The cavern suddenly widened into a mighty hole in the darkness. The wild guru was laughing in the darkness. We gestured with our torches to see the legendary Treasure of Indore but saw nought but cold stone and distant manmade walls and the hint of a distant dome ceiling. “Where is the so called treasure old man?” Marion shouted.
“There isn’t treasure or monster and our practical joke is backfiring on us!” I said. “Let’s keep looking for the way up! There has to be a way up!” At least I hoped there was a way up! Then suddenly our torches flashed off a mound. We focused the light of the torches together and illuminated an ancient alter on which rested a prehistoric natural linga symbol of Shiva!
With teeth chatting, we approached it. The natural stone linga was made of sand molded by hands and pressed into the round pillar shape. We could see the indentations of the fingers. I gingerly touched it. The sand appeared to have hardened to sandstone! “Give or take half a million years this is a sandstone linga formed of sand!” I marveled.
The voice of the wild guru laughed in the darkness. “Ravana did make it of river ssand to worship Sshiva when a party of demigods bathing and playing in the river disturbed his devotions. He sstormed off in a temper to rave at them! He threw such sstones as to make the One Thousand Falls! But his temper defeated him! And the demigods tied him up! They refused to free him until they gave them a boom. Angry, he paid them off in impudence with a devilissh stone he created after exacting a promise they would not defile his improvised linga of Ssshiva. Then he sstormed away angry with them and angry with himself. But the demigods obeyed their oath and touched not the improvised linga of ssand. And through the eons the sand turned to ssandstone!”
“Good enough story!” I said.
“There is actually a story that runs to that effect John” Marion said. “So it might more or less be true. Or at least a distant memory of a distant echo in time!”
“And I suppose it is remotely possible later worshipers saw the linga, now stone-like, and deemed the island holy and built the temple over the original linga” I said. We are rather below the modern level of the river. I do know that ancient places are lower down than modern places. I am no scientist but this might have been the original river level and the original island level a few million eons ago — give or take the odds and sods of a thousand years! See how the dome has been created to cover this place! A man made cavern!”
“Or the priests recreated the oral myth here” Marion suggested. “Then forgot about it.” And indeed the cavern and dome appeared untouched by recent human hands.
“What was the original ‘devilish stone’ that the demigods tricked Ravana out of?” I shouted as the sounds of the mad guru echoed in the domed place of jagged rock.
“Ravana created a Cintamani!” the wild guru replied in the darkness as his voice echoed.
“What is that?” Marion asked.
“Philosopher’s Stone” I said. “The Stone of Alchemy. Ravana was reputed to be the first alchemist and he was reputed to have created the first Stone of Alchemy by which one could distill any sort of elixir, turn lead to gold, turn tears to diamonds, turn blood to rubies, and sublimate mortality into immorality.”
“The elixir of immortal life?” Marion asked.
I nodded. “And legends say this stone was called the Cintamani or Wish Fulfilling Jewel.”
“Is this the legendary Treasure of Indore?” Marion shouted to the distant wild guru. A laugh echoed in the shadowy darkness.
“Yea! For Ssshiva did claim the boom and the demigods, afeared, did ssurrender it. Ssshiva was most wisse. He realized the magic was too frightening sso he concealed the boom so none would use it. But alasss, Ravana simply created another. Sshiva then told Ravana hiss cleverness would betray him to his own sself destruction. And sso Ravana did destroy himself with his too clevernesssss.”
“So were is the Cintamani? The Philosopher’s Stone?” Marion asked. A distant wild laughed echoed.
“Father of my heart” Khan Son # 1 whispered to me. “Why is he hissing at us?”
“Good question!” I whispered. “Oh come out of the shadows old man!” I shouted vexed. “This is silly and we are cold! We need to find a way out before we die of hyperthermia!”
“Ssshiva placed it in the logical place” the distant voice echoed.
“Which is where?” Marion said. Even his patience was at an end. “Show us the way out!”
But I stared at the long ago ancient mound of improvised sand that had apparently turned through the eons to sandstone. I pointed to an imprint of a finger. Someone had pushed a small thing, a pebble, a stone, a wish fulfilling jewel, into the sand. The light of my torch reflected the indentation where something had been pushed into the sand. And as we stared, we could see just the tiniest gleam of reddish gold.
“The logical place” I gasped. “Shiva picked up the devilish stone and simply thrust it into the improvised linga. The mound of sand. Who would dare destroy a linga even if made of wet sand? And the linga turned solid. It turned into a sort of sandstone. Who would dare destroy a holy linga even to seize a stone? Even if the stone was a Cintamani! The Philosopher’s Stone of Alchemy? The Wish Fulfilling Jewel!” We stared in awe at the linga now. Contained within was a possibly quite genuine Wish Fulfilling Jewel!
“Is this like a genii” Saadat Khan whispered.
Khan Son # 1 nodded. “But a devilish stone may be a stone that betrays wishes rather than gives wishes. Beware what you ask for er you get it…..”
“Yes” I said. “The Devil gives you what you wish for and betrays you with your wishes!”
“The Original Holkar went diving and found this!” Marion said. “And he understood. But being a devotee of Shiva he left it thus! That is why he did not care if the Naga howled. He could not claim it without destroying the Holy Linga! And thus the Naga was tricked into guarding this holy thing eternally! Exasperating! For the Nagas are not particularly devoted to holy things though they love treasure per say! But this jewel is not a simple treasure! But a dangerous and indeed devilish stone indeed — if it is real!”
“Real or not, I will not touch it!” I said. “And we need to find the way to the surface er we die of hyperthermia!” I gestured to go. “Old man! Lead us to the surface!” I shouted.