Saturday, 29 August 2015

Chapter 2: Seductive Net

Men who get married to younger women often dwell in a world where suspicion reigns supreme. They often regard strangers with distaste. Pazhuvetarayar felt the same when he saw Parthibendran outside his tent and added to that he didn’t like the way Nandini had come forward to talk to the Pallava Lord but he couldn’t chide her too!

He therefore replied to Nandini with a frosty smile, “Devi! There are many in this world that we do not know and we have nothing to lose, if we don’t.”

Parthibendran who had by then recovered his speech said, “Ayya! While it is true that you have nothing to lose if you do not know me, the loss is truly mine. Allow me to introduce myself to your wife. Devi! People call me Parthibendra Pallavan.”

“Oh! I have heard about you,” said Nandini.

“Parthibendra! Why did you omit all those titles that decorate your name? Since when did you turn so humble! Nandini! He isn’t just Parthibendra Pallavan, he is the warrior who won Vengai and Kalligam! He is the warrior who beheaded Veera Pandian!” said Pazhuvetarayar with a derisive laugh.

Nandini’s face darkened for a few seconds just as sudden clouds crowd on a clear blue sky. She regained her composure soon enough and laughed.

Ayya! These days so many people are claiming the honour of beheading Veera Pandian that it is difficult to count,”

Devi! Dhanadigari added those titles to my name out of respect but in truth, the honour of slaying Veera Pandian rests with Prince Aditya Karikalar!”

“Now I wonder why you say that? Don’t you want, your share of honour in killing a dead snake?” asked Pazhuvetarayar sarcastically.

“No, My Lord! Aditya Karikalar did not kill a dead snake. When he slew Veera Pandian, he was a live snake. When he drew his sword, a beautiful woman came in front to beg for the King’s life. If it had been me, I would have thrown that sword away and Veera Pandian might have escaped with his life,” said Parthibendran in reply to Pazhuvetarayar though his eyes were directed towards his wife.

Nandini who realized the dangerous route the conversation was taking, immediately turned towards her husband.

Natha! Why are we talking about these old stories? Kindly enquire about his business hereabouts!”

Pazhuvetarayar immediately acceded and asked, “She is right. Let’s not discuss the old stories. What are you doing here? When did you leave Kanchipuram? Where are you bound?”

Parthibendran who had forgotten the purpose of his visit, soon remembered it.

Ayya! Forgive me. I have come with news that would drown the Chola Kingdom in sorrow. Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar came along with me in my ship and when we were stuck in the cyclone, he jumped into the sea and has gone missing. We searched for him in the sea fruitlessly for an entire day. I came here hoping that he might have ashore…”

Even before he could finish his account, Pazhuvetarayar wailed, “What? What did you say?” and fell down in a dead faint.

Parthibendran sprang forward to hold him but Nandini pushed his hands away and sat down near her husband. Cradling his head on her laps, she shouted, “Water! Water!”

A handmaiden came running from the tent bearing a pitcher of water while soldiers and onlookers crowded them around. Nandini with a glance bid them to move away and sprinkled some water on her husband’s face and crooned lovingly, “Natha! Natha!”
Periya Pazhuvetarayar faints!
After a few minutes, Pazhuvetarayar opened his eyes and sat up immediately.

“Nandini! Did my ears deceive me? What did this Pallavan say? Did he say that Ponniyin Selvan was lost in the sea? I played with Arul Mozhi when he was but a wee child. I used to tell him tales while he rode on my shoulders! I held him in these very hands right from the time he was a babe! With these very hands, I put the seal on the royal decree to imprison him! Woe to me! What will the people of Chola Kingdom say about me and my clan?” wailed Pazhuvetarayar and beat his hands on his head. No one had seen the old man ever so distressed in their life, not even Nandini!

Natha! Don’t distress yourself! The Pallava lord did not complete his message. Let us hear him out and decide what needs to be done,”

“Yes. You are right! Parthibendra! You said that the Prince drowned in the sea. Is that true? Or are you perhaps telling these tales out of some malicious intent? Do not play around with me!” growled the old man.
Parthibendra Pallavan 
Ayya! Forgive me! I did not say that the Prince drowned and died. I cannot accept the fact that a storm can steal this Kingdom of its most beloved Prince. When the cyclone was at its worst, the Prince jumped from my ship into the sea. He might have escaped, if God willed it! That’s why I came here hoping against hope that he might be alive and might have come ashore…”

“He jumped from the sea during the storm! Why? What possessed him to do such a thing? Why did he come in your ship in the first place? What were you doing when he did such an insane act?” questioned Pazhuvetarayar one after another.

Nandini interjected saying, “Ask him to explain as to why he went to Elangai in the first place?”

“Yes. Tell me the truth or else you will never leave this place alive,”

“My Lord! I am not in the habit of telling lies. If for some reason, lies are called for even then, my tongue betrays me by telling the truth. We have been hearing disturbing rumours about the King in Kanchipuram. We also heard that the noble lords have gathered under the Pazhuvur Lord to conspire against the Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan’s right to succession,”

“Lies! Absolute lies!”

“I too wish that they were but mere lies nonetheless this is what we heard! This prompted noble Malaimaan to send me to Elangai so that I could bring back Prince Arul Mozhi to the Kingdom….”

Starting thus, Parthibendran recollected all the events that had occurred ever since he boarded the ship to Elangai. After listening to him, Pazhuvetarayar wailed, “Oh God! A great calamity has come to Chola Kingdom! And it came because of me. It was ‘I’ who sent those ships to Elangai to imprison the Prince!”

“My Lord! None of this is your fault. Even if you hadn’t sent those ships, the Prince would have travelled in the Pallava Lord’s ship to Kanchi and would have become prey to the storm. Pray, do not blame yourself for something that God had destined!” said Nandini wisely and then suddenly leaned towards her husband and whispered something in his ears.

Pazhuvetarayar’s face gained some colour after he heard her words and said, “Yes! Yes you are right! It didn’t occur to me at all!”

Next he turned to Parthibendran and said, “Pallava! I am going to go to your ship and inspect it. You will remain here under my guard, until then. Don’t try to escape or else my soldiers will hunt you down. You belong to the brave clan of mighty Pallavas and it would tarnish their fame if you were found wounded in your back!”

“My Lord! I have no intention of escaping from here. If I do decide to escape, none of your soldiers can hope to wound me and certainly not even in the back.”

“My lord! Don’t worry. I will take care of him. If he tries to escape, this dagger of mine will find its mark. You go to his ship and inspect it carefully. Speak to his sailors to verify his story.” Said Nandini with her hand clutching the dagger that she had taken out of her waist.

“Devi! I don’t want to burden you with this responsibility. You go inside the tent and take rest or else go to Thyaga Vidagarayar’s house. Our soldiers can keep him under watch until I return or else I could take him alone with me to inspect the ship…”

“I have no intention of accompanying you, My Lord. If I come with you, will suspect me again of influencing my sailors. I will not budge from here until you come,”

“My Lord! I have no intention of going anywhere too. I will be here waiting for you…” said Nandini and then leaned towards him to whisper in his ears again, “This Pallava Lord might have come here to spy on you, who knows? I will stay here to prevent such mischief. Moreover no one hereabouts should know the truth about the Prince’s fate until you come back from the ship…”

Pazhuvetarayar nodded his head and then took a boat to inspect Parthibendran’s ship that was anchored at some distance. Nandini stood looking at the boat until it moved away from the range of her eyes. She was also aware of the fact that Parthibendran was unabashedly staring at her face. She turned towards him expecting him to look away with embarrassment but the honeybee that has smelt the nectar will seldom turn away!

Nandini took the dagger back from her waist and said, “Don’t try to escape! You have been warned!”

Devi! Why are you trying to scare me off with that dagger? How could a fish that has been ensnared in the fisherwoman’s net escape? Where would it go? I am truly caught in the net that you had cast…”

“What are you saying? Are you comparing me with a fisherwoman? If my lord were to hear this…”

“I am not worried about what he would think. But I did not mean to call you a fisherwoman. I was referring to your beautiful eyes that casts an alluring seductive net…”

Chi! Chi! How dare you? Even if you had called me a fisherwoman it was excusable but you dare to call me, a woman of loose morals!”

“Forgive me! That’s not what I meant when I spoke about your beautiful eyes. There is nary a guile in them. The spider painstakingly makes a beautiful web as its home. When the flies fly into it, one can hardly blame the spider for enticing it inside…”

“So you are comparing me to a nasty spider. Do I look so horrible to you?”

“No! No! I should have compared you to the lamp. We light a lamp so that it relieves us from the darkness but the house flies and other pests are attracted to its beauty and they sacrifice their life at its altar…”

“A small wind can take care of this lamp. We can even blow off the lamp and extinguish it! That’s all the power that the lamp holds.”

“The lamp might be extinguished but is there any power in this world to dim the full moon’s light! The moon rises over the sea because of the natural order of things in this world but why does the sea try to reach it with its endless waves. Why does it constantly try to touch the moon with those scary waves?”

“I have heard that the Pallava kings appreciated art and imagination very much, today I have learned it to be true!”

“I never believed it when I read about it in the Puranic tales and old stories but today I am willing to believe it,”

“What are you referring to?”

“I have heard about who posses such unearthly beauty that they are able to enslave all beings in the three worlds. Didn’t Mohini enchant the Auras, just when they were about to partake the nectar? Didn’t the Apsara Menaka entice Sage Vishwamitra away from his austerities? Didn’t Kovalan fall prey to the beauty of courtesan Madhavi? Didn’t King Dasaratha banish Rama to the forest just to please Kaikeyi? Didn’t the glorious Kingdom of Rome lose its fame and glory when it bowed its head before the beauty of Egypt’s queen…”

“Enough! May I ask, why you are giving such examples to me?

Devi! Can’t you guess why I am giving these examples?”

“If you are quoting these as an example for me, then you are making a huge mistake,”

“I doubt that. The women that I quoted as an example had as much power as you have,”

“I can prove that it is a lie with the help of your own words!”

“How so?”

“I sent my lord husband to the ship deliberately, so that I could speak to you privately,”

“I guessed your intent. That’s why I didn’t go with him,”

“A little while ago, you said that a woman tried to save Veera Pandiyan and that Aditya Karikalar didn’t accede to her request,”

“Yes I did,”

“Do you know who that woman was?”

“Yes. She is right now the beloved wife of Periya Pazhuvetarayar!”

“If I indeed were so enticing, wouldn’t I have saved the life of Veera Pandiyan? Why did I fail there?”

“It is true that Prince Aditya Karikalar didn’t accede to your request. His fury in war is legendary. But it is also true that for the past three years, he has been regretting his actions and is torturing himself for not granting your wish,”

“How is it that you know about this? Did he speak to you about it?”

“For three years, he had locked this sorrow in the deepest recess of his heart. I knew that he was troubled by something and begged him to reveal it to me. He opened his heart ten days ago, before I journeyed to Elangai. Since then…”

“Since then…”

“Since then, I have been wanting to meet the Pazhuvur Queen,”

“You said that if you had been in Aditya Karikalar’s position, you would have acceded to my request and granted Veera Pandiyan his life,”

“Yes I did,”

“Is that true?”

“Absolutely! You can test me if you want,”

Ayya! I have a doubt. Can I tell you about it?”

“My ears are fortunate to hear anything that you care to say with your honeyed voice,”

“I think that you are testing me with your words. While you speak of the net that I am casting around, you are trying to trap me in your net! You are trying to gain my confidence so that you could learn all my secrets!”

Parthibendran was flabbergasted to hear Nandini’s words. He had indeed begun the conversation with intention of trapping her in a web of lies and to make her believe that he was smitten with her beauty. But what began with a deceitful intent soon became true for him and he became truly enamoured by her beauty. He was startled by the fact that Nandini was perceptive enough to gleam the truth out of his lies. Nonetheless, he tried to hide the fact from her and said, “Devi! If you truly believe that I have come here to spy on you, let the Gods unleash thunder and lightening upon my head!”

Ayyo! Do not say that!” wailed Nandini.

“That messenger who came from your Prince, what was his name?”

“You mean Vandiya Devan?”

“Yes. He tried to spy on me very cleverly and if your account is true, it looks as if the lightening did indeed fall upon his head,”

“Alas Devi! The lightening fell upon the ship and not on his head and that finally led to the Prince leaving the ship in the heart of the storm!”

“Poor Kundavai! Two people who were most dear to her heart are lost to her forever. How unfortunate for her?”

Devi! Who are these two people?”

“Didn’t you know that Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar was most dear to Kundavai?”

“Yes I do. But who is this other person who is dear to her?”

“Who but that messenger that your Prince sent along,”

“You mean Vandiya Devan?”


Chi! Chi! How could Princess Kundavai, who is powerful enough to rule this kingdom spare a glance to that upstart and vainglorious Vandiya Devan?”

“Nonetheless, it is true. She was attracted to him and that’s why she sought to save him from my husband’s soldiers, by sending him away to Elangai to fetch her brother. My husband is berating himself for sending those ships to imprison the Prince but in reality it is Kundavai who is responsible for the brother’s death. If she had not sent Vandiya Devan to the Prince…”

“…then the Prince wouldn’t have jumped into the sea during the storm.”

“When my Lord husband comes back from the ship, I would be grateful if you could point this out to him,”

Devi! Is there anything else that I could do for you, so as to earn your gratitude?”

Ayya! I am but a helpless woman and there are hundred ways to earn my gratitude,”

“If you could tell me I would be much beholden to you. Aditya Karikalar got a golden opportunity to earn your gratitude and he let it slip away and regretted his actions for three years. I would never make such a mistake in my life,”

“Is that true, ayya? Would you go to any lengths to do the bidding of a woman?”

“No! Yesterday, if someone had told me this, I would have laughed. But today, after I saw you, I can’t help myself. Tell me something, anything! If I had hundred lives, I would sacrifice them for you, just to do your bidding. I would sacrifice a thousand kingdoms just to please you. Ask me to forgive my deadly enemy and I would do it for you. Ask me to behead my dearest friend, and it shall be done forthwith…”

As Parthibendran went on listing the things that he was prepared to gain Nandini’s gratitude, his body shook and his speech slurred, his lips trembled and his breathe became hot! Parthibendran transformation will be a source of great surprise for all the readers. But if someone had gone to him and said, “You will become thus!” he wouldn’t have believed it. Later, after many years, he would think back to this day and wonder how he could have acted thus!

This kind of transformation is not limited to a person like Parthibendran. It happens all the time, all around us. We haven’t unravelled the mysteries of the human body yet and it would take many years before we unravel the mysteries of the mind.

People who commit acts of unspeakable evil, one day become devout and renounce their old life.  There are others who spend their life immersed in devotion but irrevocably slip into evil ways.

Nandini who heard Parthibendran’s declaration with a smug smile, interjected him and said, “Enough Ayya! I would never ask you to do anything so terrible as you just described. I would only request you to do something that would make us both happy,”   

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Volume 3 - The Sword - Chapter 1 - At KodiKarai

Volume 3 - The Sword

The storm that started in Elangai crossed the sea and made its way through the coastal cities of Chola Kingdom leaving behind destruction and death in its wake. From Kodikarai to Kaveri Pattinam, the cyclone rendered many homeless, uprooted trees and destroyed many a property. The backwaters of Kodi Karai were flooded and the quick sands became more deadly and dangerous, capable of swallowing large elephants.

Two day after the storm, Periya Pazhuvetarayar and his entourage came to Kodi Karai. A veiled palanquin followed the entourage but this time, Nandini had travelled in it. There was no reason to take Prince Madhuranthakan with them and it is also important that Nandini travelled with him some times. It might be necessary to take Madhuranthakan again in the same veiled palanquin and if Nandini were to travel genuinely with her husband on some trips, no one would suspect otherwise. This was one of Nandini’s arguments to her husband and Pazhuvetarayar accepted her suggestion gleefully anticipating a romantic trip along with his beautiful wife.

Just before the storm struck Kodi Karai they were in Nagapattinam for a day where Pazhuvetarayar met people on affairs of the Kingdom. Nagapattinam in those days was one of the busy ports of Cholas and was a trade route for many merchant ships. Ships laden with goods would often anchor in the sea port and boats would ply their way to them to unload and ferry them back to the mainland. Trade Merchants and officers of the guild would be at hand to levy taxes on the goods that are brought by the ships and the merchant ships would trade for items that they wish to take back to their Kingdom. There were many royal officials at the Port to conduct this business and as the treasurer of Chola Kingdom, it was his duty to oversee their records.

After meeting the guild of merchants, Pazhuvetarayar headed to Chudamani Viharam (Buddhist Monastery). The bikshus graciously invited him in their midst and accorded him the courtesy due to his status.

A few days ago, two Buddha Bikshus from this Viharam visited Thanjavur and requested permission to meet the King. The Pazhuvur Lord allowed them to meet the King and they blessed him with good health and showered praises about his benevolence towards them. They also had many good things to praise about Ponniyin Selvar who was helping the Buddha Sangams in Elangai by renovating their monasteries and temples. They also had another important information about the happening in Elangai.

“Chakravarthy! We are happy to inform you that Buddha Sangams in Elangai are so delighted with the Prince’s benevolence that they have decided to offer the crown of Elangai to him. This news has not only made us proud but also very happy! There is no higher praise for this Chola Kingdom than this!”

Periya Pazhuvetarayar who was present there had an unusual idea that he voiced to Sundara Chola after the Bikshus left.

“My Lord! While there is no doubt that you rule over this realm, your sons rarely listen to you and nor do they respect your wishes. The reason for this is the ill advice given to them by certain people who have coveted important positions in our royal court. Prince Aditya Karikalan refuses to come to Thanjavur and is instead asking you to travel to Kanchipuram. He is being taught by your noble father-in-law Malaimaan to disrespect your wishes. Similarly I have sent enough messengers across the sea asking Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar to come but in vain. These messengers find it difficult to meet the Prince, thanks to Commander Kodumbalur Vellar schemes. If Prince Arul Mozhi knew that you wished to see him, he would immediately set out from Elangai, I am sure of it. I have an idea to make this come about and if the King commands, I will tell it here,”

When the Chakravarthy asked him to explain the idea, he said, “Let us send a war ship with the Chakravarthy’s royal commands to imprison the Prince on charges of trying to usurp the throne of Elangai. Kodumbalur Vellar cannot ignore a direct command from the Chakravarthy and our men will have to meet the Prince directly to hand the Olai. The Prince will never disrespect your commands, he will immediately come back,”

When Sundara Cholar heard this, he smiled. It was a strange idea and by all accounts it might even work. The Chakravarthy wanted to see Arul Mozhi as soon as possible because he had realized that he wouldn’t be alive for much longer. He wanted to speak to Arul Mozhi about the giving up the throne of Cholas to Prince Maduranthakan and he hoped that the Prince would be able to speak to his brother and change his mind.

Thinking thus, Sundara Cholar acceded to the Dhanadhikari’s idea of sending warships to Elangai to imprison the Prince. Periya Pazhuvetarayar arranged for the warships and sent his own soldiers in the vessels that would journey to Elangai. The Captain of the ships had strict instructions not to cause any bodily harm to the Prince and to treat him with utmost respect.

After the ships departed to Elangai, Periya Pazhuvetarayar got a little worried. He was concerned about his own reputation and if something were to happen to the Prince while on his journey he would be blamed for the same. He therefore decided to go to Nagapattinam to welcome and receive the Prince and bring him back to Thanjavur under his protection.

There were few other reasons for this decision. He didn’t want the Prince to meet Sembiyanmadevi or Princess Kundavai before he spoke to the Chakravarthy. Both the women had a lot of influence with the Prince and they hated the Pazhuvur brothers. They might say something to the Prince and change his mind. He didn’t want anything untoward to upset his plans and wanted to implement them carefully until the right time, which in other words meant, until the King’s death.
Periya Pazhuvetarayar

Periya Pazhuvetarayar had many other worries too. The soldier who manned the treasury and the dungeon was found dead and it had given rise to many suspicions in his mind. Was someone hiding in the treasury? Could it be that spy from Karikalan, whom his brother had foolishly lost sight of? If that were so, then he would have learned many other secrets!

Could Nandini be involved in this? His brother had warned him about the mandiravadi who came to meet his wife. Could he be a spy too? He decided that he needed to find more about the mandiravadi before anything untoward happened. When he learned that Princess Kundavai had sent Vandiya Devan to Elangai with a message for her brother, he was more than worried. What message did she send to her brother? Did she warn him about the conspiracy that he and his allies had mounted on her older brother?

Be that as it may, he had decided that once the Prince reached the shores of Chola Kingdom, he would be taken into his custody and protection. He had also asked the Captain of the warships to imprison Vandiya Devan too if he was found with the Prince. He wished to interrogate him personally and find out what he knew.

Thinking thus, Dhanadigari had travelled to Nagapattinam to wait the Prince’s arrival. Nandini had more reasons than her husband to travel to Nagapattinam. She was eager to meet Vandiya Devan and to know what message Kundavai had sent along with him to the Prince. She also wanted to know how far Mandiravadi’s mission in Elangai was successful. Hence she insisted that she too would travel along with Pazhuvetarayar. The Pazhuvur Lord agreed to take her along without much argument. He wanted to go on a romantic trip by the boat along with his beautiful wife and had hoped that this might quench his heart’s thirst to some extent but sadly it didn’t come to pass.
Pazhuvetrayar dreams of a romantic boat trip! 

While they were in Nagapattinam the cyclonic storm hit the city and it was quite impossible to go anywhere on the boat. However Nandini enjoyed the high winds and huge waves that rose up in the sea from the safe confines of her palace balcony, while her husband brooded about his crushed dreams.

After the storm passed them by, Pazhuvetarayar was busy with the city officials to check the damages that have been caused. The destruction to property and life was minimal within the city since they had largely anticipated the storm. However he heard many disturbing rumours from ships and boats that returned from the sea. He heard that in the middle of the sea, two ships were sighted in the storm and that one of them was burning and it caused him immense worry.

What if this was one of the ships that he had sent? What if the Prince was in one of these ships? If some mishap were to befall on the Prince, he and his clan would be blamed for it. The Prince was popular among the people and they would never forgive him if he were responsible for any untoward incident that happened to him. Desperate for more news, he decided to travel to Kodi Karai. There might be fishermen who probably saw those ships and they might be able to tell him what happened.

When he told Nandini about his decision she immediately acceded and agreed to his plan. “I have never seen Kodi Karai. I have heard that it is very beautiful. I wish to see it along with you,”

There were two ways to reach Kodi Karai, through the canals that lead them to the backwaters or through the roads. Since their entourage was large, they decided to go by the road. Moreover Nandini didn’t want to travel by boat since she feared that it might encourage Pazhuvetarayar’s romantic overtures. She also told him that if they travel by road, they might get a chance to speak to the fisher folk who might have come back from the sea.

Though they met some fishermen on the way, they didn’t get any new information about the ships. When they reached Kodi Karai, the guardian of the lighthouse Thyaga Vidagar offered his humble home for the Pazhuvur couple, as there was no palace or mansion for them to stay.

However Nandini refused his offer and opted to camp in tents near the lighthouse. After the tents had been struck they noticed a large ship in the horizon of the sea and it came as close as possible to the sea.

Periya Pazhuvetarayar got very excited to see the ship. The ship looked very careworn thanks to the storm and its sails were ripped and torn. Who could be in this ship? Could it be the Prince? The fact that it didn’t have a flag atop the sail was not surprising since the stormy winds might have torn it away.

Pazhuvetarayar sent boat full of men to learn more about the ship. The ship seemed to be waiting for the boat, as two men immediately got into and came ashore. One of them was Parthibendra Pallavan.

Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar who left his ship to save Vandiya Devan didn’t come back that night. Parthibendran and his crew searched for them fruitlessly in the sea. They found one of the sailors who had gone with the Prince floating in the sea and learned from him that after saving Vandiya Devan, their boat was broken into two by a sail mast. Parthibendran was in huge despair and they searched for the Prince for few more hours and then decided to go to Kodi Karai with a faint hope that he might have come ashore here.

When he learned that Periya Pazhuvetarayar had come to Kodi Karai with Nandini he was irritated. He remembered everything that Karikalan had told about her. At the same time he was also curious to see the woman who had stolen the Crown Prince’s heart. That curiosity grew more and more as they neared the shore so much so that he was worried that he might not see her!

He needn’t have worried so much because as soon as he came ashore, the soldiers took him to Pazhuvetarayar’s tent. Pazhuvetarayar was standing at the entrance of his tent watching Parthibendran. When the Pallava Lord saw him he realized that he was doing Pazhuvetarayar a huge injustice by calling him an ‘old man’. It was difficult to find a young man with his stature, build and stamina indeed!

While he was thinking thus, a beautiful maiden came out of the tent. To Parthibendran it seemed like the clouds had parted to reveal a peal of lightening. Like a beautiful flower creeper she came around Pazhuvetarayar’s gnarled form. Her beauty had astonished Parthibendran so much that it had robbed him of speech.

“My Lord! Who is this warrior? I have never met him before,” she said with her speech dripping with honey that was as intoxicating as nectar.

                                                                                                               Next Chapter                                    

Monday, 17 August 2015

Ponni's Beloved - The Story So far...

Volume 3 - The Sword
In the 10th century AD, South India was ruled by the mighty Cholas who expanded their Kingdom from Elangai (Sri Lanka) to Krishna River. Our story begins during the reign of King Sundara Chola (Paranthkan II) who was sick and abed with paralysis. His son and the Crown Prince Aditya Karikalan was gathering forces in Kanchipuram to expand their Kingdom and his second son Prince Arul Mozhi Varman had conquered Elangai and was setting up Chola suzerainty.

Aditya Karikalan is worried about his father’s health and security in the hands of Pazhuvur brothers (prominent noblemen in the Chola court). He sends his friend and trusted messenger Vandiya Devan with a message to the King, asking him to come to Kanchipuram. Vandiya Devan who stays in his friend Kandan Maran’s house at Kadambur finds out about the Pazhuvur brothers were planning to install Prince Madhuranthakan as the next king and thereby deny the throne to Karikalan.

Vandiya Devan also meets Azhwarkadiyan during his travel, a spy who works for Chola Prime Minister Anirudhar. Azhwarkadiyan tells him about Nandini, the young wife of Periya Pazhuvetarayar. He also finds out that Nandini’s beauty had enslaved Pazhuvetarayar so much so that he gives her free reign to do as she pleases. Nandini is also the leader of the late Pandya King’s loyalists who have taken a vow to avenge their king’s death. They conspire to kill Aditya Karikalan who had killed their king and wipe out his entire family. Vandiya Devan meets Nandini and gets her signet ring, which he uses to gain entry into the fort.

In the fort, he meets the King and tries to warn him about the plot that the Pazhuvur brothers were hatching but is interrupted by the Chinna Pazhuvetarayar. He also meets Nandini in her palace garden who tries to seduce him. When he escapes from her palace he encounters his friend Kandan Maran in the dungeon passage and saves his life from the murderous guard. He then escapes from the fort and leaves for Pazhaiarai with the help of his friend Senthan Amuthan.

In Pazhaiarai, he meets Princess Kundavai and finds out that she is same woman with whom he had fallen in love in Kudanthai. He tells Kundavai about the conspiracy that the noblemen are hatching. She sends an Olai to her brother Arul Mozhi in Elangai and asks Vandiya Devan to bring him back home. Vandiya Devan leaves for Kodi Karai.

Prince Aditya Karikalan is furious because his friend has been branded a spy and he wants to take his army to Thanjavur. His grandfather Malaimaan advises him against it and asks him bring back Prince Arul Mozhi home. They decide to send Parthibendra Pallavan to Elangai for this task. Before he left, Karikalan tells Parthibendran about his love for Nandini and how she had betrayed him by sheltering and pleading for Veera Pandyan’s life. He regrets his action and wishes that he had not beheaded the king.

Kundavai leaves for Thanjavur along with her companion Vanathi, the Kodumbalur Princess. Vanathi is in love with Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar but she is also very faint hearted. In Thanjavur she sees the King moaning in pain one night and finds him shouting at someone who resembled Nandini. The King calls Kundavai for a private audience and he reveals his past to her. When he was a young Prince Sundara Chola was once stranded in an island near Elangai and there he meets and falls in love with a fisher girl called Mandakini, who is deaf and mute. One day, the King’s men find Sundara chola and he goes back to the Kingdom after promising her his hand. Back in the Kingdom, he becomes the crown prince and Mandakini who is heart broken, commits suicide by jumping from Kodi Karai lighthouse. Sundara chola believes that Mandakini’s ghost is haunting him and trying to tell him to give up the kingdom to Maduranthakan.  

Vandiya Devan in the meanwhile meets Poonguzhali, a boat girl in Kodi Karai and goes to Elangai with her help. In Elangai, he meets Azhwarkadiyan who escorts him to the Prince. Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar is very taken in by Vandiya Devan’s personality they become fast friends. Arul Mozhi also reveals to them that a deaf and mute woman was saving his life and helping him in Elangai. He also tells them that she had saved his life when he was young and calls her as Kaveri Amman. Kaveri Amman saves them once again from the murderous gang led by Ravidasa who is the leader of Veera Pandya’s erstwhile bodyguards. Vandiya Devan is taken aback by her resemblance to Nandini and guesses that she might be her mother.

Poonguzhali meets them again and gives a message that two warships have come to arrest the Prince under the King’s orders. Kodumbalur Periya Vellar and Parthibendrn try to counsel the Prince against surrendering but in vain. The Prince decides to meet the ships and give himself up. He leaves their army in an elephant along with Poonguzhali but the warships are no longer there. One of the war ships is broken after running aground while the other is taken over by Arab pirates. Vandiya Devan who sees the Arab Pirates going with Ravidasan assumes that the Prince is held a prisoner in the ship. He swims towards them and gets into their ship but is instead kidnapped by them.

The Prince in the meanwhile takes Parthibendran’s ship and goes in search of Vandiya Devan. In the midst of a fierce storm, Vandiya Devan kills the Arab Pirates and then Mandiravadi and his companion abandon the ship leaving him alone in it. When the storm intensifies a lightening strikes the ship and its sails catch fire. The prince rescues him from the ship but they end up floating in the sea and are later rescued by Poonguzhali.

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Volume 1 - New Flood