Virshika knew he was closer to realizing his dream. That Payu Bharadvaja would travel such far distances, there would be an outcome. The burdens of his dream would soon be shed and the mere thought pumped his entire body with energy. So, is this how the God Indra felt when he quaffed the elusive Soma?
Finally, morning came and Payu was escorted across the river by boat. As the boat neared the bank, he could see Vrindavan on the other side. It was grand, beyond comparison to any Puru settlement he had seen all his life. Well fortified and with a high gate, solders stood guard at the entrance. Payu tried hard to hide the utter awe he felt and hoped the Vrcivans would not notice.
A senior member of the Vrcivan's council met him at the entrance and escorted him to the impressive house of Virshika.
"Welcome to Vrindavan, son of Bharadvaja." Chitrarath greeted Payu. "The mighty, bull amongst men, King Virshika will join us soon. In the meantime, if you will submit yourself to a body search, at Vrindavan, we take no chances." Even before, Payu could respond, a couple of guards swooped on him, and conducted a thorough body search. Search over, they glanced at Chitrarath and shook their head, indicating they had found nothing.
"Allow us to make you comfortable while you are here. Let us know if you need anything, anything at all that you may need. And now, if you will please remain standing, as the King makes his way to the the chamber."
Then, suddenly, the imperious figure of Virshika, appeared in the room. It was not for nothing that Virshika had a fearsome reputation that had spread across the Arya land.
"Well, well, well, wise one, son of the illustrious Bharadvaja, what brings you our land, to meet us uncouth, forsaken descendants of Nahusa?"
"First, allow me to convey my respects to you, torch bearer for the peerless Yadu, my respects to Chitrarath here and to the rest of the elders of Vrindavan."
"I come here as an emissary of an alliance between the Panchala Kings, Vadhryasva and Srnjaya and Anu King Cayamana."
Alliance between the Panchala and the Anu??? Virshika and Chitrarath exchanged looks, caught completely by surprise. Why would the Anu King want to drag himself into this? This was support for the Panchala weaklings that Virshika had not considered at all. No wonder they had the temerity to send Payu to Vrindavan. Bastards!
"And what message do you carry?"
"One War, one Prize."
Now this was not going in the direction that the Vrcivans were anticipating. Virshika, could not hold back his rage. On his feet, he wagged his fingers at Payu, "You talk of war? We kill people in your settlements at will while your army hides in refuges in your capitals, and you dare to stand before me and talk of war?"
"I am but a messenger rajan, and I cannot respond to what you just said."
"Just because, your aging rulers have the backing of the young Cayamana, no doubt manufactured by your wily father, you are emboldened to even think of standing upto us in war?", Virshika was besides himself.
"Again, rajan, I cannot respond to you, all I can do is to deliver the message I carry and relay back your response."
Chitrarath decided to intervene. "What is this one war, one prize proposal you bring?"
"The prize is control over all the lands of the Panchalas and by extension the Purus and the Anu people as well. A prize you will win, if your army is able to douse the fire of Devavata on the banks of the Hariyupiyah."
"But we will crush you one settlement after another, anyway, till we raize Kampilya and Ahichhatra to ground. So why should we accept this proposal?"
"Time, rajan, time. Do you really think, your army can sweep across Puru lands and bring them in your control with no resistance? Don't you think it will be several winters before you achieve your dream?"
Payu's response was met with guarded silence. He had a point, both Virshika and Chitrarath thought to themselves. Sensing this, Payu pressed on, "The Panchalas will offer your army safe passage upto the Hariyupiyah river. There the two armies will face off. If your army is able to cross the river, and douse Devavata's fire that is the very symbol of Puru power, the prize is yours. The Puru and Anu tribes will be subjugated to the Yadu forever."
"What tricks has your father thought of entrapping us, Payu?" asked a skeptical Chitrarath.
"No tricks, respected elder, no tricks. The Panchalas will keep their word - safe passage to Hariyupiyah. The outcome will be decided on the battle field. The winner takes all."
Virshika looked at Chitrath, there was no reason to doubt the proposal, and most of all, it made sense, one war, one prize. It would be swift, Varshika felt he was so much closer to realizing his dream.
"Very well then, after the rains, the two armies shall meet. The Panchalas will send a signal at an appropriate time after the rains, and ensure your army is able make the long journey to the Hariyupiyah as guests."