The Immortals Siva

She Enters His Life


left, around the fountain at the centre of the courtyard. It had then taken a

sharp right turn past the shepherd standing at the entrance of the garden.

But where were this shepherds sheep?

Shiva continued to look down the path that the chariot had taken to the

parking lot. Next to the chariot stood another man who had just walked into

the temple complex, but had inexplicably not entered the temple itself. He

turned to the shepherd and appeared to nod slightly. Before Shiva could

piece together the information from his observation, he felt her presence

once again. He turned immediately to see her walking down the steps, with

Krittika silently behind. On still finding this rude, caste-unmarked,

obviously foreign man staring at her, she walked up to him and asked in a

firm but polite voice, Excuse me, is there a problem?

No. No. Theres no problem. But I feel that Ive seen you somewhere

before, replied a flustered Shiva.

The lady was not sure how to respond to this. It was obviously a lie but the

voice was sincere. Before she could react, Krittika cut in rudely. Is that the

best line you can come up with?

As Shiva was about to retort, he was alerted by a quick movement from

the cucumber seller. Shiva turned to see him pulling out a sword as he

tossed his shawl aside. The shepherd and the man next to the chariot also

stood poised in traditional fighter positions with their swords drawn. In a

flash Shiva drew his sword and stretched out his left hand protectively, to

pull the object of his fascination behind him. She however deftly side-

stepped his protective hand, reached into the folds of her angvastram and drew out her own sword. Surprised, Shiva flashed her a quick, admiring

smile. Her eyes flashed right back, acknowledging the unexpected yet

providential partnership.

She whispered under her breath to Krittika, Run back into the temple.

Stay there till this is over.

Krittika protested. But my lady…

NOW! she ordered.

Krittika turned and ran up the temple steps. Shiva and the lady stood back

to back in a standard defensive-partner position, covering all the directions

of any possible attack. The three attackers charged in. Two more jumped in

from behind the trees. Shiva raised his sword defensively just as the

shepherd came up close. Feigning a sideward movement to draw the

shepherd into an aggressive attack, Shiva dropped his sword low. He hoped

to tempt him to move in for a kill wound and in response, he would have

quickly raised his sword and dug it deep into the shepherds heart.

The shepherd, however, moved unexpectedly. Instead of taking advantage

of Shivas opening, he tried to strike Shivas shoulder. Shiva quickly raised

his right arm and swung viciously, inflicting a deep wound across the

shepherds torso. As the shepherd fell back, another attacker moved in from

the right. He swung from a distance. Not too smart a move, as it would

merely have inflicted a surface nick. Shiva stepped back to avoid the swing

and brought his sword down in a smooth action to dig deep into the

attackers thigh. Screaming in agony, this attacker too fell back. As yet

another attacker joined in from the left, Shiva began to realise that this was

indeed a very strange assault.

The attackers seemed to know what they were doing. They seemed like

accomplished warriors. But they also seemed to be in a bizarre dance of

avoidance. They did not appear to want to kill but merely injure. It was due

to their circumspection that they were being beaten back easily. Shiva

parried another attack from the left and pushed his sword viciously into the

mans shoulder. The man screamed in pain as Shiva pushed him off the

blade with his left hand. Slowly, but surely, the attackers were being worn

out. They were suffering too many injuries to seriously carry on the assault

for long.

Suddenly a giant of a man ran in from behind the trees carrying swords in

both hands. The man was cloaked in a black hooded robe from head to toe

while his face was hidden behind a mask. The only visible parts of his body

were his large impassive almond-shaped eyes and strong fleshy hands. He

charged upon Shiva and the lady as he barked an order to his men. He was

too large to battle with agility. But his slow pace was compensated by his

unusually skilled arms. Shiva perceived from the corner of his eye that the

other attackers were picking up the injured and withdrawing. The hooded

figure was performing a brilliant rearguard action as his men retreated.

Shiva realised that the mans hood would impair his peripheral vision.

Here was a weakness that could be exploited. Moving to the left, Shiva

swung ferociously, hoping to peg him back so that the lady could finish the

job from the other side. But his opponent was up to the challenge. As he

stepped slightly back, he deflected Shivas swing with a deft move of his

right hand. Shiva noticed a leather band on the hooded figures right wrist.

It had a sharp symbol on it. Shiva swung his sword back but the hooded

figure moved aside effortlessly. He pushed back a brutal flanking attack

from the lady with his left hand. He was keeping just enough distance from

Shiva and the lady to defend himself while at the same time keeping them

engaged in combat.

All of a sudden the hooded figure disengaged from the battle and stepped

back. Even as he retreated, his swords continued to point menacingly at

Shiva and the lady. His men had disappeared into the trees. On reaching a

safe distance, he turned around and ran after his men. Shiva considered

chasing him but almost immediately decided against it. He might just rush

into an ambush.

Shiva turned to the lady warrior and inquired, Are you alright?

Yes I am, she nodded before asking with a sombre expression. Are you


Nothing serious. Ill survive! he grinned.

In the meantime, Krittika came running down the temple steps and asked

breathlessly, My lady. Are you alright?

Yes I am, she answered. Thanks to this foreigner here.

Krittika turned to Shiva and said, Thank you very much. You have helped

a very important woman.

Shiva did not seem to be listening though. He continued to stare at

Krittikas mistress as if he were possessed. Krittika struggled to conceal a


The noble woman averted her eyes in embarrassment, but said politely, I

am sorry, but I am quite sure that we have not met earlier.

No its not that, said a smiling Shiva. Its just that in our society, women

don fight. You don wield your sword too badly for a woman.

O hell! That came out all wrong.

Excuse me? she said, a slightly belligerent tone creeping into her voice,

clearly upset about the for-a-woman remark. You don fight too badly

either for a barbarian.

Not too badly?! Im an exceptional sword fighter! Do you want to try


O bloody hell! What am I saying? Im not going to impress her like this!

Her expression resumed its detached, supercilious look once again. I have

no interest in duelling with you, foreigner.

No. No. Don get me wrong. I don want to duel with you. I just wanted

to tell you that I am quite good at sword-fighting. I am good at other things

as well. And it came out all wrong. I rather like the fact that you fought for

yourself. You are a very good swordsman. I mean a swordswoman. In fact,

you are quite a woman…, bumbled Shiva, losing the filter of judgement,

exactly at the time when he needed it the most.

Krittika, with her head bowed, smiled at the increasingly appealing


Her mistress, on the other hand, wanted to chastise the foreigner for his

highly inappropriate words. But he had saved her life. She was bound by

the Meluhan code of conduct. Thank you for your help, foreigner. I owe

you my life and you will not find me ungrateful. If you ever need my help,

do call on me.

Can I call on you even if I don need your help?

Shit! What am I saying?!

She glared at the caste-unmarked foreigner who clearly did not know his

place. With superhuman effort, she controlled herself, nodded politely and

said, Namaste.

With that, the aristocratic woman turned around to leave. Krittika

continued to stare at Shiva with admiring eyes. However, on seeing her

mistress leaving, she too turned around hurriedly and followed.

At least tell me your name, said Shiva, walking to keep pace with her.

She turned around, staring even more gravely at Shiva.

Look, how will I find you if I need your help? asked Shiva sincerely.

Momentarily disarmed, she remained silent. The request seemed

reasonable. She turned towards Krittika and nodded. You can find us at Devagiri, answered Krittika. Ask anyone in the city

for Lady Sati.

Sati…, said Shiva, letting the ethereal name roll over his tongue. My

name is Shiva.

Namaste, Shiva. And I promise you, I will honour my word if you ever

need my help, said Sati as she turned and climbed into her chariot,

followed by Krittika.

Expertly turning the chariot, Sati urged her horses into a smooth trot.

Without a backward look she sped away from the temple. Shiva kept staring

at the fast disappearing profile of the chariot. Once it was gone, he

continued to stare at the dust with intense jealousy. It had been fortunate

enough to have touched her.

I think Im going to like this country.

For the first time in the journey, Shiva actually looked forward to reaching

the capital city of the Meluhans. He smiled and started towards the rest


Have to get to Devagiri quickly.

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