"Princess of Anagha, I am sorry that you had to encounter some unpleasantness just after your arrival. " Mitravinda sounded apologetic. She had been accompanied by the princess of Anagha on the chariot. The women attendants followed in another chariot behind. They were escorted by the chariot of Prince Vinda ahead.
"Never mind your Highness." Abhaya tried to assure her.
"Call me sister, Abhaya." Mitravinda tried to warm up herself to Abhaya who smiled back.
"I hope you are alright now Sister Mitravinda." Abhaya spoke after sometime.
Mitravinda seemed as if she was in pain. She tried to fight back tears and looked away when she could not.
"I hope my kind of situation never comes to you, sister. I hope you get to enjoy every moment of your wedding in bliss, with the man who truly owns your heart." Mitravinda spoke after some silence.
Abhaya grew concerned. She had taken a liking for this princess of Avanthi and it pained her to see Mitravinda sad.
"Sister Mitravinda, What pains you? You must be happy and excited about your swayamvara. All princesses are." She tried to console.
"I would have been excited, Abhaya. If the man of my heart had come to the swayamvara. But my revered brother made sure that it is not to happen."
Abhaya was surprised beyond measure, "Why sister? Is not a swayamvara arranged to choose a husband of one's choice? How can your brother act against your happiness? Do your parents not know of this? How can they give their daughter in marriage against her wishes. Have you told them?"
"Shhhhh" shot Mitravinda at Abhaya's raising voice. She then continued. "The man of my heart is none other than the older brother of Lady Subhadra whom you met today afternoon. And he is NOT invited. My brothers are against my choosing him. My father whom I worshipped does not seem to be keen to go against his sons."
Abhaya took sometime to digest it all. "Why? Sister, you're being wronged!"
"Yes I am." replied Mitravinda. "Now I don't see any other way out. I shall kill myself than marry someone else."
Abhaya wondered if her ears were playing tricks on her. She had come to participate in festivities of a swayamvara and the wedding. Her father had remarked that this is an experience she needs to brace herself to face after a couple of years. Now the bride talks of suicide. "No, God of Gods! there has to be a way out!" She thought.
She turned to Mitravinda whose face showed the resolve. "No sister! I can't bear your words! Never think of suicide again. Lord Narayana will show you a way out. Have faith in him."
She could not bear to look at the fallen expression of Mitravinda any longer. "Sister, can I do anything in this world to cheer you up?"
Mitravinda's face now lit up with a new hope. "Yes, why can't you? why did not I think of it before?"
"Tell me sister, I shall do what all I can to help you." Abhaya implored again.
Mitravinda took out a letter she had concealed and passed it on to Abhaya. "Sister, before you retire to your guesthouse tonight, try to pass this letter to Subhadra."
Abhaya was not at all prepared to face such an errand. It was a job that had high stakes. Her father's friendship with the Kingdom of Avanthi would be at stake. But on the other hand, the life of this gentle princess was at stake too.
"Lord Narayana! What shall I do?" She prayed. As the chariots came to the temple venue of Gauri pooja, she numbly took the letter from the hands of the princess of Avanthi and concealed it.
She was helped to alight from the chariot and followed Mitravinda to the temple. As the princess of Avanthi fervently prayed to the Mother Goddess, Abhaya found herself in another kind of turmoil.
"Goddess, Mother of this universe! Give me the strength to overcome these. Let my Father and Kingdom stay protected by your grace. Let this goddess of a princess get married to the man of her heart. Protect everyone Mother!"
Jayanthi noticed the worried expression on the face of her princess and stood by her through out the worship. They noticed how heavily they were guarded from all sides. This was so unlike how it happens at Anagha.
Another look at Mitravinda's fervent expression made Abhaya decide. She would try her best to meet Subhadra and hand over that letter. It was Adharma to force a maiden to marry someone other than who she loved. Her father stood for Dharma. And she in her power shall try her best to prevent any Adharma.
"Those who follow Dharma have nothing to fear". She reminded herself of her father's words. "I shall deliver the letter to Lady Subhadra. I shall do my bit in protecting the future of Princess Mitravinda."
After the worship, she gave the most assuring look she could to the princess of Avanthi who face now glowed with a new hope.
On their way back, Mitravinda held the right hand of Abhaya tightly to show her gratitude. "Be sure you give this letter to Subhadra yourself. I don't trust the maids and men. My brothers have their spies all around. Let them not know of it."
"If they cast trouble in your way, I shall wield my sword and defeat them and take you to your beloved". Abhaya laughed
She could not fathom as to what drew her to the princess of Avanthi so much that she took up the task which would daunt any royal maiden of her age.
As she alighted at the guest house, Jayanthi approached her to lead her in. Abhaya pretended to move to their guest house and stopped as soon as the royal chariots left their view.
"Come with me Jayanthi, we have a task before us."