(Sivapalan is ready for revenge. This is a continuation from the earlier bit of my novella.)
“I distinctly heard it! No, Kush, get away from me, go…over there!” hissed Sivapalan silently. The ambalama, which had once sheltered pilgrims on the way to the holy site of Nagadipa in the northern peninsula, had now become a killing field of the most brutal kind. Thankfully, the two had reached the place, after getting almost completely soaked to the skin. Kush sneezed again, bellowing the foul contents of his lungs out into the wet soil as he pushed away from Sivapalan.
They had been on a small slope, sheltered by some kumbuk trees and long grasses, some yards away from the rest house. They’d been battling sleep, keeping watch until something actually happened.
Kush, for one, gritted his teeth as he tried to fight the empty rumble in his belly, all the while trying to stay away the obviously anguished Sivapalan.
“Look, maybe we followed a false trail,” he told his companion over the drumming of the rain against their backs, “So we should ideally go back up north, back to Rajarata.”
“Nonsense, that was my father, I know it was! And those men! If anything’s happened, I…keep an eye out for that lot, I’m going in!”
Sivapalan saw, through his rain-filled eyes, the figure of the killer, and the Sinhalese warrior Sena, leaving with his remaining patrol members. He had overheard all of them.
So these people thought that the Chola forces were too hard to take down, did they? He could barely suppress his smile, but quickly, his mind moved back into reality.
Sivapalan ran stealthily down to the rest house, keeping to the kumbuk grove. However, he was surprised at how easily his feet gave way beneath the wet earth.
He shouted in surprise.
Kush got up with a start too, and quickly ran down the wet, grassy slope to see what’d happened.
An old hole, probably a shallow old grave that was buried under some very loose soil. His weight pushed the sodden earth down as his feet touched the bottom, and muddy little waterfalls came down, wetting his toes and forming little channels that ran and swirled round his feet. Seeing his companion, however, he cursed silently. He also noticed that it was as dark as midnight, for the cloud cover had increased almost exponentially. Rain was beginning to get into his kilt, making it stick to his body. In fact, maybe that patrol and the assassin had been alerted as well. No! But they were! They’d stopped moving, and Sena’s horse was twitching.
Vikrama, the killer, was stalking the area as Kush crouched down low to the ground, trying to conceal himself as well as he could. He kept his body firmly stuck to the ground, crawling on his elbows and knees, observing the young Vikrama from below. The young assassin’s cloak was wrapped tightly around him, and he clutched it closely as he walked.
“What’s going on there?” hissed one of the soldiers, guiding his horse slowly towards the boy.
“I can’t say for sure,” answered the assassin, “but whatever’s out there”-he drew his vicious knife-“I’m ready for it, no doubt about that. But I wish we had some dogs here!” He slowly trudged over to where Kush had hidden himself, and stood for a moment. The soldier cantered off with small steps.
For an instant, he was still, soaking up the night air. The moon broke through the grey clouds with faint, cold streaks of light, lighting up the boy like he was some lean, strong guardian ghost, and ready to spring upon the first trespasser to cross his path.
Kush could sense his footsteps getting closer….
He looked at the sky and cursed silently, then drew his own dagger, a heavy blade that could kill very quickly and easily. He also writhed around a bit to warm up and stretch his cramped legs.
Vikrama was coming…
Kush was ready, dagger in hand…
The silent killer’s footsteps were like thunder to him now, as he crossed over…