya liked to travel, and wherever she visited, she would make administrative changes which would benefit people. She had already secured the trade route from Shaktinagar to the hinterland, with regular patrols of guards. The road was well maintained with trees on both side and inns for weary travelers at all major halts. During her travels, Kamsakanya had dealt with a gang of looters called Sthagatis. These were a murderous cult that would befriend groups of travelers, mostly merchants, and then cruelly butcher them for material gains. She had tracked their activities, laid a trap and had herself killed their leader.

For her swift forays, she created a squad of light cavalry, whom she called the Asvaghoshas. These elite soldiers she handpicked and trained herself. They wore light armour, and depending on the situation, could serve as scouts or even as shock troops. The Asvaghosa was expected to be good with the bow and arrow, sword and spear. Expertise in unarmed combat and physical fitness was also given a lot of importance. The Asvaghoshas also had female warriors in their ranks. Kamsakanya ensured that all warriors were to be treated as equals, and none of the women in the squad were in any way less than the men.

As her reputation grew, Kamsakanya came to be known as Anahita, the Goddess that destroys evil. People would line up to see her cavalcade move past, and pay obeisance to her. They loved her, cheered for her and were willing to lay down their lives for a leader they treated as a Goddess.

__________

She sat with Vidurvidya, the Chief Minister. Having discussed the issues of governance, she moved onto more personal matters. “Uncle…” she said, for she respected Vidurvidya and thought of him as more of a kinsman than a court advisor. Vidurvidya smiled at her, and waited for her to tell her story.

Kamsakanya spoke of her dream: “Crimson smoke. A sweet smell at first, but it makes you want to retch. The eyes burn with the smoke. Men are screaming, women and children wailing in panic. There is death, as I see people turning on each other. A brother plants his axe into the head of his sibling. Soldiers lynch their commander. There is bloodlust, as people craze to kill each other.”

Tears flowed down her cheeks. “I see myself. I am running on the ramparts. I see a group of soldiers, with…with Hari! Hari is a schemer, he has betrayed me… I jump towards him, killing the guards around him. Some of these guards I have trained myself…”

“…Hari kneels at my feet. He is begging me to spare his life. But I want to kill him – he is unworthy of living…” She says this as if reliving the dream.

Kamsakanya wakes up, as if from a trance. She finds Vidurvidya shaking her by her shoulders. Her rage filled features dissolve into a sudden vulnerable look… Vidurvidya pulls her close as her tears flow.

__________

The royal priest’s son was bawling out loud. He had been kicked in the chest by the gangly little girl. The girl was being admonished by the royal priest, who thundered on about cursing the little girl. Vidurvidya had then stepped in and dragged the little girl away.

“Why did you kick him, Kamsakanya?” Vidurvidya was the only one who knew the secret of the king. For it was the king himself who had wanted Vidurvidya to take care of the little abandoned infant.

She stood next to the minister, her arms crossed and a stern expression on her face. “He was saying that I am the daughter of the shaitaan!” Vidurvidya exclaimed: “The devil? Why does he think so?” “Because the shaitaan took my mother away when I was born…” Vidurvidya smiled, and gently touched her chin. Suddenly, her big eyes brimmed with tears. The stern resolve of her face dissolved… as she asked the minister: “Was my Baba the shaitaan?!?”

__________

Like that day almost fifteen years before, Vidurvidya held Kamsakanya in his arms, allowing her to purge her fears on his shoulders. Afterwards, Vidurvidya let her calm down, and promised her that he would try to get more meaning out of her dreams.

__________

Santulit Baba [The name implies sanity] was known for saying and doing the most illogical of things at the most unexpected moment. Therefore the name ‘Santulit’. Right now, he was trying to cut a piece of wood with the blunt edge of the knife. Sweat ringed his face as he tried to shave away slivers of wood. Needless to say, he was only partly successful.

“Baba, why don’t you use the sharp edge of the knife to sharpen the point?” asked a man sitting next to him. Without blinking, the Baba said: “The blunt edge is for the blunt part. I save the sharp edge for the fine point.”

Vidurvidya sat next to the Baba. He knew when it was the right time to speak. After quite a while, the Baba had a sharp point that he was quite proud of. Putting it aside, he said: “The Prodigy and the Goddess are one.” Vidurvidya sighed and said: “She has all the signs of greatness… She has strength, spirit and courage like no other. People love her and worship her.”

Baba: “When the partner dies, the God dances in red rage. When the red rages, the Goddess kills the partner.”

Now Vidurvidya was himself confused: “What do you mean – ‘the red rages’?” Suddenly, he recalled Kamsakanya talking about the crimson mist… “What is… this red rage ?”

The baba had picked up a jug of water. After emptying it, he shook it above his head. Stray drops fell on his unkempt hair. “The red fog of death…marches from Kishkinda…”

__________

Vidurvidya was a man of composure. Yet his hands shook as he read the messages from the southern outpost of the kingdom:

…The trading outpost of Truptha has been decimated. The residents seemed to have killed each other in a mad frenzy. The treasury had been looted. Even birds and animals seemed to have gone wild. People have fled…

…Mangalpur town has lost almost its entire population.  The owner of a bath house and two people inside the bath were the only survivors. They claimed to have heard people screaming in rage and murdering each other. They survived by remaining hidden in the bath house. They also saw a small troop of strangely attired men ride into the town after the bloodbath. It seems these men proceeded to loot the treasury…

…the fishermen were too scared to come ashore. They saw people killing each other in furious rage. They stayed in their boats that night, and came back only when the violence had seized, and a strange red haze over the town had disappeared…

__________

Kamsakanya sat with Vidurvidya in the palace hall. The Senapati (army general), an ugly, heavily built man called Sanghara, sat there with his huge hairy arms crossed in front of his chest. This man was responsible for leading the troops in battle, as well as for the palace security.

Sanghara spoke, to no one in particular: “It seems like a plague. It comes like a mad rage, kills everyone in its path. Truptha, Mangalpur and now Gauhar… At this rate, the plague will reach us in a month’s time…

Another minister, a deputy of Vidurvidya, said: “This looks like a plague – we have been cursed by the gods. We should never have sent our emissaries to mingle with the mlechhas (aboriginal residents) of the region. See what…”

“… I will not hear anyone talking about mlechhas in this manner!” Cut in Kamsakanya sharply. “For Durga’s sake! These are people we are talking about, not some wild animals…” The minister bowed his head in shame.

“What can we do against this, Kamsakanya?” asked Sanghara. “Give me an enemy army to fight. I will stand like a wall against them and they will break against my defense like the waves on rock. But this is a plague… It turns men against men. Family members killing each other… entire towns consumed by rage! Surely, we can’t fight against such a plague…such a curse!” The man shook his shaggy head, his eyes low.

“Men! There has got to be a reason why this is happening. Connect the dots…see… One – In rage, people kill each other without thinking, without realizing the consequences. Two – we see that the survivors were in the bath house or on a boat. What is common here? Water, of course! Three – a red haze has been seen over the towns. And Four – The treasuries have been looted!

“Uncle, how far to Gauhar on horse? How far is Mangalpur?” asked Kamsakanya. Vidurvidya replied: “Gauhar is a five day ride – four, if we keep fresh horses. Mangalpur is seven days…” Kamsakanya stood up to indicate that the meeting was over. “I will send my Asvaghosha right away…”

__________

Vidurvidya, Kamsakanya, Hari and Sanghara had gone through the reports that her Asvaghosha had prepared. Kamsakanya put together a plan to make preparations for the ‘Crimson Tide’ as the group had coined it.

The dance festival of Rupashakti was being held in the coming two weeks. There would be many visitors, for the festival was renowned across the land. As the first step, it was decided to step up security significantly at the palace, where the main dances would be organised. Spies were activated, not only in Shaktinagar, but also in nearby towns, so that tabs could be kept on travelers.

Kamsakanya held drills with her Asvaghosha. She was instructing them on fighting with a hemp mask on their face. The elite soldiers were naturally curious to know why, though they kept silent and followed orders.

With the beginning of the festival, the crowds poured into Shaktinagar. Performers came from across the land, and even from places such as Nuba and Ur. Arenas were set up in the palace courtyard, where the Raja, a lover of arts, would sit and appreciate the myriad dance forms on display. Riches were doled out to the performances that were deemed worthy by a panel of judges. There was a lot of gaiety and celebration in the city.

In the midst of all this, the Asvaghoshas maintained their vigil on the palace and the citadel. Especially the latter, for it housed the treasury, which was rumoured to be the richest on the Sahyadri coast.

__________

It was not yet dawn. A piercing horn blast on the ramparts of the citadel. Taken up quickly by the other guards all around.

A flaming lump, about the size of a coconut, landed on the top of the citadel. The blast knocked off a sentry, sending him plummeting to his death inside the citadel complex. A dense, heavy red haze spread out and downwards into the citadel.

The Asvaghosha immediately sprang into action, arrows nocked, and spears ready. Large tubs of water had been kept along the walls of the citadel and inside. Each soldier quickly soaked his mask of hemp and applied it on his face.

More bombs of red haze started coming in from various sites all around the citadel. A bugle sounded in the palace, indicating an attack on it as well.

Kamsakanya was leading the defense of the citadel. She directed a squad of soldiers to quickly douse with water the spots where the bombs had landed. In response to the bombs, her soldiers shot arrows at the spots from which the bombs were being launched. A few shrill cries could be heard where the arrows found their mark.

“So far so good…” said Kamsakanya to her commandant of the female brigade, Sheravati. “Keep the arrows flying. I want all the bombs doused as they land.” Sheravati nodded, and then nocked an arrow, to shoot a bomb in mid-air, making it explode harmlessly in mid-air.

Kamsakanya ran down to the courtyard. The scene here was not so good. The red haze had affected some of the guards who were not her Asvaghosha. They were going berserk, fighting each other. Picking up a wooden stave, she hit the crazed guards one by one on the head, knocking them senseless. Unfortunately, she was too late to stop all of them. There was a general riot, and the citadel door had been flung open. She also saw two sentries who had been stabbed in the back. One of them had a spear with the markings of the Shaktinagar royal guard.

“This does not look good…” she thought. “This is not the work of crazed men… we have been betrayed!”

Picking up her bronze war staff, Kamsakanya let out a yell: “With me, Asvaghoshas!” She and three other warriors joined her, as they saw a score of black-clad and masked attackers armed with swords run towards the open gates.

The lead attacker leapt towards Kamsakanya, his blade descending in a murderous arc. Kamsakanya parried the blow, and swung her staff round to knock the man behind the knees. She didn’t wait to kill him – the Asvaghosha following her had already stabbed the man through his chest. The next man in her way lasted a while longer, managing to parry her swings, until Kamsakanya jabbed straight into the man’s face with the end of the staff. So fast was her arm movement, so powerful, that the man’s skull burst with the blow.

Kamsakanya and her men danced the dance of death with those leaping, slashing warriors. She finished the dance with yet another jab; Her arm holding the staff perfectly still, each muscle group on the arm striated, rippling with power – even as the last black warrior collapsed to his knees, clutching his throat, where Kamsakanya’s blow had smashed his Adam’s apple.

Of the three Asvaghosha, one fell dead, while the other had to be pulled back into the citadel, being grievously wounded. When they were back inside, Sheravati said “The bomb attacks have ceased. We must have shot at least a dozen of the bombers.” Kamsakanya smiled and said: “Good work. I want you to sweep the surroundings and kill the remaining attackers. But remember, try to capture their leader, whoever he is…”

Sheravati bowed, and then ran out with ten Asvaghoshas following  her.

Kamsakanya told the citadel keeper: “Lock the door… Make sure there are no more attacks. I will be at the palace…”

__________

The palace was not faring too well. The gate seemed to have been heavily contested between the attackers in black and her Asvaghoshas. Heaps of bodies lay here and there. The red haze hung heavy around the palace; therefore Kamsakanya quickly adjusted her hemp mask, before running into the palace complex.

Sweeping into battle, she swiftly broke the shin of the first opponent, leaving him squirming on the ground. Her staff whirred as it cracked a few more skulls and jabbed into the sternums of a few more. With her entry, the battle was tilting back in favour of the Asvaghoshas.

As she disarmed one black-clad, another one barreled into her, almost making her lose her balance. Yet another jumped her, kicking at her arms and shoulders. A blade hit her on her forearm, and would have cut through it, had it not been for the bronze bracer. Still, the blow was painful enough for her to let go of her war staff.

Now Kamsakanya was disarmed, with three black clads about to kill her. She swiftly rolled away, dodging blows, and used her hands to vault herself back to her feet. As the three black clads pushed towards her retreating self, she unexpectedly reversed her direction, leaping with her foot outstretched. Her foot buried itself into the gut of the lead attacker, sending him flying back bodily. In a fluid motion, she caught the wrist of the next attacker with her left hand, just as he was about to slash downward with the sword. With her free right, she jabbed the throat of the third attacker, felling him on the spot. Turning around to the struggling man in the grip of her left hand, she tore the sword out from his grasp. Red anger flowed through her, as she gripped his throat and pulled him up in the air. The man thrashed about wordlessly for a minute, until Kamsakanya’s grip choked out the life from him.

Throwing down the dead man, surveyed the scene. Seeing the tide swing back in favour of her guards, she ran towards the inner buildings. Stepping through  an arched doorway, she came to the palace garden. A beautiful place where butterflies flitted about and peacocks could be seen more often than heard. A red haze hung over the place. As she moved in, she saw a large black clad take on one of her Asvaghosha. After a swift exchange of blows, the former had chopped off the Asvaghosha’s arm. Even then, the soldier tried to pick up the sword with his left hand. Kamsakanya ran towards them.

What she saw then disgusted her. The black-clad had chopped off the other arm as well. Holding the profusely bleeding soldier by the armpits, he bit into his neck, drawing blood. Picking up the dying soldier in his arms, the black clad dumped him in the fountain, where the waters swiftly turned crimson.

Kamsakanya stepped up to the black clad. The latter turned around slowly. It was a woman! She was tall, almost as tall as Kamsakanya herself. If it had not been for the ghastly amount of blood on her face, she could have been perceived as being strikingly beautiful. Her eyes were an angelic blue. High cheekbones framed a face with a sharp nose and a shapely mouth.

The woman grinned. She had pointed teeth – incisors and canines filed to sharp points. She looked like a demon. “You must be Kamsakanya…” she said, in a voice mellow and husky.

“That’s right! And who may you be, defiler of bodies?” asked Kamsakanya. The woman threw her head back and laughed. “I am known by different names, across different ages. I was called Ninlil. Then I was Malam… Some call me Lilith. You can call me the Screech Owl, if you want. I am the bringer of death, wherever I go. I bring the same to Shaktinagar!”

“Call yourself whatever you want, it does not hide the fact that you are actually a robber, admittedly one who uses smoke and haze to hide her handiwork. You may try as hard as you can, the only death you will bring henceforth is yours and yours only. The only screech you will make is the sound of your breath escaping your lungs for the last time!”

The grin on Lilith’s face was replaced by an ugly grimace. She curled her lips and ground her teeth in a menacing display. Kamsakanya swung her staff around and posed with it balanced on her shoulder.

And then both rushed at each other.

__________

Perched over the ramparts, Hari saw the two women make a dash for each other. Sanghara was supposed to be in charge of defense of the palace. But he was nowhere to be seen. Hari called for the guards: “Protect the king… he must not be harmed…” He limp-ran down the ramparts towards’ the king’s quarters. “I must ensure that the water tubs are filled…” he thought grimly.

__________

Lilith was skilled with the sword – she was making Kamsakanya work hard just to stay away from the slices and jabs. She was also able to leap, duck and parry away all the swings that Kamsakanya had been able to direct at her. In a short time, she had laced Kamsakanya’s thighs and forearms with stinging cuts.

Taking a short pause, both the opponents circled each other. Lilith had a haughty sneer on her face. “I will take you down, Kamsakanya, and then I shall eat you. I shall eat you and then make love to your dead body… Haaaah!”

Kamsakanya had a grim expression. A lifetime of battles, practice duels and desperate contests flashed by her eyes. “Why am I not taking advantage of the space that the staff allows me?!?” She suddenly had the answer. Taking two quick steps back, she swung around her staff, making a whooshing sound as it moved through the air, too fast to be seen. She swung towards Lilith, who took the appropriate step to counter her. As the latter was about to counter, Kamsakanya switched her grip to the left hand. The staff swung and landed a telling blow on Lilith’s thigh. A piercing screech rent the air as Lilith hobbled backwards, limping painfully, now trying to avoid Kamsakanya’s flurry of swings.

Switching back to her right hand, Kamsakanya let it swing again, this time hitting the sword on the cross-guard, detaching the blade from the hilt. Lilith stumbled, gripping her arm in pain. She was now at Kamsakanya’s mercy.

“Did you think you could take Shaktinagar just like that?” Asked Kamsakanya. “And did you think you could have defeated me so easily?”

Lilith looked up, her pain-wracked face looking surprisingly vulnerable. “I… I… I HAVEN’T LOST YET!!!” she screeched. Her left hand had accessed a pocket in her outfit, and was bringing out something from within. Kamsakanya, a battle hardened warrior, had been expecting Lilith to pull a stunt like that. She swung her foot to knock out the weapon.

But there was no weapon in her hand. Even though Kamsakanya’s kick had landed on the arm, Lilith had managed to fling a red powder into Kamsakanya’s face.

__________

“Shaitaan!!!” parroted the plump Brahmin boy. “You father is the Shaitaan!” He was referring to the unknown paternal origin of the slender girl who loved to dance in the courtyard. The little girl was screaming” “No… My baba cannot be the shaitaan…” Red rage clouded her mind, as she leapt at the son of the royal priest. She stamped on his face, crushing the jaw of the impertinent loudmouthed boy.

“Shaitaan…Shaitaan…” screamed the crowd, as she vanquished the evil wrestler from Kapisa. The viewers had taken out a red powder from little metal boxes, and were hurling it at her. “Nooooo….” Screamed Kamsakanya, as she sunk to her knees beside the broken body of Mushtanda.

“You are the fomenter of trouble. You want war between kingdoms? You will get war…. You shaitaan…” screamed the governor of Mahissati, as red rage overtook her and she swung a curved sickle, decapitating the old man…”

She came back to reality as the cold shock of water hit her. Unknown to the two combatants, Hari had seen the battle from the ramparts. As soon as he had seen Lilith throw the powder at Kamsakanya, he had hurried to drag a tub of water and empty it on Kamsakanya.

__________

Kamsakanya was on her knees now. She was crying, screaming. Lilith scrambled up. Picking up the bronze staff, she swung it hard, hitting Kamsakanya on the head.

She woke up to feel a heavy body on top of her. She opened her burning eyes, to see Lilith grin at her. Her hands and feet had been bound to the posts of the bed. She had been carried into one of the myriad guest rooms of the palace.

“I’ve changed my mind.” Said the woman, with a ghastly expression. I will take away your dignity now. Then I shall kill you and eat you!!!”

Lilith had removed Kamsakanya’s bronze armour. She had planted her legs on either side of Kamsakanya, and was now roughly suckling on her left nipple. “Mmmmm…. Sweet”.

Kamsakanya closed her eyes as tears began to form. The rough ministrations of Lilith were humiliating. Her mind wandered back to the teachings of her yoga guru.

“With training, you can channelize power through your chakras. Take in the energy, store it in your Kundalini. It is the sleeping serpent. When you have channeled enough power, you can unleash it suddenly.”

Lilith’s left hand went down between Kamsakanya’s legs, feeling her thighs straining to close. Feeling the soft bush there. She pushed her finger into the orifice, while simultaneously biting into the exposed nipple.

Kamsakanya felt the pain between her thighs, and on her chest. But she had been gathering the life force within her. Her body went slack for an instant, before she jerked her arms and legs inwards.

The bedposts broke almost simultaneously. The bed creaked once before it groaned and collapsed. Kamsakanya saw the look of shock in Lilith’s’ eyes. Bringing up her knees together, she arched her body upwards, throwing Lilith off her. Grabbing the wooden bedpost that was still tied to her left arm, she slammed it into the open mouth of Lilith, shattering the pointed teeth instantly. Grabbing the stunned woman by her hair, she pulled her up, and then smashed her hard knee into the woman’s midsection.

Lilith now was on her knees, facing Kamsakanya. Her countenance had lost its menace. She seemed to be mewling in despair. Kamsakanya grabbed the woman’s head between her right forearm and bicep and tightened the grip. Rock hard muscles in her arm twisted Lilith’s neck. The woman was frantically trying to free herself, but Kamsakanya kept tightening her hold. A desperate half-squeak escaped the woman’s mouth, and then the neck snapped. Kamsakanya held on for a few moments, and then let her arm relax.

The evil called Lilith slumped dead at her feet.

__________

She ran along the long, pillar lined corridors of the palace. A soldier, a member of the royal guard burst out of a guard room. A swing of her sword and she had nearly decapitated the man.

Loud screams of death rent the air, as the Asvaghoshas fought the Royal Guards who had betrayed Rupashakti. Their scheme to destabilize the rule of the king had been exposed. The remaining ones had barricaded themselves in a building.

Kamsakanya was now up on the ramparts. She ran like a deer, expertly dodging or deflecting the arrows that were shot at her. She ran full steam into the archer. Her momentum plunging the blade into the man’s gut, picking him up bodily by the sword hilt. She paused for just a moment, to pull out her sword from the dead man.

One flight below, Kamsakanya saw a group of the guards. They were guarding the man who had attempted to undermine Rupashakti. Yes! Sanghara! He had betrayed them, using assassins to hide his foul attempt. She screamed out, her bloodcurdling yell causing the group of four warriors and Sanghara to be rooted in fear.

She leapt down, a height of ten hands. Rolling as she hit the floor. The four warriors immediately had their swords and shields ready.

Kamsakanya moved like lightning. She slashed low, hobbling one man. Turning around, she leapt and landed a massive kick on another. The man was thrown away by the force of her kick, breaking his neck as he dashed against the wall. In a flurry of strokes, she gutted one, spilling his intestines on the floor. The last one was skilled with his sword. He lasted longer. But it was scarcely a battle of equals. Kamsakanya slit his throat with a slice of her sword, his blood spilling on the floor as he looked on in horror.

Having slain the soldiers, Kamsakanya ran towards Sanghara. The ugly man had a mace in both hands. Kamsakanya knew he was good with that weapon, liking nothing better than to bash in the brains of the soldiers he had defeated.

The fight was about avoiding each other’s weapons. The murderous swing of the mace versus the slash and jab of the sword. Kamsakanya had pushed Sanghara with furious pace, not allowing him to settle down. She knew it was a matter of time before the barrel chested man would tire.

Laced with sweat, Sanghara realized that it would all be over unless he was to attack now. He rushed at her, his mace swinging murderously. Kamsakanya stepped back and easily leapt over the swing. She lashed out with her foot, sending the man crashing down heavily.

Sanghara groaned, eyes opened to find Kamsakanya with her powerful foot planted on his chest, pushing down hard. He tried to resist, but the pain was too much. He saw the gleaming calf muscle bulge out. God! Her leg was so powerful, he had an intense desire to pay obeisance to her. “Pl…Pl forgive me… listen to me…. I… I will not do this again… Don…Don’t forget how I have led our armies in victorious campaigns… I will now be de…devoted to you…. Pl..Aaaaarrhgg…” His plea was rendered short as she broke a rib. “Why did you do this, Sanghara?”

The man winced, his Adam’s apple bobbed visibly… “I… I wanted to go back to my land, to my Anarta… I wanted to go there and rule… I needed riches, so I could establish my king…kingdom there…”

“But why, Sanghara? You had fame, you had recognition… Why then, betrayal?” asked Kamsakanya, pointing her sword tip at his throat. Another hard push of her leg, and Sanghara was now coughing out blood.

“Because I would only be a Senapati here, no more. Was that going to be my legacy? No! A year ago, during our Dakshinapath campaign, I was seduced by Lilith… she promised me glory, untold power. She was a strong woman, and I was unable to resist her will… Believe me, I wanted to resist, I knew it was wrong, but her will was so strong… so…dominating…” Sanghara broke down. His once proud chest seemed deflated. His body was racked with sobs.

Kamsakanya held the sword pointed at the man’s throat. Her muscled arm striated with its tendons, held the sword perfectly still: “You will go on to Anarta then, Sanghara… not as a ruler, but as a betrayer! You will immediately leave Rupashakti, in nothing but rags. You will carry no money, no provisions. If you are seen again in this kingdom after five days, you will be slaughtered! Go now…” Thunder rent the air as Kamsakanya proclaimed her verdict.

__________

The pitched battle and the betrayal had saddened everyone. However, everyone had come to learn about the incident and the cause behind it. The people lined up to pay obeisance to Kamsakanya, as they came to know of her heroic effort in defeating Lilith and Sanghara. Her standing grew stronger. She was already legend.

“I couldn’t have done it if you hadn’t thrown the water at me…” said Kamsakanya. “Kamsin, I am your Hari… Whatever happens, I am there for you… I won’t leave your side ev…” he couldn’t finish, as Kamsakanya had suddenly swept him up in her arms. She held him tight, in a cradle, as her mouth went to his, their tongues intertwined. Thus she carried him, kissing him all the while, into their bedchamber. She laid him on the bed, tearing off his clothes, and hers. He was hard almost instantly, and Kamsakanya didn’t waste much time as she mounted him. Smiling, she said: “There is much unspent energy in my Kundalini…”

Hari sighed, arching his head and closing his eyes, as the embodiment of the Goddess came down on him.

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