Vardhini was a little amused. The urgent bird courier from her sister had thrown her off. Simple, little Arthini, always thinking that she could rule the world with her pretty words. Her naïveté amused Vardhini. All words and no guts. She glanced at her husband Someshwar, and felt her face harden slightly. She had found love, and lost respect in the eyes of society. Arthini had found respect, and lost out on love.
She knew why Arthini wanted her help. They both had lost out on opportunities, but together…they were infalliable together. She would do whatever it took to give her luckless sister some happiness.
“Somu” she called quietly, folding the message and throwing it into the fire, “What are you thinking about?”
“I’m thinking of how good it would be to shift our capital north of Indraprastha”
“Why?” asked a horrified Vardhini.
“Well…I come from there.” Someshwar glanced at her, “And it’s a good vantage point against invaders from the Khyber.”
“So let’s let the border kingdoms take care of it. Why should we bother?”
“Because if it allows invaders…it could also allow us to go out.”
“Where do you want to go?” she looked visibly affected.
“I’ve been thinking of Arthini lately…”
“What? What the hell?”
“No wait, hear me out. He…he came from there, didn’t he?”
Vardhini stopped breathing. “No…” she whispered.
Someshwar knew that this was an especially touchy topic for the family. He went back to poring over army reports compiled by his General. There was strife along the Vihara border; nothing a bird courier to Arthini won’t solve. The border kingdoms and Sakas were fighting off those Central Asian invaders again. And…Someshwar looked up in horror towards Vardhini, who sat still as a stone.
“Bactria…” he mumbled.
“What?” her voice was inaudible.
“The Bactrians are raising an army for war…”
Horror seeped into Vardhini’s eyes.
“Oh my Lord…”
“He’s coming…he’s coming for her” Someshwar clutched his head in desperation, “And this time, he’s coming with an army…”