Steel and Silk

Invasion from the North

The kinsmen were from our brother tribe, the Kongar. One of them, Xuren, left to inform our kin that northern invaders. The other, Moonhawk, decided to come along with us. He is a singer, and a rather agreeable man. He informed us that the Northerners had invaded the valley of Fire, and attacked the flame posts. We cannot let this stand. While our task is important, it will amount to nothing, if the Hyperboreans remain in control of the valley.

We rode on through the day, and with brother Moonhawk’s expertise we were able to make it there by dusk. We decided to go to the Kongar outpost, as that is where the men from Ondar currently reside. However, we saw a camp on a hill just before the outpost. Myself and Ahriman went to, quietly, take out the camp, while Moonhawk went to gather our brothers. We joined our brothers in the camp after the short battle, and they informed us that the Hyperboreans came from the north, and that the Merkit had charged into the valley to stop them, but they lost. However, not all had died due to sword and spear, some had been ripped apart.

Thus, Ahriman was concerned that we had angered the spirits. He geared up in his full shaman regalia, and painted myself and Moonhawk with ritual markings. We hoped this would be enough to allow us access to the spiritual grounds, without challenge. Not that I know… What kinda challenge we would be to spirits. Regardless, we must save our kin, and cleanse the valley from the invaders.

It was already dark, and we were all jumpy. The worst we had to contend with was nature, however, a sinkhole that tried to claim Ahriman. And we arrived to check on the Nagalai outpost. We erred on the side of caution, should the northern brothers have betrayed us, or have been taken out. We engaged in a plan where Ahriman went around to the west, and charged in from the side, while I attack from the east. Brother Moonhawk would set a fire, so our vision would be less clouded. During my approach I stumbled upon our kinsmen, they were left in the dirt outside. I hid, and waited for the guards to appear, at which point I ended them. I gave my brothers my knife, so could free themselves. Maybe I should’ve stayed with them? I… I heard Ahriman’s fight going on upstairs, he seemed cornered. Before I had time to think through what I should do, I was already up there… My blood was pumping… These northern dogs… They were trying to chain freemen… They stomped through our sacred grounds… They tried to end our shaman, our brother… As he tried to strike Ahriman, my blade moved in the way… I could hear words beating in my head: We are the sword and shield of Ondar, Kuze… You know that already. Soon you may be alone, though. He spoke, in a tongue I had all but forgotten… The tongue my mother had taught me. He would take brother Ahriman with him to his dark lord?! Not as long as I draw breath… I answered, unwittingly, in my mother tongue, before I cut him down. Ahriman thanked me. H-he called me sister. Whatsmore, we spoke to our Ondar brothers. And Tengar, one who had given me a good amount of grief over the years, called me Kuzeyli… Not Mule. It… gave me hope. Perhaps there’s a place for me here, even without my father.

The Tragedy of a Bastard

How did things go so wrong? I am a bastard, yet I was able to see my siblings and father often. I was trained, and adopted, by my father’s blood brother. But now… My adopted father is dead, killed by a poison, and my father has died as well. I am ashamed that my thoughts are as selfish as they are… Will I be allowed to honour my father? What will happen to me now that both my father, and my adopted father is gone? I trust my brother, Aldin. My siblings Vashtu and Tobur are honourable, and have always treated me as their sister… At least in private. Imzash and Tolui blame me for our victory against Merkit, they have also always been less inclined to accept me as part of the family, due to my northerner appearance.

So, when Aldin-chaa told me that brother Tobur was late, and that he would give me the honour to represent our family, and the name of adoptive father, in the valley of Fire, I was overjoyed. Ahriman, the son of Zarathustra, was to accompany me. I know little about either of them myself, but I do know that Ahriman’s father has been gone for some time, and that they are shamans, of sorts. We set out on horseback. While the steppes can be dangerous, you rarely run into anyone. Ahriman asked me I knew the way, while I am not too well versed in the way there, we can, sort of, see it across the steppes. He is a strange man, this Ahriman. I assumed he did not know the way, but some time into our journey he told me insights about the land, and how the land was affected. Why did he not speak of this when we first set out? Why did he let me lead, if he knew a better path. My father trusted his father, therefor I shall trust him… But he is not making it easy.

As dusk approach, we set up camp. I was prepared to sleep under bare sky, but Ahriman had brought sleeping supplies, and officer me a spot in his tent. As we set up a fire, I caught his eyes spying on me. My father trusted his father. He said he was judging me. Evidently, he had heard of me from our people. I asked of his father, and I admit, due to the whole situation having already creeped me out a little, my tact was not what it should have been. This man is strange, and I know not if I can count on him, should we meet aggression, but I will defend him, with my life if need be, my father trusted his father.

The next day into our journey we did run into resistance. Invaders was chasing some of our people. I took out my father’s banner, I hoped that it would either inspire our kinsmen, or scare off the invaders. At the very least, it did succeed in informing our kinsmen that aid had come… I do believe they hoped for more men… But I would have to do. I assumed this would be a hard fought battle… But. It turns out that the son of Zarathustra is well trained. One rider managed to escape, however. They were of Hyborea… The land of my ancestors. Normally, I would pursue them. However, our goal is more important.

The scrolls of Ahriman
Enemies Within

I am Ahriman, third son of Zarathustra Hizir, the shaman of our people and I am without guidance.

My father has left for lands unknown for reasons I do not know. He refused to tell me anything about what he was doing and even forbid me to go with him, something he has not done since he first handed me my weapons all those years ago. That was a year ago now and I have still not heard from him.

I have continued my training as best I can, I can dance with the spirits but I can still not see them, I cannot hear their voices. I have yet to take on the spirit walk.

It is currently my 19th year of training and last morning, a Northerner came seeking my aid of behalf of Big brother Aldin. I say Northerner, because that is what she looks like, what she smells like, what my instincts tell me is an enemy. But she is not.

At least that is what I am told; she is Kuzeyli the half-breed, a “mule” as some call her. With the blood of Hyperboria mingled with that of our own great uncle Bishtak. She had been taken in by uncle Baatar and raised as his own. I do not wish to dishonor either of these great men by spitting on the faith they placed in this girl, but I will keep my eyes on her and judge her character myself. I feel that to be important, not least of which in the wake of Uncle Baatar’s murder.

We were asked to place the Khagan’s banner amongst the other great men of Ondar back in The Valley of Fires. She took off in a hurry to fetch me a horse, and claimed to know the way there. It was if she half-assume that she would lead, to take command, so I let her. She seemed to be in a hurry to reach our destination, choosing to take ‘short cuts’ which only ended up with us taking longer. I stayed silent and I watched, sometimes asking questions, seeing as she said she knew the way. This continued until finally she lead us to cross a bridge which had not survived the previous winter. As I told her about this, she finally decided to ask for help. This was good.

While she did not admit to leading us without knowing where to go, she could at least wound her pride enough to ask others for guidance. Perhaps this was a sign she was indeed not entirely like the stoic and arrogant Hyperborians. I granted what little insight I had and led us onwards to a safer and more expedient path through the forest. There we made camp and I arranged sleeping arrangements. While eating, she noted on how I was staring at her. I had not tried to hide it, so I simply explained that I was studying her. To see if she would be an ill omen who would bring misery to the people that I love. It was clear that she wanted to be accepted as one of our own but I was unsure if that could ever happen, there were not many of us who did not have at least one bad memory associated with someone with appearances like hers.

She then moved the conversation to me and my father. She gave condolences for my father, as if it was a matter of course that he was dead. Perhaps she was not a like the Hyperborians, but she did not have much tact either. I explained that while it was true that there was a risk that something happened to him, I believe it more likely that his journey simple took him far away from home. In the end, either he will return or I will go after him and bring him back. Either to Ondar or to The Valley of Fires so that he can rest.

With that we went to sleep and continued our journey. As we were about to leave the forest path, we saw two kinsmen riding hard towards us. On their tail were Hyperborian pigs. The horse Kuzeyli had brought me, Scar, was ill suited for war and for the dance so I tied it down and hid myself amongst the tress, preparing to leap down on them as they entered the narrow trees passage.

Kuzeyli however rode out to meet them on the open plain sword and the Khagan’s banner in each hand. Brave, but not very cunning. It split the pursuers and the horsemen veered off away from the forest road. I had to change my plan and as the horsemen and Hyperborian got close to the forest I braced myself and lunged. And so the dance began.

It was an ugly dance, one performed on the backs of horses and to the music of gutted swine. Two Hyperborians laid dead by my feet, two more where the Northerner had stood her ground. Then they ran like the rats they were, I caught up to one of them and ended him, but the others managed to get away, riding north. They were deep within Khazari territory which implies that they were far from the only ones in the area.

The Hyperborians are invading.

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