“This explains why we got in so easily. But it looks really creepy, to be honest” said the boss as he observed the scene inside.
Twelve monks were snoring delightfully in varying stages of undress around a steaming pot of tea. Some were leaning on the pillars as if they had lost their spines whereas others lay horizontally on their backs, drool dribbling down their chins. An empty cup lay beside each monk.
“They are meditating. The monks of Tiger Mountain are known for receiving prophetic visions during meditation” said Kufu piously. He was the most religious person in the gang. Ironically the gang was about to rob a monastery.
Teng spoke bluntly “No. They are snoring like bears. They’re sleeping.”
“Why are they sleeping like that then? In a circle? That too, around a teapot? And why are some of them leaning on pillars? Can’t they all just lie down?” inquired Kit as he examined the empty cups. “And what’s with these cups?”
Teng was about to answer something when the boss raised his hand. “Does it matter what these monks are doing? They are indisposed, which is good for us. Just take out the sacks and fill them up with whatever your hands come across. General Iah is patrolling the area and I don't mean to get caught" he commanded.
The gang got to work. Kufu, Leny and Hama went to the upper floors to check the treasury whereas Teng, Guda and Tun went to the kitchen. Tiger Mountain Saffron was extremely valuable and they cannot ignore the kitchens. Kit and the boss stayed in the central atrium to check on the monks.
"They fell asleep as soon as they drank the tea," said the boss. "That explains these empty cups."
"Was the tea poisoned or something? Because it looks like they didn't even have time to put the cups back in their place. They fell asleep as soon as they finished drinking" said Kit as he sniffed the tea which had started cooling down.
"I don't know. And I'm definitely not tasting that tea. There's something wrong with it. What's that thing in the bottom of the pot?"
"Can't say for sure. But it looks like ground tea leaves..."
They were still deliberating about the monks and the tea when they heard a shout from the kitchen. Guda ran out with three sacks filled with something. He opened them and showed them what he found.
The boss took one look at it and asked in an irritated voice. "What is it Guda? Why are you showing me mushrooms? Did you find any saffron?"
Guda shook his head and said "No boss but these aren't any normal mushrooms. These are the magical ones! They take you to heaven and let you see the spirit world!"
Kit frowned. He bent down to observe the mushrooms. "Magical ones? Spirit world? What are you even talking about? Such things don't exi..." sudden realisation struck him. "Oh! Magic mushrooms!" He looked up to the boss. "Magic mushrooms sir! Drugs! They're really valuable. Also they are powerful psychedelics. They really give you the kick."
The boss then asked the obvious question. "Why on earth do these monks have drugs in their monastery?"
"This is not all sir. I found several other sacks full of them in the kitchen. And look at this one" he said pointing to one of the sacks. "This is half empty. They've been using them."
Kit was struck by another realisation. He rushed to the teapot and scooped out the brown mass at the bottom. It was quite obviously the mushrooms, boiled down to a sludge. "They've been drugging themselves!" he exclaimed.
"Is this where they get those visions from?" asked the boss in horror.
Suddenly all hell broke loose.
Kufu and his team came down to the atrium with sacks filled with gold and jewels. At the same moment, armed soldiers in red liveries barged into the monastery. "Drop your weapons" shouted a voice from the door as the boss was unsheathing his sword. Hama decided to take down the soldiers by himself and was rewarded with three hard blows. He fell down writhing in pain. The boss dropped his sword and yelled at the gang to do the same. He knew that they were outnumbered.
When everyone had surrendered, a hard faced man in red armour walked into the monastery.
"Now what the hell were you doing in here?" he asked as he took in the scene. He looked at the snoring monks, the mushrooms and gold filled sacks. "Robbing eh?"
The boss answered. "Yes General Iah. We were robbing. But sir, look at what we found." He showed him the mushrooms and the tea. "They drugged themselves sir. That's how they get those visions. They're not holy men sir. They're criminals. Worse than us."
General Iah squinted at the boss. "You're the leader of this bunch, eh? Not a clever one you are. You didn't even post a lookout outside the monastery. What kind of fool robber does that? And now you expect me to believe that the esteemed monks of Tiger Mountain are drug addicts?" He pointed to his soldiers. "Arrest these morons."
"But sir, please look at this. There are many other sacks inside..." started Kit but a hard blow in his stomach shut him up. Others tried to protest but were treated similarly.
The boss knew that explaining would be futile. They were framed quite spectacularly. No one will ever listen to a gang caught robbing. He sighed as the soldiers tied his hands with a rope.
They were sentenced to spend 20 years in the Tallstone Prison, for "drugging" and trying to rob an esteemed monastery and then lying that the monks were taking drugs. Meanwhile the monks continued to "receive visions from the gods" in their cosy monastery on the Tiger Mountain.
Author ~ Sai Reddy Editor ~ Akanksha Makhija