The Khanate of Akhatai or Akhatai, was a nation in East Astria. It was the first stable realm founded by the Orcs in 560 H.E, before the arrival of the northern Goblin Kingdoms, and beyond that, the Humans of Halengard.
As the Orcs practiced constant open warfare against one another before the establishment of the Khanate, it was a particular challenge of each Khan to reign in those under him, which eventually became something of an established ritual between each ruler and his people.
The Bektaigar dynasty was known to rule the Khanate since its establishment, though the rulers were not selected by any hereditary system. Each relative would have the chance to claim the Khan's seat. This practice was said to have influenced the Orcish attitude on war as a whole, and continued over the entire period of the Khanate's existence.
In 1232 C.E, three sons of the Khan set out as part of the Great Ride to West Astria, where they carved out the Bektaigar Khanate of Olkhun, establishing Orc territories further west than they had ever gone before.
The Chieftain of Khukhet
Sometime around the Era of Discord, the Orcs of the region were mostly nomadic. It was not until the formation of stronger tribal hierarchies that the concepts of geography and territorial claims became solidified in Orcish society. The largest tribe was the Khukhet, whose leader was Yesuntei Khukhet. He named the lands after his own dynasty so that his dynasty could lay claim to it even after his death. This practice was not exclusive to the Khukhet region, and soon became commonplace across Akhatai.
Through the years, the Khukhet warred with their neighbours, the Taraiga, for control of the south-western wetlands that offered potential growth for the tribe that could take them. The period of warfare that followed was not recorded, but allowed for the growth and promotion of nomadic societies given the shifting nature of war. During this period, the Orcs learnt the ways of the bow and horse, and used them as extensions of their hands and feet.
Sons of Taraiga
Much like their neighbours, the Khukhet, the Taraiga promoted a wealth of cultural activites that would come to be commonplace in the successor lands of the Orcs. Whilst the warring nature of the two tribes promoted far more martial advancements than it did cultural, there were still many tribes under the Taraiga who practiced shamanism. These shamans were often central to the worship of each tribe, and brought together tribes in times of extreme tension. It was said that these were the first makings of friendship between the tribes, which led to widespread farming and trading across the region.
Inventions such as yurts, herding and airag were made during this time, allowing the Orcs to forage and travel further, discovering new lands. The Orcs avoided the north, where the Steppe gave way to fertile land, as it was unknown to them and cold. Before that, they had met with the lesser kin, the Goblins.
As soon as they determined the lesser race was of no threat to them, the Taraiga left them alone. On the other hand, the Khukhet practiced the wholesale slaughter of non-Orcs, even Goblins. The two tribes would continue fighting for hundreds of years.
Khan of Akhatai
In 560 H.E, the shamans of Khukhet and Taraiga met for the first time at Khurgai (city) Guukhlant. They claimed that the War God Kherekhis had called for the people of Akhatai to cease their hostilities, and called not only the leaders of Khukhet and Taraiga to the negotiation table, but also the Kuuchigids, who rode day and night given their shamanistic nature, as well as the Baatgaljuut from the north, who refused to come.
That year, differences between the tribes were settled and an unspoken code of Orcish law was set in place. The Orcs of Akhatai would finally stop fighting, and would look elsewhere to find their wars. They would practice in the meantime, and foster good relations with each other until the time that Kherekhis called upon them. To enact these changes and enforce them, the tribes elected a central figure, the Khan.
Instead of choosing one from either dynasty, the shamans elected to marry the daughter Togulun Taraiga with Gansukh from the Khukhet tribe, who became the first of the new Bektaigar dynasty. With the blessings of all tribes, Gansukh became the first Khan of Bektaigar Akhatai.
The Great Ride
In the period between the formation of the Khanate and the Great Ride, there passed almost seven centuries, and nine Khans.
In 1232 C.E, the Khan called for the Great Ride, a period of Orcish aggression that would see the capture of the lands of Olkhun in the west, and would see Tudan ride northwards towards Halengard, where he would attack and destroy large swathes of land, bringing back loot.
The period after the Great Ride was one of great wealth and prosperity, introducing Leobische agricultural techniques to the steppe tribes and allowing for the further development of Orc society. At this time, the Dschingur dynasty came under possession of the lands of Baatgaljuut, far north from the Khanate. It was there they founded the Khurgai Beyenchur, which became a key city for the Orcish people in the centuries to come, but would later fall under the control of the Kingdom of Nauenstadt.
The twelfth Khan was elected in 1381 C.E, and was named Tudan Bektaigar, second son of Khan Boroldai the Wise. He married a tribal woman of no importance called Khorijin and had five sons by her named Altan, Yasavur, Togh, Tumun and Kublai. He would also, most importantly, sire a final son by a Human woman by the name of Adjena, who was the mother of Ajirai Bektaigar.
In this period of relative peace following the Heartstone Crisis, which largely swept past the people of Akhatai, the sons of Tudan matured into men. Altan, the eldest, was the favourite of the Khan, and enjoyed great wealths and pleasures. He made small efforts here and there to prove himself, and was mostly successful. Yasavur and Togh learnt the ways of war from the Khan's brothers, and were said to be masters in the saddle. This was proven years later, when they had the opportunity to participate in a Nerge after their coming of age ceremonies. Tumun, one of the youngest brothers, became a learned shaman.
Ajirai was disliked by not only his brothers, but the rest of his father's tribe as well. Aside from Kublai, he had no friends amongst his people, and was ostracised for the most part. He kept busy visiting and helping his Human mother Adjena, who later died of a steppe sickness, leaving Ajirai to fend for himself. It was at this time that he and his brother Kublai became friends.
Ajirai's coming of age ceremony was not as grand as his brothers, and he was never particularly good at horsemanship or archery, and therefore performed poorly at his own Nerge. Instead, he elected at his ceremony to depart the tribe for thirty days and nights, vowing not to come back until he had hunted a creature worthy of praise, or until Kherekhis saw it fit to grant him leave to return. Many believed he would not return. He promised Kublai that he would return even earlier with a great kill, for he had already been told of his success by the shamans.
The Sons of Tudan
Ajirai would have not have survived his hunt that year in 1399 B.E if it was not for his brother Kublai. On the tenth day of his hunt, he caught a serious wound fighting with an enormous steppe Warg and fell into a fever. Although he slew the beast, he collapsed on his way back home, and was found on the banks of the river Erkhon near the northern lands of the Dschingur dynasty by local tribesmen. Instead of reporting his presence to their rulers, they recognised the young man and sent messengers to the Khanate in the south.
Days later, the riders came to the outer gates of Khurgai Guukhlant, but were stopped by the guards, who were loyal to the first son of the Khan, Altan. The men were imprisoned and silenced, and assassins dressed in their very same clothes rode back to deal with the wounded Ajirai. Altan courted the affections of his other brothers Yasavur and Togh, who understood that celebrating the successes of a Half-orc would be detrimental to the Khanate. They pressured their brother Tumun into announcing Ajirai's passing.
Their father, Khan Tudan, was not informed of the secretive power struggles being played. The next day he heard of his son's death at the hands of a ferocious Warg. Visibly distraught, he reportedly spent the next week in his own quarters, refusing to take court. It was at this time that Altan took up the reins of command, and dared to step into his father's seat. What followed was a series of unprecedented and cold murders across the Bektaigar family. Altan and his brothers systematically murdered both their grieving father and his brothers who had raised them, seizing the Khan's seat for themselves. Upon his protests, they murdered their brother Tumun as well as he wandered the groves of Gorgelji with two other shamans not far from the city.
In a day, Altan had seized the Bektaigar dynasty from his seasoned father and his brothers. None dared to question his rule, for the method in which he had ascended to the Khan's seat was so brutal that he garnered a great deal of respect amongst some of the seasoned veterans of the court.
Kublai and Ajirai
The assassins sent by Altan would never reach their destination, for they did not see the two black shafted arrows screaming at them before it was too late. Outside the yurt, near Khurgai Beyenchur, where his wounded brother was being housed, Kublai came out of hiding. He had foreseen the events of the capital coming before they had even happened, for he knew that his brothers were wily, and had known their intentions clearly before Ajirai even left for his hunt.
That night, he finally came to his brother. He was there informed by the local tribesmen that the wound had progressed and affected Ajirai mentally, and that he would not stir from his coma. Despite this, Kublai thanked the men readily and promised them great gifts in the future. Alone, it was said in the tales of the seers that he found the largest hill in those lands and ascended it, so deep he was in thought. That place later became known as Chur Kublai Baattai, and became a holy place, for it was said that he met with a lone hooded being there, who went by the name of Kherekhis, who was the God of War. There he was given a white steed named Chiimeg, dusted by the richest lands of Akhatai and blessed by Kherekhis.
When Kublai came back down from the mountain, he knew what he had to do. He took the comatose body of his brother Ajirai, and rode southwards, to the lands that had once made up the holdings of Khukhet and Taraiga. There he recruited and preached his tales, all the whilst tending to Ajirai, who would not stir from his state of repose.
In 1400 B.E, he had gathered enough warriors to challenge his brothers. Leaving Ajirai in the care of a friend in the southern tribes, he rode north to Guukhlant and sieged its vast wooden walls and yurts. He personally faced each of his brothers during the battle. Although they made efforts to reconcile with him, he made sure to personally slay each one of them. At one point during the battle, he rode on Chiimeg through to the highest point of the city, the Khan's seat, and finally fought against his brother Altan in hand-to-hand combat. Although Guukhlant was mostly burnt to the ground, he made sure to include his brothers in the figures that came in the morning. Overnight, he had surprised and deposed his brothers, becoming the new, fourteenth Khan of the Bektaigar.
With the local tribes devastated by war, Kublai understood that he needed to bring popular support and faith back to his dynasty. He called for the southern tribes to unite with the Bektaigar. Although this request was refused, he gracefully accepted their independence and retrieved his brother Ajirai. It was during this time that his brother was able regain the clarity of his mind, although he became unable to move, paralysed from the waist down.
With the advice of his brother, he called for the northern tribes of Dschingur to bend to the Khanate. This request too, was refused. However, unlike the southern tribes, Kublai saw no friends in the northerners, and prepared his armies for war. The war that followed demonstrated Ajirai's steadfast support of his brother and tactical aptitude, as well as the Khan's willingness to follow his brother's plans. Ultimately, the Dschingur bent the knee to their Khan and were called the next year in 1401 B.E to raid Halengard and the Goblins.
Although the Khanate was able to loot many parts of southern Halengard, they did not anticipate their Dschingur allies turning back early, raiding Human border villages for petty loot before heading home. Kublai vowed to return the disservice he had been dealt, and ended the campaign early despite great success, heading back to Akhatai so as not to risk a defeat by the slowly massing Halesche. On his way back, he stopped at Khurgai Beyenchur to seize the two remaining sons of the Dschingur dynasty, ensuring their loyalty for the years to come and stopping them from ruining any further plans.
Little did he know that the Dschingur had already caused irreparable damage. Near Vykopal, the first son of Warchief Udutai Dschingur had laid waste to Vykopal, dying in the process to a single unnamed survivor, a young girl he had tried to seize. These reports never made it back to the Khan, and all was assumed well.
In 1417, Queen Albina Helferich of Halengard began preparations for a retaliatory attack on Akhatai. Although popular support from within Halengard was high, she sent ambassadors to the nearby Kingdoms of Wiecza, Eskaya and Artava. Citing the common bonds of faith between the four countries, she received formal support from all three, with extra troops and supplies being massed in Lanskroun. Within the next three years, she rode from the throne of Moldauthein with a vast army, beginning the the formal period of war known thereafter as the First Halesche Crusade.