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.
Advaita woke up early. He went straight to the Shaka Chief’s house. He stood in front of the door. He had to face them, he had to know what was unknown to him. As he stood there his thoughts moved back to the days when he had just started learning archery.
Advaita had chosen archery over everything else at a very young age. His father had made him a wooden bow and given him some arrows. His father put an ‘X’ mark on the nearby tree and made him stand a few meters away from it. “You see that cross mark I have created son” he said, Advaita nodded “You need to hit the middle of it, if you want be a great archer” his father said. Advaita learnt the basics from his father and tried to shoot his first arrow. As the arrow left the bow Advaita was excited. The arrow did hit a tree but not the tree where ‘X’ was marked. Advaita was disappointed with himself.
He tried a few more times and failed every single time. He was very disappointed. He said he did not want to learn this anymore. His father came to him and said “Son, everything in life won’t come to you easily. You need to practice. That mark is your target. To aim the arrow and make it reach that target should be your goal. You need to work hard Advaita”. Advaita had replied he would do his best and now he was one of the best.
Now he had aimed to reach back to his grandfather and he was here now. He knocked the door. His grandmother opened the door. “Advaita!” she said. She had recognized him right away. She asked him to come inside as she closed the door behind him.
A Couple of Shaka people had seen the stranger from previous night go to chief’s house. It was almost midday and nobody had come out. They had heard some argument happening inside but could not make out what was happening. Finally Sourav a member of Shaka and successor to the Chief knocked the Chief’s door. Chief sent him back saying all was ok.
Afterwards, sometime later Chief and Advaita came out. Both looked quite sad. All the people were curious to know what had happened. Chief said to everyone that he would address them later in the night and for now all should get back to their work. Advaita asked Chief “Grandfather are you sure, you don’t want to join me?” Chief replied “This is home my child, I want to spend rest of my life here and not somewhere else.” Advaita respected his decision. He folded the copper sheet which he had taken along.
Few recognized Advaita. Chief again controlled the situation as Advaita collected rest of his stuff and bid his final goodbyes to his grandparents. Chief’s wife, his Grandmother gave him some food for his journey. They wanted him to stay for one more night but Advaita suggested he would rather leave because of the tension that was created once due to his father.
Advaita was in deep thoughts as he entered forest. He was not sure how he wanted to take his story forward. It was in his hands. Though he and his grandparents agreed on many things. He was not sure whether he should go by it. Finally he decided what his next target was. Then he decided to concentrate on his way back to Bantu tribe as he wanted to reach there before it was too late in the night.
As he moved ahead, he could hear some suspicious movements. He moved with caution, a bow and arrow in hand, ready to shoot. Advaita was very good at being invisible in forest. He saw a couple of city soldiers which surprised him. Then he saw Shadow and Cully. They were walking the horses along with them as it was very difficult to ride in this thick forest.
He was about to reveal himself when a beast jumped from nowhere to kill a horse. The other horses dispersed because of the attack. Advaita noticed the scar on the back of the beast, it was Fear. Cully covered his sister as he drove the sword. The two soldiers had fallen to the ground. Even they were getting ready to defend their General’s Children. The beast roared and grabbed the throat of horse with its jaws. The horse breathed its last.
Advaita came out of his hiding. He shouted “Fear…” The Beast which had just choked the horse with its Jaws, looked towards Advaita. Others turned towards Advaita as well. Another female beast came beside Fear. Fear controlled it. Advaita slowly moved towards Fear. “Do you remember me Kid” He said as he came near it.
It was a tense moment for everyone. Advaita moved his hands around its back as he used to. Fear acknowledged it as it closed its eyes. All put their swords back in their sheath. “Looks like you have got yourself a girl” Advaita said smiling. Everyone laughed. The female beast looked uncomfortably around them. It took the horse that was dead with its jaws and dragged it to the bushes.
“You know this Beast?” asked Cully. “We survived together for years in this forest, his name is Fear.” Advaita replied. “So this is Fear!” said Shadow who knew about Advaita’s life in forest and continued “I have never seen a beast with white and black stripes.” “Even I was surprised when I had first seen him, they are usually in Yellow with black stripes” replied Advaita.
Advaita asked them why they were here. Shadow said they had come looking for him. Cully said “I heard what happened in court, have you found any proof?” he asked. Advaita took the copper sheet he had and gave it to Cully.
“I Valguka, the chief of Shaka acknowledge that the painting of the people in this are indeed Parents of Advaita. They had come to me by the name Karma and Akira together long time ago. I pledge that whatever is written here is the truth. “
X (Seal of Shaka Chief)
Cully read it out loud. He had a huge smile on his face when he finished it. Shadow noticed that Advaita was not very comfortable when he heard it. Advaita said “we should head back to Bantu now before the night falls.”
He and Fear walked together like old times. Shadow had her doubts but she kept it to herself. She saw a calm Advaita who was walking along with a beast. Cully was very happy with the news.
They almost reached the outskirts of Bantu. Fear stopped its walk. Advaita understood it had to go back. He gave it a last hug as tears rolled down his eyes. It ran back with a huge roar. “Hope we will meet again, my friend” said Advaita as they moved towards Bantu.
Advaita felt that the moonlight would give him enough light to escape from the city. With a bag on one shoulder and a bow on another he reached the outskirts of the city. It was time to venture out into the forest. He decided not to take the path which was meant for the carriages but follow a path parallel to it.
As he went further the forest got thicker and the darkness followed. He decided to climb a tree and rest on a branch for some time. As he waited he ventured into his thoughts.
Advaita was struggling to keep up with his father’s pace. The sword was dripping with blood. He noticed that his father’s left arm was hurt as well. Rajan, his father’s friend came towards them as they reached their house. “Keep guard Rajan,” said Karma, Advaita’s father. As they both went inside Advaita could hear Rajan calling for help from some more people.
The sword from Karma’s hand fell as he locked the door from inside. The house was a mere hut with a single room. Advaita could hear the fight going on outside. He was scared. His father came near him and made Advaita look into his eyes “Listen son, from now on you will be venturing into a new life. I want you to run towards the north and not stop for anyone, especially our people.” Karma said.
Advaita was struggling to listen. All he could listen was the sounds made by the swords clashing outside and the screams of people. He realized people were dying. Karma took out the hay from the top situated on the opposite end of the door. Advaita saw that his father put his dagger along with some arrows in the bag. “Advaita concentrate on what i am saying. Take the bow and arrows. Climb the wall and get out, protect yourself, you need to run from here, go north” Karma wanted to say more but time was running out. The sound of fight outside had come to a sudden halt. There was a knock on the door. “Rajan, is that you?” he asked as he turned and walked towards the door.
There was a silence for a few seconds. Suddenly the door was burst open as Karma fell down. He moved for his sword. “Runnn..” he shouted to Advaita. As he climbed the wall Advaita saw that Rajan’s face was covered with blood just outside the door lying on the ground, dead. Couple of people were attacking his father. He dived outside and ran towards the forest. He heard his father’s cry as he ran ahead.
Advaita woke up from his sleep as he heard a roar from deep inside the forest. He was wide awake now. He wondered whether his father had purposely sent him north with a dagger so that by chance if Thomas or Tip found him they would know he was Rob’s son.
He wanted to trace the steps of Rob and Agnes from where they left. Advaita remembered Bantu tribe people telling him, his face looked familiar, so he decided to go to Bantu first. He walked in the forest cautiously the whole day. Sun was about to set as he reached the Bantu tribe.
Some of the Bantu people were surprised to see Advaita. But it was not new to them as he always used to come in at odd times. They greeted him. He rested for a while and then he went to meet the chief. Advaita greeted the chief of Bantu as he entered the chief’s house. Chief was happy to see him. Advaita found the chief weaker than he had seen him before.
“You know what your specialty is Advaita. You become one of the tribe members when you stay with the tribe and become a vagabond as you venture into the forest until you reach another tribe.” Advaita took that as a compliment from the chief. “What brought you here my friend, I see your eyes and I feel you have questions for this old man” said the chief with a smile.
Advaita without wasting anytime took out the copper sheets and gave it to the chief. “Do you recognize any of them?” Advaita asked. Chief stared at it for a long time. He called his wife and asked her to look at the painting as well. She nodded. Chief said he had seen them as he went on, “Many years ago these two visited us. They were very tired and the lady was hurt. We had made them sit in this very room. It looked like it was their first journey in the forest.” “What happened afterwards?” Advaita asked impatiently.
“They rested here for the day and before we woke up they had left. But my wife had seen them leaving” he said as the Chief’s wife added “Yes. They had left very early. I do not know what had happened but I felt they were arguing over something as they went south into the forest. That was the last we had seen of them.” Advaita thanked them for the information. The only tribe in south after this was Shaka.
Advaita wanted to leave immediately. But they suggested him to stay for the night. Advaita reluctantly agreed. As advaita laid down he wondered whether he would ever win an argument with anyone. He thought of Fear, then Shadow, the two he cared and loved the most.
Now he had to venture into an area he had avoided for so long. He had to go back to Shaka.
Advaita was ready to shoot his first arrow. He could sense that all of the kingdom’s eyes were upon him. He shot the first then the second and on he went. Every shot was hitting the bullseye. When the final shot hit the bullseye there was a huge roar from the crowd. King Aiden finally smiled. Advaita’s opponent Commander Alex of Benin seemed impressed too.
Advaita suggested they have a round 2, with two targets placed one above the other and they needing to hit both of them simultaneously. Commander Alex agreed to that. Finally two such sets were arranged. They both took two arrows each ready to shoot their respective targets. The whole arena was silent. When the signal was given both shot the arrows. All four arrows hit the bullseye. The crowd went crazy over their accuracy. Advaita and Commander Alex decided to go two more times. Both the times they hit bullseye.
The Kings were very impressed with Advaita. The crowd was excited to see what would be the next round. Commander Alex suggested adding a third target on top of the two. Advaita agreed to it. He had never done this before but he was very excited.
Now they had to shoot at three targets simultaneously which were one above the other. Even commander Alex had not done this before successfully. “Are you ready for the showdown?” He asked Advaita. “I never thought I would be a part of one in the first place” Advaita replied with wonder. They both laughed. The crowd had gone silent again. “Son, you may feel in this life that you too need some showdown with beasts to feel its real thrill, but in life all you need is to be happy and at peace” Advaita was in a different kind of showdown and he was happy too as he remembered his father.
Advaita looked at Shadow as he got ready with the three arrows as he placed them on his bow. She smiled at him. Both Advaita and Commander Alex had set their arrows ready to shoot. 6 arrows flew towards the target. 4 had hit the bullseye. Advaita had missed the bullseye with a very small margin on the bottom target. Commander Alex missed the top target. The whole crowd went silent as it was decided that whichever arrow was nearer to the bullseye would be declared as winner. Commander Alex came and hugged Advaita “You are already a winner to me, son” He said. Advaita who never got too emotional about these things had tears in his eyes. He thanked Commander Alex.
Advaita’s arrow was nearer to the bullseye than that of Commander Alex’s arrow and was thus declared the winner. The whole crowd went berserk and cheered for Advaita. They had never seen such close archery competition before. King Edward congratulated Advaita for his talent. He turned to King Aiden and said “We have a tie from the games. Shall we conclude this tournament with a final game of longsword duel?” They both decided the best from both kingdoms would fight. King Edward called for his General Lucius as King Aiden called for General Thomas. They were asked to get their respective longsword with armor and step into the arena for the final showdown.
Both the Generals had immense respect for each other. They both greeted each other and took their stance. General Thomas had his longsword pointing to the ground whereas General Lucius was pointing it straight at General Thomas. As the signal was given Lucius attacked with the very first thrust which was very well deflected by Thomas. Thomas made Lucius come to him for every attack. Suddenly Thomas countered which caught Lucius by surprise but he dived over and escaped as the sword brushed past him. Thomas thought the game was all over when he went for a submissive move, but Lucius got away by kicking Thomas. Both fell to the ground; as both got up they were in an aggressive mode. Each thrust was parried by the other. There were counter attacks for each attack. People watched in awe of this duel. Both were matching each other’s strikes. The duel went on for a long time. Though both were tired, the pace of the duel had come down and their never say die attitude endeared them to their captivated audience.
The Kings, soldiers, lords and people were on their toes expecting the unexpected. They had already seen some amazing techniques which were never witnessed before. Both the Generals had been innovative in deflecting each other’s attack trying to outwit each other. King Edward saw that it was almost midday and looked at King Aiden.
General Thomas waited for General Lucius to attack, as Lucius waited for a bit to get a breath both Kings signaled for the duel to be stopped. The whole crowd stood, cheered and clapped for both the Generals. They declared that it was a tie. The Generals bowed to the Kings, acknowledged the crowd for their support.
“It’s almost midday, we should get the wedding going.” said a happy King Edward. They all made their way to the Palace Church. Princess Margaret had not attended the tournament. She had stayed inside. A soldier was sent to inform her regarding the ceremony. Prince Rufus left the arena to get ready.
King Edward who until now had only hated the Kingdom of Heaven, started respecting them. The passion and support of the people made him feel happy. He saw Princess Sarah and how happily she was talking to her father King Aiden. He had tears in his eyes. King Aiden noticed it and asked Edward if he was ok. As they reached the church, Edward asked him if he could talk with him in private for a moment. Aiden asked everyone to get everything ready and took Edward to one of the chambers in the church.
“I had my daughters killed. I had so much hatred towards this kingdom.” Edward said tears rolling from his eyes now. He bowed his face in shame. Aiden just stood there. “When I saw you with your daughter right now, it came back haunt.. Haunting” Edward was struggling to speak. Aiden was shocked to see this face of Edward. He went and hugged Edward and said “Whatever happened in past can’t be changed. But you will soon have a daughter”. Edward looked at Aiden and nodded.
Feeling relieved in no time Edward was back to his regular self. “Shall we attend our daughter’s wedding then?” said a delighted King Aiden. They both left the chambers smiling. It was indeed the conclusion of the showdown between the two Kingdoms.
Advaita felt restless, he had not slept well last night. He had to solve the mystery. When he went down everyone had already left the house. As he sat on a chair the one memory which his mind had always blocked for so long slowly started to come to light.
‘Advaita was as usual practicing his archery. He was becoming very good at it. He had successfully hit the ‘X’ mark on the trees many times now. When he was about to shoot another arrow, his father came running towards him. He saw that his father had a sword covered with blood. “Did you kill a beast father?” he asked innocently. His father grabbed his hand and took him from there. The bow and arrow which Advaita had in his hands fell to the ground as he ran along with his father.’
His thoughts were interrupted by soldier Grant. “Please come with me, General Thomas is looking for you” Grant said. “What is this about?” asked Advaita. “He received a letter and after that he said he wanted to talk to you in person, that’s all I know about” replied Grant. As they walked Advaita wondered what this was all about.
They reached a building. As they went in, Grant showed Advaita the room to which he had to go. As Advaita entered he could make out that the General was not in the best of moods. He asked him to sit on a chair. As Advaita sat General asked rather accusingly “Who are you?” When Advaita heard that, he felt a little confused. “I have already told you that General, I am not sure what you are trying to get at” he replied.
“We had our pigeon sent to the Channa tribe to check on you. They knew a guy called Advaita with amazing archery skills. But nobody knows from where you came from?” General said. “I told you I am from the Shaka tribe.” Advaita replied. “That is where it gets interesting kid, I asked my soldiers stationed in Channa tribe to go check on that fact too. The Shaka people did acknowledge that they knew you but said that you and your father were cheats and liars.” replied General. “That is not true. My father is not such a person. My father always said that we are the ones who decide what we are and not someone’s perspective. “
General Thomas laughed. “Soldiers tried to talk about what you and your father did. Nobody were ready to talk regarding the matter. About your father, I am not saying whether he was a bad or a good man but the people who knew him said he was a cheat. I didn’t know him” General said. “I think you knew him” replied Advaita assertively.
“What are you trying to say?” replied General Thomas. He was surprised as he was taken aback by what Advaita was trying to imply. Advaita just sat quietly for some time and replied “We need to go to Tip’s house to know more”. This can only be sorted there. “Tip’s House? Why?” asked General Thomas. “I can’t say anything here, you will know when we get there” replied Advaita. The General looked at Advaita for a while. He had a feeling that this man who sat before was not lying and thus decided to go to Tip’s house.
“Grant we are going out for some time. Make sure everything goes as planned. When Royston comes ask him to take over for me till I am back.” General said to Grant as they left. Advaita thought Royston might be the second in command.
They reached Tip’s house. As they went in, Tip was practicing his art. Tip was surprised to see General Thomas and Advaita together at this hour. “What now, speak up” said General Thomas . “What is happening? Can someone please explain.” asked Tip. Advaita said “We need to go to your Painting room Tip if you don’t mind”. Before Tip could say anything General walked past him and opened the door and led them in.
General Thomas and Tip turned towards each other in surprise as Advaita walked them towards the right wall and said “The one in the left beside the King is my father” pointing towards the Mural.
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.
Whites’ came to know all about the incident that had happened. They thanked Advaita for saving their kids’ lives. As they were having dinner that night, “Which tribe do you belong to Advaita?” asked Mr.White. “I am from the Shaka tribe” he replied. “Peter, Do you know of a Shaka tribe in our kingdom? Is it the one on the south border?” He asked the soldier who was standing beside him.
“Yes my lord, it’s on the south border. They are immigrants from the Zulu kingdom. I believe they follow their own rules and not the Kingdom’s” Peter replied. “Thanks Peter, So Advaita why did you leave the tribe?” Advaita was not sure whether he could tell exactly what had happened. Now all the people in room were looking at him. “My Parents died when I was very young. After that I decided to travel around” Advaita finally replied.
Martha noticed that Advaita was a little uneasy talking about his past. “Tomorrow we are going to see the Jester’s act and approve it for the final performance” she said to Shadow. “Advaita you may not have seen these kind of acts before, why don’t you join us?” Said Shadow. “I was thinking of leaving tomorrow” replied Advaita.
“Don’t be in such a hurry my friend. You see the Jester’s act tomorrow. Tip Roy is the best Jester this kingdom has ever produced. Even Mr. White suggested him to stay. Advaita finally agreed, as he felt he had no choice.
The next day Martha, Shadow and Advaita went to Tip’s house. Tip was showing them the act at his place. Queen had specifically said Martha to check it as it will be the finishing act after Princess’ wedding for entertainment. Tip was ready with the costume and makeup when they reached. After initial formalities Tip started with his act. Advaita was sitting in one corner and was observing. As the act progressed Advaita laughed like never before. Everyone were enjoying the act.
Advaita had heard from his father about the Jesters. His father had said “Everyone in the world are like Jesters. A mask from outside but different from inside, hiding their true nature.” When the act got over, Advaita wondered ‘how happy the jester actually is. Does his mask from outside match the one who he is inside?’
His thoughts came back as he saw there was a huge discussion going on between Martha, shadow and Tip. They were suggesting a few things to be added and removed a part or two which involved making fun of the Bridegroom. After sometime Tip enacted again a few more times. Advaita saw that the act was finally ready. He was very impressed by the Jester’s work.
“People will fall in love with this act Tip, very well done” said Martha. “Thank you Martha, Let me clean up and come back normal” He replied. “How was the act Advaita?” asked Martha. “It was good” he replied. They waited for Tip.
As Tip came out “So Advaita, How did you find the act?” he asked. Good is all he said. “This guy doesn’t talk much, does he?” Tip asked Martha with a smile. “Only to the point” she replied back. “Oh! I see” said Tip as everyone laughed. Martha and Shadow decided to go to meet the Queen. Advaita said he would stay at Tip’s for a while. They instructed a soldier to accompany Advaita wherever he wants to go and then left.
“So what is it you wanted to ask, son” said Tip. Advaita had a smile. “How happy are you as a Jester?” Advaita asked. “You think I am sad?’ Tip questioned back. Advaita shared his father’s view with Tip. Tip had a smile in his face. “Yes we do hide our true emotions, I feel in every profession people do that, not just this one. One has to do his Job irrespective of how their personal life is.” Advaita nodded.
They had the conversation going. Tip explained his art and told stories of the famous Jesters before him. Advaita met Tip’s wife and daughter. Tip’s two elder sons were in the army. They had lunch together. After lunch Advaita decided to leave. He conveyed the same and started to leave.
The soldier assigned to Advaita tagged along. As he was about to go out the front door “Your face looks very familiar” Tip said. Advaita turned and smiled as he walked out of the Jester’s house.
It had been months since Advaita had seen Fear. He had moved ahead as Fear stuck to its area. Advaita thought even Fear, a beast had settled down in life whereas he was still a wanderer. He came back from his thoughts as he heard some movements ahead.
He could see a few people ahead who were covered in masks. These could be the dacoits he had heard of he thought. He quickly, with his bags climbed the nearby tree treading caution. As he climbed atop he saw a road where the masked men were hiding around. He felt as if they were setting a trap. He decided to wait and watch.
He saw many soldiers in horses and a carriage behind them. So this is an ambush he thought. He kept quiet and continued to watch. He could make out that the masked men outnumbered the soldiers. They were at least 5 to 6 members more. He wondered who was in the carriage.
The Dacoits were easily winning. A young man got down from the carriage as the fight was going on. The sword in his hand was glittering. He looked calm. With a single hit he killed a dacoit. He went on to take one more.
Advaita felt the presence of a lady in the carriage. He saw that a few soldiers were down along with couple of masked men. The young soldier was battling three of them now. He wondered whether this could be the Prince of the kingdom, the Channa tribe people talked about a year back when he had stayed with them. They had heard that the prince was the best when it came to sword fighting and could take on many and defeat them with ease. “He is as good with a sword as you are with a bow and an arrow” they had said.
When he came back from his thoughts, the soldiers were either tied up or killed. The young man was atleast battling 5 at a time. One of the masked man was just watching as two forced inside the carriage and tried forcing the lady out of it.
Advaita took his bow and arrows from the bag. He saw that there were totally nine dacoits remaining. He took nine arrows out; It’s time to be God he said to himself. Channa People called the archers God as they helped their own people from afar and usually decided the fate of small wars that happened between the tribes.
With no hesitation Advaita started shooting arrows one after another in succession. All hit the target. He did not shoot to kill but all the arrows severely injured the nine dacoits.
The young man was startled by the sudden change in scenario. The lady was shocked as the two men holding her fell. She ran back inside the carriage. The young man freed the three tied soldiers who were alive. As soon as they were freed they killed the masked men except one.
Advaita saw some movement on top of a tree from the other side of the road. An arrow passed near him. “How did I forget to check the trees” he told himself. He found the location of the man who was shooting arrows as he took an arrow from the bag. With another arrow Advaita took him down. It would have been my last day if he was good thought Advaita.
The man who was on top of the tree fell down. The soldiers seemed surprised. The young man had gone inside the carriage to check the lady. Advaita thought for few minutes and got down to meet the soldiers. They were already looking in his direction trying to find who he was.
As he met them, soldiers doubted him but the young man and lady were generous on him. They thanked him for saving their lives. The young man introduced themselves as Cullen White and his sister Shadow White. “I am A..Advaita” Advaita replied. Cullen ordered the soldiers to move from there. They tied and kept the dacoit in the back of the carriage.
Advaita sat with them inside the carriage. Cullen said “You came as a God”. Advaita was beaming with pride inside but showed none above. He just replied “I just did what I felt was right, I am no God”. “Anyone who teaches and helps others in anyway is God to them” said Shadow.
Advaita smiled and was surprised to hear that as he had heard similar lines from his father. “We still have a long journey ahead” said Cullen as the carriage moved…
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
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.