The Battle Clouds Loometh

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[Read first part here] {Continued from an old post “The Boy Prince Holdeth the Great Sword”}

Little Girl: Dadu, tell me more of the story of the Boy Prince from the House of Gandhars.

Grandpa: Be off, little girl, I am watching MTV Roadies.

Little Girl: Aww Dadu, tell tell. Else I will tell Dadi of the jalebis you have at the store down the corner, while pretending to be out on your morning walk.

Grandpa: Pesky twerp. So where was I?

Little Girl: The Boy Prince had been given the Great Sword. Was he made the King now? Did he lead his forces into battle against the Orange Knights?

Grandpa:  No. He did not. For to be made the King, one must lead from the front, stand at the vanguard and give the battle cry. The Queen Mother from the Land of Pasta-Lasagna and the The Wise Men of the Hand believed that the Boy Prince would be bested, within moments, of going into battle and it serves no good for the subjects to see the King fall right at the beginning of fighting. So they made him the Regent, not the King, but the Regent, to stand at the very back of the lines with the royal son-in-law the Viscount of the Ground, who it was reputed could make earth into gold.  There, at the rear, he would be protected from harm by the armies before him. For only the King is expected to lead the charge, and not the Regent.

Little Girl: But how could he ever become King then? How can there be a King who cannot fight?

Grandpa: Being a king was in his blue blood, my little munchkin, or as the Prince had said “it’s in my armor and leggings”. The time was not right for him to lead, because defeat was inevitable. It was far better for him to wait when the planets would be more aligned, or so the Queen Mother thought, when he was assured of the throne. As to his cowardice, the Queen Mother relied on her Troubadours, who would create songs of great heroism and courage extolling the Boy Prince. For truth lies not in the truth, but in the songs.

Little Girl: What happened to the Silent Satrap, who was sitting on the throne, the one who spoke to Butterflies?

Grandpa: In a grand ceremony, he kneeled and then prostrated himself in front of the Boy Prince, though some said he had been doing that all his life, and announced his exile.

Little Girl: How interesting.But then what did the Orange Knights do?

Grandpa: They were rallying their troops and bannermen, preparing for the great assault on the capital. But even there, there was much ferment and flux. The Bald Brave, leader of the Orange Knights and the Shadow King, who had eons ago reduced the Northern Lands to rubble and ash, with his chariot march, had become old and sullen. He had wanted to sit on the Throne but never could, but hope springs eternal in the old and the young alike, and even though his time was passed, and his sword grew dull, and his words grew addled, he wanted to keep trying. But the Knights had had enough of him. They wanted someone new, someone with great might and power.

Little Girl:  The Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces?

Grandpa: Yes. There was great prosperity under him and his hold on the dominion was absolute. He was of humble origins who had rosen to Knighthood through battle, not through anointment. The troops respected him and his fame spread far and wide. But the darkness hung around him, in the form of the Great Massacre in the Western Provinces, in which his role was always put under doubt. As the clamor for making him the Shadow King rose amidst the Orange Knights, the Bald Brave tried to fight back, reminding everyone of the shadow of the Great Massacre, though he had himself been part of much slaughter and scorching of the earth. His fight was short lived and the Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces became the Shadow King, with an overwhelming show of force.  He was known by different names now, one of which was White Beard. To prepare for the great battle, White Beard sent his most trusted lieutenant, Black Beard, a man of shadow and blood and utter ruthlessness, to the Northern Provinces, to gather strength. Whispers followed them both. Did they pay too much attention to a particular subject? Would White Beard be held guilty of other great crimes? The Troubadours tried their best to make the whispers gather their darkness, and those that loathed him found him as loathsome as ever, but his armies remained as loyal.

Little Girl: So they met on battle, White Beard and the Prince?

Grandpa: Ah wish it was that simple. There were other lords and dukes with their own designs on the throne. There was the Caste Lord, once an ally of the Orange Knights but now a sworn enemy of the White Beard. There were the Cow Duke and his son, who made merry, watching lovely dancers dance in their courts, while their subjects lived in the darkness, amidst death and horror. There was the Furious Lady of the Strike, from the Barren-lands of the East, lands where craftsmen dared not tread, for a curse hung there, thick as night, one that they called the Red curse. And finally, there was the Mendicant.

Little Girl: Who? Dadu, you just add people to your stories, to make them more complicated.

Grandpa: Remember I told you about the Mad Monk and the In-and-out Breathing One?

Little Girl: Yes, they would each stop eating for days together, unless they too were given the right to govern.

Grandpa: Well in their group was another, a devotee of the Mad Monk. The one they called the Mendicant. As the Mad Monk’s power waned, the Mendicant split from the Mad Monk, forming his own army, what he called “The Banner of the People”. People have fought for so long, he said, for monarchs and now it was time to fight for themselves. There would be no King he said, only the People. Only the People shall rule, there shall be no castles, no ceremonial armor, no crowns, no palaces. He said, again and again, that he would never be the King nor even a Lord.

Little Girl: That sounds lovely. I already like the Mendicant.

Grandpa: That is why you are a little girl, little girl. You also believe in the Tooth fairy, don’t you?

Little Girl: Don’t patronize me, your patriarchy is most repellent. But do continue, I want to hear about the Mendicant.

Grandpa: Soon, despite the best attempts of his once master the Mad Monk, the Mendicant established a small toe-hold, besting a satrap of the Gandhars, where he became the Lord.

Little Girl: But I thought he said there would be no Lord

Grandpa: In a manner of speaking. It seemed the People wanted him to be the Lord, so what could he do? They wanted him to have chariots, so he had. Except his chariots had no banners, in keeping with his principle. They wanted him to have a palace, so he had. Except his palace was smaller than that of other Lords. Presently an army collected under him, sellswords and mercenaries, masterless apprentices and adventurers, those banished by the Orange Knights and the Hand. The Rule of the People was established, white little mock crowns with “We are the people” were worn, the law was broken again and again, and the Mendicant said if people do not want the law, there shall be no law. Some troubadours too joined the Banner of the People, other composed songs that spoke of their glory. And through it all, the God of all troubadours,  the Grand and Great Horn, kept shouting over the air, asking for answers, even when he had no questions to ask.

Little Girl: So the Mendicant opposed both, the Gandhars and the Orange Knights?

Grandpa: So the said. There were others who called them the Gandhar’s shadow army, to be used as a scimitar against the Orange menace. Some called them bearers of the Red curse, that had decimated once the fertile lands in the East. And some called them saviors and monks and crusaders.

Little Girl: That does not sound that good what you said…this breaking of law.

Grandpa: Tyranny in the people’s name is no different from tyranny in the name of a person or in the name of a God. It is but that. Tyranny.

Little Girl: So what happened at the battle? How can all of them fight together against each other? How confusing that must be…

Grandpa: If you want something simple, go and watch Dhoom 3.

Little Girl: No no tell me no Dadu, what then? Who fought at the Grand Battle? Who came victorious?

Grandpa: Uff, what do you think? I am a story machine?

Little Girl: Well what can I say? You may be a miser of the first order when it comes to giving gifts, but you do have a first class imagination. What crazy stories you dream up.

Grandpa: You think none of this ever happened?

Little Girl: Yes. That’s exactly what I think.

Grandpa: (Sighs)

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30 thoughts on “The Battle Clouds Loometh

  1. The superficial profundity of voice your concern astonishes me, especially when what is voiced is only a voice and not a concern. Although I am not insightful of a revolution of any kind, the mockery of an already shallowed governing process suffocates me….you aspire to be a politician yourself….if you are so very concerned why not suggest something rather than join the heard who only knows to scream their lungs (like the furious lady of the strike, who will shout even when there is no one listening)

  2. Arnab… It would be a crime against your regular readers if you dont follow this piece with a second sequel, the GRAND FINALE..
    Cannot stop wondering the depth of your understanding, your imagination prowess and your ability at word play…

    Hats Off Boss!

  3. Land of Pasta-Lasagna … and here i thought stereotyping an entire country with banal humour wasn’t your style.
    if someone had put a blog on wsj calling india a land of ‘Biryani-Curry’ i’m guessing you’d have a lengthy rant about how pathetic and low-brow it is.
    It almost sounds like South india = Land of ‘idli-dosas’ ? Chennai Express/Slumdog called, they want their stereotypes back ;)

    Seriously that NRI-Desi piece and now this kinda stuff, what’s happening here? Very average

  4. Shadows have been speaking in hushed tones that the Mendicant is a mercenary working for the Great White Lords of the far and cold Lands of the West. Under the garb of ‘the banner of the People’, his sole objective was to protect the Gandhars by distracting and not allow The Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces to come to throne. For if he does, he shall inspire and enable people to reach rich harvest and generate great wealth – something which the Lords of the far and cold Lands of the West do not want, as that situation will put them under risk of facing two serious adversaries: i) the Biggest Land grabbers of the Middle Kingdom, ii) the resurgent Orange Knights under the able leadership of The Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces.

    The Lords of the far and cold Lands of the West, at any rate want to avoid The Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces from coming to power.

    We shall see.

    • @amAtya rAkshasa,
      How profound your knowledge is about the intentions of ‘lords of far and cold lands of the west’! ! I am sure you are getting your knowledge straight from the mouth of running horse and distributing the pearls of your wisdom among us commoners. I thank you for this great service.

  5. a pox on all their houses!! the brazen hypocisy of the safai mahotsav takes the breath away – spending god knows how many millions on song and dance just 300 kms from the recent riots!!
    I would not be surprised if there is an outbreak of Red wedding copycats!!

  6. “There were the Cow Duke and his son, who made merry, watching lovely dancers dance in their courts, while their subjects lived in the darkness, amidst death and horror”…..Sad but True…

  7. I have been waiting for this follow up on Gandhara dynasty folktale for a while. One way to preserve history and speak truth is by legends and fairy tales. The reality is too ugly and confusing for a plain language version. Kudos to the author.

  8. great writing GB….I may not agree with your analysis totally though mostly agree but just the fact that I was visualizing every character in play made this post so much more enjoyable for me.

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