Time and Dominion
The fortress was impregnable, with towering spires connected by thick walls. Every block of the stone castle was mixed with the blood of a human sacrifice, every gap sealed by the foulest of magic. Storm clouds swirled around the central parapet, rain pouring from the skies in thick sheets, and forks of lightning striking the battlements, as they had for uncounted ages.
Uncounted, that is, for all but one. That one sat on his throne in the dark heart of his fortress. Swirling smoke surrounded him from lines of braziers, set along the sides of the long room, sending gouts of blue and green flames to dart in the air and send shadows dancing. This room had no red carpet for processions, no tapestries to extol brave deeds and to show the prowess of long lost heroes. The one had no use for such frivolities. His halls were filled by hatred, and he needed no reminders of that fact. No need for windows, for light. The only sights from this dark palace were the black clouds, the lightning and the gray rain. These were eternal in what passed for his heart.
I am a god.
The one smiled as he said this. It was his only vanity, his only expression of pride in his dark fortress. The storm clouds rolled within his heart, destroying his emotions, corrupting his soul. Winds raged within his mind, picking up loose memories and eroding its foundations. The wind carried with it the voices of the hundreds of thousands of souls that were destroyed to make the dark bastion that was his home a reality. Builders, soldiers, overseers, guards, living sacrifices, they called to him in all his waking hours. And gods never sleep.
The one called the time from some dark corner of his mind. He smiled as he realised that only two rotations had passed since the time appointed for his meeting. He was getting better. He smiled at his own little irony. Time had not dictated his time of death, so why should it dictate when and how he lived? Father Time, late for a meeting. It was of no consequence.
He reclined on his chair, and summoning the power within him, gestured at the air in front of him. Dozens of images sprang into being around him, the faces of men and women of almost every nation in the world.
The images responded. Hail Lord Kronos, Father of Time, Master and God.
He smiled. Servitude was always welcome.
It is time for your reports.
The figures visibly tensed. Several swallowed heavily, and the one Kronos vaguely recalled to be the chieftain of the Germanic tribe of Kaalash began to sweat profusely.
Kronoss smile widened. Fear was even more welcome.
King of Athens, make your report.
Well, profits from wine making are up from the new taxes, and the shipping industry are on.. Kronos cut him off with a wave off his mighty hand.
I did not ask for a state of the province address. I asked for a report.
All is well, sir.
Needless talking was not at all welcome.
He then continued down the list. Hera, Queen of Sparta. Mediar, King of Crete. Zeus, King of Troy. Amadeus, High Chief of the Gauls. Darian, Lord of Britannia.
All responded with, All is well, save for Darian, who gave a strong negative.
What is wrong? Kronos asked.
The druids, my lord. They try to stop our farms expansion. They keep their woodlands safe while the fields grow fallow.
Kronos responded immediately. Use slash and burn farming. Burn the forests. If these druids interfere, proceed to slash. He laughed at his own wit. Now, relay that to your second in command. Darian did so, and the moment the lord finished, Kronos gestured at Darians image, and the ruler of Britannia burst into flames. Nothing remained of the lord only seconds later.
What is your name? Kronos demanded of Darians aide.
The man visibly tensed. Apollo, sir.
You are the new overlord of Britannia then, Apollo. We cannot tolerate weakness. Perform your duties and you will live longer than you would otherwise.
Apollo bowed, sweat beading on his brow. Kronos smiled again. Death, and respect, were also very welcome.
The list of names started again. Hirosama, ruler of Oriental Asia. Kabannal Kahn, Tyrant King of Medi Asia. Aphrodite, Queen of Sheba. Slatskov, Tzar of Boreal Asia. Hakam DelTaban, Shah of Occidental Asia. At last the list stopped. Only one name remained. Kronos grinned.
Fear surely was very welcome.
Chieftain of the Kaalash, how goes the war with the Alakanthias?
The man took a deep breath, and spoke. We are losing. Go ahead, kill me like you did to Darian. It wont change a damned thing. Im the best general that you have. These lackeys of yours are welcome to try their hands at actual combat.
Kronos grinned wryly. This one showed spirit and promise. That was perhaps the most welcome of all. Of course, sedition and disrespect had earned the man his death, as an example to the others, but all men had their uses.
Im sorry to disappoint you. You will live. For now, at least.
The chieftain was clearly shaken, but had no time to display it. Kronos closed with a final, That is all. The images disappeared, and the hall returned to its dismal gloom.
Yes, brother? The reply was an avalanche roaring down a distant mountainside.
Go to Germania. Keep an eye on the general. Inspire the troops.
As you wish.
Prometheus strode out from his customary position behind the throne. He was tall, broad, and sported massive muscles. He turned back to face Kronos and briefly nodded. As his head turned, Kronos saw the dull red glow emanating from his face. Prometheus saw the silvery, metallic pools that were Kronoss eyes. They met.
In the eyes of Kronos were the beginning of time itself, the creation of Gaea, the Earth Mother, and the overthrow of Ouranos. He saw the building of the dark bastion, the countless wars and countless sacrifices and countless dark rituals. He saw the birth of Kronos, his childhood, long forgotten by all in the world except Prometheus, Kronos, their fool brother who had merged his body with the waters, and the Imprisoned One, locked away in the faraway realms of the Ice.
In the eyes of Prometheus, Kronos could see the death of the world. He saw the heart of the sun, the depths of Hel. He saw the slaying of Gaea, killed by her children. He saw the fortress crumbled away into dust, the drowning of Atlanté and the departure of the mournful clouds, carrying with them the fragments of Kronoss eternal home. He saw his own death.
Kronos. Time. All that had occurred was locked away inside his skull, all that ever would happen would eventually join it. Magic, thought, dreams, musings, awareness and unconscious desires, all beat in tune with a will as pitiless as the heart of Gaea herself.
Prometheus. Forethought. What he had was not prophecy, but logic, pure logic. No visions of the future, but merely the ability to see ultimate cause, ultimate effect, and what must follow from what had occurred, events leading out into their logical conclusions, branching ever further and further into the future.
Prometheus smiled briefly, turned, and walked down the dark hall.
When Prometheus was out of sight, Kronos shuddered. He was left alone, alone with the rain, alone with the wind and its voices, alone with the dark foreboding of Prometheuss eyes. Of everything in this world, only they could give Kronos fear, with their warnings of the death of all Kronos held dear.
As he stepped into the freezing rain that beat down on the island shores, Prometheus smiled again, a flame smouldering in his eyes.
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(This message has been edited by moderator (edited 07-08-2002).)