Note: I don't know where this came from either, but here it is.


There was heat, and there was fire, and then there were hands and voices. Shouts, screams, cries of the dying, pleas from the wounded. There was blood and cannonfire and the pounding of horses' hooves. There was light, and darkness; there was deep cold.

There was heat and fire and light, all together. There were great heights, great falls. There were new hands, new voices. No more screaming - only cheers. And there was a garden, and peace, and the gentle ebb and flow of life, easy as water, for a long time. Then there was fear and darkness once more. A stretch of darkness, very long, but broken by light again in due time.

New voices, excited voices, strange voices, speaking a strange new tongue. Hands - cradling hands, soft of touch. Light, movement. Darkness. Time. The strange language, muffled at first but then breaking clear. Cradling hands. Motion.

Light. Neverending light. A vast space, hollow and echoing, with cool air and murmured voices surrounding. One voice louder than the rest.

"- over here. Like everything else in this exhibit, these were uncovered in China at the turn of the last century amongst a larger cache of artifacts. However, these three items were bundled separately from the rest of the cache, probably indicating a greater value. They've been dated to an earlier time than the other artifacts, which is also telling. Of special interest is the sword. Analysis indicates that it's of Mongolian origin, possibly used by a Hun warlord."

Shadow as the light is blocked by many bodies. Murmured voices.

"To the right, a gold medallion with its original chain. Regrettably, the medallion's face has been damaged, and the examiners were unable to definitively make out the images, but it could be an imperial dragon. If so, it and the sword are likely war trophies."

A voice asks if the artifacts came from a burial.

"There were no bodies found. The most probable explanation is that the objects were buried to protect them from marauders, perhaps an army. That was a common practice all over the world. The owners of this cache just never made it back to reclaim them. Other items bore family names, which we'll come to presently. But here's the true mystery of this exhibit: this jade comb.

"It was bundled with the sword and the medallion, but it's hardly a war trophy. As you can see, it's a woman's decorative comb. The stylized magnolia flower has been chipped slightly, but otherwise it's in perfect condition."

No magnolias here in the light and murmured voices. The scent drifts anyway, a ghost.

"There's nothing special about it, though. Why it was placed with a Hun sword and an imperial medallion no one can say."

Another question. Sword, crest, comb - a woman warrior?

"There were no bodies. Without a body, without some kind of definitive proof, the archeologists can't say. Now, over here..."

The voices move on. There is light. Silence and soft echoes. Time.

And quietly, anonymously, next to the Emperor's crest and Mulan's comb, the sword of Shan-Yu rests in its museum case.