12th Perition, Pergamon

Aristes,

O nothing can stay my hand this night. The spring advances more rapidly than the marching of my men, and I feel a great impatience. Thus do I fly to you in fantastic imaginings as the cold night descends upon the minute bruises that afflict me, and I take stock of my body, lacking desire to do otherwise.

Mead is the occupation of victory and feast; there is nothing to celebrate but another day of lonely occupation.

Again I suffer from the cold knowledge that I will not feel the caress of Hephaestion upon my limbs; he is lost to me now, and while my flesh is enamored of the memory of the sight and the smell of him, the sound of the loud striving of his body against my own -- oh, those endless nights of feast and revel, with the one whom I lifted up higher than all other! This passion for me fired my passion for him, the intrusive caress, the violence of his lust; for never was I Erastes to this lover. He ever took me, and by force if I did resist.

If my enemy were to see him in my bed, then they could know the way to rout me; to defeat me with the arrogant passion of a tormented and aroused warrior, bent upon rapine.

The irony! The conquerer, conquered… and yet my very throat thickens with the heaviness of my blood, for it would seem the world is empty of all joys but the joy of being seized by the inexorable force of a lust that drew me to itself… it were not my own.

Many nights, he would not slacken, nor spend himself, but remain agitated, aroused, unable to find the peak of satisfaction in my body, but I would retreat from him and lay apart, untouched. Until at length, moved by a species of pity for the release he could not gain, would rouse myself again, and take him, as he had taken me, hours before. As a common Persian takes a fleeing refugee on the battlefield, from behind; not for pleasure, or for tenderness, but for completion of the sexual rite that war requires. I would be Erastes then, and would in a spate of anguished desire, mount him, at these times, and make him the receiver of my aggression; in performance of the sexual rite that war requires. This is what he desired; this is what I too desired of him.

For we were, in my bed, the hottest of enemies, conquering one another with lust. Was this love?

It was never thus with you, Aristes, for with you, there was pleasure in the innocence of touch, the incidental arousal, the dance of exploration. Was that love?

It was this I loved in you, and in those long, secluded evenings where you took me from the clutches of his cravings, and embraced me in a far more chaste bed, where even the degree of prolongation of seduction was a lesson. Did you enjoy me then? Was I an entertainment to that other side of a wicked governor, who grew too serious too soon to play at passion?

Oh Aristes, how did you die, to leave me in the arms of one who cannot love, nor even revel in his moment of completion? Where wandered your ship onto the rocks, to leave me with this monstrous love? Slaking himself in me provoked a hunger greater still than misery. For there was not enough of me to slake him; ever.

On this night, a great eye rises over Syria, the wicked moon of the Bull - the leap month of Perition is now full, to usher in an evil portent for the denizens of Babel. Babylon, your enemy is at the gate! And soon, Anatolia will be taken from you!

I am without companion, and in her correspondence, the beast of Pella bids me rise to yet another repulsive womanchild to bring her an heir. I shall not return while she lives, nor defile myself with her, or with her witches again. I shall fulfill my duty of fatherhood with a girl of hard Syrian limbs, or of priestly Hebrew mien, and she will go to her place, here in Alexandria, honored by the seed of Achilles, in this new land.

Perhaps with such a religious daughter of this new soil, I can make a child, and stomach the duty of my sex and station.

But would it be love?