Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Around 16000 BCE, in South India.

In the dark green ‘Narumanam’ forest, where only the gushes of the wind could be heard, a young girl perched on a tree and observed the movements around her. She was clad in a white dhoti neatly draped below her hips, covering her legs, kept loose enough to run. She had another white dhoti draped around her bosom till her waist. Her blatant hips were a prepossessing sight for anyone. A couple of coiled sturdy rope on her shoulders, a sharp wooden spear on her back and a concealed stone knife on her hips were the only weapons she carried.

While she surveyed the forest, Kalai, her friend walked into the forest. Her platoon followed her at a distance and moved slowly behind the bushes. Kalai, who walked in as bait heard her own heart thump aloud. She walked deep into the forest, away from her friend and the platoon. The tall trees made the young girl to lose the sight of Kalai. Immediately, she waved her platoon to stride forward to regain the sight. She dropped from that tree and ascended on to the next tree to catch a glimpse of Kalai. She was quick and because of which the sound of creaking branches couldn’t be avoided. The platoon was moving deep, a few miles forward and away from her.

Arke, the wildest and scary animal in the forest, that appeared like a ursid hybrid of a bear and human. It was gigantic with a dark complexion, hairy and an enlarged tongue. It crept in behind Kalai, dripping a bright blue slimy saliva on the ground. She sensed the presence and turned around to come in face to face with the Arke. She never expected the Arke to be so close. She was frightened by the presence of the Arke. She screamed from the bottom of her lungs and tried to step back. Unfortunately, her feet landed on the saliva and she tumbled down in front of the Arke. The Arke was glad that the events turned out in its favor. It looked at her with hunger shining in its eyes.

The young girl heard the scream, her heart thumped, and her body produced an enormous amount energy to save her friend from the danger. She felt so ferocious and plummeted and raced past her platoon. The platoon followed her as they couldn’t match her speed. She ran through the woods and saw Kalai lying on the ground. The beast hovered on top of her with its hand raised to clutch Kalai’s neck. The girl kept her left foot on the nearby rock and pushed hard to ascend high. She pulled the rope from her left shoulder and aimed it on the monster’s hand. She tossed the rope and it wrapped the Arke’s left hand. When she landed on the ground, she tightened the knot of the rope.

Her platoon reached there on time and grabbed the rope from her. The Arke now glanced at her and the rope. It raised its right hand to cut off the rope, but she was quick enough to pull another rope from her shoulder. She tossed it and wrapped its right hand. The platoon split into two and collected the other rope from her. Immediately, she rolled under the Arke and met it face to face, she jumped and thumped on its head which was powerful enough to make the Arke unconscious.

She got a rope from one of them and she tied its legs together while her platoon worked on its hands. They tied both of its hand together to make it easier for them to drag the Arke to their village. Meanwhile, the girl used her stone knife to tear away the glued saliva and freed Kalai’s leg. They both made their way back to the village and the platoon followed them and dragged the animal along.

They all belonged to the ‘Thevas’ tribe who lived in a tract of land located near the forest. Thevas was one of the oldest and the least populated tribe. They lived in the village ‘Meghavazhi’. Thevas were led by a fierce warrior and a born leader, Devaguna. He was the oldest man in their tribe. All his concern was about the future of his village. He worried that he didn’t have a son to lead the tribe. But, the way his daughter fought to become a warrior did impress him and the tribe. He had a strange faith in his daughter and believed that she will lead the tribe in a better way than any man did. Though there was never a woman leader in their tribe and they never thought they were capable of it. Women were just a caretaker of the tribe and helped men in and around their tribe. Unless and until she fought for it and became the first woman warrior of their tribe and she was expected to be the first woman chief of the tribe.

Sakthi, the only daughter of Devaguna is the smart, fierce, young, charming, vivacious and optimistic princess of Meghavazhi. She was also the fastest, strongest and the bravest woman in her tribe. She had gone through a lot to prove her father and the tribe that a woman can fight. She proved them that woman can be tactical. She proved them that woman was meant to do a lot than what they were doing. She fought for her rights and made men train them for fights. It was never easy when no men wanted to train a woman as they thought it’s a symbol to portrait as men aren’t capable. They can’t refuse the order the chief. They taught her a little and Sakthi learnt a lot by her own by sneaking into their training. She also trained 12 other girls from her tribe who were a part of her platoon. She dreamt for 18 years to become a chief and she was now ready for that. She was the mother of women empowerment.

There was a tradition in their tribe, they must kill an Arke to become a commander or a chief. She wanted to do it, to prove her father and the tribe that she was stronger than Vinu. Vinu, best warrior, the smartest man and the young commander in chief of Meghavazhi. To prove her strength, Sakthi planned to go for a hunt into the forest and kill the Arke. But, Kalai suggested her that she was more capable than that. She convinced Sakthi to arrest it and bring it alive to the village and be the first in the tribe to capture the Arke alive.

Sakthi always wanted to try such wild challenges and she chose to do that. To trap the Arke, they needed bait and Kalai agreed to be the bait. Now they have successfully arrested the Arke and they were returning from the forest. Kalai was the most talented, brainy and sapiosexual among the people in Meghavazhi. She was more interested in invention and technology. She gathered knowledge from all the sources and she was the one to bring in advancement to their tribe. She was the one who introduced the woolen cloth to people of Meghavazhi. Kalai also designed the weapons including Sakthi’s wooden spear and shield.

When the villagers saw them walking towards Meghavazhi, they gathered at the entrance to welcome them. Vinu saw the Arke alive and he was astounded that Sakthi was clever enough to become the mightiest warrior in the history. Devaguna slowly walked to the entrance with the help of his walking stick and saw the smile on Sakthi’s face and the Arke alive. He was flabbergasted but that happiness didn’t last long. Vinu never wanted a woman to rule them. Vinu gave a sly smile to Sakthi and stated that if she ever wanted to become a warrior, she must kill the Arke as per the tradition and there was no other way in overruling the rule. Devaguna as a chief agreed and ordered her to kill it if she wanted to prove her strength. But again, Vinu interfered and said that anyone can kill it easily when it is tied up and unconscious. Sakthi should fight with it and prove her worth. Vinu persuaded Sakthi to kill the Arke. Vinu believed that she could never kill the Arke alone, he thought he can jump in and save her in the right moment to prove the tribe that he is the best.

Devaguna, as a father was afraid to let his daughter fight the Arke alone. But he had no other option to make her the chief. He requested everyone to assemble in the training ground to see the fight. Vinu’s men received the Arke and took it to the ground. Rest of the village followed them. Sakthi gaped at Kalai and Kalai was blank, staring at her in bewilderment. Sakthi was frustrated to keep proving them that she is stronger than Vinu. She wanted to end all of it in this fight. She was ferocious to kill the Arke in a manner that no man has ever done. She mentally prepared her for the fight and to prove the world the woman can bring a change. They both moved to the ground.

Vinu untied the animal and splashed water and brought it back to consciousness. On the other side, Sakthi removed her spear from her back and caught the shield in her left that Kalai tossed up. Sakthi was so desperate in killing the beast. Kalai knows that Sakthi will never give up and make women of Meghavazhi proud. This fight was not only about Meghavazhi. If Sakthi defeats this beast, she will be become the first woman warrior in the world. No part of the world has seen a woman fighting or even tried to fight. Kalai believed that this fight will also break a lot inferiority from the hearts of women who are viewing this epic fight. The Arke opened its eyes and stood up. It was unstable and took a few seconds to get familiar with the surroundings. Sakthi tightened her grip on the shield and the spear, and she was staring at the Arke ferociously. The crowd chanted and encouraged her. The Arke ran towards Sakthi. But she stood motionless staring at the beast. The Arke shook its head left and right. Sakthi, who was on the right side of the Arke tried to defend it with her shield. But, she wasn’t aware that the wooden shield wasn’t strong enough to stop the beast’s attack.

The Arke ran towards her. The Arke’s head hit the shield smashed it and Sakthi was thrown a few miles away. She lost the grip on her spear and dropped it while she fell. The Arke crushed the spear on its legs. Sakthi raised back from the ground. She looked at the spear and it was in multiple pieces. The Arke began to run towards her. Sakthi took a few seconds to think that what she could do without her spear or shield. Her platoon was ready to throw her another spear, but she didn’t want to collect it she nodded to refuse, and she turned back and ran towards the wall. Vinu stood up from the chair and looking for the right time to jump and become the savior. Sakthi climbed up on the wall and while the Arke was near her, she mounted on to its back and gripped the Arke by holding its fur. She used her left hand to hold its fur and punched its head with her right hand. She jumped up and thumped on the top of its head. The Arke’s skull shattered into pieces.

The crowd was stumped. They were astonished by her strength. Vinu was at loss of words and he had no other option than bending his knees in front of her. He rightfully accepted and appreciated her from his heart on her scintillating victory and began to chant her name ‘Sakthi… Sakthi’; the crowd did the chorus. Kalai ran towards her and hugged her. Her troop ran towards her and lifted her as she conquered over the beast. It made the Thevas women to believe that they can do more than cooking. They were all happy that she had made a historic fight, except Devaguna. All his dreams were shattered when the skull of the Arke shattered. It gave hope in the hearts on many but broke the hope that Devaguna had. He was afraid that the legend is true. Other elders glared at Devaguna and nodded in agreement. The elders were aware that the Oracle’s first statement has become true and this means Sakthi will not live in Meghavazhi forever and she couldn’t become a chief.

Sakthi ran to her father and hugged him. Devaguna hid his worries and smiled at her. He waited for the moment to hand over the oracle’s palm leaf to Sakthi but now he decided to keep it a secret for some time. Kalai investigated on the Arke’s bone and she said to Sakthi that this was the rarest and strongest bone that she had ever seen. She stated that she would try to make a spear and a shield out of it. That will make Sakthi hold the powerful weapon in the tribe. Sakthi was amazed and hugged her.

Kalai asked her friends to bring the Arke to her workshop. They dropped it in there and she tore its skin, removed it and kept it away. She removed the flesh away and researched on the bone. She kept the bones together and measured them to find the longest one. Picked the longest one, she began to craft it as a spear using her tools. She slowly axed it to perfection and sharpened the head of the spear. The spear was made of a single bone which matched Sakthi’s height. She also used her knowledge to reduce its weight and crafted it as a lightweight spear so that her friend could play with it.

Once done, she began to shape the shield. She took umpteen bones and cut it to the required sizes. She kept them close and used a thick paste to stick them together and bounded them with a fine twine to increase its durability. The spear and the shield were ready for Sakthi. Kalai did not stop with it. She used the leftover of Arke’s bone and its skin to design armor for her and then took them to Sakthi.

Sakthi was so excited to see and was eager to use them. She did a few swings with her spear and tried some moves with the shield and wore the armor to make sure it fits her size. No one knew her better than Kalai. It was the perfect match for Sakthi. Sakthi was delighted to have a friend like Kalai.