Book 2 | Chapter 11 | The Chief Minister

Aniruddha Brahmaraayar held office on one of the smaller islands near Rameswaram. He was surrounded by accountants and other administrative personnel. Several people had come to see him. Some merchants came and visited the minister. The minister recognized them as merchants from the Pandiya Empire.

“How is the trade in the Pandiya Empire?”

“It is going very well, sire. People are mentioning that the administration is much better under the Chozha Empire than what it was before. Our ships are all returning safe. The great Chozha navy has completely vanquished the pirates of the Indian Ocean.”

“Did you get my scroll about supplies for Lanka?”

“Yes. We have readied enough food grains and supplies to be sent to the Chozha army fighting at Lanka. We would like to know when the war would end.”

“That is a very hard question to answer. Why don’t you ask your astrologer?”

“He says that, wherever Prince Arulmozhi goes, there would be victory. He would conquer distant lands across the ocean.”

“That means very good news for you as traders, is it not?”

“Yes. By God’s grace, this would mean a good future for us.”

“Please make sure that you send similar supplies to Lanka every month. You may leave.”

Once the merchants left, the chieftain and commanders of the Kaikolar clan requested an audience. They were a tribe of very brave soldiers, who had been hand-picked by the Emperor himself.

“Hmm. Brave warriors of the Sundara Chozha Chakravarthy’s Kaikolar clan, welcome.”

“Thank you, sire. But these days, we feel ashamed to be addressed so. We have been idle for the last six months, and not participated in any war activity. Please send us to Lanka. We would like to help Prince Arulmozhi to win the war there.”

“I will mention this to the Emperor, when I reach Thanjavur.”

“What if the war ends by that time?”

“Do not worry. It will not. “

“Are those warriors so powerful that our army cannot vanquish them so easily? Let us try our hand at them.”

“No. It is not that. The Lankan army is not to be found anywhere. They are hiding in the dense forests. Their king Mahendran is also missing. He is also in hiding. If an army is not in your sight, how will you fight them? There has been no war in Lanka for a few months now. What is the use of sending you also there?”

“Send us there. We will hunt down the Lankan army and bring them to the Prince’s feet.”

“Please be patient. I will speak to the Emperor. I want you to protect the Pandiya empire until then.”

“But the Pandiya empire is a peaceful Chozha land now. There is no one to claim the throne.”

“You are mistaken. There are still some people who wish to bring back the old Pandiya Empire. Do not be complacent. The Pandiya royal crown and the bejeweled royal sword are still in Lanka, hidden somewhere in the mountains. Until we capture that, the Pandiya war is not over yet.”

“The royal jewels must be brought back and Prince Arulmozhi crowned as Pandiya king.”

“These are royal matters. Let us not get into such topics. But do listen – I have good news for you.”

“Once the Lankan war is over, the Prince has plans to take the naval fleet towards the south and south-eastern seas and expand the Chozha Empire to faraway lands. He also hopes to go westwards to Kerala, and then north to Kalingam and onward. Your services will definitely be required then. Be prepared. Keep your men trained and ready.”

The chieftains hailed the Emperor, the Prince, the Chozha Empire and the Chief Minister.

“There is one more request from all of us.”

“I would like to hear it.”

“As you know, we are a select group of warriors handpicked by the Emperor to serve him and his family. We would like to tell you that we will do just that. We will serve only him and his family.”

“This is what I expect from you.”

“We keep hearing rumours from Thanjavur. We keep hearing stories about the Pazhuvettarayars.”

“Let rumours be rumours.”

“We also know that the Emperor is not keeping good health. And if something happens to him, we request orders to serve under Prince Arulmozhi.”

“Your obligation is to do what is ordered by the Emperor.”

“And we would like you to take on an obligation to let us know what the Emperor has ordered.”

“I will definitely take it upon myself to do the same. Please rest assured.”

“Minister, we feel much better now.”

The warriors left. The Chief Minister then summoned his guard to bring Nambi in.