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Fossia
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Posts: 99
Founded: Sep 01, 2020
Ex-Nation

Postby Fossia » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:13 am

Peter Howle
28th of Cherry


"I wonder if they think we've died by now?" asked Acona, breaking the dead silence in the process. Everyone turned toward him for a second. The calm waters of the gulf of mexico passed by their raft as they drifted ahead. "Look!" Acona said pointing to a spot on the horizon, "Its the edge of the river." The strong waters of the mississippi rushed into the gulf as if they were fleeing the devil himself, a white frothy mixture compounded at the edge, reminding Percy of how he used to drink hot chocolate in the cold winters in Montreal.

"Oh shit." Sangwati said.

"What?" Percy asked in a sudden response.

"The river is rushing toward us, we were heading downstream... " he said. It suddenly hit Percy that they wouldn't be able to go far on the river.

"Well if we walk we'll go nowhere in that thick swamp." Percy said pointing to the increasingly deadly looking thicket of trees and brush that lay to their left side.

"We'll only be able to go about half the distance on our canoes as we could walking on the land in a day. We can try to paddle upstream, but it'll be rough, especially with these heavy bags." said Sangwati.

"Right..." Percy said. "...we have no choice, we'll cut and ditch the raft on the banks up here. We can salvage the leather, however. Once were out of the swamp we'll follow the river by foot."

"Sounds good." Acona said. Ocastaquin and Ontitarac both looked tired. They'd have to hang on.

"What exactly is this all building up towards." said Ontitarac. "Say we get these seeds, you make your farms, then what? What's the point? Life was good before, whats going to make it better now?"

"Well... you saw the results back there no? Those villagers were rich off that trade, and they lived in a single place, they didn't have to pack and move every few years to find more food. This region is becoming to dense with people to simply keep at what was going on."

"Is that it?" Ontitarac said in a curious and almost accusative way, "Or are you hoping to win over Chief Antirontacs heart with your gifts of endless food so you can eventually take over as Chief?"

"Ontitarac!" said Sangwati, clearly quite frustrated with the way conversation was progressing.

"What, you don't see it too? I tell you this, I look at him and I see the face of my old father! All powerful cause he was the Chief's son. So what?!" Ontitarac started to yell. "I tell you we've been sailing and walking and paddling for over an eternity at this point just so he can have his magical seeds. His seeds to power."

Ocastaquin started, "You know, just cause your father was a piece of dung, doesn't mean everyone is."

"Oh is that so, you'd know that?"

"I fucking would!" Ocastaquin exclaimed. "I'm sick of your fucking moping about, so your dad was an ass, that doesn't give you the power of judgement over anyone else."

"Why not!" Ontitarac yelled.

"YOU ARE NO CHIEF!" Teata's deep voice boomed across the expanse, echoing through the swamplands in the distance. "I understand your tired, and the fact we now have to paddle, sucks. But that doesn't give you the right to be a dick to everyone else here. Nor does it give the power of Chief. I don't give a damn what you think about Percy, or about any of his ideas, if you start getting us to turn on eachother, I swear to the spirits I will cut your throat." The following silence was deafening. Ontitarac moved to the back side of the raft.

"Thanks." Percy said to Teata but he had already returned to his semi-permanent vow of silence as he leaned against the mast with his back. About half an hour later they had beach the raft, removing the leather from the mast and rope holding everything together, reducing it to a pile of logs. They created sacks with the leather from the sail and divided the two backs of potatoes and corn seed into smaller even bags. to distribute the weight evenly amongst the 6 of them. After about a day of hard paddling they made it to a stopping point, tying their canoes to a tree on the edge of the stream and using the canoe as a bed. The next morning they awoke to the bright morning sun. The water rushing past.

"Oh Shit!" yelled Ontitarac. "What is that abomination." Percy turned, a large alligator was wading right by Ontitaracs boat, percy slowly grabbed one of his arrows and his bow in the other hand. The alligator drifted close to ontitarac, percy noticed a quick gleam above Ontitarac's head.

"Wait DONT!" yelled Acona. The arrow in Ontitaracs began to speed downward, just as the alligator looked up and opened its wide dooming jaws. It clamped down on Ontitaracs forearm. Stunned with fear he screamed out in agony. Percy suddenly whipped out his bow and arrow and loosed a shot right through the eye of the gator. It wriggled in pain. Teata shot two more consecutively at the soft underbelly of the gator. Its guts and blood began to spill out into the rushing stream of the mississippi, followed shortly by its complete and dead carcass.

Percy looked around for more. Noticing none, he untied himself from the most and paddled over, collecting Ontitaracs bag and the young man. In his canoe. Several large gashes were present in his forearm, he was lucky to still have it. Percy tied a rope around his upper arm as a tourniquet, before using the leather as a sort of bandage. One gash was particularly bad, Percy could tell it would need help in healing, stitches or cauterization. They began paddling upstream, looking for a suitable place to stop.

Finally, after about 20 minutes, a small bank was found, a nice break from the constant thick trees. The leather bandage was doing its job too well, creating a thick mucus like blood clot that could easily get infected and was stopping a proper clot from forming, using a sharp rock, Percy etched tiny holes on the sides which would allow the blood to drain. He cleaned the wound with the fresh water in his sac. Percy ripped the bowstring off his bow, and chipped off a makeshift needle from the tip of his arrow, he proceeded to sow up the large gash as best he could. Making sure to constantly clean with the water. Percy made sure to tightly tie the bandage on as well, adding pressure to the wound. He removed the tourniquet allowing color to return to the area of his arm it had been placed on.

Percy and the others decided to keep paddling through the night to try and get out of this place as soon as possible. The night was grueling, and the following day even worse, no one talked. No one did anything but battle. That night Percy almost passed out before he could tie his boat up. The next day they got a bit further, paddling for 12 hours straight without stop, and again the next day. But the strain proved a lot, they began to wear away. Finally, after 5 more days they spotted it, the edge of the swamp. Ontitarac was still in a poor state, but seemed to be getting somewhat better. He hadn’t been fully conscious yet, however, only staying awake for a few hours at a time. After another day of paddling to put some distance between them and the swamp, they finally set up a camp, and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Percy could finally sleep properly again.
Last edited by Fossia on Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ralnis
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 26769
Founded: Aug 06, 2012
Father Knows Best State

Postby Ralnis » Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:00 pm

Headquarters of Luther Holly and Crew,
Underground Luther's Farm, Somewhere in Mesopotamia


Luther had been going over the reports over the past few weeks. This disease, the Hand of Uruk as it's been called, had ravaged the city of Stros Mikah. The city was the last city to fall to Empress Ur-Surtur's army when the Kingdom of Uruk finally fell just two years ago and was the border city between the independent kingdoms of the Levant and the hold of Sumeria. Profit and influence came aplenty but that was until the plague hit. Stos Mikah had suffered greatly before the quarantined effects happened and that was only the very beginning. Over the course of a couple of weeks, 60% of the population was decimated and bodies had to be deep buried and burned.

Cleansing rituals and bathing become mandatory to the soldiers who had to instill a greater military presence as the scholars who weren't gutted by the war to help find a cure while more people were quickly put into places working with Nestos. Luther had to think just how dangerous this plague was until he saw the reports from the physician corps and the lead medical priests, the symptoms seemed to be the ones that had been spread and effected the people of Mesopotamia during the Unification Wars.

"So it means that there's resistance to it." Luther spoke to himself as he drank some water." Still, why did it spring up in Nestos? They've been traveling here for generations and have mixed with us. Maybe they were asymptomatic?"

He shook his head," no, didn't make sense. Wish I had a medical degree than a communications. Fucking liberal arts doesn't do anything even in the Strange World."

Ur-Surtur came in seeing the Immortal looking over reports and quietly joined him. She had been away from Ur more than usual while trying to further the reforms and restructuring of the government since the end of Uruk and the lost of a lot of their great minds. All came from Ur or around the Prosperous South in order to see what they can do but it seems that their conventional bathing and medical practices when trying to treat soldiers and others inflicted with the Hand back in the Wars.

"We have gotten reports about Varna being set ablaze by rebellion and the Hand has spread to other parts of the Single Market." The Empress said with tired voice.

"Yet this is only the beginning Ur-Surtur. Inanna had seen fit to unleash her wrath because of the victory of the Seven and Ur. Such is the wrath of the goddess of war and fertility." Luther said looking at another scroll.

"Hmm," the Empress sat down next to Luther," you told me that this was like a Black Death? The one that cause the collapse of nations in your world?"

"Yep, the very one." Luther finally put the scroll down and brought the brass cup to his chest," I believe that there were two occurrences of it. One stopped an empire from reclaiming it's power. The second changed the face of history even more so. One could say that without it a lot of reforms and thinking came from the mass occurrence of death and the collapse of old systems. This made new systems rise from the ashes."

"Seems like it will happen to our empire. Just like you wanted it." The Empress noted.

"Perhaps, it would push for dismantling slavery and pushing it back when it hits a major city. Somewhere out in the Levant doesn't really make it worth note except that the region's economy and trade will be crippled for years after the Hand is finally gone. Which, I remind you, will be a gigantic clusterfuck between us, Nestos, and the Men of Iron. It was already a three-way with trade and influence. Which was good for the various city-states and kingdoms of that region who made wealth between the three and traveled into Egypt. So I see nothing but economic bad news that will hurt the Empire in the north."

"I don't think we can do anything but survive this." She whispered then turned," best we can do is to try and issued standard bathing and medical provisions to the local churches and hospitals. Make sure that people know of the outbreak of the Hand of Uruk and to start dispense knowledge. Have the local Nestosian enclaves work with us to help find better ways to help the sick other than better sanitation and herbal medicine mixtures."

"One thing we should do is to start looking into exhuming the dead in secret before they get burials." Luther pondered.

"That's sacrilegious Luther! One shouldn't disturb the rest of the dead!" Ur-Surtur shot back at him.

"I rather worry about the rest of the living than the dead. We must adapt and overcome if Sumeria is to survive. If that means we have to secretly experiment on the dead and do autopsies then it should be allowed. We can't have things like the Seven from stopping Sumeria's prosperity. " He raised his voice and started to get up from the chair.

"I will not have the empire die from Uruk again! I will not have Ur being burned down again! I will have the empire, My Empire to fall to stagnation as others advance beyond us. Nestos steals and copies knowledge from our libraries while they make strange curios and weird inventions! This...Imperium of Man is nothing more but a gigantic, theocratic militaristic regime!"

"You mean like how we fight our enemies?" The Empress said to herself but Luther stares her down with a glare.

"The only, only reason why we must fight is because our enemies and rivals are such! Uruk had thrown our people into a twenty-five year civil war that had finally came to a close. Elam had a long, long history of raiding the city-states before they took my information for their sources of coal and iron to have such a strangle hold over us. Such a thing is the reason why I'm aiming for Ankara. There is enough iron, coal, and oil to throw off the shackles of dependence enough to make Sumeria the greatest economic power in this region of the world once again."

Luther's declaration shocked Ur-Surtur. She always knew that he considered the nation to be his own but always ruled through a council. What she saw today was in a similar way of Uruk and their egos that had made the kings and head priests control the city state and way of Sumerian life for untold generations. Luther might have been stressed, but he showed her true colors.

He was selfish and grown arrogant despite the blood loss to make Sumeria what it was. Yet in his eyes was realization and confliction of what he proclaimed. He eventually sat down and took a deep breath.

"I..I'm sorry Ur-Surtur. I've just been under stress but I-"

"No," Ur-Surtur interrupted," you maybe stressed Luther, but what you say was still true. You've grown selfish and arrogant in your power. You may have made Ur and I'm grateful for everything you had done for my family and the foundation of the Holy Dynasty. However," She was calm and collected but fury was infused in her voice," if you can't remember that you aren't the sole power and that we are a council of people for the good of Ur and her empire then you see yourself ousted by your former friends and family. "

She got up and walked back upstairs from the underground base. Luther cursed himself at what just happened. While Ur-Surtur was grown more colder than her sister because of her carrying the burden of power for the public, she was part of the council. In many ways, she was his family, his daughter in some way. He shouldn't have treated her and his friends like tools. No, he was being an idiot and had a fight. He just needed to focus on the task. Send out the provisions and the Night Watch to start stealing bodies for secret autopsies in order to advance the need for a cure and medicine.

After writing up the next scrolls that his agents will be dispensing out to his network and the Nestosian allies in the Empire he looked down. It had thirty years since he finally came to this world. Most of it was trying to rule over this Empire but this was the first time he needed to figure something out with himself. How did the other Immortals deal with things like loneliness or even his own paranoia? He always wandered if he should at least let himself be known by one or two of them.

Andrew was a decent sort as far as Aksum is concerned. Victor was obsessed with knowledge to the point where Luther believed that it would be a sort of a problem. Not to the Empire, no but to actually talking with Luther. He wanted to at least talk to somebody normally but he wondered how far had Victor's thirst would overshadow his humanity. Then there's the other Viktor, one who ran the Imperium. Luther didn't know anything of the man aside from second-hand reports of his agents in Nestos. All of it was more of the leader having divine knowledge and immense wisdom under the Imperium.

These are the people that Luther wanted to avoid. People like that who believe in that they are the herald of a religion are prone to imperialistic tendencies outside of the norm. Talking to him is going to put the death nail to Sumeria if I was captured and interrogated. As advance as they are, it would be best to left alone. After everything that was in consideration, maybe it would be best to plan for a vacation to Aksum.

"Maybe it's time to plan a vacation and a family visit. Some good for the mind and whatnot."
Last edited by Ralnis on Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cainesland
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 10809
Founded: Feb 28, 2014
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Cainesland » Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:29 pm

Mountains Cove
Crimea
Single Market

Big problems were afoot in the Single Market. Bostwick sat in his office after having delivered the chair. Big opportunities were also on the horizon. He took out a piece of parchment and charcoal and began to make a list. The Single Markets strengths, its size, its population, most of all its connectivity and accessibility which has made trade and growth possible, were now weaknesses. A plague swept the land. It was hard to tell what causes it, and how it spread. <Would a request to stop travelling help?> he thought. After all the plague in the Middle Ages was affected by monks traveling from town to town whipping themselves. <Maybe fleas? Maybe transferred by person?> These were mostly guesses. Fortunately those strengths also meant others who may have an idea about what causes it. His own political capital in Mounains Cove was at risk as well though, especially after the fall of much of the sympathetic territory in Romania. Fortunately the condominium was maintained. He took out another sheet and began to write to his ally in the Nestos League, Victor Spear.

Hello, Victor

The plague has passed through the single market from the west and has reached Crimea. I fear more deaths may develop. People may seek less connectivity and unrest may grow. Consideration of halting mobility will likely receive pushback without evidence that it would help. Have the scholars found anything that can address the plague? We have found little here in the Single Market regarding a cure.

I understand the known world is struggling with this sickness. I would be willing to suggest to the council of the Single Market that if you have found something proven to help against the red death it be given a test in the Single Market. I would also be willing to make a request to the Council aid be desired in the task of combating the pandemic.

Kind regards

Bostwick Pendragon
Aedile of Mountains Cove


He hoped the plague would end soon. If not, more problems could develop. The sheet was put on a ship destined for Nestos main port.
Last edited by Cainesland on Thu Feb 18, 2021 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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G-Tech Corporation
P2TM RP Mentor
 
Posts: 59424
Founded: Feb 03, 2010
Democratic Socialists

Postby G-Tech Corporation » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:59 pm

Part 5, Chapter 30: The River of Reflected Flame


March 20th, 30 AG

Ahead the docks of Singidun approached - a fact which I would have greeted with enthusiasm if it were not for the concerning amounts of smoke rising from the township beyond. Singidun was, by any metric you cared to address, the jewel of the southern reaches of the Balkan plains. She had existed, by common consensus, far longer than the Imperium's access to the region. I remembered well the long nights spent cajoling the city fathers with demonstrations of the benefits they would reap, and ultimately had conceded more than was wise to the Houses which ruled over the region, in exchange for their fealty. It had in some ways entrenched the old methods of doing things in the sprawling white city on the south side of the Danube, but the wealth that came in from the copper mines in her environs had proven ample to overmaster the corruption and taciturn nature of her people, in the end.

A military town, from whence a goodly amount of the Seventh had been drawn. My own face was drawn in a haggard frown as I gazed upon the plumes of soot and ash rising from her eastern quarters. There was a tale there, and one I would hear, if I had my druthers, though apparently it was not important enough to come north to us. Or, at least not important enough to travel at speed.

There was no harbor chain on this side of the city, and so we passed into her wharves aboard the Nestor's Prancer little marked, save by an interesting lack of river traffic. Or, rather less interesting, given that trade out the stricken regions of Dacia and the League had been a trickle of late, and knowing that moving further north to Oth Ithil was a dodgy proposition unless you planned to move goods overland. Part of me was glad to see this lack of traffic, but the other part winced. The common folk of cities such as Singidun, located as their homes were alongside the river's coursing heart, relied on trade along the great green ribbon to sustain their livelihoods. With trade drying up, they would be hurting, and it was now no longer a question of simply returning to the trading and trapping and hunting of their fathers - with so many men gathered in one place, foodstuffs and labor would be harder to come by for the duration of the quarantine.

Men scampered along the wharf, some little older than boys, securing the lines the sailors cast to them from the knarr. Such men were no doubt happy for the work, even as the greeting party on the shoreline seemed less than enthusiastic about greeting us.

"Welcome to Singidun, my lord."

As my entourage and myself clattered across the gangplank onto the welcome relief of dry land, a man in a long white hood with white gloves bowed toward me. His face was all but hidden behind a thick gauze, but his eyes were grave. His face did not recall to me anyone I had knowledge of, but that was hardly surprising - the commandant for all Pannonia was known to me well, but his subordinates had come and gone, the Warden of Ma Ameda even recently rising to sit on the White Council.

At my back a man gestured, and I nodded, taking the package he pressed into my hands as my herald introduced our party. I fastened a length of cloth much like that of the other company about my face, the long hood draping over my head and leaving a slit for the eyes alone. A thicker patch of woven linen I carefully secured beneath my chin and over my mouth, all the way up to the nose, and then I donned supple but resilient gloves which had been sent from Kniepper's looms for our use.

These men probably had far more practical experience with plague garb than I, but I was glad of it nonetheless. There was no telling exactly how this pathogen passed from person to person, or even if physical barriers could stop it. But the Imperium did not lack for cloth, and throwing material support at this problem had been the easiest thing to convince Vladimir to do, out of the many matters that we had discussed ere my departure south. No sense in turning aside the simplest solution merely because it was simple, and the familiar raiment calmed hearts where it was seen - men in cloaks just like ours had weathered worse epidemics in the last few years, and it was a very visceral signature that the government was actively seeking aid for those afflicted.

After the herald concluded the introductions I stepped a half pace forward, addressing the garrison commander - whose name, I gathered, was Larik, son of Emer.

"I do not mean to hurry you, good master, for no doubt you mean to enlighten us shortly - but the smoke rising from the east - is Singidun under attack?"

I couldn't read his expression behind his hood, but the warrior shook his head ruefully, and the shorter heavier man at his side shrugged his shoulders.

"Not under attack, no. Not unless you count an assault by her own people. That is the district of the outlanders, the men of the League, where the Greeks made their homes. Since the Red Flux first arrived it arrived, or at least the rumors say, in the bodies of the Greeks. Some of them fled from Romuva Danubia, upriver to the places of their kinsmen, coming by foot and horse where the river was closed. The first outbreaks were in their quarters, and some hot-headed fellows took it into their minds that the source of the infection would be best cleansed with fire."

It was chilling news. I didn't have to ask. His eyes showed sorrow, but not, perhaps, enough sorrow. There would have been fatalities in such a burning, men and women trapped in homes, livelihoods put to the torch for the crime of association, for the iniquity of accent and hospitality given to the sick and dying. A brutal way to address the world, and one which sent ice crawling through my veins. This was the barbarism which I had striven to drive from the hearts of men throughout my waking life, but it was not so easy to banish the savage from even the best soul in the best of times. And those days were not now ours.

"I see."

I did see. Most importantly, I saw that this was a matter for another time, for the Fatebinders and the courts, not my rage - though to tamp down my own emotions was not as straightforward as one might wish. When I did not pursue the matter some of the tension left the faces of the men before me, which was saddening. They wished this matter dropped, as well they might, for it reflected poorly upon them. Another day.

"I bring hope, then, to both those men, and to those of Singidun."

They were the right words, though the spark that kindled in the eyes of the entourage was banked with rationalism. I beckoned forward one of our number, a volunteer from Tiphalin's vast warrens and the surgical school there. At an encouraging nod he displayed his upper arm, where three cuts not quite healed could be observed. The men leaned forward, and I stepped back towards him, pulling down one eyelid, as we had rehearsed.

For a moment there was no reaction. Then one of the men of the company stumbled backwards sharply with a muttered oath, and shot me a piercing glance.

"He is sick! The yellowing is upon him. Do you bring us more plague, that we have not enough here already?"

I shook my head. "Far from it. I bring you the cure. You have all received the breath of the flesh, have you not?"

Men looked at each other in confusion, before a woman's voice called out from the rear of their formation, and heads began to nod.

"A variolation! There is a breath of the flesh for the Red Flux? This is grand news." The woman pushed her way forward, and the green stole of a graduate of the houses of healing soon demarcated itself from the wash of white hoods and dun earthen and gray tones. Ah, yes, some expertise. Very useful.

"Indeed." I waved around myself, indicating all of the members of my party. "We have all received the breath of the flesh for this Flux, and our symptoms already fade. This man bears it fresh, as do some others we have brought with us, as men who bear the message of the breath for your bodies and those of your city and kinsmen. Where the breath blows, the Flux stands powerless. The more swiftly we can bring the variolation to the city, the more swiftly we can put an end to this death and disorder."

It wouldn't be quite that simple, of course. But presenting solutions in a time when people desperately craved them was wiser than giving only a hope of life. The signs were promising. Reports out of Constanta, and Virinceia, spoke of how the Sumerians who held to the ways of their ancestors seemed untouched by the Flux, after Maria had specifically asked for word on those populations. Ironically those who followed the Seven appeared to have abandoned the ways of the Lady of Lagash, and so suffered alike, which was a definite positive correlation for our working theory on the Bloody Flux. If it had been a genetic component, however such an outcome might have arisen, then we would be up Hell's veritable creek without a paddle.

And that was even in the best case scenario. Spreading the pathogen had proven more difficult than expected - buboes had only occurred in perhaps one man in a dozen of those infected, and so variolation had been relying on the highly infectious blood-tainted expectoration of the carriers in addition to the more convenient viral vector, and the very speed of the infection had meant we were going through hosts at a prodigious rate. And the immunity hadn't even run up against the Red Flux, not in truth. The Sumerians put their trust in the blessings of the Lady of Lagash, but there was no telling if that produced immunity might merely drop the fatality rate to acceptable levels, or if it would truly make the more virulent disease survivable. Either would be better than nothing, but I know for which I hoped.

The entourage of the city conferred together for a scant minute, then the garrison commander and the healer stepped forward, the rest of their party departing at speed back into the warrens of the town of Singidun.

"We shall have your things taken to the lodgings of travelers, if that pleases you, lord Hegemon. But if your carriers could come with all speed to the forbidden district, there is much indeed to be done."

I nodded, and raised one finger.

"My ship must be allowed to pass on at the chain, of course. There are other places than just Singidun which are suffering, and they need this cure even swifter than do those of your own kindred."

"It will be done."

No hesitation. That was good. Perhaps there was hope for Larik after all, despite his streak of xenophobia and inability to control the citizens of the city. A more base man might have sought to keep all of the cure for his own people, or perhaps a more cunning rogue might have offered an excuse and tried to delay the rest of the mission. But Larik understood exactly how effective his resistance on this topic would prove - that or he hadn't thought that more exposure could save more of his charges. I would have to determine exactly how his mind worked on this matter in the coming days.
TG if you have questions about RP. If I don't know the answer, I know someone who does.

Quite the unofficial fellow. P2TM Mentor specializing in faction and nation RPs, as well as RPGs.

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UniversalCommons
Senator
 
Posts: 4578
Founded: Jan 24, 2016
Left-Leaning College State

Postby UniversalCommons » Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:09 pm

From: Penelope to Victor Spear


Dear Victor Spear,
From keeping track of the medical records, we have found that if we get to people within a few days of catching the red plague, people are more likely to survive.
We clean our food, wear masks, and quarantine the sick and watch carefully for the sick. What else can we possibly do.
Some of the scholars have broken away from us proclaiming to be lay brothers of the Temple of the Body Parts. They will make their decisions based on the proclamations of the priests of the temple. They will not listen to blasphemers.
Another group has proclaimed themselves, The Order of the Radiant Pillar and are no longer part of the Tower of Learning. They wrote a play in the style of the Single Market mocking the Tower of Learning for its restrictions on learning, called Scholar Dapus the Dollmaker.
Alcibiades overturned the edict against frivolous inventions. He showed us his pull toy which he had made. The newly formed Toymakers Association sent a representative in honor of the change, Craftsman Thorg brought a top to show. It was enchanting.
It is difficult being a leader. I understand how you felt. Things are simmering right now. We have extra guards posted at the House of Wisdom. The Hands have been assigned to look for plotters. Alcibiades and I have sought additional allies among the Council and believe we have full backing of the hands and most of the Hunter Warriors. We also received the backing of the poisoners in their garden. We are keeping this quiet. I don't trust them completely, especially Scholar Belisarius.
On a more important note, I think you will meet Bassaba with Etana. Apparently his compound burned down a while ago. He still held most of his wealth in shares of merchant ships and metal in the Merchants Association so he was able to relocate to the Aegean. Etana and Bassaba work together.

With Love,

Penelope

From Victor Spear to Penelope

Dear Penelope,
I hope that not too many resources are wasted on frivolous things. Being a scholar is very serious. We should not be making things that are not immediately useful. I read the copy of Scholar Dapus the Dollmaker. Should we be making children's toys, even ones with simple joints. The restrictions were necessary to make sure we did not fritter our funds. I also do not like the reference to me having a giant nose, making love to dolls, and drinking too much strong wine.
I and my crew have been quarantined on a small island off Delos. We will be quarantined for 40 days without exception. The Priests of the Temple of Delos have argued that I should move on. Because of the trouble with the Temple of the Body Parts, they do not want me to set forth on holy Delos. I can stay on the island off Delos. Bassaba and Etana have agreed to come out to meet me after the quarantine is over. They are both doing well. Bassaba runs the Scholars and Students Association on Delos. They have a temple to the Sun on Delos. Etana is respected here because of his work with fire and light.
I am glad you are still there. Be careful. Don't be impulsive like I was.

With Kindness,

Victor Spear

The Island off Delos, Nestos League

Scholar Etana had changed since Victor Spear last saw him. He was dressed in black robe with embroidered flames on the side. He had a beard died red with henna and was wearing a new symbol, a flaming sun with a wheel in the center.

Scholar Bassaba had grown older. He was dying slowly. There were bags under his eyes. He had an incurable internal disease. The Scholar Doctors estimated he had a year left before he died.

They both had agreed to back Scholar Etana as head of the Students and Scholars Association. Etana's followers would support him as a single block and Scholar Bassaba had remained very popular. They would remain in control of the Students and Scholars Association in the Nestos League. Their secondary goal was to remove Hypatia as the head of the Student and Scholars Association of Abdera.

Victor Spear, “It is good to see you after all this time. I hope you are doing well.”

Scholar Bassaba, “I am dying. It is a sad time for me. I see you are well. You look like you have not aged a day.” Scholar Bassaba takes a drink from a cup next to him. Then stops.

Scholar Etana, “I am well. My diet without beans has helped me. No land animals for me. Fish, herbs, and vegetables. You should try it. You are in good health, you always seem to be this way.”

Victor Spear, “Yes, I am well. I have come to discuss your work with the Scholars and Students Association as well as the works of the Priests of Temple of the Sun. ”

Scholar Etana, “Good, understand, I am not planning on working on any more new weapons. When I came to Delos, I heard the music of the sun. I changed inside, I see flame as a source of light and medicine. The priests of the Temple of the Sun have been working with the plague.”

Victor Spear, “I had heard that the priests have worked with plague before. “

Scholar Etana, “Terrible plagues are supposed to befall those who get on the wrong side of The Temple of the Sun. They have priest healers there who are supposed to lay hands on people. They heal the soul with music and the body with herbs and poultices.”

Scholar Bassaba. “They have helped ease my pain. I go there to listen to the harp and hymns of the sun. ” Scholar Bassaba takes another drink and gasps. “Forgive me, I am not as strong as I used to be. I can do little but rest these days. I have students who help continue my research with plants. Scholar Oeagrus and Scholar Phyllis.”

Victor Spear, “Get some rest old friend. If you need anything of me you can just ask. You can take the pillows I am sitting on.”

Scholar Bassaba, “Let me sit and listen.”

Scholar Etana, “When I came here, after hearing the music of the sun. I offered my services and helped them improve their temple. I built a great lamp to light their temple and doors of oak and bronze that opened when a flame was lit. In their gratitude several of my students were allowed to study under the priests. When I go into the temple I hear the music of the sun, moon, and stars. They speak to me. Several of their priests have joined me to study mathematics, reading and writing.”

Scholar Bassaba, “I and my students have been writing down some of the medicines of the temple. When I came, we helped the priests plant vegetable, herb, and medicinal gardens, and groves of fruit and olive trees.” He coughs then stops.

Scholar Bassaba gives some books with notes on herbs and medicine which had been collected from the Temple of the Sun by Bassaba's students to Victor Spear

The notes were a strange mix of herbs and vegetables that helped the humors, blood and phlegm, yellow and black bile. It was hard to tell where the solar mysticism ended and the herbalism began. There were many references to the four elements, the seasons, poetry and music. In the notes, there were descriptions of using different herbs like dandelion greens and roots, licorice and boiled artichoke leaves to cleanse the liver, and garlic, onions, and ginger to protect against colds.

It would be the last time Victor Spear saw Scholar Bassaba. Scholar Bassaba passed away as he headed to Santorini.

After almost a month, the books came to Oak via a fast small catamaran ship. The Daughters of Penleope spent time reading the works from the Aegean. Penelope remembered her mother forcing her to drink an awful concoction of wild onions and wild garlic at the slightest cough.

The Daughters of Penelope would mix the dandelion root, licorice, herbs, and boiled artichoke leaves with their existing medicine. If they got to people early with the new herbs, a few more people survived the plague. Different people reacted differently to the herbs, they had not been standardized yet with very specific dosages like modern medicine.

It would take them time to gather the dandelion root, licorice, herbs, and artichoke leaves to have enough to make even a small difference. There was also a promised ceremony asking for the blessing of the sun god by the Daughters of Penelope. It appeared in the Oak Courier and Abdera Times as an article, “Daughters of Penelope Thank the Temple of Delos for the Medicine of the Sun.”
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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UniversalCommons
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Postby UniversalCommons » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:29 pm

Cainesland wrote:Mountains Cove
Crimea
Single Market

Big problems were afoot in the Single Market. Bostwick sat in his office after having delivered the chair. Big opportunities were also on the horizon. He took out a piece of parchment and charcoal and began to make a list. The Single Markets strengths, its size, its population, most of all its connectivity and accessibility which has made trade and growth possible, were now weaknesses. A plague swept the land. It was hard to tell what causes it, and how it spread. <Would a request to stop travelling help?> he thought. After all the plague in the Middle Ages was affected by monks traveling from town to town whipping themselves. <Maybe fleas? Maybe transferred by person?> These were mostly guesses. Fortunately those strengths also meant others who may have an idea about what causes it. His own political capital in Mounains Cove was at risk as well though, especially after the fall of much of the sympathetic territory in Romania. Fortunately the condominium was maintained. He took out another sheet and began to write to his ally in the Nestos League, Victor Spear.

Hello, Victor

The plague has passed through the single market from the west and has reached Crimea. I fear more deaths may develop. People may seek less connectivity and unrest may grow. Consideration of halting mobility will likely receive pushback without evidence that it would help. Have the scholars found anything that can address the plague? We have found little here in the Single Market regarding a cure.

I understand the known world is struggling with this sickness. I would be willing to suggest to the council of the Single Market that if you have found something proven to help against the red death it be given a test in the Single Market. I would also be willing to make a request to the Council aid be desired in the task of combating the pandemic.

Kind regards

Bostwick Pendragon
Aedile of Mountains Cove


He hoped the plague would end soon. If not, more problems could develop. The sheet was put on a ship destined for Nestos main port.


From: Penelope to Bostwick Pendragon

Unfortunately, Victor Spear is currently traveling. We can provide a few things for you, some masks to put on sick people and healthy people. Also gloves. We have included several chests of soap which is vegetable based. The formula is written down for soap. We have also included a few herbal formulas for some of the symptoms including the liver. We have created a basic herbal plan for patients based on what we give to an adult. This is a new protocol. It won't work for many people. It comes from our doctors notes over time.

The best thing to do is clean an empty space thoroughly with soap and vinegar based cleaners before you move a sick person into the space. A basic write up on how to clean a space is included. Cleaning must be very thorough and constant. People need to be isolated and travel needs to be stopped. People must be very careful when they clean a person.

It is critical to watch people for symptoms of the plague, red marks, diarrhea, and other obvious symptoms. We have included lists and pictures of obvious symptoms. This will insure you can identify different people with the plague. Identifying and separating people is critical. If you can, keep people separated.

Careful attention should be focused on diet as well. We have included several recipes for vegetable juices, broths, soups, and a special mix for hydration of honey, salt, and hot water. It is important to keep people hydrated and rested.

There is no cure. We can treat some symptoms. We have been getting better at it over time. We will keep you updated. As a sign of respect, we are sending a pair of Daughters of Penelope and a pair of health attendants with the supplies to help at Mountain Cove. They will hopefully begin to help you set up ways to stem the plague. Unfortunately, we cannot spare many people right now.

Best Regards,

Scholar Penelope, Speaker for the House of Wisdom
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Fossia
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Ex-Nation

Postby Fossia » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:34 pm

Percy Howle,
3rd of Mayhaw


Percy awoke to the sunrise. The golden ball rising above the treetops. He looked around and noticed Sangwati was already awake cooking a turkey on a spit. They had been there for a few days, letting Ontitarac rest and get better. Percy had not spoken to him since the day he was hurt. He had been able to get up and walk around the past few days, however, but he only talked to Teata in hushed private conversations. Ontitaracs' argument with him that morning before he was hurt had somewhat rattled Percy, however, it made Percy wonder why and how he had gotten here which led to long meditations in the woods as Percy tried to ponder his purpose here.

Percy was never all that religious, his mother was a christian, and his dad was non religious. Despite what Percy had thought about religion previously, however, it was quite clear that the circumstances had greatly changed, clearly things like miracles were indeed somewhat possible, and using science to disprove religion was no longer applicable. Percy had studied a number of religions however, and he was always swayed by the beliefs of Buddhism, a religion which was very mobile, fit in perfect line with science, and still was able to provide a religious home and refuge for its followers. Percy began to establish an idea in his head that he had somehow been transported here to save the people of the Americas from foreigners. To rectify the mistakes of history. Perhaps, Ontitarac was right in some ways then, taking power would be the only effective way Percy could do this.

Percy identified three major features his society would need to have to confront foreigners. The first, was the technology and medicine to resist foreign armies and diseases. The second, a robust and convincing religion which would secure the bodies and minds of his subjects in their resistance against foreign rule. Finally, a rich culture which was different from the rest of the world and could not easily be integrated into any foreign civilization. Though the number of features was small, it was a handful to achieve in just a lifetime. But not impossible, Muhammad was able to do something similar to the arabs, the key was not to force changes, but to make the benefits of accepting changes clear; a tax on foreign religions; a demonstration of modern technological advancements through grand public works and projects and displaying modern amenities; and the construction of a vast empire to prove the cultural dominance of ones people.

Percy got up, “Good morning” he said as he passed by Sangwati.

“Good Morning” Sangwati replied. “Ontitarac talked to you yet?”

“No, you?” Percy responded.

“No. Same with Acona and Ocastaquin.”

“Why Teata though, he was just as confrontative in the argument as the rest of us?”
“Ahh.. so you don’t know then?” Sangwati said, the curiosity vibrantly emitting from his voice.

“Know what?”

“That day, Teata killed 14 Ojibwe warriors.. Those warriors weren’t full Ojibwe, they were working with Ontitarac’s chief. His chief, uhh… Aenon - I think it was - he isn’t fully Huron. His mother was attacked by Ojibwe warriors, his mother also happened to be the wife of their clans Chief. He was raised by the chief, as his own son, but when his mother died they grew distant. Aenon was banished one day after he almost killed several men in a hunting accident. He went to live with the Ojibwe after. One day he came back at the head of a warband, he then killed the man who had once cared for him and raised him. That terrible man, Aenon… he is Ontitarac’s father. The clan began to bicker and it was clear some disturbance had arisen so Atironta set some men from his clan to investigate what had happened. Teata was with them, when they got to the village he Teata found the Chief attacking a woman, he became filled with anger and lunged at him, the surrounding Ojibwe warriors then attacked him back. Teata fought them all off. That woman was Ontitarac’s mother.. Percy.” Sangwati said, staring somewhat solemnly at Percy.

“So is Ontitarac the next chief of that tribe?”

“No.. well.. No one is the heir of Aenon, technically. He never took a wife so the children do not fully have claim to his possessions. Even if he were, Ontitarac seems to have no desire to be in such a position. He sees power as evil and corrupting. He only wishes to kill Aenon. I think when he looks at you he is reminded of Aenon. An outsider, who is coming in with new ideas, a new plan, and the means to accomplish it. I think he fears you may be corrupted into something evil, something like Aenon.”

“Oh.. I see..” Percy said as he trailed off.

“If I may inquire.. What are your plans when you return? You united the tribes under a confederation, you’ve earned the ear of the tribal leaders, you are going to develop agriculture in our lands. But what is it all leading towards.”

Percy thought for a minute; he knew that explaining his revelation might be difficult, but if there was anyone, and in any moment that could understand, it might be now. “I have to tell you some things, and they are… very disturbing. The reason for my lighter skin is because in the world I come from, these lands were invaded, the native people killed, by others like me with white skin. They brought a terrible thing, disease, it is like when you eat something which is bad and it makes you sick or when some elder gets a cancer, but it can spread from person to person, through their breathing and touching, its like a curse has been placed upon a people. I think I may have been sent here, to this world, which is so similar to my own, because.. I think I am meant to stop that from happening. To lead the people of this land to victory against disease and invasion. But to do that, I need to be able to lead and advance, I’ll need allies, people I can rely on who are smart and will help spread the ideas I need.”

Sangwati stared off into the distance for a second. “That’s a heavy burden to carry, if those thoughts came to you, and so much has happened to you, I cannot deny the work of the Great Spirit is quite visible. I shall help you, in this endeavor, if you wish. But I must ask, does your companion in the Mohawk tribe, Atenati, know of this?”

“I only deduced it while meditating in the woods the other day. Focusing and trying to reason my purpose here. The next time I see him, I fully intend to make him aware, however.”

“Very well. I’d imagine Ocastaquin and Acona would share my thoughts, and be very interested in your knowledge of this “disease” as well.”

“And Teata and Ontitarac?” Percy asked.

“Teata is a man who knows his place, he will follow a good leader, if you can be that - and I think you could be - then he will follow you to the ends of the earth. Ontitarac.. It will take some convincing, you must assure him you cannot abuse the powers you will be given, or given to others. But if you can achieve Ontitarac’s trust and loyalty, he too will serve your every wish.”

“Very well,” Percy responded, all of the sudden it felt like a weight had been lifted off his chest, it wasn’t just that he had told someone about his ideas and it wasn’t taken absurdly but the fact that Sangwati accepted them, and accepted him. It made Percy feel less alone. “Thank you for this chat. Its been very helpful to me.” suddenly Percy heard a groan. He and Sangwati turned, noticing that Teata and Acona had both just awoken.

“I’ll wait until your ready to tell the others.” said Sangwati.

“Thank you.” Percy responded.

Later that day Ontitarac spoke to the others for the first time. “I’d like to apologize for my outburst. Its not just that I’ve been stressed but... “ a tear began to welt up in his eye. “Before we left, I learned that my mother is sick, the medicine man said it was a tumor. That day on the boat when we awoke..” he had begun to visibly cry. “I felt.. Different, I think my mother may have died. Being stuck out here, so far from home, I feel like I have failed everyone around, and like I will be cast out by everyone”

“You are not weak for this.” Percy said. “You are a strong man, and a tough man. I have seen it and heard it and witnessed it in the presence of the Spirit itself. You know I- I didn't tell you guys this before, but.. Only a short time before I was transported here, my mother abandoned me and my father. I never saw her since, and now I know I’ll never see my dad, or anyone else I knew from my old life ever again.”

Acona spoke up. “Me and Sangwati, we used to have a sister, but she went lost in the woods when we were little. A few days later me and Sangwati found her dead, but we never told our mother or anyone this, we didn’t want to steal that hope that she may still be alive and return one day.”

“You all know of my tales.” Teata said. “All of my kin have fallen, save my mother. That is why Ontitarac came to me first.”

Sangwati spoke up. “Well then it looks like we are all aligned in our loss. We understand your pain Ontitarac, you do not need to fear us, and if anyone tries to use your weakness to your deficit, we shall be there to stop them.”

Ontitarac was now in tears. “Thank you. Thank you all.”

Sangwati pulled out a bowl he had from his sack. Filling it with water. “I think an oath is in order here.” He drank the bowl and passed it to Percy. By drinking this he would become Oathbrothers with the others. He took a big gulp, though the water had gone warm, the feelings of compassion and empathy flowed down his throat with the water. He passed the bowl to Acona, who also took a sip. Followed by Ocastaquin, then Teata, and finally Ontitarac. They were oath brothers now.

After finishing the morning meal they started on their long journey, following the Mississippi toward home.

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Joohan
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Authoritarian Democracy

Postby Joohan » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:41 pm

Myanmar


" Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow - don't push it too hard! " Khin could feel his raw toes sear with pain as the leaves were tied down tighter round the end of his foot, quickly sending a burning sensation up through his entire leg, and causing his hands to tap wildly about to alleviate the pain. Shenden was used to her brother's melodrama though, and so she kept on her task without regard to his pathetic squeals.

" Quit moving you baby. " she said with one end of the string in her mouth, her hands knotting off the leafy bundle. Khin looked down in seeming anguish towards his sister, his eyes full of pleading and sympathy,

" But it hurts though! "

" Well maybe you should look where you're going, and you won't kick rocks? " How he'd missed it, she'd no idea, the thing was a massive red wedge jutting out from the ground - big enough to where he'd now planted his butt on it, so she could finish covering his bleeding toes. Taking the other end of the string from out her mouth and looping it through the final knot, she tied the bundle tight, causing Khin to bite his lip in sudden silent pain. When he was younger, he'd a nasty habit of grabbing his sisters hair whenever he felt a pang of pain - shenden, however, had managed to ween him of that habit with a few backhands and bites, to where now her younger brother would only bite his lip when in pain.

" But-but this rock wasn't here before; the path is different than yesterday! "

He hopped off the rock and gingerly tested his bundled foot onto the wet ground. He tapped the pads of his feet to the ground, grimacing as he slowly lowered them down all the way. Shenden hardly paid him any mind, already having picked back up the water pot and placing it atop her head mound. " Monsoons create new paths, and new obstacles too. Watch the road, not your mind - you know this child. "

Even as he knelt down to pick up his wild bundle or reeds, he looked pained up towards his sister, speaking his mind as he arranged his load into his arms, " What do you mean child? You're only two years older than me? "
Though her back was already turned toward him, and walking down the hill path, he could make out the superior smirk she wore across her face, " Yes, and yet, I am still so far more mature than YoOOUUuu- " A patch of mud was launched into the air as her legs flew out from under her, sending her back slamming into the red claw and mud, with a disgusting squelch. The pot atop her head smashed onto the ground with a clamor, sending it's watery contents washing down her hair and the side of the hill.

Khin failed to hold back a chortle, only clasping a hand over his mouth after the fact. Slowly, Shenden began lifting her back from off the mud, her hair having gotten a fair bit of clay mashed from the rear, and the entire backside of her cloths soaked through. Looking over to her right side, she saw the shattered remains of the water pot. Her rage was cold and silent.

" Watch the road, not your mind - Child. " Khin said from behind, his voice absolutely titilated, and soon bursting out with giggles the moment he finished. Suddenly, Shenden's rage grew hot and violent. She quickly rear back up onto her feet, and turned round to face her brother, her teeth barred and her eye's filled with fearsome bloodlust, " Watch your mouth you bastard! "
If you need a witness look to yourself

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism!


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Kelmet
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Postby Kelmet » Sun Feb 21, 2021 2:39 pm

March 30 AG
City of Aarhus, Provincial Capital of Danmark.

From the city fortress perched overlooking the port, Monroe stared out his study's window at the Imperial banners waving calmly from the sea breeze. The last time he was this far north was during the last war when the Imperium was able to claim the peninsula for herself, he had spent some time in the post-war period as one of the military governors of the area before the needs of the empire took him elsewhere. On this assignment however he was the sole Imperial governor of a newly acquired province, one that was making progress but not enough nor fast enough for the Emperor, Hegemon likening. So the Imperium came to the one man they knew could get the job done.

This assignment would be easier than in the past as he could bring his two oldest children Alicja and Jindrich with him, both capable servants of the Imperium in there own right and whos assistance would be invaluable to allow Danemark to become the jewel of the Northern provinces. While his other two children Gazsi and Gizi remained at the Monroe family estates in Mara to continue their education.

One major factor contributing to Monroe's success is that his preparations for his Exalted March into Germania could be easily turned towards the northern province. It was regrettable that such a well planned expansion of the Imperium had to be scrapped but the imperium's problems today trump the potential glory's of future expansions.

When Monroe came north he brought with him the backing of numerous imperial business, the church and a secret ingredient that would help ease the transition of the Northman population into proper imperial citizens, his northern heritage and old glory's that earned him the inherent respect of the northern people.

His first major priorities was the implementation of the uniform imperial legal system, his small army of bureaucrats and teachers would work to implement to imperial common language into the framework of Danemark, while respecting the local language the promotion of a bilingual (like himself) into core government positions would be vital.

The improvement of the provincial infrastructure around the major cities and towns, along with interconnecting major road and rail lines into the rest of the imperium first. Then the minor settlements then the more rural areas.

The most difficult task was the cultural task at hand. For the this he relied on his local norther supporters and the church. The locals were the newly established Norse-imperial hybrid noble class who he could relay on enforcing his degrees to the regions and sub regions within the province. The church would establish "poor house" programs, that in exchange for basic services, food, housing and employment for the less fortunate would be allowed spread Christianity deeper into the province, and a personal landmark of imperial rule would be the construction of a Cathedral akin to the gran Christian temples in Mara in Aarhus.

Progress would come to this northern province and all part of Monroe's duty to his new home.
Call me Kel
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UniversalCommons
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Postby UniversalCommons » Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:43 pm

The Erra Fragment and the Temple of Eros (Oak, Nestos League)

Penelope and the Daughters of Penelope had been reviewing the medical notes. They included some patient interviews. Some of the people had recently visited the Temple of Eros and soon after had caught the Red Plague. There were also reports of many of the Temple Maidens falling sick. Hands were sent to close the private bordellos. Only the Temple of Eros could be used. The temple guards were taught what to check for to see if a person was sick. This angered many of the temple patrons.

There was a belief that if the guard shut down the Temple of Eros, that there would be a loss of fertility throughout the land. Crops would not grow and women not be able to have children. Drought would come and the lands would die. It was the job of the king to insure that fertility happened throughout the land. Victor Spear had been the last fertility king. They had symbolically killed him, for the “King Must Die.” He had also lain with a “temple maiden” to insure the fertility of the Nestos League.

People under quarantine were kept strictly separated after learning of the news. The directions were given to the Daughters of Penelope and the doctors to not let the sick lay together. This was difficult to enforce. Some of the women came to the Council of Wisdom hearing demanding to know why they could not lay with their sick husbands.

The Erra Fragment (Anbar Across the River from Oak, Nestos League)

Scholar Kug Bau spent many days searching for additional fragments from Erra in the library at Anbar. He had been instructed to work in secret at the directions of the Council of Wisdom. Anything found had to go directly to Penelope and had to be kept secret.

He found two fragments

First Fragment:

For Erra had come into the city of Uruk
And walked the city striking down people with his sword.
He came into the temple district and saw the Temple of Ishtar
He entered its gates and wandered its halls.

He saw a man laying with a temple maiden and became jealous.
He struck down the man and marked the temple...
…..

Tablet is broken at this point.

Scholar Kug Bau, “I have found this tablet in the library in Anbar. It is an account of the temple maidens.”

Scholar Penelope, “You must not speak of this. We have discovered that some of the men who lay down with the Temple Maidens in The Temple of Eros or bordellos have caught the plague. This is a damning curse. It makes everything difficult.”

Scholar Kug Bau, “I can imagine. It will cause backlash. We will be seen as cursed. We must come up with a cure for this.”

Scholar Penelope, “How would we come up with such a thing. I cannot imagine what we must do. Is it some medicine of the private parts like the sheep disease that will cure this. What can we possibly do? I am without words for this.”

Scholar Kug Bau, “This is beyond me. What are we to do? Maybe Victor Spear has some idea. He is mad enough to sometimes come up with impossible solutions. But, he is far from here.”

Scholar Penelope, “Maybe we need a way to cleanse the lower parts so the disease is cured.”

Scholar Kug Bau, “But how could we do that?”

Penelope, “I have heard that Victor Spear created a sheathe made from the bladder of a goat. He might know what to do.”

Victor Spear stood on the ship deck. It was a ship of war with thick panels of hemp acrylic and treated bamboo composites on its sides. He looked at the newly mounted piston powered double crossbow and the flame projectors. A paneled fence surrounded the edges to prevent boarders. At the front, a boarding ramp was ready. There were several smaller ships escorting the war ship, fast trimaran ships with lateen sails.

Theywere heading to Santorini, the stronghold of The Celestial Goddess and the Great Bull. Ships lined the harbor of all types. Warships which Crete had recently built, attack ships from the Great Bull, and ships from the Nestos League. There were Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian, and even a few small Arabian trade ships.

The beginnings of a harbor wall were in the process of being built. Small fast ships patrolled the water before they entered the harbor they were stopped and boarded. A tall tower with a flame could be seen in the evening light Adorning it were Cretan style murals of the Celestial Goddess and Great Bull.

Their ship was redirected to a smaller harbor where they were to stay for quarantine. Every member was supposed to stay there. Each person was inspected carefully before they could leave the ship. When Victor Spear was asked to lift his tunic by a young woman, his face turned bright red. The protocol at Santorini were a little different than those at Oak. The inspectors wore long robes, leather masks and gloves. They also insisted that everything brought off the ships had to be washed in hot water and soap including the people.

A week into his stay in quarantine, he received a letter from Penelope and Kug Bau describing the possible transmission of the plague.

To Penelope and Kug Bau.

In Atalanta, there was a terrible plague that struck the populace called AIDS, Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. There was no cure for this plague for many many years. People used sheathes called condoms to protect against it. These were made from a plant in a far off place called South Atalanta. We do not have this plant. The sap of the plant called rubber could be formed into a stretchy material that could be made into gloves and other coverings.

We are far from knowing the secret of rubber and would have to cross great distances to find it. We would need a way to protect against this disease. Some men have used the goat bladder to prevent pregnancy. This is very expensive. I have heard it is enough in metal for two weeks pay for a temple maiden. There must be some kind of substitute that could help, but I do not know what it is. The goat bladder may not work.

It may be more than the private parts. It could possibly be other bodily fluids. This could mean cleaning everything that a man could touch. Food, surfaces, almost anything. We simply do not know. We must also ban any activity involving blood. All protections we can think of will be needed.

When I came to Santorini, they inspected under my tunic as well as my face and chest. I was surprised by this. They are doing some different things than we are.

I have talked to the Daughters of Penelope on Santorini. They were glad to receive the instructions on the Red Plague from Oak. Some of the things which they are doing like the use of boiling water, long robes, and inspections are different. They also are using some different herbs like chicory root and milk thistle. This may or may not help. I hope you have been working carefully on different combinations of herbs for the plague. We need to experiment to find anything helpful.

The library of Santorini surprisingly did not contain anything on medical knowledge that we did not already have. All of the texts had been copied and sent to Oak for the House of Wisdom.

Tomorrow, I am to inspect some captured cannon from the Kraken as well as black powder. I do not know the full formula for black powder. I think there is charcoal and sulfur, but we do not know the other ingredient.

The people of Santorini are jubilant over the victory against the Kraken. They are still vigilant, however and had captured a small Kraken boat. They hung the crew and freed the slaves onboard. You can hear the more religious followers of the Great Bull and Celestial Goddess beating the waves with chains to drive away the bad spirits in the mornings. Their singing is quite loud and fervent.

Regards,

Victor Spear

Oak, The Tower of Learning

More people stayed away from the Tower of Learning. It was here that the Daughters of Penelope had several floors dedicated to mixing herbs and minerals for the Red Plague. Boiling, chopping, distilling, and grinding different mixes were a constant activity.

Different mixes of herbs and minerals were sent out to test on the people in quarantine to see which were most effective. They added in and took out different ingredients in the hope they would find something a little better than the previous mixtures.

Notes came in from the Daughters of Penelope treating the sick. There were less of them. Those who did not keep a strict regimen of soap, cleaners in the sick areas, cleaning everything, herbal hand, face, and mouth wash, wearing heavy clothing, gloves and masks passed away. There were constant attempts to recruit new daughters.

The Daughters of Penelope had taken over Scholar Tuvarek's mixing equipment for his experiments. Tuvarek had passed away and his apprentice had joined the Order of the Brilliant Pillar. There was only the helper who had finished his time working on his convicts bond.

He had asked to stay with the Daughters of Penelope and help their experiments. He knew how to use the bicycle mixer and bicycle blender as well as some of the apparatus for boiling substances. He could also read the large encyclopedia of Ingredients and Mixing better than the Daughters of Penelope.

Most of the scholars at this point were focused on curing the Red Plague or preventing it. They worked on new soaps and cleaners, ways to check for the plague, medicines, better quarantines, and similar activities. They were searching for a cure. Some of their searches were pure nonsense. New prayers and songs to help the sick and drive away demons, herbal scents, incense, and bath salts. They were grasping at straws.

Many of the other scholars had turned towards making toys and automata or writing strange accounts like Journal of A Plague Month by Scholar Hades, or the Scholar in Yellow, a macabre tale by an anonymous writer.

In Salt with its puritanical Plain Folk and the christians from Aksum, they had developed a complex regimen that washed people, animals, and everything else in sight with strong vinegar and alcohol cleaners and soap. They had even tried burning things with flame to purify the plague.

One night, in an orgy of violence in Salt, a group of people in black felt masks burned the plague houses and forced the plagued to row out to an island. Those who could not make it on the way were burned with strong lamp oil leaving crisped black bodies. They burned the boats leaving the sick stranded.

The Black Masks spread to several smaller coastal cities and into the Aegean initially on Thassos. Not all were taken to islands, some of the plague victims were dumped in the sea where they drowned.

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Endem
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Postby Endem » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:53 pm

Aleksander Śliwecki
2970 B.C.E


Days stretched to weeks as Aleksander was slowly acclimatizing to the life in the tribe, his lessons in using the bow and the art of hunting were going surprisingly well, with Aleksander now also venturing out to hunt for animals, ussually with Ali, with a couple Oryx to his name aready, and even 2 lone hunts, he was all in all, useful to the tribe, even though he came into frequent conflict with Khalifah.

Unfortunately as he learned, the first argument they had was not won by him, as he thought at the time, instead Khalifah simply stormed off, angry that Aleksander was not willing to accept what he thought was simple truth and logical consequence of the world. Quite interestingly his story of miraculous survival in the desert, that which made Aleksander believe in God seemed to interest the younger members of the tribe.

His relations with Ali and Saffiyah had normalized, for the last weeks it was something along the lines of polite tolerance and distrust of the unknown, they were slowly getting used to his presence in the tribe. One of the older youngsters of the tribe approached him as he was preparing his bow one day, a 16 year old named Mufid, whom he remembered as one of the young of the tribe that took a liking to his story.

"Nafsi, I've seen you and Ali depart for hunts many times now"

He began, quite officially, it intrigued Aleksander.

"Yes?"

"I was wondering if you could take me on a hunt" he said before adding "I can shoot a bow and use a spear"

"I will need to ask Ali for th-"

Mufid cut in before he could finished the sentence.

"No please"

Aleksander understood now, Mufid probably already asked Ali, who denied the request, and was hoping to circumvent this by asking him.

"Then you've already received the answer from Ali?"

Mufid seemed flustered, before letting out a quiet.

"Yes"

Aleksander put down his bow, he didn't want to upset him.

"I will ask Ali again, if he denies it again, then there is nothing I can do"

Mufid brightened up and nodded. Aleksander then walked to and entered Ali's tent, he saw as Ali was repairing one of the arrows they were going to use today, after he put it in the quiver made of goat skin, he turned towards Aleksander.

"Read to head out?"

"Not yet, I still need to sharpen my spear, however, Mufid asked me if we could take him on the hunt"

"I've already told him, my answer is still a no"

"I thought so, sorry for disturbing your preparations but I didn't want to sadden the kid too much"

Ali nodded, before turning around and sitting back down, to inspect and potentially repair yet another arrow, Aleksander exited the tent worldlessly and then delivered the news to Mufid, he seemed saddened, but in his eyes Aleksander caught the proverbial spark of an idea, and a mischievous gleam.

Aleksander had no time to ask Mufid what he was planning, after all he still needed to sharpen his spear, and after that do much more, there was not enough time to worry with plans of the young for too long. Several hours later, he walked again into Ali's tent, this time however a leather strap was placed on his back to which was attached a quiver full of arrows, a bow also hung by the string on his back, lastly, Aleksander gripped the spear.

Within less than an hour they were out into the desert riding on camels, with cloth doubling as their saddles, they would be out there for 3 days, in hopes of finding a suitable animal to kill and bring back to the tribe, the Hasa, as the tribe was called, would then prepare and feast as one commune with the fresh meat.

Aleksander and Ali during the first night sat down onto the sand, Ali brought some wood and some dried out palm bark, and soon enough lit a fire, Ali was also the first to speak up.

"Do you think Mufid will do anything stupid"

"Hopefully nothing, but if anything, I can only hope he did not think of following us"

"I hope that too"

"So, Nafsi, you're still convinced of this whole God"

"Absolutely, no matter what Khalifah tells me, no desert spirits could keep a man alive in the desert for weeks"

"I wonder if you'll ever come to regret making enemies with Khalifah"

"If I start taking more than giving, I am sure he will exile me"

"Ah, so like everyone else"

"I guess so, perhaps we should switch topics"

"Good idea, what's on your mind?"

"What do you think, what will we catch"

"I am sure we will happen to find some Oryx or Goats, probably some Desert Cats but we shouldn't kill them, the spirits don't like it when cats are killed"

"Even though I don't believe in them, that's something I can agree with"

Ali chuckled at Aleksander's remark

"Nafsi, can I ask you something?"

"Go ahead"

"It occurred to me, I never asked you about your name, Nafsi is a fairly strange name"

"I've given it myself"

"What do you mean by that?"

"I've appeared one day on the banks of a lake near Ishtarut, a merchant by the name Said found me, and after asking my name I answered Nafsi"

Aleksander decided to conceal that he came from the future, Ali seemed perplexed and a bit frightened after hearing what Alrksander said.

"You... Appeared one day?"

"Yes, perhaps I was knocked unconscious and lost my memory before ending up there"

"That seems more reasonable, how did you end up in the desert anyway?"

"Said took me in, after doing business in Ishtarut we departed to Al Da'asa, a band of bandits attacked us and knocked me uncious, stranding me in the desert"

"Are you sure no one is going to knock you unconscious this time?'

Aleksander laughed at Ali's joke

"No I hope it won't happen this time"

Ali yawned.

"I will go to sleep, wake me up when the fire dims, we'll take turns sleeping that way"

Aleksander gave a thumbs up, he then realised that Ali probably did not know the gesture and so he added

"Will do so"

Over the course of the night they switched a couple of times between guarding the fire and sleeping, sometimes in the dead of night, Aleksander could swear he saw someone moving just outside the reach of light casted by the fire.
Lukewarm takes here at best.

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UniversalCommons
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Postby UniversalCommons » Sat Feb 27, 2021 10:59 am

A Delegation to Ur at Santorini

It was odd looking at six Daughters of Penelope in oilskin robes with a green ankh and a bee on their sleeves. They had white masks on. The masks were originally designed by Victor Spear with Hand Snake to prevent breathing sulfurous fumes, poisonous insects, and the residues of poison plants in the Poison Garden of Oak. They had a new name, protective masks. There were charcoal packets and herbs in the beak of the mask.
Victor had several copies of the latest mixing formulas for the medicine at Oak. The mixes had been ground into fine powder, boiled, distilled and mixed together and added to an alcoholic solution. They were in tinted brown bottles with stoppers sealed with wax. There were labels on them listing the ingredients. The description of how the medicines were chosen from Greek, Egyptians, and Mesopotamian sources was fascinating. There were terms like black bile, the liver being the seat of the sould, phlegm, germ devils a term coined by Victor Spear, and water channels. In addition, there were many references to the Daughters of Penelope giving the medicine to patients.

There was another pamphlet that had come from Salt from the Hunkhabek Press called Cleaning for the Red Plague by the Plain Folk Temple, the Salt Orphanage, and the Daughters of Penelope. The first part was about how to wear the oilskin robes, gloves, and protective mask. The second was gargling with herbs and herbal washes for the hands and faces. The next part described how to use soap, vinegar cleaners, and ethanol cleaners. It included some information on sea sponges for scrubbing and loofas which were a trade item grown by Trader Ulysses. The cleaning directions were detailed and included lots of hot water and scrubbing. In addition, there were admonitions by Plain Folk about how cleanliness was next to godliness and to keep clean was to be seen well in the eyes of their god.

The final pamphlet and instructions was Scholar Doctor Lukics Guide to Health for the Plague. It had a health food quality to it. Scholar Doctor Lukics included statements like “Health is wealth” and “Let food be your medicine” The first section was on hydration. How to drink hot water, salt, and honey to keep people hydrated. The second part was herbal teas, broths, and soups to help break up phlegm in the lungs. The third part was on blending food with the bicycle blender. How to make vegetable juices, smoothies, and pureed food for people who had trouble swallowing or keeping down solid food. The final part was a reminder to avoid laying with prostitutes, partaking in blood rituals, and having close contact with plagued. Scholar Doctor Lukics was Victor Spear's personal physician.

The bicycle blender stood out among the pamphlets, cleaning supplies and medicines. It looked like a thing out of time to Victor Spear.

Victor Spear hoped the supplies would help his allies in Ur. He had a vested interest in more people living. He knew he would need allies when he came back. He had heard of a charismatic Naturalist Scholar, Napoca who was speaking at the Order of the Brilliant Pillar who described how all things were aware on a deep level. All things had a psyche to them which was spread everywhere. It very much reminded him of an odd version of panpsychism. The psyche provided an energy which could be manipulated in the body.

The Storytellers Association had to write several more stories to remind people to take their medicine.

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Shepherd isle
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Ex-Nation

Postby Shepherd isle » Wed Mar 03, 2021 3:00 am

I guess the tree spinach would still grow in the Mississippi, as an invasive little crop that would stick its nutritious leaves on the soil. But it was the hurricane season that would force us up. I heard somewhere that the Mississippi cultures domesticated yams around 5,000 bc. If only I had the book, I could so navigate the history of the world. And tell these tribesmen that there is so much beyond the little stretch of river we call the Mississippi. From the palisades of china and japan, to the great skyscrapers of London and Paris, there is so much of the world that they wont see. I would be surprised if they had contacts up north even. People took shelter in caves further down south. Those who had the option like this community migrated up north, to Arkansas and Oklahoma, It would not be my choice, but seeing those washes of death ripping across south east Asia in those foreign documentaries were quite a contributing factor, as well as I didn’t have a choice. They had practically accepted me as part of the community.


The annual settlement up north brought exponential conflict with the locals, and everyone that lived their. Men were killed, communities burned, livelihoods destroyed. The Arkansas palm sagging with blood and tipping her cargo into the soil. The land here was especially fertile, more so then down south. Up here man supplemented himself with little yuccas that they allowed to grow around the communities, and yams that they planted in small rows. You couldn’t call them cultivars or even a domesticated plant, just helping sow their seeds near camp, and reaping the rewards without reserving the seeds to make more. You could say the spores of civilisation had already been spawned in a way, cultivars that could be easily produced and are resilient sprouting right around the people. Their communities becoming increasingly more permeant up north. But I wonder why man never made the logical step here. They did in the deep south of the continent, and in the andes. But why not here? Cities to rival anything in old world could form, empires to dominate the globe could sprout there shoots, the machine of war could role.
More glass was made, and weapons made pout of what the natives up north called ghost, or as ‘white mans metal’. I wonder where they got that term. Was it after me? Was it after the people truly up north, with their nomadic existence and their palisades of snow? Was their a force to be reckoned with, that has never been documented ever, was this a world after war, centurys after the bomb? I would never know. I guess I would not live along to uncover the truth, and that was upsetting. Meanwhile I told them of my country, of the bomb that wiped out countrys and cities of the map, the ships that churned out fire, the machines tht flooded the sky with their lights. Some said that this was a view of heaven, others of a place far from here.
Last edited by Shepherd isle on Wed Mar 03, 2021 3:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Shepherd isle
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Ex-Nation

Postby Shepherd isle » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:02 am

It seems people have a natural fear of something they don’t know. Either that or shattered panes of glass shattering in your stomach like a bouquet of flowers is not extremely satisfying. One summer they have stone and flint spears much like the clovis , many thousands of years before them, and the next glass arrowheads and spears embed in their victims. Only one or two minor skirmishes occurred between us and our neighbours, after the first few they learnt to keep our distance. They yearned to know of this weapon, and the ingredients to cultivate it. And yet we kept it a secret from them, at least at first. Innovation may be good but if the uses can be thrown back at us, we would rather keep it a secret. Anyway, the lands up here were fertile, a lack of fishing meant they positively bulged with fish, and edible yams and yuccas sprouted everywhere they were habitation.
The tribe eventually wanted to settle here permanently. Originally the numbers of the natives, and the lack of good tools meant that every winter and spring they were beaten south, or made it down on their own free will. Now they had the power to stay, and they would. I originally silently opposed, but there was nothing I could do. This world wasn’t exactly mine, not exactly the world I was raised, so similar yet so different. A world without Canada, or the united states in its current form. A world where the atom bomb never ripped through souls or had tore the fabric of earth apart, or a planet where my homeland melted from history. Then I must make myself a homeland, I must protect this world from the west repeating its mistakes and its genocides, holding back the apocalyptic Europe tearing up America. I must help these people prepare themselves from themselves, and each other, to blossom civilisation in the north, not just the south.

Along the lines of the tree spinach, that I hoped was doing all right down south, I organised the allotments of the yams and yuccas from next year, hoping that the plants would grow in the rich river side soil. Much like the Nile American culture here was bent around the tributaries and fingers of this great river, and I thought it was a fitting place to begin agriculture, or not begin it, but accelerate it. Smaller tribes watched in awe as I planned cultivation, building of houses specially for glass and later metal. Surely copper and maybe tin would melt with potash to lower their temperature. I let runners and observes see me at work. I mean not with the finnick details, but seeing my general plan, it could maybe trigger innovation. No an arms race. With each place racing to stabilise, to in crease population, to gain tools, American technology would increase exponentially. With everyone just tribes in earlier eras, I guessed that there would be innovation. Hopefully this would kick the chain.

However bye the end of the year the opposite happened, a status quo happened where the tribe could throw its weight around whenever it wanted, and other tribes would not oppose it. That was until one tribe wanted to join under a federation. It became permanent, as ,long as both tribes would exist they would be under one banner. Of course I wondered if they were planning to break free once they had got the ideas of glass or what they called white mans metal. Or there war didn’t go as well and their enemys had really butchered them. We accepted everyone, though there was more women and children then men bye a long shot. From that moment on , we began to gain traction.

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Shepherd isle
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Founded: Feb 09, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Shepherd isle » Wed Mar 03, 2021 11:32 am

The tribe began to expand exponentially as tribes were raided and people fled, and Others joined willingly as part as a wider hold. It would only be a matter of time before critical mass would be reached. Where no tribe could combat the emerging power. But the emerging power could be under threat while the confederation, or I , and a number of people termed, a nation was young. The skirmishes continued to an extent, but the losses mounted against the raiding parties, and the casualties of us began to wear thin. I continued to reap the fish, to melt the sand into glass, to organise and till the fields in the never ending cycle. Any innovation, any tactic I had to do myself, and then others would follow, that is how the order arranged itself. At the end of the year , as the crops now neatly arranged started to yield, did people respect me, and indirectly, they followed me, with eagle eyes, and began to look up me. To the youth I was a person with a plan, a person that could lift them from the endless circle that had plagued man for as many generations as they could count. The old saw the vision in my eyes, and I made sure not to tread on their customers. I was but a humble persons among them, albeit with a plan, and if the plan turned sour, I could expect the worst to happen.

However the worst did not happen. The shoots punctured the soil, and enough spoils were save to restock the allotments next year, but larger. The bision and passenger pigeons were plentiful, when the only hunters of them are man, and man without guns or population. The food was always on the table, and 50 swelled to a hundred, and a hundred to 300. Of course with larger tribes that were pulled into orbit, a permanent federation certainly would not do. However it was the principles of nation building. As the federation became longer, one group trying to split off would be feeble. And them close to your power base would make them harder to break free. I may have accidently sponsored the creation of a new America, a new empire, many thousands of years in the past, or many thousands of years in the future.

I turned out to be a mediator as well , on the most trivial of things , the name. It was an insult to have the name of your nation be the confederations name for some reason, and they dwelled into squabbling and shouts. I had to choose a name, for this confederation. I had become influential enough, as a advisor to the leader of the pseudo nation, the federation. The first towns and villages had begun to collect due to my showcase of agriculture, the white mans metal that had temporarily resumed a status quo till we had came out tops saved us from the inhabitants before. I was chose the united states of America, a fitting name right? So whether it was a thousand years in the past, a thousand in the future, or a different world entirely, I would have left an impression.

The tribal federations chief was fascinated bye alexander the great, and the tales of a world, of the imperium of rome that raised the known world on his chokehold grip. They begged me to tell more, and I elaborated to an extent, I let them fill the gaps, from the campaigns to gual, to the revolts of the icenis and the fall of the city to the raiders and the pillagers of the north. My range of talents seemed to increase to storyteller, and people still marvelled at my bilitys, and knowledge, I knew of materials people have never seen before, from city detonating ticking time bombs to a paste that ignites in contact in water.

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Shepherd isle
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Founded: Feb 09, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Shepherd isle » Thu Mar 04, 2021 8:15 am

The legacy of conquers from the old world, of empires that spanned continents, planets, worlds. Of dynasties that raised lone banners and signals, or the marching of the moon and stars as they conquered caliphates and territorys from afar. They listened to the talking of war machines that no one could comprehend, bombs that cripples entire tribes and nations, boats so big they could fit a village on them. Citys that glow and illuminate the skys as a omen to their gods. Crusade or jihad, empire on the ascent or falling, they listened intently.
“why are there no empires in america?”
“well, I guess there is not enough time I guess. Soon Europe is going to come over with its metal and its horses and its warriors, they will pillage the continent entirely and wipe the first peoples off the map, then they will colonise the continent, and pretend nothing ever happened, empires are all powerful compared to tribes who don’t stand a chance. Whether it be a hundred years or a thousand, there will be none of you left, none of your descendents will survive in the future , or in my world.”
That was a bummer, and that statement was powerful. The potential, or the almost guarantee that their ancestors they would worship would never have living descendants. Some would say It was a terrifying thought. Others said that it was to far in the future to matter. I did know what I did then but I struck the flame of something bigger, something new. Apparently, they agreed for some reason that if an empire formed in the Americas the people would not suffer from European colonisation, they could roll easily over the opposing tribes, the people from the north, the migrants from the south. From one side of Arkansas to another from Paragould to little rock, the message spread, and the smaller tribes joined willingly, having being descended on from the north and the south, and afraid to be stamped out. The large ones originally opposed, but when the larger ones joined like little missiles they fell into orbit and began to enter negotiations and be drawn in. Bye the end of the month , or season most of the tribes had agreed, and the confederation had become the empire of the united states.
The highest two tribal leaders of the largest two tribes agreed to be advisors. But for the roles leaders of the empire it was blown into argument, heated. For one tribal leader that wanted the role, others did not. Some threatened to leave if a long fueding rival took the throne, and smaller ones began to band together, to be as imposing as the larger forces. They needed another mediator, but I did not want to be one for this choice. This was a problem I was not prepared to be involved in, but sooner or later ….. it dragged me in anyway.

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Suriyanakhon
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Suriyanakhon » Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:44 pm

Holly Long


Outskirts


The loud noises disrupted my concentration and I found myself mentally dragged out of the trance like state that I had achieved. I groaned, sitting cross legged on a tree stump and having been meditating before the loud curses kept continually flying. I jumped off the stump and walked in the direction of the noise before I found too familiar faces shouting at each other.

“Calm down, calm down.” I stated, trying to get them to cease their quarreling. Instead the brother and sister duo turned toward me and complained loudly about each other to me at the same time. After some mediating, I finally managed to get them to allow each other the chance to speak.

“So you see, Ma Holly,” Khint pointed to the red spot on his face. “That horrifying ogress of a sister did this to me.”

“OH, am I an ogress?” Shenden shouted. “Who's the one who takes care of you and makes sure you're safe and fed, you little brat?”

How I was going to defuse this situation was an enigma to me. I had always found Shenden to be attractive, albeit I didn't dare express it for fear of Hlaing's wrath, and that made me want to automatically take her side. But considering that would alienate Khint, and he was one of the few males in the village who was warm toward me, I decided to put fairness before hormones. “Wrath makes you age ten years.” I asserted, taking them both by surprise. “And if you two keep going at this rate, you'll both be showing wrinkles soon.”

Khint seemed excited at the prospect. “Great!” he exclaimed cheerfully, while Shenden blushed and started checking her face to make sure it wasn't true.

“What is it you even tripped on in the first place?” I asked. Now that my curiosity was piqued, I followed them into the jungle until they showed me the red protrusions from the ground. I looked at them with intense interest before I figured out what they were. “This is good, this is really good!” I smiled at the duo.
Daungg Kyaayyrwar


The central hut of the village which housed the chieftain was larger than the other houses and was much more ornamental on the inside. I sat in front of the chieftain and his three wives, one of whom (I couldn't tell) was Hlaing and Phyu Lat's mother. “Greetings, Ashin Yarzar.” I prostrated before him and his wives. “I apologize for such an intrusion, but I had an important reason.”

“What could be the reason that we're blessed with a visit from one with such otherworldly knowledge?” the headman's wife on his left giggled, and I hoped that it was good naturedly sarcastic and not dismissive. “My daughters are both so fond of your presence, you must know much to be able to keep them entertained.”

“Let you two discuss it some other time, Yu Naing.” Yarzar waved his hand as though he were physically dismissing the chatter. “I want to hear why you are here.”

“You have probably noticed the monsoon has unearthed much of the forest floor.” I said, being careful about my choice of words. “Some of these unearthed rocks can be quite valuable and lead to better crafted goods than before. In my world, iron was used to great productivity. If the men of the tribe could mine the ore and bring it back to the village for study and practice, it would present a golden opportunity.”

“That would require a great deal of time and work.” the chieftain replied, staring at me with a sharp expression. “What guarantee do I have that such a thing is true?”

“It's good to be skeptical, Ashin Yarzar, it suits a lord to have a cautious mind.” I bowed.

“The words of bootlickers mean little to me.” Yarzar stated sharply, unfazed by the flattery.

“What would I have to gain by misleading the entire village?” I added hastily to make my case. “I would only end up earning enmity from everyone and risk my head.”

“True,” Yarzar replied. “You would have reason to fear the headsman.”

“I'm more terrified of Hlaing than any executioner.” I blurted without really thinking about what I said. I hoped that I wasn't blushing after I said that but could not be sure.

He stared at me for a minute and, to my disbelief, laughed. “You are wiser than what I initially thought you, Mi Holly.” the headman wiped his mouth with his sleeve and rose from his seat. “Very well, I will trust you, pray that you do not make me disappointed. Or, rather, my daughter.”
Last edited by Suriyanakhon on Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Liblefter & Theravada Buddhist
dO yOu LiStEn tO gIrL iN rEd
Johann von Goethe wrote:The God-head is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, similarly the intuition is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and logic only to make use of the become and the set-fast.
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UniversalCommons
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Founded: Jan 24, 2016
Left-Leaning College State

Postby UniversalCommons » Sat Mar 06, 2021 10:17 am

Santorini, Nestos League

Victor Spear opened the letter from Penelope. He was at the harbor at Santorini. The letter had been waiting for him.

From: Penelope, Speaker of the House of Wisdom
To: Victor Spear

Dear Victor Spear,
We have redoubled our efforts with the Red Plague. We have found another tablet describing the red plague. We are on the right track, it describes a few herbs which we already are using, and a recipe for a salty broth. There are multiple organs to treat for this plague. We have been using the Storytellers Association to track people better. It was when we were talking to an elder of the Cucuteni who could recount the genealogies for many generations that we got the idea of mapping sick peoples families and contacts to find other people who are sick. We have been more able to get to people who are sick and isolate them before the disease spreads.
Still prevention is the best thing we can do. The protocols at Salt have improved. They have started using lenses to inspect people to make sure they are not sick. They destroy all the effluvia of the sick. They also burn the clothing and bedding of the sick if they pass away. It is a very strange idea that the germ devils can enter the clothing of people and their food. The people of Varna have taken up the cleaning procedures of Salt. Also Staro Zagora has started following the procedures. Many of the people at Oak refuse to do these odd things from Salt. Only a portion of the population is willing to do this. Abdera has far less people. Many people have traveled to the islands where lots of people have been turned back to go to Thassos. The islands have not been as ravaged by plague so far.
Olive succumbed to the plague. The people there refused to stop sharing their food, claiming it was part of their beliefs. Only a handful of people survived. Dogs wander the streets and the houses are empty. We are using penal labor to make sure we do not lose the harvest. We have promised that people will have land after their time is up for labor contracts. There is a lot of land and empty houses.
Some of the scholars have been sequestering themselves in their towers. They have turned the land around their towers into farmlands, greenhouses, fish ponds, and animal enclosures. A few are becoming completely self sufficient. There are a few new books on how to become completely self sufficient. I am reading a book called The Tower and The Farm, A Guide to Complete Self Sufficiency. They will see no one from the outside world until a cure for the plague is found.
We still have control of the House of Wisdom. I believe this is due partially to our being the main source of medicine for the plague as well as a source of imported food. Some of our opposition tried alternative cures which did not work out so well for them. There were quite a few deaths. Scholar Napoca is no longer in control of the Order of the Brilliant Pillar.
People still mention you occasionally. The opposition still want to exile you permanently. However, most see that it is divisive and may not be good for the Nestos League.
Alcibiades has been in Abdera. He went to a demonstration of aeolipile a device which reveals the power of the wind and water. It had been built once, but you had shut it down. It was part of a display of items from the Toymakers Association. There were many toys at the demonstration. Paper lanterns, toy soldiers, and dolls. Toys can demonstrate the power of science. He brought back the paper lantern and the aeolipile. He also brought back a stuffed bunny. He was quite pleased to see the different toys and devices. He tells me they had a model of a ship with very fine detail.
Scholar Etana wrote a letter to me about your visit. He liked talking to you.
I hope all is well with you.

Regards,

Scholar Penelope

There are several sheets with pictures of the aeolipile.

From: Victor Spear
To: Scholar Penelope, Speaker of the House of Wisdom

Dear Penelope,
I may have been wrong about the Toymakers Association. It is often hard to admit these things. It reminds me of the time when I was a young boy. Thank you for the pictures of the aeolipile. I remember having a toy water powered rocket, a hydro rocket. You poured water into a piston pump with a funnel. The pump is similar to the ones used in the flamethrower carts. The rocket is attached to the pump. You pumped the water into the rocket creating air pressure. Then you released the rocket which flew up into the air. It demonstrated water pressure and air pressure. It was a toy for natural science much like the aeolipile. I think, I will have to work on this at Santorini. I do not know when I will be back in Oak.
I am glad that there is some progress being made with the plague. We need it desperately. It may be spreading to other areas quickly. They are very careful on the islands. They have heard the terror stories on land. They keep people isolated for a while before they let people onto the islands. They also destroy the clothing and effects of sick people. They provide them with new clothes when necessary.
I have a suggestion. We can make gowns or aprons out of paper which can be easily disposed of when people are done with them. It is a matter of gluing the paper together in proper shapes. It will add a little extra protection for the Daughters of Penelope.
I met a delegation to Ur from the Daughters of Penelope. The protection against the plague looks terrifying. Please make sure things keep working. We do not want people to starve. The plague has not reached Egypt. There are still grain ships coming from Egypt and further south in Santorini. We will need all we can get.
I hope that I will have something to come home to.
I am looking forward to visiting Crete.

Regards,

Victor Spear
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:16 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Orostan
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Founded: May 02, 2016
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Orostan » Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:19 am

Aaron Dawson's Story

Year 8, Month 7 Day 7 Chinese Imperial Calendar - Along the Qin River in modern day Shanxi


The massive dam towered over the mountain valley, the lime coating of it seeming to form one big stone mass blocking the river. The five outlets of the dam at its very bottom were almost completely open and spewing freshly melted snow from the mountains that fed the Qin river. The end of winter would usually bring spring flooding along the Yellow River that the Qin river lead into, but this year flooding had been very limited in large part due to dams like this one. It's exceptionally thick walls were designed to retain the worst floods that Chinese engineers could imagine, and its construction had taken three years of difficult and dangerous work. It's completion two months ago had been celebrated as an engineering triumph and illustrations of it featured on propaganda boards hung off the walls of market halls in several cities. The towns and cities downstream of it had been very supportive of the project, but the villages upstream had been less enthusiastic. The floods that normally would have taken place downstream and left them alone had instead been moved upstream and to avoid them villagers had been forced to move to higher ground or out of the flood zone that had been declared behind the dam without their input. Motions had been made to appease them, of course. The villagers were resettled into new communities built with stone roads and brick houses far warmer than the huts they lived in before, but simply bribing the locals and using the dam as an excuse to try and push them into a more urban way of life had its own problems. Increases in quality of life and a democratic local council were not enough to satisfy many when the local government expected the people to quickly make up for the 'expense' of moving them and housing them. A local council meant nothing if a bureaucrat in the nearest town could just overrule that council's decisions on a whim. Every brick that went into a new house was considered a debt to the Ministry of the Public Stock that had to be repaid - it made no logical sense to support the resettlement of the villagers if they could not provide some benefit to the country. The idea of universal human rights would unfortunately have to wait until China's economic needs were less pressing.

Outside the social and political problems of China, equally significant events were happening. The Chinese Empire made no attempt to hide its roads, its dams, and its cities from outsiders and gradually this created a sort of cargo cultism outside the borders of China. The Donghu in the north, benefiting from migration of peoples from the troubled but expanding Chinese Guzhu military governorate, were one of the first barbarian groups to form a real empire. The Donghu built their own roads and began making their own crude iron tools out of blast furnaces copied from the Chinese. Those tools were crude and broke frequently but compared to what the peoples around the Donghu had they might as well have been made of diamond. The Donghu were able to take many slaves because of that and frequently did so. Raiding China was also an option for slaves, but had a great deal of risk and would almost always provoke a Chinese response. It was also unprofitable to annoy the Chinese or otherwise draw Luoyang's attention to the Donghu for anything other than buying iron ore.

The slaves and mineral wealth of the Donghu allowed them to begin building up towns and cities. Chinese mercenaries and former rebels were more than happy to work for the Donghu, and in the towns that hosted the king's mobile court there would always be a Chinese merchant or two offering his services to assist the completion of some project or conquest. The Donghu always had more than enough iron to give their Chinese advisors to bring back to China, and they had land to give those experienced former Chinese rebels that fought for them.

The scale of what was happening in the north was unaware to many in Luoyang. The government was focused on securing their new extremely wealthy southern territory and little attention was given to what seemed only to be a particularly aggressive barbarian group using poor iron tools. Prime Minister Tan, normally one to order interventions against barbarian groups using slavery (especially when those groups took Chinese slaves) for now ignored the Donghu. As long as they kept supplying iron and avoided raiding into China, an already over-extended Chinese Empire had no reason to spare the resources and organize a campaign to deal with them.
Last edited by Orostan on Tue Mar 23, 2021 6:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
“It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed hungry person. True freedom can only be where there is no exploitation and oppression of one person by another; where there is not unemployment, and where a person is not living in fear of losing his job, his home and his bread. Only in such a society personal and any other freedom can exist for real and not on paper.” -J. V. STALIN


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UniversalCommons
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Founded: Jan 24, 2016
Left-Leaning College State

Postby UniversalCommons » Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:20 pm

Abdera Times article

Victor Spear Visits the Island of Santorini
By Scholar Zinnas of the Storytellers Association

Victor Spear has been on a trade and diplomatic mission to secure medical, food, and cleaning supplies for the Nestos League. He has traveled to Thassos, Limnos, Helios, and now is visiting Santorini. At these places, he has secured shipments of food, medicine, and cleaning supplies to insure the Daughters of Penelope have enough to help with the Red Plague.

Recently, he met with the Daughters of Penelope who were on the way to Ur to provide help with the plague. They are seeking to prevent the spread of the plague with the knowledge of the House of Wisdom and the support of the Daughters of Penelope. Shortly, he will meet another delegation which is headed to Aksum of the Daughters of Penelope. We must do everything possible to stop the spread of the plague.

This negotiated trade insures that medicines, food, and cleaning supplies reach Abdera. Members of the Nestos League from Cyrene, Troy, and Limnos have been sending ships to help us. In addition, we have been trading with Egypt, Elam, the Single Market and other groups to make sure our granaries and food stores remain full. We must not only fight the plague but also prevent starvation. It is critical that we do everything possible to make sure that we have enough food and medicine.

With our allies help, we will overcome this dangerous disease. It is only throught the combined stregnth of our allies and people that we will overcome this grave danger to our society.

The Temple of Dark Goddess (Penelope)

Penelope stood in a grove before a cave with an oval opening. She was naked except for a walking stick to help her stand. She walked slowly led by an acolyte into the cave. Above her was opening in the roof where she could see the full moon.

She intoned:

Day turns into dark night
And life turns into death
Mother, maiden, crone help me
I honor you in my supplication
I return once more to your bosom
I bathe in your waters under the moon

She entered the cold water and bathed underneath the moon. Then she took a white robe and entered deeper into the cave. She walked slowly between two young women, each bearing torches.

She came into a cave with a tall statue of a woman with a dog on one side and a boar on the other. Flames flickered around the walls of the cave.

A woman in a green robe handed her a bowl of wine with bits of fungus and mushroom floating in it. Penelope poured some of the wine on the ground saying, “A blessing for the goddess.”

Then she drank deeply of the dark wine. She felt lightheaded and the room flickered around her. A voice in her mind said, “What do you seek?”

Penelope spoke to the air, “I seek a cure for the Red Plague.”

She heard laughter, “This is a curse of men and war. There is no cure for being a man or being a warrior. Or a foreign man and warrior. ”

Penelope sat on her knees, “Goddess help me, do what you can.”

One of the priestesses stands, “Do you not remember your oath to us. We ask you to return to us in three years time. Do you not remember your sister, you were taken from us by Alec the Badger. In your time swear to return to us and visit us each month.”

The words “return to us” reverberated in Penelope's mind. She knelt before the statue and pressed her forehead to the stone. “I promise to return. I swear by the Dark Goddess.”

Penelope was lifted and carried to a bed.

In the morning, she woke to be met by a pair of women in green robes. A large dog was sitting next to the woman. It looked at her eyes and blinked. Then it stretched out.

One o f the women spoke to her, “Do you not remember the herbs which were shown to you under the temples tutelage.”

Penelope, “I remember I was once a maiden of the Dark Goddess, but then Alec the Badger came and took me away to be with him. I remember he turned against me calling me a witch and sent me away to live with Victor Spear as his servant.”

The priestess spoke, “You must pay for giving our secrets to Victor Spear, you must open the House of Wisdom to us so we may know its secrets. This is part of our price.”

A pig trotted up to the priestess and nuzzled her hand. She patted it and gave it some grapes. The priestess spoke, “Victor Spear is but a man, so much like this pig. Ready to do your bidding. Do not forget your oaths.” The pig sits down and grunts several times.

Penelope, “I will not forget my oaths. Will you keep your promises as well. Tell me your name.”

The Priestess, “I hold the name of the Dark Goddess as part of my service, my original name is hers to know. Do not forget your promise. We are sending two women from the temple. They will help with the plague. Do you not remember the language of flowers and herbs. Do they not speak to you still.”

Penelope, “I do not remember all of them.”

The priestess, “Do not forgot yarrow a plant for healing and war. There are other plants you should name. We will name some of the plants we think might help.”

Penelope, “I remember the white rose being the symbol of purity.”

The priestess, “Good it is a sign you remember something of what you once were. We will come to you twice each moon to talk to you. Many seem to have forgotten us.” The priestess hands Penelope a strand of ivy. “Do not forget your promise.”

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G-Tech Corporation
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Founded: Feb 03, 2010
Democratic Socialists

Postby G-Tech Corporation » Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:47 pm

Part 5, Chapter 31: Sheep without a Shepherd


April 4th, 30 AG

My feet ached beneath me. I eyed my mount judiciously. She might be bred for it, but her own flanks were moving swift, and her nape streaked with dried trails of salt. The men marching alongside me seemed similarly worn out, and only a few of them did not walk with heads bowed to their work, putting one foot in front of another.

April was, I reflected, a miserable month in Dacia. The rains out of the north came over the Carpathians with enough fury to still drench the landscape, and the heat of the sun on the Black Sea was enough to send scudding lines of storm across the region whenever the winds decided to turn. This road, the path winding up towards Filias, should have been packed hard enough to move even wagons along - but the torrential rains had made her surface into glue, even where the pavingstones might have held back the tide of mud. Only a properly built highway might have stood up to such weather as this, and this was certainly not that highway.

But the town was now in sight, for which I thanked my Father. Men and women could be seen at intervals in outlying properties staring out at the assemblage of soldiers and civilians trudging along the byway, and light spilled from not a few open doorways as the settlement began to become visible though the gray curtain of the downpour. Travelers on the road had been few, and remained few - that is to say, nonexistent. That wasn't exactly a surprise though, not after seeing the state of Constanta, the city this road lead to. There were probably many in Filias who were concerned just seeing people on this road, let alone in the numbers we boasted.

My fears proved founded. Not far into the city a half dozen men in long oilcloth cloaks came boiling out of the darkness, two carrying fizzling torches, the others equipped with shortspears which looked battered but functional and the hint of mail under their vestments.

"Warden Gimshav's orders, travelers - no men from the south are to enter the city, not until his order is lifted. I am sorry."

It was hard to make out in the gloom the identity of the speaker, but I could tell from the tones in his voice that he was, indeed, genuinely sorry. This must be a thankless job, turning back the desperate and despairing from the warm beacon of safety, just because that warm beacon was all too likely turn into a bonfire if softer hearts were allowed to hold sway. Plague made monsters out of even the best men, and Dacia had suffered terribly.

From what reports I could gather, and the few letters we had received from the physicians east of the Iron Gates, it was even worse in Varna and Constanta Inferior than it had been down by the wash of the Danube. Predictable outcomes of plague, really, but still shocking to observe for me, even being more familiar with illness in this old world, as I had become. Those with the means to do so had fled as the epidemic gathered strength and speed, and those without the means to do so had simply disappeared into the bush, living off of the land as best they could where congregating with their fellow men meant death. Immigrants from small villages had returned to their homes, taking the Red Flux with them, and soon those villages had been all but depopulated.

Not everyone was dead, not by any means. It was impossible to get a count on the numbers of the dead or dying, but the sheer lethality of the epidemic had prevented it from infecting too many before it was clear that to stay was to die. Maria had given me the unverifiable figure that she suspected one in four of the populace had been exposed, and one in four of those perished. Who could say? The estimates for the population of Constanta and the dominions of the Men of the Red Earth had been dodgy to begin with, and this displacement and wanton death and destruction certainly hadn't helped.

One of our number stepped forward - Rakarth, a former aide to the Warden himself. He fumbled in a pouch for a moment, before producing a series of documents, carefully shielding them from the incessant drizzle. I couldn't hear their conversation from here, pitched as it was as a discussion and not a summary warning, but it wasn't more than half a dozen minutes before the ad hoc guards stepped aside and allowed us to pass. Rakarth must have been convincing in person, even if I didn't think much of him as an official.

Most of the party began setting up camp in a field not far from the town square. Large tents, almost exclusively, set aside for the physicians, the carriers, and the large amount of guards. At Virinceia we hadn't been so scrupulous with the guards, and the treatment effort had been interrupted several times by mobs pressing in, desperate once word of the cure had begun to circulate. Hopefully in a smaller town like this such measures would be unnecessary, but better safe than sorry. I didn't join them - rather I remounted my tired mare and, along with a dozen men, mainly notables and my personal escorts, made inquiries from those few men and women who would speak to me.

It only took about an hour to find the home the Warden had ended up in, though that hour was roughly all the time remaining until sunset. The muddled gray of the afternoon was turning to the deepening black of nightfall as I dismounted near where three different people agreed the former ruler of Constanta and her environs had ended up. Adrian padded ahead of me, knocking on the door with a series of heavy blows as the drizzle turned into a positive downpour.

The man who opened the door was, of course, not the Warden - but one of his guards. And two other men had manifested out of the darkness on either side of us, watching closely. But the guard was persuaded swiftly enough that we should speak with Gimshav, and that was for the best, for my strength was flagging, and I had a yearning now only for bed and fire.

Gimshav had aged decade since I had seen him last, only a year and a half ago. His formerly dark black hair now bore more than a few whites, and was positively gray at the temples. What fire had been in his eyes was banked and nearly quenched, and lines of care creased his face which had previously been sun-bronzed and firm. But he perked up upon seeing it was me at his door, and sagged somewhat in relief.

"Hegemon. Please tell me you are here at the turn of the tide."

It was touching to see the faith such men, men who I respected, placed in my abilities. I dreaded the day I had only bad news to give, but this was not that day. I merely nodded, then rolled up my arm to display the three slashes that had been placed there, which had all but faded away.

"A variolation. A sympathetic disease, which we've seen good efficacy with prevention. We need to get your people moving as quick as possible, particularly any with medical skill. Time is of the essence."

The Warden nodded, and I could see the fire behind his gray gaze struggling to re-assert itself. Doubtless it had been demoralizing, pouring his resources and expertise into the challenge before him, only to see it consumed and failing. Plagues were like that. Few were the men who could stand against the conflagration with great heart and pass through it unburnt. But Gimshav was not yet broken, merely beaten down, and with the right tools he would conquer this foe too.

It was time to get to work to save Dacia.




Part 5, Chapter 32: At the Sign of the Rearing Stag


October 9th, 30 AG

The hubbub outside the public house only increased, and Horadric scowled at the cheers and hoots from the main thoroughfare. With a grumble buried in his tawny beard he took a long hooked stick from beneath his counter and stamped through the throngs of patrons to worry at large wooden devices above the few open slatted windows. They were disused, even in these colder months, and took several stabs with the stick to engage - but ere long the shutters tumbled from their recessed homes, and the tumult beyond his walls lessened enough to satisfy the elderly proprietor.

That was until a young man in bright red livery had the audacity to open the door to allow himself passage into the smoky warm interior of the inn. Thankfully for Horadric, however, his temerity was complemented by the good manners to close the door after him. As such the owner did not have to stir from his three-legged stool behind the counter, only cast a baleful eye at the orange-headed newcomer as the man plunked down coins and loudly asked for a pull of the mead.

A begrudging transition from sitting to standing, three steps back to the barrel, a dozen breaths of pouring the amber liquid into a meticulously cleaned mug, and Horadric returned to his accustomed position, sweeping the seven copper bits into his obvious beltpouch with the air of a man bestowing the patron with a great favor. Better luck if the man had just given him the money and been on his way, without all the fuss of the walking and pouring.

Worse luck, then, when the cheery fellow began to talk. Most of the patrons of the Rearing Stag, for all of her noble-sounding name, were fishermen looking to forget the sea in mugs of ale, or those with only a few pennies to their names nursing drinks while the roaring fire in the common room drove chill from their bones. Conversations were hushed, and kept to single tables, and oftentimes would have been barely intelligible to an outlander for their thick Dublin cant or seaman's drawl.

But it seemed this armsman - for such he clearly was - was more used to the establishments further up the hill, where men debated politics and the weather and the currents of the sea and the mind of the queen in raised voices until debates were settled with cudgels and fists.

"Old man Haverstead is caught. Gods save the King, I say. They're parading him past now." Eyebrows raised at this proclamation. Tainn of Clan Haverstead had declared against Patrick II only a day after his ascension, so they said, and for the Sevrant in distant Icedonia. The King had called on his loyal subjects to overthrow the rebel master, but no other news of the matter had come to Dublin for weeks now. Haverstead - that was the last of the Fierce Four, the clan-fathers who had said their allegiance was to Icedonia, not Hibernia. Well, if you believed what the broadsheets howled.

Normally Horadric would have let a comment like that slide without so much as a harrumph. But it was a good thing, and no mistake.

"Fair day then, aye, fair enough. Once they chop his head off, or toss him into gaol in the Rocks, we'll be done with all this nonsense."

Nonsense indeed, as the average Dubliner accounted it. Men had always feared, as was the way of common folk, that the passing of Good King Patrick would lead to a time of trouble - the king having no son to be an obvious heir for the clans to acclaim, and the vultures circling above Patrick's aging body, jockeying for position. But the Good King had done them the lie for much longer than many guessed, showing no signs of losing his vigor and vim for many years, and so those concerns had slept. Gradually, however, they had crept back in, as Patrick disappeared for a month, and then a season, and then a year, and then five years, never stirring from the manor at the top of the Hill.

Failing health, men had muttered into their beers, and the vultures had gathered again - old clans renovating old alliances, daughters given in blood troth, and the most opportunistic aligning themselves with the Sevrant across the sea and his growing state, for if the bad old days came again, and clan warred with clan for dominance, Icedonia's influence would be deciding. Aye, perhaps the deciding factor.

The patrons of the Rearing Stag had been scarce when rumors of the death of the Good King had begun to circulate, men seeing to their own affairs, battening down the hatches, finding reasons to be elsewhere. For nearly two weeks Horadric's door had gone almost completely undarkened, and the old Velusci gentleman had begun to consider whether he too might be wise to find business away from the capitol. It would be no great loss to close the inn at the time, not with so few men and beasts traveling the streets. But then had come the proclamation of the same, and the Parade of the Clans, and the ascension of Patrick II.

Strange times. And yet, the acclamation of the clans for Patrick II had calmed many hearts. The first pronouncements of fealty had come quickly, and though some more slowly, they had come all the same - men trimming their sails in the direction the wind was blowing. Bryne was in many ways a compromise candidate for the post, but he had the backing of a decent amount of the commoners and freedmen, and those for which Clan affiliation was a minor matter. Close to the mind of the Good King, they called him, and it could not be doubted that he was a fine battlefield commander and leader of men, having served first as the Captain of the King's Own. Some clans would be dissatisfied seeing a man not their own rise to the position of High King, but where all political players are dissatisfied, there a compromise of worth has been reached - or so the tongues that were returning to the Stag began to wag. Even the distant Emperor in Mara had sent representatives to the coronation, whose guards had arrived in impressively tall ships not long after the Parade of Clans.

But dark clouds had gathered nonetheless. News had arrived in Dublin (unbeknownst to the proprietor, spread by the loyalist clans and Patrick himself) that the four great clans most firmly aligned with Icedonia had declared that they would not be ruled by anyone but Patrick himself, and given their allegiance to the Sevrant beyond the sea. Some men empathized with this position, bemoaning that Hibernia would be nothing without the Good King, but many found this a betrayal of the highest order - Bryne might not be a son of Patrick, for no man was, but he was a Hibernian, and no man from the Isles could rule Eire, nor should rule Eire.

Thus came the war and rumors of war. Reports of scuffles in the outlands near Dublin, and distant reports of fighting around the holds of the four clans. The King's Own and militiamen from various nearby townships were seen on the streets of the capitol far more than was common, and two outriggers lay at anchor beyond the breakwater. Some men with family in the north reported their kinsmen being called up by their clan-fathers, to put down the rebels. But those rumors would now die down, surely, with Tainn in custody of the crown.

"Tell you what, friend." said old Horadric, musing to himself. "Good news is her own reward. Empty that mug and ye shall have another, on my own tab."

A salt from the docks laughed behind the proprietor at that declaration. "I've brought you news of good harvests and good catches before, and no mugs did I recieve!"

Another man quieted him. "Dispelling the specter of clan war seems a mite fairer than your tidings, Gormal."

Heads bobbed up and down at that comment, Horadric's among them.
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Saxony-Brandenburg
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Saxony-Brandenburg » Mon Mar 15, 2021 6:18 pm

We the people


The room was loud, crowded, and echoed with voices. The sudden uproar at the end of a long, drawn-out meeting that everyone thanks when it ends. People began to stand and stretch, moving their stools out of the central space and towards the wall. Sadiya, a young woman from a farming community just a short walk east of Yanbu, had longed to end the meeting. She watched the scribes, busy at their work, prepare to walk out to the porch before the assembly’s chambers. As soon as they opened the door, she could hear the loud chattering of the crowd as they waited for the announcement of this assembly’s decisions. Her colleagues Moved to clamber out onto the porch, wanting their time to shine before the crowds, for the masses to attach their faces to the decisions they made, else another may come and take their spot in the second elections. The head-scribe of the meeting stepped forward from the porch to the top step, holding out a long piece of paper in her hands. The crowd began to settle, lowering its tone as many began to listen in eager anticipation.

“On this day within the third month of this year of strife’s end, the assembled representatives of our federation do hereby pronounce the following declarations:

We, the confederate assembly, do hereby denounce forced or coerced servitude as reprehensible and against the dignity of man. In so doing, we declare to all the world the safe-harbor of all servants and slaves who free their bondage. Any man or woman who steps upon these shores will henceforth be emancipated, and shall be criminal to compel them to return. In accordance with this belief, no man who is known to trade in the bodies of man will be allowed into the docks and harbors of the confederacy. Any ship which carries slaves or compelled servants into our waters shall be seized, and the captain tried for crimes against morality and the dignity of man. Recognizing the role bigotry and tyranny plays in the corruption of society, we proclaim that all men and women fleeing religious or political persecution shall be welcomed into our communities as a safe harbor.

Next, being apparent that many among our southern communities have suffered greatly in this war from raids, destruction, and theft, we therefore offer to gift bereaved individuals thirty pounds of grain or the equivalent nourishment thereof per person per month, in exchange for their labor in public projects in their own or neighboring communities. In addition to this, we additionally formally recognize the fallen of this war as having committed a heroic act of sacrifice by which we are all thankful. We will therefore be supporting the construction of tombs within each member community which has lost a substantial number of men to house their ashes. Yet understanding the leading role our fallen commanders have played, we have voted unanimously to enshrine the ashes of Fazal Barakat and Alya Barakat inside the Kabbah with our idols, as heroes deserving of unique respect among our people.”


There was a sudden uproar of agreement among the crowd - eagerly expressing their approval. It takes what feels like several moments of the scribes angry gaze to get the huddled mass to quiet down once more, wherein she gives a sigh of relief and continues:

“And finally, for the sake of our people’s traditional ways of life being continued into future generations, we do encode into law that all land within the confederacy, and the resources upon thereof, will be held in common not by this body nor any individual - but will be owned in common by the people of the communities they exist within. Rights of use therefore are given in accordance to who works it, and communities which subsist off it.”

Although this meant little change for the people of Yanbu, Sadiya could not help but feel a tinge of radicalism within these proclamations. Concepts like ownership were vague and only experienced in practice, until that is they are placed into law. Already she knew that there would be stele placed outside the courthouse - amid where the crowd now stood in fact - wherein these declarations would be made. She had voted in favor of each one, obviously. As a good student of the prophet Olivia, she could hear the woman’s sermons in each proclamation, the inspiration was clear. Each point was clear, and based on virtues of a good and moral society - equality, freedom, and honor. That being said, it was unsurprising that she did not attend today - indeed, quite few had seen her outside her home since returning from the campaigns a week ago. Certainly, she would have to shake herself from mourning to entomb the ashes of her wife? Certainly such a responsibility could not be shirked for any broken heart.

Sadiya had known Olivia for a number of years now - and though she couldn’t say she was close with the Prophet, after all such a position tends to raise barriers between people, she could say she was a friend. She thought it best, perhaps, to pay the woman a visit - if nothing else to bring her news of the events that transpired. Perhaps the success of her beliefs, which she seemed so zealous to confer to her students, would shake her out of her rut - at least temporarily.

She walked the short distance to the woman’s house to see it awfully quiet for an early morning. Though now that she thought about it… she’d never been inside the house, only walked past it on a few occasions. What was also odd was the guard that normally stood guard in front of the house’s front step now was gone - probably off to the square to hear the reading of the new laws and socialize - the lazy bastard.

Knock Knock Knock… Nothing. Knock Knock Knock…. Nothing. This was odd - she wouldn’t have thought the Prophet would have been out of her house and not gone to the assembly. No, something was very wrong. Wouldn’t you know it, but the door easily swung open when she pushed down on the latch. Stepping inside - it was clear the house was just as silent on the inside as on the outside. “Miss Olivia?” She called, but heard no reply. The front room was a total mess - it looked as though it had been left in a state of disarray for a significant amount of time. Pillows and mats were haphazardly left thrown around, cups and dishes sat across the floor uncleaned, and the fireplace sat deathly cold. She was incredibly shocked by this - a chill ran down my spine as the whole place seemed abandoned. As she wandered through the door to the kitchen - she couldn’t help but notice the shelves seemed incredibly bare - very alien from the festive abundance she could recall from the parties Olivia would host. A short sack of grain had seemingly fallen over in the middle of the room - spilling its contents across the floor. It became clear to her that the first floor sat empty - the other rooms proving to be just as empty. All she could do was return to the stairs and look up at them with dread.

“This was the only other place she could be, right?” Sadiya thought aloud, making her way up the clunking wooden steps carefully, each passing one growing more and more her suspicion something was horribly wrong. At the top of the steps was just a short curtain - and taking a deep breath to gather my resolve- she pushed past it to discover a sorrowful scene before her.

Lying there, half-naked on the wooden floor was Olivia - slumped against the footpost of the bed. All around her was a disgusting mess of spilled beer and vomit which reeked vile. A large pot of beer - the very same one which would keep several men drinking for days, sat half-empty. The items of the room itself were no better. All the tapestries, all the candles, all the dishes, everything upon the wall had seemingly been knocked off it. The bed’s blankets had been dragged off too - and half of them sat in the puddle of dried vomit. The seemingly once nice room had taken on a horrible, dingy, depressing look to it which forced me to stumble back out of it for breath. The only bit of relief Sadiya could find was when she turned back and found the poor woman still alive and breathing in her sorry state.

Olivia Ingels

“Miss?... Miss?!” My eyes twitched as the mantle of pitch-black slumber began to loosen from my shoulders. Before I could even be aware of it, a knife had been plunged straight into my mind, blinding me with aching pain as sleep slipped away from me. The light was the first pain - making my eyes squint and forcing me to smear my face with my own vomit-crusted hands. The next pain was the hammering in my head. I felt not just immense pain but immense illness. My head felt like it was both orbiting around the room and made of a pound of bricks at the same time. The third, of course, was the stench - so vile and furiously sour that I gasped for breath - falling forward from my position face-down onto the floor.
“Miss Olifia!” I heard a man exclaim, immediately hands being placed upon my shoulders. Someone’s grip was grabbing me, pulling me away from where I sat. It was far too hard to tell in my disoriented state - forcing myself to blink enough to come to reality. My vision was immensely blurred - and I couldn’t escape the thick muffling of sound which made it seem as though I was deep beneath the waves of some rocky sea. Long more moments later and I felt things come to be as something rough, warm, and wet slapped across my face. I realized I was sitting slouched down in a chair - my arms limply rested on the thin wooden arms. I finally managed to look up - and found the dark, wrinkled face of an older man standing before me.

“Can you hear me?” He asked in a raspy voice. “You breathe and move your eyes, so I know you can hear me.” He spoke in a jumbled mix of Arabic and Sumerian that was hard to follow - I’m certain even more for the three others standing behind him. Limply nodding my head, he gave a little grin - and turned back to those behind him. “Well - she drank herself half to death for another night in a row. This is the second time this week I've had to come over here.”

“Shut up.” I growled, an overpowering sense of resentment overpowering my senses. I pushed myself up from my seat, nearly falling down once more from the disorientation of it all.

He turned back to me, surprised, unaware exactly what I had said. “Hm?” He asked, stepping back in concern.

“You’re all such ASSHOLES! If I could…” I couldn’t help myself, stepping a few more steps towards the door - yet my knees buckled and I wildly gripped to the wall to try and stand. A set of hands came quickly to hold me up, “I’m not a pet!” I barked. “You don’t need to prattle over me. I’ll be fine-” I grumbled, before slipping down to my knees, my fead falling to the floor with a loud thud.

It might have been minutes or hours before I awoke from the same darkness as before, I could feel the familiar chair below me as I came-to. The same Sumerian stood infront of me, chuckling as he met my lazy gaze. “You’ll be fine, you said?” He sighed, his laughter melting to a frown he was clearly disguising. He looked me in the eyes now, not turning to the other, now five, that crowded the room. “You could have died from lack of water - or choking on your own vomit. Do you know how long ago you have drank or eaten anything? Or when you blacked out last night?”

“No.” I sighed. He was right… I had no clue. “Fuck - I really don’t.”

“Right. Well - here. Part your lips now.” He gently instructed, holding out a cup of water to my cracked lips. It was warm and a little gritty with dirt, and yet utterly refreshing. I couldn’t help but weakly slurp it up and, when the cup had run dry, cough and ask “more?” The man scoffed, before reaching over to fill the same cup with a short clay pitcher. “Think you can hold it?” He asked, taking my outstretched hand as a yes. Returning it back onto the floor, he looked back up at me with a sad sigh. “Do you know how much you drank then?” I lowered the cup from my lips, but only after having finished it. I scrunted my brow, trying to think back to the previous night - though it all seemed a blur of emotions and self-loathing. I shrugged. “More than I should?”

Strangely enough, this really set the old man off. He brought his face uncomfortably close to mine, and glared hard enough to make me shiver. “Everyone in this room walks around you on shells, miss. But I do not show my care and respect by withholding my conviction. You cannot do this again! I was told you lost your girl, but this...” He waved vaguely to the two women hastily stripping the ruined sheets from the bed and scrubbing the vomit from the floor. “This is no way to handle it. You are not only abusing yourself by running away from your grief, but you are ruining the faith in all those who saw their dear sage in a puddle of vomit and piss.”


I looked away, my emotions immediately telling me to lash out at his petulant ass never to talk this way to me… and yet - I knew he was right. But this didn’t make it any more bearable. His arrogant ass… I grit my teeth, and tried my best to stuff back the anger, enough time to get out of this situation. “Alright.” I said shortly, before pushing myself up. “I’m going to bathe now. I appreciate you taking care of me, sir, but I will best be left alone now.”

He looked at me with disappointment, but didn’t say another word. He simply left the room, sending the thunking sounds of his feet down the stairs.

“... That means all of you - except you two ladies, thank you for cleaning.” Three of the small group left the crowded room. I waited until I heard the swinging of the door to go downstairs to discover someone had already lit a fire beneath a large pot of water. I quickly glanced back up at the second floor - seeing as they weren’t coming down I couldn’t keep it in much longer. Tears began to sting the corner of my eyes, I dug my nails down deep into my hands, and I struck myself with my fists. “I’m fucking pathetic.” I muttered with a bitter tongue. I resigned myself to a long bout of self-loathing, and wandered out into the garden with the hopes of being left alone for the rest of the afternoon.
"Shall we only hope for heaven when we're dead?"

User avatar
Joohan
Negotiator
 
Posts: 5463
Founded: Jan 11, 2018
Authoritarian Democracy

Postby Joohan » Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:44 pm

Virtue-In-Carnate


Thinking was the final escape for those who could not deal with the world beyond their own mind. When you could no longer bend nature to your will, man was reduced to fantasy, and dreaming. Mendolen, of clan Ablan, however, did not want to escape - he wanted to feel the pain and suffering of these moments, to revel in the grim despair. To escape from it would be cowardice, to blot it out an insult to the man who'd gave his people so much. Courage was a virtue, and his duty was to suffer for his fellow man. Mendolen did not look away or bat an eye as his Sevrant passed by, even as his eyes began to water and tear, he did not blink in the face of god. Old men were the only ones to be found on the road today, the only ones permitted - for all the other denizens of the Virtuous land had come clustered onto her sides. From Heims, to Stranix, Israel, Kantsburro, and Avergoine, from the Western sea to the Morning sea, all along the great roads first erected by the Sevrant, those who owed their lives to the Service had come to see the final passing of Issac Irren.

Not all deaths were glorious, not every man who picked up a spear would be called by the fifteen, or join the host of Recuridan. For most men, Morrigan would dare only creep from the shadows, fore taking the life owed to her. For all the glories, virtues, and violence that had constituted the life of the Slayer of Savages, how underwhelming it would seem that he should fall by something so mundane as an accident? As though he were the same as any other mortal man? He wasn't though, just another mortal, that is. Through teary eyes, Mendolen caught site of the multitude of the young adults and children who stood weeping by the roadside, their suffering even more evident than his own. How many thousands of children had been borne from his conquests? How many lives had come about as a result of the Virtuous lands victories over savages? Children who might have been otherwise born into the barbarity of those who lived beyond the bounds of Service, had been saved by the slaughter of their maternal kin, and given a chance for meaningful life by the Victorious Army. Gratitude for their very existence fell with their tears, as they watched the Sevrents urn pass them by.

A blazing heart is eventually reduced to ashes, and so to had the Sevrent been cremated. What to do with his remains had been a topic of fearsome debate among the Gense and Icense. Questions of how his corpse should be handled took on a religious dimension of ferocity. Should he be buried as was common practice in Israel, placed into a cairn as they do in the west so that his tomb might become a place of pilgrimage, or should he be brought to ashes as is the tradition of the Ablan and the clans of Stranix? It had been a day long shouting match between all parties, before Conwanna, his closest aid, and had been the tie breaker, and commanded that, as an Irren, descended from the Arren of stranix, he should be cremated in his clan's tradition. The old men who walked the roads were the Sevrant's funerary detail - those few veterans from the first extermination of the Tyerin over twenty years ago. Made rich and influential over the decades, years of service granting them wives, tracts of lands, factories, and all other manner of spoils and glories. They were the personification of the prosperity promised to those who would serve. Today though, their usually resplendent garments and jewelry were left home, having dawned red robes in honor of the Sevrant - one by one, they would hold aloft the bronze urn which contained their Commander, letting its polished edges catch the sunlight, shining out into the crowd. They would carry this, their duty, from sea to sea, beginning in Stranix, and ending Israel, a symbolic pilgrimage of Issac's journey through the world. His remains would not leave their hands until they'd arrived in the White City, were his ashes would then be placed in a shrine - his final resting place.

The stage of honor, set aside from the rest of the crowd who stood solemnly along the road, was filled with prestigious guests and dear friends of the late Irren, as well as the constituent members of the Icense: Teaghan, who stood to his right in salute ( as all current serving soldiers and veterans were obliged to do upon the late Issac's passing ), Haston who was only the Gense who had been invited to leave his county to see Issac's return to Israel, Conwanna who stood gray and sullenly, clutching onto a weeping Yhorne and a curious eyed boy. There was one curious member to be found upon that stage though, someone who was not apart of the Icense, nor whom was someone that the late Sevrent had ever actually met in life. For one thing, save for ancient and decrepit Haston and the young boy who clung to Conwanna's side, he was the only man upon the stage who did not render a salute as Issac passed, indicative of his profession - in that he'd never served in the Army ( least not the Icedonian one ). In the way of appearance his cloths did not particularly stick out ( save to display that he had wealth ), but his bright red and curly beard certainly marked him as a foreigner. In the moments which had proceeded the passing of the Sevrent's urn, he'd done little in the way of associating with the other guests, grasping the somber mood of the evening, he chose to sit in silence upon his cushion, starring off into some space that no other person could see. Just as it was for the Icedonians, these were dark times for the Hibernian as well.

The old man's arms shook with the weight of the urn, it was not very heavy, being naught but the ashes of a single man and the container there in, but it's gravity seemed at times unbearable for him to hold. He was coming upon his sixtieth year in only a few months, he remembered the time before Issac, before the Service; he'd remembered the very day that he'd been pulled from the woods round Stranix - naked and terrified! Oh how life had changed in only the last thirty two years - beyond any dream he'd ever had or could have seen. This strange man, who seemed to have come from another world, had opened his mind to ideas and prospects inconceivable! Three decades ago, he'd been a father of four, living as a farmer in a hut of straw and mud, hoping to live into his fourties. Today, he was a father of nineteen, his tracts of land so vast in estate that he is able to give each of his sons enough to sustain themselves, he is able to lavishly cloth and gift his wives and children with luxuries from across the known world, and is sure to live well into his sixties. Where once he lived in fear of the beasts that stalked the wood beyond his home, and worse yet, the men who lived among them, today he was secure in the knowledge that the Virtuous people ( his clan ) reigned supreme across every corner of the isle, over man and nature. In thirty two years of service, he and his clan had been lifted from submission to the Earth, to masters over nature. What he carried in his arms were not the remains of a man, no, but the holy ruins of a god - Virtue incarnate. The weight was unbearable, and as his shoulders buckled and tears began to fall, his brother in arms appeared by his side, picking up where he had nearly failed.

Issac, once known as Ashford, then Irren, the Commander, the Slayer of Savages, Builder of the White City, and Sevrent to the Virtuous land, with blazing heart and righteous iron, after thirty two years, his service was finally over.

...

She felt guilty, having not shed a tear during the procession. True, though Conwanna had been balling every day since she'd heard of the accident, she felt guilty at not crying specifically during the funerary procession. Maybe it was just because her eyes were tired from all the weeping she'd done, or perhaps she simply wasn't comfortable crying out in public. Certainly enough people had been weeping out in the open that day, from small children to innumerable grizzled war veterans. Whatever the case, she merely stood in silent gloom as she watched Issac's bronze urn pass by their stand.

She was tired, that's for sure. In the dim and fading lights of the estate ( that was it's new name now - no longer was it Issac's personal residence ) her tired eyes had to strain in order to look down at her folded hands. They were covered in scars and deep callouses - so unlike the hands of her children. Yhorne, now a young woman and already an exceptional member of the accantry, and Davos a serious minded boy with sights on living up to his divine father's name, their hands were so soft and unblemished - a testament to the times and luxury that they'd grown up in. When she was a child, she remembered her hands being torn apart by thorn bushes as she gathered in the forest; she remembered her knees being cut and bruised by rocks she had to kneel upon as she sewed wheat in the mud; she remembered having to huddle up to her siblings in a stone and earth hut, that was always too drafty in the fall and winter. All of that had changed though, after he'd arrived.

She'd only been just a girl when her cousin Teaghan and the rest of his hunting party had dragged him out of the forest, naked. He was a strange and giant man to her, whose origins were mysterious and fantastical. He was a curiosity, in her very small world. Then, he'd led her clan into battle against the Tyerin, their ancient rivals, and carried out the first ever extermination. From then on, he wasn't just the curious orphan that the Ablan had adopted - but something of a very serious and bloodthirsty weapon. Though it might seem strange but, that was about the time she'd started getting more interested in him. Coming into her teenage years, she began to wonder as to the nature of this enigmatic warrior that they'd pulled from the forests of her home. She'd started following him, moving between shadows and spying from behind trees, trying to see who he really was. She'd found he wasn't merely just a kill crazy warrior, as the Ablan would have liked him to remain, but a builder too. Not only did she spy on him during the training of his so called, Army, but she'd seen him scrawl the symbols upon stone that would one day become Andonian, she'd been there, listening to him speak of his plans to build a great White City over the ruins of the destroyed Tyerin, and she'd been there the day he'd marched in Stranix and declared his Service to the world. The day he'd finally caught her spying, she'd let him. On the outside, it might have seemed insane, and looking back on it, she would definitely agree with the sentiment, but she'd had a crush on him.

He'd changed her entire life, literally lifting her out of the mud, and helping her to see a world so much bigger and more wonderful than what she ever could have hoped for. And then he was gone. It was only now, sitting here in the place that she'd once considered a second home, not feeling his warmth within these walls, that she finally began to feel the complete finality of it all. That chapter of her life was over, and now was time to move on.

They, the ones who'd been part of the stage of honor, had moved to the estate shortly after the funerary procession. Even upon this day of morning, the work of the service did not cease. A short meeting of the Icense was had, followed by a small feast - a sort of celebratory party for Mendolen's ascension to the Sevrency. How it was that he was taking his new position, Conwanna had no idea. Apparently, it had been something of a fearsome debate between Teaghan and the Accant Heads over who would succeed Issac, with the Meshantri taking something of a backseat and merely observing the debates. The Army certainly had it's share of favored candidates, but as did the scholarly accants, each side looking out for their own interests. The whole affair was a closely guarded one, with Conwanna only knowing the details she did because of her cousin. Apparently, Mendolen had been something a middle ground between the two sides, having served as both a lieutenant in the Army ( and directly under Teaghan during the campaign up the Aerbaker ), as well as a respected accant for many years after his retirement. The Meshantri head gave her support towards the presumptive candidate as well, finally ending the debate. Funny then, that as far as she was aware, the poor man had never even been asked if he wanted to be Sevrent. Apparently, one day, an entourage out of Israel had arrived at his doorstep and informed him that he'd been selected as the new Supreme leader of the Service and Sevrent of the Virtuous Land. He was either the luckiest, or most cursed man in the world, depending his demeanor.

In either event, there was a rather pressing bit of information he would need to know before going a single day more into his Sevrency.

The last members of the Icense were milling about the dining room, shaking hands, patting their stomachs, and bidding farewell to one another. The house tenders, three elderly women who had once been indebted to Issac for their liberation, now simply staff of the estate, cleared the plates of food and drink, on their way out towards the kitchen. Mendolen tried talking with all of them for as long as he could, joking occassionally, and learning of all the various needs purported by his new constituents. Truth was, though he now wore the red and white robes of a Sevrent, he didn't quite fill them out as well as Issac had. His presence simply didn't carry the same weight of authority and power that Issac did - but, that was to be expected. Mendolen was quite new to all of this, having been thrust into his position of power literally mere days ago. Given time, he was sure to grow in aptitude, but for now he was a fresh in a room of grizzled veterans.

Only Conwanna remained sitting upon her cushion, having hardly touched her food. She'd had no apetite for the last few days. Without having said a word to him, her refusal to move was clear enough indication of her meaning. Mendolen continued to steal glances at her even as he carried on conversating with the departing Icense. It was only after the last man of the council had bee ushered out the dining room, did he turn back around and acknowledge her. Taking a seat on the cushion across from her. He placed a hand upon his knee as he softly regarded her. She something of a curiosity to him. She wasn't a member of the Icense, and she held no special position in the government - save perhaps as an occasional emissary to the Hibernians. Despite this, everyone in the upper echelons of leadership seemed to regard her with a degree of respect, and she always seemed to be included in whatever special functions were being carried out. He'd heard of her before, of course - Conwanna, first explorer accant to cross the western sea and make contact with the Hibernians, wife to Good Recuridan, a deity, and personal friend and advisor to Issac. Even after his predecessor's death though, it surprised him to see how much reverence the others placed upon her. She wanted to speak with him about something, that was obvious. He'd be thankful for any advice she could give.

" Conwanna of clan Mucllugh, we've yet to really talk to one another, in an informal manner that is. I'm very sorry for your loss. I know that you and your children, more than most people, were quite close to the Commander. "

" Thank you for your sympathies. I imagine that you have probably been having a harder time of things than we have though - given your recent promotion... congratulations, by the way. "

Mendolen gave out a shaky chuckle, before grabbing the back of his neck. " Yes, things have been happening quite quickly for us all. I just hope to not disappoint the trust that the others have placed in me. I've a great legacy to live up to. "

Conwannas head nodded thoughtfully, as her eyes seemed to glance off toward something that Mendolen couldn't see. " Yes... that's actually what I'd like to talk to you about. "

Despite his own pride, a shot of fear rumbled up his spine. He'd had more than a few world changing surprises laid upon him over the last week or so, and he could only imagine what information the personal advisor of the late Irren could lay upon him. He dreaded the next words to come from her mouth.

" Do you know what I was to Issac? "

His face remained passive, trying not to reveal any foreboding he might have felt beneath the surface. Certainly, rumors of Conwanna's close relationship to Issac were whispered, as well as dubious claims on Yhorne and Davos's true parentage, but Mendolen had never been so suicidal as to contemplate such things. " I could only hazard a guess... an advisor I should say? "

she raised her eyebrows, and gave a slight nod of the head, " Of sorts... I was essentially whatever he needed me to be. Be that an advisor, emissary, accant, or... "

As she cut off she looked up at Mendolen, seeing his placid face, and the terseness of his lips. He was probably getting the wrong idea about what she was saying, she wasn't begging him for a job. She tutted before starting again, " Look, there is something very important you need to know - about the situation in Hibernia. "

At the mention of their western allies, Mendolen's jaw grew tight, and the fist he held out of sight from her clenched shut. Terrible news, filtered in from the Meshantri and the Secret Service told of an overthrow in Dublin, an imperial invasion from the south, and the death of Patrick. A coup led by some traitor from within the internal structure of the royal guard had thrown the entire kingdom to the wolves, and now the whole county was in panic. Before Icedonia could send her armies in aid of her ally, Issac had passed. This would be the first big struggle of his sevrency, honoring the treaty of Snowdonia and liberating Hibernia from it's imperial puppet king.

" Please, anything; I would greatly appreciate your advise. "

She folded her hands in her lap, straightening her shoulders up as she took on a more serious tone and posture. " Not advise, information. Something that neither the Army, the Secret Service, nor even the Hibernian courtier your about to meet with is aware of. "

His eyebrows shot up in suprise, honestly, he hadn't been expecting this from here. Since practically the first day he'd arrived in Israel, Teaghan, his old commander, had been briefing him of the prepared Icedonian counter-attack in Hibernian. It was extensive, planning for partial mobilization on the Homefront, the eventual deployment of up to three whole companies from the home armies, and the utilization of the elite Black Company - still loyal, and hiding in the western wilderness of Hibernia. The most war he'd ever dealt with was in being a low-commander during the campaign up the Aerbaker, now he was about to wage war across an entire sea utilizing hundreds of soldiers and numerous ships. It was true too, that the man he was about to meet soon after this was from the royal court back in Dublin, among the few courtiers who'd not been present when the traitors had seized the palace. If she had vital information about the situation then he had to hear it.

" I'm assuming you've read the declaration of the traitor Patrick Byrne? "

" Yes, a copy of it was sent over by ship not long after it was sent out across the island. I'm aware of it's contents. "

" Then you should know something. The traitor Byrne, lied. "

" In what regard, ma'am? "

" Patrick Koleman isn't dead. "

...

The Western sea reached out no further, before its edges seemed to disappear behind a towering wall of mist and fog. A cloud barrier that seemed to eat nearly all the sound of the world behind, making the sea an eerie quiet. Occasionally, were one to look for long enough, they would see a lone bird or ship emerge from the fog and come into view, barreling towards land or port. There were stories, told by elders, of great beasts and serpents that resided beyond the sight of man, moving with the mists, and praying upon those sailors foolish enough to enter their domain. Some took such tales to be literal, while others, an allegory for fear of the unknown. Of the existence of sea serpents, he was not sure, but for this sergeant of the watch, he knew too well that there was much to be feared in charging into the unknown.

His ungloved hands caressed the cold wet stones of the wall, the moisture in the air adding weight to his soaked gambeson. Since morning, that whole day had been wet and dreary - the recent rain having sent most people back in doors, and the rolling sea fog snuffing out almost every sound, casting a kind of unnatural sleep upon the city. The platter of boots marching upon wet stone behind him almost shook him in surprise, the jarring deafness of the day seeming to have dulled his senses. He cast a swift glance over his shoulder toward the two guards marching shoulder to shoulder along the walkway. He did not want for his eyes to linger too long, lest he catch the attention of his soldiers. Just as swift as he'd taken his glance, he turned his face back toward the sea. Though clearly he had the stomach for treason, he'd begun doubting whether or not he truly had the heart?

From out the fog, emerged two ships, one after the other. The yellow, red, and green sigil hanging limply above the first and forthcoming ship denoted her as none other than the Manerly, the pirate's bane and protector of the eastern shores, one of the many ships built after the Union of Dusk ship building initiative, and who had taken a pivotal role in reducing piracy in the region - no doubt her sister ship the Andwana followed closely behind her. For what standing professional land armies the kingdom lacked, she more than made up for in the discipline and quality of her naval services. As he saw the high risen vessels fully emerge from behind their misty veil, the Sargent gulped hard. To him, they resembled fierce predators charging towards their prey. Like wolves leaping upon a bloodied dear - or sea serpents, surging through the water to strike at drowning sailors.

...

The midshipman gave a long and hearty yawn as he stretched his arms out, seeming to physically relieve himself of all the knotted stress from sailing for so long on a cramped ship. A cry of relief eschewed from his lips, drawing a few smirks and chuckles from the men walking behind him down the gangplank. His actions were exaggerated, sure, but all of them felt the same way. Ships, even big ones like the Manerly, or the Andawana, still hardly left any room for moving around. For weeks on end, sailors might expect to work and sleep exclusively above and below deck, never setting foot on land. Setting foot upon solid ground was a heavenly delight only truly appreciated by sailors.

Dozens upon dozens of men came crawling down the gangplank of the Manerly, each man wearing a grin and eager gaze pointed out toward the city - the look of young and salty men eager to have their fun in town. They could not leave yet, however, with still nearly the whole body of the ship's crew still huddled and forming rank at the end of the gangplank. They would not be dismissed from the docks till they'd received their safety brief from the captain. The commander in question, as was regulation, would not himself leave the ship until internment procedures for Dublin harbour were complete. Standing along the side of the vessel, he folded his hands over his chest and searched the crowd of his sailors faces, till he made eye contact with the first mate, giving him a curt nod. Promptly then, the first mate, already standing at the front of his comrades and nearest the gangplank, shot himself to attention, before spinning one hundred and eighty degrees and shouting out, " Group atten-tion!

Suddenly, the entire gang of sailors silenced their talking, bringing their hands to their sides, and raising their faces up toward the captain's gaze. Quite different to mere moments before, the look shared between the captain and crew was a sobering and stern one, totally changed from the amiable air had about them not seconds ago. The captain's voice cried out, " Alright then, sailors, you are about take leave inside the city! You are permitted five serns to do with your leisure, to travel and partake as you see fit, granted that a comrade accompanies you at all times. "

" Spit roast at the horny-hen! "

A cry came up from some unknown soldier in the crowd, sending up a chorus of laughter from all the men gathered. Even the captain chuckled some. " As you go out, remember your duties, and what is expected of you as a noble son of Hibernia, and protector of her shores. Hold yourself in the highest of honors, and let not filth besmirch your name... firstmate? "

Without missing a beat, his 2nd called out his own anecdote of advice, " Do not subtract from the population; do not add to the population. " Another bout of riotous laughter was offered up by the crew. With that final word, the captain them dismissal, and thus they were off toward the city.

The captain silently watched as his crew departed from the docks, their bats and daggers most especially catching to his eye. Nervousness forced him to look over towards the Andawana, to see her captain delivering a similar speech to his crew. From this not too far distance, he could clearly make out everything his counterpart was saying, and so was able to compare his own speech word for word. Both had sounded like completely normal safety briefs, though perhaps on account of his own nerves, he felt as though his might have seemed just a bit more phoney. Nevermind, he thought, none could have possibly seen through his words or the laughter of his men. From years of serving aboard the Manerly, he knew his subordinates and crew to be reliable and fierce battle brothers. Never had they given him reason to doubt their ability, and so he did not doubt them now. Indeed, he could envision the path taken by his lads, seeing them casually stroll through the quiet and narrow streets, slowly twisting and turning, until they'd come upon their spotted goal. By the time that had happened, reinforcements would have arrived, and then there would be no where left to run for the traitors.

...

The watch sergeant kept his eyes faced forward, putting on a face of boredom and disinterest. Were any man to pass him by, they would only see an nco caught up in thought. His hands gripped round the leather of his belt, hoisting it up higher to round his naval. Subconsciously, he began checking himself over one final time: dagger, check, hammer, check, rope, check, ID, check, bandages, check, his grieves, secure. The sergeant, as all his peers would agree, was most certainly a sober and methodical man; such an attitude, during the invasion of the Orkney's, was what first got him noticed as a potential candidate for the king's guard.

The stairway from the walkway down to ground level was narrow, and wet. Another troop going upward had to turn his back to the railing in order to let the sergeant pass by. He gave a nod of thanks, briefly catching the other man's eyes in doing so. He was a private, only having been recently taken into the guard about a month ago. Menguin or something, from round Cork. The sergeant lowered his head, pretending to look down at his footing until he'd reached the bottom of the stairs.

How odd it was that treason had been so much easier for him only a few weeks ago? The captain, Byrne, had seemed so passionate and persuasive in his plea, true to his convictions beyond doubt! It was true, none of the king's guard had seen High King Koleman in quite a long while, only ever hearing of his edicts and decree second hand from his wife, a women surrounded by Icedonian sympathizers. The sergeant personally, though finding their neighbors upon the eastern isle distasteful, did not harbor any strong prejudice's against them. At the least, however, it seemed almost certain his majesty was no longer master of his own will; whether it having been corrupted by eastern advisors, or being gagged by the seditious machinations of his queen, this guard was compelled to act on behalf of his sovereign! How dreadful then, that only a few days after the glorious rebellion led by the captain, and in imprisoning the treacherous queen, did he hear of the Imperial landing at Kilmore. Imperial soldiers sacking and burning down any settlement that refused to recognize Byrne's call for a moot - with the captain's public approval no less! Foolish he, damned he, were he'd been lured with sweet words of freeing his king of the puppeteer's strings, he'd been made into a puppet himself. The whole of Hibernia cried out in fear and terror: the High King was dead, invaders have been let through the gates, and nay a sword was raised to stop them - and he had played a hand into it all. What legacy would await such a man as he, what did he deserve? Those very questions were what had driven him to reach out to his cousin in the Black Company, who yet still roamed in the western wilderness, and refused to recognize Byrne's declaration.

Every miserable and regrettable step he'd taken thus far had led him to this point. The image of an arrow piercing flesh was vivid in his mind. The dishonor of his wound was deep, too deep to dislodge. After a short while of walking along the lower perimeter, he'd finally come upon the patrol port - a small entrance and exit post for personnel upon the wall. Two guards stood on either side of a heavy wood cage door, one on the inside, with the keys to unlock the door, and one on the outside, to vet those who would seek entrance. Through the holes of the door, he could see the outer guard speaking to a group of perhaps a dozen sailors; standing just close enough, he could hear their exchange without their words being soaked up by the fog.

" We've no scheduled visit of marines for today, you must be mistaken. Perhaps you are looking for another port? "

" I don't believe so... we were given explicit instructions to come to the southeast port at this time. Our guide to be, a one, sergeant Schonchair?

" That's quite correct soldier. " The watch sergeant called out from behind the cage door, causing both portal guards to turn and look toward him.

" It was something of a last moment change. Command staff probably failed to change the schedule in time - I'll be your guide for the tour; assuming that you all are the marines of Andawana warship? "

A few affirming headshakes and shouted ayes came back in response, but the outer portal guard first turned back toward the cage to face the sergeant. " You're taking responsibility for this lot then? Even though they're not listed on the schedule? "

The watch sergeant offered back a look of impatience before retorting, " I check up, not down private. Sir commanded me to lead these lads on a tour of the wall, and I've no mind to question him - as neither should be you. Now stop your lips flapping, and open the gate. "

" Aye sergeant. " The private fuddled about with his keys for a moment, looping them from off his belt, before placing them into the lock and opening the gate.

...

It was not unusual for marines to patrol along the Dublin walls. The marine sergeant from the Andawana pretended to feign curiosity as he looked down at the city from atop the walls walkway, when in truth he was only biting his lip in nervousness. He'd been up there many times before, usually as part of a security detail for whenever his ship docked into Dublin harbor; a tour though? The marine looked over to his King's Guard counterpart, the so-called, Schonchair. Was he daft, or was that truly the best excuse he could have come up with? They were lucky that it was two privates who were guarding the portal, lest someone with more sense and or authority of rank actually questioned the shoddy excuse. They were here now though, and he supposed that that was all that mattered - still though, things had been too close for comfort. His gaze still fixated out toward the city, he wondered at the progress of his comrades. Groups of marines were making their way over to all myriad of objectives across the city: gates, barracks, armories, intersections, all places which would need to be quickly seized the moment that that attack began.

Their own targets, lay upon the eastern wall, whose battlements and artillery faced out toward the Western Sea, and Dublin harbor below. It would not bode well at all, if their reinforcements should be sunk at the pier, before they'd even a chance to disembark from their ship. The mighty ballistae of the eastern wall would first need to be wrested from the traitorous King's guard. Hopefully, his comrades would be able to secure their objectives in time as well.

Turning away from the city and looking over his right shoulder, he spotted a ship suddenly emerge from out the misty wall, silently moving through the dark waters of the sea. Above her mast flew the green lyre of Hibernia, and below that the Red and Blue of snowdonia - she was the cargo freighter Heimwallher, returning from the the trade port at Snowdonia. At the sight of her bow cutting ever closer, the marine sergeant gave a nudge to Schonchair, nodding toward the sight of the fast approaching ship. He stopped himself mid stride at the sight of her, silently gapping for a moment before turning back to face him. " We must hurry! "

...

Today had been a peculiarly active one for the piermen of Dublin. Not since before the Guard's march on the royal estate had traffic been as frequent as today's. True, though they always received some dozens of fishing boats, it had been some time since they'd seen several warships and a trade freighter park in her harbor. The freighter was an especially happy sight to see! With the Calliona Company firmly siding against the new Byrne regime, little cargo from the colonies and continental outposts had been coming in. No doubt, the piersman thought, whoever the captain of this vessel was, was about to make a fortune with whatever it was he was bringing in!

Just where was this ship coming in from then, he wondered, as he looked down to check at his charts. Tricolors denoted warships, bicolors trade ships, and monocolor flags were fishing vessels. The red and blue, waving atop her mast, he saw, denoted her home as Snowdonia - a freigher of the eastern isles!

" Hmm. " He stuck his bottom lip out as he regarded the considerable length of the vessel. The Heimwallher was from a new line of cargo ship, the sought to maximize cargo storage, over flexibility. Her deck was high, just shy of what was typical of most warships, while her bottom sunk low below the waterline, making room for as many floors as possible. A curious addition to her design, or rather, reduction, was that the Heimwallher had no oars to speak of! This ship sailed with the wind, or not at all! Everything about her design was kept in the mindset of maximum storage capacity. Being a ship from the eastern isles, he could but wonder at the industrial goods that she brought along with her. Ships from the channel would bring up natural goods from Callonia, Sinola, Amorica, other southern colonies, usually ore, flax, and foreign herbs. Ships from the northern isles would bringing the bounty of the sea: exotic fish, seal leather, ivory cut from walrus's, and so on. Those ships that frequented the eastern isles were privy to the industrial and commercial goods turned out from the factories and farms of Icedonia.

The piersmen had not seen a ship flying the red and blue in weeks, no doubt owing to the venomous opinions that the new king held about their eastern ally, and the imprisonment of kathleen. As far as he knew, this ship was likely to be the last vessel cache of Icedonian goods to greet their markets in quite some time. If the king's guard didn't seize her cargo, then, this daring merchant would be making a fortune!

What was her cargo today, he wondered? Starring up from the bottom of the gangplank, he watched as his superior conversed with the freighter's captain. It was hard to hear much of anything through the deafening fog of the day, but he could very well imagine what was being said: routine questions of what they were carrying, in what volume, their business in the port that day, how long they planned on staying, all that business. Typically, their job wasn't an interesting or an eventful one, though on occasion a freighter would bring in some truly exotic piece of cargo that would get the mind wiring in imagination. In his experience, however, what was brought over from across the western sea was usually either linen, tools, or horses - valuable but unremarkable items for selling in town.

He turned his head to face over towards the stalls that stood just beyond the pier, and was surprised that no hoard of merchants had already come down to swarm round the freighter, as they would usually be prone in doing. The miserable mist and fog of the day had sent most well to do persons inside, next to the comfort of their fires - save for those few wretched souls that needed the work even in these conditions, or for the crowds of booze and whore hungry sailors that had just come in to port.

Suddenly, his eye caught a sudden flash of green fall from the walls. He'd only seen it in the peripheries of his vision, but by the time he'd tried to focus in on it, the thing had already fallen out of view and behind the shrubs which grew in front of the wall. What was that, he thought curiously to himself. Of course, the obvious and most dreadful answer crossed his mind, but he'd not seen whatever it was for sure, only side glimpses of it. He had most definitely seen something fall from the top of the walls though, hadn't he? He remained focused on the side of the wall for a few more moments, looking to see if anything else suddenly moved in that direction, but the scene remained completely still. Worry and doubt began to build in his heart, and he suddenly felt the urge to say something, turning to his superior up on the deck of the freighter.

" Um... sir? " but neither his superior nor the captain of the ship could be seen at the bottom of the gangplank.

" Sir? " He called out again, more timidly. He looked from the front to the back end of the boat, but not a person was in sight, let alone his fellow pierman.

" Sir! " still, no response. What the hell was going on? He looked over to his left and right, seeing that he was alone, save for a fishermen who hung near the end of the dock, who appeared to be mooring their ship. What ominous feeling had suddenly fallen over him? He stepped his way up the gangplank, and coming out onto the top deck. A few cursory glances, and it appeared as though not another soul was present. A whisper to his right and below him suddenly drew his attention, as he turned his head, to see his superior sat up against the deck wall, knees curled up to his chest, and eyes full of fear looking up at him.

" Sir! What are you doing- " But before he could get out the rest of his query, he felt something cold and sharp press hard into the small of his back, and then a vile whisper not a hairs breath away from his ear. " He is doing as he's been told. "

He felt the point in his back suddenly push itself in deeper, piercing cloths, possibly drawing blood, then the captain whispered once more. " Sit and be silent. "

He didn't need to verbalize a threat to go along with that command, the blade at his back having already emphasized that point well enough. Without a second thought, the pierman moved to sit himself down next to his coworker, curling his knees up to his chest just as he had. He looked up in fear at the captain of the ship, who had quickly moved to conceal the dagger that he'd threatened them with back into the sheath of his belt. He kept his eye's fixated upon the two of them, curled up against the wall, his face placid, his expression like stone, eyes full of nothing.

" What do you want with us? " His superior quipped up, and for a moment, he worried that his coworker had killed them both, for having broken silence. The captain didn't move for his dagger though, instead, folding his arms over his chest, and continuing to stare coolly at the two men. They remained like that for some time - it might have been seconds, it might have been minutes, he didn't know. The sudden fear and rush of adrenaline made his perception of things hard to understand. When the captain suddenly, and without warning, gave a shrill whistle, the two piersmen nearly jumped out of their skins. For a moment, nothing followed, which made the two terrified men wonder what on earth had been the point? Then, suddenly, a man appeared by the captain's side. The damnable fog had made his approach totally silent to them.

It had been some time since he'd seen one, but the piersman recognized this new man as an Icedonian soldier. His uniform was a kind of brown and thick cut fishnet over a black gambeson, cinched with a belt round the waist, which carried both sword and dagger. Iron plates protected his left shin, and right forearm, and underneath his left arm he carried his helmet. His clean cut and closely shaven face was pocked with scars, and his eyes, even while turned away from his, he could tell looked severe. The captain spoke a few words in what was presumably Andonian to the soldier, who responded in kind. The soldier raised a hand up and turned to face the Eastern wall. Through the fog, the piersman could see one of the guards atop the wall seeming to give a curious wave back at the soldier. He looked over toward his partner, who starred back at him, worry etched across both their faces. What the hell was going on?!

The soldier nodded to the captain, before pulling a necklace from out his shirt and placing something up to his lips.

" THWEEEEEEEEE! "

The whistle he'd blown into had clearly cut through the fog, perhaps even being heard beyond the confines of the ship. Suddenly, a pair of doors from the main quarters of the ship was kicked violently open, and a long line of black shields began spilling out from the opening. Two by two they came, a seemingly never ending line of soldiers spilling out from the ship, running across the deck and down the gangplank to the pier below. While this surreal scene played out before them, the captain bent down over the two piermen, and placing a hand on both their shoulders, spoke to them once again in Hibernian. " I think you boys will want to stay on board the ship for a while. "

...

Faster, must-run-faster! His legs seemed to move on their own, striding over puddles like stepping upon glass, seamlessly jumping over every bump in the road, and turning corners at blinding speed. Thank the gods that the fog had driven nearly everybody inside that day, lest he'd had to contend with sprinting through crowded streets.

Black day, cursed be this city and all who dwelled in it's country beyond. First, news of imperials invading from the south, then, only moments ago, a scene of slaughter at the piers. Private. Tershairan had been perusing through harbor stalls that afternoon on his off duty hours - seeing if any new items had been brought in in recent days. It was then when he'd first seen the line of black shields come running up the stone stairs at the docks and begin fanning out all across the market. Vendors began abandoning their stalls in a hurry, as crossbow wielding guards quickly rushed past them to meet against the sudden appearance of invaders. The scene he'd left was chaos, as fish mongers trampled over one another, falling upon the wet stone stairs, amid the sounds of battle and the clamoring cries of guards cut down by the horde just below them. A comrade who recognized him and pulled him off to the side, and told him to flee, run to the armory and tell them that the city was under attack!

So it was that he fled, his legs taking him across the city faster than he'd ever gone before - buildings passing him by in a blur, the ground flying beneath him. Nearly jumping over a small bridge he rolled himself into an open courtyard that stood in front of one the town's armory, and which was populated, thankfully, by a number of marines. He threw himself upon a bench, suddenly stopping his momentum, and thus knocking all the air out his body. He'd realized then that he'd hardly been breathing throughout his entire flight here, and now all the air began to catch at once in his throat. Yet still, he rended his mouth bloody, clawing the words out his throat, as he grabbed onto the collar of the nearest marine and attempted to tell him of the dire situation.

" Attack!... We're- heh... " The words came only in desperate wheezes, each breath hurting more than the last, but still he had to keep going.

" Pier... attacking-heh...from... the pier! " Recognition appeared across the marines face, seeming to understand what it was he was trying to tell him ( gods be praised ). As he nodded his head he began to look between his fellow comrades.

" Alright, yes, I understand you! Tell me, are you part of the guard? "

Tershairan began nodding his head emphatically, finally giving up on words. As he was doing so, though, he spotted something over the marines shoulder. In an alleyway, just out of sight which connected into the courtyard, he saw long streaking marks of dark red upon the wet ground. Following where the trails went, he saw several pairs of feet sticking out from the alleyway. Before he could put together what it was he was seeing, he felt a sudden sharpness press itself deep into his back, sending all the air from out his body, and the light from his eyes.

As he collapsed into the marines arms, he heard his final words. " Then you can die with the other traitors... "
If you need a witness look to yourself

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism!


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Joohan
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Posts: 5463
Founded: Jan 11, 2018
Authoritarian Democracy

Postby Joohan » Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:45 pm

Siege of Dublin


" Thwee-Thwee-Thwee " The birdsong command to move forward! The whistle call was met by the affirming forward step of some twenty fives soldiers, shields raised up and together marching swiftly down the wide main avenue which cut through the city. The sound of bolts thudding against their shields was of little deterrence for the men inside the testudo, as they continued advancing against the retreating line of crossbow men. In the middle of that formation, lt. Comorian smiled viciously to himself, looking through the small opening in front of him as the rebel king's guard continued to flee before them.

What glory, what divine Boone of the fifteen had been bestowed upon him, but one of dozens of low-commanders, to be placed in charge of the central assault into Dublin? Since having stepped off the boat into the harbor, and clearing the market stalls of what pitiful number guards there were there, the West Army had been fanning out across the city, moving upon various objectives of tactical importance. The resistance they faced was poorly, if at all organized - meeting seldom more than five guardsmen at any one time, who not nearly well enough equipped to be facing down a platoons of soldiers in full battle gear. Those loyalist marines who had proceeded their departure must have done an excellent job in securing their objectives. Thankfully, there were few civilians out and about on the streets that day, and so the West Army could focus on dispatching the traitorous guards without much concern for civilian casualties.

Those guardsmen who were not cut down, had begun fleeing towards the royal estate, moving to protect their king. As a result, most of those fleeing met upon the main avenue which hugged along the Liffey, and in the way of Comorian's platoon. There were perhaps dozens of green clad guardsmen, fleeing in front of their formation. A few attempted to present a firing line, but the rapid advance of the Icedonians allowed for little time in the way of reloading their crossbows, forcing them into an almost perpetual back pedal.

The hill which overlooked the city, and were upon the royal estate was housed, was surrounded by a second internal wall, accessed by a single gate which was the end of the central avenue. How appropriate it were, that only a few weeks ago the traitorous guardsmen had been marching down this avenue in route to seize the city for themselves, now they fled down that same road as the city was being lost before them? Dozens of men crammed together, quickly squeezing their way through the opened gates of the estate walls, overlooked by two guards towers, atop which were fixed light ballistae, providing overwatch to their comrades. As suddenly as they'd come into range, one of the ballistae sent a shot screeching towards their formation, severing clean through a foot's shield, sending him back tumbling through the formation, with a long bolt sticking out his shoulder. Had it not been for the protection of the shield, his shoulder would have been completely torn from his body; but even still, the cut was deep, and a preliminary look from the medics within the formation doubted he would survive.

They would be torn to shreds were they to charge against those artillery pieces, and retzev or not, Comorion was in no mood to join the 15 so early into his career. Putting the whistle to his lips, he called out the commands for, Withdraw-Cover-Left. Maintaining their formation, the soldiers began marching leftward, toward a side street which led into the main avenue, just in time for another massive bolt to smash itself upon the pavement, sending a shards of broken stone, and just barely missing their right most side. Only after having fully taken cover behind a building and posting security did Comorian give the command to break formation. As soon as the shields went down, the medics in their formation sprang upon the pale faced soldier whose shoulder was still pierced by the ballistae bolt. Even if it were no use, those men would try to the last breath to save their comrade, denying both Morigan and the 15 their prize.

It was the first break or rest they'd had since departing off the boat - and though that had not been all to long ago ( only half a sern actually ), they all felt exhausted, in only the way soldiers could. Taking a knee and sitting himself up next to the injured foot and the medics, he pulled his water flask from off his belt, greedily gulping down it's contents there in. The sounds of a woman shouting made him instinctly turn his head to face all the commotion. Standing in the doorway of the building where they'd taken shelter from, an wrinkled faced, gray haired woman stood, shouting, perhaps pleading with one of his men. The lieutenant didn't speak any of the languages spoken in the western isles, let alone Hibernian, but he could imagine that she was probably asking them to not use her home as shield against ballistae potshots. One of his men, a sergeant who was a fisherman in his oft time, used what fleeting Hibernian he knew to try and convince her to return to her home, and to not leave while the fighting was going on.

In truth, their assault was something unprecedented in Service history. Never, had an Icedonian Army marched into a hostile city before, with the explicit orders Not to harm civilians or their property. Fleeting exceptions were given to members of the Dublin Militia, who if trying to resist were allowed to be cut down ( and a general kill order against the King's Guard ), but otherwise, under penalty of drowning for the perpetrator and his commander, no civilian was to be unduly harm. Lucky it were that few people were out an about the streets that day, minimizing chances for oft casualties. The fighting along the central avenue no doubt consisted of the most brutal faced by any of his battle brothers across the city, what with the largest concentration of fleeing kings guard and militia. At that very moment though, he knew that other platoons and units of loyalist marines were securing the rest of the city, cutting down the stubborn militiamen and guards who insisted upon resistance. It would be some time before they'd consolidated on the Estate walls, but when they finally did - they'd have something special planned for those ballistae and their feeble defenses.

...

Men bustled and ran about in practically every direction of the courtyard, and given the abundance of bodies and lack of space, it made for a scene of frightful chaos. Dozens of women and children, practically the whole of their burrow, were centered in the middle of the yard, as menfolk hastily yet carefully tried treading round them, in prepping their hasty defense. The entrances to the yard had been turned into impromptu barricades, constructed of stones torn from the streets, carts, wood debris, and practically any piece of movable heavy trash they could find in their way. High above, carefully stepping upon thatched roofs and laying prone in the hay, crossbowmen kept over watch from above. Boys as young as fifteen were seen by their fathers and brothers sides carrying spears and axes, piling onto every inch of the barrier.

The Dublin militia had been out of service for some years by this point - but her former members yet still remained young and active within the city, laying down neither their arms nor their dedication to the city, their home. When news of the attack had begun spreading throughout the whole city, the militia members sprang into action - or at the very least - attempted to. What they found, and much to their horror, was that many of their defensive and martial points, had been already been seized - not by the oncoming Icedonians, but by their fellow countrymen, marines serving on behalf of the invasion force! Before the battle had even truly begun, armories were lost, roads secured for the enemy, and rally points swarmed by enemies. This courtyard was among the few areas left untouched by either Hibernian marine or Icedonian soldier - perhaps the only respite left in the whole city? Not all hope was lost though then, was it? For as long as one corner of their home stood beyond the reach of their foe, then the day yet might be saved then?

What was becoming of their city, many whispered, both among the civilians and men of the renewed militia. Tales of Icedonian exterminations had long captured the minds of the western peoples, in a kind of morbid fascination, and though they'd declared the end of such practices over a decade ago, as per the treaty of Snowdonia, the dreadful fear lingered over the whole of them. If they'd come to exterminate them though, why on earth were Hibernian marines aiding them? Surely, they'd no desire to see their own city burned to cinder? Perhaps this was the response of the Icedonians, in honoring the Dusk Union, to offer aid in the event of invasion, as they had promised long ago? In the weeks since the Imperials had landed an army upon her southern shores, many Hibernians had begun to wonder if those promises would ever actually come to fruition? The Icedonian saying, Words Mean Nothing, ringing terribly in their ears.

" Cara...Cara..! "

The cry came from outside the courtyard, and was desperate enough to silence the chatter of the huddled mass of civilians. Most of the people, soldiers included, looked between one another, wondering what the call could me; for those born in the southwest of the isle though, they knew their native word for friend right away. One of the such man happened to be stationed upon the rooftops over looking the yard, and after having thrown himself to just behind the bridge of the roof for cover, looked to see the source of the crier. Down the road, beyond the front most part of their barricade, stood none other than a member of the King's guard, flanked by several marines!

" Who is it? " One of the militiamen called from down below.

" It's a soldier from the kings guard - but he's with some marines. I don't know if he's been captured, or is working with them. " He called back down, before facing back toward the street.

What was going on? Most of the king's guard had long since fallen back to the royal estate, leaving the rest of the city to their fate - and what were the marines doing with him? Were they not sided with the Icedonians? Was this some sort of ploy, to trick them and to leave their position? The guard raised his hand up, before speaking.

" My name is Schonchair of clan Merose, sergeant in the King's guard, and i've come to speak with yea. "

The overwatch man fixed the sights of his crossbow onto the chest of the sergeant, and eased his hand upon the trigger lever. Calling back to his fellow militia men of the yard, he relayed the man's message.

" He says he's part of the king's guard, and that he wants to talk. "

A few moments of silenced pasted, before the overwatch men heard his captain cry back up at him. " Let him speak. "

" Alright then... Talk! " He yelled out.

" Do not leave the place you're in! The city is under attack, but this be not a battle for you. We've come only to avenge the spirit of the true High King Patrick, to free the rightful Queen Kathleen, and drive the invaders from our land. To that end, our feud is not with the people of this city, only with the traitors of the Kings Guard, and the imp puppet commanding them. We ask only that you not leave your position, until the fighting has ceased! "

So he's a traitor then? The watchman thought to himself. First the high king, now his own commander, was everyone in the king's guard a treacherous snake? He relayed the message back to the militia down below, and was in turn asked to posit some question to the traitor.

" You say that you're fight is only with the kings guard, but how do we know you're not allies are not massacring the rest of the city as we speak? "

In response, Schonchair raised up his hands and gestured around himself. " I've myself never been part of an extermination before - but i'd imagine that there's a fair bit more fire and brimstone involved than this. You see any smoke rising from up there? "

It was true, as he scanned over the narrow city scape, there weren't any obvious signs of fire or otherwise destruction. Still though, that wasn't exactly a water tight proof of their intentions. As if reading his mind though, Schonchair called out again.

" We believe there's a carpenter among you, one eye fello. Was supposed to meet up with us, but probably got mixed in with you lot in all the hurry. He'll speak on behalf of our intentions. "

One eyed carpenter? He turned back to face in toward the courtyard, seeing that every person there, from the huddled civilian mass, to all the militia men, were looking up at him, waiting for an answer.

" Um... is there a one eyed carpenter here?

Up from the middle of the civilian mass, a small balding man stood up, with his hand raised, and a shy but hopeful look in his one good eye. " Yes I... believe you're referring to me? "

The watchman nodded, " You can tell us what's going on then? Why marines and Icedonians working together? Whether we're all about to be murdered or not? "

All eyes from around the courtyard were now transfixed upon the carpenter, their hopes and fears now inextricably tied to whatever it was the cyclops in their midst had to say. " What the guardsman has said is true. The Icedonians outside are the promised troops of Snowdonia - they're not here to harm us, only to oust the criminal who resides within the royal estate, and who had allowed for Imperials to ravage our countrymen. They've come for no innocent blood this day. "

With that, a collective sigh rang out across every man and women present. Even if only it were a faint hope the carpenter had delivered, it was still something which they could pin their hopes onto, that the men outside weren't here for them, rather, Byrne on his hill.

" They said that you were supposed to meet them? " The overwatch man called down to the carpenter once more, who nodded in kind.

" Oh yes - was supposed to anyway, before I got swallowed up in this crowd here. We're, eh, supposed to be picking up a few things from my lumber yard.

...

Dusk was coming fast to the city, with sun falling behind the topmost part of the walls, it would be dark within the hour. The whole city, save for the royal hill, had been secured by the loyalist marines and West Army soldiers. The kings guard had all either retreated back behind their citadel, or been cut down in the attempt. The city militia, having had most of their rally points occupied before the battle begun, and convinced by their loyalist countrymen, largely stayed put, choosing not to interfere on behalf of either party. The gates were closed, the walls manned, and the harbor was patrolled, all by the loyalist marines - no one was getting in or out of the city, until the royal estate was taken. As for the West Army, they'd finished their sweep of the city just prior to the late hours of evening. Hunting down what stray guards who hadn't made it into the citadel in time.

Round the wooden palisade that guarded the hill upon which the citadel stood, the whole strength of the West Army, some one hundred and forty soldiers, gathered behind cover, preparing for the push against her walls. A full half of the Army had gathered on Lt. Comorian's position, which had been holding for hours, waiting for assembly of their siege equipment. Apparently, the carpenter who was supposed to be the one providing them their lumber got lost, and had to be located by some of the marines. The waiting was almost unbearable for Comorian, who felt that with every passing second they wasted, was another moment that the bastards up on that hill had for preparing defenses - or worse - a little bit longer they had to plan their escape. As attacking their gate head on would have been catastrophic, he was forced to sit on his hands while waiting for others to arrive. Unrelenting violence did not bode well with patience.

Finally, after some hours, Comorion was approached by his high-commander, Captain sherifax, who seemed to be accompanied by a small one eyed man. In the field of battle, the two commanders dispensed with any form of salute, lest the enemy be watching them and know who to target in the event of an ambush, the two merely nodded to one another in recognition of their familiar outlines.

" How are you Comorion? " The captain asked, his voice full of calm, seeming as though completely unperturbed by the volatility of their situation.

" Well sir. Are we ready to assault their walls sir? "

" Our friend here says that everything is set up, so we should be good to move. Have you briefed your men on what their task is to be? "

" Yes sir - we're the cattle pushing the plow. "

" Quite right lieutenant. "

...

There'd been no signs of the enemy for hours - at least, not upon the central avenue. Figures moving up along the walls, or glimpses of green or brown uniforms scurrying through alleyways were seen often enough, but no force had dared face down the ballistae on the main road since that one testudo some hours ago. The avenue was littered with broken bolts and the bodies of the dead, not a living soul to be found; for the artillery men, up in their watchtowers, it was so much worse that way: knowing that the enemy swarmed around you, but not know where, or when they would strike. Their comrades conducted constant patrols around the interior perimeter of the wall, in anticipating that the attackers might try and climb over using ladders, or possibly even dig underneath the logs stuck in the earth. Nothing came though. Like the road leading up to their gates, the outer face of their wall remained completely unperturbed for hours.

What was to happen to them now? They numbered less than sixty men inside the citadel, and there were many injured among them. A breakout was something inconceivable. The imperial army was no more than two days away from here, perhaps, were able to contact them, they might be relieved? Things were up in the air right now, but their survival may very well depend on them holding out for a few more days.

Slowly, emerging from an alley way, the artillerymen caught sight of... something tall. It looked like a a great moving wooden wall, set up on a base, with wheels at it's bottom. It's right most side swung out slowly onto the main street, until it faced the main gate and the watch towers perfectly, and then, slowly, it began moving toward them. Looking between themselves, the guards wondered at their enemies ploy, but with hardly any other means at their disposal, decided upon the most violent they had. Two bolts were sent hurdling towards the great moving wall, only to get themselves stuck half way through - the wall continued to move undisturbed. Greatly perturbed, they guards loaded up two new bolts, and yelling out to their partners next to them, signaled that they should shoot lower on the wall, perhaps trying to kill whoever or whatever might be pushing it? Even after they sent two more bolts slamming into the lower section of the wall, no change could be detected in the machines slow trudging.

Suddenly, at about three hundred units ( feet ) away, the wall stopped. No soldiers began swarming around it's sides, nor could they see any activity behind it's slopped top. Perhaps their bolts had more affect than they could have known? Unlikely. They would use this momentary reprieve to call their allies forth toward the gate, suspecting that they would seen need their aid. A few minutes went by, while nothing at all happened, then out of nowhere, what looked like two great arms flew up from behind the top of the wall, and sent dark packages arching across the air and over towards the wall. Their hearts were seized in fear as they watched the descent of the dark objects toward them. Each of the small packages would land slightly in front of the wall however, and instead of destroying what they'd landed upon, instead they sent out hundreds of red dyed feathers.

The crews looked at the colorful crimson display in astonishment. Needless to say, feathers is not what they'd been expecting. Were thesed... poisoned feathers? About a minute later, the arms shot up again from behind the wall, sending up two more packages arching through the air and over towards the gate. This time, they over shot the wall and landed behind the two towers, and this time, the feathers were yellow. It appeared that the enemy was set upon a barrage of feathers to overcome the wall and it's defenders.

After a moment, one of the guardsmen was finally able to figure out the meaning of the strange attacks. " They're measuring the distance. "

" What? " One of his crewmates asked back.

" They've got some kind of thrower behind that wall, and these feathers, they're using to figure out how high and at what angle they need to hit us! We need to get down! "

After his cry, the guardsman quickly turned and began to descend down the ladder, despite the demands by his commander to mount himself back on the ballistae. Behind him, he heard the arms swing up again. He was able to turn just in time to see the two packages that they'd sent flying towards them, on a straight path for the two towers.

...

Near the lower half of the massive moving pavise ( the so called wall ), there were small slits were one might observe things in front of the fortification. It was Comorian, who'd been so lucky, as to be the one to be the one who got to watch the bombs that took down the ballistae towers. The first grenade they'd sent toward the tower on the right side exploded just in front of the tower, but still managing to destroy it's two forward legs, sending the upper box and the men inside tumbling over the side and crashing down onto the stones below. The second grenade landed perfectly, exploding just above the box, ripping through both the ballistae, and her crew in an explosion of smoke and splinters.

With a satisfied grin, Comorian turned from the eye holes to face captain Sherifax. " The towers have been destroyed, sir. "

Sherifax only nodded, as he looked between Comorian and the two hand powered catapults that stood behind their wall. It had taken a bit to move all this lumber from the carpenters yard to here, and then to put it all together, but the trouble had been more than worth it.

" Excellent... Excellent... now only for the gate, and we'll have the bastards. "

...

The sound of shot and blackpowder rumbled in the distance, like thunder upon the horizon. It was a reassuring feeling, his bossom welling up in pride, cradling his rifle against his chest. He enjoyed the loud crunching sound his boots made when they stepped into the leaves and sticks upon the forest floor. So many of the days before now, he and his comrades had been forced to silently move across the countryside, for fear alerting the imperials of their presence. To be so loud now, thunderously so, was a supreme comfort, that the Black Company senior foot relished in. His comrades marched not more than ten units away from either side of him, their rifles also held at the ready. They'd expended their shots a few moments ago, and had yet to go through the reloading process, but their bayonets hung at the ready, to be used against any imp who might have survived their ambush.

Stepping over a gnarled patch of roots, which had acted as their target's cover, they'd finally saw the carnage that their weapons had wrought. Four impish warriors, dressed in their standard grays had fallen atop their beloved crossbows - pools of blood seeping under where large garish holes had been punched through them.

The tiny battle which they had waged against their opponent had lasted only moments, from start to finish. They'd been tracking this particular group of outriders on their trek northward for at least a day, and knowing that they'd planned on converging on a loyalist settlement in the north country, it had been with little difficulty that they predicted they would come upon this particular grove. They'd moved through the night so as to reach this point before the morning. When the outriders had come into position, they'd opened up with a devastating volley. A few of them had been knocked down immediately, leading to their comrades having to drag them to cover, while attempting to locate from where the ambush had came. They'd opened fire with a few bolts in their general direction, but nothing came close to hitting any of them. A little while later, and they'd fired their second volley, which tore clean through the cover they'd attempted to hide behind. Pieces of the shattered wood were scattered about the scene of carnage, soaking up the blood in long red splinters.

One by one, his comrades stood above the gray and red smattered corpses, and would plunge their bayonet into their chests - ensuring that they'd met the demise they deserved. In the case of the commander of the group, who wore a steel cuirass ( where a sizable hole had been punched through just above the clavicle ), the bayonet had been stuck into the throat.

There was one corpse which remained unaccounted for, and which the senior foot had taken upon himself to track down. A trail of blood over the leaves and grass carried itself down hill, over more roots and depressions, until it seemed to fall suddenly into a ravine, where trickled a small stream. There he saw the trail end, leading up to a moss covered boulder, where sat upon the rock was one of the outriders, bleeding profusely form his shoulder, and cradling a crossbow in his lap. Faster than he could have perceived, a bolt was sent out and dashed itself towards his face, scrapping across the iron cheek of his helmet, and nearly sending him stumbling backward.

It took the foot a few seconds to realize what had hit him, and then a few more to know that'd his helmet had prevented his face from getting torn off. He suddenly looked back up toward the solder on the rock, who was trying to pull back on the lever of his crossbow - desperately attempting to rack one more bolt, but with blood gushing out from his shoulder every time he tried to push the lever back. With sure and speedy step, the foot closed the distance between the two, and within mere seconds, had plunged his bayonet into the chest of the imperial outrider. Finally, the light leaving from his eyes.

These were the first imperials that they'd killed that day - but they would not be the last. The chorus of gunshots which rang all throughout the forest were testimony of the deathly intents held by the Black Company. Those woods would become a cairn and final resting place for the invaders who been so foolish as to step into lands beyond their control.
If you need a witness look to yourself

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism!


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Suriyanakhon
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Founded: Apr 27, 2020
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Suriyanakhon » Wed Mar 17, 2021 2:52 pm

Holly Long


Jungle


“Follow me and listen to every word I say.” Hlaing said as she girt the knife to her side and carried her bow in another arm. I obeyed her carefully, not wanting to anger her but somewhat indignant that she thought I was such a small child unable to fend for myself. “I don't want you to wander off and end up falling into a viper nest or end up like last time.” I shuddered as I remembered the tiger that jumped onto my back, and made a note to myself to listen to her advice.

Hlaing knew the wilderness much better than I did, I thought that I had a much better sense of direction than what I really did, and that I could withstand the heat more than I actually could. “I noticed that your meditation group, as you call them, has been growing exponentially.” she finally said after a period of silence. I nodded.

“Yes,” I said, before brightening up and adding cheerfully. “You should join us next session!”

I could hear Hlaing grit her teeth. “I am a warrior, not a meditator.” she replied scornfully. “I prefer flashing eyes and clenched teeth to closing my eyes and withdrawing like a corpse or turtle.” I grimaced a little, partly offended, but unsure whether I should say anything. I resolved to just pout over what she said until we got back to the village. Then she muttered, “I wish that father wouldn't be so bullheaded about me practicing with a bow. It's the reason we have to come out this far.”

“Oh...” I listened, not sure what to say. There was little I could say. “I met your mother a few days ago when I discussed my proposition to the chief ー I mean, your father.”

Hlaing said nothing for a moment as she strung her bow and fired on something that I couldn't make out. “I have two brothers from father's first wife, two sisters from his second, and Phyu Lat and myself from mother, his third,” she stated matter of factly.

“I thought there would be more?”

“The first wife had three more children who died in childbirth. I never did learn their sex.”

“Oh...” that made sense, this was a time of rampant birth related complications and death. It bothered me how detached she was from her siblings' death, but the family did not seem to be a tight one. “Will one of your brothers become chieftain after your father dies?” The thought wasn't a pleasant one, they didn't seem like the type of people I would want running a society. The two were brash, cruel, and always treated me rudely as though I was lesser than them.

Hlaing shrugged her shoulders as though the question was not that important to her. “Perhaps, perhaps not.” she stated and I breathed a sigh of relief at the possibility they wouldn't. “When the chief dies, the hunters of the tribe elects a new one. Usually it's a member of the same family, but not inherently. I don't care whether those idiots lead us or not, they will never give me commands no matter what.”

A thought crossed my head. “Maybe it's time for a woman to be elected head of the village instead of a male for a change.”

“That is about as likely to happen as the sun not rising during the morning.” Hlaing replied dismissively. “I don't know about the world you came from, but this one is one where men lead and not us. It's unfair but it's not going to change any time soon.” I wanted to protest, but Hlaing hushed me and followed a trail of deer droppings.
Village


“Welcome back Holly!” Phyu Lat greeted me cheerfully as we reentered the village carrying the remains of a deer that Hlaing had slain. I wasn't too excited about the prospect of touching deer meat, but knew it was better than to protest. “I hope that your trip was well?” she was sitting next to a loom, where she and another girl had been weaving fabric.

“It really was, thank you.” I smiled as we deposited the meat with the old women who were responsible for cooking. Hlaing had returned to the family hut to turn in from exhaustion. I was, however, still active, and there was something that I promised Phyu Lat. “Would you like to go for a walk today?”

Phyu Lat nodded her head. “We may,” she said in an almost regal air. She enjoyed the daily walks as much as I did, but out of pride, preferred to act as though it was something she was apathetic about. I offered her my hand and we went to the north end of the village. “Father has been more intrigued about the iron than what he lets on.” she told me. Maybe out of fear that the chieftain might change his mind one day and throw me out, Hlaing and Phyu Lat constantly watched for any word he said about me and quickly relayed them.

“Is that so?” I asked, but deep down, I didn't want to mar the beauty of the day with the talk about Ashin Yarzar even if it were the possibility he might have me executed. There were times where I wanted more than anything for some airplane to land and rescue me, and for me to take Phyu Lat and Hlaing home. Somewhere away from this place where they were treated as strangers by most of the village as though they didn't exist.

Phyu Lat nodded. “As long as you keep impressing him, you'll be safe, and that's most important of all.” she clutched my hand with an intensity that caught me off guard. “Our lives have been so much happier since we met you.” As we crossed the stream into the other side of the dirt road where no one usually ventured, she kissed me with more force than what I had thought she was capable of.

“Ph - ” I was cut off by her lips again. After some time, she let go, finally giving me a chance to breathe and protest. “I, I appreciate how you feel, truly I do, but me and Hlaing - ”

“I know all about that,” she replied and I felt even redder in the face than before. “I felt so stupid, stupider than I'd ever felt before. I wanted this the moment you and I became friends, but I was so afraid... the snake god's curse... but then I realized I was throwing the best thing in my life away for something that never really loved me, that was going...” she kissed me again. “Hlaing doesn't have to know.” I wanted to protest, but found that it was impossible. This wasn't Shenden, someone that I found attractive but chose not to act on out of loyalty to Hlaing, this was someone I had loved near the moment I had met her. My resolve weakened and the next moment, I found myself returning Phyu Lat's kiss.

“Okay,” I murmured, stroking her cheek affectionately. Tears started to flow from her eyes. “But Hlaing can't know.”

She nodded her head. “I... I would never do anything to hurt Hlaing,” Phyu Lat stuttered through her tears before returning to our kisses.
Liblefter & Theravada Buddhist
dO yOu LiStEn tO gIrL iN rEd
Johann von Goethe wrote:The God-head is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, similarly the intuition is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and logic only to make use of the become and the set-fast.
Resident drowned Victorian waif

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