His hands against his ears.
His eyes watering with the pain of loss.
His beard wafting in the stinging breeze induced by weapons no man had seen or will see again.
His head bowed down.
He shook his head, unable to believe that the indomitable was felled. That the invincible was defeated. That his son, a blessing from God, was killed ruthlessly in battle.
He heard the words. He had asked for reiteration. After all, he had a right to a second opinion. None could deny an old man that.
The reiteration came. From the truest source he knew. An irrefutable fact of life. Dead. Gone.
His long-bow fell to the ground. His quiver of arrows slipped from his stooped shoulders to fall to the blood splattered ground. The arrows spilled out like twigs to lie in a puddle of squishy liquid, a mix of acidic rain and the blood of man and beast.
The hero had but one wish. He wanted to collect his fee.
He pleaded with his foremost student to strike him down.
A stranger cleaved off his head. A son of the enemy. He fell to the ground, lifeless. His debt, unpaid.
A sleek warrior walked up to the fallen hero. He knelt by his side, his body wracked by tears.
“Is this the price for your teachings, you who are the utmost of teachers. Is this how we repaid your debt? My Guru, my mentor, my Drona?”
Another warrior joined in. An older man of noble bearing. “Forgive me for lying to you. Your son is alive. He is alive for who can defeat the gem bearer? Who can conquer Aswathaman?”
Arjuna and Yudhister rose. They walked away, heads hung low.