Book 2 | Chapter 39 | This is War

Dilapitated mandapam (Near Patteeswaram / Pazhayarai)

The Prince leapt down from the horse and faced Vandhiyathevan. He took out two giant curved swords from the saddle of his horse.

“Get down from the horse right now. I have had enough of your sarcasm. All those words that you spoke last night, about your ancestors and how they were superior and I was ordinary, still sting me. How dare you speak such, in front of me?”

The Prince then started swinging the two curved swords in circles and dared Vandhiyathevan to come and fight.

Vandhiyathevan was confused. And slowly his warrior senses took over and he too unsheathed his sword. He could not believe what was happening. The swords clanged. But as the fight raged, his hesitation and confusion receded. He had to focus on his swords and his defence.

Nambi did not understand what was happening, but he was sure that the Prince would have a reason for this. He took hold of the reins of the three horses and moved to the side of the road.

The horsemen came closer. Nambi saw the Chozha flag of the tiger amidst them, and felt relieved. As they came closer, Nambi also recognised the warrior leading the pack. It was none other than the brave General Boodhi Vikramakesari. Nambi also recognised the warrior riding beside him. It was the commander of the Northern forces – Parthibendra Pallavan.

The swords clanged and the fighting was fierce. The spectator crowds grew.

When Parthibendra Pallavan arrived at the scene and observed what was happening, he looked at the General and said, “General, see what is happening here. What I had been telling you about Vallavarayan is true. The idiot is fighting with the Prince himself. Let me end this fellow’s life once and for all.” And he unsheathed his sword.

The General held back the Pallava Chieftain. “What a sword fight! It has been a long time since I witnessed such a good fight. The young lad is a fine warrior, no doubt.”

Amidst the crowd, the familiar face of a lady emerged. She was watching the fight with excitement. Her eyes flitted between the warriors. Vandhiyathevan caught a glimpse of her face. For a minute, he fumbled. The Prince took this chance, and swung at Vandhiyathevan’s sword, and it fell to the floor. Vandhiyathevan tried to recover by attempting to pick up the sword again, but the Prince ran to him, and hugged him tight.

“Vandhiyatheva, you are a fierce warrior. You did not lose to my sword. You were equal to me. You lost to the beautiful eyes of a lady in the crowd. Well, it happens to the best of us. So, not to worry!”

The General stepped forward, “Prince, I was the one who sent this warrior to you. Has he been misbehaving?”

The Prince laughed out loud, “Oh no! He has been pestering me, ever since he met me, to see where the war was happening. So, I wanted to give him a fight that he can participate in.”

The General looked at Vandhiyathevan and said, “You are a very good fighter. It has been a long while since I saw such a wonderful fight. You were equal to the Prince. It is said that anyone who cannot fight equal to the Prince cannot be a long-term friend to the Prince.”

Meanwhile, the Prince had walked over to where Parthibendran was standing. “Sire, welcome. I got news that you were looking for me. How is my brother in Kanchi? How is my grandfather doing?”

“I have important news from your brother and grandfather. It took me quite a few days, just to find you on this island. We should not waste any more time.”

“If it was not that important, you would not have come yourself. Come, let us go to that dilapidated mandapam on the side of the road. Thankfully, in Lanka, there is no shortage of such dilapidated mandapams.”