Ojhi and the Jungle of Daevas- Part 1
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Note- Following story contains certain topics like slavery, violence and gore.

In the beginning, tens of thousands of years before the reign of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram before Shri Krishna revealed the Gita to Arjun at Kurukshetra, in the time when Aryavrat itself was not established by king Bharata and before Sindh discovered agriculture, there were 5 tribes of Daeva: Saranari, Mahari, Meghari, Nustani, and Uttastani, each led by a Rajamata married to the Scarlet Maharaja. For many other tribes of Hindustan, they were the savages who wielded the power of jins and used them to wreak havoc on the people. They would sacrifice innocents to their demonic god, to whom they would pray.

The five tribes would always fight with each other, killing thousands in each fight. However, they were evenly matched; their plants and beasts were equally matched with each other, and thus they drowned Hindustan into a pool of blood, where it remained for eternity.

However, Karki, the Rajamata of Saranari who lived in the hills of Utranchal, was given a revelation by her husband, the Scarlet Maharaja, to march north and defeat a nation led by a Khidr. She did the same and marched to Kashmir and found Astras, unmatched by any other weapons ever built till now. The next time the five tribes clashed, Saranari used the astras and defeated the other tribes, laying waste to them.

At Mamjul, home of the Saranari, Karki crowned herself the Rajmata of all other tribes, and thus was born the empire of the Daevas. Despite the astras being depleted, the Daevas attacked the rest of free Hindustan and ruled the land unopposed. They built great fortress cities and temples for their god and would sacrifice thousands for him.

And so the empire remained the dominant force in Hindustan and spread its legs in Faras, Burma, and Cheen till they finally found their enemies in the form of the Fuladhi Army of Mekhane from Misr.

- From The History of the Daevas (1698), by Muhammad Shirajullah Khan, the 93rd head of the nine shields of Ashoka.

The aircraft hovered over the dense jungles of Sharian province (or today’s Arunachal Pradesh), the fief of Lord Kirha of the Meghari tribe, which ruled over the North East India and Burmese colonies. It was nearly an hour before sunrise, with the moon and the stars illuminating the night sky, while on the ground, within the dense jungle, spots of light were visible, indicating the presence of civilization. I looked at the scenery through the monitor while listening to some music.

"Ojhi Mana, how much farther?" Nir asked me, sitting at the copilot’s seat, though it was completely autopilot. There was excitement all over his face. I remembered my first day with both excitement and fear that I might mess things up somehow. At least he was not travelling with a high councillor in a rust bucket.

"Just near, we are reaching the largest settlement here."

Nir relaxed back on the chair, his eyes looking ahead into the front window, appreciating the night sky and occasional clouds. "Sir, forgive me for asking this, but which place did you serve in for your first time?" I smiled at his innocent question and his fear of offending me.

"Nir, no need for this much formality; you can call me Ojhi. And asking about my work is in no way offending me." I assured him, "So, my first mission was to explore the Kingdom of Ladron, nearly six thousand years ago. It was an enlightening experience. And I know this will be for you too."

"Yes, sir. I am really looking forward to it." Nir answered. We continued on our path for a few more minutes until we finally reached the landing spot, a kilometre away from the city of Mish, the capital of the province. The ship began its descent among the trees as we were hailed by Oleum through communications. I answered it.

"Agent Ojhi and Nir," on screen, Merer Yain appeared. He is the youngest high councillor, reflected by his appearance as a twenty year old, healthy man compared to the rest of the council, who looked like old men with white hair. His voice was deep but smooth. "As you know, you have been sent here to inspect the three most powerful tribes of Daeva and assess their society and their dark magic. Report everything, the fate of these people depends on it." The communication was terminated on their side.

Wasting no time, we geared up with a suit to render us invisible to the Daevites and make observation an easier job.

"Ready, partner." I asked him, causing him to look away in shyness. It was a guess considering the visor of the helmet was nearly opaque from the outside, but the way he looked away was caused by discomfort.

"Sir, I am your junior. This word 'Partner' has too much respect for me." He confirmed my suspicions.

"Come on, Nir. Don't think of yourself as being so lowly compared to me."

We both stepped down from the aircraft, greeted by the greenery around us, filled with the sounds of wild animals and birds. The aircraft started elevating again to fly back to Oleum since our extraction point was at Irnan, a small village in the central plains of China. We were meant to travel the entire distance either on foot or using the flight system in our suits, though I preferred to go on foot for most of the time.

We began walking towards Mish through the branches and moist ground. I was leading ahead, holding a blade and swinging it to cut down any branch that was obstructing our path.

"Ojhi Mana, can you explain this for me? What did Merer mean by ‘the fate of these people depends on it’?"

"Sigh Well, Merer meant if Daevas possesses any capabilities that may threaten Oleum. If they do, then the High Council will send forces to exterminate them."

"What? Why?" Nir asked me, but before I could answer him, somewhere, someone began screaming in agony. "What was that?"

"I don't know, nor should it bother us." I suggested we continue our path towards the city. Nir gave a nod, and we were on the move again.

After thirty minutes of walking through the jungle, filled with the cries of wild animals and birds, we took our first step inside the city as the dawn broke.

From above, the city looked like any other patch of forest, and it did until the Daevas showed up. If we ignore their rampant slavery and human sacrifice, this civilization possessed a horticultural might unrivalled by anyone on Earth. The very buildings were built of trees—not of wood but of living trees. The Daevas would bloat the trees with their magic and scientific techniques. Each tree was as wide as a regular building in the present day and three stories tall. The rooms would be carved inside it with mud mixed with various drugs and chemicals to heal the tree. The roads of the city were made from the roots of the house trees and lined with rows of pebbles; bridges were again made with the roots and branches.

We engaged the cloaking mechanism of the suit and entered the city. The streets were filled to the brim with Daevites, men and women wearing colourful tunics and ceramic jewellery, including bangles, heavy necklaces, earrings, or a simple, tiny rod of gold or silver pierced into the earlobe. Children wore similar types of clothing, except young boys wore nothing above except jewellery. The Daevites had long hair tied together with copper hairpins. However, then there were slaves, the ones who dominated the streets. Their appearance seemingly depended on how their masters treated them. The best of slaves wore a tunic, signifying the favour and trust their master had in them; however, most only had a small, brown cloth around their waist, their upper bodies completely naked to signify their status within society. Many had bruises around their bodies, and some had chains around their necks, leashed like dogs by their masters.

The shops, like houses, were built from trees, albeit smaller ones, and sold fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Some also sold pottery and animals to be eaten, both domesticated and wild, hunted down by the shopkeepers' slaves.

We continued on our tour around the city, seeing children playing on the streets and small parks walled by roots. However they were Daevite children, the slave children would be either leashed to the wall by their parents before going to work or would spend most of their day inside slave quarters, if the masters were rich, or in a small room. We eventually stopped near a shop and sat on the footpath; there were no benches, and people mostly sat on the ground. On our opposite was an open ground with a stage, also made from the roots and branches of some kind of small, flat tree. Several Daevites and their slaves were standing around it, witnessing an event happening on it.

"Ojhi Mana, this place is messed up." Nir said to me, disturbed, "How can some be so brutal to someone? Do they even care about these people?" He pointed to the house opposite us, where a slave boy was held by two Daevites, screaming and cursing, but to no effect on others. At that time I could not understand them, but later, after growing affluent in the language, I understood that the boy was seemingly found guilty of praising Iün, a former slave and rebel in Xinak Crown Colony (present-day Sichuan Province in China).

"Nir, this is what they are? We cannot judge them." The boy began to shriek while a third Daevite arrived, older than the two. He held a book made from vellum, which he opened and started chanting something in a language. It was some kind of clerical dialect of Daevic.

"How so, Ojhi Mana, they are making these people their properties and we are just standing and watching it. Ojhi Mana, we should do something." Nir tried to get up but I grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to sit.

"Nir, we are under strict orders to just observe." The chanting ended. Beneath the boy's feet, roots emerged, crawling their way up around his bare body. The boy screamed while Nir, no longer able to see it, tried to get from my grasp, but in vain. Eventually the roots cocooned him completely while Daevites started chanting two words, "Vepe Tau!" They began to clap and were joined by the crowd, at least the Daevites. The slaves were silent while the boy tried to struggle against the vines but finally he stopped resisting. Eventually the roots retreated from his body, only leaving a skeleton and an orb, of radius of approximately 20 cm were left. One of the two Daevites next to it picked the bones up and threw them on the ground. The Daevites began screaming at their slaves to pick it up. One couple got the skull of the boy as the man raised it up with joy, joined by his wife. The others who got any bones did the same. The slaves, horror painted all over their faces, powerless as they were picking the remains of one of their sons.

"Is this what we are here to observe? This absolute barbarity? This sorry excuse of human civilization? We should immediately go back to Oleum and tell the High Council to exterminate these Barbarians." Nir’s anguish lashed on me, but I kept my calm.

"Slavery does not warrant extermination and we have just started our journey, let's observe them for a bit longer." I said before starting my walk again. Nir, powerless against me, reluctantly followed me. We left the boundaries of the city with the sun slowly going up over our heads. Our next stop was the city of Druz, lying somewhere near the present day Nalanda city which was under the control of the Numani tribe of Daeva. The city served as the capital of Numani territory, comprising much of west India and also was the site of innovation of the empire. The major scholars of Horticulture, Thaumaturgy, Alchemy and Mathematics resided in the city and developed new technology for the empire. The city also hosted the university of Kallya, where the next generation of intellectuals would be created. We both engaged the flight system of our suits and levitated up into the sky, flying on our way to the city.

After an hour of flight over other Daevite settlements and fields where they would grow Barley and other food with their slaves as labour, we landed near the limits of the city. The city of Druz was in many ways similar to Mish, its houses were built from living trees, though taller and unlike Mish with only green leaves, Druz’s buildings were decorated with flowers and songbirds lived within it’s branches and chirped in a pleasant tune.

The major population of Druz were made of young men and women who came from all corners of the empire to study. They would wear saffron tunic in contrast to colourful dresses of the commoners as part of their scholarship. The female slaves wore a brown tunic while men were bare. The streets of Druz were radically different with long, centipede-like giant creatures walking through the roads, loads and people riding on it. There were horses too, used to travel at distant points of the city while elephants were reserved for heavy labour or war.

Due to it’s huge size, the very sky above was covered by branches, creating shade on the ground, ideal for the market. The market sold different things including food, notebooks made from vellum, ink, items used in worship and other household items.

"Let’s see the university." I said to Nir and began walking to the university while avoiding bumping into anyone.

The University of Kallya was built at the centre of the city; I theorise that the city was built for the university. It had a huge sprawling campus with a huge dome-like structure made with several oak trees and flowers of the colours red, blue, yellow, pink, etc. The trunks of these trees made the walls, with their tops converging to a single point at the centre of the building. The largest dome was at least nine levels high, with other smaller ones hosting separate departments. Boards made from a solid, lustrous resin-like substance held by a small tree or hung with vines showed what department or place they were, with names carved in them in Daevic script.

"Which place shall we visit first?" I asked Nir. He, however, did not answer me. "Nir?"

"That, that." He spurted quickly and pointed at one of the distant buildings, also one of the smallest. He started walking there, not even looking at me.

The university, aside from buildings, mostly had flat grassland where students would sit down to either study or talk with each other. They were joined by their professors, who wore similar saffron cladding with a red ruby necklace, signifying their rank. The university also owned slaves, but unlike others outside, they were fully clad in blue clothes. They were well fed and did both odd jobs as well as being literate, writing down the lectures and other speeches of the professors and copying books. The city of Druze and the entire realm as a whole were kind to their slaves as compared to other parts of the empire, but the students and faculty here were even more polite to them. Young students would refer to older slaves with full respect, and professors would even teach younger slaves how to write Daevic.

Nir gave an audible sigh of awe as his eyes fell on the interior of the building. The entire interior was made from colourful resin, not just decorations but the desk, chairs, stairs, and even the covers of some books. The students were always on the move, going to their classes for lectures. We looked into the classes; students were sitting on the mats on the ground, while the teacher sat on top of a tiger skin mat and would deliver the lecture, which students would both write down as well as repeat line by line in unison. The room itself was devoid of anything except for some books next to the teacher. The room was lit by sunlight coming from the window as well as a beetle-like bug the size of a dog, which Daevites called Urk, resting at the ceiling while its body illuminated, bright enough for the class.

"Ojhi Mana, does every human civilization start like this?" Nir asked me.

"Yes, I mean close enough; you know, many don't have magic bugs." I said. We continued on our way, going up to the second floor. The resin stairs creaked as we made up, only to be greeted by a foul smell. The entire floor was some kind of lab, with students working on flesh and animals using sophisticated stone or bone tools. Some students were working under the guidance of their professors while being assisted by some slaves, while a group was on the far end of the room, working on something.

Nir And I reached there and looked at it. It was a structure made from flesh, wood, and crystal. Made like a screen, it was connected with a cord made from nerves and muscles, moving out to the other side of the table, where something was there. I walked there and saw it—a sphere with a flat base. There were a set of eyes, looking straight like a predator, maybe a bird. Back at the main part of this bio-machine, it was a rectangular slab of flesh with several bones and symbols etched on it. Above it was a covering of an opaque membrane.

We both stood behind the group to not bump into anyone. One of the students went to the other side and stood in front of the eyes. Another student stood in front of the machine. The former took a proper position and signalled. The latter inserted his finger inside what looked like a hole at the side of the flesh

The membrane started changing colours. Some students held each other’s hands, both excited and scared. The membrane continued changing it’s colours till some part of it started taking a shape, brown, yellow, orange. The process continued for seven minutes till finally a low detail image was created. It lacked fine details, but overall was correctly showing the young man’s face and clothes.

The students were quite disappointed, though getting comforted by their teachers. For me, this was genuinely something I never saw before. Creating an image, using biological components was something completely alien. There are several human states around the galaxy which use bio-mechanical tech, but they were only able to achieve that because they had prior knowledge of metallic technology. Daevites were making these from scratch while having no knowledge of metal smelting.

After roaming around the city for some more time, by night we both went into the forest again and sat on a branch of the tree, away from any human presence. I was sending all information we collected till now and sent it back to Merer. Nir however was silently sitting, lost in his own thoughts. I guess the episode in the university did something to him.

"Nir, how are you liking your job?" He was still lost, "is it boring?"

"W-what!" He looked at me in shock. "Ojhi Mana, no, of course not. This is a great job."

"Of course." I said. "What do you think of the university?"

"Not that fanciful, considering they have slaves." Nir sighed. "This empire existed for two three millennia by now and yet they could not progress."

"Back at the University, I saw technological progress. Making a camera out of tissues and flesh is something truly remarkable."

"But they have slavery and human sacrifice. This kind of progress means nothing."

"Nir, my dear friend, you have quite a black and white view of the world. Nations are shades of grey." Nir looked down, bathed grey by the moonlight. The entire day had drained my spirit, perks of being a young man with a four digit age. I took my lighter and a cigarette out of the utility pouch in my suit and lit myself a good smoke.



In Oleum we have our version of tobacco, a blue leafy plant we call, Arshemaon. Similar to tobacco except it is a safer alternative, carrying no risk of cancer. I always wished to plant some trees outside Oleum for Earthlings to try once, but the High Council forbids all kinds of export, even of a plant. The delightful smoke entered my mouth.

"You know smoking is harmful, and you can lose everything." Nir mumbled.

"All I will lose will be my lungs, for the two hundred seventy-fifth time. Don't worry about such things and take some." I took another cigarette out and offered it to Nir, but he declined.

He remained silent before starting to speak again. "Ojhi Mana, can you tell me something?"

"Yes." I puffed a cloud of smoke out.

"At the beginning, Merer said that the fate of these people depended upon us. Why the High Council is going so strict on them? What is the reason behind this?"

"Well," my smoking was done, and I threw the butt down into the abyss of the forest as its faint light got devoured by darkness. "People say that ninety thousand years ago, a civilization like this one existed on a planet. They too were human-sacrificing slavers who managed to reach the space age. While this was no problem, considering that Merer Ura was famous for allowing those race fanatic Chir to continue their devastating path, citing that our role is of protectors and not to intervene in mortal affairs, the deity they worshipped was something that made them dangerous to all of humanity in Morar. Thus, the High Council sealed their fate and planted evidence to show that the Chir Empire did this. Though the Chir wear it as a badge of pride."

"So they fear that the Daevic god can be a threat to Earth?"

"Yes." I looked at the sky. "This time, fear is far worse than that time, at least after reading those logs. This time, this is happening on this planet, where we live." Nir yawned.

He took out a vial of anti-sleep serum from his utility pouch and opened it. "So where is next, sir?"

"Well, I guess we can go to Mamjul next, see how their court and religion works, and then we can visit the Nalkan state." I said before getting up.

Both me and Nir engaged our suites for flight and ascended to the heavens, moving towards our next target, over the jungles and the rivers, over fields and plantations, over the realm that was called Daevon.

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