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Good Morrow! I hope you are all well, my loves - especially as we have had a multiplicity of lovely Lij pics of late. He is such a darling. The Stock Exchange ones are particularly delightful, I think. So much enthusiasm and delight, bless him. :D

Anyway, on with the motley. Here is the last in the Egypt saga, part 13 plus an Epilogue which makes 14 for the superstitious. Two of my boys were born on the 13th, so it's a sort of un-birthday present for them.

I hope you like it.

Grateful thanks to the wonderful [ profile] ladysunrope for he beta and comments on my work. Hugs her tight.

Thank you, also, to my faithful readers. You brighten my days. More hugs.

Part 13

How shall I sing the beauty of thine eyes,
That must, in me, a thousand errors note?
For in thine outward grace I see no plainness lie,
When I, upon thy form, as rapturous child do dote.
Thine hair, black as a raven's silky wing,
Thy skin as alabaster pure,
But I am formed so men must laugh, not sing,
Still, in thy grace my soul is bounded sure -
For thou dost prize me for my heart, and love
The deepest core of me, not pomp and show.
So do I love in thee all that I list above,
And for thine inmost parts, which, sure you know -
For in thine eyes reflection I am king,
When to thy beauties, love, my paean I sing.

Song written by Dom, for Lij, many years ago.

Cass entered the room just as dawn broke, looking fresher and more hopeful than he had the night before. He bowed to Lij, and took the seat opposite him. "A good day to you, my Lord," he said, smiling slightly as he examined Cormac's face in the gathering light.

"He looks a little better this morning. Is he, so?" he said to Darius, who was writing something on a slip of parchment. Then, seeing the man's blank look, slapped himself on the thigh and repeated his question in Egyptian.

"He is no worse, sir - that is all I can offer you. But it will be a little while before I can say, with truth, that he is better."

Cass shrugged. "That is more than doctors from Alexandria offered us. Ninus gave large gold to them, and they did nothing to help him, nothing!"

Darius permitted himself a smile. "I have no doubt of it. I, however, and my associates will do all we can. You may be assured of that."

He left the scroll on a side table. "My son will be here in a few moments. He will look after our patient during the day. Anum and I will return later. What is my patient's name, if I may ask?"

"Cormac. Cormac Mac Airt, High King of Erin." Cass smoothed the hair off Cormac's face. "He would come. I refuse him nothing."

Darius glanced at Lij, and saw in his face the pain which he would have kept hidden, but he said nothing, except, "do you not wish to break your fast, my Lord? There is food set out for us in the dining hall."

Lij shook his head. "I shall have something later, I thank you. It is too early for me."

Dom came in a little later, stretching his arms above his head, and yawning. "Why did you not call me, a hashkeh? I missed the prayer."

Lij murmured something about waking early, and watched Dom bend over his sleeping brother. Satisfied that Cormac was no worse than he had been, Dom dragged up a stool and placed it beside Cass. "Tell us what has been happening in Erin..."


The day wore on. Darius's son was as efficient as was his father. Cass had left the room, and when Dom asked Lij if he would care to go with him for the mid-day meal, Lij demurred. "I had a large breakfast," he lied, not looking at Dom. "I will eat later."

He sat there with Darius's son, silent as stone. Once Cormac stirred in his sleep, and whispered "Lij," but the man was pouring out the potion, and did not hear him.

Lij bent close over his spouse's brother, and whispered, "if I can save you for him, I will, mo chroi. Never fear!" The hand clasped within Lij's, tightened, then loosed again, as the physician came towards them, and Cormac drank. He was soon, once again, fathoms deep in healing sleep.


Dom sat opposite Lij and watched his love. Lij was looking at Cormac, his gaze intense, his eyes fixed upon the sleeping man. Dom leaned his head on his fist and gave himself up to his thoughts.

So involved had they both been in the mysteries that had lain before them, that they had had little time for anything else. Since he had woken from sleep to discover a dead man lying beside his bed, Dom had given little thought to the reason Lij had wanted to bring him to Tolan. Now he knew that it was nothing to do with new crowns.

Lij had said little all that day. He had answered those questions put to him, and spoken with Darius's son, but little else. Dom wondered if his silence had anything to do with himself. Did Lij think he blamed him for aiding Cormac to travel the seas from Erin? Did he lay his brother's condition at his own feet? He would ask him.

"Lij..." Dom began, and Lij lifted his eyes reluctantly from Cormac's face. "Yes, a stor?"

His eyes were heavy Dom saw, and there was the beginning of a slight redness around their lids. He changed what he was about to ask. "Will you come with me to eat, when Cass returns? Nat has promised to sit with Cormac for an hour, and Nakht is getting a bath ready for us."

Lij sighed and shook his head. "I do not think so, Dom. I really do not feel like eating. Perhaps a cup of juice, and a morsel of bread and cheese, if you would. I will stay here. Do you go and eat."

Dom was about to protest, but the look on Lij's face was that of determination, and Dom knew, from long experience, that there was no point in arguing with his spouse when he was in this mood. "Very well, my love. It shall be as you say."

A little later, when Dom was in the bath, Menkh came and stood in the doorway, looking at his cousin sitting by the bed. "How does he? Dom seemed to think he was no worse, which is a blessing. Will you not join us for meat, and tell us the story of your doings?"

Lij tore his eyes from Cormac, and Menkh was stunned by the pain in them. "Not tonight, cousin. Dom is fetching me some bread and cheese. It is all I require, I thank you."

The silence that followed was a tacit dismissal. "Very well, Exalted One - it shall be as you say." Menkh bowed himself out, and, going to the bath-house, told Dom in very plain terms that only he had the power to move Lij to act against his will. "For when he is in this mood, as you will know full well, I find a corner in which to hide myself until it wears off him."

But it was only when Darius arrived that night, that Dom began to be seriously concerned, for Lij refused, point blank, to leave Cormac's side and retire to bed. No argument that Dom or Darius put forward was of the slightest use.

"I shall stay here," Lij stated, in a voice seldom heard by Dom, who then shrugged his shoulders, somewhat hurt, and left Lij to his vigil.

It was long before Dom slept. It was not like Lij to show Dom such a coldness. It was as if someone else was inhabiting Lij's skin. Only the eyes showed that it was Lij in there, and not a stranger.


On the second night, Dom was beginning to become afraid for his love. Lij had only left the stool for a few moments to use the privy. He had eaten a little, and drank a little - but not enough, Aapet's wife declared, her arms folded tight against her body, to keep a flea alive.

Dom, desperate, allowed her to try to get Lij to move from his place. He was polite, but implacable. He would stay where he was, but would be grateful for a little more juice. She threw up her hands in despair and brought him what he requested. He then favoured her with a smile of such sweetness that she was moved to try again.

He raised one regal hand, enjoining silence, and she left, defeated.


By the third morning, there was a meeting held in the large room. Panshi, Aapet, Menkh, Dom, Nat and Nakht talked together for a long time. Lij had ordered Menkh and Nat back to the palace, and they dared not gainsay him in his present mood.

"He is like a lighted brand," Nat declared, shaking his head. "I do not like to leave him, but dare not disobey his will. I never have, and I do not see that it will help the present situation if I start doing so now."

"Would it help if I countermanded his order, and demanded that you should stay?" Dom asked, his face pale with worry.

Menkh snorted. "Do you remember how he was when he caught that groom attempting to ravish the bath boy after he had already had instructions relayed to the man to leave the lad alone?"

Dom remembered only too clearly. Lij's rage was like a block of ice, burning cold in his fury that the man had ignored the words clearly given to him from those he should have obeyed. He had whipped the man himself, to within an inch of his life, and had him removed from the palace to toil in the copper mines for a few years.

Think yourself fortunate," Lij had told the trembling man. "If you had succeeded in ravishing the poor lad, you would be dead by now, and not merely destined for a eunuch's fate. Get you out from my sight! You offend me!

Nat pressed his lips firmly together. "He is worse than he was then, for he has it - whatever it may be that he is labouring under, now - under a tighter control. What is he doing?"

No-one knew. All Lij would say to any query as to what he was doing, was "trust me."


On the fourth morning, Dom knelt by his spouse's feet, and took his hand. It was cold, and a fine tremor ran through it, as though he were a sick man. "Lij, I am afraid for you. You look so ill..." he began. Lij raised his free hand, and smoothed Dom's fair hair. "Trust me," he murmured, softly.

"I am trusting you to kill yourself!" Dom hissed, having sent both Darius and Cass from the room so that he could speak plainly to his love. "Why are you doing this, Lij? Have I not enough to worry me, without you…"

Dom broke off, and rose hastily. He strode around the room, his pent-up pain and frustration needing an outlet.

Lij's voice was soft. "Have I not asked you to trust me? Can you not bring yourself to do so?"

Dom wheeled round, his grey eyes stormy with anger and fear. "I trust you, you know that. But Lij, had I a copper mirror here, to show you your face, you would see why I am troubled... it is hard to know which of you is the one suffering!"

Dom was right to be frightened. Lij was almost grey with fatigue, his eyes huge and reddened, his face drawn, exhaustion etched upon his features like an engraving upon Bithyan glass.

"If you do not give me better reason than you have for what you do, I will hold you down, whilst Darius forces a sleeping potion down your throat. He has said he is willing to do so. Oh, I know you will never forgive me for it, but I am willing to take that risk..."

"No," Lij interrupted on a sigh. "I will forgive you, readily, a hashkeh, how could I not? For you would be motivated to act so out of the deepest love. It is you who will not forgive yourself when you finally comprehend what I am doing.”

The words stopped Dom in his tracks. He knelt, once again, putting his head in Lij's lap. "At least let me fetch you a more comfortable seat."

"No!" Lij said, sharply. "I must not close my eyes. It will be more comfortable, sitting in a chair, and I might..."

I might fall asleep, and cause Cormac's death by it. But this he could not say.

The night was the longest Dom had ever spent. He had sat next to Lij, watching him fight the exhaustion, watching the weary eyes watering from being forced to remain open. As Lij had requested, Dom talked to him through the long watches of the night, telling stories of their lives together, watching, all the while, his love falter and sink like a guttering candle.

Then, in those weakest moments, Lij would rise abruptly from his seat, and walk unsteadily about the room, pouring cold water upon his head, and murmuring, "not long now, I pray all the gods - not long, now."

He was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it. His body was shutting down, his mind closing in on itself, craving, as it was, a few moments of sleep. But Lij knew that if he did this, Cormac would surely die, and Dom would be bereft of his only brother. Then, when it was all over, and Cormac lay in the hands of the priests, Lij would be forced to tell Dom that he, Lij, had not been strong enough for the task. Neither of them could bear such a thing.

Nakht, who had crept in quietly, and been allowed to stay, for he said not a word, pressed a cold wet cloth to the back of Lij's neck, as he had been doing all night, but Lij was succumbing. Time has ceased to mean anything to him. Day and night were all the same. If he thought to listen, he could hear Anubis and his low mocking laughter in the deep shadows of the room.

He was going to fail, and all the love he had within him for Dom would be stained with grief and despair, and, in spite of all their efforts, recrimination. He could see it coming ever closer, and he kept back a moan that rose in his throat.

It was when he was at the nadir of his despair and weakness that he heard it - the slightest sound from a bird in the trees outside, and then, hard upon it, came a long sigh, and a gravelly voice from the corner of the room.

"Ah, Little Father! Dawn is coming fast, and I have come to tell you that you have passed the test. The Lord Osiris is greatly pleased with you. He has also spared to you the girl-child of whom he spoke, who will be born here this morning. Go you now to your bed, and rest."

Lij looked blearily into the dark corner whence the voice came, and saw the outline of Anubis standing there, the only clear features his ruby red eyes glowing out of the shadows.

"Go you now, and sleep. Dom, see that he rests. Osiris demands it. Look you, both - Cormac Mac Airt wakes, and is not in pain, because of Lij's pure love for his spouse's brother, his total obedience to god's will, and the great strength he has shown bringing that will to pass. Cormac will live for many years, without pain. He will never be what he was, that is the god's price, but it will suffice. Cormac will tell you so, for he is both a wise and a gentle soul. My brothers, rest now - farewell..."

Dom gasped. He, too, had heard the god's voice. Now, at last, all was becoming clear to him. He drew Lij from the stool, into his sheltering arms. "Come, my love, to bed..."

Lij struggled against him. "No, Dom, not yet...must..." Lij fell to his knees at the side of Cormac's bed as the sick man woke, and fixed his clear blue eyes on Lij and Dom. "I must...the sun...prayer...must..."

", O thou Glorious...Being..." Lij began the invocation, as Nakht gasped, and knelt at his master's side. Never had he been privileged to hear his master utter the Prayer.

Lij stopped and coughed, his throat dry. "Homage to" he began again, but he could not formulate the words. His mind was refusing to stay awake.

A strong, firm, but familiar voice shattered the silence in the room.

"Homage to thee, O thou glorious Being, thou who art dowered with all sovereignty. O Tem-Heru-Khuti, when thou risest in the horizon of heaven, a cry of joy goeth forth to thee from all people..."

Dom had taken up the prayer, and, for the first time in his life, he offered to Ra the Invocation to the Sun, his voice clear and strong, as he knelt, holding Lij safely against his chest. His love's head was resting on his shoulder, and the exhausted man's frame trembled with fatigue.

By the time Dom had reached the benediction, Lij was fast asleep.


Dom lay for a long time looking at Lij's sleeping face. The sun had risen, and the day looked to be fair, but Dom would lie beside his love, and they would both rest.

Aapet had helped Dom carry Lij to bed as he was weary, too, after the four days that had just past in such turmoil. Now, all was clear to Dom. Osiris had demanded that Lij keep vigil beside Cormac, and for that obedience his brother's life had been spared.

Dom knew the depth of Lij's heart, and knew that he would have given his own life if it would save Cormac from the torment he had obviously been suffering of late. Ta mé go dona Cormac had whispered in his sleep. 'I am feeling badly'. Dom had no doubt of it, and knew that his brother would not have said such a thing - even half conscious - if he had not truly meant it.

Now Cormac was sitting up in bed, drinking a little of a warm honey posset made by Aapet's wife. Dom had laid Lij upon the bed and hurried back to see how his brother did. "I am well, Dom, mo dearth Uìr - my brother. Go back to Lij, and watch over him, as he has watched over me."

Darius had come to look at Lij, before they were left alone to sleep. "He is as strong a man as I have ever seen. He is a fitting god for his people, as are you, Great One," the physician bowed, acknowledging, at last, that he knew who they were. "Rest easy, now. Your brother is well, and you have nothing more to fear for him. There is a servant about to give birth, and she is having trouble, Aapet's wife tells me. I must go and see what I can do."

Dom nodded. "It is a girl-child, and she will be well. I would have her called Knefer-ura, after my love. Tell the mother that."

Darius's eyes opened wide, but he said nothing as he bowed himself out. There would be time enough later to ask questions of the god-kings of Egypt.

Lij was beautiful in sleep, Dom thought. The long, black lashes brushed his cheeks, his lips slightly parted, his skin as smooth and soft as it had always been. No-one, Dom thought, wearily, would take him for a man past forty. He had the stamina, too, of a much younger man, for he was as eager and able in bed as ever he was. Dom smiled as he closed his eyes. He had hopes that when Lij woke, he would demonstrate to him just how eager he was. It was his last thought as he fell asleep, a smile on his lips.


Lij slept a day and a night, and woke, just before dawn to find himself in Dom's arms, his head on Dom's shoulder. It was not the way they usually slept, for Dom liked to rest in Lij's arms. Lij smiled as he glanced up to see if Dom was awake, then stretched himself like a cat.

"It is time for the Invocation, a stor. Do you wish to?..."

Dom stopped the question with a kiss. "No, mo chridhe. That is ever your privilege, and mine to watch and listen to you give it."

After the prayer had been offered, they spoke for quite some time. Dom felt his heart warm anew within him, as Lij, his voice faltering a little, told his story. "I was glad to do it. Cormac deserves the best we can offer him, and Cass must be beyond joyful, as I would be if it were you that had been saved."

As Cormac was still asleep when they looked through the door, they went to the bath-house hand in hand, followed by the faithful Nakht. They passed Aapet's wife in the corridor, and she knelt, her head bowed, as they approached her. She had discovered who they were.

"No, no, lady! Not in your own house, and not to a man whom you berated so comprehensively such a short time ago. Come! Aapet and Panshi are our friends, so we would have you as a friend, too, for your posset has put life into me this day."

Lij held out his hand and the woman rose reluctantly - but she was smiling.

"Breakfast will be ready when you leave the bath," she said, bowing once more.

"How is the baby, and the mother?" Dom asked.

The woman looked at Dom with reverence in her eyes. The Gods knew all. "Both are well. We had not hoped for it, but miracles happen. The child is called Knefer-ura as you commanded, Great One."

Lij glanced at his spouse. "Yes, I had forgot that the babe had been spared. We will visit them after breakfast. I would see the child."

The morning was spent talking to Cormac. Darius stayed just long enough to greet them before his son arrived to tend Cormac during the day. "I will give you the recipe for the potion I have been giving the patient," the elder Darius informed them. "It is very good for severe pain of any type - but I do not think, after what I have witnessed of late, that you will have need of it, my lord."

Cormac smiled. "I am beyond grateful for your tender care of me. No amount of money could compensate me for the lightness which is now in my heart. Thank you!"

As Darius left, Cormac reached out his arms to Dom. "Dearth Uir!" he said, as Dom rushed to grasp his brother in his arms, whilst Lij and Cass looked on with satisfied smiles upon their lips.

When Dom had moved away, Cormac held out his arms once more. "Lij, you are my brother, too..." and Lij went to him, and Cormac sobbed upon his shoulder as tender arms embraced him.

"Brothers, indeed," Lij said happily, as he kissed Cormac's brow.

A new life was beginning for them all.


It had been two months since Cormac had arrived at Tolan, crippled, and in pain. It was true that he still had some trouble walking, but there was no pain. He marvelled about this, but kept his thoughts on it to himself. Lij, his first - and only - love, had consummated a miracle.

Always would he love Lij. He could not help it. He had tried to explain it to Cass, who had seen more in his face when he looked at Lij than Cormac would have wished, but Cass brushed it off. "I know how it is, ma cuishle. Do not fret. I am happy that your first love fell on such a worthy and honourable soul."

Cormac could not explain to his lover that Lij would also be his last love - but he cared deeply for Cass, and would never hurt him by saying so.

But Cormac did not know that Lij had taken Cass aside and explained, that for him, there was only Dom, and never would there be another, even though the world ended for it.

"Dom is all my joy," Lij had said, the truth of it apparent in his face, and Cass had embraced him. He had no fear that Lij would try to usurp his place in Cormac's bed. Lij and Dom, it would be, until the end of days.

As the time approached for them to leave for the palace, Dom and Lij spoke apart to Ramose and Panshi.

"I would have you both come and serve us at the Palace," Lij said as Dom sat, beaming, by his side.

"Ramose - there is work and to spare at home, for my family and household are ever sending out for silversmiths, I can tell you. Even your Seth came, once, so I understand from Menkh, but he did not wish to stay. Now, I understand why. He had you to return to. Do you wish to come? I will not force you, if your heart is here."

Ramose smiled, but it was a sad smile. "My heart was where Seth was. Now he is not here, I will be glad to leave with you, Great One. I shall leave the business to the workmen. I have no use for money, and if I am given quarters in the Palace, I shall have need of very little."

Lij patted Ramose on the shoulder. "We have no slaves, my friend, you must know that. Everyone we employ is paid according to their skills. And there are many I can think of who will pay you well to make them things. Nat's spouse, for one, is very fond of silver ornaments, and so is my sister-wife, Neferura-Ulive, too. You will not be found to be languishing in poverty, I assure you."

Ramose bowed. "I will come, and serve you all my days - and gladly, for you brought the guilty to justice, and have had my Seth prepared most royally for the afterlife. My only sorrow is that I must leave him here."

Dom looked astonished at this. "But naturally you will bring him with you! You cannot leave him here. And as you say, he has been most royally embalmed. He will rest, and wait for you, in a fine tomb, Ramose, that is already prepared for an occupant. No talk of parting will we hear."

Ramose bowed his head, unwilling to show the tears that sprang so easily to his eyes. Panshi put an arm about the big man's shoulders, and spoke softly for a few moments to him, making the man smile at last.

"And you, Panshi, dear friend and colleague," Lij grinned. "You cannot stay here, now, you realise that?"

Panshi had not realised it until Aapet had spoken quite plainly to him the night before. "I will miss you, lad, but you will do better with the Great Ones." Panshi, Aapet had informed him, was now a Royal Scribe, an exalted position which entitled him to a large salary, and a tomb of his own when he died. Panshi, aged an invincible twenty, laughed at the thought of a tomb, but readily agreed to go with the gods of whom he had become so fond...and Ramose. Ramose had touched his heart. Time would tell, Aapet had thought, if any more came of it.

They all prepared to leave. It was time and enough to return home.


Six weeks later, Cormac, recovered from the long journey by camel, was being carried along the palace corridors in a chair of Lij's design, and looked about him in awe.

Never would he get used to the splendours of this place he thought - all paintings, and gold and enamel and jewels. Nowhere in the world could there be anything to match it!

In a large room they passed, Cormac ordered the chair-men to stop, as he pointed out to Cass, walking at his side, a painting that Lij had ordered of Cormac's arrival at Tolan. It was not a truthful representation, of course, for Cormac was depicted striding off the boat, with Ninus, Cass, Lij, Dom and Nat standing by in observance - but it was enough. There was Cormac being embraced by Dom, and in the next panel, by Lij.

They promised each other to come back later to examine it more closely, but for now, they had been summoned to the Throne Room, and could not delay.

As the double doors swung open before him, the herald's sonorous tones were heard announcing his rank and titles as king of Erin, but Cormac had no thought for any except the two men sitting on the dais in front of him. Dom and Lij, in their splendour was a thing he had not before seen. Even Cass had to suppress a gasp at the sight of the men, hung with gold and jewels, dressed in white kilts, with cloaks of peacock's feathers hanging from their shoulders, and the twin crowns of Egypt on their heads.

Dom and Lij both stood as Cormac's litter was placed in front of them, and Dom walked forward to give his brother his hand, as he rose, rather stiffly from his seat.

A chair was placed for Cormac, and he saw that also present were Nat and his spouse, and Knafra was wearing the new red gown with pride, Menkh, Nakht, and Ninus, as well as Jed and Orla, and all their many children, two still babes in arms. Titi, and Evgren, her husband and children, and Lij's sister and wife, the beautiful Liv, with her lover, Orem.

There were several important palace officials present, and, Cormac saw with surprise that Panshi was sitting on the floor beside Lij's throne, with papyrus and ink, smiling up at him.

Cormac and Cassawn were formally welcomed to the court, and applauded by all present. Dom's brother had made a favourable impression on everyone, for he was a quiet cheerful man, not given to pomp or ceremony, even though he was a king.

Dom spoke. "My dear brother; you are thrice welcome. You cannot know what joy it gives us to see you here, safe and well.
My beloved spouse and I have given it much thought, and we have decided that you all must be given Egyptian names, as was I when first I came here. Ninus, come forward!"

Ninus, who had not expected to be summoned, gave a start, and came swiftly to kneel before the twin thrones.

"You shall, henceforth, be called Ini-Herit - 'he who brings back the distant one'. And you are granted the twin towns of Kranos and Dephet as your demesne, for your service to us, for which we value you greatly."

Ninus's eyes widened, for they were grain-rich towns, and he was happy to receive the lordship of them.

"Cassawn," Dom continued, as Ninus withdrew. Cassawn knelt. "You are Tepem-Kau - 'best of souls', for your kind and loving care of our dear brother during difficult and dangerous times. You will be granted a share of all that he is endowed with, from this time forth."

Cassawn withdrew bowing.

"Cormac, Dearth Uir - my brother - to you we give the names Ka-Hotep - 'peaceful essence', Adja - 'treasure', Rameses - 'Son of Ra', Anhur - 'sky bearer', and Teremun, 'Beloved of his Father'. We endow you with the title Prince of Memphis, and grant unto you that city for your demesne, with all the surrounding lands and townships for your exclusive use. We know full well that you have much pleasure in administration - this should satisfy you completely. Thus are the unalterable edicts given, and our word has gone out over all the earth. So be it."

Menkh unwound the red cord from about his staff, and cast it to the ground, and all the company was dismissed, except for the family, who remained at Lij's signal. It seemed there was more to say.

When the doors had been shut behind those dismissed, Lij came and knelt beside Cormac's chair.

"I have something more to say to you, brother, and I mean it with all my heart. Our ways as yet are strange to you - but you will come to understand them all."

"I am Egypt. I am the Father of the People, and they are my Children. One of my titles, given to me in greatest honour, and solemnity, is 'Little Father.' It is the only title Dom does not share with me."

"Dom came late to Egypt, and although he is co-ruler with me, and is my equal in many things, yet there is a difference. The difference is that I was born to be a god to our people, and he was not. I love him, as you know, above my own life, but he knows, in his heart, that it is given to me to make the Sun to rise over the lands. I am as his Father in that, and he understands it right well."

"You are my child, Cormac, as you have come to this Land to live under my rule. But I am more than your Father, as you are more than my Son, because of the love we share, both for each other, and for my beloved spouse, Dom."

"You are become the Son of My Soul, and I am the Father of Your Soul. Never will we be parted more, for in life and in death you shall remain with us, for all the eternities, and beyond them. Amen - so be it."

Cormac rose, not without difficulty, tears shining in his eyes, and bowed low to Lij and then to Dom. "It has been my privilege to know and to love you both. I pray my life will be long in this land, and that Cass and I shall serve the people we have been entrusted as they so richly deserve."

Lij embraced him, and then Dom took his brother in his arms. "Welcome home, Dearth Uir," he murmured into his brother's ear, "welcome home!"

(Dearth Uir means brother.)

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