Vajrabahu was seated in his chamber, which was dimly lit by a single lamp. Before him, was seated, his favourite pupil. The pupil who sacrificed his claim for the post of the commander with a smile. After a long silence, Vajrabahu spoke.
"My Lad, your wound pains me more than my disability. Your sacrifice has humbled me Vikram. Do you bear any had feelings towards me my boy? " He asked slowly touching Vikram's head with a love of a father.
Vikram looked up at him with an assuring smile. "Venerable master, my destiny has been partial to me by bestowing upon me, the care of His Majesty and tutelage under your gracious self." Folding his hands into salutation, he continued, "If this great teacher of mine commands me, is it not my good fortune to follow the same? I bear you no ill will Lord, I am happy that I could make you happy."
Vajrabahu sighed. "My destiny has been partial to me in giving me a pupil like you Vikram. I did not seek your sacrifice because Veerabahu is my nephew. The boy, losing his parents at an early age has come under my care. He grew up with anger in his heart against this world. I gave him all the love I could to heal him of the wound. But I could always see that manifesting whenever he faced you Vikram."
Vikram listened in silence.
Vajrabahu continued. " I know very well that you are a superior swordsman between the two. But, Veerabahu is still to mature enough to take a defeat sportively. Every defeat of his in those mock duels with you, only increased his ill feeling towards you. If you are made the commander, I feared there would be factions within the army and the military strength of our beloved motherland would weaken with internal strifes. I wanted to prevent all that. Now, with newer responsibilities on his shoulders, I am hopeful that he will realize his immaturity soon. And Vikram, I cannot thank you enough for what you have done today."
"Don't thank me, Venerable Sir. I hope and pray that your wish comes true. I shall be happier than you if Veerabahu's jealousy ends today with this victory of his. I am moved beyonf measure as you acknowledge me your best disciple. I cannot ask for more." Vikram's cheerful reply relieved Vajrabahu of his guilt.
Vajrabahu took the bandaged palm of Vikram into his hand. "Forgive him for this my boy. May the Lord Narayana be with you!"
"Do not worry yourself Lord. " Replied Vikram touching the feet of his teacher before he took leave.
Vajrabahu gazed at the departing figure of Vikram. He could not help the pang of guilt again. "Oh God of Gods! Dont make his sacrifice go waste. Please bestow maturity and responsibility on my Veerabahu."
Vikram left the chambers of Vajrabahu with a light feeling. His steps came to a sudden halt at being accosted by the one whom he would have least expected.
"Your Majesty!" Vikram bowed low. His heart beat fast partly in shock and partly in concern about whether the King overheard his conversation with Vajrabahu.
"Live a Long life of Glory Vikram" Dharmasena replied. He smiled at the efforts of Vikram to escape his gaze. "What is this Vikram? Why din't you wait to see me after the duel? Why did you rush out without staying for the ceremony? Is my Vikram falling a prey to envy? No, I meant you are not used to losing much are you?"
Vikram felt increasingly uncomfortable. "My King. I am afraid I have let you down. Forgive me for rushing out of the arena without meeting you. Yes, you're right my Lord. I am not used to losing. I needed time to digest that defeat. But I am alright now. I bear no envy towards the victor."
Dharmasena lifted the chin of Vikram with his palm to face him. "Vikram, I brought you up like a son. And I know you very well. You can't lie to me. Tell me the truth if you have any respect for me."
"My Lord!" Exclaimed Vikram, at a loss about what to reply. "Believe me Lord, I never in my wildest dreams can think of being untrue to you. Believe me!"
The king softened and stopped Vikram from falling at his feet. "Vikram, Don't look so pained my boy. " He smiled and led the boy towards his chamber. "Son, Do you believe I could not see through what happened today in the duel?"
Vikram did not reply for sometime. Then he saw the need to let the King know of what went between him and Vajrabahu. "Your Majesty, " He spoke in a low tone. "Forgive me for hiding the truth from you Lord. I never meant to do so. But when venerable Vajrabahu who always thinks for the welfare of Anagha wished that Veerabahu become the commander, I considered it my duty to fulfill his wishes.
The king spoke after a moment of contemplation. " I overheard what you spoke to Vajrabahu. Vikram, I do trust the judgement of Vajrabahu. Veerabahu does show a great promise. He was also right in considering various other aspects for a position. When we consider the plain skills, Vikram, you were suitable for the post without any doubt. But when Vajrabahu had other thoughts, he should have spoken out to me and we would not have had those tiring duels."
Vikram had to disagree. "My King, the people and the army did have the right to see how skilled and capable their new commander would be. The longer a duel goes on, it gives them a feeling of greater security for they have two warriors to stand by them when faced with a crisis. It was right of Venerable Vajrabahu to conduct this duel."
Dharmasena had to agree on this. He carefully gazed the expression of Vikram, "Are you disappointed in any way that you had to give up your claim this way?"
Vikram spoke in a composed and a much cheerful mood. "My King, If Venerable Vajrabahu who knows the soldiers well, felt that there was a danger of a split in the army in case I become the commander, we should have done everything to avoid the same. Do you think I would be disappointed to give up a claim for the good of Anagha? "
"No, you won't be." Dharmasena broke into a small laugh. "The most disappointed person in this city seems to be your student. Hope you are well prepared to convince her."