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

Postby Joohan » Sun May 02, 2021 7:29 pm

Imperium

His sweat glistened in the candle light of the room, beading across his forehead like rain drops forming upon leaves. From behind his shut eyes she could see his gaze shift rapidly, troubling dreams giving him no rest even in sleep. With each agonized moan that escaped his lips she had to fight back tears. Already she'd lost two children to the red death, her heart could not bear to lose a third. Dipping a cloth into a wash bowl, she moved closer to a son's side, laying the cool cloth against his forehead, wishing for nothing but that his pain should be finally relieved.

For three days she'd not left his side, refusing to leave the cottage for anything. Her husband knew that she was beyond reason by this point, anguish having darkened his soul just a much as hers. Her other children forced to stay upon the other side of their home, far away from their brother. Every moment of her care that was not spent tending to her fevered son's needs was spent in desperate prayers to the gods of her ancestors and that of the Marans. No price was too great, she pleaded, if only that her son might live.

" I do not understand... " Her husband said, occasionally joining her side so as to look over his son.

" He took the potion weeks ago. The bastard physicians insisted that it should protect him from plague! " As his voice rose steadily in anger she clung to his arm, resting her head gently on to it.

" Please do not be angry. " She whispered, " Not in front of him. "

He sighed as he touched the side of her face, he could feel the wrinkles worn from stress and worry.

" I'm sorry - but I feel that we have been lied to; and that we are not alone. Uncle Tobriar has told of the 5th company laying ill just the same as our son. The potion either too weak or not at all able to break the curse. If he is not wrong, then the gods have forsaken us truly. "

At his black prophecy she could no longer hold back the tears, as she burst into an anguished wail before sticking her face into the rough wool of his shirt.
Last edited by Joohan on Sun May 02, 2021 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you need a witness look to yourself

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

Postby UniversalCommons » Sun May 02, 2021 8:44 pm

On the Road to Varna

Four men and two women had been traveling the roads for miles. Next to them were donkeys laden with supplies. They were dressed in plain spun robes, rope belts, masks, gloves, and shoes of different colors. They each carried a walking staff. They had started their travels in Salt. They had stopped at small towns along the way, preaching in the central squares if they were allowed in, or standing at the gates if they could not enter.

One of them had a large box he would stand on. Brother Brasus would give the same speech at each place he stopped.

“Listen for we have traveled far. I am Brother Brasus of the Plain Folk. The plain life is the good life. It is by right livelihood that all men should live. If you wish to be protected you must live a life that is both clean on the outside as well as the inside. A pot burnt on the inside cannot be used to cook. It is this cleanliness, both on the outside and the inside, that preserves and protects life. The Red Plague is a reminder that we must lead a clean life, both morally and physically. It is the will of the gods that cleanliness is next to godliness. The man who washes his hands, who wears a mask and gloves, and remains clean shall live.

You must be prepared to learn what will protect you and lead to a good life. It is not riches or gold, but health that is wealth. The life of dissolution is not the life of happiness. The man who is sick who spreads sickness does not lead a good life. The man who constantly seeks pleasure will not have happiness.

We are not here for this though. We have pledged to help those who wish to know to not contract the plague. We offer ways to keep clean, to keep away the plague. Through the studies and wisdom of the scholar Hunkhabek, we will describe ways to protect you from the plague.

First there is the soap that cleans the hands and boday.
Then there is the mask which protects the breath.
Then there are the gloves which protects against touching the infected.
Then there is distance, get too close to the sick and you will be sick.
Go not into crowded places full of people. Shun public places.
Be careful of the dead especially the dead who had the plague.
Touch not the excrement, spit, or fluid of the plagued.

We have gathered the wisdom of the scholars on how to live, how to be clean, how not to catch the plague. We cannot cure the plague, but we can show you how to live cleanly and rightly.

We are here to show you the way to clean living. We bring soap, masks, and instructions on keeping away the plague to you for free. Free for the people because we wish you to live. Please take our instructions on right livelihood. Read them, understand them, they are for your livelihood, your happiness and your health.

We have read the instructions many times. We will answer your questions. We do not promise a cure, but a way to be safe. In these times safety is a hard thing.

Brother Brasus would end the short speech by answering any questions. Most were things like are you a priest or a doctor?
He would say, “I am an ordinary person, a plain person, a person who wishes the end to suffering and happiness for people. I wish you well and the people I talk to well. I wish for you to be safe from the plague. I have come from Salt to help with the plague.”

More people heard of them as they traveled. Some of them joked about them, or considered them to be eccentrics, but others began to listen and read the words that explained how to protect themselves. A few even took to the road with them.

They would be offered things meat or pottery or gold to which they responded they would purchase more pamphlets, masks, soap, and things for the people. They were there to spread the word about how to protect people from the plague.

They ate simply of bread, vegetables, fruit, water, and cheese. In the mornings, they would do exercises and stretches and stop to read and discuss different books of philosophy.

By the time they reached Varna, they were ten people. They identified one of their members as being sick and he was quarantined. Another stayed behind. There were eight of them. It was risky traveling the roads, they could get sick, but they had made a vow to travel the roads to talk about the plague and how to stop it.

Brother Brasus spoke to the empty square of Varna. He was asked to leave, there were no public gatherings that were allowed. He gave his speech again at the gate and handed out supplies.

They would travel the roads until it was winter before they returned to Salt.

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

Postby G-Tech Corporation » Tue May 04, 2021 8:52 am

Part 6, Chapter 4: A Convenience and a Madman


May 29th, 31 AG

The empty barracks near Constanta were a sobering reminder of plans now abandoned, as was immense length of concrete and water which bifurcated the shoreline nearby. We were meeting outside today, a concession towards the worries that still plagued the village - and the men who had invited me here. The less they were seen in the city, the better, and I had to respect their perspicacity.

It was good to be near the sea again - especially since we were upwind of the fish market, and the air was crisp and clear, not heavy with the scent of industry. Probably the aromas on the breeze were better than they had been in years. I had only seen two fishing skiffs put to sea this morning, though I had arrived perhaps an hour if not more before dawn. The missive hadn't been too clear about which hour of the morning my contacts wished to meet, and so I had deemed it best to be prudent and early.

The salt tang was welcome, after the hot gathering inland months that I had spent in Serbia and here in Dacia. Too much humidity for my liking, and you could feel the summer's approach too distinctly for my liking. My ancestors were people of cold northern forests, and I had too much of their blood in me to be entirely comfortable in the sweltering embrace of a continental June, even though my resilience to different temperatures would have easily amused anyone who knew me in my youth.

It had been easy to be spoiled then, I reflected, recalling faintly the caress of central forced air and the warmth of a heater in frozen months, the radiant miracle of the coil and resistor. Here, and there, and indeed everywhere one could walk if one journeyed for a hundred years, you made do with the conditions the climate forced upon you. Even the most clever of builders who engineered houses of adobe or stone to be warm in winter and cool in summer could only change that axiom to a certain degree. For everything beyond that degree, there was the involuntary liberation of energy for heat in the form of the fire, and the timeless heat transfer mechanism of water's high specific density for cooling.

As I contemplated, knees drawn up to my chest and staring out at the sea, Alexander turned his head looking west. The other three men ceased their low conversation, murmuring not far away in the shadows of the olive tree grove. In the silence that followed I heard the jingling of harness, of a few harnesses, and the distinctive sounds of men conferring. With languid movements I unfolded myself from the tall flat rock where I had been seated, and stood upright. After a second I realized to my bemusement that I was limbering my muscles for combat.

Hopefully it didn't come to that. If it did, I really shouldn't have come here. But Tanya always said I was too trusting.

One of the Blackguards stepped forward a few paces, a soft challenge under his voice. Words passed there, too low for me to hear, but he seemed satisfying, and waved the figures ahead. Gray shapes shaded in the early morning shadows beneath the olive trees emerged into the light, hands outward and white palms gleaming against brazen countenances. Their curly brown hair, sweat-lined faces, and roughspun tunics marked them out as men from the north more than anything else, travelers.

"I am Hristo of Llalen." said the first man to approach me in thickly accented Common, and I nodded, taking him in. His clothes were finer than those of his companions, save for two other men who dressed similarly in spun linens, some bearing badges and sashes dyed in blue and red. Not overly expensive clothing, but even the quality of their sandals, worn in and made of thick leather, denoted them as men of influence trying to conceal their identities. Perhaps we were getting somewhere.

"You know who I am. You would not be here if you didn't. But I greet you nonetheless as Viktor of House Nemtsov, son of Mara."

The tanned men exchanged meaningful looks, and to my surprise sank to one knee.

"Command us, sire."

The words came from a taller fellow toward the rear of the group, who I had dismissed at a glance as a guard, but who upon my second inspection revealed as possessing more wisdom in his face than a mere soldier or bully-boy or the mercenaries of which the League was so fond. I shook my head, and gestured with both hands.

"I am not the Emperor. Nor are you his subjects, even if I were. Your respect does you credit, but I meet you here as a man, not a scholar or a god."

Gradually the men stood, and the leader's face was wry, if partially amused.

"They said you might do that. I hope you meet us with more influence than you will admit, at least. For our need is great, and your ability what we seek, which is said to be greater."

I smiled at that, then shrugged.

"I can do many things. My father has gifted me in many ways - as you see even now." Men looked confused, then one of them realized. "He speaks Daca."

That filled their eyes with more confidence. The language of the men of the coasts of the Black Sea had been largely superseded by the trade-speech of Nestos and Common, but my words had been directed to them in the tongue of their birth, and they had answered automatically in the same. It was a sign, perhaps of intellect, perhaps of divine favor, as rumor might dictate.

Hristo nodded slowly, and sighed. "Well, I shall tell you all of it. Most you know, I fancy, but the rest is my plea, and those of these men with me." He glanced about, as if for somewhere to sit, and I motioned to two men who sat in the nearby shadows. They rose, bearing over clever contraptions of thick canvas and hardy oak, unfolding the camp stools so the party had a placed to recline in discussion.

"I thank you." said the leader after his men had been seated, and provisions brought from not far off to refresh them. "My men and I have ridden long and hard once we heard you would treat with us, and their hearts are troubled, as is my own."

"I should start at the beginning. I have the honor to be Wanax of the Kin of Llalen, the Torusci. Here with me are two of my Basileii, Graben of Maar, and Arthantos, son of Pelinos. My father, and his father, and his father before him, were charged with the gods with the caretaking of Odessos and her environs, who you call Varna. And to put not too fine a point on it, we have come to offer you, and your empire, our alliegance."

It was not what I had expected, though perhaps what I had hoped. I felt my eyebrows knit together for a moment, then consciously forced them apart into a politely interested expression, though hot fire began to pulse in my heart. I nodded, and Hristo continued.

"Odessos is the queen of the League, but she is much despised now. The scholars - faugh - " he spat in derision, and some of the other men followed " - we followed them because they promised enlightenment, security. Now they mock us, call us the most filthy of cities, the mother of plagues. There are those who say our sins brought this malady upon us. The scholars are worse than useless, impoverishing my people as they pursue bandages made of moonbeams and tinctures of sea-pearls to cure the ailing who die daily in my halls."

He shook his head, face flushed with the crimson of rage suppressed and now unleashed.

"They take of our prosperity and give to the weak, to the undeserving, and squander what they seize in the importation of exotic beasts and the purchase of strange scrolls from foreign wizards while children grow hungry. I cannot bear it. Not any longer. Their hands are weak, the lily-skin of men who know nothing of war, and they will drag us all down to the appetites of the gods in their foolishness."

His mud-brown eyes rose, and he stopped for a moment, as if searching my face for something.

"You men of the Imperium, you are not like them. Your hands hold blades, stronger than any elsewhere forged. You - your God - he brushes aside the plague as if it were a flea and he a lion, and your warriors are wolves, lean and deadly to behold. The League gives us swaggering thugs to rob our homes and outrage our women and calls them protectors. No. This is too much."

"We are called the Sons of Reason, and we have rejected the vanity and effeminate ways of the Leagure for true reason, for the wisdom earned by warriors and farmers and builders. I would swear allegiance to the Imperium, to you, and buy the salvation of my people with my oath, if you will have me."

I was now leaning far forward in my chair, my hand on my chin. It was a good speech. The reality was, certainly, far more complex than Hristo had told me. There would be those in Odessos wedded to the League, bound through ties of commerce or marriage or simple fealty in a manner which would defy easy extrication. Even though the city had been all but emptied by the plague as men fled from it, and even if these traditional rulers wielded all the power they said they possessed, the League was not defenseless.

And even if it were, there was still much to balance. We could present this as a decision of the people, and speak all we wished about popular backing and the voluntary nature of the League, and still there would be those who did not believe the proclamation. They would call for war, and the Thracians were a prideful people, forever paranoid of outside forces coming like a wolf against them.

But perhaps now was the time. The impetus of the plague had dispersed many would-be defenders, or made them look to their own affairs foremost. Who would assemble an army of thousands to cut their way to Odessos when to stand in mere dozens was to court agonizing death, and when the streets of one's own city were a charnelhouse already? Men held their sons and daughters closer when the grim winds blew cold, and many would be loathe to risk their lives against the efficient brutality of the north even in fair times.

"Then I accept your fealty, Hristo of Llalen. If you are willing to speak now the Oaths, the Great Oaths, then I will accept your kin and your people as wardens of my charge, sons of the Imperium of Man."

Now the men slithered out of their chairs with earnest purpose, kneeling as they recited the words which so many had taken for their own. I had told the commander of the Seventh that this might be a result, ever since the word had come from one of the Eyes of Hristo's desire for a meeting. It would be difficult, the logistics of enfolding the city in such a time of disorder and chaos, and the distribution of the Blessing would have to proceed swiftly in order to satisfy the desperation I heard at the edge of every syllable from the throats of the men before me.

In better times, when their larders were full, and their families hale, these were men who would have stuck to their allegiances easily enough. It is always simpler to stay the course, to swim with the current, to continue as one's trajectory indicates. But in disaster, in peril, some men are paralyzed by indecision. I was under no illusions. The Wanax might have a quarrel with the League, but his true reason for being here was because we offered succor, relief from the bloody swathe which the plague carved through his kinsmen. But for the grace of my Father, a thousand times a thousand good men might have faced just such a decision within the confines of the Imperium.

But my Father's workings came together often for good, not for evil. Odessos would see the light, and her people would live. And we would just have to see how the scholars and ivory-tower intellectuals in distant Oak felt about that.
TG if you have questions about RP. If I don't know the answer, I know someone who does.

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

Postby UniversalCommons » Tue May 04, 2021 7:23 pm

The Death Ships (Aegean)

Victor Spear was on the Sea Wolf not far from Abdera.  He had watched as a spectator when they announced the formation of the Sea Wolves as a permanent force.  He had on a brown robe, brown mask, and brown shoes.  He was dressed as one of the Plain Folk.  His head was shaved and he had beard died henna red under his mask.

Victor Spear, “Tell me of the Aegean, Diaghis .  You have been away for some time.”

Diaghis, “It was not easy after the death of the Kraken.  We took their islands and we thought we had peace.  It was a different kind of peace.  A peace with great fear.  The first ships, they came in on Lemnos.  Ships, empty of people, only filled with the dead, drifting in the ocean.  We were lucky on that day, we caught the first of these ships far from the harbor and we burned them to cinders or sank them.”

Victor Spear, “What do you mean?  I had not heard of this.”

Diaghis, “We learned that on a ship, when a sailor caught the plague it would spread to their whole crew because they shared their beer and their food.  Most of the crew would die and those who were there were too few to run a ship.  They would catch the plague again while they drifted, leaving not a man alive.  We had to hunt these lifeless hulks and destroy them before they reached shore.  Before the bad spirits could escape onto land and infect the inhabitants of the islands.  The plague ships taught us fear. To see one was to see the work of the gods of chaos and war.”

Victor Spear,  “Were there not ships where men lived without a harbor and a place to go.”

Diaghis, “We could let these people onto an empty island and leave supplies for them.  But, plague ships had to be destroyed.  We stopped fishermen taking the drifting supplies from these ships as well.  They could have bad spirits on them and give people plague.  There are evil things that live in rats and insects which can kill men.  They can enter into you when you breathe and steal your soul.  The darkness feeds them at night.  You must protect yourself from these things.”

Victor Spear, “Did not everyone die on Kos in the Aegean.  No man could escape that island.  I hear it is a place of ghosts with no living person.   There are rumors it is a curse from the Kraken pirates.”
Diaghis, “ Yes, it is only because we were vigilant and stopped people from traveling that we lived.  We built towers on the tops of many of the islands to look out to sea in all directions to make sure no boat approached with the living or the dead.  We garrisoned where we could to prevent landings and inspected all boats with care.  We practiced with the spy glass, and the lens.  No one could come on land for three weeks.”

Victor Spear, “How did you know how to protect yourselves?  What possible thing could you do?”

Diaghis, “We had surgeons from the Kraken conflict who treated the soldiers wounds and kept the camps clean.  They taught us about cleanliness.  Also we received some of the directions from the Daughters of Penelope on cleanliness.  We most of all wanted to live.  The example of the plague ships was enough for us.  An island is like a ship, one person can kill everyone.”

Victor Spear, “I heard that Scholar Doctor Dablosa came through the islands speaking of bad air and filth.”

Diaghis, “The thought of dying made us listen to this odd man.  We learned why cleanliness and pure air were important in dealing with the plague.  Plus, we watched the Mesopotamians with their ablutions and rituals of cleanliness and learned about keeping clean.  Each island formed a health committee and inspectors to make sure that the plague did not spread.  Vigilant people and wise elders were chosen to make sure that cleanliness and health were kept.  We have started these committees in Abdera and some of the settlements near Abdera to make sure the place stays clean.”

Victor Spear, “We have learned a lot since the plague has started.  But, it is not enough.  We must seek deeper for a cure for the plague.”

Diaghis, “I do not know if there will be such a thing.  This plague it strikes at us and tears us apart.”

Victor Spear, “There are always answers if you look in the right place.”

Kug Bau (Ur)

Kug Bau had waited a week and heard nothing.  He went to the embassy again and then to the temple.  With him were two men in black robes with embroidered flames on the edges, followers of Etana.  They handed Enlil a sealed letter and waited in silence. Enlil’s eyes went wide.

He looked at Kug Bau and unfurled the letter reading the agreement for use of the temple.  He took a breath and bowed. 

Enlil, “ We are so sorry to have kept you waiting.  Please come in.”

Kug Bau followed Enlil into a dusty library.  He handed Kug Bau a lamp and said, “Follow me.”

They went past several winding passages until they reached the back rooms of the temple.

Enlil, “Thank you Kug Bau, it was a pleasure reading your papers.  We had not seen the history from Uruk and were were surprised you had it.”

Kug Bau,”Can you tell me what you have found in relations to what I have read.”

Enlil, “It has been many years since people have sought information on the plague.  This is the old archive where we keep some of the first tablets.”

He points at an old priest who is reading several tablets.

This man may help you.

The old priest says nothing and looks at Kug Bau with hooded eyes.  Then points at some tablets laying on a shelf.

Kug Bau picks up one of the tablets.  It reads
 
The Blinding of Erra

The cat danced with the three sisters under the light of the moon
The sisters they danced and they pranced stomping their feet
The kissed the cats claws and opened its jaws
The sisters they danced and they pranced clapping their hands
Three times call on Inanna and touch your forehead
Chew the root of the tree of blessing in its bitterness
And drink the tea of dreams lest the sisters curse you
The sisters they danced and they pranced stomping their feet
Bless the children who have blinded Erra, bless the cat
For the goddess Inanna has blessed them with life.
 
Kug Bau took careful notes wondering what this was about.

He did not know what these meant.

He looked at the priest, but the priest put his fingers to his lips

The old priest pointed at the tablets.

He picked up another tablet.  It was poem about a midwife
Visiting an expectant mother.  Another was about an elegy to a person
Who had died from the plague.

He left perplexed reading the strange statement repeatedly.

What could it mean?

He showed Enlil the strange poem and asked do you know what this means?

Enlil touched the center of his forehead.  He said, “I cannot say.  I think I know what it means, there is an older name for Ishtar, Inanna with a cult.  We may have to find it.  The answer you seek is not in this temple.”
 
The Scout Camp, near the Danube

Agar watched Enyo. When she got to the end of the line, he whispered to Diastis, "I bet she could tear my head off with one arm."

Diastis nodded.

Enyo walked up and the down the line inspecting the scouts uniforms.

When she was done, she looked back and forth up and down the line.

She said, "We have some new companions to introduce you to. Be considerate to these men. You will be training with these men. They are new here. We made an agreement to learn from them. We will learn new ways of warfare. You are all familiar with bows, spears, and swords. Some of you know how to throw a grenade. When I am done all of you will know how to throw a grenade, split a skull with a sword, and kill with a spear. Some of you will learn some new things with new weapons. These men are brave men. They serve the Night Watch in Ur."

Agar's jaw drops.

Enyo, "You drop to the ground. 50 push ups now." Agar drops to the ground and does 50 push ups in armor. "Get back in line. No talking."

Enyo, "It is not just the Night Watch which we are working with. Get used to it. This is Stone Wolf from the Cucuteni. He is a hammer man. Only one hundred of them could make it here. They volunteered. Volunteering for death is a great honor. Remember we are all brothers and sisters in arms. Show respect, fight hard, destroy the enemy. Be upright. There are others who will come to join us. We are not at full strength."

Enyo, "I am the new commander here. I destroyed the Kraken pirates. We will destroy the raiders. When we are done, they will surrender to us, they will bow their knees to us knowing we are the greatest warriors in the world. Not the nomads, not the Imperium, us. I bring my own hand picked men. These men came all the way from Santorini. This is Brother Rusa. A heavily muscled man in lamellar armor carrying a double axe steps forward. This man will teach you to be strong. I can teach you to be Upright if you wish. I wish that all of you become upright, strong, and act in the right way."

Enyo, "We will become the best fighters in the world. We will drive the raiders into the hills and if necessary send the Ironmen home."
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Tue May 04, 2021 8:22 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Conwy-Shire
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1492
Founded: Nov 22, 2013
Democratic Socialists

Postby Conwy-Shire » Tue May 04, 2021 9:10 pm

Andre Mulcahy,
Modern-day Syracuse


I counted the tally of days carved under my borrowed cot. The idea had come to me on my third day here in the small village of Zarouos, a short but meaningful exercise which rooted by consciousness in some form of reality. However, it was anxiety rather than calmness which came crashing down on me as I counted 31 strokes on the floor of this temporary home.

A month?

Surely it had not been so long, I worriedly thought to myself. It felt like only yesterday I had awoken on a strange beach, found by a peoples unrecognisable against the modern standard. How could no-one from back home find me in a whole month? It made no sense, that I could be lost in such a globalised world for this amount of time. Even the Zarouosi were growing concerned, their expected rendezvous with the seafaring traders had long since passed, and they spoke as if the world had shut its doors to them again. For some reason they spoke about this passively, no doubt estranged by the newfound wealth made from trade, which had been snatched away by happenstance just as quickly. I could not be so passive if I wanted to find my way back home; as I now believed rescue was a distant hope. To find my way back would be easier said than done however, and I was lucky enough to have made one achievement in my fast-spent month here: a place of my own. At first the Zarouosi had been gracious enough to house me in one of their low, earthen halls - if to the grumbling of the original occupants, of whom I had only been introduced to the surly 'Kym'.

But their true generosity manifested after the first week, when the elderly couple who held 'influence' over Zarouos showed me to the edge of the village closest the river, chatting amicably for all of five seconds before they grew serious.

"We are certainly happy to have hosted you this long, Andre. However, our people, as you have seen, are ever hungry for these things which make life… easier, yet more complex," the headwoman, called Noeme, had said. She was the more eloquent of the two ageing partners, her long dark hair streaked with streams of grey giving her that warm grand-maternal aura which soothed and calmed with ease.

"I, I am most grateful you have kept me at all… this past week has been very… weird, but thanks to you I at least have a roof over my head," I stammered out in reply. Now it was the headman, Maro's turn to pipe up.

"What she's trying to say is that you owe us for this gift," the gruff man rumbled. To say he was short would be an understatement, but he more than made up for it with the thick cordage of muscles which entwined his body. To most, Maro was the respected headman of this land, but to me he looked more like a looming bull ready to gore you at a moment's notice. He shrugged off the disapproving glare of his partner before continuing, "What did you do to help your family before you were delivered to us?" I could sense his question was loaded with inference, though thankfully little malice; nonetheless my heartrate quickly ticked upwards.

"My role was to record, to write, to advise; I guess I helped organize my 'family'," I slipped up as the words tumbled out in that strange dialect as before, though I was less surprised than I had been to recognise words like 'country' moulding to the locals' understanding. "I could teach your people how to write, if you had paper…" then my mind struck gold. "Or I could tell you how other 'families' from across the water became so prosperous?"

The question, almost rhetorical as I phrased it, had exactly the desired effect on these two elders. Though Noeme looked away and nodded her head sagely - ever the diplomat - Maro's head swivelled away from the path we strolled to face me directly, eyes squinting with suspicion to find any untruths I may have told. In truth, I had not a clue who these seafarers were, only fractured retellings from chatty farmers and children to go off. I knew they were technologically advanced, compared to Zarouos, and that they wielded metals beyond the comprehension of these folk; such things I could give basic, if largely unhelpful, insights on. There was a selfish aspect to all of this, of course - I could not hope to find my way home if all I had for help were these neolithic folk, no matter how industrious they were: I would need a map to understand where I was, and a boat at the very least to get home.

As we reached the edge of the village proper, the two elders had seemed to have made up their mind. "We are always in need of an extra pair of hands, I suppose," Maro huffed outwards. "But Kym and his family need some space, they've already given up so much this past week to bring you into their home."

"I think we would all breathe a little easier if you were to have your own space here, Andre" Noeme cut in, heading off another faux pas from Maro. "Wouldn't you agree?"

I nodded, slowly, even though I was more than slightly confused at the enormity of the gesture. Who were these people, to parcel out land to a stranger with such alacrity - as though it weren't one of the most valuable commodities the world over? It was all settled in a handshake, after that. The deal was simple, they would supply me with some tools to get started, a stone axe, whatever passed for a spade and the like, and I would supply the rest in raw manpower; what little I had at least. They inferred that this meant I would be selling my labour to the specialists of the village - an 'extra pair of hands' as Maro had so tactfully put it - in exchange for their technical experience. It was a start, I thought to myself as the elders strolled back into the heart of Zarouos. With a task like this I could make connections with the locals, after all it took a village to raise a house.



In all, I was pleasantly surprised that it took only a month to get this far, my time split evenly between scratching my own home out of the soil, and learning from others who had been doing this their whole life. While these Zarouosi lived in longhalls of mudbrick, I had opted for something a touch medieval, even if a wattle and daub wall looked much the same as mudbrick in the final viewing.

I was fairly hopeful it would be a temporary structure too, for I had spotted in the back woods and stream-beds surrounding Zaraouos a familiar reddish substance, poking out where the topsoil had slipped or broken. "Bad soil to build on," the hunters or gatherers had always said in passing; but rather, I knew it as the clay from which fired bricks could be moulded: the humble building blocks of civilization.
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New Arcadius
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Postby New Arcadius » Wed May 05, 2021 12:56 am

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Democratic Socialists

Postby G-Tech Corporation » Wed May 05, 2021 2:53 pm

Part 6, Chapter 5: The Shores of the Wine-Dark Sea


June 10th, 31 AG

A wind from ahead swirled and came toward me, and involuntarily I wrinkled my nose. Ah, the sweet siren smell of humanity in masses. You forgot it when you wandered the roads near the sea, for the breezes by and large overwhelmed it. But Odessos was a city in truth, boasting several thousand souls, and she could not be overcome by simple drafts of air. Sweat, offal, fish, dung, perfumes, blood, smoke - they all combined into a bouquet that could, if you were not inured to it, set the nose running and the man to sneezing.

As, of course, I had the good fortune to experience. The warrior at my side grinned, then laughed at my baleful expression.

"You get used to it." said the flaxen haired sea-salt, and I could only nod. He did not speak falsely. Even Mara, for all my efforts, held just such a unique wall of scent during the heights of summer. It could hardly be avoided, not where men and beasts and industries mixed. Efficient iron stoves might cut down on the soot, sewers on the stench, and regulations on the offal, but the burgeoning settlements of the Moravian heartlands had their own odors. The hot tang of iron or copper at the forges. The sterile grass-stink of looms working night and day. The rich sharp earthen fragrance of clay-yards where bricklayers packed aggregate into molds for firing.

None of the men nearby appeared to have noticed the change in the wind, which was fair enough. I still operated in many ways as a man isolated from the experiences of those about me. They probably took the scent in stride even after months on the road, so much a part of their psyches as to be comfortably settled into like a glove regardless of the objective sensory input. Most of the soldiers here were men out of the north, drawn from little hamlets or bands and taught to march in formation under the Great Anchor, their wages welcome to their fathers and mothers. Some, though, came from Odessos herself, or the Llalen and their allies scattered throughout the countryside. Until recently this had been the home of most of them, so this must seem achingly familiar.

It was a slow procession that approached the city. Men would struggle to see it as a threat, even if they had been told otherwise. That was, of course, part of the Wanax's plan. Nearly one man in three that plodded alongside the caravan hailed from the shores loyal to the people of the city, and there were physicians, sick men we had picked up along the way, and more who moved in the long line of wains. The Basileus who rode at my side, named Ranvald, had been clear about that. It was important to both he and his patrons that this be seen as a humanitarian mission happening to accompany a transition within the palace, not a hostile takeover.

It was important to me too, of course. With the Red Plague having taken one man in every five, life was not so cheap a commodity here as might otherwise have been the case. And though the swirling waters of the Danube that flowed next to the road upon which we walked reminded me of the broader geopolitical concerns that impinged here, at the mouth of the heart-waters of the Imperium, there was also a simple burden of human suffering that this endeavor would relieve.

Odessos' walls were impressive, or would have been in better times. Storms off of the Black Sea obviously came through regularly, and the League had only minimal funds or labor to spare for a city far from their fighting with the Kraken and other threats like the Illyrian raiders. What should have been a heavy wooden palisade, reinforced with regular towers of heavy brick, now had gaps in it where timbers were slumping outward. No doubt a symptom of the loss of men that the city had suffered, either dying in their homes or fleeing for the countryside.

It had been Hristo's estimate that no better than five hundred souls remained within the settlement. How much I trusted that assessment was hard to say, but the men who knew her well had agreed that that was not likely to be far off the mark. Those who had not perished had left for smaller villages where outsiders were easier to pick out, and the plague moved less freely. That would change in the coming weeks, but first we had to accomplish Hristo's objective.

Ranvald nudged his mount up into a light trot as we approached the gates. There were a half dozen men there, and their spears were in their hands, their eyes hard. Whatever travelers had been looking to enter the city when the convoy came in sight had dispersed, no doubt unwilling to risk getting caught up in a confrontation. I followed the Basileus, my guards at my back, as he made his way to the head of the column. He hailed the guards, who returned the greeting with obvious surprise.

"I bring medical aid, from the Imperium of Man, for those suffering of the Plague. The Hegemon, Viktor Nemtsov, has sent a Blessing of the Christ for the succor of Odessos. In the name of Lord Dotos, I would have entrance to the city, waiving the rites of cleansing. Our errand is urgent, and none here suffer the scourge of disease, upon my honor."

The guards glanced at their captain, and at me, eyes now less certain and questioning behind their roughspun masks. After a handful of breaths their leader nodded slowly, gestured with a hand which held a spear clumsily through a glove.

"You have leave to enter the city, Master Ranvald. You and those who are with you. I have been told that you are expected by the lord of the city, and to direct you thence."

That made my eyebrows rise fractionally, and I glanced at my companion, who was not meeting my gaze. It had been the position of those informants with which I had met that the Lady Ina was the local representative of the League - an unusual arrangement, but not unheard of. Lord Dotos had only been mentioned in passing, a consort of importance mainly for his links to a few tribal entities north of the city. Here though both the Basileus and this guardsman spoke of him as if he ruled in Odessos, certainly a curious state of affairs. I held my tongue. This was a critical juncture, and it would be preferable to discuss this change with a degree of perspicacity.

The Basileus nodded.

"You may spread the word, as if you can spare a runner. Physicians and healers from the west will be bestowing the Blessing upon those able to come to the main square, and those who cannot be moved should send word of their need to the same. The city is to be cleansed of the plague which the League has brought upon us, and the people healed."

With those words Ranvald nudged his horse forward, and I smiled into my beard. Pompous for sure, and the phrases left the guardsman's eyes looking like two dinnerplates between his helmet and his mask, but they certainly would have an emotional impact. As we rode into the city and the wagons began to send up a calamitous clatter on the paved streets one of the guardsmen did indeed follow behind us, before turning off after a short distance. No doubt making for the barracks, to spread the news. Warding the rule of law and order here, or what remained in the wake of the sickness, would be important to ensuring order in the city.

"I'm afraid neither my master nor I were completely honest with you, Hegemon."

Ranvald's words recalled me from my inspection of the streets and the homes. I did not display anger, though I did shake my head slightly.

"I should explain."

"Explain as we ride. If I had to hazard a guess, you serve Dotos, not Hristo? We had best go meet him then."

The other man nodded, long plaited blonde hair bobbing as his horse picked up speed.

"After a fashion. Dotos is the lord of my kinsmen, and Hristo the lord of my wife's people. It was for this reason that I was chosen as representative to your eminence, to be able to speak for both parties. Now is a fragile time in Odessos. The Scholars still have those who are loyal to them, and, well, Dotos can tell you more. His reason for shaking off the chains with which the League has bound us are many, and not dissimilar from those of my master, the Wanax. But his story is more personal, and better told when we arrive."

I would have liked to get the truth out of the nobleman quicker, to be better prepared for whatever we were riding into. But it did not seem to be a development about which Ranvald would speak, one way or another, and so we merely continued our trot toward the seaside palace of the city, which looked out over the white harbor for which Odessos was famed.

We left behind most of the column. I had had to throw around a bit of my clout to get several thousand doses cleared for distribution to non-Imperial citizens, but ultimately my logic had been clear enough and the chain of command disorganized enough that a voice clear in what it needed done could prevail against bureaucratic lassitude. Warding the soldiers the Wanax had provided had been a more difficult proposition than expected, for half a dozen had perished of plague not long after arriving at the encampment. But the esteem of their companions had gone up by leaps and bounds when no other men fell sick, no small feat even in normal times for a gathering of several hundred fighting warriors.

Placing our cloak about Odessos was only a part of what had been devised, but it would be a beginning. And all good things had their proper beginnings, not to be rushed, for each piece built upon the other.

It took some time to located a boy to stable our horses when we arrived at the palace - few men came or went from the home of the lord of the city these days it seemed, and the places set aside for steeds were all but empty, the stable-workers no doubt pressed into more vital tasks to keep the large household functioning with loss of life and the flight of so many servants. I was impressed, as certainly the intent had been, by the large halls of polished reddish stone which the home of the lords of the city boasted.

Only a few minutes had passed after we arrived when the Basileus and I were shown into a large chamber, a columnade looking out to the sea, where a strong-looking man, gray only touching his temples, was waiting near a table. There were two guards, men in the burnished stylized armor of idealized abdominal muscles, but they respectfully kept their distance near the entrance to Dotos' private quarters. The older gentleman, dark hair speaking of northern heritage perhaps, rose and embraced my companion in a friendly manner, then bowed slightly to me.

"You honor my halls, Hegemon. I am Dotos, Lord of Odessos and her peoples. Would that you had come in time of more peace in my lands, and less sorrow."

I inclined my head, a noncommittal gesture of respect though not fealty. "I have heard much of your Majesty's lands and your kinsmen, their skill in craft and in trade, and valor in battle. It is a shame the sadness that has cut off so many of them from this earth, and I hope to be the harbinger of the return of better days."

Dotos' eyes glittered, and he stepped a little bit closer, unconsciously removing Ranvald from the conversation. I took note of that - whatever the Basileus' place in the circles of power here, it was clear he was of secondary importance, not a force in his own right. The Lord's words hissed between his teeth like some sibilant thing, and his eyes seemed almost partially mad as he spoke.

"It is true then? You have brought the Blessing? It is no figment of imagination, no hoax of priests and men of words?"

I nodded gravely, hoping he believed me, for it was clear that this was a desperate man.

"Your servant Ranvald has seen the proof borne out even in the bodies of his own warriors, for it turned back the touch of the Plague not five days ago when some who came to the gathering brought the corruption within their breasts. Though my Father, the one true God, has not seen fit to give his children the power to drive the Plague itself from the bodies of those touched by wickedness, yet he can preserve those who have yet survived in these turbulent times, return to them their lives and their security against the scourge of the Devil."

The gray-haired man's eyes darted sideways at the mention of the Basileus, and the other man bowed deeply.

"I have seen this, sire." He turned one of his arms, displaying a small formation of lines, still healing from where he had been variolated. "I took the Blessing myself, and visited those of the men of Fanivastre who had the misfortune to fall ill within their journey to us, and I have been preserved, though I sat with them until their final breaths. No scourge is upon me, no stain of corruption. The Hegemon has brought physicians to purify the city. It is a day for rejoicing."

Now the king's shoulders slumped in on themselves, and he sighed deeply.

"If only my Ina could have been here to see this. She grieved so mightily for each of our people the scourge claimed, would not listen to me when I forbade her going to minister to the sick. She told me that fair Allelia would guard her, and that if she was not to be preserved, better that she should perish as a sacrifice of penitence for the sins of the people than in fear, mewed up in her quarters while the dead filled our streets. I should have been sterner with her. I should have..."

Dotos looked up suddenly, perhaps remembering that he stood near at hand to another ruler, and with a wan smile he dashed unshed tears from his eyes.

"You must forgive me, Hegemon. Our pain, like yours, is still very near. The pain..."

Here he stiffened, standing upright, and gathering himself.

"The pain the League has brought us."

He turned, striding back to the table where he had been sitting when we entered, and then I perceived that a map of the regions around the Black Sea was unfurled there. Many figures of different colors and hues of wood stood upon it, the entire mass of impressive parchment held down at the corner by what incongruously resembled fishing weights. Dotos gestured for me to join him, and waved to indicate the League upon the map when I and Ranvald had padded over.

"I will not brook with these Scholars any longer, with the leeches of Nestos and their folly. We have wasted enough blood, enough treasure on their whims and vanities. I have given orders that they are to be expelled from the city within the week, by force if necessary. I fear, however, that though we joined our hands to those of Oak in friendship, the men of the League will not be so inclined to treat our retraction of that friendship with equanimity. These are uncertain times in Thrace. Times when those who desire power will take it by whatever means they can find, and where many wish to look to their own hearths, their own homes, foremost."

His index finger, rough and weathered and the color of boiled leather, indicated Abdera, then traced a path north and east to Odessos.

"Those who gain their power from dominion over others, from taking from the mouths of the hungry, might well try to bind us tighter to them with iron instead of satin. If wise men of other lands and our friends hear that we have expelled the scholars, they too might look to their own best interests, and so the House of Wisdom be shorn of her tendrils. This I - and my brother, Dardanus of Troy - fear will stir those blood-gorged creatures to war, grasping for power even as it slips away. And it is not a war I think that I alone can win, even in concert with those allies which I possess."

And of course that was where I come in. I nodded, understanding his meaning, even as both men turned to look at me with unspoken questions in their eyes.

"The Imperium is not accustomed to allowing the strong to prey on the weak. Men are given few things in this life, but the right to stand on their own feet is certainly one of them which we hold most sacred."

Not exactly the truth, that. The Danes had learned the hard way that where the interests of the body stood supreme, the will of scattered villages and loud men had often to be submerged beneath the needs of the many. There had been villages who had sworn the oaths, then years later fallen away, turning to their own devices. But they had been far away from the Imperium by and large, in distant Britain or upper Gaul. Where the reach of the Imperium was more secure, more exacting, such voices fell silent quickly, either bought or beaten into quiescence.

But they didn't need to know that now. Perhaps they wouldn't even really have been worried about that even if they knew it. This was a diplomatic dance, and saying the right words was presently as important as saying truthful words, as much as it pained me for that to be the situation. My second glance at the map said as much - this was not, not necessarily, a conflict of the small against the large. Or about self-determination, or anything nearly so noble. The figures near Troy and Odessos seemed to be angled towards conquest, if anything.

No, this was not about peace, and a love of independence. My smile became more predatory as I looked up from the map and met Dotos' eyes. Here was a man who had lost much, but was yet shrewd, and did not allow anger to rule him. He scented weakness in the League now, and looked for advantage for his legacy, making common cause with the vaunted king of Troy, and holding the ace card of the Imperium as the most important part of his winning hand. If those two important cities were joined in war, I did not see much in the League that could oppose them here in the east.

Chaos was a ladder. And Dotos of Odessos intended to climb it.

"I am glad to hear that Hegemon. I know Odessos, a land of poets and sculptors, not warriors, would be ill-served standing alone. But if you will secure us against the aggression of the League and their spiders, I will make a pact with you, before your God."

Ranvald looked at the king with surprise. I probably looked at the king with surprise. He nodded, almost to himself.

"I have studied your Imperium much, since the Men of the Red Earth swore the oaths when I was still a young man. You are a creature of order. You would have every man in his place, and a place for every man, where he may flourish in his duties. But this is a difficult thing when you meet a king, a leader of men, for the Emperor is your ruler, and to stand beyond his shadow is a difficult thing for your Imperium to accept. I assume, perhaps, that it is also difficult for you to accept."

I made no comment. It was not untrue that, where perhaps other men would seek allies, the Imperium sought shieldbrothers. It was not good enough to come when the clarion call was sounded, to the eyes of many in the Rose Council and who sat in Mara. Fealty was desired most of all, the giving and swearing of oaths, so that it was not courtesy that bound men, but honor, and most importantly, organization.

Dotos nodded, as if my silence confirmed something.

"Yes, I will swear a pact with you, Viktor Nemtsov. I know that Odessos is a great city. I will see her made greater still, once she is free of the weakness she now labors under. You will make her greater too, free us from the curse which has been given to us, restore our sons to health and our daughters to beauty. Troy too is a great city. But the world of great cities is passing. What is a great city, even one like your Mara who I have heard of and seen in my dreams, compared to an empire like that which you have forged?"

"So I will swear this to you. I am an old man. I have to myself forty and five winters, and my son is now nearly full grown to the flower of his manhood. In exchange for this healing you bring to my city, my people, I will swear my son to serve you, your Emperor. I am old though, and still to proud to bow my head to any man, be he angel or demon or Hegemon or Scholar. Let me rule my years, safeguard me against the wickedness from Oak, and you shall see that Aeneas of Troy and Odessos will be a Warden of the Imperium which no man can equal. This my brother Dardanus judges, and I alongside him, as wisdom. And so I shall swear it, before your God and mine."

A genuine smile crossed my face, and I bowed now in truth. My words perhaps came more haltingly than usual as my mind processed, but were no less joy-filled for being considered.

"A pact we have then, Lord Dotos. I should have healed your people without this accord, for my Father has bade me with the care of all those he gives into my keeping. But a bundle of many rods is not easily broken, and the Imperium shall be stronger for having the hale sons of Odessos and the Wine-Dark Sea within her shieldwall. Let the furies of the League rage. I have seen their like a dozen times before, and always emerged the victor."

A spark fired in Ranvald's eyes at my words, and his sudden speech caused both myself and the aging king to glance at him in amazement.

"It is, after all, in your name, Hegemon. The victor. Viktor."

The joke, it seemed, worked in Daca as well as Common. I smiled and Dotos snorted at the riposte. Odessos would be cleansed, and a greater prize than I had anticipated now stood upon the horizon.
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Ralnis
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Ralnis » Wed May 05, 2021 5:30 pm

The Holy Palace,
Ur


"So we all in favor of the new system?" Luther asked everyone in the circled room.

"Finally getting your slavery abolishment bill passed Luther?" Chezdek asked rhetorically.

"You know how this will act on the nobility. They will have their talks." Ur-Surtur rolled her eyes.

"Listen to me and listen to me well. We have an economy nearing collapse and the slaves have done more, more than their fair share of work making this empire big. Too big and we have suffered for twenty years. The death toll is within the tens of thousands and we have stagnated while the enemy is exploiting the crippling plague we have unleashed on the Europeans. Our people in Nestos are trying their best to solve a problem we made because of this and we are to blame for the destruction of two countries. There are pirates and supposed anti-slavery radicals hounding our ships in the Red Sea and the rest of the world is looking at us." Luther monologued.

"Sumeria already had the most favorable system for slaves in the Golden Gulf and better than Egypt. All we have to do is make the case and start the crack down. Making slavery illegal won't get rid of the institution overnight but I'm making this our plan. Start the abolishment of slavery within and get the slaves the education that is needed. The new system is something that we will have based off of an education overhaul to the prior teaching system. We will need a remedial system of learning focusing on trade and industrial workings. Then we will have a normal system working with the people becoming true citizens of the Empire." Luther continued on.

"Right and all of this comes with your idea of the Imperial Employment Corps. All of this subsiding and loans that will be needing to get these slaves actual jobs? I'm guessing we'll be taking the poor and whatnot." Stag Heart crossed his arms.

"Basically, we need to take care of these new people entering our workforce after the abolishment goes into effect. The crown will be buying the freedom of the slaves and given them government issued housing and meals. Back home we called this Section 8 Housing and the joke was that you would give people a cheese wheel to feed them." Luther shook his head like remembering an old memory." We have some support for the passing but it will get better once we start rebuilding the cities and getting an actual industry powered by the rivers going."

"Right, like replacing people with my horses and something like a treadmill? That blasted thing to keep them on a wheel or pay somebody to basically peddle once of those Nestosian contraptions? I mean we already made some of those things but-"

"Widespread use will be expensive, the Empire will be in more debt-"

"Not to mention that the waterpower is more affordable than just putting people on bicycles and-"

"Everyone!" Luther got the council's attention," understand that we have steps. Steps that won't have as drastic as an effect as the hydropower exploitation. Now the bicycle idea is still in the works. It also doesn't seem entirely feasible as far as hydro-industry but it all comes to the effect of the Imperial Employment Corps and the abolishment of slavery once and for all. The entire state is suffering from a manpower shortage due to the Unification Wars and the nobles can't hold onto the idea of slavery forever. The bill will allow them to have compensation in the form of an IOU once the economy is stabilized. It shouldn't take long but the need is to get people working on rebuilding and laying down trade across the Empire."

"My problem is that this will crash the slave market but then again we are the slave market." Ur-Surtur said before she smiled," at least we can try to get rid of that damn problem. Slavery was already an issue looking that will eventually come to bite us. Like it did within five times. We can't just have that over our heads while we're trying to rebuild everything. But the echoes alone will be just hurting our economy."

"I know but we need to try and work within the first five years and then the next five years. We need to stabilize the empire and make sure we can rebuild before we can make everything prosperous again. No more war, no more expansions, no more for the next twenty years. We must look inside ourselves in order to build ourselves again. Soft power is our only weapon that can work now. That's all I have to say and to try repair what finally needs to be repaired, stick to her and then we can finally see a prosperous empire. Just enough to finally make something worthwhile that isn't an evil thing."

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UniversalCommons
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby UniversalCommons » Wed May 05, 2021 6:36 pm

In the fields around Varna. (Farmer Soldier Banter).

Scorilo was working in his garden. It was not a large garden. It had turnips, onion, and garlic in it. He looked out in the fields and he thought he saw men, lots of men. Men in iron and steel.

He walked over to his neighbor, "What is that you see?

Balio, "I think I see a lot of men."

Scorilo, "I think we should tell the others. My grandfather said something about invaders once. Kurgan they were called. These look like northerners."

Balio, "Beats me. They are armed men in our lands."

Scorilo, "Lets go to the grange. We can discuss things in the grange."

Balio, "Sure. Wonder what they are doing."

Scorilo, "They are doing what most soldiers do pillaging I suppose. Living off the land. We better bury the extra turnips and the wine."

Balio, "Sounds like a good idea. They could be even worse than the tax man."

Scorilo, "It can't be any worse than fighting slavers. They must be men like the other men."

Balio, "I am going to tell my wife to hide in the woods."

Scorilo, "I got my pike and my iron hat. My armor is at the grange."

Balio, "I have my crossbow. We should get Ajax, the Greek on the way to the Grange."

Scorilo, "I wonder how you get so many men together."

They stop at a house with fig and olive trees. There is a large dog barking at them behind the gate.

Ajax pats his dog, "Boar stop it, they are not bandits. The dog growls." Follow me.

Ajax, Scorilo, Balio, and the Dog Board keep walking past a few more farmhouses. Six more men join them. It slowly grows to a dozen. There is large house with archery targets.

There are twenty men at the grange. One of them stands up, "Quiet everyone, we have invaders crossing the Danube. It looks like iron men. I already sent out Danilo to the tanners and the hunters. We should have a group of men ready soon. Everyone took care of their homesteads yet. Remember your ten, get your pikes and your crossbows. Armor up. Don't get close, thats what scouts are for. We're militia."

Ajax, "Some of us been fighting for a long time. I remember fighting the Illyrians. Now the Illyrians, they are our allies. No longer pirates, but privateers in the service of the Nestos League. How times change."

Scorilo, "They are pirates, they are just on our side."

Gerov, "Hey knock it off. We got all kinds here."

Balio, "Look its Petoporus, the Hound Master, I haven't seen him in ages."

Ajax, "Who are those people?"

Balio, "Those are scholars."

Ajax, "What is a scholar doing with fire grenades and a fire siphon and what is that strange mask which the other one is wearing."

Balio, "It is kind of scary looks like a crows beak. We don't see them that much. They spend most of the time in their tower in the woods. The one with the face mask smells really bad. I can't tell if it is
man or a woman."

Gerov, "We are supposed to go back to the woods to meet up with some scouts. You all hear me. Things could get very serious. The scouts were checking out a burnt out farmstead. They caught a few Dacian raiders inside a house and torched the house with a pair of fire siphons."

Balio, "Lets get back to the woods. We need to get going before the Iron Men spot us."

Ajax, "I'll see you later. I am not part of your ten. Good luck."
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Wed May 05, 2021 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Orostan
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Founded: May 02, 2016
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Orostan » Thu May 06, 2021 1:02 am

Aaron Dawson's Story

Year 8 Month 8 to Year 9 Month 6 Chinese Imperial Calendar - Long Ten's Northern War



Month 1

The first skirmishing went well for Long Ten's rebels. With a great deal of local support and arms taken from his enemies he was able to seize town after town, and then take the city of Yuyang where the military governor of the Guzhu Governorate had his last hurrah, and died with what remained of his men but not before trying to set the city's granaries and warehouses on fire. He only succeed with burning a small portion of them before the fires were out and the green rebel flag was flying.

Within a few weeks Long Ten was in communication with northern tribes across China's border. In exchange for iron, a number agreed to fight for him. A similar arrangement was made with the Donghu King who promised a powerful army to Long.

It was also in those weeks that the raids on the Yan province to the south began. It's capital, the city of Ji, was not too far from rebel territory. It made sense to raid the border territories around the city at least to gain information on the provincial garrisons there, and soon enough that idea paid for itself. A Chinese officer taken prisoner revealed his town garrison had been given orders to contribute fifty percent of its force to a provincial army massing at Ji. Understanding that if garrisons were being depleted the Chinese army had already accumulated all the supplies it needed, he began to prepare his own men and supplies for a battle soon. To have a hope of matching the size of the Chinese provincial army however he was forced recall his men from certain difficult to defend sections of the hills and abandon valuable iron mines. If the Chinese were depleting their garrisons, he need to do so as well.

Month 2

As Long Ten had predicted, the Chinese provincial army left the walls of their city and headed north. Long Ten had all of his men together, and with them could just match the two thousand man strong army of Yan Province. He entertained the possibility of ambushing the Chinese, but they were coming by the flat land nearer to the sea rather than the hills. They intended to fight over Yuyang first, and then the iron pits.

Long Ten massed his forces along their route and waited. His northern allies stood with him in front of a Chinese army flying their red flags by the end of the month. The Chinese, especially those in the provinces, had recently taken to putting a sickle crossed over a hammer in For possibly the first time in the history of the Middle Kingdom's Empire they were outmatched in equipment. The plunder of Yuyang's armory and the work of sympathetic smiths had given Long Ten better armor than the wood armored provincials had. As soon as the armies met and the Chinese general realized the enemy was wearing iron and not wood painted black like his men were he realized the magnitude of the mistake he made. For a moment though it looked to him as if he could recover, and he committed his cavalry. Though horses were small and ill prepared for extended fighting, they could make at least one charge and leave with at least a quarter of their number intact. But Long's own cavalry intercepted the Chinese, and forced them back. As the Chinese line began to break and the men realized what was happening soldiers began to flee on the Chinese flank. The general went in and drew his sword to rally his men for a last push against the enemy, and after disrupting a wall of rebel halberds and slaying a rebel officer himself it looked like the Chinese general might win. A moment later he was struck in the chest by an arrow and thrown off his horse. The death of their general made the Chinese soldiers stop and begin to retreat. All at once a trickle of retreating men turned into a rout. Long came down to the battlefield as the Chinese fled and the rebels celebrated or killed the fleeing Chinese, and spoke to the near death enemy general who was surrounded by his dead or dying men. The words he pushed out of himself promising that the Empire would avenge him and his men meant little to Long before he finished the man with his sword. They would be words Long remembered though.

Month 3

It was only shortly after Long smashed Yan Province's army that a central government army from the south followed by armies of eight provinces arrived at Ji. Long, despite losing a large fraction of his men had plenty of equipment left by the fleeing remains of Yan Province's army, and enough men who would join him to fill in his losses and then some. With a larger force and his allies arriving in larger numbers, Long had about ten thousand men behind him. The Chinese had a similar number of men. The north and Long had put together every man they could and the Chinese had done much the same. Long also learned that the army was led by the infamous General Pan, who was known for conquering the powerful city of Kuaiji in the south. Long had never been to the south and had lived ninety percent of his life within 25 miles of where he was born, but her reputation certainly preceded her. The first thing she did upon entering his territory was to burn an uncooperative village and massacre its inhabitants, which was no doubt further reinforced Long's impression of her as a dangerous woman.

Long set up his army for an ambush and directed his northern Beidi tribesman allies to launch raids against the enemy scouts, forcing them to stay near to their main army and travel in larger groups. It would be impossible to directly fight such a large Chinese army, especially if it had a core of very well equipped and experienced central government men and a good general in charge. Long was forced to instead set an ambush, and he succeeded. When Pan's men were attacked there was initial chaos, but they quickly began to organize into a long formation with halberds sticking out on all sides with their archers and what remained of their supply train at the center. A battle with this many people in it could take place over a great area, and from his position Long could only see about half of the fight that was happening in this narrow space between the hills. That would prove to be the way he was defeated, as at the other end of the fight was General Pan. While as the battle dragged on it looked as if the Chinese would soon be overwhelmed near the rear of the Chinese army where Long was, his allies were having a much more difficult time at the front of the army where General Pan was. Though both sides were using iron weapons and were similarly matched, Pan had kept the majority of her high quality swordsmen at the front of the formation. This meant that as the fighting wore on the Chinese were trading one of their men at the front of the formation for almost two of the rebel and northerner men, while at the rear the Chinese continued to slowly lose.

As sections of the Chinese defenders near the rear were about to be overwhelmed and destroyed, a wave rippled down the battlefield as the Chinese who had broken out of their encirclement at the front end began to spread out along the rear of the enemy attacking their comrades. First it was a few isolated rebels and northerners retreating, and then it was a torrent. By the time a northern tribesman came to him to report that the Chinese had broken through at one end of the fight it was too late. All at once Long's victory seemed to have been stolen out from under him, but as he rode off with what remained of his men he was convinced he'd have the chance to try again. He was not one to be frustrated by a near-defeat. Long had seen enough to know that the Chinese had lost nearly two thirds of their numbers even if Long had lost even more. They had no scout cavalry left, most of their supplies were gone, and the iron weapons they would have to leave behind would be almost a good trade for the amount of men that he had lost.

Month 4

After the Chinese victory last month Long had spent most of his time trying to keep his northern allies in the war. The Donghu had no problems with continuing the war, they were in it for the iron and had got plenty of that from cleaning up the battlefield. The tribes on the other hand were demanding more iron from Long, which he promised to give by sacking the city of Ji and forcing a favorable peace agreement with the Chinese Empire. The one in the worst position was Long, as before the Chinese had left they razed the city of Yuyang that was the center of Long's little empire. With so much of his resources and people destroyed by General Pan at Yuyang, Long had to rely on his allies even more and quickly took his rebels and northern allies in the direction of the Chinese city of Ji, which was generally regarded to be the most significant city in the north. A small Chinese force tried to stop Long on his way there, but was soundly beaten. The next morning when Ji was in sight of Long's army they could see the last of a Chinese army leaving the city.

Long had initially planned to spend only a few days outside Ji building a battering ram and ladders for his men before storming the city, but only a day after his army set up outside the walls he learned that the Chinese had kept a sizable garrison in the city and had begun arming the townspeople. He could not count on winning if he attacked the city and so was forced to keep the siege going for much longer than he had wanted to. Two weeks into the siege near the end of the fourth month of the war a Chinese army approached the city to relieve it and upon seeing them the city opened its gates and began to assemble its men outside the walls. If Long attacked the city now, he would be attacked from both sides. But if he fought the Chinese head on, he had a greater chance at victory. Long decided to allow the Chinese army to meet with their garrison outside the city walls and arrange themselves on the field.

Both armies camped opposite each other that night, and the next day they got into their formations again. The siege of Ji had been lifted and the Chinese were in no rush to instigate a fight, but Long was on the clock. He only had so much supplies and the Chinese knew it. To withdraw however risked losing the support of his northern allies and them potentially turning on him even. It was on the third day of the armies forming up and facing each other, neither willing to make the first move, that Long noticed something in the enemy formation. The Chinese, who Long believed were led by General Pan, had thinner numbers on their left flank. The Chinese had made efforts to conceal this by making the men in the front ranks stand closer together but the fact was that there were not as many Chinese as Long had thought. Perhaps they'd avoided attacking because they were waiting for reinforcements then? If that was the case, Long had to attack now.

In the middle of the day Long sent his army forward towards the Chinese army, and Pan sprung her trap. Once the enemy was close enough for the Chinese to hit with their repeating crossbow carts and archers, Pan had all of her men on the left stand up. At once, the Chinese seemed to fill in their back ranks on the left and Long realized what had been done to him. Recognizing that the opportunistic rebel had tried to provoke a decisive fight or loss for the Chinese at Ji, Pan had decided to give that to him. Long's officers on the left who had thrown themselves and their men at the Chinese hoping to break them there found themselves engaged in a brutal push of pike - one that the Chinese were steadily winning. Long at once threw in his reserve swordsmen to try and go around the Chinese to attack them from the rear on their left, but Pan had anticipated this and threw in half of her cavalry. Long's armored men weren't likely to take enormous casualties but despite their shields and armor they would be knocked down and disoriented - easy pickings for the Chinese sword infantry following their cavalry.

After seeing his reserve swordsmen destroyed on the left, Long understood that he would lose. He had prepared for this however, and withdrew a horn from his leather bag that only his men had been trained to recognize. As soon as he sounded it they began retreating, but his northern "allies" did not. This had the effect of giving many of his own men which at this point were slightly less than half of his forces time to retreat while destroying the northerners. Long knew that if they survived this battle he would have had to pay the northerners off with iron he did not have or his life and the lives of his men. Of course, only his men returning from the battle would make the northern tribes and Donghu suspicious - but if none of their men returned to them they would have nothing to prove. They would also more importantly not have the ability to destroy Long and his rebels quickly.

As the rebels fled the battlefield and the shocked northerners fell and died, a northern officer rode up to him demanding answers. Why were Long's men fleeing? Why were the northern men dying? What did that horn Long had triggered this with mean?

Long answered by beheading the man, and ordering his cavalry to cut down fleeing northerners. The Chinese were unprepared to exploit their sudden massive advantage and were focusing on the northern infantry while Long's men made for the forest.

Month 5

Long had made the right call at Ji, and escaped to Yuyang with many of his men. As soon as Long returned he and his officers repeated the story they had agreed upon of the battle and how the Chinese had barely won against them, taking many losses while doing so. The Chinese had according to them gone for the northern infantry over them, a show of how much they hated their northern neighbors. The northern representatives that Long had summoned to Yuyang seemed to believe him or at least did not openly question the story.

Four days later as Long was trying to put together a new force to fight with additional northern reinforcements that had been promised to him for a last try at China, the Chinese arrived. As the Chinese set up outside the city Long realized that he had been cheated by the northerners that he had tried to cheat. The Donghu group including the general that the Donghu king had sent to work with him made a great show of riding out of the city towards the Chinese army, where in full view of all the blue Donghu banner flew next to the red Chinese flags. The Donghu hung back with the Chinese for the next two days as the Chinese assembled siege equipment and were joined by the flags of several of the northern tribes that had promised Long reinforcements as their representatives left the city too.

On the third day the Chinese sent a northern tribesman to the walls to demand Long's surrender. He promised that General Pan would only execute Long and his officers if the gates were opened to the Chinese, but if the gates remained closed everyone inside the city would die. The empire could be merciful, he said. The northern tribesman was killed by an arrow without Long having to give the order a moment later. Long's men were loyal to him, and the townspeople were too. To them he had done his best to fight for their freedom against the evil empire to the south that had enslaved them in iron pits, destroyed their villages, and helped enemy clans pillage and plunder as they pleased.

The Chinese saw the northerner who had delivered their terms at the city fall and responded by throwing flaming crossbow bolts over the city walls as their infantry rushed forward with ladders to climb the walls. A large battering ram followed the invaders to the city gates. It only took about ten minutes of fighting before the Chinese had overpowered the defenders on the walls, and another ten minutes before they were fighting their way down the main street of the burning city towards Long's headquarters in the former Ministry of the Public Stock building that had the green rebel flag flying off it.

Long led his last charge down the street with his most loyal men beside him, and was stabbed through the chest by an illiterate Chinese peasant soldier. Long may have died at Yuyang in the summer of the ninth year of the Chinese Empire but unknown to him his memory would live much longer - especially in the government buildings of Luoyang.

Month 6

After capturing Yuyang, the Chinese had cleaned out the rest of Long's rebels one stronghold at a time. One after the other, iron pits were put back into operation with captured rebel labor. The Chinese were not going to keep the old system going for much longer and were preparing political reforms, but before Luoyang had a chance to rebuild the north the Donghu came over the border. Though they had been paid off with iron, they attacked with several of their allies anyways and sized Yuyang. After a series of inconclusive smaller battles the Chinese began to empty out from the territory around Yuyang on their own, carrying all the iron they could with them. The Donghu had, of course, turned the iron they received as payment to not attack China into weapons and armor to attack China with.

Month 7-9

Both sides hope for a decisive confrontation had been for nothing, as spies on both sides confirmed that the other was sending their men home for the harvest season. China had taken so many professional soldier losses that they had to draw on their rural population to fill their ranks with peasant soldiers, and the Donghu were in much the same spot. General Pan sat in Ji overseeing small skirmishing all through the harvest season and winter as did her counterpart, the Donghu king. Over the winter he had made a show of visiting Yuyang and putting blue striped Donghu flag everywhere. The city through repeated battles and both sides killing the other's supporters had mostly been emptied out anyways. As was the usual case during wars, civilian losses far outstripped military losses.

As harvest was done and winter began to fade, both sides began to receive their men back and prepare for the next season of fighting. The first skirmishes were inconclusive, but at an encounter near sunset one day the Chinese were able to smash a large Donghu force and exploit that to burn the granaries of a Donghu held town that night. After the participation of cavalry in that raid made it a success, the Chinese began employing cavalry in larger numbers and in a more concentrated way. Even a relatively slow horse was fast enough to make quick raids on Donghu camps and then retreat into the night. The Donghu, being unprepared for this tactic, began to retreat into stronger defensive positions.

Month 10

The Chinese provoked a decisive battle with the Donghu on the way to Yuyang. The Chinese were able to slow down the Donghu with cavalry raids aimed at their baggage train that would force them to stop and defend it. Every night they would do this to the Donghu, and the Donghu who had less horses could not pursue them. Evetually to minimize their losses the Donghu set up on a ridge in a clearing south of Yuyang and waited for the Chinese. Sure enough, the Chinese came. The Donghu waited on their ridge for the Chinese to come up to them for the fight, but the Chinese simply set up a distance away from the bottom of the ridge. A few of the more skilled archers on either side might be able to almost something at this range. A few tried and their arrows fell short or struck the dirt near the men without much energy like an exhausted bird might. The Donghu were unsure of why the Chinese would stop so close to them until they saw what was being brought up behind the infantry. Three carts which the Donghu had thought were the usual large Chinese automatic crossbows had the sheets covering them yanked off, revealing much larger weapons that had been barely fit on the vehicles. The Chinese began to quickly assemble the weapons and attach a frame holding a small stack of bolts on the top.

The Donghu general saw what was about to happen and ordered his men to charge. Then, the Chinese began to fire with the weapons. Three men had to work the cranks for each one, but every time the gear at their bottom rotated around a bolt would be thrown towards the enemy. The men at the top of the weapons were loading them as fast as could be managed and aiming for the densest groups of Donghu. One bolt could claim several men at once and firing between one and two times every five seconds the Donghu attack was severely blunted. The large weapons switched to firing on the Donghu archers who were trying to kill their crews as the Chinese infantry defended them. One weapon caught on fire after enemy archers were able to set a fire to shoot flaming arrows, but the other two continued their work. Soon enough the Chinese infantry was pushing the Donghu up the ridge and the loud clack of the big crossbows kept reverberating the ears of their enemies as they were forced into a retreat.
Last edited by Orostan on Thu May 06, 2021 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Saxony-Brandenburg
Minister
 
Posts: 2203
Founded: Mar 07, 2016
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Saxony-Brandenburg » Thu May 06, 2021 1:21 pm

Sheikha Olifia Yanba'awi

“So this really is it, huh?”

I gazed upon the plateau, covered in the reds and browns of dead plants and dirt. The thin trees and bushes which dotted the landscape gave blotches of green to an otherwise familiar desolate landscape. I frowned slightly as I looked upon it. “So this is what they’re fighting over?” I thought to myself as we stood there. The camels kicked and bayed with their mindless noises, their necks stretching to reach the few, puny strips of green around them. I reached down and took a drink from my drink, packed in a wretched organ of a camel long since dead and butchered. It was a very bitter yet refreshing taste, I’d grown accustomed to drinking vinegar and water mixed. If anything, it kept the taste of dirt off whatever dusty pools we could find along the trek. In that sense, it was a lifesaver.

“That’s right… this is it.”

My companion and guide for the day was named Abd al-Uzza, a Sheikh’s son and excellent rider of camels, so I had heard.

“Where, though? I don’t see a spring anywhere in sight, much less an encampment.”

“No no, it is just over the plateau. There is a large side of cracked boulders from which many of us draw the water from the spring. I would not dare go any closer until they leave or we receive word back from Sheikh Abdullah.”

“It feels strange not being welcomed wherever I go, to be honest, friend.”

“I understand, but it is out of my control. Unless he is on hajj to Yanbu to see the idols, I doubt he would kiss your hand or welcome you with dates and wine. If anything he would probably drive you away with shouting thinking you’re some vagrant.”

“That is well. Alright then. Come with me, now that I know where the dispute actually is, I suppose I can talk with your father about the rest.”

Back down the plateau we went, swaying side to side upon the camel’s fat hump, kicking up dust and sand in the slow trot behind us.

“I am glad you have come to offer intercession in this conflict, Sheikha. The tribe of Adnan and his descendants have been more brutal lately. They have taken from my own herd three lambs, a camel, and my dog no less!”

“All for control over water?”

“They think if they control the well, we will leave and they can have all the gazing land in the valley.”.

“Hm. Smart bastards. And you can’t just find a new well to the same spring?”

“And won’t they just move there?”

“I suppose you have a point.”

We kept along the countryside a few minutes ways until we had at once reached the encampment, where dusty tents flapped lazily in the afternoon wind. Goats and sheep milled about among each other, chewing what little green there was to eat. Many were so skinny and gaunt that they chewed sticks and branches from dead bushes, while others made due with the dead grasses which patched the dirt. I frowned, furrowing my brow.

“It’s a shame. How long have you been without spring water?”

“Two months? We have been subsisting in shallow pools of mud like beggars and travelers. It’s a shame, a disgrace. Not to mention they have driven us from the greener fields. Bastards, they only take for themselves. They think just because they have more mouths to feed that they should have more. But more means all, and less means none to them! We’ve shot enough wild game to feed ourselves for the next few weeks but, if nothing else changes we will have to move or fight!”

As we entered the camp, the we passed a dead monkey laying half-butchered on a nearby table. A young woman stood there, distracted from her efforts by the stranger’s arrival.

“And I’m sure moving outside of your seasonal ranges would be a great misery- especially if you do not know the land and watering holes therein.”

“Indeed.”

We handed the camel’s leads into the frail and boney hands of a woman, who trudged over out of camp with them in-tow. The largest tent on the edge of camp was a burnt red, with faded patterns of black and blue, far more fanciful than the others. The flaps suddenly opened as a large, old man with long gray hair and beard stepped out. He resembled a lean oxe in form, thin and wrinkled but with a large and powerful chest and shoulders.

“Ah! Sheikha! Oh the gods deliver you to me!”

I was surprised, stepping back two paces as he fell to his knees. He was a far different man than his son, to be sure. Reaching forwards he grabbed onto the hem of my skirt, pulling down the blue fabric towards him. I couldn’t believe it, he was the most distressed I had ever seen a man of his status.

“Oh! Oh gods above! You have to help us. The gods have abandoned us! The Adnanites have taken our livestock, our land, our water! Oh, but most of all they have taken my father’s idol of Quzah! I am a disgrace Sheikha! I am brought so low! You must!”

He kissed my feet, and scooped up dust to throw upon his head. I couldn’t believe it, he was utterly supplicating to me. I looked away for a moment, my cheeks flushed. I couldn’t believe what I must be in his mind, a connection to the divine, perhaps? But as I turned back to him I realized the queer feeling which soon overwhelmed me. I felt quite self-important and at once proud to possess this kind of effect on him. To command this kind of near worship. Perhaps ten or twenty years ago I would have shirked this, demanded he stand and not treat me so. I would have been equally ashamed I was some kind of white savior to him. But now — I hardly remembered I was white. My hands, my reflection, my words, and even my thoughts resembled those of the local peoples. I was tall and beneath my clothes were milk-white, yet such pale skin did not see the light of day. He was a minor sheikh supplicating to a more powerful Sheikha, trying to gain her favor. This was custom, this was normal. I deserved this. I was powerful, I was mystical.

“Rise, noble son of Wasabos. You have my patronage to your plight now.”

I reached out and grasped his hand, pulling him up to me. I reached out and grabbed his shoulders, holding him there. “I will make right what is wrong. The gods look down upon the Adnanites with judgement for unjustly taking from you the lifestyle of your forefathers. Your son has done well to tell me of this, yet I am surprised to know they have taken your livestock as well? Either way it will be made right.”

“Oh Sheikha! Thank you! Hundreds, thousands of blessings to you! But— how will you stop them? They do not listen to reason, they want us OUT before all else!”

“Simple my friend- a carrot and a stick.”

“What is a carrot?”

“Hm. It… doesn’t matter. Incentive and threat.”



“In the name of al-Ilah Quzah, he who brings rain to the sky land life to the earth…” I droned on and on again, circling the stone altar, and throwing more oil upon it with the brush. “In the name of al-Ilah Quzah, we give this unto you and your qaws Quzah.” I spoke again, as the smell of myrrh filling my nostrils. When I had passed for the fourth turn, I nodded, the stone properly blessed and purified there about. The cream-colored slab had not one single fissure upon it, it was the finest piece of stone I had seen made in my lifetime. Smooth and polished, held upon a more rough block which had been roughly carved along the sides, yet which still possessed a rather well-done inscription upon the face. “To the bringer of water Quzah, and his rainbow, we dedicate this spring to your rite.” A rainbow had then been etched in above, giving physical depiction to it. The small group of devotees and workers crowded amidst the field of Steele and columns, while animals grazed idly by in The Valley below. Large tufts of green poked out from the rocks, and a brilliantly clear pool of life-giving water sat right next to it. Amidst the scortched-black rocks and fields of brown and red, it truly did feel like a holy place. I took from my belt a knife of Egyptian bronze, lightly gray with a strange shine to it. I believed it to have luck, but I couldn’t be sure. From the crowd two thin, gaunt goats were dragged by the horns towards the slab. I had done it dozens of times, but a small sadness did creep towards be as I lunged for the creature, and mercilessly slit its throat. My lands were stained with blood as the goat writhed and squirmed with its last breath- its fellow sacrifice going wild with fear. Yet it too made a similar fate, its throat slit and thrown upon the alter, staining the cream a light pink no doubt.

“Oh Quzah, embody yourself here, into this spring. Protect it, make it your home. From once you have given your land to men, once more do we offer it back to you. Let no man approach this spring, and your holy ground with weapons, and let no man approach it impure. And let no man let his animals drink straight from it, and let no man tarnish it with waste! For this spring is your spring, and no man may offend that which is divine! For if he may, let you pluck from the sky your rainbow, and with it, shoot down such a foolish man with arrows of thunder!”

Ignoring the messy business, I soon grabbed the skin of the heaving and twitching creature, and slit open its stomach. From which a new river of blood spilled, and entrails began to fall out. Ripping forth in a horrible, brutal cracking noise, I let them lay-out until I saw them all. The smell of myrrh and blood mixed together was nauseating in its divinity, in its sanctimony. But, my head spinning, I let them fall until I could make out clearly how they landed. Turning back to the crowd I nodded, and raised my hands.

“The entrails have spoken… and he accepts our sacrifice!”



We sat around a fire, outside the spring where the shrine now stood. Three small tents were pitched, and four men and I sat there waiting. I drank a cup of coffee, waiting. The familiar thick, sour, and grainy liquid reminded me of home, of Yanbu. I missed it, I truly did. The wild mountains were familiar, but leaving that coastal plain always filled me with a sense of disorder. Through the mountains brought winds of danger, unfamiliar winds from far across the great expanse. I paused then, breathing deeply. The sky was a serene red as the sun stood half-way below the hills to the west.

The sound of footsteps, the sight of dust. From the East, a group of men upon camels emerged. Those beside me stood-up, their hands upon their swords. I waved them back, frowning at their instinct to violence. It did not take long for the newcomers, dressed in their long robes, came upon us with the most pompous of righteous anger.

“Who are you? I will not suffer you camp here. Get out! This spring belongs to sons of Adnan, it is ours and our right!”

“I’m afraid it is not.” I said, standing up. Approaching the man, I found him broad with a short gray beard and curled black hair. He wore an ornate robe embroidered with dozens of shapes and colors. He wore a long curved sword on his hip, and his loose turban slouched rather elegantly behind his head. “It is neither yours nor mine, it is the God’s now.”

He flicked his glance towards the spring, seeing the pillars and alter place we had dragged and installed. His jaw dropped, but turned towards me, raising a shaking finger. “And who do you believe you are, woman?! How dare you speak for our gods. Again I ask you, who are you? And how dare you have such pride as to tell the gods where to live?!”

“You know of me, though you do not recognize my face.” I said with a mischievous grin. “I am Olifia al Yanba’awi, Sheikha of the tribes of Yanbu and speaker of the gods. I have thrown the lots before the image of Hubal, and read the entrails of Quzah’s sacrifice. Both have spoken to me, and instructed me to sanctify this spring in their name?”

“What? You!” He scowled at me, but stepped back from my face. While anger twisted his expression, I could tell he felt something else. I seized on it the best I could.

“Sheikh Abdullah, descendant of Adnan, I know of you, your reputation. You are a wise man, a devout man. I know you are no fool. You know of me, you know of my power. I am a sorceress and child of the gods. When I am given orders I do not lie of what they say. You are not to enter these grounds armed, and may not deny anyone Quzah’s hospitality. Do I make myself clear?”

“You damn snake! You have been brought to do this by those weak men who cower behind women! Is that right?”

“Son, you will do well not to curse me! Know you not the evil eye, know you not a woman’s power? I will damn you and all your sons if you do not treat me more with respect! Now you listen close to me, you will come this here tomorrow, and you will work out your differences with your neighbors. You will lay down your arms, and come here without a blade. You will do all these things not because I tell you, but because the gods do! And you will do these things, or you will get me involved, you understand me? I will break you!”

I did not notice how heavily I was breathing, how loud I spoke, how much I spat until I was done. A silence prevailed over the group, and he stared at me. I realized that small emotion in his anger… was fear. It paralyzed him for a moment, before he took a step back.

“We come tomorrow.” He mumbled back to his fellow men, and they pulled themselves up on their camels, and then silently rode away.
"Shall we only hope for heaven when we're dead?"

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Uzbekstaland
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 100
Founded: Jan 26, 2021
Moralistic Democracy

Joshua

Postby Uzbekstaland » Thu May 06, 2021 2:26 pm

Week one
I wake up, "Weird the sun is shining the weather forecast said we were going to get rain all day today."


I stand up to find myself without any form of clothing, the steppes go on for miles and miles as a group of wild horses comes into view, I look at them in confusion before I finally realize im on another continent... "But which one??" There aren't any people around but I can see a small group of yurt like huts in the distance. They look like they belong to Mongols which leads me to believe I've been dropped into modern rural Mongolia, Only the pastures are slightly greener.


"Maybe it would do me some good to make my way over there." I say to myself in a normal voice, I begin to wonder exactly how I got here or if I will ever get back to my family, who clearly is wondering where I am. I begin walking in the direction of the yurts, The plains are empty and green and I only remember putting on pesticides for a school trip before falling asleep, The Insects in the area seem to leaving rather quickly but by now the pesticide has began to wear off. As I continue walking I look around to take in the scenery, It is very authentic and breath taking and I have to stop for a moment to take it all in. After about 45 minutes of walking I see a Man, Woman and child. I am very close to the yurts which are about a 5 minutes walk away. The Man turns to face me and says "You there come with me". I follow promptly and am taken to a nomadic villeage. where they dress me in animal skins to be presentable to the chief of their village.


He invites me into his yurt and attempts to have a conversation, He asks where I came from and why I am here. I tell him "I dont exactly know, I just got here not long ago but i dont know how" His expression is one of concern and Intrigue, I tell him what I rememver and he invites me for supper, What they were able to serve consisted of Goat milk, Meat from what i assume to be horses and a type of grain. We begin eating and conversing, He shares stories about himself and I do likewise, From there He invites me to Join the clan because we have similar ideas, I accept and am allowed to stay with the family that found me.


6 days pass and by now becomes easier to start conversations with the people and acquaint myself. I am not exactly welcomed but the people are willing to give mutual respect to me. I pay attention to how they herd their animals and hunt, The horses are only used to carry Supplies back to the main Settlement, Realizing they are Nomads I begin preparing for the next time they move, But with the land here fairly peaceful I really doubt it.
Last edited by Uzbekstaland on Thu May 06, 2021 3:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Prairistan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Prairistan » Thu May 06, 2021 3:39 pm

DAY 1
Sand. That's all Ben's eyes saw as he stood up from the sand beach. "The f?" He looked around. "Palm trees, sand, the sea, the moon in the night sky, and some sheep; SHEEP? Wild sheep here? Wait, where is here?" He panicked once he realized he was naked, running into the forest uphill. The former architect grabbed a uniquely sharped stone and stabbed two wild rabbits after catching them while they were asleep. Benjamin tied the skins together with vine threads. The resulting pants were messy and had blood and guts on them still. "Fire time. Now, whoever kidnapped me took everything, including my phone and clothes, so I've gpt to wait for help. May it come soon." He made a small fire, cooked the meat, and ate it. " Glad my dad taught me how to light a fire."
Last edited by Prairistan on Fri May 07, 2021 5:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Prairistan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Prairistan » Thu May 06, 2021 6:36 pm

DAY 2
Ben awoke. The smoldering embers informed him he had fallen asleep after his dinner last night. "Bah! Who are you?", Ben screamed at the face in front of him. "My name is Ali." The old man stood up. It was only then that Ben realized they both were speaking a Berberish language, not English. "Where am I? Cyprus? Arabia? Tunisia?" "My sheep farm." A sheep munched a clump of grass next to Ali's leg. "My name is Ben. Nice to meet you, Ali." Benjamin pondered on what could have happened to him. Last he checked, he was in Oklahoma, not here. Ali led Ben to his home; a small mud-and-stick semicircular hut. Inside was a palm leaf bed, a small bench with a sheepskin robe identical to Ali's, and a wooden box that had some apples, herbs, nuts, and a short ax. "So, who brought me here, Ali?" "I dunno, you just appeared yesterday, really" "No kidnapper?" "No. Also, what's a kidnapper?"

DAY 3
The next day, Ali showed Ben how to gather nuts. "So Ali, where is the nearest town and in what country?" "I'd say some village in Siwan, many days that way." He pointed in the sun's direction. Ben was confused. "Something is off here. Do you have a phone I could borrow to call home?" "Don't be an idiot, you made up the word phone." Ben realized he needed more answers. "I'll leave later to go to that Siwanese village. I hope something is there. Maybe a car to go home with." "Car?"
Last edited by Prairistan on Fri May 07, 2021 5:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
This some what represents my views, with a few exceptions.
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Democratic Socialists

Postby G-Tech Corporation » Fri May 07, 2021 7:18 am

Part 6, Chapter 6: What the King Said


June 24th, 31 AG

I was only too happy to be on land again, even in this wild country. There had been a storm when we put to sea out of Odessos, which had made even the Warspite stick to the lees of the coast, unwilling to venture the deeper waters where the rollicking waves piled up like houses. She had lost her mizzenmast in a gale, and the sailors were at work now to repair it, the ship's carpenter directing them in choosing trees from nearer the waterline to ameliorate the damage.

High hills rolled northwards from the gap of the Bosphorus, heavy with pines and twisted lowland firs. My first instinct upon seeing them was to wonder at exactly how such cold-weather trees thrived in what I thought of as a warm Mediterranean climate. But spending the night here had disabused me of my notions; I had been glad of the thick blankets of wool which Paul insisted I bring from the ship's hold, and now did not despise the evergreens their foliage. Here was more truly Anatolia than the Mediterranean, and even in June, which is summer in truth here in the south, the evenings grew chill.

No wonder the shepherds we had seen wore thick overcoats, even if they cast them aside when watching their flocks during the day. Not that there had been too many of those. I got the distinct impression that the small village at the mouths of the Straits, who a local had call Baran, was the only reason there was human habitation here at all. With Troy to the west standing rampant over most of the trade, there was little need to reprovision or resupply this short distance from the burgeoning urban center.

Not that I had been to Baran. From the ship's deck it had looked all but deserted. Plague, no doubt, had driven most of her people up into the countryside, away from the water. I had no desire to walk lonely streets, or gaze upon abandoned halls where jackals roamed and the dead might not even have been buried. My Father had shielded me from many things in the long years of my life, but tempting fate was a prohibition which was quite explicit, and so I avoided impiety where prudence also counseled wisdom. The scars of my variolation were tiny and would probably fade within a few months to nonexistence, but just because I bore a ward within my blood, did not mean I should callously test it.

Even the finest shield, after all, may be split by repeated blows with a heavy axe. The axiom didn't necessarily hold true for viral immunity, but it was still a cogent principle.

The sailors wouldn't have begrudged me a visit though. The sailors wouldn't have begrudged me if I told them to sail to the Gates of Heracles, so Paul had snorted after talking to some of the crew. They were good lads, out of Virinca's harbor, and seemed very knowledgeable about their own tasks, but a good number were drawn from local Dacian populations and seemed to regard me more as a mystical beast than a man. It was a hot slurry of superstition, genuine awe, and the civic pride which could fill any breast, writ large, and hard to blame them for. Stories became aggrandized in the telling, and I had already had to fend off stories about how I had slain the Norse demon Clara in single combat as her longship burned beneath us, and how I spat coiling smoke from my lips which devoured entire raiding parties wholesale.

They had been a little bit disappointed too when I had not actually turned out to be ten feet tall. But that was a far more common rumor. The difference between a head of height and being a giant here in antiquity, I had learned, mainly stood with how credulous the teller of the tale was, not how realistic the story. It explained well how Anakim like Goliath and the others sons of Gath loomed so large in the collective mythos of the Jews. It wouldn't take much more than a genetic outlier and a few drinks to turn a formidable warrior, tall on account of preferential rearing, broad from martial training from a young age, into a man who no soldier had the stomach to face.

I squinted up at the hills, and held up my fist - the four men at my back dutifully coming to a halt.

"This is a good perspective. Wide clearing, few boulders behind which anyone could hide, and look - " I pointed back down the hill a distance " - a path meanders here from the south, which should be easy enough to climb."

Stephen coughed and laughed.

"Would that you had spied the path before we spent the cool of the morning tramping through that thicket, sir."

I waved a hand, somewhat bashfully. The untamed country about Kniepper had bothered me little when I had first come to this place - it had been invigorating, really - and it was a penchant I had not wholly lost in my love of paved roads and well-maintained channels. This was a gorgeous world to which I had been returned, a place where you could tell the air had been only infrequently breathed, where it was easy to spend but a few minutes walking and feel a holistic connection to nature which only the most secluded portions of my homeland still retained.

"Raise the banner. Dardanus shouldn't feel too uncomfortable meeting us here, whatever his qualms."

Two of the men took the sturdy pole of ash wood they had lugged up the hill and carefully corkscrewed it down into the thick brown earth, removing an oilcloth cover and displaying a length of dyed cloth that fell almost to the ground. The Great Anchor, stained there by pale thread on a field of sable, caught the breeze and fluttered for a few moments before the Blackguards finished pinning it to the standards. It wasn't, not truthfully, large enough to pick out from the Straits. But it should be visible at least as a difference in the broken terrain, and that was really all it needed to do duty as. I adjudged that the lord of Troy had no doubt heard of my standard, and wouldn't be looking for, well, another banner in this desolate land, whatever the case might be.

The breeze that caressed the banner was refreshing, cutting through the thin film of sweat which had beaded upon my brow from our light morning hike. I chose a boulder near the edge of the clearing, and called Stephen over. He was long-suffering, and I appreciated his patience as I pulled several esoteric items from the pack on his shoulders. It was a frivolous thing, to bring supplies for art to a diplomatic meeting, but the timeframe for the king's arrival had been nebulous, and I didn't really have any intention of letting the savage beauty on display here escape untrammeled, at least not if I had a few hours to kill.

It was a luxury, to be sure. If I had been most other men, irredeemably so. Tanya had balked at the price for the cunningly lacquered easel, for the hours I had spent mixing oils and pigments. Her laughter had seemed well-earned when my first pieces had turned out, gloopy messes of art I had embarrassedly dubbed 'abstractionism' to her bemusement. But I had expected little better. The creative uses of the mind had been much neglected even when I had found them easy to employ, in a world of convenience stores and prefabricated canvases. My father and mother had both been people of stolid practicality, and were more impressed by architectural drawings than impressionist landscapes. And spending nearly twenty years forgetting any skill I had once possessed had certainly not been good for my ability.

But there the world was wide, and the years long. How those who had instructed me in the past would have smiled at a decision to return to artistic outlet, where there was so much else which required my attention. Though much of the weight of the Imperium had been passed to my son's stalwart shoulders, I still felt the burden, not of administration so much any more, but history. My actions had inextricably altered the course of human events - as must the actions of every man, I suppose. It might just be the ego speaking. But there were nights when I would have wished for a simple life, that I could have farmed and spun out my days in peace.

So the art. It was a respite, a release, an escape from that weight. And ironically I wasn't too terrible at it, not from the standpoint of this strange era. Modern contrivances, like perspective, lines of sight, projection - if the men who daubed murals on public buildings or grottos understood them, they concealed their knowledge well. Even my understanding of anatomy, developed more in the years since my arrival than retained from the past, was a boon in illustrating the world around me. Not today, obviously, for broken hills do not have muscle that must be correctly layered over bone and sinew. But at other times, oh certainly.

I did notice the sun riding upward towards noon, mainly because the gathering heat of the day beating down on my back reminded me to extend my collar, and made the mixing of the paints a modestly more cantankerous process than would otherwise be the case. But I did not wait overlong in my reverie upon the horizon before Paul interrupted my thoughts.

"Two galleys, rowing for the north shore."

I nodded, and finished the section of the ridgeline upon which I was engaged. The contrast of starkly blue sky - almost white - behind the richly emerald pine-topped hillocks and abyssal stone had proven difficult to exact to my satisfaction. A problem for another day, then. I left the paints on the canvas to dry, carefully rinsing and drying the brushes with a series of small jars that had come from Stephen's pack. After several minutes then I broke down the easel, and sent the canvas back down the hill. No sense in complicating what would already be a multifaceted meeting.

You heard them coming several minutes before they actually arrived - clanking, talking loudly, even a bit of swearing. My expression remained carefully schooled. Dardanus had a reputation as a mercurial man, and we were here as two reasonably unknown parties. It would not do well to antagonize him, in any case. Not that found much profit in antagonizing many persons regardless of their status as warlords of prominent city-states, for that matter.

Five men shortly arrived in the clearing. Four wore the bronze cuirasses and quilted linen armor I expected, while the other man's rich robes and fur-lined cape left no ambiguity about his status. I nodded to him, and raised a hand in greeting as the puffing older king gathering his breath.

"King Dardanus. I thank you for coming."

His head went up and down, nodding, but he did not speak for a few moments, focusing instead on drawing air into his lungs.

"I'll admit - when I suggested meeting on a hill - I did not expect you to choose - a small mountain."

I frowned. This was not exactly a mountain. It couldn't have been more than a few hundred feet in height, and had only taken half of an hour or so to summit. But the expression vanished almost as quickly as it had come, and I nodded gravely.

"I do apologize. My guards thought it best that we stand back a fair distance from the Straits, so any passing vessel might have difficulty distinguishing our banner. The Imperium is known in these lands, and it might not have looked too untoward, but discretion is the better part of diplomacy oftentimes. Here we may speak freely, with nothing save bird or beast to hear our words."

The purple color was fading swiftly from Dardanus' face. I quickly took in his physique, and nodded to myself. You could still see the lion there, a man who must have been a formidable combatant when the flower of youth yet bloomed. Even under finer clothes, and with the doubtless slackening of age having claimed some of his robust musculature, you could pick out the slab-like brutality of a man who had spent many years in heavy armor. He must have been a commander who led from the front - who would still lead from the front, even where discretion might have counseled otherwise.

"So, Dotos tells me you are a king who approves of violence."

Not the words I was expecting. I mulled them for a breath before responding, leaning forward on my stone seat.

"I wouldn't say approve. Violence, in and of itself, gains little. The earth drinks blood shed futilely as happily as blood shed in noble pursuits. But valor and glory, these things are of value."

"Land and power. That's value. Glory, valor. Good qualities, but they fade."

I nodded, not passing comment there. It didn't march exactly - hah, didn't march hardly - with my thoughts on the matter. But it wasn't so far off the mark as to warrant rebuttal, certainly.

"Power for Troy. Power for Odessos. Those are what we need. And the League is weak. If I were ten years young..."

One of his guards shifted at his back, and Dardanus waved a meaty hand at the man.

"Fine! Twenty years younger. There's opportunity here, if we have the wit to take it. Have the ability. And that's what we lack."

I said nothing, and the other man's deep blue eyes caught my gaze, perhaps seeing that I didn't need convincing, had little need for posturing.

"It is this plague. It's the opportunity, but also the reason we lack the ability. The westerners, they've disarmed by and large, counting on the League and their bonds of 'mutual defense' to guard them. Even if they were strong, they can't bring their armies together now. Put a hundred men in a camp in the woods, where they don't bathe, where there aren't streams to carry away offal, and good odds are half of them will be dead or dying within the week."

He paused, and a wide grin studded his face.

"Of course, neither can we. But Dotos says you have a key, as do - " he coughed " - others. A key to this plague, a shield for your men. If you give me that shield, it wouldn't take more than a campaign season to lay low every fool and jackanape between my city and little Baran - hah, we'll make the Propontis into a Trojan lake. That's the thing you see. Power. You have it and the League doesn't. I'm not willing to be shackled to a lifeless corpse - heh, that's what I had my first wife for."

Dardanus was a more boisterous figure than I had expected, to be sure. Far more willing to be forthright about his ambitions, about what he wanted from the Imperium, than even the most candid of reports had indicated.

"So that's what I'm offering. An ally of Troy, for your Emperor." He raised a meaty hand. "And, as Dotos says, fealty from his son in law. I don't hold as much truck with this nonsense about great countries and great cities that my brother thinks is the wave of the future. But your Imperium, it is, I imagine, a strong league of strong cities. Troy will be strong too. It makes sense to join our strength to yours, whatever shape the future brings."

I inclined my head.

"I won't shake your hand, on account of you have yet to receive the Blessing. But what you say has good truth in it. You should know that I bear the League no ill will -"

"You haven't had to deal with those poncy Scholars promising a cure for the plague made out of ox's blood and maiden's milk. The mixture curdled and I vomited for a day straight. I should have had the man beaten, but they frown on that."

" - but no doubt that is strictly a matter of lack of exposure, not a judgement on your antipathy."

I rose from the stone where I had been sitting, amused in spite of myself. This Dardanus was a brawler, a bruiser. You could see why his men followed him, and why he might have short shrift for the League. Such men had large hearts, and I could not imagine his anguish at seeing daughters and sons claimed by the Red Death's stalking embrace while his wise advisors dithered and faltered. I was not so empathetic, a fact for which I thanked God regularly, or my heart would be only so many tatters by now.

"I'm certain you will be a staunch ally to my son, and Troy's grandeur will only increase. I shall send word that the Blessing is to be brought south, and do not hesitate to send word if you have need of more. The Imperium has many soldiers to spare, strong men of great valor who would be honored to fight at your side. Let Troy's ascendancy be a marvel of the world, and cause your enemies to fear."

Despite my words I crossed the clearing, having thought better of them, and clasped Dardanus' arm with mine. It was a fair bargain. And there was a niggling point of satisfaction that played in my head even as we parted ways and descended the hills back towards our respective ships.

The man's name was Dardanus, and he sought dominion over the Dardanelles. Who said God didn't have a good sense of humor?
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UniversalCommons
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Left-Leaning College State

Postby UniversalCommons » Fri May 07, 2021 9:00 am

A New Formulation Against the Plague (Cyrene)

It was strange that until now, they had not had the key to the plague. In a secret room in Cyrene, they had been working with a group of herbalists and men from all over, doctors from Mesopotamia, the Aegean and other places.

It was Scholar Doctor Polykratos who had first discovered that the liver was damaged by the disease as well as the internal organs. With the help of Ashipu’s from Mesopotamia, they had come to an understanding that the secretions of the liver had changed in those with the disease. The liver had become more damp and hot destroying the insides of people with the overheating of the internal organs including the kidneys and eventually, the brain.

One of the Ashipu’s from Ur, Nintuda had discovered this. She had carefully dissected and inspected the differences between healthy livers and a diseased livers from the plague as wells as all the different organs inside a person, the brain, the spleen, the kidneys, and the heart. It was extremely careful work to dissect the dead and was done in secret.

While in the swamps, near the Danube, an expedition from the Daughters of Penelope had brought back thistles to boil on the recommendation of a cunning old woman who lived deep in a swamp. Penelope had investigated the thistles and questioned the Temple of the Goddess about them.

With careful review of previous use of medicine brought by the Daughters of Penelope, they came to realize certain herbs were more effective, ginger, garlic, cumin and other purifiers of the liver seemed to help fight the root cause of the disease. The addition of the boiled thistles strengthened the formula. The mix of herbs would address all the symptoms of the disease including the liver. It would not cure the disease, but it would address the symptoms far better than they previously had.

In addition, Scholar Doctor Lukics had updated his guide to diet with information about dandelion greens, basil, fish oil, and other dietary suggestions. Victor Spear had talked late into with Scholar Doctor Lukics about food and medicine.

A new formulation for the disease was prepared. They had found the old mixer Jan from Gdansk in a tower hidden away. Only with a large payment in gold had he agreed to come to Cyrene.

Jan’s methods allowed for a far more refined version of the formula with higher quality distillation, grinding, and mixing.

Four batches of the new medicine were sent to four different groups of patients, two who took the new formula, and two which did not. Many more of the people who took the new formula survived. A light was opening in the darkness.

The first large shipment went out with the new formulation to the Nestos League and its allies.

Ur, The Temple of Inanna

It was a small room in the marketplace. A place to take your children. A place almost forgotten eclipsed by the temple of Ishtar, the new incarnation of Inanna.

Enlil and Kug Bau went to the small temple of Inanna. The Good Wife took askance at them.

She said, "Go away. You don't follow the old ways. You can't come here. I recognize you Enlil, you are here to take my secrets."

Enlil, "But I seek the cure for the plague. I seek to help everyone."

Good Wife Namshita, "Go away, we don't want your ilk around here. You'll never find me again. What you have done to Inanna is unspeakable."

Kug Bau, "But, I seek help as well."

Good Wife Namshite, "No, you shall get no help from me. I shall not give you my blessing. You look like you are not from around here. Foreigner go away."

Four large men approach the door. "You are bothering the good wife. Don't bother the good wife. Go, get out of here. She does not want you around."

She looks at Kug Bau, "If you must know go to the Ashipu Namtilla in the red square. Of course, he is not as good as me. But, I would rather not see you die, even though you are an outlander. Now get out of here."

Enlil and Kug Bau search around for some time, but do not find Ashipu Namtilla.

Kug Bau went to the an Ashipu in the market and asked if there was such a person as Ashipu Namtilla. The Ashipu laughed at him.

The ashipu said, "Ashipu Namtilla is long dead. We read about him when we attend medical apprenticeships. There are many stories about Ashipu Namtilla. Lots of them. They always have an important point. He lived over a hundred years ago."
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Sat May 08, 2021 5:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Prairistan » Fri May 07, 2021 4:41 pm

DAY 3 (still)
Ali gave Benjamin his extra sheepskin, some nut, dried apple chunks, and roasted mutton in a small hide satchel. "Safe travels, my friend." I'll see ya Ali. Goodbye." With that, Ben started hiking eastward, to Siwan.

After a few days, the food supplies had drained out, and Ben was without water."Could I... oh yeah!" He grabbed some fallen branches from the grass, some rocks, and a large clay lump. A while later, he had rigged up a fire and a stand, of sorts, over it. The stand was made from branches dipped in the sea then propped up into a grill structure. Ben molded a crude bowl of clay and set it on the grill.

He put on the sheepskin. "Too loose. I Gotta tighten this later. Oh, the bowl looks done." The bowl was removed from the grill and filled to the ugly brim with water. After another hour on the heat, Ben finally could drink. "Now, just got to pack up and get hiking." One clay sphere baked and filled with pure water later, Ben packed up and kept going.

DAY 30
Several weeks later, he found a village on the coast he had been following. "Anyone here from Siwan?" Everyone looked at him. While Ben couldn't see their whole faces due to their linen masks, they seemed upset by the mention of, "Siwan". "Ok then." On closer inspection, these huts were made from hide, stretched over a frame that was presumably made from wood. One of the inhabitants said, "No. We are nomadic sheepherders. The Siwanese have historically attacked us for being nomads." "Oh."

Benjamin decided that it would be best to stay here for a while. He asked the nomad man, "Hey, can I stay here for a bit?" "Help us around here, then you can."

That evening, he sat in a hut he had been given for his services shearing a large portion of the flock the tribe had. It had been hard work. Ben sat thinking, then he realized that there were no nomads in any area of Earth resembling here. "I must be dreaming. Dreams end if you sleep in them though. Am I... back in time or something? It would explain the lack of modern technology and the existence of "Siwan". Ok, what to do next. I must be here for a purpose. Sent here. But why?". He removed his sheepskin and put on some fluffy warm clothes he had bought and went to sleep on the palm-frond/wool mat.
Last edited by Prairistan on Fri May 07, 2021 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This some what represents my views, with a few exceptions.
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Uzbekstaland
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Moralistic Democracy

Postby Uzbekstaland » Fri May 07, 2021 11:30 pm

Joshua Edmonds


Month 1
As the recourses in the region seemed to be plentiful I began conversing and acquainting myself with the local clansmen. They would take me on a hunting trip where they would brag and boast about their accomplishments, The hunt lasted for maybe 3 hours before a 2 large male aurochs were spotted, We tailed them and split into three different groups, I was given an old spear which i had little experience with, I had to learn on the fly but with my prior knowledge of using pike type weapons I was able to stab one bovine from behind, Crippling it and letting the other men finish it off.

We then took them home for a communal feast as the animals were just big enough for everyone to get a fair share. Although the Hunters didn't seem fond of me, they still showed me that I was beginning to earn their respect. So I practiced fighting and hunting with them more often, Maybe around 25 days had passed since I had met them and only now did they begin to acquaint themselves to me.

Month 2

Mabye about three days later 30 men from a rival clan came to our settlement and demanded 25% of our recourses, This request was promptly denied as we had skilled warriors in case of an invasion, The men upon hearing our answer burned a yurt and retreated saying they would be back with around 100 men, This would prompt the Chieftain to prepare for battle but we only could muster up 80 men, I although being one of the lowest rank in the hierarchy was able to secure a spot and begin training, This is where I would try to introduce the tactic as the 100 men would be approaching in a group. As they would approach the archers would rain down arrows on them while The Chief Kulan would Have his men attack right after the arrow volleys finished, Which left 20 more men, I advised they split into two different groups and attack from the sides. And the cheif decided that wouldnt be a bad idea.


As soon as our archers finished the Chieftain lead his men armed with short spears to battle, They were able to hold back the First wave as My group would attack from the left, We would take down their 15 archers with fair ease, Leaving the Attacking army at a clear disadvantage, From there we would attack from behind but someone spotted us and they were able to route a small defensive line to our position to stop us from interfering with the main fight, As I ran forward with my spear I barely dodged a thrown spear and was skimmed, That spear hit the ground but i still felt pain from the cut. I immediately pierced right through the gut of one of the defenders in the back line which allowed me to help a fellow soldier strike down another man, The archers rained down the second volley but 5 men from the enemy army were able to bypass Kulan's defense and attack the village, They set ablaze another Yurt Not far from the one I stayed in before the archers struck them down. I rushed at their chieftain with full force, He caught me and struck me down with a punch to my chest, I had basically no time to recover before he pierced my arm, The pain felt soo real although I had thought this was a simulation. He then proceeded to skim my leg with a missed jab, Allowing me to stand up and kick him in the chest, Knocking him down before a friendly soldier pierced, this ended up being a fatal blow and killed him on the scene.

By now We had been able to join back up with Chief Kulans army although they had began to loose ground, We reinforced the Line defending the Entrance from one end and attacked from all four sides, This allowed for the full encirclement of the Enemy army which allowed us to basically destroy them.


Out of our 80 soldiers 30 had been either killed or injured

Out of their 100 men 45 had been slain most of which were archers.

In the treaty We forced them to pledge loyalty or die since their chieftain was now dead, After this we took 25% of their recourses and began rebuilding the destroyed yurts.



Month Three

With the Victory Cheif Kulan slowly began to trust me more with more tasks, With the bodies of the dead now buried we would begin celebration and pay tribute to those who died for the cause of our clan. Now that a second settlement was under our control and was fairly simple to defend Me and some other men would go to help them with any reconstruction efforts needed. With this now out of the way Kulan declared himself the ruler of the people and with our population being the larger one It was hard for the newly acquired "Slaves" to disagree.
American, Conservative, Looking to learn the view of the world.
The Media's evil dont eat what they feedin you their liars, deceitful and half of them probably evil

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

Postby UniversalCommons » Sat May 08, 2021 3:05 am

In a Fort on The Danube (Enyo)

Enyo stood not far from the Dacian leader bound next to her.

The leader spoke, "I will not yield to you. You are soft."

Enyo laughed, then spoke, "We broke you before you had a chance. We found you and hunted you and showed the patience of the wolf stalking its prey. Are you a wolf? Have you forgotten who you are? We waited until you slept, wounded you and tracked you, caught you on the road and defeated you. The anchor has been tied around your neck by the Imperium. Do you not see my banner. I am a wolf, a free person, I serve of my own accord. I do not bend the knee and give away my soul.

The wolf does not speak of valor. She hunts with her pack and brings down her foe. I see wolves upon your shields, but you are not one. The wolf is a shadow, like water. She pounces when you look away. She finds the blindspot where you cannot see. I am the water that breaks the bridge which no sword blade can touch. I am the wind which throws the sand in the warriors eyes. I bend in the wind, but do not break. Iron is brittle it shatters or rusts. Can you fight me, not one of your men would defeat me in battle. I have studied the way and become the wolf, the shadow, and the warrior.

Enyo picks up a leaded iron hammer. Could you even pick this up. Your men talked about how weak we are. Not one of them can wield this. This can break the helm of the strongest man. We have men who can wield these. It requires a strength and mastery which few people have.

Are you not a wolf? The Dacians are wolves if they remember how to be them. The Thracians are wolves if they remember how to be them. The wolf takes care of its pack. We have not run in fear from the Imperium. This talk of weakness, it is a sign of fear. You do not present a man as weak, if you do not fear them. We shall speak by our actions. Many of us live by the way that is upright, strong, and honorable. The wise will see this fear.

By our actions we will show the iron men what we are made of. I ask you not to yield, but to stand. There are things which free men can do. It is a waste to cage the wolf.

The Dacian Leader, "You are a woman. There is no place for a woman in battle. You should be raising children."

Enyo, "I became a warrior so others could have a place for their children free from raiders, slavers, and nomads. Do you think that I do not know you? I learned from a Dacian warrior Zia who showed us the way of the wolf, the hunter and warrior. I speak your language. You are more of a brother to me than any Imperial will ever be."

A Dacian enters the room with a mask. "This man came to me because he saw a deeper truth. He would never again be a wolf if he stayed under the Imperium. He could never be himself again. There will be no end to the expansion of the Imperium. They come to take what is not theirs to take. Do you think you are not the only outlaws. Many peoples have lost their homes. Tribes with nowhere to go. I picked some of the strongest of their young men and women when they came to me and said they had no home, no place to return because the Imperials had taken it in battle."

The Dacian Leader, "You are wrong. We fled the Imperium seeking a place to be where we could be men. We thought you were weak and would be easy prey. You are strange and dangerous. I will not be taken in by you."

Enyo, "You are wrong. It is not you who I will be able to change, it is your men. They see there is no future in raiding us. You will be a worker in the mines of Thassos because you cannot change and see the light. It can be dark in the mines. The ones who are free of the plague, they are willing to head south to where they will not be as well known to serve under Diaghis the Wolf of the Sea. They will fight pirates, prevent plague ships, and learn to be warriors again under a new leader. They heard the name Diaghis and it kindled their heart. Diaghis is like a flame. It is a Dacian name. There is a place for them among the Thracians. The Sea Wolves name it is spreading among the Dacians, Illyrians, and Thracians. More come to serve him. They will be wolves again. No words from the Imperium will change his deeds."
Last edited by UniversalCommons on Sat May 08, 2021 5:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Orostan
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Founded: May 02, 2016
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Orostan » Sat May 08, 2021 9:29 am

Aaron Dawson's Story

Year 9 Month 8 Chinese Imperial Calendar


Aaron's kids had got slightly older, and in a few years Aaron wanted them attending regular school. School was something only about twenty percent of all the children could attend at once and was mostly based around a two year course for literacy and basic thinking skills. More advanced courses regarding math and the like were there, of course, but those were done on a far less formal basis and less frequently. As it was China had enough trouble teaching its kids and adults how to read and write. Language itself was an issue too - the southern regions of China spoke different languages than the northern regions and there were dialects and smaller languages sprinkled everywhere. Due to trade being a somewhat common affair before Aaron it was not impossible to run the state with this many languages around. It was only difficult, and more difficult now that a significant portion of country's military forces had been annihilated in a war against rebels and its northern neighbors. They'd won the war but at great human, material, and political cost. That human cost hurt, but what had hurt more was the Donghu essentially running off with a great deal of iron that Aaron had given them not to attack China and then attacking China anyways. That move had even provoked criticism from Tan who had normally agreed with Aaron's decisions. Tan very much approved of Aaron's order to destroy the Donghu kingdom and split its land amongst its enemies who had taken the opportunity to invade their enemy after the Chinese army had done most of the hard work.

Those new kingdoms in the north were dependent on China at least. They dug up iron in the hills and needed to trade with China for more advanced goods and finished iron products. It was always better to have a good relationship with your neighbors than killing them Aaron thought. It also struck him that he had killed many of his neighbors. It strangely did not bother him as much as he thought. The quote from Warhammer 40k "Life is the Emperors currency, spend it well" applied here. Only he was called the 'Emperor' and wasn't sure if he was spending his currency well.

Aaron's thoughts drifted back to his children. Fai and Lei were getting bigger all the time. Both had said their first words shortly after their first birthday and both were getting better at talking. They'd begun saying words in the dialect of Chinese that Luoyang spoke as well as English, which Xuan also wanted Aaron to teach her. Both Aaron and Xuan in addition to parenting had their government responsibilities to take care of and Aaron felt as if he'd hibernate for a year once he could. Xuan frequently spoke to Aaron about her engineering projects when she could and had absolutely no desire to hibernate. Shortly after the kids were born Xuan had begun to recover from the experience and even take things better than Aaron. She still somehow had the time to run the education ministry, draw up new designs for machines, and parent. She was a terrific parent, and it was largely because of her that Aaron felt he was even able to survive all this.

Then one of Aaron's children ran onto the balcony where he was sitting. His daughter tugged at her father's robe, and Aaron stood up to attend to her. He picked her up under the shoulders and carried her inside, closing the wood door that separated the balcony from the outside world. It was getting late and the city was

A few hundred meters away Tan was sitting over a dark wood table with several government ministers in the government headquarters building. Tan always worked late, and no matter how much Aaron or his wife asked him not to. He only took one day off every week but on that day would not accept any sort of work. His schedule had been matched by bureaucrats around China that were trying to impress the Prime Minister. In this windowless meeting room wedged in between the People's Assembly chamber and a statistics office Tan was drawing up the final words of a new constitution for the People's Government of China. Aaron and him had agreed that the current documents regarding China's legal foundation and government structure had grown increasingly inefficient. The new constitution would abolish or change many of them. The People's Assembly would have largely the same powers it did before, but rather than provinces being created based on only its own whims there would be standardized procedures. Provinces would have to be of a certain area or population, or failing those measurements a certain level of economic productivity that was equal to or greater than 75% of the most productive other province's production. The interactions of provincial bureaucrats with the central government would also be standardized. The central government would not only be authorized to take control of a province's militia or government in emergencies, its orders would always supersede those of the provinces. Provincial judges would also have the law greatly simplified and their ability to apply different punishments for the same crime curtailed. A few stories had been circulating in the urban political press regarding the wildly differing standards of punishment across China. It was so bad that what could get someone only a slap on the wrist in Linzi could get someone sentenced to a year of hard labor in Xicheng. The existence of the Military Governorate system was to be removed despite the objections of the Tan's friend Lu, who was chief of the military. Instead, all new territory would be integrated as provinces at once or put into existing provinces that would be charged with integrating the new territory.

The law, in Tan's mind, was not just a simple set of rules put from ink onto bamboo. It was what held society together and kept men from massacring each other in the street. After Chinese armies under the Chief of the Military himself had set the Donghu's capitol far in the north ablaze and returned China's wealth to her Tan had gone to the north to see the devastation of war himself. The memory of a village's ruins and the remains of the people there burned in his mind when he wrote down the rules regarding the military governorate system. If only he had seen it earlier! If only he could have prevented villages like his from being obliterated!

It was this feeling that increasingly motivated Tan lately. Aaron had told him of his future, too. Tan had heard of weapons that could obliterate cities and he had heard from Aaron how many great empires ended including some that supposedly were founded by his people's descendants in the far future. Aaron had explained to him that it was his objective and obligation to stop the mistakes of the future before they could happen. Tan after hearing what those mistakes were agreed with him, in fact he believed it more than Aaron did in a number of ways. His actions before this point had always been aimed at bringing society now under the right control but from now on they would have to be based on bringing the entire future under control. To do all that there needed to be law and a structure of society so well made that its destruction was impossible. As a symbol of this society Tan had adopted the symbol of a great state that Aaron had drawn once for him during conversation. Tan liked the symbol but was wary of simply copying a state that had ultimately failed so made an addition to it. Rather than just a sickle for the farmers and hammer for the workers over each other the tools of labor would be supplemented by a feather underneath the bend of the sickle to support them and represent the teachers and administrators of society. All of this would be in white over the usual red flag of the middle kingdom to form a new flag just for the state. Tan had not informed Aaron about the new flag idea yet and still had to seek his approval for it but had liked the flag enough to put one in the conference room he was speaking to the ministers in.

Apart from the issue of political reform, Aaron had tasked Tan with drafting a population policy for the future regarding tribes requesting to settle on Chinese lands. It was becoming apparent that China was a very rich country with plenty of uncultivated but very fertile land. The introduction of larger and more advanced irrigation systems in the south along the Yangtze had greatly boosted agricultural production to the point where China ran a large food surplus last year. Chinese border provinces had already begun providing small groups of nomads with housing and food in exchange for labor and Tan wanted to make this policy official. He believed that China should literally import people from all around its borders to work in exchange for support from Chinese society. The old method of "playing wide" as Aaron liked to term it was no longer possible and it was necessary to have people come to China rather than China come to them. Massive infrastructure projects like a canal to link all the major river systems of China and the continued expansion of the road system would require additional labor, and rather than waiting for the population to grow naturally it was far better to allow nomads to settle in Chinese territory. Who knows, one day they might even become Chinese.

Yong - Qin Province

Cui Zexi was a full time soldier in the Yan Provincial army. He lived in the barracks in the city of Yong and every day held a halberd at the city's entrance to protect its gates. Today he was sitting on a wood box chewing on a fruit he'd found in the city's marketplace that morning on his way to work. Zexi's halberd was leaned against the stone city walls. It leaned up there next to a patch of missing lime mortar covering that showed the zig-zag junction between two big stone blocks. That kept the blocks more stable than otherwise, Zexi had read. Reading itself was something Zexi had only recently learned. He had joined the militia voluntarily and that automatically gave him and his family priority when it came to education. His brother benefited from that greatly and was training to be an engineer in Luoyang.

Zexi's thoughts were interrupted when two aurochs pulling a cart came out of the tree line along the road far in front of him past the fields that surrounded the city. It was followed by another, and another after that. The carts were probably another Xirong tribe that had agreed to move into China. Walking besides the carts were central government soldiers and provincial militiamen. These tribes had been promised with protection from their enemies and easy access to food if they would come work in China. Zexi should know, his family along with several others had migrated here ten years ago.

Zexi stood up as the carts approached the gates. The other guards opened the gates and the carts went through one after the other. He saluted a central government captain he recognized in the lead cart. As he passed he looked down and nodded at Zexi, so he sat down again. Zexi wondered how many more times a Xirong tribe would migrate into Yong - this was the third one this week.
“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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Joohan
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Founded: Jan 11, 2018
Authoritarian Democracy

Postby Joohan » Sat May 08, 2021 3:38 pm

WHOSE GONNA PRAY FOR ME


For days we'd traveled, our train of hundreds stretching over hills, down into valleys, and around mountain sides, stopping only as the nightly cold fell upon us, then back again with the warmth of morning. We'd left behind the warm southern valley's i'd come to cherish, taking our herds northward to graze along infinite fields and cold arid plains once more. Over a year I'd spent traversing, trekking hundreds of miles across this land, my new and alien home, and I was beginning to understand it more - if only faintly. Though perhaps difficult to tell, given that mountains still dominated every angle of the horizon, I was almost certain that our northward march was downhill. Though each mountain we passed by seemed just as steep as the last, and our legs aching no less, the taste of the air became more palatable. With each coming morning I realized that I could breath easier than the day before.

I silently laughed at the thought, breathing easy; I hadn't known easy breathing since the day I arrived. My first few months here were spent wheezing and fainting in the bitter air, every day chores requiring an incredible amount of willpower to overcome. Yet here I was, over a year later, alive and well, still wandering these frigid barren plains.

My eyes narrowed on the frayed bit of sinew still unbound at the end of the chord which my fingers meticulously attempted to twist and roll into itself. With the sun having fell behind some hill, the remaining light of day was beginning to fade, and soon I would only have firelight by which to guide my hands on their task. I knew the bow that that red skin had gifted me was too good to be true, for only just the day before i'd finally worn the string down to frays. I'd gotten hundreds of shots out of the thing though, certainly worth my metaphorical money's worth, and that I should have been eventually forced to repair my new found tool was inevitable. I only wish that i'd have asked the merchant just what fibers he used to make the string? Leaving me with little option, I'd opted using the long elastic sinews of the white mouthed deer that flourished among these hills. For what the grasslands lacked in the way of timber, it more than made up for with bone, hide, sinew, horn, and ivory.

We'd stopped for the day, settling ourselves in a wide berthed valley which shielded us on either side away from chilling winds, and gave plenty of flat ground for us to comfortably pitch our rudimentary tents ( not our grander and more complex yurts, which we only set up for long term stays ). The warmth that had washed over us down in the Sangda valley's had almost deceived me into thinking that summer had finally come to the frigid plains also. No matter what season it seemed, however, the plains never warmed much at all, remaining almost perpetually dry and cold year round, and seldom deviating toward either extreme. I'd gotten used to that too though, along with the bitter thin air.

" A thief then, is that what you've become Itzhag? A terrible sneak and vulture to the pray of your betters? That must be the case, as there is no way you harvested that sinew by actually felling a deer by your own hand. " A fellow herdsman who'd sat himself down in our small group of younger men chided me, looking over at me as he used a bone pick to dig the dirt from out under his finger nails. Finally satisfied in having brought all the lose frays together in a tight bundle, I looped the end of my flesh wrung string round my thumb and knotted the lose end off.

" No Sangye, I didn't need to steal anything; these sinew were a gift. " As I pushed off my knees to raise myself up off the ground, I lowered a mischievous grin towards the still sitting Sangye.

" From your mother. " True across seemingly every time and place across the ages, mentioning of another man's mother tended to get peoples attention, and of the other men who were present to witness the exchange, nearly all of them had plied their eyes toward the two of us, half cocked grins barely hidden from view.

" Long bits of flesh given to me, in appreciation for the long bit of flesh I gave her. "

I saw Sangye break out into a smile and chuckle some at the remark, taking it in good humor, before retorting in kind, " Oh? And here i'd thought your passions lie still with shaggier creatures? "

" Well in truth i'd thought I was with a Yak at the time of our meeting - only when i'd reached down and grabbed a handful of utter did she reach back and grab a handful of something else. Oooh, we both moo'ed then. "

Chuckles all around, and with that titillating thought I exited our small circle with my string in tow, leaving my peers behind to ponder on the sensual image of me being fondled by a yak. Funny that they should laugh, seeing as how they're willing to kill and maim over just such a crime. It had been some weeks since the incident with Jampa and Boshay, and still every time I thought back on it it left a bitter dry taste in my mouth.

All around over the valley, people, friends and family, sat lounging about in circles, conversing, setting up their tents for the night, preparing small meals, or playing the games which were fond to them. These brief dusk hours would be the only time we had to do what miscellaneous tasks which needed done, before we were all off to a well deserved nights rest, then up and at'em at the crack of dawn to start upon our journey once again in the early morning. As I weaved around these circles of activity and leisure, my eyes could not help but be drawn towards the ungloved hands of the persons within. Long, jagged scars, running down the whole length of the hand, nearly every adult had them on at least one of their hands. The sadistic retribution i'd seen inflicted on Jampa weeks ago now seemed even more tragic, knowing that what had happened to him had stemmed from a long line of internalized familial abuse. It had happened hundreds of times before, perhaps thousands. Children grew up fearing, perhaps very well expecting their hands to be torn open by the claw in the same humiliating way as done to their parents. It was a blood curdling revelation, and even worse, deep down, I knew that I feared it happening to me as well.

I'd gotten used to a lot of other things though: ever present cold, sparse rations, constant filth, the smell of burning dung - in time, I was sure that i'd probably get used to that fear as well, and I didn't know how I felt about that thought.

Near the peripheries of where we'd settled ourselves in the valley was about where i'd put down my personal belongings, next my own modest tent. For their nightly tents, the Kester-Ana made their shelters big enough for just two grown adults to fit snuggly, or for one me to fit quite comfortably on my own ( you wouldn't think being clanless had any benefits, but it occasionally did ). I owned very little in the way of worldly possessions, though I felt quite satisfied with what I did have: A large hide sack which I used to wrap all my possessions and throw over a camel or yak during marches, a smaller multipurpose shoulder bag which I could use more easily to carry items on foot, two tunics, a pair of woolen socks, a pair of moccasins, a scarf made from soft interior camel fur, a yak skin and fur hat, camel fur gloves, a water skin, my own small tent, an unused sling, six arrows ( five of which i'd crafted myself ), the bow gifted to me by the red skin at Phobalhan, a slate knife, and a piece of shale to sharpen it with. All in all, I think the whole load weighted something less than seventy pounds, and with a bit of finagling with the larger hide sack I could easily carry everything in the world I owned. I lived a paupers life, a hermetic existence compared to the world i'd left behind, but I didn't feel sad at the thought; i'd never needed alot, nor desired much in terms of material possession. So long as I was able to pursue my own goals without hinderance I was satisifed.

In front of my tent were four pole stakes intended for the yurts, set up and tied together around a fifth stake centered across the top; looking like the set up to a very tall tent that had yet to be covered. As I'd previously laid out all my worldly possessions, yurts most definitively were not mentioned as being part of that list, nor for that matter any of their stakes and or poles. I'd borrowed some stakes for my own ends, relieving them from the rest of the cargo which clung round the bellies of my camel herd, set to rest out in the pasture for the night. We weren't setting up the yurts that evening, and so no one was going to miss it if I happened to borrow a few for just tonight - certainly they did more help to me than they did anyone else just sitting in their bag. I drew out the length of the sinew chord I spun together, holding it in both hands and giving it a firm tug, testing it's strength before undoing one of it's knots and tying the end round the top stake. Even though my original plan of learning from the Ana's privileged band of hunters had never bore fruit, i'd still learned much from just being around the others. It wasn't only smack talk my captors taught me, but I could very well take care of most my own needs now by this point. From cleaning virtually every morsel of meat and sinew from off the bone of an animal, to identifying what variety of the local flora was edible and or poisonous, to even the gut wrenchingly disgusting process of making leather, I was hardly the same helpless child these people had picked up over a year ago.

It would take a few hours for the glue to dry from the sinew, that was about my window to stretch the string out to the length it needed to be. Picking up one of the the larger stones from off the ground, I wrapped the bottom end of the string round the stone, letting it hang suspended below the stakes, gently swaying from side to. It was about a foot off the ground, though by the time I came to check on it in the morning, I expected it be half that. As the string lengthened, the width would shrink to about an eighth of an inch, which I hazard to say would be more than sufficient for my bow.

Taking a step back to admire my work, I placed my hands on my hips, gazing at the gentle swaying of the sinew and stone bound below it. It was a little thing, this, my making string - people had been doing it for eons - but here I was actually doing it for myself! All our adult lives we'd learned skills which could only be useful in a modern decadent world, and had forgotten what it meant to actually survive on our own merit. For me though, a feeling in my chest told me that tying all those little strands together had been infinitely more important than any excel spreadsheet i'd ever written in my old life, and I was tempted to agree. I looked over either shoulder, to see if anyone else was around to admire my handy work, but to no avail; everyone else were still out with their kin.

" Hmm. "

Peering over one of the hills which created the valley where we dwelt, I could still see some orange tinge left in the sky. Not quite nightfall just yet. In truth, the string wasn't my only labor to accomplish that night. I still took time every night to train with Wesley. My and Dote's escapade to help the exiled Boshay had been the first time i'd shown anyone what it was I was trying to accomplish with the camels. I kept the thing a secret cause I didn't know what the rest of the clan might think of it, but i'd gambled on Dote not caring any. Making Wesley come to me at command, to sit and raise with only a word, and even while I was sat atop him to move as I commanded him, Dote was impressed as well as intrigued at our spectacle ( to be fair I was pretty impressed to, as Wesley didn't typically respond as well as he did that night to my commands normally ). Getting Dote up on Wesley's back had been another matter though; hopping up onto the top of a camels back was a game left behind with the litheness of childhood. Dote was a grown man now, who'd forgotten the sure footing of his youth. Without a proper saddle, he would have to desperately wrap himself around Wesley's rear hump and maintain the uncomfortable position for the duration of our journey. We'd made excellent time in tracking down Boshay down stream our village, Wesley had preformed admirably in our first and longest voyage and I'd nearly raised my hopes in thinking he was finally domesticated; the return journey though had brought us all back down to reality as he'd walked no more than a mile before suddenly stopping in place, and sitting himself upon the ground, refusing to go any further so long as we rode atop his back. We'd wound up having to walk the rest of the way home, the three of us.

I found myself starting to walk my way up the side of that hill, slowly trudging one leg in front of the other. In my old life, i'd loved to go on walks, hours long, miles away, across whole towns and deep into backwoods, day or night, summer or winter, I loved the sense of solace and exploration. Though we'd been walking practically every moment of every day for a few weeks by that point, this was the first time in a long while I was able to go out on my own, to walk at my own pace where ever I so choose. As I crested over the top of the hill, the winds which our valley had protected us from immediately swept over me. My tunic clung tightly round my chest as the excess hide fluttered behind me, the cold chilling and refreshing all at once. From atop the hill I saw the sun begin to crest just below the distant horizon, less than a quarter of it left shining upon the world. I might of tried thinking of some poetic bullshit for it symbolize about my life, were I not so tired already.

An icy dreadful feeling suddenly began creeping up my spine, rolling into my mind like some poisoned thought, and the worry gave itself a name. Boshay, the exile, Dote's chosen shame, where might you be now? We'd left her upon the stone where we'd found her weeks ago, the six days of provisions surely run out by now. We'd told her to go and search for her tribe, I had assured her that they would take her back. After a few weeks of mulling over what I had promised her though, I wasn't really sure of that anymore. I lowered myself to the ground, suddenly I didn't feel like walking much anymore - content to let the cold breeze wash over me as I watched the sun dip down over the horizon for good.

Pray for me, she'd said; God knows she needed it. I and Dote, we may have just been prolonging the inevitable, sending her off to track down a clan that didn't want her anymore. Honor to these people, the Perma, the Michewa, all the blasted descendants of Kester and Pho, it was a deathly serious. Mutilating your children for familial shame, like what had been done to Jampa, was considered getting off easy - if Boshay's clan was anything like the Leopard Claws, I could very well see her being sent back to freeze or starve out among the hills.

Just like how I almost had.

I didn't know her, i'd never once talked to her before her exile, but now suddenly I felt like I was directly responsible for her welfare - and that I was some how failing. I didn't know how Dote was handling things, we hadn't talked about the incident since the night it happened, though I'm sure he felt the same way. Jampa, I don't know. We weren't as close, our age difference far enough that I still looked at him as being kind of a kid. From afar, I suppose, it looked like he'd gotten more quiet though. No one mentioned what happened around him or any of the other Michewa - which considering the Ana's love for smack talk was a pretty big red flag.

Hadn't it been Seneca or Aurelius' who'd said something like, " the world outside your mind is beyond your control, so only worry for that which you could control? " . Well, i'd done just about everything I could for this person who I wasn't at all bound to help in the fist place: i'd snuck away from my home, stealing a camel in the process; transversed over unfamiliar country at night with only vague direction of where to go; and delivered supplies and aid to a woman i'd never spoken with in my life. The only thing which i'd not done yet for her was fulfill the one request she actually had asked of me. How do I pray for her?

I was a Christian, and I had been for all my life. It wasn't some unconscious belief that had been drilled into me as a kid; my parents were apathic and atheist towards anything relating towards the spiritual. My first experiences with God had been church and private school as a kid, being taught all the stories of Noah and his arc, Jonah and the whale, Joseph and his cloak - it wasn't until the angsty teenage years that i'd really begun having doubts about everything. How to reconcile heartfelt belief without proof, morality vs apathy, and all manner of anxiety inducing quandaries. With age though came more certainty in myself, and I became more certain of the existence of God; for me, proof lied in the beauty of the universe - it was all too big and beautiful for there not to be a God. A year though, i'd spent walking across endless frozen plains on an alien world, plucked from my existence without explanation to preform grueling disgusting work every day just so that I might repeat my labors again the next. My existence here seemed to defy reason, no burning bush, no logical cause, no call to arms, just plopped here by the universe - and given no clue as to why.

I believed in a God, far greater than the matriarchal wind-maker honored by my fellow plains dwellers, but I wasn't so sure that it was the merciful father i'd come to know in my old life. Sitting atop that hill, letting the cold of night wash over me, I pushed my frozen joints together, raising myself up off the ground, making my way down the other side of the hill and toward our camel herd - intent to begin my nightly ritual with Wesley. Night had finally fallen, and the cold had begun to wash over this cosmological joke i'd come to call my new life.

The truth is Boshay, I want to pray for you, but I don't know if there's anyone worth praying to. Whose gonna pray for me?
Last edited by Joohan on Sat May 08, 2021 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you need a witness look to yourself

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism!


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Prairistan
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Founded: Feb 23, 2021
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Prairistan » Sat May 08, 2021 5:27 pm

DAY 32
Ben sat up, strectching his arms out wide. "Good morning odd land." A woman came to the entrance of his hut saying, "Come out soon. You are needed for more shearing, stranger." "Name's Ben." "Nice to meet you, Ben." "You too."

After roughly fifteen minutes of dressing and pondering, Ben came out to shear.

Eventually, around noon, some semi-armored men wielding bronze spears while on donkeyback rode over to the group. Others from the nomad village nabbed their weapons, mostly knives and spears, ran over. 20 armed villagers facing 5 donkey bandits. The head thief told them, "Hand over your wool and you'll be left in peace."

Ben slowly raised his shears, pulled them apart into two blades, and launched them at the head thief. One blade sailed past his head by two inches. The other lodged itself in the back of his neck, promptly killing him. "Hey donkeyholes! GIT!" Two thieves raised their spears and the others fled. Armed shepherds surround the foolish pair and took their armor, donkeys, and coins.

Ben arrived in the chief hut. The really old chief, like sixty-something, greeted him. "Hello." "Can I keep a donkey?", Ben asked the chief. "Yes." "Ok, thank you." Just as Ben was exiting the large chief tent, the chieftain stopped him. "You, however, have likely sparked a possible bandit raid. You seem brave, and need a punishment. Will you lead some of us into battle? Five of us are trained and armed. Fifteen are just armed. Thirty-seven of us have no training or gear. Oh, and fix the shears." "Yes and yes, chief."
This some what represents my views, with a few exceptions.
New Civilizations III rules!
Don't screw with me politically. I dislike it.

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