Time on My Hands Chapter 45 - 361-362 CE: The End of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae

Time on My Hands

Chapter 45: 361-362 CE: The End of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae

"Not only do I learn human languages, I can speak with all animals," Raben explained. "I use ravens as my eyes, I can see what they see, I can hear what they hear. They scout for us. In return we see they are fed and sheltered and we attend to any wounds they might suffer."

Needless to say the natives were quite unnerved by what Raben told them but the ravens did seem to be talking to him. Raben stayed ashore that night. The next morning all but 1 ship set out to scout the other islands. The natives were amazed as Raben answered their every question and they answered most of his. Each day more natives arrived until by the end of the third day they had a representative from every village present.

The next day Raben again explained his purpose in wanting to move some of his clan members to their island and the entire archipelago. They watched in amazement as he wrote notes, tucked them in a pouch, and sent a raven to the ship. Whenever he requested something. the rowboat brought it to shore. He showed them books, a steel ax, knives, swords and other things foreign to the virtually stone age people.

“You need to know one thing about me,” Raben said. “I am 197 years old. I am cursed to live without aging or dying. Any wound I suffer will heal. If you kill me I will heal and return to life. Any poison I ingest will not harm me. In battle I am invincible.”

That certainly created mumbling amongst the natives. They clearly didn’t believe him.

Raben smiled. “I know several of you want to kill me. Who amongst you would like to try?”

One of the elders spoke. “Is this some sort of trick so you have an excuse to attack us?”

“Not at all,” Raben smiled then looked directly at one man. “You want to kill me. I’ll lay down all my weapons and strip to a loin cloth. Then you can strike me with your war club.”

That certainly caused a mumbling. It took a few moments for Raben to convince them he was quite serious. Finally the man charged Raben who didn’t flinch and smiled at his assailant. The man raised his war club over his head and smashed it down on the top of Raben’s head. The sickening CRUNCH of his shattering skull and the squelching of his brain. As his body crumbled to the sand pulped brain oozed from the severely dented shattered skull. No one doubted a fatal blow had been struck.

Many of the islanders feared the people on the ships would attack but they simply stood along the rails and watched. They began to wonder if the intelligent youth had been crazy. After fifteen minutes one of the women screamed and pointed at Raben’s body. They quickly noticed what had caused her to scream. The horrific fatal wound was healing!

The people crowded around in fear and amazement as they saw the pulped brain and blood gel and creep back into the wound as the exposed pieces of bone began knitting together reforming their original shape. Dozens of mouths dropped open in shock, disbelieving what they were seeing.

Suddenly Raben’s body shuddered and they clearly heard him draw a breath. Nearly everyone gasped.

After several deep breaths Raben opened his eyes and pushed himself into a sitting position. Slowly he smiled then peered around at the stunned faces. “Now that’s what I call a headache,” he spoke as he gingerly reached up to touch the healing wound across his forehead where the blow had been the deepest. Slowly he stood, wavering a bit as he regained his balance.

“The headache is fading,” Raben sighed as he stepped into the center of the stunned group. “Now, watch as the wound completely heals.”

The murmurs grew in volume as they watched the flesh begin to knit itself back together. Within an hour, other than the dried blood, there was no evidence of the wound.

“Let me rinse off in the ocean,” Raben said as he dashed to the shore and dove in. After swimming about he came back clearly refreshed. “One more thing, will someone take that big bowl and fill it with seawater. After bleeding so much I need the liquid to replace that which I lost.”

“Drinking that much seawater will kill you,” one elder declared.

“It would kill most men,” Raben acknowledged. “But I can’t be poisoned. My body will filter the salt out leaving only water.”

The natives watched in disbelief as Raben drank all the water form the large bowl. Then he did some stretches showing there were no ill effects.

“With my curse I am known as the Demon Slayer,” Raben explained. “This was the second time I’ve died. I am a trained healer but I am also a hunter and a warrior. I do not like killing but I am extremely good at doing so. A few years ago I faced a situation where I had no choice but to challenge 100 warriors to personal combat with no quarter given. I fought them all at once. They lie buried near where we fought while I still stand. I want you to join my clan, the Clan Corvo. I want to learn as much as I can from you. I want to record your stories in books so generation after generation might know them. I want you to know my story, I want us to grow together to become one people.”

Raben called a Raven to send a message to the ship. As they watched people filled a rowboat and came ashore. Raben had 8 men come ashore to act as hostages while he escorted 8 natives out to see the huge canoe. The rest of the natives came out to visit the ship in turns. They were simply amazed by all they saw.

Raben used his ability to sense moods and emotions to his advantage as he steadily convinced the 2500 natives living on the island to allow the Clan Corvo Pathfinders remain to demonstrate the advantages of planting diverse crops as well as methods of water storage and distribution and building houses and barns. With 4 ships and all 2400 Pathfinders remaining on the island, they could easily defend themselves if things went sideways.

Raben began teaching the natives the Clan Corvo language as he taught the 120 Pathfinders from the ship the native language. While doing so he wrote a lexicon of the native tongue. By the time the fleet returned they had charted the archipelago.

The Canary Islands Archipelago made up of 7 large islands, 1 of which had a small adjacent island that could support a small population. The islands were 320 miles south of Madeira. From the northeast to south west the islands started with the small island adjacent to a larger one. La Graciosa {GM 29.245134, -13.509265} was an arid oval 2.5 miles by 5 miles yielding 11 square miles. Lanzarote {GM 29.019408, -13.642165} was the larger neighboring island 2/3 of a mile southeast of La Graciosa, 86 miles from Africa, 685 miles from Gibraltar. The arid fish shaped island was 37 miles by 16 miles yielding 326 square miles. Fuerteventura {GM 28.302445, -14.102390} was 47 miles southwest of Lanzerote, 70 miles from Africa. The arid fish shaped island was 62 miles by 19 miles yielding 641 square miles. Gran Canaria {GM 27.942134, -15.662729} was 94 miles southwest of Fuerteventura. The forested circular 21 mile diameter island yielding 602 square miles. Tenerife {GM 28.250427, -16.595486} 54 miles west of Gran Canaria. The semi-arid triangular shaped 51 mile by 32 miles by 4 miles yielding 785 square miles. La Gomera {GM 28.122441, -17.235372} was 40 miles west of Tenerife. The circular island was 14 miles in diameter yielding 142 square miles. La Palma {GM 28.696086, -17.848187} where Raben first landed, was 56 miles northwest of La Gomera. The teardrop shaped island was 29 miles by 17 miles yielded 273 square miles. El Hierro {GM 27.733211, -18.020464} was 52 miles southwest La Gomera and 56 miles south of La Palma. The boot shaped island yielded 104 square miles.

The fleet unloaded their supplies including sheep, pigs, chickens and horses as Raben recruited some local ravens to take back to Ramzab and the raven base in El Bedouza on the African coast. Raben and the fleet returned to Zarbam in March 359.

In the Western Roman Empire during 358, Julian first turned his attention to the Frankish tribes, crossing the lower Rhine forcing the tribes to surrender. He then restored three important forts on the lower Meuse river. Finally, he again switched his attention to the Alemanni, crossing the Rhine at Mainz and forcing the submission of the kings.

In 359, Julian restored seven forts and town walls in the middle Rhine, including Bonna (Bonn) and Bingium (Bingen), obliging the subdued Alemanni to provide the supplies and labor needed. He then crossed the Rhine, marched through the territory of those he’d subdued and devastated the lands of the other kings who had fought at Strasbourg. All were forced to submit and return the thousands of Roman civilians they had abducted and enslaved during the years of easy plunder. By 360, Gaul was sufficiently secure to permit Julian to despatch reinforcements of about 3,000 men to Britain, which had suffered a serious land and sea invasion by the Picts of Caledonia and the Scoti of Hibernia {PD Ireland} At the same time, unaware of the British expedition, Constantius II sent Julian a demand that Julian send 4 legions plus select squadrons of cavalry to the East as reinforcements for the war against the Persians.

This triggered a near-mutiny by Julian's soldiers, who again proclaimed him Augustus. He again refused, but this time, the troops insisted, making it clear they would mutiny if he refused and march against Constantius II with or without him. Alarmed, but also secretly pleased, Julian accepted the title and wrote an apologetic letter to Constantius II explaining why he had felt it necessary to bow to his soldiers' wishes and requesting his ratification. Constantius II refused demanding that Julian revert to Caesar status. Julian ignored the order, but to prove his good faith and also to keep his near-mutinous troops occupied, he crossed the Rhine and attacked the resurgent Frankish confederation. Finally in 361 Julian decided to confront Constantius II and the two emperors marched against each other to settle the issue.

The 359 colonist dispersal went smoothly. Madeira received 4703 colonists, the Azores Archipelago received 8000 on San Miguel and 1023 on Terceira which reached that island’s sustainable capacity. The first influx of colonists into the third colony on the Canary Islands, specifically the island of La Palma, was of 8000 colonists. The natives on La Palma had been impressed by the Pathfinders. They had terraced several areas that had been too steep to farm. The construction of water channels also impressed them. The Pathfinders had planted new crops, grown them and harvested their plantings. The construction of a windmill had fascinated the natives, especially once they saw the wind do the tedious job of milling more efficiently. What really stunned them was the wind powered sawmill. The resultant planks and beams were quite outside anything they’d ever seen. Both sides got along well and prospered together just as Raben had promised. They could easily hold conversations.

The arrival of the colonial fleets brought 8000 Clan Corvo people to the island. The fears of the natives had been alleviated by the respect and acceptance the Pathfinders had demonstrated. Fifty natives who had learned the Clan Corvo language signed on as auxiliaries to the Pathfinders as 1600 set out for the island of El Hierro to prepare that island for settlers while the remaining 800 Pathfinders continued projects on La Palma.

The colonists dispersal in 360 put 7846 colonists on Madeira, and 8000 on the Azores island of Sao Miguel. The Canary Island of La Palma took in another 10,000. There had been a few marriages between the natives and the Clan Corvo so the absorption of the natives was going smoothly. The colonist dispersal in 361 placed 7946 colonists on Madeira and 8000 on the Azores island of Sao Miguel. The Canary island of El Hierro received an initial wave of 9900 colonists which when combined with the small native population of 300 put the island at it’s sustainable population of 10,200. The pathfinders and auxiliaries, 2450 men, moved onto the island of La Gomera to prepare it for colonization. With only a population of 300, this island should pose no challenge.

As Julian and his troops headed to meet Constantius II, their march merged with the 3 divisions of Raven Raiders as they returned after the iron/emigrant exchange. Needless to say Julian was awed by the massive fortifications along the borders of the province Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae. He’d been impressed when he’d seen the continuous defensive walls along the lower Rhone but they were dwarfed by the land gate and river/lake gate complex. Even more daunting was the massive wall climbing and following the mountain tops. The new Emperor knew what was involved in building fortifications so he could only marvel at the effort it took to build continuous walls up and over mountains. Julian was aware the Clan Corvo and Raben were the heart and soul of the province controlling all church and governmental positions as well as the militia. Before they dined in the huge stone edifice of Corvus Scriptorium, Raben took the intellectual co-emperor on a tour of the Clan Corvo University and the Corvus Scriptorium and the awe inspiring massive library which by then was the largest in the world.

As they relaxed after a sumptuous meal Raben spoke. “Emperor Julian, four years ago you offered a reward for what we did at the Battle of Argentoratum. I said then I’d wait until you are co-emperor. Now that has happened and I’d like my reward.”

Julian drew in his breath, prepared to be infuriated by an audacious request, doing his best to maintain a calm appearance. He knew that being so deep inside the Clan Corvo’s domain his life was at risk if he offended Raben. Needless to say that apprehension did not sit well with the Emperor. Yet knowing how Raben always remained loyal to the emperor, he assumed the head of Clan Corvo knew that Julian would remain emperor. “If it is within my grasp to grant without hurting the empire, it will be so.”

“What I’d like is to rename the province of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae,” Raben, sensing Julian’s trepidation, meekly requested. “As you know the Clan Corvo populates, owns and controls the entire province. The first property the founder of the clan purchased in the province was a small alpine farmstead at the head of this valley, a place called Barmaz. We’d like to rename the entire province Barmaz in honor of our humble beginning.”

Relieved the request was indeed minor. Changing the name of the province would be inconsequential for the empire but would assure the cooperation of the Clan Corvo. Emperor Julian went a step further than Raben requested. Graciously he issued an Imperial Proclamation, sent throughout the Roman Empire, that henceforth the province of Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae, formerly a part of the Diocese of Gaul, was forever after the Independent Imperial Province of Barmaz reporting to and only to the Emperor of Rome.

Raben was delighted with the proclamation and profusely thanked Julian intentionally feeding the Emperor’s vanity. The next day Julian began the trek over Poeninus Mons crossing into Italy heading towards Constantinople. Raben was to follow in the spring of 362 with 3 divisions of Raven Raiders to support Julian.

Raben had other concerns to deal with. The storage area in the hidden library at the original Barmaz was nearing capacity. Raben thought he'd made it large enough to last centuries. He had drastically underestimated the known writings and the voluminous writings of contemporaries. The manuscript collection program of the Corvus Scriptoriums was almost too successful. About 600 feet north across the valley from the Elder House and the original hidden library, {GM 46.151397, 6.830358} Raben began the construction of new tunnels. The excavated rock was dumped over the cliff by the Torrent de Barme {GM 46.151001, 6.837301}. The tunnels would be quite extensive and the excavated rock would create a long ramp for a new road up the steep slope including diverting the Torrent de Barme south around the promontory east of the bottom of the cliff. A much larger stone and wood building would be constructed over the entrance to the new tunnels. The building would be of similar style and use as the Elder House, but on a larger scale to house up to two hundred elders.

Between the turmoil of the Roman Empire and guiding the Clan Corvo, Raben was being pulled in dozens of directions. Realizing he was becoming a bit frayed, he decided to spend a solitary week in the upper pastures of the original Barmaz homestead he'd inherited from Marcellus Longinus. He wanted time to meditate and center himself since this year presented him with a new milestone, he'd reached his bicentennial, he was 200 years old. Much time was spent musing about his success and future goals. Members of the Clan Corvo were simply a huge extended family functioning with loyalty and love. No person was more important than another. Everyone was valued and all jobs, positions and promotions were done by merit. There was no such thing as inheriting a position if you couldn't handle the job. The person cleaning out latrines was just as respected as the provincial governor. In addition no one was forced to remain in the Clan Corvo or clan controlled areas nor even remain under the influence of the clan. They had freedom of choice to stay or go. The vast majority choose to stay while those who left were welcomed back like the prodigal sons they were. The powerful arms of the Clan Corvo truly protected and cared for the members. Everyone in the Clan Corvo learned to read and write. The elderly and infirm always had a warm place to live and adequate food. The public library in the Barmaz Corvus Scriptorium was the largest known library in the world. The Clan Corvo University in Champery far surpassed those in Alexandria and Athens. The vast majority of students were from the Clan Corvo although a few paying outsiders were allowed to attend.

Outside of a few minor scouting skirmishes, the forces of Constantius II and Julian never met in battle. On November 3, 361, the Constantius II died of a fever as he traveled to meet his cousin in battle. Surprisingly, on his deathbed Constantius II named Julian as his successor.

Although raised in Constantine the Great’s shadow, with priests teaching him the tenants of Christianity, Julian’s primary influence was his classical Neoplatonic education. While nominally a Christian, his faith was simply an accommodation to expectations. Upon reaching Constantinople Julian purged the top-heavy state bureaucracy, especially the over-reaching and often cloying Arian Christian hierarchy. Julian then attempted to revive traditional Roman religious practices at the expense of Christianity. Due to his experiences as a student, Julian also forbade Christians from teaching classical texts and learning. Julian rejected the Christianity imposed on him in his youth, promoting Neoplatonic Hellenism in its place. {Christian history would remember him as Julian the Apostate.}

With the death of Constantius II, the Raven Raider commitment to join Julian in fighting the deceased Emperor was abrogated. Raben decided it was time to secure the Mediterranean sea lanes the Clan Corvus Shipping heavily used. He diverted the colonists and Raven Raiders to do so. Corvus Shipping needed bases around the Mediterranean. The Clan Corvo would take over 3 islands and build 2 ports on the mainland.

To accomplish this he decided to stop sending colonists to Madeira and Sao Miguel in the Azores letting them reach their population cap by their 2% birth over death rate. Madeira would do so in 368 and Sao Miguel would do so in 370. Madeira was thriving and was able to meet their own food supplies with extra to trade. They still needed to import metal and cement from the mainland since the island had no natural reserves. However, iron and cement had been found on several Azores islands which was traded. In addition, despite a temporary hold on new colonists, the settlement of the Canary Archipelago was going smoothly. The natives were convinced by the honesty and integrity of the Pathfinders and colonists as well as the open acceptance and welcome into the Clan Corvo. Raben visited all the islands with representatives from La Palma talking to the natives convincing them to send people to La Palma to learn the new farming and fishing techniques as well as the Clan Corvo language as well as allowing the Pathfinders to set up bases on each island to demonstrate the Clan Corvo techniques.

The port of Zarbam was 623 miles, 3 days sailing, from Stromboli {GM 38.789487, 15.210898} an active volcano 2.8 miles long by 1.8 miles wide in the southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea. Mini eruptions were nearly continuous, with a pattern of eruption in which explosions occur at the summit craters, with mild to moderate eruptions of fiery volcanic bombs at intervals ranging from minutes to hours. Eruptions from the summit craters typically result in a few short, mild, but energetic bursts, ranging up to a few hundred meters in height, containing ash, glowing lava fragments and stone blocks. Lava flows occasionally occur when volcanic activity was high. The Island was 44 miles northwest of the Strait of Messina, 40 miles north of Milazzo, Sicily and 38 miles northwest of Tropea, Italy. There was a small native population of 300 in 2 settlements, the smaller on the southwestern corner and the larger on the northeast corner. The main source of income was olive trees growing on the flanks of the volcano. A few sheep and goats also grazed the slopes. Raben bought land and placed a battalion of Pathfinders, 746 people, on the island to take over operation of the harbor and marry into the islanders to bring them into the Clan Corvo as well as setting up a raven mail roost. Raben established a population cap of 2500 for the island.

From Stromboli heading west 621 miles around the boot of Italy towards the Corvus Scriptorium on the Island of Marzab near Constantinople was the island of Kardiotissa {GM 36.629773, 25.017790}. It was an uninhabited, small, rocky, waterless, treeless island 1.3 miles long by 0.3 miles wide oriented from the southwest to the northeast. It was 2.5 miles southwest of the populated island of Sikinos and 3.9 miles east of the populated island of Folegandros, islands on the north edge of the Sea of Crete. Near the middle of the southern shore was a ravine that formed a small harbor. A troop of Pathfinders, 29 people, were assigned to build a system of cisterns and a small port as well as setting up a raven mail roost. The island was 410 miles from Marzab.



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