Ramakien, “Abduction of Nang Sida”

translated from the Thai by Frederick Goss

When Thut, Khon, and Trisian lost their lives, Samanakha was shocked. She was so afraid of Phra Lak and the bow-bearing lord that she felt as if she would slip down through the earth. She left Romakan and waded across the ocean to Longka.

She came up from the shore and scurried along in a flurry, weaving here and there, staggering into the city. 
The crowds of asura who lived in that great city saw the young lady with hands hacked, feet fetid, mouth maimed, pieces hanging off her body, ears sliced, nose severed, doleful and despondent, a disgusting disgrace. The men and women were shocked by the young woman with her hair dangling loose and her breasts sagging down to her waist. Everyone was badly shaken and alarmed. Some said that a demonic spirit had come. Some of the small boys and girls fell over, while some ran away, unwilling to look, shouting in a great to-do because they did not recognize the young woman.
Nang Samanakha went directly to the ruler of Longka, trying desperately to maintain her composure.
With tears washing down her face, she embraced the feet of her elder brother and wept as if her life would end.
Seeing his young sister sobbing so sadly, the ten-headed one was greatly alarmed. He saw that her lips, ears, and nose were slashed, and her hands and feet completely severed, were festering. The yaksa lord was enraged like a fire that could burn up the entire universe. Springing from his bejeweled throne, he called for the four divisions of powerful troops and displayed his might with the formidable strength of that asura leader. 
His massive body with ten faces and twenty arms towered up into the sky, looking like Mount Atsakan. His twenty eyes burned in his ten faces, flaming like blazing suns. His ten tongues flailed from his ten mouths. His teeth gnashed, the noise echoing as if Phra Meru had collapsed. His feet stamped as he dashed about, jumping and shouting, creating a deafening reverberation that reached the ends of the earth. His first hands grabbed mighty bows; his second hands drew out swords; his third hands snatched chakra for hurling; his fourth hands snapped up huge spears; his fifth hands took up tridents; his sixth hands seized maces; his seventh hands picked up pikes; his eighth hands clutched at huge hammers; his ninth hands aimed throwing spears; his tenth hands caught crossbows. His twenty hands all brandished weapons as rapidly as a whirling chakra: “Whoever has done this to you, I will fight them and cut them to pieces that will not stick in the throat of a crow.”
Raging and roaring, he asked Samanakha: “Young one, how have you come to be like this? Who did this, my beloved? Was it a yaksa or a man or a rishi? Or some celestial being, a garuda or fierce naga? You must lead me to them so that I can destroy them.”
Nang Samanakha raised her hands in reverence and answered deceitfully: “I was not happy, so I took leave of Your Majesty and went to enjoy the forest. I met Phra Ram, Phra Lak, and Nang Sida, who have become ascetics staying at the Khothawari River. That lady has a profoundly graceful and lovely appearance, exceeding any celestial maiden in heaven. I picked up the beautiful woman in my arms and tried to sneak her away to offer to Your Majesty. Phra Lak followed, caught me along the way and snatched Nang Sida back. He then punished me to the edge of my life as if I had no great noble family lineage. I recounted what happened to my three esteemed elder brothers, who were enraged and raised armies to fight. These humans fought back and killed them. Please, Your Majesty, fight them, strike them down, have their lives put to an end. Then you can bring Nang Sida to be the great glory of the city of the asura.”

Listening to his young sister, the fearless ten-headed one burned with feelings of great lust and hot passion that permeated deeply to every fiber of his hair. Passion consumed him like a searing flame. His fury to kill dissolved away and the weapons in his hands fell to the ground. He hardly knew himself. Just contemplating the beautiful lady enthralled him. His heart was roiled almost to a breaking point: “Is Nang Sida really more lovely than any celestial maidens in heaven? How does she compare with Montho, my beloved one of unrivaled beauty?”
The young sister of His Majesty went on: “Among all the women in the three worlds, there are none that could match her loveliness. In comparison to Nang Montho, she is far apart. Comparing eyebrows, Montho’s are vastly inferior to those of the young lady; comparing their necks, she is very far ahead; comparing cheeks, Sida’s are so much more attractive; comparing eyes, hers are much more alluring and enchanting; comparing faces, hers is spotless like the moon; comparing breasts, Sida’s are soft as lotuses; comparing noses, hers is delicate and charming; comparing lips, hers unfolds in a gentle smile; comparing figures, Montho loses in every way; comparing complexions, she fails miserably before fair-faced Nang Sida; comparing their manners, she would also be at an utter loss. The appearance of the lady is beautifully lovable, supreme with the five perfections of beauty. In the entire world, there is none that can compare.”
Hearing his young sister, the ten-faced yaksa felt as if he was being anointed with celestial water. Lust roiled and ravaged his heart as the passion intoxicated him: “You praise this lovely lady and say she is far superior to Montho. If you compare her with the loveliest ones in heaven, Phra Uma, Phra Laksami, and Phra Surasawadi, all three of them, who do you think is superior?”
Nang Samanakha said: “The exceptional grace of Nang Sida is a delight to the eye. If you compare her to Phra Laksami of joyful beauty, or to that lovely lady, Phra Surasawadi, or even to Her Celestial Majesty, Phra Uma, I think she is extraordinarily superior to all three of them. If you combine the beauty of all three, it would not equal the bewitching beauty of Sida. If anyone sees the exquisite lady, they are overwhelmed and completely forget themselves. I know myself. With my two eyes, I have seen the exquisite loveliness of this young woman. She ought to be your supreme consort. Elder brother, quickly think it over, do not wait.” As she said this, she was distracted thinking of Phra Lak and Phra Ram, who both looked more alluring than any deva in all the heavens: ‘If they were to come to join me in my room, I would cherish them on my left and right.’ Then the young woman regained her senses and felt so embarrassed that she could not speak.
The more he heard, the more the ten-headed yaksa forgot himself while thinking of Nang Sida. Since his younger sister had spoken of her, the asura was overwhelmed by intense desire for the lovely lady, totally carried away by an utmost obsession to have her. He asked about Phra Ram, her husband: “How does he compare with me in attractiveness? If she comes to be my consort in the palace, do you think she will care for me as I wish?”
Hearing her elder brother say the name of His Royal Highness, Nang Samanakha was overcome. In confusion, she said, “Have mercy, Your Royal Highnesses. Do not mention the little matter of my maimed hands and amputated feet. If Your Royal Highnesses wish to join me in joy, I will conjure a new body far more beautiful than young Sida for you two lords to adore.”
When he heard the name spoken of that charming woman, the ten-faced one in the lineage of the swan-riding lord was entranced, nearly out of his mind. He embraced his younger sister and lifted her onto his lap: “Why are you so shy and bashful with me, lovely lady? Our fates are naturally bound as one.” When he caressed and kissed her face, she pushed her elder brother away: “I am your younger sister.” When he looked, he realized it was not Nang Sida. “Oh, sorry, I was carried away.” With his heart palpitating, the asura lord looked about and did not see the young lady, but was inflamed with dreams of her. He got up and sat down in a daze, crazed with lust that enveloped him like a searing flame. He heaved a great sigh and went into his ornate chambers, nearly out of his mind.

He settled himself upon a bejeweled seat and said to his beloved Montho: “Samanakha has reported that some royal lords have come and acted very contemptibly. They are named Lak and Ram. I am very angry with them. They cut her nose, sliced her lips, punished her by chopping off her feet and hands, as if my young sister is of a lowly class without any royal family lineage. Moreover, they have taken the lives of Thut, Khon, and Trisian, who have all now passed away. If I go to slice them all down, it will be shameful because they are merely forest ascetics. The three worlds would have scorn for me and say that I struck down human beings as tiny as flies. However, if I do nothing, it will be shameful before all the celestials in heaven. All the learned men and gandharva will ridicule me. I think I will take some revenge. That will be more satisfying. I will abduct his wife to make him so sad that he will cry tears of blood. Don’t you agree, my beautiful one?”
Montho bowed down and raised her hands in reverence: “This matter is strange. Why do they attack, resulting in the deaths of your three younger brothers? This seems quite strange. Perhaps your young sister caused something to happen so that this fighting broke out. If you are angry and wish to exact revenge, it is more proper to think of doing battle with them. If you abduct his wife, the world will mock and criticize you for acting in an immoral way. Do not act impetuously against custom.”
The ten-headed yaksa replied: “I hear what you say, but I can best them by using some clandestine action. Why should I rush into battle? Just abducting his wife will likely kill him. Will the three worlds criticize me? No, they will be pleased with admiration. I will think up a ruse using my wisdom. Why should I fear some reproach?” 
Nang Montho raised her hands in respect: “Your Majesty, you should consider this very carefully. Phra Lak and Phra Ram are the grandsons of Atchaban, in the lineage of Phra Harirak Chakri, with supreme power in the world. Have you forgotten the time when you were at the audience window with me and a pair of sparrows flew down? While we were watching them in front of the window, your ten mouths told them to fly away, but the birds were not afraid of you. I raised my hands in reverence and uttered the name of His Royal Majesty, Atchaban. A sword floated down from the sky and cut off the heads of the birds right before your eyes. Just saying His Royal Majesty’s name is very powerful. If you underestimate their grandsons, it will be a mistake.” 
Hearing this made Thao Thotsakan even more enraged, but he said nothing. He turned his faces away and thought deeply in silence about beloved Nang Sida. When darkness started to fall, the asura went into his sleeping chambers.
He lay down upon his bed, raised his hands to his faces and moaned. He thought about the lovely young lady and felt as hot with passion as if he were lying in a fire. When he closed his eyes, he imagined seeing Sida stealthily coming to him to fulfill his desires. In ecstasy, he reached for the pillow beside him and clasped it tightly as if it was cherished Sida. When he opened his eyes, he saw it was not the young woman in his arms but only a pillow. The asura threw it away from his body and groaned in distress: “When can I have this lovely lady come to be my supreme consort?” He got up and sat down, remaining out of sorts until the pale light of the golden dawn shone and koel and jungle fowl cried out noisily to summon the rising sun. 
Then he thought of Marit, the son of Ka Kana: ‘I will have him go and trick the young lady. I think I can then get her as I desire.’ He bathed, put on regal attire, took his mighty bow in his hand and went out from his glorious chambers to the audience hall.
He lowered himself onto the nine-gemmed throne beneath the majestic white tiered umbrella amidst the asura who bowed down to him all around. He commanded Marit: “At this time, there are two brothers who are ascetics and a lady named Sida, who have come to stay at the Khothawari River. They cut off the hands of Nang Samanakha and also killed Thut, Khon, and Trisian. If I go and cut them down, it will not befit my fame and honor. I think I will destroy them with an artful stratagem that makes them suffer desperately. I want you to transform yourself into a golden deer with radiant hide, go to their forest kudi and use your wiles to make the young lady’s heart become entranced with you, then pace back and forth close to the pavilion of the lady. When Lak and Ram go to chase you as the deer, I will steal the lady away. Let’s go quickly and not wait a moment longer.”

Hearing the name of Phra Chakri, Phaya Marit felt as alarmed as if Phaya Matchurat had come to kill him by cutting off his head with a sharp chakra: “Your Majesty, I beg for your mercy. This Phra Ram is His Celestial Majesty, the four-armed lord, incarnated to bring prosperity to the world. The fame of his might is widespread. Your three younger brothers went to fight him and not one of their forty divisions of troops now remain. My mother and my older brother are dead, and the crow army is all gone because of his might. I, myself, nearly died from the bow of Phra Narai. I just managed to escape with my life. Your Majesty, please understand. Now you want me to go back. It is better to kill me. If Your Majesty has no compassion, I will likely die.”
Hearing this, the ten-headed one in the lineage of radiant Phra Phrom felt as if a trident had stabbed his ear. The kumphan was livid. He rose up from his ornate throne, stamped his feet and shouted out sounding like a thunderbolt: “Hey, hey, Marit, are you afraid of some wandering forest ascetics? You falsely praise this human by saying he is the mighty, bow-bearing Narai. Members of my family have been killed! Are you not incensed? Why are you trying to deceive me? Have you lost respect for your own uncle? I can find no truth in what you have said. Even if they have some power, they could never cross the ocean and come here.”
Marit bowed down in obeisance and replied: “Do not say that I feel no anger about members of your great royal family that have passed away. But I think there could be some danger and so I advise against this course of action. Seeing that Your Majesty is of the lineage of great Phra Phrom, with many consorts and attendants, why is it necessary to have Sida? Why make trouble over one woman? This will precipitate a war in the future. Your Majesty has wisdom and insight. You should think deeply and act according to accepted customs.”
The twenty-armed yaksa was as enraged as an inferno. He bellowed loud enough to make the royal palace collapse: “Hey, you are wicked, Marit! Even if a great war comes to pass, I am not afraid. If you do not follow what I have said, I will take your life. Your child and wife, all your family and relations, none will remain alive in Longka.”
Phaya Marit saw Thao Thotsakan was livid. Terrified of some punishment, his body shook, his face went ashen, his senses were gone. The asura felt utterly hopeless: ‘If I go, I fear the mighty lord; if I stay, I fear my life will be over and my family and all my relations will lose their lives too. I am bound to meet my death according to some old karma.’ He bowed in obeisance and said to the yaksa lord: “I have only tried to dissuade you out of loyalty toward Your Majesty since I think it is against the ten virtues of a royal ruler. I do not have any wicked thoughts. Since you will not heed my advice, then there is nothing I can do but follow your order. I will go, my life will be taken and I will pass away. May Your Majesty have mercy and care for my devoted wife and child.” 
Hearing this, the ten-faced yaksa lord felt as if his body was bathed in celestial water. He said pleasantly: “Now, now, fearless Marit, you are capable and skilled. It is not true that I am sending you to your death. If you accomplish all as I tell you, I will confer great honor upon you. Do not worry about your child and wife. I will care for them and ensure their happiness and well-being.”

Marit took the order, paid obeisance and went to his chambers.
At his golden bed chambers, he hugged Nang Kaeo Chetsada and sobbed bitterly: “Alas, my glorious, cherished one, from today, we will be separated. Fate has caught up with me, and thus you as well, because that damnable Samanakha came to praise the graceful woman, Sida. Now the asura lord wants me to transform into a deer to trick Phra Harirak so he may abduct the lady for his pleasure. When I advised against this, he became livid and said that he would destroy our entire family. I thought most of you, my beautiful one, losing your life. The last time, I nearly lost my life, but this time, I will die from the bow of Phra Narai. Alas, my beloved one, please stay in well-being.”

Nang Kaeo Chetsada pounded her breast, feeling as if the wretched Lord of Death had come to kill her by cutting off her head. The lovely lady lowered her face, embraced his feet and poured out her grief: “Oh, alas, my supreme protector, you have given me great happiness. Why should this disaster come to separate us and result in you passing away? Such a waste of your strength to entrust yourself to the yaksa ruler. Why does he not have any compassion but is intent on having you struck down? From this day, I will have only suffering without any happiness. I will eat my tears every night in distress. Since Your Highness must be destroyed, take the life of your wife first. That will put an end to my grief.” The beautiful woman lamented and wept woefully.
Hearing his supreme lovely one, Phaya Marit lowered his face and became yet more sorrowful. Tears filled his eyes as he moaned with a great heavy sigh in his heart. His arms hugged her close to his chest: “My dearest beloved one, do not cry so. None born in this suffering world can escape from death. Even Mount Sumeru will be destroyed in the epoch-ending fire. Our fate is written and follows us always. Will we not all pass away? Dearest one, do not cry so bitterly. Be careful not to make any errors. Place yourself under the care of the twenty-armed lord.” Having said that, he went out.
He bowed in obeisance to His Majesty amidst the asura and courtiers and waited to hear the orders of the asura
When he saw Marit, the ten-headed yaksa was delighted. His faces shone like radiant moons, as if he already had Sida with him to join in joy. The asura laughed and smiled charmingly with a merry heart: “See here, senior asura courtier, mobilize fifty devoted troops who are quick, capable, and powerful. Also, prepare my chariot. I will go by way of the sky.”

Paowanasun took the order from His Majesty, paid obeisance and went out.
He mobilized troops proficient at fighting, choosing only those with bold might. All of them had strong bodies, capable of battling an enemy of one million. They were huge and sturdy, tall and capable, bold in strength, tough in force, vigorously energetic. They gnashed their teeth and ground their fangs as they brandished their weapons: “Although we are only this many, were we to meet an enemy in uncountable numbers, we will offer our service to His Majesty to strike them down with our might.”

When the bright dawn arose, the ten-faced yaksa lord went into the bathing chamber.
Opening the sparkling golden lotus spout, there was a fine mist of celestial lotuses, a refreshingly fragrant gossamer spray, fragrant with blossoms. He put on golden flowered breeches and a fine, beautifully intricate lowercloth; a magnificent coiled vine front breechcloth; a luminous side breechcloth; lace-edged, gemmed armor with overlapping kranok bracts; an intricately embroidered belt; a striped vine pattern breast-guard; a sparkling and shining breast chain; wristlets and armlets radiant with red rubies; bejeweled rings with garuda; a dazzling diamond crown; flowers tucked behind the ear; and gold ear-flares sparkling with the nine radiant precious gems. His hand carried his mighty bow as he went. 

He mounted his chariot and ordered Phaya Marit to sit in front.
Chariot, oh, royal gemmed chariot—wheels resplendent; spokes radiant, slim and slender; the rear axle gracefully majestic; hub and wheel flashing as one; gemmed bracts glittering on the bejeweled seat in brightly shining colors. The chariot was hitched with a team of two thousand lions, all selected to be bold and high spirited. The charioteer drove swiftly, moving at great speed, floating along through the middle of the sky, where billowing banks of clouds and fog shaded the sunlight. The chariot flew quickly across the ocean, shining brilliantly like the sun. 
At the seashore, they floated down from the sky and hid near the edge of the forest at the head of the Khothawari River. He warned the troops not to make any noise by coughing, sneezing, or talking. He had Marit transform his body to be a deer.

Marit took the order, paid obeisance and went into the forest.
He raised his hands above his head and thought in gratitude of Phra Phrom. He recited a chant that transformed the body of the kumphan owing to his tremendous mastery. 
In an instant, he became a golden deer with a hide as if of celestial design; two horns like moonstone; two eyes like sapphires; and two ears like lotus petals. He stood tall on four hoofs, turning this way and that in the manner of a soaring swan. Everything about his body was elegant. He pranced about, struck various poses and strutted with sublime elegance. He barked “pip priang” like the sound of a hog deer and gracefully approached the asura.
The ten-faced yaksa lord was jubilant at seeing Marit transform into an exceedingly beautiful golden deer that looked wonderfully stunning and lovable. The kumphan dismounted from his chariot and stroked Marit’s body: “Quickly go to the kudi and deceive Nang Sida with this artifice. Make her become bewitched by our crafty plan, then run into the dense woods. When her husband follows, use your asura wiles to cry out in the voice of Phra Ram. His younger brother will follow to help his elder. Then I will abduct the young lady and fly back to Longka.”

Marit took the order from His Majesty and went directly towards the pavilion.
The ten-headed yaksa watched the golden deer prance along the trail and followed behind. 
When he was near the ashram, the asura leader hid himself at the edge of the forest and waited, staring fixedly ahead. 
When he came to the front of the kudi, Marit, as the golden deer, acted like any forest deer. He paced and pranced, came closer, then acted as if frightened and jumped nervously about, then posed boldly, standing tall with his eyes roving about in search for the young lady. When he spied her, he called out and strutted and cavorted as if he would go to her. Then he leapt back and forth, bent down and pretended to eat some grass.
Sitting with Phra Lak and Phra Chakri in front of their forest pavilion, Nang Sida saw the noble deer prancing about at the edge of the forest. Its color was a radiant yellow as if painted with gold. Its whole body was enchantingly beautiful. Its mouth and hooves were red like rubies. It was more impressive and graceful than any other deer, loveable enough to break her heart. She said to her husband, Phra Narai: “Your Royal Highness, oh great, powerful lord, please show some favor to me. Help catch this golden deer and bring it to raise in the pavilion. I would like to caress it to give me great pleasure and happiness. If it should die, bring the hide here and I will spread it out to be a carpet for sleeping.”
Phra Chakkrit looked at the deer prancing and posturing, strutting about with its pretty pelt, handsome horns and charming color. Its whole body was so perfect and slender that it made him suspicious: “My most beloved one, this deer is no deer of the forest. I think it is some kumphan trick. They are afraid that when they come to face us in battle, their lives will be taken. They are not daring enough to fight, so they have conjured up this deer in the hope of deceiving me into following after it. This is some tactic of the yaksa. If I leave the pavilion, I think that there will be some mishap.”
Nang Sida bowed to his feet: “Your Royal Highness, oh powerful, mighty lord, you can subdue every place in every direction. The Himmaphan Forest likely has many such glorious golden deer. But because you have no compassion, you claim it is some trick of the yaksa. If I cannot have the noble deer, I might as well just die.” She lowered her face and sobbed in the lap of Phra Narai. The young lady lay there writhing and groaning heavily.
Phra Hariwong saw that the lady was upset enough for her life to end. He lifted his supreme one up in his arms, wiped away her tears and embraced her: “My beloved one, do not be so sad. You are my faithful companion facing extreme hardship together. Why would I have no compassion for you? My beloved, do not be upset. Since you want to have this golden deer, I will catch and bring it to you. Do not cry.” He consoled the young woman by stroking her back. Then he said to his younger brother: “I will go to catch this deer. You, who have shared my suffering and difficulties, together in trouble, together in life, stay and protect the lovely lady.”

Phra Lak replied: “Your Royal Highness, think deeply. The behavior of this golden deer seems wrong. It must be an asura transformed, likely by some royal command.” 
When she heard the warning of the younger brother, Nang Sida’s chest tightened with resentment. “Thank you very much, Chao Lak. Such loyalty and devotion to your older brother. I am merely the wife, his servant who has shared in his difficulties. Since the day we left the city, I have had no happiness or joy. Today, I see this golden deer with a fabulous hide that dazzles the eye. I was just hoping to have it to enjoy, to bring some relief to my pitiful suffering. Alas, how can you have so little mercy? Why do you oppose this, young brother? Please, pull out your sword and slash me.” Sobbing sadly, the lovely lady seemed ready for death.
Narai saw the lady weeping bitterly as if her life would pass away. He cuddled her into his lap, looked at her face and felt sorry. He embraced the young woman: “Most beloved one of mine, do not be so distressed and miserable. I will catch the deer and bring it to you, my sweetheart.” He then said to Phra Lak: “Beloved brother, stay and protect my loved one. Do not let there be any danger or calamity.” He took his mighty bow, got up from his ornate seat and went to chase the deer.
Phaya Marit, seeing Phra Harirak Chakri leave the pavilion, glanced over and jumped around, then cried out and made a show of eating grass in order to lure him into following according to the stratagem of the kumphan. When Phaya Marit saw him coming close, he bolted away, made a show of leaping about, then strutted along the edge of the forest hoping to draw him far away from the forest pavilion.

His Royal Highness chased after the golden deer, winding this way and that through the lines of trees in the forest. 
He followed speedily after the deer until the sun was shining hot and bright. Flying into an angry rage, like an inferno, His Royal Highness raised his bow to strike.

Fearless Phaya Marit jumped across a stream and bounded away over a rise. 
He ran, glancing backward, not stopping until he was at the end of his strength. In fear of Phra Chakri, he forgot himself and his face changed back to that of a kumphan
Phra Kritsanu saw the golden deer with the face of the yaksa, Marit. Realizing that the asura had transformed himself, His Royal Highness was enraged like a burning flame and let out a powerful roar: “Hey, Marit, you contemptible asura, at the time your mother swooped down upon the pavilion of the revered rishi, I killed her. Sawahu, your elder brother also died. Your life, I spared. I see that you are not even the least bit grateful. This time I will not spare you, wicked one!” His Royal Highness pulled out an arrow and fit it to the string. Taking aim, he turned his body, stood erect and fixed his gaze on the deer. He then shot the arrow with his might.
Phra Meru and Sattaphan shook. The reverberation reached the level of Dusit. When the arrow hit the body of the asura, blood flowed, flooding the ground.
Hit by the arrow, in pain, his life almost at an end, Phaya Marit cried out deceptively: “Oh, Chao Lak, my beloved one, this deer here is not a forest deer. It has changed into an asura and attacked me with its might. Beloved brother, come quickly to help! If you wait, I will die from this yaksa.” The asura cried out and fell to the ground, its life ended.
Nang Sida heard the kumphan cry out with a voice just like that of the four-armed lord. She was shocked as if lightning had struck her body. In extreme distress, she groaned in agony and said to her younger one: “Did you hear that, beloved brother, the voice of the chakra-wielding lord calling for you, asking you to help strike down the asura? Go quickly at once! Together you will be able to fight the yaksa. If you wait, His Royal Highness will be defeated. Do not just sit there!”

On hearing the beautiful woman, Phra Lak raised his hands in respect and answered wisely: “How could Phra Narai incarnate lose to a wicked yaksa? Even Thut, Khon and Trisian, with their power and troops of uncountable divisions, could not withstand his might. All the innumerable adversaries on the earth will be eliminated by his great bow. What you heard is the voice of an enemy, not the voice of His Royal Highness. If I follow him, we will fall for the scheme of the yaksa. You will be left here alone and there will be some calamity.”
Hearing this, Nang Sida felt she was being incinerated by a fierce flame. She felt hot all over her body: “Chao Lak, do you not love your older brother? I want you to follow and help Phra Chakri, but instead claim that the voice of the asura is a trick. Are you thinking of something shameless by trying to test my heart? Will you leave His Royal Highness to die? Is that how you think? If you do not follow your brother, I will pass away this very day.” She buried her face and lamented in grief. 
“Oh, alas, I am a wicked person who allows their husband to be destroyed, like some vile prostitute. Until the end of time, no one will say I have done good. Oh, Your Royal Highness, Phra Hariwong, with kindness greater than the unblemished heavens, you love your wife and have no care for your own life, and thus were tricked by the artifice of the asura. A waste of the effort of incarnating. How could you lose to this yaksa?” She beat her chest in sorrow as if her life would come to an end.
Hearing the lady remonstrate with grief, Phra Lak felt as if a weapon was slicing his body. He raised his hands in reverence above his head and said to the supreme lovely lady: “Do not say this. I am a loyal person who loves his elder brother. You beseech me to follow Phra Chakri, but I am at a loss what to do. When His Royal Highness went to follow the deer, he did not feel at ease. He ordered me to look after you until he returned. If I go and something happens, His Royal Highness will impose some punishment for violating his order. I would then have to take my last breath.”
Nang Sida listened and felt more resentful: “Even though His Royal Highness told you to stay and protect me, when something occurs, should you not act? Will there not be some punishment for you daring to speak like this? Is this happening because you have some illicit thoughts of treachery against your older brother? Since there are just two of us here in this pavilion, do you have some other intention? Be sure, even if I become a widow, you will not achieve what you want. I will put an end to my life and follow the four-armed lord.”
When Phra Lak heard these cutting remarks, his heart felt as hot as the epoch-ending fire: ‘If I go, I am afraid of offending the incarnated lord. If I stay following the order of His Royal Highness, I am afraid she will be resentful.’ With a great sigh, he thought back and forth, his heart burning, almost ready to die. Tears welled up in his eyes as he bowed to the feet of the lovely lady: “I beg to take leave from you to follow after Phra Narai. May you stay in well-being. Do not be sad or worried in your heart.” He raised his hands above his head and entrusted her to the deva: “Phra In, Phra Phrom, wood spirits of the forest, those staying in every celestial abode throughout the three worlds, every brook and stream, forest, cave and mountain, including Nang Phra Thorani, I wish to place under your care this lovely lady who is the consort of His Royal Highness, Phra Harirak.” After entrusting her in this way, he took his mighty bow, turned his face away and left.
He walked away then stopped and stood, looking back at her with a heavy heart, then went back to her, bowed in respect and sobbed.
Against his will, His Royal Highness steeled himself, paid reverence to the lady, left the forest kudi and went along the forest path.
The celestials everywhere throughout the six levels of heaven, along with the guardians of forests, mountains and trees, heard Phra Lak entrust Sida to them, making their hearts feel as hot as the epoch-ending fire. Using their celestial insight, the deva foresaw that the ruler of Longka would come and abduct the supreme lovely one. All of them were in a great turmoil in every place in the heavens. If they went to protect the young woman, they were afraid of the might of the asura, so they did not go. All of them were miserable with worry and concern, but they thought back to the beginning of the incarnation.

‘We know that the ten-faced yaksa will eventually lose his life and that lovely Sida will be the reason. She will precipitate the events that will strike down the asura. Even though he will take her away, it does not matter because she is Phra Laksami. Phra Narai will follow the lovely lady. Along the way he will meet with a wanon army who will help him in the fight and the asura clan will be destroyed by his great bow. The world will have peace and happiness because the four-armed lord will destroy this evil.’ With this thought, they all joyfully sang in praise and clapped their hands merrily. There was a joyful uproar throughout the universe, in every place in heaven.
When he saw Phra Lak leave the pavilion, the ten-faced yaksa lord was as happy as if celestial water was bathing his heart. The asura smiled broadly, his faces beaming in delight. He plucked a leaf, raised his hands above his head, recited a magic incantation over the leaf and stroked the leaf all over his body with his great mastery.
Immediately, he changed to be a wise ascetic. He wore an upper cloth that had a bright tiger-skin pattern and a lower cloth made of grass. His forehead was anointed with sandalwood. He wore a sacred string, his hair was twisted in a topknot, his right hand held a ceremonial fan and he carried gemmed beads of golden color. He walked along the fringe of the forest.
When he came near, he hid in the bushes and saw the lady sitting in front of her kudi, looking more beautiful than any maiden in the city of Phra In.
He examined her face, as white as the moon; he examined her eyebrows, curved like two bows; he examined her eyes, like those of a doe; he examined her teeth, like a row of sapphires; he examined her lips, unfolding in a gentle smile; he examined her complexion, like the color of radiant gems; he examined her cheeks, as dazzling as gold; he examined her ears, like lotus petals; he examined her hairline, like a painting; he examined her charming throat, like that of a swan; he examined her arms, like the trunk of an elephant; he examined her figure, like that of a celestial kinnari; he examined her breasts, like lotus buds; he examined her slender waist, as if of celestial design; he examined her skin, as if painted with gold; he examined her manner, as if to capture his heart. The more he examined, the more the yaksa lord was spellbound with intense passion. With a broad smile, he went straight towards the kudi.
He arrived at the front of the ashram in a state of bliss. He composed himself with the correct composed manner of a yogi. He recited a chant of love-magic and blew it gently on the wind ahead of him, then looked from the corner of his eye and mumbled a blessing for everlasting prosperity.
Nang Sida saw a fine and composed ascetic offering her a blessing. With no suspicion in her heart, the young lady bowed in reverence and said politely: “Holy sage, what is your name? Are you practicing self-denial? Where is your forest pavilion? Taking pains to travel through the forest, what is your mission, venerable ajarn?”
Hearing her speak beautifully, that cunning, crafty ten-headed one felt as if celestial water anointed his heart. Her exemplary manner only increased his passionate desire: “I am named Suthan. I live in Longka. I have no craving or delusion. I have been practicing self-denial for eight thousand years. I was not at ease, so I took up walking meditation to achieve bliss. Then I saw this forest pavilion and felt very pleased so I took the trouble to stop and see, hoping that I would meet someone, and found you, a pretty young maiden, a fair faced beauty to gladden the heart. Have you come to stay alone in the forest? Where is your homeland? What is your name? Why have you come to be a yogi?”
Nang Sida answered: “My name is Sida, the consort of bow-bearing Phra Ram. We lived in the city of Ayuthaya. His Royal Highness vowed to uphold a pledge of his father and became a forest ascetic. Out of love and devotion, I and his younger brother, Phra Lak, went along to attend to him in the dense forest. Although we have stayed here for quite some time, it is only today that I have seen you, venerable ajarn.”

The ten-faced yaksa lord replied: “Alas, you have such a refreshing face, with an appearance superior to any celestial maiden, and such a perfectly polite, bright and graceful manner. One could not find a comparable woman anywhere. I say this because I have tender feelings so do not be upset; I am not being insincere. You and Phra Ram, this husband of yours, must be very far apart, like earth and heaven. It would be better for you to be the consort of the ten-headed asura, whose realm is very grand. His Majesty is in the lineage of Phra Phrom. His might is proclaimed throughout the three worlds. Every deva bows down to him. His Majesty is without a supreme one to please him. Should you become his principal consort and stay together with him under his white tiered umbrella, which is as beautiful as the nine radiant gems with celestial brilliant gold, you will be praised throughout the world.” 
Nang Sida heard this with a cloying feeling tightening her chest: “The ten-headed yaksa leader is more vile than anyone can compare. Everyone knows this throughout the three worlds. How can you praise him? I tell you that Phra Ram is glorious Phra Narai, incarnated to come and destroy the asura. His Royal Highness upholds truth and justice. Why do you defame him with slanderous words? Are you a wicked and deluded ascetic, unaware of the fierceness of the era-ending fire, carelessly speaking falsehoods?”
The ten-headed yaksa smiled: “Alas, I only say what is true. Why do you respond with anger at this rishi? How could Phra Ram, your husband, compare to the ten-faced lord, my lovely one? Your husband’s wealth and possessions are so meager; his concubines, his retainers, his realm, his might and ability are very minor. Compared with the yaksa lord, they are fathoms apart. Should they come to fight, he would be destroyed in the blink of an eye. I feel great affection for you, so I am telling you the truth. Think over which one is better.” 
Listening to the yogi, Nang Sida felt as if a sharp trident was piercing her ear: “Rishi, you are very deplorable and do not act like a forest ascetic by slandering Phra Chakri. How can you say he has no power or might? Thut, Khon and Trisian, these three rulers, the younger brothers of that Thotsakan, where are they now? Who eliminated them and their armies of forty divisions? The yaksa leader with ten faces and twenty arms should dread the bow of radiant Phra Narai, which will end his entire clan and royal lineage. Do not think that he will be able to escape with his life. I do not care to associate with you and hear your lying breath, rishi. Quickly go away from this kudi. Do not pester me with your words.” 
Thao Rapphanasun was furious and bellowed: “Hey, Sida, your words are very mean and base, boasting that your husband has great might. We will see on this very day! Indeed, I am not an ascetic. I am the ten-faced yaksa. If Phra Ram has might as you say, let him come and challenge me.” He transformed himself back to be a yaksa with ten faces. His arms brandished his weapons, his ten mouths gnashed their fangs and ground their teeth, his eyes blazed like the sun.
Seeing him in the form of an asura, Nang Sida called out in panic for Phra Lak and Phra Chakri. She was nearly out of her mind. She shrieked in great alarm and fled from the kumphan.
The ten-headed one saw Nang Sida, her body shaking, out of her senses, running and shouting. The asura lord smiled broadly making his faces beam. His eyes focused on the beautiful lady as the asura immediately moved forward to intercept her and grab her.
As he neared the captivating woman, the yaksa lord blocked her way and said sweetly: “My beloved, do not be alarmed. I adore you, young one. I invite you to come and be the glory of my realm. I will make you the first under my shining white umbrella, greater than any other in my jeweled palace.” He approached, took the lovely lady in his arms and carefully cradled her as he took her to his bejeweled chariot.
He placed the lady at the rear of the radiant coach and soared into the sky with his might. The company of asura troops followed behind.

Nang Sida looked back at the forest pavilion feeling as if her heart would break. She searched for Phra Lak and Phra Chakri, but saw no trace of them and became yet more sad and miserable. The beautiful woman lamented for her husband: “Oh, alas, Your Royal Highness, you knew the tricky artifice of the yaksa, yet I would not listen to you and made you follow the deer. Phra Lak tried in vain to dissuade me, but I took offense and forced him to go to help his elder brother. The asura thus had the chance to abduct your wife and fly away from you. When you return and find the pavilion empty, you will grieve miserably. Oh, alas, who will report these events to you so you can quickly follow and execute this asura with your mighty bow? Your Royal Highness, I am already at my wit’s end.” The lovely lady wept in sorrow.

Translated from the Thai by Frederick Goss. Edited by Chris Baker. Copyright © 2024 by Frederick Goss. Used with the permission of the editor and translator.