“I come with blessings.” said Krishna, with his customary smile. The Blue One had appeared unannounced. The assembly of kings and courtiers roused with a clamour of greetings and exclamations. Even Sakuni stood up, but not Duryodhana, for he considered Krishna a mere cowherd. The Pandavas hurried down the pedestal and embraced Krishna. “I did say, I’ll always be with you, my dear sons of Pandu.”

“You’re a man of magic, Krishna,” said Sakuni.

“Ah, Uncle Sakuni, I did not see you. Dear cousin Yudhishthira, please have your attendants draw the curtains a little and release our uncle from the shadows,” said Krishna. He addressed Sakuni again. “Your words purport to raise me, dear uncle, but their intent reduces me to a fire-eater in the market square. But you’re insightful and you’re right.”

“This way, Krishna,” said Yudhishthira. He offered the seat of honour on his right hand. Krishna took the seat next to the throne chair and said,

“As Uncle Sakuni so rightly pointed out, Yudhishthira must subdue Jarasandha lest the Magadhi disrupts the Rajasuya yagna.”

“It’s good to know that for once, we both think as one, Krishna,” said Sakuni.

“Oh, dear Uncle Sakuni, we’ve always been fulfilling one another’s expectations,” said Krishna.

“It’ll be difficult to fell Jarasandha. What battle strategy do you propose, Krishna?” said Duryodhana.

“Who said that? Ah, my dear Duryodhana, I did not see you, seated low as you are among all the mighty standing kings. My humble greetings to the heir of Hastinapura.” Krishna gave a small bow. “One does not discuss battle strategy in open court, O First of the Kauravas.”

“You do not trust the people in this court.” Duryodhana crossed one leg over the other and shook his foot.

“Oh no, everyone in this court and my cousins, which include Duryodhana and the Kauravas, have my trust,” said Krishna. “But, once spoken, the breeze carries our words and who knows where and when it drops them; and who knows what takes root.”

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