Avarice - 2

A million apologies for the delay. This should have been published a week ago. But mother nature blessed me with a viral fever and a week of pain. I will try to be punctual henceforth.

Just as he started soaking in the presence of his new found power, his head started to ache mildly. He didn’t pay much attention to the ache, for he was engaged in thinking about what to do next with his new 'human' puppets. A few moments later, however, he felt a jolt of pain right in the centre of his head and he let out a scream. As he knelt, unable to bear the sudden pain, he saw the bandits collapse to the floor.

Cor's vision blackened. Then he started hallucinating; he was walking in a cave, holding a flame torch. Masked people marched in front of him holding torches. Then in another moment, he was pointing his pistol to an old man's head. The old man gave him a bag of gold coins. In the next moment, he was stashing the loot in a chest. 

As the events proceeded, one after the other, Cor became aware what was going on. I am seeing flash-backs of some one's life. But whose? The thoughts kept on going. Then he and his friends came and halted a person who looked strangely familiar. I have seen that jacket before. One of his friends asked the man to turn. When he turned, he was looking at himself. 

The crashing pain returned to his head as he blacked out again. When he opened his eyes, the strange man, who he had met earlier, overhead staring at him emotionlessly. Cor gave out a short-lived cry of surprise, seeing him in such a manner. 

"I can't always pull you up to the ground you know," the strange man said, smiling. He had taken off his hood. Cor studied his features for the first time since they had met. He had a pale complexion, no facial hair and dull grey eyes. His hair was cropped close to the skin. He had wrinkles on his face, but that gave no hint about his age.

Cor took his arm and stood up. "What happened to me?" he asked. 

"You were seeing the most recent memories of one of the persons whom you had taken over. This will happen each time you use your power. I pulled you out before the second flash-back began. Try not to control so many people at once, right from the beginning. You will not like the feeling that much. But later, as you develop control over this power of yours, you will have the ability to control these visions. You would see them if you wanted or just keep them off. But the pain will always be there. Only you will become numb to it after using your power for a while”

Cor nodded. He was still delirious after the flash-back memories. He looked at the unconscious men lying lifelessly on the ground and wondered whose memories he saw. Cor looked back at the strange man and asked him his name.

"When I first came here, I had no name. Then they started calling me The Preacher."

Yeah....right. All of us are born nameless, aren't we?. Cor kept his thought to himself, afraid he might upset the guy. 

"How will I get rid of it?"

"Hah! Can't bear a little pain? You want the cure so soon?" the Preacher chortled.

"Eh... The pain will always be there I guess? So yeah, I want it urgently."

The Preacher gave a look of pity and said," Go to the Temple of The Blind and seek the fruit of endurance."

"Fruit of endurance? What does it do?"

"You ask too many questions kid. The pain you get after every use will always be there. If you can't wait to be numb to the pain then you have to mask it through other means."

"Is it bad?" 

"Well not bad, but I am certain you won't like the taste after eating it." The Preacher replied half-delirious.

"So, should I start right away?"

"Do you know the location of the temple?"

The Preacher proceeded to elaborate details on reaching the Temple of The Blind to Cor. Then after shaking hands, they both went separate ways, before the fog arrived, leaving the poor bandits to fend for themselves.

The next day, Cor began his preparations to go to The Temple Of the Blind. He wrote a telegram to Andrei, informing him that he wouldn't be able to come to work for a few days. Honestly, he never wanted to work in that same place again. Taking a few snacks and a bottle of water in a backpack, he waited at the bus stop till the next bus to Mellowland arrived.

From Mellowland, he was to go east to the ruins of Temple of Bortrys, beneath which the Temple of Blinds is rumoured to exist. 

It took 4 hours to reach Mellowland, a humble county with vast stretches of farm yards and orchards.
Quite a lovely spot to be if you're rich. 
The lakes, clear skies, fresh air and chirping of birds mesmerized Cor. He decided in his mind that he will buy some land after he's done with this job. Money was not to be a problem.

There were hardly any vehicles here in Mellowland, so he had to walk to the ruins. It wasn't as good as the rest of the place. 

The broken buildings had very little vegetation as if the plants were afraid to grow on its rocks. Vultures encircled the sky high above. Cor had an ominous feeling about the place.

He didn't know where he was headed next, so he decided to wait for sometime to ask someone. There was not a soul in that place.

For a long time, he just waited, staring at the beautiful landscape far ahead of him as morning turned to afternoon. Fortunately, the sun was blocked by clouds, which appeared from nowhere and he didn't feel too sweaty. However, just when the sun had been blocked by a cloud, and his surroundings were hidden by its shade, a solitary figure appeared in the horizon. Cor got up to his feet and watched the figure closely. The person was completely draped in a cloak, just like the Preacher, but this one had a longer hood and the cloak was black. So big that he couldn't see the face within it. The figure approached the ruins and went past Cor, as if he didn't exist.

Well hello, Grim Reaper! Cor ran after the man and called out to the figure. "Good sir! Can you tell me how can I reach the Temple of The Blind beneath these ruins?" he asked, panting for breath.

"Why do you assume that I am a man?" A sharp voice replied back which startled Cor. He looked into the face within the hood. A beautiful face looked back at him, with radiating blue eyes. A gemstone was attached to her forehead. 

"I know what you seek child." the strange woman replied. "If I had the power, I would never have given it to you. All abilities must be learned naturally, in their own duration for the best effect and coordination. However, I do not have the authority for denial. Come back to this place at midnight, alone. Then follow the fire-flies." 

She disappeared amidst the dilapidated structures, leaving Cor too awe-struck to ask how she knew so much about him. After she had gone, the clouds disappeared completely and the bright sunshine returned.

All strange events started ever since I met that Preacher last night. Cor started walking back towards human habitation, thinking how to spend time till midnight.

He walked across the main road. To both of his sides, there were large tracts of land with only a handful of mansions. There was no sight of a pub or inn anywhere. Great, now I have to knock at a stranger's door and ask him to accommodate me till midnight. But that should not be a problem at all, shall it? He went to the next mansion, smiling and knocked at the door.

An old man opened the door. Showing no signs of recognition, he asked intrigued," Yes sir, how may I help you?"

Rent me your house maybe? Cor just kept smiling at the old man. The poor sod's pupils dilated and his mouth opened in a gasp.

"Oh certainly! Come on in!" The old man stood aside, making way for Cor to enter the mansion. Cor held his head, using all his strength to suppress the pain, still he managed a smile of contentment.  
A little pain for a little gain.
When it was half-past 11, Cor checked if any of the inhabitants of the mansion were awake or not. Convinced all of them were asleep, he leapt out of the window of his room with his backpack, and started walking towards the remains of The Temple of Bortrys.

Quite a contrast to the day, the night was teeming with activity around the broken structures. The sounds of crickets, filled the atmosphere and every now and then, a bird or a cat crossed his way. The night flowers bloomed to glory and filled the air with their mesmerizing scent. Just as he was beginning to enjoy his surrroundings, he saw a fire fly. He ran towards it, seeing the second fire fly, he followed the trail. In between when he looked back, the fire flies behind him were gone.

He kept following the trail, which led him to a pillar amidst the ruins, where a lone fire fly hovered in front of a strange symbol inscribed in the pillar. Cor raised his arm towards the symbol, intending to touch it, but before he did, the earth rumbled from below.A  new pathway was revealed behind him, the stairs of which lead somewhere down. The fireflies had assembled around the opening, as if telling Cor that his path lay ahead in that passage. He proceeded to go down the passage. Upon arriving at the threshold, all the fire flies rushed inside. Just as he had entered the pathway, the passage was closed and he was left in complete darkness. Now his only comfort lay in following the little twinkling lights of the fire-flies, as he groped the side walls, going further down.

After a few minutes of descent, he began hearing drums. The stairs ended soon after and he was walking on level ground. He kept following the trail of fire-flies, his fear slowly shrinking after each step. Then as the tunnel ended, he saw lamps in the walls as he entered a huge open space. In front of him, seated in two rows were robed people who were doing something. As he moved closer, he found that all of them were blindfolded. Half of them were painting the same image in different canvases while the rest were incredibly stitching a scarf having an intricate array of colours. Both the groups were perhaps making the same symbol he has seen earlier, in the pillar.  The source of the drums, however remained a mystery.

"Welcome to the Temple of The Blind, Cor Raganor." a voice boomed across the open space. Cor was startled, he looked around for the source of the voice. The robed people kept doing their work, unscathed. The strange woman, he had met in the afternoon, approached from the shadows, holding a small necklace in her hand, perhaps a talisman of some sort. She put the necklace around her and all the the people stopped. They rose in unison, bowed to the lady and went together, to some other room.

"This was the ritual of Premonition. The followers of The Blind practice it blindfolded in order to gain the power of fore sight and predict the future."  

So that's how you knew I will be coming to you.

"Who is The Blind?"

"One of the seven gods who look after our universe. Your kin believes in only in one, oblivious of the other six. The rest are equally powerful and important."

"You mean Mother Thryse is not the only God?" Cor looked incredulous.

"No. You will know about each one later. You came here for some thing don't you?"

"Yes. The fruit of endurance."

"Follow me."

The lady led Cor to a courtyard, where in the silvery beams of moonlight, bloomed a lone plant on a raised pillar which bore a single berry. 

"Go pluck that fruit and eat it."

Cor proceeded to do so. As if took a bite, he asked the lady," You know my name but I didn't ask for yours."

"That won't be necessary this time," the lady smiled through her hood.

Cor couldn't understand what she said. The next moment, however, his mind went completely black. His senses diluted. He lost control over his limbs. Never before had he felt so much pain. He winced back, wanting to scream loudly as possible but no sound came out. His hair stood up in stark fright. He became blind from panic.

"Feel the pain of an entire lifetime, in a single moment to detach from it forever." The lady said ominously, but Cor was too stressful to understand the meaning. Not long after, he dropped down to the floor lifeless...

Special thanks to one of my closest friends Archchi Ajita for her help.
You can suggest edits to the theme and imagery, I am available in hangouts and gmail.


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