A compilation of interconnected glimpses into how Garuda wooed (tricked) Vinata into being his queen. I'm way too obsessed with Suras and their background stories than I should be. The humans and magicians in the story are so less interesting. I am unfamiliar with the Hindu culture and its significant figures One Last God Kubera was loosely based on, so all OCs from the Garuda Clan have adopted bird related terms as their names.

This takes place some millions of years before the original plotline. Nastikas are ancient dinosaurs…

Disclaimer: There are many things in this world that do not belong to me. Kubera is one of them.

S-C-N-D

Courtship of a Phoenix

It was an image the Suras of the Garuda Clan would never forget: two of their strongest Nastikas face to face in complete Sura form. Enormous creatures, they both were. Almost equivalent in size and power, a flaming phoenix and a huge swan-like creature tangoed in space in a violent dance.

Chapter One: Of Nastikas and Nastika-Level Rakshasas
N0 - approx. 1500000 years

A solitary man perched on top of a barren cliff, his snow white hair drifting in the wind like singled out strands of sleek thread. His wings, six humongous, beautiful structures crafted by the very hands of Visnu, all reclined at the same time. They left behind fluttering white feathers that drifted into the abyss to shower and grace whatever inferior Sura had the fortune to be flying underneath.

A feather from him was a sacred treasure, for there were few beings in this world that could parallel the greatness of the king of birds.

"Garuda!"

The snarl was followed by a second whoosh as another set of wings folded, reclined and disappeared into the feather coat of his follower. In a giant red-orange bird's stead now stood a tall, lean man, his hair falling just a little short of his waist and tanned abdomens. Had he morphed a second later, he would have crushed and flattened the mountain.

Garuda's bangs fluttered against his mask as he closed his eyes and sighed. The wind encircled him, bending to the will of the ruler of the sky. His back facing the scoundrel, he stated, "not a single day passes where you don't try to oust me from my throne. What do you want this time, Vinata?"

Second to his power in the great Garuda clan, Vinata stepped forward and boldy placed one intrusive hand on his shoulder, completely unfazed and unafraid of Garuda's presence. Regal Garuda, who never snarled or clawed, only shook off the grip before stepping forward resolutely. He refused to turn to chide his second-in-command for the millionth time. There were only so many childish antics one could take without turning a willful blind eye when one was unlucky enough to be in the same clan as Vinata.

He tilted his head to stare at the blue sky, unbothered by clouds as any other day, and wondered what in the world Visnu was thinking when he had created this clan. Most of the Nastikas were tolerable, respectable. Many even had children and grandchildren, empowering his army against Ananta and his sly clan of snakes. But Vinata? What had he done in the past universe to deserve this nuisance?

"Garuda, you snob, turn around when I'm talking to you."

"I do not take commands from one who is weaker than me."

Vinata was infuriated. Garuda could feel it from the rise of temperature in the air about him. That was another thing he never understood about Visnu's choices of names. Why had his mysterious friend given his second in command the power of fire of all things? Why couldn't Vinata be meek and pacifistic and have an Origin Attribute of Revival like Gandharva?

Not that Gandharva was meek. Or a pacifist.

The blazing cloud of heat suddenly dissipated. Curious to say the least, Garuda finally turned to see Vinata sitting, preening his wings and glaring at Garuda as if he was going to steal a feather for every second he took his eyes off him.

Grey eyes shut, eyelids barely grazing his skin. It wasn't safe for him to close his eyes too long around Vinata, for though all of his senses were sharp, who knew what the deviant could do with the most potent crippled? "You can let your guard down around me. I am your king. I will not hurt you."

A feral growl escaped Vinata's throat, causing him to snap his eyes open.

The man was now standing, one orange eyebrow twitching in irritation as he snarled, "it is exactly that kind of attitude that's the reason why Ananta is the strongest Sura."

"Then are you saying you would like me to be the strongest?"

He was stumped for a split second, body drawn back, an arm held up cautiously in front of him as if Garuda had just renounced his throne to a Rakshasa.

"I was kidding," said Garuda with a straight face, waving a dismissive hand into the air. "Ananta might be the strongest Sura, but our clan has a natural advantage over his. When Visnu created the Nastikas, he made sure all power was balanced."

"I don't need your reassurance!" snapped Vinata. "As if you would ever speak Visnu's name in dishonour! You and him and Gandharva and Shuri… Always together."

"Our alliance was created two billion years ago. If you disapproved of it, you could have said so."

Garuda's eyes stared steadily into Vinata's. Even now he carried a flawless poker face, irking the red man to no end. Vinata could never understand the king he was forced to subordinate to; Garuda was so calm, so righteous. Even when he fought the gods, he wore a face not unlike Kubera's—always silent, unmoving, stony.

As if there were no dimensions to him at all.

He hit his forehead with a hand. "Gah. I don't know how our clan is the third strongest with you in charge. No wonder you've never had any Rakshasa children, Garuda. It's been what? Two billion, eight hundred million years since the creation of the universe now?" he mused, stretching and yawning. "Honestly, it feels like I've wasted most of my life kicking Chandra to the underworld over and over."

Garuda dismissed his comment about the gods. "The only Nastikas of the eight clan leaders who've had children are Asura and Yaksha. The rest of us do not because we know they will be an easy target for the gods and Nastikas of rival clans. May I remind you that you have not had any children either?"

In the midst of his stretch, Vinata stopped and opened his sharp red eyes. He calculatingly stroked one finger along his left cheek, down to his chin, below the grinning lips that encaged rows and rows of deadly teeth. "Well, Rakshasas are weak. Why would I have children if I know that they're just going to die before me? Kalavinka's sons and daughters have all perished. So have Avifauna's. If I ever have a kid, he'd better be a Nastika-level Rakshasa."

Vinata's eyes glowed as he said this with a smile that unnerved Garuda to an extent. If Vinata ever had children… He pictured the red-orange bird encompassed by an army of red-orange Rakshasas, all with fire attributes, Vinata's temper and other distinct characteristics depending on who mothered them. It must have been an entertaining pastime of his to imagine how large an army he could create before Garuda surrendered his position of king. Given all this time since the creation of the universe, it was amazing he hadn't tried by now.

But Garuda somewhat understood why. Vinata talked of creating this Nastika-level Rakshasa, which could only be possible with one of the eight great clan leaders and maybe their second in commands. The third strongest Garuda Nastika was inferior to he and Vinata by a large margin. This dream of Vinata's would never be fulfilled, not unless he was willing to become a woman and mate with Garuda.

Vinata hated Garuda.

With a swish, he turned and walked to the edge of the cliff. Vinata followed close behind, but before he could reach Garuda, the king drew out his six magnificent wings. Garuda never flared them but they of such great size that when he stretched them out fully, they reached well past Vinata and caused the man to jump a step back.

Seeing this as a challenge, Vinata drew out his own wings, a magnificent pair of golden-red that was beautiful enough to rival Garuda's.

"You're leaving already, almighty king?" he mocked.

"Gandharva invited me for dinner," he replied, flashing one of his rare smiles that included a small twinkle in his left eye. "Snake," Garuda said hungrily, clamping his fingers together as if squeezing the life out of one. "He personally prefers the insects but we've negotiated an exchange."

Vinata's eyebrow twitched. If Garuda was ever enthusiastic about anything, it was about food. The insatiable man could swallow Rakshasas whole and still have room for several courses of Upanis and Maras.

Garuda's foot inched half off the edge before he suddenly had a devious idea. He tilted his head, a faint smile on his lips as he did so. "Oh, and regarding your idea, theoretically I think it's possible to birth a Nastika-level Sura."

Vinata blinked incredulously.

Garuda's smile inched further up his cheeks. "Tell me how it goes with Ananta, all right?"

Vinata's jaw hung agape for seconds after Garuda leaped into flight with his six wings flapping in synchrony. When the red man finally recovered some of his dignity, he made a fist and thrust it at the sky before taking off in hot pursuit of his king.

His king… for now.

S-C-N-D

The Kalavinka mentioned in this story is obviously not Vinata's daughter Kalavinka. She's a Nastika that came before her. :)

Thank you for reading! Please leave a review!

-SCND