9. A New Journey.

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It was almost midday by the time the riots settled down with the help of royal soldiers. Arjuna and Chitra came out of their hiding and started walking down the muddy path. Arjuna noticed that Chitra was more than awkward walking beside him, she was trying to maintain distance between them but the muddy path was making her trip and reaching for his support moreover those expressions she has every time she trips was more than adorable. Her cheeks would flush a darker shade of pink whenever he catches her hand to steady her. 

" So may I know where this princess is going? " He asked with a smile looking down at the messy princess.

She raised her head to meet his eyes and said, " Temple "

Abruptly Arjuna pulled her to his side, her front slightly flushing to his, making her squeal in surprise.

" What are you-" Her words cut short when she saw a bullock cart run through the narrow street.

He slowly let go of her eyeing the bullock cart with suspicion , when Chitra noticed his look she asked " What is wrong? "

He slowly looked down at her, " Well, a bullock cart inside a village is the weird part."

" Oh"  She replied, walking slowly and looking down at her skirt.

" What's with that expression? "  He asked, noticing the sudden shift in her mood, was she upset that he touched without her consent?

" It's just that I never saw a bullock cart and also don't all villages usually have it?"  She asked with confusion lacing her sentence.

She never saw a bullock cart? Putting his question aside he explained. "Look at this village, these people are not wealthy enough to buy or own a bullock cart."

" But I heard that farmers also use Carts?" She asked timidly.

" They do, but farmers usually stay at the end of the village to handle their farms."

" Oh." Chitra nodded her head in understanding,

When they reached the end of the street, Chitra slightly turned towards as if she was about to say something.

He noticed her cheeks turning pink and her lips quivering before she spoke, Is she blushing? She is so adorable, he thought.

"Thank you for today, without your help I would have been hurt-"

All of a sudden her face turned pale as she stopped speaking,

Mumbling something she ran, almost pushing him aside and when he turned around, he saw that Vikram was trying to help Chitra's handmaid climb up the cart.

He walked towards them and gave Vikram a questioning look about the situation.

" Looks like she sprained her leg during these fights." He answered as he made her sit inside.

" Is it painful?" Chitra asked, her voice filled with concern for the old lady.

" Don't worry about me Lady, you Just go to the temple and get the Prayers done. I will be waiting at a nearby sanatorium for you."

" No way! You are hurt! We can come back some other day, it it not more important than-"

" Please Princess!" The maid whispered desperately, "It is very crucial for you to get the prayers done today itself as we never know when the queen might change her mind! "

" But-"

She spoke before the Princess could talk, "I understand you must be here for some important work,"  She said looking at Arjuna,  "But please guide her the way to the temple, I request you King!"  She prayed desperately, whispering the last two words.

Vikram couldn't help but roll his eyes at the act, why were all the royal members of this kingdom this dramatic. He has to reject this plea before Arjuna accepts out of courtesy.

" We can do that." Replied Arjuna with a curt nod.

And again before Vikram could voice  his words, the old handmaid piped up in delight, "Thank you My Lord! We will always remember this help."

Soon the cart started moving, "Remember My lady, you should be back before the sunset."

Chitra stood there watching the cart leave and Arjuna wondered about why she was so attached to this maid?

" A word, my lord."  Vikram spoke up at last signalling him to come aside.

"How will we work on catching the bandit if we have her with us?"  Vikram whispered, making sure she was not listening.

"We could split up? " Arjuna suggested with a goofy smile still looking at the princess was still looking at the moving cart.

Vikram groaned annoyed with the situation.

"Alright! You and the lady go to the temple, I will go look around the ways leading to the temple."  Vikram concluded in a monotonous tone. He turned around checking his hidden weapons, ready to leave.

" No Vikram, you take Chitra to the temple and guide her way back to her maid. I will focus on the way these bandits are entering as you should know by now that I won't be able to concentrate with her around."  He said looking at the princess, she was now looking around the place with a lost look. Even in that lost state she looked beautiful to him.

Every moment she was beside him, his hands would itch to touch or hold her in his arms.And it will be more than impossible to focus on his mission with Chitra  around him and moreover he wanted to be sure that she reaches the palace by night all safe.

" I get it that you want her safe and all, but I can't leave you alone my lord. I won't be able to concentrate knowing that you are at risk. "

" It's an order Vikram and see to it that she reaches the palace with her handmaid all safe. " His ordering tone left no room for Vikram to argue or protest about his safety.

They slowly took steps toward Chitra.

" Princess, Vikram will be escorting you to the temple and your way back to the palace." Arjuna stated his arm around Vikram's shoulder and gave her a small smile noticing the confused look on her face.

" You won't be coming with me?" She asked in a panic tone, it would have been simple to just go with her but he has more important issues at hand than to fool around a woman.

" Don't worry Princess, You will be more safe with Vikram and I will be just around the village so I might meet you in the evening." He spoke in an assuring tone to calm her.

Her features did not settle back to normal, but at least she came out of her panic phase.

"You should start moving now." Arjuna suggested looking at Vikram and he gave a final nod to Chitra telling her it will be alright as long as she will be Vikram.

" Till evening my lord." Vikram greeted and started walking and Chitra tailing behind him like a lost puppy.


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