The Manipulative Queen
Prince Pratap Narayan Chaudhury was shattered because he couldn’t save Rajni at that moment, but he didn’t have time to lament, what was important for him was to save the rest of the students and teachers of the Gurukul. Unknowingly, he became their leader, and led them to the forest where other people of his kingdom were living a wretched life. Among all these people, lived an old man, Rahim Rehman, the ex-Prime Minister of King Shambhu Narayan Chaudhury. After the death of the queen Rahim, resigned from his job, because when the queen died Rahim was fighting a deadly war for the King while returning he learned about the death of the queen. He decided to resign from his job to take care of the princes, give them proper guidance so that they became the ideal ruler of the land. He was against the principles of King Shambhu Narayan, who was obsessed with extending the borders of his kingdom, and hence, was constantly waging wars against other kingdoms.
So, both the princes were brought up by Rahim’s principles and ideals. When Prince Pratap Narayan found Rahim in a poverty-stricken wretched condition, tears were not in his control. He ran towards him and said, “Rahim Chacha what happened to you? Why are you living, such a life?” The old man caressed his hair and said, “It’s not the time to think about one person, son, think about all the people of your land. They need you and your brother, you’re their only hope.”
“Do you know where my brother is?” asked a worried Pratap Narayan. Rahim shook his head and said, “No, but something happened near that river, maybe that river knows.”
Pratap moved near that river and saw that it has become all black; maybe someone or something had poisoned it. There was still a part that had not become black, he moved near that to communicate with the river. The river was waiting for the prince only. When Pratap sat near the river and looked at it he saw an old lady breathing heavily. It was the river only, she said, “Dear prince I also live here, and along with your people you should take care of me as well.” Pratap said, “Of course, I will. Tell me what can I do for you?” The river said, “I have been poisoned. A very little time is left, if you don’t suck out the poison from me I will die.” Pratap Narayan knew to suck out the poison but he can’t just suck it out like that. A drop of poison on the land can destroy the whole land. But, the poison needs to be stored somewhere, and it needs to be stored in a living organism only, else it can create disaster. It’s very old magic, he had read about it in the Gurukul.
Pratap looked at his right-hand thumb. This finger’s nail was bigger than the other nails, yes, it can suck out the poison and his right hand can be the container of poison, but that would infect him with immense pain. But he had no way out, someone of his land is suffering, he had to help. He dipped down the right-hand thumb in the river. Soon, the river started healing and the water started becoming clear and clearer, while Pratap Narayan clutched his dhoti, and clenched his teeth, to bear with the pain. He felt as if someone had put his hand on fire. After a while, the water was crystal clear, but Pratap Narayan’s hand was all burned out, he somehow controlled his tears. To his surprise, the lady of the river is no more an old woman but a young lady, with long, blue hair.
“Oh, Prince! What have you done! You inflicted yourself with eternal pain! You shouldn’t have done that!” The lady almost broke into tears, Pratap Narayan smiled and said, “Don’t worry, except my elder brother Rudra Narayan, no one has much hope from me. Even with all my body parts working perfectly, I am useless to them,” sighed Pratap Narayan, and then again continued, “Do you know what happened to my brother, can you show me?” The lady said, “Yes, I can, look here,” she pointed at a place in the river. As Pratap Narayan fixed his eyes on the spot he saw everything. The queen coming with Satyaban and poisoning the water, his brother crossing the woods, his words and argument with his step-sister Chandreyi, and finally his disappearance, and slowly the blackening of the river.
Pratap, looked up, by that time Rahim had also come by his side, he was shocked to see Pratap’s hand, he said, “What happened to your hand?” Pratap ignored his words and said, “Is the queen not very good Rahim Chacha? Why is my father not in the Kingdom anymore?” Rahim told him everything that had happened in this Kingdom all these years. Pratap Narayan listened to every bit; he was astonished and hurt to hear about the despair of his people.
“What do we do now? King Shambhu Narayan has lost his mind! Our people are living a wretched life and I am helpless!” said the old man with tears. “What’s my age?” Pratap asked out of nowhere, the sudden question gave a shock to Rahim, he said, “What?” Pratap repeated, “How old I am? What’s my age?” Rahim thought for a moment, calculated, and then said, “19 years 7 months, but why do you ask that?” Pratap got excited and said, “You’re sure 7 months?” he asked, Rahim nodded, Pratap excitedly said, “Then I can do this.”
“You can do what?” Rahim looked worried; he sensed Pratap is up to something. Pratap knelt down before him and said, “There’s this old magic, Acharya taught me as a prize for one of my good deeds. He asked me to use it in the correct time; I think he taught that magic to me for this day,” Pratap took a pause when Rahim asked, “What kind of magic it is?” Pratap continued, “Well, this magic allows me to make this simple forest to an enchanted forest. Anyone who enters this forest with the intention to harm the people residing in this forest would either get burned by fire or would be turned into dust by the Earth, sucked by the water, or would get vanished in the air. No, one residing here will be harmed ever, the only hitch was it needs to be performed by someone who’s 19 years 6 months older and I am 19 years 7 months currently, and I can definitely perform this,” Pratap said the last few words excitedly, but Rahim was not that excited. He was old enough to understand Pratap hid some facts, he said, “This is not the only hitch Pratap. I brought you up and your brother, I know both of you more than your father does. Don’t hide anything from me.” Pratap Narayan was by nature emotional at this stage he became more emotional, he hugged the old man with tearful eyes and said, “The one performing the magic will not get any protection, in fact, I can’t even enter the forest only, then the magic will not work.” Rahim caressed his cheeks and said, “Where will you go, son?” Pratap smiled and said, “To my father, with hope. Although I don’t believe he will be able to answer, still I will try,” saying this Pratap looked intently at the old man’s eyes and said, “My brother will return, Prince Rudra Narayan Chaudhury will free this Kingdom from all kinds of tyranny. The Acharya told me about this, everything will be fine, but you will not lose hope until then. The trees, the river, they listen to me they will help you to survive. You just look out for my brother he’s your only savior.”
While Pratap Narayan was in the forests, the queen was there with the king in her bedchamber. The king was irritated because he had to return from his travel, as the queen had sent him an urgent note to return to the kingdom. However, news here was disturbing, his beloved Rudra is missing. Rudra—the valiant warrior, the powerful, the strong, the only rightful heir of this Kingdom. He has no hope from Pratap, he isn’t a good fighter, and he is too emotional to be a King. “What are you thinking, dear?” the queen asked, pretending to be worried. The king said, “I don’t know where to look out for Rudra, you know the neighboring king may have done this, he thought it will affect me and I will kneel down before him. Not at all, I will wage war-” he was interrupted by the sudden arrival of the messenger. “What happened?” asked the queen, the messenger bowed and said, “Prince Pratap Narayan wants to meet you,” both were shocked by this news both asked the messenger to send him immediately. After a moment Pratap Narayan entered their chamber. “What are you doing here, you should be in the Gurukul,” said the king.
“That has been burned down yesterday? Well, I can’t be there anymore?” The queen intrudes at this point, “What! When did this happen? No one informed me, I am so sorry my king, this was not in my knowledge,” saying this, the queen broke down into fake tears. The king came near her and tried to console her when irritated Pratap broke in, “If you’re done with your romance, can we, I mean the father and the son can have a talk?” The queen smiled and looked at the eyes of the king and said, “See, I told you, your sons have not accepted me as a part of this family, but you denied,” said the queen, the king, got angry and said, “Is this the way you talk to your mother, Pratap. I thought you may have at least learned manners at Gurukul, if not some good fighting skills-” Pratap cuts in, “Look father I am not here to discuss our dysfunctional relationship. My brother is missing, the Gurukul has been burned and the people of your land are living a wretched life, these things are much more important now, and we need to discuss and not just discuss but find a solution to these problems now.”
“The people are living a wretched life because they chose it,” said the queen, “I gave them the option to be in my kingdom and live a good life.”
“Your taxes are too high, your majesty, just a roof is not enough for them, they need food in their stomach too. After paying your taxes they don’t have anything left with them to feed their family and children. Hence, people living in the kingdom are always working, they don’t spend time with their family as they want to make sure that they have enough food to pay your taxes and feed their families. You are coming up with new laws each day and none is in the favor of the people living in the kingdom, and those going against it are being locked up in your prison.”
“Pratap, someone has misinformed you, I am just controlling them so that no one dares to go against the king that’s it. People should fear the ruler, only then they will follow the ruler,” said the queen with a sly smile, she knows that this is exactly the principles of the king. The king suddenly became happy with such a comment, “Exactly, Pratap you never understand they should fear you a bit, else they will go out of your control,” said the king excitedly.
“Cool down, dear, here drink this, you will feel better.” She gave the king a glass of drink, a glass of spiked drink, or you can even say a drink with a magical potion. At this moment Satyaban arrives without any news. “Sorry, your majesty I came without any news, but this is important.” The king drank the whole drink, his desire to travel increased, he said, “I don’t want to hear anything, I have already wasted a lot of time. I have to explore so many places, queen please handle this.” Pratap got astonished, “Are you out of your mind father! Your kingdom, your people are more important to you than your travel! Have some sense father!” But the king didn’t listen and the queen parted with Satyaban, however, she returned after a while. “You are under arrest Prince, no sorry, Convict Pratap Narayan Chaudhury!”
“May I know the charges, Your Majesty!”
“Of course, disappearance, or rather, killing, Prince Rudra Narayan Chaudhury!”
“And you have proofs with you, Your Majesty!”
“I have witnesses. Prime Minister Satyaban and Finance Minister Tej Bahadur saw you enchanting the forest last to last night, which means a day before Rudra Narayan’s disappearance. Knowing the fact that you’re capable of doing magic, you became the prime suspect behind the prince’s disappearance.”
“You know this is a lie, don’t you, Your Majesty,” said Pratap with a smile. The queen moved forward to the prince, and whispered, “Yes, I know that dear, but this is sufficient enough to convince the people, and especially, your father. The people don’t question my logic and your father doesn’t think only. He just believes me and no one else” saying this queen moved backward and ordered her men to arrest the prince.
That day the prince was beaten publicly, in front of all the people of his kingdom, and interestingly the order was given by the king. He was convinced by the queen’s logic, and because he had more affection towards his elder son he was furious hearing the logic that Pratap did the whole thing to be the next king of this kingdom. Everyone in the kingdom knew the prince was innocent but none said a word.
That night the prince cried a lot, not because he was bleeding, not because his right hand was paining but because he was missing his brother. He remembered those days when his brother used to caress his hair whole night when he was upset to console him; when he used to play his flute to him so that he sleeps quickly, as he doesn’t had a mother to sing a lullaby for him. He remembered the last hug of his brother, he was all alone now, he needs him desperately, but more than him, the people in the kingdom need him. They need Prince Rudra Narayan Chaudhury.
to be continued…