Rain beat down on Chindra Shikara, as he pounded on the door to Nissun’s dwelling. I know you’re in there! He could see a light shine from a room somewhere on the second floor and knew that the retired Pashumar Shaman rarely went out in the evening. He couldn’t wait to leave Assirari. Being around so many Baidala with their feline features and sneaking ways got on his nerves. He wasn’t particularly prejudiced or anything, but he grew weary among strangers and wished to return to the Sandhoa where he could have long, deep conversations with his friends. After waiting three seconds, he beat on the door again. It resonated under his assault.
“Patience! I come. I come no faster than I come, so wait until I come,” a voice called at last.
Chindra waited another four seconds and clamped down on the impulse to knock again. Then, the door slid open and a fur-covered arm beckoned him in. He briskly crossed the threshold, brushed a lock of damp, dark-brown hair off his forehead, and studied his surroundings.
“Enter the rest chamber, young one,” the patronizing voice instructed.
Chindra’s sharp, gray eyes adjusted to the room light and fixed upon the bent back of an aging Baidala male. He followed his host into a darkened rest chamber, stopping just beyond the threshold. A brittle smile formed on Chindra’s lips as he thought, At last, I’ve found you, and you will lead me to Maweonis.
“Where is he?” Chindra demanded, foregoing any attempt at subtlety. “Maweonis. You serve him; you must know where to find him.” A bright light came on and Chindra blinked. He couldn’t see Nissun for a moment, but he felt the Shaman’s penetrating gaze rest upon him.
“Your expression is hard and your voice harder. Both make me question your motives, young one,” Nissun said.
Chindra wrestled his expression to reflect contriteness. “Forgive me, Shaman. I am overeager. I have sought Maweonis for many days and only worn myself and my patience. I did not mean to sound harsh. I seek to worship.”
“I cannot help you. Your face and lips say one thing, yet your eyes speak a different speech,” Nissun observed. Chindra took two steps forward and opened his mouth to protest, but Nissun continued, “Your clothes are that of a traveler, perhaps even a seeker, yet your walk is more sure than that of one on a spiritual journey.”
“How dare you question my motives!” Chindra said harshly.
The Shaman closed his eyes and held his right claw to his temple, as if deep in thought. “Motivation is everything. Why do you seek Maweonis? You say to worship, but what is it you wish to worship Maweonis for, young one?”
The question caught Chindra off guard. “His power and – and might. I seek his blessing before I set off on my quest to fight the Maladarie.” His hands crept towards his hidden pair of kikira, but he stopped before drawing the weapons for they would surely give him away as a Warlock.
“Ah, your hands betray you, young one,” said the Shaman, nodding sagely.
“My hands betray nothing, Great Shaman. I am merely eager to challenge the Maladarie,” Chindra insisted, doing a wonderful job of sounding sincere.
“Again your lips and eyes speak not the same,” Nissun said calmly. “Your eyes and movements say you are a Warlock. I remember well how the Warlocks view the Devdas. You call the divine ones by the slanderous title of Devachan. A hundred and forty years ago, the Warlocks inflicted great harm upon the Devdas. I would hate to see that history repeat itself so I shall not help you.”
A surge of anger shot through Chindra. Before he knew it, his kikira were in his hands and pressed against Nissun’s neck. “Very well, Shaman, we’ll do this the hard way. You know what I seek.”
The Shaman tilted his head back a bit to speak. “A deaf one would hear better than you, young one. This is not the way to-”
“Tell me!” Chindra screamed. His patience frayed at an alarming rate, but he steeled his arms to hold the blades steady. His gray eyes bore into the Shaman’s face, repeating his demand.
“The mountains rise for the Devdas. The forests bend for the Devdas. Always blessed are the-”
Chindra’s blades silenced the Shaman’s prayer. He blinked, looked at the Shaman’s body, and blinked again. I’ve killed him! The thought made the reality of the situation fall upon Chindra like a hammer. Flee!, his mind ordered. As usual in dire situations, Chindra let his battle mind control his body. Sooner or later someone would seek Nissun out despite being a retired Shaman. He had to be far away before the body was discovered. He quickly brought Jitadi to himself by crouching into the stance he was taught. He held it a second, basking briefly in its sheer power, and released it through his pores, turning himself invisible.
Chindra Shikara slipped out the back door into a side alley. The rain had finally stopped and moonlight bathed the streets, forcing Chindra to stick to the shadows, lest he have to worry about his shadow as well. The caution slowed him considerably. He passed by an open window and caught part of a conversation.
“-ill I ever get to see the Devdas?” inquired a young Baidala.
“One day, I’ll take you to a Shaman when you’re old enou-”
The moon slipped behind a huge cloud, and Chindra blocked the rest of the conversation from his mind as his own thoughts consumed him. I’m no closer than when I started. He let his legs carry him to the waylay point. The Devachan fear us and rightly so, but the Pashumar can approach them any time. The simple solution nearly made Chindra stagger. We must become like the Pashumar if we are to find the Devachan! We must be crafty and wise, not strong and direct.
I, Chindra Shikara, will do this. I will find the Devachan through the Pashumar and their ways.