Part 9: FIFTEEN THOUSAND STRONG
Now the tallest of all trials stood infront of Hiriki, for he had to raise an army who would stand behind the royal children in battle and how does one raise a great army in a land that has lost its courage?
“I know how meek the people of my country are”, he told Senyatsulin, “Because I was a little Samegusha, the tyrant of my forest, preying upon the meekness of my victims. I know how meek the people are because I have seen every last drop of pride and anger squeezed out of them by the the tyrants hand, I’ve seen how each bloody edict was stamped with steel upon their hearts and how each public, mass execution was like a tightening cord around the neck of their hope. I’d rather try to raise a woodland in the desert than raise an army from the ruined spirits of this land”.
But Hiriki was a king of cunning and he devised an ingenious plan that would force all the people of his country to rise up against their feared oppressor, “We will disguise a pact of treason as a pledge of loyalty, it must bear the royal seal, and we will send out messengers to collect signatures upon it from all the elders of all the towns and villages of the land. The cowardly elders of our land will happily rush to sign a pledge of loyalty to the tyrant who makes them all tremble and, when we have collected all of their signatures, we will reveal to them that they have put their hand upon treason and that the traitorous list will be nailed on Samegusha’s door if they do not join their people to our fight. Everyone knows that the only punishment for treason is torture and death and so it will leave them with only one choice, die in the battlefield or on the rack and gallows”.
And so, Senyatsulin picked the twenty best riders from among her nuns and they were dressed up in the uniform of imperial messengers and sent out with scrolls bearing a counterfeit seal of the black claw and, as Hiriki had predicted, the people of the land who had had their spirits crushed by Samegusha’s brutal rule, were eager to sign any declaration of their loyalty to him and once they saw the royal seal none of them even bothered to read the document that they were signing and when it was revealed to them that they had signed a covenant of treason, they went into a terrible panic like a herd of headless geese and it was at that point that Hiriki offered them the choice
to fight Samegusha.
Senyatsulin was not comfortable with the idea of using trickery and blackmail to serve her country but she reminded herself that the Goddess had chosen Hiriki and she thought of the glory of her nations freedom that lay ahead.
When there was no more safety left within their shells, the people of the land prepared to fight. Farmers who had never felt a sword were given weapons and taught to scythe the field of men. Women swapped their brooms for quaterstaffs and learned to sweep away the enemy. For years upon years, the Nuns of Nonakdow had piled up a secret horde of weapons, old and new, waiting for the day when a great army would rise to use them. Some of the weapons had spilled enemy blood in ancient battles but many were new ones, made by the blacksmiths under the secret employ of Senyatsulin. “For so long, we Nuns have nursed the wounded body of this nation”, said Senyatsulin, proudly, “and finally it is strong enough to stand again and face its enemy”.
Now the land, that had been so barren of hope for so many years, yielded a miraculous fifteen thousand men and women of war; five fingers of three thousand armoured, marching soldiers following Hiriki and the four royal children and, because the children longed to see their mothers released from their prisons of darkness Hiriki
decided that they would storm the impenetrable fortress of Vangakang, the mysterious monstrous brother of Samegusha, and rescue them from its dungeons.