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[personal profile] espanolbot posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Previous part,

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. (lines 1-11)

It's some four hundred years later, and the place is Inner Mongolia, where a young European traveller has wandered away from his brothers' caravan. This is their second trip to the kingdom of the Khan, but it looks to be the young man's last as he's rapidly becoming lost amongst the nighttime desert.

Out of nowhere, a mysterious stranger appears and leads young Marco back to the rest of the Polo brothers, saying that his destiny is too great to end so abruptly...

Within the summer palace of Xanadu, the woman known as Nimue watches the stars, reading the omen of the approaching Italians and their strange guide. She has been in the Khan's servive for some dozen or so years now, having been taken in by the Mongols as she wandered the desert and in return she supplied them with her deep knowledge of medicene and ability to glimpse the future. The years have been hard though, as Merlin's curse has stripped her of her magic and immortality, and the youth potions she once used to remain young in appearance are now required daily to stay alive.

She is called before the Khan, where she supplies him with her prediction that the Polos will arrive in three days and their visit should bring the kingdom a great deal of good fortune. Unfortunately, the Khan's advisor, Huan Su, thinks that the Khan shouldn't heed the Western Seer's advice, as it is tempered by "feminine fraility", and that it's more sensible for the kingdom to seek strong diplomatic ties with Japan than Europe as they're a good deal closer.

The Khan isn't really interested in this, as he points out that Huan has brought up the same plan multiple times over the past couple of months, and really at this point he's become more irritating than anything else, especially as he's already on friendly terms with the Polos and has written to the "Pope" about his wish for stronger connections with Europe anyway. He ways his advisor away and says that he wishes to seek to the Seer alone.

While alone, the Khan apologises for Huan's rudeness and talks about how strongly he holds her advice, as it's due to her that he was able to gain the throne (and is on very good terms with the Seer's friend, the Khan's fourth consort). The Seer faulters slightly, and then tells the Khan that there's a stranger travelling with the Polo brothers with an unusual appearance and big gold medallion, and that she doesn't trust his intregrity as much as his companions.

So the Stranger is promptly arrested as soon as he arrives in the city, and the Seer sneaks into his cell after generously bribing the guard. The fact that he looks at her without a trace of recognition irks her, as she mentions the bad terms their previous encounter ended in.

PS says though, that he can't actually escape yet as if he were to then the entire Polo party would become suspect, and the future he has to make sure happen won't. Xanadu is ferried out of the room before he can say WHAT future though, as the guard says their time is up.

Some time later, while the Seer is stargazing, PS' face appears projected on the Moon and tells her that he has to get Marco, 'cause there's trouble afoot! He says that Huan Se has summoned some Japanese assassins to rape and kill the Khan's fourth consort while disguised as Italians to sink the Polo's fate and end the prospect of greater links between the Khanate and Europe!

Quickly summoning Marco, the Seer and the young Italian rush to her rescue, but are unfortunately too late to stop her getting raped though. Marco then proceeds to stab one of them to death with his sword, while the Seer makes short work of the rest with her numerous poisons and chemicals to melt their eyes, liquidise the rapist's privates etc. Drawing the remark from Marco why he asked him along as she clearly didn't need his help...

Shortly afterwards, the Seer tells the Stranger that they were able to save her life, but not her modesty, and PS says that the important thing is that Marco wasn't implicated in the attack. The woman says that Marco is being hailed as a great hero, and asks him whether the destiny he spoke of was finally been accomplished, getting the response of "Not... quite yet" from the Stranger. She then apologises for not trusting him before, and admits that the long years have been very lonely for her, and asks whether he could like a companion to travel with him. She reasons that they have a lot in common, and maybe she's an aspect of his own destiny that he hasn't yet foreseen. The Stranger smiles, and says "Perhaps..."

Leastways, it's reward time!

The Khan exaplains that she can't be there to thank her saviors in person, because she's been banished. When the Seer seems shocked at this, he clarifies, although what happened to her was no fault of her own, the fact that she was rape means she's no longer fit for his company due to being "despoiled", and that is something that can not be undone.

Understandibly this angers the Seer, and in her room she seethes over the injustices that have happened to her friend. It's right around this time that PS appears in her room, as now Marco has the lamp there's no need for the ruse anymore. The Seer admits that she touched the lamp and it's enormous magical energies seem to have awoken a spark of the power she once had, and when PS admits that the power is extraordinary, the Seer once again asks if the two of them can go off together, getting the response once again of "Perhaps...".

This romantic moment, or as romantic as you can get when dealing with the Phantom Stranger, comes to an end though when the Khan's advisor, Huan Se, shows up. His part in the rape and attempted murder of the Fourth Consort couldn't be proven (being put down instead to a conspiracy by Japanese spies) and as such he's still at liberty and EXTREMELY bitter. He appears with his guards, and seeing the two of them together, promptly tries to have the pair arrested, as the Seer is in league with a man who the Khan had imprisoned.

The Stranger isn't having any of this though, and after calmly saying he's leaving, he just claps his hands, causing a sonic boom that explodes the building. While the advisor and the guards are lying around in various states of shock, or deafness, PS tells the Seer that him attacking the guards means that she'll have to leave the city, and tells her to gather her youth potions and whatever things she requires, which she does so.

They teleport into the desert, and the Seer admits that although she's sad that she's having to leave the city after the Mongol took her in, they at least have each other now, so their immortal lives won't be as cripplingly lonely as before. However PS says that such a life can not be, as the winds of fate are already calling him elsewhere to another situation where someone else requires guidance, and it can only bring untold danger to her.

The Seer claims that she's not afraid to accompany him, as she's faced many hardships over the years and she has no fears for her safety as long as the two of them are together. The Stranger kisses her hands, and says "Dear friend, there can be no companions where I walk." This rejection strikes the Seer hard, not believing that he's abandoning her again, and he apologies, saying that it's his destiny to be a stranger, and that he can not condem her to such a lonely life.

And, as he says he wishes things could be different, he fades into the desert and out of the Seer's life once again, and she's left completely alone once more...

If you're wondering why the lamp is important... well it's the one that eventually makes its way to the USA and is made into a magical lantern. Which eventually makes its way into the hands of a Mr. Alan Scott...

Date: 2012-10-17 08:44 pm (UTC)
silverhammerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhammerman
"the Polos will arrive in three days"
All I could think when I read that was "Excellent, American Eagle will be very pleased to keep such a big seller in stock."
Cool bit of history weaving with the lantern too.

Date: 2012-10-17 09:27 pm (UTC)
kenn_el: Northstar_Hmm (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenn_el
Overall I loved the series...especially the renewal of interest in the character....but it was so frustrating in the historic periods where Madame X was only capable of observing or THIS CLOSE to averting some tragic event! I found myself greatly intrigued by the Stranger's period garb throughout time, and am even sadder now that, like Xanadu, he has an actual identity (and then some!), and has lost his mystery.

Date: 2012-10-17 09:30 pm (UTC)
ghosty732: Cinderella from Vertigo's Fables (Default)
From: [personal profile] ghosty732
I contemplate picking up this series every time I am at the comic book store.

Date: 2012-10-18 02:32 pm (UTC)
mrosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrosa
Oh, give it a try, it's very good.

Date: 2012-10-17 11:17 pm (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
The relationship between the Stranger and Xanadu was one of the fun parts of the series.

Date: 2012-10-22 03:41 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: (ask the questions)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
god this is an awesome series, and makes me hope that the Phantom Stranger and Xanadu will meet again in the new 52.

i like the way this story borders on romance and just companionship. I mean two immortal beings

i also noticed that with this one, and with the next one, Xanadu seems to have befriended many women who have been wronged, does this continue?


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