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Shatterlance: Kirvina Expansion (IC)


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> This thread is the IC counterpart to Kirvina Expansion (OOC).  Since the lore has changed considerably since then, the time period and situation are different, but the spirit and quantity of the content are not.
All new information will be introduced in IC posts. The OOC thread will be updated when the IC thread has caught up to it.

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(1) Párthen i Aracórha

Aracór is lost: "párthen i Aracórha!" goes the cry. The Aromans, in coming to Aurelia, built an Empire after the fashion of their forefathers. It was the Aurelian Empire, the land of gold, that would go so far as to lend the continent its name. And in Aroman manner, the wayward children of Lysandros Tagaris, that Magister Navis who had brought about the greatest migration of his time by raising high the banner of the Unconquered Sun and defecting from a homeland which he felt no longer wanted him or his followers, did prosper for a time. Ports of call were struck in the many corners of Aurelia, brother-peoples diverged into existence, and the iron-shod caligae of the colonizers carried their sacred eagles through the uncounted valleys and plains. But, of course, prosperity never lasts: Aroman arrogance has always engendered grand hatred to match, and secure in the comforts of their own victory, driven its most illustrious to turn on each other out of greed and division. Internal and external factors saw the Aurelian Empire rot, crumble, and finally collapse.

In its wake emerged a series of successor states, each gravitating around a different part of its southern holdings. Those more northern ones, sundered from the main settlement area by water, were not so lucky: they would disintegrate completely or be conquered in the first century following the Aurelian Empire's departure.  Of these states, it is the eastern pair that we concern ourselves with initially: Lernaea and Aracór. Rolling down the Sagraphas river, the Exarchate of Aracór was poised to catapult itself to dominance. Possessing control over agriculture, a vast and loyal levy of soldiers, and relative insulation from the feverish deterioration of politics that had gripped the old capital in Taurapetra, its situation began with great optimism. However, its exposed position on the former Empire's flank also meant that it was the Aracórans who the surrounding peoples had come to attach as the face to their loathing of Aroman imperialism, and moreover, meant that they were the first to feel the brunt of any attack. Thus, it was never possible for them simply to march west and set affairs in order, lest the steppe tribes pour in from the east and overcome them.

Late in the 16th century AD, just as the first Dolch ships stumbled into Aurelia, the Exarch of Aracór overstepped. Atticus by name, in waging war against the Lernaeans and striving to take from them their redoubt of Achilleia, he had left his frontier piteously exposed. A trick he had pulled multiple times before to exploit gains on the western front, but always successfully, never meeting with the consequences of his deception. But this time, it was not to be- Bolhetari, Wampanoag, Ma'anchaali, Powanak, and more, seized the river valleys at astonishing pace. The low-populated outlying settlements were put to the torch, and the Aromans driven west in droves back to the walls of Aracór itself, exacerbating the political situation. Even as Atticus fell from his throne at sword-point, driven out by his own generals, they were unable to reverse the process which he had begun. In a matter of several years, the realm of Aracór found itself without any functional domains east of the Sagraphas, and what is more, piteously bankrupt, its cities overpopulated by refugees forced to remain in squalid conditions. So it is that we find ourselves, as the many flags of the enemy close in, and there are questions of what is to be done.

But not in Aracór. For in Sinora city deep within Lernaean territory, the Order of the Maidenlance masses under the old oak-groves of the Varaïchonves, the western boughs overlooking the south-aiming stone-bridge. It may first be helpful to review the succinct principles of the religion to which they belong.

« The concept of the Cult of the Unconquered Sun asserts that there is an unbroken divinity (Sol/Ilios) who is the sum of the shattered reflections of the broken gods (Helleno-Roman Pantheon) who were smothered by their greatest enemy (Christianity). The ultimate goal of the Cult is to 'keep the flame alive' so to say, which is both a politically motivated continuation of non-Christian Aroman civilization, and the religious continuance.  » 

« After death, humanity goes to the destroyed realm of the dead (Asphodel), where they reflect forever on their deeds in life in a foggy flower-field. A chosen few heroes have no afterlife, and are instead reincarnated as mortal aspects of Sol (Saints), who absolve their human component which remains in Asphodel, and become a representation of that virtue.  » 

« An example: the Temple of Mathas Alaskautos. Mathas was a general who conquered that region in the olden days. He married the local Native aristocracy and treated with mercy the conquered. So his Temple is a Temple Of Mercy To The Conquered. And he has religiously shed his personhood, and become an embodiment of Mercy To The Conquered. All Temples function in this manner. One Temple per Saint. »

« The goal of a Solar Cultist therefore, is not to attain blissful afterlife as none is promised, but to take judgments on morality. It is similar to Zoroastrian Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Deeds. It is an inherently moralistic religion which urges doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. While it builds positive traits in society, it is also a symbol of Aroman arrogance and self-righteousness, due to how much it encourages constantly judging both yourself and others. »

« It has Temples and Orders, but its religious hierarchy of priests is equal. »

The Sisters had not taken up force of arms for no reason. Some generations ago, it would be unthinkable that the Demons should ever cross onto the Plain, that land west of the Sagraphas, and work their barbarism on the population there. More than just the loss of territory, it would represent a great moral loss for the Aromans, and an inexorable point of decline for Aroman civilization in Aurelia, all its natural advantages having been eroded by centuries of co-existence and technological cross-pollination with its native peoples, who now standing on even footing, were keen to settle the score. Even though the Lernaeans had no love lost for the Aracóri militarists, and had long suffered grievous losses against them in their own aspirations to reunite Kirvinsétaria, the Southern Provinces, there was sufficient ground for concern to consider a more friendly option in eastward policy. 

This, however, was not the Sisters' responsibility. The Solar Orders mixed with politics about as well as oil and water, except for the Taurapetran Order of the Dawn of course, which had long been corrupted by the interests of the young noblemen who swelled its ranks with recruits and donors. The 2nd Prioress of the Line, Hestia Ivanara, had called them together to process a most unusual request. That request being a petition from the Dolchic arrivals to lend their swords to driving back the invaders from Aracór, in exchange for concessions made in regards to Christianizing the natives, of course. The Cult of the Unconquered Sun had prepared for this religious dialogue for a millennium. Since departing the Europan continent, the Kirvinians had managed to establish back-trade with the successor to the old Aroman Imperial government in the form of Tagmatium, and enshrined themselves a position as the supplier of all goods and creatures of mysterious foreign quality, including the prized Royal Capybaras. This direct contact with such a profoundly Christian state had influenced the Cult more than it would like to admit, but bolstered its resilience as well.

A portion of Hestia's address, transcribed as being spoken on IV. Thargelion MDXCVII, runs as follows.

« ... 'ίνει μια ζεс μέρα сά'μερα ... »

« ... 'tis a warm day today ... I apologize firstly for having convened you at Second Sun: it was not my intention to see you roasted through your armor, nor to see the wax upon my seal bubble with the passing minutes. All the better, however: I am gladdened for worthwhile reason to keep my speech tempered and succinct. Sitting on the wood before me is an address delivered from the so-called Order of the Dagger, an order of Dolchic knights whose Aurelian branch is commanded by the author penning this letter, Friedrich von Rödel. In accordance to them, their arrival upon Aurelian soil is all but inevitable, and soon they are to commence operations to claim for themselves land where once stood the Exarcha Nathilleia, Mathas' kingdom. They are not come to pillage as have others in the past, but with intent to settle, and moreover to Christianize the surrounding peoples and twist them to the repressive orthodoxy of their religion. While I am none too gladdened by the prospect, were we fated to be enemies, they would not have seen fit to write us. »

« In exchange for the theological free hand of this component of the Solar Word with regards to their provinces they wish to take for themselves, the Dolchlanders are willing to lend their swords to the defense of Aracór. »

A decision which, unknown to the future Rhodellians, would determine the future of Aurelia.

Edited by Kirvina
Rhodellia lore clarification (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

(2) Taurapetraika

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 CC: Important cities of the Southern Provinces

However, as much as the Aracóri would like to give the impression, their river kingdom is not the only facet of the Aroman culture's presence in Aurelia, and certainly not the only one to feel the collapse of the Aurelian hegemony. Taurapetra was the first place on Aurelia settled by colonizers: something the Taurapetrans themselves are very keen to remind others of whenever possible. With a gentle climate and a redoubtable port surrounded by white cliffs, it is easy to see why Lysandros' refugee fleet might have found it so becoming.  None of this, however, could stifle the fact that Taurapetra was incredibly unsuited to be the capital of the Aurelian Empire. While the early rulers had found it sufficient due to their inroads sticking closely to the coast, the Empire's inevitable expansion inland brought new territories further and further out of its reach. Therefore, by the time of the Aurelian Empire's height in the 14th and 15th centuries, the maintenance of its vast possessions was made possible only by its unrivaled naval dominance.

A dominance broken by the ascendance of the Mitonese. Their scattered islands were routinely under-estimated by Aurelian officials, and indeed those who did see them as a nation of note preferred to make overtures of friendship, on the grounds of common sentiment and religion. This hamstrung foreign policy made the Mitonese painfully aware of how overstretched and under threat the Empire was, but without conclusive treaties of alliance ever being drawn up. Thus, when the Empire was at its weakest, they struck. At the point of our story, the Mitonese-Aurelian Wars are well in the past; although they remain of note: some modern historians would insist that they mark the irrevocable decline of the Empire, but even this is contentious. After all, it is difficult to say that even had the Mitonese been cast back into the sea, the Empire would have persisted much longer through the severe pressure of the impossible situation it faced. With the death of the Empire's ruling dynasty to the knives of its own Senators and the shattering of its many provinces, they took advantage of the situation and moved in.

The Lernaean-written historical narrative prefers to ignore the fact that out of all the families of the Empire, it was the Emperor's most loyal few who stayed in Taurapetra after his death, who remained even after the bandit-officials who had killed him fled to the provinces and became all sorts of petty kings and Exarchs of the type who would strive with them for dominance. Korvalos, Anastathos, Meironches, Imennos, Laradaizes, Tiramanthes: the noble families led by the young lord Alexandros Laradaizes, together made up the so-called League of Livassa. Although they might have preferred in their time to fight to the last for the preservation of their honor, when Mito marched on the mainland, the League immediately submitted to preserve what was left of their political capital. Rewarded for their lack of struggle, they found themselves enfeoffed with their former possessions, surrounded with only minimal foreign overlordship, for despite all that had come to pass the Mitonese Emperor still found himself with a respect for his fallen contemporaries, and did not wish to impose farther than he had to. 

So it was that by the time the war in Aracór escalated, the Taurapetrans again ruled themselves in all but name, paying only ceremonial dues to commands given them from the west. And justly so: their city's natural position as a trade port and its enforced status as a safe haven amidst the fires of civil war had restored a great amount of its former glory, merely without the opportunists who had formerly occupied it, drawn by the Imperial bureaucracy. Despite their theoretical nature as a part of the Mitonese state, the League of Livassa had not forgotten the overall objective of reunifying the Empire that was, or at the very least, a healthy part of it. This meant that throughout the events occurring on the border marches, the tacit hand of Taurapetran influence began to worm its way into both sides, key individuals being persuaded of the virtue of their ultimate goal. This being, of course, the raising of the granddaughter of the fallen Emperor to the purple, and the restitution of the old ways.

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 CC: "Ruined Forum at Ushiiwa (Taurapetra)"

« 'ιχουμε δουλεсέν сκλουηρά ... »

« ... We have labored hard and ... lengthily for the advancement of the Luminant Way (TN: Unconquered Sun) and the vengeance of the many injustices dealt us. Indeed, although the provincials mightn't suffer to admit the truth of it, the numerous political concessions which have ameliorated the worst parts of our condition have sprung from Taurapetran coffee-houses, not the blood-slicked fields of the barbarous thing they dare call a righteous war. How brother can still stand against brother? It is a decade ago that we should have been crying of demons on the plain, well before they dared step across, not now there we are already lamenting losses rather than heralding victories. When you go to meet with Ivanara, Atracathes, and the rest of them, even the outlanders on their creaking boats, you remind them of this when communicating our principled demands.

1. That the Northern Provinces are irrevocably lost and will never be Aroman again. Nathilla, Medhiàta, and Telasta are not recoverable.
2. That the new state will be an Empire in Taurapetra again, and not an Exarchate bending to the Tagmatines.
3. That the invaders will be driven out by the sword, for to reason by the pen has seen us maligned and killed.
4. That the new state will prioritize means of education, urbanization, and elevation of the farmers to promote a mercantile class.
5. That the new state will not neglect the Europan trade, the abandonment of which brought the state finances to ruin. »

So writes Alexandros Laradaizes, to a diplomat sent east to initiate negotiations. He would learn quite a few things he had not dreamt of.

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  • 4 months later...

(OOC) I am trying a style change from how I wrote Shatterlance previously. Please ignore the previous posts, but I am leaving them here as a reminder of the effort I put in, and that I started this all in February.

The Situation, 1535 CE

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In the aftermath of the collapse of the Aurelian Empire at the hands of both internal strife and its enemies
the Mitonese, Xionese, Powanak, Ainóra, Kanienke, Asperans, Confederated Tribes, and more, it dissolved
into its constituent states and entered a period of civil war. While traditionally the Tagaris dynasty which had
founded the nation held the divine right of rulership, the fact that a long series of incompetent rulers had
ended with the most powerful lords storming the capital of Taurapetra, executing him, and reinstating the
Republic removed this legitimizing aspect and made true civil wars for the title of Vasileús possible.

In Taurapetra: Loyalists to the family of the Emperor retook power, and as the so-called League of Livassa,
put another Tagaris on the throne. However, the Mitonese would soon come knocking. After a pitched siege,
the Aurelian Emperor knelt in surrender, before being summarily assassinated by his own people for having
the temerity to give up the war on their behalf. Now it is they who are the masters of Ushi-Iwa.

In Arakhór: The Exarch of Arakhór, Leftarás Mareighos, controls the majority of the former Aurelian military
as well as the wealthiest cities of the Empire. Conquering westward, he makes a bid to dismantle his rivals
in the Exarchate of Lernaea, and form a state capable of pushing all the way to the sea and crowning him
Emperor. He is slowed only by the numerous mountain tribes penetrating his territory in the east.

In Lernaea: The Exarch of Lernaea, Kyriakos Laradaizes, is in an unfathomably difficult position. Not only
is his mother a Tagmatine Christian; having given him a Christian name, but his nascent country has
been pushed to its limit. The one advantage he has is the utter loyalty of the Order of the Maidenlance,
Aurelia's finest gunners, and zealous Solarists whose mere presence near him clears his name.

Elsewhere: The Dimetrians and Kagorans, two states settled by exiles and enemies of the Tagarian regime
in the days of the old Empire, prepare to fight for dominance over the southern coast. The confederation
of the Ainóra people, with its capital at the city of Satpará, subjugates the state of Aspera to its south
and east, while conducting breakneck fortification programs to prepare for the wars to come.

The Situation, 1568 CE

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Párthen i Arakhóra - Arakhór is lost. While the Mitonese were a formidable enemy, they made subjects
where they conquered. Now the hill tribes and the inland foes of Arome have massed, and where they
go, they burn. The Arakhórans have suffered serious reversals, being pushed back to their capital itself-
and though they are an enemy of their fellow Aurelians, and once a power making a bid for the Imperial
seat, many are rousing to rescue them. For if Arakhór falls, then the way to Akhileia is open, and if Akhileia
falls, then the sons of Lysander may full well be thrown into the sea by those jealous of their splendor ..

In Taurapetra: The Mitonese Emperors Jummu, Tetsuchū, and Banka have been busy attempting to end
the Tagaris dynasty for good, while they have it under their thumb. In Aurelia, that last name is dangerous-
whispers of a Tagarian rebellion would set their holdings ablaze. And although they have been mostly
successful, they have not been able to kill the Tagmatine-educated granddaughter of the last Emperor,
who has assumed the throne as Anastasia Tagarina after more than a few assassination attempts.

In Arakhór: Leftarás has just fallen in battle, and his son Atticus has succeeded to the throne of Arakhór.
While it is not an enviable position, he tells himself, he still has the City—and if he has the City, he can
still win the war. Around Aurelia, forces still loyal to the Aromans muster and prepare to send him all
the aid they can, for if he is to fall completely, then it is certain that they are to share in his fate.

In Lernaea: Alexandros Laradaizes, the successor to Kyriakos, has turned his fortune around. It is now
the Lernaeans who seem poised to reunify the Empire, with their own holdings increased and numerous
Arakhóri vassals defecting to their side without a fight.  Having just completed a successful campaign
against Oekhamera, he hopes to soon strike west to Kanthos, and bring more under Lernaean rule.

Elsewhere: The Dimetrians push up to the edge of Kagora itself, threatening to take the city. The part
of Arakhór above the Sagraphas river refuses to kneel to the Lernaeans, taking the name of Mistra, after
the ancient provincial capital of Mysathría. Reports arise that Powanak and Bolhetari armies have crossed
the Sagraphas in the south and laid siege to Pontaleia, hoping to clear the way to Arakhór.

Taurapetra, 1568 CE
Shatterlance is written from the point of view of Anastasia Tagarina, the 'Empress in Taurapetra' under Mitonese rule.

I speak as Vasílissa, chosen by the people and favored of the Sun—the champion of Lysander's destiny—first among Aromans.

So began all Imperial addresses during the reign of my forefathers, though they would have said Vasileús instead. Truthfully, that I have retained this title has been no feat on my part, given the circumstances under which it is forced to exist. It has been thirty-three solar years since the Mitonese took Taurapetra from the few who faithfully defended it, thirty-three solar years since the final step of our great humiliation which has not come to a close, but instead been prolonged by those who would wish to see us suffer. I have tried my best to be a good ruler in the manner of the examples which I was taught. For while it is true that Tagarian excess played a part in bringing our Empire to its knees, I would not spare blame also to those who deserted the dynasty in its moment of weakness rather than uphold it. Those selfsame Exarchs who joust for dominance over the Plain while I do little but watch are the grandsons and great-nephews of the bandits who burned the Palace to the ground and relieved the Emperor of his head.

I have begun the habit of marking my thoughts to paper. My tutor, Nikólaos, is at fault—for discussing with me too far in depth the idea that my ancestors only gained the fame they did because Lysandros was a scholar before he was an admiral, a man of letters who made sure that the narrative would remember him in exactly the way he wanted. I do not write for the contents of an archive now, nor do I expect to achieve the same heroism that he did in his lifetime, but I should hope that whatever is to become of me, these words may be preserved and conveyed to future Aurelians, that they might learn from my successes and my mistakes. With what time is left to me, for I do not believe that it is all too great a count, I hope to act in a way that befits a monarch of my station, and to strive for the reunification of the nation and the end of its people's suffering. This is as noble a goal as anyone could hope for, I think, and as grand as they could ever hope to accomplish in their life.

I do not speak so dismally of the future without motive. For even here in the Akhileion Palace (what an ironic name, given what they have done in that city which is styled the selfsame way), troubling news reaches me from the eastern frontier. Yes indeed—the eastern frontier, what eastern frontier, a speaker from thirty years ago might say, or from a hundred. For as long as we can remember, and even while the Empire was whole and fought with the unified spirit of its inhabitants, the eastern frontier has been rolled back, step by halting step. I recall that there were days when we traded with the Europans by way of the far coast, rather than obliging them to sail around the Cape and dock in Kagora. I recall that there were days when Arakhór was not even the eastern frontier, but Milliarades beyond it. These whispers tell me that the enemies have broken the defense of the Sagraphas, that there are demons on the Plain, and that soon they will take Arakhór itself and reduce it to rubble.

In truth, I should not speak so shyly, for they are hardly just whispers. The reality of the matter is that all Aroman rulers which yet remain on the peninsula, among which number I was thoughtfully included despite my servile status beneath another power, have been written by the pen of the Arakhóri Exarch. A great many powerful forces across the land are setting into motion a unified Aurelian army, to fight as we once fought, and avert the doom of that cursed City. In reflection, I am not sure if even together, we have the strength for it. The feiderátaí tell me that the hosts which clamor for our destruction are uncountable as the grains of sand on the beach, and that our cause, beyond the sentiment of buying time, is utterly hopeless. I should hope that this is merely the result of a soldierly penchant for exaggeration—else why would they remain here, in my service?

To deny the Exarch's invitation would be political suicide of the highest order. For were I to deny and they were to fall, then they would die martyrs, and I would be remembered as the Empress who Watched. And were I to deny and they were to succeed, then I am sure that I shall be personally acquainted with an axe before the year is over as the victors exploit their popularity for political ends. However to accept it is also dangerous in its own way, for while I have traveled extensively in Europa, my own homeland here in Aurelia is strange to me. Moreover, the roads east are certainly not safe. I have the option of several routes, but it is certain that on both I will in some way have to stare down the risk of assassination, banditry, enemy armies, and dwindling supplies. To depart would also be to snub to the authority of my Mitonese overlords, as I have not consulted with them about travel or raising soldiers—however, it is not as if they can stop me right now, either. Indeed, what little intelligence as Athána has seen fit to bless me with and Sol has seen fit to maintain tells me that they are too occupied with each others' throats to deal with me.

Therefore, what remains to be decided? Only the route I will take to Arakhór. I know I will not be able to take so many soldiers with me, but I have secured a penkon (penkontoubernia, 50 men) of Order of the Dawn heavy cavalry under a cousin of the Grandmaster, a penkon of Angleiki gunners acquired in flight from their homeland on my way back to Aurelia under a common man who calls himself Albertson, a kentarchia (100 men) of Mitonese spears graciously left me as personal by the Clan Jikihara, a kentarchia of Xionese heavy swordsmen under a fearsomely large lady named Xonēhane-Yona (though she insists I refer to her as a man), a vandán (200 men) of Tagmatine cataphract archers under my faithful confidant Atrakathís (though they are my men to begin with), and a vandán of the former Imperial Guard left to me in this capital, the full sum of those venerable soldiers who have not deserted me for masters with more coin to offer and a greater expectancy of success. This puts me currently in the possession of 800 soldiers, although I would like to acquire feiderátaí, scouts, and ideally some of the Dolkoí (Dolchlanders) I have been hearing so much about to bring my retinue in excess of a thousand souls. I could field more, but feeding them would be difficult, and the Mitonese might be tempted to have me replaced while I am away if I do not leave a garrison behind.

I have written the Clan Ikari and informed them of my intent to journey, as well as my instructions as to what actions would please me were I to fall in battle. My first option going forward is to take the northern route, which would bring me to Arakhór by way of predominantly Akhileia. I would need to first journey directly east to Atlassos (which while theoretically in my domain, is not practically so) and from there enter Kallatis through Kanthos and then go on to Akhileia itself. I am aware that the Exarch plots to conquer Kanthos, and from there march on Atlassos itself. I am in fact certain that he would be doing so as I write now, were it not for the inconvenient summons to battle at Arakhór. The chief danger here is not so much the road, which I understand to be in good order as it was during the Imperial period proper, but the idea that the Akhileians will try to get rid of me at some point. The retinue I am bringing is not such a necessity to the war effort that it would be self-sabotage to have me attacked or ambushed and jailed, and eliminating my family name for good would lend the Laradaizes family much in legitimacy towards their eventual bid for the throne. If I were to make it through Akhileia unharmed however, it would be relatively easy sailing up to Trasta and Manteia, and from there a journey up the Sagraphas, past the garrison at Pharai, and into Arakhór itself by way of the still-secure northern maritime route and through Mernar Gate. While the safety of the wilderness on this path attracts me, it is the intrigue in the cities which makes me fearful.

My second option is to take the southern route, which would involve a great deal more boat travel and passing through a number of additional domains. The first stretch taking me south to Livassa, I am sure, would be incredibly tranquil—after all, I have Atrakathís with me, and he is despótes in Livassa—but from there it becomes more complicated. Kagora is the next major city on the path, a city not only under threat of siege, but under threat of siege by the Dimetrians. None need reminding, I believe, that they place the origins of their identity distinctly in the exiled general Dimítrios, who was banished to the frozen southern frontier by my great-great and twice again grandfather due to his overbearing popularity in the court, and thus carry the most incredible grudge with the Tagarian dynasty. Even were I to successfully move through Kagora, I would need to go through Dimetria itself thereafter, which requires some level of rapport (or at least peaceability) with the Dimetrians. However, this is not entirely a bad thing—if I should imagine myself as enough of a hero to make a bid for hegemony, should I survive the trials to come, then having them on my side instead of with the Lernaeans would be not such a bad thing indeed. After Dimetria, there is Satpará—but I am not scared of the Ainóra. Many of my countrymen at court cannot tell one foreign tribe from another, I am sorry to say, but this one has taken to our civilization with keen studiousness and even used lessons learned from subjugation under us to in turn subjugate the Asperans. Of more difficulty would be bypassing the besieged Pontaleia on my way into Arakhór from the south, which would thus demand of me the overland entry towards Kírkor Gate, as the river is contested between the Arakhóri and the Bolhetari. However, despite the varied environments and dangers of this path, I know that I am in places too remote to fear waking up with a dagger in my back or a broken promise escaping my lips.

With the unshaking resolve of Sol Invictus, for the glory of my family name and the restitution of Aurelia, I will depart tomorrow.

Northern Route

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Southern Route

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(OOC) Anyone who has read up to here can vote on the route by telling me over Discord. The regions Tagarina travels through will be extensively wurldbuilt, so pick the part of Aurelia that you want to see described in more detail.

Edited by Kirvina (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Taurapetra → Livassa, 1568 CE
Shatterlance continues from the point of view of Anastasia Tagarina as she goes south.

Atrakathís was overjoyed when I informed him that we are to take the southerly route on our journey to Arakhór. In truth, he should have suspected it from the start, for while I have never been to Akhileia I am scared of what that city might hold for me. Fear, such an ungainly emotion for an Empress, and yet so present. I had hoped to conquer it some time ago, but the truth is that I can never quite outrun my nature, no matter how the demands of my station press me to. The wilderness does not shake me in the same way. Silly to call it wilderness, in truth—for the realms beyond the west were once as great as our own, and have the potential to grow greater with a gentler hand. Since Livassa is Atrakathís' domain and he is despotés there, it is only right that he should be the one to ride with me on the way. Our closeness has led to us speaking further. In some ways, I am surprised at the depths of his opinions. He always struck me as more of the careful and quiet type, but invite him to the right to speak his mind, and he bristles with energy.

Despite the lack of discussion on the matter, I always knew Atrakathís to be not very fond of the Mitonese. But the extent was not known to me until we shared our thoughts on the effects of their rule in the western provinces, and what their overlord-ship has meant for the fate of my dynasty. In the main, he considers their religion little better than superstition. I personally dispute this point, as when one looks back at the history of the Unconquered Sun, it is easy to see that its Ilenic roots from before the Arhomans turned to Christianity contain many of the same notions. Yes, it is true that under Kirvinian purview the faith has been purified and turned in a new direction, but such being true means that it could also be true for the Mitonese. While Atrakathís accepts this, he posits in return that the reason we could move forward is because beneath all that pointless custom and ceremony, the Unconquered Sun teaches us tangible principles, while the Mitonese have none at all. I have not thought a suitable retort to this yet. For while I would like to think them honorable, what I know they have been doing to my family—what they would have done to me had they the chance—is very far from that ideal.

As for more real effects of Mitonese rule, I can say that they are less to do with who the Mitonese are, and a lot more to do with where the Mitonese are. Taurapetra was built to serve as a capital, and the loss of such station has hurt her greatly. While the era of peace which has proceeded the collapse has brought us some measure of room to recover, it is undeniable that the regional capitals asserting themselves has severely reduced the profitability of maintaining enterprise. Indeed, it leads me to wonder if our fortune was in the first place built on the rampant exploitation of the provinces, not that any loyal bannerman of my grandfather's would suffer it said so. Nonetheless, the fiscal pains which have marred my reign and those before mine are a direct result of the fact that we have lost the ability to compel others to pay homage to us, and must instead pay homage in turn to Kenkyou. The Clan Jikihara has tried many, many times to invite me there in person, but each time I have found my reasons to tactfully decline. Though it is their soldiers I have here with me now, I am not sure I take their flattery quite at its word. Any man who proclaims himself a friend of the Tagaris dynasty in our day is either loyal beyond compare, stark raving mad, or duplicitous. My assumptions thereon can be easily guessed.

On the way to Livassa, we have been obliged to pass through Koeaneia. Though the highways are repaired (somewhat) and the thoroughfare is in relative order with stables to change our horses, I have found that the walls and fortifications that were once to be found across the province have been greatly reduced. Atrakathís complains to me that this is the result of a Mitonese demand that these defensive structures be laid low, in order to reduce the risk of him successfully rebelling against them. That they would worry in the first place tells me that their authority outside of the walls of Taurapetra itself may not be quite as it seems, and moreover, that they are worried enough about arms being raised in my name that they would make the western provinces vulnerable to a Kagoran or Dimetrian invasion. Of all the peoples of Ilenic descent, the Dimetrians are perhaps the most touched by that savage barbarous fervor—and this is not just a statement made because I am a Tagaris, because of my family's history with those people. Truly, truly, I believe that there is something wild about them. At least, the burned cities left in their wake would say so. They speak to a certain determination in the Dimetrians, to be the ones to reunify the realm, to set the order right in their name and no one else's. If they did not go about it so messily, I might even respect it. But find a way to respect them I must, for on this route I am to transit through their lands; and I should most like it if I do not wind up dead in doing so.

As for Livassa itself, there is little to say about it. Atrakathís manages it well, I think, or at the very least if he does not he has done a very good job of coordinating appearances to give me the impression that he does. I always found the city rather pretty, the way it straddles the four hills on the crown and then spills out towards the ocean through the long gap of the valleys. The Livassans themselves like to claim that it was here Lysandros first landed and not Taurapetra, although truth be told it is quite impossible to verify in the modern day where the settlements first began. Here we have acquired new provisions for the men and new equipment also to replace that which has been worn down and broken by the stresses of the road, as well as started the search for suitable native feiderátaí to scout for the army. Unfortunately, I have not met with much in the way of luck yet. The Xi commander in particular has also wasted some of my time, by way of making the excellent decision to debate with the clergy the proper role of the Sun as a deity, knowing full well how their particular interpretation would find little purchase here. Perhaps it was the weight of alcohol, perhaps simply to make a point; but I am quite displeased with them, even if their sword-arm is strong like the hammer. Atrakathís has ensured me that he will remonstrate them on my behalf.

No matter. We are to Kagora next, and by all stretch of the imagination and against all the hope I put in Sol Invictus, that way will be more eventful. After all, if the fishermen speak true, then the Dimetrians have put a breach in the walls and are fighting up to the keep...

Edited by Kirvina (see edit history)
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