Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Prologue: A Call of the Forest

The Shaman was reciting a hymn — a hymn that no one had ever heard before. The whole tribe stood around him. Outside, it was raining. Tap-Tap-Tap. The room was leaking again.

Everybody was wet and cold — very cold which was strange in this temperate land. But the rain was relentless and it had been falling for weeks. So far it showed no signs of ceasing. Every hut in the village had become a stream now. Only the Chief's Hut had remained. The hut was built on an ancient tree. Its trunk was so big that it could be seen from miles away even in such a thick jungle. It was here that the whole tribe was living now — perhaps the last days of their lives.

And that is why the Shaman was reciting the strange hymn. The hymen was old — Older than the very earth on which they were standing. Older than the vast jungles around them. The Jungles of Zarfshan.

There was a time when the earth was not what it was now. It was younger. Brighter. Greener and more peaceful than the Ten Kingdoms could ever dream to be. The days of Majri. The days of The Great and everlasting King.

There was a time when the Tree Gods walked on Earth. They build the First City. Dug its canals and built the Great Walls. And then they built The Palace. The Great Palace of Majri whose remains could still be seen in the Great ancient city, or so the elders said.

The elders also said that Majri had awoken the Tree Gods by reciting a hymn. Darmanda, it was called. No one knew the words of The Darmanda — not even Majri's beautiful heavenly Queen. He never told anyone

Then how was the Shaman able to recite The Darmanda?

He said he had a dream, "Majri was reciting something to a vast jungle. Then the trees awoke!"

When the Shaman narrated his dream to the tribe council, most elders were skeptical. But no one could directly contradict the Shaman's dream. It was thought of as a bad omen.

So the Chief spoke for everyone.

"You are growing old, Shaman" he said.

The Shaman was infuriated and left the council immediately.

Then the rains came and all hope was lost. The Shaman went to the Chief. Again. The Chief was hesitant this time too.

But what could he do? They were literally starving. And the cold. He would give anything to get rid of the cold even if it meant reciting some unknown hymn. 

He gave his assent.

The Shaman was reaching the end of the hymn. He paused. Everyone stirred. Then, he recited the final verse.

Nothing happened.

Everyone was silent. The Shaman looked confused — or rather, a little deflated.

"I could have told you nothing would happen, old man." It was the Chief's voice.

All of a sudden, the rain stopped. Silence reigned eerily.

Then there was chaos.

The floor began trembling. The hut tilted and, with a splash, came to the ground. The roof was gone. 

The hymn had actually worked.

Go to Chapter 1

Edited by Darshini Poola

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