He ascended the throne as Seri Maha Inderawangsa upon the sudden disappearance of his grief stricken father. They found the king missing and the marble sarcophagus empty. He however left behind his prized tusk necklace. Again, they blamed the incident on sorcery and witchery. Truth be told, legend has it that he brought her back to the enchanted pool where she was magically revived. They lived happily together for many years until the king’s natural demise from old age. The maiden kept her youth and beauty until present day and if one is lucky enough, her haunting forlorn love serenade could be heard during full moon and of course only for those brave enough to venture near the vicinity of Puteri Pool at midnight. Well, anyone up to the challenge, anyone?
Fortunately, Inderawangsa’s bloody reign of terror and horror was short-lived. His prison at Bukit Penjara ran out of prisoners. To satisfy his growing appetite, he began to turn on his own subjects. Initially, common folks on the periphery started to disappear but without any uproar. Emboldened he started to abduct individuals from all walks of life from the street and from their homes. Even then, there was still no uproar only muted murmuring by the victim’s families.
Over time, he developed a preference for fresh warm blood from healthy young virgins. He hatched a plan to expand his harem. Initially, the nobles were honored and proud to marry their virgin daughters to Inderawangsa, even as concubines. However, they began to notice something amiss when their daughters were never seen or heard again upon entering his harem, while Inderawangsa kept on demanding for more concubines.
As fated by heaven, one of the rear walls of the harem was struck by a bolt of lightning in one clear day and it crumbled. Workmen were hurried to the site to repair the wall. Whilst clearing the debris, they, to their horror, stumbled upon rows of emaciated bodies of Inderawangsa’s concubines, all neatly laid down as if asleep, well preserved and unblemished albeit pale bloodless with only two visible puncture wounds on their jugulars. The discovery spread like wildfire, no longer attributable to sorcery, no longer suspicion, no longer rumors, now it was plainly clear the reasons behind their disappearance or specifically who was behind their death.
Even then, they could not do anything other than sending their virgin daughters away into hidings, and bided their time for a miracle or cure. They could not revolt as Inderawangsa was as ruthless as he was strong and he still enjoyed the loyalty of his generals and soldiers. So they secretly and treasonously conspired to seek help from Cholan Kingdom despite the certainty of death for them and their family if their betrayal was exposed.
In the meantime, Inderawangsa went on a rampage to seek out those virgins. The few who managed to escape his grips averred that Inderawangsa would appear mysteriously in the dead of night, shape shifting from the surrounding fog into a towering and charming prince despite his prominent menacing incisors. Surely, his penetrating gaze must be both distracting and hypnotic for his victims were never frightened to flight but somehow seemed to be lulled, compliant and willingly limped into his dark and deadly bat-like embrace as he closes his outstretched black cloak before disappearing as mysteriously into the fog.
In no time, when the winds were favorable, the Cholan armada set sail from their capital port, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, India. The mighty armada made swift sail under fair winds and following seas down the coast towards the mouth of Merbok River. Keen-eye sentinels stationed on the peak of the holy Jerai Mountain spotted them as they appeared through the fog in the distant horizon and the alarm beacons were lit to signal the impending invasion.
Inderawangsa sent out his heralds throughout his realm to summon every available soldier and able bodied man for battle. Fortunately, he managed to gather his army in time. He stationed them on top of the strategic heights of Bukit Meriam. They numbered in the tens of thousands, all fully armed and highly motivated. Their camp fires lit up the whole hill at night and torches buzzing around like swarms of fire flies. They stood ready for a quick deployment to repel the Cholan invasion even before they could gain a foothold on any of the possible landing beaches. However, upon arrival, the Cholan armada just dropped anchors across the mouth of Merbok River and waited.
The armada was mighty indeed. So many ships were mustered that the tranquil turquoise Merbok River seemed to be infested with a black plague during daytime and alight at night. Small raiding parties were sent out to plunder and forage from surrounding settlements along the northern banks of the Merbok River. Messengers were sent to Bukit Meriam with an unconditional surrender ultimatum or face total annihilation. Inderawangsa could not help but mocked off such ultimatum. Since time immemorial, nations that went down fighting would always rise again from the ashes of defeat and those who surrendered timidly were always trampled over and perished forever. He returned their headless bodies as his reply of contempt and defiance.
At midnight on the eve of battle, the Cholan main army secretly disembarked and landed on the Merdeka Beach on the north of Bukit Meriam under strict order to remain hidden, no sound and no fire, under pain of death. They were to stay hidden until Inderawangsa had moved out his army to engage their diversionary attack, and only to march out quick time when that battle was fully engaged to spring the pincer attack on Inderawangsa’s rear. The next morning, the armada weighed anchor and hoisted the mizzen and set sail further south for Sayak Beach on the west of Bukit Meriam intentionally in the full view of Inderawangsa.
Observing the movement from the hill top observation, a grin cracked over Inderawangsa’s face, he could not believe his eyes. He excitedly smacked his right fist into his left palm. He was exhilarated for he had the high grounds, his army was larger, rested and ready. He ordered double rations of demon toddy to intoxicate and fire up his army with courage and ferocity. More importantly, he had hoped the Cholans would attack from there and now they were sailing right into his trap. And the sun was rising behind him. He would give the Cholans a taste of his fury and make them pay dearly, in blood. They would be crushed on the beach even before they could array themselves in any battle formations. Poets would compose and sing ballads of his valiant charge, the total annihilation of the wretched Cholans and his brilliant victory for posterity.
Although he had confidently arrayed his army in the lethal bull’s horns battle formation since dawn, his heavy shock infantry in the center with light infantry on both horns and his personal guards in the rear as reserves, he ordered his archers forward instead. Rather than just sweeping the Cholans off the beach as they land, he would only harass them. He grokked that there was neither gore nor glory in such minor victory, no victory at all, when bulk of the Cholan Army could easily sail away and land to attack from another beach. “Archers forward! Draw. Loose!” Five volleys of arrows whistled silently into the sky before arcing downward to rain withering and whispering death upon unsuspecting and unprotected. Stung but not mortally hurt, the Cholans continued to land soldiers on to the beach.
“Steady lads, steady,” he held back his raring army. He wanted the Cholans to land more troops onto the already congested narrow beach. His generals and soldiers, awaiting his command to charge, were starting to get restless, eager for the easy kill amass before them. He knew better, he had to be a wee bit more patient to allow more Cholan soldiers to disembark into the cauldron of death so that he could crush them once and for all. He needed a decisive victory to immortalize his name.