The day dawned with a greyness of sorrow on the kingdom. The people feared the enemy at their gates. An army that was like none other the kingdom had seen before. They were terrible creatures, with legions of powerful soldiers, strong and wise. The army was mighty, one of the mightiest that the kingdom had seen.
The fortified walls of the city were closed shut. The doors though shut did not strengthen the morale of the people inside. They feared the terror outside their walls. They knew not what the armies outside would do once their king fell. The sun was spreading its wings across the city, its houses shone with a tinge of red. There was a haunting quiet all around the city. This was the time of day when the men would come out of their houses and the women would offer rice flour to the gods by making patterns outside their houses. There was once a day when the red sun would add to the life and people around the city. But today there was none. Alas, all the men who had fought were dead reddening the sands of the battlefield, and those who remained were preparing for their last stand against the terrible army outside. One last stand, with their god king. The righteous and all knowing king. He who had been blessed by the lords. Their king was god in their eyes.
Was it not under him that the poorest of poor in the city ate and drank his needful and more? Was it not under him that the people had not known hunger and cold? Was it not under him that all their lands had been united and in peace for so long? Was it not under him that they had reached their greatest? He was a son of the gods, his people knew well.
There was a thundering roar. Down the city there lay the massive gates of the king’s fort. The gates opened, and from within marched out the army. The final stand for this kingdom. The army marched forward to the thundering beats of large drums. The army marched to the city walls. The widowed wives and heirless fathers came to see their sons and grandchildren march towards the battlefield. They watched the young feet stamp the ground. They seemed unsure and full of fear. The entire city saw in silence as they marched on.
The army marched until the gates and were commanded to stop and turn to face the fort gates. They were mainly foot soldiers. They stood there sweat on their brows, not knowing what to do next and completely overcome by their fear of battle. They had heard stories of the enemy. Their enemies from across the seas. Their enemies who were monsters from the deepest jungles. They heard that they were covered by hair, white and black. They heard of them jumping high in the air and striking hard on their people. They heard of the enemies smashing heads. They were fed images of the enemy’s savagery with their large canines glistening and their strong arms raised high ready to break bones to dust. They shuddered at the thought.
There was another roar and the king’s fort gates opened once again. Out marched what remained of the old army. There were horses as white as the clouds streaked with blood. They looked like they had fought many wars, but they were not tired. They held their heads high and marched with conviction. And on them sat the best of the king’s men. Those who had fought the terrible enemy and lived to fight another day. Today. Their armour shone in the sun. It was dented and scratched by swords and arrows, but it still bore the ensign of their king. The horses lined up behind the foot soldiers and they turned to face the fort gates.
The chariots came into view. Through the settling dust they emerged. Fine horses strong and agile, marching in unison. The clatter of their hooves was enough to tell even a common bystander that they were not many but one. They moved in a beauty that was seldom seen in their world. They pulled behind them the most respected and capable warriors of their day. Clothed in the best of cotton and silk and linen. These men were carried on richly decorated chariots, depicting scenes of the god of destruction vanquishing his enemies. They bore the flag of their kings high with pride. The flags fluttered in the morning breeze as the chariots stopped after the horses and the warriors on them turned to face the fort gates.
The ground thundered, and there was a roar. A roar that sent a shiver down the spines of every one of the kings enemies outside the gates. And out of the dust the army saw tusks of gold. And out marched the most majestic of all of god’s creation. A horde of war elephants. Each footstep rocked the ground with such force. There were men on top of the elephants blowing trumpets piercing the morning air with their deafening death cries. Vultures prepared for a feast in skies outside. Wolves howled in hunger preparing for the feast that they were to have. The ground beyond stiffened itself in anticipation.
In front of elephant horde there rode a white elephant. Thundering in front of the others. It had this privilege for it was carrying the promised one. The people looked up at their deliverer. The man who had showed them what heavens were. The scholar and warrior king.
The people watched their king. He had lost his son and brothers. His one brother who was alive was a betrayer. They watched him ride like the king he was, with a bow in one hand and a sword in the other. His kingdom and his people had been murdered in front of his eyes, his gardens painted red by the blood of the ones he loved. They saw him, their father, their king, their god lead them to battle.
‘Long live our king’ an old man shouted, barely able to stand on his feet.
And the entire city began. Roaring for their mighty king to walk them out to battle the enemy. They had to protect their lands. They had to protect their women and children and the weak and the old. This was their land. This was theirs. The beautiful mountains and the colourful flowers, the humming seas and the whistling birds. A wave of anger rose in the minds of all the men. Anger for the enemy. An anger for those who laid waste to all this that they had built and had learnt to love. They raised their swords and screamed in fury.
They turned around and the gates opened. The sun beat down on the outside where lay in wait the hordes of beasts from beyond the sea. They marched forward towards the battle. They knew it would be the last. They would either win or they would either give their lives to protect their motherland.
And so marched the army of Ravana, to fight their last battle under their great and valiant king.