You realise she’s a female?

‘You realize she’s a female?’ asked Lord Qubera, his long golden eyelashes fluttering on his fleshy cheeks as he blinked. I cringed, wishing I had sunglasses. As with the eyelashes, the rest of Qubera’s bulk was covered in gold bling. Rings, medallions, necklaces, bracelets, you name it, he was wearing it.

He looked like a walking, talking pawnshop.

Even the wave-like pattern etched on his chest, which was part of the binding ritual that let the daeva’s spirit inhabit the fat human body, was tattooed in gold.‘She’s the best, O Rider of Men,’ answered Grrhat, who stood before Qubera with his back towards me.He bowed deliberately so that his tight butt almost touched my nose.

He had changed into his favoured guise, a black muscular body and a regal silver-embroidered coat. I would have been aroused if I did not have other things on my mind. For one, my hands were tied behind my back with mayan rope to ensure I couldn’t mumble a mantra.

Then, I was still dressed in the tatters of what used to be a beautiful dress and, of course, my body smelt of yaksha poop. And, believe me, I could have ignored all those things but for the fact that I was in what could only be termed…

…a humongous jewellery box.

Qubera’s office had turned out to be a swanky newly constructed building behind Lodhi Gardens. But even the gold frills on all the windows and doors of the building couldn’t have prepared me for what the yaksha warriors, who escorted me in, called the ‘Grand Hall’ – a monstrosity of hundreds of richly engraved golden pillars, in the centre of which was a pond.

I wasn’t sure if the hall was underground or on one of the upper floors of the building because I hadn’t been able to sense the direction in which the elevator had gone, but about this there was no doubt: it was glaring gaudiness of gigantic proportions. We sat on a jewel-encrusted raft gently floating in the pool. Opulently dressed yakshas and yakshis – palm-sized forest creatures – fluttered all around, some singing, some dusting, some spraying perfume.

‘But … but, she has breasts and a fertility hole.

She is a mere mode of pleasure for man, a womb for his seed. How can she help us?’ asked Qubera.

‘Times have changed, O King of Kings. Let me assure you, she is better than most of the other neechs.’

‘You mean there aren’t any real tantriks out there anymore?’

‘There are, Lord of all Riches. The Central Association of Tantriks can supply as many tantriks as you require, but none of them are as apt as her for this case, my lord. She may be a female in body, but in her mind, she’s an alpha male. If anyone can do this for us, she can.’

‘To hire a she-tantrik? Inconceivable! What is the universe coming to? We—’

‘Mister Qubera,’ I interrupted, furious, ‘it’s not as if I came here crawling on my knees to serve you. I have just about had enough of your bitching …’

My voice echoed in the large hall. Yakshas and yakshis, green, red and brown, who had been flying silently about their business, stopped in mid-air, all eyes on me, ready to rip out my throat at a single signal from their lord. But I didn’t really care. The last thing I wanted was to stand here and explain why I did what I did to this massive flesh of ostentation.

Excerpted from Cult of Chaos, an Anantya Tantrist Mystery. Check out Anantya Tantrist’s (mis)adventures in Cult of Chaos, The Matsya Curse or The Rakta Queen. Out now.