When Aarav opened his eyes , he was lying on the couch in the front room and next to him on the other couch ,Pranay was deep asleep.
Nobody else could be seen, so he got up and went back to the training room and saw that Mayank was fixing the floor and the girls, Reva and Megha ,were deep in conversation.
Mayank looked up and saw Aarav standing at the door , so he left his work and came to face Aarav.
Aarav wasn’t having his sword so he made up his fists and stood to face the guy. Mayank came close and moved his hand , not to fight but for a handshake. He said,
“I’m sorry Aarav, i acted like an arse with you. But i’m really sorry. You really earned respect in my eyes my friend, i hope you forgive me....if u can”
Aarav was shocked to see that someone like Mayank who was a bully even among the worst of the bullies , had accepted himself as an equal. And Aarav was never a person to keep grudge. So he simply smiled and said,
" You’re embarrassing me now! There’s nothing to forgive or anything , but if u really want to ask sorry , then just stop bullying others , that’s all. ”
Mayank smiled gave an embarrassed kind of a smile and replied,
" I’m sorry Aarav, i’ll try as much as i can ...”
Reva saw the boys shaking hands and she came straight walking towards them, Megha followed her. Reva said, “Mayank , what are u doing?”
Mayank glanced at her, and said,
“Welcoming our new team mate , what else?”
Reva became angry, she turned to Aarav and said,
" If u trying to win over my team mates , let me first tell you one thing. I clearly now know why you easily defeated Mayank and Pranay, its not because you are good at handling the sword, its just because of the sword. The sword is a holy one and it has mysterious powers!”
Aarav was getting more and more frustrated at Reva as she spoke , but this was too much. He said,
“What the hell is your problem ? And what on the earth are u trying to say?”
Even Megha was getting annoyed by the way Reva was acting, she said,
“What has he even done to you? He won fare and square even you clearly saw it...and don’t talk rubbish, even if a sword is holy, it can’t make a person’s body move. To say the truth, a holy sword can’t be handled by anyone , in fact it requires a lot more of body strength to handle!”
Reva glanced at her friend and she could clearly see that she was annoyed, so she replied,
“Fine then ! If u say so. But i’m not convinced that someone can be so fluent in handling a sword , so if u really are a good swordsman , why not take a normal sword? I don’t think that someone as worthy as you would care about what sword you use !”
Aarav didn’t think twice , he said,
“I wont have a bit of a problem , but , the way you are talking, looks like you’re a warrior yourself, or are u just a blabbering girl who sends her teammates to battle and is too scared to fight herself?”
“Fine , i dare you fight me...” replied Reva.
“I don’t want to fight you now, i would like to challenge Megha...“he replied with the same attitude.
“Fine , if u wont don’t die fighting her then ill see if u can atleast stand and then decide whether or not to fight you!” said Reva.
So finally after ten more minutes , the circular battlefield was back as new, and Megha was standing in front of Aarav, holding what looked like nunchucks.
She smiled and said,
" You fight quite well Aarav, but i know your technique now, so try and give a fair fight if u can!”
Aarav gave a small laugh, so Megha asked,
He said, “Well, the funny thing is , I myself don’t know my technique yet, its surprising to know you do.”
She didn’t give a response, instead she jumped high and charged at him. Aarav nearly missed to get hit at his head. Megha was quite a fighter , she was continuously attacking without giving even a breath of a second for Aarav to think and strategize his technique.
But what felt the most weird to Aarav was that for the first two matches he had thought that the sword was making him fight , but now that he had a normal sword in his hand, though it felt weird , but he was quite smooth with it. He didn’t feel much of a difference apart from the weight , this sword was a bit more heavier and had a broader hilt when compared to the galade.
Aarav was dodging every hit from Megha , though he felt a bit weaker after the battle with Pranay. He could hear Mayank cheering for him, and that ,though was a bit awkward coming from the bull, was encouraging.
Manier times , the nunchucks and the sword clashed and Aarav felt the vibrations in his arm which were far heavier when compared to those he had felt while fighting Pranay.
Megha’s blows were becoming more and more harder to defend, he also got hit on his left hand. Aarav observed that Megha was completely different from Mayank and Pranay and also stronger than both of them together . The main difference , was that both Mayank and Pranay were so easy to dodge , that he could easily think about their next move ,meanwhile alredy deciding what his present move would be, but Megha , apart from being completely unpredictable, it was as if she was controlling his legs, he wasn’t moving to attack , rather he was moving to defend.
Finally fed up of the dodging, even Aarav changed his style to offense. He was trying his best to give her atleast one shot on any of her hand, so that he could catch her off guard, but it was impossible.
Her fighting skills were unbelievable.
And finally after a millionth clash of metal , Megha stopped in her tracks. She looked at Aarav and said,
“I wont get tired at all Aarav. Defend all you want, but i can do this all day. But one thing i respect you about, you’re not giving up.”
She ran straight towards him and was about to give the same hit as the first blow,but Aarav was ready, this was the only move he was damn sure that he could defend from and also attack .
But the moment Megha’s nunchucks were a foot distance from Aarav’s sword , in the blink of an eye, her left hand had hit Aarav’s swordhand. And as a result , instead of hitting the sword , Megha’s right hand had hit Aarav straight in the face, missing his left eye by an inch.
He fell to the ground, and his sword had fallen at some distance .
Megha stood over him and raised her right hand , and said,
“Aarav, i don’t usually hit a fallen warrior, i will ask you only once, DO YOU YIELD?”
Her voice echoed through the training room. Aarav had his right hand covering his bloody face. He had become so tired, that his body was unwilling to even to stand. Though his body was refusing his every command , he had only one goal in his mind, and that was to stand against all odds.
And the current situation he was in , was definitely an odd. He made up his courage , and said,
“Not in hell i’m gonna back out!”
While the battle was going on, Mayank and Reva were watching from the edge of their seats, Reva was completely shocked to see that Aarav could even stand for so long against one of most deadly underdogs of the Black kingdom.
Back in the ring, Aarav was now standing on his already dead felt legs, and even he was clueless how he was standing. Every blow that Megha gave him was making him harder and harder to stand.
Finally Megha stood still for a moment , and closed her eyes. She opened them the next moment and looked Aarav in the eye and said,
“You truly are strong Aarav, but you should still work very hard. I know this is too hard for you, but it is my duty to give my best for my clan, whenever i’m asked. ”
She charged for one last time , and that blow sent Aarav straight towards the wall , and the impact was so hard that he was unconscious even before touching the ground.
When Aarav opened his eyes , he was lying on a soft bed , a strong smell of aushadi (medicine prepared by ancient Indian techniques) hit his nose. His body was aching and his muscles were crying in pain.
With great difficulty he sat up and saw Megha smashing some herbs in an earthen pot, and Pranay, Mayank and Reva sitting on chairs at the far end of the room , deep in discussion.
Megha noticed him and came close to sit beside him. She smiled and said,
“Your healing is quite fast , but not proper . Drink this.”
She handed him the earthen pot and he drained it down his throat. It was too bitter in taste and also burnt his taste buds. The moment he gave the earthen pot back to Megha he was back to sleeping in the soft bed.
In the next morning Aarav woke up and the first thing he did, was call his mom.
A:”Hey , mom, i’m at Pranay’s place .”
M:”What were you doing there all night?"
M:”Are u coming home today atleast?”
A:”I ..don’t think so, but ill back soon....probably"
M:”okay, but please don’t eat junk."
A:”Yeah mom. bye...love you"
M:”Love you , bye.”
He got up and went out of the room. Back in the hall he saw all of the clan sitting on the couch having coffee. Pranay talked first.“Good grief , youre alive...”
“ 'Sadly' alive.” said Reva.
Aarav ignored her and sat on the couch beside Pranay. He said,
“So, what about the recruitment? I lost , so does that mean i’m a water boy or someone like that?”
“Hell no! If someone as strong as you is the water boy ....Pranay and I should become the audience!” Mayank said.
Reva glared at him , so he just stopped talking. She said,
“Its sad that you are alive, but to be honest our clan could use someone like you. So the decision is yours...would you be hathi, knight or wazir? Since you couldn’t defeat Megha as i had already said, you can't be the second in command that's the queen.”
Aarav said, ” Well , Reva , though i couldn’t defeat Megha, and i really respect her battling prowess, but just SHUT UP IF U DONT KNOW HOW TO SPEAK!”
Aarav was so angry at the way she was talking to him , he was getting frustrated.
“Really , Reva, if u don’t like him , that doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy. And if u didn’t see it properly , though unlike us, you were just sitting comfortably and watching ,rather than fighting him, he clearly defeated me and Mayank fare and square. ”
Reva felt ashamed and didn’t speak.
So Megha said,” Aarav, i feel like you should choose the Wazir, after all we don’t have one and also you are good at defense when compared to attack.”
Mayank interrupted , and said,, “No, no...i feel he should be the hathi , he's really good at defense and also not bad at offense too. We can use that as a trump card, what say?”
Aarav was confused , but he was looking at his best advisor right now , Pranay.
Pranay saw that Aarav was looking at him so he gave a smile and said,
“What i feel, is we should let the person who is actually gonna become the part of the clan decide what he is going to be.”
Mayank and Megha gave an apologetic smile and nodded. Reva was sitting silent all this time , she looked at Aarav and said, “Is Pranay your saviour or something?”
Aarav completely ignored her and said,
“I feel like I should be the knight instead.”
“But what about Pranay?” said Megha.
“Didn’t you say , there are 2 knights in the game? We can be quite a duo , but if u have a problem, I still can be the wazir ....” said Aarav.
" I agree.” said Pranay.
" Me too.” said Mayank.
“What do you think Reva ? Is it a wise choice?” Megha asked Reva. She gave a frustrated look and said,
“Look , first of all, i don’t care whatever position you take, you will still be a burden to the team, so if u want to be a knight and then bring shame to us , i don’t exactly have a problem .I would be less happy if u would be wazir instead, anyways , i have work to do, so Megha make the arrangements and yeah, make it quick.”
She got up and walked away. Finally Aarav turned to Pranay and said,
“Dude what is her problem?”
“If i’d have known, it would be national news. Anyways, get ready my friend , your’e gonna have some serious clothes to wear.” Pranay replied.
“What clothes?” Aarav asked.
But Megha answered his question. She said,
" Aarav follow me...”
Pranay winked at Aarav and so clulessly , he followed Megha upstairs to what looked like the storeroom.
Megha prepared a paste of some sort and was busy chanting for about ten minutes , when she finally said,
“Aarav take off your clothes.”
" Just do as i say, and don’t worry , your’e not the first guy to do this, Pranay and Mayank also did it, and please do it quick. Don’t act like a foolish girl.”
“Okay....” now he understood why Pranay was winking at him earlier.
Aarav turned his back to her and pulled out his shirt , to reveal the scars which he had gotten from the battles yesterday . he slowly pulled out his pant.
He was about to remove his underwear , when Megha said,
" That...would be enough, no need of going any further. Now turn back and spread your hands wide and stand still...”
Aarav did as he was asked , and slowly , Megha started applying the paste she was preparing earlier , at his shoulders, his chest , his kneecaps , feet and forehead in a design sort of a pattern.
“Turn” , she said and Aarav turned, she did the same thing on his back .
“You aren’t that skinny, though you should start maintaining your physique, now your routine wont be easy. Its quite attractive though..” Megha said.
“Thanks ....i guess....” Aarav said awkwardly.
Finally when his whole body , except for some parts ofcourse, was covered in the paste, Megha handed Aarav a set of dhoti and a Shallya ( ancient Indian style of clothing) and had asked him to come to the training room wearing these in 15 minutes.
So he did.
He was standing in the training room, bare footed on the hard wooden floor inside a circle, similar to the one drawn while he was battling.
Mayank entered the room with Pranay following him , while he was holding the Galade, on a red coloured cushion.
And then entered a girl, who was looking so stunning in the traditional wear of women , while her stomach was partly visible . Aarav couldn’t take his eyes off the girl. Then he realized the girl was Reva.
And as if to make him believe , Pranay who was standing behind Aarav , kicked him and said,
“Dude stop staring!”
She came and stood inside the circle , while Megha was chanting again. Reva covered the Galade with a red coloured cloth and said,
“Kneel down and raise both your hands and don’t argue...”
Aarav was simply acting to listen , but instead he was staring at her . He raised both his arms and Reva placed the cloth covered Galade in Aarav’s hands. She said,
" I Revathi Maurya, princess of the Mauryan kingdom and active king of the Mauryan clan in the mortal world, with all due respect and honour , invite, Aarav , of warrior blood, into my clan as the second knight. And with all due respect, i hand over the Galade in his command, and in return i ask complete loyalty from his side towards the clan. Aarav will you be loyal to the clan?”
She handed over the Galade in his hands , and the moment , the cold metal touched his hands when he pulled it out of the cloth, the sword turned into mist and went inside the bracelet that Pranay had given him on his birthday.