Chimera was having a bad day. A string of bad days, in fact. She thought it was the goat overgrazing the hair on her back. Actually, it was a monkey on her back. The monkey was telling her to go East. Places to conquer, enemies to vanquish. Of late, she had been seeing visions of lion-like beasts – just like her – in distant lands. She was itching to match her strength against theirs and wage do or die battles. Could another creature match her speed and strength? Is there another being that possesses her prowess – a fiery breath that could destroy an entire forest, a serpentine tail that could inject poisonous venom, and a goat on her back with enormous horns that could spear an enemy to death in an instant?
She listened to the monkey and headed east. She crossed many rivers, climbed a number of mountains, swam across a vast body of water for days on end until she saw land on the other side, land vastly different from hers – arid and dry. Along the way, she stopped to hunt wild hogs, hares and birds on land and buffaloes, turtles and crocodiles in the water. The goat grazed on grass on land and survived on sea weeds in the ocean. The snake survived on rodents, rabbits and birds. Once on land, Chimera went looking for a mountain and found a kopje. The kopje was surprisingly thick with vegetation. She found a low-hanging canopy and went into hibernation. Months later, she awoke to the smell of humans. She roared and breathed fire. The humans scattered making shrieking noises. The next day she set out hunting and found all sorts of kill neatly lined up at the edge of the canopy. She understood the feast to be a tribute from the terrified humans. As days went by, she started to feel anxious again. This time, she saw a vision of a shape-shifting beast whose head alternated between that of a lion and an eagle. Within days, she heard a thunder louder than any she had heard followed by torrential downpour. She could sense the presence of a monster being somewhere close by. Chimera switched to war mode and went out looking for the beast. She found him/her in a pasture. The beast had a human face and the torso of a lion. As Chimera got closer, the head turned to that of a bird with a long beak and the torso turned into a bull’s. The bull developed wings and one of the beast’s spines turned into a tail. The form shifting was so disorienting that Chimera had difficulty focusing on the heightened sense of danger.
The two beastly beings fought with everything they had for two nights and a day. Every time, Chimera had the other beast cornered, she/he would fly up in the air and attack Chimera from behind. Chimera’s fire breathing did nothing to faze the enemy who doused the flames with waters from the sky. Finally, Chimera hit upon the tactic that won her the battle. When the enemy landed behind her, instead of whirling around to face her, she duped the enemy into thinking she had been fooled. When the enemy got close enough, she unleashed her tail and stung the enemy several times. The venom instantly killed the other beast. Chimera’s victory roar travelled to the end of the earth.
Narasimha heard the roar. As an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, the half-lion, half-human Narasimha recognized it as the roar of a heavenly beast. Narasimha had descended on earth for the sole purpose of killing the demon Hiranyakashipu, who, armed with the powers given him by Lord Brahma, the lord of all creation, had begun terrorizing Gods, Godmen and God’s devotees alike. After killing Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha, in a fit of rage, had drunk the demon’s blood. As a consequence, Narasimha had turned into a demon himself and had begun to terrorize the world. Having terrorized nearby villages, he had set out to rampage villages on the foothills of the distant mountains. It was then that he had heard Chimera’s roar.
Narasimha set out in the direction of the roar. Excited by the prospect of battling a worthy challenger, he raced, leaps and bounds, up the snowy mountains with heavenly peaks, the abode of all beings celestial. He trudged in the snow for days and nights until he reached a pass and waited there.
After slaying the form-shifting beast, Chimera had started towards the world he came from when the monkey commanded her to go further east. In a vision she had that night, she could see Narasimha waiting for her at the pass. Chimera left the arid land behind and reached the snowy mountains after many arduous days.
Narasimha and Chimera could sense each other’s presence even from a very long distance. Eventually, they met in the middle of the pass and the epic battle began. It was ferocious from the start. Narasimha’s advantage was his speed. He could move at the speed of light, so he manifested himself in several places at the same time. Chimera would see Narasimha near a tree, a rock, a twig, all at the same time. When wind kicked up snow, Chimera saw Narasimha in every particle. But Chimera was bigger and stronger and had more weapons. Their roars echoed in distant valleys. The fires they breathed melted snow on the peaks and started avalanches. Hundreds of villages at the foothills were destroyed. The melting snow swelled up the rivers that flooded the plains a hundred days away. The holy sages who had gone into meditational trances many moons ago, awoke to the sound of thunderous booms, bangs and blasts. They beseeched the Gods to intervene and put an end to the death and destruction caused by the demons.
On the 10th day of the battle, Lord Zeus, the king of the Hellenic skies, appeared before Lord Indra, the king of Indus heavens, to plead with him to end the battle. Lord Zeus said he himself was helpless since taking Chimera’s powers would mean breaking sacred vows: powers ceded to Chimera shall remain hers until her pre-ordained death at the hands of Bellerophon, the slayer of demons. Lord Indra confessed to his own inability for the same reason. Even though Narasimha was his brother, he had no control over Narasimha’s demonic powers.
The two Gods went to see Goddess Pratyangira, the personification of all energy, good and bad. Pratyangira gave Lord Zeus power over Narasimha and gave Lord Indra power over Chimera, thus ensuring that no vows were broken. At the 11th hour on the eleventh day of the battle, Lord Zeus took away Narasimha’s lightning speed and Lord Indra took away Chimera’s ability to advance. Narasimha became disoriented and started backing away. Chimera wanted to advance to make the kill, but her legs kept retreating – the tail had taken control of the body. Soon both demons headed towards the lands they came from.
Mission accomplished, the Hellenic God entered into a pact with the Indus God to seek each other’s assistance henceforth in battling demons that threatened heavenly order. The pact ensured peace on earth for a long time to come.
Balu Swami is a new writer. One of his pieces is in Flash Fiction North.
You can find more of Balu’s work here on Ink Pantry.