The sunlight glinted off his chest. The armor shone like burnished gold against his taut arms. It had seen plenty of battles and yet it hadn’t lost its shine, leave alone a scratch upon it. It still shone like new. Over years it had melted into him, almost becoming one with his self. He knew it had yet to see the biggest and the most important battle of its time.
Narayana looked at Nara, sharpening his weapons. Preparing himself for the gruesome days ahead. He could see the resigned look on his face, as though he was being pushed to do something against his will. Neither of them had much choice. This battle that they would ride into, would be the harbinger of dharma. And for that, blood had to be shed. Mother Earth had to be appeased, for all the adharma that had sapped out her benevolence. In a lot of ways and for a lot of people this would be the culmination of their chance at moksha or yet another few lifetimes of nibhandana.
Nara looked at Narayana and a message of deep understanding passed through them.
He could sense his end was nearing. There were plenty of flashes about his past that came in his dreams. And the two men who frequented it. They adorned ascetic garb, yet there was something quite regal about their bearing. Their eyes shone with ancient wisdom and their actions seemed like one mirrored the others’ thoughts. For all purposes, it seemed like they were one soul in two bodies.
Surya looked down at his progeny. The one he had sworn to protect. The one who had sought asylum in him when he knew that his end was nearing. And yet after a few hundred years, when The Preserver had come to him, seeking that his amsa be sent to Earth to play a part in the circumstances that would lead to the end of the Dwapara Yuga and the beginning of the Kali Yuga, he had seen it as a chance to save his devotee from eternal damnation as well as liberation from his promise and curse. A promise that he had not really thought through when he had granted it. A curse that he had no choice but to bear. He still shuddered at the thought of it and the havoc it could have caused, had it not been for the sages.
Now was his chance to set things right.
It was the 11th day.
This war had taken a major toll on both sides. The great-sire Bhishma had fallen and Drona was now commander as per his suggestion to his friend.
When Drona fell on the 15th day, he knew that the onus was upon him. His king was counting on him. And he couldn’t let him down. But more than that, this was his time in the sun. This was the moment he was waiting for, to show the world who the better warrior was. To showcase his prowess and finally gain the recognition he was seeking for.
[Art by jubjubjedi on Deviantart]
His time to shine had finally come. He rode into battle in full glory. He had his eyes only on one target. But to get to him would be a mammoth task and he knew it. He had many hurdles in his way and he had to cross each one of them, making sure that the promises he had given were kept. He had had to use his Shakthi against Ghatotkacha, but he still had plenty of weapons to ensure that he slew his target. Mindful of the promises he had given, the charity that was forced upon him, he rode into battle on the 16th day and wreaked havoc.
On day 17, he finally came face to face with his nemesis.
He saw them riding into the battlefield, towards him, the flag of Hanuman flying high. The chariot being driven by Krishna and Arjuna, his head held high, the focus in his eyes unmistakable. His eyes were playing tricks on him, surely. From the far distance, he thought they were wearing ascetic garbs and not the battlefield armor. He blinked his eyes, the vision too strong and saw them again. They looked remarkably similar to the two men from his dreams. What had he heard them call each other? It was eluding his memory. As soon as they came closer, the mirage cleared and he saw that they were wearing battlefield armor.
Nara! Narayana! He recalled the names in a flash!
He saw the chariot speeding towards him, driven by Narayana while Nara took up arms and readied himself for the battle.
He could see Narayana mouthing a name from the distance.
Sahasrakavacha – the one with a thousand armors.
He had just given away his last armor as charity to Indra.
[to be continued...]