Kronus’ plans are carried out successfully – Drakonia strikes South Africa –A new
Drakonian coin is minted – A new coin is minted – The Regent and Seti-Kahn lead secret
plot to kill Kronus – Kronus is honored by the Emperor and receives a new rank –
Troubles in Rome – The Emperor of Rome puts a price on Kronus – The Stazzi are ordered
to guard Kronus – Kronus returns to Yoshibeth, and prepares for the coming of the
Emperor – Words of love between beloveds
1 Drakonus Maximillius, Emperor of Drakonia, First Lord of the Realm, did order
with firm resolve that the plans of Kronus hold sway; and all those which stood in
authority did rush forth to obey.
2 And all which Kronus said did come to pass, for Sulla did land upon the frozen
shores of Antarctica, and there fell the next day upon him, a fierce and raging storm
which beat harshly and without relent upon the armies of Rome.
3 And in the third day of Sulla’s landing, when his ships were far away, and he
himself lay stranded in the midst of a cruel and bitter storm, then did Drakonia
strike with sudden and unexpected fury against the city of Herculeum;
4 Laying upon the city and garrison a ferocious bombardment from the sea and air
together, causing the very land to shake and rumble beneath the dreadful roar of
heavy guns and bombs.
5 Sending upon the city an endless stream of rockets and missiles which did scream
and shriek in a mighty rush; to fall upon the inhabitants of the region even as the
rain, being filled with fire and steel and choking death.
6 Thus did the garrison of the city, fearing the onslaught of some great invasion,
call unto the whole of South Africa to rush forth to aid them; and there came in
swift reply, the garrisons of Lyconium, Niccocea, Mordredia, Praetoria, Phillippi,
Ostia and Praxus.
7 And rushing forth to the beaches of Herculeum, the garrisons of South Africa entrenched
themselves in preparation, to meet in fearsome battle the soldiers of Drakonia; yet
were they themselves pinned down by so great and fierce a bombardment.
8 By such a ploy did Drakonia plunder the treasures of Rome, sending into the cities
of Lyconium, Niccocea, Mordredia, Praetoria, Phillippi, Ostia and Praxus, a strike
force of heavy lifters, and there was met but little resistance to stand against
them, for the garrisons of the cities had rushed themselves away.
9 Thus did there flow into the treasuries of Drakonia, an overabundance of wealth;
for there came out of the cities altogether some nineteen million talents of gold,
four million talents of platinum, fifty-four million talents of silver.
10 And unto all these riches was there added also some 236 tons in diamonds, emeralds,
rubies, sapphires, opals, topaz, amethyst and a great many pearls besides.
11 Now when the treasures of Rome had been carried all away, then did the forces
of Drakonia withdraw themselves speedily; and when Sulla came again into South Africa
with the whole of all his armies, then did Drakonia slip in behind to make secure
and fiercely guarded the regions of Antarctica.
12 And the Emperor, being overjoyed by all his gain, did mint a new coin altogether;
being made of platinum, most valuable and rare; having for itself an exchange rate
of ten golden crowns.
13 And in the center of the platinum coin, on one side, was there found the golden
likeness of Drakonus Maximillius; while on the other there was seen an eagle of gold
with wings outstretched, bearing in its talons a great many lightning bolts.
14 Now the Emperor gave to every great commander a good many gifts and honors; for
in the sacking of South Africa had Drakonia lost but some three hundred men; and
every man of power within the empire did stand amazed at so great a victory, to hold
in fearful awe the cunning of Kronus Maximillius.
15 But in the places of power did there grow a secret plot to kill Kronus, being
led by the Regent and Seti-Kahn together; and throughout the city of Trajenium did
their agents move most stealthily, seeking here, gathering there, such information
as might prove to their advantage.
16 Now the Emperor was himself most greatly pleased at the increase of all his wealth
and power; for in the midst of conflict and war had he bested the might of Rome,
to shame it before the nations.
17 And the Emperor to himself did speak, saying: “I shall honor this Kronus above
all other men; for in the whole of all my kingdom is there none which can prove his
equal, to match him wit for wit, or cunning genius; for this Kronus is himself the
greatest prize of all.”
18 Thus did the Emperor muse quietly to himself, and giving forth his command, he
convened in solemn assembly the men of greatest power; that before their gathered
might he might honor Kronus, to convey upon him the office and rank of Imperial Knight.
19 And not this only, for the Emperor appointed Kronus the duties and obligations
of First Imperial Councilor, causing that Kronus should advise the Emperor in all
matters of state; to wear about his neck the symbol of his office, being itself a
gold and platinum medallion upon a heavy chain of gold.
20 And unto this did the Emperor give unto Kronus a thousand talents of gold; and
unto the House of Kronus did the Emperor give still further, yet another fifty women,
being themselves young and filled with life.
21 Now there followed after all these honors, a great feast filled with rough and
drunken merriment, and the Emperor leaned himself to the ear of Kronus, saying: “Know
you fair Kronus, how great the wealth we seized from Rome?” And Kronus answered him,
saying: “I know not fully, Your Majesty.”
22 And the Emperor spoke again, saying: “In the halls of Rome is it reported that
we have seized through violent cunning up to one half of all their wealth and power;
causing the very throne upon which Commodus sits, to shake and tremble because of
23 Watch therefore, and guard you well the whole of all your house; for in Rome
do the mighty gather to seek your life, while in Trajenium do the men of power seek
against you some accusation whereby they might cast you down.
24 Take care, therefore, the things which you shall do; for there are many which
favor the whole of all your doings, while yet others would drink your blood; yet
are both camps filled with smiles and friendly banter whereby you might not know
one from the other.
25 Wrap yourself in silent cunning, and watch with knowing eyes; for there are many
which would play you false, to make as ruin the man I value most, seeking through
some hidden treachery to pull you quickly down.
26 Walk, therefore, carefully and lightly tread in the halls of power, for intrigue
is ever waiting and the shadows quickly gloom; for the treacherous man is ever waiting,
being himself most watchful and filled with care; seeking but that single moment
whereby he might cast you into death.
27 Yet hear me well Kronus and do not mistake, for I care only that you serve me
rightly and not amiss; for I know that in you shall I make my name greater than all
other Emperors before me;
28 Causing those which follow after to despair continually because of me, being
unable themselves to match or fully equal such might and glory as I shall gather
round about me.
29 But on that day when I shall see in you no advantage for myself, then shall I
take swiftest measure to guard well the name and image of Kronus Maximillius.
30 For in that moment when I perceive the falling of some shadow upon you, I myself
shall kill you swiftly and in secret; for I will have no man to think you fallen
or filled with shame.
31 For in name and reputation shall you glow most brightly beneath me, causing that
I shall draw from the brightness of your genius, the glory I seek for myself alone;
to rise in glory to the very stars whereby I might stand apart as the greatest of
all the emperors.
32 Guard well, therefore, the things which you shall do, lest lesser men through
intrigue and cunning plots make wreck the labor of all your years; for there comes
that certain moment when the myth of the man is greater than the man himself.
33 And in that moment shall I kill you swiftly, to give birth to some greater legend
which will but serve me still; for in myth and legend shall you rest beyond the reach
of lesser men; being yourself made immortal and ever present in the minds of those
34 Thus did the Emperor speak unto Kronus midst the revelry of his court; and there
midst the clapping and jesting of quick and mighty men, Kronus spoke unto his Emperor,
35 “I shall guard well, Your Majesty, to do as you instruct; for in all my days
shall I give faithful service unto you; and if perchance you deem it right that death
itself should guard me, to save from ruin the name of Kronus, then shall I most happily
yield, that in the grave I might serve you still.”
36 And the Emperor, hearing this, was made to marvel at the grace in Kronus’ word;
and he set round about Kronus a guard of mighty men to watch but not intrude; and
there was placed in command of the guard the man, Manegus Acquilla.
37 But in Rome did the Emperor tremble, while the Senate was filled with rage, being
made together all embittered against so great a loss as they did bear; for all of
Rome did boil and seethe against their shame and disgrace at the hands of Drakonia.
38 Yet did Commodus move swiftly, for he desired that the blame should fall on others
and not himself; for this cause did he drag in chains before the Senate, the man
Sulla Cornellius, and did himself bring charges against him.
39 And Sulla was heaped with scorn, and every man did curse the name, to pass on
him a cruel and bitter fate, to crucify him upon the walls of Rome; and not this
only, for all the sons of Sulla, from the greatest to the least did they crucify
also; and every woman which bore the seed of Sulla did they impale upon the stake
for all to see.
40 And upon all this pain did the Emperor add still further; for he seized by violent
force all the men which did plan and execute the invasion of Antarctica; and those
also did he crucify upon the walls of Rome, and beside them also writhed in agony
the sons of their loins; and all the women which bore their seed did he likewise
impale upon the stake.
41 Yet, notwithstanding all these harsh and bitter things, still did Commodus fear
for his life; for within the Senate and the palaces of power did there burn a great
bitterness, filled with loathing and contempt against him.
42 For in Commodus was fear and folly together mingled; for the Emperor did increase
the burden of all his taxes, to seize from those of wealth and power, a heavy portion
of all their treasuries, whereby he might restore the empire’s loss.
43 Knowing then that all Rome did burn against him, Commodus sought further to appease
the men of power; for it was reported that behind the cunning of Drakonia’s might
stood the shadow of Kronus Maximillius.
44 For this cause did the Emperor of Rome seek to take captive, the man which Drakonia
valued most of all, to offer him before the Roman Senate; being hopeful that by such
a means he might lessen the rage against him; for in the halls of all his power did
the Emperor tread most lightly, fearing in the shadows of the palace itself, the
lurking of some assassin.
45 Thus did Commodus place upon the head of Kronus a sum of one million gold sestersies;
and throughout the city of Trajenium did the agents of Rome seek for themselves the
man Kronus Maximillius; hoping themselves to take him bound unto Rome whereby the
Emperor might offer up as ransom the life of Kronus for his own.
46 Now when Seti-Kahn heard the fullness of Rome’s intent, he thought to betray
his son to them; to rid himself forever of the man he feared most of all; for he
thought it better to shield his intent behind the designs of Rome whereby he might
stand blameless before the empire.
47 But the Stazzi were ever vigilant and ruthless, and all these things did they
reveal to Drakonus Maximillius; and the Emperor gave orders that the Stazzi should
guard through subtle means, the man Kronus, even as they would most secretly guard
the Emperor himself.
48 Thus did there walk with Kronus, the guards which all could see; being themselves
commanded by the fierce and dreadful Manegus Acquilla; but behind the guards which
all could see moved the guards which no man saw, even the men of the Stazzi.
49 And over all these things which could be seen, or which themselves lay deeply
hidden lurked the shadow of the Emperor himself; for of all the men within the empire
was the Emperor alone most cruel and cunning above all the rest.
50 Now Kronus returned to the place he loved most of all; and entering again the
lands of his estate, there rushed out to meet him, the First Woman of the House;
and Yoshibeth did fall upon him with many kisses, speaking into his ears words of
soft endearment filled with many passions.
51 And Kronus did lift her into his arms and with a mighty roar did kiss her hard
and deeply upon the lips; and he brought from out of his cloak, a gift of silver
slippers, finely made; being themselves heavily embroidered with threads of gold.
52 And he spoke to her, saying: “Go quickly, my Love, and gather to me the women
of my house and the chief steward also, and bring them into the arbor; for I would
speak to them of things which must shortly be.
53 For in eight weeks time will there come unto us the Emperor himself and all his
court to feast in the House of Kronus and Yoshibeth; and all things must we make
54 For I remember well my mother’s dreaming and have prepared myself to bring to
pass the whole of her intent; seeing that even now do I have the Emperor’s ear in
55 Thus shall I gather in one the sum of all my cunning whereby I might lift in
joy and light the heart of every woman, to break in pieces forever, the fear and
pain which does but break the gentle heart.
56 Go then, my Love, and gather unto our bosom, the women of our house; for it is
needful that we make ready to receive in festive manner, the Emperor which would
dine beside us; for he alone can bring to pass the dreams of all our heart.
57 For this Drakonus Maximillius would himself be greater than all the emperors
which came before him; causing all which would ascend the throne hereafter, to remember
well his name above all others.
58 Thus shall I lay before him the means by which he must attain a fullness of his
heart’s desire; to place before his eyes the surest path to fame and glory, and if
he choose to walk therein, then shall we but change the world forever.
59 Only, my Love, do not fear, but rest your heart in me; for I would give birth
in you of that certain confidence which would guide the whole of all your actions
concerning the days ahead, to fill your mind with sweet assurance.
60 For in the feasting of the Emperor shall I gamble the greatest daring, to bend
the Emperor to my will through cunning reason for the sake of all my mother’s dreams;
which if he will do, will gain for him the fame he seeks, while for women it will
prove some great advantage.
61 And if perchance I should fail, then let us lay together down, to rest in sweet
repose; that in the grave we might hide ourselves away, to rest in each the other
in love and joy forever.
62 For in that moment when hope shall flee itself away to rest in the heart no longer,
then is death more to be sought than the dregs of some bitter life; and the silence
of the grave more preferred than the violent ways of small and angry men.”
63 Such did Kronus speak, and Yoshibeth spoke softly upon his bosom, saying: “In
life and death I will cleave myself to thee; for you, my Love, are the sun and I
am the moon, and round and round we shall but seek each the other midst fiery stars
and gentle days.
64 Fear not then for my sake, for I shall ever stand beside you, to press my heart
to thee; that in this life or in the grave, we shall but prove the joy of each the
65 Come then, my Love, and I shall go and bring to you the women of our house, and
the chief steward also; that you might speak to them the sum of all your heart.”
And so saying, Yoshibeth went unto the manor, to gather unto Kronus, the whole house