The Mandate

Asaray could never forget the summer day when the Russians came to rip him from the heart of his people, force him to forsake his destiny and take him so far away from everything he loved. It was to be the turning point, the most crucial day of his existence, yet he had been given no inkling of its approach.

The day augured well and he was in high spirits. As a young Prince of the Torghut Mongols he had every reason for his cheerful mood; he was thoroughly enjoying his carefree life and he was utterly unprepared for the event which would stand every expectation on its head.

How could he have foreseen it? It was the Year of the Horse (1764) and his nomadic people, who had originally migrated from the border of China in Central Asia, had already lived in the Volga region for over one hundred and fifty years in almost complete freedom. True, the adjacent Russian ogre had been casting ever darker shadows in their direction but his staunchly proud people still used the Russians to calm and subdue their fractious and unruly children:

"The Oross will get you!"

It rarely failed.

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