The Blacksmith

2024 Young Or Golden Writer
Manuscript Type
Logline or Premise
Mine is the story of the slave Temujin, (Iron man / Blacksmith). You know me as Genghis Khan. My dynasty conquered over 11 million contiguous square miles of land between the Pacific Ocean in the east, to the shores of the Persian Gulf in the west. The world still remembers my name.
First 10 Pages

My name is TEMUJIN.

I am telling you this tale because you know me as another.

More of that later.

My story will unfold before you, and it is important that you pay attention. I am writing this account to set the record straight. History remembers me as a tyrant, as a monster. I am neither.

The Onan River is where I was born. I remember it well. My mother, Hoelun Ujin, left her husband’s tent and walked down to the riverbank. With a stick between her teeth to bite when the birth pain seemed unbearable, she squatted and bore down with the powerful muscles of her womb.

I remember it all.

Feeling pleasantly relaxed. Lying cushioned by a warm bath of viscous fluid. Occasionally moving my arms and legs (not knowing what these appendages were named). Basking in this relaxed state, building my strength for some months now, living in a world of water. Being a water breather. Thinking the time had come for change.

As if on cue, the water, supporting me all this time, disappeared with a rush. What a thrill that was. Relaxed and quiet one moment and then having my whole environment completely changed just as I was thinking about it. I knew then that my destiny was greatness.

A powerful pressure started at my feet, working along my body, urging me to move downward. When one ripple finished, another, more powerful, took its place. There was no point resisting. I began sliding downwards. Fortunately, there was still enough of a coating on the sides of the chute to allow me to slide smoothly. At one point, I was moving too quickly for my liking, so I grabbed the side of the chute with one of my hands to slow my progress. A few minutes later, I burst into a bright light. My eyes screwed up with the pain of it. It was a cold and harsh world into which I was born.

My mother cut the cord that connected me to her and then swiftly washed me in the clear water of the Onan River.

That water was icy.

The shock of it forced my body to convulse, expelling a ball of phlegm from my throat, clearing the way for a lusty yell of outrage.

Strange new sensations.

Parts of my body that had appeared to have been lifeless suddenly became movable.

Lungs drawing in the cold steppe air.

The ecstasy of breathing.

Becoming an air breather.

The feeling of hunger.

My mother lifted me out of the water and wrapped me in warm fur. Then she pulled down the top of her shift and poked her nipple at my lips. Instinctively, I sucked on this delicious piece of flesh. To my amazement, a warm liquid squirted into my mouth and down my throat. The taste was incredible. I sucked and sucked until a heavy lassitude overcame me and I slept.

There was great rejoicing when I was born. My father, Yesugei Baatur, killed some of his sheep and bled one of his horses. The entire tribe feasted on roasted mutton and mare’s milk mixed with blood.

The tribe’s shaman, summoned for the occasion, said, “My name is Kokchu. I am the tribe’s shaman. It has always been so. It will always be so. This son, born to the clan Borjigid of the tribe Kiyat, comes into the world clenching a clot of blood in his fist. This is a sign from heaven. Tengri, who is all powerful, wants us to know that this new son will be courageous and victorious in life. His name shall be Temujin. Now drink, eat, and rejoice in the presence of this, our new son.”

Aptly named.



Only Tengri and Kokchu knew that one-day I would forge a nation.

A nation so large it would cover most of the Eastern world.

When I was fifteen years old, I led a group of young men on a raiding party. As we crossed the mountain, we saw an eagle flying above the treetops, soaring on up-draughts created by the collision of air against the mountainside. Delicate twitches of tiny feathers at the end of each wing maneuvered it round and round as it watched intently the actions of the people below.

Twilight’s first gleaming. That transient moment when daylight begins its task of easing the darkness westward. With the sky still black, the light gently slithered its way across the land, pushing the night before it. Slowly, night changed from indigo to an insipid gray. Dawn suddenly gathered momentum as the sun burst over the horizon.

There was a hint of mist in the air. The riders, ten of them, guided their animals down the wooded mountainside towards the cluster of birch bark huts nestled in the tiny valley below.

So quiet the riders could almost hear the faint whistle of the wind through the extended wings of the eagle as it circled above the trees, looking for prey. Only the swish of tree branches brushed aside by horse and rider, and the occasional snort of the horses blowing vapor clouds into the cool morning air, heralded the approach of danger to the small village ahead. Leather creaked as the riders looked for relief from the hard saddles. Muffled tack deadened the ring of metal hitting metal. Bindings on the horses’ feet prevented the click of iron shoes against any rocks. A peaceful scene.... the eagle, the riders, the soft grass underfoot, pine trees nodding in the early morning breeze and the flat silvery light of another day chasing the night away.

Fierce-looking riders. Weather-beaten faces burnished by the sun and wrinkled from exposure to the biting winds of the mountaintop. Long, unkempt hair, wispy beards, moth-eaten sheepskin coats, recurve bows slung carelessly over their backs, sword belts and quiver straps crisscrossing their chests. To keep the cold out, they had tied their baggy trousers at the waist and ankle with string. All the riders wore peculiar conical hats formed from horse leather, hardened in urine, and covered with fur. These men dressed warmly, for the autumn in the mountains was bitterly cold. They spoke in whispers, breath pluming in the frosty air.

The men had not eaten for several days. Hunger roiled in their bellies, gnawing away at their innards. They had survived their thirst by licking on snow collected on the mountaintops they had been crossing for the last few days. Now the men approached the village with stealth.

Temujin hoped for no dogs in the village. He hated dogs, even feared them. He had gone over his plan with the men only thirty minutes ago at the first hint of smoke-tainted air. Smoke meant fire. Fire meant man. Man meant food.

A simple plan. Still, Temujin fretted. Would his men remember the roles they had to play? Would they stick to the plan, or would they regress to fighting the way they had before?

As their leader, Temujin led by strength and cunning. He wanted to try the raid using new tactics that required his men to fight as a team, not as individuals haphazardly slashing their way through the foe.

The plan? He thought it a good one. Two men would limp into the village, walking their horses through the clearing. The rest of them would wait amongst the trees, forming a half-circle around the small cluster of huts. The two point-men would draw the attention of the key defenders away from the main force of raiders and keep them occupied while the others got into the ambush position.

If the villagers were hostile, the point-men would run back into the trees, drawing the unsuspecting defenders towards the waiting equestrians. If friendly? Then the decoys would occupy the villagers with conversation while the major force slipped around the village and crept up behind their unsuspecting hosts.

Temujin knew each man hoped for a good fight.

They had been riding a long time, and boredom had settled upon them. A spirited fight might sharpen their hunger, and these miserable villagers would have some stout women tucked away in their huts.

Harholden and Whitehar dismounted, then limped into the glade, heads hanging, an air of terrible suffering hovering over them. One horse stepped on a dry branch, snapping it with a loud cracking noise, but the stocky plains animal, rarely seen in these parts, did not rear; well trained in the games of war men played, and kept on plodding to support the illusion. The noise was enough to bring a villager stumbling out of his hut to investigate. He took one look at the two warriors and scampered across the clearing towards the warning bell.

As the man scrabbled for the long wooden clapper, the one with the leather-wrapped stone bound onto the end with thongs; Harholden reached inside his sheepskin coat, drawing the throwing ax he kept there. Harholden’s accuracy with the ax was legendary. He did not seem to aim at all. He pulled it out and lazily tossed it towards the terrified villager, grinning as he did so. It was as if he could see the exact passage the ax would take through the air on its dreadful flight. It appeared to be guided it by some mystical power.

The ax flew straight, seemingly in slow motion, as it covered the distance between hand and back. It landed with a soft “thunk,” embedded between the villager’s shoulder blades. Harholden heard the low grunt the villager made as his knees buckled out from under him. As the man slid to the ground, fingers curling, his outstretched hand brushed the handle of the clapper he so wanted to reach. Only nerves. His brain had not realized his body was already dead. This pleased Harholden. His aim still true. The fire raged through his blood. The killing began.

As the lone villager lay felled in the mud under the village bell, Harholden and Whitehar vaulted onto their horses. They galloped straight towards the huts, Harholden swinging low from his saddle to snatch his throwing ax from the back of the still twitching villager. They crashed through the walls of the first hut, stomping over the young boy and the woman who slept there.

The rest of the warriors charged from their hiding places into the clearing, yelling the traditional high-pitched battle cry. This eerie yodeling noise and the noise of the galloping horses’ hooves brought the rest of the villagers staggering from their huts. Most of them had the wits to scoop up weapons, axes, swords, and long handled scythes. They fought bravely but stood no chance against men mounted on such beasts.

There were individual scenes of bravery. Two villagers fought to pull a warrior from his horse. One stabbed the horse to halt the fearsome charge, the other pulled the rider from the saddle. Sumput, the downed warrior, lashed out with his sword as he fell and decapitated one villager. The other, swinging his weapon in an uncoordinated arc, lopped off Sumput’s left hand at the wrist before taking a fatal sword thrust through the heart.

Quickly, all the village men were struck down. Temujin’s men had perfected the technique of slashing at the back of the knees of a dismounted man. This had the effect of felling the enemy at once, to be killed by a cut to the head by either ax or sword.

After rounding up the scattering women and children, the raiders tied them all together with leather ropes. Temujin’s men set about killing all the surviving village men. Temujin intervened and stopped the killing of a slightly addled youth. The villager had “eyes of fire” and Temujin commanded this young man to be roped together with the women and children.


After the killing, the raiding party gathered around the village meeting-square to assess their wounds. Sumput was the worst of the wounded. The rest had nicks and bruises. The warriors poked at Sumput and made fun of him for being bested by mere villagers. Temujin was furious at the loss of a horse

At a nod from Temujin, the group’s shaman, Kokchu, began the preparations for dealing with Sumput. First, he made a fire and stoked it until it burned furiously. Next, he poked through his private hoard of special herbs and salves until he found the right items to treat the wound.

When ready, and the fire hot enough, he had Sumput sit on a log with four warriors to hold him still. Next, the shaman performed his magical dance. Round and round he danced, skipping in and out of the fire’s smoky wreaths, muttering unintelligible gibberish to the gods of healing. He himself did not believe in the nonsense of gods, but other men did, and expected him to call on some supreme intervention to make sure the healing took hold. They wanted more of a ritual than the actual placing of medicines and bandages on wounds.

When sure the warriors were suitably impressed with his rapport with the gods, Kokchu moved towards Sumput. Grasping Sumput’s left arm, he tucked it under his own right shoulder and trimmed the ragged stump with his specially sharpened healing knife. Kokchu favored his left hand, another sign of his affinity with the gods. Sumput bore this pain with a stolid indifference. He knew the greater pain had yet to come.

When finished with the trimming, Kokchu told the four warriors holding Sumput to bring him to the fire. The shaman plunged Sumput’s left arm into the heart of the fire, thus cauterizing the stump. Sumput convulsed out of control when the pain started but was no match for his wardens. He screamed, thin and reedy, like the shriek of a young virgin raped by soldiers victorious in battle.

A plume of steam hissed into the air as the fire vaporized the blood seeping from the stump. The sickly sweet smell of roasting human flesh permeated the village. Sumput fainted from pain. Kokchu quickly applied some of his special salve to the stump and sprinkled a selection of herbs and leaves on it. Cutting the thong that Sumput had tied around his arm to stop himself bleeding to death, Kokchu replaced it with a leather bag bound onto the stump. He had to make fine adjustments to ensure that the end of the bag did not rub on the roasted flesh. Sumput’s arm, tied across his belly, immobilized it, preventing him from banging the stump and re-opening the wound.

Temujin stood watching this with impatient anger.

“Piss on a stick.” he cursed to his friend Harholden.

Harholden muttered, “Now we’ll have to stay here a day or two until Onehand is well enough to walk.”

Temujin smirked and said, “Onehand. Hah. A fitting name for a careless soldier.”

He bellowed to the rest of his men, “Sumput is no more. From now on, he will be known ‘Onehand.’ All of you will remember how he let two little village men kill his horse and cut off his hand. This is so because I say it to be so.” He also berated Harholden for not following the plan. He was supposed to run back to the waiting raiders, not throw an ax at a villager. Harholden protested. The defender was about to raise the alarm.

Temujin wanted his orders obeyed as issued.

With that, he walked off with Harholden to inspect the women and children huddled together by the village shrine.

Temujin and Harholden strolled through the terrified captives, poking and pinching, assessing their strength and amusement value.

‘Is there any food in this flea-bitten village?’ Temujin growled at an old crone.

The terrified woman could only stutter and make pitiful gurgling noises in her throat.

Harholden cut her free from the others and kicked her towards the rest of the men. Knowing what was about to happen, they all walked towards the woman, laughing, and joshing each other like little kids about to see a forbidden delight.

After they formed a circle around the old woman, the men started pushing her from one side of the circle to the other. Whenever she fell, they kicked her until she stood up, then resumed their pushing.

One warrior grabbed at her tunic, tearing the rotted garment off her body. The men all guffawed at the pathetic sight of the naked old woman standing in the middle of their circle. Her body shook with fear, and urine ran down her legs as she tried to cover herself with her hands. Whitehar, the most sadistic of the men, pulled out his penis and urinated on the woman. This produced a roar of laughter from his peers, and one by one, they all followed suit.

Temujin strutted up to the elderly woman. He unsheathed his sword and said, ‘When I ask a question, it is my wish that you answer me.’

He killed her with one quick thrust of his sword and dragged her body over to the other women.

“Temujin asked a question. She refused to answer. See what happens when I am disobeyed? Know now, Temujin has spoken and all men tremble at my anger.”

With that declaration, he sheathed his sword, folded his arms, looking almighty and wonderful in his glory.

Harholden pulled another woman from the group and asked her if there was food in the village.

‘Yes, Sir, there is a little food.’

‘Take two of these peasants and prepare a feast fit for my magnificent men.’ demanded Harholden.

Turning to Temujin, Harholden asked, what about the addled boy? Temujin told him to leave him tied with the women and children, and that he would decide what to do with him later.


Falguni Jain Thu, 18/07/2024 - 16:12

Quite an interesting topic. Even in India, we have studied about Genghis Khan in our History classes. I am excited to see a different perspective to his story.