The General paused for a bit. “But beware, do not get too close to the Prince. It is not good for you. You should realise who you are, and who he is. Stick to casting your net in the sea and catching fish. Do not even attempt to cast your net on the Prince. This is my final warning.”
“Prince, it has been like this ever since the Pazhuvettarayars were given powers. It has been like this for a while.”
“Ponniyin Selvare, please forgive me. I have sinned.”
“Brave soldier, you did your duty. You need not ask forgiveness for that. For fighting in battle, for the sake of your motherland, you will definitely go to Heaven. There is no doubt.”
“I came hunting for the Chozha tiger, but, instead found the Vaanarkulam fox. Not a bad catch.”
“There is something catastrophic that has happened here. The fact that one of the Chozha Navy’s ships has met this fate saddens me. I am also very confused as to how this might have happened. Our Chozha captains are very experienced. W
They passed barren lands, thick forests, rivulets and streams. Poonkuzhali lost track of where she was. She had originally felt afraid. The Prince turned towards her and smiled a couple of times. This calmed her down. She returned to her daydreams.
The elephant suddenly trumpeted loudly and started running wildly. It did not care for the trees and branches in front of it. The earth shook. Frightened birds shrieked and flew out of the way. Small animals scurried out of the way. Poonkuzhali felt fear envelop her.
“Parthibendran and I did not know what happened inside the hut. We recently got to know that it was a girl who had given refuge to Veerapandiyan. She had stood between Karikalan and her lover, the Pandiya King. Karikalan had kicked her aside and beheaded the King.”
The General said in a slow voice, “Prince, that girl inside the hut – she was Nandini. “
“There is a reason for this. The Prince is going through a very bad time. Even the Kudandhai Josiyar confirmed this to me. Friends and associates of the Prince would also face hardships. The Prince does not want this. He does not want anyone else to suffer.”
They moved on to the dilapidated mandapam. Vandhiyathevan whispered into Nambi’s ears, “This friendship with the Prince is becoming dangerous by the day. The other day he got into a fist fight with me, and today, a fierce sword fight.”