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Chapter 23 — A few drops of blood
Year 62, Kali yuga
1 year before present day
Tanvarōka knocked softly, and looked over his shoulder. The streets of Thillai remained dark, slow grey clouds obscured the moon. He shuddered, and pressed himself deeper into the shadows. No one could see him, but the open expanses of the upper realms made him uncomfortable. The familiar dark confines of the netherworlds offered safety and refuge.
Kannanār opened the rickety door. He pulled out a small bundle of leaves, tied together with twine. “Careful. This is all I was able to get.”
Tanvarōka pulled the leaves apart, and pulled out a small piece of wood. “Good, good. A few drops, they should suffice. Much thanks, priest.”
“Remember, keep it hidden from Malasāra. He doubts me already, best not to stoke his suspicions.”
Tanvarōka pursed his leathery lips. “Yes yes, I am aware, priest.” He nodded curtly, and vanished in a wisp of smoke.
Year 63, Kali yuga
Tanvarōka hurriedly dug into the dry ground, and coughed as the plumes of dust rose around him. His small claws struck wood. He pulled out a small, shabby wooden box, brushed the debris from its surface, and opened it carefully. The leaves had long crumbled to dry flakes, and all that remained was a long shard of wood. He picked up the shard gingerly and let the box drop back into the shallow hole. He brought the shard under the light of a small lamp, and squinted. The light wood was unblemished, save for a dark blotch on its sharper edge. Tanvarōka smiled.
He carried it to the adjoining cavern, to where Narukša sat chained, unconscious. Tanvarōka pushed Narukša’s limp head back, and patted his cheek a few times. Narukša remained motionless, his sunken eyelids caked shut. Tanvarōka stuck his scrawny hand into Narukša’s large mouth and pulled the tongue out, and quickly sliced it with the shard. A dark red welt appeared on the tongue, but Narukša remained in his languid state. Tanvarōka scraped the shard on the wound a few more times, till the blotch disappeared from the wood. He pushed the tongue back into the mouth, shook the asurā by the horns, and slapped him across the face.
Narukša stirred, still groggy. He licked his lips, and his head perked up. “I—I taste...human blood.”