Chapter 15 : The Birthday

Kiaan’s fourteenth birthday party was a __welter of flashy outfits and __fawning royals, who bordered on __idolatry when meeting the prince. __Propriety demanded that he had to smile and greet the __prodigal guests as they __propitiated Salimpur with spectacular items like jewels and horses. Mitra was quick to __disparage Chittur for its __frugality and even their king, who was known to __stint, but Kiaan liked their gift the best.

The king of Chittur, Chander had handed Kiaan a small sack tied filled with __rarefied air that was tied by a long string. It was a magical present that could be held by hand as the sack floated up like a bird. Invented by Chittur’s leading scientists, it was named a ‘balloon’.

After 2 hours of continuous smiling, the __malingerer in Kiaan was looking for a __digression, when he spotted a middle-aged man standing in a corner uncomfortably. Raja Prithvi bowed __reverently when Kiaan came over. “Prince, I apologize for not meeting all these years. You look much like your parents.”

The man continued “Samar, Era and I, Prithvi were once close friends, and it is unfortunate they couldn’t be here. Your parents were good people…healthy too.”

Prithvi’s face turned serious as he whispered, “Kid, my life is in danger just by being here. Maybe yours too. Nobody knows, but when I protested that your parents’ death didn’t seem natural, I received threats and dodged murder attempts. I gave up my kingdom and left to find peace in the hills. I came tonight to see you, a reminder of my friends. I pray power doesn’t corrupt you, child. God bless.”

The ever-__solicitous Kriti hugged Kiaan after Prithvi left hurriedly “He was a good king, Kiaan. A bit paranoid but sincere, he was very disturbed after your parents died. He became too depressed to rule or that’s what they say. It was my first year in the council then, I think. Governance isn’t for everyone, evidently. Now, now, cheer up, birthday, the party is almost over!”

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