THIRTY-ONE -- [‘Amar uses fire and trickery to defeat and plunder the enemy army.]

Please hear about ‘Amar.  Sitting atop the #Elephant-proof Gate with a pair of binoculars,/1/ he was gazing around in all four directions.  Suddenly his glance went toward the jungle, his eye fell on that wilderness.  He saw that it was a very large jungle, an arena for all kinds of wild animals.  He asked Darab,/2/ “No doubt there are many beasts of prey in the jungle?”  Darab said, “Definitely.  Of tigers alone there can’t be fewer than six or seven thousand; there can’t be so many tigers gathered in any other jungle.  And there must be even more beasts of prey of other species.  No one has ever before seen such a jungle--even the mention of it sends a shiver through the heart!  This jungle goes on for hundreds of days’ journey, its width and length are beyond dispute.”

An ‘ayyari occurred to ‘Amar.  At once he called the ‘ayyars and ordered them, “Cut down trees from the jungle and heap them up on three sides; do only this much, and leave a way out in the direction of Hurmuz’s camp.  Close up the passages in all other directions.  Then put a good amount of naphtha oil on those felled trees, and set them on fire this evening.  Show the world a novel spectacle, and come and report to me.”

The ‘ayyars, in a body, set out for this wilderness, and they all carried out ‘Amar’s order.  About two watches of the night had passed, when the tongue of flame rose high: its fire reached up to the region of ethereal flame, or rather, even beyond it to the revolving heavenly sphere./3/  The beasts of prey of the wilderness, like the tiger, cheetah, lion, bear, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros, baboon, hyena, and ourangoutang, afraid of the fierceness of the fire, all crowded together in one place.  After going around on three sides, on the fourth side they found a way out; they found only that one way out.  Crowd after crowd, horde after horde, they ran towards Hurmuz’s camp.  When anyone appeared in their path, they ate him.

Hundreds of men fell victim to the beasts of prey.  The whole camp was helpless and defenceless before this unexpected calamity.  Hurmuz’s army became fearful, panic took hold of them all.  They began to put on underwear instead of chain-mail, and chain-mail instead of underwear.  When they began to saddle their horses, they couldn’t tell the crupper from the bridle, anxiety had made them so distraught.  In the whole army the cry was raised, “’Amar has made a surprise night-attack!”  They began to wield their swords against each other.  By morning thousands of men had been devoured by the life-destroying crocodile of the sword; more thousands had become food for the wild beasts of prey, and set out on the road to Nothingness.

When morning came, Hurmuz, Faramarz, Zhopin, and Bakhtyarak, with the officers of the army who had been saved from this unexpected calamity, went to look at the corpses, in order to find out how many of their own army had been killed, and how many soldiers from the other side had been killed--how many the sword of Death had swept away.  They saw that their own soldiers’ bodies lay in heaps, all the dead belonged to their own side.  Here and there wild beasts of prey also lay dead.  These fools had fought with animals, mistaking them for men.

Hurmuz and Faramarz, and Zhopin and the other officers, were absolutely astonished:  “What’s this?  It’s a great calamity sent by God!”  Bakhtyarak said, “This is a petty ‘ayyari of ‘Amar’s, ‘Amar has struck you the blow.  May Lat and Manat not let me speak falsely!  He lit a fire in the jungle on three sides, and left a way out on this side.  When the flames grew high, all the jungle animals were endangered.  Then the wild beasts of prey left the jungle and fled; they didn’t find any way out on the other sides, they saw only this one way out.  They came toward the camp, and ate up the people of the camp.”  After saying this, he sent ‘ayyars to find out.  His words turned out to be true, they found his guess to be correct.

Please hear about ‘Amar.  When he took up his telescope and looked, he found Hurmuz’s camp completely anxious, distraught, and disordered.  Then a thought came to him.  He said to ‘Adi, “Tonight I feel like launching a night-attack on that fire-worshiper’s camp, and bringing down a new calamity on those cursed ones!”  ‘Adi said, “We will obey whatever order you give; success will come from obeying you.”  ‘Amar said, “Make your battle-cries in the name of Landhaur, and shout very loudly.”  He told his scheme to all the officers of the army, and revealed to them his secret plans.  They all armed and equipped themselves, they became fully alert.

When half the night had passed, ‘Amar took the army and came out of the fort, and launched a night attack on his foes whose luck was asleep.  ‘Adi, drawing his sword, raised the battle-cry, “He who knows, knows; he who doesn’t know, let him know now:  that I am the Rustam of the age, the Emperor of Hindustan, Landhaur bin Sa’dan!  Where are Hurmuz and Faramarz and Zhopin?  Let them taste the flavor of my blow, let them rest their heads on my feet!”  Many who were cowardly, seeing ‘Adi’s sword flash, closed their eyes and went and hid in the bales of hay that were lying before the horses.  A number went and hid in the enclosures and tents.  A number, taking ‘Adi’s battle-cry for thunder, stuffed cotton in their ears.  In short, everyone did whatever occurred to him to try and save his life.

Hurmuz, Faramarz, Zhopin, and Bakhtyarak too awoke from the sleep of carelessness, they were extremely upset and anxious.  Struck with astonishment, they began saying to each other, “Where did Landhaur come from, how did he manage to get through here?”  Bakhtyarak replied, “Your Excellency, this too is a plan of ‘Amar’s, to make a night-attack in Landhaur’s name.  ‘Amar’s trickery has made us lose heart.”  In short, the army of Islam turned the infidels’ ranks into heaps of corpses, they sent thousands of infidels to Hell beneath their swords.

When about four hours of the night remained, the ‘ayyars informed ‘Amar, “Two brothers of Zhopin’s, *Jahandar of Kabul and Jahangir of Kabul, with an army more numerous than ants or locusts, have come at Naushervan’s order to the aid of Hurmuz and Faramarz.  They’ve brought a most magnificent army.  So please look in front of you and see what a dust-storm is approaching--the dust is so thick that there’s no room for even imagination or thought to creep in!”

When ‘Amar looked carefully, truly it was hardly dust--it was such a dark black hurricane coming that it would cause even the most piercing eye to blink.  The moment ‘Amar saw this, his wits deserted him, he was all at sea:  “A great blow has fallen, and I don’t see how the army of Islam can be saved now!  I don’t find any means of escape from the hands of this army.  Oh God, what will I say to Hamzah, what excuse will I make to him for this situation?”

Now, ‘Amar had access to miraculous powers:  when no ‘ayyari came to mind, and his heart was troubled over this, then he recited a prayer calling down blessings on the Prophet and his family forty times, blowing the prayers over the back of his hand,/4/ and prayed for an ‘ayyari; he sought for assistance before God’s throne.  Instantly three hundred sixty ‘ayyaris which had never even crossed his mind before occurred to him; those ‘ayyaris delighted him.  When ‘Amar did this, so many novel ‘ayyaris entered his mind that they made him an even more inventive ‘ayyar than before.

Immediately sounding his white conch-shell, he called out to the champions of the army of Islam, and shouted aloud, “Oh Rustams of the age, stand firm in the bloody battlefield, keep the ideal of valor alive!  Today no one from the infidel army should escape with his life, the whole army should go straight to Hell!  Bahram Gurd the Emperor of China, with an army more numerous than ants and locusts, has arrived to help you--be very sure that an army which is Victory incarnate has been sent by the Lord.  That thick cloud of dust which you see ahead is caused by the steps of his army!”

When the infidel army heard of the coming of Bahram the Emperor of China, and saw the amount of dust ahead, their hearts sank, their spirit was broken by fear and panic:  “The army that’s fighting is more than we can manage--now how can we stand against that overpowering army?  For first of all the new army is fierce; second, it is innumerable!”  They ran head over heels away; no one had the courage to confront them and stand before them.

Bakhtyarak had the proclamation made, “Comrades, morning is near, don’t be afraid, stand fast in the field!  How do you know this army is Bahram’s, who has told you so?  Perhaps someone has come to help you--the Lord may have sent this army!”  But in such a clamor ‘who listens to an old singer?’/5/  For it was every man for himself, every man was obsessed with his own situation.  All the soldiers who had been spared by the sword, fled like camels without nose-strings; they never paused for breath, they didn’t stop even for a moment.  Hurmuz, Faramarz, Zhopin, and Bakhtyarak too, on the excuse of rallying the army, followed them, and saved their own lives; this was all that they could think of.

‘Amar looted the infidel army so thoroughly that he left not even a straw behind--and promptly, victorious and triumphant, he entered the fort with his army.  He informed the officers of the army of the real state of affairs.  Reinforcing the fort even stronger than strong, he tranquilly ordered everyone to rest and be at ease.

/1/ This seems to be the meaning of [sairbiin].
/2/ ‘Amar’s current fort, Wolfland, had been governed by two brothers, Suhrab and Darab.  Suhrab ran off, but Darab accepted Islam and stayed on as an ally.
/3/ In Indo-Muslim folk cosmology, the earth is surrounded by concentric spheres of fire, coldness, water, wind, dust, etc.; the list varies in different accounts.
/4/ Apparently some marks or signs appear there as he recites the prayer [daruud].
/5/ This saying has the air of a proverb, though I could not confirm that it definitely was one. 

== on to Chapter 32 ==

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