A few more hours to dawn,
the full moon radiating in the sky.
A cold winter night and the rain had just stopped.
The brothers stepped outside the tiny shed
wrapped in thick fur from head to toe.
Making their way back home after a year at trade.
A time in history when people walked across cities.
Their vision became impaired
as the fog and mist settled around them.
The wet air could be felt in the eyes.
Not a soul to be seen and the chill climbing up their spine.
A day on the road already and another one to go.
No place to take shelter, moving on the only alternative.
Not too long before they arrived at the edge of a lake,
the sparkling water visible even through the haze,
the dense air cloaking them in white and grey.
Something in their vicinity made them wonder,
some untold magic buried in the soil.
Instincts of a man never felt so strong.
Something that flickered every strand of grass on the ground.
They, like everyone else, had heard the stories of the land.
Not any they believed, but few that certainly made them shiver.
Men of honor fearing no man or beast,
Not encompassing the powers beyond the might of man.
The lake kept pushing their path forward,
Short breaths and small steps to keep their bodies warm.
Somewhere not so distant they heard something move.
Stopping their steps and straining their eyes,
both reaching for their knives.
While the younger one held back to keep an eye,
The elder took a step forward, approaching the noise that startled them.
He was about to look behind a tree, when so much happened so suddenly.
A cry of help and splash of water was heard.
Impulse made him turn around, but just then he heard another sound.
From behind the tree something swished,
and he felt the ground slip from underneath him.
Finding himself hanging in the air,
his mind refused to accept this, and his senses started to fail him.
After a while which felt like eternity,
he kissed the ground with a thud.
Not thinking twice he ran for the lake praying for his brother’s life
Only to find him not in the water,
But outside the lake, lying on the ground knocked out of his wits.
All the knowledge in the world failed the elder brother.
A series of events unlike any he would have ever believed.
The sound from the tree came back, only louder this time.
It grew into a scream of agony
The echoes of which thundered like blows in his ears.
Suddenly the mist started getting thicker,
encircling the two of them in a quick whirl.
The sound of pain and flashes of fog started grovelling through his body.
All control was lost and he collapsed to the ground.
Moments before sliding into oblivion, he saw the moon glistening in the sky.
There was a face etched across it,
Frowning down on him through a scarred eye.
A face that he would never forget, yet one he would never recall either.
With all energy failing him, his eyes became heavier.
The last of moonlight started fading,
as the pain and darkness took over.
Written by Tejas Mishra
Picture credits : Jyotinder Singh