When Hunter returned to the land of the living, it was with an intense need to urinate. It helped that he hadn’t been tied up. Once he had relieved himself, he patted his body to take stock of the damage done. Except for a slight bump on his head, a dry and bitter mouth, aching limbs and anger, he was fine.
She didn’t want to. She had promised herself she wouldn’t return. But her curiosity got the better of her. Next morning, making an excuse that sounded untrue even to her ears, Urmilla went to the same place, sat at the same spot, in the same position with her feet dipped in the water. She fervently hoped Master Mei Ling, whether figment of her imagination or not, would show up.
“Namaste,” said Urmilla with her hands folded. She didn’t know what language to talk in, so she decided to go with Hindi. “Is Master Mei Ling still with you?”
The girl’s expression changed from polite indifference to shock. “I am sorry; who?”
“Master Mei Ling. My sister told me about him and how he was connected with this ashram. I wish to speak with him on an urgent matter.”
“Who is your sister?” the girl asked, narrowing her eyes.
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The morning breeze woke up Lola from her deep slumber. She was feeling incongruously safe and well-rested. When she turned to see what the gunslinger was up to, she wasn’t surprised to see him with his back to her, staring into the distance.
“What is it?” she asked, her voice coming out as a croak. She wasn’t used to so much dust.
“We will be in trouble soon,” he said nonchalantly, handing her a water skin to drink from.
One couldn’t find two siblings more different than Romeo and Romilla Beaumort. Where Romeo had always been the softer, calmer one, Romilla had been the quintessential wild child. Where Romeo was more interested in living the easy life, he could never understand his sister’s fascination with guns, violence and bloodshed. The only saving grace for the brother-sister had been their parents who had allowed their children to grow as they had wanted.
Urmilla sat through the meeting in a daze, not really grasping the meaning of the words that were being said. If some passer-by thought that she was asleep, no one would blame them.
It had been a normal morning…or as normal as could be expected for someone whose sister had just died. She vaguely remembered the morning, and the memory of her getting dressed for this meeting was even fainter. She did, however, remember a single instruction, given out in a precise but cold tone, ‘dress appropriately.’ And she had. She looked every bit the part of a mourning sister – white sari with a conservative gold border and a pair of dark shades that hid her curiously dry eyes. She wondered idly if people could see through the sham.
Yolanda looked at herself in the full length mirror, the only luxury she and her father had allowed her. Her green floor-length dress was faded in the way clothes get when they have been washed too many times in the briny sea water. It was unadorned and unfashionable. She added a bright yellow apron on the dress and suddenly, her appearance didn’t look as shabby as before.
“Carlos…it is still Carlos right?”
After a startled pause, he said curtly, “You knew my father.”
This was a complication he hadn’t foreseen. Carlos wasn’t here out of choice. He had been ordered by Munster to collect the man named Xenos, though considering it meant ‘stranger,’ Carlos wondered just who or what this man was. All that Carlos knew was that the man was a legend.