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Chapter 30


The Greatest Prize of All

Kronus assumes the role of Supreme Commander – Appointed to the office of the First Proconsul – Kronus’ beloved relationship with Yoshibeth – Rings of gold and vows of love – “Forever, in life and death” – Creating a tabernacle of peace – Kronus suffers from a tired heart – The Emperor implores Kronus to live – Kronus’ last words – Shadows grow with the death of Kronus

 

1  Kronus Maximillius, High Lord of the Imperial Realm, and Hero of the State was a mighty man; for at the death of his father was he appointed in his place, to be Supreme Commander of all military forces; being himself just thirty-one years of age.

2  Being of the Emperor most trusted and highly regarded, for of all the mighty men was Kronus himself most favored; for he brought to the empire even greater and greater glory; accomplishing through the genius of his ways, that one great achievement should be added upon another.

3  Yet for all these things did Kronus take no thought, neither did he think most highly of himself; for it was his delight to give praise to those which served beside him; giving to the Emperor a good account of those who proved most able.

4  Thus did it come about that when Kronus was thirty-five years of age, he was appointed by the Emperor to the office of the First Proconsul; being made responsible for the actions and administrations of the Caesars which ruled within the empire.

5  For the empire was divided into five great dominions, and over each did there rule a Caesar; and in each dominion was there found the several kingdoms of the empire, and in each did there rule a hereditary king.

6  And within each kingdom was there given several states being ruled over by such military governors as would be appointed by the Caesars which ruled in their dominions; and within each state were there given several provinces, being each themselves governed by a prefect which was appointed by the governors above them.

7  Thus did Kronus move about in the halls of greatest power, and wheresoever he went, even there would he strive to uplift the status of every woman; to find for her a place which would prove a benefit to both men and women together.

8  For it was known among the men of greatest power, that wheresoever Kronus himself would go, even there would Yoshibeth go beside him; to stand and move beside her Beloved, being herself most faithful and devoted unto him.

9  And the men of power did prove themselves most tolerant and curious concerning the ways of Kronus Maximillius; believing themselves that in his actions and words together was there found some hidden pathway to greater fame and glory.

10  Yet for all which Kronus did, beyond all the titles and glories which men would heap upon him, there was one thing only which filled his heart with joy and contentment; for in Yoshibeth did he feel himself complete; finding in her joyful passions the only true gift most worthy of having.

11  For this cause did Kronus love Yoshibeth both day and night, spilling into her womb the constant flow of all his passions; being mingled and blended together with tender words and gentle touches; being each themselves filled with fiery kisses and the softest of sighings upon the breasts.

12  For Yoshibeth did yield herself in sweet surrender, being herself consumed with joyful lusts and fiery yearnings; being most anxious to open wide the portals of her flesh whereby she might receive the seed of her Beloved deep within her;

13  Being herself most desirous to suckle Kronus upon her breasts as though he were but the lover and the child together fashioned; yielding constantly of her flesh for the sake of her Beloved, whereby they might find in each the other a completeness both full and joyful.

14  Yet did Kronus likewise surrender unto Yoshibeth the fullness of his heart and mind together, seeking from her such counsel as she might give; for in Yoshibeth did he find a devoted lover and fair companion, causing that he should bring daily unto her, some small gift filled with kind regard.

15  And in the night, when Kronus would lay himself down beside his own Beloved, even then would he surrender unto her a fullness of his desires, to gather gently into his arms the woman Yoshibeth.

16  And with gentle kisses and tender touches would he take her to his heart to love her; and when he was spent, having satisfied the passions of her flesh with his together, then would he hold her most gently through the night, pressing to his flesh the sweetness of her flesh; and in the arms of each the other would they sleep most peacefully together.

17  But in the morning when he awoke, still again would he love Yoshibeth most deeply, entering into her flesh with tender words and soft kisses; to move upon her with gentle rhythms till he should pour into her a fullness of his devotions; causing that Yoshibeth herself should fall back upon the bed, being filled with fiery gaspings of sweet delight.

18  For in Yoshibeth did Kronus find that good and dear companion in whom he could most safely place all his confidence and trust; finding in her flesh the only true haven where trouble and perplexity dare not intrude; for in the arms of Yoshibeth was he carried away midst the pleasures of their flesh; being himself wafted away through gentle rhythms midst the songs of all their love and passion.

19  Causing that Kronus should burn in his flesh for the very touch and sound of her; being himself compelled to enter daily the womb of her sanctuary with constant praise upon his lips, to fill her flesh with kisses and sweet communion.

20  Thus did Yoshibeth receive of Kronus a fullness of devotion, nothing lacking or remiss; causing that she should yearn most constantly to fulfill in the touching of her Beloved, the completing of that inward circle which did move round and round the heart of each the other.

21  Binding into one the heart and mind of Kronus and Yoshibeth; forging through fiery breaths and deepest yearnings the lives of each the other; filling the heart of each with a constant hunger for the touch and sound of the man and woman together.

22  For this cause did Yoshibeth surrender joyfully unto Kronus, even as he did likewise surrender himself daily unto her in joyful devotion; striving each to please the other till there should burst forth into the woman, the rushing of the seed, causing that there should flow from Kronus the sacred anointing of all his love, deep into the temple of his Beloved.

23  This then was the thing most greatly desired of Kronus, to hold in his arms the woman, Yoshibeth, whereby he might love her most deeply and completely, to feel in his hands the softness of her breasts, or the sweetness of her kiss.

24  And all those things which men would give him, all titles and lands and fearsome powers, even these did he count as dross, being itself unworthy when compared to the touch and sound of fairest Yoshibeth.

25  Thus did Kronus and Yoshibeth cleave to each the other in rich devotion; finding in one another the truest completion of themselves, seeing in the reflection of each, the thing most desirable and worthy of praise and consideration.

26  When, therefore, Kronus was forty years of age, he called together his whole house whereby they might stand forth as witnesses, and before every man and woman upon his estate, he took Yoshibeth by the hand, and on her finger placed a gold ring, and before the whole house, he spoke, saying:

27  “Be you always my Beloved, even as I would be yours forever; for in you, my fairest and only Love do I find the greatest prize of all; for you alone, my dearest Yoshibeth, have become the sound and touch and sight of all my dreaming; to fill me with constant goodness always.

28  For in you have I found a fullness of life and love, grace and beauty, hope and joy; being together most happily mingled in all your speech and comely ways; being in your touch and form most constant and pleasing above all else.

29  Therefore would I place upon the finger of your hand, this ring of gold, that you might know that in my love can be found no ending, being itself one eternal and constant round; being myself filled with yearnings and desires for the kiss of my Beloved.

30  For this cause, my fairest Love, would I bind my heart to yours forever; not by law or constraint, but for love’s sake only; for you, my Yoshibeth, have become the breath of all my life, and the song of all my dreaming.”

31  And so speaking, Kronus took Yoshibeth into his arms, and before the whole house he kissed her gently upon the lips; and Yoshibeth did fairly swoon before the love of Kronus, and taking from her gown, a gold ring, she likewise placed it upon the finger of Kronus, saying:

32  “Be thou always my first and only Love, for this day shall I bind my love to you forever and always; for you are the hope of all my dreams made clearly present; being yourself the strength and power which would but hold me closer unto thee.

33  For you, my Love, are made the song which my heart forever sings; being yourself most constant and faithful; being in all your words and deeds most loving and ever gentle; being in your person most diligent in serving and in giving; seeking not for yourself alone, but striving through some daily devotion to please and uplift the heart of your Beloved.

34  Be it therefore, my constant joy to please the heart of my Beloved; to give to you a ready devotion; yielding up for your sake such pleasures and delights as I might have within me; asking not what you shall do for me, but asking only how I might serve and please the heart of my Beloved.

35  For in the giving of some joyful service do we fulfill the sum of all our yearning; to find in some constant giving the only true love which would make as one, two hearts and minds forever; for in giving is love, itself, perfected.”

36  Thus did Yoshibeth speak to her Beloved, and taking the hand of Kronus, she placed it upon her breasts; and kissing him gently upon the lips, she whispered softly unto him, saying:

37  “As milk from the breasts doth truly flow, even so shall my love for thee flow forever, in life and death; till together we shall most sweetly sleep in the darkness of the grave.

38  And whensoever a man shall love a woman as you have loved me truly, and when the woman shall love the man as I do love you now, then in their love shall we live again; to live as one in dreams and soft embraces;

39  To rise, ourselves, from the darkened grave, to shine as sun and moon together, to be found ourselves in such affections as will brightly burn in the loving of the man and the woman forever.”

40  And hearing this Kronus held Yoshibeth to his flesh still closer; and together did they mingle in gentle fashion, the sum of all their kisses and gentle sighs; finding in each the other the only true joy.

41  Now in the evening did Kronus and Yoshibeth give forth a great feast; and there was invited to the feast even the whole house together; and there sat midst sumptuous foods and costly drinks, even every man and every woman; for Kronus caused that even the lowest of servants should be feasted also.

42  And there moved about in happy play the children of the house, both boys and girls in youthful glee; rushing here and prancing there midst peels of deep delight; being themselves most greatly thankful that they should be likewise feasted.

43  And the house was filled with music, and all which sat in the hall to feast, even these did dance and laugh and sing together; being made themselves partakers in the joy and love of Kronus and Yoshibeth.

44  Thus did the whole house together rejoice, and when it was night and the whole house lay deeply quiet, then did Kronus and Yoshibeth retire themselves to the upper room; and there did they bathe and gently anoint each other with costly oils and spice; soothing away through gentle touches the labors of the day.

45  Creating through their gentle ministrations, a tabernacle of peace where both the man and the woman might most joyfully reside in the love and faith of each the other; being themselves both fully rested in the arms of sweet surrender; to hold in high regard and deep affection, the hopes and dreams of all their yearning.

46  And throughout the night did Kronus and Yoshibeth most sweetly sleep in love and gentle sighing, being each content and fully happy; dreaming in most restful slumber of each the other’s love; to build yet still some greater joy wherein they might more greatly serve the needs of each other.

47  Thus through the passing of the years did Kronus and Yoshibeth cleave themselves together; and notwithstanding the place and power of all his office, still did Kronus find in his Beloved the fulfillment of all his dreams together.

48  To see in the brightness of her smile, the greatest prize of all; being herself that sacred place where love and life did kiss together; giving birth in all her touch a fullness of grace and beauty mingled midst joy and hope forever.

49  Now when Kronus was forty-four years of age, having served the empire most faithfully, there came a certain day when Kronus himself was alone in the palace of the Emperor;

50  And in a sudden moment Kronus fell in the midst of all his glory; being himself struck down by a weakened heart made frail through the diligence of all his labors; and those which found him grew most fearful and filled with dread; for it was believed that in the life of Kronus was the darkness held at bay.

51  And being carried to his home, Kronus did linger for three days between life and death; speaking into the ear of Yoshibeth of all his love forever; and growing weaker still, he passed into the shadows of his mind.

52  Now the word flew quickly throughout the empire, how that the great Kronus was dying, and that there existed no power or medicine which could by any means save him.

53  And throughout the empire did all military forces go on quick alert, lest the enemies of Drakonia see for themselves some advantage in the death of Kronus.

54  Now there came to the House of Kronus, the men of greatest power; for they would speak with Kronus, perchance to revive him to health and vigor; and the greatest of these was the very Emperor before whom all men trembled.

55  Seeing therefore that Kronus was weak and near unto death, the Emperor commanded in harshest tones that Kronus live, for the state had need of him still further; but Kronus was unable.

56  Then did the Emperor himself kneel beside the bed, and taking Kronus by the hand, he did implore in gentle words that Kronus revive himself and live; but still did Kronus prove weak and deathly pale.

57  Yet on the fourth day did Kronus rouse himself to speak; and there gathered about him the Emperor and his mighty men; and Kronus, seeing them, did but ask for Yoshibeth; and immediately did the Emperor command that she be brought forth unto him.

58  Thus, when Kronus saw again his Yoshibeth, he did weakly smile; and taking her into his arms, he spoke to her, saying: “Kiss me Love, and hold me near; for I would give but one last gift. Receive in your lips the breath of my life; for in you would I find that final refuge where we might dwell together.”

59  And Yoshibeth, the Beloved, did reach down to kiss Kronus upon the lips; and in the kiss did Kronus die; and Yoshibeth did but hold the body of Kronus most gently to her breasts, weeping tears for all to see; but in her heart did she quietly speak, saying:

60  “Fly my Love. Fly yourself away, for soon shall I likewise sleep, to walk in dreams beside you.” And there midst sobs and gentle weeping did Yoshibeth most sweetly smile.

61  Thus did Kronus Maximillius, High Lord of the Imperial Realm, Hero of the State, slip most quietly into death; and beyond the veils of flesh and time did the Beloved of Yoshibeth drift in silence away.

62  But there fell upon the face of the Emperor and all his mighty men, a deep and darkening gloom, for there appeared in the minds of each the shadows of war and death, for in the death of Kronus were all things made uncertain.

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