THIRTY-TWO -- ‘Ifrit Dev takes refuge in the tilism of the City of Gold, at the advice of his mother, Mal‘unah Jadu.

Now before I return to that dastan, I will tell a bit more of the dastan of the Earthquake of Qaf, the Younger Solomon, the Sahib-qiran, the World-conqueror, the Father of Greatness, Amir Hamzah.  It has already been mentioned that when ‘Ifrit’s father, Ahriman, had been killed by the Sahib-qiran, and had died most contemptibly, ‘Ifrit sat mourning for him, absorbed in weeping and lamentation, with a river of tears constantly flowing from his eyes.  Shahpal arranged a week of celebrations in the Amir’s honor, and adorned the festival hall so lavishly that whoever saw it was enraptured and utterly carried away.

On the eighth day the Sahib-qiran said to Shahpal, “Oh Center of the World, it’s not clear what ‘Ifrit’s intentions are, or what he’s up to now--whether he’ll plug up his ears and play deaf like this, or will have something to say about the battle.  But in any case, if he doesn’t have the war-drum sounded, and doesn’t come forth to battle, let Your Excellency have the war-drum sounded, and show him your power and strength.  I came here promising to return in eighteen days, and so much time has passed!  God knows what difficulties my followers and dependents are facing--how distressed they must be because I didn’t come when I promised, and they’re unable to find out how I am!  Not only will they be preoccupied with grieving for me, and absorbed night in day in lamenting and weeping, but in addition a king like Naushervan bears malice toward them, and who has the strength to stand against him?”

Shahpal ordered the war-drums to be sounded, and made all the preparations for war.  The moment the order was given, the drum-beaters took out twelve hundred pairs of gold drums, and twelve hundred pairs of silver drums.  The bass drums were warmed, and the trebles were moistened.  The drum-beaters began to wield the drumsticks, they began to make the mountains and the earth tremble with the sound of their drums.  Since this was the Drum-set of Solomon, its sound could be heard for three days’ journey, and no other instrument could possibly equal its sound.

‘Ifrit was in fact very near.  When he heard the sound of the war-drums, and heard such a tumultuous clamor, he pricked up his ears, and grew quite upset.  His companions too were terrified.  He said to those around him, “I haven’t yet finished mourning for my father, my heart hasn’t yet found comfort or respite from this heavy grief--and he has had the war-drum sounded and taken the field!  This human is surely destined to kill me; undoubtedly I will come to grief through him.”  After saying this, he wept a great deal, till his face was bathed in tears.

He sent a swift-flying Dev to call his mother.  That cursed one, whose name was *Mal’unah Jadu, was an incomparable magician; to her the spells of *Samiri were child’s play.  The moment she heard, she came like a whirlwind, as though some disaster had been sent down from the sky.  ‘Ifrit threw himself on her neck and began to weep with great sobs; his tear-drops fell one after the other like pearls on a necklace.  He told her all about the Sahib-qiran, and revealed the whole secret.

She said, “In truth this human who has come to Shahpal’s aid is your mortal enemy, and the enemy of the whole family of high-headed Devs.  The best thing will be for you to go and stay in the City of Gold, a tilism I have made.  When this human has gone back to the Realm of the World, then we’ll have it out with Shahpal, and punish him for his intransigence.”  ‘Ifrit was very pleased with his mother’s advice, and took it to heart.  Instantly he set out with Mal’unah for the tilism of the City of Gold, and told no one about his plan.

His whole army was destroyed; ‘Ifrit’s pomp and splendor were ruined.  Many of his soldiers went their own way, and a number took counsel with each other:  “Shahpal is our long-time master; he is a compassionate man, courteous, generous, and benevolent.  Let’s go and beg forgiveness for our sin, let’s ask permission to come before His Excellency and apologize profusely for having left him.”

At length the Ethiop of the Night, defeated by the Caucasian of the Day, preferred running away to staying, and the world-illumining sun overthrew the darkness of the world with his sword of light.  Shahpal and the Sahib-qiran, mounted on thrones, set out for the battlefield with their army.  On the way, the Jinns spoke to the king and informed him, “The accursed ‘Ifrit heard the sound of the war-drum and ran off during the night for fear of the Sahib-qiran of the Age and the King of Kings of Qaf, he couldn’t at all find the courage to confront them.  As though not just his father’s death, but Doomsday itself, had come upon him!  His soldiers, scattered like the stars of the Great Bear, have gone their ways.  Some groups of them, showing on their faces the marks of repentance, have presented themselves to ask for pardon for their old sins, and to re-enter your service.  They are standing  with folded hands before the royal presence, heads bowed with absolute repentance and humility.”

The king, hearing this good news, was delighted; offering up gold and pearls for the Sahib-qiran’s sake, he entered the fort of Garden of Iram.  At the good news that ‘Ifrit’s army had come to pay obeisance, the king was overjoyed.  All the nobles of Qaf presented formal gifts to Shahpal, and offered up gold and jewels for the Sahib-qiran’s sake.  For many days a royal celebration was in progress; everyone found all kinds of pleasure in such a delightful gathering.

After the celebration was over, the Amir said to King Shahpal, “Now please allow me to depart, in your graciousness please permit me to go!  My affairs are suffering a great deal--I’m very anxious at being unable to find out how my companions are.”  King Shahpal said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, it was agreed between us that you would kill ‘Ifrit and then go, and would complete this task before you were given leave to go.  But ‘Ifrit has not yet been killed.  If you go without having killed ‘Ifrit, and don’t send him to Hell with your sword of Islam, after you go he’ll lift his head high again, and I’ll be compelled to impose on you again, and to call you back from there.  It’s better for you to first kill ‘Ifrit, then go to the Realm of the World, so that we’ll all be comforted by the sight of his corpse; afterwards I’ll send you back very quickly, and gladly give you permission to go.”

The Amir lowered his head, and after a time gave Shahpal this answer:  “In any case, I agree to your request.  But we must find out where ‘Ifrit has fled, where he has gone to hide, so I can go there and kill him, and separate his head from his body.”  Shahpal said, “His hiding-place cannot be discovered without going to the Crystal Fort.”  The Amir answered, “Then why do we delay in going to the Crystal Fort?  Your servant is ready to go right now.”

Shahpal at once sent off the vanguard, and the next day he set out with the Amir and reached the Crystal Fort.  The nobles of that place presented themselves and made formal offerings to the king, and showed him every kind of respectful obedience, and submitted, “’Ifrit has gone with his mother Mal’unah Jadu to the tilism of the City of Gold, which that old hag has made; he has hidden there, he has withdrawn himself from all activity.  That tilism works entirely through magic, it is a thoroughly desolate and forbidding place.”

The Amir said, “Please give your servant permission to depart, please allow him to set out, trusting in God Most High.  I will send that hellish creature, along with his mother, down to Hell.  Since he is alone, I too will go alone, and through the Lord’s grace and mercy I will conquer him.”  The king, hearing these words of the Amir’s, looked toward ‘Abdur Rahman.  ‘Abdur Rahman said, “Have no anxiety in your heart, and send him off cheerfully.  I’ve already consulted numerology and astrology.  The Amir will be victorious over ‘Ifrit, his journey will be attended with immediate success.”

The king, seating the Amir on a throne, said to four swift-flying Parizads, “Take the Sahib-qiran to the City of Gold, convey him there in great comfort.”  The Parizads at once took up the throne and flew off.  After three days and nights, they descended on a mountain which was green in color and was called the Poison-stone Mountain; strange kinds of people lived there.  The Amir asked the Parizads, “How far is the City of Gold from here, and which way is it, do you know?”  They said, “It is fully twelve miles away, but not without great difficulty.”

The Amir said, “Then why have you stopped here?  Why have you not made just one bound into the air and reached it, why have you put the throne down here?  What makes you afraid?”  The Parizads said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, from under this mountain to the City of Gold, Mal’unah Jadu has created tilisms, and raised all kinds of wonders.  If we take one step beyond this place, we’ll instantly burn up!  Please just look--that faint glimmer you can see is the City of Gold; that cursed one/1/ is staying in it.”

Finally the Sahib-qiran camped on that mountain, and rested there all night.  In the morning, after offering his prayers, he beseeched God to send him victory.  And he said to the Parizads, “You stay here; don’t be at all anxious, and keep your ears open.  I’m going toward the City of Gold, but listen to what I say.  I’ll give three battle-cries:  the first when I meet ‘Ifrit, the second during the fight, the third after victory.  If you don’t hear the third battle-cry, then you’ll know that I’ve been killed by ‘Ifrit; inform King Shahpal of my death.”

With these words he tightened his coat of mail, took the Scorpion of Solomon in his hand, rolled up his sleeves, and went down from the mountain.  It was so dark that he couldn’t take a step forward, he couldn’t even advance one foot in that direction.  Again he climbed the mountain.  When he looked from there he saw plenty of light.  He thought, “Why is this?  When I go down, the light disappears!”  Again he went down, and found the same darkness; he couldn’t even see his own hand.  The Amir was astonished.  He again climbed the mountain and looked.

Five or six times he climbed up and went down the mountain, trying to unravel this knotty problem.  The Parizads thought that the Sahib-qiran was exercising.  They asked the Amir, “Oh Sahib-qiran, surely people in the Realm of the World don’t exercise like this?”  The Amir said, “I’m not exercising.  When I go down the mountain, I find such darkness that the longest night of winter would be bright daylight by comparison!  There’s no way I can find words to describe it.  And when I climb the mountain, again the light can be seen.  I’m very much astonished and bewildered.  What’s happening here?  What a strange work of the Lord this is!”

The Parizads told him, “Mal’unah Jadu, ‘Ifrit’s mother, who has spread a tilism from here to her fortress, is behind this wonder which has astonished you.”  The Amir, hearing this, said, “Well, in any case, come what may, now I’ll go into that darkness, and go forward trusting in God.”  With these words, he went down the mountain.

/1/ “Cursed one” [mal((uunah] is a pun on her name.

== on to Chapter 33 ==

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