Genghis Khan considered himself the ruler of the east, when he had defeated several surrounding kingdoms. His influence had reached to the Khwarezmian Empire. Instead of warring with them, a trade caravan was sent to Otrar, one of the boarder towns. The great Kahn wished greatly to become trading partners with this Islamic empire rather than having to fight them.
One of the merchants was the father of The Messenger, whose real name has been lost to us. However, the young boy of 12 was pledged to the daughter of one the commanders in the Mongol army. Hence, he did not join his father, but remained in Mongol territory with his young bride.
The Messenger would soon be of the marrying age of thirteen. During the winter hunt, he would get to show his skills to the rest of the military personnel. By this time, he would be of age, and he would then become a member of the army. He could also marry his arranged bride. However, currently he had to do whatever his father-in-law said. These things were very mundane and did not include going to exotic locations with his father.
Eventually, word came back that the caravan had been ruthlessly murdered and their goods confiscated by the governor of Otrar. This greatly distressed all of the Mongol people, and greatly upset The Messenger.
The great Khan did not want this to be a precursor to war. The Messenger's feelings not withstanding, every attempt would be made to prevent all out combat. After all, the Khwarezmian Empire was large and powerful. Their military greatly outnumbered the Mongolian forces. Nevertheless, it looked like Sultan of the Khwarezmian Empire was provoking the Mongols.
Thus, in Genghis's attempt to avoid outright war against that empire, an envoy was sent to meet with Sultan Ala ad-Din Muhammad. Among the members of this envoy was The Messenger's father-in-law to be. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, The Messenger was also a member of the entourage. He disguised himself and stowed away on the diplomatic caravan.
The young man watched in horror as all of the official emissaries were shaved and beheaded. This Empire had now taken his father and his father-in-law. He burned for revenge, but he was a mere child and faced a large military force. He reluctantly returned with the remaining entourage to tell of the incident.
"This is not the act of a King, it is the actions of a bandit!" exclaimed Genghis.
"They must all die," responded The Messenger. "Future generations should not know of the Khwarezmian Empire! The city of Otrar should be lost to the ages."
"I share your sentiment young one," responded Genghis. "However, they are powerful. We must be cautious."
Genghis Khan retreated to the mountains to reflect upon the sultan's actions and to determine the next course of action. After three days he returned to assure the Mongol people that this affront would not go unpunished, and that God himself had assured him of victory.
By the time that the full force could be raised, The Messenger had become of age and was allowed to join the army. His desire to wreak havoc upon the Khwarezmian people had not waned. He was anxious to begin the battle.
By autumn, they had 20 tumens (200,00 soldiers) on the march, approaching the city of Otrar. The Messenger was anxious to wreak his vengeance upon the killers of his family members. He had shown great skill in the winter hunt, and many were impressed by his fighting skills.
Nevertheless, they had to siege the city. It could be quite a while before actual personal combat would occur. It would take a while to get into the city.
The great Khan had spread word throughout the area that those that did not oppose the approaching army, would obtain leniency. However, if they did not submit, they, their family, and all of their worldly possessions would be destroyed. Several emirs joined the fight against the sultan on word of this proclamation.
While many thought it was just words, Genghis Khan was true to his word. Those that showed they were loyal were treated well. However, those that betrayed trust were treated very harshly. Entire families were killed upon the actions of just one member.
The siege of the city took several months, but they had finally breached the city's defenses. However, the governor, who ordered the deaths of the merchants, made it to the citadel with 20,000 soldiers to continue the fight.
Since the fall of the city was immanent, Genghis Khan left it to continue his pursuit of the Sultan Muhammad. Nonetheless, The Messenger remained in Otrar. The young soldier showed his bravery and skill in the street fighting.
Like all Mongols, he was very proficient with the bow. Children learned to ride and use the bow at a very young age. Thus, when the young boys joined the military, they were highly trained bowmen. However, The Messenger was also very good with the pike and the spear even at the very young age of 13.
His desire for vengeance spurred him on to kill as many citizens of Otrar as he could manage. He would often engage in groups of 5 or more. During this particular campaign, his martial skills became greatly tuned. While he was still quite green, his skills easily overcame the groups of farmers that were recruited to save the city.
It took the remaining Mongol army a month to finally take the citadel. The governor was captured alive. The Messenger stated he would have killed him on sight, but he was elsewhere. After a brief interegation, he was executed.
When the group had reunited with Genghis Khan, The Messenger told the great leader that he personally poured silver into the governor's eyes as a means of execution. While Genghis knew that this did not really happen, he understood the meaning.
The beginning of the payback had begun. The Sultan would be next. For the next year, the Mongol army chased after the Sultan. They sieged city after city, but the sultan continued his retreat. The Messenger's fighting skills improved with each encounter. Soon, many soldiers drew lots to see who would fight next to him. It was thought to be the safest place in battle.
While the main force brought the Khwazemian Empire under its control, Genghis sent a force of 20,000 to search for the sultan. Naturally, The Messenger was part of this force. They followed every bit of intelligence to track down the sultan. They did encounter some resistance, but they fought less often than the main force.
To their dismay, they discovered that the sultan had died on an island in the Caspian Sea. While they did not discover if it was murder or natural causes, they were not involved in the death. This greatly disappointed The Messenger.
They returned to join the main force and they conquered the empire shortly afterwards. The Messenger had earned a name for himself, and he was a most respected warrior. He often volunteered for the most dangerous missions. Since being an emissary was fraught with danger, he often was sent to meet with opposition leaders. He always returned; thus, he earned the name of The Messenger.
With the complete destruction of the Khwarezmian Empire, Genghis Khan needed to return to the Steppes to put down an uprising. However, The Messenger remained with the army that searched for the sultan. It was their task to take the 2 tumens (20,000 soldiers), each under generals Jebe and Subutai, and scout further west, while the great Khan headed east.
Naturally, there were some relatives of the sultan that had to be removed from power. This was the impetus of the expedition. With rumors and intelligence of alliances further west, these needed to be explored.
The two tumens split up, and The Messenger remained with General Subutai. While General Jebe was sieging and capturing several cities around the Caspian Sea. Many reports returned of the brutal nature of this process. The population did not submit readily to the Mongol invaders.
The first encounter for The Messenger's tumen occurred when General Subutai's army fell upon the city of Qazvin. The governor of that city was uncooperative, and the city was sacked. The siege of the city was difficult, but the catapults eventually did their work.
The able bodied men were taken to be used in the front lines of the next encounter. However, the process was slow and expensive. Thus, in order to scout more efficiently, a new tactic would have to be employed.
General Subutai organized a group to act as emissary to the province of Dilem. While the 14 year old messenger was too young to be the main diplomat, he went along on the mission as an escort. This was done at the request of the individual responsible for delivering the general's message.
The group met with Atabeg Uzbeg. A dozen guards made aggressive moves towards the envoy. Quickly and almost effortlessly, The Messenger with his pike, disarmed the group and pushed them back. With a glower but no words, the guards understood that they were to stay back.
Atabeg watched as his twelve guards were completely over matched by one young Mongol. The fear on his face was clear. What the ruler had heard about the ruthless Mongols was confirmed in that incident. Without hesitation, he showered the Mongols with presents.
The envoy packed up the silver, garments, and other treasures upon the provided horses and returned to General Subutai. Thus, it was assured that the Mongols could move unencumbered through the territory. Hence, the scouting went very well for them.
The weather was turning bad, thus they needed a place to winter. An envoy was sent to the city of Tabriz. The general gave them the task of securing unfettered hunting ground for a few months.
The group arrived in Tabriz with the standard array of gifts. Seeing the riches which the envoy entrusted to the young messenger, some townspeople hatched a plan to take some. Six men singled out the youngster and fell upon him.
The Messenger pierced the first man through the heart with his pike. He quickly removed it and broke the jaw of a second man with the butt end. In a fluid motion, he blocked a blow from a club from one man and stabbed another in the throat. He hit the man with the club four times before getting around to killing him. The man with the broken jaw rushed him, and was stabbed in the eye and the pike exited the back of his head. The remaining two were frozen with fear watching their comrades dispatched in mere seconds. In a powerful charge, he drove his pike through both men.
After quietly piling the men up, the young man rejoined the envoy. He did not say a word about the incident. Thus, no retaliation was visited upon the citizens of Tabriz. However, the governor must have heard of the incident because a large tribute was paid to the Mongols. They would have plenty of provisions to winter in the area around the southern part of the Caspian Sea.
As was the common practice during the winter months, the army staged a great hunt. The soldiers created a large circle. Slowly, they drove all manner of animal towards the center. No animal was allowed to escape the circle as the soldiers closed in.
Further, no animal was killed until the signal was given. They would have a number animals completely surrounded. When the signal was given, the animals were all killed. This allowed the soldiers to keep using their martial skills. In this way, they practiced their cooperative maneuvers, horsemanship, and even bow skills. Not to mention, they also obtained great amounts of food for feasting with these hunts.
During the hunt, he once again wowed the group with his prowess. Many soldiers just sat back and watched him do his thing. They were awed at what he could do with the weapons at his disposal.
It was during the great hunt, that they celebrated the young man's wedding. Despite his father-in-laws death at the hands of the Sultan Ala ad-Din Muhammad, the wedding plans went ahead. Some worried that his killer instinct would be negatively impacted by his involvement with women. Nevertheless, it did not show during the hunt.
During this particular winter, General Subutai formulated a plan of action. He decided that in the spring his army would scout around the entire Caspian Sea. They may meet resistance, but it may prove useful to know the area around the Caspian. It would be a long and difficult campaign, but it needed to be done.
The Messenger would be a year older, but he was still too young to be taken seriously by anyone outside the group of Mongols. However, his skills were beyond that of anyone they had encountered.
When spring arrived, the army headed north. The Messenger's commitment would be certainly tested. No doubt there would be plenty of chances with General Subutai's psychological warfare. He would be on plenty of diplomatic missions.
Some of this was based from the account of the campaign found here:
Howorth, Henry Hoyle and Ravenstein, Ernest George. History of the Mongols: From the 9th to the 19th Century. Oxford, England: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1876. p. 93.
General Jebe took his tumen further west as he headed north. He revisited the towns that they had sieged the previous campaign. Naturally, they did not resist the army and considered themselves part of the Mongol Empire.
General Subutai led his tumen north along the shores of the Capian. The Messenger, still a young man, accompanied all of the diplomatic missions. Thus, when an envoy met with Atabeg Uzbeg to assure their safe passage, The Messenger accompanied them. Governor Uzbeg assured the group that his country's allegiance would be forever with the Mongols.
This group's route took them to the Caucus mountains. They followed the mountains and occasionally explored passes through the mountains. Also, there was a great river along the mountains; thus, they followed the river which provided them with water.
At first, when The Messenger and an envoy would enter a town, they were greeted kindly. The territories obeyed the agreement that Atabeg Uzbeg had made. However, the tumen eventually exited the realm of Atabeg, and negotiations had to begin in earnest.
In one town, a group of citizens attacked the envoy. However, they were not armed with much in the way of weaponry. They had mostly rough hewn branches to be used as clubs. The Messenger ordered the other guards to stay with the envoy and protect them. Alone, he met the mob.
The townspeople were poorly trained in the use of weapons. Further, they did not coordinate their attacks. The Messenger's first move was to draw the mob out. Thus, he dismounted, challenged them, and then ran. The citizens ignored the rest of the envoy and pursued him.
There was a large rock near the outskirts of the city. He led them to there, and then turned. Several impaled themselves upon his outstretched pike. With his back to the rock, he methodically began killing the mob. When a majority laid in a pile in front of him, others began running away. He took care of these with his bow. He piled all the bodies in front of the rock, and rejoined the envoy.
This town offered no further resistance to the Mongols. However, it was clear that they could not be trusted. Thus, every able-bodied man was conscripted into the Mongol army. Some of their women and children were taken along. The old and enfeebled were left behind.
It was clear that they had entered the Kingdom of Lasha Giorgi or George IV of Georgia. Most cities they would encounter on this particular journey would likely be resistant to the Mongol forces.
In fact, some of the towns resisted in this regard and met the same fate. Others welcomed the Mongols, and were mostly spared. However, they met more and more resistance as they approached Tbilisi, which was heavily fortified. Further, King George had begun preparing for the eventual arrival of the Mongols. Hence, they had a large contingent of their army.
General Jebe's tumen had been exploring Armenia, and the two groups met in Georgia. Thus, the full contingent of the Mongols would meet King George's army.
With their conscripted footsoldiers in front, and the mounted Mongols in the rear, the two groups met in the battle of Khunan on the Kotman River . Just as in the great hunts, the mounted Mongols attempted to work their way around the standing army and not let anything escape.
The Messenger, while still very young, took control of a group of conscripted soldiers. He also recruited a small group of Mongols to join with him. They pressed hard. In intense fighting, and multiple arrow forays, they pressed the Georgian lines hard. They pushed within sight of the King's contingent.
The Mongols launched a massive arrow assault upon the royal guards, and the lines broke. The Georgian army engaged in full retreat to Tbilisi. The Mongols pursued and killed many of the soldiers.
For weeks, they followed the retreating army which would occasionally regroup and fight. In this way, the 2 tumens and some of their own recruits killed tens of thousands of Georgian soldiers.
Because the Mongols were on a reconnaissance mission, when the reached Tbilisi, they stopped. They had learned that King George IV was critically injured in their main battle. Thus, the kingdom would likely fall into disarray. They could easily conquer it upon their return.
In other interrogations, they heard of the fertile lands beyond Tbilisi. However, they could not conquer it all with their current forces. With a full contingent, they could explore these lands later. Perhaps they would even conquer the entirety of the Caucus mountains. For now, they would have to determine a path through the mountains to the north side of the Caspian Sea.
The entire Mongol contingent headed south and returned to Tabriz and obtained more supplies. They also hired some guides to get them through the Caucuses. Once again they headed north.
They crossed the territory of Uzbeg Atabeg without incident. Outside of that realm, they approached the town of Meraga. Quickly, the two generals assembled an envoy to negotiate with the town. The Messenger was given the honor of leading this envoy. While he was still quite young, he had earned the honor.
Upon entering the city, the envoy was attacked by 100 citizens. The Messenger sent the other emissaries back to the generals with town's response. They were not going to allow the Mongols to pass peacefully.
The remaining envoy left The Messenger and returned to generals Jebe and Subutai. Upon hearing word, the Mongols mounted and rushed to the town ready for battle. They planned on avenging the death of the great messenger.
However, when they entered the town, all they found were several piles of dead bodies. They searched in vain to find The Messenger. He was not in any of the piles of corpses. After carefully searching the town, they made their way toward the far end of the city. The piles of corpses became less frequent. When the Mongol army reached the far end of the city, they found The Messenger sitting on a large stone with the towns leaders kneeling at his feet.
He had successfully negotiated a peace with the town, and the Mongols could peacefully continue northward. The story of the one Mongol who entered a street where there were 100 individuals and proceeded to kill them all without any resistance was told throughout the region. No longer would the Mongol generals send an envoy not led by The Messenger.
The crossing of the Caucus Mountains was very difficult. They did not wait for the way to be clear, and thus they ran into harsh conditions. Some of the Mongols did not survive the trip, and some of the equipment had to be left behind.
Further, on the other side, a formidable army was waiting for them. Several groups on the northern side of the mountain range united to meet the Mongols. Neither army was ready for the battle. Both withdrew without many casualties. However, another battle was inevitable.
The Mongol generals sent The Messenger to negotiate with one of the groups in the alliance. The Cumans, a group well known among the Mongols, was the group The Messenger was sent to meet.
They at first laughed at the young man bringing a message from the Mongols. He came alone and had only his pike with him. They threatened him. They taunted him. Eventually, they attacked him.
After killing about 15 of the Cuman soldiers, they listened the presented message. The agreement was for the Cuman to leave the battle in exchange for a share of the plunder obtained from the other tribes. Naturally, they agreed.
The Messenger returned with the tale of his treatment. Clearly, the Mongols could not trust the Cuman. Any group that would mistreat a messenger, or betray their allies for money was not to be counted upon for alliance.
With the observed Cuman withdrawal, the Mongols attacked the remaining army. The volley of arrows and the charging horsemen did their job as the alliance collapsed. The opposing army was routed.
It was during this disarray that the Cumans halted their retreat and attacked. However, their raid was disorderly. The well trained Mongols easily repulsed the raid and the Cumans were in full retreat. However, this time the Mongols were in pursuit.
In an effort to survive, the Cuman army split into two groups. One group headed northeast, and the other headed northwest. The two Mongol tumens once again separated. Jebe took his army northwest, and Subutai pursued the army to the northeast.
During his pursuit, General Jebe needed provisions, so he entered the trading outpost called Soldaia. They were not responsive towards his request, and thus he had to take the city.
General Subutai continued his skirmishes with the Cuman who were now traveling along the Dniester River. They were in no hurry, thus they temporarily broke off the chase and held a great hunt. Once the Jebe's siege ended, they would reunite to continue the pursuit of the Cuman.
General Jebe learned that the Cumans and a large army of Rus were setting to attack General Subutai's position. Hence, he sent an envoy to the Prince of Kiev. Unfortunately, The Messenger was with General Subutai. Thus, when the peace offer was rejected, the entire envoy was executed.
Nevertheless, the slight delay allowed General Jebe's tumen the opportunity to join with the remaining Mongol forces. When they learned the fate of the first envoy, a second was sent led by the Messenger.
While they had no previous quarrel with the Rus, one was provided by the Prince of Kiev. In fact, they were headed away from those lands. Nonetheless, the second envoy was to declare a state of war between the two peoples.
The Prince attempted to execute this envoy as well. However, he lost 50 soldiers before deciding the let The Messenger go free. With the return of The Messenger, valuable reconnaissance was gathered by the Mongols. They learned that they would be out numbered by a 3 to 1 margin. Thus, they would have to use strategy.
Generals Jebe and Subutai agreed that a rear guard would be left to slow the Rus army as the main force found a spot to their advantage. The Messenger would not be part of the force, but would have the task of harrying the advancing Rus soldiers.
In this way, the generals hoped the army would become spread out. Thus, the Mongols would not face the entire army at once.
When the Rus and the Cuman attacked the 1000 Mongols protecting the retreat, The Messenger aided the rear guard. However, the numbers were too great for any hope of victory -- even with The Messenger killing 175 men. His orders were to retreat, and he followed the strategy and reluctantly left his comrades.
His occasional skirmishes with the Rus army as they advanced upon the retreating Mongols worked to the desired effect. The army became spread out.
When the Mongols ended their retreat at the Kalka River after nine days, the Rus were not prepared for the attack. They could not gather their full forces when the Mongols advanced. They did attack with the forces they had, but they were ill prepared.
Once the front line broke under the Mongol charge, the rear was still moving forward unaware that a battle had begun. Thus, the one army was moving in two directions at once causing a confusion, which the Mongols used to their advantage.
The rout was on. The Messenger stacked another 500 men upon the 250 he had killed during the previous 10 days. He even met the Prince during the chaos and returned the hospitality the Prince had offered him. Thus, the Prince was quickly beheaded.
Some allies to this prince escaped. However, the Mongols were in hot pursuit. Eventually, this army found a spot to fortify its position. The Mongols began the siege of this encampment, but sent an envoy to discuss terms.
At first, they refused to speak with The Messenger. However, he was insistent. Eventually, they agreed to hear the terms. As usual, they were not happy with the proposal and attempted to kill The Messenger. They were unsuccessful. He fought his way to the fortified exit, and let the Mongol army in.
Immediately, the leaders surrendered, but their remaining army was dismantled. They tried to explain that there was some sort of misunderstanding. They had completely agreed to the terms presented. Nevertheless, there would be no mercy for this group. However, they would be granted a bloodless death. They were placed beneath the celebration platform and suffocated.
Other principalities were concerned with what the Mongols would do next. However, they simply headed East towards home. Thus, other Rus armies were spared. Further, no aggressive moves were made towards the Mongols. They did not want to lose another 1000 men to The Messenger.
After defeating a large Rus army, the two tumens of Mongols headed east. The two generals were confident that the other Rus princes would not attack. Further, the Mongols did not pillage and plunder on their march east, which eased the minds of the defeated Rus Princes.
With the Caucus mountains to their south, they continued due east for several days. There was nothing for The Messenger to do but ride. With no one to negotiate along their current path, the entire Mongol army relaxed.
They reached the Volga River, and found the nearby town deserted. This fact did not put them on their guard. They continued their relaxed march east.
The Bulgars, whose territory the Mongols were marching through, did take notice of that army. They prepared an ambush on the eastern side of the Volga River.
The Bulgars caught the Mongols completely off guard. The Mongol cavalry scattered in the face of the large Bulgar contingent. Fortunately, very few Mongols were killed. In fact, The Messenger alone killed more Bulgars than the Mongols lost in the ambush.
However, it was a defeat as the Mongols could not immediately regroup. This was not a planned retreat, and thus there was no place to turn and charge the pursuit. Further, the Bulgars were not organized and stopped the chase once the Mongols left Bulgar territory.
The Mongols did not take this defeat lightly. Thus, when they were able to gather their strength, they sent The Messenger to meet with the Bulgar leaders. Nothing became of this meeting, so the Mongols turned towards the Bulgar army. They wanted to even the score.
Eventually, the Mongols and Bulgars did meet again on the battlefield. The Bulgar army was routed, and once again The Messenger killed more Bulgar soldiers than their entire army killed Mongols. Generals Jebe and Subutai decided that they had seen enough of the Bulgars and turned south.
They followed the Volga river for a while. The Messenger was sent to meet with the a different Cuman group than the one the Mongols fought the previous year. However, this group did support those Cumans; hence, the Mongols were looking for tribute.
The Messenger's reputation was well established by this point. No one was willing to attempt anything against the still young man. The Kanglis Cumans listened to the proposal, and respectfully declined.
No one attempted to prevent the young messenger from leaving. No one even made an aggressive move towards the young man. They simply allowed him to return to the Mongol generals without impedance and give their reply.
With the report given, the Mongols prepared for battle and the Cuman army ran. The Mongols followed them towards the Ural mountains. The Cuman army was not organized enough to halt their retreat and attack the charging Mongols. Further, the Mongols were too disciplined to allow that type of tactic to work against them.
The Cumans were running out of places to run as they approached the mountains. Thus, they were forced to meet the Mongols upon the battlefield. They halted their retreat and waited for the Mongols to gather themselves up and meet them on the battlefield.
The Mongols used their regular tactic to encircle their foe. Also, The Messenger gathered up a few men and pushed hard. The Cuman before him were pushed back greatly. The men with The Messenger protected his rear as he pushed forward slaying huge numbers of Cuman soldiers from his horse.
As his small group pressed forward, they eventually made it to the leader of the Cumans. With a blow from his pike, the Khan of the Kanglis Cuman was killed, and the remainder of the army fled. The Mongols took to the pursuit.
The new leader of the Cuman asked for a halt to hostilities, and The Messenger was sent to negotiate. A huge amount for tribute was agreed upon, and The Messenger led the convoy which conveyed the treasure.
A band of former soldiers fell upon the convoy of treasure with the design of taking a large portion of it. The 30 men ambushed the caravan on the trail. The Messenger gathered the convoy closed together and single handedly protected the tribute.
When the bandits scattered in their failed attempt, The Messenger chased each one down and beheaded them. He added the heads of these men to the treasure as he returned to the Mongol army.
The amount of wealth the two tumens obtained in their march around the Caspian Sea was immense. Nearly half the army's caravan was treasure. Each soldier had accumulated a great amount of wealth. It was time to rendezvous with the great Khan.
They continued east unmolested. They had been exploring for three years, and the journey took its toll on everyone. General Jebe was feeling poorly, and many soldiers were experiencing some illness.
The Messenger's wife also had the sickness. Before reaching the Syr Darya River and the waiting Mongols, she died. In revenge for the death of his family, The Messenger had killed thousands of men. However, now he had no family left. He avenged her father, but now she was gone.
He went to Genghis Khan, and asked to be relieved of military service. With the stories of his bravery and military skill, the great Khan was reluctant. Very rare were the talents which The Messenger showed. The growing empire could use those skills. The eventual return west would require well trained soldiers.
However, the story of The Messenger's losses persuaded the mighty leader to listen to his words and let him go. Genghis Khan heaped upon The Messenger great riches before he left. He took a great horse, plenty of silver and gold, and a valuable letter.
What happened to The Messenger, who was not even 17 when he left, is unknown. There are many stories of a great warriors wandering around Asia and Europe. Perhaps one of these was about the young messenger's adventures. We may never know for sure.