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ScribleScrable

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The Wailing Wall - A Khazar Jew AAR


My opening screen

Mission Statement

When I heard SoA was introducing Judiasm and the Khazar Jews, I was initially tremendously excited. My favorite CK2 games are when I take control of historical underdogs, build them up a bit, and then see what weird stuff happens to the globe when they have a fighting chance.

Unfortunately, I had a couple other games going on when the DLC was released and it wasn’t until late December that I finally got SoA, loaded up as Khazaria, and discovered that it was definitely worth the wait. I marathoned the game throughout that weekend because I simply couldn’t put it down, and I can say without a doubt that it was the most complex, entertaining, and RP friendly game I have played to this point.

Sadly however, all good things must come to an end, and when I returned home after class the next Monday, to my dismay I found that my last twelve hours or so of playtime had failed to save. Expectedly, I was crushed and ever since I just haven’t had the heart to pick up the game from its most recent remaining save. Yet I haven’t be able to delete the old save file either, and each time I load a save file, I’ve felt a twinge of regret for the game that could have been.

Eventually I got to thinking I would restart from 867 fresh and, even write an AAR about my journey so that I could even bring a couple other people along for the ride. Hopefully, I manage to recreate the magical madness that is Khazaria, and am able to write well enough that I can share with you.

Plus, besides from all my personal stuff, the Khazars are a fascinating little tidbit of history. The ruling class of Khazaria probably converted to Judaism about 120 years before the Old Gods scenario start date in what was probably an attempt to remain politically unattached from the Orthodox Byzantines to their west and the Muslim Caliphate to their east.


Take a look at the Alan culture

It was during this period and immediately afterwards that Khazaria reached the height of their power and territorial expansion. The Khanate stretched from Kiev in the west all the way past the Caspian Sea in the east, and essentially they controlled all trade that traveled up and down the Silk Road in that region. However, in the year 867, the Khazars were just starting to hit their decline. The Alans, who were Khazaria’s ally/vassal, had recently converted to Orthodox Christianity and the Byzantines had begun to encourage them to agitate against the Khazars. Additionally, the Russian tribes that had formerly paid tribute to Khazaria had begun to establish themselves as a power in the region and pushed their borders all the way into Crimea at the Khazars’ expense. As if that wasn’t enough, the Pechenegs and the Cumans (both former tributaries of Khazaria) started moving west in force which resulted in Khazar lands coming under even more pressure.

Historically, the encircled Khazars would decline steadily until about 969 when Sviatoslav I of the Kievan Rus would conquer Itil and effectively destroy the Khazar state. But this isn’t history and I’m here to change the world.
 

ScribleScrable

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Rules:

I always set a few rules and goals before I start any game.

The first rule is that I love to roleplay my rulers’ decisions and I try to avoid being too gamey unless somehow I can manage to get the story to justify it.

Secondly, there will be zero save scumming. Even the best real life rulers made mistakes and somehow managed to live with them, so I think I can too. If this is a really short AAR, then so be it.

Third, is the matter of succession. Historically, the first son succeeded his father as Khan in a form of primogeniture, but it was really more akin to what gavelkind is in CK2. As such I won’t be creating any empires or additional kingdoms besides for the kingdom of Jerusalem (special case), and I will try to go with gavelkind for the majority of the game if I can. Mainly, I’ll stick with what fits the story best and that should be primarily gavelkind.

Goals:

Don’t get swallowed up by my greedy neighbors, expand, and if all goes according to plan, rebuild the temple and create a Jewish Israel almost a thousand years too early.

Hope you enjoy and cheers!



Oh and add a lot more sky blue to this map


Table of Contents


Prologue: Can You Hear the Howls?
Chapter 1: Khans
Chapter 2: Quarantine
Chapter 3: White
Chapter 4: Gloom
Chapter 5: Rubicon
Chapter 6: Hegemon
Chapter 7: Moving Right Along
Chapter 8: Betrayal, Rebellion, and Crimea
Chapter 9: The Blood Of Innocence
Chapter 10: Sparks
Chapter 11: Boris
Chapter 12: Death and Gold
Chapter 13: Blessed
Chapter 14: Hollow
 
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ScribleScrable

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Prologue: Can You Hear the Howls?


Palace of the Khagan astride the River Volga, Itil, Khazaria


URL]
Also called Khan Moses

I awoke on the morning of the New Year to the sounds of a great crash followed by the pitter patter of small feet. My son, Nisi, had broken a great vase from the orient, and the little terror had fled the scene.

To me, however, the crash had signaled the end of a queer dream that had terrified and amazed me. As the servants chased of Nisi, I tried in vain to recall what exactly it was that I had seen. Horses stamping in bloody mud…a blind khan….Romans….but I may as well have tried to catch the wind, for the rest of the dream slipped between my fingers, lost for eternity to the ether.



My beautiful, loving wife


“Moses” a soft voice whispered in my ear.

“Belet” I replied with a half smile.

“Your son is making mischief again” said my wife with a wry grin, “Perhaps you should do something?”

“Oh let him be. He reminds me of you a little more every day.”

She snorted in a way very unbecoming of a Khanum and changed the subject. “Well then you need to get dressed. The council is meeting; Yavdi has word from Constantinople.”
Romans, I thought with a chill. “Very well” I grunted and pulled myself out of the chair in which I had spent the night. “We will go and see what trouble they plan to get us involved in this time.”


][/URL]
My ever so faithful council

The Council Room

When Belet and I entered, Duke Yavdi of Sarkel, Chancellor of Khazaria was already running the meeting. It appeared that the council had been hard at work for several hours. Parchment was littered across the center table mixing interchangeable with scattered sweet rolls, and each of my councilors was stooped over with the weight of their fatigue.

I hope it is fatigue was my last thought before Yavdi turned to me a plainly stated: “There is grave news, my Khagan. The Basilieus has withdrawn all support for us. It seems they plan to back the Alans henceforth.”

Slowly, I dropped into the chair at the head of the table. A cold icy fear had grabbed my heart and rendered me mute. Romans, Romans, Romans was all I could think.
Thankfully, Belet spoke up. “And have we heard anything from Duke Itaz of Alania? Will there be war?”

Yavdi sighed and said “No, just silence. He acknowledges our overlordship for now, but with the Romans in their pocket I can’t imagine it will be too much longer before they make their move.”

“Then we strike now!” shouted Bulan my blustering marshal “Before they have a chance to prepare. Then we strike Georgia, Armenia, even Anatolia itself! The Khanate has never lost a war and with the God of Joseph behind we will cut through them!”

“No” I finally mumbled. “It won’t matter if the Romans get involved. We do nothing until Itaz makes his intentions clear. There doesn’t have to be bloodshed.” I could not stop thinking of the bloody hoof prints.

Bulan looked at me with a disdainful glare. He thinks me a craven I thought, and he’s right. I do not have the vigor of my fathers nor their taste for conquest.

“Then a show of force!” Bulan charged ahead. “We ride against the Hashmids or the Pechenegs; we must show them that we are strong!”

Belet answered, “If we invade the Hashmids, we risk the Caliph’s ire and the Pechenegs outnumber us. My husband is right, we must wait.”

Not exactly what I said, but a good idea nonetheless.

“Belet speaks true” I said with authority for once “We cannot make any rash action without first finding out where we stand. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years until the time was right. We will shall observe our enemies and we will let YHWH point the way.”

“Excuse, my disrespect my Khagan, but I could handle this” said the quiet voice of my spymaster Cat. As usual, everyone was still while he spoke. “Perhaps the Duke has an accidedent and this all goes away."

The thought of murder turned my stomach and made me choke down bile.

“There is no need” I squeaked “Itaz will see reason”

“Be prepared” Belet told Cat. Yavdi nodded.

And I'll could think of was my dream and the blind Khan.
 

ScribleScrable

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@Dovahkiing - Thanks! I've really enjoyed following a couple of your AARs in the past as well. I think the last one I read was about the Normans and Aengland. The whole Game of Thrones theme had me hooked, and I really enjoyed your prose. Thanks for stopping by!

Anyways, I've decided that my narration style will go hand in hand with the way I roleplay most of my games. Sort of an overview for the day-to-day stuff while I plan to write in-depth accounts of the momentous or really interesting happenings. I've finished the first update for the most part; It just needs a few finishing touches and then I'll put it up tonight when I get home. Let's just say the Khagan is forced to get out of the palace and actually be proactive for a change.
 

ScribleScrable

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Chapter One: Khans

Poor Khan Moses was awoke the next morning to the sound of what seemed to be an out of breath elephant. Unfortunately, this was quite impossible as he was in the Steppes, and India was a thousand miles away (and not even on the map...yet). Turns out it was merely Marshal Bulan rushing to inform him that their Pecheneg enemies had declared war on Cumania, and would be ripe for conquest.

Moses, being patient and a bit timid ( and with 0 martial ability, ZERO!), urged caution. With the traitorous Alans ready to plunge a knife in Khazaria's back, the Khazars could only afford to enter wars that they were sure to win.

A few weeks later while Moses was still musing the situation, the Pechenegs would send over 5,000 angry, bloodthirsty troops into Cumania. The Khazar Khan prayed that the Pechenegs and Cumans would fight a bloody standstill. Preferably they would end up too weak to resist as Khazars swooped in to pick up the pieces.

Then, in late March, news arrived that the Pechenegs had suffered a large defeat, and the remnants of their army were stuck in eastern Cumania. It was the sign that Khan Moses had been looking for and finally agreed to relent on his anti-war stance. Mercenaries were hired and moved to the border along with the standing Khazar forces. Moses decided Passover would be celebrated, and then he would strike at the core of his enemy with a holy wrath.


Yum, Matzo


As he celebrated perhaps his final Passover, Moses pondered the Angel of Death's role in his namesake's story. Death was out there waiting, but over whose army did he lurk?

On May 22nd, the Khan lead the head of his army, from the rear, into Pecheneg territory.



Khan Sol the not so bright leads the Pecheneg nation


The horselords had been taken completely by surprise. For two months, the Khazars would siege and raid Pecheneg lands nearly unopposed. And when the main Pecheneg army finally arrived, it did so with 6,000 Cumans hot on their heels.



The vast majority of the victorious army is made of Cumans


Caught between the Cuman-Khazar pincer, Khan Sol's forces were completely annihilated. In fact, most of the suspense occurred after the battle when the Cuman Khan locked eyes with Moses and gave him a look that clearly meant you're up Next. A trickle of fear ran down Moses' spine.

After the battle, the Cumans would accept a white peace with the Pechenegs and exit the war.

Now completely unopposed, the Khazars began raiding and sieging the remaining Pecheneg provinces. Months ticked by and Khan Sol stubbornly refused to surrender. With all of Pecheneg provinces under severe distress, Khan Moses began to wonder if perhaps Sol had one more trick up his sleeve. He did. Apparently, Sol made a desperate plea to the Cumans as brothers in the Tengri faith to save the Pechenegs before all of the steppes were swallowed up by the Jewish Hordes.

On Jan. 25th, the Cumans re-entered the war but this time on the Pecheneg side. This time it was the Khazars turn to be caught completely by surprise. Moses wrote to Belet that desperation does create the strangest of bedfellows while bemoaning his current exposed position.

Bulan briefed the Khan on the situation. The Cumans had an army of over 6,000 men compared to the Khazars, whose forces numbered only a little over 4,000, almost half of whom were unreliable mercenaries. To make matters worse, the Khazar army was split either sieging the few resisting Pecheneg counties or chasing the 200 hundred man army that Khan Sol had finally managed to piece together.

There was only one course of action; the Khazars had to force the Pechenegs to surrender before the Cumans could reach Moses' scattered army.




Luckily, YHWH had taken a shining to the Khazar Khan and, in a minor skirmish only three weeks later, Khan Sol would be captured finally putting an anticlimactic end to the war.

Overall the war had been a success, decided Moses. The Khazars had added to their realm and perhaps mortally injured their most aggressive neighbor. However, they had also aroused the ire of the Cumans, and created a simmering tension between the two nations. Sooner or later, they would face Cumania on the battlefield, the Khazar Khan realized, and the next time YHWH might not be so generous.




Khazaria after the war
 
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Marco Oliverio

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Very nice! That capture of the Khan was definitely a stroke of luck/blessing! :)
 

ScribleScrable

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@Marco Oliverio - Thanks! and Yeah, I definitely thanked Paradox for that one. I was actually about 10 warscore away from 100 and had my finger on the button to start storming holdings when it popped up that he had been captured. Which is actually a first for me now that I think of it; I've killed the opposing monarch a couple times but I can't recall ever capturing him on the battlefield, especially not in skirmish of that size.

Actually, it brought me back to learning about the Texas Revolution and the battle of San Jacinto as kid. If you think about it in just the right way its a bit similar to Sam Houston's capture of Santa Anna and the creation of the short lived republic of Texas. I just hope Khazaria can last as an independent nation a little bit longer than Texas did.
 

ScribleScrable

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Chapter 2: Quarantine


Camp of the Khazar Army in Uzen

Following the frenetic conclusion to the war with the Pechenegs, Moses had hoped for a time of piece wherein he could properly incorporate the newly acquired territories into his domain. The locals were not enthused with the idea of a Jewish Khan ruling over them and revolt could easily break out if a steady hand was not applied to the situation. And with the threat of the Cumans still lurking ever present in the background, Moses was determined not show any weakness.

However, the Khan would not be so lucky this time. Only a few days after the hostilities concluded, Moses would receive a secret message from his spymaster Cat via carrier pigeon. The contents of said message were succinct. The Orthodox Duke Itaz of Alania had come to an agreement with Duke Zachariah of Azov. If and when, Itaz made his move for complete autonomy, Zachariah would support him.

Moses immediately ordered a forced march return to Itil. The rebels be damned, the Khan now had bigger problems. With Zachariah, Moses’ most powerful vassal, now on Itaz’s side, half of Khazaria could slip out of his grasp unless he acted first.

During the march, he dictated a letter, then called Marshal Bulan into his litter. The experienced general had proven to be very effective during the campaign against the Pechenegs, but now Moses needed him for a completely different sort of task.

Bulan entered the dimly lit litter with his usual air of bumbling bravado, and kneeled before Moses. The Khan took this time to study his subject, slowly and silently, praying to YHWH that he was not making a grave mistake. Moses had many wiser and more imaginative subjects, but Bulan was his most loyal; and at times like these, loyalty was the only thing that mattered. Finally, Moses spoke:

“Bulan, you have served my family since I was a boy. You have never faltered nor complained, and I fear I must call upon you one last time. I hereby name you count of Sarpa, a land that the Duke of Azov covets as his own. Go now and establish yourself as count, then deliver this message to Zachariah. Tell him that the Great Khagan thanks him for his service to the khanate and our faith, and as token of my gratitude I will put Sarpa under his direct authority. However, inform him that this offer is contingent on him appearing before me in Itil and swearing eternal loyalty in front of Adonai, his ancestors, and all the lords of Khazaria. If he declines, gather whatever loyal men you can find in Zachariah’s lands and rise against him. Go now, my brother, and be at peace.”

The Marshal whispered, “It shall be as you command, Khagan,” and purposefully strode out of the litter. The sound of a lone horse galloping off into the distance let the Khan know that his Marshal had set out on his dangerous quest.



Bulan goes on a Quest! Sadly, not for dragons, grails, or white castle.


Then with a heavy heart Bulan called a young courier named Hezekiah to him. The stripling was tall, bronze, handsome, and had a lip covered with peach fuzz.
Moses handed him the letter he composed earlier, and said, “Hezekiah, you will take this letter to Duke Itaz, wish him a pleasant Easter, then return to Itil with his reply.”
Hezekiah nodded, and wordlessly exited.



Meet the new Marshal, Rabbi Yilig! Shabbat Shalom!


Itil, Khazaria – A few weeks later

Moses had only been at the palace a few days before Hezekiah would return. He would bring the Khan no letter of any kind nor a verbal message. It wasn't needed. A crude cross had been branded into the courier’s forehead and both of his hands removed. You will take nothing of mine, infidel. Moses understood.

Fine then, thought the Khan with tears in his eyes, Itaz’s lands, subjects, and faith are forfeit.




And thus war with Alania began.
 
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Good luck! It's some good writing so far and I hope you can spread Judaism far and wide. :)
 

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Good luck! It's some good writing so far and I hope you can spread Judaism far and wide. :)
Thanks! Its been a lot of fun to think about and write so far. I actually had my first non-Jewish county convert the other day and I was absolutely siked.
 

ScribleScrable

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Chapter 3: White



Eight Months Later – Vovnushki, Alania

My last day, thought the doomed man as surveyed his old home.

White had taken everything.

He knew they were passing through a glade where he had played as a child. A place where every rock, tree, and stream was his closest confidant, and he knew every nook, crag, and cranny better than he knew his own face. It would have been the right place to die.

Instead, he only saw white.

A thick snow had covered everything with pure uniformity. All looked the same. All felt the same. All was the same.

Time had ceased beneath the pressure of the color. The sun had folded, and the entire world was compressed into a small box right in front of the man’s eyes.

A box of white.

All he had left was the rocking of the horse beneath him and sound of his companion’s breath, wheezing in and out and in and out.

My companion? The man thought, no, my captor.

And for the first time, the man thought of escape.

He would not ride off and disappear amongst the trees, mountains, and small villages of his realm. He would not raise rebellion against the demons that taken everything from him. He would not take his glorious vengeance.

No. He would jump.

Yes, fall into the snow and wrap it around him. It would fill from head to toe and replace him with an angelic nothingness. He would change. He would become….white.

After all, you cannot kill a color, he mused and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Duke Itaz was still laughing when he was delivered to Khan Moses, the liberator of Alania.

Looking into the haunted eyes of his former vassal turned traitor turned scarecrow, he could not believe that this was the man that could have taken his realm from him.

Moses had feared ambush when his army crossed the Volga into the craggly land of the Alans. Behind every rock or tree could have been his enemies prepared to strike hard and fast then melt away into the unfamiliar landscape.

Instead they met no resistance until they marched up to Duke Itaz’s capital.




In one battle, the Alans had been crushed. After that, it had been a simple matter to march throughout the country and dispossess every remaining Christian Alan noble. Every church was turned into a temple, and every official in every town was replaced by a man faithful to Moses.




Finally, on Dec. 31, 868, Itaz would surrender and the suffering of the Alans was ended.

“Itaz, Duke of the Alans, I name you traitor. I take everything that is yours as my own, and banish your family and supporters from my lands for all eternity. As for your own fate, as a traitor you are sentenced to death.”

If Itaz understood what was happening, he gave no sign. A manic grin cut across his narrow face and his body roiled as if he still laughed but no noise came from his lips.

Moses nodded to the executioner who moved towards Itaz while drawing his blade.

“Do you have any last words, traitor?” said the executioner.

“White! Hell is white!” the doomed man screamed at last.

The executioner raised his sword.
 

gis

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Hey men, I am really enjoying your AAR!

Just wondered thourgh(bothered me a bit even thourgh it's not importent): you are aware Mennash is not a longer of Moses right? (just wanted to make sure, Moses is English for Moshe)
 

ScribleScrable

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Just wondered thourgh(bothered me a bit even thourgh it's not importent): you are aware Mennash is not a longer of Moses right? (just wanted to make sure, Moses is English for Moshe)
Yeah I am, and his real name is Manasseh. I originally planned for the Moses moniker to be a pet name that his wife used with him while he they were alone, but as I wrote and played the game, I really just started calling him Moses in my head.

And besides, you can't really do much better than a Jew named Moses leading his people to the promised land. That story carries a lot more weight than an everyman named Manasseh doing the very same thing.

So long story short, Moses is just a convenient pseudonym, along the lines of the name Caesar becoming a title for Emperor.
 

ScribleScrable

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A great read, I'm looking forward to how Khan Moses's story evolves!
Thanks for stopping by! I've played pretty far into the future with the Bulanids, and things get very interesting, very quickly.
 

ScribleScrable

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Chapter 4 – Gloom

Palace of the Khagan, Itil, Khazaria

The conquest of Alania had gone very smoothly for Khan Moses, and the transfer of power was handled cleanly. Moses removed all of the Traitorous Orthodox Alans from power and replaced them with loyal Khazar Jews. With their liege lord made an example of, none of Itaz’s cronies would resist the new order.

After only a few months, Moses named his faithful steward Papacyz the new duke and lord of Alania, and then returned home as a conqueror and liberator.



Yes, everything was running smoothly, and frankly it bothered Moses. From the capture of Khan Sol to taking the Alans completely by surprise, luck had been on his side from the start and, tragically, it would continue to haunt him.

Word of two favorable major events would reach his ears during this time period that set him increasing ill at ease

First, while the war had been winding down for Moses, the rest of his country was preparing for another round of fighting. Duke Yavdi of Sarkel and the wily Duke Zachariah of Azov had banded together and launched an invasion of the remaining Pecheneg lands. With the horselords recently humbled, the Dukes reasoned that their combined might should have no problem extending complete Khazar superiority over the Pechenegs.




With a brazen confidence, they lead their armies into battle, and with an equally brazen fear for their lives, they fled from the rout. The Dukes had managed to prevent a Pecheneg invasion of their lands thus far, but it was clear that neither would fomenting revolution against their Khan for the foreseeable future.

The second event was much more troubling. The Cumans had watched the consolidation of Moses’ kingdom with a keen interest; and when Moses had managed to pull his kingdom together with aplomb, they decided to look east for easier prey. They invaded the war torn Yagbuids (The Yagbuids and the satrapy of Karen had been fighting since 867. It was the definition of a stalemate), and found easy success. Wild rumors would reach Moses saying that after only a few months and, scarcely more than the amount of time it would normally take to ride to Turkestan, the Cumans were already besieging the Yagbuids’ eastern capital. This was certainly not ideal for the Khazars, but it would keep the Cumans busy.

Yes all this good luck was bothering Moses. He wandered the bright halls of his palace with a furrowed brow and storm clouds resting above his head. The more things went right, the more he wanted to slap a courtesan, and everytime he saw a courtier smile, he had to repress the urge to shake that man and tell him to run home and prepare for an inevitable doom that was surely coming.

The last straw was when his wife told him he was being gloomy and needed to get out more. His son, Nisi, had been terrorizing his tutors as was usual, and Belet urged Moses to talk to his progeny about taking his studies more seriously. She was not amused when Moses remarked that his studies wouldn’t matter one iota if he didn’t have a kingdom to inherit.

Nonetheless, Moses was in a rare mood when he held court later that afternoon, and first in line was an envoy from the Yagbuids.

“Oh great Khagan” the envoy began, “tales of your valor and bravery have spread across the steppes, and have even reached the ears of our High Chief.”

“In that case, they were highly inaccurate” spat the Khan “what is it that your chief would ask of me?”

“Assistance” replied the envoy meekly “Help against a common enemy.”

“The Cumans, I presume” spat the Khan again “Yes, the Cumans are our fiercest rivals, but it seems to me that your chief is quite fond of making enemies. He is fighting three enemies now? Or was it four? It’s hard to remember with all the news coming from your lands these days.”

“Three enemies, Khagan, and our chief shall be victorious” stated the envoy with a bit more spine. “He simply asks that you take part in the spoils by invading the Cuman’s homelands while they are away. Riches and victory shall be ours, and the chief would offer his daughter to your son as a token of his gratitude.”

With that speech, Moses fell silent for a long period. The Yagbuids offer, while intriguing, held very little interest for him. No, he was thinking of his wife; of her and of her words about who he was, and who and what he was turning in to.

Moses, then, made a rash decision for what was likely the first time in his young life.

“Tell your chief that I will ride to his aid. Tell him that tomorrow, I will ride out at the head of a great host and repay the Cumans for their many insults. Tell him this and begone.”

And with that exchange, Moses slunk away to haunt the palace once more, and prepare, yet again, for war.


 

Greenskyguy

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Very interesting read!
 

Troelsdc

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Interesting challenge and a good read.

Subscribed!
 

ScribleScrable

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Chapter 5 – Rubicon




A few months later, December, 869, at the border between Cuman and Yagbuid lands

A lone trail of dust moved across the horizon, fluttering before a distant setting sun.

It almost looked as if small wisps of smoke were being belched out by the final throes of a dying day. Under different circumstances, it could have been hauntingly beautiful.

Then as it came closer, the near invisible dust cloud gathering force and weight as the last rays of the sun changed into darker and darker shades of reds and purples. And after the sun had disappeared, but just before night claimed its due, if you squinted and perhaps used your imagination just right, you would see it.

A single horse, a single man, and a single fuzzy hat.

A scout, pondered Moses without comprehending. To him, this was a bit of good news.

The Khazar army had charged into Cuman territories, burning and pillaging as they went along. The Cumans had tried desperately to put together some form of resistance to no avail. Any and all forces that they had mustered were methodically separated and crushed Moses’ men. Then, with their armies gone, the lands were picked clean to feed and pay the marauding army.

It had all gone according to plan.

Yet again.

It was then, as his men settled down to siege the remaining resisting holdings, that the Khan received a bit of news that set him dangerously on edge.

The Yagbuids had agreed to peace with Khan Sokal of Cumania.

In reality, it changed very little. With their army destroyed and their capital fallen, the Yagbuids gave thanks to their pagan gods for the miracle of Khazar intervention. Only days earlier, the ending of their war had been a secure inevitability, and with the Cumans agreeing to peace, they felt the joy of doomed man upon hearing that he received a final second reprieve.

However, Moses felt deeply betrayed.

Now the Cumans marched toward his army and his home, and in his gut, he began to feel as if he had made a grave mistake.

He had no way of knowing when and where the Cumans might strike. It was supposed that they were marching his way, but with each and every day that passed in silence, the Khan’s fears were magnified and twisted.

Perhaps, the Cumans had marched around them and were striking at Itil. Perhaps, his wife and son were already captives of his terrible enemies. Perhaps, everything that he loved was already gone.

He felt that he had no way of knowing.

His advisors would attempt to allay his wild fears.

“The Cumans could only move so quickly in circumstances such as these. Khan Sokal knew that. They were advancing cautiously or had been delayed by the poor winter conditions”

But their ignorant words did not help the Khan. He knew that if his home was in peril, then there would be winged sandals on his feet, and he would fly over any obstacle to return home.

So it was that with every passing day, the grave fears ate further and further at the Khan’s fragile psyche. Every morning he arose would be his final day, and every night he went to sleep knowing that he would not awake.

It continued this way until he could take no more.

As the Cumans had inconsiderately refused to come to him, Moses was then forced to take his army to them. He ordered his men to march into Yagbuid territory.

But on the march, his fears only became worse. Behind every tree was an ambush, and every dust cloud was a raging horde. His generals began to fear for the sanity of their Khan, and talk of him in quiet whispers when they thought he was not looking.

And that’s when the scout came.

He arrived in camp half dead with fatigue and caked with dust and sweat, but his eyes were bright and he ferociously demanded to speak with the Khan and his high council. They were happy to oblige and he swept before them. “The Cumans were close,” he reported with a vigor belied by his appearance, “and only a few days march on the other side of Yagbuid border.”

“And even better”, he said with a rakish twirl, “their numbers were only half of what we had been lead to expect!”

At was at this point, that Khan Moses stop listening to the scout. Perhaps, the man suggested that maybe the Cuman army had taken greater losses in the campaign than they had dared to hope or perhaps the army had splintered along the long muddy road. He maybe even shouted other encouraging words of advice at the stunned council. The Khan did not know.

He simply watched a darkened figure flit and flow in front of the swaying fires of the camp.

Then finally, it was through someone else’s eyes that he saw himself raise his hand, then stand before the assembled men.

His voice rang out: “Then we attack. Tonight, prepare yourselves. As you sleep, I bid you to think of your families, think your of homes, and think of Adonai. Our enemy would take everything we love from us if he could, so I say we take it all from them first! And then we strike and we strike and we strike again, until they could no longer even take a single blade of grass from our fields. Only then, will I be satisfied”

With this speech, a great weight was removed from the Khan’s shoulder and he slept soundly through the night.



The situation​