It was a world where people without magical skill called mechanics were castaways, hurdled into tiny towns and walled off from the rest of the world. A world that stood for the wizards but not for the mechanics.

This was one of those towns. She looked out of the window; tiny houses and narrow alleys dotted the landscape, packed like a matchbox. Its people woke up to the royal guards patrolling the streets, there were no incidents of robbery last night.

Elated at finding running tap water and spending a little more time cleaning, people stepped out to tidy streets, decorated light poles and news that the lady was in town. Queen designate, Sevya was called the doe-eyed lady. Lady in the light and part of most powerful duo.

Kids pestered their mothers to tell them more about the carnival announced for the night, their mothers in turn, ran to their mothers for information. The hustle was new to everyone.

Her attention though was not entirely on the town, she kept to herself and declined to meet anyone. “Let me be alone” she instructed the guards before occupying the room at the highest tower in the town. Her help ran pillar to post to make the arrangements overnight, why she suddenly chose to visit this tiny town was a question no one dared to pose.

The day passed. Residents, refreshed with the happenings of the day dressed in their best for the carnival. As the sun went down, the decorations came alive, their jaws dropped seeing the tiny magical lights floating in the air. One by one, they were treated to the wonders of magic and stomach full of food. In between all this, Sevya stayed at the top of the tower, all alone.

He was her opposite and equal in power, Nimrod, called the saviour in shadows. Breaking the law and stealing from nobles to provide for the poor had been his occupation. He operated with stealth and secrecy.

Not a soul noticed him in the crowd, nerves tingling at each step, he had a feel of someone watching him. Sliding past the guards oblivious to his presence, he stood outside the room articulating. Once inside, he found her leaning over the balcony. Lights from the royal carnival below sparkled across the dim room. They had agreed to meet just yesterday and today she was here. He always loved her strong will and decisiveness.

 “I thought you will leave without coming in,” she remarked not bothering to look at him. He waved his hand, making a swirl with his finger, filling the room with light and closing the curtains on the balcony. His fingers were tapping against his leg, eyes taking note of details on her dress. He couldn’t face her. She snapped her fingers and after many years their eyes met. The serenity of her face, compounded by the hair curled into perfect locks, made her appear like an angel. Her deep black eyes gazed at his thin frame.

His fingers were still tapping against his leg, “It can’t be stopped, Sevya. A part of it gave the magic to us eons ago and it is now coming back to take it back” 

***

Their meeting that night had far-reaching ramifications for all the planet. The news next day was abuzz with speculation about the reunion of two estranged lovers and wizards without peer. Make no mistake, people loved them both as they loved each other. She preferred to work with the system and he outside it.

Emperor, when notified of the developments was more than willing to overlook a certain foreboding prophecy about their union. He knew his daughter well and trusted her judgement. He had seen some disturbing omens and who better than them to check on it. He invited them for a visit to the capital.

The next day, Nimrod and Sevya met the emperor of the planet. He came out of the palace and personally escorted them into the courtroom. Once inside, the duo informed the emperor of the impending doom, less than 4 months remained before everything turned to dust. 

“Any chance of it taking away just magic?” the emperor collapsed in the middle of the hall, he was able to sense danger but a complete annihilation


Sevya rushed to his aid, assisting him to get up “Father, it may be possible, he and I are going to give our best for it but…”

“But my lord, the entire magic power will be lost and the mechanics may be the ones that will gain an upper hand,” Nimrod added with a sly nod to her.

“What do you suggest we do? If you assure avoiding total devastation, I am ready for anything”

“My lord, let us start by treating wizards and mechanics equals, let no soul go hungry, let there be equality from now.”

The emperor staggered to a chair, settling in he said “I was a happy man that you both, the greatest wizards ever, reunited. Was this the reason for it? It does not matter now, I will ensure all the lords behave, the prospect of doom will however, drive some mad.”

“We have made the arrangements my lord, those who benefited from my exploits and her good deeds will ensure that sanity prevails in the society for as long as it exists. They have sworn to it”

“And I have made sure that all the lords that may become troublesome are already under observation. With your consent, we will inform people about the threat and the planned measures.”

The emperor nodded, “The one who gives is also the one who takes it away, for the sake of humanity, may you both succeed”

The Emperor then proceeded to announce to a stunned world of what was to come and the measures that were being taken. “We should prepare for the worst, it will be difficult to leave the old values and move forward but this is the will of Mother Nature!”

***

That evening, the shanty town’s walls outside the capital did not close at dusk, street lights worked all night. A dog, taking advantage crossed over following the scent of the food and managed to bark at a noble’s horse.

All over the world, wonderstruck mechanics were gulping good food, healers were tending to their frail, and kids were treated with tenderness. Was it paradise on earth? The news of impending doom was immaterial to them, even if lasts for a short time, a life with dignity and joy seemingly everywhere, soothed them.

The next day, nobles of the capital were greeted to a mechanical cycle on the streets of the city of Aztlan. Bemusing many and infuriating none, the old man using it appeared nothing but a bag of wrinkles to their eyes. He was apparently one of those mechanics who move around the world in search of work.

He made it to Nimrod, “If it is ending, all I can ask for is real food to share with my wife.” and breathed his last.

 “We should visit his house,” Sevya suggested as they cremated the old man.

“We shall. Not today.”

“I do not think you too had good food in a while, how about my house tonight?”

“Why did we fight? Why did you let me walk away, Sevya?” The pyre was burning.

“I do not know. I wish we could turn the time back and live the lost years happily, together” she took his trembling hands into hers as they watched the old man turn into ash.

“They have never stopped trembling from the day they made this scar.” He traced his fingers over the scar running from her lower lip onto the neck.

“No time to ponder, we will meet again for dinner, you know the house. Will be inviting a few guests. ” 

They spent the rest of the day engaging nobles and mechanics, and ensuring troublesome lot were tucked away.

Moon was about to rise, and chefs were getting busy with the instructed menu. The comparatively modest building, with a mango tree in the backyard stood waiting for guests. A young kid walked in, holding the hand of his nervous mother. They were welcomed by an empty room, dotted with hovering lights, neatly arranged leather and pine wood furniture. It appeared pristine and yet shallow. They settled in a corner.

Other guests walked in one after another, with them they carried their unique scents. Soon the room filled with people, lavender and roses of the world made their presence felt. Yet none of these people acknowledged each other. Their silence was foreboding. Then a familiar scent entered, she walked at a steady pace, it was the woman the child had adored most after his mother. ‘Today, no one will ask you to leave, buddy.“ She reintroduced him to the crowd, her nephew, a mechanic.

They toasted in his name, the kids who were forbidden to touch him earlier were eager to know what he could do without using magic.

Nimrod stood in a corner incognito, watching this unfold. Sevya spotted him, she always did. She took a bowl of his preferred dish and walked out of the hall, he followed her. The melody of mango leaves brushing played over the empty backyard gleaming in the moonlight. He refused to eat by himself, she had an excuse to hand feed him. One could hear them laugh from inside, unconcerned of the guests they spent the night in an embrace watching the night sky.

“It’s getting easier to spot now.” He observed, toying with her locks.

“Yeah.” she snuggled in further. 

“You worried?”

“Not much.”

“You remember that soothsayer? The one who predicted the world’s end if we unite?”

“I think, he saw it in reverse, we unite at world’s end..” she chuckled.

Slowly they drifted into dreamland, everyone was equal before the god of basic needs.

 ***

A month and a half passed, they ensured to visit all the areas with unrest. A handshake here and glare there, authority or hope, it still worked in their favour that people trusted their ability.

The sun glided down the horizon, birds returning to nests. They were back at the mango tree, she was resting her head in his lap.

“Are we cheating them, Nimrod?”

“I wish I could say no to that.”

“Father would say, a little fib to avoid great suffering is no sin.”

“Apt. ”

“It’s visible even during the day now.” She remarked.

“Yes. Do you still play the flute?”

“Haven’t touched in a while, what is on your mind?”

“Nothing, I loved to slip into a trance hearing you play it.”

“The world is ending mister, you planning to sleep through it?”

“I would rather spend it looking into your eyes. ” he drew her closer, their breath became heavy as the trembling lips closed in…

Making an appearance interrupting them, “Lady, it is as I foretold, your union is presaging to destruction!” one who foresees others destiny could not see his own at that moment.

No one ever heard from that soothsayer again, the unfortunate soul vanished into thin air. When the house is burning down, one should not try to claim a right to have predicted it.

***

Few weeks more for the impact, preparations were in full swing. Nobles used the best of their abilities to build shelters across the globe and mechanics toiled day and night and made sure their superior numbers were put to good use. The who’s who of the nobility rubbed shoulders of who is he of the dusty. Wry smiles soon blossomed into hearty friendships.

Kids were given the safest places. Then went in the best work-women from mechanics and herbalists from nobles, their skill was essential for survival. Families parted, mothers hearts broke, men wept and the night sky was no longer a tryst for romantic hearts. A few refused to leave their homes, some had the memories of a lifetime tying them and others waited for someone to return. Be it a mud hut or a manor, it was their home.

Blissfully unaware of all the rucks around them, birds nested, snakes slithered and the fish swam. Nothing stops until one day it does.

The impact was in two days. The population of humans, after many millennia stopped bothering flora and fauna of the planet, it was then Sevya remembered: “We haven’t found that old man’s wife?”

“Oh! I know where she is, we can visit her tonight.”

They walked hand in hand, through the moonlit alley. Not a soul was in sight, an eerie silence prevailed. A gust of dry wind, creaking windows and abandoned housed welcomed them. She followed his lead and a lingering aroma of food led them to a tiny shack with a sole occupant. A frail old woman sat beside the stew, her eyes on the road. ‘Amma’ he called her. She looked at him, disappointment in eyes.

“Your stew appears magical, would you cure our hunger with it?”

She nodded, handing over the plastic plates. A strange satisfaction filled her heart as they ate together, delicious food was not the reason. She wished them luck and retired to bed, she would be sleeping in peace now.

The second moon was visible now, growing bigger every moment. He rested his head on her shoulder, handing her a flute. She held it skilfully to her lips and played to the world as a stage, her tune spread across the globe, all living beings were put to sleep. She liked him for his tricks, here was his last.

“Shall we take it on? Nothing to lose.” She wasn’t blinking, it would be a moment wasted, and every last moment left had to fill her heart with his shape.

“Nothing to lose milady, but I have one last thing to do…” their breath united finally, lips conveyed the unsaid words, and the asteroid could wait.

***

Photo By: Mahkeo

This is an entry for #Countdown, a Beaks and Claws Club exclusive event. Check out the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/room8/countdown/

Room8 appreciates your rating the story out of 10 in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

%d bloggers like this: