Book 2 | Chapter 41 | Look over there

Parthibendra Pallavan stood up in anger and roared, “General, is what this girl is saying, true? Why did you not tell me this before? Is it really true that the Pazhuvettarayars have sent forces to arrest and capture our Prince? Why are we still calm and sitting here? We should start immediately, take on those two boats first, and vanquish those forces. We will bury them right here in Lanka. And then we will go after the Pazhuvettarayars.”

“I did not tell you this news, only because you would react with your short temper like this. This is something that we need to think about and then decide on a course of action.”

“What is there to think about?”

The Prince replied, “I would like to hear what the General thinks as well.”

“Prince, what if the forces that have come, have been sent with the order of the Emperor. Would it still be prudent to fight them?”

Parthibendran roared, “How could the Emperor give any orders? He does not even have the permission to speak.”

Vandhiyathevan added, “The Pallava Prince is right. I have seen it with my own eyes as well. The Emperor himself is under house arrest. One cannot even utter a word to the Emperor without the Pazhuvettarayars’ permission.”

The Prince looked on thoughtfully, “Vallavarayare, why are you still standing here? I thought you were going to go and bring the girl here. Please convince her and bring her here. I would like to hear this news from her directly.”

“Yes, my Prince. I will go and bring her. But, one thing is for sure. I cannot even tolerate the thought of you being taken captive by the Pazhuvettarayars. I will not let that happen while I am alive.”

The Prince looked at the General and asked again,

“You still have not given your opinion, Sire.”

“Prince, I think you should go with Parthibendran to Kanchi. I will sail to Thanjavur and meet with the Emperor directly. If you go directly to Thanjavur, it is like stepping into the lion’s jaws directly. They will arrest you and throw you into the famed underground dungeons. They will never let you see the Emperor.”

The Prince bristled with anger, “Who would dare arrest me? I would like to see if there exists a man brave enough to prevent me from seeing my own father. The Chief Minister Aniruddha Brahmarayar is also there, if needed.”

The General added, “The Prime Minister himself does not get an audience with the Emperor. Let us ask Thirumalai, who is the disciple of the Chief Minister.”

“Thirumalai, why are you silent? Have you also become mute?”

“God has given two ears and one mouth for a reason. One should listen more and speak less. My guru has advised me to follow this rule, especially, when high-level political matters are being discussed.”

“If the Prince permits, I will give you an honest opinion.”

Prince Arulmozhi nodded.

“I think we should find the most secure prison in Lanka and keep the Prince inside it.”

The General hissed, “Thirumalai – this is not the time to make irrational comments.”

“I am not being irrational, General. The Prince faces so many threats to his life. A building wall almost collapsed on him yesterday evening. The room in which we were resting for some time was set afire. Thankfully, we were not there. If you do not believe this, ask the Prince yourself.”

The Prince nodded.

Parthibendran jumped up again, “With so many dangers to his life, the Prince should come with me immediately to the safety of Kanchi.”

Thirumalai interjected, “No. The Prince would rather go with the Pazhuvettarayars’ forces than with you.”

The Pallava Prince screamed and took his sword out of its scabbard, “Thirumalai …!”

The General looked at Nambi and remarked, “The Pallava Prince is a close confidante of the Chozha royal family. He is to be trusted.”

“General, I know that. But, being a close confidante is not enough. I would like the Pallava Prince to answer one question that I have for him. We saw him the day before yesterday near Thambalai on horseback with two other hefty men. Who are those men? Where were they from?”

Parthibendran was taken aback and fumbled for an answer momentarily.

“I met them at Trikonamalai the previous day. They promised me that they would lead me to the Prince. After reaching Anuradhapuram, they vanished. Why do you ask, Thirumalai? Do you know who they were?”

“Yes, I know them. They are two people who have sworn to bring down the Chozha empire. I also suspect they were the ones who tried to kill the Prince.”

Nambi looked at the distance and smiled. “Aha, look there.” In the direction that Nambi was pointing to, one could see Vandhiyathevan speaking with Poonkuzhali, convincing her to come back.

All of a sudden, Vandhiyathevan flicked out a short knife and flung it towards the bushes nearby, and there was a scream of pain.