THE ROYAL BALL
In the distant caves of mountain Kailash ,
A sage sitting in a Dhyana (Meditation) pose ,
Someone enters out of nowhere and says,
“Ashwatthama , the final piece of the act is to play today at the Mauryan Palace.”
The sage opens his eyes and looks at the person standing in front of him. He says,
“Priest , i was wondering when you’d be coming again.But why today?”
“Something is going to happen at the Royal Ball , after the award ceremony , and the boy will need your help.”
“But you know i don’t work for anyone , have you forgotten the last time when i picked sides ?”
“Ashwatthama , i know and i still have the guilt for what happened back then , and i cannot repay you with anything . But this boy is no ordinary , even you know that...”
“Alright , but do you really think he will do what you have expected him to?”
The priest nodded and simply vanished . Ashwatthama picked up the mask and wore it , and headed to the palace.
At the palace the preparations were going on for the award ceremony . The main hall was decorated with lights , that glow when moonlight falls on them , flowers that sprinkle fragrant water on whomever walked near to it, a fountain of the costliest drink in the Mauryan kingdom, and statues that welcomed the guests .
Aarav was sent a special tailor just to make him a dress for the evening’s ball and ceremony. After knowing that he was going to the ball with Reva , the queen had specially brought the costliest cloth in the kingdom just for him.
The tailor was taking his measurements , just by his hands , he said,
“You are quite a lucky boy to go with the Princess to the ball, no doubt the queen admires you.” He said as he was moving his measuring tape all over Aarav’s body.
“Sorry to say , but why all this just for a ball?“Aarav asked him.
“Not any ball , its the royal ball ! Even getting an invitation is close to impossible for even a royal family . So many important persona will be there , boy , you better stay calm . Usually everybody freaks out .Now ...which colour would you like ?” The man asked as he started writing all of his measurements with a quill in thin air.
“Navy blue would look good on you!” Someone said from the door. Aarav turned and saw Megha standing there .
“Alright then , you’re dress will be ready by the afternoon , thankyou.“The tailor said and headed out of the door.
“Hey Megha ! Needed something ?” Aarav asked her .
“Nah..just came to see whether you’re sane . What is it?“She asked looking at tensed face.
“Well ,actually , you see if there’s a ball tonight , then there will be dance , and i’m a shit dancer .So i just wanted to ask whether you can teach me?” He asked her.
“Ofcourse ” Megha said,“...I would hate to see my best friend dancing with a complete idiot.”
Finally after two hours of training , and several hits on the head from Megha , Aarav learnt dance atleast to survive tonight’s ball. He walked down to the hall wearing his light navy blue suit , and saw that almost all of the royal families had arrived . He saw Pranay and Mayank standing near the drinks table. Aarav went near them ,
“Hey guys !”
“Now , here is the celebrity . So ready?“Pranay asked him.
“Yeah, probably.” Aarav saw that both the boys were staring somewhere behind him . He too turned and saw , his mouth dropped looking at them.
Megha , Shiba and Reva were walking down the stairs hand in hand with the queen,
“Guys , is that girl Megha ? i....” Pranay asked still staring at Megha who was wearing a cream coloured dress.
Aarav just couldn’t find the words , he was still not sure whether the girl wearing a dress coloured just like his dress, navy blue , was Reva or someone else.
Damn you Megha , He thought , she had planned for them to wear the same coloured dress.
He felt Reva saw him for a second , and again walked near the stage with the queen. All eyes were watching the girl in the navy blue dress.
Then as if bringing him back from the reverie , someone clapped . It was the queen.
“Ladies and Gentlemen , i Subhadra , the queen of the Mauryan Kingdom , welcome you all to the award ceremony to honour brave soldiers who fought for the kingdom and made this victory possible . Now , i would ask everybody to please take the seats , and the nominees to please sit behind the stage . Enjoy the time .”
Everybody sat on the audience chairs , and Aarav headed backstage , his eyes still glancing at Reva again and again.
He reached the backstage and saw many men , some were missing hands , some were missing legs , some had bandages still on . He recognized none , so he simply sat on the last chair of the row.
One after the other , a woman was calling names , along with squad names , and their respective regiments , and the men were emptying the room , going to the stage .
Finally after thirty minutes , when he was alone in the room , he heard the woman say,
“And now , as for a special award for bravery, i would like to call , Aarav , who is the acting knight of the Mauryan clan , who put his life in danger , and saved the life of Princess Revathi.”
He walked to the stage , and the moment he came into view of everyone , claps erupted from the whole room . He was feeling guilty , because this was all a lie , he never had saved Reva , it was the masked man who had saved her ,or to say saved him from that evil Nakul.
He walked towards the queen , and she beamed at him. She was holding a gold trophy, which was a man holding a shield and sword . The queen handed it over to him and he held it there , as if thinking that someone would click a photo , but then remembered that he wasn’t in the mortal world. He gave a small smile on his foolishness and simply walked down the stage steps . Then he heard the queen say,
“My dear guests , the award ceremony was a success . Now as per the tradition , we have a royal ball to celebrate , and after that, a royal feast . So please , enjoy yourselves!”
Aarav walked over to where , the clan , except Reva who was sitting on the dice with the other guests , were waiting for him . He handed the trophy to Megha and said,
“I feel sad , the masked man should have this...”
“Shut up ! I’ve told you not to speak about him . Anyways , are you ready ?“she asked.
“For what?” He asked her back.
“Dance , you idiot !”
“Oh..yeah , by the way you are looking nice .” He said .
“Glad you noticed , but you shouldn’t say this to me , tell this to Reva , she’s been getting ready for the dance from dawn.” She said .
“Okay, but who are you going to dance with?“He asked her.
“Me ofcourse , isn’t it?” Pranay asked beaming with joy.
Megha blushed and said ,“Well , actually ...no. I’m going with Mayank ”
“You’re late my friend , Better luck next time!” Mayank said and hand in hand walked away with Megha to the dance floor.
“I have an idea , why don’t you go with Shiba ?” Aarav asked him.“Or even better , go with the doctor woman , she’s a match for you.”
“Get lost asshole ! Go to your girl and dance , she’s right behind you” Pranay said and turned towards the drinks table.
Aarav felt a hand on his shoulder , he turned and saw , Reva , who was looking at the floor with a bent head .
“Oh...hey, Reva ...so ...”
She looked up , and no doubt she was the centre of attention today . She was a completely different girl today .She was looking gorgeous . Aarav unknowingly was staring at her face .
She had made her hair in an unusual way , and somehow they looked long , and rather more curvier than usual .
“You're staring..“She said with red cheeks.
“What? Oh...sorry. Its just...you’re looking beautiful ...So shall we go?”
She blushed and nodded . Aarav took her hand and walked towards the stage . Nobody was caring to look at anyone , everyone was busy with their own dance , laughing , blushing and giggling.
They started dancing slowly on the rhythm . Aarav was failing miserably , not because he was the worst dance partner anyone could ever get , because he couldn’t concentrate . All the time he was just looking at Reva’s face.
“You don’t know how to dance do you?“Reva asked him.
“What? Well , actually i do , but...” Aarav said, ” I’m just...So you really were getting ready from the morning ?”
“Yeah..i’m the princess after all, i represent the Mauryans pride”
“Reva...i just wanted to ...you know...thank you for taking care of me .” He just wasn’t getting the rhythm . He was even more troubled right now , never had he felt so weird around Reva .
But why now? He thought. He was looking at her thin and gentle lips .
“I told you there isn’t a need , i did it because my stubbornness was what caused all this. I actually should be thanking you , you saved me from kissing that creep Raaka.”
“Yeah...about that, what about me? I won right?”
“What do you mean ? Do you...” she understood what he was saying . She was looking at his lips too. “I’d be honoured to reward you....” She moved closer and so did he . Aarav and Reva stopped dancing and were slowly moving towards each other . Their faces were inches apart.
Aarav slightly tilted his head , he was looking in Reva’s eyes .
Such beautiful eyes . Why didn’t i ever notice ?He thought .
They were only a few centimetres apart now. Reva closed her eyes , and the moment she felt his breath , and a slight touch of his lips ....