Sipping on some noxious concoction from his cup, which was fashioned from the skull of a dead child, Aryadhatta hissed, "Of course I can turn you into a frog with a snap of my wrists."

Gnawing hungrily on the flesh of the dead dog, rats and flies feasted on the remains of the dead animal. Except for the large bronze idol of the Natraj, shabbiness pervaded the room. Clothes and palm leaf inscriptions swathed the floor, hiding the sand that had accumulated from a lack of cleaning. Two incense lamps burned but they did nothing to stop the room from smelling no better than my feces. Of course, one could say that for the entire city.

"Yes, you have your powers," muttered Sahib dismissively. "But that doesn't stop you from owing the Samgha five hundred rupees. I'm not fooled by your parlor tricks, and I know you have plenty of wealth hidden away."

Chuckling softly, Aryadhatta strummed his long beard as he paced nervously. His long, sinuous limbs, swaying wildly from side to side, his oddly shaped face and his short stature gave him the distinct appearance of a monkey. Of course, I would have never told him that lest I wanted to be turned into a spider or something else nasty.

Sahib Adarsh stood firm, anger flashing only momentarily beady black eyes. Sahib was a tall, broad shouldered man, whose dour face never seemed to smile. Sahib, though nearly a head taller than his adversary, did not frighten Aryadhatta at all.

"Your high caste does not save you from the law," proclaimed Adarsh, "I pay my taxes as well. So does my servant, Nikhil."

Wonderful, now the renowned wizard Aryadhatta knew my name as well. Perhaps living into my old age just wasn't in my destiny.

"You mistake me for a wealthy man," said Aryadhatta softly, gesturing to his surroundings, "What rich man would live in such filth."

Considering the water seeping through the roof, I felt Aryadhatta had a point but Sahib was another man that could make my life miserable at any moment so I did not point that out.

"It is only just that a man with a soul as filthy as yours lives in a filthy hovel like this." replied Adarsh, "Your dealings with the Thugs should have made you a wealthy man. And even the Thugs pay taxes now."

"Isn't that wonderful," he replied over the cackling roosters outside. "The new government lets criminals go free if they pay their taxes."

A moment of eerie silence fell upon the room. Everything that needed to be said had been said. The gently pitter-patter of rain had accelerated to a frenzied drumbeat and thunder boomed in the distance.

"This is your last warning," said Sahib Adarsh. "Three days from now you will be arrested and thrown into jail like a common thief. Your noble blood cannot save you now. Pay your taxes, or I will report you."

"Of course," he answered. "It'll be amusing to see your soldiers try to put me in jail."

"I'll see you then," said Adarsh, grabbing my shoulders and almost pushing me out the creaking door.