- "My father was fond of saying that he would never trust a man who was afraid to lose his temper. As a result, his boyarin were an insufferable band of brutes, always brawling, always arguing and always fighting. But they were loyal, honest and true, and never did a greater band of warriors ever fight shoulder to shoulder. That saying stood my father in good stead, so I see no reason not to trust it also, ambassador."
- —Tzarina Katarin to Ambassador Kaspar von Velten.[3a]
Tzar Boris Bokha, also known as Radii Bokha, Boris Ursus, the Red Bokha and the Red Tzar, was a great Tzar of Kislev in the late 25th century IC, and the father of the current reigning Tzarina Katarin.
Boris was a fiery, passionate warrior, and it was said he was born with the sound of the Bloodheart howling on the wind above him — a good omen for a warrior — and the hags predicted he would fight hard and die well. Rising to the throne in 968 (2492 in the Imperial calendar) after his father, Vladimir Bokha, died fighting Goblins east of Kislev, Boris inherited a nation that had done little to recover from the devastation caused during the Great War against Chaos of 2302. In a move resented by the old guard of the Kislev court, Radii Bokha nearly emptied the treasuries to hire mercenaries to re-train the Kislev army, rebuilding bridges, roads, and towns and importing black powder and engineers from the Empire. Though it almost bankrupted his family (and several other noble families in the bargain), Tzar Boris’ reign will be forever remembered for his driving spirit and eagerness to reclaim the lands that had become infested with Goblins, Trolls, Beastmen, and other vile creatures.[1a][2b]
Tzar Boris was also instrumental in a revival of the Cult of Ursun, which had slowly been overtaken by worship of Ulric, Taal, and other foreign Gods. To do so, he undertook the trial of initiation that priests of Ursun must overcome and went into the forests to tame a bear. He was not seen or heard of for eighteen days, and many feared he had met a gruesome fate in the depths of the icy forests. Preparations began for the coronation of his infant daughter Katarin (who was only four years old at the time) when the search parties came across his unconscious form on the nineteenth day. His still body was guarded by a bear of gigantic proportions that would not allow anyone near. The Tzar was surrounded by the corpses of over two dozen wolves, and the snow was red with their blood. Nothing the searchers could do would entice the bear away from their ruler or convince it that they meant no harm. Finally, after another day had passed, Boris awoke, and the bear allowed the searchers to approach and tend to their ruler’s wounds. Upon his return, he was named High Priest of the cult of Ursun, taking on the new name of Boris Ursus.[1a][2a]
The tale Boris related upon his return to Kislev has since passed into folklore, though few doubt the truth of it. Four days before being found by the searchers and after much wandering, he came across the mightiest bear he had ever seen, with teeth and claws like sword blades. Taking this as a sign from Ursun, he had confronted the beast, and it charged him, the ground shaking with the fury of its charge and a bloodcurdling roar echoing through the forest. With his bare hands, he fended off the creature’s attacks but could not overpower it. The struggle lasted a full day before a wolf pack, drawn by the scent of their combined blood, attacked. The wolves immediately went for the bear, but Boris sprang to its aid, crushing their skulls with his fists and tearing them from its back. Boris was badly wounded, however, and fell beneath the attacks of the wolves. As the beasts closed in for the kill, the bear protected his erstwhile enemy from the common foe. It stood over the supine Tzar, tearing the wolves apart with its claws and savaging them with its powerful jaws. Boris had slipped into unconsciousness, yet each time he had drifted awake, the bear had been there, protecting him from the wolves. The bear returned to Kislev with the Tzar, and from then on, whenever Boris took to the field of battle, it was atop the back of Urskin (which means bear-brother), both a symbol of Ursun’s power and affection for Boris and an implacable enemy in battle.[1a]
Tzar Boris met his end in battle in 2517 IC whilst leading a pulk north of the Lynsk into the Troll Country. At an unnamed river crossing, the Tzar charged deep into the Kurgan army of Hetzar Feydaj but was soon surrounded and cut off from the rest of his army. He and Urskin fought with all the might and fury of the Bear God, but even Red Boris could not triumph against such odds. Urskin was able to fight his way clear of the Kurgans and carry the Tzar back to the rest of the army, but it was already too late; the Tzar had taken a score of wounds, each enough to be mortal. Only when the battle was won did the Tzar slide from the back of Urskin and die. His faithful mount roared in mourning for a full night before vanishing into the bleak northlands, and legend has it that to this day Urskin continues to hunt down the creatures of Chaos that slew his master.[1a]
- Armour of Ursun - Forged on the Spring Equinox, one of the holiest days of the cult of Ursun, the powdered bones of a score of the mightiest bears were mixed with the steel of the armour before it was quenched in the finest mead. This suit of armour is imbued with the power and might of Ursun himself and those who wear it feel his power coursing through their veins.[2c]
- Shard Blade - Boris carries a mighty pole-arm with a blade crafted from ice hewn from the glaciers of Norsca, and magically bound by the ice wizards of Kislev to remain forever frozen. When Boris strikes a foe, shards of ice water enter their veins and freeze their blood.[2c]