Hello and welcome to a free chapter from my most recent story Khan And The Kingdom Without Gods. I hope the you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. If you enjoy this chapter and want to read more you can read the rest here on Smashwords, Amazon. You can also consider checking out my other story which is set in the same universe Tales From A Land Of Gods which you can find in these locations Smashwords !! Amazon !! !! B&N !! itunes .
Now on with the story!
Back again aren't you? I knew you wouldn’t stay away for long. The
is too mysterious and intriguing to be easily ignored. Land of Gods
What is the
? You ask. Well, obviously you’re another one of those naive souls who have no idea about the world so close to your own, so allow me to enlighten you. Land of Gods
Millenniums ago our world was ruled by gods. A smart looking person like you has of course heard the stories of ancient Greek and Egyptian gods. These countless legends have been passed down through the ages and even a child can name at least one. You may have brushed these stories off as make believe fairytales, but I’m here to tell you that the gods are real.
Now, now, there’s no need to make a face like that. Of course there aren't any gods bossing you around, but your ancestors suffered for centuries under the god’s merciless rule. These gods may have been majestic and powerful, but just like us humans they bickered and fought until they descended into a civil war. Those were dark days, but the fighting finally ceased when the older gods trapped their younger adversaries on one continent and sealed the land away forever. Just imagine a giant island the size of
suddenly disappearing into thin air. This place still exists of course, but in a dimension far removed from our own. Some call it an impenetrable prison from which there is no escape, and you can count yourself fortunate that none of these gods will ever come looking for you. Australia
As the centuries past, the old gods on our earth withered and died while the young ones thrived in their sealed away land. So much so that it's become a great land of gods. Great for them, but terrible for all mortals who are forced to endure their existence. Unfortunately for us the seal on this world is gradually weakening, and like aging paint, cracks are slowly forming around the edges of their world and our own. Believe it or not, it’s now possible to fall through a crack and find yourself in this mysterious land. Such is the case for many mortals who foolishly fall through, or are escorted there by untrustworthy men.
In my last tale I introduced you to a unique god named Meng Li who resides in this exotic land. Meng may have been born an all powerful god, but he quickly lost his status and was forced to survive like a mortal for most of his young years. He eventually managed to join a family of gods and turn his back on his youth, until he encountered a dying mortal from our world named Lucy who was desperately trying to return. Meng threw away his godly pride to carry this fragile mortal through an endless forest, only to watch her die before they could escape.
Some may view Meng as a kind and merciful god who exists amongst a land of monsters, but don’t be so quick to judge. There is still much about Meng Li that I haven't told you yet.
Meng's story is far from over but I can see from that look on your face that you'd rather hear a more exciting tale, and I have just the story for you. It stars a dashing thief, a beautiful bodyguard to a Princess, and a kingdom full of brave mortals who rose up against their god. Welcome to the tale of Khan and the Kingdom without Gods.
Part Two: Khan and the Kingdom without Gods
Six years have passed since Meng’s journey through the forest, and after all this time something wonderful has occurred. In a southern kingdom by the sea, a group of extraordinary mortals rose up and defeated their local god. Free from the restrictive rule of an evil overlord these people have created an oasis for humans at the end of a barren desert.
“A kingdom without gods? Impossible!” Scoff mortals throughout the land. “Without a god the rain can not fall, and the crops will not grow,” they argue. But against everyone’s expectations this kingdom continued to thrive beyond belief. Those who traveled there brought back stories of a large city by the sea with an elegant castle that is home to a kind king and a beautiful princess. These rumours brought countless mortals wanting to join it, and angry gods who tried to crush the kingdom into oblivion.
This is the story of one man, a thief, who travelled far across the continent in search of the beautiful princess from all the tales. His name was Khan.
Despite what you may be thinking he was no relation to the great Genghis Khan who once ruled inner Mongolia, and he was originally named Little Timi before deciding that Khan was a more fitting name for a great thief such as himself. He was a man in his mid twenties with shoulder length brown hair, plenty of muscles, and a stylish small beard. There was also a scar on his cheek from when he cut himself shaving at thirteen, but he recently liked to brag that he got it in a life and death battle with a sinister god.
Khan stole mostly from gods, along with whatever caught his attention, but he'd discovered that his fellow mortals were more supportive of his questionable work when he stole from unpopular immortals. He'd also discovered that there was less competition for the title of Theif King if he took the stolen items, deposited them into the hands of his enemies, and then told the previous owners where to find them.
Yes, Khan was a genius indeed. A genius who had single handedly navigated his way across a treacherous desert to the only godless oasis on the continent.
Accompanying him were his two underlings Gono and Graceful Daisy. Gono was a tall thin man who was losing his teeth and hair. He’d lived as a humble eggplant farmer who'd only dreamed of adventure until he ran into Khan stealing watermelons at the local farmer's market. Graceful Daisy, or just Daisy for short, was a large hairy man who was anything but graceful. His mother wanted him to join a traveling dance group, but Daisy soon realised that he was far better at stealing things and beating up men. Both of them were nothing but loyal to Khan, and were willing to do (almost) anything for their boss.
"By the gods! I never thought we'd get out of that desert alive!" Cried a very sandy and sunburnt Khan as they finally stumbled into the grassy outskirts of the kingdom. After walking through the desert for days, never in his life did he think he'd be so happy to see weeds. Khan hadn't eaten for days, so he immediately plucked a weed from the ground and began to munch on the furry foliage. It tasted bitter and disgusting, but Khan wouldn't have survived this long if he had high gourmet standards.
"Give us a bite boss," asked Gono, but Khan turned his head away and quickly gulped it down. This act alone may have made Khan look like a cruel uncaring man, but he’d already spotted another weed in the distance which he quickly pointed out to his underling. Gono pounced on the weed and devoured it more furiously than Khan had with his own.
“So this is the great Kingdom without gods,” said Daisy as he squinted at the buildings in the distance.
The kingdom without gods was great by mortal standards, but all the technology we take for granted has not made it into this land of gods, so the town resembled something out of an ancient Chinese painting. The streets were dirt and gravel, the buildings were made from wood and mud, and the fastest way to travel anywhere was by horse if you were fortunate to own (or steal) one. Khan and his minions dodged merchants pushing large carts full of fruit and seafood as they made their way through the town.
The one thing which set this kingdom apart from others throughout the land, was how confident and relaxed people were as they walked down the streets. Most mortals were terrified of running into malicious gods, so they always moved nervously with their heads down, but these people strolled through the streets without a care in the world.
Khan’s well tuned thief senses told him that the giant stone castle was obviously the first place to look for a beautiful princess. The large intimidating wall was also no challenge for him and his two men, but Khan decided to check and see if the princess actually dwelled there before he wasted his evening clambering over.He could be enjoying himself at the local tavern instead.
He approached the guard who was standing before the closed castle entrance. He was a young man dressed head to foot in chainmail with a sword and shield in his hands.
"Greetings friend," said Khan with a smile as he waved and strolled towards the young man.
The guard glared warily at Khan. His name was Jun and it was his first day on guard duty. He wasn't the smartest guy in the castle, but even he could tell that Khan was up to no good.
"What business do you have here?" Asked Jun stiffly.
“Why, we’re just here to admire your magnificent castle," said Khan. "Fantastic brickwork," he said while indicating to a gray flaking stone which was in need of repair.
"You have no business here," said Jun. "Now on your way."
“Hey, hey, there’s no need to be so cold my friend," said Khan and he casually rested one elbow on Jun's shoulder. "My acquaintances and I are big fans of your work. I even heard rumours that you might have a princess locked away in this castle here.”
"Perhaps. But the princesses' location is a secret I swore never to mention to anyone who lives outside these walls," said Jun. “Especially not to the likes of you.”
"I see, if that's the way things are then I guess we have no choice," Khan dived his hand into his pocket and Jun (thinking that the thief was going to draw some terrible weapon) nervously placed his hand on his sword. To Jun's surprise Khan pulled out a chunky golden necklace and held it before the young man.
"Fantastic weather we're having," said Khan. He turned away and pretended to look casual while he shoved the necklace towards Jun who refused to take it.
"Come on," hissed Khan. "Hurry up already!”
"How dare you!" Jun protested. "I'm a royal guard. No amount of petty jewellery or gold will ever sway me!"
"Looks like he's one of those people boss," said Daisy. He was referring to people with morals.
Khan sighed in despair. He thought he’d have to resort to more drastic action when suddenly the large doors swung open before them. A group of guards pushed a man dressed in sparkly green silk out of the castle and onto the street.
"Out with you!" One guard cried as they shoved him to the ground.
"How dare you!" Cried the man in green silk, who shall be referred to as The Green Silky Man for the sake of this story. "The gods will never stand for this! No mortal can live like the holy ones. It goes against the balance of the universe!"
“Balance? I’ll show you balance!” Said one guard and he tossed a bucket of what looked like mud over the man, but it smelt like something far worse.
“This is an abomination!” Yelled The Green Silky
“Just wait until the gods in the eastern lands here of this!” He jumped to his feet and rushed out of sight. Khan could hear the guards laugh as they shut the door and bolted it tight. Man.
"So, this is how you treat all your guests?" Asked Khan.
"No, that was a messenger from a neighbouring god," said Jun nervously. "Different ones come in every week. They want us to donate resources to their gods and become a tribute state in return for safety, but everyone knows that those shitty gods are just looking for ways to control us and make things go back to the way they were. If I had my way I wouldn't even allow those cowards into the palace."
"So you’re saying that all these guys sent by gods are allowed into your castle?" Asked Khan.
"Of course,” said Jun. “All messengers from foreign lands are granted an audience with our great king."
"Well, it's your lucky day my friend,” said Khan. “It just so happens that me and my associates are also messengers from a great god seeking an audience with the king."
"Really?" Asked Jun who had a hard time believing Khan due to his scruffy appearance and how he suddenly wanted to be friends. "And which god do you represent?"
"Well, can't you tell from looking at us that we represent the great and all powerful Lord,” Khan paused while thinking of a name. “You tell him Daisy."
"Lord Gody Gody,” said Daisy and Khan cursed him for coming up with such a terrible name. He’d forgotten that despite his strength Daisy was the minion who was terrible at improvisation.
“Yes,” said Khan. “As my fellow messenger just pointed out, we represent his holiness Lord Gody Gody."
"Is that so?" Asked Jun. “And where does his holiness Lord Gody Gody reside?"
"Why even the commonest of common people know that his holiness Lord Gody Gody resides in the great kingdom of-" Khan paused while thinking of a spectacular and godlike name.
“The kingdom without grapes!" Interrupted Daisy.
"Yeeees," said Khan and he made a mental note to kick Daisy later. "Our kind and gracious holiness unfortunately has a dislike for any fruit which is small, round, green, or red. And has banned them all from our splendid kingdom."
“And a super splendid kingdom it is!” Cried Gono.
“Rivers that flow with gold,” said Daisy.
“Women more beautiful than flowers,” said Gono.
“Cows that poop diamonds,” said Daisy.
“Vineyards that stretch for as far as the eye can see,” said Khan.
“Hey, wait a moment,” said Jun. “You just said that there were no grapes in this kingdom.”
“By the gods young man, everyone knows that you don't need grapes to have a vineyard,” said Khan.
"Do you take me for a fool!" Cried Jun. "I can tell just from looking at you that you're obviously a pack of vagabonds who have wandered in through the desert."
Most people would have given up at this point, but Khan strongly believed that he could still salvage the situation until Gono ruined everything.
"Oh no we've been exposed!" Gono dramatically cried.
Jun reached for his sword and was prepared to draw it on the three thieves until an old man with a walking stick frantically hobbled past them on the street.
"The princess is in the square!" The old man yelled. "If we all go together we may finally be able to overpower that meddlesome bodyguard once and for all!"
"Catch you later!" Said Khan as he waved goodbye to Jun and dashed after the old man.
"Stop you fiend!” Cried Jun. “Don't you dare lay your filthy hands on our pure and innocent princess!" He took a step forward and looked conflicted between remaining at his post or pursuing Khan. "I'll be coming for you after my shift ends!"
Khan, Daisy and Gono dashed after the old man, who was surprisingly quick despite his age. The crowd became thicker as they walked into the center of town and everyone seemed to be flocking to the same place. They turned the corner to see a splendid town square with a group of people standing on a small wooden platform in the middle.
Khan pushed through the crowd of onlookers who were mostly old men and young girls who’d dressed themselves in the same green dress with little wooden tiaras on top of their heads.
In the center of the platform stood a beautiful sixteen year old girl with long black hair and several gold ornaments holding it in place. She was wearing a long green and gold dress, and a small gold crown on her head. Khan was willing to bet his stolen cash that she was the famous princess, and her grace and beauty seemed to live up to their reputation. Her name was Lili and she was the only mortal princess in this land who hadn’t been struck down by a savage god. She was overwhelmingly popular and had hundreds of fans, even if she was a little selfish and had a strange habit of talking about herself in third person.
Beside her stood a young woman with long auburn hair, brilliant blue eyes, and far too much make-up which made her resemble a stern clown. She was the princess’ bodyguard and went by the name Mei Fhan. The gods had forbidden mortals from having family names, so everyone assumed that she made it up to go against them all. Mei’s dislike for gods was well renown, and there were few people who despised them more than her. She was dressed in a short blue dress with matching blue pants and brown boots. There was also a bronze plate strapped to her chest to protect her against knives and sneaky attacks.
Mei was deadly serious about her job as a bodyguard, and she was currently doing her best to hold back a pack of crazy fans who were desperately pushing themselves towards the princess.
“Come on you stingy cow, just let us through already!” Protested one young man who was also wearing a green dress and tiara to match the princess. Nobody knew his real name, and he demanded that everyone address him as Mr. Princess Lili Forever. “We’ve been waiting for hours!”
“You’re just going to have to wait your turn to talk to the princess just like everyone else,” said Mei as she struggled to hold them back.
“That’s what you said last time hag!” Yelled a girl no older than ten. “And then you whisked her away before we could even get our autographs!”
“The princess’ safety is my number one concern!” Said Mei.
Next to them stood a long line of people who were waiting to meet Lili. It began on the platform and then snaked its way down the stairs and across the street. Most regular men would have joined the line and patiently waited their turn, but Khan was not like most normal men and a plan was already forming within his mind. It took every ounce of energy to suppress the wicked smile that was threatening to break out across his face.
The first person in line was an elderly man who walked over and kneeled before the princess. He held a small wooden box in his hands which he politely presented to Lili.
"Princess Lili,” he said. “For you I have crafted a beautiful unicorn from the rare and exotic pine nut tree. I pray that you gaze upon it every day and think of the kind old man who spent hours crafting it for you.”
"Oh nice, thanks grandps," said the princess with a smile and she tossed the wrapped box to an eleven year old boy who was struggling under the weight of her gifts. His name was Nawaki and he was Mei’s only apprentice and ward. He’d always been a thoughtful and considerate child, but he'd recently developed an attitude problem with the onset of puberty.
"Mei," he hissed. "Help....me."
"Just a little longer," Mei hissed back. "Weren't you the one who spent the entire morning bragging to Lili about how strong you are."
The boy groaned and his arms began to tremble. The next present the princess tossed him added more weight than he could take, and the child comically fell backwards and dropped the gifts all over the stage. Mei turned to help him which created the opening that Princess Lili’s fan club had been desperately waiting for.
“Here’s our chance men! Attack!” Yelled Mr. Princess Lili Forever as he attempted to dash past Mei.
“Your reign of terror is at an end Mei Fahn!” Yelled another man (a.k.a Princess Lili’s Future Husband Number Eighty Two) as he charged at the bodyguard while brandishing his shoe as a weapon. “Nothing can stand in the way of the Princess Lili Sparkling Love Fanclub!”
“Again!” Yelled an exasperated Mei. “Why the hell do we have to go through this every day!”
“Stop fighting!” Cried the princess. “Lili loves you all! But Lili can only talk to you one by one!”
While the crowd was preoccupied with watching Mei single handedly beat off the crazy fans, Khan snatched a bunch of roses from a woman who was looking in another direction and cut through the line until he was first. The woman behind him let out a squeal of protest, but Khan reached back and passed her a handful of gold coins which she joyfully accepted. Khan may have originally snatched the gold coins from the woman’s very pocket seconds earlier, but she didn’t seem to notice so there was no harm done.
“Dearest princess,” said Khan. He gracefully bowed before Lili and presented her with the stolen flowers. “Please take this humble gift, but I’m afraid to say that no matter how far and wide I searched the continent, I failed to find a flower which could possibly match your unrivalled beauty.”
"Thank you strange sandy man," said the princess breathlessly and he could already tell that she’d fallen for hischarms. “Lili thinks they’re beautiful."
Khan smiled and turned to leave, but this was when his ingenious plan finally began.
"Hey wait there a moment!” Called Daisy who was pretending to be a regular townsman in the crowd. “But you wouldn't happen to be the great Khan by any chance?"
"By the gods!” Yelled Gono who was standing on the other side of the stage. “I was also thinking the same thing but I was too embarrassed to ask."
“It is him!” Yelled Daisy.
“It’s The Great Khan!” Gono yelled so dramatically that tears began running down his face. Khan had interviewed hundreds of men to be in his gang, before deciding on Gono and Daisy due to their superb acting skills. They'd spent the whole journey through the desert rehearsing, and now he was certain that they could pull the entire act off without fail.
“He's who?" Asked a confused man at the front of the stage.
"By the gods dear sir!" Cried Daisy. "You can't possibly be saying that you've never heard of The Great Khan?"
“He’s a legend throughout the land!” Said Gono.
“Why he beat the great god Isis in the north!” Yelled Daisy and he lept onto the stage.
“Defeated twenty pirates in the south!” Said Gono.
“Fixed the great famine in the east,” said Daisy.
"Saved sixty poor starving orphans from drowning," said Gono.
“Wow,” said Lili and her eyes began to sparkle. “Lili didn’t know that someone so cool had come to meet her.”
“There’s no need for this men,” said Khan. “I am nothing more than a humble man who does what he can for the sake of others.”
“Please sir, don’t put yourself down like this,” said Gono. He walked over and shook Khan’s hand.
“Wow! It’s the great Khan!” Yelled one woman who’d obviously never heard of Khan before but wanted to get in on the action.
“Can I have your autograph?" Asked Daisy and Khan scribbled his name onto a piece of parchment that Daisy held out before him. Khan was illiterate and couldn't write anything beyond his name, but girls usually didn't know him long enough to find out. A bunch of small children also approached him with paper and paint, and Khan merrily signed his name for them as well.
“Wow! Did you hear that Mei?” Exclaimed Nawaki with his mouth open in awe. “This guy is famous!”
"There's something strange about this," said Mei and she glared at Khan like she didn’t believe a word.
Khan and his men had also prepared a musical number which bragged about his greatness, but the last town they went to had a hard time believing that three men who didn’t know each other could pull of such a well coordinated singing and dancing routine, so they decided to just yell out the lyrics instead.
“He turned cow urine into gold,” said Daisy.
“He can speak to birds and serpents,” said Gono.
"He bed one hundred virgin girls!" Said Daisy.
"Shhhh," hushed Khan. “I thought we talked about how we weren't going to add that part anymore!”
"One hundred girls?" Said Mei and her eyebrow began to twitch in anger. Unfortunately for Khan she had a personal grudge against playboys. "There's no way that I can allow scum like you to lay one hand on the princess!"
“Please, please, it’s all a mistake!” Protested Khan, but it was already too late.
Mei dived her hand into her pocket, but Khan doubted that she was trying to bribe him. That was his secret move. He was wondering what sort of weapon the woman would use when she pulled out a single blue and gold cloth fan. It was a little humid that day, so Khan assumed that Mei wanted to fan herself before the make-up began melting off her face. He’d seen it happen before and it wasn't pretty.
Mei stepped forward, and with one dramatic swooping motion Khan was hit by a large gust of wind that was powerful enough to send him flying across the crowd and into a cart of vegetables.
"That's Mei Fhan's dancing wind strike!" Cried Mr. Princess Lili Forever.
“She hit the Great Khan!” Yelled a voice from across the stage.
“Cheater!” Screamed a small child.
Khan lay on the vegetables in pain as he tried to process what had happened. He was positive that the fan had to be a god instrument. God instruments were powerful weapons made by the gods for gods, but it wasn’t uncommon for them to fall into the hands of mortals. Khan was familiar enough with godly weapons to know that it was best to avoid them if possible. He’d even grabbed himself a holy knife that was capable of injuring even the toughest of gods, but it was hardly an appropriate weapon to use against a young maiden such as Mei Fhan, no matter how monstrous or strong she happened to be.
Khan pulled himself to his feet. He’d never been so mercilessly beaten by a woman before, and he had to admit that he kind of liked it.
"Come on!” He yelled to edge Mei on. “I expected more from someone who calls themself a bodyguard!”
Mei screwed her face up in rage. “Nawaki cover Lili!” She ordered and Nawaki dashed in front of the princess to protect her from any crazy fans.
“No Mei Mei!” Protested Lili dramatically. “Lili likes this one!”
Mei waved the fan again and sent another gust of wind towards Khan but this time the thief was ready. He dodged the wind and rolled underneath the vegetable cart. He then crawled on his hands and knees through the crowd to put some distance between himself and Mei.
"Khan! Khan! Khan!" The crowd around them cheered.
"What the hell are you doing!” Cried Mei at the townspeople. “You're supposed to be on my side not his!"
"But he's The Great Khan!" Yelled Mr. Princess Lili Forever.
"But he's lying to you all!" Yelled Mei.
"How do you know that?" Asked someone else.
"Didn’t you listen to anything they just said!" Yelled Mei. “Everyone knows that it’s impossible to turn cow pee into gold!”
"You're just jealous because there's no way that you can beat The Great Khan! He's the strongest man throughout the land!"
"How can anyone be stupid enough to believe that crap!" Cried Mei.
The crowd fell silent.
“Mei Fhan just called us stupid!” Yelled Lili’s fan club.
"Boooooooo!" Cried the townspeople and they began throwing things at Mei.
“Stop it!” She cried. “I didn't say that!”
Mei covered her face with her hands to protect herself from incoming shoes and garbage. As strong as Mei was she’d never mastered how to get along well with the townspeople. Khan took this opportunity to race past and snatch the fan from her hand.
“Look what happens when you underestimate The Great Khan!” Cried the thief as he dashed away with her only weapon.
“You bastard!” Cried Mei and she ran after him. People in the crowd tried to hold her back, but she pushed them all away and continued to advance on Khan.
Khan spun around and waved the fan at Mei to create the same giant gust of wind that knocked him into the food cart (he assumed that was how the god instrument worked) but to his disappointment nothing happened and it didn’t do a thing.
“Shit,” swore Khan. He stood there and continued frantically waving the fan in case it suddenly started working, but all he did was create a tiny draft.
Mei took a running leap and attempted to roundhouse kick Khan, but he hit the ground and dodged her assault. Khan then kicked her in the ankle and Mei fell forward, but she caught herself before losing her balance.
“Just give it up,” said Khan with his fists out ready to defend himself. “A girl like you is probably useless without her little magic fan.”
“It’s guys like you that I hate the most!” Cried Mei and she punched Khan with enough force to send him flying into a stone wall.
Thank you for reading my free sample chapter. If you enjoy this story and want to read more you can grab it in these locations Smashwords, Amazon. If you currently have Amazon Unlimited you can even read it for free!