Geser Khan is an epic cycle of Central Asia. Here’s one story from the cycle, pulled from a Mongolian source.
Hara Zutan is the Uncle of Geser Khan. He’s jealous of Geser’s first wife, Tumen Jargalan. Tumen was going to be Zutan’s wife, but was “ugly”1 due to some illness or defect. Geser capitalized on this to marry her, and she turned “beautiful” (where Geser provides an environment that lets her flourish) after the marriage. Hara Zutan regretted this for a long time, and eventually makes a series of attempts to bed her. He fails, and hatches a plan to ruin the marriage. His plan succeeds by situationally holding Geser’s stability hostage. In order to save Geser, Geser’s wife caves in and goes to marry another (a reputably powerful demon) man, with the secret hope that her husband will eventually rescue her.
What kind of man takes?
What kind of man allows anyone else to take from him?
With these questions in mind, Geser sets off to take back his wife.
Prepare your mount (that which you will depend on) before you prepare yourself.
Your ammunition will warm you in the winter, and cool you in the summer.
Check yourself before you depart on your mission (Geser turns around before a mirror after he dons his armor).
Get the coalition on your side before you leave, if you can (Geser gets a blessing from an elder).
Alone on the road with his pain, Geser sees clearly, and figures out who’s taken his wife from him- his Uncle Hara Zutan, who’s been jealous of him- this is not who’s actually taken his wife, that’s the monstrous Abarga Sesen Manghadai. Instead, his Uncle manipulated events to make him lose his wife. So in the end it is not the man who takes his wife that is primarily to be reckoned with, but his Uncle, who pushed events out of jealousy. This is also one of the coalition of elders who enables his power. Feeling shame, Zutan hides instead of mounting an immediate defense. Zutan’s own wife (she has been physically abused/dominated by Zutan) betrays his location- which suggests that Geser is able to get just about everyone on his side.
Zutan is hidden in a sack. Geser drags the sack out and sits on it without opening it. Geser reminisces with his aunt (familial smalltalk). I imagine a high tension-scene (Tarantino-like), here. She’s laughing, he’s laughing, but she’s afraid and Zutan, in the sack, is terrified. They talk for a long time. Then, Geser makes a quip (why’s the food in this sack so lumpy?) and stabs the sack. Affecting amused surprise (Geser got to where he is by being a trickster- pretty much his entire family didn’t like him when he was a child and an adolescent), Geser asks his Uncle why he’s hiding.
Geser does not kill his Uncle, like you’d expect from a modern movie. No, he’s amused and he asks his Uncle to help him take his wife back. He knows his Uncle is “against” him, and is the one who created this problem in the first place, but asks his Uncle for help- slyly placing responsibility on the elder man. This is the kind of cultural savvy that allows a notoriously unruly group of steppe tribes to unite. Notice that many of the Mongol Empire’s greatest assets were previously enemies, and they tended to soften up cities by sending captured prisoners to start their battles for them.
On the road, Geser lets his Uncle have inferior resources by pretending to be jealous of Zutan when he lets Zutan “find” (he planted it, in actuality, knowing that Zutan would not share) those resources. Meanwhile, Geser acquires better resources for himself. This leaves Zutan jealous. Geser does the same thing again, turning a black rock into a necklace- this is a con. Capitalizing on Zutan’s behavioral patterns, Geser lets his Uncle go home with his useless prize. Zutan realizes some of what’s happened, and he gets furious with jealousy, but he’s too attached to his prize to act effectively.
Geser hardens himself with his journey.
“He brought down heat hot enough to boil horse shit”.
When it’s hot, Geser pretends to play by a lake (guessing that Abarga Sesen Mangadhai will show up there, given the heat). Manghadhai, thinking him harmless and unskilled, challenges him to shoot a piece of horse shit off his head. Geser shoots him in an eye.
Manghadhai rushes to his new wife (none other than Tumen Jargalan, Geser’s first wife) for help. She recognizes the arrow and tells Manghadhai to ignore it (you can take an arrow in the eye, can’t you, big guy?), feigning incompetence. She then suggests she needs a hammer to get it out, and citing his pain, asks him to let her tie him up so that he doesn’t lash out at her when she gets the arrow out. After he’s tied up, she hammers the arrow in such a way that further incapacitates him.
Geser gets to Manghadai’s house, and looks for two parts of Manghadai’s soul (we can think of these as parts of himself- they typically have a three-part soul, this demon has many souls- or many parts). He asks Tumen to hurt Manghadai’s son, and to use his cries of pain tell Manghadai that his son wants his father’s souls intact, so that Manghadai is better able to fight Geser. Manghadai thinks Geser would only come with his army, and does not suspect that Geser is in fact hidden in his house alone. Manghadai gives his son incorrect information about where his souls are, so Tumen continues to hurt Manghadai’s son to get the correct information in an extended psychological torture scene. After his son has cried all day, Manghadai caves and tells him that his two souls are with his sister, the boy’s aunt. Geser kills the son stealthily and makes it seem like the son ran away to Manghadai’s sister.
Geser, pretending to be Manghadai’s son, is received as a guest in Manghadai’s sisters home, though he does not actually eat anything offered (you don’t want to actually be a demon’s guest). She offers him (thinking he’s her nephew) sustenance (in the form of her breastmilk) to defeat himself. He sucks on her titty and takes so much that she falls into a coma. He finds many of Manghadai’s souls (hidden in things and other animals), and destroys them.
When Geser returns to Manghadai’s house, he finds Manghadai in pain (essentially extremely depressed), from the stress of having his souls destroyed. Manghadai tries to curse Geser, but Geser lets him know that the coalition is on his side, and that Manghadai has too many fixations (“You who are greedy for other people’s treasure/you who are never satisfied”). This snaps Manghadai out of his depression, and they fight hand-to-hand. He kills Manghadai, but he’s not able to fully destroy him (Manghadai’s memory lives on), so he scatters Manghadai in various places.
Tumen is overjoyed, the couple party for a bit and bask in their love, and nine days later Tumen gets jealous (Geser has two other wives), so she overfeeds him and makes him soft. Geser chills in Manghadai’s old place, presumably taking advantage of the power vacuum there to lead a comfortable but decadent life.
Geser’s three sisters feel like something is up, so they go looking for him. He’s become stupid in his softness, so they slap the shit out of him. He regains his composure and sets back on his path. He finds Tumen and beats her for making him soft.
Meanwhile, Geser’s other wife, Alma Mergen, has grown jealous because of the amount of time Geser has spent rescuing Tumen and such. Alma gives Geser the silent treatment, and his seven-year-old daughter informs him that her mother is angry with him. He figures she wants a divorce, so he tells his daughter to tell her mom that he’s gone, and proceeds to hide nearby. Alma finds him and shoots him with an arrow, but misses. This makes her more angry. Alma breaks her bow and then kills her daughter for helping her father.
You win some, you lose some.
I assume this means he did not see the beauty in her, and that her situation did not immediately reveal her beauty. ↩