Day two of hundred days. I wanted to share something close to my heart. I started writing this on January 1st 2016. I had a plot, logical with solid characters. I started writing with gusto, completed 6 chapters until it all fizzled out. I have no idea why that happened. I stopped writing. Today, when I chanced upon this, stashed away in an ignored corner of my laptop. I re-read it and wondered why I didn’t continue. So here is an excerpt from chapter one.
Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar X – By Raja Ravi Verma – An intriguing work of art which caught my eye.
Chapter – One :
The moon shined on casting an eerie glow on the forest. It was a full moon day. Trees stood still as though they had been commanded to do so. Owls hooted and wolfs howled joining the symphony orchestrated by nocturnal insects. A horse galloped steadily, the sound of which disturbed the symphony. The man riding the horse was dressed in olive green as though he was trying to blend into the jungle. His muscular leg was covered with tightly draped green dyed Antariya with a kutcham while his torso was covered with thick black dyed leather tunic that was cut short to his waist. He wore a traditional Satavahana military headgear with flaps covering his ears. His mouth and nose were covered with a black cloth tied to his headgear. It was apparent that the man didn’t want to be recognized. His choice of weapon and the locket that hung over his neck seem to betray that intention. He was carrying a sharp sickle fastened to his back. The handle of the sickle was plated in gold and had the engraving of a ship – the emblem of the Satavahana Empire. The golden chain on his neck had a skewed five point star shaped pendant. The centre of the pendant encased a vile looking bluish green liquid. The man apparently belonged to the royalty for gold wasn’t really affordable for the working class.
As he approached the edge of the forest, a small village with huts built out of mud loomed into view. The village was surrounded by a fence made out of wooden sticks with sharp edges. The sticks were bound tightly with thick fibre rope. Small bells were tied to the rope in equal distance with a big bell hanging in centre.The fencing was obviously meant for animals and not for humans aiming to attack the village. The man slowed down and eventually stopped as he approached the fence. He unmounted the horse and flexed his legs and shoulder. With his long legs, he could have easily jumped over the fence without making noise, but he choose to ring the big bell in the centre three times. He repeated the same action twice. It seemed like a specific code.
A scrawny figure walked briskly towards the man from the hut nearest to the fence. As he approached the man, his face drained out looking pale as a ghost.
“Namaste, what brings you to us in this ungodly hour Maharaj Ji?” asked the scrawny villager with folded hands. The man on the horse obviously was none one other than Raja Yagna Sri Satakarni himself. It seemed like the king was a regular visitor to the village.
“Pranam, I’m here to meet Vairini” replied the king.
The villager nodded and parted open the fence. He motioned the king to follow him. Together,they reached the other end of the village which ended in a river stream. The last hut on the line near the bank was largest of all the huts in the village. The circular hut could easily accommodate 10 people at ease. The hut was painted in white colour unlike the other huts. Thin brown cloth hung as makeshift curtains covering the entrance.The lantern burning inside the hut cast a glow on the ground though the tiny window. In spite of hut being large in width and height, the entrance was just enough for the scrawny villager. A small bell was suspended on the entrance of the hut to announce visitors. The villager rung the bell three times and repeated the same twice. Parting the curtain of the entrance, a petite young woman appeared and bowed mechanically without making an eye contact with her visitors. She motioned the king to follow her into the hut while dismissing the villager with a wave. The king entered the hut bending his gigantic frame to fit through the entrance.
The hut was sparsely furnished. Pots of different sizes were stacked neatly on an open wooden shelf that occupied large space. A broad low rise stool (moda) was placed in front the shelf. The woman motioned the king to sit on the stool while she sat cross legged opposite to him.
The maharaja couldn’t take his eyes off the beauty that sat in front of him. Her lustrous black hair was tied up into a bun with wisps of curls falling over her perfectly round olive toned faced. Her eyes, framed by long eye lashes were dark brown and seemed to convey a sense of melancholy. With high cheekbones, a sharp nose and think pink lips, she was the epitome of beauty. Clothed in starched white cotton Antariya and a simple brown blouse, her slender and petite frame was in stark contrast with the man sitting opposite to her.
“Maharaj Ji, are you going to sit here staring at me all night?” asked the woman in a soft sing-song voice.
“uh…hmm….apologies Vairini. You are too beautiful to not be admired. Sadly I don’t have all night” replied the king letting out a sigh.
Vairini chuckled and replied, ” Now that we have established you don’t have all night, can we get to business?”
“The Sriparvatiyas are closing in faster then I anticipated. The Panchakarni from other locations reported three successive events of attempted thefts which were of course unsuccessful. They are yet to figure out that I am also a part of the brotherhood, but that advantage would be lost soon. It is just a matter of time before they figure that out” explained the exasperated king.
“Isn’t that what we anticipated all along? But what worries me more is your search for an heir. You aren’t really working on either finding one or fathering one aren’t you? I really don’t wish to see all the hard-work that my people did going waste Maharaj ji” replied Vairini.
“Vairini, the prospect of matrimonial bliss with any woman other than you seems impossible for me.I would only be cheating some poor woman who would probably marry me with lot of hopes and dreams.I lost my heart to you long ago, but I respect your decision to reject my proposal. As to finding a competent successor, I am diligently working on it. With a war looming yet again, I frankly don’t know whom I can trust. ” replied the king solemnly.
Vairini let out a sigh and hung her head in sorrow.
The king reached for his chain and pulled it over it head in one swift motion. He held it in his hands and closed his eyes while chanting something inaudible. The king handed the locket to Vairini whose face registered confused with the King’s offer.
“Here Vairini this is master key. I want you to have this and safe guard it till I come back for it with a worthy successor in tow. I know it is not your duty to protect my treasure, but I plead you to help for the greater cause of humanity” pleaded the king.
Vairni took the chain from the king’s outstretched. She was careful not to make any physical contact but the king simply tried to hold Vairini’s tiny hands with the pendant in her palms as though he sought assurance from her. Frowning deeply, Varini complied with the king. It seemed futile to resist the king as she was physically no match to him.
Vairini stood up, breaking the physical contact. She placed the chain inside one of pots on the top row of the shelf. From another pot, she took out three small cylindrical objects and a chain with the pendant that looked similar to the chain which the king gave. Except the star shaped pendant attached to this chain was slightly more skewed than the original, but this deformity of sorts could be noticed only on keen observation. She then bent to retrieved a parchment which was hidden beneath inside a compartment on the lowest rack plank of the shelf.
Handing over the chain, Vairini said “This is the exact copy of the key that we initially made while testing the lock mechanism. I had rejected this owing to minor angular deviations but this will do as an replacement to ward off those observant spies hot in pursuit for the original.” The king put on the chain without a second thought.
Next, she handed over one of cylindrical object. The object had a small wick like attachment in one end that could be twisted while a conical cap of sorts rested on the top of it. It could easily was compact enough to be hidden inside the King’s broad palm while it seemed a bit large in Vairini’s tiny hands. She motioned the king to follow her outside. She placed the cylinder on the ground and pulled the wick while also giving it a twist. The object shot up about 10 feet above the ground and burst into brilliant red flame that seemed to light up the entire sky. The king stood rooted to the ground gaping at the display of firework that strangely didn’t give one bit of a noise like whizzing or flaming arrows did. Vairini smiled at the king’s reaction and went on to explain,
“Magnificent! isn’t it? These objects are still being tested. The one that I gave will go up to 60 feet. Given that our village isn’t really far from your kingdom, I want you to use these to signal me if you are in mortal danger. This is the only way I can know if you have fallen so that I can ensure that my people escape. If the Sriparvatiyas get to you, it won’t take long for them to trace us to the eggs. I pray to Lord Rudra that it won’t come to using this, but one can never be sure. These are very stable, but handle with care” warned Vairini. She then went back inside the hut and took her seat while the king followed her still looking at the spot in the sky where the cylinder burst into flames.
Note : This story is not historical fiction purely. This excerpt is an unedited version. Constructive criticism welcome. What I really need, I realized, is motivation. External motivation to be exact because self-motivation isn’t working at all.