It was a day to behold. Death was standing in front of Kartraya once again. Last time the two had met, Kartraya had defeated Death – the first and only being in the universe to do that. Death had not taken its defeat lightly.
“Come what may, you will live. I won’t ever come to you again.” Death had said and gone in shame. While this may look like whining, it was the gravest of all punishments for Kartraya. Once, a victorious prince who captured the hearts and hearths of many other beings, today, he was tired. His body still looked pristine, like the day he stood victorious in front of Death. His mind was another story. He couldn’t differentiate between the reality and dreams, the past and the future, what had actually happened and what was etched in his mind as memory due to the time elapsed. Meeting new people every few decades exhausted him, seeing his loved ones die again and again crushed his soul, and knowing there is no end to his actions made them meaningless.
He turned cruel over time, barbaric, almost mindless. He had phases that lasted decades when he lost the ability to think and would wander meaninglessly, animalistic in behavior, and jaded in outlook. He would eventually come back, sometimes with the memories of the brutal time and other times, like a new born.
The only memory that stayed with him without fail was the fateful night when he had won against Death. Everything else was fluid. He had defeated Death! And today, finally, Death was standing in front of him, still sulking like an impertinent child angry over an old gripe.
“What do you want?” Death said while twisting its arms.
“I want to die,” Kartraya said calmly.
“That can’t happen.”
“Yes, it can. Take me with you and let me rest.”
Death looked at its shackles and laughed.
“You captured me to ask me to take you. You have some serious issues.”
Kartraya’s voice lowered. “I don’t have patience anymore. Take me with you. I want to die.”
The menace in Kartraya’s voice sent a shiver down Death. “I can’t. You have defeated me – twice. It is beyond my powers to hurt you now.”
“There must be a way,” Kartraya whispered.
“The essence of Jalep. I was born out of a drop of Jalep’s essence. If you drink it, you would die. Not the same death as others, but death nonetheless.”
“What would be different?”
“No reincarnation. You won’t exist anymore. There won’t be a soul or any mark of you left. Unlike others, you won’t get a second chance, nor would you meet your friends or family from the past.”
“I don’t want another chance. I just want it all to end.”
“Find the essence of Jalep and you will be free,” Death said with a grin on its face. The essence of Jalep was impossible to find or attain.
Kartraya looked at Death with keen eyes and skepticism. Then he dipped his hand in his pocket and took out a vial with dark liquid – almost black with hint of pink swirling every so often. The liquid was splashing and writhing even in a stationary bottle, as if in pain.
“H… H… How do you have that?”
“I heard about it through the winds but wanted to be certain about it before I drink it,” Kartraya said and gulped down the vial. Death looked at it with horror and fascination.
Kartraya closed his eyes and lay down on the ground. His breathing became haggard and an occasional twitch formed in his hands. A darkness seemed to engulfed the whole environment even though the sun was still shining brightly. Death had never seen the effect of the essence and didn’t know what was happening.
“Can I die by the essence that created me?” Death thought. For a split second, it felt fear for itself. The second passed and Kartraya’s breathing stopped.
Death looked around and everything was again bright and exciting. Its nemesis, its biggest foe, was in front of him, dead and forever gone. It was then that Death realised that Kartraya had left it chained. Death tugged at his chains but couldn’t budge. In his quest for mortality, Kartraya had left the whole world immortal.