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the wise build bridges

Chapter Text

- Tell me a story.

- Which one, apple-of-my-eye? 

- The one of our nation.


 “Millions of years ago, a meteorite made of gauriparvat – the strongest substance in the universe – struck the Indian subcontinent, reshaping and changing the environment around it. And when humanity came into existence, five tribes settled on it…

And called their home Magizhmathi.

The five tribes lived in constant war with each other, until the Goddess Gauri visited the dreams of one warrior and revealed to her the location of the heart-shaped hibiscus. Guided by Gauridevi’s vahana, the Lion, the warrior found the flower and consumed it. It granted her superhuman speed, strength, and instincts.

She became Queen, and with Vishnu’s blessing, took upon the mantle of Narasimhi: guardian of the kingdom of Magizhmathi, and Destroyer of Evil.

All tribes - except one - agreed to join forces under the Queen’s rule.

The people of Magizhmathi used gauriparvat to develop technology more advanced than any other nation. But as Magizhmathi flourished, the world descended into chaos.

To keep the secret of gauriparvat safe, the citizens of Magizhmathi decided to hide in plain sight, taking the secret of their power with them.”


- And we’re still hiding?

- Yes.

- Why?

Chapter Text

NEW JERSEY, 1998.

Old floorboards creak under pristine red boots. Three figures, clad in red, make their way to the apartment. The person in the middle wears a fearsome mask, their hair tucked under its cap. They’re flanked on either side by two sword-wielding warriors. The warriors' saris are tied between their legs to allow for a full range of movement. The shimmering pleats give the illusion of flames consuming their path.

They stop in front of the door.

None of them knock.

They don’t need to knock.

The door opens of its own accord.

“My Queen!”

The man falls to his knees, unruly hair falling in his eyes.

Behind him, a bald man stands, mouth agape at the three women standing menacingly in the doorway.  The kneeling man shoots a glare over his shoulder.

“Kneel, you fool,” he spits out of the corner of her mouth.

The other man drops to his knees. The two maskless women turn to their mistress – the Queen – expectantly. She takes a moment to steady her emotions, waits for the expression in her eyes to play out, then removes her mask.

“You may rise,” Sivagami Devi says, wearing a new mask of indifference.

“My Queen,” Bijaladeva repeats solemnly. “What brings you here?”

Sivagami can hear the rest of his unspoken thoughts in her ears. A sneer, something she had gotten used to since –

“We are free to speak around him,” Bijala adds, nodding towards the other man. “Despite his… lack of…. pure blood, he is as loyal as a dog and has the cunning of one too.”

Sivagami holds back a sigh and the need to pinch the bridge of her nose. “The gauriparvat. Where is it?”

As expected, Bijala whimpers and dons a shocked expression while the man behind him narrows his eyes.

“What do you speak of, your Highness?”

“Some years ago,” Sivagami begins, and one of her guards steps forward, sword pointed in Bijala’s direction, “Mahishmathi’s protective barrier was breached. A man, a white man from this country, broke in and stole our gauriparvat. He left great destruction in his wake-”

She swallows, hard, remembering flecks of blood on her sister in law’s hand as she gripped it tightly, praying for the two lives to be saved.

“You must remember this, dear Bijala, he took the lives of your brother and his wife – and now you work with him?”

“Preposterous!” Bijala exclaims, just as the man behind him makes a choking noise.  “Will you be quiet, you dog?

Sivagami raises a hand.

“You- come forward.”

“Me, you-your Highness?” The man steps forward, under the solitary light of the small apartment, which casts long shadows across his face.

“Do you know what weapons we speak of? Are they here?”

The man glances towards Bijala, who seethes with barely restrained anger.

“I do. They’re over there.” He points to a curtain. Sivagami nods, and the other guard strides over, flicking the curtain open with her sword, revealing containers and contains of gauridhooli - powdered gauriparvat used as an alloy to strengthen metals.

“TRAITOR!” Bijala screams, and lunges at the other man. Sivagami, already tired of his behaviour, steps forward and grasps him by the collar.

The other man looks unperturbed – smiles, even.

“I am no traitor,” he says, puling his lower lip down. The veins of his inner lip flicker red and yellow, resembling flames. Bijala’s eyes widen.

“You have served your homeland well, Kattappa,” Sivagami says softly, “it is time you come home.”

Kattappa nods. “And your hu-Bijala?”

Bijaladeva chooses that moment to wrestle himself free of Sivagami’s grip. A gun sits on the dinner table, and he frantically reaches for it –

His body hits the ground, arm still outstretched.

Kattappa’s frowns. Sivagami leans over her dying husband’s body.

“You made all the wrong choices,” she whispers. “I hoped it wouldn’t end like this.”

Bijala coughs, gurgles a response with a mouthful of blood:

“You – you knew wh-,” he starts. A final, hacking, cough cuts him off. Blood trickles from the corner of his mouth.

She straightens, puts her mask back on, and beckons for her guards and Kattappa to follow her out.

The remained of Bijala’s words haunt her down the stairwell, all the way home:

You knew when you chose the throne over your family.