KHATA

Sehwag Tales - Chapter 11



To start from the first chapter : https://theverandahclub.com/article/sehwag-tales-chapter-1-853 

Padhumuk and Nandhattan found themselves facing off against the two Dalpati soldiers. The distance between them was clear, and any interference from the stunned tribals would be futile. Malladevan, still reeling from the revelation Achanandhi had imparted, remained silent, leaving his warriors frozen in place. Time was of the essence, and facing a small force offered their only advantage.

Undeterred, Padhumuk and Nandhattan took up their positions. Nandhattan, wielding his signature twin axes, assumed a low stance, arms outstretched for maximum reach. Padhumuk stood firm behind him, his bow nocked with arrows, ready to unleash a volley at a moment's notice. This coordinated stance, honed through countless training sessions, was designed to overwhelm and dismantle unsuspecting opponents. While ineffective against a larger force, it held promise against two adversaries.

Don't kill them if possible," Padhumuk cautioned from behind, "We need at least one alive for questioning."
Nandhattan, ever the pragmatist, countered, "They can't be foolish enough to face us all with just two soldiers. There has to be more to their plan. I still don’t trust the tribals. We can't afford to wait much longer – their army might be upon us soon, or could the tribals."

The Dalpati soldiers remained poised for attack, a tense silence hanging heavy in the air. Anaka, perched behind Nandhattan, itched to join the fray, but understood that interrupting their coordinated stance would only hinder their advantage. She gritted her teeth, forced to remain still for now.

The soldier on the left lunged at Nandhattan. He met the blow head-on, twin axes clashing against the descending sword. With a swift kick to the attacker's gut, Nandhattan bought himself a moment. Meanwhile, Padhumuk loosed an arrow aimed at the other soldier's legs. The soldier, quicker than expected, dodged the arrow and charged at Nandhattan.

This was the opening the Dalpati soldiers had been waiting for. Padhumuk wouldn't have time to nock another arrow, and Nandhattan was still recovering from his block. Thinking fast, Padhumuk abandoned his bow, using it as a makeshift weapon. As the soldier leaped towards Nandhattan, Padhumuk swung the bow, catching the attacker around the neck mid-air.

With a powerful yank, Padhumuk brought the soldier crashing down. The impact momentarily stunned the attacker, but not for long. The fallen soldier lashed out, slashing the bowstring with his sword and freeing himself. Padhumuk reacted instantly, pressing his elbows into the soldier's pressure points and pinning him to the ground. His free hand reached for his hip knife, the glint of steel a silent threat.

Across the clearing, Nandhattan wasn't idle. He launched one of his axes, the whirling blade finding its mark in the remaining soldier's chest. Before the wounded man could react, Nandhattan executed a spinning jump, his other axe flashing in a deadly arc. The axe slammed into the soldier's shoulder, sending him crumpling to his knees with a scream. With a final, calculated thrust, Nandhattan embedded the axe deeper, momentarily easing the soldier's pain.

The fight was over. One soldier lay whimpering, the other held captive by Padhumuk's blade. Anaka, the tension finally leaving her shoulders, rushed forward to help secure the prisoner. Within a minute, the wounded soldier was bound to a tree, his whimpers replaced by ragged breaths.

Malladevan, snapping out of his reverie, found a flicker of hope. An heir to the throne still lived. The years spent wandering the forests, a fugitive hunted from every corner, hadn't been in vain. He turned to the young people with hope. "Leave the captive here," he instructed. "I sense you have urgent matters to attend to in the village."

Nandhattan's voice was laced with suspicion. "How can we be certain we can trust you, Malladevan?"
Malladevan's gaze held a quiet intensity. "Your doubt is warranted, young man. But the whole truth, once revealed, would surely earn your trust."

Nandhattan had harbored doubts about Malladevan from the beginning. Yet, an undeniable connection, a sense of something deeper than circumstance, had always existed between Malladevan and Sehwag. He couldn't ignore the chance to finally unravel the truth. With a silent nod, Nandhattan signaled his willingness to listen.

Malladevan's words hit them like a bombshell. "Sehwag isn't your brother by blood," he declared. "He's the heir to the throne, the son of the late King Kachandha and Queen Vijayamadevi. This is far bigger than any of you can imagine."

The revelation stunned Nandhattan, Padhumuk, and Anaka. Nandhattan had always sensed an anomaly in Sehwag's place within the family, but the truth surpassed even his suspicions. Padhumuk and Anaka, while shocked, remained skeptical. "How can we be sure this isn't a trap?" Anaka countered.

"No, I believe him," Nandhattan countered, a spark of conviction in his eyes. "It all makes sense now: the Master's connection, the ring Sehwag wears, the strange occurrences throughout our childhood. The pieces are falling into place. My father might hold further answers."

Padhumuk and Anaka, despite their reservations towards Malladevan, trusted Nandhattan's judgment based on his years with Sehwag. But a new question arose. "Does Sehwag know about this?" Padhumuk inquired.
"I doubt it," Nandhattan replied.

Malladevan interjected, his voice urgent. "He doesn't. There's much he doesn't. But we should be asking ourselves a more pressing question -- does Kattiyankar know that an heir to the throne is still alive?"

A heavy silence descended upon them. The revelation hung thick in the air. If Kattiyankar possessed this knowledge, it explained the platoon sent after them, the garrison in Rasamapur. Sehwag returning to the village wouldn't be safe.

"We need to warn Sehwag," Padhumuk asserted, his voice tight with urgency.

Nandhattan, ever the strategist, countered, "Let the tribals handle that task. We need to return to the village, assess the situation firsthand."

Anaka, recognizing the logic in Nandhattan's words, stepped forward to mediate. "Padhumuk, remember what I said earlier? Someone in the village waits for you. Let's prioritize your return, then formulate a plan to inform Sehwag."

"But if Kattiyankar seeks both Sehwag and Achanandhi," Malladevan pointed out, his voice laced with concern, "your return to the village could be perilous. You are his brother and you all are the students of Achanandhi. You will be their first target."

Nandhattan, however, remained undeterred. "It can be their country. But it is our village. We can navigate the situation." Padhumuk shared this resolve. The memory of Govindai's father loomed large - if they didn't return soon, the price for retrieving the cattle might be Govindai's hand in marriage to a Dalpati. A wave of nostalgia washed over Padhumuk, memories of his time with Govindai vivid in his mind. Steeling himself, he thought about Sehwag, "Forgive me, friend. We must return for now, but we'll be back soon to stand beside you."

"Let's return to the village," Anaka proposed, her voice laced with urgency. "We need to assess the situation, secure Govindai like Sehwag instructed, and get out."

Malladevan, a flicker of hope rekindled in his eyes, nodded in agreement. "Excellent plan. Let me glean more information from this prisoner. We shall meet tomorrow at the sixth cave by the river that flows through the forest. Additionally, I'll dispatch a contingent of my soldiers to follow Sehwag and Achanandhi's trail. They might require assistance."

With a determined glint in their eyes, Padhumuk and Nandhattan mounted their steeds. Two figures, weary but resolute, rode towards Rasamapur village, accompanied by a dancer and a discarded bow.

TO BE CONTINUED

Vigneshwaran, Senior Correspondent of TheVerandahClub.com is both a skilled digital content writer and marketer by profession, as well as an avid independent writer driven by his passion. His literary talents extend to crafting beautiful poems and captivating short stories including the Sehwag Tales series. In addition to these creative pursuits, he has also authored a book titled "Halahala," which can be found

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