Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen: The Botai People and Their Horses Changed the World

Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen: The Botai People and Their Horses Changed the World

by David Mallegol

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491719954
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/15/2014
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.74(d)

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Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen

The Botai People and Their Horses Changed the World


By David Mallegol

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2014 David Mallegol
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1995-4



CHAPTER 1

Scarman


I WAS POSITIVE he was the same man, the one from the Smolens who killed my mother and my father twenty-five years ago. He had the scar on his shoulder from when I wounded him with my child's bow. He also had the long scar that ran from the top of his head, across his face, and down to the point of his chin. His real name was Carcusa, but because of his face, everyone knew him as Scarman.

I am Daven, lead hunter and second-in-command of the Botai. Bruno is our leader—our oldson—and my longtime friend. It was Scarman and the Smolens who drove us from our home village so long ago.

The village controlled a valuable reindeer migration route. Every year the animals migrated to the north, and we took what meat we needed for the next six months. When the herd came south to avoid the harsh winters, we did the same thing. The herd provided all the protein we needed. At that time, we were a small group of twenty-two men, women, and children, known as the Horse Clan. We had two related clans who still hunted and gathered, rather than settle into a village as we did. We saw them occasionally on hunts and at the annual summer gathering.

Bruno and I were children when the Smolens, led by Scarman, attacked without warning, again and again. The attackers wanted our village, because of the location and the meat it provided us. My parents and several others were killed in those raids. When just fifteen of us were left, the oldson decided that the Smolens were too strong for us. He said we could not fight them any longer, and we relocated to our present village on the Ishim River across the great Volga River. As a young man, I vowed to take our original homeland back some day. It is a vow I have not forgotten.

The last time I saw Scarman was when he attacked us the final time. I shot him with an arrow from my boy's bow and ran for my life. Now, he was my captive. Yesterday, I chopped off four of the five fingers on his right hand, but he spit at me and refused to answer my questions. I let him agonize in pain overnight. Today, I returned with my bronze sword.

Bruno and I approached the two captives—Scarman and the ten-year-old boy—sitting on the ground tied to poles. Joining us were several hunters and one of the elder women, Emma, who spoke a language they could understand. I told Emma to repeat in her Finnish language the questions we had asked Scarman yesterday. She said, "What is your name, why are you here, and how many hunters does your tribe have?" Scarman sneered at me.

My anger was boiling with revenge for my parents, yet I had to gain as much information from this enemy as was possible. What I failed to hear was the comment made by the ten-year-old boy, the second captive, when he spoke late yesterday in his Finnish tongue. This morning he repeated his words, and Emma turned to me and said, "Daven, the boy says he will tell you everything you want to know, but only after the scout is dead."

I replied to Emma in our Botai language, "It almost seems too easy to kill the scout and hope the boy can answer all my concerns. I will get more information from the scout before we turn to him. The boy may tell us everything he knows, but it might be only a small part of what the lead scout knows." Bruno nodded in agreement.

Emma repeated my question. Bruno and Toth, one of our Hungarian friends, listened and watched, along with our clan leaders. The scar-faced man laughed at me, his hand still bloody from the damage I did to him yesterday. I raised my sword as a threat, and he spit in my direction.

His arrogance made me angry, which was the wrong thing for him to do at a time like this. I swung in a downward motion and chopped off part of his right foot. Bones splintered and blood spattered from the stub where his foot was a moment ago. Scarman knew his death was coming, and he writhed in pain. I looked at the piece of his foot lying on the ground and stuck my sword into it. I held the severed foot in his face until it fell off my blade in his lap. When he screamed, The boy shuddered in terror, and urine ran between his legs.

I let Scarman suffer for some time before I ordered three men to bring kindling wood. They made a fire a short distance from my prisoner's remaining foot. He watched as the flames came to a full fire. I am sure he wondered what was coming next. He moaned and hung his head, but this was just beginning for him.

I had no trouble with what I was doing to him. This man had killed my mother by slitting her throat, and he killed my father in a fight to the death when the Smolens took our village. I let him feel the pain from his stump for some time. Then I ordered the men, "Push the fire close to his remaining foot."

Scarman held his foot off the ground to avoid the flames, but it was only a matter of time before his leg tired, and he could not hold the foot out of the fire. The remaining foot came down, little by little, closer and closer to the flames. It started smoking, and the skin blackened as his flesh burned. He moaned again, the pain unbearable. His toes smoked and oozed a light-colored liquid that dripped into the flame and made it sputter. The smell of burning flesh was distinct and ugly—I felt as though I might throw up. Others in the pit house—a home that is built half under the ground and half above it—looked away, and some left. The young boy vomited whatever he had in his stomach and turned his head away from the scene.

I nodded to Emma, and she repeated my questions to the writhing scout. "What is your name, why are you here, and how many hunters do the Smolens have?" Scarman was in such terrible pain that he could not respond. His head sagged in defeat. Hopelessness was exactly what I wanted. His will was broken. Tough, mean men like this one can sometimes endure hard, sharp pain, but being burned piece by piece is not something anyone can endure for very long. This man Carcusa was one of the toughest, but his stubbornness was gone. He raised his good hand just a bit in surrender.

I ordered the fire pushed away from his foot. I let him feel the relief from the searing heat for a while before I approached him again. Emma took a breath, as if to ask the same question again, when he finally spoke. "My name is Carcusa. I am called Scarman." He looked into my eyes and said, "I am your equal with my people, the lead scout and hunter for the Smolens."

I stood over him and waited for the rest of the answer. His agony was obvious as he took short shallow breaths and exhaled rapidly. He said, "I was sent to find a village we Smolens could conquer for expansion. We have 140 people—over sixty fighters plus many boys who will become men by spring. They will come and kill you and your families if I do not return. A village this size will be no problem for them. They will destroy you. Your wives and children are already dead. My men will eat tender flesh from your children. Kill me, and you kill your families." Emma translated word for word to be sure I understood exactly what he said.

I smiled. His threat was hardly worth a response. I took my time and questioned him for most of the morning, getting every bit of information possible from him. When I knew all that he knew, I reminded him of that day, twenty-five summers ago, when he led the attack on the Horse Clan who once lived where the Smolens live now. My sword pressed against the old scar on his right shoulder, causing a new trickle of blood. I made my point and spoke in an angry, unforgiving voice. "You got that scar from me when I was a boy. The long scar on your face is from my father, just before you killed him." I asked him, "Do you remember my mother? You cut her throat in a raid two weeks before the day you killed my father."

He raised his head, his pain obvious as he said, "I do not remember your mother. I do remember when I was wounded by your arrow, and I remember your father very well. He fought hard. I suffered for two moons from his knife. I have killed so many others that I do not recall the rest of them, like your mother. She is one of many and impossible to remember."

I asked Bruno if he had any more questions. He did not. I asked Janos, Jon, and Mikl, as heads of their clans, if they had any more questions; they had none. George, a senior hunter, was present, although he was not a clan leader, and he shook his head when I looked in his direction. Toth, lead hunter of the Hungarians, asked, "Why were your men scouting my Hungarian village? Who sent them? Were they sent to find another village to conquer?"

The Smolens leader nodded his head. "Yes, they were part of a second scout team sent by my leader, Terracon, a fearsome man. The Smolens need more space and more food. We need to move south to get more distance between us and our enemies, the Finns. We have been at war with them for two years." Scarman said, "The Finns are poor hunters and complain they do not get their share of reindeer meat. Terracon is an insane animal, a madman in human form. I have no doubt he will conquer this place and avenge my death." I paid no attention to this dying man's comments.

Mikl asked the captive, "Who is this boy, and why is he here with you?"

The Smolens scout was bleeding from the stump of one foot and the burns of the other one. He barely voiced his reply. "He is a worthless piece of dung, the son of my second wife. I brought him with me to teach him to be a man and to learn the ways of a scout. Do what you want with him. He is a weakling and worth nothing. He knows nothing more than what I told you." I sensed the captive was trying to protect the boy, even as his own life was slipping away.

With no more to learn from this man, it was time for him to die. He knew it was coming. I had what I wanted—knowledge of the enemy. After all these years, I would have revenge for my parents, but death for this one would not be easy. I let him suffer for some time while I reminded him of what he had done to so many Horse Clan families and children. Carcusa lapsed in and out of consciousness. Every time he nodded off, I jabbed him in his shoulder to be sure he was awake. I stood to his side where he could see me and laid my sword on his head and sliced back and forth, cutting through his scalp. I let my sword rest there for a minute as blood ran down his face. He trembled in anticipation of my final move.

At the end, Scarman said, "Terracon, the man known as the Controller of the Earth, will avenge my death. He will rape your wives and mothers and cut up your children while you are made to watch. You will all die. My leader loves me more than he cares for his own brother. He will come when you least expect it. Do what you must do, but mark my words: Terracon will come for you, just as I did years ago."

I had heard enough. I raised my sword and let him see it as I swung it in a wide circle. With one hard slash, I severed his head from his body. The head fell to the ground and rolled across the pit-house floor, leaving a bloody trail behind it. Carcusa's ordeal was over. Alex and Nicholas, two of the former Russian slaves we had rescued and now members of the Botai, dragged his body to the river and threw it in. His head followed his body. Carcusa did not deserve a burial. The river rats and scavengers would be his companions from here on.

The captive boy slumped in a heap. He had passed out, yet he was still tied to his pole. He was uninjured, except for the arrow wound my guards gave him when he was captured a few days ago. To everyone's surprise, I ordered the boy revived, fed, and given water. Patts, our lead medicine woman, sent her assistant, Elizza, to treat his injury. He stayed under guard until I went to him the next day.

I approached and had Emma ask him, "Do I need to build another fire and roast your feet, or do you want to tell me what you know? It is your choice. Talk to me, or die as your leader did."

The boy shook his head and responded in his Finnish language, "No, hunter, you do not need the fire." The Finn language he spoke was very similar to the Hungarian language that Ruth, Emma, and Toth spoke as their native tongue. They understood very well what he said. I was also familiar with Hungarian, because I was married to Ildiko, my wife from the Hungarian people. I knew many of his words.

I ordered the boy, "Tell your story. Tell it once, and let it be the truth. I will not ask you twice. If you lie to me, you will die as your companion died, by fire. Your death will not be easy. If you tell the truth, I may have other plans for you."

The boy spoke freely. "I was born a Finn. The Finns are a large tribe separate from the Smolens. My people hold the territory to the north of the village. For many generations, the two tribes put up with each other pretty well until the Smolens did something bad, which led to a war that lasted for two years."

He shifted uncomfortably, but went on with his story. "After a long cold winter, food ran out for the Smolens and many starved to death. It did not affect us as much as you might think, because we herd sheep and work hard at farming. While we were on this journey, Scarman told me that so many died in his village with no food and that many of the survivors turned to cannibalism before that terrible winter was over. Infant children died first, then elders, and then the weakest of the adults. He said that members of a clan were not allowed to eat their relatives, but they were allowed to eat members of other clans. If the Smolens herded sheep as we do, they would have survived.

Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen – David Mallegol "My people herd sheep and hunt reindeer during the spring and fall migrations. As a result of farming and hard work, the Finns have a good supply of meat and grains, even during the worst winters. When the spring reindeer migration finally started that year, the Smolens, who were starving to death, killed off the first animals of the herd. When they killed the lead animals, the migration stopped. Without the leaders, the rest of the herd panicked and scattered in every direction. The herd never reached our village or that of the Russians to the north of us."

The boy swallowed hard—he'd been talking nonstop and clearly was thirsty, but we offered him nothing. I glared at him until he took up his story again. "The head man of the Finns, who is called Victor, meaning the 'eagle,' sent scouts to learn why there was no annual migration. That was when we learned that the greedy Smolens had killed off so many of the first animals that the migration stopped. Every year before that, the Smolens harvested weaker and older animals from the second half of the herd, and there was always plenty of meat for everyone.

"With no reindeer coming north that year, Victor had little choice. We could either survive on mutton alone or teach the Smolens a lesson. Victor and his clan leaders—one called Maada, a powerful man, and Saabs, a stocky, loyal clan leader—said that survival on mutton alone was not an option. The Finns launched a surprise attack on the Smolens, killed many of them, and took the reindeer meat the Smolens had already smoked for themselves.

"The first battle went well, with the Finns winning, but we were not able to kill enough of the enemy to win the war that day. The Smolens recovered well enough to form a defense, and the fight raged on for days. Days became weeks and more weeks of fighting. The Finns won some of the time, while the Smolens won other battles. Skirmishes and attacks went on for two years. Many hunters on both sides were killed and wounded, with whole families being taken as hostages. In the end, fifteen of our men were killed and many were wounded. I heard from Scarman that the Smolens had about the same number killed and many more wounded."

He shook his head, whether in resignation or sadness, I did not know. "After a while, the big battles slowed down due to so many lost men on both sides. The problem was that the Smolens never stopped raiding our herders and stealing our animals when the Finns grazed sheep at distant locations. They have killed at least ten men and taken their wives and children as captives. My family is among the captured leaders. My people are uncertain when it comes to another fight. We are not a warlike people; we are herders. Victor says with the continued attacks, we have little choice. We will have to go to war again at some point.

"My family has a long history as the best sheep herders in the area. We were with our animals at a distant grazing location the day I was captured, along with my father, mother, brother, and two sisters. That man you tortured and killed yesterday—Carcusa ... 'Scarman'—he told me the story of when he first attacked your old village and how he got the scar. He was proud of winning the fight with your father. He killed my father and my older brother as part of a celebration.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen by David Mallegol. Copyright © 2014 David Mallegol. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments, ix,
Introduction, xiii,
Cast of Characters, xv,
Chapter 1 Scarman, 1,
Chapter 2 The Smell of Death, 17,
Chapter 3 Diana and Dawn, 29,
Chapter 4 Mongol Medicines, 39,
Chapter 5 One Month to Prepare, 49,
Chapter 6 The Smolens Village, 59,
Chapter 7 The Twelve-Month Pregnancy, 69,
Chapter 8 Overnight to the Krasnyi Yar, 81,
Chapter 9 Just What He Needed, 87,
Chapter 10 The Last Bell Removed, 97,
Chapter 11 Impress the Finns, 105,
Chapter 12 No Easy Escape This Time, 117,
Chapter 13 Frank Returns to the Smolens, 129,
Chapter 14 Terracon and Mercillus, 135,
Chapter 15 The Full Moon, 145,
Chapter 16 The Host-Built Healing House, 157,
Chapter 17 Double Wedding, 163,
Chapter 18 Move the Lake, 171,
Chapter 19 No Turning Back, 177,
Chapter 20 Change of Plans, 183,
Chapter 21 The Traitor's Warning, 189,
Chapter 22 Gone Like the Great Woolly Mammoths, 201,
Chapter 23 The Aftermath, 211,
Chapter 24 Return to My Childhood Village, 219,
Chapter 25 Decisions, 231,
Chapter 26 The Smolens Survivors, 241,
Chapter 27 A Man for Patts, 253,
Chapter 28 The Summer Gathering, 269,
Chapter 29 Contests and Confrontations, 277,
Chapter 30 Maada and Tangee, 295,
Author's Notes, 309,

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Adventures of the Bronze Horsemen: The Botai People and Their Horses Changed the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RichR1 More than 1 year ago
truly a great book. the action continues from the authors first book the "Bronze Horsemen" and it is difficult to put the book down. The book is a slice of time from the Bronze age and filled with amazing bits of history, clan life, family life and necessary battles to survive. A must read.