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“Maharaj… Maharaj?”Shivchandra’s meditative stance was broken by a heavy coarse voice that sounded a reverb even more with a gushing wind.
“Huh? Oh… Mayant! So you have come”said a startled Shivchandra turning towards the commanding general of the Bramhakush army. Mayant, who was also known as Senapati Ashtabal, was in charge of the entire armed force and police of Bramhakush. He earned his name as Ashtabal or a person who knew all 8 warfare techniques known to mankind in the Aryan Habitat. He was believed to be the only one who had mastered all 8. Not even Maharaja Shivchandra was blessed with such prowess. Not only was Mayanat a fearsome warrior, he was also an intelligent strategist. It was rumored that he had never lost a fight in his life. Although one could see signs of ageing, the muscular almost 7ft tall frame was enough to scare away anyone who dared to attack. Some said Mayant had too much say in the internal matters of Bramhakush. No one dared to speak out. Because he was not just the commanding general, but also a childhood friend of Maharaja Shivchandra.
“Huh? Oh… Mayant! So you have come?
“Why do you keep calling me Maharaj? Mayant? We are friends, aren’t we?”
“Indeed. But right now, a general is talking to his King.”
“I see… so let me also call you Ashtabal. Tell me, Senapati… what news from the capital?”
“Not bad. The army has recuperated well after this battle. New animals have been recruited. Policing is increased to keep an eye on aftershocks. Things are rather holding well. No sign of any revolt. But…”
“But? But what Senapati?”
“Well… I can take care of the law and order. But I don’t make policies for the kingdom. I have no access to the tax collection or their spend. And not that I have interest, but there have been irregular activities in the art & culture field… too many toys coming up. Sukirti is…”
“Oh, common Mayant… Sukirti is an able man. He is my brother. Don’t mistake him for a horse master. Yes his ideas are different from mine, but he loves Bramhakush as much as you do.” Said Shivchandra in a dismissive tone and started looking back across the river Sattvi. The royal court of Kansar on the embankment of the river, which was completely distroyed during the war, was being rebuilt. But the new structure was no match to the beauty and finesse of the Kansaras. Shivchandra sighed after a momentary silence.
“Look at this Mayant… see what we have done. Only if I would have known that the source of our information was not legitimate. I would have avoided this destruction.”
“No Maharaj… our source was correct. The Pindharis had indeed infiltrated the city. They had climbed down the mountain wall. They were planning a full scale war. They were disguised. We hardly had any time to distinguish. Besides, their next target could have been us, this Kaumudi region was vulnerable… We did the right thing.”
“I have my doubts. I inspected the remains of their barracks myself. Pindharis were under prepared. They may have been planning a guerrilla attack, may be. But they had not come for war, at least not with us. We could have defended the river and sent a batch our elite soldiers to free up Kaachi. A frontal attack could have been avoided. See what we have done… we defeated and relegated the Pindharis. But in the process, we killed hundreds of Kansaras, including the royal family.” said Shivchandra, looking back at the royal court again with dejection. Mayant stood his ground. He was absorbing every word of his King. But it didn’t matter to him. The displaced Kansaras or the dead royal family was hardly one of his worries. He wanted Kansar to be a part of Bramhakush. Not only it was prosperous, it was also strategically located. It gave Bramhakush a supreme power over the river Sattvi. The whole of Kansar could become a trade hub. They could earn lacs of gold coins just by trading agriculture and livestock. He could now allow the northern kingdoms to use the route for trade for a hefty fee. Besides, he could now trade the water. All he had to do was to convince Shivchandra to let him build the dam.
“The people our land are missing you Maharaj. You must return to Vishala.” he said. But the king did not respond. He was still looking across the river towards the royal court and far beyond towards a new city under construction. He had decided to rebuild Kaachi and rename it Vaikunth. For he considered it heavenly. While he had lit the pyre of Namandev and Naini Devi himself, he could not find their son Ripudaman. He just prayed the young prince had survived.
Somewhere near the bottom of the mountain
Even though it was summer, the boy was shivering. An year had passed, but he was still not over it. A frail looking but strong lady wrapped a blanket around him. She was dressed like a man. She handed him a heavy bundle, which the boy could not balance and felled on ground.
“What is this?” he asked in a low voice
“They are weapons of your father, Suketu”
“We are just two of us, mausi. Can you not call me…”
“No! Get used to it. One day, I will teach you how to wield a sword. And many other things. You will reach your destiny… one day. But not now. That beast still stands guard.”
Looking away from the weapons wrapped in a thick black cloth, Suketu pointlessly started out of the cave house. The sun was going down, light was waning. He didn’t know if he had any hope.
to be continued…