Story Collection - Chaalbaaz


“Do you have it?” I asked gingerly.

“Yes.” The reply came. I smiled. I had waited a long time for this moment.

I have heard of legends who can create a complete story out of their minds. I am pretty sure that those legends are just that — legends. For me, and many others, creating a story is not so simple.

Each element has to be crafted separately and then combined. I remember my first story vividly. My mother had given me five small parts — two characters, one theme, one background, one conflict. Putting them together had taken me almost five days. The first time I had put them in the scritar it had spewed so much fluff that I had to clean the room for two days. In my zeal, I had put in too many kreyozine in the mixture. Almost 500 thousand words had flown out of the scritar which could contain only 10000 words. I will never forget the expression on my parent’s face when they saw my room overflowing with words.

It was then that my fate was revealed. I was expected to become a master story teller. My father gifted me his old scritar — It could contain around 200 thousand words in one go. My mother trained me about the importance of the quantity of kreyozine to ensure that the words are in check. More words dilute the story and reduce its impact.

My first time, the story simply continued on two people arguing with each other for 27 years. 500 thousand words of arguing.

Slowly, I learned the importance of other ingredients as well. Personally, I love Theod the most. It enables the writers to incorporate magic in the system. Most fantasy books have Theod in some form or the other. It increases the experience manifolds. My third story was when I was given a sliver of Theod. Enough to create my first dragon. As the Theod was only enough to create one dragon, I ended up having a family drama with a pet dragon. No more elements of fantasy could be incorporated in the story.

I have since learned a lot. Now, each of my story has as many as 50 ingredients. A hint of Jiva (flashbacks), a dash of Phita (romance), a slice of Creon (animals) and of course, lots of Theod. I became one of the most famous writers and was even offered the ultimate position — Magewriter.

Only one in a generation becomes a Magewriter. The criteria is nearly impossible to get, to be honest. One, you have to write with every ingredient at least once. While that might seem simple, it takes years to become adept at using some ingredients. It took me 7 years to master Theod.

In all, it took me around 15 years to master all the ingredients to the satisfaction of the committee. All except one — Grar.

Grar is the rarest of the rare ingredient.

You ever wonder why only one in a million horror stories is good enough to actually scare the pants off you. It is because that one story contains Grar in it. Most people use Grif to create horror stories. While a good ingredient, Grif needs a very skilled writer to actually accomplish a similar, if not same, level of quality as Grar.

Grif is mixed with a lot of other ingredients like Theod, Creon and Hrass (gore) to create some sort of bastard form of Grar.

Grar is the pure form of horror. The only story that I have seen made in my life from Grar used same quantity of Grar as of Theod that I used to make my dragon. And it was the biggest horror experience of our era. To become a Magewriter, I had to find Grar and learn to use it. For the past two years, I have been on a quest to find Grar, while perfecting the horror stories with Grif so that Grar might not take as much time as Theod did for me.

“Yes, but its not going to be cheap.” the boy said. He must have been only 18 but his face showed that years have not treated him well. His face was haggard and his hair were a mess. There were several strands of grey amidst the black as well.

“Money is no bar.” I said and picked out a few gold coins. The boy looked hungrily at the coins. It was evident that he had not eaten for a few days. While I was hoping that the price is not too high, looking at him, I didn’t mind giving him a few extra coins.

“Not money.” The boy said even thought his greed was dripping from his face. I was surprised.

“What do you want then?” I asked, curiously. Each ingredient had a cost associated with it. Easy to obtain ingredients like Phita or Creon were priced at 10–20 gold coins per piece. While expensive, you can reuse Creon so it becomes a long term investment. Other ingredients like Thema (theme) come dime a dozen. I have a jar of it that I think will rot before I ever finish it.

Some ingredients required other methods. For example, Phita was sold only in return for a kiss. That is why perhaps, many married writers had more Phita in their stories.

Similarly, Theod was on a different price point. It could not be bought off money. The only way to get a Theod was to create a story that absolutely needs the ingredient and then burst it with Kreyozine. This sudden burst created Theod in small quantity. In fact, Theod was the most expensive ingredient, after Grar.

“A character. That is the price.” The boy said and smiled lightly. Maybe, he was amused by my ignorance.

“What kind of character?” I asked despite the boy’s smile. I knew the answer but I wanted to make sure. In my searches, I had been warned that the price would not simply be money. I expected nothing less. There has to be a reason why Grar is not widely available.

“You should go back traveler. If you need to ask this question, you are not fit for Grar anyways.” The boy begin to laugh. His laugh was so loud that I had to put hands on my ears.

I waited till he could get his laugh out.

“I am going to get Grar. I need it.” I blurted.

“Need.” The boy raised an eyebrow. “You have been selected to be a Magewriter?” He looked at me quizzically.

‘No use hiding it now.’ I thought and nodded.

“What is your name?” The boy asked awed.

“Yashaswi.” I said.

“Very well then. Grar is actually not bought or sold. It is created, not unlike Theod.” The boy said.

He continued.

“However, it requires much more precision and innovation that Theod. It requires three things — a proper location, a proper time and an original character. You are almost in the proper location. This is the beginning of the jungle and in the middle of it, you can start the ritual. Time is obviously night. Grar can only be created in the night time, similar to other horror ingredients like Grif. Also, unlike some of the cheap ingredients, it can only be used by the person who creates it.”

I had expected that. Theod has a similar condition. The reason why it has to be made is because only the person creating it can use it. Many experiments to sell Theod have fallen flat.

“So, you can go to the jungle and when the sun goes down, you can start conceiving an original character. The more original the character, more the quantity of Grar is produced. Once the day comes, no more Grar would be produced and you will have to start with a new original character the next night. So, be sure to finish your character before the sun comes up.”

The boy told me and pointed me towards the entrance of the jungle.

“Thank you for your information.” I said and offered him the coins that I had. He accepted them and went back to his house without a word.

— —

It took me around 2 hours to reach the proper jungle. The entrance of the jungle is rarely a jungle.

I sat down and started to wait for the sun to go down. The advantage of being considered for Magewriter was the immense power bestowed even before one becomes a Magewriter. I did not worry about animals bothering me. They could sense a potential God and no one wants to mess with someone who might rule them.

The difficult part was to create an original character. I now understood why Grar was so rare. I have never seen an original character created. I myself might have created one when I was a kid but now, all my characters were Chimeras created from my life experiences and of the stories I read.

Now, I understood why there was no Magewriter since the past 1000 years. People who even obtain Grar spend all their life perfecting that one character and do not have time to learn other ingredients like Theod. Finally, the might of the task ahead dawned over me.

Night came. And I began to conceive an original character.