By Douglas E. Gogerty
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.