OOC: This is my first timeline (well, technically second, but first one that I actually intend to finish) PoD: Khazaria survives and pushes back the invasion of the Rus in the late 960s, mainly through slaying Sviatoslav I of Kiev. The Steppe Lion Prologue "Is that a white tiger?" one of the warriors asked. "No," laughed Khagan Joseph, master of the Khazars. "They call it a Russian tiger now, after the wicked Rus. My people already show their doubt this way. Perhaps they are right to do so. My rule thus far has been more akin to a hare then a tiger." The men fell silent after their leader's bitter jab at himself and his own people. In his bitterness, Khagan Joseph spat at the ground around his tent. The spit cracked a small spot of the dusty steppe with it's force. "What man can hunt a tiger in the shape of a warrior, like the Rus Sviatoslav? No, he hunts me, he hunts Khazaria, to kill and eat of us. Sarkel has already fallen, Sarkel the fortress city! I ask you again, what man can hunt a tiger such as Sviatoslav?" Still, his men kept silent, fearful of their leaders depressed rage. A few craned their ears, for the sound of horse hooves clattered from the west. The Khazars stiffened. Was it the sound of aid from their brethren, or the might of the Rus falling upon their camp? Men prayed to whatever they worshiped, showing a diversity of faiths: Jews, the largest group by far, prayed alongside Muslims, who prayed among the traditional pagans, the followers of Tengri, the ancestor worshipers, and even Christians! All feared their deaths, and all wished the hooves to be not those of the lord of death. The horse of the intruder was soon revealed. A large Persian horse came into view, with a small robed and turban-clad fellow upon it. And he had a grin splitting the sides of his face in it's intensity. Joseph relaxed. It was Bahadur the little Khwarezm. He had sent the tiny horseman out to scout for the Rus, and Bahadur never smiled unless there was a great deal of loot to be gained, and battle to be joined. The breathless scout soon related his account. "The Rus leader is less then two parasangs away, Khagan! And without his Pecheneg allies to serve as cavalry! I heard him mutter to his warriors how one of them had started up a brawl with one of his own captains. This is a stroke of luck or a blessing!" The Khazar camp broke into a noise of cheers, surprised oaths, and muttering. Men who moments before had been fervently praying, uttered relieved blasphemies. Others began singing ancient songs of joy. Until Khagan Joseph barked for silence. He turned to the Khwarezem and began roughly praising the fellow. "Bahadur, you blessed man, I will halve all tribute that the Muslims must pay for the next year in your honor. I will command the artisans to carve a statue in your likeness! What was Sviatoslav doing? How many men rode alongside him?" Bahadur took a moment to steady himself. His hand wavered around his sword-belt, as if itching to kill Sviatoslav himself. "He seems to have gone hunting, Khagan. Perhaps to unleash his anger on a poor hare." At this, all the men laughed, before explaining their merriment to the befuddled scout. Cackling, Bahadur went on. "The Rus has only his personal guard with him, and though he and his warriors are armed, we have the numbers by far." At this last miraculous bit of fortune, tears fell down the face of the lord of the Khazars. "The Lord provides for his faithful," he said quietly, then shook himself, to banish the unmanful tears. "Then let us take what He provides! I ride to Sviatoslav's death, and the sound of my blade shall be his funeral song!" He unsheathed his sword to prove his point. Without waiting for his men, Khagan Joseph kicked his feet into the side of his horse, and rode west. Soon enough, a large band of his men followed. The Khazars rode to war, no, to victory! Joseph understood now what was really meant by the white tiger. It was Elohim giving a sign to his faithful. Sviatoslav wore white robes, just as the tiger wore his white fur. And Joseph finally had an answer to his question. Who would hunt the tiger Sviatoslav? He was the man who would hunt the tiger, robed in white. ------ Hello everyone, SplendidTuesday here! This is my first on-going timeline, the Steppe Lion: A History of Khazaria. Tell me what you think of it; I will have my own author's notes here, much like Raptor of Spain, one of my favorite TLs. Additionally, I will alternate between narrative updates and "historical" ones. The first historical update will be up soon. Author's Notes:  Bahadur is a made up character, but in OTL, the Khazars did have between 7,000-10,000 Khwarezm mercenaries serving as horsemen when the Khazars themselves could not supply the manpower.  A parasang is an Iranian/Persian term roughly equivalent to a fraction of the distance that an infantryman could travel in a day. Herodotus notes that most armies could travel about 5 parasangs a day.  Since I just put a religious bit (as Khagan Joseph understands the PoD), let me explain a little about the title of Khagan. Among the Khazars, there were two ruling leaders; the Khagan was the spiritual figurehead leader, while the Bek was the military and administrative commander. Somewhere along the line, the titles combined, and by Joseph's time, there was only the Khagan. This will come up later in The Steppe Lion, but for now, just note this distinction.  Elohim is an old Hebrew phrase for God.  Sviatoslav indeed did wear white robes. Was also shaved bald and had a rocking Fu Manchu-type moustache going on, apparently.