The Lantern Of Living History
The Lantern Of Living History9 mins 407 9 mins 407
Charu was looking at Ruth with stunned disbelief. To her left, Abhay was standing dumbfounded while to right, Yuvaan was looking rather livid. 'Ruth? So the boy I saw inside the den was him?' thought Charu, trying to relive the moments spent inside the den.
A few hours ago…
'You have done a great job boy!' said the masked man, from behind the balustrade of the upper rooms of the den. His deep voice echoed over the walls, making the whole environment rather spooky.
'I am so happy that I could be useful to master. I was sure that the filthy girl won't stay put. She was sure to jump into the lake after…'
His voice was cut off by the deep voice again, but its perpetrator was still not visible any more than his own dancing silhouette. Charu was squinting hard, but she was unable to identify this mysterious master. To her utter surprise, the mafia boss was also keeping it rather low, which seemed paradoxical.
'Perhaps you are a little too pleased with yourself. We still haven't been able to open that sarcophagus. I want that to happen as soon as possible.' His voice contained such a sinister force that Penny shivered at the very place where she was standing.
'I am trying hard master. You know that there is a curse inscribed on the sarcophagus. What if it invokes something horrific or formidable on being forced? Pray correct me, Master. After all, you know that we can't be careless. The first warning came true. Sheryl returned. What if…' Ruth tried to reason.
'Fine!!! Master bellowed. His echoing voice made the window panes shatter. 'No more sophistries! That girl; make her speak! Find the Sword! Mind you boy, you will pay dearly for any mistakes henceforth!'
'You girl!' Penny was startled at this sudden address to her.
'Keep all the senior citizens under check! The opponents are all youngsters and I want to increase neither the average age on our side…nor the weight!!' Pleased by the cheap joke he had cracked, he laughed out loud, which was no less spooky.
Both the mafia boss and the boy sniggered, but Penny couldn't stretch it beyond a forced smirk.
'Enough!' He bellowed. 'Get the hell out of here and mind you, no more girls into this place henceforth. I hate ladies…they have unpleasant habits of meddling with everything that crosses their way… Report me as soon as you get your task done!'
He and the boss left inside, making Penny heave a sigh of relief. 'Master Eh? He seemed more like a monster!!' She jeered, following him out of the den.
'Who told you to follow me?' he demanded, straightening the white mask on his face.
'Come on! You sent out the note for me, in usual manner!' Penny cried in melancholy.
'I didn't'… he said…' why the hell would I?'
Their voices faded as they walked farther from the den. Charu was observing all this from behind the other balustrade, visibly shaken. She had identified the nurse and the mafia boss but not the boy. So many revelations in just a few minutes! Could these guys possibly be vandals? Druggies? Smugglers of precious gemstones? However strongly she wished to find out details, it seemed an utterly foolhardy thing to do. This was the right moment for her to escape and end the adventure.
She was already happy with how her strong wits had been rewarded. She was the one who had sent Penny the note decoding their secret code of communication and had made way to Granny's revival. Her escape from the tomb was also an act of the sheer intellect. It had been very easy. She had knocked down a servant who had come to serve her food.
She then had a tour of the room. An immensely beautiful box had been put aside; its inscription had made her curious. She had picked it and had been lurking outside, to find a way to return, when she had spotted the master and his servants.
Ruth's right eye was swollen by the blow he had received from Charu. He struggled hard to free himself out of Abhay's solid grip but failed evidently.
His face was showing defiance, and he didn't utter anything even after Abhay's repeated questioning.
'I will look after him. Let me test how strong he is', growled Abhay, handing him over to his team.
'I will have to take your leave Charu, I have not been home since yesterday and there are some urgent matters to handle.' Said Yuvaan hastily, putting his foot on the shore and helping Charu out of the boat.
'Sure…Thanks and sorry…all that was my fault…' Said Charu, looking guilty.
Patting her cheek gently, he said, 'We've been partners in all crimes since childhood right?…no worries and no sorries… I am more than happy that you are safe...I will call you ASAP'. He rushed off. Charu's gaze lingered behind him and so did her smile.
Abhay was quite annoyed to see the entire scene taking an altogether different course. He immediately intervened saying, 'What is this Pandora's Box you are holding? Let me have a look at it.'
Charu's mind was still wavering, so he just snatched it out of her grip.
The same putrid waft captured Abhay's nerve. 'Charu, where did you get this?' He asked, frowning.
'Eh? Charu replied, turning towards him.
'Ohh...this…It was placed inside the room, with all other beautiful antiques. What captured my attention was the inscription. It means 'Living history' in the Sumerian language. I just happen to have read it before.'
'Do you get the smell?' He asked, now checking the box's back.
'Yes, very putrid but vaguely familiar'. Replied Charu, looking perplexed.
'It exactly smells like the diary. The diary your hero was carrying in his pocket had this very smell.' Abhay couldn't put his jealousy away as he spoke.
Charu gaped at him, horror-struck. 'Come on Abhay, do you even realize what you are saying?'
'I am merely reiterating what evidence is telling me. He was involved in this even before you dragged him in!'
Charu was flabbergasted. 'Abhay, I can understand that you never liked him, but this is just unbelievably horrendous. Don't make a mountain out of mustard seed. Keep your jealousy in check. '
This seemingly hit Abhay hard as his voice was raised close to shout. 'Don't you have some sort of conscience active in the upper part of the body; called head? Or is it just empty? What on the earth would make me blabber like this? Think rational as you always say Charu. How could that diary and this box smell alike? Things smell alike only when they are placed in proximity of each other. Also, I don't know whether you noticed or not, but he was not shocked to see Ruth, he was LIVID. Do you get it now? He is a double-sided spy and not your stooge.'
Charu's face turned red, although with anger. 'He has helped a lot Abhay, to what did he owe me all this help? He helped me just keeping our friendship in his mind, and you…you are unbelievable! Acting insane and barking mad!'
Abhay bellowed, 'Hold your tongue! Truth always hits hard, doesn't it Charu? You never cared a bit about my feelings, you always had your priorities, I was foolish to try and help! You think I am mad!' He choked, 'Well, have it your way then…I call it off!'
He thrust the box back in her hand and stormed off. Charu was standing still as if she had been petrified. Droplets of her tears were trickled down and started shining bright on the beautiful surface of the box.
Abhay was on his way back when his phone rang. 'What? Damn…how? I will be there at once'; He jeered and hung the phone. He couldn't understand which feeling was prevailing; exasperation, anger, or jealousy.
Fifteen minutes later, he had come all the way back to Uncle Vincent's house, where Martha was waiting for him. She looked paler, thinner, and enervated as she lay on the bed.
'She had a stroke three days back sir. Shortly after handing us the letter. I don't understand… how they discovered…She kept asking for you today...' Abhay raised his hand. Constable immediately stopped talking. Abhay told him to straightaway go to Charu's house and be on guard, albeit undercover.
He left, leaving Abhay alone in the room with Martha. Martha's lips parted, but no voice came out. Do you want to tell me, something Aunt? Abhay asked, as softly as he could.
Martha seemed as though great pain was taking over her, but she still wanted to tell him something. He held her hand. 'Aunt, I need to help Sheryl. I want to avenge her. You have to help us. Only then will Mother Nature forgive you.'
Martha's eyes seemed to flash with some unfathomable energy. She gathered all her strength and blurted out, 'Jasper Red…Jasper Red…completes Yin and Yang….Water made way for Jasper Red…light the lantern of living history and find out Jasper!!!'
Martha couldn't hold this momentary strength any further. Her face turned pale once again and she fainted. Abhay was left to ponder over this new development; Jasper red and the lantern.
'Ruth must have arranged Penny to get Martha drugged as well, just like Granny,' he thought walking out of the room. While crossing the way between the hall and Martha's bedroom, he heard silent thuds, as if somebody was violently thumping the floorboards. Abhay tried to listen carefully, but the voice didn't repeat itself.
Lantern of Living History
Charu observed the box. There was no way she could have opened it. It was very beautifully crafted and was made of gold. Perhaps its absence from the room had made Ruth follow her so desperately. This proved that it was indeed very important to open it. 'But how?' Her brain wanted to concentrate, but the heart kept hovering over Abhay.
Still lost in thoughts, the phone's ring gave her an absolute start. Her heart skipped a bit looking at the caller's name. Abhay…of course...he was sorry…she immediately felt uplifted. But to her dismay, he only asked her to come to the police station with the box.
Charu felt despondent and exasperated. Despite that, she hurried towards the police station.
'I just wanted to check the box.' He said as she entered. Silently, she handed him the box. He observed it for some time and then pulled out the small ivory-coloured pyramid from his pocket.
On the backside of the box, there was a small groove. He pressed it there and the box opened. An extremely beautiful diamond was pulled out; diagonally fixed on a hinge of something like a small lamp. It was a very neat and complex machine. Sumerian people used to use such 'la lanterns', mostly to store visual proofs.
Abhay was working steadfastly as if he already knew it. He just brought in some wax and a wick. He filled the small lamp with wax and then lighted the wick. He shoved a pen inside, from the hole, struggled a bit, and then there was a soft click, indicating the start of the machine. A ray of light reflected from the diamond and fell on Charu's face.
He adjusted the box so that rays fell on the whiteboard instead of her face, completely ignoring that she wanted to ask something. She was exasperated but kept mum.
The box played the complete procedure of how to open the sarcophagus with Khopesh, as clearly as a film. Both were mesmerized, but they hardly said anything to each other.
'Not a word about this, to your hero'. Abhay jeered, gesturing her to leave. Charu had enough already. She left, slamming the door shut.
As he became sure that she had left, he opened his electronic safe, and pulled out the real Khopesh, grinning lopsidedly!