Veer Bhadra strode through Daksh's streets as the people scattered about him. The day had darkened into a red night, casting the world in a bloody haze. He sniffed the air hungrily and sought his way to the palace gates. His target was within, he could sense it. He could sense nothing else, just the pounding blood in his veins, the fire burning in his chest, and the unrelenting hunger to taste Daksh's blood.
The only thing standing in his way was Lord Vishnu. Gravely, he placed one hand before him and Veer Bhadra suddenly found himself bound to the ground. He fought the invisible ropes around his body, grunting with effort, but he could not move by an inch. He looked at Lord Vishnu, shocked.
"-this?" Veer Bhadra asked the Lord. "Why do you stand in my path, Lord Vishnu?"
"I've made a promise to King Daksh, my lord," Vishnu replied, sounding less than happy. "I am bound by oath. I at least have to try to protect him.."
You wish me-
"-to fight you? You are my lord… my friend. You know I can't do that."
"Any more than I can fight you," Vishnu agreed. "I have no wish to stand in the way of justice, Veer Bhadra. However, I am as bound by my promise to him as you are bound by your duty to this universe. It is even more difficult for me to fight you than it is for you to fight me, because I know I stand by injustice today. So I will ask only one thing, my lord: do not let our camaraderie stand in your way. Fight my powers as you would fight any other soldier, and allow me the chance to fulfill my oath to Daksh. I am sure you shall win, and when that happens, I will happily bow aside and let you have your justice."
Shiva found himself frozen on Kailash. No matter his grief, no matter his thirst for justice, the thought of fighting Lord Vishnu was too difficult to bear. He bowed his head, shutting his eyes tightly. Why…? He asked. Why are you doing this to me…? The Divine Three were like brothers. An oath made by one was an oath made by them all. The power of one is respected by all, so how could he break past Lord Vishnu's bonds now?
And what about Daksh? Today, a man had ignored reason, respect, and responsibility for his singular desire to get revenge. Today, a man put his own family and people in danger just to get back at his enemy. He wasted thousands of years of labor in one moment of blind rage… He single-handedly destroyed all hope for the betterment of the universe, the completion of the Divine Three.
He killed Sathi.
Shiva heard a growl and realized it was his own. Through Veer Bhadra's eyes, he saw Vishnu stand before him, powerless to fight evil in this moment, so Shiva had to do it himself. So be it. He began to reach for another dreadlock when something stopped him.
It was a breeze, the distant sound of drums, a trilling war cry that echoed through the air about him. He turned and found the terrible form of Bhadra Kali behind him. Her eyes were pitch black as she looked out into the word, her gaze piercing through rock, tree, and flesh to focus on Kind Daksh. She was covered in ash and black war paint. On her forehead was a large red dot painted in blood; it glistened now in the fire as Veer Bhadra's eyes had. Slowly, her chest heaving with rage, she turned to look at Shiva. He did not fight alone, she seemed to say. Adi Shakti thirsts for justice as well.
"Destroy everything," he whispered.
She sneered, happy to oblige, and disappeared from Kailash.
"What's taking so long?" King Daksh whispered nervously, pacing the ground. A sudden tremor of the earth brought him to his knees, his eyes wild with fear. "Kashyap! Go see whether Lord Vishnu has destroyed Veer Bhadra yet or not."
Kashyap didn't even bother to respond anymore. Brugu and Chandra had gone to retrieve blankets to wrap Sathi's body in. They would return soon, and he would help them carry it to her room till the cremation preparations could be made. He watched, aggrieved, as the sisters tried to soothe their mother's grief. Prasuthi sat by her daughter's body, her eyes lost in grief. She neither heard their words nor spoke any of her own, for she had no strength left.
King Daksh did not care for any of it. He growled in frustration and stormed to his throne. He had but taken his seat when Lord Vishnu appeared in the hall once more. Daksh rushed to his side immediately. "Is it done? Is he dead?"
Vishnu looked to the man calmly. "No, he is not dead. I tried to stop him, but once Bhadra Kali's powers joined with his, I could do nothing more. You will be dead in a few moments, King. I will be taking your leave now-"
"How is that possible?" Daksh cried. "You are Lord Vishnu! You are telling me that you could not stop a single man-a single warrior? W-Why not use your Chakra?"
"For being my most devoted follower, you are incredibly ignorant of my powers, Daksh," Vishnu snapped, his voice rising with passion. "You think the Chakra is a weapon-one that I can release whenever and on whomever I wish. Fool! My Chakra is a part of me-it is the physical form of my ultimate power, just as Veer Bhadra is one of the physical forms of Lord Shiva's powers, and Bhadra Kali of Adi Shakti's. Do you realize what would happen if my Chakra were to collide with either-much less both? This universe would be demolished instantaneously! Forget your Earth, every last planet, star, and inch of sky would be vaporized without so much as a wisp of smoke left behind! I would never let that happen, much less for your stupidity!
"I kept my promise to you, Daksh-I did everything in my power to protect your life, but nothing can stop justice's course. There is only one way to save your life now, Daksh. Run-run to Lord Shiva and throw yourself on his feet. Beg for his forgiveness, and maybe-just maybe-he will find it in his heart to forgive you. Otherwise-"
He stopped as a low growl rumbled through the hall. As one, they turned to look to the shadows beyond the entrance to the hall. There, two red eyes burned in the darkness, trained on King Daksh. A chill spread through the room, casting everything into a breathless silence.
"-your death is not only certain, it is also very near," Vishnu finished softly. He looked to Prasuthi who stared blankly towards Veer Bhadra. "Take them away," he told Brugu. "Hide yourselves… now."
He himself had business to attend to.