Friday, 29 May 2015

Chapter 42: Poonguzhali’s Dagger

Vandiya Devan found Poonguzhali standing under a tree in the woods sobbing silently with grief. Softening his voice deliberately, Vandiya Devan called out, “Poonguzhali!”

Startled by his voice, Poonguzhali immediately looked up and found him standing near her.

“Oh! It’s you,” she said and turned her back on him.

“Yes. It is me. But why are you angry with me?”

“I am not angry with you,”

“Then why do you look so displeased?”

“I am displeased with men at large,”

“Even the Prince?” asked Vandiya Devan which made her turn around and stare at him with murderous eyes.

“Yes. I dislike him, most of all,”

“What did the Prince do to merit your displeasure?”

“He doesn’t remember me. He didn’t look at me at all,”

“That’s not true. He remembers you well enough. When I mentioned your name, he said, ‘O! I know Samudra Kumari very well!’”

“You are lying,”

“If you think that, then why don’t you come there and ask him?”

“If he remembers me, then why didn’t he talk to me?”

“He did. It was you who ran away from him without answering,”

“That’s not what I meant by ‘talking’. If you know someone, won’t you ask enquire them, ‘How are you?’ ‘Are you keeping well?’ I know that you are lying. He doesn’t remember me,”

“Poonguzhali! There is a reason behind his actions,”

“What reason?”

“The Prince is undergoing a bad period according to his stars,”

“Who told you that?”

“All the astrologers say so. Kudanthi Jodhidhar personally told me so,”

“What did he say?”

“He said that the Prince would face grave difficulties, one after another. He also said that people, who are close to him, would also suffer. The Prince knows about this and that’s why he is trying to drive away all his friends, as he does not want us to suffer along with him,”

“If that is so, then why are you friends with him?”

“Didn’t you see us fighting just now? He wants to drive me away too or else why would he suddenly challenge me for a swordfight for no reason, in the middle of the road? We stopped it only because the Commander had come with the army,”

“Will you leave him and go away then?”

“Never! I will stay by his side and protect him from his enemies,”

“Do you like him so much then?”

“Yes. I like him very much,”

“Why do you like him?”

“I can’t articulate the reason. Sometimes you start liking people immediately, right from the first meeting,”

“I know. It happened to me too,” said Poonguzhali and inadvertently bit her lips regretting the fact that she had confessed her innermost feelings to him.

“I know that you like him, that’s why I came after you. Come with me, now.”

“I will not.” Said Poonguzhlai stressing on each word.

“If you don’t, I would have no choice but to drag you back there, by force.”

“If you lay a hand on me, I will carve you up with my dagger,” threatened Poonguzhali taking the dagger in hand.

“You ungrateful woman! I reminded the Prince about you and here you are threatening me with that dagger!”

“You are lying. You did not tell him anything about me,”

“Fine. Just come with me and tell him all about those ships that have come here to imprison him. You are free to leave after that,”

“I have told the Senathipathi everything,”

“But the Prince wishes to hear it from your lips,”

 “My voice fails and I become mute when I come in his presence,”

“The Prince has a special place in his heart for mute women!”

Chi Chi! You are mocking me!” said Poonguzhali and raised her dagger.

“I am asking you once again. Will you come with me?”


“Fine. I am leaving…” said Vandiya Deavn and took two steps forward and then suddenly turned around and grabbed the dagger from her hand and threw it away.
Vandiya Devan and Poonguzhali
While he threw the dagger on nothing in particular, it fell on a wild bush nearby and a shriek was heard, ‘Veeeeel’! Poonguzhali who was astonished and murderously angry when Vandiya Devan took her dagger, looked at the bush with surprise.

They walked slowly towards the bush and found the dagger lying on the ground while the mud was stained with fresh blood. They didn’t find a wounded bird or an animal anywhere near.

Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar
“Did you see that Poonguzhali? Do you now realize the truth that I have been trying to tell you? The Prince is under danger. I threw your dagger away and it fell near that bush. It looks like there was someone hidden there, watching and waiting for his chance to kill the Prince. Do you remember when we met in Kodi Karai, you said that two men had gone to Elangai with your brother? You said that they looked very suspicious and dangerous to you? I suspect that they are the assassins trying to slay the Prince. Do you really think that we who love the Prince, should abandon him now, when he is surrounded by danger?”

“What do I do, if he asks me to leave?”

“I think that if even tries to make us leave, we should stay close to him,”

“Shall we try and find out who was hidden here?”

“That would be impossible. The assassin could be hiding anywhere in this forest. Let us not tarry anymore, then the Prince might be truly angry with us. Don’t argue just come with me,” said Vandiya Devan to which Poonguzhali agreed.

As they neared the mandapam, the Commander and the Pallava Lord asked him, “Why did you throw the dagger?” “What was that noise that we heard?”

“I saw something moving in the bushes so I threw the dagger on it. When we back to retrieve it, there was nothing there.”

“Alright. Let us get back to the matters in hand. My Prince, now that this girl is back, please ask her about those ships,”

Poonguzhali whose gaze was fixed on the Prince was elated when he looked up to see her.

Chi! Why is this heart beating so fast? Why is it so difficult to utter even a single word in his presence? Why are your eyes filling up with tears? Witless Woman! Where did all that bravado of yours go? You who would brave the high waves of the sea during a fierce storm, why do you hesitate now? Why this sudden fear? You, who could fight a tiger barehanded, why do your limbs tremble now? Rein in your heart, woman and face him bravely. Do not let him call you demented. Look up and see his face. Do not offer tears to him while he is looking for answers. Why do you fear him? Isn’t the Prince known for his benevolence and generosity? What do you imagine the Prince will do to you?

“Samudra Kumari! Do you remember me?” asked the Prince but to her it seemed as if he was asking from the very depth of her heart.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Chapter 41: Look There!

When the Prince heard the Dalapathy’s the Prince’s face wore a smile. “At last, there seems to be a solution for my inner struggle!” he said to himself.

But Parthibendran incensed by what he heard, drew his sword in anger saying, “Senathipathi! What are you saying? Is this true? Why didn’t you tell me about this? Now I understand why you dragged that demented girl along with you here. Let me ask you again. Do you really believe that the Pazhuvur Lords would send ships to arrest the Prince?”

“Yes. It is true if you believe this girl’s account of what she saw and heard,”

“Aha! That old man, Thirukovallur Malaimaan was right, after all. I believe he alone among all of us, know the Pazhuvetarayar for they really are. Dalapathy! Why are we sitting here after hearing this news? Who are these Pazhuvur lords to arrest our beloved Prince? I see no reason for a council now, let us destroy these upstart lords for their treason. Let us destroy these ships and the soldiers that they have sent… we can act according to our plan after we have vanquished these people. Why are we still sitting here? Come let us leave now!” said Parthibendran furious with anger.

Senathipathy Budhi Vikrama Kesari looked at him and said, “Parthibendra! I knew that you would be furious and that’s why I didn’t tell you the news that this girl had brought. We need to think and act carefully. If we act hastily, everything will be ruined,”

“Think! What is there to think, Dalapathy? Prince! What is your opinion here? Is there anything left to think? If you were hesitating to act against these lords earlier, they have left no room for such considerations now. It is time to destroy these Lords and their clans,”

The Prince intervened now and said, “I would like to hear Dalapathy’s opinion now. Ayya! What is your council?”

“My Prince! What if the soldiers… what if the soldiers who have come to arrest you have come with the royal commands of Chakravarthy? Do we resist them?”

Parthibendran laughed out aloud when he heard this and said, “How can the Chakravarthy issue royal commands when he is held a prisoner in the Thanjavur Fort?”

Vandiya Devan intervened here and said, “The Pallava Lord is right. I wouldn’t have believed it if I had not seen it with my eyes. The Chakravarthy’s residence in the Fort is nothing less than a prison. No one can see him or talk to him without the express commands of the Pazhuvur lords and the troubles that they brought upon me just because I dared to say a word! Appa!  Chinna Pazhuvetarayar’s iron grip on my shoulder still pains me,”
Chinna Pazhuvetarayar's Iron Grip

“Well said Vallavareya! Tell the Prince and the Dalapathy one more time. Let them know that you speak the truth.” Said Parthibendran.

The Prince said, “There is no need to repeat, he has told me everything,” and then looked at Vandiya Devan and said, “Ayya! You said that you would go after that girl and bring her to me. Why do you tarry here? I wish to know more about this from her. She seems to be a very disturbed, try to convince her with sweet words and bring her to me,”

“I will leave now, ayya! However I will never allow you to be imprisoned by the Pazhuvetaryars, not until there is life in this body of mine,” said Vandiya Devan and went towards the woods where Poonguzhali had disappeared.

After he left, the Prince turned towards Kodumballur Periya Vellar and asked,”Senathipathy! What do you advise in this situation?”

“I think that you should not meet the soldiers that the Pazhuvetarayar has sent. You should take the ship that Parthibendran has come in, back to Kanchi. I will leave immediately to Thanjavur to learn the truth behind this,”

“Going to Thanjavur now is as good as peeping into the lion’s mouth. You will not return alive from there. They will shut you in the underground dungeons of Thanjavur as soon as you step into the city. You will not be able to meet the King.”

“What are you saying? Who would dare to throw ‘me’ into the dungeons? Is this Pazhuvetarayar, man enough to refuse me an audience with the Chakravarthy? Moreover Prime Minister Anirudha Brahmarayar is there at the capital…”

“Brahmarayar is there but he is helpless as he does not get to meet the King often enough. Here is his disciple. Let us hear what he says,” said Parthibendran. Periya Vellar turned towards the Vaishnavan and said, “Yes. I have forgotten him. Thirumalai! Why are you standing here silently?”

“Senathipathy! God has given us two ears but alas we have only one mouth. Therefore my Guru has taught me to use both my ears well and the mouth occasionally. He has bid me to remember this lesson especially when the affairs of Kingdom are being discussed,”

“Well, you seem to learned that lesson well Thirumalai! However, we are asking for your opinion now.”

“My opinion about what?”

“Should the Prince stay in Elangai or travel to Kanchi along with Parthibendran?”

“Do you really wish to hear what I think about it? I will tell you if the Prince permits it,”

The Prince who seemed to be lost in his thoughts, looked up and said, “Tell us your opinion Thirumalai. I wish to hear it,”

“I think we should find the most secure prison in this Island Kingdom and keep the Prince there under guard,”

“What are you blabbering?” asked the Commander

“Do you think this is a joke?” asked Parthibendran angrily

“I am neither blabbering nor joking. Last night, when the Prince was walking on the roads of Anuradhapuram along with Vandiya Devan and myself, the front portion of a dilapidated mansion collapsed and fell. Later, the palace that we stayed for the night was gutted in a fire, though luckily we left on an errand. Ask the Prince whether this is true or not?”

Commander and Pallavan looked at the Prince’s face and knew that the Vaishnavan was speaking the truth.

“Do you think that someone might torch a Palace just to kill Vandiya Devan or myself?”

Parthibendran immediately stood up saying, “This means, someone is trying to kill the Prince, therefore he should immediately come along with me to Kanchi,”

“No. I would rather allow the Pazhuvur soldiers to arrest the Prince than let him go with you,”

“Vaishnavaney! What did you say?” cried Parthibendran gnashing his teeth angrily and drawing his sword.

The commander held his hand and said, “Thirumalai! What do you say that? Don’t you know that Parthibendra Pallavan is the sworn sword of Aditya Karikalan and a friend to the Chola dynasty?”

“I know that Dalapathy but friendship alone does not suffice during these troubled times,”

“Parthibendran would give up his life rather than allow any harm to befall the Prince,”

“While that may be true, I would like to ask him a question. Day before yesterday, when we were walking by Thambilai road, we saw him on the road riding with two men. Who are those men and where they right now?”

Parthibendran looked surprised to hear Thirumalai’s question and he hesitated for a second before answering him, “I met them near Trikona malai and they said that they could help me find the Prince but they vanished when we reached Anuradhapuram. Why do you ask? Do you know something about them?”

“Yes. I know about them. They are a part of a gang who have sworn to destroy the seed of the Cholas. I think it was them, who tried to kill the Prince yesterday… said Azhwarkadiyan and then cried,  “Aha! Look there,”

He pointed towards the woods where at a distance they could see a beautiful girl and a handsome man standing between two large trees, talking. It was easy to guess that it was Poonguzhali and Vandiya Devan who were standing there. Suddenly, Vandiya Devan too a small dagger in hand and threw it on the nearby bush and a sudden screech of a human voice was heard from it.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ponni's Beloved Volume 2 - The Storm - Story so far

The story so far...

During 10th Century BC, Southern India was ruled by the mighty Cholas who had vanquished the Pandyas, Cheras and the Pallavas. The Chola Kingdom was then ruled by Chakravarthy Paranthakan II who was also known as Sundara Chola. The story is set at a time when the King was fatally ill and paralyzed. The Kingdom was in turmoil as the people resented the rising power of liege lords, Pazhuvetaryars who held the most important positions in the royal court.

A young soldier, named Vandiya Devan travels from Kanchipuram bearing messages from the Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan to his father and his sister Princess Kundavai. On route to Thanjavur, he stays at Kadambur Palace, his friend Kandan Maran's home. There, he discovers that powerful liege lords of the Chola Kingdom, Pazhuvetarayars, Sambuveyars are involved in a plot to deny the throne to the crown Prince. Instead, they wish to crown Prince Madhuranthakan, who is Sundara Chola's first cousin. He also learns about the younger Pazhuvur Queen Nandini Devi who is married to Periya Pazhuvetrayar, an old man of 60 years.

He meets Azhwarkadiyan, a Veera Vaishnavan who follows him around for a while and tries to accompany him to Kadambur Palace. Azhwarkadiyan later tells him that he and Nandini grew up in the same household as brother and sister and her sorry fate when she tries to save the Pandya King who is later beheaded in her presence. He tells him that she is later taken away by Periya Pazhuvetrayar and was married to him forcibly.

Vandiya Devan in the meanwhile, is on his way to Thanjavur when he stops at Kudhanthai to meet an astrologer. There he meets Princess Kundavai and loses his heart to her. When he neared Thanjavur, he sees a veiled palanquin with a Palm emblem ensign on the curtains and thinking that it was Prince Madhuranthakan inside, he tries to stop it. Instead to his surprise he meets Nandini Devi who gives him her emblem ring and asks him to come and meet him.

Vandiya Devan comes to Thanjavur and befriends a flower boy outside the fort named, Senthan Amutham. Next morning, he enters the fort using Nandini Devi's ring and meets the King. He successfully hands over the message that Aditya Karikalan had sent him and also tries to warn him about the plot that Pazhuvur Lords were hatching. But his attempt is foiled by Chinna Pazhuvetrayar who sets his guards on him. Vandiya Devan successfully escapes them and hides himself in the garden of Nandini Devi.

He meets Nandini Devi in the garden where she tries to seduce him with her hypnotic beauty unsuccessfully. Later, he escapes from her garden through an underground passage where he finds his friend Kandan Maran grievously wounded. He saves his life and escapes from Thanjavur with the help of Senthan Amuthan.

In the meanwhile, we learn that Nandini is involved with a gang of murderers who were once the bodyguards of the slain Pandya King. As a part of this group, she has been supplying them with information and money to destroy the seed of the Chola Kingdom and to assassinate Prince Aditya Karikalan who had beheaded their king. Azhwarkadiyan, the spy learns about this gang and narrowly escapes from being captured by them.

Vandiya Devan in the meanwhile reaches Pazhaiarai to meet Princess Kundavai. He is surprised to see that she is same woman that he had met at the astrologer's house. When Kundavai learns about the plot against her brothers, she immediately bids him to give a message to Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar who was in Elangai and to bring him back to Pazhaiarai. Vandiya Devan leaves for Kodi Karai with the Pazhaiarai's physician's son purportedly on a royal errand to get medicinal herbs for her father's illness.

At Kodi Karai, Vandiya Devan meets Poonguzhali, a boat girl who saves him from the murderous soldiers of Pazhuvetrayar and takes him to Elangai.

In Kanchipuram, Prince Aditya Karikalan is furious when he learns that the Pazhuvur lords had branded his messenger as a spy. We learn that his maternal grandfather Thirukovallur Malaimaan had learned about the plot that the Pazhuvur lords were hatching. He counsels Aditya Karikalan to be patient and wants his brother Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar to come back home. They decide to send Parthibendra Pallavan, Karikalan's close friend and confidante to Elangai to bring back Arul Mozhi Varmar.

Before he left, Parthibendran learns about the secret grief that has been gnawing Aditya Karikalan's heart. He learns that the crown prince was in love with Nandini Devi right from his childhood. When Dowager queen Sembiyanmadevi learned about this, she sent away Nandini to Pandya Kingdom. But they meet again unexpectedly when Kariklan is waging a war against the Pandya King. Defeated and wounded Pandya King is tended by Nandini in her hut, but when Karikalan learns about this, he kicks her aside and beheads him. Nandini who tells the Prince that she had fallen in love with the Pandya King swears vengeance against him and marries Periya Pazhuvetrayar as a means to gain power. Karikalan feels tortured and betrayed by her actions but despite his bravado he fears her seductive power.

Prince Kundavai who was disturbed by the news that Vandiya Devan had given her about the capital, travels with her companion, Princess Vanathi to see her father. At the capital, she meets Nandini Devi and the Pazhuvur lords who come to welcome her inside the fort. One night, when the queen and the others are away visiting a temple, Princess Vanathi sees the King moaning in his chambers and sees him crying hysterically at a figure that resembled Nandini Devi. Next morning, the King calls his daughter and confesses about his past to her.

When Sundara Chola was a young prince, he led the Chola forces into a battle in Elangai and had lost. Embittered by his failure, he stays back in one of the many islands that are near the mainland. There, he meets fisher girl who saves his life from a deadly bear. Deaf and mute, Mandakini falls in love with him and he too reciprocates her innocent love until one day, soldiers find him and take him back to his Kingdom. There he learns that his uncle was dead and he was next in line to inherit the throne. He sees Mandakini on his coronation day in the crowd and asks his friend Anirudha Brahmarayar to follow her. Next he learns that she had committed suicide by throwing herself down from Kodiya Karai lighthouse. The King tells his daughter that he saw her ghost at different occasions in his life and most recently in that very room where she asks him to give up the crown to his first cousin Madhuranthakan. Disturbed by her father's grief, Kundavai asks her mother never to leave him alone.

In meanwhile, Vandiya Devan comes to Elangai with the help of the brave boat girl, Poonguzhali. In Elangai he walks through the mainland and reaches Maandotham where he is kept under guard by the Commander's soldiers. He meets Azhwarkadiyan here again and together they set out to meet Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar who was traveling near Anuradhapuram. On the way, they meet Parthibendra Pallavan who had come searching for the Prince and along with him are two members of the gang who are conspiring with Nandini to assassinate the Prince. Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan meet the Prince and give their respective messages. A fast friendship is formed between Vandiya Devan and the Prince who asks him to stay with him always. Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan also witness the Maha Sangam of Buddha offering the throne of Elangai to the Prince, who refuses the offer. Later when they are walking by, they see a woman on the road who calls them by sign and they narrowly escape from being buried in the rubble of a mansion that almost falls on them.

The Prince tells his friends about the woman and calls her Kaveri Amman because she saved him from drowning in the river when he was young. He further tells them that ever since he had come to Elangai, she had saved him from many dangers and mishaps. Kaveri Amman bids them to follow her and takes them away from the palace where they were staying. In a mandapam she reveals her past life to the Prince through drawings. She tells him about the Prince that she met when she was young and her love for him. She tries to commit suicide when she learns that the Prince had left her for good but a fisherman saves her life and takes her to a temple. At the temple, she meets a queen who learns that she is pregnant. The queen who is pregnant too, takes her along with her and she gives birth to twin children in the palace. The queen asks her to give one of her children to her and the woman leaves both her children there and leaves the place.

The Prince leaves Anuradhapuram along with Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan and meets the commander Kodumballur Periya Vellar and Parthibendra Pallavan. Pallavan gives him his brother's message and urges him to come along with him to Kanchipuram. The Commander in the meanwhile reveals that the Pazhuvur lords have sent two ships with soldiers to Elangai to arrest the Prince.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Chapter 40: A Council

Swordfight between
Vandiya Devan and Prince Arul Mozhi
As they moved towards the mandapam, Vandiya Devan neared Azhwarkadiyan and said, “Why is the Prince acting like this? The day we met, he started a fistfight and today a sword fight. Why is he attacking me like this, without any warning? His friendship seems to be very dangerous.”

The Prince who happened to walk near them heard this and said, “Yes. My friendship is indeed very dangerous. You would have realized this last night. You should probably stay as far as possible away from me,”

“My Prince, I am prepared to face any kind of danger standing beside you but when you attack like this suddenly …”

Azhwarkadiyan interjected here and said, “Thambi! Don’t you realize why he did that? The Prince wanted to know who was coming and sought to stop them. Whoever it was, they would stop and watch if two people were fighting in the middle of the road, wouldn’t they?”

Prince said, “Thirumalai is correct. You should also know one more thing about me. Many astrologers have said that there is something very special about my horoscope it seems. Friends who are close to me will inevitably invite jealousy and envy. That’s why I would fight them all the time. So if you wish to be my friend, you should be prepared for this,”

“If that is so, then I will not wait for you to start the fight. I will start it myself. Prince! I have been amiss in my duties. I brought you many important messages from your sister but I forgot one particular message. I will have to give it to you now as there is no other alternative. If you do not wish to hear it, then draw your sword again,”

“There is no need for that. Tell me the message,”

“While we were fighting, did you notice a girl standing in the crowd with a kumud flower in hand? You said, that she distracted me, when I lost the fight? Do you know who that girl is?”

“No. I didn’t look at her properly. I don’t look at women by habit,”

Ayya! It was she who had sent you the message and I forgot all about it. I have been busy getting defeated in fistfights and swordplay and escaping from mansions that fall on our head ever since I met you. I didn’t find a suitable opportunity to give this message to you. While we were fighting, I saw her in the crowd and remembered the message that she sent you and that’s when you disarmed me,”

“Alright. Who is this girl and why would she send me a message?

Ayya! That girl’s name is Poonguzhali.”

“Beautiful name, but I don’t believe I know her,”

Ayya! Do you at least remember the name ‘Samudra Kumari’?”

“Samudra Kumari! Samudra Kumari! I don’t recall this name. I don’t even remember meeting her,”

Ayya! I beseech you to try and remember, if you don’t, this girl will be heart broken. You met her at Kodi Karai when you were ready to take a boat to your ship. Just then you saw a girl rowing a boat coming near the shore. When she came near, you asked her father, “Who is this girl? And her father replied, ‘This my Kumari!” To this, you said, “Is that so? I thought she was Samudra Kumari!” That girl did not forget these words of yours and has since called herself as ‘Samudra Kumari’. She helped me cross the seas to come to you…”

“Ah! I remember meeting her now. But why is she here with these people? What could possibly make a boat girl from Kodi Karai come all the way to Anuradhapuram? Has she perchance come searching for you?”

“No. That is not possible. She wouldn’t come here searching for me. If she has come here it could be only for you, though I can’t fathom the reason,”

Saying thus he chanced a look at the subject of their conversation. She was walking placidly along with Commander Budhi Vikrama Kesari with her head bent but Vandiya Devan could sense that she was intensely aware of everything that Prince Arul Mozhi Varmer said and did. He also realized that she knew that at that very minute, they were discussing about her. That probably accounted for her sudden modesty.

They neared the mandapam and saw that though it had no roof the surrounding trees and the thick foliage that surrounded it would give them enough shelter. There was a large seat in the center of this mandapam where the Prince, Parthibendra Pallavan and Commander Budhi Vikrama Kesari sat themselves. Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan stood at a distance near them while Poonguzhali found herself a pillar to lean on, while her eyes were fixated on the Prince. The accompanying army, horses and the foot soldiers awaited their commanders near the woods that surrounded the mandapam.

The Prince asked Parthibendran, “What message did my brother and grandsire send me?

“My Prince! The Kingdom is under grave danger. You probably know about this…”

“Yes I do. The Chakravarthi has been ill for a very long time,”

“That isn’t the only danger that I am talking about. The Kingdom is under threat from many factions. Many of your father’s liege lords have turned traitors and are plotting treason against the King, the Crown Prince and you. They are plotting to enthrone that pious cat Madhuranthakan who knows nothing about running a Kingdom. The Pazhuvur lords, Sambuverayars, Erattai Kudai Rajaliyar, Mazhapadi Mazhavarayar and many others are in this plot. But there is no need to worry about it as we have the border armies of West and North are under our control and we have the support of powerful lords like Malayaman and Kodumbalur Periya Vellar. We can vanquish these treasonous lords within no time but we should not give them time to plan their next move. We will need to destroy everybody who is in cahoots with these lords. Your grandsire is of the opinion that you should stay near your brother, lest these lords try to poison your mind against each other. That’s why he has sent me here, to bring you to Kanchi.

Your brother has also bid me to tell you that he has no wish to rule the Kingdom. He wishes to travel far and wide and conquer lands that lie across the seas. He wants to travel to distant lands that were once under the rule of Cholas and hoist our tiger flag there. Ever since the Pazhuvur lords restricted him from expanding towards the west, his thirst for battle has increased ted-fold times. After you come with me to Kanchi, he is planning to take an army to Thanjavur and destroy our foes there and then coronate you as the King and leave for…

The Prince who was listening to him patiently until then, closed his ears and said, “Please don’t say such words. I have no intention of ruling the kingdom,”

“If you do not wish to hear, then I will not talk about it here as this is best discussed with your brother. But it is imperative that you brothers join hands to destroy those who are plotting against the crown. It is important that you leave immediately along with me to Kanchi. Let us destroy the entire clan of these liege lords Pazhuvetrayars and Sambuverayars. Let us send that pious fool Madhuranthakan to Shiva logam and then you brothers can decide what needs to be done about the succession,”

Ayya! Do we decide everything here? Shouldn’t we ask my father, the Chakravarthi about his wishes? Did my father convey his wishes about this matter to my brother?”

“My Prince! There is no cause to hide the truth anymore. It is impossible to learn the wishes of your father. The Chakravarthi is imprisoned in the Thanjavur Fort. No one can meet him without the permission of the Pazhuvur Lords and there is no question of talking to him in private. Your brother tried all means possible to make him come to Kanchi. He sent him messages one after another inviting him to the Golden Palace that he has built in Kanchi but there was no reply…”

“It would be difficult for my father to travel since he lost the use of his legs,”

“Prince! Those are mere excuses. Your father is the Chakravarthi, the King of three worlds. He could travel on an elephant, a horse, a chariot or a palanquin. His loyal liege lords should consider it an honour to carry him on their heads if the need arises. But that isn’t the reason. The Pazhuvur lords are determined to keep him imprisoned in the Fort, under their guard. My Prince! You will need to come with me to Kanchi if you wish to save your father’s life,”

It was evident from the Prince’s face that Parthibendran’s words had shaken him to the core. With his forehead creased with worry, the Prince sat silent for a while and then looked Kodumbalur Periya Vellar and said, “Dalapathy! What do you advise? Few days ago, Prime Minister Anirudha Brahma Rayar had come here. You know that he is my father’s close confidante and holds him in high regard. He advised me to stay in Elangai for some more time and you agreed with him. When I said, ‘The war here is at a standstill, then why should I stay here?’ you tried to convince me about staying here. The Prime Minister sent the same message again with this Vaishnavan.

You know the regard and respect that I have for my sister, Elaya Piratti, Kundavai Devi. I have always acted on her counsel and it was she who had sent me here to lead the army in Elangai. Now she has sent the Prince of Vallam with a message, asking me to come immediately to Pazhaiarai, while my brother wants me to come to Kanchi. What do you suggest, Dalapathy?”

“My Prince! Until this morning, I believed that you should stay here in Elangai. Parthibendran argued until the wee hours of the morning about you going to Kanchi, but I did not agree. But when that girl, who is standing there, came with a message this morning that changed my mind. I am of the opinion that you will need to go to Kanchi immediately along with Parthibendran.”

The Prince looked at Poonguzhali who had been watching him intently from behind the pillar and said, “They say that Abhimanyu was killed by foes who surrounded him from all directions while I am being killed by messages from everywhere. What is so special about this message that this girl has brought?”

“It is best that you hear it from her own lips,”

“You, girl! Come forward and tell the Prince,”

Poonguzhali came forward from behind the pillar but she couldn’t say even a word. With her lips trembling, she stood there looking at the Prince.

Aha! Seems like the entire world has gone mute,” said the Prince. That was the last straw for her. She looked up to see his face once more while tears filled her beautiful eyes. She turned around and ran away from there before anybody could react.

Surprised by her actions, everybody looked at her until she vanished among the woods. Vandiya Devan came forward immediately and said, “Ayya! This girl tried to run away from me once and I was able to catch her. Allow me go after her,”

“Do that. Dalapathy! In the meanwhile, tell us about this message that she had brought,”
Ships sent by Periya Pazhuvetarayer
“It is quite simple. Prince! Two large ships have been sent to Elangai by the Pazhuvur Lords to arrest you for treason. Even as we speak, these ships lie anchored at shores of Thondaimaan,”

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Volume 1 - New Flood