Author: Sunny | Editor: NT
Chapter 4 – The forest of shadows
The old man looked towards the wide and far stretch of dark forest and asked in a serious tone: “What do you know about the forest of shadows?”
Rudra continued to walk on the mountain road and replied: “There are various rumors about the forest of shadows. Those who venture deep into the forest disappear without a trace and those who come out become deranged then kill others or kill themselves. There have been several reported cases of people gauging out their eyes and other self-inflicted injuries. No one knows when it all started but a lot of incidents related to this phenomenon have been reported for centuries. There are various theories, one theory says the forest is haunted, some say there’s a grand treasure hidden inside the forest and people fall for traps, some say that it is actually alien’s lair, and some people also link it with other mysterious places like Bermuda triangle and so on.”
The old man said in an irritated manner while flying next to Rudra: “Don’t tell me about these rumors. These incidents happen because humans are not allowed to enter the depths of the forest of shadows. It’s an ancient belief that humans must stay away from the forest of shadows and has been around for thousands of years. Those who still dare to enter this forest to seek adventure are responsible for their sufferings. And now, you are trying to be the next fool who wants to go to the forest of shadows. Naga clan has been the gatekeeper of the forest of shadows and even the members of Naga clan do not go into the depths of forest unless it’s absolutely necessary!”
“I don’t believe in these rumors and it’s not like I am going there to seek adventure. I need to go to the forest of shadows even if I know it’s dangerous.” Rudra said in a calm voice.
“As a senior, it is my duty to warn you. But, if you are already so fixated on going there, let’s go and uncover its secrets, I am so excited!” The old man said in an excited manner.
“I am not going there to uncover the secrets of the forest of shadows, I am just seeking some answers and I hope to find them there.” Rudra said with a determined look in his eyes while looking in the direction of the forest of shadows.
The old man looked at Rudra but did not say anything and continued to fly next to him.
Rudra took a shortcut from the mountain road that went straight towards the forest of shadows. Naga clan’s mansion was located on the Mountain of Deities, and on one side of the mountain Peeking Sun City was situated, while on the other side, there was a vast and dense tropical rainforest called ‘Nav forest’ which was considered one of the largest forest zones in the world. State government had given it a status of protected forest, considering its importance for the environment, but it also held a special status of restricted zone, this ‘Nav forest’ was also known as ‘the forest of shadows’ by the locals.
The government had never accepted any of the rumors but it could also not ignore the various incidents related to the forest of shadows that had been happening for centuries with hundreds of reported cases of deaths and missing persons every year.
It was also said that the forest of shadows was used by criminals for their illegal operations, especially drug and human trafficking. The influential Naga clan secretly pulled the strings of the government, and due to that, the final authority related to the forest of shadows lay only in the hands of the Naga clan. No one was allowed to enter the forest because State government openly stated that it would not be responsible for anyone’s death in the forest of shadows and people must avoid entering the forest due to the unknown threat lurking inside the forest.
It was said that few years ago, a group of researchers and scientists had tried to sneak into the forest of shadows never to be found again. One of them survived and came out but he also committed suicide due to unknown reasons.
As a clan of priests, the Naga clan had promoted various beliefs for centuries that had widely spread among the people that they must never enter the forest of shadows because it’s actually a cursed forest.
After about an hour, Rudra finally entered the forest of shadows. It was a dense forest, and in the night, it seemed very creepy. Even during the day, the canopy of 100 feet tall and interwoven trees blocked most of the sunlight. It was a forest of ancient trees, untouched by modernization and deforestation, and at night, it seemed as if Rudra had entered an entirely different and dark world.
He could faintly hear the roars of animals, but at this time, his motive was to enter the depths of the forest of shadows and it was going to take a lot of time considering the massive size of this forest.
After making his way through this dense forest for and entering almost 1 km, Rudra abruptly stopped and said: “I guess it’s time to begin. Are you ready old man?”
The old man said in a curious voice: “Don’t tell me you are planning to use your powers? How intriguing! Well it’s the forest of shadows, no one’s going to see you anyway, and even if they do, it will only add up to the mystery of the forest of shadows.”
“I cannot waste time walking slowly through this dense forest, but don’t forget that the Naga clan holds the ultimate authority in this forest, I must be careful because I don’t want my parents to find out about this.” Rudra said and kept his school bag on the ground. After that he took out a black hooded pullover from his school bag.
The old man smiled and said, “You are being cautious. Good!”
Rudra put on the black hooded pullover then took out his black handkerchief and tied on his face. With the hood covering half of his face and the handkerchief hiding the rest, only his eyes were visible. In this dark and gloomy forest, if someone saw him then they could easily misunderstand him for a black assassin.
Rudra said: “I did not bring a change of clothes and I cannot possibly run around in the forest of shadows in my school uniform. Also, as an assassin of the Naga clan, I must follow the rules and stay cautious all the time.”
The old man flew in circles around Rudra and asked in a mischievous tone: “I have a question, why is everything you wear black in color?”
Rudra closed his eyes then raised his hands in the air and replied: “In this dark forest, it works as the best camouflage, and, it’s my favorite color as well.”
Suddenly, it seemed as if everything stagnated in the vicinity of Rudra. The old man immediately flew away from him, and right then, a black aura emanated out of Rudra’s body and completely surrounded him. This black aura was not continuous and was constantly changing forms, totally chaotic. His hands were still raised in the air and two vine-like black auras completely twined on both his hands, all the way from his shoulders to the palm then these vine-like black auras transformed into two hands. One hand went towards a high branch on a tall tree and firmly grabbed the branch and the other one towards a high branch on another tree and grabbed it.
Rudra’s eyes were still closed. Just when he unleashed his powers, his perception also increased, and right now, he could clearly sense everything in the radius of 200 meters with him at the center. He could increase his perception range but that would hamper his perception efficiency. At present, he could clearly sense all the trees and living beings in the range of his perception, along with their shapes, locations, movements and distances from him.
“It seems there are only wild animals in this area and nothing seems abnormal to me.” Rudra opened his eyes and said but his voice seemed to have become manlier, nothing like his usual teenage voice. At this time, his eyes were completely black in color and looked very scary.
“That’s because you are still in the outskirts of the forest, or maybe, your perception skill cannot sense those entities.” The old man said while staring at the chaotic black aura surrounding Rudra’s body.
Rudra looked towards the old man with his black eyes and it seemed as if his gaze would pierce right through the old man. The old man shuddered and looked at the continuously moving and changing black aura around Rudra’s body with an incredible look in his eyes.
“Maybe you are right, well, it doesn’t matter. I am going, try to keep up with my speed, old man.” Rudra said then his gaze shifted towards the small gap in the canopy of two trees from which, the dark sky was faintly visible.
While the black aura hands were still grabbing the branches on two trees, separated by few meters, Rudra quickly moved few steps back which caused the black aura vines to stretch elastically, and suddenly, his body shot into the sky at an insane speed, as if his body was propelled from a slingshot, straight towards the small gap in the canopy.
Rudra’s flying body crossed through the dense canopy of trees while breaking the tree branches that were obstructing his path, and the next moment, he was already in the air, 300 feet above the ground.