Back in ancient India, political assassinations were all the rage. But after a while, the whole dagger-to-the-throat bit got old, and hitmen had to look for ways to innovate the art form and elevate the entire field of discreet murder. Enter the vishakanyas, also known as the poison maidens.
And no, that’s not just an awesome name for a band. The vishakanyas were women who, from a young age, were gradually fed a special diet of poisonous food so that, eventually, anyone who touched them would fall sick and die. They were sent to ancient kingdoms disguised as courtesans and artists, and their chosen victims were none the wiser.
Rumor has it that some are still around today, which is how Aru Shah came to meet them.
This may come as a surprise, but most master assassins don’t have cushy childhoods. In the case of the vishakanyas, many of them grew up impoverished, and they had no choice in the direction their lives would take. A tragic backstory isn’t essential for finding future work as a killer, but it certainly helps your resume stand out.
The World’s Worst Diet Plan
If there’s one upside to joining the vishakanyas, it’s the promise of a centuries-long lifespan. As a side effect of eating magical poisons, the vishakanyas age very, very slowly, and over time they no longer need traditional food in order to survive. However, if the vishakanyas don’t keep up their poison regimen, they will slowly wither away. So, if you’re wondering why you can never seem to find poison at your local supermarket when you need it, most likely a vishakanya got there first.
Wasting Away the Days
But a long life doesn’t always translate into a fulfilling life. Word is that a group of vishakanyas is currently spending their days guarding a collection of Lord Vasuki’s treasures. To make matters even more depressing, the poison maidens treat Vasuki’s precious gems as if they were babies. You know, like the babies that vishakanyas could never have because of their toxic skin.
It’s even creepier than the people who refer to their pet dogs as “my children.”
A New Purpose
A lifetime of manipulation, abuse, and forced assassinations can wreak havoc on a person’s mental state. After everything they’ve been through, we can’t really blame the vishakanyas for wanting to retreat from the outside world. But with the Sleeper rallying his army, and the world on the brink of total annihilation, Aru Shah and her Pandava sisters are going to need all the help they can get. Maybe, with the right encouragement, the vishakanyas can move on from their painful past and discover a more productive use of their unique skillset.
But that would require going up to the vishakanyas and engaging in a serious heart-to-heart with them.
And, well . . . why don’t you go first?
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