Thursday, 29 September 2011

Vrcivans at the outpost - Part I

It was barely a few hours since daybreak, but the summer sun had begun to beat down on the vast grazing lands. The lone cowherd, decided to take cover under a tree. At first, he stood under the shade and watched over the herd. But with passing time, boredom and the heat broke his resolve – he yielded to temptation to lie down, resting his back against the bark of the tree, but only for a bit he assured himself. He uttered a small prayer to Pusan, his family deity, asking for protection of his herd, should he fall asleep. As he struggled to fight off sleep, his eyes became heavy and his vision a blur.

At some point in time, the blur changed shape. He started to focus, wondering what it could be. Was it his brother sitting on top of a cow? Why would he do such a thing? It turned out to be a man on a horse, a rather strange sight. He stood up in order to greet the horseman, perhaps, a traveller who had lost his way. As he began to speak, he noticed the horseman raise a bow and point an arrow at him. What was happening here? Had he fallen asleep? Was this a bad dream or was this for real? The last thing he registered was an arrow leaving the horseman’s bow hurtling in his direction.

The arrow pierced through the cowherd’s chest, the sheer force pushing him back and nailing him to the bark of the tree. The horseman watched the impaled body with satisfaction and then, turned and cantered towards the herd to join the rest of his band.

There were ten of them and they were part of an elite group within the Vrcivan army. They were feared because of the sheer savagery and brutality they inflicted on their opponents. It was part of an extremely successful strategy adopted by Virshika, head of the Vrcivan clan and now the unquestioned ruler of the Yadu tribe.

A ferocious band would be sent to plunder and rape and finally raze a small settlement. A few men would be spared, so they would spread the news amongst larger neighbouring villages. Fear alone would account for more than half of the conquest. Then after a few days, a contingent of no more than hundred men on foot and horses would sweep in and take over, with little or no resistance.

The ten horsemen regrouped and their leader started going through instructions one final time, before they would begin their assault. What lay ahead of them was a settlement with no more than three hundred inhabitants. It was not the size of the conquest that would be relevant to this band. The settlement was an outpost of the South Panchala janapadha.

The Vrcivans were now within striking distance of Panchala territory...