"Oh! If only you had seen her lustre. Her beauty radiated among the valleys of Himalayas. We have never seen anyone as exquisite as Her, O Shumbha!
You must collect Her, take possession of Her and make Her yours. You have all the treasure in the world. The mighty elephant Airavata, Parijata tree and the horse Uccaihas'ravas ..you have captured them from Indra.
Look at that resplendent chariot yoked with swan, the shimmering gem which belonged to Brahama. The treasure of treasures, Mahapadma, taken from Kubera himself.
Ah! This everlasting garland named Kanjakini, that the Ocean bestowed upon your Holiness. The gold showering umbrella of Varuna, Prajapati's chariot, Yama's weapon of death ( Utkarinda) and all gems that have ever been found in the mighty seas.
Agni deva has gifted you and your brother, Nisumbha, with garments purified by fire.
Why must you not add this woman to your collection? This epitome of beauty, grace personified, embodiment of womanhood ... She must be yours, sire"
Shumbha looked upon Chanda and Munda silently, his gaze unwavering. His fingers drumming softly over the hilt of his sword.
Both these servants of his, were dumb to begin with. But he trusted their judgement in this matter. And his curiosity had been roused. There must be something special about this woman, that made these two dim witted fools go on and on.
"Carry my message to her. Make sure you deliver it with respect and love. I want her to come to me. Not get scared and try to run and hide", he exclaimed with a sigh.
* * * * *
Chanda stamped on Munda's foot.
"Don't bow, you oaf. Master told us to be polite. Not degrade ourselves", he hissed in Munda's ear.
"Why don't you try clearing your throat? That gruff bull like voice of yours will scare her away. And then masters shall skin both of us alive"
Both of them cleared their throats and looked upon the Devi, seated on the mountains. She looked clam, magnificent, radiating an energy that both of them could palpate in the air.
"We come here to deliver a message from Shumbha and Nishumbha. Both our masters are unmatched in their prowess. They are not just ruthless monsters, they are great connoisseurs of art.
Their treasury is filled with gems from all over the universe.
You, my lady, are a gem of such sort. A gem among women. Unmatched and unparalleled. We invite you to come marry either of our masters.
You shall be gifted with wealth and ornaments, the likes of which you wouldn't have dreamed of."
The Devi looked upon them, her face gave away nothing. She spoke slowly, deliberately, each of her words ringing with deep notes and deeper gravity,
"You have spoken nothing but truth. Alas! I have made a foolish promise.
I can wed only him, who defeats me in battle. Only when a man can match my strength and pride .. will he be my husband.
Go deliver this message to your lords. If they wish to win my hand, they must come and prove their worth first"
Chanda and Munda looked at each other, a little taken aback. They had expected hesitation, pleading, even a little womanly temper and flirting.
But this, this was unacceptable.
"Do not be so vain and foolish! The entire might of Devas could not stand in front of Shumbha and Nishumbha.
How will you, a lone woman, face them? Do not make her drag you by the hair!", they roared together.
Their hair were disheveled, eyes bloodshot, fists clenched and teeth bared. They were bound by their orders.
If only they weren't here as messengers, this woman would have been reduced to pieces.
The Devi smiled and repeated, "Go tell Shumbha and Nishumbha that this all I have to say. If they are not scared to accept the challenge, let them come and face me"
* * * *
Dhumralochan stood still, blood pounding in his ears and his heart beating wildly in anticipation. This was what the rakshas loves best, the pre-war stillness.
"Come! come surrender to Shumbha and Nishumbha. Or else, I shall be forced to drag you by the hair. And do not have nay doubts, I shall show no mercy to you."
Amibka stood upon the snowy Himlayan peak. Adorned with weapons, muscles poised and eyes focused on Dumralochana.
The commanding fury of her voice was accompanied by the terrifying roar of her lion.
" Come! O mighty Dhumralochana. You have come to defeat me, with the might of the Asura army, come and fulfill your duty"
This was exactly what he had hoped for. Dhumralochana ran ahead of his army, trampling those unfortunate enough to come in his path. This woman was his to crush. She shall bear the pain first-hand. He alone shall hear her first screams.
Ambika stood as still as ever. It was the collision of two forces so different, and yet so similar in essence. Her anger rose as Dhumralochana came closer.
She raised her head, shook her silken hair, her lip curled up gently and she heaved. ehr heave was nothing but a syllable, a manifestation of shakti itself.
And as the sound collided with Dhumralochana, he vanished. He disappeared in a puff of smoke, evaporated and disintegrated.
Befoee the army could comprehend what had taken place, Ambika's arrows, spears and javelins were raining upon them. Her mighty lion roared and pounced upon the approaching Asura army.
The bloodbath had begun.
He was an army in himself. untamed, ferocious and lusting for blood. His paws slashed open hearts and threw out intestines, his mouth chewed upon whatever lay in front of him. His hind legs trampled asuras by the dozen, his mane glistened with blood as he turned the army into a mess of broken limbs, severed heads and withering bodies.
* * * *
Shumbha was livid. His entire army slain by a mere woman and her pet lion?
"Chanda and Munda! Go bring that shrew to me. Defeat her, bind her and drag her by the hair. Show no mercy. She must repent for what She has done."
Chanda and Munda bowed deep, smiling. They had still not forgotten the way that haughty woman had treated them.
It was time to take revenge. And then some.