2: Kublai

The Great Khan had it all. He had inherited his grandfather’s strength, and succeeded his brothers to power, had conquered lands, united tribes, become the great warrior, king, leader of the Mongols, Emperor of China. Everything he ever wanted, taken by force or fear, every pleasurable vice at his command, an army of concubines at his beck, enough opium to salve any ill feeling. No desire lay out of his reach, yet with everything a click of his fingers away, why did he feel so unsatisfied?

There was no word in the Mongol tongue for what he felt at that moment. No word to describe his ennui, that jaded moment of emptiness. He did not understand the hollowness, as though his soul had already floated into the clouds, his spirit riding off on the great plains, leaving him but a shell behind, tired eyes sagging.

He puffed on his pipe, sitting alone on his throne in the bejewelled tent, eyes closed, letting the sweet opiate clear his fogged mind, hoping it would. Suddenly, he was awoken from his unhappy reverie by a monstrous braying. His eyes opened, and widened at the sight before him.

A white horse had broken into the tent and bucked before him, fiercely muscled and proudly defiant. Atop it’s head rose a silver pointed horn. The Khan was both aghast with shock and in awe of the stallion’s wild beauty. He had never seen such a creature before. Was it an opiate fantasy? An omen of death? The white monster snorted, and the Khan could feel it’s anger electrifying the air between them. He reached for the golden sword at his side and rose for the fight he believed upon him.

The horse turned and bolted out the tent entrance, past the somnambulant guards. The Khan charged in it’s wake, such a stallion must come to heel for him. Too slow, the stallion was away through the camp and rising into the hills, a glowing white torch in the green grass of the plain, while he was still swaying out the tent.

There was commotion in the camp that snapped his attention away from the spirit disappearing over the horizon. A warrior ran forward, and bowed panting at his feet. “Great Khan, an army approaches, bearing the sign of the cross. We are being invaded.”

A smile crossed the Great Khan’s lips. A fight coming, a foe to be defeated, a church to be burnt. Oh glorious day, his heart swelled with majesty. Now, finally, he was alive again.

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