This is story not included in my book about the Gusari,
"Songs of the Gusari." It is something that the author
Jamic could not have known about, but it does does give
clues of the Gusari not found elsewhere.
The theme line came from a 102 old man in Romania
who had never seen a computer before coming
to speak with me on the internet.
The Gusari sat still and silent on the grassy mound. No one was near; yet he was not alone. The weight of a thousand years of shaman tradition bore down on him -- but also lifted him up, buoyantly, to mediate against nagging solitude. Kiyan could be hailed by a thousand men. Mothers lulled children to sleep with his stories. Princes, Landgraffs, priests and chieftains trusted him. Yet he had few friends. Young Jamic was now off on his own quest. Brother Aldon had his monastary to look after. Others were dead. There were three others. He needed them now.
It had taken a day to prepare the ayil -- as far as he could by himself. The household camp would not be complete until the others arrived. Not only was their presence and spirits essential, but each carried items necessary to complete the khana. Its skeleton and cap was all that Kiyan's spare weapons and maikhan blanket would allow. A single man might seek protection from the Tengri's angry lightning and rain with only his felt maikhan thrown over a bush. A tent large enough for all four warriors required that each provide a horse-blanket, as well as personal tent and silk fusta shirt and izmene breeches. That morning he had trimmed a long sapling, fashioning a center-pole with sharp steel nozh point and head of a battle axe, serving as a tamga. The symbolic device would tell all approaching that this was an armed camp. Normally, a tripod formed of spear, staff and sword would provide a rest for stacking weapons. Only a leg-spike was allowed around the fire. Now…
With the heart pole secured by four wind-ropes, Kiyan fashioned the shoulder fingers. Using his own hip as measure, he had cut and trimmed four slender birch rods. These were attached to the pole at the juncture of axe handle and sapling by means of a medallion about the size of a man's spread hands. It seemed a decorative piece until slipped onto the shaft by the center hole. Four sets of small holes allowed the rods to be thronged securely. These crossed the wind-ropes to point to the great directions of the world. If this were a Mongol camp, each would be marked with the essential color designations. When these rods were secured to the ropes a wheel-spoke arrangement was completed just above head height. Kiyan's maikhan stretched perfectly from center hole above to the ends of the rods, forming a pyramid cap for the eventual khana. As the others arrived their maikhan would be hung from the rods to extend over the side ropes. Short spears would be inserted in the ground at the ends and secured to form supporting side poles. Silk garments would then be hung to complete the sides, protecting from insects and wandering eyes more than wind or storm. Horse blankets would form ground cover, and smoke from the brassier would happily escape around the edges. Thus it had been formed for three thousand years. Now again -- the blending -- the pulse.
The completed group tent would have fit in any grouped ayil camp, the yellow maikhan appearing gold in the distance. Only the strung bow, ready arrows and unsheathed sword would seem out of place. The Gusari had not been driven to defend or kill for many years. Despite his age he was prepared. A morning regimen of exercise and chant, based on ancient battle arts and dance, served to keep him fit. His small hand shield and whirling kama sword accompanied his shift of prancing form from stork to snake to tiger and on. Those who only knew him as a wandering merchant performer would never guess at his lethal portent. Those who came to his forest camp for stew and advice would wonder at his stories and never notice how loose his knife was in its hold. He never competed in the frequent matches at the lists or forest glade, though his Turkic recurve could strike at one hundred paces what they impaled at forty. He still practiced when well alone. Fourteen arrows only in his belt quiver. Thumb ring hardly noticed when transferred from its neck thong. Shield held in bow hand together with the end of his lupo cloak. Up close, no one recognized that at a distance the patterned weave would give a false image of his actual form. With practiced breath and whispered rhythmic chant the strella shafts would follow one-on-one in less than a minute space to form rings of three no larger than an apple in several distant trees.
Once, long ago, such archery skill had stopped a charge of a dozen riders and saved the life of a young stricken knight. That is why Wolfram would come.
Kiyan's stretched bow arm revealed a scar on his forearm; the place where he had deliberately taken a knife thrust to twist and disarm a vicious enemy nokud warrior. Later he had carried the wounded Mongol five leagues to safety and nursed him back to health. Those allies who had attacked the messenger protected under the striped banner he left behind for the carrion birds. Thus Thoregai would come.
The Gusari never liked to think of Ekrem. With his image came the memory of a destroyed village -- Kiyan's family clan only piles of bloody rags -- the old shaman beheaded. The young Turkic asker had remained behind in anger -- it was to be a raid of plunder only. He was wailing in lament when the Gusari had arrived, and was attempting to scratch out shallow graves along the stony ridge. With no common language shared the warrior rose and stuck his curved sword in the ground. He cast aside his strange scale armor and unwound his protecting silk shirt. He stood with bared chest before the trembling young shaman. Kiyan stared into his lost eyes and learned much of compassion, charity -- and then mercy. The Gusari knew that the Marmaluk stranger was now dead -- but his son would come.
The Gusari was acknowledged for many mysterious ways and customs; some Christian, some Pagan, some born of instinct and blood. Few would recognize what he now performed. On the small swatch of rabbit fur four stones were arranged, each with a unique history and purpose. In the center was a sliver of aurok horn, tipped with an eagle talon. Incense from the powdered seeds of the five bushes smoldered on the edge of his sword. Blood dripped from his pricked thumb onto the jeweled amulet. The cross on his Tryzub pendant was shrouded in purple thread. He sang out the names of his anda, his sworn brothers-at-arms. The ruddy sun changed to silver moon-beams while he sang. Enough! He collapsed in the ashes of the fire.
Strange dreams caressed three warriors in distant lands. As one they prepared. Days -- weeks -- a month away. As distant specks on the horizon they would appear. They were called. Though strangers, they would meet and bond without word. Arm to arm and back to back they would stand.
The Gusari has called.