Joined: 31 August 2011
Cont soon n thanks 4 d pm
yeah Sid notices
Joined: 31 August 2011
nice update.the mystery is still there.waiting for next update.
It'll be there for a long time dear
Joined: 31 August 2011
Will do the first two but not the third as i don't want Abhay to end up in the hospital with a fractured leg
Joined: 31 August 2011
"But father, what is the need?" began Maithali again. She and Pia, having finished breakfast had been called to the king's chambers, where Maithali was told that she would now have private lessons "as befitting a princess of rank". Pia did not understand it fully, but managed to comprehend that she would not be accompanying Maithali to those lessons.
"There is every need, Princess," said the king. "It has been decided: You will learn everything that a princess ought, and in which you lack, given your extensive stay overseas. It has been a month since you have returned, and I believe it time enough. An hour from now, you will be going to our Hall for your formal training. No more arguments." He signaled his dismissal.
Maithali looked at Pia sadly as she went an hour later. "
Pia wandered around the palace, bored and lonely. She had no idea when Maithali would return.Trying to be cheerful, she decided to take a walk in the gardens.
"What are you doing here?" came a voice behind her. Pia whirled around : Siddharth was passing by, carrying a bundle of straw. Pia felt herself smile: she found herself walking upto him, telling him all that had happened since morning.
"I see," said Siddharth, once she had finished. "Why don't you come over to the stables, we can talk there."
She followed him to the stables. Siddharth dumped the straw and and turned to her. "Let's go out."As they walked out, Siddharth put his head back in and called out, "Are you coming, or not?"
As Pia sat down on a tree stump,and Siddharth sat on a log, and a few minutes later, Abhayendra followed them out. Pia was startled: she had not noticed him in the darkness.
"Greetings, Piyali," he said, bowing slightly. "I see the Princess has not accompanied you?"
"No," Siddharth answered for her. "Because the king has started Maithali's lessons again."
"Again?" questioned Pia.
Both men turned to face her. "Maithali used to have those lessons with us when we were children," said Siddharth. "I suppose the king wants her to revise them. Probably thinks she's getting soft after her years abroad," he said, and he and Abhayendra smirked at each other. Pia looked from one to the other in confusion. "Maithali was a born warrior, Piyali," said Siddharth, grinning. "She could beat me in archery, and only Abhayendra always bested her."
Pia turned to stare at him. "You what?"
"Yes," said Siddharth, now openly smirking. "Quiet little Abhayendra here always beats Maithali in archery. Of course, in swordplay, it's a much more even contest between the three of us. We only always dueled each other, because the others would never be able to match more than a few strokes with us."
Pia looked from Abhayendra to Siddharth. "So…all three of you are accomplished fighters," she said in a small voice. Siddharth smiled slightly. "You want to learn too, right?"
"I can't," said Pia in a small voice.
"Don't be silly," said Siddharth. "You'll learn soon. We'll teach you!"
"It's just like how you rode a horse," said Abhayendra quietly. "You will learn soon."
"We'll need a bow for Piyali, then," said Siddharth, decisively. "Abhayendra, would you mind getting my spare bow? It'll do for Piyali. And arrows- we need those too."
"No, hold it like this," said Siddharth, trying to make Pia understand how to hold the bow. He wasn't making much progress. "Bhai, let me," came Abhayendra's calm voice.
He stood behind her, his arms half-rose and his hand grasped hers. Startled, Pia was turning around to look at him when she realized he was showing her how to hold it.
Having positioned her hand properly, he let go, and stepped away. Pia felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Yes, now position the arrow- thus," said Siddharth, showing her. Pia managed to do so.
"Now shoot," said Siddharth. She was standing facing the empty palace courtyards, because then no one would be disturbed.
Pia pulled back the bowstring with a twang, as Siddharth had taught her, and shot.
Almost instantly, there came a cry- accompanied by many furious exclamations somewhere to her right.
"Now then! Who's shooting at me, I'd like to know! Dacoits! Robbers! Spies! Such an insult, to the commander of the armed forces of Pandher? Squadron! Find the miserable marauders!"
"Piyali!" hissed Siddharth. "What did you do????"
"I'm sorry!" she gasped . "I just- "
"Abhayendra!" said Siddharth urgently. "Take Piyali into the forest. If anyone sees us trying to teach her how to shoot…"
"But," began Pia.
"No buts! Move! Go!" he hissed. "I'll manage, you go! Abhayendra- "
Before she knew what was happening, a warm hand closed around hers, she found herself being tugged, none too gently inside the forest at a very fast speed.
"Leave me!" she hissed, trying to tug herself free from Abhayendra's grip.
"Just a bit more," he whispered softly. "The men mustn't find out…. Females do not generally learn the art of fighting in this kingdom. And if anyone finds out that we were responsible…." He left the sentence hanging, pulling her again. They had reached the outskirts of the forest now, and soon, he'd guided her into a clearing.
"We'll have to stay here for a bit," he said. Then he looked down at her flushed face and his impassive expression softened. " I hope you are not hurt."
"Pia could only shake her head, as she leaned against the tree. This forest , she thought ironically, was where it had all started…..
"I will get some water for you. You must be thirsty."
"No!" said Pia. "I mean- please don't leave me alone. I'm not thirsty."
She thought she saw amusement in his features, but she was too tired to care. She flopped down on the ground. After a minute's hesitation, he too joined down, and she noticed the uneven breathing under his white shirt-ish thing.
They sat in silence for a while. Pia was the first one to break it.
"Abhayendra?" she said hesitatingly. He was facing away from her, his head turned up to the sky.
"Yes?" he said turning to look at her.
"I, uh…you brought the bow and arrows," she said, feeling stupid.
He looked at her with a "Du'uh!" kind of face. "We may need to protect ourselves at short notice.This is a forest, after all."
"Oh." She knew she was blushing,and was grateful for the semi-darkness in the forest.
"You wanted to learn?" he said, and Pia's head shot up. He was looking unusually …penetrative.
"Yes, I mean, if you- "
He rose, stretching out a hand to help her up to her feet. "Might as well try, then" he said. "Can't hurt."
"Aim closer to your target," said Abhayendra, for what felt like the dozenth time. Pia was a very clumsy shooter, and her arrows usually deflected to the right by some strange spell.
"You're holding it the wrong way, again!" he said, now sounding a tad frustrated. "Here.."
He put his hands over hers again, and this time directed her, so that the arrow landed dead centre in the tree she had been aiming for.
"Now do it again, please," he said, sighing.
A voice behind them jolted Pia back to reality. Siddharth was standing behind them, a lazy smirk flickering on his lips.
"Having a nice time?" he enquired, looking at Pia rather than Abhayendra.
"You probably were," said Abhayendra, in a tone that suggested resentment.
"Of course I was," said Siddharth , grinning. "It was so much fun, watching you two struggle…"
"Yeah, it probably was fun watching," said Abhayendra.
"Then catching Pia's eye, he said, "I apologise.I had no intention to upset you."
"I'm not upset, could you please be less formal?" she snapped.
Turning to Siddharth, he said, "What did you do to the commander?"
"Well," said Siddhath, grinning, "Now you mention it….."
"Out, you mangy mongrels! Show your white faces, you cowards!"
Excuse me, Sir!" said Siddharth, walking out wearing an expression he hoped was innocent.
"It was I who shot you by mistake."
The commander's eyes bulged.
"But I wasn't aiming for you, Sir," continued Siddharth hastily. "I was trying to shoot a bird."
"And do I look like an bird?" thundered the angry man.
"No, sir," said Siddharth apologetically. "My aim was mistaken."
The commander looked at him for a long moment.
"Very well, then," he said at last.
Pia let out a shout of laughter. She couldn't help it. The sight of Siddharth trying to explain away her horrendous aim was too much for her. She collapsed into hysterics.
"It's all very well for you to laugh," grumbled Siddharth. "Do you know he had nearly fifty men with him?"
"Sorry," said Pia , trying to control herself. "But you must admit-"
"I would like to go home," said Abhayendra suddenly. "I'm feeling unwell."
Siddharth quirked an eyebrow.
"Go then, if you must," he said, and Abhayendra left through another route in the forest, while Pia and Siddharth continued towards the stables.
"You two were gone so long," said Siddharth. "So , mid-afternoon, I thought of finding out where you two were. Of course, I was helped by one of your arrows which whizzed past my ear-"
"Sorry," mumbled Pia.
"It's quite all right.," said Sidharth. "I gathered then, from what I saw, that you haven't taken to archery so well."
"I'll learn how to do it,I promise," said Pia fiercely.
"I know," said Siddharth.
There was a pause, and then :
"This..man you said resembled Abhayendra….Were you…close?"
Pia turned around to stare at him in shock. He seemed serious, but there was a glint in his eyes as he said the words.
"No!" she protested. "He's my- my enemy! I hate him!"
:Oh, I see," said Siddharth, and he did not speak until they had reached the doors of the castle. Pia was to remember his parting words for a very long time. "Surely, you must have loved him very much."
"My god, what is she?" whispered students as Alina Khurana passed. In her first day in the seniormost year, she had caused a furore in the classes, answering questions that baffled the students and asking questions that baffled the teachers. In no time , it seemed, Alina was hailed as the brightest student in the school. Yet she had not made any friends. She kept to herself, talked little, except when she was solving a problem. Her head was always bent over some book or the other.
Alina hated the attention, but somehow reveled in the fact that she was separate from the rest of them. In a few days, she thought, she would take early exams and finish her degree. Then she would get a job….In Siddharth Mehra's own backyard. Yes, she needed that job in his office…and she was fairly certain to get it.
Never again, she thought grimly, would anyone control her- not her family, nor anyone else.
PS. I'm sorry to anyone I didn't reply, coz I'm running short of time and all…..Oh, and ….I never bite the readers who comment. For the rest, mind you, I'm not very pleasant when I'm angry…..
Yes, that was a threat. LOL.
Joined: 04 June 2011
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