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Chapter 27


The Twenty-Fifth Year

Kronus builds a new women’s school for the Emperor – Various groups rise in opposition or support – The Emperor gathers the greatest men of war and requests a gift for his anniversary on the throne –Titus Germanicus speaks his protest – An ultimatum: take Petragia or die – Seti-Kahn plans to escape the Emperor’s wrath – Kronus is summoned to lead in battle – Kronus reveals his plans for the taking of Petragia – The Emperor places his seal upon the plans of Kronus – Seti-Kahn threatens his son – Kronus bids farewell to his Beloved

 

1  Thus was Kronus given full charge by the Emperor in the building of a woman’s school within the palace grounds; giving unto Kronus whatever he should ask, for the Emperor desired that he alone should be the greatest emperor of all.

2  Now Kronus built a school of stately size and manner, being itself able to hold some one thousand women, having within its great structure a good many classrooms; and there was built in the center of all these things, a large auditorium where all women could be gathered as one together.

3  And beside the school did Kronus build a house wherein the women might live, having within it a great many fine appointments and elegant rooms; and around the school and the house together did Kronus build a wall of green marble with gates of gold; and above the gates did he place the Emperor’s seal.

4  And within the walls did Kronus place gardens and fountains and walkways; and there was placed among the gardens, a great pool of water where the women might swim and splash about; to rest and relax themselves as they might please.

5  For the school which Kronus built did teach the Emperor’s women for two years, teaching them such things as would prove to their advantage; for in the school which Kronus built did the women attend their classes some twelve hours a day, going six days out of every week.

6  But on the seventh and eighth day of every week were the women set at liberty, to do as they might please; and every woman which was appointed to attend did think themselves most greatly advantaged and did, even every one of them, give unto Kronus a fullness of devotion; while unto the Emperor did they give a fullness of grace and beauty and courtly manner.

7  For those women which were appointed to attend the Emperor’s school were all themselves of young and tender age; being themselves between fifteen and nineteen years old; being appointed by the Emperor as the most capable in achieving the sum of the Emperor’s goals.

8  And unto all these women were there given wardrobes of rich and elegant gowns, and upon their wrists was there given a bracelet of gold, bearing upon it the Emperor’s seal.

9  But there arose against these things the greatest of the men of power, being themselves of an older generation; these then did mock and ridicule among themselves the doings of Kronus; believing him corrupt and perverted for the sake of such women as he would lift above the cruel traditions of ages past.

10  Yet of the younger men which also ruled within the city of Trajenium, even these did stand beside Kronus, believing him the greatest of their own generation; and whatsoever Kronus would do, even the men of youth and power did seek for themselves some advantage against the older men which ruled over them.

11  Thus did Kronus, for five years, oversee the Emperor’s school, to guide and direct himself, the learning of the women; and after the first two years did there begin to graduate out of the school, women which were themselves elegant and courtly, being made rich in grace and beauty and erotic manner; being seen by the Emperor as treasures of worth and value.

12  Now in the year when Kronus was thirty years of age, the Emperor gathered to himself the greatest of the men of war; and sitting upon the throne of all his glory, the Emperor spoke to them, saying:

13  “In the coming year shall I celebrate before the whole empire, my twenty-fifth year upon the throne. What gift therefore will you give me before the gathered might of all my realm?”

14  And Seti-Kahn did step forth and looking all about the room, he spoke, saying: “Your Majesty, all things within the realm are yours already. Tell us, therefore, the gift you would have from us, and even that shall we lay before you at your feet.”

15  Then did the Emperor thinly smile and like the wolf, fierce and treacherous, he did gaze deeply into the eyes of those which stood before him; for he knew well that these were the men which, in dark and secret shadows, made mock the Emperor’s name for women’s sake.

16  And the Emperor spoke, saying: “There is a gift which I would have, a gift which no Emperor before has ever taken unto himself; being itself alone most highly prized and greatly guarded; and if you should give this unto me, then shall you prove to me your worth and cunning.”

17  Seti-Kahn hearing this, did stand before the Emperor in proud and noble form; and he spoke to the Emperor, saying: “Tell us, Your Majesty, this thing which you would have, and even we shall give it unto you.”

18  Then did the Emperor rise from off his throne to stand before the whole room, and he spoke, saying: “Give to me the island fortress of Petragia; then shall the empire know most surely that I am the greatest Emperor of all.”

19  And hearing this, there arose a great many protests, and there spoke unto the Emperor, Titus Germanicus, saying: “Your Majesty, this thing you ask is far too great; for every Emperor before you has tried in vain to take from Rome the island fortress.

20  For even the Father of the empire, Maximus Drakonus did strive throughout his life to take again this Petragia, and even it did prove too great. How then shall we achieve what so many others before did but fail to gain?

21  For we remember well your father’s efforts to take this island fortress; sending against the bastions some two million men, and there perished against its walls up to half of all our forces.”

22  Now when the Emperor heard these things, he was filled with a cold and bitter rage; and reaching into his tunic, he brought forth a gun and did with deadly calm kill Titus Germanicus before all which were gathered.

23  And every man did leap in fear at the suddenness of the Emperor’s fury, gazing upon the floor to see for themselves the body of the dead Germanicus which himself did lie in a pool of thick and oozing blood.

24  Then did the Emperor speak unto Seti-Kahn, saying: “Did you think me soft or addled? Will you strut and boast that you will give to me whatsoever I should ask; and then when I but speak, you will turn aside the Emperor’s wish?

25  Hear well your Emperor’s words and look you well upon this fool who thought himself to speak against my heart’s desire; to turn aside such goals as I would set for the sake of all my realm.

26  For I will have this Petragia, to add to the empire the wealth of the North Atlantic; causing that for a thousand years still yet to come, all men shall look themselves back to us, and in their hearts most heavily sigh, believing in themselves rightly that this was the greatest of the ages.

27  Thus will you bring to me in one month’s time, such plans as will gain for me the glory which I seek; and this also must you know full well; that if you should fail in taking this Petragia, then shall each of you be made to die before me.

28  For there is only one thing which you may offer as a ransom for your lives; take therefore this Petragia and you shall live in honor and glory beside the throne of all my power; but if you fail, then shall you perish and I shall wipe away your names forever.”

29  Thus spoke the Emperor, and all the men of power trembled greatly within themselves; and going away even all these men did gather within the offices of Seti-Kahn; and there spoke unto the Supreme Commander, Markus Tobias, saying:

30  “What, my lord, shall we do? For it is certain that we cannot give to the Emperor the thing he asks; for there are no means by which we can accomplish so great a thing, and by your word are all our lives made forfeit.”

31  But Seti-Kahn, when he heard this, did himself roar with rage against him; and he spoke hotly unto all the generals and admirals which were gathered, saying: “Do you fear to die? Are we women which would shake ourselves but thinly pale to see the grave before us?”

32  Yet did Lucius Britannia answer him, saying: “We fear not the dying, Seti-Kahn, for we are warriors made ready to perish for the sake of the Emperor and all his realm. But it is oblivion which we fear, to have our place and names wiped forever clean from the annals of the state;

33  Being made as though we never lived or moved about; having the greatness of all our deeds swept away to be no more; to lie ourselves within the grave as unremembered and unknown.”

34  Now there fell upon the whole room a great silence, and after there had passed some several moments, Seti-Kahn smiled, having devised a cunning escape from the Emperor’s threat of death; and standing before all who were gathered, he spoke, saying:

35  “Listen well, my comrades, and do not fear. For why should we incur the Emperor’s wrath when there is another whom the Emperor favors above all others? For it is Kronus who will save our lives from oblivion; for I will place before him this great and bitter challenge, permitting that he should plan for us the strategies of war and battle.

36  And if he succeed for us in devising well some cunning plan, then shall we take for the Emperor’s sake this Petragia, to increase to ourselves some greater glory; but if we prove unable to take from Rome the island fortress, then are we excused from wrath and death; for we did but follow well the plans of Kronus Maximillius.

37  For in the history of the empire has no man been able to seize from Rome this Petragia. How then shall Kronus succeed where so many before have failed, seeing that history itself would speak against him?”

38  Such did Seti-Kahn speak, and every man did breathe more lightly because of it; seeing in the words of their Supreme Commander, a cunning which would make for them a way of escape; causing that Kronus himself should bear the blame if they should fail.

39  And when they were agreed, they did petition the Emperor that he release to them, Kronus Maximillius; telling the Emperor that he, alone, could make success what before had always failed; to give as a gift to the Emperor, the island fortress of Petragia.

40  Thus did Kronus set aside his duties, and did again make ready for war; and placing himself in a large and private chamber, he did send forth his own men to gather such information as he might need; and for three weeks did Kronus plan most thoroughly and carefully the strategies of conquest.

41  Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Petragia and Londinium also; considering in cautious detail the sea lanes of Rome in the supplying of the island fortress; considering in every detail, the full network of Roman communications, as well as the placement of all radar facilities.

42  And whatsoever Kronus would ask, even that would he most quickly receive from every department within the Offices of War; and when he was completed, Kronus sent word unto the Emperor, saying: “Your Majesty, the plans of war are fully ready.”

43  Now there gathered within the palace, the Emperor and all his mighty men of war; and there stood before them in simple garb, Kronus Maximillius; and he did speak to them of all his many strategies for the taking of Petragia; and all which heard were themselves amazed at the boldness and daring of all his plans.

44  And at all its several parts did the men of war stand in deep amazement at its cunning and timing; for in all its several parts had Kronus coordinated all its movements and objectives into one harmonious flow; planning in utmost detail, the day to day operations which would make possible the seizing of the island fortress.

45  When, therefore, Kronus had completed all his speaking before the Emperor, there fell on the room a great hush, and the Emperor stood forth to speak unto the men of war, saying: “Follow well the plans of Kronus and hold not back in any part, for I perceive therein a victory far greater than all which came before.

46  But know this full well Seti-Kahn, that if there come about any reluctance to follow fully the course of all these plans, which would itself bring defeat instead of victory, then shall each of you make forfeit your lives; and there shall be no means by which you can give to me a ransom for it.

47  In this moment have I placed upon these plans the Emperor’s seal, causing that these strategies should become as my very own; therefore, in the following of all these plans think not of Kronus, but think only of your Lord and the interests of the realm.

48  For I have many shadows which do but watch most constantly the doings of every man; and there are no means by which any might conspire against me, lest the shadows of my power reach quickly forth, to destroy the traitor which would turn aside his Emperor’s wish.

49  Guard well the efforts of your hand, even every one of you; for you know full well my fierce intent; take bold and careful measure to follow closely the plans of Kronus, for if by your hand he should fail, then shall you yourselves most cruelly perish.”

50  Thus did the Emperor speak, and Seti-Kahn did most inwardly seethe with rage, for he could not escape the genius of his son; yet in his outward appearance did he seem calm; and bowing before the Emperor, he spoke, saying:

51  “We shall as always, Your Majesty, prove your faithful servants. But who shall we place in command of that strike force which will itself seize this Petragia?”

52  And the Emperor answered, saying: “Choose whomsoever you will, and I will give consent. Go now and begin in haste your preparations; for this Petragia I shall have before the anniversary of my twenty-fifth year upon the throne.”

53  Thus did the Emperor speak, and there passed many days, and Kronus gave to Seti-Kahn and to each of his many commanders, a book which did contain all the battle strategies for the taking of Petragia; causing that each man should know full well the timing and movements of war.

54  Now when Kronus stood alone before his father, there passed between each man a cold and bitter glare; and Seti-Kahn spoke like ice unto his son, saying: “Let us see Kronus, how great you truly be; for this day have I appointed that you should command the strike force which would, itself, seize the island fortress.

55  Go then and gather your men for training, for in all that you have planned shall we most faithfully do; but if you take not this Petragia, then shall you fall from the Emperor’s favor; to be seen by him as no better than other men; and in that day shall I seek against you a bitter revenge.”

56  But Kronus thinly smiled, and he spoke to Seti-Kahn, saying: “I am pleased, my lord, that you should think to honor me in the giving of so great a command; know therefore, that I shall make good the Emperor’s wish.

57  But in the seeking of revenge, let us not reach too quickly forth, for the man who would himself seek revenge against another, does most surely dig for himself a grave also; causing that there should fall upon him in unexpected manner, the very doom which he would cast upon another.”

58  And so speaking, Kronus turned himself away and returned again unto his own place; for he desired to kiss farewell of his Beloved; and holding Yoshibeth within his arms, he spoke to her, saying: “The world is filled with madness and the ways of men most bitter harsh.

59  Yet do not fear, my Love, for I shall yet again return, and on your bosom find sweet repose, to hide myself midst gentle sighs and tender kisses; to find within your comely form, the only joy which would, itself, chase away the madness of all the world together.”

60  And so speaking, Yoshibeth did lead him unto the bed and there did she love him deeply; and on the morrow, Kronus did himself bid farewell, to once again take upon himself the ways of war and death.

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