draqla draqla and Marcy’s Trip to Tibet: Part One of Six Nonillion
(or, how Nupchung the Dark Magician Attained the Dakini Paradise Bodily Without Even Trying)
a short story by Ræl H. Bishop
HIDDEN IN THE FORESTS OF ENGLAND IS THE WOOLPIT INN, nestled between two ancient trees and a cavern going miles deep. Inside it, the Operative sits alone, drinking a cranberry juice while thumbing through his file of tales and tomes. The green bartender goes about his usual business. Tunes from a self-playing piano are the only thing keeping the room from silence.
The front door swings open, and two figures enter. The Operative recognizes both of them. The taller figure, bearing a neon jacket and a pallid complexion, he knows as draqla draqla, a vampire from South Beach. The shorter figure, sporting golden locks and… a Hawaiian shirt? He recognizes them as Marcy, a time traveling satyr from who knows where. The two head over to the bar and order their usuals, a glass of O+ and flask of hand sanitizer respectively. The two of them laugh boisterously amongst themselves. The Operative quietly looks on at the two and, after they get settled, scooches over.
“So, when did the two of you become an item?”
The two laugh. Marcy asks, “you sure you’re using that phrase right?”
“Not entirely, no.” He thumbs through his notes for a proper definition. draqla draqla whispers something into Marcy’s ear, and the two snicker. “Oh dear! No! Sorry, wrong question. Silly english idioms.” The two continue laughing. “When did the two of you become friends? I didn’t know either of you…” he checks his notes again “… ‘crossed paths’, as it were,” he says motioning air quotes.
“Ah, yes, you do not know,” draqla draqla responds in his heavily accented voice. “We met here at this exactly same spot, three, four… it was not too long ago. We were just having drink, verymuch like now. Me and Marcy here began talking. You see, I went here to rest before trip to Tibet, meet with old friend. Marcy here had never gone, so I take them along for ride.”
“You dragged me along, actually,” Marcy interjects.
draqla draqla shrugs. “You had nothing to do. Why not?”
The two alternate telling their travels. As a shortcut, draqla draqla took Marcy through the underworld. Whilst spelunking, they took some stops in the Paris Catacombs, snuck into CERN, did some orphic rituals, and sabotaged a few Eastern European fracking endeavors. Marcy showed some quartz and amethyst pocketed from the trip. When hydra and dragons gave way to naga and djinn, draqla draqla knew it was time to resurface. The two exited a cave on the outskirts of Nyalam and, at night, searched the countryside for a specific cremation ground. There, they met Steve, an old zombie friend of draqla draqla’s.
“Ro-langs!” draqla draqla insists, “They called ‘ro-langs’. Big difference.”
“Is there really that much of a difference?”
“Yes indeed. Zombie use voudon rituals, yes? Ro-langs use tantra. Ro-langs wag their tongues. They not speak. Ro-langs not eat people’s brains.”
“But they can infect you by touching your skull.” Marcy points at the crown of their head.
“Of course! Why do you think monks wear the funny palarii? The, uh,” he tries to find the right word, “the hats!”
The two of them stayed in Steve’s mausoleum. Together, the group roamed the Tibetan plateau, visiting shrines, crawling pubs, and (accidentally) scaring the locals. They met with all manner of creature, from eloquent dakinis running brothels and guarding stupas to bgegs and pretas searching for their next meals.
One day, the three of them came across a cave associated with the great saint Milarepa, who went from black magician to buddha-in-waiting in one life time. Sitting in the cave was an effigy of the man and his unusual green skin. Someone (arguing ensued in the bar over who) accidentally broke a rock near the cave and unleashed the spirit of Nupchung, an evil sorcerer who taught the young Milarepa his dastardly ways. Many centuries ago, Nupchung was cast into the rock as his punishment for starting Milarepa’s crime spree. Those decades spent inside the rock only further fueled his rage. Now that he was freed, he plotted vengeance against the people and their creed.
Soon, Nupchung began ravaging the countryside, casting spells and hexes on the locals, burning monasteries, destroying crops, summoning hailstorms, and spreading disease and pestilence from town to town. Everything went well for him until he pantsed a PRC customs officer. Then the Chinese army moved in and tried to blow him off the face of the Earth. Unfortunately for them, their spray of bullets, napalm, and explosives failed to exorcise his ghastly body, and he continued to wreak havoc and baffle Chinese intelligence.
What they did damage, however, was his morale and stamina. Nupchung could now see the Tibet he had entered was vastly different from that of his native 11th century. The streets of Lhasa were filled with tourists and foreign residents. Mantras and immaculate sculptures had given way to pop songs and flashing signs. Roads were massive, made not of cobble but of a strange black stone, and were frequented by metal boxes instead of merchants on horseback.
The monks in the temples seem to carry their own anguish. He read their minds; the older ones saw themselves as foreigners in their own country, the younger ones grew restless and desired the rights of their forebears. He could see images of those in the robe slaughtered in the streets, publicly forced to violate their codes or face death. Images flashed of famine, police brutality, desecration of heritage, erasure of culture, broken promises.
As it turns out, no feat of his dark magic could match the damage already ravaged on his homeland.
Nupchung’s rage turned into defeat.
Meanwhile, Marcy, draqla draqla, and Steve hatched their own plans for stopping the sorcerer. They traced his whereabouts to Lhasa. draqla draqla took his bat form which, as he demonstrated in the bar, was rather snazzy) and tracked Nupchung down, following the increasingly sloppy path of carnage. Steve disguised himself as a mummified monk and offered his body as bait, which Nupchung fell for (after two or three tries). Now traceable, Marcy wove an astral net (a trick learned from Arachne) on Steve and ensnared the sorcerer. They carried him to a cremation ground, where they placed him in a recently deceased body (tongue still usable) and interrogated him. Knowing some Tibetan, draqla draqla did the talking and translating. Having lost it all, the confession poured out of Nupchung endlessly. He cried the first tears he’d cried in centuries.
draqla draqla had an idea. Wrapped in cloth onto a plank of wood, the three briskly carried Nupchung’s “body” through the caverns of Tibet, reaching the footsteps of the shine of Milarepa by daybreak. draqla draqla gave an offering and some incantations. Nupchung gave his confession once more, and specially addressed it to Milarepa and all the vajrayanis. Each word echoed across the cave, out into the valley and the lands below.
When he finished, there was silence.
The three sat back and watched. Nupchung’s tears had already dried, his decaying body unable to produce more.
They carried his body out of the cave when, suddenly, a rainbow appeared in the sky. A figure descended from the rainbow, seated in a golden cloud, surrounded by a retinue of gem-colored dakinis. Seated in the center was the green-skinned Milarepa himself, descending from his Pure Land! He approached Nupchung and rose his soul from the plank.
Marcy turns to draqla draqla. “Do you know remember what Milarepa said, ‘draq?”
“I wish I did”, he said clutching his face. “He spoke older language, maybe old Tibetan, maybe ‘Sand-script’, maybe Pali. But his… how you say…”
“Sure. It was… incredible.” His face began to light up. “It was pure peace. Pure ‘friend-ness’. But power also. Strength.”
“Yes, confidence. The whole experience. It is indescribable.”
“There was truly a unique kind of magic emanating from it.”
After speaking his piece, Nupchung’s body magically reformed looking exactly as it did when he first taught Milarepa. Nupchung held Milarepa’s hand and smiled. The two ascended into the sky gracefully, entering his Pure Land. Where the body once laid, a pile of strange white crystal pellets remained.
Not long after, draqla draqla and Marcy bade Steve farewell and spelunked their way back to England.
“That’s an incredible story the two of you have.” The Operative had been writing it down the whole time. “But I must ask. About that Milarepa encounter - what happened to the pellets?”
Marcy pulls an old soup can from their satchel and puts it on the bar. The white crystal pellets sit inside.
“Sorry, I couldn’t find another container for them. We satyrs tend to pack lightly, you know.”
After a few drinks, draqla draqla and Marcy exchange farewells. draqla draqla heads for the door, charting in his head the cavern routes needed to get to South Beach. He heads out the door and looks back. He sees Marcy and the Operative exchanging smalltalk. Then he spots the bartender. He hadn’t noticed it before, but something seemed awfully familiar about him.
Something awfully full of ‘friend-ness’.
The bartender winks at draqla draqla. The door, as if by magic, shuts itself.