The Tartars Are The Exception by BloodySpaghetti
Have you ever heard of the Tatars? Today they are somewhat of an insignificant west Eurasian ethnic group. Eight hundred years ago the Tatars, or Tartars as the Europeans called the Mongols under the banner of the Golden Horde, were considered the scourge of God. Some even assume that the European name for these people was derived from the Hellenic, hell-like realm known as Tartaros.
I've always been a fan of Mongol culture. Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time to appreciate it because I tend to over work myself. Luckily my workaholic tendencies have gotten me sent home on a vacation courtesy of my boss. Which is a good thing, of course, mostly because I've started feeling like I was burning out.
If you ever experienced a burnout you should know it takes time to get rid of all that stress and currently I'm working on it. I even started horseback riding again during my vacation as a therapy of sorts. Hadn't done that since I was a kid.
My main problem with being stressed isn't feeling tired and kind of sore all the time, but rather the fact that it gives me really weird and uncomfortable dreams. I wouldn't really call them nightmares. Usually my stress induced dreams aren't really scary. I just end up waking up wondering what the hell had happened in my head. Last night however wasn't a typical weird dream. It was my first nightmare in years.
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure whether its over or not yet.
It all started yesterday during the evening hours. It wasn't really late but my pent-up exhaustion must've gotten the best of me. Seeing as how when the skies turned from orange and red to black splattered with tiny sprinkles of white, my internal clock forced me to drop on my bed while the soothing sounds of Altan Urag's music started filling my ears through the headphones. In a matter of moments I couldn't even keep my eyes open. I was fading into the dream world.
The music was replaced by blissful silence which lasted for what seemed like a mere moments before I could hear someone calling out from the distance. These were calls for someone, "Nicco… Nicco… Niccolo" They kept getting louder with each attempt at reaching whomever they were destined to reach.
I must be dreaming, I mused to myself.
The calls wouldn't stop and eventually I've opened my eyes to a whole new scenery. I was no longer in my apartment bedroom. Instead I've found myself in some stone building with a rather large room with a square window built into the wall my body had been facing. A weirdly dressed man was shaking me, his touch felt so cold and damp. I could tell his hands were wet with something awfully smelly. He was dressed as a sort of medieval garb, sporting a simple long-sleeved shirt and cloth pants. I made the educated guess of him not being exactly a peasant once my senses became clear enough for me to notice the leather armor he was wearing and his head guard.
Internally confused, I heard words come out of my mouth without me speaking them, "Oh thank the Lord it's you, Girolamo! Someone else's would've surely busted me out for falling asleep on guard!"
Definitely a dream, I thought to myself.
It was one of those dreams in which you are fully aware of it being a dream but cannot do anything about the course of events.
Anyway, I remember getting up from the cold stone floor as I looked around noticing it was dusk time in my dream world. The man who I assumed to be a friend was chuckling as he looked at what must've been a panicked expression on my face.
"You are blessed, Niccolo!" he proclaimed joyfully.
"As are we all, it seems, the Tartars are rather quiet today.", I responded as I stared through the window looking down the large wall that stood between some Italian city and what seemed to be like a siege encampment. A sea of tents was stationed below me, each with a few horses around it, with most accompanied by a dog or two, along with a small fire at each tent's base. They weren't fancy in any way, but they were sure as hell efficient. I also detected a few Trebuchets standing at various points in the camp. These things sure do look impressive.
I am standing between the bloody Mongols and their target. I thought to myself as my mind turned hysteric at the sheer sight of what stood some mere meters beneath my feet.
The man that had awakened me up placed his bow on the window's ledge and spoke, "Seems like we areall blessed, my friend. Their number appears to be dwindling! God will deliver us from these devils."
"Is that so? The crafty bastards might be feigning retreat to lure us out" I questioned with a tone of skepticism.
Girolamo turned his head towards me, his tired brown eyes locked with mine. I couldn't detect even the slightest hint of doubt in him when he said, "Rumors are circulating that they've been stricken by a plague".
I stared at him for a moment before turning to watch the sunset. It was so beautiful that I had to bask in every moment of it. As I was looking at the setting sun I pondered for a moment before saying without breaking my gaze from the scenery, "Rumors say they are also immortal, and yet countless have probably fallen throughout their conquests. I hope that what you speak of is true however, for we don't know when the republic will send in reinforcements."
Girolamo let out a chuckle, "Soon enough, we won't have to defend anything. The wealthy are leaving through the sea!"
I chuckled at the remark.
"You and I aren't going anywhere any time soon, pal." I joked back.
Seeing as my friend made himself comfortable in his position, I decided it was time to leave the building in which I stood, the watch tower. As I was making my way out of the tower I could hear the man calling out to me, "We aren't wealthy enough to leave! Ha!"
Making my way down the inner stairs of the wall, I've noticed just how delicate the construction of these walls must've been. Every inch of stone beneath my feet had its place in the grand puzzle. I was feeling kind of small compared to the mighty construction through which I was strolling. Coming to appreciate the medieval craftsmen who've built this wonderful megalith, I ran fingers across the stony walls. The touch felt authentic. There was no numbness associated with a dream. In a blink of an eye I was at the entrance of the wall, staring for a moment at the town in front of me.
Everything seemed so gloomy and gray. A feeling of melancholy had washed over me and memories which were not my own overcame my mind; I could clearly see that same dream city as a lively and vibrant place. Even though the memories weren't my own, I became lost in thought. Suddenly, I heard a muffled whimper, snapping out of my pondering I realized I was standing on what looked to be a child's arm. At first, I couldn't feel the squishy sensation of his tiny appendage underneath my boot. Only when his voice reached my eardrums I felt realized I was on something. It felt almost disgusting.
Moving my leg away from the kid's arm, I put my hand over my face in complete and utter disappointment. Kneeling down made me realize just how bad the condition of this kid had been, he was dying of hunger. I'd never seen a child this thin. I could see each and every last bone pressed against his dry skin. His eyes, his eyes were bulging out with almost no glimmer of life in them. The yellow tint in his eyes also told me that the kid wasn't just starving; he was also ailing, badly, not to mention the odor of puss emanating from him.
While I was inspecting the child with an ever-growing feeling of helplessness, something tugged at my leg. Turning around I found a woman crawling on the ground, begging for something, her jumbled speech prevented me from understanding what she was trying to ask for. Assuming it was the child's mother, I could feel a rage slowly boil inside me. As I slowly begun deciphering her world salad, I found she was not begging for her child. The bitch was just begging for her own salvation.
Dire situations make us selfish; that's just human nature and there is nothing we could do about it. I know this, but I couldn't stop myself from kicking at the filthy woman over and over, until there was nothing left of her face but a pile of crimson mass resembling a dog's shit. She stopped making noise after just a few kicks, but my body wouldn't stop. It's like I was trapped in a foreign body forced to watch as it beat on another person. I screamed in my own head, Stop! Stop! Stop! She's gone. I shouldn't be doing this! But my legs wouldn't listen. I felt so pissed at myself for not stopping myself from killing that woman. Something inside just gave me butterflies about caving her greedy face in. Once the woman was no more than a pile of rat food and the rush of adrenaline had subsided, I stormed off to the local inn.
The rage slowly faded as my made my way toward the inn, and it was mostly gone by the time had reached the facility. As the doors of the inn were pushed ajar the beautiful music filled my ears and the sewage odor in the city was replaced by the smell of candles and wine. Taking my first step inside the inn, I was approached by a young redheaded woman sporting a smile from ear to ear. I felt my stomach bubble with joy at the sight of this woman, and I called out her name instinctively,while also probably smiling like a fool.
Sophia was a beautiful girl; she was pretty much my ideal of what a woman should be like. Looking at her blue eyes I noticed that same tiredness that was present in Girolamo's eyes earlier. Sophia rushed behind the inn's counter as I made myself comfortable at its other side and offered me a drink, which I gladly accepted, even though I don't really remember ever drinking.
I felt the alcohol make its way down my throat burning away at anything in its path. As the liquor began smoldering my esophagus, I felt sick to my stomach and the world around me started spinning violently. I felt like I was being shaken uncontrollably, all the while the bar music shifted its sound from being a happy pre-classical drunken choir sound towards a more familiar oriental one.
The feeling of vertigo got worse for a few moments, until I opened my eyes. I was surrounded by complete darkness, and the space around started slowing down and settling in its place as I could almost clearly hear Altan Urag's music flooding my auditory organs. Turning to the side I felt a knot forming in my stomach. For a single moment, I was certain I'd seen the emaciated child's skeletal face staring at me. Once my sight adjusted to the darkness in my room and I saw that I was actually looking at a pile of clothes on my chair.
Annoyingly shaken, losing my fucking mind, I yelled out before making my way towards the kitchen for a cup of water. After I was done re-hydrating I made my way back to my bedroom and turned the music off before making myself comfortable in bed once more.
I felt the blissful darkness of sleep creep up on me pretty quickly. For a while, there was nothing but darkness inside my personal kingdom of dreams. The first thing that caught my attention in my subconscious reality was the smell. An awful smell of something burning hit my nostrils, causing me to try and recoil backwards, without success.
It was smoke, it was everywhere.
Slowly, a sense of heaviness overcame me, and then I could make out the sound people coughing and moaning in agony all around me. My sight came back to me finally, and I found myself laying on the floor of that same inn I dreamt of before. This time around however it had two holes in it; one in the ceiling and one in a wall at the edge of my filled of vision. The shape of these chasms reminded me hellish caverns filled with flame and brimstone as their edges shown in a bright orange tint.
Fire engulfed everything, as the dread began to overcome my senses. I started making my way back up to my feet. Only then I noticed the feeling of drowsiness that clouded my mind. I think I inhaled a lot of smoke, considering the foul taste in my mouth and the nauseating, spinning sensation that bombarded my head. Hindered by my labored breaths, I forced myself back up in hopes of avoiding further inhalation of smoke. Once back up, I saw a couple of large, red hot boulders had landed inside the inn, destroying everything in their path.
Looking around hoping to make sense of everything, I came across the terrors the flying boulders have brought with their arrival. Broken wood, fire, smoke, and torn bodies decorated the now broken-down inn. A number of dismembered people on the floor. Some were still alive.
I saw an elderly man lying next to his mostly severed lower half in what seemed like full consciousness as he was clutching at bits of his guts. Only a tiny string of his bowels held his body together and that picture made me want to throw up. I felt the contents of my stomach rise up but blocked the barrage of bile coming out through my mouth knowing it would've hindered me even further. A whirlwind of emotions consisting mostly of disgust, fear, anxiety coursed through my mind. I felt my blood being violently pumped through my veins. The adrenaline rush made me feel like someone poured cold water on my head.
Grief and pain dulled my frenzy when I noticed Sophia impaled through her torso by a large log. I rushed to her, and she forced a pained smile as I grabbed at her face, falsely reassuring her that everything will be alright. I wanted to save her; I did not want her to die on me. Deep down inside, though, I knew that nothing could be done to save her as her white and green gown was covered in her blood was staining the wooden floor beneath us both, forming an ever-expanding, warm, sticky pool around us. She reached out and touched my face while trying to mutter something, but I couldn't hear her voice. I couldn't hear anything at that moment, not even the laughter of the angel of death standing just behind the Sophia's prone body.
I could feel the tears stream down my cheeks. In a moment's notice without hesitation, I made the decision. I will put her out of her misery; she deserved to die quickly. Tightening my grip on her head, I jerked her neck sideways hard, causing her broken vertebrae to release a soul clentching crack, signaling her passing. Her arm fell flat against her torso, and the once blue eyes turned almost grey.
Killing her made me go emotionally blank.
I knew I had to push through the heartbreak and made my way out of the inn towards the town's walls. When I saw the panicked townsfolk being pushed aside by the garrison men I started hearing the overwhelming noise that came from beyond the city. The Mongols were rallying themselves, possibly trying to intimidate the town's people into submission. Whistling, shouting and the beating of hooves on moist soil echoed from beyond the walls, triggering a burning sensation inside me, one of pure hatred. Fear came quickly, however, as nothing can be compared to the sound of a Trebuchet launching a flaming rock.
Thump  I was almost at the walls when I heard that cursed sound. The crackling of fire in the sky drowned by an ever increase cries of men around me made me look up. I saw a human shaped object flying side by side with the flaming boulders into the city.
After that I blacked out.
Without noticing, I found myself atop the walls nearing a watch tower as another Mongolian death projectile came flying my way. It all turned into a blur once again; everything went simply black and I couldn't hear anything for a split-second. A loud, banging sound jolted me back into my senses. I felt the fear eating away at me as I couldn't even feel my body anymore, but after a quick inspection I realized I wasn't hurt. I couldn't say this was the case for my friend; Girolamo hadn't been so lucky. It seemed like part of the projectile hit him square in the head, destroying his cranium.
He probably died on the spot as pieces of his shattered skull and bits of his brain matter lay splattered all over the floor next to his lifeless body. I did not even feel disgusted this time, as the fear and anger at the Mongols consumed my whole being. Something had snapped inside. Beside Girolamo's body, I found the corpse of an asian man. Enraged, I kicked the head of this monster's body, splattering one of his eyes and sending the corpse backward againds the wall. I cursed at the Mongols for the death of my friend. Only then I realized why he was sent into city strapped to a rock. His body was frail, like that of a dying tuberculotic, covered in black blisters and boils that scarred the entirety of his hide. This Mongol was but a tool of psychological warfare at the hands of the Tartar war machine. These monsters were throwing their decaying deceased as a means to beat us into submission. These were truly the angels of the fallen himself!
Wishing to do something, I loaded my bow, I was feeling the full force of a hundred pounds in this draw. The arrow flew through the sky, gracefully making its way to hit its mark.
I hit one of the Mongols. He simply shuddered upon impact, but it did not force him to lose his grip and fall from his horse as expected. The sight sent shock waves through my body. How could he still be alive. I pondered in awe as I decided to fire another arrow into the same Mongol. The second arrow hit it's mark once more but it did not topple the man. Perhaps the Mongols were truly immortal or supported by some otherworldly force I could clearly see that the Mongol soldier was enjoying himself at the look of disbelief he must've caught etched on my face. He was laughing. He was visibly laughing.
Preparing to fire a third arrow, I felt something heavy collide with my body. I felt a searing pain course through my torso before the feeling the sensation of my neck and back hitting the floor struck me.
So much pain coursed through me. I still can't believe I didn't die of the sheer amount of pain alone.
Everything went black for a nanosecond, and then it all came back, but dull. My sight gradually lost clarity and my hearing became hampered by a terrible buzzing noise. I felt myself breathing hastily in my dream as each breath evoked a feeling of agonizingly burning sensation in my throat. Looking down, I saw a hole gushing with blood and bits bone poking through my chest.
I felt my way around the wound, and it stung like hell, as if I had red-hot iron cutting straight through my flesh. I turned my gaze towards the rest of my body and that's when I noticed my left leg had been pinned under a rock. Tugging at it in a futile attempt to free my appendage, the sound of fabric being torn up was drowned by the crackling sound my lower leg let out, followed by a terrible pulsating pain running upwards from my knee. The pain was so bad that it woke me up from my terrible dream.
When I woke up, it was this morning and, I was covered in cold sweat with an awful pain radiating from an old scar on my chest, one which I sustained during a horse riding accident. I tried getting up from my bed but I couldn't move my left leg, I couldn't feel anything in that leg below the knee in fact. Obviously, I started panicking but after a few terrifying minutes of poor attempts at shaking the feeling back into that leg I managed to get out of bed. The loss of feeling in my leg made me forget about my aching chest.
Right now, I am waiting for a medical evaluation at a local ER, I've gotten some sensation back into that leg, but it's still largely numb and barely functioning. Whatever this nightmare was, it wasn't just some night terror. There was something powerful involved, perhaps the Tartars were originally beyond human. After all, they had constructed the second largest continuous empire on horseback and Genghis Khan is famously known for claiming to be a scourge of God. Maybe he was.
Maybe the Great Khan and his Tartars are the scourge of god. A god we have not yet come to know.