SIXTY-THREE -- The Amir sets out toward Nayastan, and kills Sang-andaz the Bloodthirsty of Nayastan, the lord of that place.
        The cannibal champion Marzban caused a magician to make a beautiful magic horse, set the horse up in the wilderness, and hid nearby until Sa’d bin ‘Amr found and mounted it.  The horse carried Sa’d off into Marzban’s clutches.  But Sa’d was aided by the chivalrous Ga’olangi.  Ga’olangi arranged a fair fight between Marzban and Sa’d, in which Sa’d overcame his captor; Ga’olangi himself then killed Marzban.  Sa’d remained in the friendly custody of Ga’olangi.  Hamzah, learning of this, went to rescue him.x 
After some days, the Amir arrived near Alabaster.  Ga’olangi, hearing of the Amir’s arrival, dressed Sa’d in resplendent clothing and sent him, with gifts and presents, to the Amir.  Sending cash and goods for the Amir’s companions as well, he pleased them very much.  The Amir embraced Sa’d; hearing how well Ga’olangi had treated him, he was very pleased and grateful.  In the morning Ga’olangi, having the attack-drum sounded, came into the field, he arrayed the ranks of his army in the field of slaughter.  The Amir too armed himself and went onto the battlefield.

Ga’olangi, seeing how short in stature the Amir was, suspected that it was some other champion.  He said, “Oh champion, I have business with Hamzah, I have nothing to do with you.  It’s not my practice to fight with mediocre champions!  Go and send Hamzah, let him come and confront me.”  The Amir said, “I myself am Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib.”  Ga’olangi replied, “Oh Amir, I thought you would be taller of stature  and more powerful of body than I!  With a stature like this, did you really defeat and subdue thousands of high-headed champions, and bring high-handed Devs under your hand in Qaf?”  The Amir said, “If I am insignificant in size, what of it?  My Helper is very powerful, compared to Him the earth and sky are insubstantial.  Come on, what kind of an attack can you make?  Come ahead, confront me and show me your chivalry and prowess!”

Ga’olangi said, “You make the first attack, let me see what your strength is like.”  The Amir replied, “We worshipers of the Lord don’t attack first.”  Ga’olangi immediately made three attacks on the Amir, without a break.  Sweat came out from the root of every hair on the Amir’s body, but he held his position before him like a man, he didn’t take a single step backwards.  Ga’olangi was extremely surprised:  “He has so much strength--it’s a miracle!”  Finally the Amir took a mace with a striking force of twenty-six thousand pounds, and launched such a blow with it at Ga’olangi that the bullock on which Ga’olangi was riding died from the shock, and Ga’olangi too was affected.  Ga’olangi wanted to kill the Amir’s horse as well.  The Amir leaped down and confronted him.  Ga’olangi struck two sword-blows at the Amir.  Although the Amir’s shield was slashed to a depth of four fingers, Ga’olangi’s sword broke as well, his sword-blade fell out of its hilt.  Ga’olangi, throwing away the hilt, placed his hand on the Amir’s waist.  The Amir seized his belt.  Until evening, they exerted their strength on each other.

Ga’olangi said, “Oh Amir, the night was meant for rest.  Please rest now, please excuse me for the present.  In the morning, whatever is to happen will happen.”  The Amir said, “I won’t turn away without settling this.”  Food was sent from both their kitchens.  They sat together and ate their dinner.  After drinking some cups of wine, by the light of torches they again began to exert their strength.  The narrator writes that for twenty-one days and nights the Amir and Ga’olangi continuously fought together.  Both of them stood very firm in the field.  There was no technique of fighting which was not tried by both sides.

Finally, on the twenty-second day the Amir said to Ga’olangi, “There are no techniques of fighting left untried.  Now you try to dislodge my wrestling-stance, and I’ll try to dislodge yours.  Whichever of us dislodges the other’s stance, has placed the other under the obligation of serving him.”  Ga’olangi agreed to this most willingly.  He laughingly answered the Amir, “Oh Amir, you blundered when you made this condition, you made a big mistake when you proposed this condition between us!  I uproot huge, large, splendid trees, I pull them up by their roots and fling them away, I pluck them out of the ground like straws.  Your wrestling-stance is not stronger than a tree!”  The Amir said, “All right, what’s the harm?  We’ll soon find out!”

Ga’olangi exerted so much strength that his fingers split open and began to bleed, and blood began flowing from his nose and ears as well.  He was on the verge of fainting.  But the Amir’s wrestling-stance could not be dislodged.  The Amir sank into the ground up to his waist.  Ga’olangi, growing weak, said, “Oh Amir, I’ve already used all the strength I had.”  The Amir commanded, “Be warned--I’m going to give a battle-cry!”  He replied, “You can make as much noise as your heart desires!  I’m not a boy, to tremble at the sound of your voice, or feel afraid of it.”  When the Amir gave the battle-cry “God is great!”, the desert shook for thirty-two miles all around.  Lifting Ga’olangi above his head, he spun him around and put him gently on the ground; he proved all his claims to be false.

Then he commanded ‘Amar, “Bind him, and don’t give him any chance to escape.”  Ga’olangi replied, “Amir, why should you bind me?  I am bound by my pledge of obedience to you!”  The Amir commanded, “Then accept Islam.”  He at once, with a sincere heart, said the profession of faith.  The Amir embraced him, and told everyone the good news of his becoming a Muslim.  And taking him into his tent, he introduced him to all the champions.  Ga’olangi took the Amir, together with his companions, into his city, and kept the Amir absorbed in celebrations for forty days.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .

        In Ga’olangi’s company, Hamzah sought further adventures.  He attacked, overcame, and killed two kings, Kakh of Bakhtar and Ir’ash, who ruled nearby cannibal cities.
The narrator writes that after exterminating Ir’ash, the Amir asked Ga’olangi, “Now what city lies ahead of us?”  Ga’olangi submitted, “It is Nayastan, a large and splendid city.  The ruler of the city is named *Stonethrower the Bloodthirsty of Nayastan, and his army too is very fierce and full of hardihood.  His height is one hundred ninety yards.  His eyes glow like ovens, and his soldiers are innumerable.  The way there is so narrow that two men can’t walk abreast, not even birds can enter there.  And on both sides of the road flames of fire shoot out of the ground, so hot that they melt even mountains.”

The Amir paid no heed to his words, and set out for Nayastan.  When the Amir reached that place, his army couldn’t bear it, they couldn’t stand the hardship; people began to die from the heat of the flames.  Then the Amir placed the noose of Khvajah Khizr/1/ on the ground, and commanded, “Take hold of the end of this, and come ahead, don’t have any doubt now in your hearts.”  The narrator writes that the Amir’s whole army, with their mounts, burned up.  One champion mounted on a camel, and three hundred foot-soldiers, seized the rope and crossed that river of fire; all the rest of his soldiers set out for the land of Nothingness.

At length, with the greatest difficulty, the Amir arrived near the city.  Stonethrower the Bloodthirsty of Nayastan, who was its king, heard of the Amir’s arrival and came out of the city with his soldiers, he brought his whole army to confront him.  The Amir saw that around each soldier’s neck hung a bag filled with stones.  Seeing the Amir, they all with one accord began to hurl stones.  Among the Amir’s companions seventy-one men survived; all the rest were stoned to death by the enemy.  The Amir, seeing this, felt sorely helpless and under pressure.

The Amir, drawing his sword, rushed into their army the way a tiger enters a herd of goats.  He began to wield swords in both hands, he began to strike off their heads from their necks.  So many bloodthirsty soldiers were killed that their blood began to form a river.  Finally Stonethrower the Bloodthirsty of Nayastan came and struck a sword-blow at the Amir’s head.  The Amir warded it off.  When he began to lift his mace, the Amir made a leap and struck him such a sword-blow that both his legs were cut off at the knees and sank into the ground.  The Amir struck a second sword-blow that sent him off to Hell.  And the surviving enemy soldiers, who had shut themselves up in their fort, he caused to be burned to death by fire, he reduced them all to ashes.

And he said, “I’ve heard Buzurchmihr say that I would emerge from the Dark Regions with seventy friends, that I would defeat and subdue all those enemies.  Now seventy-one men are with me.  It remains to be seen which one of them is fated to die, which one’s name is erased from the page of life.”  With these words, he fell into deep grief.  The narrator says that the Amir said to Ga’olangi, “Oh my friend, a hundred thousand horsemen and footmen were with me, and out of all of them only these seventy-one men have survived, all the rest have been finished off!  I am very much grieved at their death!  Now tell me, what city lies ahead of us?”

.    .    .    .    .    .    .

        Hamzah and his sadly diminished band of companions continued their adventures.  They killed enemy champions, and overcame a tilism.  Finding that the magician who had made the tilism lay dead, they burned his body and his magic book; but ‘Amar saved a few pages.  They traveled on, keeping careful watch.
The Amir had assigned the first watch to ‘Adi, the second watch to *Malik Ashtar, the third watch to King Landhaur, and the fourth to himself; thus he enjoined them to remain awake and alert.  As ‘Adi began his watch, he saw a deer nearby.  Killing it, he cleaned it and began to cook its meat.  When the meat was ready, an old crone appeared, and began to grind her teeth at ‘Adi.  ‘Adi said, “Oh old woman, tell me truly who you are, and why you have come here.  Why have you undertaken the hardships of travel, and why do you grind your teeth at me?  Tell me, or I’ll kill you right now--give me a true account of yourself, or I’ll punish you at once!”

Then she said meekly, “Oh son, I’m the wife of a merchant.  A tiger killed my husband.  I’ve been wandering in this forest, perplexed and anxious; with no friends or helpers, I’ve been wandering around in confusion.  Today is the fourth day that I haven’t set eyes on a single grain of wheat.  If you give me a little meat, I will eat it and invoke blessings on you, I will thank you with my whole heart and soul.”  ‘Adi took pity on her.  He began to take meat out of the pot to give to her.  That old woman leaped up, and gave ‘Adi such a slap that he lost consciousness and fell to the ground.  After a time, he came to his senses.  When he had recovered from the shock, he saw that the pot lay empty.

Meanwhile, the first watch of the night was over.  ‘Adi woke Malik Ashtar, and prepared to go to sleep.  Malik Ashtar, seeing the empty pot, said, “Oh you with the potbelly, you cooked meat and ate it all by yourself, you didn’t save any for me!”  ‘Adi replied, “I was hungry, so I ate it all.  If you’re hungry, then you kill an animal too, and cook and eat it; don’t suffer from hunger!”

After a little while, a deer came by near Malik Ashtar too.  Malik Ashtar killed it, and cooked its meat.  At length the meat was done.  The same old woman again came and, weeping and lamenting, began to beg for meat.  Malik Ashtar too, taking pity on her, wanted to take out meat from the pot and give it to her, to do the virtuous deed of feeding a hungry person.  The old woman leaped up and gave him a slap; he lost consciousness and fell.  The old woman ate the meat and went off.  Malik Ashtar came to his senses.

King Landhaur came to take the next watch.  Landhaur, seeing the empty pot on the fire, said, “Well, Malik Ashtar, you cooked meat and ate it all yourself, you didn’t save me even a bite!”  Malik said, “My friend, there was only a little meat, my own stomach wasn’t even filled!  How could I have saved any meat for you?  There’s lots of game here, you should kill an animal yourself, and cook and eat it.  The deer in this forest have delicious meat, you must taste it.”

Landhaur too killed a deer and cooked its meat.  Then the old woman came and slapped Landhaur and made him lose consciousness, and took the meat, ate it, and went off.  When Landhaur came to his senses, and recovered from the shock, ‘Adi and Malik Ashtar said, “What you had was just the kind of solitary dinner that we had as well!”  Landhaur replied, “If you had told me about it, then I wouldn’t have been tricked, I would have used some scheme.”  ‘Adi and Malik replied, “Well, what was to happen has happened.  Now keep quiet, don’t by any means say a word.  Wake the Amir.  Let’s see how the Amir and the old woman get along!”  Landhaur said, “I don’t want the Amir to be deceived.”  ‘Adi replied, “The Amir will never be caught by any trick!”  After holding this conversation among themselves, they woke the Amir.

The Amir too, during his watch, killed an animal and began cooking its meat.  The old woman had tasted meat, and wanted more.  When the meat was done, she appeared before the Amir and began to sing the same old tune, she brought the same words to her lips.  When the Amir smelled the scent of meat coming from her mouth, he said to himself, “This is some tilism.  The Lord knows what kind of evil monster this old woman might be!  Undoubtedly she is a demon.  It’s proper for me to save myself from her.”

Taking a sword in one hand, with the other hand he began to take out meat from the pot.  The old woman sought to give the Amir too a slap.  When the Amir gave her a blow with his sword, her head was separated from her body, and as soon as it fell to the ground it began rolling rapidly in one direction.  The Amir pursued it.  He saw the head, rolling and rolling along, go down into a well.

The Amir pursued the head down the well, where he encountered a beautiful young female magician whom he brought out and held captive.  When she refused to reveal her magic, ‘Amar eventually killed her, and thwarted the revenge of her two magician sisters.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .

For some days the Amir remained occupied in hunting and pleasure excursions in that area.  One day he asked Ga’olangi, “Now you must tell me what further evil menaces remain, you must give me some fresh news!”  Ga’olangi replied, “All the mischiefs and menaces from Bakhtar to the Dark Regions have been wiped out.  Now please come to Alabaster and rest for a while, please come along with me.  Let us go from this place to Alabaster, let us enter that noble city.”  Ga’olangi arranged a celebration for the Amir, with the greatest elegance; he ordered his attendants to prepare all the requisites for the feast.

After the celebration was over, they went out of the city to hunt--when suddenly Badi’ uz-Zaman saw a deer.  He wanted to kill it.  The deer, bounding along, went on ahead.  Badi’ uz-Zaman urged his horse after it, he prepared his gun to shoot it.  After it had gone a little way, the deer leaped into a large ornamental pond.  Badi’ uz-Zaman too urged his horse into the pond.  The Amir too, with his comrades, leaped into the pond.

When they opened their eyes and looked, they saw a wide plain, they found a strange kind of wilderness.  However much they searched here and there for Badi’ uz-Zaman, they found no trace of him.  The Amir, with tears in his eyes, said to his comrades, and told them with great, great grief and pain, “Now seventy men are left; the seventy-first was Badi’ uz-Zaman, who has disappeared.  Alas, that one more fresh hole has been made in my heart!  I am ravaged by grief.”  His comrades comforted the Amir in their own way:  “Oh Amir, no one can fight against fate.  Except for the balm of patience, there’s no cure for this deep wound.  The Amir didn’t say a word except of patience and gratitude to God.  He saw no refuge except in silence.

/1/ Perhaps this is the noose sent to ‘Amar by Bibi Asifa Basafa, Khizr’s mother.  See Chapter 48.

== on to Chapter 64 ==

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