The Creators

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As the day started to dawn, the hollow of the gnarled tree burst into flames of pale blue and silver. Out of it, emerged a swirling ball of mauve and magenta, which grew into an adult-sized Jacaranda. Jacaranda had arrived a little earlier than scheduled with a tiny string bag that held her belongings.

Jasmine, Jolyn and Gorge were breakfasting. Jolyn was in a better shape than before. She looked a bit sad but resigned. Gorge had convinced her that he was going as her knight to win a battle for her. When they finished the meal and stepped out, they saw Jacaranda and the dragon in conversation.

“Here come the seekers,” said the dragon.

“Hi!” said Jacaranda. The three of them murmured their greetings. Jasmine had on her knapsack and Gorge had been given a small backpack with snacks and some clothing by the dragon.

The dragon saw Jolyn looking sad. “Ah! My dear. Do not be sad. We really need you here. I need you to look after everybody in the house. You all also need to learn to use your telepathic skills while the adventurers are gone. We will form a telepathic communication club to practise our skills.”

Then tuning to Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge, he said, “Now, all you need is to ride the dragon cloud I will make for you. Jacaranda knows how to navigate the cloud through the skies. Incase, Dr Doom’s men do spot you, they can do nothing as the dragon cloud is impervious to spells, laser and bullets. The only thing that can pierce or destroy it is dragon fire.”

Saying this, the dragon raised his neck to the skies and gave three loud roars. Then he blew out fire three times and mumbled a spell…A golden dragon shaped cloud appeared in the sky and started floating down to the lawn. It stopped hovering just above the grass.

“Come get in, the three of you,” said the dragon.

Jacaranda climbed in. Jasmine went in a little warily as did Gorge. Jolyn stepped forward and kissed Gorge goodbye.

The cloud felt like a cold metal surface and gleamed as if with the rays of the rising sun. The dragon swayed his tail and turned around and whispered some soft words of incantation and the cloud started rising. The three of them looked down and waved. Jacaranda lay down on the neck of the cloud and it rose higher and higher. The other two watched amazed as the figures on the lawn receded and became tiny. The roof of the mountain seemed to have been replaced by the skies above the dragon lair.

As they floated out into the open, the sky was red-gold with the colors of the rising sun. The cloud almost looked like a part of the sunrise. However, a gunshot whizzed past their cloud as Dr Doom’s gang and the mind police on watch had spotted them. They had been on the look out for the group as Dr Doom and the counsellors were convinced that Jasmine and her multiverse selves were alive and well, even if their location remained unknown. If they had been dead, the counsellors would have sensed a disturbance in the universal consciousness. They insisted the guards stay alert. The guards were forever on a lookout. They worked in shifts. The mind police and Dr Doom’s men worked jointly. Dr Doom’s soldiers were smart enough to see the dragon cloud. And the mind police on Jasmine’s track could sense her thought waves and anxiety as they came into the open. Gorge’s anxiety too guided them to unearth the concealment. Jacaranda quickly stood up, mumbled some incantation and the dragon cloud encapsulated the three of them. A draft of wind seemed to blow them higher and further. The mind police hopped onto another cloud and started to follow them.

“Will the two of you stop being anxious? Learn to trust. Otherwise you will give us away. I know the cloud can turn invisible if we can all focus together. That way we can get rid of the mind police,” said Jacaranda.

“More easily said than done,” said Jasmine. “But we need to be bold and fearless. Gorge, breathe deeply with me and say Ommm from the pit of your stomach, like me. Repeat a few times. That always helps reduce stress and builds up the positive energy in us.”

“Would it not be easier to battle it out with them?” queried Gorge.

“They have tranquillizing guns which, if they can access us, will immediately put us to sleep. So, we should not think of a confrontation,”  Jasmine responded.

“Better listen to her. She knows them better than us,” said Jasmine.

“Okay,” said Gorge a trifle disconsolately.

Jasmine and Gorge started on their Ommms. Behind them, the mind police was shooting out laser rays to dissolve the cloud. It was difficult to be calm but Jasmine and Gorge continued in their effort. Slowly, they experienced a sense of calm. Then Jasmine, Jacaranda and Gorge held hands and focused on air…like they were a part of the breeze. They felt themselves sway…like a whiff of air. The cloud slowly faded out of vision even as the lasers hit the cloud. It floated on invisibly till the mind police started losing not just the cloud but also the thought waves emanating from the three of them. The mind police hunted for them for sometime and then went back to magicland as they had lost them. Eventually, focusing on the thought waves bore no results as the combined strength of their minds build a barrier against the police. Jasmine was excellent at concealing ideas and thought. They could not identify the thought waves of Gorge and Jacaranda clearly. They were forced to give up.

As the mind police faded out of sight, Jacaranda asked Jasmine, “So where to?”

Jasmine said, “Let us land on a safe dimension and then, I can pinge us into the technological dimension.”

“Safe, now what would be safe?” wondered Jacaranda.

“Perhaps we can land on that distant island,” said Jasmine, peering out of the cloud.

Jacaranda looked beyond and said, “That is the isle of wonder. A good place for us.”

“What is the isle of wonder?” asked Gorge.

“The isle of wonder is where gods, mythological heroes, dead souls who had great contributions come together over ages. It is an interesting place to visit. Their world is utopian. It’s lovely out there. We have to have special permission to access it. The only people who can visit freely are performers, artists, teachers and scientists. As I am a dance teacher, my accompanying guests and I are allowed entry against my pass. We can’t stay too long as the security coordinates visitors with the mainland security staff every week. So, we can only have a few days here,” said Jacaranda.

“We don’t need that much!” said Jasmine.

“It is a fantastic place. If we can evade the security by landing invisibly on a beach away from the security, we should be safe and we will have no record,”said Jacaranda. “I just love visiting the island.”

“Another time please,” said Jasmine. “If you can manage us an uncharted entry, it would be fantastic.”

“We could try the beach on the eastern side or the hill where Garuda, Daedalus and Icarus live. Daedalus is studying Garuda’s wings to learn the principles of making a pair of perfect wings.”

“Who are these people?” asked Gorge.

“Oh! These are all mythological creatures from Jacinth’s dimension. These myths do not exist in your dimension, is it?” asked Jasmine.

“No,” said Gorge. “Our myths are all to do with Gods of nature.”

“Interesting!” said Jacaranda. “We have creatures from myths of all dimensions here.”

“Garuda, Daedalus and Icarus are mythical creatures who could fly or aspired to fly high,” said Jasmine. “We study myths and history of all dimensions in the creator’s world. But others do not have that privilege.”

“We live it in the magic dimension,” said Jacaranda.

“I want something like this with living and real creatures,” said Jasmine. “And that is what everyone is upset about! And that is why the mind police are chasing us and threatening us!”

“I think I can fly us over the beach and land at the edge of the forest in the east. That should keep us away from the security’s vision,” said Jacaranda.

“And then, as soon as we are out of the dragon cloud, we will pinge into the technological dimension,” said Jasmine.

Gorge was watching the drama quietly. They started descending slowly and softly landed on a grassy patch.

“As we step out of the cloud, we will become visible and the cloud will disappear,” said Jacaranda.

“Wait, let me take out our pinging tongs,” said Jasmine. She dug into her knapsack and took out the tongs.

The three of them stepped out of the cloud into a grassy patch, held hands together as Jasmine clapped her tongs. They felt themselves squeezed and hurled. A rush of cold air and bright lights whizzed past till they landed unceremoniously on a cool, glassy surface.

 

 

The Creators

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It was afternoon, the sun was high in the sky. JaJa was snuggling up to Jasmine in a bid to get more candy. Gorge and Jolyn had returned from their excursion and were sprawled on the grass talking in a desultory fashion to Jasmine. Jacinth was writing still at a little distance, lost in her own make-believe world. Jamie was fast asleep, as if sleeping off the exhaustion of his whole lifetime.

Suddenly, the dragon snorted and shook his head. “I managed to contact Jacaranda,” he said looking at Jasmine. “She says she had been expecting you for the last couple of days. But yesterday, she stopped getting all communication from you. I told her you are with me and from my cave telepathic communication by anyone except me is impossible as I have created magical barriers. So, she is coming, coming very soon through cold fire…”

As the dragon communicated, the hollows on the gnarled tree flared up with a pale blue silver and magenta flame with started with a loud whooshing sound. Everybody, except the dragon, jumped up! Jacinth stopped writing and came close to the others. JaJa stopped fidgeting and even Jamie woke up with a start as Jolyn cried out, “Wow!”

The flames threw out a little magenta, silver and purple swirl rotating at very high speed. The swirl seemed to grow in size. As it grew bigger, everybody cowered behind the dragon. Finally, from the swirl emerged a young girl with multi-colored hair like a rainbow. The girl wore a strange costume, which seemed like an extension of the flame. She had on a pair of flaring mauve harem pants and a silver clinging top. On her hair and around her neck was a long turquoise scarf and on her feet blue green shoes with gold embroidery. She looked exotic. She had hazel eyes and thick black lashes. She was truly vibrant, though in features she did resemble Jasmine.

No one knew how to react and were staring open-mouthed.

The dragon said, “That was Jacaranda emerging out of cold fire! There is no need to be stunned…just plain old magic.”

“Hi!” she greeted everyone. “Good to see you well and happy Jasmine and thank you Mr Dragon. I wonder why people call you fierce! You have been most kind and helpful to all of us! ”

“It is a long story…some other time. Perhaps, Jasmine will tell you some other time. You both had better talk quickly before people notice you are missing. What is JaJa doing?” asked the dragon prince as JaJa started digging into Jacinth’s pockets in a bid to find candy. Now, JaJa had started treating Jacinth as her next caregiver.

“She is looking for candy. She is as hungry as are the rest,” replied Jacinth.

“Ah! You need is a larder and a kitchen!” said the dragon. “Then you are all free to eat and drink as you like.”He swished his tail and mumbled strange words. He closed his eyes and snorted three times. Then he said, “Go in and check. Near the left corner of the hall is a dining table. Adjoining it is the kitchen and larder, replete with food and drink. Get what you want! There will be other times to know Jacaranda. She needs to be very quick now and to return to work. She is supposed to have gone to a doctor for a quick check up, I believe. So, before her office checks with the school clinic, she needs to be back.”

Everybody except Jasmine, Jacaranda and the dragon went in.

Jasmine turned to the dragon, “I am truly grateful to you.”

“Hurry and talk. She could be missed at work anytime,” he responded.

“I am glad you are fine,” said Jacaranda to Jasmine. “I thought you were in the clutches of the mind police when I lost all contact with you yesterday.”

“Yes. Thanks to the generosity of the dragon prince, we are fine. We have decided to make this lair our safe house. The others will remain here while I travel to different dimensions to gather all our selves. It would be convenient if I had some help from you. Will you accompany me?”

“Yes. I will come. But we should have a few more in our team, I think…”said Jacaranda.

“Well, I could ask Gorge…if only Jolyn would let him go. Tell you what let us finalise the thing for tomorrow morning. We can start out at the break of day.”

“And I will give you a golden dragon cloud to make your escape into a new dimension…” said the dragon. “You will need a reason not to go to teach dancing at the school and be absent from home. What will you say Jacaranda to make things foolproof?”

“I could always pretend to have come down with zingpin at night and to have left for a rest cure. I told my class when it came I was feeling unwell and left,”said Jacaranda.

Jasmine said, “Hold on. I need to understand what you are talking of. What is zingpin and what is a dragon cloud?”

“You don’t know?!” said Jacaranda amazed. “A dragon cloud is a most powerful concealment spell. Concealed by a golden dragon cloud, you could go anywhere and stay concealed comfortably till you choose to reveal yourself. However, you can use this cloud only once. Once you step out of it, it dissolves. And zingpin is a contagious disease which weakens your magical ability. All people in magicland fear it above all other diseases. The only cure for it is rest in one of the four homes which have enchantments to help you regain your normal powers. So, except for my parents and the dragon, no one else will know the truth. I will be here at six forty five am sharp tomorrow and we will leave at sunrise. Is that okay?”

“Great!”responded Jasmine. “I will be ready to with or without Gorge.”

“See you all tomorrow. Give the others my good wishes,” said Jacaranda as she moved towards the gnarled tree. Putting her hands into the pocket of her harem pants, she drew out a little silvery powder from a tiny box, closed the box carefully and placed it back into her pocket.

She blew the powder in the hollow of her palm. Again she was covered in a puff of smoke and disappeared amidst a swirl of magenta, silver, purple and flames of pale blue and silver.

Jasmine stared mesmerized. The dragon called her back to reality with a, “Are you not hungry? Go join the others and bon appetit.”

Jasmine realized she was ravenous, smiled at the dragon and said, “Thanks. You are very kind and considerate.” She went indoors.

At the dining area, the others were eating. JaJa had finished her meal and was humming and swinging in a corner.

Everyone turned on seeing Jasmine. “Where is Jacaranda ?”

“She had to return. Will be back early tomorrow. What is there to eat?” said Jasmine , picking up a banana and peeling it.

“Come join us,” said Jolyn. “Sit here.” She laid a plate for her at an empty chair.

“Thanks,” said Jasmine.

She ate in silence as the others chatted. Even Jamie seemed to be calming don and settling in. She would broach the topic of their departure after the meal.

The meal ended. Jasmine said, “Jacinth, if I were to go away for a few days, could you take charge of JaJa and the rest of the team? The dragon prince would definitely help you communicate.”

“I guess so. But we could all come with you as we have been doing, you know?”

“No that becomes highly risky. This is a place safe from the mind police. The host is kind. He will be in touch with me all the time. It is better you all remain here. Jacaranda will come with me. And Gorge, if Jolyn will be kind enough to let him go.”

“I can come too,” said Jolyn.

“Please stay here and help by looking after everybody. That is something you do very well,”said Jasmine.

“Gorge and I have never stayed away from each other,” said Jolyn, looking appealingly at Jasmine and Gorge.

“I am always with you in spirit. If you need me desperately physically, ask the dragon to recall us and we will be here. It is safe here for you and the others. We can take care of ourselves. Don’t worry,” said Gorge. “ I would like to do this for us, for our children’s future, Jolyn. We will tell them these stories with pride and happiness.”

Jolyn had tears streaming down her cheeks. Gorge put his arms around her, pulled her close to himself and said to her, “Come let us talk in the privacy of our room.” As he left the hall with Jolyn, he told Jasmine, “Count me in.”

“I am happy to stay in the safe house…away from adventure with enough food, sunshine and rest,” said Jamie.

“That is why you can stay here Jamie.We all want you to be happy,” said Jacinth. “Jasmine, where will you go next?” asked Jacinth.

 

 

 

The Creators


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“What was that?!” exclaimed Jamie.

“I think we have hit the tabletop of a plateau,” said Jasmine.

“What plateau?” asked Gorge.

“Let us get down,” said Jasmine.

As they descended from the cloud to the plateau, they could see a steep mountain towering behind them. It had stalactite like growths. The ground was rocky, multi-colored, purple, green and gold. The sky above them was dyed a reddish gold with the rays of the setting sun. At a distance, the sea stretched out reflecting the colors of the sky. They could see a small black boat on the sea. Below was a lush green forest. It was beautiful.

They all stretched and Jamie sighed with relief. The group started looking around. They moved towards the ledges of the tabletop. JaJa was jumping. Jamie lingered behind the others and looked vary.

“How peaceful and lovely,” said Jolyn.

“We are at the portals of magicland,” said Jasmine.

Suddenly, Jamie, who was standing apart shouted, “Help!”He had been captured by a masked man who was holding him at gunpoint.There were about six masked figures surrounding the group. Each was pointing a gun at them and dressed like ninja soldiers in black.

Jasmine’s group stood frozen. Jamie was struggling and grunting.

“How dare you enter the domain of Dr Doom without permission!” boomed a loud fierce voice.

JaJa ran to Jasmine for shelter. She was beginning to whimper with fear.

A few more masked men popped out from behind the rocks. As the situation grew more desperate and the others cowered behind Gorge and Jasmine, another floating cloud came to rest near them. About twenty men in pale blue uniforms stepped out. They were holding weapons too but of a different kind. At the back of their shirts were written MIND POLICE in bold black.

“ Hand them over to us now,” said the leader of the group.

“ No,” said the person who seemed to be the chief of the masked bandits. “You need to meet Dr Doom first and settle the payments. None of your mind weapons will work here nor your tranquillizing gun or exterminator. This area has spells to immobilise all weapons except the ones made by us.”

“Our chief will come and settle that in a short while. Meanwhile, hand over the captives.”

“No,” came the sharp response.

The mind police tried shooting the tranquillizer and  realized the weapons were truly non-functional. One of the police ran towards one of Dr Doom’s crew and a tussle between the two ensued. Another of Dr Doom’s men shot a mind police member. He fell injured. The tussle grew more violent. The man holding Jamie turned to defend himself.

Jamie stumbled out of his grasp and ran to his own group.

Jasmine said, “Follow me. I know this terrain.”

The others ran with her while the two teams of captors struggled with each other. They slipped into a narrow crevice. A long passage lay ahead. Suddenly, they heard a shot and voices shouting, “The captives have fled.”

Jasmine put her fingers to her mouth,“ Shhh!” She motioned them to follow her. They all filed down a narrow passage and came to a part where the tunnel forked into four paths. The voices had receded but they could hear the search was on. They took the tunnel that seemed to have lain unused for sometime. It had delicate spiders’ webs all over. They ran down the narrow passage till they came to a red and gold door. They could hear voices in the tunnel now. They pushed the door. It opened. Inside was a huge red and gold serpent like dragon with gold wings. It breathed fire on seeing them.

The group moved to the farthest end away from the dragon, taking care to close the door behind them. They were terrified. And then, the dragon started to talk!

“And where do you think you are going?” asked the dragon in a sibilant whisper. “Do you not know I roast humans and have them for dinner if they infringe on my territory?”

Jasmine whispered back, “Please save us. We are running away from Dr Doom’s men and the mind police. They both want to capture us.”

“If you are Dr Doom’s enemies, I am your friend but it had better be the truth,” said the dragon.

There were voices drawing closer. Jasmine folded her hands in prayer and mouthed, “ Please.”

The dragon nodded his head and motioned them to hide behind him.

As the group crouched behind his huge body, they heard voices. “If they were stupid enough to enter the dragon’s lair, they are roast meat by now.”

Another said, “Are you sure?”

“No one has emerged alive from the dragon’s door ever. Why should they? Still if you are apprehensive, let us set guard against them at the fork in the tunnel and at the mouth of the crevice.”

“That sounds good,” replied the first voice. “ Our counsellors will be furious if we do not capture or kill Jasmine and erase the other’s memories or destroy them as well.”

Then the footsteps and voices faded and all grew quiet outside.

“So you are really hunted down,” said the dragon. “ You can shelter here till you find help.”

“ Thanks,” said Jasmine. “ You are very kind.”

“ I used to be a good prince, long ago, till Dr Doom turned me into this. My magic prevented him from killing me. It is rare anyone calls me kind. Most just fear me.”

“This sounds like out of a fairy story,” said Jacinth.

“So, who said fairy stories can’t be real?” asked the dragon. “In magicland anything is possible.”

“I am coming to believe anything is possible anywhere,” said Gorge.

“I still find the whole situation strange and unreal. I keep thinking I will wake up from a strange dream,” said Jamie. “ I am scared. I never wanted to be a part of an adventure.”

“But you are and there is nothing you can do. You cannot escape back to your own dimension either,” said Gorge.

Jamie did not look happy. He looked resigned and troubled.

“Are you all hungry?” asked the dragon.

The group nodded.

“Here!” Said the dragon with a swish of his tail. A table laden with burgers, chicken legs, cakes, candies, water and milk appeared out of nowhere. They feasted on the food. JaJa who felt rejuvenated after gorging on candy started to sing. Jasmine silenced her. Everyone was tired.

“Beds for you!” said the dragon with another swish of his tail, the lair grew in size and rooms with beds and attached washrooms appeared from nowhere. They all thanked the dragon profusely, washed and rinsed and turned in for the night.

The next morning, they woke to the twittering of birds. The cave seemed to have expanded into a huge home under a vibrant blue sky of it’s own. The dragon had worked his magic and created a mini-world for them.

The little group assembled in what seemed to be the garden, where the dragon sat guard.

“This is unusual magic indeed,” said Jasmine.

“I could do more in my hey days. I was the prince of magicland. Dr Doom was my court inventor. I liked him to make things for the benefit of mankind. But, somehow, he got attracted to black magic. I did not approve of his fascination for the black magic. He wanted power and wealth of unreasonable proportions. He also wanted to marry my sister, the princess Keiya. I was against the match. One day, he tricked me unawares. He told me that he wanted me to check out one of his gadgets, a spellbinder, a  gadget that would hold any creature bound in it’s spell for all times. When I entered it, he pulled a lever and I was trapped in this dragon’s body in this part of the mountain. He had cast a spell on me. Then he passed me off as an evil dragon who had swallowed up the prince and he trapped me in this liar.  He took away my kingdom, my sister. My family and subjects believed him. He painted himself a hero and everyone believed him. My sister even married him. As he became more entrenched in black magic, he exposed himself. He wreaked havoc till the others rebelled against his oppression and wicked ways. The good magicians combined forces till he was ejected from his throne and entrapped in these mountains. But he still tries to rule from here, I know,”concluded the dragon with a sigh.

“Oh God! I got carried away telling my story. You all must  be hungry. Let’s have some breakfast!” added the dragon prince. Again the magic table with plenty for everybody appeared. They all had breakfast.

Then Jasmine asked, “Your highness, can we help you in some way?”

“You all are running away from Doom yourselves. How can you help?”

“Perhaps, we will find a way… Let’s see. But, right now, I need to get in touch with Jacaranda,” said Jasmine.

“Why do you think of others here? Please do not leave. Stay here. I will create a wonderful world for all of us with my magic,” replied the dragon.

“Jacaranda could be in mortal danger as could my other selves be in different dimensions. The mind police want to destroy all of us because I wanted to create a multi-dimensional world. I am from the creators’ dimension and the counsellors are angry with me. They want to kill me and destroy my other selves as they see me as a rebel for not conforming to boundaries of dimensions created by them. Please help us. Help me get in touch with Jacaranda while the others stay here with you. This could be our safe house. What do you all think?” asked Jasmine turning to the others in the group.

“Might be a good idea,” said Gorge. “But I would like to help more if I can.”

“Sounds like a gilded cage to me,”said Jacinth . “But do we have a choice?”

“If the dragon helps us and does not hurt us and gives us good food, I do not care,” said Jamie.

“I have been so lonely that I would love to be understood and have company,” said the dragon. “But I need sometime to think how to get in touch with Jacaranda. I have to meditate on thought waves.”

And he fell into a quite slumber…

“Should we make a run for it while he sleeps?” whispered Jacinth to Jasmine.

“I do not think so. We should really stick with him. He seems to be a good and kind creature,” said Jasmine.

Jacinth acquiesced, looking a bit uncomfortable. She sat down on the grass,took out a little diary and began to scribble .

All this while, JaJa had been jumping with delight and chasing a butterfly from flower to flower in the beautiful garden of the palace.

Jamie shrugged,lay down on the grass at a little distance and dozed off again. Gorge and Jolyn went off by themselves to explore the garden further. Jasmine sat patiently by the dragon and waited. She gazed at a gnarled tree with hollows that made it look like a human face.