Aahana-Shahzad: Chapter 2

Aahana: Warrior Princess of The Sitaraveeram

Southwest of Gulmarg, lies the hidden kingdom of Sitaragarh. It is home to the Sitaraveeram, a clan of mystical warriors, who practice the ancient martial art of Sitarakshayam.

The Sitaraveeram are descended from three brothers, — Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka — sons of Orion, the legendary warrior chieftain of Mohenjo-Daaro. When the great curse* befell the citadel of Mohenjo-Daaro, Orion entrusted his three sons with the last remaining vial of Sarasjal — the divine tears of the River Goddess Saraswati, and blew stardust onto them, which transported them to the spot where the present day kingdom of Sitaragarh lies.
When the three brother’s reached Sitaragarh, they branched out into a tri-star Sitarakshyam formation and went deep into meditation. After three hundred and thirty hours of meditation, stardust started flowing from their eyes in the form of tears, forming a pool in the center.

From this pool rose a figure akin to the Orion constellation, which, without the slightest delay struck an arrow onto Alnitak’s(the eldest brother) forehead, who collapsed upon impact. The ghost of Orion then faded into the night sky, riding the night-wind of the Thar desert.

When Alnitak rose, his forehead bore the mark of Orion, stars arranged in the pattern of a warrior. His younger brothers knelt and held up their swords to him — Alnitak, had been chosen to rule Sitaragarh, crowned by the ghost of Orion himself.

Thirty decades later, the land of Sitaragarh lay dotted with magnificent palaces and towers. Each citizen of this land resided in a house with a glass ceiling, so that they could see the night sky, with it’s stars(Orion, in particular), clearly.

On a usual night, Sitaragarh is peaceful, and echoes of meditating Sitaraveerams humming abound — but, today was an unusual night. The Sitaraveerams’ queen was pregnant, carrying the future of their kingdom in her womb, but as fate would have it, she was mortally sick.

In the highest tower of Sitaragarh, the Sitaraveeram’s king, Saiph, son of Alnitak, knelt, deep in meditation, like his forefathers had done when they first came to Sitaragarh. Tears of stardust flowing from his eyes, he prayed to Orion for his wife and unborn child’s well-being.

Three days passed with Saiph kneeling in meditation, during which a waterfall of stardust had started flowing from the tower onto the grounds below. From this stardust rose the ghost of Orion, who whispered to Saiph:
“A life for a life, Saiph! Find the mountain of Aksa, and kneel in front of the fountain of elders, when the first light of the brightest star falls onto it.”

With this ominous pronouncement, the ghost of Orion departed. Saiph ran to his wife’s quarters, lifted her in his arms, and started running towards the royal stable. On reaching the royal stable, he whispered a melodious tune — throat hoarse from crying endlessly in the past few days.

Answering his tune, a shimmering horse-like creature appeared — it’s body was made of starlight, and it had gossamer silver wings made of white-fire. This creature was the Ashq-e-Alnitak, (The Tear of Alnitaq), it could travel at the speed of light, and answered only to the true heir of Alnitaq.
Saiph mounted the Ashq-e-Alnitaq, and whispered the destination’s tune into it’s ear. A dazzling flash of light occurred, and they had disappeared far away from Sitaragarh.

The mountain of Aksa, lies in the fourth sky, a journey of 9 light years from earth — only a creature of light, like the Ashq-e-Altinaq can reach here. On reaching the mountain, Saiph hurried, and found the fountain that Orion had spoken about. He brought his wife to it’s edge, and knelt — falling deep into meditation.

When the first light from the brightest star known to mankind, the Surya Raj — fell onto the fountain, it created a beam of light that was refracted onto Saiph’s forehead, where the mark of Orion lay. The stars forming the mark of Orion on Saiph’s forehead started glowing white and turned to amber slowly. With each passing moment, Saiph’s body start withering into star-dust, which started to flow into his wife’s heart.

An ear-shattering thunderous lightning lit the entire fourth sky, and with it Aahana-the Warrior Princess of The Sitaraveeram was born. Named after the first rays of light, of Surya Raj, daughter of Saiph, and descendant of Orion, she was destined for many great things. Not the least among them would be falling in love with Shehzad — a reflection of her soul, who was soon to be born in Gulmarg.

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