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Ketaki Bakshi

Crime Fantasy Thriller


4.8  

Ketaki Bakshi

Crime Fantasy Thriller


The Alchemy Circle

The Alchemy Circle

9 mins 374 9 mins 374

Charu's heart was filled with an esoteric despondency. Abhay's behavior was flabbergasting, rather astonishingly paradoxical to his usual sensible attitude. She knew nothing about Ruth's involvement, nor did she have any idea about the diary. The sword was supposed to open the sarcophagus but it seemed to have dissolved into thin air. Moreover, her heart ached at Abhay's disdainful attitude towards her, making her feel even more dejected.

Even tears had ceased to make their way out. As to cry, one has to have emotional support, someone whose shoulder is strong enough to share the burdens of your heart. Appa was away, so was granny, owing to need of safety and rest. Who was there to support?

Charu stared at the picturesque beauty of sunset from her window. It seemed that she needed peace. 'I think I should head back to the USA. I just can't handle this turmoil anymore.' She thought, closing her eyes for a while. Suddenly, Yuvaan's face flashed in front of her eyes. He was in jail for absolutely nothing…She had brought him in; she couldn't have left him now. She hurried off to get ready.

~

Abhay dialed the number the umpteenth time. This time there was a clear response from the other end.

'Hello.., am I talking to Mr.Manikanth Oomen?' he asked with bated breath.

'Yes, but who am I talking to?' Replied an irritated voice.

'It's Abhay, Appa.' He replied patiently but had all his senses gathered in his ears.

'Who? I don't remember anyone called Abhay.' Mr. Oomen seemed sulked.

'Abhay, Appa, Charu's friend.' Abhay persisted; restraining all the exasperation that otherwise would have made him bark mad.

There was a soft sound; as if some instructions were being given in a low tone. 'Ohh…Abhay my boy! Apologies dear…I think I am turning a bit senile. Please don't mind. What have you called for eh?'

'Appa, I need your help with one thing. I want to export some goods to Egypt. It's very urgent. As you already are in this business, you can get this done quickly right? I don't want customs to check at the airport. Please get it shipped via sea.' Abhay blurted out in a single breath.

'Ohh, May I ask what's supposed to be shipped?', Mr. Oomen asked, trying to sound perfectly normal.

'I am afraid I can't reveal Appa. It's highly confidential. But I am doing this for Charu's sake. She would be in big trouble if this cargo doesn't make it safe to Egypt. Even she doesn't know about this! And I wouldn't tell her If I were you.' Abhay waited patiently for the reply. He knew that he had played his trump card and Mr. Oomen had no way but to agree. Smiling broadly on affirmative reply, he continued, 'One more request Appa. Please send me the signed 'received receipt' on your letterhead once you receive the goods, just for confirmation. I am sending the cargo now and would expect the receipt within half an hour.'

'Should I hand it over to your man?', Asked Mr. Oomen, in an uncertain voice.

'Yeah,' He hanged the phone, and signaled the constable to get going. He obeyed at once.

Half an hour letter he was back, with a letter from Mr. Oomen. As soon as Abhay read it, the lopsided grin occupied his handsome face yet again. Patting the shoulder of the constable, he said, 'Extreme intelligence turns into mistakes alarmingly often…nothing but your false pride takes you to absolute annihilation.'

The constable understood nothing, but he smirked forcibly, out of the fear that otherwise, he would have looked rather sheepish. Little did he know that the cargo contained the sword, which was normally called 'Khopesh.'

~

Charu reached Yuvaan's house only to find a chattering crowd and a police van standing outside. Inside, the constables were frantically searching everything, while Abhay was staring in the blank, his expressions unfathomable.

Yuvaan's dad wasn't home. There was only one servant, who was hardly able to control the intimidation sprawling over his heart. Exasperated, Charu said, "What is the matter Abhay? Was dumping him in jail not enough? Why are you here?"

Abhay hadn't expected her for sure. Sighing irritably, he said, 'We were very bored. So we thought to come here and play saucer. See, he scored a goal.' Several onlookers sniggered, however, Charu wasn't pleased.

'I don't have time for your low-standard puns Abhay. Can you please come to the point?', She jeered, with the redness of her face slowly increasing to a horrifically high point.

'Well Charu, isn't it very obvious that we are searching for evidence? I had expected that a lawyer's disposition would have it to strive for logical deductions', Abhay could hardly restrain his wish to pester Charu.

'What do you expect to get…? Eh? A pandora's box? Which will magically prove that he is the culprit?', Charu retaliated; a pinching smile occupied her beautiful face.

'We aren't in a fantasy world of Harry potter. Come on Charu, don't talk senseless, exercise your so-called grey cells at least once', He said with a tone of serious derision, which hit Charu hard. She opened her mouth to retaliate, but Abhay was already frog-marching towards Yuvaan's room. Following him, she jeered, 'how dare…' She couldn't complete the sentence; for they were now standing in front of a full-size, old, family portrait, which had Yuvaan's whole family and Uncle Vincent, chuckling heartily!!

Abhay cast Charu a look full of self-admiration. This portrait was hidden behind Yuvaan's full-size photo; grandiloquently emphasizing his ever-charming looks.

Throwing Yuvaan's photo aside, he started observing the new portrait steadfastly. Charu, still petrified with shock, didn't dare interrupt him at all. He tried to move it around the nail on which it was hanging but to no avail. He then tried to knock and push it over various places. At a particular place, there was a soft click and the door of a hidden safe swung open. 

Abhay searched inside, and as expected, he got the diary and extremely fragile remains of Sheryl's unfinished letter. It read…

'the sarcophagus inside the den. Remember that it was Jasper Red which was extremely important. A witty alchemist will be able to understand what to do with it and the sword. The exact apparatus set-up is described in my diary, and this is what made me emphasize the need for continued lineage. Excess of everything, be it greed or selflessness, pride or prejudice, wits or stupidity, cruelty or nobility, brings on a catastrophe. Specifically, we need to beware of backstabbers who wish to conquer what is priceless.

Anyways, I shall drop in once you return..!

With Love,

Sherry.'

The diary had the same hooded serpent mark over it and pages had turned fragile. 'Mr. Superhero has read it already. It would be horrifically stupid of you to still believe in his innocence.' Abhay handed her the diary, his eyes were jubilant at the success of having proven his point. 

Charu could see that some pages were torn at corners; a thing which happens mostly when you carelessly handle them.

'I don't see the purpose of highlighting these two words', Said Abhay, still squinting at the letter in hand.

She read the letter but didn't respond. After a momentary silence, she frantically gulped as if restraining tears and handed it back to him.

Abhay raised his brows. 'So?' he asked. 'I think you ought to apologize for a very poor show of conscience.' Charu was not in the mental state to stand any more jibes. She just stormed off.

~

'Alchemy, professor? Seriously? Do you mean to tell me that Jasper Red is not a person; but a very precious gemstone instead?', Abhay was looking astonished.

Professor Aiyyangar's face didn't even flinch. Evidently, he hadn't expected them to react any differently.

Charu interrupted impatiently, 'Are they trying to create an elixir or something of that kind in that den?'

'Yes, I guess so. Alchemy is the mother of modern chemistry and it has a certain amount of truth attached to it. It bases on a belief that everything is made up of four elements; 'air, water, earth, and fire'. Each element has a sphere of its own and it returns to the same if left undisturbed. An elixir is supposed to convert the base metals into noble metals. Also, it can be used for long and healthy life. It is either 'magnum opus' or 'panaceas' that is expected as an ultimate result. Usually, the metals such as Mercury and Sulphur are considered very important in this process. Red Jasper is a surreal gemstone in itself. It completes Yin and Yang and has extraordinary medical properties Along with the power to neutralize electromagnetic radiations. When treated chemically with a specific trait of iron and mercuric sulfide, lead, and silver, it can be reckoned to create such an elixir. Though elixir creation has never been verified and the repercussions could be catastrophic. The sword must have been made up of a combination of all these metals. I am not sure but that is what seems extremely likely after reading this diary.' He finished.

Charu and Abhay were still looking unconvinced. It was Charu who gathered senses and broke the silence.

'What are the chances of success?' She asked, hoping for an assuring reply.

'It Depends. The pure the gemstone is and the accurate is the combination of metals, the higher will be the probability of success.'

'The people working inside the den had some sort of uniform; that included a mask and all other protective measures. It also seemed that they've been working under some sort of drug-influence, probably for full obedience and secrecy.' Charu told them, trying to deduce a logical conclusion.

'Hmm, that corroborates the experiments with elixir. As I already told you, it can be extremely dangerous, naturally, they are being careful.' Professor Agreed.

'I still cannot believe that they could rely only on the probable success of this elixir thing.' Abhay seemed uncertain.

'Abhay, every discovery was once an experiment. Had nobody tried, the world would have been deprived of many great things. Trying to create an elixir of life for good health is not a bad thing. The meaning lies in the intentions behind that. You ought to stop them if you believe that their intentions aren't good.'

Abhay shook his head in agreement. After thanking the professor and requesting him for complete secrecy, They left.

~

'I think the professor is right. The people working there, being drugged, won't realize what they are doing. Even if they die or are caught, nothing would cause harm due to their drugged state. They want the sword for two reasons, first to get the precious Jasper and then to create the elixir. They already are in the drug business so there would be an open market for this elixir, in case of success. Even if they fail; they can smuggle the Jasper and other Egyptian gemstones and the precious articulates that are hidden inside the sarcophagus, in the western countries, making loads of money. You see Charu, it's always a win-win for them.', Abhay tried to reason.

'Hmm… We need to confirm the sword's chemical make-up. Also, I now understand the purpose of Sherry's letter and the meaning of the highlighted words', Charu said calmly.

'What?' Asked Abhay, looking bewildered.

'Warning Abhay! She wanted to inform someone about the backstabbers she had revealed. Granny already knew most of the information, what was the point in mere repetition? Sheryl was an unusually talented lady; she even named them in the letter. Grandma being equally witty would have understood at once, had the letter made it to reach her.'

'Who were they? ', Asked Abhay, looking completely confused.

Pointing at the first highlighted word, Charu said, 'to conquer'…means 'Vincent' in Latin and 'priceless' is a synonym for 'Anthony', so the second one was….Anthony Delsworth…!!!


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