It is quiet moonlit night. Thousands of distant fires are flashing from cloudless light sky. The constellations are clearly visible. Observant eye immediately guesses that the August has come. Now it is the time to migrate from the distant pastures closer to autumn encampment.
Two days ago in the Kenozek tract five auls have pitched yurt. it will be about twenty yurts by the end of their wanderings. Dzhaylyau are too good at Kenozeke. The valley is spacious and it greens with succulent herbs until late fall. Meandering river is always full of fresh water. And how you can breathe there! The air is clean and cool. Even in the hottest day the mountain breeze blows, it arrives here from the high glaciers. The grass does not wither on the hills Kenozek. So it seems that they will always be fresh, young.
The moonlit night is quiet and motionless. Kenozek is dreamlike, wearing a light and transparent mist. It seems like dance of white geese is frozen At the river, it is Bai’s yurts. They came out of the darkness, having met with moonlight ray. And unsightly yurts of poor people hide, sadly patch up ragged felt with a black graft night. The fire went off in the fireplaces. The tunduks are closed. The sheep died down in the pens. Hard workers are asleep and measuring guards’ roll call is cradling Kenozek, calling to rest and to relax. Even the mist is swaying over the valley so gently, as if it conceived to lie down to sleep here.
The night has pacified everybody! Only Bai’s yurts are restless. Usually life subsides later here, and today the reddish glow are endless shaking over open tunduk and the fireplaces doesn’t go off in white yurts. Saddled horses are waiting for the masters at the hitching post. There are even a prize-winning horses. You could recognize them immediately, they are lean with a tide up tails.
From all herds Bais have selected argamaks and brought to their yurts. The horses are under the saddle from the noon. Even now they are huff and puff. If there is some noise, they are warring, neighing, warily leading ears and beating against the ground with hooves.
What has alarmed the white yurts in this quiet night? Why the saddled horses in all auls are at the ready near tether posts? Barymta! They are afraid of barymta.
Every year Kazakhs from Tersakkana and Karaganda meet close to Kenozek and every year the old enmity renews. In both parishes populous, rich in cattle and militant generations are living. From olden times the civil strife is divides them. And leaders still try and inflate hostility. The whole summer auls are watching for the nomadic camps of the enemy, annoying each other at a convenient opportunity. And if the road will meet, they cannot do without barymta, because hunters are always ready to rob. And then litigation about widows starts, to whom of husband's relatives they should go and about the Kun - redemption for murder. And it lasts from year to year.
What was here the last summer! Almost a real war happens here. It could be no question about the reconciliation. The leaders of the families have hardly shelled out for lawyers. They swamped the governor with complaints. But all this did not bring success either of the sides. The governor did not want to interfere in their disputes.
And now they settle a long-standing disputes by themselves. Accumulated hatred sought an outlet. Since the beginning of this summer, both families have been preparing for the ultimate showdown. Until the time they cautious watched each other, they were limited to a small skirmishes. And when the encampment began in the fall they have not left the saddles. Every day brought news of a new raid. Barymta became more fierce. They only talked: “The best horses are taken away.”, “The whole herd was stolen!”, “Barymta, barymta!”, “What else will happen?” old people wondered. “We cannot pass a big trouble.”
At this quiet night Kenozek became the center of a struggle between two families. And all of that was because Dosbol recently came here with his aul, who was the most evil enemy of karagandians. There is no richer aul at Tersakkane than Dosbol’s aul. And no one dares to oppose against the commandment of this Bai. Disputes, lawsuits, barymta, everything goes out of his hands.
Lately, two weeks ago, he decided to teach a lesson the enemy, he went to the main aul of Aydar with barymta. He has hijacked a large herd. Aydar has lost thirty horses. the envoys of the victim came here last week, but Dosbol did not listen to them. They left with nothing. Since then, Kenozek is anxious. People know that Aydar will not forgive wrongs. Tersakkanians beware of revenge. Dosbol’s aul is on guard more than any other.
Dosbol is rich man. He got a lot of loyal and obedient servants. They are too tight on the poor-kedeys, they tightly hold the hands. And so it happened that Dosbol needed only to call, and young kedey’s sons rush to horses and do not spare the life, protecting the good Bai. Dosbol have a glorious fighters!
All his life ringleader of Tersakkan spent in robbery and fights. He learned to win by staying safe and sound. The greymane wolf is tricky. There was no case that his enemy would overtake him by surprise. And now he forced his and neighbors warriors to sit in the saddle. Day and night his people scours the steppes, it is soil in the hands of each warrior - a long pole with a loop. They sniff the enemy’s track. And it is trouble to karagandanians, if he dares to embark on such a time in the steppe alone. If someone hits a flying column then he cannot pass the soil’s loop, they pull off a poor man from his horse and he lam home barely alive.
But Dosbol is careful. He put his abundant herds under reliable protection. Raiders returns to Aydar with nothing. It is not enough there to use ten to twelve riders. It happens that fellows left in the hands of the herdsmen.
Dosbol’s army is ready. And not just soils are in the hands of dzhigits, there are also shokpars - clubs with iron spikes. And the old wolf secretly slipped a rifle to someone.
Dosbol relies on courage of his fighters. But among the bravest of the bravest is Kalbagay, it is a high hope on him. Kalbagay is not young. He is thirty years old and he has already raised a black beard. The chest and shoulders are powerful! And he has a look, like a hawk in the desert. He has no equal either in courage or in the stamina or the ability to fight. No wonder that karagandanians called him "the devil"!
And how much he attached to the master! No force will force him to quit the Bai’s herds. Sometimes a storm rise that you cannot see the ears of your horse, but Kalbagay is still with the herd. He was one of those about whom people say: “He will underlie ice and cover with snow.” Batyr is hardy. His childhood was not pampered. He was growing in a poor family. Now he is the only son of an old woman-mother. And she almost does not see him. Kedey’s son never sleeps because he protects Bai’s herds. Neither the wolf nor a thief, nor barymtach could line pockets under him.
And there is no equal to him in his ability to handle with a horse on the Tersakkan. This skill is maybe in the blood of Kalbagay. When he rushes across the steppe on a powerful light-mane steed for the obstinate beast, he looks like a hero, like an eagle! The horses seem to feel it, because they stops shivering. Anyone most ferocious four-year-olds, have not tried yet the reins, falls to the ground with the neighing, overwhelmed by a loop or caught by the ears with steel fingers. Kalbagay is an expert to break in horses. No matter how wayward savage stallion tries, what a puzzling jumps it invents, it will just bedevil itself. It snores, all in a lather, bloodshoteyes, and the rider seems to be rooted to its back. The savage resigns itself and gives itself to a firm hand. This is who Kalbagay, the poor man’s son, is!
That same batyr Kalbagay guards Dosbol’s herds this night. Today one of the scouts noticed in the steppe large enemy force. The riders kept the path to Kenozek. The scout rode up but evening has already came. It was not right time to scour out for enemy in the darkness across the steppe. And Dosbol decided: “We will defend in the aul.”
They were waiting the attack at the dawn. Herds were driven closer to the auls and people gathered at the centers, refreshing oneself with meat and talking.
The aksakals predicted: “If will be a big fight. Aydar is very angry, he will not give any mercy.” Dosbol felt it too. Kalbagay understood it too. Finally they understood that Aydir decided got the upper hand at whatever cost. He mustered the most desperate thieves in the squad. They say that he called even the "fugitives" - two brothers horse-thieves, Konakay and Zholaman. It is difficult to live in auls for a long time because of them. Even the bailiff chases the brothers. Many times they sent entire squadrons to capture the robbers and inform the authorities. But the experienced wolves are cunning. They stayed somewhere in the mountains or in the cane wilds of a deaf steppe lake and again take up the robbery. Each time they become more ferocious. Auls moans from their piratical raids. The rumor runs that the brothers never do part with weapons. And they sleep, holding shokpar, a dagger and a rifle at the ready. And angry Aydar set against Dosbol these "fugitives”. As a reward for faithful service he promised to shelter them from the authorities. So it was those predators who Kalbagay was due to meet with tonight!
Men are siting in the Dosbol’s yurt, eating meat, recalling Kalbagay’s exploits and praising his strength and courage. And they are talking about the brothers-fugitives. Especially about Konakay: "Ferocious!.."
Suddenly, the cries of warning was heard from the far end of the aul. Everybody rushed out.
“On the horses!” the battle cry was heard.
And the night silence disappeared: the dull blows are audible, a frequent stomp of disturbed herds and the groans of wounded. Dzhigits at the Dosbol’s yurt, bumping into one another, grab their soils and, jump on the horses, loudly echoing. Horses were excited, they have sensed the battle and whirled on the spot under riders. Sad-prayer whoops of aksakals are flies up above the bustling noise: “Oh Allah, save them! Oh Allah, protect them from misfortune.” Harsh voices terminate the old people: “Enough of howling! You know one's stuff, dzhigits!”. Girls and children are hording behind, hiding each other. They are trembling and afraid because their brothers and fathers now is going to fight.
Here are the fighters in their saddles and the horses run to career from the place. And they disappeared in the darkness, Dosbol took them away. Only war cries are still heard from the distance.
Frightened women and children stayed near Dosbol’s yurt. Umsyn, mother of Kalbagay is among them. Her bloodless lips whispered: “Oh Lord, oh Saints! Do not let my only son to be lost! Defend the fatherless, oh my God!” Kalbagay is the only support of the old woman. They live together, the son doesn’t have a family. He is poor and cannot pay the bride price! Probably, the mother will die without tending grandchildren.
What is going on there, at night steppe? It is alarmingly in the empty aul, old men and women are languishing and listening. They are listening to battle noise and trying to solve, who has the upper hand?
Muffled voice came from a distance: “On the horses!” This is tersakkanians from neighboring auls are rushing to help Dosbol. They are numerous, eight hundred riders. The valley of Kenozeka is buzzing, the horses’ hooves are knocking, the soils are crackling, people are screaming. Women cannot sit still; they are running from the aul to aul, because maybe there are any news. Decrepit aksakals hush on them: “Stop talking! Keep quiet!”, and intensely listening to a droning steppe. The sounds get weaker. The fight goes forward. They are shooting! Who? The shots fell silent and all around has calmed down. The chase carried away to the south in the uninhabited semi-desert.
On that day Kalbagay was particularly wary from the evening. He knew that today barymta was expected. He endlessly stirred the herdsmen, did not give them doze off, amused them with stories and drove to inspect the herds. And he tirelessly was hanging around. Stallions now and then kept trying to take away their herds in the steppe. Kalbagay rounded them up into a common herd. From time to time, he went out into the steppe to explore, he inspected dangerous places, hollows, slopes and hills. Taking off his cap, he froze together with the horse, merging with the darkness of night. Everything’s been quiet yet.
During one of such raids Kalbagay rounded the herd, and he was about to turn his horse and froze... The riders appeared at the top of the high hill. They were clearly visible in the moonlight. They were becoming more and more. A moment, and riders, with knocking theirsoils, poured down like a black cloud. It was not less than forty of them. And at the herd you cannot find even fifteen people. Barymtachs flew furious snaring with whooping and yelling. Scared horses shied away and raced back to auls. And a few herdsmen followed them. Only twelve people turned facing the enemy, and Kalbagay was in front of them. They bravely marched on aydarovtsiens, filling the steppe with shouts: “On the horses! On the horses!” This cry of alarm alerted the whole Kenozek.
A black cloud was bearing down, wheeling the enemy planned to encirclea brave men. Highly raised soils gleamed in the moonlight. A moment more and riders have knocked. The breaking soils have cracked, embitter horses have neighed soared up on its hind legs and gnawed each other. The fighters, rousing themselves, shouting out the names of ancestors. Forged shokpars was knocking.
The enemies has divided. And a half of the squad could easily cope with a handful of herdsmen. The other half drove the herds to the steppe. Kalbagay tried to stop them but it did not work. This time the enemy calculation was accurate. The last herd was already hiding behind the hill. There was nothing to do here for raiders. Extraction was in their hands.
The first failure was not scared Kalbagay. He does not want to give away the horses. He is chasing barymtaches with his men. They stretched in a long rare chain and overtaking the enemy. Aydaroviens hurry as soon as possible to steal the prey, until the help arrived. Desperate herdsmen of Kalbagay prevent them and impose a hassle. Here and there the horses collide and the fighters fight. But here is two noticeable riders had separated from the squad of aydaroviens. Both are mighty on tall horses. Dapple-gray horse is under one of them. The second looks like he merged with a huge stallion. There is the asterisk on the forehead of the horse and its tail waves flowing to the ground. The herdsmen immediately recognized riders Konak and Zholaman. Brothers allow their chasers to come close and throws at them with sketchy evil cries. The soil blows are raining. Three Kalbagay’s mates are on the ground. The brothers are catching up their mates and again falling behind to take on a new blow.
Chase and raiders are rushing. They are beating at full tilt. Here Kalbagay with friends caught the caudal herd. There are hundreds of horses in this herd. Aydaroviens pursue, pound with all strength stragglling horses with soils and whips.
Kalbagay has no intention to cede the victory. He and his men had already adapted, they kick more agile, run against the enemy more courageous, and began to act more confidently. Kalbagay was up to something. Here he is running into the midst of enemies. One blow and hijacker with a broken head fall to the mane of his horse. Another blow and another enemy are down. Kalbagay turned to friends: “Follow me, stay together, we will split the herd!” He hit his horse with a whip and handily beating off the strikes lightning pace into the front rows. His squad follows him like a single man. They broke the herd into two parts. The frightened horses stampeded sidewards and some of them turned to the aul. Kalbagay does not give the enemy time to recover, and again crashes into the herd. Now aydaroviens extend only thirty horses in front of them. Another onslaught and it is only fifteen horses left. Raiders have no intention to gather scared horses; they want to keep the rest of the loot at least. The riders took the horses in a tight circle.
Chase noise is coming from the auls. Battle cry is gettng louder and louder, the sound of horses is becoming clearly, this is help to Kalbagay is rushing. Aydaroviens cannot waste time but Kalbagay angered them, the best for them would be if they hit horses stronger and go away into the steppe. At least they can show their strength for the last and let them know who they were dealing with. They left five men to protect a small herd and a larger part of the riders turned toward the herdsmen.
Now there are less than thirty enemies, Kalbagay thrown five men from their horses and two enemies were thrown down by his fellows. But they have a serious loss too. Six soldiers are missing; they were knocked by departing Konakay and Zholaman. Kalbagay is not afraid; he hears that help is close. With shouts he gathers military friends and encourage them. Everybody crashes into the middle of the enemy unit again.
It was a real battle. Flying up to herdsmen, Zholaman pulled a revolver from under the chapan. Twice shot up and shouted: “Turn back! Faster! Or I am going to kill you!” But Kalbagay’s dzhigits have already grappled with the enemy. Again clouds of dust rose to the starry sky and the light night has darkened. Again soil’s crackling, knocking of shokpars and groans of the wounded have violated the peaceful sleep of the steppe. People embraced at each other with frenzy of dogs, gnawing due to the bone. Faster and faster batons flashed in the air, strikes fell upon the head and riders fell. And the longer the fight went, the more embittered became people and ruthless attack at each other. Six horses From the total fight jumped out riderless and raced off into the steppe...
Kalbagay sought a meeting with Zholaman and Konakay. He overturning more blows to the right and left, but the brothers were nowhere in sight. Suddenly he heard a proud voice: “I am Konakay!” Rider on a gray dapple horse crashed into the thick of battle. “If so, then I am Kalbagay!” herdsman responded and rode directly to Konakay.
They are standing here face-to-face. Cudgels menacingly raised in the hands. No one is going to falter. They have frozen before the fatal fight. They have passed each other, stood up in their stirrups, and clashed, flashed like lightning. They do not spare each other. One of them hits, and another answers with two strikes. They fight to the death struggle like if they were sworn enemies. They do not see what's going on around, captured battle.
The battlefield is desolate. Neither Kalabagay’s mates nor aydaroviens are around. Terrible cloud riders is rushing from auls and they are getting closer. This is the end of Konakay! It came to his senses, lashed gray in the dappled horse and rode with a furious gallop following the scuttling mates. Behind his back the sound of hooves is louder and screams heard more clearly because the chase is overtakes.
Kalbagay is not far behind. Over and over again they have to fight back from him. And here he pressed them again. Konanay make a strike at him but it was unsuccessful. And herdsman strucked on the head in response, that Konakay lay down on the neck of his horse. No more strength to fight. The head is buzzin and it’s dark in the eyes. All hope is now at the swift steed. But gray horse of Kalbagay is catching up and thronging gray horse in the dappled. Konakay looked over his shoulder and gets dizzy in the eyes, riders, like an avalanche, are rolling down from the hill. He keeps a tight grip on horse with all one's might and drives forward.
Kalbagay noticed that the enemy surrendered, where the recent courage is! He no longer expands mighty shoulders and no longer sticks out his chest. Now he pressed against to his horse as if he wants to hide behind the fluttering mane. Kalbagay flips the gray horse with the whip again to caught up barymtach and grabbed him one more time. “Get off the horse, hurry, while you still alive!”, ordered Kalbagay.
Konakay barely holding slid to the side, the last effort clinging to the mane, and it seems like he is going to fall to the ground.
Zholaman hurries to rescue his brother and Kalbagay is ready to face a new enemy. He finished Konakay now and preparing a club for his brother. Konakay tried jump over to the other side, but he could not, he only had time to shout: “I am dying, shoot! Come on, shoot!” And fell to the feet of gray Kalbagay’s stallion. And Zholaman already tries to target forehead of gray. But it was frightened and shook its head. Bullet missed and made a hole in Kalbagay’s breast. Zholaman grabbed the reins of both horses and rode away…
The stars were turning pale, the moon was fading away and the night was leaving. People angered its peace and made bloody a peaceful night. And for what?
Here are laying on the dry steppe’s grass two enemies together, two batyrs have passed to their eternal rest. The arms are spread and the eyes are motionless. What did not divide the two kedey’s sons among themselves? Bai’s herd? They will not step over the threshold of their dilapidated yurts and their mothers will not see them anymore. Umsyn, the old mother of Kalbagay, will shed a lot of tears. She will grieve alone, and no one will remember about her in white bai’s yurts.