Time is a cruel lover

Now, in this place, at this time, briefly, there is justice and order, and beauty, and freedom from want.

The old king, the good king, the wise king, is content now with the beautiful and just thing he and his father before had built under the tutelage of the Bright God Stephen. He stands in the garden plaza before the palace entrance, his arm on his son's strong shoulder and from that high point on the palace hill their gaze sweeps out.

It crosses the palace gardens, the fair white city, the carefully tended fields, the well managed forests, drinking it all in as a lover might the sight of his beloved. There is no need for words.

There, beside the great stature the people have built in his honor, but against his wishes, by the inscription that reads "Look upon my works ye mighty and despair," a shadow becomes something more. They watch it cautiously, they have encountered the Dark God Wone before.

It comes into their minds, not their ears, not words but ideas, as seductive as a beautiful woman's touch. "You have built well".

The old king inclines his head slightly in agreement. His son is too well trained to respond to something as dangerous as a god, unless directly addressed.

"You have built not for yourself or even your family, but for your people, and their children, and their children's children." Again the old king is forced to agree, wondering that the god can so see into his soul.

"Would it not be good to see how this fair thing prospers in years to come; to know the final outcome of all this? This I can give you, as my gift."

"Do you wish me to do this thing for you?"

As in a dream, the old king's mouth begins to frame the fateful word. It is as though he stands beside his body, watching an actor in some great tragedy, powerless to effect the outcome.


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Any reproduction without the prior permission of the author is forbidden.
Copyright 1997 Stephen Heyer