Ravana could hear the cries coming from the garden. When he approached a clearing, Ravana saw two larger boys standing on the roof of a small shed. They were holding a smaller boy upside down by the ankles over the edge of the roof. Below the small boy, on the side of the shed, was a water trough.
“Where is our money, Sukha?” One of the boys on the roof was wearing a red shirt. He snarled and shook the small boy’s leg. “You were supposed to give it to us today.”
“I don’t have it for you yet,” the smaller boy, Sukha, sobbed. “Please, Niku. Get me up from here. If you give me more time, I’ll get it for you.”
“What do you think about that, Rajesh? Should we give him more time?” Niku’s lip curled into a smirk. Both boys laughed and lowered Sukha closer to the water. “Or should we find out if he can breathe underwater?”
Ravana could feel the young boy’s fear. It wasn’t just getting wet. He’s terrified by water, he realized. Master Mahish had told him that he could amuse himself in the palace gardens until the evening meal, as long as he stayed out of trouble. Interrupting a fight wasn’t what the Master had intended.
But Sukha’s fear was palpable. Without thinking, Ravana squared his shoulders and ran towards the shed. “Stop that,” he shouted. “Leave him alone.”
The two large boys started. After a moment, they pulled Sukha up onto the roof with them. Then, after flashing a smirk at Ravana, Niku pushed the smaller boy from the roof. Ravana watched in shock as Sukha landed on the ground with a loud thud. The two larger boys jumped off from the roof and landed on their feet. Sukha remained motionless.
Ravana rushed towards Sukha. The boy still hadn’t moved. Ravana knelt on the ground and placed his fingers on the boy’s temple. Warmth seeped from his fingers into the boy’s skull. “He needs help,” Ravana said, trying to recall his lessons. It was the first time that he had tried to heal anybody without guidance. Ravana closed his eyes and focused on the blood flow.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” Niku smirked. Rajesh picked up Ravana and slammed him against the wall of the shed. Both of them scanned Ravana up and down before resting their gaze on Ravana’s face. Surprised, Niku nudged his friend. “Rajesh, look at his eyes. They’re yellow.”
Rajesh’s brown eyes widened. “It’s the demon boy.” He dropped his hands from Ravana and stepped back from the shed. When Ravana tried to walk away, Niku pushed him against the shed, placing an arm across Ravana’s chest. When Ravana struggled, Niku leaned on him with his full weight.
Rajesh put a hand on Niku’s shoulder. “Let him go, Niku. Asuras have special powers. We haven’t been taught how to fight them yet.”
Niku snorted. “I’m the son of one of the greatest warriors in Bharat. Do you think this boy scares me?” When Rajesh remained silent, Nicu looked at him scornfully. “Are you afraid, Rajesh? There’s nothing to be afraid of. I’ve always wanted to see if the demons were as powerful as the stories.” An odd look came on Niku’s face as he studied the water trough. “Now we can find out. Let’s see if this demon can breathe underwater.”