Time on My Hands Chapter 30 - 285 CE: The Theological Connection

Time on My Hands
Chapter 30: 285 CE: The Theological Connection

Everyone was clearly shocked by that weird behavior wondering if perhaps Raben was crazy.

Then from the walls above them the a host of wolf howls answered. Raben howled once more. A dozen wolves loped from the low opening in the wall where the Mauvoisin, the stream coming from the side valley to join the Rhone at Agaunum. The galloping wolves headed for Raben.

People screamed and ran. The provincial troops fell back drawing their weapons. Maximian almost wet himself as his bodyguard nervously moved to surround him. Raben began yipping, the wolves replied as they trotted up to stand protectively on either side of Raben.

“My pets,” Raben clearly announced so all could hear as he smiled and patted several wolves on the head as he looked at the stunned onlookers. Opening his cloak enough for Maximian to see his sword and a knife he softly added. “My grandfather was the original Demon Slayer. He passed his skills to me so my twin sister and I are now Demon Slayers. You’ve been on the German border long enough to have heard about the Demon Slayer. Although I have no desire to fight, I’m ready to fight if you push me. Look at the defensive walls above you. They are filled with militia. Besides, my wolves are just aching for fresh meat. If you think you can arrest me, go ahead and try!”

Maximian had indeed heard the tales of the Demon Slayer. Even if only a tenth of what was said was true, the Demon Slayer was to be feared. Glancing up he saw the walls, which were so far up the mountain sides he hadn’t noticed them until the wolf howls drew his attention upwards. Now he noted those walls were lined with armed men. Fortunately he didn’t know 85% of those armed men on the walls were women. The distance hid that reality.

The co-emperor realized he’d majorly screwed up. His arrogance had resulted in the elimination of an entire cohort which backed him into a corner about arresting Senator Corvo. Fortunately Raben had only scolded him, not openly challenged him or he would’ve had no choice but to arrest or kill him.

“Senator Corvo, I’m placing you in charge of burying these traitors,” Maximian announced as he turned to his aide. “Centurion, send dispatch riders to every camp. My orders are to immediately strike camp and proceed down the valley with all haste. I expect everyone to camp tonight at Montreux on the shores of Lac Leman.” Then he looked at his personal provincial troops. “You have the same orders. Go strike your camp and head down to the lake.”

The soldiers swallowed nervously as they formed their marching order to return to their camp quite relieved not to face the wolves or the Demon Slayer as well as to get away from the nasty massacre.

Raben smiled as with a flick of a wrist the wolves sat on their haunches. “As you command, Emperor Maximian,” he acquiesced with a slight bow.

Maximian acknowledged with a curt head nod as he mounted his horse. With his body guard he rode off to close his office and join his troops downstream at the lake.

Once Maximian and the troops were out of sight, Raben began organizing the summoned freemen into several work groups. They worked diligently as column after column of Roman soldiers marched down stream. Each group looked at the stacked bodies and men digging the burial spot.

The Alpine ridge coming down from the peak of L’Aiguille looms over Agaunum. The Barmaz defense walls are built at the edge of the overlooking plateau. The 500 feet high glacis between the top of the plateau/defense walls and the Rhone flood plain had been cut to a smooth 75° slope. A ditch 15 feet deep by 30 feet wide was cut at the bottom as a safety trap to stop any rocks that may someday break loose from rolling into the village. The location Raben chose for the burial spot {GM 46.219584, 7.003097} was 300 feet southwest of the eastern most point of the plateau.

Raben used the food and tents of the deceased cohort to feed and house the men as they worked. With one hundred eighty men on the task, the work went quickly. Since it was late afternoon when Raben had been charged with the burial, by the end of that first day the area Raben had selected had been marked off and cleared. The wolves had been detailed to guard the group of workers during the night too provide close and distant warning of any possible trouble.

That night as Raben tried to sleep the alpha wolf of his pack came and laid by it’s dominus. Suitably guarded, as Raben slept, Ianuaria approached him in his dream.

“Salutations, disciple Raben,” Ianuaria greeted.

“Ianuaria, it’s good to see you,” Raben said. “It’s been one hundred eleven years since we last met.”

“That’s just a pittance to a Goddess,” Ianuaria replied.

“True, but from a human perspective it’s a LONG time,” Raben sighed.

“Yes, but you are doing well,” Ianuaria smiled. “You’re doing much better with the Curse than your predecessor.”

Raben still had concern for the man who passed on the Curse. “Was he rewarded for his effort?”

“Yes, we gave his soul eternal peace,” Ianuaria assured him.

“Good,” he relaxed. “He was a good hearted man, just overwhelmed by the Curse.”

“As a soldier he had been dirtied,” she told him. “As a soldier he lacked the ability to use his gift to help others. You not only help others, you foresee future troubles taking action to save knowledge for humanity.”

“I have no choice but to try to help,” he confessed. “I wish I didn’t have to take so many lives.”

“That you feel grief and take no pleasure in taking lives is what makes you ideal to be the Curse bearer,” Ianuaria smiled. “That plus the fact you were a skilled Ianuarian were the reasons I recommended you for receiving the ‘Curse’.”

“You recommended me to get the Curse?” Raben asked in surprise as he rolled that over in his head.

“The Curse was intended to help humanity,” Ianuaria replied. “We hoped Marcellus Longinus could do what was intended. While he tried he we realized he was too old to adjust to the demands of the Curse. But he realized you could handle it, and I agreed, convincing the others. We let him know how to pass on the Curse. Your compassion allowed the transmission of the Curse.”

Raben nodded. “Please don’t get upset, but...”

“I am not the Angel Raphael... you could say I am his sister,” she cut him off.

Raben’s mind swirled. “So Jesus is really the Christ, the son of the one true God come to redeem mankind?”

“That depends upon mankind,” she replied. “If they accept and believe or not is a free will choice.”

Raben thought deeply. “What about those who don’t believe, or can’t believe, or who have never heard of Jesus or even the one true God?”

“All are judged on their lives,” Ianuaria explained. “Those who lived evil, reap evil. Those who lived good, reap good. Those in between will be judged by their remorse. No human has the strength of character to continually be good. Despite your best intentions you are unable to be good all the time. That is part and parcel of being human. Those who slip and fall away will be welcomed upon their return to the fold. Those who died before Jesus were judged the same way.”

“So what the Scriptures say is true?” Raben questioned. “We should accept Jesus as out savior and worship the one true God?”

“It is good to be fervent in the new faith,” Ianuaria declared. “However, do not allow the faith to become religious. The Scriptures were intended to be the divinely inspired words of God. However those Godly words were heard, understood and recorded by humans. Human understanding is predicated on and influenced by that person’s life experiences and knowledge. That means the true words of God recorded in the Scriptures have inaccuracies. In addition the Gospels were not written down until between 30 and 60 years after Jesus was crucified and none were written by an eye witness. Human memory distorts over time as do stories verbally passed on. Those caveats in no way lessen the morality or lessons of the Scriptures. But they do present a powerful case for a personal relationship with God rather that an institutional mediated relationship. The key is faith, which is mankind reaching to God. Religion is man trying to pull God down to mankind then caging and limiting God with manmade rules and requirements. The responsibility of a Christian is to love one another as they would love themselves, sharing and guiding others in the faith of the one true God. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees and Sadducees for enforcing manmade rules on how to worship and limiting approaches to God. The Christian Church is already doing just that. They make minor differences into insurmountable mountains. They must guard against losing the message in the rules. Even worse is forcing or coercing people to worship. Doing so is a sin.”

“Christianity is growing and will replace the old Gods,” Raben stated thoughtfully. “I have already seen the Church leadership making rules. The Clan Corvo and I should become Christians and do what we can to ease the burden of rules. That will mean walking a fine line.”

“The old gods, myself included, are aspects of the one true God so we will be subsumed into the new,” Ianuaria informed him. “That does not mean we will disappear. There will be times when you and your clan will need to yield to the human rule makers and enforcers. Do so to survive and keep TRUE faith alive, like a strong tree bends in the wind but does not break. Barmaz will be the lighthouse guiding souls to true salvation. You have been my disciple since your first independent thoughts. You are a healer. Jesus is a healer. With him at your side, you’ll be a better healer. Just remember, not all can be healed in this life. Some who you feel should live will die. Some you feel should die will live. But it will be God who makes that ultimate decision and even we cannot fathom His will. All you can do is your best and trust in God. Now, my child, sleep well.”
Raben awoke feeling better than he had in years. He had no doubts the dream had been a genuine encounter with Ianuaria. He now understood his responsibilities. He just wished he knew how to accomplish them.

In the morning the crew was divided into digging/quarrying parties. Starting at an area 10 feet beyond the ditch a pit 10 feet deep by 75 feet long by 40 feet wide was excavated. Since much of the area was solid rock, it had to be quarried As the hole was dug some men began cutting the removed rocks for use as building blocks. They then built a stacked stone wall 30 inches wide around the perimeter of the pit extending to one foot above the highest undisturbed adjoining area. Since no one from the area knew the dead soldiers, once they were stripped there was no way to distinguish one from another rendering them anonymous. The blanket wrapped bodies were packed tightly arm to leg alternating direction allowing 40 bodies to be laid in a row. Three levels of five rows were stacked into the pit. The massed bodies were covered with 4 feet of dirt then 4 feet of gravel. A stacked stone wall 5 feet thick and 5 feet high was built around the perimeter incorporating the pit wall. The wall enclosed area atop the bodies was filled level with the top of the wall entombing the bodies and creating a flat space in which wild flowers were planted. It took three days to complete the burial.

Raben commissioned a stela. Having found the roll of the cohort amongst the belongings he had their names engraved on sides of the massive memorial stone which was placed in front of the walled mass grave.

Except for the weapons, jewelry and coins Raben distributed the cohort’s belongings to the eighty local men as payment for their efforts. Everyone involved in the cleanup and burial as well as all the locals who heard about the martyrdom of the cohort were deeply effected. Nearly all had at least heard about Christians but none knew about the faith. Many had questions about Christianity and the one true God who invoked such passion that the six hundred men, legionaries no less, willingly allowed themselves to be slaughtered like lambs.

Raben and several Clan Corvo scribes from Corvus Scriptorium who were knowledgeable about Christian writings went to the numerous weekly farmer’s markets in the Upper Rhone River Valley to explain what the Christian writings said. As they shared their knowledge the message resonated deeply within everyone. Raben and his kin spent many evenings discussing Christianity, all deciding they needed to talk to established Christians like the Bishop of Rome, Cauis, in Rome.

Raben and his kin traveled to Mazbar just before the snows closed Poeinus Mons for the season. After settling in they and two scribal kin from Mazbar set up appointments with the Bishop of Rome, Caius, where they discussed the martyrdom of the Thebian Legion, the solemn burial of the martyrs, and their immersion into Christianity. Caius and his attendants were stunned by the Scriptural knowledge of the aspiring acolytes. Truth be told, Raben taught them, offering copies of the pertinent codexes. By August, Bishop of Rome Caius baptized the supplicants then commissioned them as Priests with Raben appointed as Bishop of Barmaz and Clan Corvo. At Raben’s insistence, in the official notarized documents, the definition of Barmaz was spelled out to be wherever the Clan Corvo lived. It also included special dispensation for the Bishop of Barmaz to establish a Christian School, appoint more priests, appoint additional bishops and even successor Bishops. They spent the next several months learning the hierarchy and procedures of the Church as they set up a church in a barn in Mazbar. At every opportunity, Raben stressed to the Roman hierarchy the need for the growing Church to avoid the pitfalls that Christ spoke about had happened to the Pharisees and Sadducees.

In December Raben and one Presbyter sailed to Alexandria and Zamrab. Raben explained about the martyrdom of the Thebian Legion because of their acceptance of Christianity. They set up a church in a barn in Zamrab with weekly services. Raben made sure to travel 500 miles up the Nile to Thebes {PD Luxor}. There, as the Bishop of Barmaz, he sought out the Christian community to tell them the fate of the Christian Cohort, assuring them that he personally saw to their burial and erected a memorial monument. The bereaved thanked him for taking care of their loved ones. When Raben left Egypt he took two of his scribal kin while leaving the Presbyter behind to officiate at the newly established church.

It was the beginning of April 287 when Raben and the two from Zamrab arrived in Rome. The two from Zamrab took up residence and began studying in Mazbar and Rome so they could be commissioned as Presbyters. In fact, the Scriptorium at Mazbar expanded to include a safe site and school for learning about Christian writings. In May Raben and the Barmaz Presbyters returned to Barmaz. They established a church in Barmaz with others in Monthey, Aguanum, Sion and Forum Claudii Vallensium. They utilized barns to meet and hold services. After all, if Jesus was humbly born in a stable, why would having services in a barn be inappropriate? They kept the services low key so as not to draw imperial attention.

Fortunately Maximian was kept busy fighting brigands in Gaul, defending the border with Germania and stopping pirates along the coast of Gaul and Britain. He didn’t have the time to worry about Raben or Christians. The general he sent to eliminate the pirates kept their booty which earned him a death sentence. As a result he rebelled pulling Britannia and northwestern Gaul from the empire. In the east Diocletian was busy along the Danube and in Asia Minor.

Raben and his Presbyters remained involved in day to day life. At Raben’s insistence none assumed an air of superiority, ministering in the humble manner of a servant. They did their best to be help those in need as did all in Barmaz. Raben oversaw the Presbyters as they ministered in the churches but did not devote himself to being a full time bishop. Corvus Scriptorium would continue it’s mission copying and preserving knowledge.

One thing really irritated Raben about the Church in Rome and the Church in general was it’s utter disdain for females. Women were squeezed out of any leadership position. They were not allowed to teach or preach or even speak in church services. They were expected to serve the needs of males such as providing food. Yet Raben knew Jesus never taught nor approved of any kind of subordination of one of his followers over another. Instead, he expressly forbade it in any Christian relationship. All three Synoptic gospels record Jesus teaching his disciples that any subordination of one to another, both abusive and customary, is a pagan practice, not something to take place among his followers. Having issued his strong prohibition against subordination of others, he prescribed the Christian alternative to subordination as being the exact opposite: profound service to others.

Closely related to that, Raben believed that having an extensive hierarchy was a poison that permeates relationships, the more levels, the deadlier the poison as those at the top loose connection with those at the bottom. Safe and comfortable in their ivory towers, they no longer see life’s reality. Jesus trained his disciples in the ways of servanthood yet the Christian leadership insisted on substituting hierarchy for servanthood. They kept competing among themselves for the highest status and for positions of preeminence. To settle the issue once for all times, Jesus sharply delineated the basic difference between social organization in the secular world as compared to the Christian community. There is no mandate and no allowance in the New Testament for one adult believer to hold authority over another adult believer. Instead, the overall rule calls for mutual submission among all believers out of reverence for Christ.

In addition, the scriptures made contradictory statements on women’s subordination to men as well as slavery. Both were allowed and accepted, however the same Scriptures also contain ideas and principles which, if developed and taken to their logical conclusion, would bring about the abolition of those practices. According to the teachings of Jesus, biblical patriarchy should be replaced by the “we are all one in Christ Jesus” proclamation of Galatians 3:28 which says "There is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Needless to say the Bishop of Rome as well as others did not share Raben’s beliefs in those matters. So while he practiced what he preached, he didn’t rub it in the faces of others.

Feeling more focus was needed on both civic and military problems, in 293 Diocletian, with Maximian's consent, appointed two Caesars, Galerius and Constantius. To reduce the possibility of local usurpations and to facilitate collection of taxes and supplies as well as enforcement of the law, he doubled the number of provinces grouping them into twelve dioceses governed by an official called a vicarius. A vicarius and the provincial governors under him were responsible for justice and taxation but a new class, dukes, acting independently of the civil service had military command. Under the reforms of Diocletian, the province of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae remained intact but became part of the Diocese of Gaul. Also the name of the capitol, Forum Claudii Vallensium, was returned to Octodurum, the name it had at the time it was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The Clan Corvo controlled portion of northeastern Allobroge had been placed in the province of Viennensis with it’s capital city Vienna {PD Vienne} and like Alpes Graiae et Poeninae, was under the praetorian prefecture of Gaul. This created potential issues as the Clan Corvo areas fell under two provinces.

Raben’s normal Barmaz/Mazbar/Zamrab itinerary continued most years. Thus he was in Rome in April 296 when Bishop of Rome Caius died. As a Bishop he was involved in the congregation of Church leaders to select the replacement Bishop of Rome. Marcellinus was selected as new Bishop of Rome in June. Raben resumed his travels. By then the walls around Mazbar had been completed. Atop Mons Vaticanus, storehouses had been built with the supply capacity to keep the denizens of Mazbar going for a year. A well had also been dug providing a steady water supply.

When he returned to Barmaz at the end of July the glacis below the defense walls facing the upper Rhone river valley were completed. The narrow entry road cut into the plateau was completed as were the numerous narrow channels beneath the wall on the Vieze. The defense system looked intimidating and was virtually impregnable. The secondary entry at Abondance was also intimidating but Raben wanted additional defensive construction. Any assault on the Barmaz Bailiwick would be prohibitively expensive in terms of lives for the attacker.

In the fall Raben returned to Mazbar and in December headed to Zamrab. He had more long range plans he was ready to implement. These trips were to make sure Zamrab, Mazbar and Barmaz would run on their own while he was tied up in the new ventures.

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