The sun was bright, and was not a welcoming sight. It was hot, very hot. Exceedingly hot, so hot that it would peel the skin off a normal man's bones.
However, the Parni Tribe was raised within such conditions. Our tribe had flourished under this climate, and exceedingly hot temperature were normal to the members of our glorious tribe. The ruler of this glorious tribe who led us to victory time and time again was none other than my father, Farzad. He was a cunning and honorable man, respected by many if not all within our tribe. My father was the one who unified all of the sects which would make up the Parni Tribe, and created a force so powerful that hardly any could oppose such a force near their borders.
The Parni Tribe however, was not the only tribe within the Karakum Desert. There were three tribes, all powerful in their own way. The Xanthii, the Pissuri, and finally the Parni. Currently, it was well known that the Parni Tribe was the most powerful of the three tribes which made up the Dahae Confederacy. However, Sco Karsak, our chieftain who ruled the Dahae Confederacy and united all three of our tribes together, ruled still after eighteen years. He came from the Xanthii, whilst Adda Hurasu ruled the Pissuri. The Dahae Confederacy stood strong because of our unity, but my father was an ambitious and cunning man, and heard from the Dahae Confederacy's intelligence network that the city of Nisa was stripped of it's garrison, and was replaced by measly farmers. My father aimed to take advantage of that, and establish his own threshold which could lead to a new nation, ready to consolidate it's power.
We had only reached the border of the Satrapy of Parthia only a day ago, and had just stumbled upon the trading settlement of Nisa. Nisa was one of a kind, and was a great necessity for trade, and provided great profit. Such a city possessing little defense was worrisome, and my father went to find out if the rumors were true of it's stripped garrison. If so, it'd be assumed that he'd take advantage of such a moment and take the city. Our tribe had a numerous amount of warriors, all of whom were mostly trained on horseback near the age of six, and taught how to shoot a bow at the age of seven. Such a tradition led to a great tribe, worthy of conquering it's foes.
I along with my father went on a scouting expedition with ninety Horse Archers, only a small amount of the tribe's full strength. All of the scouting expedition was my father's sect. The Parni Tribe numbers around a thousand warriors, ready to wage war when necessary.
But so the city glimmered along our eyesight, daring us to grab it. The fields surrounding said settlement were fertile and green, the trees numerous, and the citizens filled with enthusiasm at such an outstanding sight. And we were going to take it all.
As we rode towards Nisa, my father looked sideways towards me, looking at me up and down, giving his judging face. Whenever he did that, I felt as if someone were staring into my soul and stealing every single dark secret I have set inside. Sure enough, a fifteen year old had little to hide, but truth being, I was a reckless person who did always did something berfore thinking.
"You're eager. Too eager, perhaps." Farzad grinned, a glint in his eye showing simple amusement.
"Eager to prove myself to you, father." I'd ride ahead with a straight face, betraying no emotion of excitement and my cheerfulness to witness my first real battle.
"There's no need to do that yet. You're far too young still. Don't create a false fantasy for yourself, live your life properly." He'd then ride ahead and raise his sword high in the air.
"We make camp here. Set yourselves up. Shahnaz, Bahman, Pirouz, set up the barricades surrounding the camp. Squires are to gather resources and food. Others, set up the campsite." He'd get off his horse and gesture towards me and Navid, my trusted companion who saved my life many times over. "You two, you're with me."
He would stomp towards the city of Nisa, reaching the border of our campsite. He'd walk side to side until we arrived. Farzad had impeccable features, being such an attractive individual. His tall imposing figure, his nicely trimmed beard, and long elegant hair which was superior compared to most men. I myself, had gotten little from my father to my disappointment, possessing a clean-shaven face with little capability to grow such a beard to my father's extent, or any extent at all. My long hair had proven to be a distraction half the time, but I chose to keep it due to the fact that it was some type of trend in the Eastern Steppes. Scythians had exceptional long hair, while mine was quite inferior to such. Members of the Parni Tribe wore elegant robes, with golden trimmings along the edges, and fashioned a headband just above their eyes. Many of us wore what one may call a Faravahar, which represented our purpose in life, and our progression to being united with Ahura Mazda, the one supreme being. Everyone within our scouting party had one, aside from a minor few individuals who believed in Mithra.
As we arrived, he looked back at us and smiled. "You've both grown so much. But now is not the time to discuss such irrelevant matters, we're here to speak regarding a possible attack on Nisa, and the conquest of such a large settlement." He'd gesture towards his squire to come forward. He immediately ran over and bowed.
"No need for such formalities," Farzad laughed. "I wish for you to go into the settlement and tell me how many soldiers there are, and what their garrison is composed of. Use my steed."
The squire bowed, and ran towards my father's horse, and saddled himself. He then rode towards the settlement with haste.
"Now, we wait," Farzad sighed with exasperation, tired.
I stared at him, looking at how old he had gotten. Wrinkles had formed underneath his eyes, with lines defining his age near his mouth, and even more wrinkles on his forehead. He looked at me and I quickly looked away, pretending I was admiring the city. He did not question me, and it was likely he knew what I was thinking. He always does.
The squire returns within an hour, and gives my father a lengthy report.
"Two entrypoints into the settlement, unless you'd like to flank through the houses which would almost certainly attract attention by the civilians. Wooden stakes surround the settlement, as you can see, and two entrypoints are there if you wish to enter with horses. No gates or walls," the squire looked tense.
"What about the garrison? That's what I care about most," said Farzad.
We all looked at the squire as he was tensing up, and then as he was about to speak, suddenly an arrow zoomed through the air and went straight into his chest. Navid and I quickly looked towards the area where the arrow had come from, and saw several horse archers on their way. The guards protecting the campsite had perished.
"Ambush, find your shields and swords!" He'd unsheathe his sword as did we, and quickly went to find nearby shields.
By this time, our troops had all mostly gotten their equipment and gotten together in a shield wall formation. We joined them, and my father raised his hand, showing he was to command the oncoming battle. There was around fourty Horse Archers on the opposing side, likely having followed the squire.
"March forward slowly, make sure to guard your comrades."
We marched slowly, forwards. The Horse Archers continuously shot arrows at us, failing to get through our shield wall. We possessed reinforced rectangular wicker shields, which were capable of blocking arrows and spears, but failed to block any heavy weapons such as axes. We went forward, and Farzad quickly sent some men to our sides incase they attempted to go around us. Sure enough, they did.
They quickly surrounded us, continuously shooting arrows. I was beside my father, as was his other squire, guarding his flank. And then time went by slowly, as I heard a piercing scream. This piercing scream was an effect of an event which would change my life. That piercing scream was from my father. I looked at my father in horror, as I saw two arrows pierced into his chest, and when he fell on one knee, I knew it was my fault. My shield protected myself more than him, which led to an opening where he could be shot. His death was completely my fault; I had killed my own father unintentionally. We made sure to guard him when he was on one knee, nearly exposing our other comrades. We pulled him in, and he put his hands on our shields and moved them aside.
He went back on his feet, and yelled, "BREAK! FIGHT TO THE LAST MAN!" In response, we all charged out and yelled ferociously like barbarians, and charged at the Horse Archers. I and Navid held together our wicker shields, and charged forward, blocking any incoming arrows. I jumped up and brought my sword forward, slicing the neck of a Horse Archer. The rest of the Horse Archers fled after a few minutes, possessing only a few men left. We had suffered several casualties, but still won the day. We raised our swords and yelled in victory, having won against an ambush.
But the day had resulted in the loss of my father, our chieftain. He was on the floor, grabbing one of the arrows in his chest and attempting to pull it out with no avail. I went to his side, tears in my eyes, trying to find a way to save him. But he was lost, and I knew it. There were no last words, just silence.
Navid sniffled a sob, and then went to me and put a hand on my shoulder.
"My condolences, Arsaces," Navid said. "We'll avenge him one day."
I nodded my head, wiping the tears from my eyes. Navid then walked around, walking slowly and projecting his voice across the entire encampment, "We made him proud today. Our leader fell in battle, but that does not mean our tribe is at an end. There will be a ceremony regarding his death back at the Karakum, and a new leader shall be chosen."
He gestured towards me, "Arsaces, the son of our chieftain, is a man you all know. Honorable, cunning, and proud. He has proven himself, and he will carry on his father's legacy. He is the only one fit who should be leading us. You all know it. He is my chieftain, what say you all?"
He bent a knee towards me, and silence followed. No-one spoke a word. Pirouz then kneeled towards me silently, and others started doing so slowly. Finally, everyone else kneeled. No one had denied me. I walked around, staring at them all. All these men were to follow me, and they were my responsibility. Their lives were all my responsibility. And yet I did not know if I was ready to possess such a responsibility. Everyone got up and awaited orders, standing still, looking deep into me, judging their new ruler.
Pirouz stepped forward and put his hand on my shoulder. "Arsaces, as much as we all wish to avenge your father, we have suffered major losses and should retreat back to the Karakum. If their garrison has Horse Archers, who knows how many more men they have? This city is not worth it, and the Parni Tribe is divided. Head back to the Karakum for the ceremony, I beg of you."
I looked at him, and then went to the middle of the campsite. "We attack Nisa, and avenge our chieftain's death. I promise you all, the ceremony will be held at Nisa, not that loathsome desert. Prepare your horses, we attack when daylight simmers away."