The Great Khan:
As Hart’aghara stepped onto his bike to throttle the ignition he thought back to the days on the steps before he became an Astartes. As a youth he was the son of a minor clan’s blacksmith for father was by no means a notable man. He etched out a living for his family by tending to amour for the clans warriors. Hart’aghara was the oldest of his four sons and as such he knew that it would be him that would have to tend on with the family trade.
Hart’aghara was an impetuous youth often getting into many fights with the other children of the clan. He was often made to shame for role his father had within the clan, and as such he developed dreams of being a warrior that would rise above his indentured life, and make a name for himself. Hart’aghara was fortunate in that he was growing up in a time when boys such as he were being given the chance to leave their clans and earn glory as they fought a war against the nobles from the lands beyond. For century these people from the lands beyond would raid the steeps often to capture slaves but more just for the joy of the slaughter. The clans were simple in the ways of life and though they were most accomplished horsemen on the planet they lacked in the ways of technology. This factor alone was enough to condemn them in battle as their enemy possessed black powder weapons and great iron cannons that would shake the world under them when they fired. This was the way of the steeps until the great Khan arrived. Like a true warrior of the steeps the Khan had rode in from the sky upon amount of molten fire and crashed to the earth in wanton destruction. Hart’ghara had heard the tales of the great Khan Jag’hati who was unifying the tribes of the steeps into a solid fighting force that would bring ruin to the people of the lands beyond the steeps, and avenge the clans for the atrocities their enemies had committed.
“The great Khan is on the move father” said Hart’aghara, “he will deliver us from these lands and forge a great nation for the people of the steeps”. “The only thing you need to worry about with forging is how to make armor my son”. Harts father was stern man when it came to talking of dreams. He had grown up the first born son of a blacksmith and as such was destined to become what his father was. Harts father accepted his role within the clan at an early age as it was never heard of any person rising above their status on the steeps. Hart’aghra though admiring his father greatly had no desire to become a blacksmith. Knowing full well that if he were to achieve anything in his life he would have to forsake the title cast upon him and leave the tribe in hopes of joining up with the Great Khans crusade. Hart’aghara thought to himself” if I gather up some of my father’s finest weapons and amour, and take our nobles finest horses I could ride like a leaf on the wind and join up with the Great khans armies within a few days”. These actions even, if taking from his father, were enough to have Hart put to death by draw and quartering. His family would also be punished greatly for his theft of the horses. His mother and sisters sold into slavery, and his father and brothers would be put to death by decapitation.
Though Hart cared for his family he craved the life of a warrior accepting that this was the only way for him to achieve his dreams. He was after all a man of 13 years and old enough to make his own way in life. “I must plan out the detail to the minute for my escape for if I fail my life, and my dreams will be destroyed” hart whispered to himself. As the hour of darkness approached hart’aghara began to prepare himself. At dinner he had told of great stories of past warriors to his family and had even shown affection by taking his mother in his arms and saying he would one day lead his family to greatness. She had dismissed him at the time as having too much mead with his dinner and felt he was too heavily drunk, but hart had in fact not had any wheat mead at all. He knew that if everything was to work as he had planned that he must be thinking with a clear head. Hart’ghara stole himself into the night and with his father’s finest amour, and weapons . He cautiously moved hut by hut until he had reached the far end of the camp where the horses were being held. As he approached the hut he heard a string of voices nearby.
The guards for the noble’s horses were sitting at a camp fire no more than ten meters from him. He could see that they were drinking heavily and laughing as they boasted to each other of old war stories. Hart could overhear one of them talking about how he had fought for one moon with the Great khan and how he had earned praise for his strength and had even saved the great khans life from a blade of a rival Khan. “He fills the mouths and ears of others with lies” hart spat, “but I will not, and upon my return one day it will be I that these plebes will be speaking of”. Hart waited there behind a barrel of hay for what seemed like hours until he was sure that the guards were drunk enough to pass to not notice his stealing of the horses. Hart’aghara knew very well which one he wanted as he had seen it gifted to the clan’s leaders son not too long ago. The animal was a beautiful and majestic creature that stood like a towering giant. Its hair was a rich brown mane that was tied into knots so as to denote the value of its rider. Its body was rippling with muscles much like an ox. If not for Hart’aghara having seen this beast ride before he would not believe this creature possible of such speed. Hart knew full well that that even such a magnificent being as this was not enough for him on the steeps if he was to meet up with the Great Khan in the next few days. He decided that he would need second horse. He also knew that he would need a distraction and if at all possible a way so as to not involve his family into this affair. For all the boasting that he had done Hart was still bonded by blood to his family and knew that this was stronger than any blade.
Hart slipped the saddle onto the beast as quietly as possible so as to not cause a stir that could wake the guards. Once all was set and his amour tied to the horse Hart’aghara took one last look around the camp of his home. Life on the steeps was a simple yet harsh as the constant warring between the clans and raids from the people from the land beyond could claim a warrior’s life in a second. No sooner had he mounted the great animal then it had made a loud snort of its discontent about him being on top. One of the guards had heard this and approached the darkened area where the horses were being help to investigate. Hart’aghara knew that it was now or never and drawing his sword from its sheath he uncut the ropes of the other horses with one fell swoop of his weapon. The guard startled at this site and raised the alarm. Hart then turned his blade on himself as he cut the top part of his forearm and shook it everywhere. Hart was doing this so as to give off the appearance of a struggle so as to insure the lords thought this action as a raid from a rival clan. Hart’aghara spurred his mounts and road off into the night he could hear the clatter, and noises from the camp as it came to life. He would make one more stop by the river bank to place some more of his blood and a weapon; this would insure for all that it was raiders who had stolen him and the horses. Hart thought one more time of his family and knew that this moment would be the last time he would ever see them or the camp again. This moment passed through him like the wind over a blade of grass and he rode off into the night to meet his new life and his destiny. Little did hart know of the hardships still yet to come.
More to come in future blogs.