Story 1 - The Loyal Servant
Once upon a time there was a beautiful little country called Pritpradesh. It was full of young and hardworking men and women. Pritpradesh meant the 'country of love', but in addition to the love it also flourished with a river on one side and mountains on the other. The mesmerising scenic beauty was also the natural defence of the country. The people of Pritpradesh were happy and satisfied. Pritpradesh's economy was booming because of the contributions from the remarkable traders. This beautiful country was ruled by a kind, fair and devoted king called Ujjakah, his subjects called him 'Ujjakah the nobel'. King Ujjakah was an honourable and noble man and his kingdom prospered under his rein. King Ujjakah had a fleet of servants to take care of the day to day activities of the palace. He was fond of one particular servant called Kishan. Ujjakah and Kishan were roughly the same age and they grew up together. Kishan was the son of the personal bodyguard of King Ujjakah's father Abhaktaya, the former king of Pritpradesh. Kishan was always kept close to Ujjakah by Abhaktaya. Ujjakah ascended the throne at a young age of 15 when Abhaktaya died in a battle along with Kishan's father Vidheshwar. Kishan volunteered to become Ujjakah's bodyguard, but Ujjakah was against it. His argument was that he didn't want to lose Kishan how Abhaktaya lost Vidheswar, he said he would do that for Kishan if he had to but wouldn't let Kishan die while protecting him. Kishan agreed, after all it was the king's order and he was to serve the king for eternity. Kishan however used his friendship to convince Ujjakah in not giving him a ministerial position as he was too young to comment on administrative issues. Hence Kishan became the royal servant, he was responsible for arranging the king's comfort wherever he would go.
King Ujjakah, now 25 was invited to a wedding of the princess of Budaya, a far away country. It was known as the country of precious gems. The king of Budaya personally came down to Pritpradesh to invite Ujjakah. Ujjakah took it as an opportunity to improve trade relations with far away countries, and decided to honour the invitation. On the way to Budaya, king Ujjakah's fleet had to cross a forest, Mrutyurajvan. Mrutyurajvan - 'Murdering forest'. It was so called because of its notorious tribes living within the forest who killed travellers for intrusion in their land. The king wanted to build a secured path between Pritpradesh and other countries to increase the trade between with those countries beyond Mrutyurajvan. However this trade treaty has been impossible to achieve because of the forest's fear. He believed though he would use the influence that Budaya had over these regions to improve trade relations with them and therefore make the safe way across the forest. After travelling for 3 days King Ujjakah's fleet was resting outside the forest. They had planned to cross the forest the next morning. King Ujjakah's security pleaded him to not go to Budaya as the forest was dangerous, to which Ujjakah replied "If the king of Budaya can come all the way to Pritpradesh and reach back to Budaya safely, I am sure I can too". The security forces vouched to keep the king safe before the start of the journey.
The king's fleet marched forward to enter the forest on the decided time the next day, the forest was indeed dark and looked mysterious. The King's men were constantly on the watch of any suspicious activity. Kishan was sitting on the horse next to the king and looked worried as well. Looking at his friend's worrying face Ujjakah patted on his shoulder and said "Don't worry Kishan, we will be safe. Our security entourage is the best lot of soldiers from our entire army". Kishan gave an approving nod and replied, "Yes my Lord, indeed they are".
"How many times do I have to tell you to call me Ujjakah and not my Lord?"
"I am your servant my Lord, you will always be my Lord"
"I am your servant Kishan"
"What do you mean my Lord?"
"I serve the people of my kingdom, I am their servant. I am the loyal servant to people, I am the Royal Loyal Servant" The king laughed as he said that.
A friendly smile by Kishan assured Ujjakah that deep down Kishan was still his best friend first and a servant later.
A few moments later an entire battalion of half naked men came forward from the trees holding swords. The ratio of the tribal men was 5:1 against the king's men. The king's men were ready for the battle, they weren't going to let their king be captured or killed by these tribes. The leader of the tribe came forward and announced, "We will not harm you, just leave the king with us for few days and he will be sent home after we have gathered what we need from him".
The king not wanting his men to die, shouted in response "My men must be allowed to walk free, whatever you need from me, I promise to provide it if I am to receive a message from Pritpradesh in 3 days that my men reached there safely".
"Very well, who will be your messenger Ujjakah"
Kishan jumped off his horse and said, "I will be, but I need assurance that our king will also be safe till I am back with the message and then I stay here with my king till you have received what you need".
Ujjakah wanted to stop Kishan but he knew Kishan far too well, Kishan was a stubborn man. Ujjakah wanted the tribe to believe that Kishan was just an ordinary loyal servant. Kishan was trained by the best of Ujjakah's army generals and he alone could fight a fleet of 50 people with his sword. Kishan was also an excellent spy and was well aware of the secret communication codes of the Pritpradesh army. Kishan was the only person who the tribe would not suspect of being everything he was. If the king were to leave the forest safely, Kishan was the best warrior he could rely on. The tribal head agreed and asked his son to accompany Kishan on his journey home and back. Kishan acknowledged the smartness of the tribal head in his mind. As the son of a leader he had to be both, a good warrior and an excellent spy. All princes around the world were trained in espionage and the tribe wouldn't have been an exception. Kishan had to be careful, he was however prepared for it.
7 days later Kishan was back with the prince. He bowed down to his king and confirmed that his men were safely back. He said, "Your men are back and the people of the kingdom are told that you are in Budaya and you wish them well". A good king never wishes well to his kingdom, he ensures his kingdom is always well. This was a code to inform the king that the army was ready to attack the forest. The king responded "Thank you Kishan, hope that no message goes to Pritpradesh from Budaya before we are back", he wanted to be back before the army could attack. He had always been against war, he wanted to keep his men safe.
The prince of the tribe briefed his father and confirmed there was no foul play, to which King Ujjakah thought "I pity the poor boy's skills as a spy". The tribal head came forward and said, "Now that your men are safe, will you agree to provide us with what we need?".
"If it's in my powers, I will" the king replied.
"It sure is King Ujjakah, please come with me I would like to show you something"
They went further deep into the forest. Kishan was looking at the sun, he had instructed the army to attack in 4th hour after sunset. According to the sun's position, he calculated they had 8 hours before the attack to get out and avoid any war. It would take them 3 hours to leave the forest, so he had 5 hours to get the king out of there. They reached a place which looked like a worshipping place for the tribals. The tribal head stopped and looked at the king, "We need your fingers King Ujjakah".
Ujjakah was astonished, he enquired "My fingers?"
"It is a ritual, your fingers will be a sacrifice to our God, it will bring us prosperity and peace."
"I refuse to give my fingers"
"We will then have to take it by force my king".
Kishan was watching silently, he knew he had to think fast, he no longer had 5 hours. Kishan saw that there were 7 men around him, escape was nearly impossible as there were many more men in the forest and going anywhere on foot meant they will be captured in moments. He needed horses to ride and swords to fight them. He noticed an opening on the east side. He had heard that the tribals do not stand guard on the east side as they think the direction from where the sun rises is where the souls reside after death.
King Ujjakah meanwhile tried to get out of the situation verbally.
"I will give you treasure, as much as you want" he pleaded.
"We do not desire treasure", the tribal leader shouted, clearly angry.
"I will give you a place to live in my kingdom"
"We are perfectly happy here", he had calmed down the very moment he raised his voice earlier.
"Can I give you anything else apart from my fingers?"
"Well then you leave me no choice", said the king and along with it removed a dagger from his robe which he had managed to hide even after the thorough check by the tribe. He swung the dagger across the neck of the tribal leader and killed him in one swift blow. Kishan watched this and without wasting a single moment took out his dagger and killed the 3 other men surrounding them in close proximity. One of them was the prince. In the blink of an eye this tribe was left without a leader. '4 more to go here and 100s coming in' he thought. The four men saw the body of their dead leader and ran towards Ujjakah and Kishan to kill them. Ujjakah looked at Kishan and said "Please tell me you have a plan".
Kishan replied, "My Lord, you should have thought about it before killing him"
"I knew I couldn't trust you, now let's get out of here"
"Commendable sense of humour my Lord, please run to the east, I will take care of the 4 soldiers"
"Leave them, we will only kill the ones absolutely necessary"
"Yes My Lord"
Kishan and Ujjakah ran towards the east followed by 4 tribal men who were now blowing warning horns. Kishan and Ujjakah had to run a lot faster to get out of the forest safely.
"Do they have bows and arrows?" asked Ujjakah
"I suppose they don't, else they would be showering arrows on u-" Before he could complete the statement an arrow swiftly passed between Ujjakah and Kishan and pierced into the tree.
"Yes they have bows and arrows!" exclaimed Kishan.
"There is no way we can get out"
"There is one", said Kishan. Ujjakah could sense excitement in Kishan's voice.
"What is it?"
Kishan jumped on Ujjakah and they fell on the ground. Kishan signed Ujjakah to crawl in the nearby cave he had spotted. Soon they were inside the cave temporarily safe from the tribe. Kishan told Ujjakah, "If we can stay safe for 7 more hours, the army will attack the forest and we will be rescued". "We do not have 7 hours" replied a worried Ujjakah. Kishan then started disrobing. Ujjakah was confused, he asked "Why are you disrobing, are you hurt somewhere?"
"No, I need your clothes."
"What? Why?" the King was clearly confused.
"The only people in the tribe who knew the real king and me are now dead. The other men, would not notice the difference, you and I are the same size and shape, they will never know that I am not the real king".
"What are you planning to do?"
"I will be the king for them, and you can hide inside the cave while I distract them. Soon the army will attack and save you".
"You will die, I won't let you die" said the king with determination.
"My king, I will be honoured to die for you" replied Kishan proudly.
"Kishan, my friend. You will not die for me" said Ujjakah as he stood up.
"Please understand my Lord, this is the only way" pleaded Kishan
"No it's not. Take care of my kingdom my friend. Be the king I could not become" as he said this, he left the crown jewel in the arms of Kishan. The Crown jewel was a red ruby cut in shape to fit the centre of the king's crown. It was a tradition to replace the ruby with a sapphire on the crown during a king's rein. The ruby was kept with the king at all times and would be presented to the successor of the throne by the ruling king. The one in possession were to become the king after the demise of the ruling king. Usually it was presented by the king to his son, and Kishan was the only person not belonging to the royal lineage in the history of Pritpradesh to have received the crown jewel.
King Ujjakah picked up a dagger in each hand and ran towards the tribe. Kishan stood up and ran after him.
"Kishan, for the sake of our friendship please go back inside, Pritpradesh needs you" shouted Ujjakah.
Kishan went back, sobbing and angry at the order from the King. He let his king die, he let his friend die. He honoured the friendship, but lost his friend. As wowed by Ujjakah, he died saving his friend, his brother Kishan. The tribe was completely obliterated by the army later in the attack, Kishan was saved and returned home. They recovered the body of king Ujjakah, he died an honourable death taking a sword in his chest. The kingdom mourned for 21 days, they built a memorial to remember the bravery, courage and honour of the king.
Kishan was crowned the new king of Pritpradesh. As he sat on the throne, he closed his eyes and remembered his friend. He thought of the time his friend gave him a duty, a duty to serve the people of Pritpradesh. He opened his eyes with a smile on his face, he had just relived the moment when the king said, "I serve the people of my kingdom, I am their servant. I am the loyal servant to people, I am the Royal Loyal Servant". His King gave him the ultimate honour, the honour to be "The Loyal Servant".