Sam didn't know where he was.
He knew where he had been a few seconds ago - amongst the groves of Alundil, watching his disciple Rild preach. But then Sam had felt a moment of dizziness and nausea, and then...
He was here. Judging by the construction of the buildings around him, he wasn't anywhere he knew on the planet - the buildings were sturdier than those that the humans dwelled in, but far less opulent than the homes of those who called themselves gods.
So, Sam wasn't anywhere on his planet. This was supported by small beings who resembled the forms that the Rakasha tended to take - but the Rakasha were trapped, and besides, these creatures were solid - which Sam could see running around.
Furthermore, Sam wasn't in his own body. This one was older than the one he had had a few moments ago, but reasonably fit. It would serve, until Sam could get some answers.
He had no doubt that Heaven had the power to knock him out and transport him to another place in this manner - Sam took care to always be surrounded by followers in order to limit this possibility - but they lacked the ability to send him to another planet entirely, which meant that something else was afoot here.
It couldn't be the Rakasha, they were bound, and besides, they had no power over Sam. Any of the other denizens of his planet who might have accomplished it had long since perished, by his hand or the hand of the gods. Sam doubted that Yama was behind this, as though the Deathgod was probably capable of building a machine that could transport him to another planet, and another body, in a blink of an eye, Yama was more likely to kill Sam up close and personal.
Sam wanted answers. More than that, he wanted a cigarette. And he would get these things.
Raising his Aspect and wielding his Attribute, Sam sensed a power pulsing darkly, somewhere close. He believed that there he would find some answers, at least.
The cigarette could wait, at least for a while.
None of the scurrying demons that rushed around, causing mischief, came anywhere near Sam. Perhaps it was the smell of ozone that followed in his wake, or his thunderous expression, or the purpose in his walk. Whatever it was, no one went near the striding Buddha.
Yama also didn't know where Sam was, and he needed to find him if he was to kill him.
Word had spread rapidly that, in a single second, the man the world knew as the Buddha had disappeared. Word was that he had left the dream that was Samsara, and that the Buddha had ascended to a plane inaccessible even by the gods.
Naturally, the might of Heaven could not be weakened by heretical rumours such as this. A counter-rumour had been spread declaring the Buddha to be merely an incarnation of Vishnu, preaching the way to godhood.
Yama knew that this lie would fall to pieces should Sam ever return from wherever he had gone. The trickster might even use it as the leverage he needed to finally bring down Heaven.
However, some of Yama's sensors did show a curious energy signature, of a type he had never seen before, which began at the very spot which eyewitnesses said Sam had been sitting, and ended beyond the range of all but his strongest sensors, far out beyond the solar system.
Yama had sworn to Trimurti that he would kill Sam, and he would. He just needed to find a way to get to Sam. Unfortunately, seeing as how he had never developed a ship capable of faster than light speeds, it would take him generations to get where he wanted to go (wherever that was). While Yama could quite easily manage that, who knew what Sam would've gotten up to by then?
Therefore, Yama needed a somewhat more unorthodox method of traveling. Fortunately, there was an idea that he'd often toyed with, but had never actually investigated.
But if Yama was going to catch Sam, it was his only choice. It looked like the Deathgod was going to visit Heaven.
"Good day, Mara, Kubera." Yama greeted the gods politely.
"Hail, Deathgod. What have you brought us here for?" asked Mara, impatiently swirling his multicolored cloak.
Yama ignored him - he'd get to Mara in his own time - and instead said to Kubera "Kubera, you can imbue an item with the essence of a person, can you not?"
"You know I can, Yama. Why do you ask?" asked Kubera warily. Although Yama was his friend, the deathgod unnerved him.
"But the item does not actually become the person, correct?" Yama questioned further.
Kubera shook his head, and Yama smiled briefly. He had already suspected that, but it was good to confirm it.
"I ask you once again, O Death, why have you brought us here?" Mara demanded. "Why are you not hunting down the heretic who calls himself Buddha?"
"But I am, Mara, I am. Your impatience does you no credit." said Yama softly. He very rarely needed to rebuke anyone - with his deathgaze and his technological prowess, he was amongst the most feared of the gods. But, in the open mountain-top of Heaven, Mara's Attribute would overpower his. "But tell me - you can create an illusion of a person which is so lifelike that it is indistinguishable from the real thing, can you not?"
"I can." Mara said proudly.
"Have you ever considered combining your Attributes to create an illusion that has the essence of a real person?" asked Yama, getting down to his theory now.
"We have not." Kubera answered. "What purpose would it achieve?"
"I believe that it would allow the transportation of a single person across incredible distances - should, of course, the illusion be projected that far." Yama answered.
"It might, at that." Mara said grudgingly. He had never thought about using his power in conjunction before - it was sufficient to his desires as it was. "But why would you wish such a thing?"
"I do not wish it. Trimurti does." Yama said. He did not add why they wished it (although doubtlessly they guessed that it was in pursuit of Sam) or that this was the only hope he had of actually being able to catch up to Sam. Hopefully, mentioning Trimurti would be enough to galvanize the others into action.
"We will begin at once, O Death." said Mara, unable to resist a last jab.
It was a curious sensation for Yama to see himself - although not his current body, but rather the middle-aged body which he had made his own after mortally damaging his original. Apparently it amused Mara that Yama would have to chase Sam in the body of an old man.
No matter. It would suffice.
It was also odd that the body seemed to be separated from him by a vast distance, but that that distance was folded in such a way that the body appeared directly in front if Yama.
It was more odd still when the body ceased to be merely a static image of his long-dead body, but became... Yama. Yama looked at Yama, and both smiled at the sight.
And then, suddenly, there was only one Yama, and he wasn't in Heaven. For the first time, he wondered how he would return.