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The forest echoed with the sounds of birds shrieking, animals growling, grunting, howling and screeching, and dry leaves being crunched by heavy boots. They ploughed forward, chopping the vines and barrelling through the bushes. The four men looked quite at ease with the surroundings, their scarred faces, weathered skin, and calloused palms attested to that. The woman was quite the polar opposite of them. She looked dainty, her skin flawless, and she moved with extremely soft footsteps that it appeared she was gliding over the ground.
‘Are we close to the target area, professor?’ The huge man who appeared to be the leader of the group asked the woman.
‘Yes, we are quite close.’ She replied and smiled, ‘Don’t worry, we are on schedule.’
‘Is this safe?’ He asked.
‘Any venture that is targeted on gaining something extremely valuable is seldom safe,’ She said sagely. ‘But don’t worry, that’s where I come in.’
‘Are these ichadhari nags even real?’ another guy asked.
‘Trust me, they are very real. I know of a couple of such shape-shifting snakes that reside close by. That’s where we are going.’
‘Yes,’ She replied. ‘It was many years ago. The male was killed by a bunch of people for the nagmani, but the female escaped.’
‘Nagmani?’ the huge man asked, apparently confused. ‘What are those?’
‘Only the greatest treasure on this earth,’ she replied. ‘Legends say that the ichadhari nags swallow one drop of rainfall and hold it in their throats for more than hundred years while performing penance. The raindrop mixed with their venom crystalizes into a precious gem called the nagmani. It is said that these gems are the elixir of life.’
‘Wow! How do you know so much, Professor?’
‘Trust me,’ Her voice went down a notch, intimidating them. ‘I know!’
An hour later, she stopped and sniffed. ‘Yes, this is the place. The female should be here somewhere. Proceed with caution.’
‘But, professor!’ the huge man said, ‘The female is dead.’
‘How do you know?’
‘She lost her mate and pined away to her death.’
‘How do you know?’
‘Because we are her children and we witnessed you and your team killing our father for the gem.’
In front of her terrified eyes, the four men changed into huge cobras and converged on her.
Note: As per Indian mythology a normal cobra will become an Ichchadhari Naag or Naagin after 100 years of tapasya (penance). After being blessed by Lord Shiva, they can take form of any living creature including humans and can live for more than hundred years without getting old.
My books are available on Amazon: Please click the links to buy them and support a fellow writer. Thank You.
1. Tales With A Twist – A collection of my short stories.
2. Route 13 : Highway to Hell– An anthology of horror short stories.