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Monday, January 17, 2011

Jagatai's Hunt- An old character post I found

This is one of my old posts from the Steppe Warriors message boards.

The ger of the Khakhan was not a happy place this particular day. The Khakhan Jagatai and his wife Monelun were having a very subtle argument, a contest of wills, over what course their children's lives should be taking. Jagatai, for his part, was trying to make his children tough and capable, able to live and lead after his time was in the past. Monelun in turn apparently assumed he wanted them dead. Thirteen years is plenty old enough to raid into the settled lands, Jahanghir is a man, he thought. But that woman and her foals, she keeps them hobbled near the ger. Obviously there is a chance he'll get hurt, but he'll be with his arban! He has trained for this day since he was very small! He stroked the small grey cat sitting on his lap absently, for her part she grabbed his thumb with a paw and bit it gently.

In the old days crockery would have flown and the fight would have been heard throughout the auruq, Monelun had always been a rather spirited woman. These days only a very skilled observer would be able to deduce there was a problem. Jagatai and Monelun had learned to be subtle in their disagreements so as to protect their regal dignity. Jagatai, however was getting annoyed. He was supposed to be sitting here at court listening to the terms of a treaty agreement with a family of merchant princes; but dickering over just how much tribute would be paid to his people, combined with his quiet marital spat was too much for him to take. He motioned to his major-domo Shigikutuku, who then silently slid into position in front of the Great Khan and dismissed the audience. Jagatai set the grey cat on the floor of the yurt and stood up from his stool. He turned and shot one look across the room towards Monelun, whose green-brown eyes pierced him like arrows. So much for reconciliation now he thought as he strode toward the flap of the ger.

Outside the sky was blue and the air chilly. The Khakhan made his way to the corral for his favorite mare, the spirited one that reminded him of his wife, but had never held a grudge against him over anything greater than what treat was brought for her that day. The guards of the Keshik followed at a respectable distance, they knew the Khakhan would be in no mood for company today from long experience; they'd keep their distance with a small contingent and keep him in sight, but barely. These are, after all, well tamed lands; no enemy could get within many miles of the auruq unannounced. Jagatai bribed his mare with a piece of carrot then saddled her up, he'd go hunting today he decided. Handing the reigns to a bo'ol he called for one of the Keshik to bring his hunting bow. Once it arrived he mounted up and rode out from the auruq into the vast plain beyond.


Hours later, with nothing but a marmot to claim for the day, but happy to be away from governing; Jagatai rode back toward the auruq. Suddenly a peccary burst forth from the underbrush right in front of Jagatai. He gave a whoop of joy and spurred his mare into the chase. The wily peccary ran for a small gully and Jagatai urged his mount into a burst of speed to jump over the edge into the gully after it for a clear shot.

From out of nowhere the world turned bright white, then red; fading around the edges of his vision towards black as the ground rose up to strike him in the back of his head and shoulders. He attempted to shake his head, trying to clear his vision. Enough success came in time to see a great tusked humanoid beast swinging a club the size of a tree trunk into his beloved mare's back. The mare screamed in horsey agony. Before he could make sense of what he saw, it swung again ending the mare's screaming and reducing her body to a bloody, pulpy mess.

Jagatai started to rise, and fell backwards; attracting the beasts attention. He took a quick assessment of his situation. His left eye was swollen shut now, the edges of his vision faded until it appeared he was looking through a cave at the creature; blood sprayed from his mouth and nose with every painful breath. He had no idea what had happened to his bow and his sword was still slung in its scabbard attached to the mangled mares saddle. The mannish thing stared at the fallen Khakhan and laughed a deep guttural laugh, then spoke in its beast tongue some foul words Jagatai could not understand as it took two long steps towards him raising its gore drenched tree trunk weapon for a killing blow.

Jagatai made silent prayer to the Tengri to grant him strength, and in one smooth motion rose, drew his knife and stabbed the beast in the groin, where the leg attaches to the trunk of the body, hoping that it would be made on the inside like a man and this blow would kill, if not instantly, surely. The monster howled with rage and swung it's huge club towards Jagatai, connecting with a glancing blow that sent the Khakhan reeling to his right. Jagatai staggered back into the beast and stabbed it again and again in the abdomen and legs, no longer targeting with precision, merely attempting to cause as much damage as possible before dying. The beast fell over backwards, twitching, it's chest and head sprouting numerous arrows. Jagatai turned his head to the sounds of hoof beats at a gallop and his black clad body guards rushing to his aid, he raised his hand in silent thanks before his vision faded completely.


He awoke laying on his back inside his own ger, a masked shaman chanting over him and dancing erratically. As the shaman noticed that his patient awoke he stopped his dance and changed his chant, kneeling down next to Jagatai. He removed his mask continuing his new chant, Jagatai recognized him as Teb the chief Shaman of the auruq. The shamans' hands began to glow with a silvery white light and Teb reached down and grasped his stricken Khakhans' face none too gently. Jagatai felt a new wave of pain at the touch followed by the queasy feeling of his bone and flesh knitting back together. Vision returned to his left eye as the swelling receded. One of Tebs' assistants handed him a bowl decorated with the spirit sigils of Tebs' spirit guides. Teb put the bowl to Jagatais' mouth and bid him drink in his hoarse shaman's voice. The substance within smelled foul and tasted worse but Jagatai knew it would be a healing draught, and so choked it down. Pain dissipated throughout his body.

For the first time he took in his surroundings. His wife Monelun was within his sight, flanked on either side by their daughters Altani and Ebegei. All three wore looks of concern so Jagatai determined his injuries must have been severe. He croaked out “Where is Jahanghir?”. Monelun answered somewhat tersely “He left with his arban as you ordered. Yesterday.”. Her concerned look returned and she asked her husband “How do you feel?”. “I've had worse” he lied, and attempted a smile. “Liar.” she retorted and sighed a bit of relief. She knelt next to him, leaned over and kissed him on the brow. “Get some sleep” she said. And so he did.