Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Book of Five

Shubham led the group of five to the cave. This was their most sacred place. The tribe had placed great importance to the location and only a selected few were allowed in the cave.

That is what the whole tribe believed. In fact, neighboring tribes also held a similar belief. Many had converted to the faith of Fivers.

Fivers was led by a group of five elders. If any elder passed on, the rest of the four chose the fifth. Each of the five had five disciples. Usually, one of the twenty-five disciples got the chance to ascend. However, on occasion, a member of the tribe would go through the trials of the servant to ascend the position.

It had been fifteen generations since this tradition had continued.

“Elder one. Do you really think it is possible?” The newest disciple, Junum asked in a whisper.

“The question is no more if it is possible. It is happening. The question is how?” Shubham replied solemnly.

The faith of the Fivers was based on a legend of the ‘Chosen One’. The Book of Fifth said:

Sword the wrong way will be held.

Yet, blood there would be none.

The path would be paved with deaths.

Though, kill, there would be none.

The mark of Fifth, in the heart.

Love from the whole world.

Would not save the one.

From the betrayal of someone.

The arrival would end an era.

Yet, save the world.

The departure would begin a new generation,

Yet, change the world.

For fifteen generations, the whole tribe and in fact, the whole world has been waiting the arrival of their savior.

Only the Elders knew the truth- ‘There was no chosen one.’

Along with the book of fifth, there was a book of sixth. This book was opened only when a new Elder ascended. He would read the book and understand the truth. The book of Fifth was a figment of imagination of the first Elders. They created it to create peace and harmony in the tribe. The tribe was going through the toughest times and the elders of that era started telling stories of heroes who would protect them. These stories were tabulated and before anything could be done, people had a religion.

Seeing the amount of strength, it gave to the people, Elders of the Fifth decided to let it continue. The book of sixth told of the time when people would be well off and would no longer need religion. It was the responsibility of the Elders to tell the truth.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the elders of the later period became addicted to the lavishness that came with the religion. The cave that they were entering was nothing less than a palace. The donations that Fivers received for when the ‘chosen one’ comes were huge and had left them with coffers filled with lifetime of relaxed life.

Thus, despite the tribe growing in size, the truth never came out.

“Maybe the book of Five is true. That is why he has come.” One of the elders said.

They were now in the discussion room and were drinking Xuom. The drink was made of multiple fruits along with a nectar especially brewed for the drink. It costed 100 gold coins to make one glass of drink. Only the richest of the area and Elders of Fivers could afford the drink.

“It can’t be true Raav. The book of sixth clearly explains the history. It is just a coincidence.” Jer said.

‘Jer was the oldest of them and thus perhaps the wisest.’ Shubham thought.

“And she matches all the traits.” Jivika asked. She was the only female elder. Despite their attempts to incorporate more women, the ratio was less than in other jobs. Then again, it was not a job, most rationalised.

“Yes, she does. In a very roundabout manner but to the people, blinded by faith, it is enough.” Shubham said.

“And she is only fifteen right now. She will fulfil any prophecy once she knows about all of them. She surely has the will and the courage to do that.” Jer said.

“But… How? How can someone fulfil a prophecy that is false to begin with. In fact, the conditions are impossible to meet. How can someone hold the sword a wrong way and not bleed?” Junum asked exasperated. He had become an Elder only a couple of years ago. If a chosen one came, the decree said that all Elders would be his/her servants.

“She broke her sword from the middle. Instead of forging a new one, she simply attached it to the wrong end. Thus, it became a two-ended dagger. Figuratively, it is a sword held from the middle. Also, I have heard that she has five moles near her heart. Most lines are met in a similar fashion. But they do get fulfilled.” Shubham said.

“Now, what will be do. We can’t be slave to someone.” Raav asked facing Shubham.

“You are right. We have three options. First is that we kill the girl and say that she is not the chosen one. Second is that we tell everyone about the book of sixth.” Shubham said.

“Is there any option that doesn’t get us killed?” Jer asked amused.

“There is one. We can show them the book of journey. It will tell the chosen one about the quest she needs to undertake in order to save the world. The quest is a long and hard one and will probably either get her killed or destitute.” Shubham said smiling to Jer.

“There is a book of journey? Why did you not tell us about it Shubham?” Jivika asked.

“There isn’t, but there can be.” Shubham said taking a large swig of Xuom.