Book of Dede Korkut/Legend IV

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Book of Dede Korkut
Anonymous
Legend IV: The Story of Yigenek, Son of Kazilik Khoja

One day, Bayindir Khan, the son of Kam Gan, arose and ordered that his magnificent tent be erected on the surface of the black earth. Its colorful canopy rose high into the sky. Silk carpets were spread out by the thousand. The princes of the Inner Oghuz and the Outer Oghuz were gathered together, talking, eating and drinking.

There was a man there by the name of Kazilik Khoja, who was the vizier of Bayindir Khan. When the strong wine had gone to his head, he fell to his large knees and asked Bayindir Khan for permission to carry out a raid on the enemy. Bayindir Khan consented to his request, saying: "Go wherever you wish to go."

Kazilik Khoja was a man of experience and competence. He gathered his old warriors and set out with them, carrying provisions for their trip. They crossed many mountains, hills and dales, until finally one day they arrived before Duzmurd Castle on the Black Sea, where they set up their camp.

The castle was under the command of an infidel prince called Direk Tekur, the son of Arshun. A man sixty yards tall, he used to throw a club weighing sixty batmans, and he had a very strong and tightly strung bow. As soon as Kazilik Khoja reached the castle, he began to attack it. The infidel prince came out and demanded a single warrior with whom to fight. As soon as Kazilik Khoja saw him, he rushed at him like the wind, and stuck to him like glue. He struck at the infidel's neck with his sword, but was unable to cut it. Now it was the infidel's turn to strike, and he hit Kazilik Khoja with his huge club weighing sixty batmans. When he received this blow, Kazilik Khoja thought the mortal world was falling in on him. Blood gushed from his body. They captured him and imprisoned him in the castle, while his warriors fled. Kazilik Khoja remained in that castle for exactly sixteen years. Although a man by the name of Emen went seven different times to take the castle, he failed each time.

At the time of the capture of Kazilik Khoja, he had a son who was one year old. He reached the age of fifteen thinking that his father was dead. It had been forbidden that anyone tell him the truth. This young man's name was Yigenek. One day, when Yigenek was sitting and talking with the beys, he was involved in an argument with Budak, the son of Kara Gone, and some harsh words were exchanged between the two. Budak said: "Why do you talk so much? If you think you are someone important, go and rescue your father from the prison, where he has been held for sixteen years."

When Yigenek heard this, his heart jumped and his chest heaved. He got up and went to the presence of Bayindir Khan. Putting his face to the ground, he said:

"You, whose majestic white tent stands alone in the dawn,
With its canopy made of blue Atlas;
You, who own stables of powerful horses;
You, at whose call many chamberlains jump;
Man of abundance, from whom butter falls when he moves;
Support of young warriors in time of distress;
The hope of the poor;
The main pole of all Turkestan;
The young of the full-feathered bird;
The lion of Emet Stream;
The tiger of Karachuk;
O, Royal Highness, give help!
Give me troops and send me to the castle where my father is imprisoned."

Bayindir Khan commanded: "Let the twenty-four banner-beys assemble here!" He then said to Yigenek: "Delu Tundar, the son of Kiyan Seljuk, who fought at Iron Gate Pass, making his enemy cry at the point of his spear, who never asks his enemy 'Who are you?' when he reaches him-let him go with you. Dulek Evren, the son of Eylik Khoja, who made his horse swim across the River of Aygir Gozler and took the locks from fifty-seven castles-let him also go with you. Ilalmish, the son of Yaghrinchi, whose beechen arrows always pass through the double bastions-let him go with you. Let Rustem, the son of Toghsun, who cries bitterly if he does not see the enemy three times, also go with you. Let even Delu Evren, who rescues men from the mouths of monsters, go with you. Let Soghan Saru, who says 'I can reach from one end of the earth to the other', also go." From among the countless Oghuz heroes, Bayindir Khan ordered twenty-four brave banner-beys to accompany Yigenek.

During that same night, Yigenek had a dream, and in the morning he told the following dream to his companions: "O, beys, while asleep last night, this poor and unfortunate head of mine had a dream. When I opened my eyes, I saw the world crowded with heroes riding on gray-dappled horses. I took the white-helmeted heroes with me, and then I received advice from the white-bearded Dede Korkut. I crossed the long ranges of black mountains and reached a sea lying below me. There I built myself a boat and made a sail for it out of my shirt. I sailed through the sea lying under me. On the other side of the black mountains I saw a man whose head and forehead were shining. I rose and went toward him, holding my spear in my hand. I went and stood before him. When I was about to pierce him, I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and realized that he was my maternal uncle Emen. I greeted him and asked him who he was among the Oghuz. Lifting his eyes, he looked at me and asked: 'Yigenek, my son, where are you going?' I replied: 'I am going to Duzmurd Castle, where I have heard my father is imprisoned.' My uncle spoke to me as follows:

'I once had seven warriors faster than the wind.
My warriors were like wolves out of the seven mountains.
My bowstring then was pulled by seven men
To shoot my beechen arrows with gold fins.
Winds blew, rains fell and fog descended —
I tried to take that castle seven times, and then returned.
You cannot show more courage there than I;
My Yigenek, turn back!'"

Yigenek in his dream spoke as follows to his uncle:

"When you arose from where you sat,
You did not lead forth brown-eyed princely men with you;
You did not gallop out with well-known beys.
You must have taken mercenary troops for five akchas apiece,
And that is why you failed to take the fort."

He continued:

"Stewed meat is good to eat, slice after slice.
A powerful horse is good in time of need.
Good luck is useful while it lasts.
The mind is good if it does not forget;
And valor, too, is good if there is no retreating from the foe."

Yigenek told this dream to his companions. It happened that his uncle Emen was not very far away at that moment. He joined the beys, and they all went forward together. They finally reached Duzmurd Castle, around which they set up camp.

As soon as the infidels saw them, they reported their arrival to Direk Tekur, the son of Arshun. When that cursed fellow heard this, he came out of his castle fully armed and challenged any single warrior to fight. Delu Tundar, the son of Kiyan Seljuk, stood up, holding his sharp spear as long as sixty fists under his arm, and tried to knock down the infidel standing before him, but he failed. The infidel bey grabbed his spear and shook it out of his hand, and dealt Tundar such a mighty blow with his club that weighed sixty batmans that it sent him sprawling. The wide world seemed like a narrow place to Tundar. He turned his horse back and withdrew from the fight.

Next, Dulek Evren, who never turned from the enemy, spurred his horse and tried to strike the infidel and knock him off his horse with his six-jointed club, but he could not do it. The infidel grabbed his club from his hand and struck him with his mace. He also turned his Kazilik horse back and abandoned the fight. My khan, twenty-four banner-beys were defeated by this infidel bey. Then Yigenek, the son of Kazilik Khoja, the fresh young man, put himself under the protection of Allah and prayed to Him as follows:

"You are higher than the highest;
No one knows how high you are,
Beloved Allah!
You were not by mother born.
You were not by sire begotten.
You have eaten no one's food.
You have brought to no one trouble.
You are everywhere the same.
You are the eternal Allah.
You have given a crown to Adam.
You have placed a curse on Satan
And have dismissed him from your presence
Because of his offense.
When Nimrod shot an arrow at the sky,
You stopped it with the split-bellied fish.
There is no limit to your power.
There is no limit to your height.
Your form is incorporeal.
Great Allah, who does not permit to thrive
One whom He strikes,
Who moves with silent footsteps,
O glorious Allah, who sends mortal man to heaven,
But angered, He destroys the objects of His wrath.
Almighty Allah, I affirm your oneness.
Help me!
I ride against the black-dressed infidel.
I leave my future in your hands."

Having spoken thus, he let his reins fall loose. He rode like the wind and stuck like glue. He struck the infidel's shoulder with his sword, tore through his armor, and gashed his flesh six fingers deep. The infidel's black boots were filled with blood. His ill-starred head was dizzy, and he was stunned. He turned and rode toward the castle with Yigenek in pursuit. As he was going through the castle gate, Yigenek dealt him such a blow on the neck with his sword that his head fell to the ground like a ball. After this, Yigenek turned back and went to the place where his troops waited.

Kazilik Khoja, who was imprisoned in that castle, was released and, as he came out, he asked: "Ho, princely warriors! Who killed the infidel?" Let us see, my khan, what else he said.

"I left the female camel pregnant in my herd;
I wish I knew if it bore male or female.
I left the black sheep in the land of mourning pregnant;
I wish I knew if it bore ram or ewe.
I left my brown-eyed lawful wife with child;
I wish I knew if it be girl or boy.
For Allah's sake, O princely men, tell me the truth."

Yigenek spoke. Let us see, my khan, what he said.

"You left the female camel pregnant in your herd;
A male camel was born.
You left your black sheep in the land of mourning pregnant;
A ram was born.
You left your brown-eyed lawful wife with child;
A lion was born."

Yigenek embraced his father, and then all the beys embraced him. After that, they all attacked the castle and plundered it. Yigenek and his father embraced and rejoiced in finding one another. They howled like the wolves of lonely mountains and expressed their gratitude to Allah. They pulled down the chapel of the castle and turned it into a mosque. They had a sermon delivered there in the name of beloved Allah. They put aside a rare bird, fine fabrics, a beautiful girl, a gold-embroidered dress and one-fifth of their spoils as gifts to Bayindir Khan. The rest they gave to the heroes. Then they returned home.

Dede Korkut came and told legends and sang heroic songs, and he said: "Let this Oghuz legend be Yigenek's."

Let me pray, my khan. May your native black mountains never fall down. May your large shade tree never be felled. May your white-bearded father go to heaven. May your white-haired mother place of rest be paradise, and may Allah never let her deviate from the true faith in her last years. We have offered a prayer of five words in your presence. May it be accepted. May Allah forgive your sins for the sake of Mohammed Mustafa — his name be praised —, oh, my khan.