Welcome back to my fanfic! It’s rainy and horrible in Chicago right now, and I felt like curling up with a good fake story. So I am back to my fanfic, featuring Anushka 2 (daughter of Prabhas 1 and Anushka 1, sister of Prabhas 2) and Rana 2 (illegitimate nephew of Rana 1 by way of Nassar’s illegitimate daughter). You can find the first 3 parts, and all the Bahubali posts, indexed here.
There was a comment on my last post that it is confusing since these are chapters of a related story, but they are days apart, so you forget what happened in the last chapter. First, today’s youth is terrible and never could have survived in the serialized days of Dickens! Second, I love summarizing stuff! Happy to put in a reminder at the start of everything that already happened. If you have a good memory, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.
Previously on Bahubali Fanfic: In a happy ending version of the original films, Prabhas 1 and Anushka 1 survive their exile to the workers’ village. Rana becomes king, but shortly afterwards Ramya is killed by an assassin paid off by the nobles, which makes Rana and Nassar obsessed with internal threats and causes them to forget Prabhas 1 and Anushka 1. Under Prabhas 1 and Anushka 1’s leadership, the workers’ village grows and grows, eventually working with Kuntala (now an independent kingdom, thanks to the weakening power of Mahishmati) to set up an annual trade fair. Prabhas 2 and Anushka 2 grow up in the workers’ village, completely happy, and as adults Prabhas 2 sneaks off to the trade fair while Anushka 2 pretends to be sick and stays home to look after the justice and safety of the village while their parents are also at the trade fair. Prabhas 2 falls in love with Tamannah, adoptive princess of Kuntala (daughter of Subbaraju), but doesn’t realize she is the princess. She leaves him, because she is engaged since childhood to a family friend (not realizing that family friend is Prabhas 2 himself). The misunderstanding is eventually worked out and all his happy. Only, back in the village, the icky prince of Mahishmati has arrived on his pre-coronation travels through the kingdom. He molests the village women, they call on Anushka 2 for help, she beheads the prince and defeats his bodyguards. And then quickly organizes defenses of the village and also defeats the king’s army sent for vengeance (because Rana has become so paranoid, all the best soldiers and officers have already fled the kingdom or been executed and the army is in tatters). Rana dies of a heart attack after hearing this news. Kattappa happily goes to the village to tell Prabhas 1 that his son, Prabhas 2, is now the heir to Mahishmati since everyone else in the family is died or disqualified. But Prabhas 2 wants to marry Tamannah, who can’t be Queen of Kuntala if she is married to the Emperor of Mahishmati. Instead, Anushka 2 takes the throne, while Prabhas 2 is happy to merely be consort to the Queen of a small kingdom. All of that is in the fanfic here.
(Anushka-Meant To Be Queen!!!)
Then, this fanfic, the Bahubali sequel. Starts out by establishing that Nassar had a mistress, a maidservant of the palace. He set her up with a house on palace grounds connected by secret passage ways, and would go there and let his mouth run away with him and spill state secrets and spycraft and weapons training. Unaware that his illegitimate daughter was listening the whole time. The daughter grew up, married a nice common farmer, and got pregnant. Meanwhile, Rana had gone mad and was purging the kingdom. He arrested his sister’s husband, she begged for mercy, he suggested she give him her child in return for her husband’s life. She switched babies, gave him a dead woman’s son, and he killed her husband anyway, and her mother for good measure. She escaped to Singapurum to become the most powerful Madam in the town and raise her real son with all the wisdom of spycraft she learned from her father and all the weapons training the visiting warriors could give him. As an adult, she sent him off to be apprentice/foster son to Sudeep, traveling merchant and wise warrior from the east who could give him the final polish in his education, but made him vow before he left that he would avenge his family and destroy the royal family of Mahishmati.
Meanwhile, Anushka 2 also took a vow, that she would only marry the man who could defeat her in combat. Which, since the only men alive who could do that were her father and brother, means she never has to marry. It was a clever diplomatic move to make sure she could not be trapped into a marriage, but it meant she was dooming herself to a life of loneliness. Until, while visiting her brother and sister-in-law in Kuntala, she fought a mysterious masked warrior at the village fair, almost lost to him, and found herself suddenly feeling feelings she never expected. She fled the fair, only for him to follow her carriage on horseback, and throw her his knife before riding away, signifying his allegiance and service to her.
Of course, the masked fighter was Rana 2, who did not know who Anushka 2 was, but has fallen in love with her at first sight. He goes back to his foster father Sudeep, and declares that he is content, he has given her his knife and silently vowed his undying loyalty, that is all he needs.
(Rana and Anushka: Meant To Be Together!)
Okay, PREVIOUSLY ON is over! Time for the new stuff.
Let’s introduce our villain! It is, naturally, Nassar. Because nothing can kill him.
Deep in the dungeons of the palace, Nassar is laying in his cell, weakly calling for water, begging his guard “take pity on me! I am an old man, forgotten by my only living relative, my vicious grandniece, my son is dead, my wife is dead, my grandson is dead. All I ask is for a glass of water!” The older guard bangs on the cell door and tells him to be quiet. The new younger guard is conflicted, asks “what does it hurt to help the old man? My parents told me stories about the old bad times, but he is an old man now, locked in a cell, how can he harm anyone?” The old guard just grunts and says “ask yourself that in 6 months. No one has lasted on this rotation longer than that, the man’s voice will grate on your skull by the end of the week.” The younger guard stands his ground, declares “Maybe you took the old oath, but the new Mahishmati army oath I swore says that I must always answer to my own conscious in performing my duties, and my conscious says I must give this poor old man water. I will be back in a moment.” The young guard sprinted off down the corridor towards the well, Nassar hid his smile, and changed his refrain to “Bless the youth! Bless those who have forgotten the sins of the path! Curses on the hard hearts who cannot understand and forgive, whose minds are blind and prejudiced and full of darkness…” The older guard with one last “blast you old man!”, walked to the far end of the corridor and covered his ears. Nassar continued his monologue “darkness and evil and selfishness, the demons that run this country….” while quickly pulling a stone free from the corner of his cell, tugging on a string, and drawing up a small slip of paper to read.
Nassar sometimes thought that this imprisonment was the best thing for him. He found his mind so clear now, his thoughts seemed to leap forward space to space. A few words on a piece of paper, and his whole plan sprung into place. A few words sent back, scribbled on the back of the paper and dropped down into the well, an airshaft off a secret passageway, and the plan was in motion.
It had taken him only 6 weeks to turn that first guard who had been set to watch him, 6 weeks of discussing the glories of old Mahishmati, the dangers of a woman’s rule, the reform plans he would put in place the moment he was back in power, and the guard was his. From there, his mind had leaped forward, letting him craft the perfect letters to the perfect allies, none too powerful (that would be suspicious), but the minor merchants and nobles who he worked on with pleas for the one remaining “true” royal of Mahishmati to be respected, to be given the chance to rule he had always been denied. To overturn those troublesome new taxes and laws, those schools that gave education to workers, making them want more than they could handle.
That had been 4 years ago. 4 years after he had been thrown in here following his first assassination attempt, a group of mercenaries paid to sneak into the royal Queen’s chambers, all of them cut down within minutes by the Queen, who should have been helpless and screaming if she had been a real woman, but instead had slept with a sword under her pillow. The one left alive, after having his fingers sliced off, had turned traitor and admitted who hired them. Now that coward was living a good life on the farmland given him by a grateful Queen, while he had been dragged from his rightful bed and thrown in here. But he had learned wisdom here.
No more hurried plans, no possibilities of error. He had his team of loyal followers now, they had their followers, his notes, a few words scribbled on paper, had guided the way. And now, all was prepared. Anushka 2 herself, in all her arrogance, had handed them the tool. Her foolish vow, that she would marry any man who defeated her. Nassar knew the intent, to avoid marriage altogether, to be an unnatural woman who will never bow to a man. But it would be turned against her, she had sworn to marry ANY man who defeated her. Nassar just needed to arrange the circumstances that would let him pick that man. And the plans were now in place. He had just passed off the final message, the directions on the location of the final herb. And now he would just sit back, and wait. Waiting used to be so hard for him, but since the death of his son it had become easy. His son had always been the patient one, but since his death somehow that had been an inheritance that had gone from son to father instead of the other way around.
Nassar closed his eyes and pictured the events in his head. It would start tonight, at the banquet. His man, a lowly merchant too small to be noticed by the counterspies of the palace, had been given the commission to provide the fruit for the evening. He knew that his “Queen” had an unmaidenly taste for mangoes and would be disgustingly gorging herself on them. It was a simple matter to insert the drug into the fruit, such a small dose that no one else would notice it, but his greedy queen would stuff herself.
It was an advantage that he could have no face to face meetings with his co-conspirators. Back in his aboveground days, he remembered the tedious compromises and discussions and alterations he had to suffer of his perfect plots. Now, the magic of these tiny messages was in the inability of others to argue with them, the came like a voice from on high, unquestioned. And so his plan was able to move forward in the best possible way, small step by step, constantly able to be corrected and adjusted to the winds of fate.
This was the first step. To see how his “Queen”s anatomy reacted to the drug. To use an unpredictable natural drug, one which would be undetectable both by chemical analysis and through her behavior. Once he knew that, he would know what behavior he could create in her, at will. In some men, it made them hit their wives, yell at their children. In others, it made them all asleep in their fields. Some few others just laughed and laughed, at nothing at all. The chemical extract version, it was more potent and less predictable. Any alteration to her behavior would be an advantage, that was what his co-conspirators weren’t able to understand, to be able to change the mood of the queen, at predetermined times in predetermined ways, that was what he needed before he could do anything else.
(Yes, I’m just talking about Bhang)
Many many many floors above, at the palace banquet, Anushka was bored. She was bored a lot lately. Even activities she enjoyed were no longer appealing to her. Visiting the school for a weapons demonstration seemed pointless if none of her children in front of her reflected back her own face. Sitting in judgement in the hall was tiresome without someone standing next to her chair to look to, to try to see their reactions to the information put forth. Meeting with the ministers was tedious, with no one to report back to later as to what was said and how she felt. And now, at this banquet, sitting at the head of the table was lonely with no one seated beside her, boring with no one’s hand to hold under the table, no eye to meet.
She smiled automatically at the same old joke Kattappa was telling, the story about her parents’ courtship. Normally she enjoyed Kattappa’s stories, not for their originality, but for his enthusiasm over them. But this time, she felt it didn’t matter without someone to share the laughter. No, not “someone”. No need to run from the truth, face it head on. When she was at that school, she wasn’t looking for a child with her face, she was looking for a child with his, those dark deepset eyes staring back at her from a small serious face. He was with her everywhere. In her mind, and at her side. As she had hundreds of times today, she let her hand drift down and brush past the hilt of the knife, stuck into her waistband, hidden within her clothes. She had been avoiding examining her feelings for that knife, she had kept it by her, tucked into her waistband, since she first received it. From Kuntala back to the palace, through innumerable changes of clothes, she had kept it with her. But, she thought to herself, tonight she would let it go. Yes! Tonight she would drop it off the side of the wall, on the way back to her room. Once the physical reminder was gone, he would drop from her mind just as easily.
Decision made, Anushka reached for another mango (bless the palace staff who placed this huge bowl next to her!), pierced the skin, and neatly sliced it open. It was her 5th of the night so far, but she was going to throw away her knife that night, she deserved to spoil herself a little.
(I know, this is Kat. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single Anushka-mango photo)
The mangos had a strange taste to them tonight, surprisingly addictive. Perhaps she could take the bowl with her back to her room? Yes, that was a good idea. Brilliant really! Fruit, in a bedroom. Anushka started to laugh, and then noticed that Kattappa looked startled. Oh dear, she was laughing at the wrong part of his story! Well, that was funny too! Kattappa looked so serious, and the visiting nobles next to him looked very confused. Well they would be! They couldn’t speak the language, and the translator couldn’t translate laughter! This seemed so funny that Anushka had to repeat it out loud “They can’t translate laughter! you see? That’s why it’s so funny! They can’t translate laughter!” Kattappa stood and walked over to lean over her shoulder and say gently into her ear “My Queen, perhaps it is time to retire? I can remain and entertain your guests.” Anushka started to laugh harder, “I can’t retire! I’m Queen!” But then her eye caught the mango basket. Yes! More mangos! That was the answer. She would take them with her. Oh, this basket was heavy! Yes, standing while carrying it, that was a little challenge. Okay, upright now. The floor was unusually mushy tonight, but she seemed able to navigate. Silly Kattappa, he still looked worried, like he wanted to go with her. She gave him a smile to show she was all right, oh whoops! Almost lost the mangos there. Okay, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. Oh yes, she was moving right along now!
A sudden rush of air with the smell of water reminded Anushka of something. Right! She was going to throw something in the river. But what? The mangos? That didn’t seem right. She carefully set them down and started feeling around to see if she happened to be carrying anything else. Oh, that was something! A knife on her waist. She weighed it in her hand. It was a very nice knife. And it felt right in her hand. And somehow, she didn’t want to throw it away. She would throw something else instead. She reached down and unbuckled that heavy gold belt around her waist and tossed it. Yes, that was better. Now the metal digging into her head, oh that was a relief! And the pokey thing around her neck, her ears, her ankles. She felt so much lighter now! She did a little dance and OH! The mangos! Her stupid feet kicked the basket, they were flying down over the wall through the air. NO! She leaned over to watch them fall and…oh! Her clumsy fingers let go of the knife, it slipped into the air, and so did Anushka. It happened without conscious thought, she could not let it go, could not let it disappear into the blackness. And so she fell after it, arm outstretched, fingers reaching, as the mangos, the knife, and Anushka all dropped into the dark blackness outside the palace wall.