Chapter 5 – Shadows
Taking advantage of his fast speed, Rudra seemed to be flying in the air, and whenever his altitude decreased, he would step on the tall trees to give him forward push to help him in maintaining altitude. Like this, he advanced towards the depths of this dense forest while staying above the dense interwoven canopy of vegetation which could have obstructed his speed if he had tried to run through the forest.
The old man suddenly appeared next to Rudra and said: “Brat, do not get too cocky. Did you forget that I am a spirit and laws of physics apply only on the things that exist in this world?”
After saying that, the old man flew far ahead then turned his head and started making faces to mock Rudra. Rudra completely ignored him then stepped on a tall tree branch, and with a forward push, he accelerated, and at a very high speed, he caught up to the old man. As the chaotic black aura, that was surrounding his body, arrived close to the old man, his complexion suddenly paled and he quickly sped away.
Rudra looked at the panicked look on the face of the old man and said: “What happened old man, you are a spirit right, then what’s the reason behind that panicked look on your face?”
The old man scowled and said: “Hmph, shitty brat, are you trying to eliminate my existence, how many times do I need to tell you to keep that creepy thing away from me?”
A smirk appeared on Rudra’s face as he said: “I thought an almighty yogi like you is not scared of anything.”
The old man said with a grim look on his face: “Now, I am just a spirit and even if I possess vast yogic knowledge, I still do not recognize this black power. But, I know this much that it is fatal for fragile existences like spirits.”
Suddenly, a serious look appeared on Rudra’s face then he looked towards the old man and asked: “You really don’t know anything about it?”
The old man noticed the change in Rudra’s demeanor and replied in a calm voice: “No, it’s a total mystery for me. I have been around for thousands of years, even I don’t remember how many years have passed after my death, but I have never seen anything like it. I can say for sure that you are not a human being. So, your decision to hide your powers is correct, because you might get into trouble if Naga clan finds out about it.”
Rudra nodded and continued to rush towards the depths of the forest of shadows.
For hours, Rudra used his perception ability and intuition to advance through the forest but he soon realized that he was lost in this dense and dark forest. He was searching for the Navi River that flowed through the Nav forest.
No one remembered when Nav forest became popular as the forest of shadows but it got its name due to the unidentified strange shadows frequently seen in the forest.
Rudra abruptly landed on a tree branch and stopped.
The old man also stopped and asked: “What happened?”
Rudra closed his eyes and said: “I think we are lost and possibly going in the wrong direction. I am searching for Navi River because if we move along it then we can smoothly advance towards the depths of the forest of shadows, but this forest is so vast and dense that I cannot locate it. I am quite exhausted and it’s already past midnight, we should rest here for some time.”
The old man nodded and said: “Good idea, it’s easy to get lost in a dense forest like this. Rest is necessary but you need to be cautious as you cannot let your guard down in this forest.”
Rudra used his perception ability to check the surrounding area but found nothing suspicious then jumped to a broad branch on a tall tree. He sat down with his back rested against the trunk of the tree and closed his eyes. The chaotic black aura went inside his body and he started to meditate to rest his mind and body.
The old man said: “I wonder all the rumors about the forest of shadows are even true or not. We have not seen anything suspicious here, well, except you. Just look at yourself, black clothes, a black mask and hood hiding your face, you look like a complete freak due to the low visibility in this forest.”
Rudra said: “Shut up old man, I am not some costume fanatic. It’s an assassin’s job to keep his identity hidden no matter what. And don’t forget, Naga clan is the overseer of this forest and they can easily recognize me. There is something in this forest that Naga clan has always tried to hide.”
The old man shouted: “You shut up, you shitty insolent brat!”
While his eyes were still closed, Rudra said in a calm voice: “Calm down old man, don’t shout or you will attract the attention of those aliens or ghosts who are said to lurk in this forest.”
“Hmph, why should I care and did you forget that no one can hear my voice except you?” The old man said and took a sitting posture in front of Rudra.
“I am not talking about human beings, old man.” Rudra smiled and said.
The old man also closed his eyes and the conversation suddenly stopped between the two.
In the forest of shadows, the visibility was almost close to zero. Rudra used his perception ability to see things in the dark so he did not need to have light sources to see in the forest. His eyes were closed but his perception ability was continuously working even though he was resting at the moment.
There was a complete silence in the forest but one could hear occasional roars of wild animals and strange sound of trees shaking by the strong winds. There was a strange and creepy atmosphere which could send chills down the spine of anyone. Rudra and old man were sitting silently on the branch of a tall tree and both of them had their eyes closed.
Suddenly, Rudra opened his eyes and whispered: “It’s time to go.”
The old man also opened his eyes and asked: “What happened?”
Rudra replied in a low voice: “Something’s coming this way and I want to avoid direct confrontation, so let’s go.”
Rudra jumped from the branch on to the next one, the black aura suddenly erupted out of his body and he dashed forward at a very high speed. The old man appeared next to him and asked: “What did you sense, what is it?”
“I don’t know, it suddenly appeared in my perception range and it’s very fast and coming straight towards us.” Rudra said and his speed immediately increased when a jet of black aura started to come out from his back, giving him a forward acceleration.
But the next moment, Rudra stepped on a tree branch and abruptly stopped. He looked up and saw a shadow standing right in front of him, only few steps away from him. It was a humanoid shadow but had a blank face with only two red eyes and no other facial features. Its back was slightly bent forward and had sharp claws, and at this time, it was staring at Rudra and growling. Suddenly, one more shadow appeared behind Rudra.
“Rudra, why did you stop?” The old man asked while hovering above Rudra.
Rudra smirked then stretched his hand and grabbed the neck of the shadow in front of him and said: “Because, I realized that I don’t need to run from these things.”