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The Hiimori (Wind horse)

The ancient spirits of our tribe that lived and died in homelands far to the east tell of a great spirit, the Hiimori or Wind horse, whose story was nearly forgotten to our tribe. Back when our people were young and death was still new to the world, the eagle taught the first shaman of our tribe the ways of the spirits, but we forget that it was Hiimori, the Wind horse that first showed him the way to fly into the heavens and ride down the paths of the dead to the spirit world. Ever after he would be his faithful companion on his travels to the lands of spirits and a protector of our people and ours herds.

Many years later there was a young female shaman named Chichek who was the daughter of a respected chieftain. It was said her beauty surpassed all other women upon the steppe but she never took a man as her husband. Her reputation was so great that the great khan Kuyuk came to her father’s camp in secret just to see her beauty for himself. When she would not give in to his advances he grew angry and returned to his horde. He summoned Chichek’s father under the pretext of friendship and murdered him along with his honor guard. Then he quickly turned his warriors upon the slain chieftain’s clan and defeated their men in battle. He had all the adult men killed and male children too so that none may grow up to avenge their fathers. The womenfolk were taken off as slaves and so Chichek was a captive of the khan’s camp. When she still refused him, even to become his bride he violated her and afterwards kept her locked and under the guard of his shamans.

Chichek tried at first to call upon her familiar spirits to free her but the shamans of Kuyuk were powerful and ever watchful. They tracked down her spirits and stole them away to become pawns of their own. Alone and without her helping spirits she went into a trace and tried to walk the paths of the spirits. There she meet the dark spirits of Kuyuk’s shamans but evaded their capture. Then she faced the shamans themselves. In turn they each changed from shape to shape, chasing through the spirit world, in its streams as fish, across the open steppe as horses, fighting in the air as eagles and upon ice caped mountain peaks as leopards. In the end Chichek escaped and went to hide in the pasturelands where the spirits of her ancestors reside. The ghost of a great shaman came to her and they struck a bargain that night for her freedom. She took the ancestral spirit as her husband and they consummated the marriage. That night a foal was conceived khan’s stables. Kuyuk’s shamans found its birth very ominous for not only was its coat pure white but it had eight legs instead of four. As soon as it was able to stand on it’s own it’s eight hooves began to lift off the ground as it flew through the air. The khan was very angry and feared that it might fly away so against the warnings of his shamans he had four of it’s legs cut off so that it had to walk upon the ground like a normal horse.

As the seasons past the foal grew to be proud and never would let any man master him. What was more disturbing to the khan however was its habit of setting loose many of the finer horses of his herd and disappearing only to return each night alone to the stables. The khan grew increasingly frustrated and when the season came to make offerings to his ancestors he announced his intention to offer the young horse in sacrifice. There was much commotion and dark mutterings among the shamans of the khan’s horde. Finally the eldest of among them came up before the great khan and asked him to reconsider his choice. Many of the horses were especially auspicious for sacrifice but not this one. Dark dreams and portents had come to the shaman. Though it had been birthed by a mare this was no ordinary horse. It was a great spirit of old who was meant to ride the skies and be carried aloft by the four winds. It was sacrosanct and to spill its blood would only bring ruin to the great khan and then the spirit would be forever lost to the lands of their tribesman. The Khan paid no heed to their warnings and slit its throat open, watching its lifeblood drain upon the ground. That night he held a great feast to honor his ancestors and to celebrate his rule. All the men of the camp partook in the flesh of the horse except for the shamans who abandoned the khan’s camp in silence.

In the morning Chichek woke to found a dried out bone lying on her plate. It was already sucked of its marrow just like the bones that are given to dogs. Although driven by intense hunger she instantly realized what it was…the remains of the Wind Horse. Weak from hunger and with limited tools she crafted the bone into a drumstick, blessing it with the only things she could offer her own spit and blood. Using her own flesh as a drum she began a slow, methodic beat and drifted off into a trance. The Wind Horse appeared before her, not just in spirit but flesh and bone. It took her upon its back and rode away on four legs and then eight as it flew into the sky.

Chichek took refuge in the mountains with fellow tribesman. In time she grew up to be a strong leader of her people, both spiritually and militarily. Seeking at first just to free her clansman from bondage she waged war against Kuyuk’s horde. Riding the horses Hiimori had stolen from khan’s herds she pressed on winning more and more victories, especially as the khan’s old shamans joined her cause. In a final climatic battle she rode with the Wind Horse into battle against the khan’s camp. Kuyuk was trampled to death just as his horseman turned away in retreat.

Chichek never married but returned to a modest life in service of the spirits, keeping foremost her vow to the ancestral spirit of her people. After that battle the Wind Horse was never seen again riding on the plains. Although, for a time, shamans made offerings and sought it out in the spirit world for aid and advice, men slowly began to forget the sound of his hooves upon the wind and his memory was lost to the Cuman.

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