author’s note: this contains 2 chapters, you can either review both, or one of the two.....
Chapter - 1
Cold, cruel fog choked the little town by the sea, with continuous rain of storms, little sunlight was ever received by the town, for the dark, grey clouds cloaked the place, hiding the sun. In the hearth of the town, stood a magnificent palace, so grand, one might have thought it was a dream, but inside the palace, the mood was anything but that of a dream, strong soldiers guarded every room of the palace, and were taught to be cold and cruel to those who were unwanted to the place, with heads held high, the army of guards securing the entry to the palace, stared down at all the peasants or poor people. Not everyday such a tight security was followed, but today, the president was staying, and he felt highly insecure with the little amount of soldiers guarding the place, and those too, who were soft with all the peasants. He had learned long ago not to trust a peasant or a poor person, and he did not want to be kidnapped by a mere common man. the entry to the palace was very restricted, and even the presidents most trusted men had to go through the soldier’s checking schedule, no one knew why the president was acting like this, but no matter how hard they tried, the president refused to utter a single word on this topic, for he knew better, to not trust ANYONE, especially in the current circumstances.....................
As we speak, the president might be handling issues of the state, or perhaps eating dinner, or passing time playing chess......... or dwelling over matters no mortal should do......
Shall we take a peek? Very well, we shall. The president was not passing time playing chess, neither was he eating dinner or handling matters of the state, but instead, he was pacing the study, with a warm fire waving cheerfully, and no serious matters of the state were there, then why was he so unusually pale? Why so tensed? He would stop pacing for a moment, wondering wether he was doing the right thing, then give an occasional glance to his watch, and then, resume the pacing. The minutes ticked on the clock, the sun sank deeper every second, and then finally, night dawned. But the president was far too busy being tensed to realise that it was almost midnight, and the guards had changed for the nighttime guarding, or that he had missed a delicious dinner, you must be wondering why no one bothered to ask him for dinner? That’s because he had told everyone at the place, that he would not come for dinner, and that he was not to be disturbed, but would only allow a certain soldier to bother him with a letter. Finally, at half past one, a gentle knock broke his concentration. He glanced at the clock, and sighed shakily, rubbing his forehead, “of course” he thought, “ since when did HE ever be on time?” . He looked at the door, his heart beating fast, the letter, it would be the answer, if he would agree, things could be done simply, if he would not....... he shook his head, “ no!” He thought, “ he is my brother, he is sensible, besides, we had always gotten along well” there was another knock, and he realised he had kept it waiting too long, “ come in” he replied, trying to keep his voice as calm as possible, but failing to do so. A soldier wearing a long, black cloak came in, with him, he carried a letter. He gave the letter to the president, who took it with shaking hands. “You shall go now” the president muttered, this time, not caring to keep his voice calm. The soldier hesitated, but then nodded curtly and closed the door behind him. Inside, the tension was now so thick, you could cut it with a knife. His heart beating rather fast, and his hands shaking, he fumbled open the letter, took a shaky breath, and started reading, his eyes almost became a blur as he read the letter, and finally, he finished reading. He now looked, if possible, even paler, but drew himself to his full height. Very well then, he thought, my brother, too, turned his back on me, just like my other brother, but no matter, no matter, he would just have to do the other way, follow the tougher plan, but he would win. He took a cloak and hid his face behind it, and pushed aside the shelf containing all the heavy books, to reveal a door, a secret exit to the palace. He opened it and slipped out of sight, but before doing so, he dropped a heavy book, “ that’s the signal, he would know, save my secret” he thought and went away. A minute or two later, he stepped out into the dark, cold night. A man stood waiting for him a distance away, and only a part of his old, wrinkled face was visible by the little light from a distant street light. “Ah! Don, long time, no see” the mysterious man whispered. The president glanced nervously around him, even though the trees whispered, and distant voices could be heard, the whisper was as if the man had shouted, sending chills down the spine, goosebumps erupted on the president’s arms. “How did you know? That I was to come here?” The president stammered. “I have known you for too long, don, I knew you would come” the old man whispered.
“The president’s dead! The president’s dead!” The news was carried to every person, boy and even animal, before it reached the newspaper, and the twist to this news, was that the president was found dead beside a mere fisherman, a poor man, whose face was scarred and wrinkled, and the president, looking merely shocked. Betrayed.
The news that the president was found dead with a common fisherman, was a new topic for gossip for the whole town, and it continued for many weeks, but the people eventually got bored with it and retired back to the usual rumours and complaints. But the mood inside the palace was now intense. Regular interrogations to random guards were taking place, and the Vice President, a fat and lazy man who had never done honest work in his life, was not handling matters as well as efficiently.
In a lonely cottage by the sea, the mood was no different then that of the palace, the cottage was standing alone in a beach, and it was so run down and ancient that it was a wonder it was still standing. It had chipped walls and there were hardly any tiles left on the roof, the windows rattled in the cold, chilling wind, and the only signs of life were the smoke billowing cheerfully from the chimney, and the cat staring out of the window lazily. A man came into view from the horizon, he wore a long, black cloak and a neat uniform. He walked across the beach, leaving huge footprints behind him in the sand. He stopped in front of the door, and knocked. The door opened and there stood a man in the doorway, he had early greyish hair, and wore a patched, surprisingly clean shirt, with equally ragged jeans. “Yes?” He asked, finally accepting that the inspector was visiting him. He had been dreading this ever since his father had been found dead beside the president, that his innocent father would be blamed of murder just because he was a poor man. The inspector stared at the house, and remained frame in the doorway. “Your father was found dead beside the president, and we have received knowledge that you were VERY close to him,” he put an emphasis on the word, ‘very’. “We suspect that your father was a murderer, and we are confident that he would have confided in you the whole plan,” he continued. The man stared at the inspector for a moment, temper boiling inside him, “ oh yeah? What proof do you have for that? How can you blame my father? Just because he was poor? He was at least better than you!” The man thundered. The inspector’s eyes bulged and he glared at the man, but said nothing, “ we have no proof, yes, but it is not your job to tell me how to do my duty, you are nothing but an unwanted insect, be grateful that the president lets you live in this........ house.......” the inspector dangerously whispered. “This house is a mansion, and I don’t care about you or your stupid president” the man said. “You will receive your father’s body tomorrow evening, I have nothing else to say.” The inspector said in a cold voice, and walked away, the man stared at the inspector’s back till it disappeared from the horizon, and then, went inside, slamming the door behind him. He plopped himself down an ancient armchair, and rested his head in his arms. A woman appeared from the kitchen, holding a tray in which she put hot tea, she had red, rosy cheeks and jet black hair tied in a bun. She puts the tray down a rickety old table and sat beside the man. “David?” She whispered, “ I believe you, but, don’t lose your temper like this every time a person blames father” she said. He opened his eyes and stared at her, then, he sighed and nodded. He took a cup of tea and drank it silently, after finishing, he put it back on the tray and gave the woman a small smile, “ thank you Clara, ” he said. She nodded and went back inside the kitchen.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. The man called David looked up. Who would it be now? He wondered. Just as he opened the door, he jumped back in surprise, for standing in the doorway, were three woman, who looked alike to the last hair. All of them had brownish black hair, which were tied in a tight bun. All of them wore yellow dresses, which too, were alike to the last thread. The only possible way to differentiate between them, was their baskets, all of them had jute baskets, covered with different coloured napkin covering them, the basket had strangely shaped lumps which resembled a cat sleeping. All the three sisters had fair skin and blood red lips, and had an air of mystery about them. After accepting the truth that 3 rich women were standing on his doorway he picked himself up, “yes?” He asked feebly. At this all of them started laughing, they laughed for what seemed like ages. “oh dear” said the one holding the basket with yellow coloured blanket, wiping tears of laughter from her face, “you are a VERY funny man, oh yes, oh yes, you are” she continued. The other sisters nodded in agreement, and started giggling. “Er...... I don’t mean to be rude, or anything, but..... who are you?” He asked. At this, all of three sisters started laughing again, after a moment or so, they stopped, and the one with the red blanket glared at him, “ manners, boy, manners, won’t you invite us inside?” She asked, and peered hopefully at the dirty house. He looked back, a little confused, feeling it best not to argue with three women, suspected of being mad, he gulped and, stepped aside “please come in.” He said, hoping it was ‘polite’ enough. The three smiled. “Oh no, dear. We’re quite alright here. Thank you.” The three said together. They then continued to stare at him. Trying to break this awkward silence. “So...... Is there a reason for this visit, then?” He asked. They looked at him for a moment, then after sometime, looking as though they were concentrating on a very difficult question, the one with the pink blanketed basket smiled “Not that I remember of,” she said, looking as if she had just solved a mystery no other person had ever done. Just then, his sister Clara came back from the kitchen. She looked at the three women for a moment, looking momentarily surprised. She then smiled, “you didn’t tell me we were going to have visitors!!” Clara said, smiling brightly at the three mysterious women. David looked helplessly between Clara and the three women. “Well, we must go, sorry to disturb you Clara, m’dear” the one with the red blanket said. “Oh! And David, here’s your Christmas present” The one with the red blanketed basket said, and pushed three bronze coins in his hand and the three women walked away, without a single backwards glance, disappearing in the horizon. He shut the door and look back to see his sister Clara looking at him with a puzzled expression on her face. He shrugged, “I don’t know who they were” he said. He looked at the three bronze coins in his hand. They looked ordinary. He sank in the ancient armchair and examined them, turning them in his hand. A mark in the coin caught his attention. On the sides of the coin, a word was scribbled on each coin. He squinted at them “Don” he read. It sounded vaguely familiar to him. He took the next coin. “Dad” the second one read. What did that mean? He wondered. He looked at the next coin. His eyes widened as he looked at the side of the coin. He stared at it, unable to believe his eyes. “Dolohov” he read incredulously. He knew who Dolohov was. He had heard about him so much from the people! Dolohov was a scientist, the greatest scientist ever. But he had disappeared only a year ago. Some say he is hiding in his secret workplace. But no body had ever known the whereabouts of his secret workplace. He looked at the three coins, looking for other clues. But there were no other clues. He stood up, and took his coat from the coat hanger. He would follow those women to find out more. He had just opened the door when he found the three baskets. The lump inside them stirred. He removed the napkin from each of the baskets. Three kittens were sitting inside each of the baskets. The three kittens mewed loudly. They stretched and walked away. Beneath them was a note. He picked it up and read it aloud.
“Where the sun is measured,
Where each crumb is treasured,
Where the scales of justice lies,
Where a crow always cries,
Will you find the secret of the blue one,
So answer this, and the next clue you have won!”
He stared at the neat, slanting words for a few moments, Looking dumbstruck. All the excitement had drained out of him. He folded the piece of parchment neatly and put it in his coat pocket.
“Will you stop?” The stern voice of his sister broke his train of thoughts. He looked up to see her sitting on a table and scribbling furiously. “What?” He asked, he had just been rereading the riddle for the hundredth time of the day. He looked at the inky black sky outside and sighed. Suddenly, his eyes lit up with excitement. “Clara? Do you know who the ‘blue one’ is?” He asked her. She lifted her head from the battered old table and looked at him incredulously. “It’s Dolohov, of course! His eyes were unusually blue. They always resembled the sea. Some people believed that those blue eyes hid a secret.” She told him. His eyes widened. “Of course! Of course! Of course!” He said. Clara surveyed him for a moment, then shrugged and went back to her writing.
Rain poured hard the next day, slashing on windows and wetting streets. It decorated the leaves with tiny droplets. No one was out today, except for a man with early grey hair and a ragged cloak billowing in the wind. A women stood behind him, with jet black hair flowing down. She wore a black dress. Her hair was a tangled mess as she held the umbrella above her head. She was silently crying. The women moved forward, hesitated, but put her hand gently on the man’s shoulder. “David?” She asked feebly, holding the umbrella above his head. “Go home, Clara.” David replied. His voice was hoarse and croaky. She shook her head. “Go home, Clara!” He repeated, this time a trace of plea broke in his voice. She nodded sadly, and slowly ampled away. He was now free to cry. Over his father’s body. He listened to the rain beating over roofs. Roofs under which happy children shouted gleefully. Roofs under which a family enjoyed time with each other. He would’ve given anything to be like that family. Heavy footsteps broke the silence, a man had stopped beside him. He was the strangest man ever. He wore a pink, ragged and patched cloak, A dirty nightcap and what looked like a puffy, purple shirt with green pants underneath. He didn’t look like a very rich gentleman. David neither knew, nor cared why the man was attending his father’s funereal. The man gazed at the mound of earth silently for a few moments. “Great man, your father. Very humble. Shame he committed such a crime.”The man said. His voice was deep. David looked at the man, why did he look so familiar? The man looked at David, his dull and brown eyes bore into David’s. “If ya ever need me, ya know where to find me.” He said, and walked away. His shoulder brushed against David’s. A sudden spark had flown at that moment. “What if- -?” He thought. No! It couldn’t be! He whirled around and stared at the spot where the old man had stood. The wind whistled his absence. His shoulders slumped, he walked away, feeling guilty.