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Chapter Z: Zero

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Advaita said “My father yearned for Power.” He fell on Shadow’s lap as tears started streaming from his eyes. She held him for some time as he finally got up recomposing himself. Shadow felt that he looked calmer and more focused now. “Me and the Shaka Chief had a very long conversation” said Advaita. “What happened between the two of you?” she asked. Advaita finally decided to reveal what had happened in Shaka after he had knocked on the door of the Chief’s house the day, it was early morning, the very same day when Cully and shadow were planning to go find him.

His Grandmother, Chief’s wife opened the door and they went inside. Grandfather didn’t want to talk to Advaita initially. When Advaita asked him why he had called his father a cheat, he came to know that Advaita didn’t know his father. Advaita told him Rob and Princess Agnes’s journey from Heaven to Bantu and all he knew was that Rob was Karma, his father. He opened the copper sheet and showed it to his grandfather. His Grandfather laughed and said “you have missed the most important part and she is not your mother. I will tell you the Karma we knew initially”. Valguka the Chief of Shaka finally started the story.

“We Shaka people lived in the Zulu kingdom. My brother was the chief then. We were both young at that time. One day due to a devastating earthquake we lost almost everything. We wanted to move north towards the border of Heaven seeking a place to live again. But my brother wanted to go to the City of Zulu. When nobody was ready, he along with his friend abandoned us and left for Zulu the very night. The next day they made me the chief and we moved here with great difficulties and started our life from zero.

I met my brother sometime later when I visited the City of Zulu a couple of times, I invited him to our new home, to come stay with us but he never came. Years passed and we became old. One day a man from Zulu came to talk to me, he informed me that my brother was sick and was on his deathbed. So your grandmother and I went to see him against the wishes of the tribe. By the time we reached he was already dead. We came to know he had a daughter Kiya. She was a young lady and all alone as her mother had passed away during her birth. Since we never had a child we took her as our own. We asked her to come with us and she readily agreed.

We were not sure how to tell this to our tribe as everyone had hated my brother. So we decided to say we met her on the way back and helped her as she was an orphan. But when we were about to reach Shaka we met a guy. He introduced himself as Karma. He looked tired and exhausted. Your Grandmother suggested we take him too. Thus they came to Shaka as two orphans. I took Kiya as my daughter, that very day I named her Akira in front of the Shaka people. Later Karma and Akira fell in love and they were married. You were born and all was good in their life. But one fine day your mother fell sick. She told your grandmother Karma’s story and made her promise not to tell this to anyone before her death.”

“What is this story” asked Advaita to his grandmother. His Grandmother continued from where his grandfather left,

“I kept Karma’s secret for a very long time. You had grown up into a young boy. If you remember Advaita the day before your father was attacked, I was sick. I got scared nobody would know Karma’s truth and your grandfather had decided to make Karma his successor but he had not yet shared his views with anyone. So that night I told him what Akira had told me”

Advaita was curious and nervous to know. He had not heard about Princess Agnes anywhere in the story so far, He wondered what happened to her. Grandmother finally stated what was told her the second time.

Akira and Karma had a baby boy. Karma was very happy on becoming a father. Slowly Karma had started loving his wife and child. He confessed one night to Akira that he had not loved her initially but married her to become the chief of the tribe. But he was a changed man now and he deeply loved her and their son.

Akira was shocked to hear that. He told her about his life before Shaka and that his actual name was Rob. He told her his story in the city. He explained her how lords humiliated and robbed them in every way possible. He wanted to assume power to change that. He said he was zero back then and somehow he had to reach a position where he was someone. He wanted everyone to pay for their harassment. So he had used Princess Agnes to do so. Karma told how he made Agnes fall in love with him and how they had run away. In Bantu they had exchanged the rings they had. Karma showed Akira, Princess Agnes’s ring which he had hidden all this long.

Akira realised that Karma had made her fall in love with him the same way too. But she kept quiet. Karma continued his story after Bantu.

As Rob and Agnes moved south from Bantu, Rob expressed his wish to go back to the city. Agnes said she did not want that life and all she wanted was to be with him. Rob who had hidden his real intentions so far, could not do this any longer. He was angry. He shouted at her, he said “How do you think we can live here. You are already hurt”. Agnes thought he was shouting because of love. She came near him and said “I am sure our love will find a way.” He pushed her away and said” Stop living in a fairy world. I do not love you. I used you so that I could get some status and power.” She fell on the ground feeling shocked and heartbroken. “We have nothing, zero now. I was a zero then, and after all my hard work I am back to zero” he said in anger and frustration turning away from her. She was still lying on the ground.

From nowhere a beast had jumped on Princess Agnes. Rob was shocked but instead of helping her, he saved himself. He climbed a tree and watched as Princess Agnes shouted with pain and breathed her last. Rob had not felt any remorse that moment. He was so blind with hatred towards the rich that he had lost the human inside him.

From there Rob had moved ahead with caution and came across the Shaka Chief and had introduced himself as Karma.

When Akira heard the story she was in shock. Her husband who she thought was such a good person was actually a power hungry emotionless demon. She remained silent. Karma said “I have realised how wrong I was in the past few days. You and our son brought back the lost soul in me. I have been repenting for my mistakes. I am in love with you both; I want us to be happy and nothing else anymore”. Akira nodded, but she was in shock. She came to know the two sides of her husband.

Akira could not cope with the truth she heard from her husband. She suddenly started to feel ill and could not eat anything properly anymore. Her health deteriorated badly, she decided to tell her mother everything about her husband. Akira realised that her father won’t let Karma live if he came to know the truth and her love for Karma made her ask for a promise from her mother.

“Now you know why I made people attack your father” said the chief.  “I never told the story to anyone here; all I said was that he was planning to take over as chief forcefully. And they attacked your father as I expected them to. But your father had a few supporters as well. It was like a war here when you ran away” he said.

Advaita was in shock. He had never known his father was that kind of a person. There was complete silence in the house. Sourav from the tribe knocked the door but was sent back by the chief.  “Don’t you think my father had changed after mother’s death?” asked Advaita. “He had, my child, but he had to pay for his past life” said his grandfather. Advaita nodded. “He loved my mother. I had seen him cry a lot of times remembering her” Advaita said.

Advaita who had worshipped his father and his teachings all his life was sad and distraught now. His grandmother noticed it. She came and hugged him. “You will always be my grandson” she said. They both cried.

Advaita finally told them his journey after the run. “So, are lords still harassing the poor in the city?” asked his grandfather when he finished his story. Advaita nodded.His Grandfather thought for a very long time. “Apart from us three nobody knows who your mother actually is. Give me your sheet” said the chief. He wrote something on it and put his seal. When Advaita saw this “This is wrong, Grandfather” he said. “You yourself said how lords are still behaving; there should be some people who can change that. I am sure Cully your friend can help you as well with It.” replied Grandfather. “But I may need to face the court to prove this, King himself had said that” said Advaita. His grandfather asked his wife to get that ring “Your mother kept Princess Agnes’ ring and she had given it to your grandmother before her death” he said to Advaita.

They both discussed on how the court session could go, finally as they were about to go out “Remember you need to start from zero again. Never lose your path as your father did. I have belief in you that you will be a better man.” the Chief of Shaka said.

When Advaita finished the story he turned towards Shadow. He could see even she was a little disturbed. He went near her, held her hand. He took Princess Agnes’ ring and said “I know my father was not a good man. He lost his way while he tried to bring a change in poor’s life here. But I promise you as I start from zero, I will be a good man, a good husband and a good father in the future to come. I will always be truthful and take your guidance in every step of our life as I fight for a better society, if you are willing to marry me. Will you marry me Shadow White?” She had tears in her eyes as she said Yes.

She knew how much he loved her. He placed the ring on her finger. They went out of the room for the new beginning that was going to come.


THE END

Chapter W: Wait

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Advaita had woken up early and was ready to leave Bantu. Chief had already left the house and he was about to go in search of the chief. Chief’s wife asked him to wait for some time as she would provide him some food to carry. Advaita said he would talk to chief and come back.

Advaita saw that the chief was in discussion with a couple of people. He joined them and asked “Chief, is everything ok?” Chief said “Oh Advaita it’s you. This is Biko and Keni. They have found a couple of location where the Spotted Hyenas which are killing our sheep and cattle can be found. We are planning to kill them today.” Advaita nodded. “Will you join and help us. Your marksmanship is the best we have ever seen. It would be of great help if you could join us” Chief asked.

Advaita wanted to leave but Bantu people had always helped him. He agreed to help. “We will leave as the sun comes up a little. They will be less active then” Chief said.

Advaita remembered the days when his father used to take him for hunting. They had waited for a long time. “Son, the more you wait greater is the prize” his father had said. Here the wait was for Truth. He felt he could wait for a day when he had waited for so many years. Biko touched his shoulders and said it’s time to go. Advaita took his bow and had around 15 arrows.  There were 8 guys going for the kill including him. They said they were happy that Advaita had joined them.

As they went inside the forest, Biko and Keni split into a team of 4 and decided to head for different locations. Advaita joined Biko’s team. Some even challenged that they would get more kills. As the four moved they went to a higher ground and Biko showed them the path where he and Keni felt those hyenas would rest. They moved ahead cautiously. As they came near the spot they started to hear the noises of Hyenas. Advaita said he would climb a tree to get a clear view to shoot. They agreed on that.

As Advaita climbed he saw that it was a very small open area. There were about 10 hyenas. He went down and said he could see 10 of them. They said they will attack first and asked Advaita to shoot accordingly from top. Advaita asked for a few minutes to find a spot to shoot.

After sometime the three charged towards the area with their swords. Hyenas who were resting were surprised by the sudden attack. Three Hyenas were immediately killed. Advaita shot 2 more which were trying to escape. One of the Hyena attacked Biko but he tackled and killed it with one slash. Remaining four had started running. Advaita could get only two more as the rest disappeared into the forest. Advaita came down as the others chased the remaining two. They got one and one hyena escaped.

They came back to the tribe with their hunt. Keni and team were yet to come. Chief thanked Advaita for his assist. Advaita said he had to leave for Shaka as it was already midday. Chief’s wife gave him some food for travel and he left towards the south to get to Shaka.

As he moved in the forest, he remembered the days when he was on the run. He wondered whether he could see Fear again. He came to the area near the cave where he had encountered the Beast, mother of Fear. The sun was setting in as he moved ahead. It was dark as he reached the outskirts of Shaka.

Advaita could not wait any longer as he decided to go on. Only a few were outside their houses as many were already sleeping. Nobody recognized him, he felt relieved. Maybe the darkness was hiding his identity he wondered.

Advaita requested to meet the chief to one of them. They enquired what the matter was. Advaita insisted that he would only talk to the Chief. They said the Chief was sleeping and he would have to wait until morning. They gave him a place to rest.

One more night Advaita said to himself as he slowly fell asleep.  

Chapter T: Tale

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The wedding ceremony was the talk of the town for the next few days. The Jester’s act after the wedding made people laugh for a long time. Overall the day was one of the best days the Kingdom ever had. The King and People of Benin had left after a few days and everything was getting back to normal in Heaven.

Advaita learnt that wedding in Heaven or in any other Kingdom for that matter happened during the middle of the day when Sun shone at its brightest. It was a belief that Sun would be spreading its light all over the world, most at that moment and light in the newlywed’s life would stay on forever. He had found that belief interesting.

Now that the days had passed. He wanted to talk to General Thomas about the truth of Rob. When he raised this matter with General Thomas, General said they would sit in the evening for the same. Advaita now was eagerly waiting for sun to set.

General Thomas, Tip Roy and Advaita were again seated in General’s study and General continued the tale from where he had left

Rob was in love. Since he was very close to Prince Aiden he could met Princess Agnes. Rob started to impress her with his visions and thoughts. Slowly even Princess Agnes fell in love with him. Even Prince Aiden didn’t know about them. Rob and Agnes had started spending time in secret. They took our help to do so. When they were sure they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, they decided to tell Aiden about it.

Prince Aiden was initially not very happy but Princess Agnes talked to him. The views of Rob had always impressed him and he finally agreed to talk to King William on the same. On the Parallel Rob wanted to bring change in the kingdom. He wanted to remove the atrocity shown against the poor by rich lords. Poor girls were getting raped and killed. None of the poor supported him as they thought this would make things even worse.  

Meanwhile the love story of him and Princess Agnes reached the King’s ears before Prince Aiden could talk to him.King William ordered the soldiers to get him Rob. They had a discussion where King threatened him. Rob was not ready to listen to any of it. But he stayed silent as he knew he could get killed if he rebelled. The King gave him a final warning and let him go. Prince Aiden tried talking to the King but it went in vain.

One day Princess Agnes wanted to meet Rob. When she tried to sneak out from the Palace to meet him, few soldiers saw her and informed the king. King disguised himself and followed her; he caught her before she could reach Rob’s place. He threatened her that he would burn Rob’s house in front of her if she saw him again. That very night Princess Agnes went to Prince Aiden and told him what had happened. She had said she would die if she doesn’t get Rob. The next day King Summoned Rob’s father Lian and warned him on this as well.

Lian came to this very house to talk to my father. He explained my father the whole scenario and said that he would be leaving the city with the family and try to live somewhere peacefully. My father said he would try talking to King on this matter. I heard their conversation and immediately went to inform Rob about his father’s idea of leaving the town. Prince Aiden was with him at that time. He suggested that Rob and Agnes should escape from the city or else they could never unite.

Prince Aiden himself devised a plan for their getaway. The very next night he got Agnes with him. As I took Rob to the outskirts of the city. We gave them gold coins, food and asked them to be careful in the forest. That was the last we had seen them. Rob’s Parents were killed the very next day and their house was put on fire by an angry King William.” General Thomas ended the tale.

“I saw the dagger in your hand the morning of wedding day when you were asleep. I had given that dagger to Rob the day they left. When I asked Shadow how you had that, she told me it was your father’s. I am sure that you are their son now” he said. Advaita was silent now. “We do not live in a perfect world where fairy tales come true but in a world where life is a struggle for survival and we need to find happiness within it” he now understood why his father had said that.

Seeing Advaita silent Thomas and Tip realised he needed a break. “You take some time son, we will talk further on this later” Tip said. General Thomas left the room. Tip sat there for sometime. When he was about to leave, Advaita said “I need a favour Tip”. Tip said he would do anything. “Can you paint portraits of Rob and Agnes?” Tip agreed and told he would give it to him by tomorrow. Advaita thanked him.

Advaita sat alone in the room deep in his own thoughts. He had called the chief of Shaka tribe his grandfather. His mother called him father as far as he knew. But people in Shaka had called his parents outsiders. Now grandfather had told his father and he were a cheat. Advaita was totally confused.

He decided he had to get to the end of this tale as soon as possible.

 

Chapter R: Rivalry

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As they reached the Great Hall, they saw that the Kings were arguing. They had decided that there would be a tournament between the two kingdoms. Advaita was not able to understand what was happening. He asked Shadow about this. “You do not have a clue about the rivalry among us and Benin do you?” She said.

Cully came to them. “King of Benin just wanted us to get humiliated. Now they want a tournament before the marriage. We are going to the Arena “he said. Cully didn’t explain much why this was happening. Shadow and Advaita left the emptying Great Hall. They saw that The General was asking Cully to get the swords from their house. As they went Advaita asked Shadow about the rivalry. “A rivalry should be within ourselves and not with someone else” his father had told him once.

Shadow said “Before we were born. Benin always tried to humiliate our Kingdom during various tournaments organised by the kingdoms. In one such tournament the ego was so high that Benin declared that there would be war a between the kingdoms. The war went on for days. Our defence was so strong that they could not win over us. We could defend but we couldn’t make the Benin army move back. Many of our men died in the war. Finally Zulu and other Kingdoms intervened and stopped the war. Our Grandfather also died in that war. King William was heavily injured. In the treaty it was decided that a Prince of one kingdom would marry the Princess of another to uphold the peace. Since Princess Agnes was not there and there were no Princess in the Benin kingdom who weren’t married they decided that it would be for next Generation. King William crowned Prince Aiden the king and passed away soon due to injuries.”

”So that is the reason this marriage? Advaita asked. Shadow replied “No. After Prince Brian was born here. A princess was born in Benin kingdom. They had said the baby died during birth. But in reality they had killed the baby as they never wanted a Princess to be married to Heaven.” Advaita was shocked to hear that.

They were in the Arena now. Advaita had seen it from outside when he entered the city for the first time. He could see commoners and lords had different places to sit. Royals and close ones sat in a different place. King Edward gave the first choice of fight to King Aiden. Kingdom of Heaven was famous for their wrestling prowess. So King Aiden chose that. He chose Royston from Heaven’s side. King Edward chose one of his general’s. He had a smile on his face when King Aiden chose Wrestling, he had expected that.   

A Three round wrestling match was decided. The two would battle within a circle and winner would be decided by a throw out of the circle or by submission. Round one started and they wrestled very well. The joint locks were getting countered and so were punches and kicks by both men. People were thoroughly enjoying this contest. First round finally went to Heaven as the Benin soldier was thrown out of the circle. There was a huge roar around the arena.

As the round two was going on Shadow continued with her story, “Heaven got the news that King Edward had killed the second baby as it was a girl too. Benin only had one son and no more after that. Heaven called all the kingdoms and broke the treaty due to this. But couple of years back there was a tournament in Benin kingdom. Princess Margaret had visited and love developed between her and Rufus. King Edward was not very happy about this but he agreed for the marriage” she said.

Second round was won by Benin and third round was going on. Due to a rivalry and war, bodies and two innocent children had died. Advaita felt sad about it. He wished he could change something. The life of poor, cleanliness around the kingdom and unnecessary wars. All needed a change he thought.

When his thoughts came back Benin had won the third round using a submission move. There was silence around the Arena. King Edward had a laugh. First game was won by Benin. He asked “Why don’t we have a competition in archery next?” to King Aiden. Aiden nodded. King Edward chose Commander Alex of Benin. Commander Alex used to lead the archery team for Benin and was considered the best archer among kingdoms. Cully came to Advaita and said “I told father that you are contesting, get ready”. Advaita was surprised. General Thomas went to King Aiden, they had a long discussion. Advaita’s name was announced from Heaven’s side.

Advaita was in one of the seats so far. Now he was in the arena with a Kingdom’s reputation at stake. Shadow wished him luck as he came down. Alex announced that that they would be aiming on ten targets across various places in Arena. 7 targets were set within the arena and 3 were set in the different seating sections. It was decided that they will be provided with longbows and arrows. The arrows should be launched successively without delay. With a New bow in hand and 10 arrows Alex started the game of Archery. Alex did manage to hit all 10 bullseye with no delay in shooting.

Advaita saw that King Aiden looked tensed. He wondered how a rivalry between these two Kingdoms got him in this position.

Chapter Q: ? (Question)

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Shadow was surprised to hear what Advaita had just said as he explained her what had happened during the day. She then told him about the wedding preparations of Princess Margaret and how she took care of arrangements. She felt so tired that she decided to have a day and came back.

They came down for dinner. As they ate, Advaita had one question in his mind. It was the question General Thomas had asked Tip when they came back “Was he a royal?” He had heard among the Shakas that his parents were outsiders. Was Princess Agnes his mother? He wondered. He shared his thoughts with Shadow as well. She had never seen Princess Agnes but she had heard that there was a room in the palace full of paintings and they might be able to find her portrait there. “I do not remember my mother’s face as she died when I was very young. All I remember is she had black hair” replied Advaita.

Cully was back and he joined them on the table. “All the People from Benin Kingdom have come. Prince Rufus was looking stunning in his Royal attire today. King Edward and Queen Erica of the Benin Kingdom looked amazing and they were very happy with our arrangements” said Cully. “Where are your parents?” asked Advaita. “They are still with the King and Queen” he replied.

Cullen left after food. He wanted to get up early as he had lot of work to do tomorrow. Shadow wanted to stay with Advaita and talk till her parents came. Advaita insisted that she go and get some rest. She reluctantly left for her room to get some sleep.

It was very late by the time General Thomas and Martha White arrived. Martha enquired about her children Cully and Shadow. Advaita told her that they were both asleep in their rooms. Later she left for her room saying Advaita to come to the wedding tomorrow. General Thomas as soon as he had seen Advaita said “We can’t talk about this today. We will sit and have a talk once the wedding is over”. Advaita nodded.

He was back in his room. He saw his father’s dagger. Now he realised why Shadow had a similar dagger as he had. “Life is a maze. Every answered question may lead to another question” his father had told. Now he had loads of question that needed to be answered as he fell asleep clutching the dagger in his hand.

Shadow woke him up next morning. As Advaita slowly opened his eyes, he saw Shadow was looking like an angel. She thanked him as he complimented her. She was wearing a dress having a combination of white and yellow colours. It looked amazing on her. She said pointing towards a table “I have placed your dress over there. Please get ready and come as soon as possible. Soldier Grant will be waiting for you below when you are ready to take you to palace. Advaita nodded and she left.
Advaita saw that even his dress was a pattern of white and yellow. He wondered how she managed to pull this off in such less time. He got ready and went downstairs. Grant was waiting for him at the entrance. They left for the palace.

As they entered the surroundings of the Palace Advaita was in awe of the place. The whole Palace was dressed as a bride. Grant who was a regular in this area admitted that even he was amused by the beauty of the decoration. Advaita asked “When is the wedding?” “It will be later in the day. First there is a gathering in the great hall where the Kings of both kingdoms will address the gathering.” Grant replied. Sun had just arisen.

They were inside the Palace now. Advaita had never seen such beauty in his life. He admired the work of the people who had done such a marvellous job. They went to the Great Hall. Many people were already there. Advaita felt bad when he came to know only lords can attend this gathering and no other commoners. His eyes met Shadows’ who was seated in the front. They both smiled as they looked at each other.

She came near his seat and asked Grant to be with Cully. Grant left them. Soon General Thomas started to talk to the gathering as he introduced the Kings and their family ‘seated to my right are King of Heaven Aiden Rich, this is his wife Queen Catherine, their Prince Brian, and their Princess Margaret and Princess Sarah, and seated to my left King of Benin Edward, Queen Erika and their Prince Rufus.’

As the talk went on Advaita asked Shadow to go look for that storeroom. She said she had already found it. They slowly slipped off from the Great Hall and went to there. As they entered, they found the room pitch dark; they lit some fire torches and searched for the painting amidst the noise coming from the Great Hall. Shadow found the painting with King William and his children Prince Aiden and Princess Agnes. She showed Advaita the painting. Advaita tried hard to remember but he could not. He just held the painting and questioned the lady “Are you my mother?”

Shadow who was silent until noticed something weird from outside. Advaita who was till now buried deep within his thoughts also noticed something unusual as he looked at Shadow. The Noise in the Great Hall had stopped. They ran back wondering what might have happened.

Chapter P: Peasant

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General Thomas White tried to ask about Advaita’s father. Advaita was adamant on knowing Rob first as he looked exactly like his father. They decided to go to General Thomas’ house. Tip felt it would be ideal to talk in Thomas’ study room. As they were on their way, Tip said “He could be Rob’s son” to Thomas. “You mean he is a Royal?” replied General Thomas. They remained silent after that.

They were in General Thomas’ study room now. The three were silent for a very long time. Advaita finally spoke as he requested Tip and General to tell him about Rob and his death. “We are not so sure about his death” replied Tip. Both Tip and General Thomas saw each other and nodded together. General Thomas started…

“Rob was the only son of Peasants Liam and Eve. They had their own field unlike other peasants who worked for Lords. Rob used to help them in fields. Seeing his interest in learning, my father got him to the  University of Heaven to study. There Rob was more interested in learning war techniques and sword fighting. He always joined me for training sessions with a wooden sword. Tip and I were very close during those days. Rob soon became one of us.”

Advaita realized why his father was interested in agriculture as well. His father used to advise the chief of Shaka tribe on what to cultivate in different seasons. “A Peasant is the one that brings food to our table. We should respect them more than the hunters” his father had said. He came back from his thoughts as he continued listening to General Thomas again.

Rob, apart from us had started hating others as they used to always bully him for being a poor peasant’s son. He was a silent guy and never retaliated back. But within he had started hating others. He hated that he was poor and had slowly stopped to help his father with work.

Once During a sword session he took on Prince Aiden. Our King was a Prince back then. Nobody used to defeat the Prince even if they could. But that day Rob did. Prince Aiden stormed out of the session furious and sad. The Prince also realized that many lost to him as he was royalty and not because he was better. From the very next day Prince Aiden chose only Rob to practice with. They became close friends and we four became a gang.

The Mural on that wall was painted during one of those days. Rob had become one of the finest swordsmen and there were only few of us who could beat him. Finally Prince Aiden too defeated him. Prince Aiden took that as great achievement and took us to show the palace the next day. I had seen the palace before as I was the Prime Minister’s son. It was the first time for Rob and Tip. They were amused by the beauty of the Palace.

As we roamed freely around the palace courtesy of Prince Aiden, we heard musical instruments playing from one of the rooms. Rob was so fascinated by the music, he ran towards the room as we followed.

Prince Aiden’s sister Princess Agnes Rich was dancing in the middle of the room with musicians playing instruments around her. King William Rich who was seated on the throne in one corner saw Prince Aiden and signaled to come to him. King William after the dance session got over, came to know that Rob was a Peasant’s son. He ordered Rob to get out of the Palace. We left along with Rob as Prince Aiden tried to convince his furious father.  

As we walked back Rob said he would marry the dancer. We told him she was the Princess and it would be impossible for him, for which he said why? can’t a peasant marry a Princess? “The General said.

There was a knock on the door. It was Commander Royston. He had come to discuss on some urgent matters. Advaita and Tip left the room. Before Tip left he said “let’s continue this after the Royal wedding. I need to prepare some more for my act tomorrow.” Advaita agreed to that.

Advaita came back to his room after a quick meal. He was lost in his own thoughts. It was Shadow who brought him back to reality. She had to shake him as he did not respond to her talk. She didn’t say anything but smiled and waited for him to speak.

“You know the Peasant Rob from that Mural” said Advaita holding her hand. “Yes,” she said. “I think he is my father” he said.

Chapter L: Lines

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Cully saw Advaita and Soldier Grant coming towards him. Soldiers who were with him went off the field as they approached. As Advaita reached near Cully he said “My father once told me that sometimes you need to cross the line to show who or what you actually are” “What?” replied Cully. “Read between the lines my friend” said Advaita with a smile. Grant had a laugh. He controlled it as Cullen got pissed.

Advaita turned around asking “Where do you practice archery?” “You see those wooden targets with center in red, there you need to shoot. The red mark is called the bulls-eye”. Advaita had never seen such targets. He liked them. “Grant can you go get the bow and arrows” Cully said. Grant nodded and left to get them.

The Prince Brian came out of the building. He saw Cullen speaking with someone. He came towards them and asked “Is this the guy you were talking about?” “Yes Prince Brian, he is Advaita” replied Cully. Advaita nodded.  “I heard that your archery skills are very good. Would you care to demonstrate?” asked Prince. “Grant has gone to get a bow and arrows” replied Cully.

They waited as Grant came back with a longbow and arrows. As Advaita took the bow from him, he noticed the bow was bigger and heavier than his. As he took an arrow he saw that it was heavier too. Grant had got about 15 arrows in a bag. Advaita studied the bow thoroughly.

The target was simple. There were five such targets set for practice in the field. Advaita took a deep breath. He knew it won’t be easy to get the first one right. “May I” he said. Prince Brian signaled him to go ahead.

Advaita stood behind the line which was set and shot the arrow towards one of the targets. He missed the center red mark by a very small margin. Prince Brian shook his head with a little wicked smile on his face. The next target he tried was the one in the farthest. He took an arrow, shot at the target and missed it as well by very small margin.

Prince Brian laughed now “I thought you said he was the best” he said to Cully. Cully was silent. Advaita who had placed the arrow bag on his back shot three arrows back to back aiming towards the remaining three targets and missed the red mark on all occasions. “I think I am wasting my time here. I will be leaving now” Said the Prince. Prince Brian left the field with the remaining soldiers.

Cully was in shock. “How could you miss all five!” he asked Advaita. “How could you lose the sword fight” Advaita asked back with a smile. Cully was silent. Grant who stood beside them was amazed at the events that was unfolding around him.

Advaita turned to Grant “Can you do me a favor and go measure the distance between the arrow and the red mark on each target?” Grant nodded and ran towards the targets. He examined the margins on each targets. As he went from one target to next his smile was getting bigger. To his shock, when he finished checking the 5th target, the margins were same on all.

Even Cully realized with the expression from Grant’s face that Advaita had indeed hit the target, but his targets were not the same as what others thought. “Arrows are all at the same distance from the red mark in each target” said Grant confirming Cully’s thoughts. Advaita was still smiling looking at the expression on Cully’s face. Both Grant and Cully were amazed with his accuracy. “WOW” was all Cully could say. ”Is this what you were talking about when you asked me to read between the lines?” he asked. Advaita laughed.

Advaita looked around. He took two more arrows. There was an ‘O’ shaped window on top floor of the building which was on the end of the field. As he adjusted both arrows on the strings of the bow, he said “Now I will show what I meant by crossing the line. You see that opening on top floor of the building?” he pointed his bow towards it. Advaita checked again the arrow positioning and shot both the arrows at the same time. The arrows hit exactly on top and bottom of the opening and fell on the ground.

Though Cully had seen people shooting multiple arrows simultaneously never had he seen with such accuracy. Grant stood completely shocked. “Shall we go now, I am hungry” said Advaita. Grant and Cully saw each other and joined Advaita. Both walked silently as they were left speechless after such an amazing act by Advaita.

“Your Accuracy is amazing” said Grant finally. Advaita turned to face them with a smile “Friends to be fair, I did miss the first target” he said.

Cullen and Grant laughed as they all left the field.

Chapter D: Death

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The cub was resting beside its mother when it heard the hyena laugh. There were three Hyenas that were coming towards it. It moved behind slowly until there was no place to move. Two of the Hyenas started to feast on the fallen beast.While the third moved slowly towards the cub for a kill. It was giggling and grunting all the way. The other hyenas were laughing as they ate.  

An arrow from nowhere hit the Hyena which was on the attack. It fell with that hit. The cub which was silent so far, roared and jumped at the hyena and bit its neck. The hyena breathed its last.

Advaita was startled with the sudden change in cub’s attitude. He did not waste any time as he still had the element of surprise on the other two hyenas.He took another arrow pointing towards one of them.

Hyenas were surprised by the sudden kill of their fellow being. They both started to move towards the cub. Before they could make a move an arrow hit one of them in the head and it collapsed. The hyena which remained was not sure what was happening. It had stopped its laugh completely and started to run towards the bushes.

Advaita now swiftly came out of the hiding to kill the last one. He had a feeling that the hyena might get some more of them if it escapes. He took the arrow and placed it on the bow ready to shoot as he ran behind it. He calculated the movement of the hyena, controlled his breathing and shot the arrow. It hit the hyena’s head and it stopped moving.

Advaita ran towards it. Took his dagger and stabbed it again. He tore the skin and gutted the hyena. He took what he felt he could eat out of them. He came back and placed them near the beast. He saw that the cub was trying to tear the skin of the hyena which it had killed. As he came near, it stopped. He took the dagger and made a clear cut on the hyena. The cub which was watching him continued the tear as he moved away from it. He repeated the same with second hyena and collected the things which he could eat.

Son, one never knows how or when death will come and make them disappear”. Father was right he thought. He killed three Hyenas and was part of the killing of a beast. Many died in its hands. He didn’t want his death to be so soon. He was determined to survive against all odds.

He went again towards the bushes. He took off some big leaves and placed them on the ground. He put his food over the leaves, wrapped them and put them in his bag. He noticed that the cub was seated and eating its prey. He decided to move the dead bodies inside the cave.

Once all bodies were moved he came out and saw that the cub was slowly eating and enjoying its food. He came near it and moved his hands around its back. It closed its eyes acknowledging him. He smiled whispering “Enjoy your food”.

Advaita decided to move ahead without any further delay. He collected all his belongings. He started to move. He wanted to leave behind this area of death as soon as possible.

As he went deeper into the forest he had a feeling that someone was following him…  

The Innocent One

“How was the movie dear” his mom asked Ram as she buckled him in the back seat of the car. They had just finished watching a Superhero movie.  “It was awesome mom, I will save the world when I grow up” he said beaming with enthusiasm. “I am sure love” she said, smiling back at him as she closed the back door.

Raghuveer, Ram’s father was waiting for his son to settle into his seat as he opened the door for his wife to get in. “So Kausalya, our son will become a superhero now?” he said as she got in. Ram gave a glaring look to his dad as he shouted “Yes dad, I will be the strongest superhero ever!”, “First you need to drink your milk everyday dear” said his mom. Going by the look on his face Kausalya knew he did not like that. “Raghu it’s already 11, let’s hurry up” said Kausalya as she started to get worried about the deserted roads and the long distance they had to cover to get home, “No people, no traffic we can reach quickly” Raghuveer replied nonplussed as he drove on.

Ram started feeling drowsy, the faint noise of music from the radio in the background added to his drowsiness, he was imagining saving people like Lord Rama from the Ramayana, he wanted to tell his dad to continue this story as soon as they reached home as he fell asleep.

Ram was running behind SUBAHU, the Villain, who in turn was baying for the blood of the innocent people of Krishnanagar. Ram started to gain on SUBAHU as he sped up. But SUBAHU was very fast, laughing and taunting him as he closed in on his prey. Ram used his special jumping prowess to jump high in the air. When SUBAHU turned to mock Ram again, he could not find him and got confused. On turning back to his sheer horror he found RAM right in front of him. He panicked but he was not ready to give up. He used his special weapon BOMB which could blast off the person in front of it. Ram had destroyed all his BOMBs in his last mission and was shocked to see one in SUBAHU’s hand. He laughed as he threw it on Ram. SUBAHU was late in realizing that Ram was too close to him, Ram used his special jump again but it was too late. There was a loud thud as Ram yelled as did SUBAHU….

Ram was in shock. His hand was hurting. He thought he was in his bed as it was what would usually happen. He would fall asleep and his mom or dad would put him in bed. His first thought was he had fallen from his bed; He wanted to get up but something was stuck. It was pitch dark as he opened his eyes, he was still seated in the back seat of their car. His belt buckle was stuck and he struggled to remove it. He cried out for his mom as he was hurt.

His vision was blurred and the inside of the car was completely dark. He could see a light far away which was street light he guessed. He somehow managed to open the belt buckle. His side of the door was a little open. His dad’s head was on the steering wheel. He could not make out much. He tried to wake his dad up, he shouted for help but received no response from anywhere. He started crying “mummy, please wake up”. He managed to open the door, got down, and tried opening the front door. But he could not. He was experiencing pain in his knees, elbow and he could not say from where the blood was gushing out. He saw that their car was stuck to a side of the building. He observed that a guy was sleeping in the middle of the road. He was still crying. He wanted to go to his mom’s side and open that door as well. But it was stuck to the building.

He went near the guy who was in middle of the road. He could smell the guy from a distance. He saw that whole area was deserted. Now he had stopped crying. His hero instincts started to trigger in. He wanted to save his parents. He had to find someone to get his parents out. There weren’t many buildings around. Few which were there looked closed.

He stared towards the only street light that was on the deserted street. With all the pain in his body, he started walking towards it. As he reached there, there were 3 directions he could go. He chose left as there were street lights fully on that road.

He could not find any building or people around as he moved ahead. He was having a lot of pain in his head as he looked at various places, trying to find someone. He saw a bike approaching. He shouted “Help, please help!” The guy on the bike saw him, slowed down a little bit, but did not stop and sped off. He could not understand why the person didn’t want to help him. But he had to move and find someone.

Ram was slowing down now. As he took another right turn he saw that there was a small shop and it was open going by the light that was coming out of it. He wanted to run towards it as it was a little far to walk. But as he tried, pain took over and he stopped. He placed his hands on his thighs, took another deep breath and started walking slowly. It was a Tea shop.  Ram shouted for help as he was about to reach the shop.

The Shop’s name was ‘Parmesh Tea Corner’.  Parmesh who usually closed his shop at 12AM was waiting for his friend to arrive. Hearing someone shout at almost 12:30AM was a surprise for him. He came out of his shop to see his visitor.

Ram was in front of the shop now. He saw a guy standing in front of him. “Please help, there has been an accident, my parents are still in the car, please “he said..He held guy’s hand and tried to take him there. The guy stopped him and went inside the shop and took his mobile and dialed some numbers. All Ram could hear was “boy alone, some blood” . He was very tired now and could hardly stand.  The guy came back and offered him some water to drink. Ram said “Please help me, I need to go help my mom and dad”. The guy replied “My name is Parmesh, please drink some water, we will go in a few minutes”. He made Ram sit on a small bench which was beside the shop. He even took some chocolate from his pocket and gave him. As Ram was drinking water, Parmesh got a call and he went inside the shop again.

Three guys came from a narrow pathway near the shop and started towards Ram. They looked scary to him. They were walking towards the shop now. Ram was scared from inside but did not show any signs of fear.  

One of the guys in the group saw a chain on Ram’s neck. He asked “are you alone boy?” Ram stood up “Please help me, we met with an accident, my mom and dad are stuck in the car” as he held the glass which was half full. The three started talking among themselves and were about to make a move towards the kid.

A bike soon approached the shop. Parmesh who was scared looking at the local goons, had a sudden feeling of relief now. He had called the local inspector Yadunandan. The bike stopped in front of them. Seeing the cop the three guys started walking away.

“Hello Inspector, this is the kid I had reported about” said Parmesh pointing towards Ram as he came out of the shop. Yadunandan walked towards Ram. When Ram saw a policeman coming towards him, he said “Help me, my parents are stuck in our car”.

“Hi, I am Inspector Yadunandan. Please tell me what has happened? Can you tell me what you were trying to say to Parmesh” said Yadunandan as he sat on his knees. Ram struggled to recollect what exactly had happened, finally he said “our car has hit a shop and my parents are stuck inside. I tried to wake them up and get them out of car. But I couldn’t”. Yadunandan who just realized the seriousness of the matter asked “Can you take me there?” Ram nodded. He examined Ram and made sure that he had no major injuries. He took out his phone as he held the kid’s hand; He called someone “Possible accident, a male and female stuck inside the car, on my route there. Yes near to the Parmesh tea shop on Shyamnagar circle.”

“Parmesh you come along. Close the shop, quick” said Yadunandan. Yadunandan and Ram left on his bike towards the accident spot with Parmesh following them. As they started “which way Ram?” he asked.  The kid started to guide them. Yadunandan was shocked to see that kid was guiding them very well even in such bad condition. They had diverted 4 times already and gone about a kilometer. Yadunandan was going slowly giving the kid right amount of time to guide. He saw a car crashed to a shop when they took the last right. He accelerated and reached there quickly.

“What’s your name?” he asked the kid as they got down. “Ram” replied the kid. He saw that a guy had fallen in middle of the road. He went to inspect the guy and told Parmesh to check on Ram’s Parents. As he reached near the body it was evident that the guy was drunk.  He took his phone “Accident opposite Kubera Jeweler in Shyamnagar, need immediate attention”. He turned the body and confirmed that the guy was ok and he was just totally drunk.

Parmesh was able to open the Driver’s door as it was facing the road. He slowly removed the buckle and very carefully brought him out. “They might have taken this left turn and as they saw there was a guy in middle of the road, he might have tried to avoid him and crashed into the shop” said Yadunandan after a quick inspection. They heard the ambulance siren and soon an ambulance approached them.

Ram who was seeing and listening to everything that was going on slowly went towards his dad and dozed off as he did not have any strength left in him to stay awake.

Ram was injured badly. His followers had taken him to a nearby hospital. When Ram was fully awake “Where is SUBAHU?” he asked. One of his followers replied “He was injured too, but he escaped”. Ram got up from his bed. Everyone wanted him to rest but Ram took off from there. SUBAHU was injured and Ram wanted a solution to this as quickly as possible. But recently when Ram had gone to seek the guidance of his teacher Vishwamitra, He remembered his master saying “None are born bad, situations in our lives bring out the good or bad in us”. So Ram started to wonder why SUBAHU was bad. With the help of his brother Lakshman he found out that SUBAHU was a scientist and was devoted to his country. But when he came to know that Krishnanagar people had his mother Tataki and brother Maaricha arrested, he turned into a terrorist. Lakshman brought more info on Tataki and Maaricha’s death which proved that they were cheating and harassing people of Krishnanagar. Their death was accidental as well and people had nothing to do with their death. Moreover people were still in doubt of Maaricha’s death as his body was never found.

With all this info Ram goes in search of SUBAHU. When Ram finds SUBAHU, he talks to him with all the facts in hand. But soon Ram realizes that SUBAHU has been taken over by evil and nothing can be undone. Ram calls for Battle of Arrows till death. SUBAHU knew Ram was the best archer in the world but still he agrees to the battle as he had his own cunning plans to defeat Ram.

The battle takes place in Open grounds of Tatakaranya. Ram pleads to Subahu, “SUBAHU please listen to me, I do not want to kill you. You are mistaken about the death of your mother and brother”. SUBAHU interrupts him “Ram stop giving these talks. Do not try to talk about the dos and don’ts as you are here to kill me. This hurts Ram. He was there to fight but deep down he does not want SUBAHU dead but the bad in him. He recognized the power of love that could remove the hatred in people. He remembered the power of good to remove the bad. “Remember Ram everything can be won with good and love” he remembered the words of Vishwamitra.

The Battle started. SUBAHU was striking arrows in regular intervals. The arrows looked different and bigger. Ram realized they might blast. He made a special jump and escaped. As he jumped he sent few arrows towards SUBAHU. People who had come to watch the battle roared as they saw Ram sending arrows towards SUBAHU. Few of the arrows hit SUBAHU. But it did not hurt him at all. He was confused with the outcome, so were people. The battle continued as SUBAHU used various tricky arrows which were easily dodged by Ram. Ram’s arrows hit SUBAHU every time but nothing happened to him from outside. SUBAHU was unhurt from outside, but within something was changing him. He was getting weaker . Soon SUBAHU collapsed as an arrow from Ram hit his heart.

Ram ran towards SUBAHU. “What are you doing to me, why am I feeling as I have been wrong all along?” Ram smiled at him. “What is this feeling?” he continued. People had surrounded Ram now. “That’s love and kindness my friend” said Ram. Hearing the word friend from his enemy made SUBAHU cry. People chanted Ram’s name on seeing his big heartedness.

“Ram, Ram” Ram could hear his mom’s voice. Even though he was conscious now, he was struggling to open his eyes. He felt as his mom leave the room as he slowly opened his eyes. He heard the door open. He saw Inspector Yadunandan come in “Hi I was the inspector who got you and your family here, can you explain the events if you are ok now?” Yadunandan said. Kausalya nodded “we were coming back from theatre. On one of the turns we saw a guy coming right in front of the car. Raghu tried to avoid him and hit the shop nearby. When I woke up I was in bed.” She said. “Ya he was some drunk. He hit his head when he fell on the road. We have got him to the hospital as well. He was completely drunk and in no condition to walk. Your Husband did a great job avoiding him, but I guess he lost control in the process”. “How is Raghu? Did doctors say anything?” she asked. “Yes, he is fine, they are operating on him. Doctors are hoping he will be fine in a few days.” After a pause he continued “Your son is amazing, he walked for about a kilometer to get help in that condition” he said as he turned to see Ram.

Ram smiled as they both turned towards him. He slowly tried to get up. He sat on his bed and said “Mom I want to see Dad“. Kausalya came and sat beside him. “He is in a special room Ram, we can see him later” she said. “Please mom” he said. “Why don’t you walk him out and show around” Yadunandan said. Ram got down from his bed as he saw that his mom was bandaged on her head and hand. He himself was covered with a few bandages of his own. “He needs proper rest inspector” Said Kausalya. “I am fine mom” Ram said as he got down. She shook her head and started walking towards the door as Ram followed her. They went to the corridor.

Ram held his mom’s hand as they walked towards ICU to have a check on his Dad. “Why was that guy so drunk and what was he doing on the road?” asked Ram. Kausalya was about to say something when Yadunandan who was behind said “He is very poor and he is having a lot of issues Ram and these kind of people always think drinking will make their problem disappear.” Ram stopped walking as he turned back and said with a smile “Mom says being good, showing kindness and love towards people will always keep people happy”. Yadunandan smiled at the child’s innocence. Kausalya smiled too.

They reached the ICU door. As Kausalya opened the door and was about to enter, Ram stopped and turned once again towards the inspector to ask “What is the guy’s name?” “Oh! Its Subahu” said Inspector Yadunandan…..    

The War Within…

The pain in the heart grew bigger
With the thought of you leaving me
It’s weird to be scared of losing someone
Whom you have already lost

Stay and fight for your existence
It’s your life to live and love
Giving up is a fools option
Even with the pain around the loved ones

You rose from the ashes ones
Get up again from this pain
There is lot to see and explore
In this God created world for us

I know it is very difficult
With all the thoughts jumbled
Pick the pieces that are shattered
Creating a new one midst the chaos

Love and care is everywhere
Hidden between the fear and hatred
Leave the burden inside you
To reach the forgotten kingdom

Smile is indeed an essential tool
To reach the hearts in this kingdom
Happiness should never be the shadow
But the true expression from heart

Living is an art in this world
Facing the fear and dark within us
Giving the expression of love and light
To all from the heart

It is those fears that are dark
We should lose along the way
Spreading the happiness from the heart
And have a peaceful life

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Every one of us want a peaceful happy life. I believe if not all, most of us long for that. The major issue is that there are so many distraction in life which gives us all the needs and finally makes us forget the most important one. For each one of us, we need to face the fears and sadness within us. The fear can be of losing someone or something. Our mind plays us so beautifully that the others around who trick us are nothing in front of it.

In the poem above if you have noticed, I have never mentioned mind anywhere. I believe when we start smiling from the heart or spread happiness from the heart, we have controlled our mind. Conquering one’s mind is the biggest challenge. When you think you have outsmarted your own Brain, it might end up saying ‘no buddy not yet’!!
Face the fear/anger within and around you. Find that peace in life. Fun fact is we already have it but we don’t ever realize or see it.

There are so many kinds of war going on around us which have no significance as it is the war within us that is needed to be won.