Book 3 | Chapter 6 | Poonkuzhali’s shock
Poonkuzhali stood holding her breath, lest she make any sound. She could hear the voices of the magician and Nandini clearly, even though they were whispering in hushed tones.
“You never believe what I say. Why do you think the Prince has not drowned?”
“Every astrologer that I have met, why, even the Kuzhagar Kovil Bhattar that I just met, has said that the Prince will live a longer life.”
The magician sniggered. “My magic powers are much more superior to the predictions that are made using the stars. Do you not know that I created the squall out of the calmest waters, using my magical powers? Even that stupid Vallavarayan did not believe it initially. I am sure he must have believed it, when he drowned.”
“Did you hear that the Prince jumped to rescue his friend Vandhiyathevan?”
“Yes. I am very glad that he did. Now both the enemies have perished in one shot.”
“The two of them escaped the ship on fire. And yes, they did not come back to the Pallavan’s ship. Are you sure they were not picked up by anyone else? Something inside me tells me that they both are alive. Do you know Poonkuzhali?”
“Yes. I know her well. She kept giving us trouble in Lanka. I hope she perished in the squall as well.”
“Precisely not what has happened. Raakkammal saw a small craft with two or three people at a distance, which suddenly disappeared. She thinks it might be Poonkuzhali’s craft.”
“Hmm, okay. Then, you take the old man and leave immediately. I will search for them, and take care of them.”
“Let me ask you again. Why is it that you want to kill them? If everyone agrees to make Madhuranthakan the ruler, why should there be any killing?”
“That spy from Kanchipuram knows all of our secrets. I am sure he must have shared all of it with the Prince as well.”
“Raakkammal, do you know where Poonkuzhali usually hides?”
“Yes. There is a dilapidated mandapam near here, which she uses a lot. She had even hidden the Kanchipuram spy there for a whole day, before she took him on her boat to Lanka.”
“Good. I know of that mandapam too. I will go there and wait.”
“How is the Emperor, Rani?”
“Which Emperor are you talking about?”
“I will never refer to the aged and sick Sundara Chozhan as Emperor. I am talking about our Emperor.”
“I heard news that he is doing well, as of ten days ago. It has been such a long time since I saw him.”
“Be careful about the Pallavan, Rani. He is a dangerous person.”
“Do not worry about the Pallavan. He will do whatever I tell him to.”
“Still, be careful. You did let your guard down with Vallavarayan.”
She sighed, “Yes, that I did. That is why I want to see him one more time alive.”
“That should never happen.”
They started walking away.
Poonkuzhali realised again the many dangers that the Prince was surrounded by. She started walking swiftly towards the direction where she had hidden the boat. The Prince was suffering from a severe tropical fever. The Pazhuvettarayar was looking to arrest him. The magician and Nandini were planning to kill him. Parthibendra Pallavan was caught in her lust trap. The mandapam in which she had planned to hide the Prince was also no use now, since they knew about it.
Her mind was confused. So confused that something that had never happened before happened. For a moment, she doubted whether she had lost her way. She caught her bearings, and soon reached the spot where she had left the boat.
Her heart stopped. She could not find the boat. Could they have been found? Could the Prince have been captured? Could Vandhiyathevan have taken the Prince to the hidden mandapam? She hoped not, because the magician would be waiting there to kill them.
She ran in the direction of the hidden mandapam. Again, the unfamiliar doubt of having lost her way. She heard footsteps behind her. Could it be the magician? Should she run? Should she stop and fight?
While her mind battled these questions, she ran. Wildlife all around her scattered. Squirrels scampered away. A fawn skipped out of the way. Birds fluttered away.
She suddenly became very angry, and decided to confront whoever was pursuing her.