In A Flash
Emperor Mensch-Xi looked at his son, the comely Crown Prince Con’er, with loathing.
“You are too weak to rule a state,” Mensch-Xi barked. “And you are certainly too weak to rule our great state of Sya Ang Land of the Many and Obedient People Like Schools of Fish Thronging!”
Since Crown Prince Con’er’s return from his first campaign on the Yellow Danube river, he had been saturated in opium and poisoned lotus, living in one drug den after another. The Emperor was disgusted by his son’s reaction to his first battle wound in spite of his otherwise exemplary performance at war.
“I shall therefore make an Imperial decree upon this subject, you nancy!” Mensch-Xi said. “If one wound has made you this desperate for oblivion, you will be tormented and punished until you have the tolerance for pain of a real man! And then some! Guards, take him to the Imperial Torture Dungeons!”
None of their many cruelties and sadisms, their injuries and poisons, their machines and beatings, could make him so much as cry out. His tolerance for pain was off the Celestial freaking charts.
Mensch-Xi visited the Imperial Torture Dungeons after some months and, after witnessing it for himself, was truly confused.
“Crown Prince Con’er,” the Emperor said, “You have quickly learned how to stand amazing amounts of pain. You are no damn little sissy. I was mistaken.” He bowed.
“No, Father,” Crown Prince Con’er replied, still bound to a rack, bloodied and abused. “Regarding my weakness, you were correct. Your error lies elsewhere, though you are blameless.”
“Please Instruct me, Crown Prince,” the Emperor said as he motioned for his son to be loosed from bondage.
Con, the man, stared directly into the Emperor’s eyes, his undulled memories causing more anguish than seeping wounds and ugly bruises ever could. He covered his right hand with his left and bowed as well as his body would allow, then raised his right arm in a weak but reverent sieg heil before allowing both arms to fall to his sides.
After a moment, he spoke.
“Your highness understands weakness, but you do not understand pain.”
(Oops! Close, but wrong universe for this story. Sorry about that. The point stands.)
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