Yudhistira frowned at the message. He turned to Krishna. “The son of the King of Anga wishes to meet you.”
Krishna nodded. “I was expecting it.”
“When should I ask him to come?”
“This evening,” said Krishna. “And I would prefer if the meeting is to be private.”
Yudhistira opened his mouth as if to protest, then pursed his lips and nodded. “As you wish.”
Just then, the heralds announced Kunti. Yudhistira frowned again. He was not certain why his mother came to camp. But he went forward to touch her feet.
“Ayushman Bhavah,” her blessing was almost automatic.
Krishna too came forward to seek her blessings. She placed her hand on his head, but spoke no word. Yudhistira led her to a chair. He sent an attendant to get refreshments.
“What is the matter, mother?” he enquired anxiously. “Is everything all right? Why did you come all this way?”
“I heard the news,” she said, her voice faltering. “I came to know if it is true.”
The other four entered the tent just then, accompanied by attendants carrying water and fruits.
Kunti blessed each of her sons while the attendants set the fruits on a table and withdrew.
“What news, mother?” asked Yudhistira.
“That there’s not going to be a war. Servants are whispering that the King of Anga is dead and Suyodhana is withdrawing from battle.”
“Strange, how rumours spread,” murmured Krishna.
“Is it true?” Kunti asked again, her face reflecting anguish. She was nearly wringing her hands.
“Vasusena isn’t dead,” spoke Krishna. “But he’s as good as.”
She paled. “Meaning?”
“The sun god has taken him,” said Yudhistira. “Or so Krishna says.”
“The sun god?” Kunti was so pale, she looked bloodless. “Krishna?”
“He came to me,” said Krishna calmly. “He said he was taking him.” He paused. “He also said he should have done this a long time back!”
Kunti drew a deep breath. “And the war?”
“Suyodhana appears to be too distraught to think of it,” replied Yudhistira, his voice softening in spite of himself.
“I see,” Kunti’s voice shook slightly.
Yudhistira gazed at her in concern. “Mother, are you all right?”
She nodded. “I’m fine. It must be the heat of the day.”
“I shall arrange for a tent for you to take rest,” Yudhistira said. “First you have some water and fruit. In the meantime, I need to make arrangements for Krishna’s meeting with the Prince of Anga.”
“The Prince of Anga?” Queried Bheema. “Why is he coming here?”
“He wants to talk to Krishna regarding his father’s disappearance,” said Yudhistira.
“I don’t see why we have to entertain him!” Growled Nakula.
“He’s coming as my guest,” drawled Krishna. “I hope you will keep that in mind.”
Nakula and Bheema scowled, but were silent.