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Chapter 7


Pathways

The boy glimpses the cruelty of  – Mother...let us run – Areta gives reasons to persevere and – Fear no longer for my sake – Mother and son are betrayed by a jealous woman, seized by violent men – “Why do you fear the softness of a woman?” – Penalties of the law – The son rushes upon his mother’s tormentors – Areta and her son are separated

 

1  Thus, throughout the days of his youth, did the mother teach unto her son, the beginnings of all his wisdom; pouring forth from out of her soul, an endless stream of goodness and strength.

2  Planting in the mind, the seed of some greater purpose filled with hope and life; filling the heart of the son with a firm resolve, dressed round about with deep knowing, building in the child a faith both strong and deep.

3  Yet on a certain day was the mind of the child seized with fear and dread; for he was made to see for himself the cruelties of man, and the harshness of the law which ruled most severely over every woman in the land.

4  For there was a woman which stood wrongly accused; for in the night, when she was made to serve the pleasures of a certain man, she did seize forth a knife and did pierce him to the heart, causing that he should die.

5  For the man did beat and bite upon her most cruelly in the midst of all his passions, biting from off the woman the nipple of her breasts to spit it upon the floor; jeering and mocking and slapping the woman with vicious zeal.

6  Thus did the woman, fearing for her very life, kill the man upon the bed; and seeing the thing which she had done, she went mad with fear and dread, filling the whole house with screams and frightful shoutings;

7  Running down the corridors of the lord’s manor being covered with blood; seeking desperately through all her tears to hide herself away, lest men should find her and kill her most cruelly.

8  But there rushed immediately upon the woman, the guards of the Praetorium which did seize her by the hair, demanding to know the cause of all her screams and madness.

9  And hearing from the woman the things which had happened, they went to see for themselves; and finding the man, they went quickly and told all these things unto Seti-Kahn.

10  And being made aware of all those things which had befallen the man, Seti-Kahn was filled with rage against the woman; for the man which perished was a guest of the house, being himself a man of position and privilege.

11  Thus did it fall upon the woman to perish, being dragged by the hair to the courtyard of the women. And the woman did plead and beg most desperately midst all her tears, seeking only that she might live and not perish midst cruelty and torment.

12  And there gathered to watch all the women of the house, and a company of the Praetorian Guard; and Seti-Kahn gave forth a swift command, and the woman was most cruelly thrust upon the stake, to die in agony and despair; having the dogs to tear from her bones, little by little, the flesh from off her body.

13  And all these things did the boy both see and hear; for the courtyard of the women did lie beneath the windows of the upper house, wherein the boy was hiding; and the boy did weep and tremble greatly because of the things which he both saw and heard.

14  Now in the night, when the mother was again with her son, to comfort and strengthen him against the horrors of the day, the boy spoke, saying:

15  “O, my Mother, I fear for you. Let us, therefore, run from this dreadful place, and seek in yonder mountains a place of refuge where we might make a home together, to free ourselves from the darkness of such brutish men.

16  For if we flee not away quickly, then shall I be discovered hidden away, and angry men will seize hold of you, and commit against you some great injury; and I shall be torn away from the mother I love most dearly.

17  Why then should we linger, to hesitate in saving ourselves from sorrow? Come, my Mother, and to the mountains let us fly away, and there in some safe and peaceful place I will care for you.”

18  And hearing these things, the mother did smile sweetly upon her son; and drawing him within her arms, she spoke most tenderly, saying:

19  “Hush my child, and do not fear; for it is needful that we remain steadfast and strong, being ever hopeful that by our faithfulness in doing that which is good, we might diminish the harshness of men against the woman.

20  For this I would have you know and remember always, that in doing that which is hard and difficult is strength found in abundance; in doing that which is good, is the sum of all our purpose fulfilled;

21  To enlarge the heart and mind together; adding to the life we live, things of greatest value; to define as noble and filled with honor, the sum of who we are.

22  For only the weak and foolish would take for themselves the easiest path, being ever fearful of such hardships as might arise against them from time to time; being compelled to seek for themselves both safety and comfort above all other things;

23  To leave behind the passing of their lives, nothing praiseworthy or of good report; having in themselves no greatness of heart, or nobleness of mind; being made empty and devoid of goodness and glory and worth;

24  Becoming in themselves the stuff of which the graves are made; being made dead already while yet they live; being both complacent and mediocre regarding the greater issues which touch their lives.

25  Such as these are chased about by constant fear, being filled with dread and apprehension, being in themselves most pushed and driven by that which is less than themselves, causing that their very lives should become as small and petty.

26  Thus, my son, would I have you know most fully, that in the seeking of the easy way is there found only darkness and oblivion; for it is appointed unto every man and every woman that they should die.

27  Therefore, seeing that this is so, let us live greatly and most fully; adding to our lives a meaning and purpose greater than that of low and common men.

28  For this cause did I come forth into the world of man; for I desired to save from oblivion, the life of all mankind; seeking through the uplifting of the woman, the salvation of all who live.

29  Such then were the yearnings of my soul, and seeing in the Empire of Drakonia, a man of great power and influence, I did enter most willingly the house in which we live.

30  Being determined to take seed from his loins whereby I might conceive and bring forth a son; knowing full well that unto you would come forth a greater opportunity to rule in the affairs of men, if it so be that you prove yourself both strong and wise enough to do so.

31  Why then, my son, would you have me to flee away from such terrors as do afflict the sum of all women everywhere; to leave abandoned and forsaken the only hope for those which suffer?

32  Come then and fear no longer for my sake; for though the flesh of my body proves soft and pleasing, still does there dwell within, that soul which cannot be broken or made to yield before the harshness of men.”

33  Such were the words which Areta spoke unto her son; and together did they sweep aside the terrors of the day, to find in each a place where joy and peace might dwell, singing softly unto themselves, songs of life and love.

34  And the mother did continue to teach unto her son such issues as would make him strong in heart and mind and body; imbuing the son with a wisdom far beyond his years; building in him a faith of firm resolve dressed round about with a goodness dressed in deep cunning.

35  Now when the boy was nine years old, there fell upon him a deep and dreadful hurt; for his good and tender mother was betrayed into the hands of fierce men who would execute against her the penalties of the law.

36  For there was a certain woman which proved jealous and envious of Areta, desiring for herself alone, the position and place of the Seventh Woman of the House of Seti-Kahn.

37  Thus did the woman seek to spy out the secrets of Areta; seeking against her the slightest offense, whereby she might make some accusation against the mother, and thereby benefit herself.

38  And it came about that in the darkness of the night, when the whole house lay asleep and filled with quietness, the woman did steal herself away unto the attic; and there did she see in the moonlight, the mother and her child together sleeping upon the bed.

39  And the woman, seeing the child suckling upon the mother’s breasts, did marvel; for it was believed by the whole house that the child had perished years ago, to fill the ears of every woman with rumors and subtle whisperings.

40  But the woman, seeing the child was yet alive, grew herself bolder still and stepping forth all the more closely, she beheld with a sudden shock that the child was indeed a son and not a daughter as every woman had supposed.

41  Then did the woman smile most cruelly, and slipping away into the darkness, she went unto the bedchamber of the chief steward and told him all the things which she had seen.

42  And the chief steward was filled with anger against Areta; for she had hidden away the son of his master, to secret him away from the beginnings of all his training in the military barracks of the empire.

43  Now when it was morning, and the women of the house began to stir and awaken from all their slumberings, there came into the house the chief steward, and with him came five guards of the Praetorium.

44  And going quietly up unto the attic, they did rush quickly into the bedchamber of Areta; and there did they see the son, sleeping beside his mother.

45  And with great force did the chief steward take hold of the son; and with sudden terror was the mother seized by the hair and made to stand; and the chief steward did slap her with violent fury across the face.

46  Thus was Areta seized by violent men and taken by force unto the outer court of the house, and there did she stand condemned of crime against her lord and master, Seti-Kahn.

47  And the son was made to stand before the women which were gathered, to see for himself the punishment of his mother; and the son did tremble greatly for her sake.

48  But Areta stood forth most proudly and bold, refusing to plead for mercy’s sake, the saving of her life; and the chief steward spoke most harshly unto her, saying:

49  “Know you not what you have done? For this cause are you brought forth to punishment; for you have hidden away the son of our lord and master, and by your softness have thought to make him weak and filled with gentleness, even as a woman.”

50  Yet Areta withstood him boldly to the face, saying: “Why do you fear the softness of women? Are you not men of power and worth, being in yourselves both strong and brave? Why then are you offended against me?”

51  When the chief steward heard these words, he was filled with contempt and loathing, saying: “Why should a man be made to fear a woman? For you have no power which would cause to tremble the heart of any man.”

52  But Areta answered him again, saying: “You speak falsely and in ignorance. For there is a power in the woman greater than the wrath of any man; for in the woman is the life of man created, while in men like you is there brought forth only bitterness and death.”

53  And hearing these words, the chief steward commanded that the penalty of the law be carried out against her; and seizing hold of Areta, the guards did cut the hair from off her head, and they beat her with rods and whips.

54  And taking a hot iron they branded her upon the neck and thigh. And when all these things were done, the guards did throw Areta upon the ground and did most cruelly sterilize her.

55  And in all these things did the guards jeer and laugh continually; for the soldiers of the empire took great pleasure in tormenting the weak and helpless.

56  But when the boy heard the screams of his mother, he broke loose of his guard and taking up two stones from off the ground, he rushed forth to save his mother, striking out with all his might against those which held her bound.

57  And the boy did fall upon the guards like a storm of great and dreadful hail, beating with boundless fury; causing that one guard should fall unconscious upon the ground, while yet another should lose his eye.

58  Yet was the boy seized again most firmly and one of the guards spoke unto the chief steward, saying: “What child is this that he should prove so strong and fearless?” And the chief steward, answered: “He is the son of Seti-Kahn.”

59  And when they had executed the penalties of the law, Areta was cast out of the House of Seti-Kahn and made to serve both low and common men in the whorehouses nearby; while yet the son was taken to the military barracks of A’Kontay, near the city of Rio Cassalia.

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