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TNES VII - Consider the Laurel


Le Pétit Prince
Jun 2, 2005
In the desert
The first mistake the gods made was in giving man ambition.

It was in that choice that they gave him, even in a rock or a clod of dirt, the weapon with which to bring their end.

-Alcidus of Dianthea, semi-apocryphal, ~250s FA
Consider the Laurel is a Never Ending Story, a roleplaying, worldbuilding strategy game with strong narrative elements. The ancients once made many such games, set on other worlds, or on our own. They incorporated history, politics, biology, fantasy, science fiction, pop culture, and many other genres. In their day, they attracted some of the most intelligent and creative young minds of their generation. And then, one by one, as the world changed and the medium in which they were created diminished due to economic and technological forces, they vanished.

Until now.

This thread is for public pronouncements, stories, and the public posting of updates. Anyone and everyone is welcome to ask questions or express interest as well.

The game incorporates the use of the #nes Discord server, where players can talk more casually about the game, negotiate and ask questions. Players may send orders either via CFC PM or via Discord DM. Between turns, military and diplomatic maneuvers, as well as sieges and field battles, (known as the operational and tactical phases,) will occur in Discord DM groups, however we can also use the #nes IRC network (now active on irc.synirc.net) or CFC PMs at player preference.

This NES is co-run with Terrance, who has been an essential partner in developing every system from the ground up over the past 2 years of development. Please feel free to ask him questions or consult us together.

Consider the Laurel is not purely a strategy game, a worldbuilding exercise, or a collective narrative adventure. It is all of these, and more. Whether as an observer or a participant, we hope that you are in equal measure entertained, thrilled, and terrified in considering the laurel.
Public Resources:

(Warning: Large map file sizes. These may take time to load. Loading on PC or Mac with good system specifications recommended.)
-Character backgrounds, unique abilities, IC previews of starting situation, etc.
-Please read the attached explainer for details on each file.
5) Updated geographic & cultural maps (see preview thread for drafts) - pending.
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Reserved in the name of Valian Emperor Carian, whose mastery in diplomacy and war we may yet see again, if only the worthy choose to Consider the Laurel.

You are all now welcome to post! Let the games begin!
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Governor Paraves Anchiornis, entrusted by the former Emperor with the stewardship of the island of Aetheria, finest province of Valia, is ready to do his duty to gods and empire. May the gods grant us a quick and decisive end to the current crisis.
Scaius Rota said to his champion:
"I know of the next day: Four beasts come with the morning sun. The sparrow, the wolf, the horse, and the serpent. A wounded leper lies by the walls of a city. First, the bird pecks at his eye, and he turns away. The wolf bites his hand, so he pulls it back. The horse tramples him, and he winces. Last, the serpent swallows him, as he says nothing. And his brother weeps in the tower, before he descends to open the gates. The city takes in the beasts, and the market square is circled by the four. A carpenter looks at his own hands, and he knows he too is a leper."
"Is this another vision?"
"If I could see the future," said Scaius, "time could paint."
Imperial Province of Evvia
First Crisis, c. 841 fa

The Theocritian Reforms
By the time of the First Crisis in early 841 a majority of evvics had already grown accustomed to and become weathered down by years of imperial bureaucracy, providing the docile political climate required for Theocritus to quietly implement a series of sweeping policy changes to be felt all across the province. This reform included having the former provincial tax system extensively overhauled, weaponized with punitive and nepotist tax policies which greatly empowered the state’s ability to directly manipulate the economy and source revenue from within its territories.

With these new policies in place any municipality within the administrative boundaries of the arch prefect refusing to be subsumed under direct state rule would now become liable to crippling taxation claims. If anyone wished to openly insult the empire by objecting to the authority held by a chosen representative of the emperor, then they certainly could - at a considerable cost.

In swift succession, the Evvic nobility who stood in open opposition to the Arch-Prefect within the cities of Zoeon, Achapetai and Anaxion were gradually finding themselves subjected to harsh economic restrictions which disrupted their respective trade and production of goods within the coming weeks of the early year. City Merchants and craftsmen in service to the noble families were seemingly also singled out: Exhaustive tax obligations sapped their trades and businesses of profitability. In many cases these “liabilities” were written in such a way that they would spread by association as part of an underhanded tactic of socially and economically isolating anyone afflicted by them, as if they were carrying the sickness of some terrible plague.

Though not all would be sentenced to the sharp whip of imperium. Whilst the three cities of Zoeon, Achapetai and Anaxion were besieged by a withering barrage of obligatory tax claims; others were uplifted. Municipalities loyal to the state began receiving notable tax benefits, better customs rates, and enjoyed far greater privileges. The provincial capital of Evvia Capitolina was renamed Exarchopoli - uplifting a once faceless valian geopolitical marker into a proper kindred Evvic city to celebrate a proud and united Imperial Evvia. Furthermore, as a gesture of central empowerment the imperial citizens of the capital were allowed to buy and sell property, and were granted exemption from both the land and poll tax.
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Letter of Governor Titus Valerius Ahenobarbus to the Senate of Saia

I think that no one of you, O venerable senators, is ignorant that for these many days the discourse of the populace, and the opinion of the Valian people, has been that our illustrious republic* has since the demise of our late Lord, the divine Carian been in disarray. This idea had not got about merely because the divine Augustus** had perished in nefarious circumstances and under the dark cloud of the inauspicious victory of accursed Bastian at Sataraphon, but because no one believed that anyone would be so audacious, so frantic, and so impiously impudent, as, after having been delivered tidings of such a death, to forgo in the sight of the august gods and in the witness of the senate and people of Valia, mourning and piety and venture to assume imperial prerogatives for his own. Such sedition would not be surprising, venerable senators, were they come from Hateph, for the governor of that province has a reputation for possessing the divine pretensions customary to that superstitious and backward nation, but it is surprising to us indeed that instead it comes to all that it is in Evvas that the benevolent and auspicious customs of holy Saia have been cast off like so much dross. For not as soon as news that the divine Carian had ascended amongst the gods had come and been ratified by the veiled priests that we hear the governor of Evvas has replaced Valian names with Evvic ones, as if his appointment was not by senatorial grace but by his own monarchical right.

It is indeed expedient, I will not gainsay, o venerable senators, for the gubernatorial authority in the dire circumstances wherein our illustrious republic is beset like a stricken lion surrounded by wolves to utilise extraordinary measures lawful under the powers of governorship to secure the integrity and sovereignty of the republic against its foes. No one amongst us is unaware that the scattered ranks of the eastern legions, loyal sons of Valia and the republic to a man, gather at Tisbarion and stand in need of aid and reinforcement, even as the wolves of Ashrai under Bastians command gather their armies and all the horrors of the east to strike a lance into the Empires heart. No one amongst us is likewise unaware that barbarians skulk in the wastes of the north, watching with envious eyes for any sign of weakness that they might sup upon the prosperity that centuries of Valian peace and civilisation has brought to the civilised world. It is prudent and necessary to take measures to ward against these enemies.

Yet at this time when the piety and virility of Saia's sons is put to the test and when the Valian Consilium*** has been assembled at length, o venerable fathers, albeit later than the necessities of the republic required, to ensure a swift end to the nefarious war against our altars and hearths, against our lives and our fortunes, a war I hasten to say that is not being prepared for some future time, but is actually being waged now by a profligate and desperate man. And furthermore, when this man, accursed Bastian, has procured reinforcements and equipment upon the Myrmisis and threatens to come not only against Tisbarion but also against Holy Saia itself and all the cities of the Empire and cast down our temples and bind the valian citizens into abject slavery. We see those who vowed to High Caelus their loyalty to the Sacred Emperor and the Senate of Saia, and to all the people of its Imperium and its gods, turn aside from duty to acclaim an "imperial" Evvas as if a return to the days when the mantle of Empire rested in Titanomuria, forsaking all oaths and duty and offering not even a funerary oration for the Divine Carian upon his ascent to the heavens. Fathers, it cannot be that he is the defender of the acts of Carian and past Emperors who overturns their laws.

The populace is waiting, o fathers, in these days of spring for the Consilium to renew Valia by putting to right order the government of the state and for it to expiate the prodigies that have fallen against the republic. But Septimius Aggripanus Theocritus is not waiting for that day and is not tomorrow but now attempting with his legions to impugn the rights customarily granted to Valian citizens and bestowed in the past by the Emperor and Senate to certain cities in the days of our fathers and grandfathers. Who is to say, o senatorial fathers, should the worst of fears regarding his intentions be realised, that when he has pilfered the possessions of those who oppose his tyrannical acts that he will not aspire to remove himself from the unanimity of the republic and deny Saia's divine dominion over the world, gaining an unworthy kingship to satisfy his own desire in exchange for the subjugation of all the provinces of the east to an ashraic yoke.

What is the use then of waiting, or of even a delay for the very shortest time? For although spring is at hand, still a short time is a long one for people who are not prepared. For a day, or I should rather say an hour, often brings great disasters, if no precautions are taken. And it is not usual to wait for a fixed day for holding a council, as it is for celebrating a festival. But if the first of spring had come and beloved Carian was yet living, or if people had not waited for it, we should by this time have no war at all, for we should easily have crushed the audacity of that man in the east by the authority of the senate and the unanimity of the Valian people. And now, indeed, as the peril we find ourselves in becomes manifest, I feel confident that the consuls elect and all the fathers of Saia will do so, as soon as they enter on their magistracy and take up their offices. For they are men of the highest courage, of the most consummate wisdom, and they will act in perfect harmony with each other. But my exhortations to rapid and instant action are prompted by a desire not merely for victory against Bastian, but for a speedy victory at that and for a return to the tranquility of order that accompanies lawful rule.

As for Theocritus, I bid the senatorial fathers to direct all loyal sons of Valia to rebuke his proud excesses and, should he not subordinate his ambition to lawful service to the republic, to direct all such governors, legions and delegates of the Imperial principate as remain dutiful to the same republic and filial to the will and memory of our late ascended Lord to put into effect the senate's judgement as accords and befits all who betray the Republics trust. Should he indeed be a loyal and dutiful servant, let him employ arms, if it is necessary, as he says it is, for his own defence and the defence of the Empire: only let not those arms injure those men who have declared their honest sentiments in the affairs of the republic. Now, what can be more reasonable than this demand? But if, as has been said to me by some of his intimate friends, every speech which is at all contrary to his inclination is violently offensive to him, even if there be no insult in it whatever; then we will bear with the natural disposition of our friend. But those men, at the same time, say to me, “You will not have the same license granted to you who are the adversary of Theocritus as might be claimed by a householder of his father-in-law.” And then they warn me of something which I must guard against****; and certainly, that I should aver rebuke of him to the senate lest I be furnished by death.

But, in the name of the immortal gods! for while I look upon our republic, which is most dear to me, in dire straits and beset by enemies, it is impossible for me to keep silence respecting the error into which both Theocritus and those who submit to him are falling; for I believe that they, all men of high birth and entertaining lofty views, have been eager to acquire, not money, as some too credulous people suspect, a thing which has at all times been scorned by every honourable and illustrious man, nor power procured by violence and authority such as never ought to be endured by the Valian people, but the affection of our fellow-citizens, and glory. But glory is praise for deeds which have been done, and the fame earned by great services to the republic, which is approved of by the testimony borne in its favour, not only by every virtuous man, but also by the multitude.

I am afraid lest they should think it glorious to have more power by themselves than all the rest of the people put together, and lest they should prefer being feared by their fellow-citizens to being loved by them. And if they do think so in truth, they are ignorant of the road to glory. For a citizen to be dear to his fellow-citizens, to deserve well of the republic, to be praised, to be respected, to be loved, is glorious; but to be feared, and to be an object of hatred, is odious, detestable; and moreover, pregnant with weakness and decay. And we see that, even in the theater, the very man who said, “What care I though all men should hate my name, so long as fear accompanies their hate?” found that it was a mischievous principle to act upon.

I wish, O senatorial fathers, that you could recollect our late Emperor. Do you think that he would have been willing to deserve even immortality, at the price of being feared in consequence of his licentious use of arms? What he considered life, what he considered prosperity, was the being equal to the rest of the citizens in freedom, and chief of them all in worth. Therefore, to say no more of the prosperity of our Emperor, I should prefer that most bitter day of his death to the domination of Bastian, by whom he and his heir was most barbarously slain, cruelly abetted by the impiety and infamy of those our Lord trusted as his friends.


ooc notes:

*republic used in the classical sense (res publica), and perhaps in the sense that Valia remains in imperial times technically a republic.
**An imperial title (the revered one)
*** what the ruleset refers to as the Valian Forum (forum being the wrong word to use).
**** namely treason, this being implied here.
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For those not following the Discord, the order deadline is set for one week from tomorrow, on Wednesday, May 29th.

This NES has more player input following the sending of strategic orders, as we will give the players operational updates (essentially micro-updates) that will give them chances to adjust. So do not feel overly alarmed if not everything is figured out by the orders deadline.
At the Menagerie of Beasts [or My Unnumbered Torments at the Hands of the Villainous Magi, part II]

You curse to yourself loudly as you stumble over a meddlesome brick, your sandaled toe stubbing painfully on the edge. Must this condemnable foreign city assail you at every turn? As night falls the dimly lit street is quiet apart from the scene you are causing, and a handful of passers-by garbed in black robes and shawls stare at you curiously. You wipe the sweat from your brow and try to get your bearings, peering about at the tall brickwork estates crowding in on either side; your master - no, you forget yourself! Your master abides still in Valia! - your host has invited you this night to attend his famed menagerie in the spectacle square, and so you go. It is your duty to know all that passes here amidst the men of Ashrai. Of course - you think quietly to yourself so the gods don’t hear - it would be foolish to pass up such an opportunity to gaze upon remarkable beasts from furthest lands. It is a tale you will tell for the rest of your life.

The cacophony of the crowds is all around you now, but search as you might you cannot find your destination, and you walk quickly and angrily up and down the street, every building and crossroads managing to look the same. You jerkily shamble through a small archway, your limbs themselves seeming to disagree with you. Your tall Haronian escort saunters languidly behind, cradling his poleaxe gently in the crook of his arm and singing a strange song to himself - isn’t he supposed to be leading you? A bird caws at you loudly from a windowsill and you shriek as your heart hammers in your chest! Your guard chuckles softly as the bird flutters off into the night. You turn away, now filled utterly with despair! The sight of a brightly lit red tent greets you nonchalantly from down a short alleyway; its surface swims with shadows cast from within. A suspicious frown crosses your face as you squeeze past an awkwardly placed crate at the end of the alley, freed at last from that labyrinthine and oppressive maze.

An angry Cunic nobleman dressed in finely woven colourful hatching almost knocks you over as he barges by atop a tall horse, a crowd suddenly seeming to materialize as you emerge onto the edge of the square. You know better than to get stuck in this! You dart quickly for the tent, weaving between a throng of very unhurried Hurriyan grandees and a mob of uncharacteristically inebriated and obstructive Titanians haphazardly jostling each other as they bet over the impromptu revelations of an unusual deck of cards. You pay them little mind as you latch on to the side of the gargantuan peaked tent, struggling to find a way within. The heavy red hempen fabric lifts suddenly - you knew it couldn’t all be silk! - from a gap in the paneling, and you scurry underneath. You chortle triumphantly as you gain entrance to the tent, your head smacking unceremoniously into a wooden beam supporting the high scaffold seating that rises immediately before you. This all seems very unlikely, and you know once more without doubt that you are truly abandoned; the gods couldn’t hear you even if they tried. The seating vibrates with the thrum of the audience as they laugh and holler at the hidden spectacle.

You cast around furtively and spy a patch of light beneath, and perhaps your way to freedom. You scramble and crawl between the closely set beams towards it. As you clamber closer you notice a cluster of cages hidden in the gloom tended by three undressed servants. You start to sidle past, but pause sharply as a shape rises in its cage, growling. A black-furred wolf favours you with an evil look, hackles up as it snarls. It darts to snap at you before you quickly pull away from the cage with a gasp, the phantom sensation of a bite unmade burning the back of your hand with pain, the sensation lancing up your arm. The naked servants rise and turn to you, and you see before you three beautiful women with the heads of wolves atop their shoulders, amber eyes peering at you intensely. You flee backwards wordlessly from this new horror, struggling through the gloom, scraping against the rough-hewn scaffolding as splinters pierce your tender flesh. You cry out in agony and hatred as you drag yourself along the inside-edge of the tent, battling weighty folds of fabric and the sharp corners of the bleachers. Bastian! Bastian has done this to you, that devious and shameless man! He no doubt delights at your abandonment and tribulation, smirking to himself with self-satisfaction as he sups on exotic roots and iced honey-wine. You yell his name aloud as you careen haphazardly out into the vestibule of a stepway leading up, a shaven-faced usher in a red tunic regarding you with concern from his post near the entry-flap. He raises a hand politely as you begin to explain yourself in garbled Ashraic. “We are all told of you, sahan. The entrance for good men of station is this way,” he says, gesturing back out into the night, pointing you towards a set of guarded braziers not even a hundred meters further on. The jacketed cataphractoi nod to you with familiarity as you pass within, a well-lit and furnished tunnel of wooden panels leading you on a gently curving path. Servants pass you peaceably bearing empty vessels of food and drink, and you surmount a small set of stairs, stepping out onto a wide platform.

The great circular floor of the menagerie sprawls to one side, cleverly lit by a network of hanging braziers and mirrors, a crowd of thousands hooting raucously to the show of a dozen handsomely muscled gymnosophists performing competing feats of strength while shouting high-minded falsehoods for the bizarre entertainment of the audience. On your other side the dais of eminences stretches long and away, dozens of personages seated grandiloquently at their low table of disgusting foreign judgements, lording themselves over the frivolities. Your eye catches your nefarious and malevolent host as he peers at you inscrutably - noticing your attention he waves excitedly, motioning you over towards him, a bright and friendly grin plastered all over his scheming face. You will explain to him that you have enjoyed your time here among his people, but must depart immediately, your homeland and your master await you and - you pause as a waft of incense washes over you and a strange feeling worms its way into your mind. You realize you really shouldn’t be so high-strung, it simply isn’t good for the humours; you’ll catch your death of consumption if you don’t settle your nerves. You grab an iced honey-wine from the platter of a passing attendant and down it in one long gulp. Bastian continues to watch you with amusement as you approach, a single eyebrow rising as you sprawl heavily on the cushions beside him. “Ah, sakhim. I had wondered at your arrival, but I see my worries were misplaced. Like a true Valian you will always forge your own way, and I cast no judgment on this. But before we begin our discussion, watch for a moment as Isythye carries out that which I have,” he says good-naturedly, gesturing towards the open platform.

His veiled witch from the exotic and furthest east stands before the crowd, reading aloud from a scroll held closely before her. Her words ring out clearly as the audience falls to silence and a gagged and struggling man is tied to a post in the middle of the floor, wooden boards placed behind him. “An impudent and impertinent messenger comes before the Holy Magi in the hours of darkness. As the law of the Lady Moon decrees, he shall be punished harshly! He is sentenced to be shot with bees until he is dead!”

You must have misunderstood that last part. Surely not with bees. How would it even be done?

“You understood perfectly, sakhim. Do not doubt yourself so. Attend, and you shall learn much,” your host says, the masked beekeepers rolling their ballista out from a hidden nook beneath the stands. The thwomp of machinery and the buzz of insects fills the tent as the audience watches with enrapt attention. The man screams incessantly as the bees sting and bite him, their flung hives breaking with speed upon his body or smacking into the boards.

“It may seem an archaic way, but we must not discount the past to inform us of what must be done in the present,” your host continues, a light seeming to come into his eye. You say nothing as you sink further into the cushions and the tortures continue, the fight leaving your spirit. Perhaps you've been unkind. Ungrateful, even. Bastian has been nothing but gracious and welcoming. You regret your temerity, and resolve to be a better guest. Your host dismisses the spectacle from his attention, and his focus seems to burn upon you. He favours you with a knowing wink.

“Now tell me truly, my boon companion. What have you heard of the beggar that gives, and of the poison that salves?”

The words of your voice cannot find you, but vellum and stylus is placed gingerly before.

And so you begin to write.


By a Wine-Dark Sea [or My Unnumbered Torments at the Hands of the Villainous Magi, part I]

The sun sets in the west, and a long shadow is cast before you, reaching towards a distant and darkened sea. You gulp nervously as you approach the crossroads atop your donkey. Fields of tall wheat ripple in the wind at the roadside; the air smells of sea salt and flowers.

It has been a far journey - you are sore, exhausted and in want of a bed. You have endured many weeks of hard travel among strange folk since your departure from the as-yet debatably Valian land of Elcius, but you carry out your master's bidding; you must glean what there is to be gleaned, and know what there is to be known. Three figures garbed in dull red linen jackets await you at their ease by the signpost ahead, girdles of bronzen scales still shimmering in the fading light. They sit atop fine and well-bred mares, coats of beauteous and deepest brown.

"Ah, sakhim, we have looked for your arrival. Be welcome, for you are in Ashrai," the leader says in surprisingly well-spoken Valian, a great grin spreading across his dark-bearded face.

"I am most honoured, and eagerly anticipate your Lord's hospitality," you reply formally in practiced Ashraic.

"Then come, for it is good to be acamp when the Moon's law rises," he says in his own tongue. You take the easterly road. It is quiet, but after a wide turn about a small rise you are greeted by the sound of strange music and the bustling hum of an army on-the-move. The camp is well-organized to your eye, surrounded by a ditch and wall of stakes - near Valian in its quality and placement, you realize sourly.

You come to a gate and observe on one side a group of blue-painted Canirii, gazing upon you darkly, drumming their fingers impatiently on artfully crafted pommels. On the other side stand three dusky-skinned men of immense proportions, standing at least seven feet tall, great poleaxes held languidly and relaxed - they incline their heads and smile as you and your escorts ride past.

Peoples of many unfamiliar nations are gathered here with their accouterments, and the smells of a hundred foreign cuisines assault your nostrils. You recognize Ashavans in their lavish furs, and stocky Myrians in their conical hats. Grim Titanians from Sind scour and oil their coats of mail while Haronians sit peaceably nearby, cutting oblong purple fruits and frying them in oil. Ashraic cataphractoi with their plaited beards jostle each other and laugh, mingling with wine-drunk Evvics from Cylene as they roll dice at the fireside. You note that near-all seem to speak the language of Ashrai as a common tongue.

Chanting groups of darkly-dressed Ashraics bearing the Veil Banner emerge along the wide avenue as the night deepens, lighting standing torches at regular intervals. A crimson pavilion waits for you ahead, heart-like at the camp's very center. It beats with light and sound as folk enter and leave. Your escorts salute you graciously as they part the entrance, ushering you inside. You only realize the entire enormous edifice is woven silk when it brushes gently against your shoulder.

A waft of incense washes over you, and you cough and sputter at the strange fumes. Oh, the indignities that you suffer in your master's name. Curtains and cushions spill in every direction, servants bearing silver plates circulating among the grandees with endless food and drink. Reflected flames from golden braziers light each nook and corner, tended carefully. Voluptuous dancers sway rhythmically to the high lilting of foreign flutes, their bodies lithe and lustrous with oil. You feel stunned by the clamour and cacophony, the excess and wealth. For a single moment you could swear you see a man with the head of a goat playing a brass horn amidst the crowd. Your head reels as you stumble towards the high dais, desperately seeking out your host. It sits empty, and you feel utterly abandoned amongst the enemies of your people, surrounded on every side. You curse your master's name, and beseech the gods that they deliver you from your tribulations!

A firm hand grasps you warmly by the shoulder, and a stout man in a deep crimson robe steps up beside you, the well-oiled and intricate plaits of his beard glimmering black in the brazier-light.

"Sakhim!" he near-shouts in exuberant greeting "We have waited long for you, and are most eager to hear your master's words. Know that I am the Magus Bastian, and that you will be my boon-guest - and soon my friend, God willing" he continues, seeming to note your discomfort. "Ah, yes. Our nights must be of some small strangeness to a man of your customs - but we do as we are bid by our God's mistress. It would not do to anger the Lady beneath her own light!" he laughs, pulling you aside to a secluded pair of cushions.

Seemingly from nowhere he produces a silver goblet of iced and honeyed wine, placing it gingerly in your hand. You slurp greedily as you sink into the luxuriant cushion, quenching a thirst you didn't even know you had. You think to yourself that it would be troublesome to rise - but fortune smiles upon you, and you have no desire to do so.

"Now come, my friend, and tell me all there is to tell of what passes in the lands of Valia. Tell me of what your master knows. Tell me of the child with the golden eyes…"

He grins widely, his teeth white and polished, and you find yourself smiling back. For a moment you feel like you're forgetting something, something your master said, perhaps. But for the life of you there seems to be no reason not to do exactly as you've been asked. It is only right to repay the kindness and benevolence of your host.

And so you begin your tale.


Annals of the Echthroi - Book of Ashrai

a fragmentary excerpt

The foreigner Bastian's origins are shrouded in mystery, and little is known of his earliest days save that in a far land he rose amongst the ranks of the Magi for his devotion to their God Ahtan, who is the sun. In battle Bastian won many victories against the men of Sind, and so in turn earned the love of the men of Haron.

Bastian enters our record suddenly, and in Ashrai's hour of greatest need: the Emperor's son Carantius had boldly pursued the invader Hestus (a. Huzasht) back across the strait of Myrmisis and into the heart of Ashrai, pinning him in Sataraphon - their Heavenly Capital of Capitals. Woe was upon that land, and many were burned and slaughtered amidst civil strife and invasion. Unbeknownst to both, the Magi of Ashrai had marshaled all the armies of the east, and they marched to save their realm from the depredations of the Apostate and decadent Valia alike.

With charm and guile and the aid of shadowed allies, wily Bastian and the army of the Haronians entered Sataraphon through a secret way beneath the walls and the encircling siege. They came upon the Apostate suddenly in the dead of night, and many of his men threw down their arms and begged the mercy of the Magi - some among them were spared, for their God had need of them still. Hestus' Immortal Guard fought bravely where they gathered, but they were too few, and the Apostate was thrown down beneath the light of the moon.

As dawn broke Carantius and his legions looked out upon the city and wondered at the plumes of smoke - but the walls were manned much the same, and no sign was seen that might betray the Priest-General's plan. It was then strange horns were heard, and the low chanting of barbarous tongues. A glittering thunder rounded the edge of the Holy Mount Khibar, plumes of dust rolling behind. The Cataphracts of Ashrai had come, and many more besides. With characteristic efficiency and discipline Carantius rallied his legions into line, yet even they began to hesitate and murmur when they saw what approached them from beneath the rising sun.

As the golden tide of cavalry split into wings, behind them came all the gathered panoply of Ashrai: archers on camelback who began to pelt the maniples from beyond reach, laughing and riding away. Then came the last of the fish-scale imitation legions of Arezah and Geddai, whose like had wrought much destruction in Hateph. They guarded the flanks of a great phalanx of far-eastern Titanians marching to the beat of steady drums, willing forsakers of their legacy and long servants of the Magi. As the Ashraic line formed opposite the brave Valians it opened and spat forth a wave of terrible beasts: trumpeting elephants afroth at the mouth, and armoured rhinoceroses eager to feast on flesh - at the heels of the cataphracts and camelry ran packs of dusty yipping wolves, leaping and tearing on command at the Valian equites and their mounts. The Valians were shaken, but they held as they were assailed, for Carantius rode back and forth like a beacon, and the legions rallied to his call, pelting the elephants and rhinoceroses with darts and driving them off.

But just as the Ashraic phalanx ground up against the Valian legions in a tumult of steel and blood, more horns were heard from behind. The gates and ports of Sataraphon burst open, and out from the city a golden and terrible figure led a host of men like trolls - their thick and ashy hides proof against arrows, and their bellowing war grunts rousing terror in the heart: they stood nine feet tall and bore gruesome man-splitting axes. Behind them came the Moon's devotees, garbed in blackened armor and eerily silent, and yea even the last of the Apostate's men found faith and courage renewed and joined the charge of their countrymen.

Yet still the Valians resisted, fighting stoically on two fronts against all the gathered horrors of the East - for they were led by brave Carantius, and the men would not fail their beloved champion. This Bastian knew, and so he sent his most skilled and wicked archers to set an ambush for the Emperor's son. They dipped their bolts in cruel poison and waited from behind a well-placed rock for Carantius to ride past. Their volley nearly missed, save one bolt that grazed his arm. Seeing blood upon their Lord the Valians began to despair, and Carantius reeled and cried out in pain from the evil poison. His men gathered him up as he slumped from his horse, and with that the equites broke at last before the cataphracts, and then the legions too began to waver and flee. Many Valians escaped that slaughter, for even in defeat they are hardy and enduring.

The Magus Bastian captured a pair of eagles for Ashrai on the fated Day of Two Battles, adding them to three still unrecovered. This humiliation rankles the dignitaries of Saia to this day. Many say that a Prophecy from his God then drove fell Bastian, and he did much to put Ashrai to order beneath the rule of the Magi. He would revenge his nation upon the Valians, and this would be its beginning; the strait of Myrmisis crossed again some two months later.

- Manephanes of Tisbarion, c. 850 FA
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The History of the Ashraic Wars - An Account of the Battle of Sataraphon.

...When all was in readiness on either side the commanders rode up and down the ranks encouraging their soldiers. The Valians were exhorted by Carantius to remember their parents, wives, and children, and to wipe out the disgrace of former defeats. They were admonished that this battle was the last hope of safety. Baltarus reminded his men of their former exploits and their victories over these same enemies and said that it would be shameful to be vanquished now by the vanquished.

When the trumpets sounded the foot-soldiers raised a shout and the archers, slingers, and light-armed troops advanced and began the battle. After them the legions took up the work. Now began a great slaughter and a great struggle, each side contending valiantly. Presently Baltarus gave the signal to his cataphracts and camelry to surround the enemy's wings. The Valian horse, although inferior in number, advanced against them, and extending their line of battle to a dangerous thinness, nevertheless they fought valiantly, especially those on the right toward the Myrmisis. Baltarus together with Cyrus now led against them the cavalry they had kept around their own persons, with loud barbarian shouts, thinking to terrify their enemies. Yet the Valians received the shock without flinching and without fear.

Now when Magus Bastian, who had secretly entered Satarophon with his men and deposed Hestus, saw that his strategy had failed to destroy the Valian line, he gave the signal to his cohort of Sindi infantry. These passing out of the city gates proceeded at the head of a phalanx of eastern Evvians, holding out their shields and spears in the manner of old Titanomuria. Now at this time some of the Ashraic cataphracts made a pretense of flight toward Mount Kibaris, uttering loud cries. This was the signal to those concealed in the ravines to fall upon the pursuers. Straightway the Elephantry, archers and animal-handlers that had been placed in ambush showed themselves, and simultaneously a strong and blinding wind rose carrying dust into the eyes of the Valians, which prevented them from seeing their enemies. The impetus of the Valian missiles was lessened by the opposing wind, while that of the enemy's was increased and their aim made surer. The Valians, not being able to see the war hounds and rhinoceri which were rapidly approaching, nor avoid the enemy's weapons nor to take good aim with their own, stumbled against each other and soon fell into disorder of various kinds.

At this juncture Bastian, seeing that the expected opportunity had come at long last released a cohort of eastern gymnosophists who ran straight from the gates of Sataraphon into the fray, screaming mantras of Ahtan and tearing at those fallen who were just in front of them, whether Ashraic or Valian, growing intoxicated on the flesh thereof (they are cannibals in accordance with their frightful custom). Then, seizing the swords, shields, and spears of the dead, they made a greater onslaught against the whole line, darting from one to another indiscriminately, and they accomplished all the greater slaughter inasmuch as they were in the rear of all and confusing many with erroneous eastern philosophies. Carantius was entirely unaware until this time of the secret capture of Sataraphon by Bastian and the encirclement he had conspired with Baltarus was thus entirely unforeseen. Now were the Valians in great and various trouble, assailed by the enemy in front, by ambuscades in flank, and butchered by foes from the rear. They could not turn fully upon the latter on account of the pressure of the enemy in front and because it was not easy to distinguish these assailants, for they had possessed themselves of Valian shields. Most of all were they harassed by the dust brought forth by the ill wind, which prevented them from even guessing what was taking place.

But (as usually happens in cases of disorder and panic) they considered their condition worse than it was, the ambuscades more dreadful, and enemy footmen far greater in number and strength than they actually were. In short, they imagined that their whole army was surrounded by hostile cavalry and men at arms attended by all the storied horrors of the east. So, they turned and broke into headlong flight, first those on the right wing where Septimus himself led the shameful retreat, and after them the left wing, whose commander, Tullius, however, went to the assistance of Rufus the younger. Around these the bravest of the horse and foot rallied, to the number of about 10,000 slaying many of the foe.

Carantius and all the others who had horses at this time endeavored to halt the confusion brought about on the front by the Ashraic ambush. They charged the enemy with fury and performed many brilliant exploits, the fruit of military experience, being nerved by the energy of despair and manly valour. But at this time Baltarus, darting hither and thither together with his priests, encouraged his soldiers, now exhorting them to make their victory complete, now rebuking and reproaching them because, after they had scattered the main body of the enemy, they could not overcome the small remainder. Knowing the Valians to be superior in manly valour and fearing that they would in a short time recover from the rout and rally under the urging and direction of Carantius to seize the victory, he resorted to the method of cowards and had his light archers (those who remained) dip their arrows in poison drawn from winged serpents and loose them upon Carantius' position. By some ill-omen a single arrow grazed the face of the beloved general and it was in this manner that a great hero of Valia was slain.

Now, as long as Tullius and Rufus survived the Valians stood firm, although giving and receiving many wounds, but when their captains fell their nerve failed and forcing their way through the midst of their enemies most bravely, they and their cohorts escaped in various directions in disarray. Some took refuge in the military camp where others had preceded them in flight. These were altogether about 5,000, whom Bastian straightway besieged that the Valians might have no recourse to the supplies they had brought hither from Tisbarion. Others, to the number of about 2,000, went over to the enemy and surrendered to Bastian. A few escaped into the mountains.

Such was the result of the battle between Bastian and the Valians at Satarophon, which was begun after the fourth hour of the day and ended as the sun was setting, and which is still famous among the Valians as a disaster, for in these few hours 40,000 of their soldiers were slain and a great many taken prisoner. Many lords of the League Senate who were present lost their lives and with them all the military tribunes and centurions, and their best and most beloved general in Carantius. The most worthless one, Septimus, who was the cause of the calamity, had made good his escape at the beginning of the rout and gathered with the legions under his command at Tisbarion from whence they had originally departed, later joined with what remnant of Rufus and Tullius' men managed to return to imperial territory in honourable retreat. Legion Legate Caelinus Mancinus, who witnessed Carantius' demise took command of the generals personal legion in the withdrawal and for his part hastened along the eastern road to Titanomuria with his Lord's body that it might be afforded the customary funerary rites, and that word of the disaster might be carried east in swift order to the Emperor and senate in Holy Saia and to the League Senate in Caria, although at this time it remained unknown to him that the Emperor Carian had perished at around the time of the battle he had fled.

~ Lucius Valerius Taricus - written c. 870 FA.
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Excerpts from The Theocritian Reforms

(A textbook survey of evidence regarding Valian Tax Policy)
Throughout 840, the newly named governor of Evvia, Theocritus, dramatically expanded the administrative capacity of Evva Capitolina, often personally seeing to the recruitment, training and loyalty of the new officials serving the Praefectus Evviacus. This occurred alongside simmering tensions with the elite of the major Evvic cities. Although some local potentates readily rolled over for the dynamic governor, others issued a variety of appeals and conducted obstructive operations against his initial proclamations. Regardless, his new bureaucrats were able to embed themselves into all the major cities of Evvia, with various levels of cooperation or resistance.

Early in 841, Theocritus quietly rolled out a series of policy reforms that overhauled and weaponized the taxation of his province, which eventually became known as Lex Theocritia. Scholars would debate whether these were timed with the death of Emperor Carian, or if that was simply a case of coincidence. Regardless, it resulted in a dramatic rhetorical flashpoint early in the First Crisis as the Governor of Taria issued a letter of rebuke to be read at all the major power centers of the Valian Forum. Indeed, there is scattered evidence that the reforms were quietly adjusted after this rebuke, but perhaps tighter overall.

This letter, along with many others, were able to be recovered by modern historians. This is likely due to the deep impact it had on everyday life in the most literate province of the Pre-Crisis Empire. These letters serve to show a cross section of Valian society at the time, as well as a glimpse at what kinds of taxation were considered customary and what kinds were considered extraordinary near the beginning of the First Crisis. Below, we have included excerpts from three such letters for further discussion.

A Letter from a Near-Retirement Legionary to his Mother in Eastern Kalessos
Dearest Mother,

I hope this finds you well. As you may have heard, change is in the wind. However, this letter will bring only good tidings. The land tax have been lifted for citizens here, and as such I have located a sizeable estate for the Legion to acquire for my pension. The sun is kind here, mother, and the land fertile.

I have included with this missive a package of dyed silk you asked for and sufficient currency. Please work with Brother to sell the family farm and join us for my retirement come fall. There is plenty of work here. Brother would do well in the offices, and if nephew Turiacus is still looking to enlist, I can secure a posting for him in the cavalry.

You may sell the livestock as well. We can purchase ample cattle here, and new slaves. However, I would beg you to consider freeing Decimus, and if he wishes to join us, to purchase passage for him and his family as well. His tutelage in the Evvic language and tradition was priceless in securing my present commission.

A Letter from an Evvic Noble to a Valian Patron in Taradecia
Salve Lucius Flavius,

May the divine Panda have shared her blessings over your harvest as she did mine. Flavia is doing better now, and I give thanks for the prayers and offerings you gave in her name. She was able to attend the opening of the Carmenalia* this year, although she retired before the final wedding of the Zoa-Blessed Princesses**. To recover so swiftly from such labors, such is the ἀρετή*** of the Gens Flavius.

Your humble servant begs you to attend to the following matter with utmost virtue one expects of a man of your stature. You may have heard of the excesses demanded by The Grasping One, and I am displeased to report to you that we have not escaped such depredation. One of his Fingers has reached our door seeking satisfaction not befitting to their status as guest, and their incessant tapping have brought me before you this day.

Please deliver the following account to the Forum as a true and honest testimony on the tyranny befalling the noble sons of Persephora**** and the worthies whose love of φιλοτιμία***** is exceeded only by their loyalty to Valia. It is my hope that my account, joined with others, can cast a perceptive eye upon our plight and provoke prompt and proper proceedings providing protection to our priviledges and prerogatives.

My name is Aristides Kallistratos and I greet you as a humble son of Evvia and Valia. My city, Persephora, has always served Valia and her interests with honor and loyalty. I hope to share the story of my house, and of our recent troubles, in hopes that our brothers can hear our pleas.

During the second war against the Sabaktoi of Ditheia, my forebear, the swift-shouting Sheepherder Arison, provided great service to the Valian cause in service of the Half-Hand Hegemon Horatius Lucianus. Arison left his home and farm for a hundred leagues, guiding Horatius through the mountain passes south of Ellia and finding a goat path that allowed him to outmaneuver the unworthy Prince Evander of Eliamia. During a crucial skirmish, Arison saw a boulder that was cast against Horatius, and bodily pushed him out of harm’s way at the cost of his arm.

Under Hegemon Horatius’ leadership, Ditheia was defeated for the second time. In gratitude for my forebearer’s service and sacrifice, he was granted the noble Arison a saltus-estate****** and declared it free from taxation in perpetuity. And thus my house was born in service and debt to Valia. Since then, we have managed our estates well, growing crops of olives and grapes, and supporting Valia with our sons and service.

The so-called Praefectus Evviacus has sought to override this grant of solidarity, establishing new taxes and demanding payment without repealing this hard-earned exemption. And he does as such for many of my compatriots, trampling the grants and prerogatives our forefathers won by blood. I ask you, is this the hand that Valia trusts her most loyal and valued brothers in Evvia? With our sons serving Valia in Polynomia, Altia, and Carias, we have not the means to satisfy such sudden demands. And so we must plead for your mercy and succor in these trying times.

I leave this in your hands as to the proper way to move forward, and the restitution you can bring to our people. With this message, I have also arranged for the delivery of a crate of Kypari dates you are so fond of, and a two fresh amphora of olive oil from our fields.

* Carmenalia is reference to Lenaia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenaia
** A comedy regarding a King of Zoeon who was “blessed” by Zoa with 3 rambunctious and unvirtuous daughters, who sabotaged each other’s suitors. Eventually, one daughter crossdresses as a man (or two different men) to successfully court the other two, leading to a hilarious wedding climax.
*** "ἀρετή" (arete), which broadly translates to "excellence" or "virtue."
**** Persephora is a minor unlabeled Evvic town north of Anaxion
***** "φιλοτιμία" (philotimia). Philotimia encompasses the concept of honor, dignity, and a sense of pride in one's reputation and social standing.
****** a saltus is approximately 800 iugerum, which is about 600 acres https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juger...the common,each citizen as heritable property.

A Letter between an Evvic Merchant to a counterpart in Phaiston, in Sicartia
May this find you in good health,

I have sourced the 600 pairs of marching sandals as you requested and can provide 2,000 more as needed. However, before you dispatch the next shipment, please consider the following procedural changes:

First, avoid stopping at Arcoleon if possible. My sources are uncertain about the current status of that city, and it would not be prudent to risk your cargo being taxed twice.

Second, upon arrival at Zoeon, disregard any entreaties from the previous officials. They hold no real authority. Instead, seek out the new customs officials. The Evviacus Praefectus and his men bear the new sigil of Evvia and will manage the customs payments.

Third, present the sealed letter enclosed and the customary offering to the aforementioned officials. This letter testifies that your goods are destined for my hands, as I serve a patron in Exarchopolis. Additionally, you should promise an offering to Euphrete at the temple to ensure good fortune.

Once you have negotiated your arrival, we will meet as usual. To avoid extra fees, I have kept my goods outside the city walls for now, and we should avoid selling to the local villas. Instead, I plan to bring a guide to assist your next voyage in landing directly at Exarchopolis, thereby bypassing the punitive taxes currently imposed at Zoeon.

After your departure, I will take care of settling the remaining liabilities and relocating the rest of my operation. May Mareus bring you swiftly to our shores.
The woods are calm around the two soldiers, only whiffs of wind in the trees around the campfire. Keeping watch is a lonely endeavour, and it's hard not to doze off.
"He's a madman, you know," says the first.
"He just knows the gods," says the second.
"Knows how to mock them."
"Or be their image."
The first spits. "You are stuffed with crap, Worn. You would soil their image as well.
"What of the gods aren't mad?" says the second, "All the Vlans' gods have murdered - the Sets' are of the same mother - even their children."
"Those are damned torkinheimers."
"Our own damned king-of-the-gods will slay spring," says the second. "Don't put too much in that lot. I've listened to his stories. He will bring great things. He is a wotin brought to us."
The first looks into the fire for a bit. He takes out a small silver ring from his pocket, as the second's eyes widen. The first throws the ring into the flames with a quiet prayer.
"Are you praying to go home?" says the second.
"No, I'm praying for a new one," says the first. "I... I don't know much about what Skagar brings. He can bring whatever he likes. But as long as he brings us away from the East..."
The two go quiet in contemplation. The first whets his spear a bit, his hand steady. The blade has already seen blood.
Act I, Scene I
[VARUS, GOVERNOR OF HATEPH AND GOD(?) OF KINGSHIP sits by a pool. He is a well-groomed patrician, naked, well-tended hair and smooth skin. He is lounging while a group of women including his sister, are swimming and laughing. VARUS is drinking wine, while another woman peels and feeds him grapes.]

My lord, we have news from across the sea.
Fair Quentin returns, safe to thee
Shall I allow you to prepare and have him wait?
Or will he observe you in your natural state?

From Quentin!! Am I some blushing bride?
No, from him, I have nothing to hide!
Come come, bring him in
I had missed my partner with my violin!

[QUENTIN, a man near Varus’ age but more weathered, he is a man who has seen more of battlefields than palaces]

Quentin! Dearest friend!
I had missed the man on whom I most depend.
Come, quickly quickly, do not delay!
I am eager of that which you have to say!
Tell me of dear Rufinius, and his great clarity from the divine!
To at last retire from dreary politics and to tend to his vines.
If only all could be like him, content in slothful days
Not so eager to die in this vainglorious blaze.
I must ask you truthfully, tell me which of his is more fine?
His noble daughters grown, or his newest wine?

My lord, dire news from Valia I speak,
The Empire trembles, poised on ruin's brink.
No emperor nor heir doth sit the throne,
And the Senate’s strife has only grown.
The people do panic, for there is no end in sight
But from great men, comes a hopeful light
Not Rufinius, but with his noble cousin I did speak
We spoke how to rescue the Empire from this situation so bleak
There are others, who are noble in both spirit and action
And with you, they can create a powerful faction
To save this empire, soon they shall be meeting
They call upon you; shall I send word of reply to their noble greeting?

Quentin, loyal friend, what words are these?
Dost thou bring only woe and ill unease?
Thou speak to Remus, that utter bore?
From his scheming mouth, I shall hear no more!
The throne of Valia may quake and fall to despair,
Here in Hateph, we wash our hands of their sordid affair.

My lord, the Empire's fate doth hang in balance thin,
Our legions falter, chaos reigns within.
O Varus, you possess the strength to save,
To lead our men, to stand both firm and brave.
Why dost thou sit, while Valia doth plead and cry?
When with thy might, we might her foes defy?

The troubles of the Empire seem far removed,
Within these walls, my rule is well-approved.
Let others fight and die for distant lands,
While here in Hateph, all pleasures lie in my hands.

But Varus, think upon the lives at stake,
The countless souls who for our action ache.
The duty of the strong is to protect,
And through thy hand, the realm thou could perfect.

Enough, good Quentin, I have heard thy plea,
Yet still, I choose my course steadfastly, leave it be.
No storm nor siege shall breach Hateph’s land,
Nor will I leave my throne to die in unmarked sand.

Why dost thou turn from duty’s call so clear?
When action now could quell this rising fear?

(Varus rises and walks towards QUENTIN. He places a hand on QUENTIN’S shoulder and moves towards center stage, facing the audience)

The news from Valia is dire,true, a kingdom torn,
By civil strife and brother's blood so sworn.
The mighty Empire, the world once in its grasp
Doth shudder now, besieged by woes so vast.

The barbarians, like wolves, are at the gate,
Their savage cries do echo with our fate.
The Eastern hordes, their first victory already won,
March forth once more, beneath a vengeful sun.
And as it sets, their armies are still guided by the moon
Together they proclaim our doom, with armies at fair Tisbarion soon.

Yet what is this to me, in Hateph's hall?
I shall hardly notice this cursed Empire’s fall.
Here, safe within these walls of stone and gold,
The Empire's woes are tales of distant cold.
No civil war doth breach these fortress gates,
Nor barbarous cries disturb our tranquil fates.

The Eastern threat, with all its might arrayed,
Is but a distant storm, by time and Gods forever delayed.
For in this land, my rule is absolute,
And fear’s dark whisper here finds my refute.

The gods themselves do guard my throne on high,
Their sacred presence in these halls doth lie.
They seem to recognize me as their son
So with this empire, I say I am done!

Though Valia may burn and tremble in her plight,
I stand secure, within Hateph’s might.
Let others fear the coming of the night,
For I in peace shall reign, in calm and light.

O Varus, thou art blind! A fool, I say,
To think that Hateph’s gold can keep at bay
The tide of war that sweeps across the land,
When Ashari conquer, none shall withstand.
Though Hateph's wealth may glitter bright and bold,
When all the East is lost, this fortress alone and cold
Shall crumble 'neath the weight of all their might,
The world’s fierce hunger shall batter down our light.

Silence, thou foolish, dissenting knave!
One more word, and I shall send thou to thy grave!
No storm nor siege can tear these walls asunder,
Nor Eastern thunder shall come to this land to plunder.
For I am Varus, governor of this realm,
And here I stand, with steady hand at helm.

Thus, let the Empire fracture, fight, and fall,
It matters not, for I am safe from all.
In Hateph’s cradle, I shall find my rest,
And in its peace, I’ll count my fortunes blessed.

Forgive me friend, for my great wrath
Please, stay, I shall have a girl attend your bath
And then we shall drink our fill of wine, pails and pails
Just be silent of your dreadful tales!

(VARUS exits with all but one of the girls, stage left. The other girl beckons to QUENTIN and exits stage right)

Oh, lamentable state of affairs!
He has grown so distant from earthly cares!
What folly grips the heart of Varus, my noble friend?
From one man’s inaction, an empire will end!
(He paces the room, his frustration evident.)

O gods of old, hear my lament!
Bring good Varus out from this cruel dement.
He listens to those priests, becoming foolish and gullible
He thinks himself master of this world, a god, untouchable!
With a march on the East, if it could be braved
This Empire and his family honor would be saved
Let him do what Varus the Elder could not
And save this Empire from its endless rot.

(QUENTIN exits stage right)
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On the Kalessos-Cintra Rivalry​

First Interactions with Valia​

When the Valian League defeated their rivals on the Valian Peninsula and began the struggle against Great Aytak (today, Aetacia), they found three key allies in their struggle. First was the League of Delphinia, later absorbed into the province of Taria Esronia. Second was the League of Syndrion, which eventually became the League City of Cintra. Lastly, there was the Lycyrian Confederacy, which eventually formed the core of the Province of Kalessos.

The City of Delphinia was originally an Evvic colony that led a string of Evvic colonies on the Nivean and Esronian coasts to support Valian efforts in conquering the Cunics of the Lenta Vale. In return, it sought Valian protection from and offered Valia a base of influence into Tarias. Over time, Valian colonists would come to outnumber and assimilate the Evvic populations here.

The City of Syndrion (v. Cintra) was an Evvic daughter colony of distant Zoeon that saw itself as the true leader of the Evvic world after the rise of Titanomuria and its imperial conquest of Evvia and Magna Evvia. With subordinate cities and allied tribes on both sides of the straits, they eventually lent their fleet to Valia in exchange for the support of their army. Their fleet became instrumental in the wars against Aetacia.

The confederacy of Lycyria was a militant and well organized group of tribes in northern Kalessos that was fighting against the expansion of Kalesso-Cunic migrants in the northwest and Aetacian princelings in the south. They eagerly supported Valian interests, providing them a base on Kalessos and the Aetacian mainland. Later, they formed the heartland of the province of Kalessos, and provided blood and treasure in the conquest of the rest of the peninsula.

Although these three states were in the same region, and at their various heights had made designs to dominate the other two, their ancient rivalry was overshadowed by their alliance with the growing might of Valia.

Rivalry In the Early Empire​

By the time of the Hegemonic Wars, the Kalesso-Cunic tribes that provided a buffer between Lycyrian and Cintran interests were enslaved, absorbed, or chased further west and the boundaries of these two rivals met, leading to growing tensions. Similarly, the province of Taria Esronia was fought over by delegates from Delphinia and Cintra both.

While Cintra and Lycyria supported the first Emperor, Delphinia fell on the other side, supporting the republican coalition of Parinia. In this manner, the League of Delphinia was merged with the wider Taria Esronesis province and subordinated to the Emperor’s will, while the other two were rewarded.

Cintras was pleased with League City status, and Lycyria at the time had a status similar to Amorion as a province with preferential treatment. However, their rivalry immediately flared over the status of Rovanion. This distant prefecture was not worth the ink and blood that was shed over its fate, and eventually the disappointed Emperor (by this time, a different Emperor) absorbed it into the Imperial Prefecture, and forced the frontier province of Aureia to administer it.

This rivalry only continued through the decades since, with various litigations and appeals, petitions and demands being made on both sides. Even Taria Esronia participated somewhat, although its ambitions were cast in a new form. Over the course of the early Empire, it does seem that the League City of Cintra is slowly losing ground with the secession of various constituent cities and the removal of hinterland. However, it was successful in building a coalition with the other League Cities to maintain its status and rights, and has continued to profit from tolling the Kalessian Straits trade routes that support imperial expansion in Aetheria and Sinaria.

(Note: The two appeals below are extremist/populist positions - not quite fringe, but not seen as mainstream. Most delegates would be happy to get what is being asked for, but they would see it as politically unlikely.)

An Appeal by a Delegate from the League City of Cintra​

Fellow Citizens, Honored Delegates, hear our appeal. There exists a vile movement aimed at the foundations and traditions of our glorious empire, a movement that seeks to dismantle all that has been built brick by brick, sword by sword. This “Anti-League City” movement would overturn the rewards rightfully given to those who have preserved faith with the first Emperors.

The League Cities have been more than faithful, we have been engines of administration, pioneers of progress. Our status is one we earn every day by our actions and our service. We serve to provide a concrete mooring to our traditions in the Valian Forum, so no one can ever forget the values that brought us to this point.

Our Mother City, Cintra, graciously protects the western straits into Mare Civile, also trade flowing north, to Cantar Castrum and Aetheria. Let it not be said that we have not earned our position, for the names of our great fathers are on the lips of any student of history. Let it not be said we are not earning our position every day, braving the seas to bring the wealth of the North to Valian ports.

Over the years, we have suffered under the vile machinations of those who only see land and blood, and not law and tradition, seeking to strip land from our ancient and rightful endowment only to fulfill their ambitions. These machinations should not only be stopped, but they should be reversed. All the peoples of the old League of Cintra should serve together as one, they should serve under the banner of the League City of Cintra.

These people only understand power, and land, and blood. They do not understand honor, and tradition, and our ancient values. We will protect these things they do not understand, because one day their progeny might learn what it means to be truly Valian.

An Appeal by a Delegate from the Province of Kalessos​

There is a vile sucking sound from the west, the sound of a Cintran tollmaster seeking only to line their own pockets. How can Cintra profess to be faithful to the Empire, when every year they levy such oppression against any and all who wish to trade through their straits? They only have their own greed to blame for their loss of land, their rapacious taxes, while they pitifully cower behind “tradition”.

We are true sons of Valia. While Cintra maintains their bastard Evvic tongue, our people have adopted Valian. While Cintra professes to mysterious cults, our people sacrifice to Valian gods. While Cintra scoffs at dirtying a sleeve, we have borne the eagle into battle again and again. Our land was not “endowed” to us, we conquered it for Valia.

In the name of peace, in the name of the Emperors, we have not levied war against these traitors on the battlefield of our choosing. Instead, we bring mere words to you time and time again, even though we know our warnings oft fall on deaf ears. Cintra, like the other League Cities, controls the Valian Forum and wields it like a glove to protect their interests. However, let it not be said we will not defend ourselves. If Cintra seeks to use this crisis to “regain their lost lands”, we will tell them: ”come and take it.”

If Cintra seeks to whisper into the ears of another dynasty of emperors, we will tell all of Valia: Cintra Delenda Est.
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