Gods were the centre point of the universe.
This universe, to be accurate, out of the millions of billions of universes separated by an invisible, untouchable, almost impenetrable barrier.
Centuries ago the Destruction Dragon Taksaka took a female form.
In Vishnu’s visions of the many paths of future, this would make no difference.
Taksaka would still have a son named Kasak, and the best possible future would still be barely out of reach.
But none of the primeval gods expected that a soul would pass through the barrier, into their current universe.
Souls were fickle things. They didn’t decide the consciousness, didn’t decide the personality. And yet, they were catalysts, able to bring up figments of memory from the lives of bodies they had once resided in.
Lost souls would drift until they found their way into purgatory, were eaten, or discovered a suitable body.
Ian Rajof, a quarter, was barely a month pregnant when the soul found her and the two zygotes attached to her womb.
One would survive to maturity, while the other was already dead and would soon be flushed out by her body.
The soul entered her body and enveloped itself with the zygote. And in moments, what was previously just dead was now alive, its cells multiplying to keep up with its twin which had yet to develop or receive its own soul.
Five months later, she would announce the fact that she was expecting twins to her husband.
And the future that Vishnu had expected drastically veered off course.
“Triya! Are you alright?” Triya woke up with a painful throbbing headache and a man with four tiny horns on his head looking at her.
She blinked at him slowly, then raised her hands and looked at the odd red claws.
‘I’m not human.’ She thought, then turned her attention to the man. ‘Who is this guy?’
“Who are you?” She asked.
The man twitched.
Then, he turned to an olive-haired man standing by the doorway.
“Vishnu. Why the hell did you drop my daughter?” He roared.
The man raised both his hands, laughing nervously. “I didn’t do it on purpose, Tak.”
“Like hell you didn’t! You’re a god! You’re not supposed to just drop things! Especially not my daughter!” Tak snarled.
“…Father.” Triya – was that her name? – spoke up.
Tak turned to her.
“My head hurts.” She said and looked at him accusingly. “Please stop shouting.”
Tak looked depressed for a moment.
The man, Vishnu laughed.
“You are, my father?” Triya asked. Tak nodded.
Then she pointed at Vishnu. “Who’s that guy? My other dad?”
Someone laughed. A beautiful woman with light pink hair entered the room, followed by a boy with grayish-pink hair and four horns on his head clutching at her skirt.
“Ian! I would never cheat on you!” Tak said frantically, then glared at Vishnu. “Especially not with this guy who dropped our daughter.”
“Triya. Do you remember me?” The woman, Ian, asked. The boy looked at Triya with dark red eyes. He had the same claw-like things that she did.
Triya shook her head.
“I’m your mother. This is your twin brother, Kasak.”
Ah. That explained their similarities. Triya patted the top of her head to check if she had horns as well.
She touched something hard and nubby.”
“I have horns?” She asked.
Ian looked worried.
“Oi, Vishnu.” Tak started.
Ian looked between Triya and the two men, looking uncertain.
“Ignore them.” Kasak said, tugging at the hem of her skirt. “We’re halfs. Of course we have horns.” Kasak explained, which told Triya absolutely nothing.
“Did you lose your common sense?” Kasak asked.
“Oi!” Tak snapped. Kasak flinched, and Ian frowned.
Okay, blatant favouritism. Triya blinked, then scowled.
“Don’t treat him like that!” She yelled. Tak looked taken back.
Triya grabbed Kasak’s hand. “What are halfs?” She asked.
“Halfs are- Um. Mom?” Kasak turned to Ian.
“Halfs are children of a human and a sura.”
Another unfamiliar term Triya didn’t know.
“What’s a sura.”
Ian’s mouth fell open.
“Oi, next you’re gonna say that you don’t know what’s a god?”
“Don’t be silly. I know what’s a god.” Triya announced. Ian seemed to sigh in relief, until Triya said her next sentence.
“Gods are beings of faith that don’t exist.”
There was an uncomfortable silence as everyone in the room turned to Vishnu.
The man laughed awkwardly. Then Tak attempted to punch him.
Triya spent the next few days with Vishnu – who was apparently a god – by her side, reteaching her about the world.
“But how does it work? Does the god give a part of their power to whoever is born in that month? Why would someone born in a specific month have a stronger attribute as compared to others? Can’t they just work harder?”
“You didn’t ask so many questions in the past.” Vishnu looked pained.
“You didn’t drop me on the head in the past.” Triya retorted.
“It’s the same reason why gods exist.”
“Telling me that that’s just how the world works isn’t gonna fly, you know?” Triya said flatly.
Trying to fit this new knowledge to the one of her past life in another world was hard. There were parts that Vishnu didn’t want to explain to her – or couldn’t.
“Okay, fine. Birthday attributes. Then sura magic and divine magic. I’m a half, so does that mean I can use both?”
“That’s…” Vishnu trailed off, looking considering. “Normally, it would be impossible for halfs to use divine magic.” He said slowly, “but Vritra halfs have a sura form and can use transcendentals. Human magic is derived from a god’s transcendental, which is why birth attributes have an impact as it means that the human has a closer affinity to the god.”
“Closer affinity? But if I’m close to you now, does that mean that I can use divine magic too?”
“No, not that sort of affinity. Still, would you like to try?” The smile Vishnu had made him look like a half-mad scientist.
“Aren’t you the god of time and stuff? Can’t you just look into the future and see one possible future where I try it out and tell me what happens?”
“…Did you know that I can’t use Insight on you?” Vishnu asked suddenly.
Triya turned to him, confused. “So you can’t read my mind? Big deal.”
“No, I’m a primeval god. The only ones that I can’t use Insight on are the other primeval gods. Not to mention that in none of possible futures that I’ve seen, have I seen your presence. Tak only has a son, not a daughter. I cannot see your future.”
Triya gaped at him. “Wow. Way to give a girl existential issues.”
Vishnu’s smile wasn’t friendly at all.
“Did you drop me on purpose then? To kill me off and make this current world fit your ideal future?” Triya asked idly, trying not to show how unsettled she was.
“Yes, I did.” Vishnu said.
Triya clapped. “I admire your honesty.” She said primly. “Honestly, I thought that as a god, you would’ve already known.”
“Without Insight, and with my inability to look into your past and future, in regards to you, I am blind.”
“Sheesh.” Triya stared at her claws. “I didn’t know what halfs and suras were. I didn’t think that gods existed and questioned the existence of magic itself. Why don’t you tell me what you can guess from all that?”
Vishnu looked at her. “It has been theorised,” he started, “that there are other universes where gods do not exist, and thus no primeval gods to create and manipulate the universe. In such a universe, there are no gods and no suras. Only humans with technology and no magic.”
“I wouldn’t say only humans. We hadn’t explored other planets yet, not to mention the other galaxies.” Triya said, stretching. “You’re totally right, by the way. In the universe I remember, gods didn’t exist. Only belief. It was totally relaxing. We didn’t have to worry about the world ending or sh-stuff, only about human rights issues and idiot leaders who should’ve been assassinated long ago.”
Vishnu smiled wryly. “I had expected a world with only humans to be full of chaos.”
Triya snapped her fingers. “You’re not wrong. There were hundreds of wars. Until people started to wise up and armed themselves while preaching about world peace. Ahh, enough about my world! I’m gonna try divine magic. Gimme a spell.”
“Hoti magic doesn’t require the same attribute as a god. I suppose that you could attempt it. You can try hoti vishnu. It should rewind the time of an object or person to a point of time.”
“Doesn’t it feel awkward using your own name?” Triya asked. She pointed at a tree. “Hoti vishnu!”
She turned to Vishnu, looking accusing.
“You need to supply rigor to the spell. As a Vritra half, you should have more than enough.”
“In the first place, what the hell is rigor?” Triya puffed out her cheeks.
Vishnu blinked. “Ah. Hm. Think of it as a magic source. It can be replenished through eating or sleeping.”
“Hoti Vishnu.” Triya said again, pointing at the same tree.
“Why isn’t anything happening?” She asked.
“I don’t feel you drawing on my transcendentals.” Vishnu said thoughtfully. Then, he glanced at her. “Triya, do you believe in me?”
Triya stared at him, bewildered. “Huh?”
“Do you believe that I’m a god?”
“I mean, you call yourself a god, so I guess?”
Vishnu sighed. “In the first place, that sort of belief won’t work if you want to cast divine magic.”
“Excuse me for being an atheist.” Triya huffed.
“That means nonbeliever, right?”
“A person who doesn’t believe in the existence of a god or gods.” She recited. “Fine, forget divine magic. How do I use transcendentals?”
“As Tak’s daughter, you should be able to use the same transcendentals he can, if weaker.”
“So my dad’s the sura.” Triya nodded firmly. Vishnu gave her an amused look.
“As a Vritra half, you have a sura form as well.” He reminded.
“How do I turn into a sura then?”
“If I told you, Tak would get mad at me.” Vishnu laughed.
Triya’s mouth dropped open. “You- You goddamned tease!” She accused.
“You don’t believe in gods and yet you invoke their name so casually.” Vishnu mused.
“What? Goddamn? It’s just a swear.”
“Damnation.” Vishnu muttered, and refused to say anymore no matter how much Triya poked at him with her very pointy claws.
Okay. Apparently, Vritra clan suras and halfs were supposed to have dulled emotions. Why did no one tell Triya that?
“That’s odd, you used to be so mellow.” Ian said, running her fingers through Triya’s hair.
“Until Vishnu dropped me on the head.” Triya said cheerfully, making her father twitch.
Kasak sat beside her on their mother’s lap, as far away as he could from Tak.
From what Triya learnt, after finally getting hold of a mirror, she looked a lot like Ian, minus the horns and claws and everything she got from her father.
Which, given her father’s utter devotion to her mother, explained an unfortunate lot.
Kasak really got the short end of the stick here.
“Hey dad?” Triya asked. The man glanced at her. Nope, he looked fully human, not a sura trait to be seen.
“What does your sura form look like? Vishnu wouldn’t teach me how to turn into a sura.”
For a moment, Tak looked confused. “You already know how to do that.” He said, glancing at Kasak.
“I lost my memory, dad.” Triya said flatly, reminding herself that Vishnu was an absolute troll.
Tak stood up from Ian’s side and took off his earrings. Four short horns appeared on his head. Triya blinked. In just one second, he was a distance away, his face a blurry blob.
Then, he started to glow. And wow, her father was huge.
Tak lowered his gigantic head to face them.
Triya slid off Ian’s lap and looked up at her father. She didn’t even reach his chin.
“Dad! You look like a dragon!” Triya gasped with shining eyes, patting the huge sura on the side of his chin.
Tak rolled his eyes and spread his wings. At this point, Triya was starting to think that he was trying to impress her.
Which wasn’t that hard to believe, sadly.
“Mom! Mom! Dad! Can we go flying?” Triya asked excitedly.
Kasak looked grumpy, as he usually did with anything to do with Tak. Ian, however, looked like she was considering it.
“If it’s fine with your father, I don’t see why not.”
When Tak nodded, just the slightest bit, Triya hugged the dragon. Then, she realised a problem.
“I’m way too small.” She whispered.
Tak turned to the side. Very slowly and carefully, he moved his tail.
Triya scrambled onto the appendage, and carefully made her way to her father’s back. Then, she paused, panting, before running towards his neck.
She sat between two large scales and looked around. “Wow, dad, you’re huge!”
‘Hold tight.’ Tak said and walked away.
“Eh? You’re not going to fly?”
After a minute of walking, Triya could no longer see their home. Then, Tak flapped his wings. And Triya knew why he didn’t take off back then. “The forest’s gone.” She said numbly, looking at the blackened area. “Dad’s really amazing.”
Tak didn’t say anything, but Triya could feel a faint feeling of satisfaction. Which was weird, because didn’t her mother say that Tak could only display anger?
She decided to consult Vishnu about it in their magic theory sessions.
But for now, she enjoyed the wind blasting in her face, sheltered between her father’s scales.
“Empathy.” Vishnu said sagely, even though Triya knew that he was pulling it out of his ass.
“So you think that I can feel emotions? I thought dad couldn’t feel anything other than anger?”
“Only his anger was considerably amplified relative to his other numbed emotions. Tak can feel love and affection as well, for you and your mother.”
“Not Kasak?” Triya asked, thinking about her twin.
“Tak has a rocky relationship with him.” Vishnu said.
“No kidding, talk about extreme favouritism. I’ve been giving Kasak all my favourite snacks to make up for it.”
“In the first place, a Vritra half like you being able to show so much emotion is an oddity in itself.”
“Oh yeah, and thanks for telling me that I hadn’t learnt how to turn into a sura yet, you absolute troll.” Triya said flatly.
“It should be instinctive on your part.” Vishnu said unrepentantly.
“No magic, no suras, no gods.” Triya retorted.
“Even if you ask me, it’s not as though I can explain it.”
“Do I need to visualise it or something? Or do I just need the intent?”
“Usually, just the intent is enough.”
“Fine then. Sura transformation, on!” Triya punched the air.
“That is the first time I’ve seen something as ridiculous as that.” Vishnu said, the liar.
“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Triya scolded. “Make me a dragon!”
“Just laugh.” She told him flatly.
Vishnu smirked. “Perhaps it’s a subconscious reaction. You don’t believe that suras exist so you can’t turn into one.”
“I’ve seen dad turn into a fuc-fudging dragon. I know they exist.”
“But do you believe that you can turn into one?”
“…Point. Okay, fine. Scratch that. Animagus. My animagus form is a dragon. I’m a goddamned wizard, and I have an animagus form. So make me a dragon!”
“What’s an animagus?”
“It’s an animal form that a wizard can take- from a popular fantasy book where magic exists.”
“It’s disconcerting hearing someone compare a sura to an animal.”
“No magic, no sura, no gods.” Triya repeated. Then, she stopped. “Hey Vishnu, you’re like an ultra-powerful god, right?”
“Do something amazing. Make me believe that you’re actually a god.”
“Asking something like that out of the blue…” Vishnu shook his head. He waved his hand, and suddenly the field they were sitting in was full of flowers. Triya brushed a claw against one. It felt real. Probably was real.
“In the end, belief really is important. But if I can’t believe, then I’ll just use logic to make up for it.” Triya said. “I still can’t wrap my head around the existence of gods, but I can compare this to magic. If magic exists, then an animagus form is possible. Right now, I have horns and claws, so I’m in a partial transformation. I just have to complete to transformation into a dragon.” She closed her eyes.
“…You’ve been doing that for a while now.”
“Shh! I need to concentrate!” Triya held up a claw.
“The sun is setting.”
“Then reverse the sun, goddamnit!”
“Have you considered that you’ve accepted the existence of magic, but not that you can do it?”
“…Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?”
“You seemed so determined.” Vishnu smiled, the utter troll.
Triya sighed. “So I need to be able to use magic to believe that I can use it. To believe that I can use it, I need to turn into a dragon. But to be able to turn into a dragon, I also need to use magic so that I can believe.”
“When you put it like that…”
“Fine. You made dad’s earrings, right?”
“Yes, but,” Vishnu started. “Then you can make other magical artifacts, right?” Triya interrupted.
“To put it simply, I don’t trust you to handle whatever artifacts I create without trying to disprove them or dismantle them.”
Triya started, then stopped. “Can’t we just try?”
Vishnu nodded thoughtfully. “What would be an artefact that could make you believe, or at least trick your mind into believing that you can use magic?”
“Something like that, an illusion that you’re the one doing something when actually it’s the thing you’re gonna give me?”
“An illusion?” Vishnu repeated.
“Yeah. Human minds are like, super easy to trick. We fall for optical illusions, hallucinations, and believe that there are…” Triya trailed off. “We see things in the dark because we believe that they’re there! Holy shi-sticks.”
“Something came to mind?”
“Childhood! I forgot my entire childhood! I rode on a dragon, and I can’t believe that I forgot, my entire-! Gah!”
Vishnu looked politely confused.
“Can you create something that can instantaneously change my clothes?”
“…Yes, I should be able to.” Vishnu said slowly, looking at me oddly.
“Magical girl transformation.” Triya explained, which, actually, didn’t explain much at all.
She got a cool ring out of it, so yay.
Triya tapped on the engraving on the ring, and her clothes changed into a sparkly outfit which she had requested.
“Magical girl transformation! With this, I can turn into a dragon!”
An odd feeling came over Triya. She felt her limbs elongate, and extra appendages appear.
“I can truly say now that you surprise me.” Vishnu said.
‘I don’t wanna hear that from you, you troll.’ Triya said. She blinked. ‘This, isn’t human speech?’
“Most suras can’t speak to humans. You and your brother are exceptions in that you can understand and speak both.”
‘This is so surreal. I’m a motherfuc- uh, yikes, don’t go there, don’t go there. I mean, I’m a totally awesome dragon.’
Vishnu looked like he couldn’t decide between being amused or disturbed.
“I’m keeping the ring.” Triya told Vishnu, successfully returning to a human form after way too many attempts.
The god apparently wasn’t petty enough to argue with her.
“Vishnu taught me how to use magic.” Triya said, sipping at a cup of milk.
“What kind of magic?” Ian asked.
There was a long pause as her mother looked at her father.
“Halfs shouldn’t be able to learn divine magic.” She said.
“Why can Triya do it?”
“Vishnu said it’s ‘cause I got permission from him, and that I believe that gods aren’t real anyway, so any magic I use is something that I envision which I subconsciously alter the transcendentals that I got from dad to perform.” Triya explained. “I discuss magic theory with him a lot.” She added.
“I have a Destruction aspect.” Tak said.
“Oh yeah, I know.” Triya nodded. “But I don’t believe in aspects either, so it’s completely malleable when it comes to me. Because destruction is like eradication, or the process in which something ceases to exist. So when I think that the wilted flowers were destroyed, it can mean that the wilted flowers are no longer wilted, so they must be fresh!”
“That’s- That’s not how magic works, dear.” Ian said faintly.
“Tell that to Vishnu. He’s the one who helped me come up with an explanation to deceive my own mind.”
“Is there a reason why you’ve been spending so much time teaching me?” Triya asked.
“If I can’t see your future, then that means that Kali must not have expected you either.”
“The enemy of the enemy is my friend, huh? Or rather, the enemy that my enemy doesn’t expect is my student.”
Vishnu smirked. “Quite simply, you defy everything possible about magic, because you don’t believe in gods or suras.”
“Then do you think that it’s possible that magic won’t work on me?” Triya asked.
Vishnu looked at the ring on her finger pointedly.
“Okay, point taken.” Triya said quickly. “Say, all your futures that you see now don’t include me, right?”
“The reactions of your parents and your brother to you can be observed. All other traces of you, however, are non-existent.”
“So I exist to you only as a reaction?”
“You could put it that way.” Vishnu agreed.
“Huh.” Triya said, looking at her claws. “That aside, if I say that I’m going to temporarily destroy the fabric of space to create a gateway to another dimension, d’you think it’d work?”
“Try it.” Vishnu said simply.
Triya held up a clawed hand in front of her and pulled it down. There was the feeling of something ripping in the air.
She glanced at the portal-gateway thing she had made. There was a river in that supposed other dimension.
She looked at Vishnu, who looked somewhat troubled.
“Woah, what’s this?” Someone poked their head through.
Triya looked at the red-haired man, then at Vishnu, and decided that pride could go take a hike. She ducked between Vishnu’s legs and hid behind him.
“Vishnu? Who’s that behind you?”
“No one!” Triya squeaked.
“This is Triya, Taksaka’s daughter.” Vishnu said, stepping aside. “Triya, this is Agni, the god of fire.”
“Um, nice to meet you?” Triya said carefully.
Agni gave her a smile and a wave. “Why’d you tear a hole to Yama’s place?” He asked, turning to Vishnu.
“…” Vishnu stared at Triya.
“He told me to try!” Triya pointed at Vishnu.
Agni turned to Triya, then to Vishnu, his smile fading away. “You weren’t expecting me.” He said, glancing back at the hole in reality. “You weren’t expecting her to tear a hole that would lead to Yama’s place.”
“Didn’t you say that it was supposed to be a secret?” Triya asked Vishnu flatly.
“Shall we go somewhere else?” Vishnu asked, gesturing at the portal.
Triya stared at the portal while the adults talked.
“Learn to close it, Triya. Fix the problem you made, Triya.” She grumbled, glaring at the hole from the other side.
“Destroy the hole.” Vishnu turned his attention away from the three gods. “You’re disrupting time.”
Triya huffed and tried touching the top of the portal. There was a ripping sound and the portal disappeared.
“This is the first time someone has entered my dimension by accident.” Yama said.
“…Sorry?” Triya offered.
“Vishnu, you intend to use her?” Brahma asked.
“The best possible future has already been lost.” Vishnu replied.
“And because of that, you carelessly meddle around?”
“Insight cannot be used on her.”
“I never took you for someone so fickle.”
“It’s interesting, is it not? The concept of a soul from another universe altogether. I certainly did not expect something like that to exist.”
“And you think that Kali wouldn’t either.”
The two of them glanced at Triya who was peering at the stacks of paperwork, despite Yama’s complaints.
“I see nothing but a child.”
“Triya has a lot of potential. She is unlimited by the constraints of magic. As long as something can be destroyed, even if it is the fabric of space, she can do it.”
“Oddly, you have a lot of trust in her.” Brahma observed.
“She questions everything about this world. The only thing that I have yet to try is to see if the Taraka’s abilities will work on her.”
“And if it does?”
“Then she will be another failure.” Vishnu replied easily.
“You know that I can hear the two of you, right?” Triya asked. “It’s seriously rude, by the way.”
The two primeval gods ignored her.
“Does Taksaka know that you’re here?” Agni asked abruptly.
“No? Why?” Triya blinked.
“Time flows slowly in my dimension. It should have already been a few months.” Yama said.
“Eh?” Triya said dumbly. Then, she panicked. “Oi! Vishnu! Stop complaining about that evil god of yours! I need to get home now now now! Mom’s gonna kill me!”
“You went missing for two months.” Ian said calmly.
“I’m sorry…” Triya said tearfully.
Kasak just watched, peering from behind the kitchen counter. “Why do you spend all your time with that guy?” He asked after Triya had been sufficiently scolded.
“Who? Vishnu? He’s okay, and he teaches me loads of stuff!” Triya said.
“You don’t play with me anymore.” Kasak scowled.
Triya blinked. “Learning magic is more fun! You should try it too!”
“I don’t wanna!” He shouted and ran off. Trisha looked at him go, confused.
“In a future where you didn’t exist, Kasak was very possessive of his mother.” Vishnu said.
“But I exist. And as his twin, I used to spend most of my time with him. So he wants me to pay more attention to him.” Triya concluded. Then, she groaned. “Ahh, this sucks!”
“Do you not have experience with children?”
“I was the youngest, okay?” Triya scowled.
“That’s not very surprising.” Vishnu said.
“What about you? I heard that you’re looking after a kid too? Ka- Kala something.”
“Kalavinka.” Vishnu corrected.
“Shouldn’t you be spending more time with her instead of me?”
“I could bring her over for a visit.” Vishnu mused.
“Oi, that’s not what I meant.”
“She’s still trying to develop to her third stage.” Vishnu continued.
“You’re actually a pretty doting parent, aren’t you?” Triya asked.
“I intended to bring her here twelve years later, but with you around, my visions are no longer accurate. Well, it might do her some good to meet you.”
“Sometimes you’re actually a nice guy.” Triya conceded.
“Well, I do hope that she won’t learn from your recklessness.” Vishnu added.
“I take back what I said.” Triya said immediately.
“Mom! Dad! Kasak! I’m going to Yama’s place for a while! So don’t worry if I disappear for a couple of years!” Triya announced.
“No way.” Tak said immediately.
For once, Kasak agreed with him.
“It’s just a while. Not even a day!” Triya pouted.
“The last time you spent an hour there, you were gone for two months here.” Ian said. Triya winced.
“I’ll try not to take over a year!”
“A month away is already bad enough!”
In the end, they managed to reach a compromise.
“Three hours, that’s the limit.” Ian finally said, and Triya was honestly surprised that she managed to get that much out of her mother.
“Why are you here again?” Yama asked, annoyed.
“To visit!” Triya said cheerily, peering at the paperwork. “If it’s just cancellation, why not use a computerised system?”
“And risk something going wrong?”
Triya winced. “Okay, point taken.”
She paused, watching the god work. “Do you need help?” She asked, feeling almost sorry for him given the entire towers of papers next to him.
That pity was gone when he gave her a pen and dumped a stack on top of her.
“All these are…”
“The paperwork for humans who’ve reached their set lifespan or died before their time.”
Triya fell silent, scanning through the words.
“Just sort them according to which ones you think should go to hell or paradise.”
“You’re leaving this up to a kid?” Triya asked, moving her pen.
Yama didn’t bother to reply her.
“Why are you really here?” Yama asked later, after the tower of paperwork had halved.
“I guess I just wanted a break. Vishnu keeps hinting to me that I’m messing up the future he’s planned, so I thought that the best way to not interfere with anything is to stay out of the way.”
“That guy… He’s a master of trial and error. After Ananta died, the best possible future ceased to exist, so he’s trying for the next best.”
“And I’m not included, apparently, except as a countermeasure for when Kali appears.”
Yama made a sound of agreement.
“Hey, how long has it been?” Triya asked, putting the pen down and stretching her sore muscles.
“Two hours since you’ve came.” Yama replied, not looking at her.
“Wow. Two hours of reading through people’s life stories and how they died. It really makes you value life more, huh?”
For some reason, that made Yama look at her oddly.
“What?” Triya asked defensively.
“Normally, it would make one think of life as trivial.”
“Well, there are a lot of deaths.” Triya conceded. “But learning how they died, and their last wishes… I think mortality is a wonderful thing. Life is short, and you never know what’ll happen, but there’s always something that will make it worth living, even until your death.”
“Gods don’t die.” Yama said.
“I think that you need to take a walk around sometime.” Triya told him frankly. “You look at all these, and you don’t see individual stories, you just see it as a job.”
“I’ve been doing this for millions of years.”
“That long? Yikes, no wonder you’re so grumpy. You need a break.”
Yama rolled his eyes and ignored her.
“I’m serious. If you keep that up, you’ll have no more appreciation for life.”
“Telling the God of Death to appreciate life is just idealistic.”
“The time here flows slower than in other realms, right? So just take a visit to some other realm to relax for a bit, then you can continue shutting yourself up like a hermit.”
Yama didn’t take her advice. Triya huffed and went back home once the time limit was up.
“Dad, what’s the sura realm like?” Triya asked sometime after her return, having missed Kalavinka’s short stay with Ian and Tak.
“…Annoying.” Tak replied.
The two of them were out in the flower fields, after Kasak had confided to her that he wanted to spend some time alone with Ian.
“Don’t you have any friends there?”
“Hm. There’s an annoying guy living in my nest.”
“…Nest? Dad, I wanna see!”
“But you’ll be there, right, dad? Dad’s the strongest after all.”
“…Fine. But don’t leave my side.”
“The air is poisonous and the gravity is too strong for you to handle.”
Triya’s smile faltered slightly, but Tak continued.
“There are a lot of suras who would want to attack and eat you.”
Triya’s smile faded.
“And sometimes the nastikas will fight and you might get caught up and die.”
“Dad! I get it already! I won’t go running off on my own! Can we go?” Triya asked, exasperated.
Tak gave her a small smile and held out a hand. Triya slipped her small clawed hand in his. Then, Tak took off his earrings.
Tak wasn’t kidding when he said that the sura realm was dangerous.
Triya stuck close to her father, whose presence alone seemed to deter anyone and everyone. Honestly, Triya was starting to think that her father was actually some sort of big-shot sura.
After a few minutes of walking around in the barren wasteland, Tak stopped. He bent down and picked up Triya.
“Uh, dad?” Triya asked, not that she was complaining about getting a free ride.
Then, Tak ran.
And wow, he was fast.
Triya peered over his shoulder and watched the scenery pass by in a blur.
“Here.” Tak said after a while, setting her down. Triya looked up at the tall black pillars. “Wow. This place is huge!” She said, grabbing her father’s hand tighter.
“Tak! I knew I felt you! Welcome… back…” Someone walked towards the entrance, their sentence trailing off.
“Dad? Who’s that?” Triya asked.
“D-Dad? What the-? You have a kid!” The redheaded woman said incredulously.
“Shut up Huia.” Tak said without much heat.
“Dad? Who’s that?” Triya repeated.
“That’s Vasuki.” Tak said shortly, gently tugging her further into his nest.
“…Okay.” Triya said, then waited expectantly.
For a moment, she felt confusion emitting from the dragon, then realization. “My best friend who’s hiding away from reality in here.” He continued.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Vasuki. I’m Triya Rajof.” Triya said politely.
Vasuki stared at her, then at Tak.
“You- Ahahaha!” She burst out laughing. “She looks nothing like you!”
“I’ve been told that I look more like my mom.” Triya said. “She’s really pretty.”
“Prettier than me?” Vasuki teased.
“Yes.” Tak replied for her.
“Pfft. What happened to ‘I’ll never have children’, huh?”
Triya turned to her father with wide eyes.
“I changed my mind.” Tak said, putting a hand on her head. Triya beamed.
“But dad, you need to be nicer to Kasak.” Triya scolded.
“Kasak?” Vasuki parroted.
“My twin brother! He’s really really cute!” Triya spread out her arms wide.
“Is she really your child?” Vasuki asked.
“Yes. If I’m not dad’s child, I wouldn’t have these.” Triya said, poking the horns on her head.
“I thought the Vritra were supposed to have numbed emotions. Looks like it doesn’t affect halfs, huh?” Vasuki said, poking at Triya’s horns.
“It does. Kasak doesn’t feel as much as I do. Vishnu said that I’m an abnormality.” Triya explained without giving away much of what Vishnu actually said.
“Vishnu? Tak, am I the last to know about your lover and your kids?”
“You didn’t bother coming out of hiding.” Tak said flatly.
“Ahh, enough of that. You have the same invisible fire as your father, right?”
“…Invisible fire? Dad, I can breathe invisible fire?” Triya asked with sparkling eyes.
“…” Tak touched her forehead.
“Vishnu dropped me on the head.” Triya reminded him. “Dad! Dad! I wanna learn!”
“You already know.” Tak repeated not for the first time.
“I forgot how!” Triya pouted.
“Instead of you, it’s your daughter that’s suffering from mental damage.” Vasuki laughed, and dodged the punch that Tak tried to give her.
“Fine then. If you’re so smart, then why don’t you reteach me how.” Triya huffed.
“Eh?” Vasuki pointed at herself.
“But I’m not a dragon, you know.” She said humorously.
“Then what are you?”
“I’m a snake.”
“…Isn’t a snake just a dragon without legs?” Triya asked blankly.
Vasuki glanced quickly at Tak, who apparently didn’t care about what insults his daughter had to say about him.
“Alright then. You hold your breath until you feel your throat burn, then you cough it out-!” Vasuki said, then ducked, avoiding another punch.
“Don’t give her useless advice!” Tak snapped.
“Dad, you’re not actually helping much either.” Triya said.
“…” Tak didn’t have a reply to that.
“Invisible fire is fire. I’m a dragon so of course I can breathe fire. But how does it work? Is it channelled magic, or a transcendental skill that I’m borrowing or something in my biology?”
“It’s a transcendental.”
“…I can use transcendentals?” Triya asked, amazed.
“Ripping a portal to another realm is considered a transcendental skill.”
“But that’s just a subset of the abilities I inherited from you.” Triya frowned.
“You use magic in an odd way.” Tak said.
“…Thank you? So it’s the same feeling I get when destroying stuff?” Triya asked. Without waiting for a reply, she turned to face the outside of the nest, gathered her magic, and breathed.
“It didn’t work.” Triya sighed, then geared herself up for another shot.
“Wait.” Tak said.
Triya turned to her father.
Then, there was a soft, distant crashing sound.
“It’s invisible, you know?” Vasuki added cheerfully.
Triya blinked, then smiled. “Awesome! That’s the first time I got something right on my first try!”
“…” Tak hesitated, as if uncertain if he should say something. Then, “It could be better.”
“Duh, of course it could be better. I had no idea what I was doing.” Triya said flippantly.
She fired out another shot.
This time, the time taken before the crash resounded was shorter.
Triya beamed up at her father who indulgently patted her head.
Vasuki watched from a distance away, feeling like her world had just turned upside down.
“I heard that Gandharva’s daughter was kidnapped by the gods.” Vasuki said abruptly.
“Eh?” Triya stared at the nastika, confused.
“…You think that they would do the same to my family.” Tak said.
“Ehh?” Triya turned to her father.
“Well, most of them don’t think that you’d care, but…” Vasuki grimaced.
“But I’m technically Yama’s assistant. If anyone tries to kidnap me, if dad doesn’t fight them first, Brahma probably will.” Triya said.
“…Huh? Yama? Brahma? How’d you get to know them?”
“It’s Vishnu’s fault. I had an idea and he egged me on.” Triya complained. “Hey dad, do you have friends who have kids?”
“Hm? No.” Tak grunted.
“…Shess—” Vasuki started.
“No.” Tak interrupted her.
“…Tak, you’re way too protective.” Vasuki muttered. “Your daughter’s never going to grow up at this rate. She’ll become an antisocial hermit like you.”
Tak glared at her.
“I wanna meet kids my age! I missed Sha- um, um, her visit!” Triya hurriedly corrected herself. “I wanna spend time with people who aren’t ancient!”
“And mom and Kasak don’t count!” Triya added.
“…Riagara?” Tak turned to Vasuki.
“She went back to the Ananta clan.” Vasuki shrugged.
“Urp… I guess I won’t ever know what normal children are like…” Triya sighed.
“You’re special enough.” Tak said.
“Dad, you suck at compliments.” Triya said flatly.
“Ahh, whatever. Dad, can we go see other places? I wanna see what the territory of the other clans are like!”
“Okay.” Tak agreed immediately.
“Tak, you’re way too soft when it comes to your daughter.” Vasuki said.
“Why? If it’s inconvenient, we don’t have to go.” Triya replied, honestly confused.
“…Never mind. I’ll just stay here and laugh at the fallout. Have fun!” Vasuki waved at them.
“Dad, you should bring your best friend home to see mom sometime. I’m sure that they’d get along well.” Triya advised once they had returned to Willarv. Tak put on his earrings, not bothering to respond.
“Daddd!” Triya whined.
“I’ll consider it.” Tak said, even though Triya knew that he was just humouring her.
She huffed and followed her father back home.
“Hey,” Triya started, catching the attention of the two gods. She was in Yama’s realm helping out with the paperwork once again.
“Hm?” Yama asked.
“If, you could go back in time- No wait, what am I saying? Never mind.” Triya shook her head.
“Just say it.” Brahma said.
“…I read a lot of stories in my old world. And…” Triya trailed off. “If you could go back in time but it would take the life of the person closest to you, would you do it?”
“…I don’t think I have someone that I’m particularly close to.” Yama said. Brahma nodded.
“In the first place, time travel would only distort the universe more.”
“No, not that kind of time travel. I mean, sending the consciousness back into the past kind of time travel.”
“Even that in itself would create a paradox.” Brahma said.
“Even if… it’s an alternate dimension?”
Brahma stopped, putting down the paperwork.
“For every possible path there is, the action that goes untaken doesn’t make the path wither away. It splits the path, and…”
“That’s enough.” Brahma interrupted.
“What you thought of, Vishnu did as well. In the last universe, he constantly manipulated time until he lost his form.”
Triya’s eyes widened. Brahma had never spoken of what happened in the previous universe.
“…There’s a story in my old world that I never quite managed to forget. Going back to the past, stuck in a time loop for thousands, millions of times, repeating the same day over and over again just to get to a perfect ending.” Triya decided to return to her original point.
“And? What happened in the end?” Yama asked.
“It didn’t work, so he gave up. But, he decided that if he couldn’t save his best friend, then he would be the one to die instead.”
“So when his best friend came back with the memories of the future… All that current him knew was that he had made the choice to die for her. But then, she said…” Triya paused, swallowing. “When you decide to sacrifice yourself, it’s not like the decision you make is only difficult for you. It’ll make other people sad as well. And she said that she didn’t want that. She wanted a future where the both of them can spend their life together, where the both of them can live.”
“They both gave up.” Brahma concluded.
“In the first place… That sort of deal is something the Fae would give you.” Triya smiled sardonically. “The both of them chose not to travel to the past anymore, and the world continued on as it was, not realizing that there were two people missing from the stream of time.”
Yama stilled. “When one of them travelled to the past, the other would die. But when the other was the one travelling to the past, it’s the first person that would die. That in itself is a paradox, so in order to prevent that, the only way to resolve that is to—"
“Have the both of them die.” Brahma said grimly.
“That’s the sort of story that you would remember even after death?”
“Hahaha, I never said it was a happy one. The actual book was written much better than my half-assed story.” Triya laughed. “If you want a better story, there are loads of other books that I do remember. Those were usually comics though, so I don’t know how a written story could—”
“Hoti brahma.” Brahma said suddenly.
“That was your goal, wasn’t it? Hoti brahma. I’ll give you my permission to use it, but you’d better give me at least one story that will entertain me.”
“…Thanks!” Triya beamed.
“You realize that it would have wasted less time if you had just asked her for the spell?” Yama asked.
“But it wouldn’t be a guarantee. And besides, where would be the fun in that?”
“Mom! Dad! I’m back!” Triya called out.
Kasak stood in the doorway, already towering over her.
“They’re not here.” He said.
“Why are you taller than me? It’s just been half a day.” Triya pouted.
“…It’s been four years.” Kasak said flatly.
“No wonder you look a year older- No wait! I’m supposed to grow taller first!” Triya stomped her foot.
Kasak rolled his eyes. “If you’re not coming in, I’m closing the door.” He threatened.
Triya huffed and stormed in.
“Where’s mom and dad?” Triya asked.
“They left you here alone?” Triya turned to her brother.
“…Father called for a babysitter.” Kasak said.
“A babysitter?” Triya asked dubiously. Then, she opened the kitchen door.
She closed it immediately. “Who’s that?”
Kasak shrugged, not bothering to answer her.
The door opened. ‘I’m Shess. I’m a friend of your father’s.’ The man said.
“…I think I’ve heard of you somewhere.” Triya said.
‘Is that so? You are Triya, yes?’
“Yeah.” Triya replied shortly.
‘Your brother and I were just sparring. Would you like to join us?’
“Thanks, but no thanks! I’d rather watch. I’m a lover, not a fighter.”
That earned her odd looks from the other two.
“You’ve never been a lover.” Kasak said flatly.
Triya blinked at him, confused. Then, “That’s not what I meant, you jerk!” Triya snapped.
Triya had never been one for fighting. She preferred experimenting with magic and transcendentals and discovering the limits of what she could do, to making herself stronger.
But watching her twin brother essentially get owned, that was kind of a jarring message.
Triya pondered her own weakness, then frowned at the product of hoti brahma.
The images weren’t clear at all, looking more like a blurry scan of pictures.
“Imagination and intent. I need to clearly produce an image, so in order to do that, I have to visualise the image in my mind clearly.” Triya muttered, then tried again.
This time, the image was clearer, although the faces of the characters were blurred. Triya stared, then shrugged. It wasn’t like she had expected to completely remember everything after a few decades.
She used hoti brahma to create a pencil and started filling in the images.
‘What are you doing?’ Shess asked.
“Making something for Brahma in exchange for getting to use hoti brahma.” Triya replied.
‘Isn’t hoti brahma only temporary?’ Shess asked.
“…” Triya stopped. “That-! Argh!” Triya shouted. She glared down at all the work she had done. “How long does it usually last?”
‘It varies, but around a few hours, I think.’
Triya groaned, then got up. “’scuse me, I’m gonna go copy this on real paper.”
“Are you aware that creation and destruction are contradictory attributes to have?” Vishnu asked.
“I only have destruction attributes. It’s just that I can destroy a relatively empty space. But because nothing can exist in nothing, the space will have to be filled up. So that’s where the creation part of hoti brahma comes in. Because nothing cannot exist in a single space, something has to exist, so that something might as well be the object that I wanted to create into existence.”
“That was an entirely long-winded and unnecessary explanation.”
“Yeah yeah. Hey Vishnu… What exactly does Chaos magic constitute?”
“The most notable, is a resistance to transcendentals.”
“Do black holes fall under chaos, destruction or darkness?”
“…Why exactly are you asking?” Vishnu asked.
“It’s chaos, right?” Triya avoided the question.
“Triya.” Vishnu said.
“…It’s just in case. Black holes are dense enough and just, empty enough that even light can’t escape.”
“If you create a black hole while you’re on a planet, it’s very likely that the planet itself will collapse.” Vishnu told her.
“I know.” Triya said quietly. “As I said, it’s just in case.”
“Don’t ever create a black hole on this planet.” Vishnu said. “If it comes to that, I will get rid of you myself.”
“…I know.” Triya said, clenching her fists to keep them from trembling. “That you are someone who would do anything to prolong the universe, I know that all too well.”
Her father was in denial while her mother had no clue, but Triya knew who exactly it was that had orchestrated the destruction of Ian’s village.
Kasak was approaching sixty, so Ian had decided to take both her children to Mistyshore to get their half identification.
Triya glared at her own image in the reflection.
“You really should stop spending time in other realms.” Ian sighed.
“But I like doing paperwork.” She groused, poking the baby fat on her cheeks.
Then, their turn for identification came up.
“Ian Rajof, and… Shess.”
Triya turned away to hide her stifled laughter, something that Kasak had no problem with, given his natural poker face.
“These are…” The man trailed off, glancing at Kasak, then at Triya.
“Our children. Kasak Rajof, and Triya Rajof.”
“Date of birth?”
“The seventh month of D884, 3 am and 3.21am respectively on the 11th.” Ian said.
The guard paused, running through the numbers, then he stared at Triya. “I look younger than I actually am.” Triya said flatly.
“Hm. Alright then. Here are your IDs.” The man passed the two of them their cards and let them into the city.
“This is really nostalgic. Maybe I should see how they’re doing…” Ian mused.
“Who?” Triya asked her mother.
“The restaurant that I used to work at.” Ian said, and started walking in a direction.
For a moment, it looked as though Tak was going to follow her, but then Ian stopped him with a single sentence. “You destroyed it last time, so I think it’s better if you didn’t go.”
Triya patted her father’s arm consolingly. “I’ll go explore.” She said and wandered off, leaving Kasak alone with Tak.
Somehow, Triya found herself inside a building, listening to a group of people discussing magic theory.
“…that’s why calculation is important.” The boy summarized.
“Calculation?” Triya interjected and shrunk back when three pairs of eyes turned to her.
“Sorry, I wandered in by mistake and overheard you guys.” She apologized.
“No, it’s fine. Are you interested in magic?” One of the girls asked.
“Yep!” Triya said, popping the ‘p’.
“But halves can’t use divine magic.” The other boy in the group said.
“Eh? Really?” Triya asked. “Hoti brahma.” She said, and a sheet of paper appeared.
“…Not bad for someone who isn’t supposed to be able to use divine magic.” The first girl said, “but if you wanted something more… consistent, you need to calculate the dimensions.” She picked up the piece of paper which was admittedly coarse for paper.
“How does calculation fit in as opposed to visual processing?” Triya asked, and that got the five of them into a debate about casting magic with and without calculation.
“If you really want to prove your theory, shouldn’t you try practical application?” The last girl asked.
“Fine then! We’re going to the water channel!”
“The… water channel?” Triya asked, confused.
“Are you new to Mistyshore?” The girl asked. “The water channel is something created by Brahma and it acts as a shortcut to other towns, if you don’t get lost first.”
“Brahma…” Triya repeated.
“Hehe, is that surprising?”
“Kind of. How’d you guys convince her to make it?”
“Who knows? But it’s a great place to practice magic. You should go there for a look when you have the time.”
Triya found herself standing by the entrance of the waterway.
“Swimming… Might be possible?” She mused to herself.
She prodded at the water with a foot. It was cold.
For a moment, she considered opening a portal to the inside of the water channel, but decided against it, given her lack of control.
“Hoti brahma.” She created a small raft that landed in the water with a small splash.
“Time to explore!” Triya cheered and hopped on the raft.
She gathered her breath and blew out a stream of fire that propelled the small raft backwards.
“Woo hoo!” She cheered, her makeshift boat flying into the waterway.
Halfway through, she found a problem: the waterway was like a labyrinth.
Several hundred twists and turns later, Triya finally got out of the water channel.
“…I think I travelled way too far.” Triya muttered. Stretching out in front of her was an endless ocean.
Triya hesitated. One on hand, there was the damn labyrinth. On the other hand, uncharted territory.
Triya stood up, and the raft rocked unsteadily. She jumped and took sura form.
Water, water, more water.
Triya grumbled to herself while flying in acrobatics.
An inside loop, barrel roll, bell tailslide…
‘Oh crap.’ Triya said just before she crashed into the water.
‘Are you alright?’ Someone asked.
Triya groaned. ‘My head hurts.’
‘I’m sorry. I tried my best to heal you, but…’
Triya opened her eyes blearily to look at the speaker.
‘P-Pretty.’ Triya blurted out.
The other girl blinked at her, at a loss.
Triya tried to get up but realized that she was in a cavern way too small to manoeuvre in sura form.
She turned back into a human.
“Sorry about that. Did you save me? Thanks!”
‘Ah, um. It’s fine. I’m glad that you’re alright.’ The girl smiled.
“Where is this place?” Triya asked.
‘We’re near the beaches of Nord.’
“…Nord?” Triya parroted, slowly getting up.
She walked out of the cavern and stopped.
‘Yes? Is something the matter?’ The girl asked.
“There are three moons.” Triya said dumbly.
‘That’s normal in Carte.’ The girl said, confused.
“Carte? Wait, as in the planet Carte?” Triya asked.
“Fu-Fudge it.” Triya cursed.
‘Are you alright?’
“Yeah, I’m- I’m fine. I just travelled into another planet. Just peachy.” Triya shook her head slowly.
‘Um, I realize that this may come a little too late, but what’s your name?’
“Eh? Ah, I’m Triya! What ‘bout you?”
“Nice ta meetcha Shakun!” Triya beamed at the girl. “I’m gonna try something, so stand back, kay?”
Triya reached out with a clawed hand and ripped through space, creating a portal.
The place on the other side was filled with flames.
Silently, Triya closed it.
‘Was that… hell?’ Shakun asked.
“I have no idea.” Triya laughed, and opened another portal, focusing on the thought of her father.
The portal showed an image of dark red skies and towering black pillars.
Triya closed it.
‘What was that place?’
“The sura realm, I think.” Triya replied.
She created another portal, this time, with the focus on ‘home’.
A quaint house was shown.
“Alright!” Triya punched the air. Then, she paused, turning to Shakun, “wanna come?”
‘No, I’m fine. It was nice to meet you, Triya. Stay safe.’ Shakun smiled at her.
“You too! I’ll try and visit sometime!”
Triya got scolded, as was usual.
“Idiot.” Kasak muttered.
“You have no sense of adventure!” Triya scoffed.
“…” Kasak didn’t reply, looking sour.
“Kasak, are you alright?” Triya asked.
Kasak shook her off, walking to their shared room.
Triya stared after him. Then, “Dad! What did you do!?” Triya shouted.
“Alas, poor Kasak.” Triya sighed, scanning through the papers.
“What is it now?” Yama asked, exasperated.
“Dad told Kasak that he didn’t hate him, but he didn’t love him either.”
“And? Why are you surprised?”
“…Poor, poor Kasak.” Triya sighed again, setting aside the stack of finished paperwork.
“It’s normal for Vritra clan suras to kill their offspring, especially if they’re sons.”
“Their spouses usually lose eighty years of their lifespan when bearing children.”
“…Eighty…?” Triya whispered.
“…Don’t ask for me to extend your mother’s lifespan.” Yama said.
“Then tell me. When will my mom die?”
“I have no way of knowing until I see her.”
Triya looked at the rest of the paperwork, feeling conflicted.
She wasn’t in the mood to do the paperwork, and she didn’t feel like returning home. Silently, she opened a portal to purple skies and an endless ocean.
“I’ll be going now.” She said, turning into a dragon.
The portal closed.
‘Yo.’ Triya greeted Shakun, landing in the hidden cavern near Nord.
‘Oh! Triya! It’s been a while!’
‘…Sorry, can I stay here for a while?’
‘Of course!’ Shakun said, then paused, examining her. ‘Are you alright, Triya?’
‘…No. I need time to think.’
‘This is my secret hideout, so no one knows about it. You can stay here for as long as you like.’ Shakun proclaimed.
Triya’s efforts in brooding were thrown out the window when her stomach grumbled.
‘Sorry.’ Triya said.
‘Oh no, it’s fine. We can go to the city, if it’s alright with you? I’ve never gone by myself though…’
‘Sure! Wanna hitch a ride? No guarantees that I won’t crash.’
Carefully, Shakun climbed onto Triya’s back.
‘Hold tight!’ Triya said and took to the skies.
Shakun requested to get off after the third vertical loop. She looked dizzy.
“Sorry.” Triya said, gently patting her back.
“Two meat skewers? That’ll be twenty copper coins.”
“…” ‘…’ Triya and Shakun stared at each other.
“I left my money at home.” Shakun nodded glumly along.
“Sorry for troubling you.” Triya bowed to the shopkeeper and left.
‘I’ve never had a need for money before.’ Shakun lamented.
Triya’s stomach grumbled again, and this time, Shakun’s joined hers.
The two girls laughed.
“Looks like we’re going have to forage in the forest.” Triya said, pointing at the expanse of trees. Tactfully, she avoided any mention of seafood after having a very clear view of Shakun’s gills.
‘I’ve never tried fruits before.’ Shakun mused.
“Eh? No way! Fruits are nice! Especially the really sweet and juicy ones! Come on! You have to try ‘em!” Triya took Shakun’s hand and ran towards the forest.
‘Some of these look poisonous.’ Shakun observed.
‘Brightly coloured fish have toxins in them.’
“…I’m pretty sure that these are raspberries. Like, twenty percent sure.”
‘…I’m not hungry anymore.’ Shakun said, just as her stomach rumbled.
“…We can hunt for meat?” Triya suggested, looking at the berries in her hands.
‘If they’re not poisonous.’
“Animals have poison?” Triya asked, bewildered.
‘…Triya…’ Shakun looked like she wanted to both laugh and cry.
Triya caught a wild boar and slit its throat. Shakun looked unsettled by the blood.
“Thank you. I hope that you’ll have a better afterlife.” Triya clasped her hands together in a prayer and murmured.
A moment later, Shakun joined her.
‘I… hate seeing blood.’ Shakun said quietly, watching the boar meat cook over the fire.
“For animals, living and dying is a way of life. They prey on others and others will prey on them. I hate pointless death… but killing to satisfy hunger isn’t a bad thing.” Triya said, digging her bloodied claws into the ground. She recalled a certain scene from a book she had read in her last life. “All living things will go back to heaven one day. I’m sure that this boar will hear our prayers and forgive us too.”
Shakun blinked, then started to laugh. ‘Triya… Thank you.’ She smiled.
The boar meat was way too raw, but Triya scarfed it down anyway.
She debated the intricacies of half biology, and how she could derive satisfaction from partially uncooked meat.
‘Triya?’ Shakun asked tentatively, snapping Triya out from her pondering.
‘Are we going to try fruits?’ The green-haired girl asked.
“Do you dare to eat the fruits that I pick?” Triya asked in return. Shakun made a face.
‘Um… Well… I trust you, Triya.’ Shakun proclaimed.
Triya blinked, her jaw dropping open. “Wha-? That’s- That’s not fair! You can’t just say something like that!” She sniffled.
“Shakun, you- you’re way too trusting! I love you!” Triya cried, hugging the other girl.
Tentatively, Shakun hugged her back.
Triya walked around the forest, Shakun following behind her.
“Ugh, I don’t recognise any of these!” Triya huffed. Then, her eyes fell on a tree with large, spiky fruits.
“That one!” Triya pointed.
‘Eh? It looks… hard.’
“No, no! You have to crack it open! Gimme a sec!” Triya jumped and cut the stem of a large fruit.
It fell heavily onto the ground.
Gingerly, Shakun picked it up.
‘It smells.’ She said, wrinkling her nose.
“It’s supposed to be like that.” Triya assured her and cut the shell open with her trusty claws, revealing two yellow blobs.
Triya picked one up and bit into the flesh.
She moaned at the sweet taste.
Watching her friend’s reaction, Shakun took the other yellow blob and bit in.
The sticky flesh melted in her mouth.
‘This is really good!’ Shakun dug in.
“The seeds aren’t edible, so don’t eat them.” Triya said, holding a large brown seed in her hand.
In moments, she finished her portion too.
‘Is that all?’ Shakun asked, slightly disappointed.
“Nope!” Triya grinned and tore the green husk apart, revealing even more yellow blobs.
Shakun clapped in delight.
‘I never thought that something that smelled so bad would taste so good.’ Shakun admitted.
“Yup! That’s called a durian. They’re kind of delicacies.” Triya said. “They’re my favourite fruit!”
‘Is it possible for me to bring some home for my father?’ Shakun asked tentatively.
“Sure! But first, I’ll tell you how to cut it open…”
Triya stared at the six fruits lying innocuously on the ground.
‘We could make a bag?’ Shakun suggested.
“You know how to make bags from leaves?” Triya asked.
‘Well, no. But I can try!’ Shakun said.
“…” ‘…’ The two of them stared silently at each other.
“This sucks.” Triya said. Shakun nodded glumly.
Then, an idea occurred to her. “Wait. I’m an idiot.” Triya said abruptly. At Shakun’s questioning look, Triya cast hoti brahma.
A large bag appeared.
‘…You can use divine magic?’ Shakun asked.
“Yeah, I had to come up with this elaborate story to get Brahma to give me permission to use it. I still owe her a book.” Triya said, packing three of the fruits into the bag, then conjured up another bag for Shakun’s share.
‘Thank you!’ Shakun said.
“You’re welcome. But our fruit buffet isn’t over yet! We still have loads of tropical fruits to try!”
‘I don’t think I can eat anymore…’ Shakun said, the bag filled to the brim with other fruits like watermelon, bananas, logan and papaya.
“I’m way too full…” Triya groaned, hugging her tummy. “But… We still… haven’t tried… the coconuts.” Triya said, pointing at the beach filled with palm trees.
Shakun made a half-sobbing sound.
Triya lay down on the ground.
After a brief moment, Shakun joined her.
“You know…” Triya started, staring at the night sky, “I don’t see any stars.”
‘The three moons are too bright.’ Shakun agreed. ‘I want to see a star that’s not the sun.’
“Stars are amazing. Especially when you see galaxies of ‘em.” Triya said. “Kasak and I like to laze around on the field behind our house sometimes. We get a real good view of the night sky there.”
‘What’s it like? And who’s Kasak?’
“Kasak’s my twin brother. And… it’s like seeing so many lights in the sky and feeling so small in comparison to the entire universe. It’s really… really… pretty…” Triya trailed off, feeling her eyelids start to close.
‘Shakun’s my nickname. My full name is…’ Shakun paused, yawning, ‘Shakuntala.’
The two girls soon fell asleep, under the cover of the trees.
‘Tri! Wake up!’
Triya grumbled and turned her head away.
‘Tri!’ Someone shook her.
“What?” Triya snapped, rubbing her bleary eyes. “Eh? Shakun?”
‘It’s morning now. We ended up falling asleep yesterday.’ Shakun said.
“Oh yeah… Wait, Tri?”
Shakun looked embarrassed. ‘Um, you’ve been calling me by my nickname, so I thought that… I’m sorry…’
“Eh? No! I mean, you can call me Tri! It’s a nickname, right?” At Shakun’s nod, Triya continued, “Then it means that we’re best friends!”
Shakun blinked, then beamed.
Triya’s attention turned to all the scattered fruits.
“Goddamnit.” She cursed. “Some of these might be rotten now.”
She cast hoti brahma to recreate the two bags from yesterday and carefully placed the fruits in, searching for signs of decay.
‘Eh? That fast?’
“It’s really humid here. Most of these look fine since they were just picked yesterday, but you can’t be too careful.”
“Cheer up! We didn’t get to the coconuts yesterday, right?”
Shakun shook her head.
“You have to try them! The liquid inside them tastes really nice!”
That said, Triya took a bag and headed for the beach.
‘Can you jump that high?’ Shakun asked dubiously, sitting by the side as Triya failed to reach the coconuts on top of the tree.
“I can do this!” Triya declared and started to climb. She slid down the trunk.
Shakun covered her mouth as she giggled.
“Why don’t you do it then?” Triya huffed.
‘I don’t know how to climb trees.’ Shakun said.
The two of them glanced at each other. Then, they looked around.
‘I don’t see anyone.’ Shakun said.
Triya turned into a dragon, and gently clawed at the tree. The coconuts dropped. Triya hesitated, then walked to another tree, dislodging the coconuts there too. Then, she took human form again.
“Time to drink!” Triya cheered, clawing away the hairy husk, leaving a light brown shell.
She stuck a claw into the seed and cut a circle before prying it open.
Inside was a clear liquid.
“The white flesh can be eaten too.” Triya said. She took a sip of the coconut milk to make sure that it wasn’t spoiled, then handed it to Shakun.
‘It’s really refreshing.’ Shakun said.
“Would be nice if we had a straw and spoon.” Triya mused.
Shakun gave her a pointed look.
“…Oh. Right. Hoti brahma!”
“If you’re ever tired of living with your family, we can run away together and set up a tropical fruit store.”
Shakun laughed. ‘That would be nice.’
“Wanna play a game? We take turns telling each other about ourselves, and we can stop when either one of us runs out of things to say.”
‘…Okay! I’m Shakuntala from the Gandharva clan, and I’m a third stage rakshasa!’
“I’m Triya Rajof, a Vritra half.”
‘Um, I like flowers, and my favourite food are fruits!’
“Haha! You can’t give somethings as general as that, you haven’t tried all the fruits yet! I like stargazing, and my favourite fruits are durians.”
‘Hmph! Fine then, my favourite fruit is durian too! I like the colour blue, and um… My best friends are Triya and Maruna.’
“Shakuntala’s my best friend too!” Triya said, ignoring the unfamiliar name for now. “My favourite colour is orange, and I love my brother Kasak!”
‘I don’t have any siblings, but I have a father. He loves me a lot. But…’
“He dotes on you too much?” Triya asked empathetically. Shakun nodded.
“Mine too. He’s way too overprotective, and he told my brother that he doesn’t love him.”
“I mean, I know that sura from the Vritra clan are kinda emotionless, but that’s no reason to treat his own son like that!”
‘I’m an only child, so… But my dad can be pretty harsh on Maruna when they’re training. I usually have to heal him afterwards.’
“Who’s Maruna? I know you said that he’s your other best friend, but what is he like?”
‘He’s from the Garuda clan, and he’s like… Um… A chicken!’
Triya burst out laughing.
Shakun joined in soon after.
“That was fast.” Yama said, not looking up.
“I made a friend!” Triya said happily as she took out a durian and placed it next to the god.
“…What is this?”
“Why is this here?”
“Shakun and I had a fruit buffet and we ate these! Have you tried these before?”
“Yes, but…” Yama glared at the fruit.
“Fine, if you don’t want it, I’ll take it back!” Triya huffed.
“I want it.” Brahma spoke up abruptly. The durian vanished and appeared next to her.
“Enjoy, then. I’m going home now, bye!”
“…” Ian stared at the bag of fruits in confusion.
“I made a friend.” Triya said.
“That’s… great?” Ian said.
“We ate fruits, and I brought some home!”
“Triya, I have no idea what half of these are.” Ian said.
“That’s okay! I know how to open them!” Triya assured her.
To that commenter: Thanks for the feedback! I spent a while mulling over how to change the story to fit with what you told me, but I eventually decided that it would take up too much of my time and effort for something written as a casual story.
So, creative licencing. I'm just gonna make this somewhat AU. (Until I find the time and motivation to make it more canon)