The world darkens as each light dims.
Revenge isn't a priority for Tokhta Khan, just the icing. For her, it's about destroying the system which encouraged her torture and slavery. Equally important, she wants to bring her horde of gifteds out into the light and seize their rightful place as rulers of humanity.
But nature is a balance of opposing forces. The most formidable of which is the enigmatic 16-year-old Kayla Odachi whose powers have yet to awaken fully and whose origins are still a mystery.
Can Tokhta convince Kayla to join her faction? Who will suffer her wrath if she can't?
Eden Villains continues the action-packed, tightly-paced stories of the Eden Factions series while deeply enriching the mysterious and fantastical universe that sets these books.
“Did I not promise you this day would come?” said Tokhta Khan, Commander of the Golden Horde to her prisoner, Ursa Boke. Tokhta had the former leader of the Timurid Faction chained up, dangling from the ceiling since his capture many months ago.
Each time Tokhta visited him, she inflicted a fresh wound using Kila of Souls, an arcane three-sided ceremonial dagger uniquely capable of absorbing the Chi energy of a gifted individual.
Tokhta looked into Ursa's eyes. “What was your reaction again? When I told you I would kill you if our paths ever crossed?” She dared him to respond, wishing he would.
Ursa glared at her but said nothing. He couldn’t. His tongue was torn from his mouth by Tokhta’s First-in-Command, High General Bayan, the moment he was captured.
Tokhta ran the Kila of Souls across Ursa’s left pectoral. The dagger glowed a soft white and hummed as a rust-colored sludge oozed from Ursa’s dehydrated body. Many times Ursa neared death from his prolonged misery. Tokhta would have a Mender pull him back from the brink, healing him just enough to stay alive.
After she finished her incision, Tokhta took a step back and admired her handiwork, displaying an ear-to-ear grin. “To think, you were the most powerful Eden Faction leader at one point. Hundreds of thousands of warriors at your command. Tens of thousands of horse archers. A kingdom as vast as the heavens!” She leaned in close, careful to enunciate each of the following words, “Everything that is yours is now mine, including your life.”
He tried to headbutt Tokhta, but she pulled back quickly and countered with a punch to his face. Ursa's jaw produced a loud crunch sound as it shattered. He spat onto the prison floor a mash of pink saliva, maroon blood, and brown stained teeth.
“You have always been feeble. Even when you stole me from my father, I did not fear you. I never did,” Tokhta said through gritted teeth. “You thought you could break me by beating me, torturing me. You thought I would bear you gifted children. How many nights did you rape me? You are as impotent in life as you are in bed.” She punched Ursa in his solar plex. “Did you honestly think I could love you? You are and have always been, utterly pathetic.”
Tokhta wiped the blood off her Kila with a towel and sheathed it. “You made two critical mistakes in your life. Do you know what they were?”
Ursa kept his head down, not bothering to acknowledge Tokhta.
“I know I asked you that question before without offering an answer. But today is a special day. Your death day. I’ll finally reveal the answers to you.” She held up one finger. “You sold me to another faction leader. You should have never let me out of your sight.” She held up a second finger. “You didn’t know who you could trust. Bayan was my spy in your faction.”
He lifted his head to scream, but only emitted a low groan mixed with a gargle of blood.
Tokhta placed her entire right palm on Ursa’s bloodied forehead.
Ursa began shaking as a white glow emanated from her hand, spreading across his face and then to his entire head. Beams of white light erupted from Ursa’s eyes, mouth, nose, and ears as if his brain was suddenly capable of illumination. Every muscle in his body started convulsing except his face which stayed frozen in a silent scream. After a few moments of struggle, Ursa fell limp.
Tokhta released the chains suspending him.
With its life force vacated, Ursa’s body crumpled onto the floor of the prison.
Tokhta spat on Ursa’s bloodied carcass, kicked him in the groin, and left the cell without another glance back.
Commander Tokhta was the leader of the Golden Horde, the world’s largest faction of gifteds, and the first-ever female faction leader. She was a descendant of Genghis Khan, born into a family of nobles. She stood at a slender six-feet tall with long platinum hair. Ruby eyeliner, and a white leather coat — her trademark look. A look that earned her the nickname, “The White Devil.”
On the battlefield she often stood out, glowing against the backdrop of chaos, appearing supernatural in her movements. If her foes were close enough to see the red in her eyes and the menacing scowl on her face, their deaths were all but determined.
Tokhta entered her spacious personal quarters and headed straight to her liquor cabinet to pour a shot of soju. Adrenaline coursed through her veins from killing Ursa. Not only was Ursa dead, but she took his talent and sealed it inside the Kila of Souls. She downed the first glass and poured herself another.
After the second shot, Tokhta went to her desk and picked up her datapad. She had been waiting for updates regarding the raid against the White Lotus, a small but formidable faction and a long-time thorn in her side. The screen read:
Mission partially successful. Casualties suffered. More updates soon.
Tokhta made her way to the center of the room which held a grand espresso-stained, rectangular oak table. On the table was a hand-painted world map delineated by Eden Faction empires, one unique color for each of the remaining factions in the world. Metallic gold for the Golden Horde, a beige-white for the White Lotus, salmon for the Tokugawa Empire and so on for the other 26 factions. Hundreds of miniature wooden soldiers stood strategically on the table, representing faction troop strength.
A Wood Manipulator assembled the war table using Chi-enhanced lumber allowing Tokhta to change the colors of the map on the fly. With news of the White Lotus defeat, Tokhta placed a finger over Southeast Asia, the heart of the White Lotus domain. A spark of electricity flowed from her to the table, changing the paint from beige-white to metallic gold.
Tokhta gazed at her war table often which served as a visual representation of her progress in unifying all the factions in the world under her banner. A secondary goal was the complete deconstruction of all Eden Houses. Without these indoctrination centers for emerging gifteds, her faction alone was the only one capable of training newly-abled gifteds.
Mongolian paintings and shelves of Asian antiquities — small sculptures, pottery, and weapons from various conquered Asian empires adorned the walls of her room. The largest artwork in her room depicted Genghis Khan surrounded by his four legitimate sons overlooking a stretch of smoldering earth and scorched bodies. This painting hung directly behind her desk to serve as an intimidation factor for those who sat across from her.
Another notable piece of art in Tokhta’s quarters was a portrait of a man wearing a ceremonial Mongol robe, white with gold embroidered flowers and mauve silk trims, signifying his high class and nobility. He was painted with a hardened expression, jaws clenched, chin held high with flared nostrils. The eyes gazed excitedly toward a distant point. One hand gripped a silver saber with a gem-studded hilt. The other, a dagger eerily similar in appearance to the Kila of Souls. This portrait was titled, “Jochi Before the Wolves.”
Jochi was Genghis Khan's first son and rightful heir to Genghis’ kingdom. Not only did Jochi inherit all of Genghis’ land and power, but he also inherited all of the enemies. Jochi’s younger brothers were slated to receive much less land, soldiers, and gold, even though they were next in succession after Jochi. However much their fathers bequeathed to them, they lusted for more. The brothers plotted against Jochi, eventually succeeding in planting a seed of doubt in the mind of their father, the result of which culminated in the Great Faction Wars.
Tokhta often stopped her pacing in front of Jochi’s portrait and traced her fingers around his face. “You can’t hide from me forever…”
A notification sounded on Tokhta’s datapad. It showed a communication from one of her shadows.
Dossier: Kayla Odachi
She scrutinized every line of the report, at times pausing to re-read certain passages multiple times. “Telekinetic… Essokinetic… Surge-capable… Who and what are you Kayla Odachi?” Tokhta whispered.
Tokhta typed a reply to her shadow:
Kayla Odachi is an S-rank priority. Find and capture.
A buzzing sounded in her room. Someone unexpected was at her door.
Tokhta’s hand began to radiate a cold white light underneath her desk. Arcs of blue danced around her fingers as she stared at her doors without blinking. “Come in.”