[This story is Part 2 of The Pischachas of Aavri. You can read the first part here.]
In the land between two mountains called Shaya and Riksha, lays Ninya. A forest concealed in dark shadows of the two mountains, Ninya is home to an elusive, formidable feline clan, the Vyahgrahs - more familiarly known as weretigers. Creepy and sinister, Ninya’s air smells of death and vengeance. Primeval, still trees have eyes that watch every uninvited visitor while other beings lurk behind a misty grey cloud that envelopes Ninya day and night. No men dare to enter Ninya for its reputation as hell on Earth brings fears and undeniably, death.
In the middle of the hellish forest, a small gravel path takes course. It opens up leading to a hidden gothic styled castle. A castle on the front, but a demon’s lair within, it was once the home to the ancestor of the weretigers. Ancient and grim, the castle has stood there as long as the battle between the pischachas and weretigers had lasted. The walls had aged, mouldy and grey, covered with creeping roots while mosses clung in patches, signaling centuries of the old castle’s life story.
Lit with dim torches, its windowless hallways ends into a huge chamber. As the night grows older and ghost silent filled Ninya, ear deafening roars exploded, sending echoes bombarding throughout the castle. As continuous roars emanated filling its surrounding, Shaya and Riksha rattled. For an instance, Earth seemed to cringe, as roars vibrated through the ground. In the once magnificent chamber, an ambush of tigers was assembled in front of a vacant, half destroyed throne.
In the lead, a majestic, fierce looking tiger roared. With a thunderous roar, he transformed into his human form. He is Nimr, the leader of the weretigers. He had led the weretigers for almost a century now. Following his shift, the rest of the tigers materialized into their human form. A moment of silence passed. All eyes were on Nimr as he began, “My fellow Vyaghrahs, after centuries of waiting, an opportunity has come to us. The pischachas will finally realize our superiority, our pain and our suffering.” His voice trembled as his tone indicated full force revenge in waiting.
In anger, he proclaimed “Our patience will not go vain. Nevertheless, our vyaghrahs must be alert. The atrocious blood suckers will not wait dormant. They will come to us. Into our lair. To revenge for the dead one.” As he talked, Ruhill, commander of the weretigers, took his place beside Nimr. “Nimr, our streak had been prepared for this battle since Day of Gardha. The pischachas will not be spared from our wrath by any means,” Ruhill assured him sternly.
As he looked at the rest, Nimr’s reminisced about the Day of Gardha. The day that marked the start of enmity between both creatures. Eons ago, the Earth was home to not only mortals, but also creatures that are only found in myths and legends today. Ancestors of the pischachas, thirty-six yakshinis also inhabited Earth. The yakshinis were attendants to Kubera, Lord of Wealth, semi-divine god who once ruled ancient Himalayan kingdom of Alaka.
In due course of time, appeased with the yakshinis’s nature and loyalty to him, Kubera bestowed the yakshinis with sacred responsibility as guardians of all treasures hidden in Earth. All thirty-six yakshinis were assigned to places only Kubera had knowledge of. The yakshinis with utmost loyalty and reverence to their lord, kept their role as treasure guardians a secret. Unfortunately, there are no secrets that time does not reveal.
Every year, the yakshinis, coming from thirty-six corners of Earth, would gather in Aavri. On the tenth month of Hindu calendar, Kartika, a day before dark moon day, the yakshinis return to Aavri. Known as the Night of Renewal, all thirty-six yakshinis congregate to renew their oaths as treasure guardians with the Lord himself present to give his blessings. By fate, an evil sorcerer, Ahriman in search of elixir of immortality had wandered into Aavri on one night. He stumbled upon the yakshinis performing their sacred ritual.
Hidden among the trees, Ahriman witnessed the yakshinis renewing their vows. Ahriman, vile and nefarious, in his quest to obtain immortality, knowing the secret guarded by the yakshinis, wanted to conquer all hidden treasures of the world to make him the most powerful ruler on Earth. He watched and waited until the ritual was over. The yakshinis left as the Lord himself vanished. Ahriman resumed his search while his mind and soul was filled with obsession of conquering the treasures guarded by yakshinis. Ahriman knew, to conquer the treasures, it was impossible for him to act alone. He was nothing but a mortal.
The yakshinis abilities were no match to his black magic and spells. Failing to fulfill his quest, Ahriman returned to Ninya, his hidden lair. Planning his conquest, Ahriman decided to invoke rakshasas from the dark realm. Without wasting any time, Ahriman with his dark ability summoned upon rakshasa from the alter dimension to assist him in his quests of immortality. The rakshasas are demons who are hybrid of monsters and animals with insatiable hunger for blood and men’s flesh.
Ahriman’s evil powers were results of him appeasing the invoked demons with human sacrifices. None had given him the boon of immortality but many had taught him dark spells and sorcery. Chanting spells and incantations he invoked any rakshasa that would appear before him on that night. As destiny played its part, his incantations had summoned Dakshi, the tiger rakshasa.
On the altar, Ahriman had beforehand prepared a freshly killed young man’s corpse as sacrifice and offering. All rakshasas must be appeased before dealing with. Dakshi, in his weretiger form, devoured the offering placed before him as Ahriman watched without mercy. Satisfied with his offering, Dakshi commanded Ahriman to state his purpose of summoning him. Ahriman, kneeled by Dakshi, “O mighty tiger rakshasa, Dakshi, forgive me for calling upon you. I seek from you a boon of immortality,” he appealed to the rakshasa. The boon of immortality will be the ultimate shield to become the most powerful one on Earth.
Dakshi was no god to grant Ahriman boon of immortality. “Ignorant mortal, I cannot give you what you seek,” Dakshi claimed laughing hysterically. “You have accepted my sacrifice, tiger rakshasa. You must honour my request,” Ahriman insisted subduing his own boiling rage as the tiger demon mocked his mortal form. Dakshi in turn, paused a moment, before continuing. “Earthling, I can teach you the incantation that can transform any mortal to a weretiger. Do you dare to take upon the form of a weretiger?” mocking Ahriman. Dakshi, the tiger rakshasa is the only demon who possessed knowledge of the right incantation that can turn any mortal into a weretiger.
Once Ahriman had transformed into a weretiger, he could build an army of weretigers out with his sorcery. Seeing this as an opportunity, Ahriman, holding back his rage from being mocked said, “Merciful Dakshi, I am ready to learn any knowledge you would kindly bestow on me.” He knew that weretigers were blessed with the ability to live for centuries. Dakshi, giving in to Ahriman’s constant pleads, nodded silently.
That very night, Dakshi taught Ahriman, a secret incantation only known to him. Ahriman with Dakshi as witness performed the incantation with greed and obsession. As moments passed, Ahriman felt immense stinging in every cell of his body. The pain of bones breaking and rearranging as he took his feline form was agonizing. He sweated and growled in pain as muscles ripped to become sturdier. He screamed and shrieked filling the silent environment with heart ripping sound.
His nails hardened and elongated before taking shape of tiger claws. As his feline form took a dominant form, all his senses became acute. Amidst the transformation, Ahriman’s vision became finely tuned. He could see through the darkness. His new pair of eyes shone brightly. His whiskers gave him a more acute sense of touch. The music of the jungle became more apparent to him.
The impact of the sudden transformation hit Ahriman hard to the core. His anger, obsession and hunger overtook his new weretiger form. As he fully transformed, Ahriman’s weretiger emerged in its beastly form. With thick black stripes, and streaks of yellow, his weretiger form was demonic and ghastly. His eyes gleamed red as anger blazed in his beast. A nightmare in reality, Ahriman’s weretiger would strike any opponent with horror.
With uncontrollable rage, he turned his fury on Dakshi. In one pounce, he took down Dashi. Ahriman’s own evil powers combined with his feline form proved a deadly combo. Dakshi’s demonic prowess was no match to Ahriman’s beastly form as the tiger demon became Ahriman’s first prey. Devouring Dakshi, Ahriman with his evil sorcery absorbed Dakshi’s demonic powers. By the end of the night, Ahriman emerged as a stronger demonic weretiger with overpowering evil power that would send any creature fleeing for life.
That was the beginning. The beginning for another mythical creature to exist and thrive in the hidden veils of Earth. With his obsession focused on the treasures guarded by the yakshinis, Ahriman began building his own army of weretigers. Utilizing his evil powers, he hunted down those who walked through Ninya, turning them into weretigers. He prowled at the borders of Ninya, taking down unguarded villargers.
He kept his victims under the charm of his dark spell ensuring their loyalty and obedience to him. In a matter of time, he had an army of hundreds of weretigers. He made the weretigers his slaves. He used them for building his castle in daylight when in human form. The very same castle that now Nimr and the remaining weretigers had assembled tonight.
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