"Oh, god…Please care for Kishan… please!"
Shiva heard Nidhi's prayers before she even uttered them. He froze on his path to Kailash, all thought of Sathi swept from his mind as he felt Nidhi's pain as though it were his own. His grip tightened around his Trisul as he felt the hunger and the pain that crushed her body, but mainly her heartache. Within the blink of an eye, he had disappeared.
The home that he reappeared in was small and cramped. It was a mud hut with only one room. In one corner was a make-shift coal stove set among empty pots and dented metal plates. Across the room was a small statue of Lord Vishnu decorated by flowers that had withered over the days. The only other furnishing in the hut was a small bed set at the center. At first glance, it appeared as though there were nothing but pillows and blankets thrown onto the bed, but Shiva knew there was a body beneath. He stepped toward it, hearing the ragged breath of the young boy sleeping in the bed, and took a seat at its edge. Carefully, he pulled back the blankets and looked at the pale, bony boy beneath.
"Kishan?" He called.
The boy did not respond. Sweat beaded his brow and his lips were cracked from the dry heat. He winced when he felt Lord Shiva's hand upon his cheek, but he neither opened his eyes nor spoke a word. So hot was his fever and so weakened his body that he barely knew what was happening around him in the world.
Shiva stroked the boy's cheek gently. With each stroke, the boy's fever seemed to decrease a little. "Stay strong just a little longer, Kishan," he told the boy softly. "Your sister shall be here… and she will bring help. You will be alright by morning, I promise to you. Can you hear me?"
The boy's eyes fluttered slightly and a moan escaped his lips: "Papa?"
"Sathi ma, I cannot express to you how grateful I am for your presence today," Tharakasur knelt at Sathi's feet as she took a seat in his throne room. She smiled quickly and tried to get him to rise, but he would not budge. "No, Mother, no… this is where I belong! Forever at your feet. I have realized my mistakes now, Sathi ma. I was a fool to anger your husband so! Never had I thought of how my actions would affect Lord Shiva and it was so selfish of me. He is a god, and he is all-powerful, all-knowledgeable-" he noticed the slight frown on Sathi's lips but continued on "-and I am a mere demon. What could I do? I am biased by nature to live for and serve my people. Yes, I did call a war upon Heaven. Yes, I did threaten to kill the gods, but is that not what happens in a battle? Is it not the duty of a king to find better lands for his people? I merely wished to fulfill my duty, my lady. I merely wished to be a good king."
"I understand and respect that, Tharakasur," Sathi replied, "but for whatever reasons, they did not sit well with my husband, which is why you were punished."
Tharakasur crooked his head to the side and innocently asked, "Do you know not what those reasons are, my lady? I only ask for I wish to know so I may pay heed to not anger the Lord in the future."
Sathi bit her lip.
"… Did he not tell you?" Tharakasur asked slowly.
"He does not have to explain his decisions to me, Demon King," Sathi replied sharply.
"Of course not!" Tharakasur gasped. "Forgive me, my lady, I was but curious. I had no intention to upset you, or suggest that your husband does not see it necessary to discuss his decisions with you."
"He does!" Sathi snapped. "H-He was simply too busy this once."
Tharakasur nodded and deemed it best to let the matter drop. Smiling secretively, he turned away and called for his servants to bring water for the lady. "Whatever the reason be, my lady, I have learned from my mistakes and swear to never commit them again. I suppose I will have to make do with seeing my people suffer in this desolate land, for that is the wish of Lord Shiva. I am a demon, yes, but I shall always be loyal and devoted to your husband for he is my god and protector. Now, with you by his side, I feel as though I have not one god but two! And two protectors."
Sathi smiled and accepted the water from him. "You shall always have my protection, Tharakasur," she replied politely.
Tharakasur grasped her hand in his, his eyes wide. "You swear, Mother? You swear you shall always protect me?"
Sathi laughed seeing such childish eagerness in his eyes. "I-"
They turned to find Sukracharya standing at the entrance to the throne room, his eyes brimming with ill-suppressed rage. However, his fury was nothing compared to that of Lord Shiva's as he stood beside him, staring at Sathi.