I saw clearly that the Mlecha clan did not expect an attack. They had no idea of their demon army being slain to the very last man. The enemy was completely unprepared, when the first volley of arrows hit them from both the flanks. However, after the initial chaos, the Mlechas were quick to respond. They gathered their weapons, leapt on to their horses and started to give chase. I smiled as I watched the enemy play right into my hands. The die had been cast.
Artorius looked on helplessly as my Deva army, on their rested horses, poured volley after volley of arrows into his men before they calmly rode out of range. Our accuracy astounded him. That I could clearly see! He mounted his horse and started to rally his men. I realized that I must act quickly or I would lose the crucial momentum that my surprise attack had brought. I led ten men in an arrowhead formation with myself at point and charged right into the centre of the enemy camp. Before the Mlecha realized what was happening, we were upon them. The Asura Vyuha the speciality of the Deva army!
I ran one man right through with my lance and knocked a second off his horse with a mighty blow from my shield; my horse did not even break stride as it ran quickly towards the Mlecha chief. We were almost upon him when I felt front legs of my steed buckle- a spear had been thrust into its chest. I toppled forward over the front of my horse. The soft sand broke my fall, but I lost my spear and shield. I drew my sword as the enemy swarmed around me.
I hacked and slashed at the enemy as they surrounded me. One of my men tossed me his battle-axe. I caught the heavy weapon in mid-air and in one motion swung it at my nearest assailant, decapitating the man. The blood from the severed neck drenched me and enhanced my already frightening appearance.
Artorius, the Mlecha Chief, frantically barked orders to his troops. I noticed that the enemy was beginning to hurriedly regroup around him. The Devas were about to lose the advantage of their surprise assault. I shouted out a challenge to the Mlecha Chief, whose response was immediate, “to the general of the greatest warrior tribe-“he roared as he hurled his spear at me. I ducked and the javelin sailed over my shoulder. As I rose, two men barred my way. I caught one of them in the throat with my sword as I swung the axe at the other in an underhand stroke. The massive blade caught the Mlecha under the armpit of his sword arm and sliced it clean off.
By now two of my men had reached me. They positioned themselves behind me, shoulder to shoulder, as they protected my exposed flanks. I grimaced. Suddenly there was no room for me to swing my axe. Just then another Mlecha spear was thrust at my face. I dropped my axe, grabbed the shaft of the spear and dragged the man off his horse right on to my waiting sword.
Artorius watched this awe-inspiring display of strength and noticed the demoralizing effect it was having on his men. He leapt off his horse, sword raised high in the air. I saw the movement from the corner of my eye and was ready. I turned towards the Mlecha Chief and raised the spear.The weapon caught Artorius in mid-flight right in the Solar-plexus.
I lifted the spear high in the air. Every muscle and sinew in my arm strained from the effort and a primal scream rose from deep within my throat. The battle stopped momentarily, all eyes on the mighty general, face and body splattered with blood as I continued to hold Artorius on the point of my spear in an incredible display of raw power. Then I thrust the blunt end of the shaft into the sand.
The Mlecha watched in horror as the body of their Chief jerked at the end of the weapon. Slowly, Artorius’ torso slid down the length of the spear, his agonized screams renting the air. All the fight seemed to leave the Mlecha. They jumped off their mounts, prostrated before me, and begged for mercy. The world began to turn red, the sunlight began to fade. In this sad colour I thought to myself seeing the foe dropped down at my feet, “Maybe some are saved by killing them”. And the worse I may be yet. But the worst was not so long as I can say ‘This is the worst’. My revenge was over. Then dawned… realization…perhaps that’s what I thought.
I walked out in the grey light and stood and saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in the running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground foxes in their cover. Borrowed time, borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which I saw it all.
Even after slaughtering the man who killed them I still struggled. To this day I see the same scene every time I close my eyes. I see the smiling face of my…my precious family… sister…and then I see that demon Artorius murders and devours them all. To this day even after four years, if I close my eyes, that scene still comes back to haunt me. That thing where my life flashes before my eyes…’perhaps tonight I might sleep peacefully’ I thought.
Four years ago, I stood where I stand now and watched my loved ones die… I was angry, it hurt. Now that I think of it, the anger was just a shield to hide the pain. Pain seared through my abdomen better than a branding iron, my mind conceding to the torment, unable to bring a thought to completion. Without meaning to my body curled into something fatal, something primeval and all the while the pain burned and radiated.
Then… it whispered in my head...Was it fun watching Artorius suffer? Did it fill your cup with cold malice? Did you get a buzz of power when he cried and begged for common human decency? Don't answer. I don't give a damn what you have to say, how you make cruelty alright with twisted logic. He, your father gave you love and you abused it. What proof did you have that he killed your family? Wasn’t he family too? Am I angry? No. I'm bitter and that's worse. Angry is over fast, bitter lasts.
This voice, these memories…they were a nightmare. Then she whispered...my only family now… “You're suffering, your memory of it, is like a teddy bear fashioned from glass shards - the tighter you cling to it the deeper it will cut. So perhaps practice putting it down for longer periods of time, noticing when you have picked it up and it slices at your skin. You and it are separate. One day you'll notice that the bad teddy bear is gone, you lost it sometime and never noticed. You will see that your good and noble choices made a better life, something positive, and now you hold a new teddy bear, soft and warm, one that brings an inner glow and keeps you cosy under starlight and sunshine alike. No need to rush, take a step at a time.”