16Sunsets – Jade Palace



“I’m Temüjin.”

“Come with us, Sir.”

Temüjin sized up the two women who had come to take him to learn his fate.

“Don’t even try it.” The shorter of the two women declared. “I’ve got the strength gene and Qing has the vision gene.”

“So you’re telling me,” Temüjin replied, voice dripping with scorn, “I need to blind her, and what? What is the antithesis of super strength?”

Qing replied. “He’s bluffing, Ling. The pulse in his carotid artery isn’t increasing.”

Ling retorted. “As if a freak like him could do anything if he so desired.”

Qing laughed. “Be careful, Ling, his pulse is up. Perhaps he really does have a power.” She paused for effect. “The power to get angry!”

Ling and Qing grasped the fuming Temüjin firmly by the arms and led him to the Jade Palace.

* * *

“We must keep our bloodline clean!” Annie pounded her dais to emphasize her point. “We mustn’t allow these f…” She paused and contemplated what she was about to say. “defects to dilute our million year old ancestry.”

“Mistress,” a court council interrupted. “Temüjin has already established those without an activated gene are quite capable and have the ability to become contributing members of society.”

“Temüjin Khan,” She spat the title Khan as if it left a foul taste in her mouth. “is a nobody. He and his followers wish to make us all weak.” She brought her full attention to the councilor who interrupted her. “What does nature do to the weak?”

“Nature culls the weak and rewards the strong.” The councilor droned.

Anne crossed her arms as if the councilor had made her point.

“With all due respect, Mistress.” The councilor chose his next words carefully. “Since his banishment forty years ago, he has raised an army, united the nomad tribes and his lineage continues two generations. Mistress, in another forty years his kind will match us in population. Forty years after that, his kind will outnumber us four to one.”

Anne leaned forward and growled. “Then we’ll just exterminate them.”

A clamor echoed through the great chamber of the Jade Palace. The cacophony of voices rose until all in attendance were shouting and in some areas more physical disagreements commenced.

“Order!” Anne banged her fist on the dais. “Order in the chamber!”

Slowly the chamber quieted. Anne returned her attention to the councilor. “Speak your mind freely, councilor.”

“Mistress, you have headed this council for almost four hundred years.” He paused and licked his lips. “I would dread the day when your benevolent rule was summed up by mass genocide.”

“You can’t stop them now!” An anonymous shout from the chambers sounded.

“Mistress, these defects may yet rule the world. It is simple mathematics. We simply do not propagate as fast as they do. Temüjin and his followers are leading shorter lives with each subsequent generation. Non-defects are rallying to their cause. Temüjin practices tolerance and acceptance. They view you as a throwback to a millennia of oppressive rule.”

Anne gazed around the chamber. Many nodded in agreement. I’ve lost this fight. She thought to herself. She looked to her adjunct and he nodded. “Fine!” She said and took a step back from the dais. “I renounce my position as head of the Jade Council.”

The councilor stood mute, mouth agape. “Mistress?”

“When the sun sets, sixteen days hence, I shall take up the sword and shield once again. I will defend our way of life against these mongrels.”

Applause reverberated through the chamber. Cheers followed. Anne stepped down and walked, shoulders back, head held high along the jade carpet until she reached the great doors of the Jade Palace. Well-wishers threw the doors open allowing her egress. She didn’t know it at the time, but the next time she would see the Jade Palace, it would be reduced to flaming rubble.

* * *

“You have warred with Temüjin and now Ögedei for ninety years.”

“What of it?”

“Mistress, when will this vendetta end?”

“It will end with the head of Ögedei adorning the end of my pike!” Anne snarled.

“Mistress, we have lost. We are now the minority. The council has fallen. The Jade Palace lies in ruin.”

Anne drew her sword and brandished it to her adjunct. “Perhaps you need a lesson on the chain of command?”

Anne’s adjunct reached out and gripped her sword. She tried to pull it away from his grasp, but could only watch helplessly as her beautifully crafted weapon tarnished, flaked away and eventually fell to the ground as a pile of dust.

Anne stared at the pile and sobbed. “You too, Brutus?” She turned her back to her adjunct. “You know the touch of Midas will not stop me.”

“Mistress, we must abandon this quest of yours. This war has annihilated our people. There are so many now without an active gene. I’ve heard in some places our abilities have fallen to legend and conjecture.”

Anne didn’t answer.

“Mistress, we must take steps to preserve and hide ourselves. There are still enough of us who still hold onto what power we still have. We must rewrite ourselves out of the history books.”

Anne turned and replied. “You may be right, but there’s still one problem.”

“Problem, Mistress?” Brutus asked and stepped towards Anne.

“Yes.” She replied. “I loved that sword.” She stepped forward, gripped Brutus’ head with both hands and kissed him on the lips.

He tried to break the embrace, pounding on her arms. He watched her hair go from brown to grey to white as she aged rapidly. Each time she died, a soldier fell and she was reborn. She maintained her embrace until finally it was Brutus who’s life force resurrected her. She released Brutus’ lifeless body. When it hit the ground, the remains of her sword blew away in the breeze. She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and surveyed her surroundings. Including Brutus, sixteen soldiers had fallen. The rest of her compliment cowered and shrunk from her gaze. She reached down and touched Brutus’ shield. The shield tarnished slightly, but nothing more.

“Come, men.” She called out. “We have work to do.”

16Sunsets – See No Evil

Chuck’s prompt was easy this week. I’ve continued 16Sunsets with these 1033 words.

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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