Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 23

By John Shors

Chapter 23

Retribution

  • Jahanara slowly nurses her father back to health over the course of the next year. Yes, year.
  • The only one who might guess at what happened to Jahanara that night with Khondamir is Nizam, who visits often.
  • Nizam helps Jahanara convert some of Khondamir's and Aurangzeb's spies over to work for her with the tactful use of bribery.
  • Nizam wants to free Jahanara again, but she fears that if she abandons her father again, he will die.
  • Hindustan itself is in dire straights. Aurangzeb's constant warring has rendered the kingdom broke, infrastructure is collapsing, and people are starving.
  • One morning, out of nowhere, Aurangzeb, Ladli, and Khondamir visit the cell.
  • Aurangzeb's there to accuse Jahanara of attempting to kill him again, this time via poisoned arrow. He's totally paranoid about Jahanara's "assassin."
  • Father is handcuffed, and Jahanara is tortured to try and get the name of her fictitious assassin.
  • After almost drowning at the hands of Aurangzeb's ruffians, Jahanara comes up with a plan: she pretends to be torn and worn down, and she confesses that Khondamir was her spy and assassin. She makes up a whole new story about the stolen golden ring that makes it look like Khondamir was her accomplice, not Ladli. Pretty dang clever.
  • In a fit of rage, Aurangzeb slays Khondamir.
  • Instead of killing Jahanara, Aurangzeb decides to let her live, thinking it would be crueler to make her suffer her "lover's" death by her own betrayal.
  • Jahanara's father tries to reassure her that what she did was right.
  • Ladli comes by the next day to say goodbye to Jahanara. She fears for her life now with Aurangzeb and is fleeing to safety.
  • First, though, Ladli has news. The reason Aurangzeb's totally off his rocker is because he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Shivaji.
  • The Sultan of Bijapur was killed in the conflict, too.
  • Jahanara feels like everything's finally coming together. She asks Ladli to travel south to give Shivaji the information he needs to assassinate Aurangzeb, and then Ladli can return north with Isa and Arjumand.
  • Ladli is afraid, but Jahanara tells her she's going to send Nizam with her.
  • Once Aurangzeb is dead, they can all eventually meet in Calcutta. Isa will have to pray at its largest mosque every night at dusk, and Jahanara will come find them.
  • Ladli warns Jahanara to be extra careful and act like she's a broken woman, 'cause her bro is totally cray-cray.