Book 3

Book 3 | Chapter 27 | Kundavai’s Shock

The Chief Minister reached Princess Kundavai’s palace. On seeing him, she stood up and bowed to him.

“May you get a husband who is superior in both bravery and good character,” he blessed her.

“Is this the right blessing for these times?”

“What else would you want me to bless you with? These are wishes that this old man has.”

“Everyone is worrying about the health of the Emperor. The kingdom is sorrowed by the news about my dear brother, Arulmozhi.”

“I do not see those signs of sorrow on your face, Princess.”

“I am not one who will start wailing and crying as soon as I hear such news, sir. You know that.”

“My Lady, I know you are not one of those. I wish you would give this old man, who is devoid of any strength, some solace and reassuring words.”

“What is this, you are talking, sir? You are one of the bravest people that I know of.”

“Ammani, look at what you have done,” said the minister, sighing.

“What did I do, sir?”

“I had sent a message to Prince Arulmozhi in Lanka to stay there, and that it was not safe to come here. And you had sent your own envoy to Lanka asking him to come here. Why did you have to interfere in matters of the State?”

“How can you say that, sir? You do know that the Pazhuvettarayars had sent two warships to capture the Prince and bring him here.”

“Yes. I know that. But those two warships were destroyed. And now, when the people who survived say that the Prince was coming back to the mainland because his sister called him, how can you refute that fact, Amma?”

“How did you know that I had sent a message to my brother?”

“Hmm. The messenger you had sent was first captured by our warriors in Lanka, and hence, everyone in Lanka knows about your message. On the way to Kodikkarai, he went with the Vaidhiyar’s son. Through him, this entire Chozhanaadu knows about the message.” He sighed, “What you thought was a secret mission is now known to every citizen in this kingdom. This is why our ancestors have said that ladies should not interfere in matters of the State.”

The Princess was shocked, and did not know how to respond to the minister. She thought about Vandhiyathevan and momentarily became incensed at him. While she had no doubts about his bravery, she now doubted his ability to do secretive missions. She remembered how he had jumped from the balcony onto the Vaidhiyar’s son and started a fight. She wondered why he acted so impulsively and foolishly.

“Ayya, I need a favour from you.”

“Amma, the entire kingdom is yours. Please order me.”

“You remember the fight you dispersed when you entered the palace?”

“Yes. What the two of them were doing was a crime. A foolish and dangerous thing to do. When the entire crowd was so angry, anything could have happened. Riots get started because of such small things, like a small spark can start a large forest fire.”

“May I please request you to release one of them?”

“Who is that lucky man, whom the Princess herself asks to be released?”

“He is the messenger that I had sent to Lanka to bring back Arulmozhi.”

“Aha. I was looking to arrest that man myself, and was searching for him. It is great that he himself has gotten caught. Many are accusing him of a heinous crime. The crime of drowning the Prince.”

“Ah. Please stop. Who are these people?”

“Parthibendra Pallavan seems to think so. The Pazhuvettarayars are also suspicious. I have my doubts too.”

“Acharyare, please stop. This almost sounds like you are accusing me of sending someone to Lanka to murder my own brother.”

“No. Never. I would never do that. You enlisted him by trusting him. All I am saying is that he could very well be a spy of someone else too, and be double-crossing you.”

“It could never be. Aditya Karikalan sent the messenger to me, saying he is most trustworthy.”

“Aditya Karikalan could have been fooled too. Or, perhaps, the messenger could have changed colours on his way here? When the fight was beginning, I heard someone from the crowd say he was a spy. What was that all about?”

“The one who jumped from the balcony was my messenger, Vandhiyathevan of the Vaanarkula clan. The one below was the Vaidhiyar’s son, Pinakapani, who was accusing Vandhiyathevan of being a spy of the Pazhuvettarayar. What stupidity!”

“How so?”

“He escaped from the Pazhuvettarayar’s guards. They have been struggling to catch him for the longest time. How could he be a spy from their camp?”

“Then, please tell me, how he got hold of the Pazhuvoor insignia ring?”

“Arrgh. It was because of that poisonous snake.” She paused.

“Pardon me, minister. It was the Pazhuvoor Rani who gave it to him.”

“Ah. Thankfully, you know about that too. I also hope you know that your messenger met her multiple times. He met her once outside the Thanjavur fort. He met her inside her own palace. She hid him in the treasury tunnel once, and helped him get out. She knew that he was going to Lanka with a message. And I hope you know that he met her after he came back from Lanka as well. On top of all this, Vandhiyathevan still has that ring with him. Now, tell me, Devi – do you still believe in him?”

Kundavai was truly confused now.