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The Soul Snatcher

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

After the four brothers attempt to conquer the Verni World, they are defeated and arrested by the two embodiments of Creator Vernakula namely Olrin and Archen; fighting alongside are Olrin’s pupils called Hunters. Post victory, Olrin goes missing and Archen is suspected to be corrupted as he doesn’t serve his destined purpose anymore. Without the support of the embodiments, the world order established by Olrin crumbles and kingdoms declare their independence while enacting their own laws. Hoping to restore stability, the Hunters who were trained by Olrin himself choose Aelius, King of Verni, as the interim successor and take up the quest to bring back their master. “The Soul Snatcher” by R. S. Chintalapati is a novelette narrating the fall of Vernakula’s embodiments and the journey of the Hunters to save their world.

 
Illustrated by Nisha Yadav

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Credits

This contribution is edited by Sreekar Ayyagari & illustrated by Nisha Yadav

 

Product

This novelette is available in paperback & ebook.



 

Prologue


In the second age when mortals could no longer witness their Creators, the four brothers namely Dream, Shadow, Dreary & Halo killed almost all of the Bloomers in the Irun World on the order of their master Alwerik. Though the brothers didn’t intend to harm the Bloomers, they were bound to complete their mission or lose their mortal forms for eternity. This wouldn’t even be the first time they have lost their mortal forms and the last time they did, they lost their mother and were locked up in a cage that killed every possible hope to even exist.

By killing the Bloomers, Alwerik planned to weaken their Creator Irunkula and as expected, the four brothers fulfilled their undertaking. Bloomers were special creations and in an attempt to create a superior creation, Creator Irunkula in the past placed two souls in each of his special creations. When they were born, Bloomers were to return the soul that craved for their material needs thereby freeing their desire while returning their creator his power. Since two souls weren’t in the natural design of any creation, Irunkula had to use some of his energy to create Bloomers and planned to regain it when his creations resubmitted their souls. However, this design didn’t work due to the intervention of the brothers and with every dead Bloomer, Creator Irunkula lost a little of his power.


After almost all the Bloomers were killed, the brothers set out to enslave the Verni World without being aware that it was being protected by Creator Vernakula’s two embodiments namely Olrin and Archen. So when they offered the velators who were the creations living in the Verni World to either surrender or die, most velators who were like humans trembled in fear but a few velators who possessed magical abilities like controlling the five elements and superhuman strength fought back. The brothers had to also face the wrath of the embodiments and their minions called the Hunters.


For years, the brothers were attacked by the embodiments and Hunters but they were never defeated until the second embodiment of Creator Vernakula named Archen blackmailed the brothers to kill their only child if they didn’t surrender. Not willing to risk the life of their offspring, the brothers surrendered.


After the embodiments and the Hunters won against the brothers, most Velators embraced Olrin as their God and saviour in mortal form for his valour and courage while a few others chose Archen for unbeatable desire to win.


While Olrin the first embodiment was considered as a representation of the virtuous, Archen was considered as a representation of the immoral. Velators perceived them as such for their deeds in the past and the few velators who were born with special abilities to acquire knowledge also known as the ‘Blessed’ believed that the brothers might have corrupted many velators before they were defeated. So, they requested Olrin to lead the sane into glory while they requested Archen to instill faith in these lost souls by guiding them towards the light.


Without Archen, the Blessed predicted that the corrupted velators would seek to make their own forms of worship that could lead to unpredictable practices and traditions. This wasn’t acceptable for the Blessed. So for decades, virtuous velators held Olrin as their icon and proclaimed him to be the guardian of law and order while Archen was proclaimed as the master of life and death.


In the beginning, many velators defied the laws of the ‘Blessed’ and sought paths that they believed could offer them unlimited power, invincibility and immortality. They created their idols, named their Gods and conducted heinous acts of sacrifice to please them. They corrupted everyone around them and created an imbalance that spread all across but before long, either Olrin or his Hunters punished them.


Harsh punishments were enacted every time and fear to pursue such a path was instilled. All during this time, the good and bad were balanced. Even when many velators were lured by evil ways, there was always at least one virtuous velator to an immoral one. However, for the first time since Creator Vernakula’s embodiments have been given authority, the virtuous are being outnumbered by the immoral.


This change troubled the Blessed and they sought to find out what changed.

 

Chapter I

Chain of Three Jewels


Five decades after Olrin was last seen, the Vernakulan World was ruled by a ferocious Conqueror named Aelius. After waging wars for nearly four decades, Emperor Aelius united the entire known world under his rule except for a few tribals.


Blessed with wealth, health and power, Aelius never hoped to even expand his kingdom. However due to the circumstances, the Hunters chose him and helped him in uniting the world under one rule. Without any desire for it, he did become the second world emperor after Olrin himself but in the journey of doing so, he spilled a lot of blood, burying young men, and wiped off a few communities entirely.


Even after many war crimes, a few scholars proclaimed Emperor Aelius to be Olrin’s reincarnation and the symbol of wisdom and justice. Their reasoning was based on their belief that no one can succeed in uniting the Vernakulan world except for embodiments themselves. They declared that Olrin left his form to be born as Aelius himself as most velators preferred to be ruled by one of their own rather than an embodiment of Creator Vernakula.


However, Aelius didn’t share any powers held by Olrin and he even denied being a reincarnation of the embodiment. Over the years, without the virtuous embodiment, the dark forces in the world grew and the Emperor Aelius couldn’t control them even after many attempts. Plagues, hunger, evil manifestations, & human sacrifices prevailed. Though the Emperor punished the criminals as harshly as he could, the forces of evil didn’t stop. Fear didn’t work against them as it worked against common criminals.


Before situations went beyond his control, Aelius summoned the Blessed, a name for those velators who were born knowledgeable and commanded them to instill faith in the corrupted societies. The Blessed, born with magical abilities, suspected that the immoral embodiment Archen himself could have been corrupted by the four brothers before they were captured.


When they mentioned their suspicion to the Emperor, Aelius asked them to use every resource at their disposal to confirm it. He even offered his support to find the truth and the Blessed continued their effort with more resources now at their disposal.


However, even with their combined power, the Blessed couldn’t trace Archen and when they sought their mother, Creator Vernakula, they could never hear from her. Left with no other option, the Blessed decided to follow a Noble Soul immediately after its death to meet Archen himself. This was because Archen received every soul after it’s mortal form died to send it either to his mother or offer a rebirth.


Though the Blessed didn’t know anyone who possessed a Noble Soul except for their Prince, they didn’t want to ask the Emperor to sacrifice his only son who was conceived after years of prayers, sacrifices and rituals.


Their Prince, called Saviour, was elegant and an exceptional warrior. When the Prince was fifteen years old, he fell ill and with every passing day, his health worsened and eventually, he was bedridden. Neither the healers nor the Blessed could cure his illness and the Emperor tried everything in his power to save his son. He had already lost his wife to an unknown sickness and couldn’t afford to lose his son too.


However, after failing to find one other Noble soul, the Blessed mentioned to the Emperor that the Prince was their only option and after a lot of thought, the Emperor consulted his son before deciding on the matter.


Accepting the Blessed’s request, Aelius couldn’t forgive himself. Though his son was glad that he was being helpful, the Emperor wasn’t. That night while he was resting in his private chamber, a guard entered to inform about the arrival of his minister Glinda.


Just a moment later, Glinda, a lean old woman entered the chamber before bowing.


Leaning back in his chair, Aelius asked, “What is it, Glinda?”


As the guard left, she replied, “It is about our prince, Emperor.”


Observing the Emperor being silent, Glinda continued, “The Chain of Three Jewels which will help the Blessed to seek our Prince after his demise has been found. According to our scouts, the Knights of Merk are holding it.”


Confused, Aelius said, “Then command the Knights of Merk to submit the chain.”


Hesitating for a moment, the minister replied, “They have defied your command, Emperor. The Blessed warned us that they might serve Archen.”


Not bothering about it, Aelius closed his eyes before asking, “What do we do when someone in our ranks defies our command, Glinda?”


With a smile, Glinda replied, “I sent three battalions to the Merk Emperor. I think we will soon have the chain at our disposal.”


Disappointed, Aelius asked again, “Is that what we do to the ones who defy us, Glinda?”


Realising what is expected of her, Glinda replied, “I will ensure that the captured Knights are burnt to death before our people and be made an example of.”


Now Aelius turned to her before nodding his acceptance and Glinda bowed before leaving.

 

Chapter II

Battle of Golden Tower

As the Sun rose, Elrin the commander of Knights at Merk ordered his men to form lines while facing the Emperor’s battalions. He knew they would be slaughtered but he couldn’t defy the promise he made to Archen. He couldn’t give up the sacred chain.


Ever since Archen asked them to secure the Golden Tower, the Knights have been killing everyone who approached their camps built around the tower. Not intending to change his position while glancing at the forces before him, General Elrin took a deep breath before shouting, “We have pledged to defend this tower to our death! Let us keep our promise!”


Pulling out his sword, he shouted, “To honour and glory!” and his men shouted, “To honour and glory!” before following their general’s lead.


As General Elrin raced forward gallantly, all his Knights followed him. Predicting that arrows would be shot, most Knights held their shields. The Emperor’s generals did notice the shields but that didn’t stop them from commanding their archers to shoot every arrow at their own will. This truly unleashed chaos and the long arrows killed many Knights before they struck the first blow.


When the Knights were almost approaching them, the Emperor’s cavalry charged and blood spilt like rain. Following the cavalry, the infantry advanced and the last few Knights were arrested. Though they knew that their defeat was inevitable, they did send a lot of soldiers to their graves before being captured.


Following their capture, the Emperor’s Generals rode towards the tower. As they approached it, they noticed that the coal-black tower was like one of their prisons. Getting down from his horse and walking towards the tower, General Hector pulled out his shiny, lustrous key embedded with ruby and placed it in the keyhole of the seven-foot-tall black metal door.


When it opened, Hector thanked the Blessed for the key and when the doors completely opened, they could notice that the black tower slowly started to turn golden. As it shone in the sunlight, all generals pulled out their swords before entering the fort.


They could see the statue of Archen and no one else. As Hector moved forward along with the others, twelve Archen’s minions appeared out of nowhere. They were cloaked and didn’t look anything like their master, the embodiment of the immoral.


Before the generals even took one more step, one of the minions warned, “One step forward and all of you shall have to embrace death.”


With a smile on his face, Hector stepped forward and attacked the minion. Following him, the other generals attacked and soon enough all of them were fighting. Though the minions looked lean, their force in striking their enemy was intensive.


Within a short while, the generals took down two of the minions and this made the other minions panic. For the first time, one of the minions teleported and sliced a general’s head. This use of magic changed the rules. Now every general’s sword turned red.


With these red swords, even if the general touched the minions, they would burn to their death. However, neither the generals nor the Blessed who gave the generals these swords knew the sword’s powers exactly except for the fact that these swords possessed magical power. So two more generals were killed due to the lack of knowledge before all of the minions were taken down.


The last three generals walked towards the tall black statue of Archen and around the neck of the statue was the precious and pristine chain.


Studded with a ruby, an emerald and a sapphire, this chain called the Chain of Three Jewels was believed to be forged by the Bloomers. Removing it from the statue, Hector put it carefully in his stash before starting their return journey to the capital.

 

Chapter III

Noble Soul


Though Glinda knew that the battalions wouldn’t reach Merk yet, she was awake all night reevaluating her decision in the number of battalions sent. Predicting that the battalions would reach Merk the next morning, Glinda sat in her chamber awake all night wondering if she should have sent more battalions. By the next morning, her belief about being victorious faded. That evening when she almost made up her mind to send a few more battalions, a scout returned from Merk to inform her about the victory.


That night again, even the cold autumn breeze, the full moon and the news about their victory couldn’t make her sleep. She awaited to obtain the chain and as the Sun was almost waking up, she heard the city guards playing the drum. Getting off her chair, Glinda immediately rushed to the ministers’ hall in the southern part of the palace to meet the generals.


She stood facing the door and heard the army entering the castle. She heard the footsteps and just a moment later, General Hector entered the ministers’ hall to notice her.


Walking towards the old woman he hated, General Hector kneeled before saying, “With God Olrin’s blessings, we have acquired the chain. However, it did cost us a lot of lives. I hope their families are taken care of properly.”


Signalling the general to raise, Glinda replied, “We will always take care of those who deserve it, General Hector. If these families have contributed their children to the army, I’m sure we would stand by them at any cost.”


Controlling his anger, General Hector mentioned, “They were brave men who gave up their lives to obtain this piece of jewellery. A few of them didn’t even know what they were dying for but they did. They believed in us and I know how we work. That’s exactly why I’m asking you to reconsider my request.”


Silence prevailed for a moment before Glinda replied, “I will try my best and that’s the end of this discussion. Now I would like to take the chain.”


Obeying her, the middle-aged general passed the golden chain with his hands stained in blood. Without noticing the blood, Glinda just took the chain and glanced at it.


Noticing her for a moment, General Hector bowed before leaving. He knew that neither he nor Glinda could bring any change to the system that their Emperor had established. A system based on fear. But Hector firmly believed that such a system would sooner or later fail.


Holding the chain, Glinda commanded, “General Hector! On the command of our Emperor, we would want the captured knights to be burnt to death before our people.”


Turning to look at the minister for one last time, General Hector nodded his head in agreement before continuing to leave. Noticing him for a moment, Glinda felt the general was getting tired and would soon need to retire and spend more time training young soldiers.


She waited until the doors closed before leaving for the prince’s chambers. As she expected, the Emperor was spending time with his son just like every morning.


Noticing Glinda, the Emperor remarked, “So we have finally obtained the instrument that would part me and my son forever.”


With a smile, the young prince lying in his bed said, “Maybe this is my purpose, father.”


The very next moment, the Emperor remarked, “Your purpose is to serve after me and ensure this world wouldn’t fall back into chaos.”


Continuing to smile, Saviour replied, “I have been bedridden for two years, father. I’m impatiently awaiting my end with no belief that I would be able to serve you anymore. This way, at least I’m helping you find Olrin. With the embodiment, wouldn’t the world be at peace?”


With eyes filled with tears, Aelius didn’t say a word. Glinda on the other hand mentioned, “My prince, this chain has been forged by the Bloomers and even the Blessed don’t know how long a mortal can withstand its power. Maybe it would be wise to take time and wear it when you are truly ready.”


Extending his hand to his father, Saviour replied, “I’m one of the few mortals who are getting to choose my death… for me existing in this pain is more terrible than embracing my death. So let me sleep beside my father tonight, and tomorrow, I will be ready.”


Aelius held his son’s hand as he begged, “Forgive me, son. Forgive me.”


Pulling his father’s hand towards him, Saviour kissed it. With a smile, Saviour replied, “There is nothing to forgive father. I’m going to meet my mother soon.”


Listening to his son, Aelius broke down in tears and Glinda commanded the guards to leave before leaving the chamber herself.


How is it so far?

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  • Liked it

  • Forget it

  • Hated it


 

Chapter IV

Soul Cages

The next morning, the Blessed and Glinda arrived at the Prince’s chamber after he bid farewell to everyone he wanted to. Noticing them, the Emperor kissed his son one last time on his forehead and exited the chamber.


When the Emperor left, the Prince nodded his head as Glinda approached him, he started chanting prayers and concluded by saying, “Forgive me, God, for my sins and I plead you to welcome me to your home.”


When the Prince turned silent, Glinda hesitantly adorned him with the chain and for a moment, the Prince felt nothing. However, just a moment later, he breathed for one last time and the Blessed could see their Prince’s soul floating above his body.

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