Finally, when the beach was bristling with thousands of Cholan soldiers, Inderawangsa ordered his archers to step back. He unsheathed his sword leisurely, then brandishing it menacingly above his head before stabbing at the gathering Cholans and roared, “Death to the wretched Cholans! Let your spears have their fill of blood! Let your swords make widows! For glory and victory! Charge!” The moment to unleash hell and destruction upon the Cholans had arrived. He committed all his forces in one throw of the dice, one all out frontal attack hoping that the momentum of such a violent frenzied downhill charge would crush momentously the Cholan army which was still disembarking and getting into formation.
Unbeknownst to Inderawangsa, the Cholans were actually highly motivated and well trained. They were instructed to appear chaotic and haphazard when arraying into battle formation, just a ruse, to mislead and lure Inderawangsa’s army from its Bukit Meriam stronghold. The deception had worked. When Inderawangsa charging hordes were some 100 yards, Cholan archers suddenly rallied and rained, volleys after volleys of arrows upon them. Many were cut down. At 50 yards, the front line men at arms launched their spears in unison killing as many.
Then they quickly arrayed into a line protecting the beach head, 4 ranks deep with the front rank locking their shields to form a shield wall and dug in their heels and braced for the violent collision. On their right hands, they gripped hard and readied their battle axes and swords for the kill. Men at arms on the second rank raised and pointed their spears above the shield wall towards the oncoming hordes. The rest stood as reserves ready to plug any breaches in the shield wall as still more and more men disembarked onto the beach. With their backs towards the sea, they knew their defensive shield wall perimeter being their only line of defense must be held at all cost until their main army join the battle.
The collision was brutal and many were impaled, the valiantly foolish and reckless intoxicated berserkers. The Cholan shield wall withstood the initial impact and held its ground. However, it began to constrict slowly backing towards the sea as more and more Inderawangsa’s soldiers ploughed into the fray. The slaughter had not started yet. Only occasional disembowelments or stabs in the groins and faces as most soldiers on both sides of the shield wall were just crushed tightly together and could hardly move their arms much less stab their swords or spears to inflict any wounds. They were in each other’s face smelling each other’s rancid breath and sour sweat. Inderawangsa could taste victory. It was just the matter of time before the Cholan’s shield wall which was getting shorter and backing nearer to the sea. Inderawangsa knew it would inevitably collapse and the real slaughter and anguish scream begin.
In his excitement cheering his soldiers to push forward he suddenly heard an almost inaudible panic cry of alarm from his rear above the cacophonous shrieks of battle and pitiful whimpering of the dying. He turned his head and was temporarily blinded by the sunlight. When he regained his sight, he was stunned to see a much larger Cholan army cutting down and hacking though his lightly armed archers and were charging towards his rear. He then realized that he had been tricked, out maneuvered and most definitely out numbered, and the trap was fast closing. The battle was lost, the annihilation of his army beckoned even before it began. No, not yet when victory was within his grasp. He had to think fast and come up with something to save the day.
If only he could protect his rear long enough for the Cholans to be pushed into the sea, he can then reverse his front to regain the initiative to attack the Cholans on his rear. Yes, that would work. “Men! To me!” he screamed. Unfortunately, too few heard and fewer heeded his desperate clarion call and the hastily formed shield wall was too weak and too short to stem the overwhelming onslaught on his rear
In desperation, Inderawangsa attempted to form another protective shield wall with the remnants of his rear guards in his last ditch effort to form an escape corridor. He was hoping to salvage the perilous situation to gain some respite to maneuver his army into an orderly fighting withdrawal, to avoid the total annihilation of his trapped army. If he could withdraw with his army in-tact behind the protective walls of his Kuala Muda Citadel which was only a few miles south, he would be able to regroup and fight another day.
However, the Cholans just crashed through whatever shield wall Inderawangsa managed to muster and quickly enveloped the whole army and began hacking and killing from both sides of the pincer attack. Attacked from both sides, fear instantaneously gripped the hearts of trapped men, even brave men at arms and spread like wild fire throughout his army. Panic stricken with fear, Inderawangsa’s valiant army began to falter and crumbled almost immediately. They began to drop their shields and weapon and ran for their lives.
Now the slaughter began, not of the Cholans but Inderawangsa’s army. Many were simply cut down as they ran. Those who fled to the sea were drowned by the weight of their armour. Those who surrendered, prostrated and begged for mercy were shown none for there was none.
So horrendous was the butchery, so total was the carnage that the battle ground was slippery with the blood of the innumerable slain, strewn with broken bones, shattered skulls and mangled bodies, many eviscerated, limbless and headless and the dying. The sea was churned crimson red and bobbing with dead bodies. The beach was also crimson red littered with drowned bodies brought in by the waves to join those killed there.
Cholan soldiers were moving amongst bodies to plunder for spoils of war. Occasionally, they would stab their swords or plunge their spears into the dying, to put them out of their misery and suffering in the final soldierly acts of mercy. There will be much wailing and mourning tomorrow when the ravenous bottle flies, scavenging crows and carnivorous civets feast. The stench of urine, faeces and death was overpowering, nauseating and revolting. So much blood was spilt that the grey boulders along the Sayak Beach were stained crimson red till today.
Only a handful, amongst them Inderawangsa, managed to escape the slaughter alive and fled into the twilight. When they arrived exhausted at Kuala Muda Citadel, they found the citadel’s gates shut, its population cowering within in fear and trepidation. The tragic news of his disastrous defeat had reached the citadel and the horrified nobles had taken the decision to surrender and take their chances for mercy with the Cholans rather than fight them in a doomed siege warfare only to die either horribly by the swords or inevitably from starvation.