Sehwag Tales - Chapter 8

To start from the first chapter : 

A young black stallion, alert and wide-eyed, cautiously approached the camp of Sehwag and his crew. Though not fully matured, its musculature was already impressive. The approaching darkness unsettled the stallion, for predators roamed freely in these woods at night. Yet, the rider atop it was a predator in his own right. Dalpati, Kattiyankar's shadow, led his personal guard of ten soldiers standing in front like a pointer to the rushing arrow. It is so rare to see a flying arrow in clarity. If you see one it only means it is already close enough to kill you. The sight of Dalpati was similar. He handled most of Kattiyankar's clandestine operations as Kattiyankar trusted him the most. They were friends from childhood, much earlier to him becoming the King. He was also instrumental in the assassination of King Kachandha twenty years ago.

The herd approached the camp's edge, where the cattle were penned. Anaka lay asleep on a stone table nestled beneath a giant tree. The men, however, were nowhere to be seen. Though it was a right opportunity for Dalpati, he was slightly disappointed as he himself wanted to kill Sehwag the moment he saw him.

“Spot on, Captain”, said the lieutenant of Dalpati.

Dalpati acknowledged, turning to his eleven-man force. They stood in precise rows of three, except for his most trusted lieutenant who lingered beside him. Relief flickered across the lieutenant's face as he noticed the absence of Sehwag's men. Dalpati's curt gesture sent him barking orders to the nine soldiers. The first three were tasked with quietly retrieving the cattle. Two vanished into the forest to locate Sehwag and his companions. The remaining four formed a defensive perimeter, vigilant against any sudden attacks.

Dalpati's soldiers were the elite of Yemangadha, notorious for their brutality and ruthlessness. They can in no way be compared to the platoon sent against the tribals to retrieve the cattle earlier. That was a mere ground level soldier commanded by Kattiyankar's cousin, a puny failure of the legacy, kept alive only for numbers.

Hidden amongst the branches, Padhumuk observed Dalpati's men discreetly untying the cows. Launching an immediate attack was impossible - these were no ordinary horsemen. Even Dalpati himself could handle three seasoned warriors in a mace fight. Patience was key. Earlier, Padhumuk had scaled the tree to track Sehwag and Nandhattan, fell fortunate at the right time. The height offered a broader view, with the moonlight filtering through the canopy, illuminating the spaces between the trees. He had, however, left his bow and arrows behind. “Damn!”, he muttered through his jaws.

With practised efficiency, the three soldiers untied the cows, readying them for the drive. The plan was simple: return the cattle to the farmers before Sehwag and his crew. Dalpati's true purpose wasn't rescuing livestock; it was a power grab. Yemangadha intended to establish a temporary garrison near Rasamapur, placing Dalpati in control. Their justification? A fabricated tale of foreign merchants posing as terrorists, the very same terrorists accused of stealing the palace flag a couple of days ago.

The truth, however, was far more sinister. Their primary objective was to capture Achanandhi, cripple the Revolution and arrest the revolutionaries. Achanandhi's home had already been ransacked the previous night, and the missing flag was conveniently discovered from there. Now branded a terrorist collaborator, Achanandhi was a hunted man. Retrieving the cattle would increase his image among the villagers, which would come in handy during the arrest of revolutionaries.

"Easy pickings," one of Dalpati's men scoffed. "Those young rebels wouldn't dare stand their ground."

Another soldier approached Anaka, a mirthless chuckle escaping his lips. "Seems the young woman has been left behind, a parting gift."

Driven to action, Padhumuk realised he couldn't wait any longer. He prepared to jump down, but his plan was halted by a subtle movement of Anaka which only Padhumuk had noticed. She gripped some sand in her hand revealing she'd been awake the entire time. Thinking quickly, Padhumuk strategically kicked a weakened branch above, sending it crashing down onto the soldier, who stumbled back in surprise. Seizing the opportunity, Anaka flung the sand into his face. In a blink, Padhumuk was down, grabbing his bow, arrows, and bag while scooping Anaka’s hands onto his. They melted into the shadows of the forest, leaving two of the eleven soldiers hot on their heels chasing them. Dalpati, unfazed, barked orders to the remaining men, “prepare for departure. We've retrieved what we came for. We have bigger fish to fry. Let's get moving." He realised that Sehwag could be hidden anywhere near too. The more he wanted to kill him so badly the more he was reminded that cattle is the most important coin in the game right now.

As they left the forest, the chilling echoes of two pained cries pierced the night. Padhumuk's arrows found their mark, striking with deadly precision. His senses, honed by the darkness, were preternatural. While the soldiers might overpower him in a direct fight, Padhumuk wasn't an easy fight at night. The long range is his speciality. However he did not rest easy. Other men could have followed them and the two men who initially left in search of Sehwag were also not back. There were high chances they could still be inside the forest. Knowing all these, Padhumuk stayed alert to his surroundings trying to differentiate trees from humans. He randomly shot at free trees to see moments. While all this,

"Where could Sehwag and Nandhattan be?" Padhumuk muttered, his voice laced with worry. He scanned the dark forest, his eyes darting from one tree to another still. Anaka, standing close behind him, carefully held her small dagger, “That too at a time like this”.

Through the darkness, a flicker of light emerged, growing steadily closer. Three figures materialised, one wielding a flaming torch that cast grotesque shadows onto the surrounding trees. Padhumuk pulled an arrow and locked his eyes towards the three approaching men. As the light drew nearer, the illuminated face of Nandhattan became discernible.

Relief washed over them momentarily. Yet, their joy was short-lived. Accompanying Nandhattan were Sehwag and a man Padhumuk recognized instantly - Achanandhi, his teacher. "What brings the master here?" Padhumuk muttered under his breath, adding another layer of confusion to the already perplexing situation.

Alerted by the soldiers' cries, Sehwag, Nandhattan, and Achanandhi arrived to find Padhumuk and Anaka safe, albeit clearly shaken. "What happened to you two?" both Padhumuk and Nandhattan demanded in unison.

"No time for details," Nandhattan urged, his voice laced with urgency. "The situation has taken a turn for the worse. We need to gather the cattle and leave immediately."

Anaka interjected, her voice barely a whisper, "There's a problem. The cattle… they've been taken."

Sehwag and Nandhattan exchanged a look of surprise. "By who?"

"Kattiyankar's men," Anaka confirmed, her eyes filled with worry.

Realising the gravity of the situation, everyone rushed back to the camp, only to discover that their horses had vanished too.


Next Chapter :

Vigneshwaran, Senior Correspondent of 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 on Wattpad.

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