An Unexpected Twist… Chapter Twelve

Vasusena slept soundly and woke refreshed. He worshipped the sun, bathed and dressed. It was while having breakfast that he remembered that he had not given the message about Kunti’s arrival.
Yudhistira sent for him soon and he was informed that they would be breaking camp and leaving for Indraprastha within the week. He gave them the message about Kunti and was duly thanked. His horse too had been cared for well, he saw.
“Thats a fine animal,” Nakula said, stroking its neck. Vasusena was surprised at how docilely his horse accepted Nakula’s caress. It never allowed even Vrishasena to touch it, let alone pet it.
It was not yet mid morning when he left. He went back slowly, taking his time. There was no need to ride hard anymore. The message had been delivered. Now they had nothing to do but to wait.
He decided he would go to Hastinapura, give them Yudhistira’s message about going to Indraprastha within the week and then go to Anga. He would come back after Suyodhana was back. But he needed to go to his family. He needed to see his parents, to feel their love washing away all other cares.
The journey was uneventful till he got to the outskirts of Hastinapura. It was there, he saw the chariot with the broken wheel. Its horses were dead, their throats slit and the charioteer had an arrow sticking from his side. Some dead horses and soldiers were also there. The battle was only hours old, he thought, as dismounting, he examined the dead ones. Some of the bodies were still warm.
One of the soldiers stirred as he touched him. He had a gash across his chest. And a frightening gash on his forehead.
“Wa…ter..” His eyes were still closed, gummed shut by the blood that had flowed over his face. Vasusena gave him water from the water skin, which the man drank thirstily. Vasusena wet his Uttariya with the water and wiped the man’s eyes. His eyes fluttered open, but they were unfocussed.
“Am…bu…sh..” His voice was sinking. “H..e… too..k….h…e…r….”
“Who? Who took whom?”
“Th..the qu..ee..n…… we…. di..d… n…o..t …. seee…. wh..o… the.. a..rr..ow..s… ca..me… fr…om… th..the… wo..od..s…”
“What queen?”
“Th..the… queen… Ku..n…t…i…” The soldier clutched his arm. “The… m..o..n…s…t…e…r…. he…to..ok… he..r…”
Vasusena gasped.

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