Time on My Hands Chapter 34 - 312-326 CE: Establishing Another Legend

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Time on My Hands
Chapter 34: 312-326 CE: Establishing Another Legend

“I have a suggestion for filling the vacant office,” Raben told Constantine. “I am the only senator with holdings in the province. The other senators who had estates here and to the west in Allobroge sold their estates to my grandfather when the Alemanni destroyed their estates 53 years ago. Barmaz escaped ransacking because we already had the defenses built plus my family is of Celtic and Germanic descent. The founder of the clan and my namesake, Raben, was the original Demon Slayer. My twin sister and I are both Demon Slayers. Because of that we were not attacked. The Clan Corvo is so large because my grandfather bought the 240,000 captured Alemanni who were sold into slavery. He brought them back home and married them into the Clan.”

“I have a relative who would be an ideal candidate for provincial governor and another who is head of the Clan Corvo Militia who would be an excellent duce,” Raben continued. “If I may be so bold, when I prove the metal of my Raven Raiders in the upcoming battles, I ask that the Clan Corvo lands in Allobroge be combined with those of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae by imperial decree and that you appoint my candidates for Governor and Duce of the enlarged Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae, and make the positions hereditary to the Clan Corvo since we make up 99% of the population. The Clan Corvo has faithfully served the imperial cause since Emperor Severus, my ancestors and namesakes being the head physicians for the Caledonian Expedition.”

“You certainly are not afraid to ask for Imperial Favor,” Constantine chuckled. “I’ll appoint your relatives temporary governor and duce. If you can prove that you are indeed the Demon Killer, I’ll issue a writ declaring the Clan Corvo to be the hereditary governor and duce of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae as well as expanding it to encompass the Alloborge territory owned by the Clan Corvo.”

“You won’t be dissatisfied with your decision,” Raben answered with a bow.

As they headed up towards the Alpine pass, Constantine asked Raben to ride with him. Raben answered Constantine’s questions about the Clan Corvo and the Demon Slayer. The emperor, like all educated men of the empire, knew that Corvus Scriptorium was the premier source of books, but had not known Barmaz was the primary center, having only been aware of the Rome and Alexandria offices. Raben also explained he was a skilled Ianuarian.

Constantine had difficulty believing the small youth was the current incarnation of the legendary Demon Slayer. But it did explain his affinity for animals considering the eagles, wolves, and ravens accompanying the Raven Raiders. When he questioned Raben about his soldiers being equipped with pink bucklers emblazoned with a green cross and a raven, Raben explained he and they were Christians, the green cross signified life and the pink the sanctified blood of Jesus. Then he added that while they didn’t want to die, their faith made them unafraid of death. That gave Constantine food for thought.

Constantine’s troops adapted to the Raven Raiders as they crossed into Italy. Everyone noticed the women were expected to do everything the men did and the men clearly respected the women. With the eagles and ravens flying ahead, Raben was able to report opposition troop movements and positions. As they prepared to take a town the ravens spooked the defenders making it easier for Constantine to take town after town with virtually no fighting. Following Raben’s wise advice, Constantine did not sack the towns but accepted their pledge of loyalty as they opened their gates. As they approached Rome a large force of Maxentian cavalry attacked, but thanks to the advance warning by the ravens they were trapped and chewed up. The remnants of the battered calvary, 385 men, clustered atop a small hill to bravely await their end. To their surprise Constantine’s troops drew back but stayed within sight of the treeless hilltop. Then a mass of cavalry thundered through the Roman lines forming a lance bristling circle about the entrapped warriors as 927 ravens and three eagles flew overhead krocking and screeing. The mounted men carried pink shields embossed with a green cross and raven. The mounted troops carried 27 pink banners also embossed with a a green cross and raven. In front of each banner stood a wolf. Needless to say the men were spooked.

Then a small figure rode through the line of cavalry carrying a large pink banner emblazoned with a raven and a skeleton. He impudently rode to their ragged lines where he jammed the standard into the ground so it stood on it’s own.

“I am Raben Corvo, head of the Clan Corvo and leader of the Raven Raiders surrounding you,” Raben called out. “Lay down your weapons and live.”

The soldiers were unsure and hesitated as they noted Constantine and his troops were watching as well as the hundreds of Ravens and 3 eagles flying overhead.

“Time’s up,” Raben called out. Snatching a bow hung on the saddle he began firing arrows into the men as his horse charged forward. With each arrow a man fell. He dropped six men before returning the bow to it’s pouch and pulling two swords just before he rode into their midst. Raben sent out empathetic fear to their horses causing the weary horses to rear and buck in terror. The ravens and eagles added to the confusion by swooping down amongst the chaotic milling. The cavalry men screamed as they were slashed by the birds. Raben rode amongst them mentally guiding his horse while causing the opposing horses to turn to expose their riders. Several men panicked and broke for freedom only to be dropped by the arrows of the surrounding Raven Raiders. For five minutes Raben rode unchecked through the growing panic of the defeated cavalry before riding out from their diminished ranks to stop by his banner.

“I am also known as the Demon Slayer. I am unstoppable and unkillable. Once more I offer you a chance to live, but this time as slaves,” Raben called out as the wolves trotted out to join him from the ranks of his troops. At the same time the eagles flew down, landing on his head and on each shoulder. The ravens landed on the horse, wolves and ground.

The now terrified men looked about their shattered ranks. Of the 385 that the Demon Slayer attacked, 86 lay dead. The 5 who fled were cut down by the Raven Raiders. One man cursed, charging at Raben. The others quickly followed. The eagles screamed and took to the sky as did the ravens. The wolves howled and side by side with Raben met the ragged charge as the birds and wolves fully joined the fray. The chaos was unbelievable as men screamed and fell. Eyes were plucked out and faces torn apart by claws. The wolves caused the horses to panic and savagely ripped the throats out of any man who fell. Terrified, men fled back to the hilltop. The wolves, eagles and ravens made short work of finishing off the wounded as everyone watched in horror. Raben had slain another 63 and the wolves, ravens and eagles had accounted for another 47.

The surviving 189 men, most still mounted on exhausted terrified horses, stood on the hill amongst the unmanned horses of their dead comrades. The eagles again perched on Raben’s shoulders, the wolves stood by his horse, and the ravens perched upon dead. Raben let out a wolf howl answered by the wolves as the eagles screeched and ravens krocked.

“My friends,” Raben called out to the wolves, ravens and eagles. “I give you leave to enjoy a rare feast!” At Raben’s signal the birds and wolves began feasting upon the flesh they’d help kill. The gore covered Raben plucked his banner from the ground and waved it about. The Raven Raiders moved forward with lances lowered.

“Again I call on you to surrender,” Raben shouted.

The survivors were clearly frazzled but stayed silent awaiting their fate,

At Raben’s signal, a troop swept through the men leaving their 79 lances embedded in now dead men.

"Again I call on you to surrender," Raben shouted to the 110 survivors.

Although their spirits were nearly crushed, their discipline kept them defiant.

Raben again signaled a troop to sweep through the men. Another 79 lances were left embedded in the now dead men.

“I give you one last chance to surrender,” Raben called out. “One more charge will wipe you out. I give you my word as the Demon Slayer if you surrender, you will be allowed to go free! Emperor Constantine will support my oath.”

Constantine was caught off guard by this but had already learned Raben was quite wily so there was a purpose to his words. Constantine signaled his approval.

The exhausted men were broken. They dropped their weapons and waited. Raben signaled his men to collect the prisoners as well as gathering their weapons and horses. The legend of the Raven Raiders was born as the deadly efficiency of the Demon Slayer was enhanced.

Constantine and his men were simultaneously awed and terrified of Raben. Even having witnessed the carnage he personally wrought they didn’t understand how it had been possible. While the birds and wolves gorged on the fresh meat Raben calmly rode to Constantine and his staff. The troops parted like the Red Sea as the blood soaked Demon Slayer rode to the emperor.

“Now you know that I am the Demon Slayer and what my Raven Raiders can do,” Raben declared in a voice that carried over the assembled troops. “We are excellent marksmen with bows even while at a full gallop. With my animals we are inspire fear, our charge is one of shock and awe. Let the tale of this carnage be told and spread. All will tremble with fear at our approach.”

No one disputed Raben’s claims.

Raben smiled and spoke in a lower voice for Constantine and his staff. “When released, these prisoners will spread the word of our ferocity and all who face the Raven Raiders will tremble with fear when they learn they face us!”

Constantine fully understood Raben’s reasoning. Psychological warfare was quite effective.

No one disputed Raben as he turned, returning to his by then satiated wolves and birds. They bathed in a nearby stream to cleanse the blood from their bodies. When Raben rejoined the Raven Raiders in their camp the warriors were quiet. Although they were skilled and had a lot of practice, they had never before witnessed a battle much less participated. Never had they seen the carnage of war death. Now they had. They understood why Raben had insisted that as part of their training they bathe in the still warm blood of freshly killed animals to accustom themselves to the smell, feel, and taste of death. They had witnessed their beloved leader become the living incarnation of the dreaded Demon Slayer. They would never again doubt his training regimen or his orders and advice. They also believed him when he told them he hoped the day’s killing would be sufficient to create an aura of invincibility and terror amongst their foes so they’d flee the field of battle rather than face them.

The released prisoners fled for their lives to Rome spreading their story of facing the unstoppable Demon Slayer and his Raven Raiders.

On October 28, 312, the sixth anniversary of his reign, Maxentius advanced north from Rome with 80,000 men to meet Constantine in battle. He’d destroyed every bridge across the Tiber except one forcing the battle to be held on ground of his choosing. Constantine had a dream the night before the battle advising him to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers, the cross of Christ but in red rather than green like the Raven Raiders carried. The two sides lined up facing each other across the chosen battle ground. Then Constantine’s lines opened allowing the 2256 mounted warriors of the Raven Raiders accompanied by their 27 wolves to form in line with lances lowered, pink shields at the ready and banners flying as 3 eagles and 927 ravens flew in a menacing circle above them. Then a lone small rider rode out in front of them with the wolves gathering about him. The swarm of raucous ravens flew in circles over the rider’s head as the 3 eagles landed on the diminutive rider’s head and shoulders.

“I AM THE LEADER OF THE RAVEN RAIDERS,” Raben called out in a voice that carried clearly over the field. “I AM KNOWN AS THE DEMON SLAYER. MY WOLVES, RAVENS, EAGLES AND I ARE EAGER TO FEED UPON YOUR FLESH AS WE DID ON THE CAVALRY WE DESTROYED! I LOOK FORWARD TO SENDING YOUR SORRY ASSES TO CHARON!” With that he tilted his head back and howled like a wolf with his wolves joining in the fear inducing wild salute.

Raben drew two swords and urged his horse forward. The screaming eagles took to the air leading the swarming krocking ravens forward as the wolves galloped alongside Raben’s thundering charging stallion. Behind him the Raven Raiders gave out what 19th century Union soldiers named the blood curdling banshee like Rebel Yell as they lowered their lances and thundered behind Raben as they assaulted the massed lines of Maxentius’ troops. Constantine’s other troops shook their fear to let loose their own yells and followed the Raven Raider charge.

Maxentius' troops broke before Raben and the Raven Raider’s mounted charge reached their lines. Many threw down their shields and swords fleeing in terror. The battle was a total rout as Maxentius fled with his panicked men. As the stampeding masses crowded together to cross the sole bridge over the Tiber many were pushed or tumbled over the sides, including Maxentius. Since most were still in their armor, like Maxentius who went over the sides still on his horse, they drowned.

The legend of the Raven Raiders was cemented in history. The mere sight of a pink banner sent unbridled fear into the hearts and minds of any who might oppose them. Even worse was the intimidating terror of their small leader, the by then infamous Demon Slayer.

The Raven Raiders escorted Constantine as he entered Rome on October 29 to be met with popular jubilation. Raben settled the Raven Raiders into Mazbar for the winter. While doing that he wondered if messenger Ravens could be used to communicate between Barmaz, Mazbar, Zamrab and possibly Olvishaugen. Raben sought out and questioned the conspiracy of Ravens that served with the Raven Raiders. It turns out the wily corvids were able to remember a place once they had been there. So the ravens with him should be able to fly to Barmaz. Constructing a set of courier bags and harnesses, he recruited a local raven to accompany one of his Raven Raiders ravens in a trip to Barmaz. The two ravens took flight. Four days later they returned, having made the cross Alp trip in one day, rested two days, then returned in one day. Once at a location, the ravens would be able to return so it was possible to set up raven mail between Mazbar, Barmaz, Zamrab or even Olvishaugen. The intelligent birds would be able to fly home on their own, or to fly back and forth. Raben taught several local ravens and members of the Mazbar militia how to communicate.

Raben decided to make a trip to Zamrab to exchange ravens and train their militia in human/raven communications. While there he was impressed by the size and appearance of several Arabian horses, riding several. With much negotiation he purchased a small herd of all black Arabian horses, two stallions and ten mares, to be shipped to Ostia and then on to Barmaz. His intentions were to raise a herd to serve as mounts for the Raven Raiders. In the spring, he brought six Mazbar ravens with him to Barmaz.

Raben ordered forts built and manned at all entrances to Clan Territory and river crossings of the Rhone below Geneva. A survey was also conducted to determine Clan Corvo borders that could be easily fortified and defended like the walls of the Barmaz Bailiwick.

In February 313 Constantine met Licinius in Milan to secure their alliance by having Licinius marry Constantine's half-sister, Constantia. The co-emperors agreed on and issued the Edict of Milan, officially granting full religious tolerance to Christianity. It also restored confiscated properties to Christian congregations and exempted Christian clergy from municipal civic duties. The edict expressed a will to honor any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens and all religions in the Empire.

When Raben returned to Barmaz he openly assumed duties as Bishop of the Diocese of Barmaz. He commissioned the construction of churches inside the defenses with the Church of the Raven in Champery the seat of his See. Other churches were built throughout the lands of the Clan Corvo. At Agaunum he commissioned the Church of St. Maurice to commemorate the Theban Legion. Raben ordained the priest of each church from amongst the Clan Corvo. In addition he created the Clan Corvo University to provide higher education for clan scholars. Schools of Mathematics, Science, Agriculture, Engineering and Religion were established. The School of Religion would impress the personal revelations Raben received from Ianuaria and the need to keep that knowledge in the clan. A kinsmen now served as provincial governor and duce with both being hereditary clan positions. This meant the provincial troops of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae were now under command of the Clan Corvo. Clan Corvo members were appointed to all command, clerical, staff and logistical positions in the government and militia. In addition he made sure the Clan Corvo controlled portion of northeastern Allobroge formerly in the province of Viennensis was transferred to the province of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae by direct writ of Emperor Constantine. Those in Viennensis were not happy but since both provinces were part of the Roman Diocese of Gallia, the higher authorities didn’t care so the transfer was made official.

In the east, Licinius and Maximinus fought several battles until Licinius’ troops won in August 313. Licinius became sole Emperor in the East, while his brother-in-law, Constantine, was supreme in the West. Licinius immediately rushed to the east to deal with another threat, this time from the Persians.

The production of Christian writings resumed in the Corvus Scriptoriums. Barmaz had suffered no significant impact from the persecutions. Mazbar had to keep things tight as the imperial power struggles raged about it. The defensive wall construction Raben had ordered kept the local and imperial political turmoil at bay. Zamrab was the most vulnerable to the winds of political discord. Now that it was legal to be a Christian the different traditions and beliefs came into conflict with all sides charging the others with blasphemy. Not only did the Christians fight amongst themselves, now that they were safe from persecution because of their faith, they turned against the Jews persecuting those who killed Jesus. Christian and Jewish and Zoroastrian writings were collected and sent to Mazbar which forwarded them to Barmaz. There they were copied and stored in the hidden archives with copies placed in the Corvus Scriptorium Library. Anyone requesting copies would get them made from the copy in the Library and dispatched to the customer.

An on and off civil war erupted between Licinius and Constantine. Raben did his best to keep himself and his interests out of the conflicts. Constantine prevailed at every fight but had no desire to destroy his co-emperor. The next year a new war erupted only for Licinius to suffer a humiliating defeat. The emperors again reconciled. Over the next years, the co-emperors maintained an uneasy truce. Licinius kept himself busy with a campaign against the Sarmatians in 318, but tempers rose again in 321 when Constantine pursued some Sarmatians who had been ravaging some territory in his realm, across the Danube into what was technically Licinius’s territory. When he repeated this with another invasion, this time against the Goths, Licinius complained that Constantine had broken the treaty between them. Constantine wasted no time going on the offensive. Licinius's fleet was defeated by Constantine's fleet in 323. Then Constantine defeated Licinius’ army on July 3, 324, successfully shutting Licinius within the walls of Byzantium. Another defeat of the larger fleet of Licinius in the Battle of the Hellespont compelled his withdrawal to Bithynia. A last stand was made near Chalcedon on September 18, resulted in Licinius' final submission. Licinius was spared due to the pleas of his wife, Constantine's sister, and interned at Thessalonica. In 325 Constantine accused Licinius of plotting against him and hanged him. Constantine became the sole emperor of the Roman Empire, ending the Civil Wars. One of his first acts was to call a meeting of Christian Bishops in the Council of Nicea, an ecumenical council, which was convoked by Emperor Constantine in response to disruptive controversies within the Christian community over the nature of the Trinity. The "heretical" nature of some beliefs was a matter of much debate within the churches. The consensus reached became dogma through the canons declared by the councils with the Nicene Creed being the summation.

During the 13 years of Constantine's reign as co-emperor Raben had been busy with his normal routines and travels. Raven mail was successfully set up between Barmaz, Mazbar, Zamrab and Olvishaugen. Barmaz and Mazbar were one day's flight away from the other. Olvishaugen was thee days away from Barmaz just as Zamrab was three days away from Mazbar.

The year 326 was also one of import for Raben. He was one hundred sixty five years old. That was how old Marcellus Longinus, the Cursed legionnarie, was when then fourteen year old Raben encountered him. With hints from the doomed man Raben figured out how to kill the life weary, disillusioned man unwittingly transferring the curse to himself. Now having attained the same age as Marcellus, Raben realized he was not tired of life nor was he disillusioned. Marcellus had primarily been a soldier whose purpose in life was to take life. By Contrast, Raben was primarily an Ianuarian, a healer who saved lives. That basic difference was critical, allowing Raben to thrive while bearing the Curse. The main thing that bothered Raben was that all too often he had to kill rather than to heal. In combat he’d taken the lives of 556 people. While that was a horrific number for one warrior, it was minuscule when compared with the tens of thousands he saved. So while Raben reached the milestone set by Marcellus, he was in no way ready to end his already long life. Truth be told, he looked forward to accomplishing much more for the greater good of humanity.

Raben’s age also made him wise. Due to his being intersex, he knew the frustration of not being able to ‘fit’ into the ‘normal’ male or female peg holes. His time with Egalabalus had revealed the variations of human sexuality. Some were perversions, but most were simply different. Society often ignored those who were different. Most who were different tried to hide their proclivities due to public pressure.

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And the slow molding of multiple

Wendy Jean's picture

cultures continues. I don't really see where this story is going, but I am enjoying the ride. Wonder how Ruben will handle Islam several centuries in the future.

Who cares?

Christina H's picture

Unlike Wendy I don't care where this story is heading what I do know that also like Wendy I am loving the ride.
The story is well crafted, well researched and well written long may it continue.

Thanks for your hard work.

Changing History

joannebarbarella's picture

Raben will have to be careful not to arouse any suspicion in Constantine that Clan Corvo is becoming a threat to him or the Empire. He is becoming very powerful in his own territory. I do wonder how long he will be able to maintain the myth that he and his sister are descended from the "original" Demon Slayer. I am totally intrigued to know how long he will be able to sustain his "dynasty".

His raven-mail gives him an enormous advantage in communications and is reminiscent of Game Of Thrones. It makes any possibility of surprise attack extremely unlikely.

May the story continue for many more chapters.

Things Seem to be Getting...

...beyond the point where we can expect our own historical sequence of events to carry the day. Will the Dark Ages ever happen?

I'm guessing that when the time comes it'll be the Corvids and not the Goths running the Western Empire, and very likely the Papacy as well: a literal Holy Roman Empire, perhaps, almost five centuries early, and extending all the way to Scandinavia and the British Isles. Of course, as someone already pointed out, there'll still be the Muslims to rain on the parade once Muhammad comes along, circa 600.


Seeing so many of your fellow

Seeing so many of your fellow soldiers falling at the hands of a "youth"; or even from some of the troops following him, would in my opinion give rise to great desire to not want to fight, but rather live and no longer be in the "career field" of a member of the Army (Legion) for any reason.
Shall be most interesting to see what happens in the next century or five for Raben and his sister.

Seeing so many of your fellow

Seeing so many of your fellow soldiers falling at the hands of a "youth"; or even from some of the troops following him, would in my opinion give rise to great desire to not want to fight, but rather live and no longer be in the "career field" of a member of the Army (Legion) for any reason.
Shall be most interesting to see what happens in the next century or five for Raben and his sister.