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Guests From the Other Side

Guests From the Other Side

This piece won third place in Fandom Menace at Metonym 2020.

Parvathi was on one of the mandatory rounds of patrol of the bazaar
surrounding the palace grounds, when she heard a commotion. She turned
around to investigate the problem. A shopkeeper was selling her copper wares
to two men but instead of selling her wares she was yelling at the men. Both
men were sharply contrasting the other. One was short and pudgy with a beard
while the other was tall, well-built and easy on the eyes, both middle age and
both were dressed in traveller’s garb. Parvathi moved closer to the stall and
heard the angry woman’s raised voice, and learned that the men had talked
inappropriately to the woman. She moved to intervene but the woman it seemed
did not need any help. She was giving the men an earful and both of their faces
were comparable to a tomato, red with embarrassment and the whole scene was
attracting a huge crowd. The tall one was trying to explain himself while his
companion took refuge in his flowing beard. The woman continued abusing
them in three languages. Finally taking a break from her yelling, the woman
noticed the crowd. Not wanting to lose her business for the day she gave a last
huff and told the men to scatter and stay out of her sights. The men, not wanting
to be embarrassed any further, scurried to their horses that were tied to a tree
and immediately took off.

Parvathi was still thinking about the incident when her shift ended. She was in
the army barracks when one of her fellow soldiers Raghav came in. His shift
was due to start in 10 minutes.

He smiled at her. “How are you, Parvathi ?” he asked her.
“I’m good. Is there any news on who made captains?” she asked Raghav. The
captain’s exam was a few days ago and Parvathi was shaking in anticipation of
the results and could barely concentrate on anything.

“No. Mahipat Rao told me that the decision was still pending and-”. Raghav’s
reply was cut short by a shrill scream that cut through the air.
The scream had come from the palace a little away from the barracks. WIthout
thinking Parvathi grabbed her talwar, sheathed it into the scabbard by her side
and ran for the palace, Raghav hot on her heels.

Just as they cleared the entryway of the palace, the scream sounded again. It
seemed to be coming from Rajkumari Indumathi’s room. Parvathi and Raghav
ran for the princess’ room but as they neared the hallway leading to the royal
chambers, they were stopped dead in their tracks by a horrific sight.
Every one of the soldiers posted across the hallway was dead on the floor, their
faces frozen in horror, fright still clouding their unblinking eyes. The entire
hallway was red and the sharp, coppery tang of blood was thick in the air.
The scream came again and they were broken out of their dazed horror. They
ran for the princess’ room and pushed the door open. The princess was on the
floor in the middle of the room, curled in a fetal position. But what truly
horrified Parvathi was the creature that loomed over the princess. The creature
truly looked like horror incarnate. Standing at 6 feet, the creature had bat-like
wings, its body black in color. It had four limbs that ended in talons sharper than
any knife. Behind the creature, the air seemed to shimmer, a sideways funnel
seemed to appear and it sucked all the light leaving only darkness in its center,
The creature loomed over the princess’ curled body. Parvathi and Raghav took a
step forward, swords raised and the creature immediately swung its head
towards them. As Parvathi made eye contact with the creature, she stopped dead
in her tracks. She was not in the palace anymore. She was 14 again, back in her
childhood home. She was in her parents’ room, knelt on their bed, knee deep in
blood, touching her parents’ cold bodies.


She fell back to the floor as the memory and pain she’d been trying to forget for
the past 6 years resurfaced. She was frozen, unable to move, to breathe. Her
head spun and she could vaguely hear someone calling her name.
Then with the blink of an eye she was back in the palace. She was on the floor,
her heart racing and the air seemed to slam back into her lungs and she felt as
though she was drowning and somebody had pulled her to land suddenly.
She understood why. The creature now infront of her had its face twisted in
agony and immediately crumpled to the ground. Behind it, with her sword
twisting into the creature’s back stood the most beautiful woman Parvathi had

ever seen. A fair woman with hair as golden as sunlight and bright turquoise
eyes with golden rings around the pupils and ears that didn’t have the normal
curve but ended in a sharp point and a lithe and toned body pulled her sword out
of the creature’s body and wiped the sword clean of the creature’s black blood
against her pants.

She reached out a hand towards Parvathi and helped her to her feet.
“Are you alright?” asked the stunning woman, concern etched into her beautiful
face.

“I’m fine” came Parvathi’s stuttering reply. The shock of reliving one of the
worst memories of her life combined with the woman’s sudden appearance left
Parvathi reeling.

“My name is Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius.” she introduced herself.
“And you are?” she asked Parvathi.

“My name is Parvathi. Lieutenant of his majesty Chatrapathi Shiv Singh’s
second platoon. Thank you for saving my life.”

They shook hands and Aelin gestured to two men standing behind her. She
pointed to the man with pine green eyes and a tattoo running down the side of
his face. “This is my husband Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius.” Next she
pointed to a man standing next to Rowan with golden hair and eyes similar to
that of Aelin’s, “This is my cousin Aedion Ashryver.”

“Who are you and how did you get inside the palace?” asked Raghav. She’d
almost forgotten about him and the princess. A quick look over them told her
that they were fine and unharmed. The princess still shaking was now sitting on
her bed, a glass of water in her hand.

“That creature,” Aelin pointed to the body of the creature, “attacked me a month
ago and ever since we have been tracking it. We were on its trail when this
portal.” she gestured to the anomaly Parvathi had noticed before “opened up and
it went through it and we followed it through the portal and reached here.” she
finished.

“What is that creature?” asked Parvathi, her voice still shaking.
“It’s called a Stax demon. It kills by rendering you frozen, immobilizing you by
creating an illusion of your greatest fear and then swiping at your neck with its
poison tipped talons.” this time it was Rowan who replied. That explained why
she had relived the worst, most painful moment of her life when she looked into
its eyes.

“It can be killed but killing only one will not stop the others since these
creatures tend to travel in packs. But killing the queen will kill all of them”
Aedion informed them.

“The one that I killed was a prince, a child of the queen, which means that the
queen is nearby.”Aelin explained. “But we’re not sure how to track the queen.”
Almost as if in answer to Aelin’s doubt, a shrill, unhuman cry echoed
throughout the palace.

The newcomers exchanged one look and the three of them took off, running
down the hallway following the scream. Parvathi followed while Raghav stood
back with the princess.

She followed aelin and the others to the king’s chambers and there it was
unmistakably , the queen. It was much bigger than the prince with 8 limbs
instead of 4, wings more bigger and even more frightening.

Aelin turned to Parvathi. “Rowan, Aedion and I are going to distract while you
have to sneak behind it. You will see a piece of soft flesh between its shoulder
blades, underneath which is its heart. Plunge your dagger deep into the flesh and
its heart and twist your dagger.”

Without a second glance Aelin and the others stepped into the room swords
raised. All three of them closed their eyes and started battling the creature.
Watching their skilled swordplay, Parvathi understood that these were skilled
warriors who fought with all their senses. Even fighting blind didn’t slow them
down.

Shaking off her awe, Parvathi stepped into the room. True to their word, the
three of them kept the creature distracted and she was able to sneak in and get
into position behind the creature.

She saw the soft piece of flesh that Aelin had told her about and raised her
dagger to plunge it into the creature’s body. Just as her dagger was going to
make contact with the creature one of its talons scratched across her thigh and
created a deep gash on her skin. She almost blacked out for a second, pain
overtaking her senses. The edges of her vision blurred and she staggered back.
“PARVATHI” came Aelin’s shout, “you have to do it now.” The pleading tone
of Aelin’s voice made her stand up straight. She shook off the pain and blinked
to clear the haze in her eyes.

Ignoring the pain in her thigh she moved forward, renewed determination in her
spirit, and plunged her dagger deep into the creature’s back and twisted.
The creature howled in agony and crumpled to the floor. Suddenly the pain in
her body cleared, the effect of the poison dying along with the monster.
Parvathi let out a deep breath and tilted her head skyward and sent a prayer to
her Gods and thanked them for guiding her but also for the peace of the souls of
the soldiers that had fallen today.

THE END

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