Book 1 | Chapter 4 | Kadambur

Kadambur Railway Station — pic Karthik Iyer (indiarailinfo)

Read from the first Chapter — https://medium.com/son-of-cauvery

Vandhiyathevan’s horse seemed to be galloping faster than earlier in the day, perhaps because it had gotten some rest. He reached Kadambur by late evening. He looked at the massive gates of the Kadambur fort. It was bustling with activity. The gates were heavily guarded. It looked like Nambi’s words were true. It did look like there was going to be an important festival or a meeting of sorts in the fort today. He cursed himself to have picked this day to visit his friend Kandanmaran.

He wondered if he should show the insignia that his friend and Master, Aditya Karikalan had given him. There was no one from the tip of Kanyakumari to the edge of the Kalinga kingdom who would stand against the Crown Prince. But that would attract too much attention. He had a better plan.

Vandhiyathevan rode at a brisk canter towards the gates exuberating false bravado and confidence. Two guards blocked his way with their spears and four others caught hold of the bridle of his steed. Vandhiyathevan’s plan had not worked.

“State your name and purpose of your visit to this fort” said the lead soldier.

“I come from Thiruvallam from the Vanahambadi area. My name is Vaanavarayan Vandhiyathevan.”

“All visitors for today have arrived, and our Lord has given orders not to let anybody else in.”

Vandhiyathevan had to think fast. He had to do something to distract these lead soldiers.

“Ok then. I will return back. Release my horse.”

As soon as the soldiers released the bridle, Vandhiyathevan kicked his horse in its sides and the horse reared up high. With a neigh and a kick, the horse rode forward swiftly. Vandhiyathevan removed his sword from its scabbard and swished it in the air. The rider and the horse quickly crossed the gate into the fort. By this time, the alarm had been raised and a much larger group of soldiers surrounded him.

“Kandanmara! My friend, Kandanmara! Your soldiers are trying to kill me”, he cried out loudly.

The confused soldiers hesitated now. By this time, the King of Kadambur, Sambuvarayar, and his son, had stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the front courtyard.

“What is happening here? What is the confusion?” shouted Sambuvarayar in his booming voice.

“This young man breached the front gate security. He is now claiming friendship with the Prince.”

“Kandanmara, go down and see what the commotion is, and take care of it.”

When Kandanmaran reached the front courtyard, he could not believe his eyes. He was overjoyed to see his childhood friend Vandhiyathevan. They embraced tightly and exchanged pleasantries.

“You had told me several times to come and visit you. And when I do come visit, see the welcome I get!” said Vandhiyathevan. The two friends ran up the stairs hand in hand. Kandanmaran wanted to introduce his friend to his father and the other vassals of the Chozha Kingdom, who were gracing the evening at Kadambur.

“Father, this is the warrior from the Vaanarkulam, Vandhiyathevan, whom I have spoken to you about several times.”

Vandhiyathevan bowed in respect to the King.

Sambuvarayar did not seem particularly pleased with Vandhiyathevan’s arrival.

“So, this is the young fellow who was causing so much of a commotion at the gates.”

“The confusion was not caused by Vandhiyathevan, but by our foolish soldiers at the gate, father”, retorted Kandanmaran.

“Still, coming in at this late an hour, and breaching security…”, the king let his voice trail off. He had clearly made his displeasure felt.

Kandanmaran then introduced Vandhiyathevan to Pazhuvettarayar.

“Mama, this is my childhood friend Vandhiyathevan. When we used to serve together in the army, he used to always say that he wanted to meet the great Pazhuvettarayar someday. He used to joke that he wanted to check if you really had 64 war wounds.”

Pazhuvettarayar snapped back — “So you wanted to check by yourself, if I had the 64 wounds, and would not believe in people’s words?”

The two friends realized that humour was clearly not one of the fortes of the great man.

Vandhiyathevan quickly added — “Not at all, great Sire. No one from the tip of Kanyakumari to the Himalayas would ever doubt the words of the Great Pazhuvettarayar.”

This seemed to have placated the situation, and there were smiles on the faces of the warrior kings.

Sambuvarayar pulled Kandanmaran aside and whispered in his ear — “Make sure your friend has an early dinner and retires for the night in a room far from the courtyard. He must be tired after a long journey.”

Kandanmaran and Vandhiyathevan excused themselves and left the hall.