Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Siege of the White Mountain Vol. 3: Due to the Dead--Part 27

Ostrorog watched as his father adjusted his elaborate white turban, hanging the symbol of a silver wolf from its folds.  "How do I look?" said the old man quietly. 

"Like a Khan," said his son quietly.

"As I am a Khan, that is always so," replied Konstancy.  "I wish to know do I look like an impressive Khan, a Khan who men will follow into battle...?" Ostrorog nodded, and looked away.  His father gave a rumbling laugh.  "Do not be sad, my son.  This is war.  This is the one thing that I am truly good at."  The Gali Khan gave a sad shake of his head. "The fighting of them, at least. Not the winning of them.  That I was rather poor at."  He sighed. "Help me on my horse."

Ostrorog guided the old man to the large white stallion nearby.  "I recall some famous, and successful wars you fought in..."

"Under the leadership of other men," said Konstancy.  "I have won battles.  But wars... wars are a matter for men like Mansemat Cthonique.  I have never had the head for them."  He hefted himself up on the horse with his son's help, then glanced at Ostrorog.  "Ride with me."

Ostrorog nodded, and turned to his own smaller horse.  As he easily lifted himself on it, his father gave a wistful sigh.  "To get on a horse like that," said the Gali Khan, shaking his head.  "I envy your youth at times like this."  He drew his sword, on which the piece of cloth was tied, and gave a sad sigh.  "Ahh, well.  My years have been spent, and will not come again."  He gestured ahead.  "We ride to the head of the van." 

The pair rode swiftly to the head of the assembled hordes, where the Agra Khan and Balu Khan waited for them.  The Gali Khan stood in the center and looked the men over.  "Kizaks of the White Horde!" he declared.  "Of the Black Horde!  Of the Red Horde!  In a month, some of us may be enemies again--but today we ride as one!  Before us stand valiant foes, ready to kill and to die.  Let us be ready as well!"  He looked the group over.  "And let us remember what brings us together.  Generations upon generations ago the son of Marduk came among us, fleeing the treachery of the Holy Emperor that had taken his father, and rode with us Kizaks, who all but he viewed as little more as animals.  But he was our friend, and learned our ways, and he fought, and bled and died for our behalf. And the son of this son--he did the same, and when the time came to cast down the Holy Emperors, it was he who did so--with Kizaks by his side!  Now, a man who claims the mantle of that Holy Emperor stands against the son of many sons of the line of Cthonique!  And like so many of his forbears, this is not a man who bows to the wicked.  This is who we serve!  A spirit greater than ours!  So it has been before I was born, I who am the oldest Kizak here.  And so it shall be after I am dead."  

He turned his horse, and raised his sword. "Now, we ride."  And with a howl, the three Hordes charged forth.

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