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.