‘Remain here.' Genghis slapped Subutai on the back and pushed open the horsehide door. He entered, making sure not to step on the threshold. He walked west to east around the fire and sat on a pile of furs across from Temku.
‘I made a dream journey this last night.’ The old shaman gazed at Genghis through the flames, his eyes milk-white. ‘I spoke with the great Fire Horse above.’
‘If anyone can see into the Fire Horse’s heart it would be you, Temku.’
‘We are old friends the Fire Horse and me. Though last time we spoke his tail was not of blood, but of mare’s milk and desert sand.’
‘What say the Fire Horse?’ Genghis leaned forward.
‘That you’re to gather your tuman, at least five units of ten thousand warriors and expand the Mongol Empire west.’
‘A sign from the Eternal Blue. I knew it! The shaman Kokochu told truly all those years ago. The world is mine to rule.’
‘You were born grasping a blood clot in your little fist, Kahn. A sure sign you were destined to be a great leader. But remember, signs are often double-edged, Khan. Especially when sent from the Sky Spirits. They test us, you see. Judge if we are worthy of their attention.’
‘You speak ill of the Sky Spirits! With one of their messengers cantering across the Eternal Blue? You are either brave or a fool.’
‘Both.’ Temku shrugged. ‘Neither. I’ve been tested before. Many times. Lost every time.’ He pointed to his blind eyes. ‘But sometimes we must lose to gain what we need.’
‘I shall not fail the Sky Spirits. I will do whatever it takes. Whatever I must.’
‘If you think that, Khan,’ Temku said with a chuckle. ‘You have already lost.’
‘Mind your tongue, Shaman.’ Genghis Khan stood. ‘Remember what happened to Teb Tengri.’ He threw open the gher’s door and walked into the night.
Subutai stood with Muqali and a group of warriors, sharing a bowl of airag.
‘Favourable news, Khan?’ Subutai and Muqali hurried over. Subutai handed Genghis the bowl.
Genghis swigged a mouthful of the fermented mares’ milk, enjoying the acidic taste. ‘We push westward.’
‘Shaman Kokochu predicted the world was yours,’ Subutai said.
Genghis nodded. ‘I never doubted it. Summon the Ortoq traders. Learn all we can about the peoples of the west that we may plan the invasion. My world awaits.’
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