genghis khan

A note from the author:

As someone who thinks about erotica for a large portion of his waking day, my biggest complaint on the subject is that in a lot of short stories the characters rarely earn the fuck the author describes in blow-by-blow detail. I’m all for anal fisting in the dirtiest bathroom in Scotland, I just want to feel some connection with the characters if the writer wants me to go along with the ride. That’s why I enjoy historical fiction, it tends to anchor the wish-fulfillment fantasies (“Dear Penthouse Forum: I never thought this would happen to me”) that plague a large portion of modern erotica. Plus,this allows me to write about powerful women warriors, a topic I hold near and dear. History is full of examples.

When Genghis Khan died in 1227 A.D., he left his hard-won empire in the hands of his trusted daughters. They were his generals and female khans, what are referred to as
Khatuns in Mongolian, for he had found that his wastrel sons, like Kublai and Ogedei, were incompetent drunks, unfit as leaders on every level. What followed next was a bloody civil war as various male heirs attempted to usurp power from their mothers, aunts and sisters, to such an extent that by 1399 the entire empire stood on the brink of collapse. During these savage power struggles heroes arose, women trained in the art of war, who led colorful, if short and violent, lives.

The characters of Fatima and Lady Turakina (also spelled Toregene) are based on real women, though of course I’ve taken liberties with what I am having them do. Similarly, the legends of Lady Linshui began being told sometime in the 8th or 9th century, in the northern plateaus of what is now Inner Mongolia. She survives to this day mainly as a stock character in Chinese and Taiwanese shadow puppet plays that recount her various deeds. Depending on how the tale was told she could either be seen as a wise warrior-goddess by her followers, or a lustful ethereal-demon by her enemies. In either case, I use her because she would be the sort of archetype 13th century Mongols would be familiar with; a legend told and retold by traveling entertainers way back when the Great Khan, himself, was a child. Call it Saturday morning cartoons for the wild horsemen of the North. Cheers!

Suggested Reading:

Chen, FP. Chinese Shadow Theater: history, popular religion and women warriors. McGill-Queen’s University Press. (2007)

Weatherford, J. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: how the daughters of Genghis Khan rescued his empire. Crown Publishers. (2010)

* * *

Save for the sighs of the wounded and the gasps of the dying nothing rose into the air except the circling shadows of vultures whose black wing tips swept ever closer while the roar of battle died away. The sun hung, as it always did, a ball of frustration, glowering down upon the western hills. Across the trampled fields all was quiet, no war drums echoed. The screaming was over. Those who could had fled while the rest lay where they had fallen.

On her gangling mare, high above a hillside copse, Fatima the Tartar watched, as she had been doing ever since the first streaks of dawn had appeared, back when the hosts of the wild Kara-Khitan Mongols, with their flying forest of arrows, had moved out onto the plains of Xi Xia, there to meet the relentless hordes of Lady Linshui, the most trusted general of the debauched Kublai Khan.

Fatima had tsk-tsked in surprise and disapproval when she saw the glittering squadrons of mounted Chinese warriors draw out in front of the masses of their slow but loyal foot soldiers, leading a sloppy advance. They were the best Northern China had to offer: cavalries from the Tangut tribes, the Jin and the Jurchen and the Minyak. But to Fatima they seemed only amateurs and she shook her head. They were going up against the likes of old Qaidu Khan and his amazon daughter, Khutulun, a warrior who was, as the 13th century chronicler, Ghiyasud din Khwandamir of India, once put it, “a superb general; one who could ride upon the enemy ranks and snatch a solider up, all the while on horseback and with one hand, as easily as a hawk snatches a sparrow.” This battle would determine much, for civil war was dividing the Mongolian tribes. Those who controlled China had now grown soft, turned their backs on Genghis Khan’s inheritance and laws he left behind to guide his people. In the seven generations since they had dismounted and taken over the Forbidden City the only occupation these wastrels had learned was decadence and now they weren’t even doing that well. They would be no match against their own countrymen, harden horse warriors of the steppe, who still kept the legacy of the Great Khan alive. Or so Fatima thought.

Then she had been dumbfounded watching the Mongolians charge with a thunderous roar, had seen them attack the vanguard of Lady Linshui and then sweep up the long slope of a hill into the teeth of raking fire from Chinese archers hidden at the crest. Fatima had seen the Chinese launch their whole might against the oncoming cuirassiers, the Mongolian light cavalry. She had seen the cuirassiers turn, collapse and scatter, the horse-plumed riders toppling off backwards from their steeds, dead before they hit the ground. Fatima wondered: who was leading such a sloppy attack against an army that should be so easy to beat? Where was wise Qaidu Khan? Where was iron Khutulun?

She had watched, amazed, as the Kara-Khitan horsemen swept on, reckless of both their horses’ endurance and of their own lives, blindly crossing the ridge where the enemy lay. From her vantage-point Fatima could see both sides of that ridge and she knew that there lay the main power of the Chinese army: forty-two thousand foot soldiers, the dreaded skirmishers, all in heavy armor, bearing spears and cruel, curved swords. As they crested the ridge the Kara-Khitans realized that the real battle still lay ahead of them. But by now their horses were all haggard, their bow strings broken, their hearts choked with grime and pain and the first hint of defeat.

Fatima had seen the Mongols waver and look back for their leaders. In desperation the horse warriors hurled themselves at the massed enemy, trying to break their ranks by stupid fury alone. That charge never reached the enemy’s line. Instead, a storm of arrows that blackened the sun and sang as they sped through the sky broke their charge. The whole first rank of horses and riders went down, quilled like porcupines. In the spray of red ruin that leaped up the next line behind them stumbled and fell as well, their horses trampling the dead and wounded alike.

All this Fatima had seen in bewilderment. She had seen, too, the shameful retreat of certain Mongol warlords, the savage last-stand of others. On horseback, on foot, besieged, they all fell, one by one, while the storm of battle broke around them and the blood-drunk heavenly army — for Lady Linshui was said to command a celestial army of shamanesses, tamed female demons, queens and their consorts — all fell upon the Mongol invaders. Retreating, lords thundered through the ranks of their very own tribesmen. Whole cuirassiers units fled in confusion while others received the full force of the Chinese wrath. Men and women staggering backwards stubbornly, opposing every gained foot, but unable to check the unvanquishable foe.

Now, as Fatima scanned the field, the celestial army had paused and returned to loot the dead and cut up the dying. Those Mongolian lords who had not fallen had flung down their bows and surrendered. On the farther side of the dry valley, Fatima shivered at the screams which rose into the sky. Lady Linshui’s warriors were butchering their prisoners.

“Tengri!” muttered Fatima. “My mother’s people bragged that they could hold up the sky forever on the tips of their arrows. Now the sky has fallen and the dead are meat for the vultures!”

Though a Mongol herself, Fatima was not part of the Kara-Khitan clan and had no wish to waste her life pointlessly. She reined her horse and went away through the copse of trees. The woman had come this way not to witness history, but rather because she was on a mission assigned to her by her own queen. However, even as she emerged out onto the rocky hillside she saw a prize that no Tartar could refuse. Red eyed and racing in a lather, a tall steppe horse sped by in a cloud of dust. Fatima spurred forward quickly, hoping to catch the flapping reins. Finally, having caught the high-strung warhorse, she trotted swiftly down the slope with her prize, away from the silence and stink of the battlefield.

Suddenly she stopped among a clump of stumps and burrs. Right in front of her Fatima beheld a small pack of men retreating. A tall, richly clad warlord stood in their middle. His helmet was gone. He was broad shouldered with skin an almond brown, as was the fashion at the time he sported a mustache and goatee. He was grunting and cursing as he attempted to hobble along using a broken spear as a crutch.

As Fatima watched, the big man stumbled and fell. The small band stopped and surrounded their lord. A strange feeling came over Fatima, as if she was being watched. She turned around, looking about the copse of trees. Nothing.

Then, out from the bush, emerged a girl, the likes of which Fatima had never seen before, even among the feral Tartars of her people. She was taller than Fatima by a good foot, her strides were like that of a mountain dog. Her long, braided hair framed an oval face with ludicrously long eyelashes; her disorderly, bushy eyebrow were the sort legends were made of. Her skin was the color of the moon. The bamboo staff that she held in one hand looked flimsy enough, though her dirty deel was torn and splattered. Her arm was stained red up to an elbow; blood dripped from a deep slash in her upper forearm.

“Boovu saa!” spat the wounded warlord in Manchurian, a dialect of which Fatima understood a bit, “we lost the war.”

“No, my khan, we shall only lose a horde of imbeciles who have been shaming the legacy of the Great Khan for some twenty years or more,” the Kara-Khitan girl replied. Her voice was hard and alien, like the drone of a wasp in the air.

The rich man swore again. “What the fuck do you know about war, girl? Make yourself useful before those damn Chinese find us. Get me a new horse. I broke my ankle when my last one was shot out from under me.”

“Those who show their backs upon a field of slaughter make the best moving targets, or so I have been told.”

“Shut your mouth before I have these men shut it for you!”

The tall girl dropped the point of her stick to the earth and stared at the others soberly.

“You give commands as if you still sat in your mother’s ger, Une-Calada Khan. If it weren’t for imbeciles like you we might have destroyed Lady Linshui today.”

“Yanhan!” roared the khan from the ground, his narrow face crimsoning, “I will not listen to this insolent female! I’ll have you flayed alive, are you listening to me?”

“O, I am listening, Une-Calada. I listened when you shouted down the Parliament of the Steppes in our council of war,” snarled the girl, her eyes glittering dangerously. “I listened when you called Ho’elun of the Choros a ‘know-nothing woman’ because she urged the Parliament to allow her to lead the main assault with her tribe. I listened when you had the ear of that fool of a Grand Vizier from Karakorum, Wen Cheng, so that in the end he commanded you to lead the charge that ruined us all. Now you — who turned coward quicker than anyone else when you saw what your stupidity had done to the army of the Great Khan — now you order me to hold my tongue?”

“Yes, you Kara-Khitan bitch!” screamed the man, convulsed with fury and pain. “You shall pay for this!”

“O, I’ll pay,” whispered the young girl, feeling blood-red amok boil up from behind her eyes. “You have heaped insults upon my people ever since we first left the Gobi desert. I am not afraid to die, provided I get to settle our score first.”

The nearest Mongolian bodyguard stepped forward, drawing his sword and reaching out toward the girl’s arm. Before he could stretch his fingers, however, the girl’s bamboo flickered in her hand and stabbed into his wrist. The swordsman shouted in surprise, felt a white-hot pain against his suddenly broken wrist and dropped his sword. The bamboo flickered upward, followed by another stab, this time into the man’s right eye. The bodyguard screamed as he covered his gouged-out eyeball with his one good hand.

The girl’s movement might have been as simple as a dance step but for some reason the second swordsman could not block nor even avoid her bamboo either. The other five bodyguards took a collective step backwards. One of them yanked out his sword and attempted to thrust it toward the girl’s beautiful face. As the sword tip leaped up and forward a loud swoosh, indicating the power behind the thrust, filled the air.

The girl did not even move, save a single flick of the wrist. This time she stabbed at the man’s shoulder, crushing the bone. The jab was so fast that although it started after the initial thrust, it arrived well before the sword reached its target. The bodyguard cried out in pain as well and felt all his strength flee out of his arm. Then the girl’s wrist flashed again and the bamboo buried itself into his eye socket. The man fell to the ground, rolling about. Fatima saw that, even though the Kara-Khitan moved too fast to be seen clearly, her techniques were clearly derived from some sort of fighting skill.

“Yavj boovu saa!” The lame lord, clutching his leg, cried out. “There is only one girl and four men! Why don’t you kill her?”

“Even if the odds were forty against one it would not be enough for you to stop me,” their opponent replied.

The girl’s left hand lifted slightly and the bamboo thrust toward yet another swordsman’s eye. Three swords were quickly drawn, naked steel all, and the men sped toward her. The girl moved nimbly, deflecting all three, then she counterattacked. Soon all her assailants were half-blind and smitten, laying groveling in the dirt.

“Novsh min!” The khan bellowed, paling, trying to scramble up on his knees and reach for his sword. But even as he did so, the Kara-Khitan girl struck and the man’s scream was cut short in a ghastly crunch as the bamboo came down upon his skull, cracking it neatly like an egg.

“Cheers, my friend, cheers!”

At the sound of a stranger moving out from her hiding place the bamboo wielding girl wheeled about, pointing the tip of her stick forward like a spear. For a tense moment the two women eyed each other; the younger warrior standing above her fallen victims, some alive, some dead, and the older Tartar sitting her on her saddle like a stone carving.

“I am a Tartar and a follower of baatuun,” Fatima explained, using the ancient Mongolian term for a band of heroes, a term the Mongols of China had forgotten a century ago. “I am no vassal of the Chinese Emperor. My arrows are in their quiver. I have need of a woman who is both wise and deadly. I represent someone wo can offer you anything you might desire.”

“I desire only bloody vengeance upon the skull of Lady Linshui,” murmured the girl.

The dark eyes of the Tartar glittered. She had the quick sensation of slipping her hands around the strange girl’s hips, one hand fondling her breasts through her deel while the other slipped between her legs. Fatima wondered if the girl was a virgin. Probably not, few warriors ever are, but one never knew in this day and age. Fatima loved making virgins cum. She could see herself kissing the girl’s neck, sucking and nibbling her round jawline. A wet moment of desire washed over Fatima and she blinked.

“Then come with me, darling girl. My lady is the sworn enemy of that Taoist sorceress.”

“Tell me, who is your lady?” asked the Kara-Khitan suspiciously.

“She is called the Mad One,” answered Fatima with a smile. “Turakina the Divooneh, the granddaughter of Genghis Khan, Khatun of all the Tartars.”

“So … one female khan still exists?” the girl asked, her suspicion changing to astonishment. “A Khatun still lives?”

“Just because Genghis Khan’s sons were all syphilitic eunuchs and parasites on the empire does not mean his daughters sat around being meek and mild. Ai, a Khatun still lives, my friend.”

The Kara-Khitan turned her head in the direction of the distant screaming which told her that the slaughter of prisoners was still going on. She despised Mongols killing Mongols. She stood still for an instant; a small bronze statue and even the wind appeared unable to touch her. What was she feeling? Excitement? Bemusement? Indifference? Fatima had no way of knowing. Then the other relaxed her grip on her stick and looked at the Tartar.

“I will go with you,” she said. That was all.

Fatima grinned with pleasure, leaning forward she gave the girl the reins of the captured Mongolian horse. The Kara-Khitan swung into the saddle and glanced inquiringly at Fatima. What was that look? Certainly not desire, not the way Fatima was feeling right now, but … something else. Something … the Tartar motioned with her helmeted head, then trotted away down the slope. The two women cantered swiftly into the gathering dusk, leaving behind them the ruins of the battle of Qaraqata, fought on the plains of Xi Xia, in anno domini 1301. The battle would rage for another two days and nights and end with Qaidu Khan and his daughter, Khutulun, defeating the celestial army of Lady Linshui. But the Tartar woman and the Kara-Khitan girl would not know of those events, not yet, at any rate.

They camped only once on their trek across the Gobi, for the desert is a sweltering place, even at night in February.

Mongolian male and female warriors wore similar items of clothing: bulky trousers; a large tunic jacket called a deel secured by a few buttons over their right breast; leather-bound boots that came up to the knees. Underneath all this they wore a twisted thong of cotton that left very little to the imagination. These two particular women came from a long line of female warriors. It was said that when Genghis Khan’s beloved first wife, Borte, rode into battle against hostile Arabian raiders while six months pregnant she exposed her breasts and round belly and beat her chest with her bow and arrows, so frightening the Muslims that they surrendered without spilling any blood.

As with all accounts of the Mongol khatuns, sometime in the 14th or 15th century, Chinese Buddhist monks erased all records from the official history books of any mention of these Mongolian queens and female warlords. Yet, for a thousand years, diplomatic ambassadors and military generals, scholars and merchants from the world over, patriarchal men with no reason to take sides with these “Oriental Eleanors [of Aquitaine], Asian Valkyries, Catalonian knight-dames, all,” as Marco Polo once dubbed them (referring to the “Female Military Order of the Hatchet”/ “Orden de la Hacha,” of Catalonia, Spain, honoring the women who fought in the defense of the town of Tortosa against the Moor invaders), did just that; keeping the exploits of these queer soldiers alive in ways that the Chinese censors could even not touch. What these foreigners recognized was the sort of person that the Mongols called a “Baatar;” that is, the sort of hero whose actions are always direct and decisive, who puts their duty to their Great Khan above their own personal safety. Unlike the Greek demigods, who were always male and always superhuman, a Mongolian baatar might be male or female, young or old. This was a fact Genghis Khan recognized and built his empire around; seeking to make an imperium of heroes from all the tribes and nations he conquered. A person could never predict where a baatar might next turn up, be it a 69 year-old grandmother or a 19 year-old ox herder, except, as the Great Khan was fond of saying, from the tribes of the idle rich who did nothing more heroic than visit the interiors of brothels and wine shops. Ironically, his very own sons would prove him prophetically precise in those exact terms.

September 2018
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