“You are the center of the wheel”, my father would speak into my ear as he rocked me to sleep in his arms on the nights that from among his wives my mother called him to come to her. “All things revolve about you. You are the only god; your strength the greatest strength; your arm the fellest arm.” These words he whispered even as his massive biceps pressed me about the ribs restraining my breath, and my head rested no differently than some fragile paper thing, unarguably crushable in the gulf of his huge hand. “No value is greater than yours; no glory greater save that which will spring from you.” I was nearly eleven with the physical stature of any average sixteen-year-old human boy when the blitzkrieg of the Drago-Kazov betrayal brought an abrupt end to this practice and changed the nature of all that I knew and would know. Were it not for his death at their hands, I have no doubt that Barbarossa would have continue to enact the ritual, despite my daily increasing size and weight, for yet some time to come.
While physically, at ten years old or so, the Nietzschean youth is already quite imposing in relative terms, emotionally, not unlike the human adolescent at that age, there yet remains to ensue a great deal of development. This abundance of physical strength in combination with the paucity of emotional restraint brought about in us an incessant and irrepressible riot of unfocused masculinity, and set we young men of Barbarossa’s brood about the constant engineering of a whole host of ridiculous, unscrupulous, and to our minds, “mannish” endeavors. Suffice it to say that we had all long since grown more than weary of hearing the words. The safety and comfort of his embrace which we each of us once longed for had since turned to revulsion at the prospect, and utter embarrassment on the actual occasion of this rite, as infrequent but inevitable as it was. At such an age to be wafted still into the air as if we weighed nothing and held in that same effortless iron grasp; to be rocked like an infant gently back and forth until he had several times uttered all his litany into our ear was an insufferable imposition that we were made to suffer in spite of ourselves with waxing and waning degrees of underdeveloped Nietzschean stoicism. My newfound intolerance was, in fact, the only thing that had changed from the time I could first recall it. I no longer fell asleep in his arms, but as we all did once struggle proved futile, I rallied failingly to endure the entire ordeal waiting to be set down on my own feet again, and set free to go and bear the brunt of the ridicule leveled at me by my brothers and half brothers for the rest of the evening. Barbarossa had not changed at all. His ritual, and that of the pride’s other male elders, remained a gentle one, which caused no physical discomfort. And yet it is only at this distance that his forced nearness, now so long absent, begins to induce the sense of sacred connectedness and impart the lesson for which it was, by design, intended. Here, clearly, lay the sublime magic of the cumulative Kodiak mind that no self-respecting Nietzschean adolescent would let slide his well-studied self-awareness long enough to have felt or learned from then. Regardless, I was to hear it, and hear it again; that I was king; that I was the absolute and unrivalled, while yet I could not have broken free of the satin vice his immense arms constrained me in had I fought, as I oft times did, with all my strength. Such was the huge disparity between the awesome might of the Kodiak sires and that of their rapidly maturing sons. And though there are most likely no sons left but I who still draw breath, were they about and holding forth in the infinite corners of the universe, (and I do so hope they are) their lonely insignificance painted upon the unquantifiable greatness of space would, I think, have them remembering this as I do. At this immeasurable distance from Barbarossa’s arms; at this long age removed from the smell of his breath on my