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12+ Violence

Mage chapter 3

by khushi17bansal


[Fair warning : This chapter has death and descriptions of blood and gore. If you aren't comfortable with that please skip it, the description is not required to understand the story....... just note who dies - that bit is important!😉] 

It is power that is coveted, it is knowledge that is hoarded, it is weapons that are honed and it is people that must be beaten.  

Uncommon terms:

haldi - Turmeric, referred to as Haldi in Hindi.

kumkum - Kumkum is a red or pink powder used in Indian culture, it is used for religious and social ceremonies.

Chapter 3

In a hidden dark corner of the King’s palace, around a small hooded table, sat three masked figures. None of the three figures moved, finally, the masked figure to the right yanked off her mask, and revealed a scarred angry face. Her lips were pressed in a thin line and her voice was brisk and commanding. She had the look of someone who had gotten old not because of time but because of hardship. She was Lady Gandini of House Kandota sworn to High House Vishyah, considered by many a grumpy war veteran.

“If this alliance is to work I will need you weaklings to actually show your faces” she snapped glaring at the other two.

“We are not weaklings Lady Gandini, we are simply cautious, if you had been so yourself perhaps you would not have been graced by so many scars.” The voice was deep, irritated and sharp, it belonged to Lord Shakra of House Reti, sworn to High House Nishath. Shakra was a small mongoose like man, and when irritated he would twitch like one too. He was never not irritated.

The figure to the far left removed her mask to reveal an old soft pudgy face, overdone with makeup and jewellery, smiling in amusement. Lady Magha of House Shukti, sworn to High House Karmisht was a pudgy, greedy, lazy old woman who excelled in getting her way by doing nothing. “Shall we talk of things that are more important? For instance, how exactly do we all plan to overthrow the other Houses and gain favour of whichever High House wins this bloodbath? We do have an alliance after all.” Her voice had an old papery quality followed by a sickly sugar sweetness that only a glutton could muster.

Shakra watched Magha for a minute, “I do have some rather potent and untraceable poisons with me, enough for at least four people–

“How dare you even propose such a thing!” Gandini’s voice had taken a screechy quality, she looked torn between disgust and outrage, “we are not weaklings and hidden thieves to hide behind means such as poison, we will attack them upfront and ensure them an honourable death!”

“Lady Gandini we are hidden thieves waiting to take away their power! there is no such thing as an honourable death.” Shakra was twitching in irritation.

Magha was leaning back against her chair, watching the two argue, her eyes followed them back and forth, and she sighed, if only she had put in more effort she might have managed to make a better alliance, but she never had been good at putting in effort. Magha pulled out a pack of food and waited for the other two tire themselves out. Once they were done, it would be easy to manipulate them the way she wanted.

                                                           ***************************

The blood dripped down from the corners of the hexagonal table and fell, bleeding into the white carpet. The sharp metallic smell of drying blood filled the room as the blood continued to ooze out of the mutilated body, which and been torn and shredded beyond any recognition. The blood, body, bones, flesh and cloth had been spread across the table in a minced mess. Only the head was intact, the grey and bluish face of Lady Nishath stared up with hollow, haunted, vacant eyes at the ceiling.

Anala looked at the body, the mutilation, “I officially assume the role of Head of High House Nishath.” He turned on his heel and walked out.

Ida sharply gestured to the terrified servants, “clean this up.”

Aadrika watched as the servants moved in, trembling and green, “I suppose we halt all meetings till the room is properly cleaned and aired.”

“Yes we do” Catura glanced sideways at Ida, Rukira and Aadrika, “do excuse me, I'm rather late for breakfast.”

Catura left followed by Ida and Aadrika who stiffly made their way to their quarters, nobody addressed the odd solid stillness in the room but they all heard Lady Rukira drop the bombshell to the low Houses as she flourished towards her quarters, “Lady Kamana has been murdered by a mage.”

                                                         *****************************

Aadrika paced in her room, her thoughts churning, somebody had a mage, and that mage had just murdered Kamana. It made sense to her that Anala, realising the futility of keeping Kamana as figure head, had come to his senses and ordered Kamana murdered. What didn’t make sense was why he had ordered a mage to do it. Kamana was not a strong or powerful, a shove and a knife would have been enough to kill her. And everybody would have accepted it too, the girl was fated to die.

Aadrika couldn’t discern a logical reason for Anala to make an example of Kamana and murder her this way. If he had been the one to get her killed. The more Aadrika thought about it, the less likely it seemed that Anala would make such an error.

Aadrika paused her pacing, breathing hard, something about all this didn’t sit right, it tugged at her consciousness, she was missing something. Aadrika turned and looked at the entrance of her room, she looked at the hidden compartment that contained her plans, she looked at the room all around her, rich and opulent, a room fit for a High House Head. She looked at the tightly barred door of her room again.

Aadrika made her decision.

                                                         *************************

Ida sat in his quarters, in his chair, absolutely still. A mage had killed Kamana, and since he couldn’t see Anala making such a mistake it had to be somebody else. Ida frowned, he couldn’t see any other the remaining High House Heads making such a mistake either, especially since Kamana was never worth killing, her death didn’t change anything, it had no significance, symbolic or otherwise.

Symbolic….

Ida straightened in his chair, his thoughts turned and came to rest on Aadrika, young, in fact, the youngest of them all, inexperienced and new. According to his spies she had hanged the strongest low house head in her domain before coming to assist the king, a symbolic killing designed to demonstrate strength. Ida frowned, no, it still didn’t make sense, Aadrika, seemed too smart to make such an error, which left only one option.

One of the low houses had a mage.

Ida twirled a quill in his finger. Mulling the thought. The more he considered it, the more sense it made. A low house had a mage and being characteristically stupid the house head wanted to become a High House. So he makes a statement, an error, by murdering Kamana. The quill stopped, Ida watched the ink drip, it was either this or Anala had found himself a motive he couldn’t figure out.

Ida dropped the quill and walked over to his cupboard, carefully hidden from sight. He knew what to do.

                                                      ***************************

Anala watched the candlelight dance and flicker, somebody had killed Kamana, some mage. He thought about how the body had been mutilated, about how dead her head had looked, about how she would never get a proper funeral, and felt a flush of pleasure and anger.

Anger because he hadn’t been the one behind her death, because he hadn’t been there when she died and pleasure because it felt like an act of revenge against her parents who had denied him his right to rule over the High House for so, so long.

Anala savoured the memory of Kamana’s mutilated body; her death, and his pleasure grew and drowned the meagre sparks of anger.

Now Kamana was dead, the stupid girl’s parents were dead, and he had High House Nishath all for himself.

Sitting alone in his quarters with only candlelight for company Anala began to laugh. Yes, he liked the death of Kamana very much.

                                                       *************************

Aadrika sat on the floor of her room, dressed in a utilitarian and comfortable pant and kurta, surrounded by pieces of glass, metal and pure flakes of silver. She sat and focused, instantly there was calm peaceful stillness in her mind, with razor sharp focus. Her lips parted and moved soundlessly,

“अहंगूढशक्तिबलानाम् आज्ञापयामिस्वस्यगुणंबहिः।

सद्भावंगृहाण

गुणान्गृहाण

विशेषाणिगृहाण

काचधातुरजतं

तानिस्वकीयानिकुरु, ममकृतेददातु।

तेषुमांआवृत्यस्थापयतु।

अदृश्यंमांकुरु।“

All round Aadrika an eerie silent tornado began to build, the glass metal and silver disintegrated and got swept up by the soundless wind and attacked Aadrika, darting inwards and fusing with her skin. The tornado spun harder and abruptly disappeared.

Aadrika sat still, her eyes closed, encased in glass, metal and silver.

Her eyes flashed open.

She disappeared. 

                                                      ****************************

Ida sat on the chair and looked at the desk in front of him, there was a ring of atta around a foot in radius, decorated with haldi, kumkum and a black paste that smelled strangely of incense. Inside the ring lay a pure, white, opaque sheet of milk. Ida gently extracted a strip of cloth from inside his pocket and placed it in the ring.

The sheet of milk rippled.

Ida focused and a peaceful stillness filled his mind, his lips parted and moved soundlessly,

“आज्ञापयामि गूढशक्तिबलानि स्वगुणात्।

अस्य खण्डस्य उत्पत्तिः दर्शिता भविष्यति

अस्य खण्डस्य स्वामी दर्शितः भविष्यति

अन्तरिक्षकालयोः माध्यमेन एकं खिडकं उद्घाटितं भविष्यति।

यत् अहं द्रष्टुम् इच्छामि तत् मम कृते दर्शितं भविष्यति।“

The haldi, kumkum and black paste bled into the milk which swirled and started to glow like moonlight. A vacuum seemed to form in the room emanating from the ring, the piece of cloth disintegrated and glow grew brighter and brighter till the milk disappeared and the hexagonal meeting room appeared.

The ring of atta looked like it was made of moonlight, all traces of haldi, kumkum and the black paste had disappeared.

Ida watched the hexagonal room through the rip he had made in the fabric of the material world, he waited silently, and was very well rewarded by the entrance four masked figures.

                                                        **********************

Aadrika moved through the palace, silent, invisible. Unseen and unheard by all. She would be safe as long as her spell would last, and she knew by practice, it would last long.

Aadrika had only one goal in mind, king Kedar’s private quarters. He might not be as senile as the spies had been led to believe, but he definitely was slipping in mental soundness, her best chance of finding some clue to his plans would be in his quarters.

Aadrika reached the king's wing and quietly slipped inside, she walked through the dark passageways, her feet automatically finding their way, she focused on her surroundings, the King’s wing was certainly richer and more opulent that the rest of the palace, marble, ivory, gold, silver and jewels. She followed the path she had memorised and made her way to the king’s private quarters.

Nothing in the King’s wing was locked for the king had nothing to fear, and since the king was away on war there were no soldiers or servants. Nevertheless, traversing the opaque dark corridor of the King's wing made Aadrika shiver in anticipation. Her adrenaline was high and the electric spark of apprehensive excitement that flickered through her spine made her feel very alive.

As Aadrika moved towards the King’s private chamber, every step bringing her closer, she started to enjoy herself, the kind of enjoyment that comes with doing something dangerous with an exhilarating practiced and confident air, the air of self-assurance. It was moments like these that made the life of a High House Head worthwhile.

The door to the king’s private chamber gave away and Aadrika stepped in, shutting the heavy door behind her. Excitement lighting up her eyes, Aadrika got to work and started to take apart just about everything in the enormous chamber.

She lit up the place with a simple spell, and started to vet the room for secret chambers, combing every single spot carefully, doing her best to leave nothing out, analysing everything.

                                                                ************************

The milky shafts of moonlight filtered through the coloured glass chandeliers and splayed across the room in a beautiful translucent whispery web, the candles had long since burned down, their scent hung in the air along with a stillness.

Lady Rukira of High House Karmisht sat in her chair at the head of the east wing’s courtroom, her rust coloured hair had spread itself, free from its braid. Apart from this infraction Lady Rukira looked ready to deliver a death sentence, she stared vacantly out the window, her swallow face devoid of any emotion.

Footfalls echoed in the empty court, as the darkness seemed to part, and an old weathered man stepped into the coloured light. He was old with bloodshot eyes, a sullen nose and a lanky frame achieved from undereating. He stank faintly of liquor.

The old man staggered a bow, “Lord Siraka of House Rakta, your ladyship, sworn to High House Nishthavan.” He staggered and smelt of liquor, but his voice was clear and strong, the voice of a man in his senses. Over the years Lord Siraka had developed a sort of immunity to liquor and could now hold an abnormal amount without getting drunk.

Rukira’s eyes flickered towards him, sharp, hard, burning with a sudden unprovoked anger. Siraka straightened himself, “I have come in her ladyship’s presence to pledge allegiance to High House Karmisht.”

Rukira looked at him, her eyes smouldering, nothing else giving anything away, “is that so?”

Siraka looked up, “yes Lady Karmisht, I will not follow the orders of a pompous child, instead I will stand by High House Karmisht and serve it so that it may rise to glory.”

Rukira looked at the old man, a sudden sharp hatred and anger rose in her, she wanted to strike and kill this little man right away. To hears his screams echo in the walls, to see his pain, to feel the hope die from him. She wanted to kill him.

Her eyes blazed, “High House Karmisht accepts your allegiance, await orders.”

Siraka left.

Lady Rukira felt burnt inside.

                                                        ***************************

The four figures stood there still, on four different corners of the table and looked at each other. They were all masked. They watched each other’s masks and stood still and silent.

Ida watched rapt with attention. None of the figures moved.

As Lord Ida watched to masked statues through the rip. The hair of his arm and neck started to tingle, standing up as if pulled by static electricity. His ears and nose itched. An uneasy feeling spread in his stomach. His body started to sweat but it felt more like slime.

He stared through the rip.

Abruptly the rip closed, the atta was over. 

The moonlight disappeared.

Ida jerked back in his chair, breathing hard, feeling sick. He knew what those feelings meant; he knew them very well. He thought of those figures in the room. They were communicating magically. It was a tricky, messy magical process that left a lot of spell residue.

Ida’s breathing slowed and his mind stopped panicking. He felt soaked.

That’s why they had chosen the hexagonal room, any magical residue would have been attributed to Kamana’s death, there was already so much spell residue there that even Rukira, Aadrika, Anala and Catura could feel it. Ida’s mind worked. Whichever this low house was, they were smart, but that was not very surprising, mages were closely held and their abilities were fanatically guarded, obsessively practised and honed. Moreover if this house had managed to keep the mage from its High House, he would be no fool.

So this house was planning something, but who was he giving instructions too? For a second Ida considered the possibility of there being more than one mage, and them immediately dismissed the thought, that would be beyond rare and impossible to hide.

Then who was the mage instructing? What were they planning? What were they going to do? if the mage was giving instructions, and was doing it through spells, then either he was the House Head or was properly indebted. That meant that somebody out there was dangerous.

But who? What were they planning? How was he going to come out on top?

Ida felt worn out, sick, slimy and wrung. He looked at the spot where his rip had been.

He got up and left for a bath.

                                                      **************************

Aadrika panted, tired, wrung out, exhausted. She had ripped the king’s room apart, and had found nothing. Nothing.

She sat on the floor, leaning against the high bed, staring at the ruined room in bitter hatred. Her spell was also wearing out. It was hot and she couldn’t stop sweating, hours of labour and she had found nothing. There was no clue in the King’s quarters of his plans.

Frustration mounting Aadrika sprang of the ground and started to pace, unable to contain herself. There had to be something here that indicated at the king’s plan. Something, anything. The king had definitely planned their confinement, there had to be a reason why. He had left them all in here and gone to war –

War…..

Aadrika looked up sharply, they had gone to war. The king was leading the army to war, and had locked them all up to prevent an uprising against his throne. If that was the case then, according to age old tradition and custom, the king would have initiated the war with a spell and a feast, a celebration that flaunted the king’s might and the royal mages.

That had not happened this time, the king had left in quite a hurry, but why? Moreover the king’s room bore no sign of war preparation and it did bear signs of beginning senility.

It was precious little to go on, but Aadrika had a feeling that the strange manner of this war, with the king personally leading it, and the manner of the king’s rather shocking departure was because of the king’s plan. Dismissing it as his senility had been wrong.

Still lost in thought, Aadrika quickly casted a spell to restore the King’s room, and slipped out hurrying away to her own, her spell was wearing out but she knew where she had to go next. 


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Sun Jun 09, 2024 3:45 pm
RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

Sorry in advance for the long review, heh...

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

Oh wow, a long and complex chapter, rich with theories and tension as the result of Lady Kamana's death. I loved the multiple perspectives from Aadrika, Ida, Anala, and Rukira, and the many clues that each one gave us. The magic that was shown here was also incredible, and I am hooked on this new mystery! Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

I couldn't really think of any recommendations to make this time! Good writing job ~

Why The Grin Widened...

To start, using this line as an example...

She had the look of someone who had gotten old not because of time but because of hardship.


I love how you introduce these three new characters, with so much fine, poetic detail that tells us about their characters. Likewise, their dialogue was so gritty and revealing. Overthrowing other houses, winning the favor of the last standing High House; oooo...

nobody addressed the odd solid stillness in the room but they all heard Lady Rukira drop the bombshell to the low Houses as she flourished towards her quarters, “Lady Kamana has been murdered by a mage.”


Didn't expect that! O.O

Aadrika couldn’t discern a logical reason for Anala to make an example of Kamana and murder her this way. If he had been the one to get her killed. The more Aadrika thought about it, the less likely it seemed that Anala would make such an error.


Again, I love the multiple perspectives on the death of Kamana, from Aadrika, Ida, and Anala. The slow deduction is exciting to follow and builds so much anticipation, especially since all three of them have slightly different clues, and some even suspect each other.

Aadrika, in spite of her callous nature, seems like a very smart woman all too familiar with the nature and motions of the houses and their members, and that came through well here. She seems to have shied away from the thought of Anala being the murderer, recognizing that she's missing a clue. I wonder where her train of thought will lead her in this case.

Even if he backed off the idea, Ida proved that Aadrika herself isn't a character above suspicion to this caste, given her new status and previous acts of "symbolism" as a result. But shying away from the idea, it definitely seems rational that one of the low houses may be responsible.

And of course, Anala was a very interesting character to watch:

Sitting alone in his quarters with only candlelight for company Anala began to laugh. Yes, he liked the death of Kamana very much.


So he isn't responsible, himself, but he is certainly happy with the results. Interesting. I wonder if there is an affiliation between the mage responsible, or their house, and the house of Nishath. He didn't seem to have a theory of his own though...

Then, the sense of magic in each of their rooms...

Aadrika sat still, her eyes closed, encased in glass, metal and silver.

Her eyes flashed open.

She disappeared.


The ring of atta looked like it was made of moonlight, all traces of haldi, kumkum and the black paste had disappeared.

Ida watched the hexagonal room through the rip he had made in the fabric of the material world, he waited silently, and was very well rewarded by the entrance four masked figures.


Incredible! Aadrika's spell not only sounds aesthetically beautiful, with shards of glass and silver, but becoming invisible? That's awesome! And Ida created a vision, revealing four masked figures with his spell? Ooooo...

On a side note:

the King’s wing was certainly richer and more opulent that the rest of the palace, marble, ivory, gold, silver and jewels.


The milky shafts of moonlight filtered through the coloured glass chandeliers and splayed across the room in a beautiful translucent whispery web, the candles had long since burned down, their scent hung in the air along with a stillness.


Your descriptions were once again absolutely gorgeous and captivating, and I like the grandeur described for the king's area ~

Siraka looked up, “yes Lady Karmisht, I will not follow the orders of a pompous child, instead I will stand by High House Karmisht and serve it so that it may rise to glory.”


It was interesting to see Lady Rukira's reaction to Siraka's pledge, and I wonder what she will earn from his presence. And more importantly, how she will use him...I also wonder if this has to do with Magha's plan in the beginning, given the plot to aid the strongest of the High Houses...

Oooo, Ida's on the case too! It's so cool that he was able to look in on a magical meeting, and glean some hints from it, like the idea of a second mage (as unlikely as he made it sound).

And finally, love that ending!

It was precious little to go on, but Aadrika had a feeling that the strange manner of this war, with the king personally leading it, and the manner of the king’s rather shocking departure was because of the king’s plan. Dismissing it as his senility had been wrong.

Still lost in thought, Aadrika quickly casted a spell to restore the King’s room, and slipped out hurrying away to her own, her spell was wearing out but she knew where she had to go next.


So there's something suspicious about the king, eh? Fascinating! I wonder where she will go next!

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, that was an awesome chapter, nicely done! :D

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khushi17bansal says...


Hey Raven! Thank you so much for the review!

Sorry in advance for the long review


You don't ever have to apologise for that :D Your reviews are always very helpful and I appreciate the effort you put into them!



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Wed Jun 05, 2024 6:56 am
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hello hello! It's mint, back with a review! :] It was delightful to learn more about the magic system in this chapter. Looks like it requires verbal and physical components, so even if you're a mage, you do need some knowledge and supplies to use your abilities. Interesting! Another interesting thing was the continued parallels and similarities between Aadrika and Ida. >.> Very curious as to how they'll react to each other if they discover that they're both mages and have been investigating in their own ways. xD

Anyways, on to specifics...

Shakra was a small mongoose like man, and when irritated he would twitch like one too. He was never not irritated.

This description cracked me up. You described each of the Low House Heads well, giving the readers just enough detail to get a sense of their appearances and personalities without boring them with too much information!
And of course, we love some good plotting. Though the quality of the plotting remains to be seen, I suppose...

Magha pulled out a pack of food and waited for the other two tire themselves out. Once they were done, it would be easy to manipulate them the way she wanted.

:eyes: Perhaps Magha is the most dangerous one of this trio.

Only the head was intact, the grey and bluish face of Lady Nishath stared up with hollow, haunted, vacant eyes at the ceiling.

0-0 That isn't terrifying at all...

Kamana was not a strong or powerful, a shove and a knife would have been enough to kill her. And everybody would have accepted it too, the girl was fated to die.

Two awesome things about this part that I want to highlight: (1) very good reasoning that it'd take more effort to use a mage and so Anala most likely didn't do it, and (2) wow, this really showcases the brutality of the power struggle in this world. Nice work showing that without explicitly telling the reader. :]

A low house had a mage and being characteristically stupid the house head wanted to become a High House.

Hmm. Something tells me it isn't simple stupidity. Even a modicum of spying could likely have revealed that Anala was always the power of that High House, so this might actually strengthen the House since there'd be no need to pretend anymore. I think something's still missing... >.>

Yes, he liked the death of Kamana very much.

That same something makes me suspect he won't like it as much in the future. xD Apparently he's not one to think ahead, such as by questioning the motives of the murderer and whether or not he might be the next target,,,

“अहंगूढशक्तिबलानाम् आज्ञापयामिस्वस्यगुणंबहिः।

Is this Devanagari script? It's beautiful :0 I feel like it's much more likely to be a language of magic than English, which can be so blocky and awkward sometimes.

She disappeared.

So she's a mage? Epic. :] I wonder how each mage learns what ingredients to use, if mages are so rare.

Ida watched the hexagonal room through the rip he had made in the fabric of the material world, he waited silently, and was very well rewarded by the entrance four masked figures.

Seems like a useful ability!

Nothing in the King’s wing was locked for the king had nothing to fear,

I don't quite think this is true... Surely the king must fear the High Houses at least a little-- otherwise, why would he try to control them?

Nevertheless, transversing the opaque dark corridor of the King's wing made Aadrika shiver in excitement, her adrenaline was high and the electric spark of apprehensive excitement that flickered through her spine made her feel very alive.

Three very minor things here! One, this sentence is long and is actually made of two complete thoughts, so it should be split in the middle of "excitement, her". Two, did you mean "traversing" (traveling across) instead of "transversing" (extending across something)? And finally, this is an absolute nitpick, but you repeat "excitement" twice in this section. >.< (Sorry, I couldn't find much else to critique xD) One way to make these edits:

"Nevertheless, traversing the opaque dark corridor of the King's wing made Aadrika shiver in anticipation. Her adrenaline was high and the electric spark of apprehensive excitement that flickered through her spine made her feel very alive."

Note that, as always, it's up to you as the author. =P Also, I love the image of an electric spark flickering through her spine! It conveys her emotions very effectively.

Lady Rukira felt burnt inside.

Woahhh. This is a very powerful line.

that would be beyond rare and impossible to hide.

Why would it be impossible to hide? >.> Seems like Ida and Aadrika are doing a fine job of hiding it.

she knew where she had to go next.

Excited to find out where she goes! :D

Great work with this chapter, and keep writing!! =D




khushi17bansal says...


Thanks for the review mint!

Is this Devanagari script?


Haha, it is indeed. :D All the spells are written in sanskrit to be accurate. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting anybody unfamiliar with hindi to recognise it XD

I don't quite think this is true... Surely the king must fear the High Houses at least a little-- otherwise, why would he try to control them?


The King fears the High Houses, yes, he definitely does, over here I was just trying to convey that King portrayed himself as powerful and therefore, invincible. Also, usually - when the King is in the palace - the security there is quite high.
Let me know if this doesn't get across clearly, because if it doesn't I'll try and edit it to makes things more clear.

Also, thanks for pointing out the grammar nitpick, I'm definitely going to implement that!



Spearmint says...


I wasn't expecting anybody unfamiliar with hindi to recognise it XD

XD I'm taking a linguistic anthropology course right now! That's how I recognized it :]
I was just trying to convey that King portrayed himself as powerful and therefore, invincible. Also, usually - when the King is in the palace - the security there is quite high.

Ohhhh okay, yep, that makes sense :D
Thanks for the reply!! ^-^



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Wed May 29, 2024 6:25 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: This was quite the chapter here. Starting off with a properly insane murder definitely immediately ramps up the situation to yet another level here. I love the little reveal. I was suspecting both of them but this is a lovely way to have that confirmation. Its looking well set here.

Anyway let's get right to it,

In a hidden dark corner of the King’s palace, around a small hooded table, sat three masked figures. None of the three figures moved, finally, the masked figure to the right yanked off her mask, and revealed a scarred angry face. Her lips were pressed in a thin line and her voice was brisk and commanding. She had the look of someone who had gotten old not because of time but because of hardship. She was Lady Gandini of House Kandota sworn to High House Vishyah, considered by many a grumpy war veteran.

“If this alliance is to work I will need you weaklings to actually show your faces” she snapped glaring at the other two.

“We are not weaklings Lady Gandini, we are simply cautious, if you had been so yourself perhaps you would not have been graced by so many scars.” The voice was deep, irritated and sharp, it belonged to Lord Shakra of House Reti, sworn to High House Nishath. Shakra was a small mongoose like man, and when irritated he would twitch like one too. He was never not irritated.


Oooh a little peak at what the lower houses are upto. Well this i a nice little start here. Always love to see an extra perspective like this in a story and this one proves to be quite intriguing up to now.

The figure to the far left removed her mask to reveal an old soft pudgy face, overdone with makeup and jewellery, smiling in amusement. Lady Magha of House Shukti, sworn to High House Karmisht was a pudgy, greedy, lazy old woman who excelled in getting her way by doing nothing. “Shall we talk of things that are more important? For instance, how exactly do we all plan to overthrow the other Houses and gain favour of whichever High House wins this bloodbath? We do have an alliance after all.” Her voice had an old papery quality followed by a sickly sugar sweetness that only a glutton could muster.

Shakra watched Magha for a minute, “I do have some rather potent and untraceable poisons with me, enough for at least four people–

“How dare you even propose such a thing!” Gandini’s voice had taken a screechy quality, she looked torn between disgust and outrage, “we are not weaklings and hidden thieves to hide behind means such as poison, we will attack them upfront and ensure them an honourable death!”


Well this is already quite the set of plans being laid down here from the looks of things, especially with the talk of untraceable poisons and such. The lower houses do seem to contain a few that are smarter than what we saw at the start.

“Lady Gandini we are hidden thieves waiting to take away their power! there is no such thing as an honourable death.” Shakra was twitching in irritation.

Magha was leaning back against her chair, watching the two argue, her eyes followed them back and forth, and she sighed, if only she had put in more effort she might have managed to make a better alliance, but she never had been good at putting in effort. Magha pulled out a pack of food and waited for the other two tire themselves out. Once they were done, it would be easy to manipulate them the way she wanted.


Well it looks like they definitely have many many plans going for them there, although it looks like to have layers to its layers when it comes to how the cards are going to fall by the end.

Anala looked at the body, the mutilation, “I officially assume the role of Head of High House Nishath.” He turned on his heel and walked out.

Ida sharply gestured to the terrified servants, “clean this up.”

Aadrika watched as the servants moved in, trembling and green, “I suppose we halt all meetings till the room is properly cleaned and aired.”

“Yes we do” Catura glanced sideways at Ida, Rukira and Aadrika, “do excuse me, I'm rather late for breakfast.”

Catura left followed by Ida and Aadrika who stiffly made their way to their quarters, nobody addressed the odd solid stillness in the room but they all heard Lady Rukira drop the bombshell to the low Houses as she flourished towards her quarters, “Lady Kamana has been murdered by a mage.”


Well that's definitely a murder and a half there, or maybe two murders. I don't think I've seen something that intense in a work that wasn't about like a serial killer. Definitely sending a powerful message there whoever actually ordered this. At least we can lay to rest any theories about her secret plans now.

Aadrika paced in her room, her thoughts churning, somebody had a mage, and that mage had just murdered Kamana. It made sense to her that Anala, realising the futility of keeping Kamana as figure head, had come to his senses and ordered Kamana murdered. What didn’t make sense was why he had ordered a mage to do it. Kamana was not a strong or powerful, a shove and a knife would have been enough to kill her. And everybody would have accepted it too, the girl was fated to die.

Aadrika couldn’t discern a logical reason for Anala to make an example of Kamana and murder her this way. If he had been the one to get her killed. The more Aadrika thought about it, the less likely it seemed that Anala would make such an error.

Aadrika paused her pacing, breathing hard, something about all this didn’t sit right, it tugged at her consciousness, she was missing something. Aadrika turned and looked at the entrance of her room, she looked at the hidden compartment that contained her plans, she looked at the room all around her, rich and opulent, a room fit for a High House Head. She looked at the tightly barred door of her room again.

Aadrika made her decision.


Oooh welll this is quite the reaction. Loving this little analysis going down here, makes us also think a bit more on who exactly wanted to send this message and honestly I am about as sure as Aadrika happens to be about what this could mean here.

Ida sat in his quarters, in his chair, absolutely still. A mage had killed Kamana, and since he couldn’t see Anala making such a mistake it had to be somebody else. Ida frowned, he couldn’t see any other the remaining High House Heads making such a mistake either, especially since Kamana was never worth killing, her death didn’t change anything, it had no significance, symbolic or otherwise.

Symbolic….

Ida straightened in his chair, his thoughts turned and came to rest on Aadrika, young, in fact, the youngest of them all, inexperienced and new. According to his spies she had hanged the strongest low house head in her domain before coming to assist the king, a symbolic killing designed to demonstrate strength. Ida frowned, no, it still didn’t make sense, Aadrika, seemed too smart to make such an error, which left only one option.

One of the low houses had a mage.


Hmm well this is a surprising direction to go in, both the suspicion around Aadrika that I didn't expect but does make a lot of sense to that very concerning conclusion there right at the very end. It does seem like there's a potential connection to what we saw at the start.

Ida twirled a quill in his finger. Mulling the thought. The more he considered it, the more sense it made. A low house had a mage and being characteristically stupid the house head wanted to become a High House. So he makes a statement, an error, by murdering Kamana. The quill stopped, Ida watched the ink drip, it was either this or Anala had found himself a motive he couldn’t figure out.

Ida dropped the quill and walked over to his cupboard, carefully hidden from sight. He knew what to do.


Well this is certainly leading from one plan to another quite intensly here. Things really seem like they're building towards some sort of all out battle at the rate this is going.

Anala watched the candlelight dance and flicker, somebody had killed Kamana, some mage. He thought about how the body had been mutilated, about how dead her head had looked, about how she would never get a proper funeral, and felt a flush of pleasure and anger.

Anger because he hadn’t been the one behind her death, because he hadn’t been there when she died and pleasure because it felt like an act of revenge against her parents who had denied him his right to rule over the High House for so, so long.

Anala savoured the memory of Kamana’s mutilated body; her death, and his pleasure grew and drowned the meagre sparks of anger.

Now Kamana was dead, the stupid girl’s parents were dead, and he had High House Nishath all for himself.

Sitting alone in his quarters with only candlelight for company Anala began to laugh. Yes, he liked the death of Kamana very much.


Well definitely not the most loving person there Anala, no doubt about that. I suppose that shows how much love exists in these families. Well it seems we're now down to just all the scheming evil people, so let's see what they get up to next.

Aadrika sat on the floor of her room, dressed in a utilitarian and comfortable pant and kurta, surrounded by pieces of glass, metal and pure flakes of silver. She sat and focused, instantly there was calm peaceful stillness in her mind, with razor sharp focus. Her lips parted and moved soundlessly,

All round Aadrika an eerie silent tornado began to build, the glass metal and silver disintegrated and got swept up by the soundless wind and attacked Aadrika, darting inwards and fusing with her skin. The tornado spun harder and abruptly disappeared.

Aadrika sat still, her eyes closed, encased in glass, metal and silver.

Her eyes flashed open.

She disappeared.


That is quite the scene there, I honestly don't know what to make of it. Is our girl Aadrika a bit of a mage there or are we looking at some sort of attack on her? You'd think not given it seems she's fine but this one honestly sends me for a loop. Let's see where we end up.

Ida sat on the chair and looked at the desk in front of him, there was a ring of atta around a foot in radius, decorated with haldi, kumkum and a black paste that smelled strangely of incense. Inside the ring lay a pure, white, opaque sheet of milk. Ida gently extracted a strip of cloth from inside his pocket and placed it in the ring.

The sheet of milk rippled.

Ida focused and a peaceful stillness filled his mind, his lips parted and moved soundlessly,

The haldi, kumkum and black paste bled into the milk which swirled and started to glow like moonlight. A vacuum seemed to form in the room emanating from the ring, the piece of cloth disintegrated and glow grew brighter and brighter till the milk disappeared and the hexagonal meeting room appeared.

The ring of atta looked like it was made of moonlight, all traces of haldi, kumkum and the black paste had disappeared.

Ida watched the hexagonal room through the rip he had made in the fabric of the material world, he waited silently, and was very well rewarded by the entrance four masked figures.


Oooh seeing this does tell you a lot more. It appears we've got maybe two mages as house heads and they both just so happen to at the same time decide it was time to pull out some spells to investigate what exactly it is they're dealing with. They do seem to be headed in different directions though as it stands.

Aadrika moved through the palace, silent, invisible. Unseen and unheard by all. She would be safe as long as her spell would last, and she knew by practice, it would last long.

Aadrika had only one goal in mind, king Kedar’s private quarters. He might not be as senile as the spies had been led to believe, but he definitely was slipping in mental soundness, her best chance of finding some clue to his plans would be in his quarters.

Aadrika reached the king's wing and quietly slipped inside, she walked through the dark passageways, her feet automatically finding their way, she focused on her surroundings, the King’s wing was certainly richer and more opulent that the rest of the palace, marble, ivory, gold, silver and jewels. She followed the path she had memorised and made her way to the king’s private quarters.

Nothing in the King’s wing was locked for the king had nothing to fear, and since the king was away on war there were no soldiers or servants. Nevertheless, transversing the opaque dark corridor of the King's wing made Aadrika shiver in excitement, her adrenaline was high and the electric spark of apprehensive excitement that flickered through her spine made her feel very alive.


Oooh this is a fun move, a bold move too to just sneak straight into the private chambers of the king there. Looking forward to seeing precisely how that's going to go down, its sure to reveal something even in this non threatening sort of moment its at right now.

As Aadrika moved towards the King’s private chamber, every step bringing her closer, she started to enjoy herself, the kind of enjoyment that comes with doing something dangerous with an exhilarating practiced and confident air, the air of self-assurance. It was moments like these that made the life of a High House Head worthwhile.

The door to the king’s private chamber gave away and Aadrika stepped in, shutting the heavy door behind her. Excitement lighting up her eyes, Aadrika got to work and started to take apart just about everything in the enormous chamber.

She lit up the place with a simple spell, and started to vet the room for secret chambers, combing every single spot carefully, doing her best to leave nothing out, analysing everything.


Oooh well it seems she's going straight into the nitty gritty of it there. It seems she's not afraid anyone's going to walk in if that light's any indication. Let's hope her confidence was warranted there.

The milky shafts of moonlight filtered through the coloured glass chandeliers and splayed across the room in a beautiful translucent whispery web, the candles had long since burned down, their scent hung in the air along with a stillness.

Lady Rukira of High House Karmisht sat in her chair at the head of the east wing’s courtroom, her rust coloured hair had spread itself, free from its braid. Apart from this infraction Lady Rukira looked ready to deliver a death sentence, she stared vacantly out the window, her swallow face devoid of any emotion.

Footfalls echoed in the empty court, as the darkness seemed to part, and an old weathered man stepped into the coloured light. He was old with bloodshot eyes, a sullen nose and a lanky frame achieved from undereating. He stank faintly of liquor.

The old man staggered a bow, “Lord Siraka of House Rakta, your ladyship, sworn to High House Nishthavan.” He staggered and smelt of liquor, but his voice was clear and strong, the voice of a man in his senses. Over the years Lord Siraka had developed a sort of immunity to liquor and could now hold an abnormal amount without getting drunk.


Well this is quite the entrance to make there. It looks like there's quite a purpose behind this specific one. Let's see how this is going to end up playing out for us. It seems more deals are ready to go down.

Rukira’s eyes flickered towards him, sharp, hard, burning with a sudden unprovoked anger. Siraka straightened himself, “I have come in her ladyship’s presence to pledge allegiance to High House Karmisht.”

Rukira looked at him, her eyes smouldering, nothing else giving anything away, “is that so?”

Siraka looked up, “yes Lady Karmisht, I will not follow the orders of a pompous child, instead I will stand by High House Karmisht and serve it so that it may rise to glory.”

Rukira looked at the old man, a sudden sharp hatred and anger rose in her, she wanted to strike and kill this little man right away. To hears his screams echo in the walls, to see his pain, to feel the hope die from him. She wanted to kill him.

Her eyes blazed, “High House Karmisht accepts your allegiance, await orders.”

Siraka left.

Lady Rukira felt burnt inside.


Ouch, even I could tell that was most definitely not particularly amazing in terms of word choice. The poor man is probably not going to end up surviving for very long and to be fair he doesn't seem to deserve to survive that long anyone. The only person who'd dead seems to be the one who most deserved to live ironically enough.

The four figures stood there still, on four different corners of the table and looked at each other. They were all masked. They watched each other’s masks and stood still and silent.

Ida watched rapt with attention. None of the figures moved.

As Lord Ida watched to masked statues through the rip. The hair of his arm and neck started to tingle, standing up as if pulled by static electricity. His ears and nose itched. An uneasy feeling spread in his stomach. His body started to sweat but it felt more like slime.

He stared through the rip.

Abruptly the rip closed, the atta was over.

The moonlight disappeared.


Oooh well it seems that was a different kind of snooping there although most definitely finding intel at the same time. Looks like this is going to be a slightly different direction of investigation here.

Ida jerked back in his chair, breathing hard, feeling sick. He knew what those feelings meant; he knew them very well. He thought of those figures in the room. They were communicating magically. It was a tricky, messy magical process that left a lot of spell residue.

Ida’s breathing slowed and his mind stopped panicking. He felt soaked.

That’s why they had chosen the hexagonal room, any magical residue would have been attributed to Kamana’s death, there was already so much spell residue there that even Rukira, Aadrika, Anala and Catura could feel it. Ida’s mind worked. Whichever this low house was, they were smart, but that was not very surprising, mages were closely held and their abilities were fanatically guarded, obsessively practised and honed. Moreover if this house had managed to keep the mage from its High House, he would be no fool.

So this house was planning something, but who was he giving instructions too? For a second Ida considered the possibility of there being more than one mage, and them immediately dismissed the thought, that would be beyond rare and impossible to hide.


Well there's certainly a multitude of things to unpack from that particular vision and Ida over here is doing his very best to wring as much sense out of it as he possibly can.

Then who was the mage instructing? What were they planning? What were they going to do? if the mage was giving instructions, and was doing it through spells, then either he was the House Head or was properly indebted. That meant that somebody out there was dangerous.

But who? What were they planning? How was he going to come out on top?

Ida felt worn out, sick, slimy and wrung. He looked at the spot where his rip had been.

He got up and left for a bath.


Well after going through that ordeal a bath does seem a good idea. Looks like he exhausted himself quite a bit more than what Aadrika chose to go through at least as far as we've seen up to now. Aadrika was about to embark on quite the phyical search.

Aadrika panted, tired, wrung out, exhausted. She had ripped the king’s room apart, and had found nothing. Nothing.

She sat on the floor, leaning against the high bed, staring at the ruined room in bitter hatred. Her spell was also wearing out. It was hot and she couldn’t stop sweating, hours of labour and she had found nothing. There was no clue in the King’s quarters of his plans.

Frustration mounting Aadrika sprang of the ground and started to pace, unable to contain herself. There had to be something here that indicated at the king’s plan. Something, anything. The king had definitely planned their confinement, there had to be a reason why. He had left them all in here and gone to war –

War…..


Hmm well it seems all of that searching has proved fairly futile here. The king either doesn't have it in this chamber which to be fair would be the first place everyone would look or it is too well hidden for Aadrika to detect at the moment here.

Aadrika looked up sharply, they had gone to war. The king was leading the army to war, and had locked them all up to prevent an uprising against his throne. If that was the case then, according to age old tradition and custom, the king would have initiated the war with a spell and a feast, a celebration that flaunted the king’s might and the royal mages.

That had not happened this time, the king had left in quite a hurry, but why? Moreover the king’s room bore no sign of war preparation and it did bear signs of beginning senility.

It was precious little to go on, but Aadrika had a feeling that the strange manner of this war, with the king personally leading it, and the manner of the king’s rather shocking departure was because of the king’s plan. Dismissing it as his senility had been wrong.

Still lost in thought, Aadrika quickly casted a spell to restore the King’s room, and slipped out hurrying away to her own, her spell was wearing out but she knew where she had to go next.


Well it seems Aadrika and Ida both have their own second phases now all planned out. Let's see how they're going to end up executing these plans now. This is getting rather heated here.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall I think you've done a wonderful job here. Chapter three is really shaking things up and I am very much looking forward to see where we'll go next from here.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Kate




khushi17bansal says...


Thank you so much for the review!!




“I don't talk things, sir. I talk the meaning of things.”
— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451