Fuckwittery ✯ Asskickery



✯Geeks on Ink✯

The Forbidden City of the Lotus Blossom - Second Edition sample chapters 1 & 2

This is pre-edited

Chapter One

Beginning from the time that I was a young child, standing no taller than my father’s knee, I have been immersed in a world of blood, magic, and war. It is a world of three moons and a blinding sun that only blesses those on the surface with a few hours of light.
However, it is in those hours that we were most vulnerable. There were many creatures that freely roam the plains of Serendipity, the world I called home, but only two have been at war since the our world was invaded: the Toku and the Akaue.
Before my first breath, I had loathed the Toku with disdain and unbridled hatred. The Toku flooded Serendipity with their bastard offspring and were slowing raping her of her natural resources. Where the Toku believed that our world was for their taking, we knew the truth, thus we fought to keep the balance, and we fought to keep our world from being extinguished just as Earth, the Toku’s home world, had.
Over the years much has changed in the war, the most significant changes happening within the past three terms. What initially started as throwing stones and invisible lines drawn in the sand, turned into modern warfare with Serendipity literally divided in half: the Akaue on one side and the Toku on the other. There was a sliver of neutral territory in the middle, marking the divide.
It was called Lotus City.
What was once a beautiful city made of stone and impressive monuments, temples and lotus blossoms spanning as far as the eye could see, swaying grass and turquoise rivers running through it, was now a urban jungle of soaring, hundred-story skyscrapers of glass, metal, concrete and stone, built upon the bones of the innocent and the world we once knew, a world which could never be again. An 'industrial revolution' the Toku called it. Their scientific advancements and electronic dependency lured the unknowing and unwilling Akaue in and held them hostage just long enough that our world was nearly lost to us.
When we fought back with magic, the Toku salivated for it and wanted to harness our natural abilities for their evil means. In less than a century, nearly all of our Elders and Ancients were captured, tortured and murdered. Those who willingly gave their magic were harvested to the point of death. In three, short terms, the Akaue went from a peaceful people that never used magic as a means to hurt, to being forced into using it to defend ourselves. And in our attempt at getting our world back, at correcting the imbalance of power that will ultimately destroy Serendipity in less than a Toku lifetime, we lost what it meant to be Akaue.
And that is why I find myself in the current precarious situation: standing on the roof of a soaring skyscraper with guns pointed at me, and seven Toku sentries closing in.  
Slowly I inched back to the ledge of the roof with the newly acquired package tied tightly to my thigh. The round metal tube was not wide, but it was just long enough that it prevented me from being able to bend at the knee. With a hindered leg I could not fight them as an Akaue Guardian should, and it was safe to assume that one would have get a good shot off before his life was taken.
The Toku High Council learned quickly that they needed to train their Sentries better, especially after they discovered that the Akaue Guardians trained in combative arts and weaponry from the point of birth all in a means to become one with Serendipity.
I wished that bit of information had eluded their limited cognition.
“You have nowhere to go so give us the parcel,” one of the Sentries demanded and stepped closer to me.
When I did not answer, his eyes narrowed.
“You’re going to die one way or another, Akaue. But we’ll make it painless if you don’t make this difficult.”
I had heard that before many times.
The situation was this. I crossed the boundaries and broke into a Toku building; however, it was not simply any Toku building. It was the High Chancellor's office.
The wind has been abuzz about a new weapon, a biological weapon that could target the Akaue genetically and kill them while they slumbered. That would be catastrophic, to say the least.
Disobeying orders, ignoring common sense, and, most importantly, disobeying my parents, I crossed the border and now I was going to die.
In theory that is.
After taking a deep breath, I released it in a sigh of resignation and put my hands on my head in apparent surrender. Discreetly I inched back to the very edge of the building, my toes being the only things keeping me from falling.
The Sentries looked at each other.
“What did you hope to accomplish?” one asked, suspicious. “You are cornered, ran up instead of down, and got yourself pinned down on the roof. Your companion was easily killed and you left them to die alone.”
I nodded though I was not agreeing in the least. “I will admit, this was an ill-advised and poorly executed endeavor,” I reluctantly conceded. “I believe the saying is live and learn, am I right?” I beamed, confusing them, and silently summoned throwing daggers from the inter-dimensional pockets anchored to my wrists and they inconspicuously slid along the insides of my hands, readying to take flight.
“Who in the Hell are you?” another asked, his weapon lowering some.
“Death,” I informed him in a level tone. “Have you ever wondered if an Akaue can fly?” I ask, smiling and batting my lashes. “Let us find out, shall we?” I lowered my heels and my toes pulled away from the edging as I fell backwards off the building.
As if on cue, the Sentries ran to the edge just as I threw the throwing daggers, and each of the six connected with their intended targets. The small daggers embedded deeply into the throats of three Sentries, two embedded in an eye socket before breaking out the back of their skulls, and the other regrettably only grazed the Sentry’s cheek. The bodies tumbled over the edge of the building and spiraled uncontrollably towards the ground below.
I flipped around, pulling my arms back, and my body cut through the air in an attempt to outdistance the bodies giving chase. I pulled the cords in the back of my jacket. The concealed parachute opened and caught the air, pulling my body to a jarring halt. I steered away from the building and bodies, and right into the gunfire of the remaining Sentries. Their bullets tore through the parachute’s canopy, shredding it, but missed the intended target entirely. I made it far enough over the freshwater running along the backside of the building that could be utilized as a means of escape. However, my approach left much to be desired and I spun out of control and dangerously fast towards the water.
Odds of survival were not in my favor.
After abandoning the notion of controlling my decent, I pulled my hands together, struggling to draw the magical energy naturally existing in Serendipity to them. There was not much remaining on that side of the planet. The Toku had raped the planet of nearly all of her resources, magic included. Being of pure blood–two Elders for parents that can trace their lineage back more than a hundred generations, all of which were Ancients and Elders–I naturally possessed more magic than a five-century Ancient, I could use what was in my blood in order to correct the imbalance and save myself and get the parcel to my people.
When I was over the water as far as the tattered parachute could carry me, I push my hands down and a bright beam of blue light shot out from them and slammed into the water’s surface. In response, the water rushed upwards in a reverse vortex and I pulled the cord, disengaging the parachute, and dropped into the watery funnel.
 There were two forms of magical transportation that I hated: water and fire. Fire occasionally burned all clothing off, and I did not care for being overly hot. Fire was incredibly asphyxiating and the urge to breathe warred with common sense during transport. Water, on the other hand, was always freezing, initially, and the succumbing to the urge to breathe would drown the one utilizing that means. With all forms of elemental transportation, if you do not religiously study the taxing art form you risk having no control over it or your destination. I had once dropped myself in the middle of Serenity Lake in the beginning of the lunar alignment and had nearly a full day of swimming before I reached shore.
It was a magical art form that I needed to schedule to study.
The force violently spun me in circles, forcing the air from my lungs, and I fought the involuntary urge to breathe. The water’s temperature changed from the bone chilling to overly warm and back again, eventually settling on moderately room temperature. The color changed as well: murky black, then clear, soft pink with ribbons of gold, finally fading to shimmering turquoise. When my body smashed into something substantial and unrelenting, it suggested that my destination had been reached.
However, I did not know where that destination was.
A gun appeared in hand before I sat up and drew breath. The water was regrettably shallow and my eyes quickly dilated to the bright area.
“Hello Daughter,” Father greeted with a slight nod of his head.
I fought to keep from groaning and holstered my gun.
“Good Evening Father,” I said, nodding in return, showing respect. “What brings you to the Temple of Warding at this hour?” I asked with a smile.
“An unsettling feeling in my heart which I had to follow up on,” he said, his eyes moving over me appraisingly and his face dropped when he saw my arm. “A feeling I am happy I did not ignore, especially since healing will be required.”
I followed his gaze and made a face.
The remaining Sentries got a lucky shot off, as the Toku say, and it grazed my arm.
“It is merely a flesh wound, Father,” I assured him. “Thus there is no need to tax yourself or magic with healing your troublesome little girl.”
“Uh huh,” was all he said, raising an eyebrow, not at all amused.
I pull myself out of the fountain that was in the center of the courtyard and ignored the searing in my arm.
“Was it worth it?” Father asked, wrapping his hands around my bleeding bicep and I hissed when unimaginable heat emanated from his hands with a bright purple light. “Sorry,” he instantly apologized.
“You needn’t to do that, Father,” I reminded him; I was more than capable of healing myself, after a replenishing.
“Seeing my little girl bleeding kills me inside,” he informed me, pulling his hands away then inspected the smooth skin smeared with blood beneath my torn sleeve. “There, flawless as it should be. Could you imagine the tantrum your mother would have if she discovered She in her image was marred by the enemy? The scandal that would ensue,” he teased.
I chuckled; Father was, by far, my favorite parent and Elder. “You simply had no longing to listen to the tirade that would ensue,” I corrected and untied the metal tube from around my leg and handed it to him. “Was it worth it? I am not certain. It depends on what the Elders can decipher from this.”
Father nodded his approval and took the tube, handing it off to one of the Akaue specializing in Toku sciences.
“Are the Elders upset, Father?” I asked, following him to his private chambers.
Once we are alone, he chuckled. “Not nearly as upset as your mother, Asiah,” he admitted.  “How many did you kill?”
I shrugged. “Regrettably, only five of the seven Sentries on the roof and only three dozen on the inside,” I said indifferently. “I sense that they will not appreciate the present I left them. Looks as if High Chancellor Ulrich is going to have to find a new place to rest his hat,” I informed him with a smile laugh.
Father shook his head. “You are starting to sound more like a Toku every day,” he scolded, and it wiped the mirth from my face.
“I was not speaking in the tongue of the Toku,” I pointed out.
“No, you were not. However, your actions and attitude are those of the Toku!” he snapped and I jutted my chin out in defiance. “Asiah, you are losing yourself in the world of the Toku and in the process forgetting what it means to be Akaue. The Elders are not happy that you act without their council, you blatantly disregard what is best for your well-being, and you act rashly. Where is your Watcher?” he asked, just realizing that she was absent.
I looked away from him and gnawed on my bottom lip.
“Asiah, that is the seventh Watcher you have gone through in only a handful of months,” he scolded.
“Father, how is it my fault they keep dying?” I argued. “Their job is simple: protect me during the sun's path across the sky. I ask only that they shut up, and allow me to walk my path in order to reach my destiny which was written in the stars. On occasion I need some blood, nothing major. The last one lasted all of four hours. If the Toku had not killed her, she would have killed herself. She was weak.”
Father groaned. “Asiah, Watchers are not fodder. They are our protectors when we cannot protect ourselves. In exchange for their protection we protect them from the Toku. Sadly, I fear that the Elders will only permit you one last Watcher before they recant the freedom Lotus City gives you, and you know what that means.”
“No!” I gasped. “Father, they cannot keep me in! I will be taken by lunacy.”
“Perhaps a term within the walls would put things into perspective for you,” he countered in a level tone that I hated. “We cannot regard ourselves better than our enemy if we are acting like the enemy, and you, my dearest daughter, are acting like the enemy. You have no regard for life, especially your own, and that is reflected in your actions.”
I opened my mouth to begin a protest, but he raised his hand, silencing me.
“Asiah, I know that you are young and beyond your years, and your magical aptitude is beyond anything the Elders thought possible, and is envy worthy, to be sure, but there cannot be exceptions to our rules. Exceptions are what guide the Toku: two sets of rules in which they reign by. One for their government and the other for their people, thus the two are not equals. The Akaue are equals from the eldest Ancient to the youngest newborn. It is what makes us better than the Toku. You need to remember that, Asiah.”
“Of course, Father,” I mumbled with a bow then headed for the door. “And when do I get my new Watcher?” I asked when I paused at the door. “Apparently the Elders were well aware that my latest Watcher would not last long,” I accused.
Father shrugged. “It was suggested that she would not last, though we had hoped that her passion towards her role would have swayed you into making more of a conscious effort in keeping her alive.”
That was insulting.
“Father, I made every attempt possible to keep her alive. She was weak, but she did not deserve to die as she did,” I argued.
He raised his hand to stop me. “Perceptions speak louder than passionate discourse. Your mother will discuss it further when she ventures to Lotus City to check on you. If I were to speculate, since the others have failed where no Watcher could possible succeed, your mother is getting proactively creative to resolve the matter.”
“Of course, Father,” I humbly said. “My appreciation for the healing and for not saying I told you so,” I said and he chuckled before I headed out the door to find an escort to take me back to my residence.
It was irritating. I did not wish to have another Watcher. I was not an all-powerful Elder or someone of importance in our society that was being targeting. I was merely a child, in their eyes, someone that did not pose a risk…
That was a lie.
I posed a very big risk to the Toku, and the Elders knew it.
Yes, sometimes I acted before I thought things through properly. Youth was synonymous with irresponsibility. That was the excuse I used when it was convenient for me, even though I was two terms old, I would forever be a child in the eyes of the Elders.
“Samar, what do you know of my new Watcher?” I asked, lounging in the large soaking tub in my bathroom.
Samar had escorted me from the Temple of Warding and back to Lotus City. Mother left him in wait instead of bringing him with her. That was proof enough that Mother was up to something, something that most likely was not sanctioned by the Elders.
“I do not know,” Samar admitted with his back to me as he folded the laundry I had not bothered with. “It would be your luck that they acquired a large hairy female that you would be ashamed to be seen in public with, thus it would keep you in for a while.”
I rolled my eyes and flicked some water at him. “That would not keep me in.”
“One could only pray,” he said. “Are you worried?”
“I will admit, I am a bit nervous. The last time Mother disappeared acquiring something for me she came back with jewel-encrusted shackles. I was not amused,” I dryly informed him when he chuckled.
When I was shy of being a term old, I went off to battle with the Akaue Guardians. My parents were livid, brothers concerned, and the Elders demanded a harsh punishment since they feared it would set a precedence with the younger generation and entice them with the allure of war. I killed thirty Toku Sentries before I was tracked me down and forced back to the temple. My punishment was being shackled for a year. However, regular shackles were easily broken by one of my magical aptitude and prowess, so Mother commissioned ones that were reserved of the most proficient and dangerous of Akaue. After three weeks of trying everything in my power and beyond, and nearly blowing my hands off, I reluctantly gave up.
“Come on, now. You have been in there long enough,” Samar said, holding open a towel for me.
I was not ready to get out, but he was not giving me an option.
Obviously Mother was on her way.
Dramatically I sighed, climbed out of the water and wrapped the towel around my body.
“I shall make you dinner while you prepare for your mother. Was there anything in particular that you would like?” he asked.
I smiled and batted my lashes. “I do have a longing to venture deep into the cities on the other side of the border and illuminate the sky in fire. Can you put that on the schedule for me?”
He shook his head, not amused. “No. I am not your Watcher,” he reminded me then headed from the bathroom.
“No, of course you are not. That is not possible, unless of course you are an Elder,” I grumbled under my breath.
Samar was one of my mother’s Watchers; she had five that I knew of, none of which were female. He was a good person, a gorgeous specimen of aged masculinity that had devoted his life to protecting his Charge; it was a religion to him. Samar had been one of my mother’s Watchers long before I was born, had always been around and was completely oblivious to the fact that I was a woman. He only saw me as a mouthy child that mildly amused him on occasion and that, more often than not, needed put in timeout.
Sadly, that was the opinion of most Watchers when it pertained to me.
Regardless of the Elders not condoning my actions, I knew them to be grateful for my actions. If the contents of the parcel can save our people and be possibly turned into a weapon to use on the Toku, it would be more than worth being shackled for a stint with an inept Watcher. It would be a way to keep them alive slightly longer than they normally would last.
What was the worst that could happen? I find ways to entertain myself, and train for the next time I cross the border?
If that was the case it would be a win for everyone, especially me, and that I could handle.

Chapter Two

The man was surprisingly better than most. The warden must have shipped him in specifically to kick my ass. Warden Demshaw was a piece of shit that needed his neck snapped and violated with the blunt end of a baton. I had warned him not to bet against me, over and over I had given him the friendly warning in hopes of getting on his good side or perhaps an extra blanket, and yet that was exactly what he did, again.
A one-two combination split my lip, but I quickly answered the attack with six kidney shots in rapid succession, dropping the hired fighter to his knee. Since they paid good money to watch me get my ass beat, I might as well end it theatrically.
I jumped in the air and spun around, my foot connecting with the side of his head. The man’s body spun through the air, landing in the middle of the ring, and I landed crouched, ready for another round.
The crowd applauded and jeered.
There was no pleasing those goddamn people.
The steel door on the far end of the fighting ring pulled open and I headed towards it. A hot meal and shower would have been the perfect way to end the day. However, we were not due for a meal for two more days, and there hadn’t been hot water in that place in years, not since Demshaw took over.
What I wouldn’t have given to have one round with that bastard.
The guards met me on the other side of the door and put my shackles back on then motioned for me to follow them, the opposite direction of my cell.
That was never a good sign.
Once I realized where we were going, a path that I have taken one too many times, I had to ask. “To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing the Warden this evening?”
“I do not know and I do not care,” one of the guards said.
That wasn’t helpful in the least.
They knocked on the Warden’s door and it was followed by an annoying buzzing sound and the locks disengaging. I followed them inside the large, lavish for a prison, office and immediately took note of the woman standing with her back to me, looking out the barred window.
She didn’t waste any time. “Watcher Nami Jung?” the woman asked, turning to look at me.
It had been many years since I had seen a woman, aside from the whores that accompany the Warden and some of the guards to the fights. This woman was not a whore. In fact, she was the farthest thing from whore.
One look, one whiff, and she only had to utter one sound.
She was an Ancient.
“Former Watcher,” I corrected, even though she was already aware of that.
It was the Elders that stripped me of title and rank, and shackled me for the rest of my life.
“Indeed.” She nodded, paying respect which surprised me. “You have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for killing He you were commissioned to watch, is that correct?”
“You tell me,” I said, uninterested in playing whatever game the Warden was orchestrating now.
She knew who I was and why I was there. Nothing was more irritating and belittling than playing verbal evasion, especially when I was standing in shackles with guards surrounding me and she was wearing clean clothing, had been fed, and had the honor of taking a hot bath before gracing me with her presence.
The corners of her full lips pulled up into a smirk and I fought to keep from killing her.
“What do you want, Ancient?” I asked, tired of the game already.
Demshaw growled. “You will mind watch your tongue when addressing Elder Jin Tatsuyoshi!”
“Well, isn’t that special?” I sneered, glaring at her. “Not just any Ancient dragged her ass all the way to this hell hole to visit me, but the Ancient with power to the likes of nothing those of commoners of Serendipity will ever know. The controlling power of the Akaue is gracing us with her presence. Excuse me if I don’t bow before you and grovel at your feet as your position and title dictates I should.” I held my shackled hands up. “Too much effort would be needed on my part. Unless of course you’re offering to remove the restraints,” I mused and eyed her, a blatant show of disrespect, but I was out of patience. “Then again, your Watchers are noticeably absent and I wouldn’t much faith in the ability of Demshaw’s little baton wielding pets. I’ve killed a few of them during my stay, in case he neglected to mention that when assuring you of your safety here in his office.”
She gave me a look.
“Oh, I’m sorry, would you prefer if I spoke in the tongue of the Akaue even though their opinion of this bastard of polluted blood is so very, very low?” I asked, patronizing her.
Elder Jin motioned for Demshaw to stay seated when he started to address my lack of propriety. “Speak in whichever tongue you prefer if it will answer my question. Are you or are you not Watcher, or former Watcher, Nami Jung?” she asked again, undeterred.
“I am,” I guardedly admitted.
“You have fought more than nine-hundred exhibition matches in the eight years that you have been here, and have not lost one?”
Great. Apparently the Elders don’t have enough to deal with at the moment and now they want to take up gambling even though it’s frowned upon by those of the Temple.
“Admitting to such unlawful actions,” I said, choosing my words carefully in case this was a setup, “would nullify the life sentence I was given and convert it to the death sentence I should have originally had.”
Elder Jin chuckled, darkly, but I wasn’t sure why; nothing I said was amusing. If anything, it was a slap in the face for breaking the laws she was in a position to uphold. “How would you like to earn your place in society again?” she asked, cocking a delicate black eyebrow.
It had to be a trick. Apparently she was bored and felt the need to mess with a convict, an inmate that did the unthinkable in her society’s eyes, one that got me a one-way ticket to life in prison without the possibility of parole or pardon.
I shook my head then turned and headed to the door. “No. Take me back to my cell.”
“I did not excuse you,” she warned.
I spun around to face her and fought the urge to growl. “I do not need your permission to return to the darkness which has been my companion since you sentenced me to this hell hole!” I snapped at her. “I will not stand here and allow a bored Elder amuse herself at my expense with the promise of feeling the sun on my face and once again knowing the joys of the wind caressing my skin! You and my partial kin have made their opinion of me and He I failed to protect, in your eyes, and completely disregarded She I truly failed to protect, so very clear, and I will not simply stand here and entertain you any longer. You have said what you came to say, and I have given you my polite refusal of entertainment. My patience is impressively great, however, you and that vile bastard behind the desk have affectively used up the last of it. Return me to my cell at once,” I hissed at the guard to the left of me.
Elder Jin chuckled. “You have your mother’s temper though you masterfully hide it during your training.”
“I know not which you speak of,” I spat through clenched teeth; speaking of my mother was the last thing I wanted to do, especially with this Elder.
“Uh huh,” she said, overly amused. “That is why you are the person for the job,” she informed me. “I need a Watcher that will succeed where all others have failed. Five years of severely supervised duty followed by five years of modified supervision. After the term you may choose to retire or renegotiate for another term. Either way, at the end of the first term you will be pardoned of all charges and will once again hold the highest level of stature in Akaue society that a bastard offspring is permitted to hold. What do you say?”
It has to be a trick.
I looked to Demshaw and his nostrils were flaring, jaw was clenched, and his hands were wrapped around a metal letter opener so tightly that blood seeped from between his clenched fingers.
Demshaw doesn’t appear supportive of this offer, and is obviously annoyed by her unannounced visit.
“Who would I be watching?” I reluctantly asked, still suspicious.
“A girl,” Elder Jin said, looking away from me and out the window. “A young girl with too much ambition, radical ideals, and the inability to stay on our side of the border,” she mumbled the latter under her breath, making a face.
Now I know she’s messing with me.
“A girl?” I scoffed. “You want me to babysit a child for the next ten years, and at which time I will be free?”
She nodded. “In a sense, though I must warn you Watcher Jung, this child has gone through seven Watchers in merely a handful of weeks. Her ambition is nearly too much for the Elders to handle, and with the Toku growing exponentially more dangerous with each passing day, the Elders are not in a position to attempt to reel her in just yet. You are her last hope before she will find herself within the confinement of prison walls. That fact alone should keep her in check, as your partial kin say, in theory. She will be requiring a mentor and trainer as well. Obviously you are more than capable of being both. Do you accept the terms?” she asked, growing tired of my insolence.
If it’s only babysitting, this offer is too good to be true. An out of control child, most likely of an Ancient that Elder Jin is indebted to hence why she is here, wouldn’t be any different from my last Charge. Only this one I will be able to tie up and leave in a closet when they piss me off.
“I have conditions,” I said, seeing just how far this deal could be pushed and if it were truly a legit offer.
“And those are?” Elder Jin asked, as if expecting me to have them.
“I require a hot shower, shave and haircut, a warm meal and some new clothes, and a few other things to be named at a later time which will be negotiable,” I said.
No one in their right mind would agree to an open ended agreement with a convicted murderer.
“Deal,” she said with a smile. “Warden, please remove his restraints,” she commanded.
Demshaw growled under his breath and started to motion for the guards to do as she asked.
“Wait,” she said, giving me a look. “If your reputation truly precedes you, remove them yourself,” she ordered me.
I laughed, loudly.
“Impress me, Watcher Jung,” Elder Jin said with a smirk.
Demshaw looked between up, his eyes wide.
I merely shrugged then blew on the thick manacles around my wrists and they crumbled away to fine, powdery sand.
“What in the…” Demshaw stammered, his complexion paled.
The guards retreated from me with weapons drawn as I rubbed my raw wrists.
Elder Jin nodded with a smile. “Your reputation truly does you no justice,” she said.
I nodded my agreement.
At any time I could have broken out of jail, and the Elders knew it, but I hadn’t. I did the crime and the consequences of my actions I was more than man enough to be subjected to. It wasn’t easy, more than once I fought the urge to burn the place to the ground and just walk away, but that would have made me no better than the one whose life I took that put me within those very walls I wanted to burn down.
“Are you ready to go or did you need to bid farewell to your friends?” she asked, amused.
“Not unless you are going to give me permission to leave Demshaw with a small reminder of my time here,” I said.
Elder Jin motioned towards the terrified man. “You have one hit thus I suggest you make it count,” she said.
I didn’t wait to be told twice.
I had honestly forgotten how amazing a hot shower felt. Elder Jin and her Watchers had brought me to a hotel far from the Temples and where I would be seen by others of position within the Akaue hierarchy of power. While I showered, using every last drop of hot water possible, Elder Jin’s Watchers made arrangements for a barber and stylist per our agreement.
Things had changed greatly since I was a Watcher. The Toku, for one, were apparently completely out of control, more so than usual, especially if I had to babysit while the Elders dealt with whatever the Toku were up to now. Surprisingly, the Akaue were more adaptive towards the Toku world—they had to be otherwise they would be consumed by it—and were apparently blending into it more. That should have, in theory, made being a Watcher much easier than it was before.
Still suspicious, I sat in one of the chairs with a towel wrapped around my waist as a man hovered around me, cutting my long black hair. It had been more than eight years since I had a haircut and at least four years since I had shaved. The weight loss from my face and head was much appreciated and worth the most likely premature death this assignment might cause.
“Thank you,” I mumbled after the barber held a handheld mirror up for me; the cut was much more stylish than I wanted, with long, sweeping bangs in the front I couldn’t find purpose for, but it could easily be resolved with a knife later.
The barber smiled and packed up his tools of the trade before nodding to Elder Jin then left the room.
“You will be implanted with one of these,” Elder Jin’s Watcher explains, holding up a small device with a faint blue, glowing from within the clear body.
“This is new,” I grumbled, not overly excited about being tagged as if I were a pet.
“Much has changed since you were a Watcher,” he reminded me. “The implant will link you to your Charge and she to you. If she is killed the device will pull the life force from you, transferring it to her, thus you will sacrifice your life for hers as a Watcher should.”
I started to get up when the chair slid forward on its own with merely the curl of Elder Jin’s finger and I fell back into it.
“It will also allow us to keep tabs on you,” the Watcher continued. “Not in a location sense, but we will know when you and your Charge are apart, thus you cannot kill your Charge, or you will kill yourself. You also cannot leave your Charge for more than an hour or your life force will start to be pulled from you to her until you return or you die. In addition, you will also willingly allow your Charge to feed off you as needed. There are feeding vessels already in place at the residence, but if something happens you must willing give yourself to her in order to protect her. Do you understand?”
I glared at the man. “I am not letting some spoiled little brat bite me.”
“You have not a choice,” he regrettably informed me before slamming the pneumatic delivery device into the side of my neck and I hissed. “It will stop burning in a moment,” he assured me. “Do you have any questions?”
“Allowance and weapons?” I asked, rubbing the side of my neck.
“Allowance will be provided,” he said.
“Weapons?” I pressed, annoyed that he ignored the important part of my question.
Elder Jin gave him a look. “There is an arsenal on site, though you may have to fight with the keeper of the arsenal since she does not like to share what she calls toys.”
I cocked an eyebrow; that didn’t add up. If the child was the keeper of the weapons, of what she considered toys and didn’t like to share, that meant this child was more than merely a child.
 “If you fail at keeping the child safe,” another of the Watchers said, “you will find yourself experiencing the most heinous of deaths. However, they will bring you back from Azra'il’s waiting arms and kill you again and again for your failure. Your imprisonment would have been a reprieve compared to what they will do to you.”
“Who is this child?” I asked, suddenly flooded with dread and paranoia.
It was something I should have asked back in prison where it was safe.
Elder Jim motioned for the tailor to lay out the collection he brought when entered before turning back to me. “Asiah Tatsuyoshi, my youngest child,” she said at length, her eyes moving over my face many times, gauging my response.
Yes, I would like to go back to prison now.
The drive to the residence I spent seething while watching the passing scenery. Of all the people to be stuck babysitting, it was the youngest child of the most powerful Akaues on the planet. The Tatsuyoshi bloodline was highly regarded, held the top two seats of power amongst the Elders, and apparently the mother was very fertile in comparison to other Akaue because she had produced many heirs and well beyond childbirth age. I knew very little of the family, they were much too high in society in their opinions to associate with my one and only Charge, thus our paths never crossed.
I thought, had hoped even, that we would be going to the western side of Serendipity where the Akaue call home. It would make it easier to keep the spoiled brat from crossing the border and getting into trouble. Just as with everything in my life, my lack of luck had us going in the opposite direction and into the heart of Lotus City.
“It has changed a lot, has it not?” Elder Jin commented, watching me.
“I hardly recognized the place,” I admitted, and it caused me to be even more irritated over the situation and at myself for not asking more questions before being pulled from prison. All the vegetation was gone and was replaced by holograms projecting various plants that most likely changed hourly: blooming cherry blossom trees, purple and white lilacs, tall maple trees with leaves that change from green to red and orange, blue orchids, all Earth based foliage. Alternating between the Earthen images were those of Serendipity: marbled taro plants, blooming nightsong orchidaceae, swaying cadmium grass with white buds opening before breaking apart and blowing away on a phantom breeze, and large white and red moon blossoms. The landscape was covered in concrete, metal and glass. The grass pathways were replaced by streets filled with vehicles reminiscent of those of Earth. Skyscrapers disappear into the low hanging clouds that swirl with a rainbow of colors and hummed with energy. The sidewalks were crowded: the Akaue on one side and the Toku on the other.
Much had changed, but the line was still clearly drawn in the sand.  
“Why has this girl gone through so many Watchers?” I asked.
Elder Jin sighed, shaking her head. “Asiah is very energetic, passionate, beyond her years even, and wants to change the world and to save her people and planet. However, her infantile nature causes serious repercussions from her ill-advised actions. Being a youth, she lacks in patience and discipline.”
I snorted. “Lacks discipline? Her parents are two of the most powerful Akaue alive and she lacks discipline? You cannot be serious.”
“I wish I could say I was not,” she admitted, looking out the window. “Being of the bloodline in which she is causes containment issues. Much like the prison you refused, for whatever reason, to break out of, there is not a prison that can hold her. The two of you will be most suited for each other, if she does not get you killed.”
“That I am more certain will not happen,” I informed her.
She merely shrugged indifferently. “So you say, however, when Asiah is involved, you usually do not have a say in the matter.”
We’ll see about that. No spoiled brat is going to kill me when all others have failed. I will not be beaten by a child of all creatures.
The car pulled into the heavily guarded garage of a tall skyscraper in the center of the city that was bordered by a black river along the back and empty lots on either side. Once parked, one of her Watchers opened the door for Elder Jin while another pulled the two duffle bags containing my new wardrobe from the trunk then tosses them at my feet.
Once I did a sweep of the garage, just as a Watcher would when on a new assignment, to the amusement of the others, I motioned for them to lead the way. The elevator ride was quiet. Elder Jin studied my reflection in the polished metal doors, as if she were appraising my updated appearance.
When I made eye contact with her in the reflective surface her expression changed.
“Remember, Watcher,” she said when the elevator came to a stop on one of the top floors. “You are not to touch my daughter in a sexual manner. You are not of pure blood, regardless of what your mother boasts of you possessing. You are her Watcher and nothing more. Do you understand?”
I gave her a look. “What kind of sick pervert do you think I am?” I asked. “I would never touch a child. I was locked up for murder, not rape or pedophilia. Now, the bastard I killed, on the other hand, should have been locked up for both and yet the Elders turned a blind eye to his actions and sick, demented taste in innocent young girls. Hypocrisy at its finest now that it is your young daughter, wouldn’t you agree?”
The Watchers with us exchanged looks but minded their tongues.
Elder Jin nodded. “Yes, it is. I never agreed with why you were locked up,” she said, but I couldn’t tell if she was being truthful or trying to catch me off guard. “If you had exercised some patience, it would have been taken care of accordingly. However, I applaud the fact that your morals outweigh your sense of duty and honor. Many Watchers suffer from moral ambiguity,” she commented, eying those with us, “so it is very rare to find one that does not. My means may confound the Council, family, and daughter, and possibly even you, but I have a method to my presumed lunacy. Never doubt or question that. You will do your job exceptionally well. I have faith that you will exceed all of my expectations and you will succeed where all others have failed. In the process, Asiah might learn something from you and both of you might learn patience.”
The last thing I wanted was an Elder boasting having faith in me and confidence in my ability to not kill my Charge.
She entered a code into the elevator console and the doors silently opened. I followed her inside and my eyes instinctively worked around the massive space, taking mental notes.
The penthouse suite was spacious with few walls and rooms, and the furniture was functional and minimal. The far wall was floor to ceiling windows with a view of the city and river below. White and black animal hide furniture with metal and opaque glass accents adorned the space and were organized into groupings for each purpose: study, lounge, dining area, and kitchen. A clear glass fireplace acted as a divide between the main body of the penthouse and the study area; from a bed of white glass blue and white flames danced.  Floor to ceiling fountains were mounted to the fireplace on each side and created rippling walls of water that filled the air with a soothing trickling water sound that I knew would quickly get on my nerves. The pendant lighting I didn’t care for either; they were much too modern and reminded me of targets. In the far corner, in the open galley kitchen, was a man tending to something on the stove that made my stomach grumble; I hadn’t eaten enough at the hotel between my shower and shave.
The man looked at us curiously but continued cooking, giving a slight nod of his head to Elder Jin.
He belonged to her.
“Nice of you to join us,” someone called out.
That was not what I was expecting to hear.
Instead of a child with a soprano voice calling out to her mother in amusement, it was deep and womanly, arousing in all the right ways to someone that hadn’t seen a woman outside of a whore in the stands during fights.
From a darkened hallway, a woman walked wearing only a men’s button down dress shirt and a tiny pair of panties that teased my cock with each step she took. Her hips swayed with overly-exaggerated sultry as she went, her long, slender feet padding across the polished stone floors toe-heal, causing her hips to sway even more as she walked. With one hand, she pushed her long hair back from her face, causing it to roll down her back like a curtain of medium brown satin curling ribbons.
For just a fraction of a moment, a split second in passing, her eyes met mine and the molten silver in her teal eyes swirled as understanding registered with her. She headed to the wall of windows then stood there with her arms crossed, tapping a long, slender index finger against her pouting bottom lip as if waiting for something.
I would like to go back to prison now.
“You are just in time to watch the show,” she said with a throaty purr, then looked over her shoulder at us and cocked a long, sculpted eyebrow. “The view from here will be to die for,” she promised, turning her attention back to the section of city in the distance, clearly on the Toku side of the planet.  
The strange seductiveness in her voice matched the exotic look of the woman, a cross between demon and angel according to the books of the Toku. Her light tawny skin was smooth and had a velvety texture that you would be hard-pressed to find in someone outside of the shelter of Temples. Large almond-tapered eyes were incased in thick black lashes, her small nose had a delicate slope that wouldn’t be found on someone trained in combat, overly full lips made her mouth appear almost heart shaped on her slightly flat, oblong face. She had a pair of very agreeable long legs with definition that you wouldn’t mind having wrapped around you, the bottom of her ass teased me from under the partially buttoned shirt she was wearing, the thin white linen leaving very little to the imagination.
It had been years since I had seen a woman up close, a woman that wasn’t being paid for companionship, aside from Elder Jin, and I could honestly say that this creature was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
Please be the babysitter. Please be the babysitter.
“What did you do, Asiah?” Elder Jin demanded and hurried over to her.
Fuck. Not the babysitter, instead the one I’m babysitting. That’s just great. This is not going to end well for me.
“Nothing too terribly naughty,” Asiah assured her with a smirk.
 Something about that little smirk, the twitch at the corners of her pouty lips, made me want to bend her over my knee and spank her ass, and not in a kinky way either. The woman was trouble, which I knew without question, I just didn’t know how much trouble she would be just yet.
In the distance, along the skyline of the Toku side of the planet, a brilliant flash of light illuminated the blackened night sky as if it were day.
Asiah moaned with a shiver as she admired the illuminated horizon.
Elder Jin groaned. “Asiah, what did you do now?” she demanded.
“High Chancellor Ulrich is not going to be very happy with me,” the troublesome woman said in a teasing singsong tone.
“Was he in there?” I demanded, not minding my manners.
“I certainly hope so,” Asiah said, her head tilting to the side before she turned to regard me. “And you are?” she asked. “Eyes of such interesting hue are only possessed by one creature: the bastard offspring of Toku and Akaue unions. Are you a Watcher?” Her eyes moved over me again, appraisingly. “I dare say, Mother, it is rather hypocritical that you have nothing but male Watchers when no other female can boast of such. You should be simply ashamed of yourself,” she scolded. “Though, this one looks rather questionable. Did you lose a wager? Father was adamant that you went to fetch me a Watcher that might stand a chance at surviving your lovely little girl’s antics. Well, where is she?”
Elder Jin glared at her. “You will mind your manners,” she warned.
“Or you will what?” Asiah retorted, not scared of her mother in the least, which was impressive regardless of the suicidal nature of it. “Shackle me in manacles that cannot be broken? You have done that. Imprison me within the walls of the Temples? You have done that as well, and yet they cannot hold me. So tell me, Mother, what is it that you are scheming this time?” she sneered.
The man in the kitchen put the spoon in his hand down. “That is enough, Asiah. That is your mother,” he reminded her. “Regardless of her position, the fact that she gave you life demands that you respect her. Do you understand?”
Asiah pulled her shoulders back and nodded once before her mother slapped her in the face.
My back stiffened and I fought the urge to go over there and protect my Charge, even if I wanted to smack her myself at the moment.
“I am tired of your games,” Elder Jin hissed in her daughter’s face. “If you do not show me the respect that I have earned, unlike you, I will make sure that you never see the light of the moons again. Watcher, come!” she barked out, casting me a sidelong glare.
I dropped my bags to the floor and stood there; regardless of position in Akaue society, I didn’t take kindly to being ordered around.
“Did you break that puppet already?” Asiah sneered under her breath.

“No, she did not,” I said, giving her a look. “I am no one’s puppet, especially the Elders. I am Nami Jung, your new Watcher,” I informed her.