When Sufiyan woke up, it was all dark. No man he could see. He did not remember what had happened. In fact, He did not remember anything at all and his body ached badly. Strange still, he did not know where he was.“How did I get here?” Sufiyan was questioning himself but unfortunately he had no answer.
He stood up and realised it was a big room full of junk. As he took a few steps he stumbled upon something, a rapier may be. He picked it up from the floor. It was a rapier all right but very different and big. He kept it with him in case he needed it outside.
He felt his way out of the room touching everything that came on his way. It was bright sunshine outside and he was struggling to keep his eyes open. It seemed like Sufiyan was under the sunlight after a real long time. He realised he was in a large storeroom which was in the middle of a really big and barren compound. He could not find anybody even outside. There was a broken mirror lying on the streets. Sufiyan saw himself and realised that he desperately needed to take bath because his clothes were all tattered and dirty (and he smelled really bad!). But Sufiyan had no clue whatsoever of where to find a place to clean him. He started looking here and there so as to get some idea of the place while trying to recall how he got here. But all his efforts seemed to go in vain as no matter how hard he tried, he was not able to recollect anything. Sufiyan started strolling down a narrow path with his hands in his pockets. There was something in Sufiyan’s left pocket. He took it out to see what it was. It was a very old and complicated device. He tried to figure out what that was and how it came into his pocket.
After studying it for some time he finally found out what that was. “A watch”, he said. 1:30, it showed. There was something written on the back of the watch. “Go South for the time has come.” As soon as he read it, the time in the watch started running.
“Time for what??” Sufiyan asked himself.
Sufiyan started examining the watch more carefully. There was a small compass inside which helped him with the directions. He was still looking into the watch when he heard a chopper flying nearby. Sufiyan decided to ask for help so he ran towards the sound.
“Help! Get me out of here. Hey!!! Here!!! Can’t you see me? I am right here! I can see you! So don’t you dare to pretend that you cannot see me. Please help me!!!!!” Sufiyan kept on screaming.
They did not hear him. He felt so angry that he broke the already broken mirror further more.
“What do I do now? I need to get out of here”, Sufiyan said starting to lose hope.
He wanted to go home to his family but he did not have any clue where he lived. Sufiyan decided there was no use in sitting idle so it was better to walk and find some help. He used the compass for directions and decided to walk southwards. After walking for a while down the path there was an exit door.
As Sufiyan walked towards the gate, he heard the chopper again. This time its noise was loud and clear. He looked behind and saw it landing in front of the storeroom.
“Perhaps they had heard me”, Sufiyan said happily as he started running towards the chopper.
Two heavily armed guys came down from the chopper. They had really big guns like Sufiyan had never seen before.
“Oh thank god you came! I thought you did not see me. I don’t know how I came here. I was lying unconscious inside the castle and it was all dark there and when I woke up I did not remember a thing. I don’t know who I am and where I have come from. Please help me.” Sufiyan kept on speaking but they spoke nothing.
They were just standing there with their big guns in their hands. A man dressed in black came down from the chopper and said something to the armed guys. Suddenly they pointed their guns at Sufiyan.
“Whoa hey!!!! I thought you had come to rescue me I did not do anything wrong!!! Ya I broke that mirror in frustration but that’s not a crime, is it?”
“So, we meet again Sufiyan. But this time you won’t get away. Now give me the traveller and save us both some trouble.” The man said as he came closer to Sufiyan.
Sufiyan noticed his eyes. They were scary as he had no pupils!!! Sufiyan got a strange feeling that he knew this guy.
“I… I don’t know what you are talking about”, Sufiyan said taking a few steps backwards.
The guy became furious. “I said give it to me or I shall feed you to the zreha and you will become a myth.” The weather suddenly changed and black clouds covered the whole of the shiny sky.
Sufiyan got so scared he could feel the beads of sweat on his forehead.
“I seriously don’t have your traveller or whatever you are talking about!!! Why would I have something that is yours?? I mean I don’t even know who you are.” Sufiyan said hesitantly.
“You don’t know me? I am in no mood of joking Sufiyan.” He became more furious and the weather became worse. Lightning struck the antennae on the top of the storeroom violently making it glow bright. It was not safe standing outside. But those people seemed to care least.
“He does not remember sir”, said one of the guys with gun as they relaxed and put their guns down.
“Oh… I see”, said the man as he seemed to relax a bit too.
The thunder and lightning stopped with that but the clouds were still there.
“So, what should we do with you? May be we can take you with us in the Ozar and wait until you remember everything. What say Sufiyan?” The man asked.
“I… I don’t think that would be necessary. You don’t mind, I will take care of myself.” Sufiyan said with a fake smile trying to hide his fear.
“Ah… that you can. I know that very well because you are doing that for quite some time now. Taking care of yourself and willing to protect your people. But that is not going to happen; you don’t stand a chance fool!” The man said as he held Sufiyan’s shoulders tight and stared straight into his eyes with anger.
“You are weak and helpless. You will die soon boy!! But not before you tell me about the traveller. Get him!!!” The man ordered the guards.
“Hey, I don’t understand anything that you are saying. Look, I am not interested in anything that you just said and I am not the guy you are looking for. I just want to find my family.”
“Oh… Sufiyan you are the most appropriate guy!!! Trust me. And yes, you don’t have a family you ignorant creature. You never had one.” The man said as the armed guys held Sufiyan’s hands and pulled him into the chopper while he resisted in vain.
“To Ozar.” The man ordered the pilot, “And quick! I am dying to get out of this place.”
The pilot nodded grimly and in a moment the chopper was air borne with a loud noise of the blades and dust flying everywhere. The chopper looked very old. It seemed to be made up of old steel welded together. It had no doors on the sides and the seats were made up of wood which were not comfortable at all. The armed guys took guard of both sides with their guns pointed outside.
Instead of the actual uniform, the pilot wore a black gown and black turban which covered most parts of his face as well and that made it difficult to see his face clearly. His hands were pale and he only had three fingers!!! And these fingers were long with big yellow nails like that of a lion. Green nerves were clearly visible on his bony hands.
“It is the cursed soul; the ghost. Very strong and powerful but foolish.” The man said as he observed Sufiyan staring at the pilot.
“Where are you taking me?” Sufiyan asked because now he was getting angry.
“You will know boy. And I can guarantee that you are not going to like it.” The man laughed.
Sufiyan decided to ignore the man and looked out of the chopper. The barren compound was replaced by green forests. At a distance, there was a large waterfall that made a noise so loud that the sound made by the chopper felt like nothing. It was all so beautiful that for a moment Sufiyan forgot he was held hostage by some strange people. When they were flying over the waterfall, Sufiyan looked at it again. Tiny droplets of water covered his face even though they were flying well above it. Such was the force of the waterfall. Sufiyan was mesmerised by the smell of water so he closed his eyes to enjoy the moment. Suddenly the chopper vibrated due to a strong jolt.
“Help me!!!! No…!” The armed guy who sat behind Sufiyan screamed as he fell into the waterfall.
“What was that????” Scared, Sufiyan asked the man.
“How could I forget!!!!!? Helsyia!” The man said outraged. “Stop it!!!” He ordered the other guard who started firing from his giant gun to stop the animal.
Sufiyan looked outside to see what it was that the guy was firing at. What Sufiyan saw was hard to believe. It was a strange animal with wings like crow that were on its upper back and body of a wolf, a very big wolf. It was completely black in colour with green eyes and it was very angry. It was also very swift because it dodged the bullets quite easily.
“You useless slave!!! You can’t even shoot that down!!!! Here, give me the gun! And take care of the boy.” The man said as he snatched the gun from the guard and started firing in every direction. The guard held Sufiyan tightly and sat behind the man.
“Not this time Helsyia!! Not… this… time!!!” The man said as few bullets hit the animal!
It screamed in pain and struck its head angrily against the chopper causing it to tilt ninety degrees and the chopper started moving towards the rocky side of the waterfall. The man lost balance (so did others on the chopper) and the gun fell into the waterfall. The guard still did not leave Sufiyan. They were holding the wooden seats to prevent themselves from falling. The creature got closer and looked straight into the eyes of the man.
“The boy will die! You will fail and sleep forever!” The man managed to laugh.
Hearing that, the angry animal struck the chopper again and this time the chopper inverted completely with its blades facing downwards. This sudden jolt caused Sufiyan and the guard to fall out of the chopper but Sufiyan managed to hold the entrance of the chopper somehow. The guard hanged outside the chopper holding Sufiyan’s boots while the man and the pilot held each other’s hands and vanished surprisingly as the chopper was falling straight down into the waterfall like a comet.
“It is not over!” These were the last words that the man said.
Sufiyan did not have much strength to hold longer because of the added weight of the guy. Just below the guy, the blades moved violently and Sufiyan was sure he was going to die. He was going to either get chopped or drown. Being chopped seemed more painful so Sufiyan put all his strength in holding the steel junk. Suddenly he felt his boots getting loose and realised they were coming off because of the guy’s weight. The guy tried to hold Sufiyan’s leg but it was too late. He slipped and went straight in between the blades which sliced him to pieces. He died so quickly that he couldn’t even scream. Sufiyan felt bad for him but was bit more relaxed now and prepared to drown so he closed his eyes and prayed. Just as the chopper was about to hit the water surface, something grabbed Sufiyan and pulled him away from the chopper as it collapsed in the water with a big thud. The blades caused water to splash out which drenched Sufiyan completely. When he removed water from his eyes, Sufiyan saw the animal holding his pants in between its teeth as Sufiyan was facing down.
“Let go!!!!” Sufiyan shouted. The animal then threw him into air like he was a shuttle cock!!!
“I did not mean literally!!!!” Sufiyan shouted as he was freefalling.
It then caught Sufiyan on its back and started flying towards the top of the waterfall. It was flying straight up vertically like a rocket and very close to the waterfall so Sufiyan was holding onto him like the lizard to prevent him from falling.
Sufiyan wondered what this animal was going to do to him once it got to the top. But somehow, he didn’t know why, he found it safer than those men back there. So, Sufiyan decided to stick with it. Sufiyan touched the water which was very cold but relaxing. This animal had saved his life and Sufiyan did not know why. He just hoped he was not the dinner for its family. The neck of the animal was bleeding.
“Must have been the bullet.” Sufiyan thought as he tore a little piece of cloth from his shirt and tried to wipe the wound.
The animal screamed so loud in pain that Sufiyan almost fell from its back. Somehow he managed to stay there but decided not to trouble the animal again.
When they reached to the top of the waterfall, the animal ran into the woods with Sufiyan. It ran as fast as it flew.
The forest was dark but beautiful. Monkeys chattered loudly jumping from tree to tree like they were warning others of Sufiyan’s and the animal’s presence. While moving deeper into the forest, Sufiyan saw an owl staring at them with its big brown eyes, a python swallowing egg from some bird’s nest and a porcupine peeping out of its hole. The forest was getting denser as they moved in. The trees got taller and the path was getting narrower. After sometime, Sufiyan saw a huge rock right in front of their way. It was a dead end or so Sufiyan thought. The animal jumped on the trunk of a large tree and gripped it tightly. Then it jumped on another and did the same thing each time climbing a little higher. Sufiyan, on the other hand, was trying his best not to fall. After few more jumps they were on the top of the rock. Right in front, was a small cave but it was big enough for Sufiyan to walk into it easily, not big enough for the animal. He was relieved thinking it was not the den of the animal and he was probably going to live. Sufiyan climbed down from its back and looked at the forest. It was very big and Sufiyan could not see where it ended. At the horizon, the sun was setting into the trees and the weather was starting to get cold. Sufiyan heard something and looked backwards. It was the animal falling unconscious on the ground. It had bled a lot. Sufiyan sat next to the animal looking at its wound. Sufiyan heard someone from behind.
“Don’t worry she will heal on her own. Helsyia needs to rest.” A man said. He wore white button less shirt and grey pants that were worn out. He was tall and fit. He had straight hair pulled back in pony and face was covered with beard.
“Who are you??” Surprised, Sufiyan enquired dragging himself backwards a little.
As soon as he asked that he saw a girl run straight towards him.
“Oh… Sufi!! You are all right! Thank god. I thought I am never going to see you again. I was so worried.” She said hugging him as Sufiyan felt her tears on his shoulder. This girl wore a black jacket over a white top and denim. Her hair was a mess.
“And who are you?” Sufiyan asked as he was totally confused.
“It must have been the ivy. He does not remember anything.” The man said thinking.
“What are you talking about? Please help me!!!! I feel helpless. All I know is that I am Sufiyan and people want to kill me.” Sufiyan asked in frustration.
“Come with us.” The girl said as she stood up and pulled Sufiyan as well.
“And why should I do that? Last time I did that, I was almost dead.” Sufiyan said trying to sound braver than he felt from inside as he sat beside the animal again.
“We are with you Sufi. To help you.” The girl said trying hard not to cry more.
“What did the man say to you when he first found you?” The man asked Sufiyan as he sat beside him.
“He wanted me to give him the “traveller” about which I do not know anything and he called me Sufiyan. So now I know that my name is Sufiyan and apart from that, I know nothing.” Sufiyan said plucking the grass from the ground.
“So he did not take anything from you right?”
“No… I mean I did not have anything for him to take.” Sufiyan answered.
“Are you sure my boy? Did you not have anything?” The man asked in worry.
“Ya I am quite sure… Wait… Except for this watch that I found in my pocket and this rapier that I found in the storeroom where I woke up. I never got chance of using this with those men today. I thought it was best for me to not take it out.” Sufiyan said trying to clean the rust from the handle of the rapier.
“I am surprised it is still with me after all that flying and falling. And this watch, I am sure they were certainly not looking for it because all it does is show time and directions. Why would someone want this thing?” Sufiyan did not tell about the inscriptions on the back of the watch.
The man smiled and took the watch from Sufiyan.
“It shows time and direction. That is very true. But Sufiyan this is what they wanted from you. I am glad you did not give it to them or we would never succeed in our mission. Even though you did not remember anything, you protected the watch. I am proud of you. Indeed a true Norman. And that rapier belongs to me so if you could hand it back to me.”
“I… I do not understand. A true Norman?” Sufiyan asked the man giving him the rapier.
“Give yourself sometime. You will remember everything. Now would you like to come with us into the cave? It is getting dark now and believe me it is not safe out here.” The man said as he stood up and started walking towards the cave. Sufiyan and the girl followed him.
“So why did they want this watch so badly?”
“Manimos Nimoda commonly known as the traveller is a device magically designed which contains the key to the coffin of something that must not rise again.” The girl said as Sufiyan stared at her in shock and all three of them entered the cave.
With a clap from man, the torches on both sides of the cave started burning which caused thousands of bats to fly out of the cave.
“Watch your heads. And do not let them near you. They are vampires.” The man screamed between the noises of the bats as the other two ducked.
The cave was very deep with a spring of water flowing from one of the sides and bat guano on the other leaving a small passage in between to walk.
“Careful, do not step on guano, they have deadly bacteria”, the man said as he looked at Sufiyan’s naked feet.
“Lost them on the chopper” Sufiyan said to give justification and the man nodded.
It was humid inside and the even whispers echoed. The roof had the ancient paintings of some tribe. One depicted them killing a giant mammoth; the other showed a strange ritual in which few people had gathered around a large shrine throwing something at it which looked like human heads. There was one another carving that grabbed Sufiyan’s attention. It showed a monster tearing apart a man’s body and eating its heart.
Sufiyan felt a sharp pain in his head as he saw two hungry red eyes chasing him and he heard a girl, who looked like the girl he was with right now, scream;
“Run Sufi!!! We will meet you there!! They should not find this!!! We will distract them. You hide this somewhere. Go!!!!”
Sufiyan was about to collapse on the guano when the girl grabbed him.
“The effect of black ivy is fading. His memory has started to come back.” The man said as he lifted unconscious Sufiyan in his arms and started walking.
“What happened last night?” Sufiyan had a terrible headache.
“Here, have this. You will feel better.” The man passed Sufiyan a grey coloured berry when he woke up on a bed made up of stone and covered with palm leaves for blanket the next morning.
“It tastes like dry soil.” Sufiyan said with a disgusted look on his face.
“Rolnost.” The man laughed. “It helps in regulating the blood circulation in the brain and hence, helps during headaches. But one should be very careful. Overdose can be fatal. C’mon! Let’s go outside. We have to move forward in an hour’s time.” The man picked up his leather side bag and hooked his rapier on the side of his pants.
Sufiyan followed the man out of the cave. The sun was bright again and the fresh wind coming from the green forest caressed Sufiyan’s neck and he felt refreshed and relaxed. He took a deep breath.
Under a big tree sat the animal that had saved Sufiyan’s life. The wound on her neck had disappeared. When the animal saw Sufiyan, she stood up and came running to him. She touched Sufiyan with her claws and gave him a gentle push from her nose.
“She was checking if you are alright.” The man said and left Sufiyan with the animal.
“Thanks for saving me Helsyia.” Sufiyan patted on her neck.
From a distance in the sky, the girl came riding on an animal that looked exactly like Helsyia but it was pure white and had feathers of like a dove only much larger. Following them was another strange animal which looked like a heavier version of Helsyia. Its fur was light brown and the wings of eagle. They landed on the cliff and the ground trembled violently.
“Those are with us too. Do not worry.” The man said as Sufiyan took a few steps back in surprise.
“Are you fine now?” The girl climbed down and walked to Sufiyan.
“Yes… I guess. What are these?”
“Nauras. They serve us.” Girl said and all three of them sat on the edge with their legs hanging from the cliff.
“It is so beautiful. The sun, the forest, the wind… I wonder how the world will look like without them. Barren lands and deserts. God has his own way of looking after his children. Everything is perfectly balanced. Even a slight deviation can be devastating.” The man started the conversation.
“That man back there… was strange. He looked familiar to me. I guess he was not my friend when I remembered him.” Sufiyan said. “His eyes were the weirdest that I had ever seen. Completely white. When he looked into my eyes, I felt something. Something evil… like I was going to die… painfully. I felt helpless and weak. He said I never had a family… that I was all alone.” Sufiyan dropped a stone from the cliff.
“That is not true!!! You are my bother Sufi!! I am Sanaa! And… And this is Fernion… The royal guard. We have this mission. To find the book. Try to remember Sufi!!!” Sanaa wiped her tears and hugged Sufiyan who hugged her back feeling awkward.
“Sanaa…” Sufiyan said and something flashed in front of his eyes again.
The room was on fire and Sufiyan was screaming, “Sanaa!!!! Are you all right? Call ruby! We have to get out of here now!!! The roof is collapsing. Why did we even come here??? There was nothing for us! It was just a trap!”
One of the logs from the roof fell and the fire became more violent.
“Sufiyan!!!!” Sanaa screamed.
“I am coming!!!” Sufiyan grabbed a blanket and jumped into the fire.
“Get inside!” He pulled Sanaa inside blanket.
They tried real hard to get out of the room but the fire was so intense that they could not do that. Suddenly three large blocks of wood fell on the floor blocking their way from every side. The fire started approaching them slowly as they stood right in the middle restlessly.
A part of the roof collapsed again and in came Ruby… both of them climbed onto her quickly as she flew out of the room which burst into flames and collapsed completely.
Sufiyan felt dizzy and gripped his head tightly again.
He touched Sanaa as tear drops rolled down his eyes and he hugged her tightly.
“Ruby…” Sufiyan stared at her as she licked her claws.
“Well… it is time now… we must hurry! We still have to go a long way.” Fernion climbed onto the naura with brown fur.
“By the way… where are we going?” Sufiyan asked as he stood up and helped Sanaa with the same.
“The Himalayas” The man smiled.