The Banishment of Pipeck

Without delay, two messengers fly to the heavenly court and, after due scrutiny at the gate, are admitted to the royal and divine presence. Prostrating themselves before Phra Isuan, they tell him the whole story and beg him to rebuild Longka for their master. Isuan dismisses them and discusses the matter with his closest advisors. They point out to him that while Totsagan is by no means as close to the heavenly king as Phra Ram, it would not be wise to turn down his request out of hand. In the first place, this might upset the balance of power between Phra Ram and Totsagan, with unforeseeable results. And then, the demon king might well turn to other courts for aid and, having had his city rebuilt by them, never again pay to the heavenly court of Isuan the tribute that is should rightly receive. Upon hearing this, Phra Isuan summons the messengers and tells them that he will undertake to provide the aid Totsagan had requested.

The two gods Phra In and Phra Witsanukam rebuild the city, and within a matter of days.   The two gods go about their task so quickly and expertly that Longka not only stands again but is even more splendid and beautiful than it was before the fire.

Shortly after the reconstruction of Longka, Totsagan has two ominous dreams, which he calls on his brother, Pipeck, a demon with skill in such arts, to interpret.

"A white vulture came flying from the East," says Totsagan. "It crossed the ocean on powerful wings and landed in Longka’s marketplace. A black vulture came flying from the West. Seeing it, the white bird climbed high above the newcomer and then swooped. The two vultures clashed and with flashing talons and curved beaks fought until the feathers flew. The black bird fell vanquished and died. As it did so, I became aware that it was of the demons’ party."

"Then came the second dream," Totsagan continues. "A demon carried in his hand half a coconut shell, filled with oil, in which a wick floated. A beautiful woman lit the wick. The fire spread from the wick to the nutshell and then to the demon’s hand and on until the whole of the demon’s body was consumed by the flames."

"Tell me, brother Pipeck, what it is these dreams mean."

Pipeck, who has been noting down occult symbols during this narration, now consults his board.

"The interpretation is not hard to arrive at," he says. "The white vulture is Phra Ram, and the black vulture is yourself, King Totsagan. The first dream means that Phra Ram will defeat you in battle. The beautiful woman in the second dream in Nang Seeda. It warns of the downfall of your kingly self, of Longka and of the demon race through Nang Seeda." So says Pipeck.

Totsagan, displeased at this interruption, asks, "How may these things be circumvented?" And his brother replies, "Only by the return of Nang Seeda."

For a moment the king is speechless. He thinks of the suffering the pursuit of the goddess has caused him and the misfortune it has brought his kingdom, and his anger rises. "Return Seeda!" he says. "These are the words of a traitor."

Pipeck throws himself at Totsagan’s feet, appeals to him as a brother born of the same mother to heed his warning. But the demon king, his rage mounting by the moment, draws his sword and beats his brother from his presence, proclaiming him outlawed and setting Kumpagan and Intorachit to hunt him down. His brother’s property, including his wife Dreechada and his daughter Benyagai, is seized by the king.

Pipeck flees Longka, escaping only with his life.

The outlawed Pipeck can see no possibility for himself but to offer his services to Phra Ram. Having flown over the sea and arrived on the mainland, he searches diligently for the camp of the monkeys. As he is doing so, he stumbles on a foraging party under the leadership of the black monkey general Nilek, who immediately takes him to be a spy and orders his capture.

Pipeck’s protestations are useless, and he is led into the monkey camp with his neck in a halter. There he is brought before the commander in chief, who, realizing what a prize they have captured, orders him to be taken before Phra Ram.

Pipeck pays his respects to the royal brothers and tells them the sad story of his banishment. He explains that he has come of his own free will to the monkey camp to beg to be taken into the service of Phra Ram to fight in the campaign against his brother Totsagan. It requires very little thought for the brothers to see the advantages of having a demon in their ranks, and after a minimum of discussion it is decided that Pipeck is to act as the royal soothsayer. Furthermore, as he is the possessor of great occult powers, it is thought fitting that he shall be the guardian of the blessed water in which Phra Ram’s Pramat arrow is ceremoniously purified.

When this has been decided, the entire monkey army is paraded, with the generals in the forefront and the rank and file drawn up all round. Before this host, Pipeck swears and oath of allegiance to Phra Ram, promising to serve him faithfully until Longka is defeated and Nang Seeda is recovered.

Following these ceremonies, Sukreep seeks out Pipeck and after an exchange on compliments tells him that they should be friends.

"We have a melancholy history in common," he explains. "At one time, I had an enemy who did me wrong and tried to bring about my death. This enemy was Palee, King of Keetkin, and he was my elder brother. Your worst enemy is similarly your brother, Totsagan of Longka, who also seeks your life. Thus our fates are similar. Let us therefore swear to be friends for the rest of our lives."

And so Pipeck, deprived of home, friends and family, forges new bonds of loyalty among strangers.

By this time Phra Ram is thinking of pushing on with his campaign against Longka. He calls a council of war of his monkey generals and orders them to carry out military maneuvers with their troops, so that he can see just how they will fare against the warlike demons under Totsagan’s command, and, at the same time, impress his new ally with the forces under his banner.

Sukreep issues his orders and then leads Pipeck to an eminence from which they can best view the maneuvers. The army divides into two forces, which then lock in mock battle. It is an extraordinary sight that Pipeck witnesses. Some of the monkeys dart up into the air, from where they rain down rocks on each other, or engage in desperate hand to hand combat; others fight on the sea, lashing the surface into a tornado of foam; while others create artificial fire, or blot out the sun, or call up tempests - performing, in short, marvels without name or number. The noise of this battle shakes the earth to its foundations and rises as high as the fourth heaven, where the angels hide their eyes in fear and flee behind the stars for protection. Pipeck is highly impressed.

The tumult of the monkey maneuver reaches as far as Longka and, hearing it, Totsagan orders one of his demon subjects to find out just what is happening.

The demon, Sukrasan by name, changes himself into a falcon and flies high over the sea to the mainland. Coming to the battlefield, he finds himself a convenient rock face and observes what is going on closely. In fact, so closely is he following the feats the monkeys are performing that he relaxes the concentration necessary to maintain his guise and tumbles to the bottom of the cliff.

Not much the worse for his fall, however, Sukrasan changes himself again, this time into a monkey, and as such mingles with the soldiers of Phra Ram’s army.

Sukrasan’s new form is not good enough to pass the penetrating eye of Pipeck. The soothsayer informs Sukreep, who passes the information on to Phra Ram that the battle is being observed by a spy. Hanuman is summoned and ordered to capture him.

Now, while Pipeck with his special gifts is able to pick out the imposter immediately, Hanuman finds it much harder. He flies round the battlefield for some time, but gets so confused by the ceaseless movement of the monkeys that he gives a great howl, bringing them all to a standstill, and at that moment transforms himself into a mountain encircling the entire army.

"Now then," he says, "you will pass through my hands, one by one, until I find the demon. And when I find him…" and here he utters threats so horrifying that Sukrasan can hardly control his trembling limbs. He wishes most heartily he could find a way of escaping, but as there seems to be no choice but to pass through Hanuman’s hands, he joins the waiting line of monkeys and trusts that his appearance is sufficiently convincing to pass muster. However, at the moment when it is his turn to be lifted up and sniffed at and examined closely by the Son of the Wind, Sukrasan is so terrified that he inadvertently changes back into his original form, and the game is up.

Phra Ram is informed of the spy’s capture. After conferring with his brother, he orders that Sukrasan shall not be put to death. Instead, he shall receive the mild punishment of a beating and then shall be allowed to return to Longka. In this way, Phra Ram not only demonstrates his clemency but is sure the news of the power and determination of his army shall reach the ears of his adversary.

And so the unfortunate Sukrasan is handed over to the monkeys. They strip him and truss him securely to a couple of boughs cut from a nearby tree. His forehead is branded with a hot iron, so that he shall always bear witness to his ignominious capture by Phra Ram’s army. Then the monkeys thoroughly beat him so badly that Sukrasan begins to wish he had been put to death. Finally, as a last mark of disgrace, his eyebrows are shaved, and he is hissed out of the monkey camp and sent flying - more dead than alive -   his way back to Longka.