CHAPTER-1

 “SOMETHING IS GOING TO SAVE ME”


   “I am not sure what we are about to do is ethical, but we are doing it in the best interest of our nation".
   
    "Yes, of course. I hope you understood the difficulty and seriousness of this task Chadura".
    
   In the midst of the conversation, Someone knocked on the door. They paused. Chaduran stepped towards the door. Steadied himself and slowly Opened the door. It was Chaduran's Gaurd, waiting at the other side."Sorry to interrupt Lord Chaduran, I came here to inform that All preparations are made for Velvichan's sail towards the Chola Empire. All passengers, assistants and crew members are awaiting his arrival. Chaduran turned back, Velvichan looked straight into his eyes. Velvichan's look re-emphasized the seriousness of the task they were up to. Chaduran gently nodded as a symbol of acceptance. Velvichan strode out and swiftly mounted on his horse. Velvichan said, "Chaduran, In the right time, at the right place, we shall meet", turned his horse and started riding towards the Muthur Harbor.

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    The Market area at Muthur is one of the busiest places in the country. Muthur is a Harbour city and hosts People of all kinds in its vast rich lands. Traders trade everything from precious gems to little toys, but the Pearl trade is the most prominent, and hence the city was named 'Muthur' - The Pearl City. Velvichan arrived at Muthur by the end of the day. He entered the streets of the Muthur market and was instantly taken aback. As an ardent admirer of beauty, the scene could never have missed his attention. Pearls! Pearls! Pearls! everywhere. He even felt that the constellations were less admirable when compared to those pearls shining under the full moon's light. Velvichan exclaimed, "What an admirable city, especially the Pandiyan Pearls!"."They are indeed. As a very renowned trader, you might have come across lots of these precious gems, but I am little surprised on your reaction seeing these pearls" said a voice from behind. Velvichan looked at the direction of the voice, it was Magilan, a merchant from the Chola Empire.
         
    Magilan was also set to join Velvichan in the sail. They shared smiles, embraced each other and started moving towards the Harbor. A small boat was ready, waiting for them at the shore. As soon as they hopped on, the assistant started paddling the boat across the sea. The Boat headed towards a mammoth floating structure at the center of the turquoise blue sea. As the boat came closer and closer to the floating structure, Magilan was able to see it more clearly. It was the ship they were about to sail in. It looked grand and humongous in size, even the fleets of other countries looked very smaller comparing to Velvichan's ship. The ship already housed over 800 crew members. The crew directed the mainsail and the foresail and assisted in essential activities to keep the ship afloat. Magilan recognized the 'Lion sign' engraved on the flag that was dancing to the harmonies of the winds atop the ship. Lion Sign meant that it belonged to a merchant. Velvichan used to sail in gigantic ships to trade valuable products across the globe.  Velvicahan is a wealthy merchant, and this ship is one among the four similar ships that Velvichan owned. Each ship was meant to sail towards different ports, Kabadapuram in South, Viksharnapatinam, and Kaveripoompatinam in North, Korkai in the west and Islands in the east. On the sides of the ship, engraved a phrase 'Senthuraan Thunai', meaning 'Lord Senthuran will guard us'. Velvichan's lineage was the only merchant dynasty which had the freedom to do trade with all countries in the Kumari Ocean, with their lion flag waving on top of their ship.  Magilan and velvichan boarded the ship. Velvichan ordered his captain, and the ship headed north.

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At the other end, Chaduran was preparing for his journey. Along with pearl chariots and 350 soldiers, Chaduran was traveling from Virisadai Pandiyan empire towards north across Mehru mountain to reach  Shaktharam. The kingdom Shaktharam’s border starts from the city Aayuda. The emperor of this kingdom was King Shaktharan. It was a vast kingdom. To be clear and exact it was in the center of Chera, Chola and Pandiyan empire. Still, the king Shaktharan ruled Shaktharam under the Pandiyan kingdom. This kingdom had equal wealth compared to Chera, Chola and Pandiyan possessed, as well as equal military forces. It was the reason for the pride of king Shaktharan for his confidence to defeat any military forces. All forms of arts including martial arts were very famous, hence the number of schools in the kingdom were many in number. People from the various countries came to Shaktharam to study in these schools. That’s why this country was also called “Country of Wisdom”. Also, the people from other countries were amazed to see the architecture of the buildings as these were built by the finest architects of the country. The roads were long and straight in the capital Shaktharam. These long straight roads were connected in the center as like the rims of a wheel. The center circle in which the roads where connected was guarded by the fort. The fort had three layers of protection and four directional forces to ensure the protection in all the directions. The palace of king Shakhtaran was located in the center of this wheel. He was ruling the country wisely and the people of the kingdom were living peacefully. Chaduran’s pearl chariot entered the roads of the city Shaktharam. Chaduran sneaked on the people walking in the streets. It was a very beautiful sight to see those charming good looking girls, dressed very pretty in sarees and half sarees. Each and every girl had a bright face denoting a festive mood. The streets were beautifully decorated and wonderful kolam (designs are done using rice power in front of each south Indian houses) were designed in front of each house. After enjoying the beauty, chaduran drove his chariot along with his crew and reached the palace.

Inside the palace, two giant doors opened. It was a wide and large hall where other kingdom’s Kings, Prince and other important persons from all over the kingdom were seated. When Chaduran entered the hall, he was amazed to see such a scene. Unconsciously one of his eyebrows raised in relation to the scene what Chaduran saw, but suddenly chaduran managed to lower his eyebrow controlling his amusement in his own style. It was the place of Suyamwaram for Shaktharan’s daughter Ilammanju. Directly Opposite to the entrance of the hall, a good kingly male figure was seated with a good looking lady to the left of him. This clearly denoted that it was king Shaktharan and the lady was the queen. It was like Shaktharan was sitting exactly at the center of the city balancing his county. Above the entrance, a balcony was located. Chaduran was younger compared to all the people who were in the hall. When Shaktharan saw Chaduran entering the hall, he placed his elbow on his knee, lowered his head in a position where his hand was touching his chin and spoke something softly to his minister. Minister raised his voice and asked, “Are you sure, that you came to the right place?”.

 “ A kingdom which is flourished in the lap of river vaigai, which is also equivalent to the three major kingdoms and the ruler of this majestic kingdom is King Shaktharan. It was already instructed to me that the majestic king Saktharan is none other than yourself” said chaduran noticing the smile which appeared on the face of Shaktharan. “ An Empire which has a dedicated city for pearls known as Muthur. An Empire with five military forces along with animal forces which makes other forces shatter into pieces. An Empire which formed two Tamil Sangam's with Agasthiyar and other poets as the head. An Empire with a single king ruling 49 countries and the descendants of this majestic dynasty Kadamba Pandiyan who is currently ruling the kingdom. I hope you people who are present here know him and his grandson Yuvan II. By the order of my king and with respect to the invitation of yours, I am here representing my Prince Yuvan II” introduced Chaduran and raised a blue flag with fish symbolized in the center. By the time when Chaduran finished his introduction, people in the hall started murmuring. Chaduran was welcomed and was given a place in the hall among the prince. But it was almost near to the throne of the king, which was in a raised platform. After a while, Chaduran’s eyes fell over the balcony. A girl who was more beautiful than a flower, being targeted by the bees and birds to get honey out of it was sitting. She was decorated beautifully with flowers on her hair. Chaduran confirmed that she was princess Ilammanju on his first sight. The people who came for suyamvaram were in the urge to see her beauty but her thoughts were lost somewhere deeply. As like the moon shines in the water of a pond, her face reflected that she was not interested in this suyamvaram. But her intuition said, “ Something is going to save me”.  
(Corrections By Lakshman Meiyappan and Shroy)
         

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