Death was all around him.
He was in his battle fort, watching his men, thousands of
them, dying at the hands of the Tribals – Vanars, Yakshas and
Nagas. Blood was spilled, heads were severed and limbs were
Prahlad knew that, at fifteen, he was too young for this.
He cursed under his breath. Despite his age, he was tall,
with short hair and scars already adorning his body. Scars
from battles and fights, and from his father.
His father was always merciless when it came to battle
training, even to the point of hurting his sons. After all,
strength defines a person in the Asura culture.
The Asura war captain appeared next to Prahlad, sweating
profusely. ‘What should we do, your highness?’
Your highness … he was a prince of the capital of Dakshina,
Kashyapuri. But he always felt odd when someone reminded
him of his title. It didn’t matter that he was a prince. He had
always been humble.
Prahlad narrowed his gaze and looked at the battlefield
– red, dusty and swirling with blood as the two armies, the
black-armoured one of the Asuras and the many-coloured
one of the Agni, fought each other.
This was one of the many battles fought against Agni,
who was serving Lord Indra as his General. And with each
battle, Agni inched closer. Kashyapuri was just two hundred
kilometres away from this battleground. In the last battle, it
had been four hundred kilometres away.
The next fight will probably happen in Kashyapuri itself!
Prahlad had been sent by his father Hiranya to use his
strategies against Agni’s battalion.
‘Use the catapults,’ he told the captain now. ‘Use flaming
balls of fire against the enemy,’
‘That’ll take time, your highness,’
Prahlad pursed his lips. Catapults were certainly timeconsuming.
He saw how Agni’s army was using wide shields
against the Asuras. They were made of bronze, had spikes on
their outer surface, and had to be carried by ten men.
Agni is smart. Protecting himself as he kills.
‘Why don’t you just scamper away to your toys and let me
handle it?’ said a familiar voice from the back.
Prahlad turned to face his older brother, Anuhrad. He was
a handsome man, but his voice was venomous and abrasive,
the opposite of Prahlad, who was quiet and gentle. Anuhrad
had long hair he kept tied back, and his eyes were lined with
kohl. He wore the Asura battle gear made of obsidian.
‘What are you doing here?’ Prahlad asked.
‘Helping you, as always.’ Anuhrad walked in, taller and
firmer than his brother. ‘Father got a pigeon from the captain
that you were losing.’
Prahlad felt betrayed, and instantly glanced at the captain,
who lowered his head.
‘I’m fine. We are fine,’ Prahlad emphasized, but he was
pushed away by his brother, who took position at the lookout
from the fort.
‘Doesn’t seem like it,’ Anuhrad smirked as he looked at
the battlefield, and then turned to the captain. ‘Bring the fire
arrows, distract the enemy while you still have the backup
Prahlad didn’t want to use the backup army. They were
mercenaries – untrustworthy Tribals – the cannibalistic,
hungry and absolutely evil Pishach. He hoped to refrain from
using them, but Anuhrad … no … Anuhrad didn’t care.
‘All right, my lord.’ The captain was beaming now.
Was Auhrad showing the signs of a true king, a true leader?
A pang of jealousy stung Prahlad, but as always, he stayed
‘Send them out. Also, the volley of the arrows needs to
hit beyond the rams they are using. If possible, build up
the catapults while you are using the arrows. Also charge
them with war elephants. How many do we have?’ Anuhrad
‘Erm, my lord, four,’ the captain replied.
‘What about the Danavs?’
‘Two have already been sent out. One of them is injured.’
Anuhrad grew thoughtful. ‘Get your best bowmen on it
and hit the ones beyond the ram. The ram is our enemy for
today, my man!’ he said, and the captain rushed to follow his
Prahlad eyed Anuhrad. ‘You do realize the Pishach are not
our safest bet? They can turn on us.’
‘We pay them enough, brother. Do not worry.’
‘And the elephants? We will be losing most of our resources
on the first few days of the war. We need to keep enough so we
can sustain ourselves till the end of the war.’
Anuhrad squared up next to Prahlad, his golden Asura eyes
watching his younger brother. ‘What makes you think this isn’t
the end? Going by the number of people we are losing, brother,
we will end up massacred by tonight. I fight like there’s no
tomorrow because the best form of defence is offence.’
He turned and left the room. Prahlad followed him, and
they went down the tower. They reached the ground where
the soldiers were preparing to return to battle. Food was
being supplied, quivers were refilled, nurses were tending to
Prahlad began, ‘Father should have trusted me.’
Anuhrad walked to the gigantic stables where more than
a hundred reserve stallions were kept. ‘He did and then you
shook his trust when you lost on the first day of the battle.’
Anuhrad grabbed the black stallion and saddled it up,
mounting it and examining his sword.
Prahlad felt disappointed and betrayed. Most of all, he
was angry with Hiranya. But he stayed calm. ‘Where are you
going?’ he asked his brother.
‘Out there!’ Anuhrad pointed his sword towards the main
gates of the fort, which were now barricaded. ‘If the prince
doesn’t go and spill his blood, no one will take him seriously.’
He grinned. ‘Sip your wine and enjoy the triumph from your
tower.’ He winked and rode towards the gate, followed by the
Pishach, who had geared up and were battle-ready.
Prahlad looked at their frightening visages – they had dark,
peeling skin, big, gruesome eyes, and a strange inky pattern
that ran across their entire body. The Pishach were the most
frightening of Tribals and Hiranya had teamed up with them.
The king believed that other Tribals were too noble and the
Pishach were savage. So he had paid them well and promised
that all the bodies from the war would be given to them for
dinner. More than the money, it was this promise of human
flesh that had interested the Pishach.
The very image of them eating humans made Prahlad sick,
but he shrugged off the thought.
What should I do now?
He looked at how the captain was handling the entire
situation with the bowmen, and he even told his men to get
the elephants out into the battle. Cavalry was dispatched, but
Prahlad could only focus on the wounded – all the soldiers
who were dying, or getting bruised, or losing their limbs.
They were paid handsomely for serving the crown, but was
gold more important than life?
In the beginning, Prahlad’s father had fought for nobility
for his clan, and then for the protection and survival of his
race. But now, he fought for vengeance against the evil of
Lord Indra, who had attacked Kashyapuri and killed Prahlad’s
This war was personal.
About the book
Narasimha, once a brave soldier, has left the war and lies low as a physician in a village. But a familiar face from his past seeks his help to stop the tyranny of the blind usurper Andhaka. If Narasimha refuses, the world might just end. What will he do? And why did he leave the war in the first place? Prahlad, the interim king of Kashyapuri, is torn between the ideals of his unrighteous father and his love for Lord Vishnu. Whom will he choose? Hiranyakashyap, the ruler of the Asura Empire, wants to avenge the death of his wife. To do that, he must go through the Trials and get the ultimate weapon – the Brahmastra. But the Trials have sent so many others to their death. Can Hiranyakashyap survive? Welcome to the reimagining of the fourth Avatar of Lord Vishnu by bestselling author Kevin Missal.
About the author
Kevin Missal wrote his first book at the age of 14, and at 22, the St Stephens graduate is best-selling author and a full-time writer. The first two books in his Kalki, Dharmayoddha Kalki: Avatar of Vishnu and its sequel Satyayoddha Kalki: Eye of Brahma, have both been runaway successes.