Young man goes on a quest for the unthinkable: a hot date.
He pulled out a wad of notes from his pocket and threw them on the desk. He turned away and walked towards his room as the manager's laughter echoed in the empty lobby.
He appeared back in the lobby in a few minutes with his backpack hanging behind. As he went out, the manager was all smiles again confirming the money was good enough, actually, pretty good enough for the stay.
Monish turned back one last time and said 'Ajeli Amaragyall Morrakkai' as he left the place. The manager dropped the pen from his fingers and fell into the chair behind his desk.
He kept looking at the doorway with his eyes not making any attempt to hide the fear. After a few minutes he wiped his brow and looked at the woman who stopped mopping the floor hearing what Monish said. She put her trembling hands together, closed her eyes and chanted, 'Morrakkai! Morrakkai!'
Himapur is a small town that flourished on a market mainly based on products that the denizens collected from the jungle. As Monish walked through the small streets lined on either side with shops, he was amazed at how little things changed.
Fifteen years couldn't bring any change to the little town or its people. He recognized every corner, every house he passed by, but nobody knew who he was. Some watched him with interest as he passed by because of the way he dressed and his backpack but nobody gave a worried look.
He quickly reached the edge of the town and noticed the crowd dwindling around him. As he reached the first bushes of the forest, for a second, his heart leaped. Huge trees stood at a little distance that seemed like a fortress wall. He could hardly see two meters beyond the first row of trees.
As he entered the shade of the trees he took out a shining samurai sword from his backpack. He held it like the master he was at the art and quickly swept through the undergrowth that came in his way.
He walked swiftly yet cautiously, well aware of the dangers that lurked all around him. As he reached a small clearing he heard the gurgling sound of the stream he knew so well. He quickly changed his direction towards the stream and as he approached the water, couldn't stop smiling at the sparkling water. He bent down to drink a little when he felt a swift movement close to his ear. By the time he could realize what it was, a second dart hit his backpack.
He quickly stood on one knee, lifted his hands towards the sky and shouted, 'Ajeli Amaragyall Morrakkai'. Seven men came out from the forest cover, on the other side of the stream.
Dark and naked but for the two foot bows they carried, they fell to the ground and bowed to Monish. Monish drank the water, filled his bottle from the backpack and waded through the knee deep stream. He didn't give a second look at the natives who didn't move, as he passed them into the forest beyond.
Noon was signified by the first rays of the sun that sneaked through the canopy. The constant buzz of the insects added to the eerie feeling around the place. Monish suddenly stopped walking. He listened with intent. He stood very still clutching the sword harder. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the sounds around him.
He sensed the danger approach and then it stopped. The world seemed to stop around him. Nothing moved and he heard nothing. He knew better than to make the first move. He held his breath and waited for the danger to engulf him any second. Ten more seconds and nothing changed. And then it moved. Not a flash strike that he anticipated but a steady slow jog from his left to the right, in front of him. The black panther kept its green eyes locked on him as it passed. It then disappeared into the undergrowth as quietly as it approached.
He let his guard drop but waited for a few more minutes before he resumed his march.