The Kingdom of Ushka.
The yellow heat bounced off the Imperial palace, highlighting the intricate artwork and decorative letters that were inscribed into its stone walls. The grand architect, Tebayug Lajaar, had recorded the number of days it had taken for the artists to complete the painting work – a thousand and one days to be exact. On a day when the sky was blue and the clouds were pleasant puffs of cotton, the artwork would enchant the most rigid delegates of kingdoms near and far. There would be a smile on their face when they walked into the royal courtroom. Any issue would be settled amicably.
But this day was different.
This day was enveloped with dust and smoke.
Armored war-elephants were being summoned to the gates for their drill. Grave faced soldiers were cleaning their weapons and armor with intent. Ushka’s army was being readied for an uncanny battle where the Gods and kings of Bharata were going to fight side by side.
Inside one of the towers of the palace stood Princess Draupadi. She watched the elephants, six hundred of them, reflect the shine of the sun as they slowly marched past the palace in unison.
“Gathiveer is here.” spoke her trusted maid.
Draupadi’s eyes were still following the elephants. She nodded gently.
“Your royal highness, may the Gods gift your arms with the power to strike swiftly,” Gathiveer’s voice greeted. It was a little hoarse; his journey had been a long one.
“Did you meet him?” Draupadi asked without turning around, her eyes focused.
“Yes, your royal highness.”
Draupadi parted her lips to ask the next question, but could not find the right words.
“He is no longer the man who had escaped Ushka under the cover of the night,” he said.
“Yes,” Draupadi spoke in a low yet firm voice, without emotion. “They call him a mad man now. A soldier who has freed himself from the conduct of warfare…”
“I agree his capacity for violence has become unfathomable. But only such a man can unite Bharata against the Hayacree. The enemy does not believe in mercy and Arjuna…well..he follows no rules when it comes to winning. Who better than him to lead us in this war?”