Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tales of Falling Stars (The Widow)

Hoekun Yamun was a visionary among his people, the Tuigan; horse-lords and nomads to those unenlightened of the West, vicious barbarians to the honor-bound populace of the East. To Hoekun it provided him with many enemies of which to conquer as well as resources for him to control.

A son of the Khan of his Noyan tribe, Yamun strangled his own father to usurp his title. The murder was the first in a long string of draconian measures which made Hoekun Yamun the eventual ‘Khahan’ or ‘Dragon-Lord’.

After gaining control over his own tribe Yamun went on to eventually lead them against his against his Tuigan neighbors. With startling resourcefulness Hoekun gained the alliance of the Basymit Tribe, and together they sought out others. After each victory, the Yamun sent emissaries to the next tribe with a simple offer: join him or die.

That night it rained a spectrum of colors and stones as the Great Destroyer torpedoed through Selune’s Tears and began to plummet toward some place in the North, somewhere in the Endless Waste.

Hoekun witnessed this phenomenon, and mounted his horse to approach what fell from the stars. It was a dragon, the largest creature Hoekun had ever seen. Like an alabaster mountain it moved, then spoke proclaiming to be the Stormdragon incarnate.

“You will unite your people and wage war against the people of Kara Tur, bring down the Dragonwall, and secure for me the Seven Aspects of Dragon-kind and you will be the Khahan of your people.” The Storm Dragon said.

For Yamun the greatest joy a man can have is victory; to conquer one’s enemies, to pursue them, to deprive them of their possessions, to reduce their families to tears, to ride on their horses, to make love to their women! He would do this service for the Storm Dragon and then, rule from the Dragon Throne.

(Four months ago… Midsummer)

Smoke from the funeral pyre drifted through the Widow’s nose and finally upward to the naked midsummer night sky. Red embers rose to join the distant white stars against the milky-way backdrop. A tiny dragon coiled around her shoulders like a mantle comforting the Widow and her unborn child. Around the pyre, five Tuigan tribes gathered to pay homage Hoekun Yamun, the Dragon-Lord, the Khahan. Tribal Khans, and their emissaries from the horse plains had arrived over the past couple of days to offer gifts and condolences, but each Khan was keen on the vacancy left behind as well as the men and war-horses under the deceased Khanan’s control.

The Khahan’s widow regarded the tribal leaders warily, careful of subterfuge; she worked quickly and spoke to her adopted people.

“Tuigan Khans and brave warriors I want to extend to you gratitude on behalf of my late husband the Khahan…” The widow said, her voice carrying unusually far on the preternaturally calm night. Just then a star streaked across the sky tearing a white arc along a perfect fabric of indigo.

“And to proclaim blood of the Khahan lives in me,” indicating her pregnancy. “His blood for war invigorates me and I will lead us to great victories. The gods will not deprive us of our conquest.” Her assertions came with mixed responses, most notably from the tribal Khans who stood statue-like with fists symbolically at their sides.

“You words are indeed spirited.” Came a retort, it was the tribal leader of the Hoekun tribe, her late husband’s original tribe, “but tradition does not, to my knowledge, recognize a woman as a Khan to say nothing of the absurdity of an outsider.”

At this several tribal leaders nodded their unspoken approval as a horse stomped for emphasis. The widow stood stoically letting each of the Khans state their claim and objections.

“Warriors should be lead in battle by a man not a sow that is only capable of cooking and producing children.” This new line of talk came from the leader of the Basymits tribe, a small tribe known for training the youngest warriors.

Still the widow stayed silent on her small pale horse.

“You do not even wield a weapon.” Said the Naican tribe leader, a jovial and sparkle eyed warrior who in the widow’s opinion was too handsome and pompous for any use. She was beginning to lose support in the eyes of the Tuigan.

After composing herself she waited for solemn silence to return. When only the crackle of the funeral pyre could be heard, she spoke. “Brothers and sisters of the Tuigan, there was no Khahan before my husband and he, with his insight changed that and banded the five tribes and their clans. You supported him in his crusade into Kara Tur despite your tradition- do you doubt his choice in a wife? Would you so too, soil his memory by doubting his wisdom? And…” The Widow now directly addressed the Naican tribe leader, “my weapons are my words. In the west wars are not just won by strength and steel, they can also be won with words.”

Carefully dismounting her steed she continued, “I can speak the languages of the East and the West, lead us to unknown victories, and if I need a weapon Naican fool, I will just take one of yours.”

This last bit of theater incensed the Naican leader. He spurred his horse and charged at the Widow his spear leading the way. Screams and gasps followed as the Widow side stepped the spear, grabbed the shaft and pivoted it down sending the Naican up and off his horse and on his back. With the man’s spear in her hands she spun it dexterously over her head and brought the spear tip down in a deadly thrust only to stop short a hair’s breadth from the tribesman’s neck.   

“Join me or die.” She said. These were her husband’s words, the Khahan’s words- and if she would be the Khahana of the Tuigan, they would be her words now. She knew the answer before she asked; such a display was embarrassing to the Naican’s honor.
Naican tribe leader looked up, the stars in the sky seemed doubled from thrown on his back- the ultimate dishonor among the horse-men- by a woman no less, “I will never follow a woman…”

Without another word the Widow thrust the spear through the man’s throat drowning out his disrespectful words.

The Khahana stood tall, her husband’s funeral pyre burning low in the background, and the traitor’s spear in her hand she regarded to the Tuigan horde. “Let us retaliate against the west and exact a toll for the folly their godsfall have wrought and to those who betrayed my beloved and your Khahan. They are vulnerable and many of their churches are in disarray as priests and clerics scramble to reorganize. We will leave the Endless Wastes behind, break open their temples and exact vengeance.”

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