It’s good to be king. Ruling the earth beside my beloved queen… Rhea’s such a darling. I couldn’t be happier to have her at my side, but time is ticking. As age creeps into my bones, I realize that my reign will one day come to an end. I shivered at the thought of leaving my people to their own devices. They needed a ruler. Someone to keep them in line. A son would do, but Rhea couldn’t help but give me a hard time.
“No, Cronus. Having a child would destroy my figure. Besides, you should put more faith into your people.”
I growled. My people were war-mongers. I’m sure that they would figure things out over time, but the process would be long and bloody. Society, as it was today, would be lost.
I tried to convey my concerns to Rhea, but she just put her hand up to turn me off.
“Cronus, we are nearly immortal. Unless someone kills you, my dear, you’re not going anywhere.”
I tugged at the collar of my tunic.
“But, Rhea, please at least think about it. A child would be a wonderful addition to our family…”
“Our family, dear Cronus, is our people. However, I will consider it, seeing as how important this is to you.” She stood up from her gold-encrusted throne and walked up to me, her gown flowing behind her. “So, yes, my dear, I will consider it.”
I was at her mercy. How humbling it was to be at the disposal of a woman.
I nodded slowly and walked out of the palace.
I looked down the mountain and upon my bustling people; worry filled my mind. I could already see them fighting.
I walked down the mountain and into the town. Their quarreling was silenced by my presence. I sighed. They all looked at me with mutual hunger. I had already brought them victories, but they wanted more. Some looked at me with utter disdain. They worried me. Revolution was one thing, but personal hatred was another. I must admit that I am far from perfect, but for some reason, these people think I am. I turned and looked up at the gilt hall. It was quite a sight to behold. Perhaps I could consider moving down to the level of my people. It made more sense than trekking down a mountain every day.
Once I was through the town I looked longingly into the deep woods.
“I want to go hunting,” I said aloud to no one.
Upon realizing that I wasn’t exactly prepared to pursue such an endeavor, I changed my mind.
“A walk will do just fine.”
It was refreshing. The shadows of the trees graced the brush-covered ground. The dappled sunlight was strangely enchanting.
I came upon a large rock and sat upon it, pondering the many aspects of life. I truly hoped that Rhea would agree to have a child with me, but something deep inside told me that something was going to go remarkably wrong.
Suddenly, a dark-haired maiden appeared before me. Her hair flowed about her face and her gown floated on the still air. Her eyes were a violent green. She wore golden sandals and a long chain necklace upon which hung an ornate hourglass.
“Hello there, Lamia,” I said casually.
I could see her balk at my words.
“Cronus,” she nodded.
“You’re looking particularly raunchy today.”
She scoffed and the floating effect went away.
“To what do I owe the honor of chancing upon you in the forest?” I locked my eyes on her.
“She shrugged, “I figured that now was as good a time as any to inform you of your fate.”
“Oh, come now. You don’t seriously think that I’ll even acknowledge a word you say, do you?”
“Fine,” she said turning from me, “I just thought you’d like to know Rhea’s decision ahead of time…”
Damn fates. I didn’t know whether I should bother with her or not, after all, her kind has a way of lying. They do so enjoy messing with the minds of men.
“Fine,” I barked, “enlighten me.”
She looked over her shoulder and simply said, “Yes.”
I was slightly confused.
“‘Yes’ is the answer to your question.”
A smile sprung onto my face. Rhea would say yes! But then, something in the back of my mind tried to remind me that this could all be a trick.
“But…” she began, but I ignored her entirely.
“That’s wonderful!” I yelled as I jumped to my feet.
“Cronus…” I couldn’t hear her over my wild thoughts…
This is excellent! I thought, My empire will go on!
“Oh, thank you, Lamia,” I said, taking her hand and kissing it gently.
“What wonderful news!” I sand as I danced back to the town.
“Cronus, wait!” Her voice faded away.
I stood before the guilt doors of our palace, trying to compose myself before entering. I straightened my tunic and pulled up my pants. I brushed the hair from my eyes and wiped the sweat from my brow. I stood up straight and cleared my throat.
I threw the golden doors open and strolled casually into the throne room. There she sat, my beloved wife in her long flowing gown. She was smiling, so I smiled too.
“I’ve made up my mind,” she chirped.
“Oh? That was fast,” I wanted to laugh so badly.
“Yes, Cronus, I’ll give you a child,” her smile grew.
“You were just playing with me, weren’t you?” I laughed.
“I don’t care to answer to such an accusation,” she grinned smugly.
“Is that so?”
“Fine. I’m going to have the easternmost room converted into a nursery.”
“Oh, lovely! We can fill it with all sorts of fabulous baubles!”
“I’ll put the order in tomorrow,” I yawned, “but right now, I need a nap. Such wonderful news drains so much energy.”
I kissed her on the hand and wandered off to my room.
A few months later, the palace was alive. Rhea was due soon and everyone was scrambling to prepare for the event.
My head hurt so badly. All the bustling was going to drive me mad. I had to get away, if only for a little while.
I wound up at the same rock where Lamia had appeared to me. Low and behold, she was there once again.
I was about to thank her for the wonderful news, but she had something better to say.
“Cronus, you stupid fool! Do you have a death-wish or something?”
“Good to see you too…”
She pinched the bridge of her nose and winced in visible irritation.
“You didn’t listen to me,” she growled, “You just ran off on your merry way without letting me finish! Now you’re going to pay for that.”
“Yes, children. You’re going to have more than one and one of them is going to banish you to Tartarus! ”
“Why in the Gods’ names would my own child banish me from my lands?”
“I’m so sorry, Cronus,” she sighed, “but it’s just too complicated for you to understand.”
“Oh really,” I hated these games, “Try me.”
“No, really. I’m not even sure how this works, but unless you want to take a trip to Tartarus, you’ll have to kill your sons, which is impossible.”
“I don’t understand… Lamia, I don’t want to kill my sons, but I don’t exactly want to be banished.”
She gave a ragged sigh.
“Think about it,” she wheezed, “Which is more important to you: Your life or the future of your empire?”
That was one of the toughest questions that has ever been thrown at me. I was vane, and I knew it.
“So, if I can’t kill them, how do I stay alive? Seems kind of one-sided to me,” I murmured.
“It is,” she informed, “You have to trap them somehow, but they will be Titans just like you, so that’s going to be a rather difficult task.”
I thought a moment. I remembered that when I banished the Cyclops and Hecatoncheires back into the earth, Gaia was the only thing that could hold them back. She didn’t exactly want to, as they were her children, but there was no way they could escape from their mother…
“I have to confine them,” I whispered, “within myself.”
Lamia looked at me in surprise. I guess she hadn’t expected me to figure it out this quickly.
She raised her hand. “They won’t be harmed and neither will you, Fates’ honor,” she saluted me, “but one day, Cronus,” she continued, “one day you will have to give up the throne.”
“I know,” I rasped.
“And you will know it when the time comes.”
“Good luck,” she whispered.
“Yeah,” I choked.
Damn Fates. Damn Erinnyes. Ugh, how can they know everything and then beat you to pieces with the truth? What am I going to tell Rhea?
“Oh, hi sweetie. Remember how I said I wanted a child? Well, yeah, but I have to eat it, too. You understand, don’t you?”
Yeah, that didn’t even go over well with myself.
I trudged back to the palace; it had become a gloomy place to me. Rhea was smiling, the people were bustling, everyone was getting ready for a waste of time and effort. You don’t tell your people or your wife that all this means nothing, but how can you keep it all to yourself? I was losing my mind over all this.
The day came all too quickly. She was lying in her bed, holding the tiny thing in her arms. It was wrapped in the finest swaddling clothes this land had to offer, I made sure of that. She was smiling and the baby was whimpering softly. She reached out to hand the child to me. I tried to refuse, but she was persistent. I held the baby boy in my arms and tears filled my eyes.
I did what I had to do. Rhea was beyond appalled. Her eyes were practically out of her head. I cursed myself. How vain was I?
We had more children, five more, to be exact. I tried to explain to Rhea that I really didn’t want to be banished, but she didn’t believe me when I told her that, in fact, no harm was being done. She yelled and screamed and I just smiled stupidly. She tried multiple times to hide her pregnancy from me, but that isn’t something that’s easily done. She would hide and I would find her.
It took me five children to realize that this wasn’t worth it. I was no longer caring for my people or my wife. I wasn’t even a fraction of the person I was before all this happened. I felt dirty and disgusting. I had lost her. Being the ruler of an entire people is good and all, but how can you go on when you know that every moment of your life is slowly killing the life of your lover? I had always hated irony.
I knew she had planned something different for number six. She was going to take the child to Crete and leave him with some nymphs. As much as I didn’t want to give up everything, I let her think that she was getting away with something.
She came to me with a stone and offered it as my son. It was beyond obvious that she wasn’t holding a newborn. Rocks and babies don’t exactly look the same in swaddling clothes. She smiled at me and that was what really gave her away. I took the rock and I saw the fear creep into her eyes. I pulled back some of the material. Low and behold, it was an ordinary rock of no particular value. This was dumb. I wanted to hand it back to her and tell her that her son was in no trouble, but she looked at me so anxiously. I cringed and swallowed it.
About twenty years later, my exiled son came back. Rhea explained the rock thing to me and begged me to let her son stay at the palace. I was more than ready to get off my high throne and hand him my olive branches along with a few pearls of wisdom:
“Don’t get cocky and stupid. It’ll be your demise.”
But no. I just sat there and stared at him. Good looking boy. He had the best of both his mother and I.
I knew he was here to send me on my way, but for some reason, I didn’t think I could let Rhea know I knew. I assigned him to be my cupbearer. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? What better way to kill someone than poisoning their drink? I shrugged the nagging feeling away.
Sure enough, he poisoned me. I wanted to kill him so badly, but I myself wasn’t dying. As I became ill he stood over me and spoke.
“I know what you did to my brothers and sister. I’m not going to let you get away with it. You’ll return them back to this earth and you will return to the hell from whence you came.”
I looked pitifully up at him. Some words to say to your father.
He leaned in closer.
“And Father, you’ve damned yourself and your entire race. Go quietly to Tartarus or fight your children and your imprisoned brothers. Trust me, Father, you don’t exactly have a chance.”
With a terrible cough, they were freed. I was laying on the ground in exhaustion. They, all six of them, looked down at me with pity and hatred.
Rhea came into the throne room and her children turned to her.
“And I loved you,” she cringed, “Mother told me that marrying you was a stupid idea. She said ‘Don’t mess with your brothers, especially not Cronus. He has a bad way about him.’ And I didn’t listen!” She pointed to the palace doors, “Leave,” she yelled, “before the last of your dignity is gone.”
I stood up and looked upon the faces of my children. They were strong and I knew they would do just fine in my place.
I dragged myself out of the palace and down to my people. They all looked at me with insane intensity.
“What will you do?” one asked.
I laughed. Even they knew what had happened.
“War!” one shouted; a roar followed his words.
Stupid fools… I thought.
So here I am, sitting on a toadstool rather than a throne, looking out into the darkness that is Tartarus.
Do I even need to note that we lost? I mean Cyclops, rogue Titans, and those hundred-handed freaks are truly a force to be reckoned with. They drove away those who didn’t pledge allegiance down into the depths of this hellish place. But none of that really matters right now.
I am still visited by Lamia; I could kill her every time she shows her face. She continuously reminds me that there is no escaping one’s fate. But I smile and tell her that things aren’t always what they seem.