The Banished Secret: Chapter One

The man stood before the King, head held high. He was handsome, with a broad forehead, finely moulded lips, an aquiline nose, sharp cheekbones and a firm chin. His moustache was dark, and he had no beard. His hair was wavy and of shoulder-length. His stance was relaxed, yet vigilant, and his body was well muscled and well proportioned with broad shoulders, narrow hips and long limbs. His complexion was golden and his eyes held no fear. A longbow was slung on his shoulder, and a quiver of arrows was on his back. He wore a sword in a plain scabbard, and a dagger was strapped to his leg. He wore no armour, but was dressed plainly, in an angavastra and upavastra and an uttariya was worn around his torso.

“I come seeking my destiny,” he said. “I wish to offer my services to you, O King.”

The King smiled at the stranger. There was something nigglingly familiar about him, but he could not place it.

“I admire your bravery,” he said. “But you must prove your skills before you can join my army. Before all that, tell me your name, and the names of your parents.”

“My name is Bhaskara,” the man replied. “I’m an orphan and has been brought up by a sage who taught me the lore of the ancients as also warfare and weaponry.”

“Bhaskara,” mused the King. “Has the name been given by your adoptive father?”

The man inclined his head in what might have been agreement. “How am I to prove myself?”

“You shall fight against the best warrior in my kingdom. My son and heir, Arnava. Be not ashamed if you lose, for it is said there is no warrior in all fourteen worlds to equal him.”

“Let his weapons and skill testify to that,” Bhaskara spoke with an easy confidence that bordered on arrogance.

King Mahakarma chuckled. “I like your confidence. A combat between you and Prince Arnava shall be arranged this week itself. Where do you stay?”

“In a house in the West street.”

The King frowned. “That street has only broken down old buildings. No one stays there.”

“I found a house that was not in much disrepair, and made it habitable,” Bhaskara shrugged. “I like my privacy.”

“I would like to know one thing more,” the King said.

Bhaskara gave an inquiring lift of his eyebrows in response.

“You say you are a warrior, well versed in warcraft. Yet, how is it that your body remains unblemished? There are no scars on you that I can see.”

“A powerful enchantment was placed on me by my mother before she died. The sage who brought me up told me that she was an enchantress. The enchantment is protective in nature, and as a result, I cannot be harmed by any weapon forged by man or god or demon.”

The King gasped aloud. Surely, this could not be! He looked at the young man closely. No wonder he looked familiar.

“Has the sage told you the name of your mother?” the King asked, trying hard to keep his voice from trembling. His mind was in turmoil. This young man could not be the result of his indiscretion so long ago. Malavika had warned him how it would be, but he had not listened. His lust for her was so strong, that he had forgotten he had a wife and a son.

Bhaskara’s expression turned stony. “I do not see what my mother’s name has to do with anything.”

“Was her name Malavika?” the King asked. He had to know. And if this was indeed Malavika’s son, then… the King refused to think further. He prayed he was wrong, and that this stranger was the son of some other enchantress. But how many enchantresses could there be capable of weaving an enchantment that rendered its subject invulnerable to weapons, fire or water?

“How do you know that?” Bhaskara’s eyes were hard and glittered with suspicion.

“Because I’m your father,” King Mahakarma said. “And you… you are my eldest living son, and as such heir to this Kingdom,” his voice was heavy, but he knew Arnava would not mind. He had never been interested in being King. Sumitra would not mind either. His head was full of art, and music, and he was interested in nothing else. But he was worried about the reaction of his youngest, Maitreya. Maitreya was not ambitious for himself, but he was fiercely loyal to Arnava. If only Mahabala, his eldest had survived the childhood ailment that had foiled the best efforts of all royal physicians… He hated having to do this, but this was his son, and it was not Bhaskara’s fault that his father had been weak and lustful and unfaithful to his wife.

“My father?” Bhaskara’s face held incredulity. The entire court was so silent, Mahakarma could hear his own heart beat loudly. Bhaskara looked around, as if searching for an escape route. He had a hunted look, and somehow, that made Mahakarma laugh.

“Don’t look as if you’re about to be executed,” he said through chuckles. “You are the heir to the throne, after all.”

“There has to be some mistake,” Bhaskara insisted, his voice quivering.
Mahakarma shook his head. “Not unless there are two Malavikas who are enchantresses and who knew an enchantment to make their subject invulnerable.”

Bhaskara looked resigned. “The sage told me he’d never heard of such an enchantment,” he admitted. “He said he knew of no one else who could have cast it.”

“I know,” Mahakarma said quietly. “That was why I sought her, but she told me the enchantment would cost her her life.”

Bhaskara’s expression suddenly became vulnerable, as if someone had suddenly stabbed him, and Mahakarma felt a moment’s sorrow. “You mean she gave her life to put this enchantment on me?”

Mahakarma nodded. Neither of them spoke for a moment. Mahakarma rose. “Pradhanamantrin, Senapati, Sthapathi, Rajaguru, make arrangements for my son’s stay in the palace, for announcing the arrival of the Yuvaraja to the people, for conducting Pujas at the temple, and for familiarizing him with the kingdom and the army.” he paused. “Come with me, Bhaskara. I must introduce you to your brothers.” For the first time, Mahakarma was grateful that his wife was no more.

Bhaskara stood as if rooted to the spot. Two royal guards were at his side. “Your highness?” One of them prompted gently. He looked at them strangely, and then at the King. Mahakarma gestured for him to follow as he walked out of the audience hall.


One thought on “The Banished Secret: Chapter One

  1. Wow. So interesting. Love the plot of this fanfic. Can’t wait to see what else happens in this story. Keep up the great work on this fantastic fan fiction. Hope you are doing well Geetha.


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