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The Tale of Kronos

originally published here

Young Hermes finds his grandfather sitting on his throne pensively gazing across his island lost in thought.  “Grandfather tell me a tale.”

“My tale is a tale of heartache and joy lost,” said his grandfather, never once looking at the child at his feet.

“There once was a man who had it all:  a kingdom to rule, a beautiful and loving wife, loyal subjects.  He had a plan for a long life, filled with children and joy, things to learn and things to do.”  Kronos fell silent and was quiet for so long that Hermes risked a gentle prod.

“What happened, Grandpa?”

A heavy sigh was heard.  “Some say it was a prophecy, some say it was a curse placed upon the man by his mother.  You see this man won his kingdom by defeating the old king, his father, at the instigation of his mother.  She had had many children by her husband, some of who were not gentle on the eyes.  Her husband imprisoned these children far from her care, which broke her heart, as it would for any loving mother.  She asked her free children to rise up against their father, in the name of their hidden siblings, in order to free them.  Only her youngest child was willing to take the risk.”

“Was her brave child successful?”

“Oh yes.  He defeated his father and was gifted with the loveliest of women as a bride and made ruler of the kingdom.  Yet he let fear rule his heart and denied his mother the one thing she wanted; the one thing that caused her to seek her own husband’s downfall:  the release of her children from their hidden prison.  Angry she was and rightfully so.  She told him that one day, one of his own children would rise up against him, removing him from the throne just as he removed his own father.”

“So what did he do?”

“The fear that was rooted in his heart took over his whole life.  Outwardly he appeared to be the confident king that everyone expected.  Inwardly, his every move was dictated by fear.  The fear of losing what he treasured most, his place in the world which would then cause, he believed, his wife to turn away from him.”

“So then what did he do?”

The silence lasted so long that Hermes again feared that his grandfather had forgotten about him.   Just when the child opened his mouth to prod for more of the story, the silence was broken.  “Every child that his beloved wife brought to him was imprisoned in a place only known to him.  No one ever saw where the children went.  It was as if he had swallowed them.  When questioned by his wife as to the whereabouts of their children, he turned away from her with deaf ears.  No matter how she pleaded or what she threatened, he never spoke of the children.  Never.”

“What did she do?”

“The very last child she bore in secret.  Her husband never knew the child existed.  This was possible because of the extreme estrangement his actions had caused.  An estrangement that he refused to see, blaming her absence on trivial matters.  Once there was a rumor of a child, but when he confronted his wife, she threw a rock at him saying that ‘this was the only child he would get from her.’  He accepted her word on the matter, feeling guilty enough not to push.”

“Then what happened?”

“The child was raised by people she trusted.  He was trained in all arts, including the art of war. Once he was ready,  his grandmother helped the determined young man to find his siblings and set them free.  Then he found the ones hidden by his grandfather and set them free.  Banding them together, the young man overthrew his father and in turn assumed the throne.”

“What happened to the man then?”

“He was imprisoned in the very same place where his father had hidden his siblings.”

“Is he still there?”

“Yes and no but that is a tale for another day.  Run along child.  I’m in no mood for any more of your chatter.”

“Yes Grandfather.  Thank you, Grandfather, for the story.”

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