Radhagupta saw Ashoka standing at the same place where siyamak jerked him off. Ashoka’s gaze turned towards his right where rajkumari ahankara was standing with her younger brother. Radhagupta knows about ahankara’s feelings for Ashoka & thought it would be good if Ashoka too reciprocate it.
INSIDE OF PALACE
Radhagupta left from there & was roaming in a corridor where Rajmata Helena came out of Siyamak’s Chamber.
Radhagupta(Loudly) : Rajmata
Helena turned & saw Radhagupta who moved towards her.
Radhagupta : Any particular reason for this much concern for Rajkumar Siayamak ?
Helena : What do you mean by that Acharya ? He is my Grandson I would offcourse be concerned.
Radhagupta : This concern wasn’t being shown for Rajkumar Ashoka or any other Rajkumar. I think there is some particular reason for this.
Helena(Tensed) : There is no particular reason for this Acharya. You are thinking too much.
Rajmata left saying this.
Radhagupta(Monologue): There is a particular reason & I have a certain doubt I will obviously confirm it.
IN ANOTHER CORRIDOR
The guards bowed as two people walked by.
Rajkumar Ashok was walking with Rajkumari Ahankara carrying her brother Rudra in his arms. Ashok gave a curt nod to the guards who then resumed their patrolling.
Ashok looked into the curious eyes of the little boy who was pulling his chain. The boy looked up at Ashok and started smiling. His face was so innocent. So precious. So full of life. Ashok returned the smile and thought to himself, this is how his Ma must feel like when she looks at him.
Reasons for smiling was hard to come by for Ashok these days. In such a short time he lost two very important people in his lives. Acharya Akramak. And Acharya Chanakya. He had also lost the trust of his younger brother who has been such a good friend ever since he came here. Ashok’s smile faded. He felt a soft hand touch his shoulder. He turned to see Ahankara looking at him intently. Ashok forced a smile. Ahankara did the same. They said nothing and continued walking.
Ashok knew that his pain was nothing compared to what Ahankara went through the past few months. Ashok felt like hitting himself. How could he be so blind to Sushim’s cruelty? He is the same person that used to toy with little children for fun. He is the same person that tried to kill him. Not once. Not twice. But repeatedly ever since he came to Patliputra.
Ashok tried to honor his mother’s wishes of trying to get along with his brother. But he should have known better. His mother didn’t know the truth. And there was a part of Ashok that suspected that Sushim had a hand in killing Chanakya. As unreasonable as it was, Ashok couldn’t shake that feeling.
Speak of the rakshas and he arrives. Ashok thought to himself as his elder brother sauntered into view.
Sushim: So tuchprani is a babysitter now.
Ashoka(Mocking): what are you talking bhrata I have always been the baby sitter I have been baby sitting your tantrums all this while.
Sushim scowled darkly.
Sushim : Listen tuchprani have as much fun as you want because you are not returning from takshila & you (turning to Ahankara) wait till I become samrat.
Saying this he left from there.
The two walked towards Ahankara’s Chamber.
After Ashoka helped Ahankara put her brother to sleep, Ishwari came in to tell him that Radhagupt was calling for him.
Ashoka : I am coming.
Ishwari nodded & left.
Ahankara: Ashoka you are leaving for takshila.
Ashoka : yes
Ahankara : Take care of yourself. I know you will succed in liberating Takshila
Ashoka : Dhanyavad.
Ashok turned to leave but paused. He turned towards Ahankara and walked up to her. Ashok could see Ahankara take a sharp intake of breath as he drew closer. A light blush spread across her face. Ashok remembered what Ahankara said to him a few weeks ago. Ashok knew well enough what Ahankara felt for him. Many including Ahankara assumed that he reciprocated those feelings. But he didn’t exactly lie to her when she visited him in prison. He considered her as a friend only.
Even so Ashok felt a bit guilty for what he was about to ask of her. He has no doubt that she will do it even if she didn’t want to. For his sake.
Ashoka :Please keep an eye on my Ma. Before Acharya Chanakya died, he said that she still has enemies here in the palace. And they will no doubt try to harm her in my absence.
Ahankara : I will Ashoka don’t worry.
Ashoka left for Radhagupta’s Chamber.
Radhagupt was pacing in his room. Thoughts brewing like a storm his mind. The Taxilla situation was very delicate. If the Mauryan army headed by the Rajkumar, who was also the Maha Yoddha, was defeated, then it will seriously damage the prestige of Magadh. It didn’t matter how old Ashok was. To confound matters even more his Guptchar just informed him that Rakshas Acharya has escaped.
Radhagupt knew this was going to happen eventually. Chanakaya’s death has weakened the spy network. However Radhagupt hoped to avoid that problem for now. Especially since the Taxilla crisis had reared its head.
Acharya Chanakya taught Radhagupt many things. The most important thing was winning when it mattered. And Radhagupt couldn’t let Ashok lose at this crucial juncture.
Ashoka & Abhimanyu both entered the Chamber.
Ashoka : Pranam Acharya.
Abhimanyu : Pranam Acharya.
Radhagupta : Kalyan Namastu.
Radhagupt then turned and sat down on what used to be Acharya Chanakya’s spot. He suppressed his unease.
Radhagupta : Take a seat both of you.
Ashoka & Abhimanyu sat down waited for Radhagupta to speak.
Radhaguupta : Don’t go by Samudri Marg.
Ashoka : Why ?
Radhagupta : It is too risky.I know you are trying to use the elements of stealth and surprise. But trust me. You are leading a large army. There is no stealth and surprise with the method you are pursuing. Samudra Bhraman are always complicated, unpredictable and dangerous. Depends a lot on the weather. And if you are attacked by Yunani mercenaries or even pirates, let’s just say things can turn ugly. The Magadh Army are not good at naval combat.
Abhimanyu : I have a idea for that acharya.
Radhagupta : What is it ?
Abhimanyu : Me & bharata Ashoka will go by sea route only and army will go on land and we will disguise ourselves.
Radhagupta(Impressed): Idea is good but who will lead the army on land.
Ashoka : We will have to find a suitable army chief.
Please comment. I need your support as you all know what happened last time.
Credit to: Abhinav