Time on My Hands Chapter 50 - 378-385 CE: Another Grand Tour

Time on My Hands
Chapter 50: 378-385 CE: Another Grand Tour

Still unsure about the offer, “Is your clan so safe and strong it can absorb so many people?”

“Yes,” Fiach answered. “As I said, we are from the Roman province of Barmaz. Until recently the province was known as Alpes Graiae Et Poeninae. At the Battle of Argentoratum my brother led the Raven Riders to save the life of Emperor Julian and defeat the Alemanni. Emperor Julian offered us a reward of our choice if it was reasonable. Since everyone in our mountainous province is a member of the Clan Corvo, we requested the province be renamed to Barmaz, which was the location the clan began. Emperor Julian granted the name change of the province in 361. He was aware that the Clan already had complete control of the province politically, militarily, and religiously. The 4 divisions of Raven Raiders with me are part of our standing military of 44 full time divisions of mounted troops each with tigers, eagles, wolves and ravens. In addition at age thirteen every member of the Clan Corvo, male and female, joins our militia and are trained for combat to supplement the Raven Raiders. We have enclosed the borders of the province of Barmaz in walls fortifying every entrance and have made ourselves self sufficient.”

“You claim you are the Demon Slayer,” a man declared as he stepped forward. “We have heard the Demon Slayer was cursed and cannot be killed nor does he age. If that is so how can you be the Demon Slayer?”

“Those of us who are direct descendants of the first Demon Slayer can, if we are worthy, inherit the Curse, thus becoming Demon Slayers. The Curse allows a set of male/female twins to become Demon Slayers. The previous Demon Slayer must test their proposed successors before God. If God approves, the Curse passes from one to the other, freeing the previous, now former, Demon Slayer to resume aging and eventually die. Let me prove I’m the Demon Slayer.”

With that Fiach took a knife and made a long deep cut in her left forearm. The Goths could see her flesh spread open revealing the muscles. Her blood flowed freely as she held her arm out for all to see.

The Goths were stunned by her unflinching self mutilation. They were quite unnerved as they watched the blood stop and the nasty cut heal before their eyes. They murmured amongst themselves. The demonstration convinced them Fiach was a Demon Slayer.

Because of the violence and disease, many farms had been left derelict with the farmers dead, enslaved or emigrated. While the Goths tried to make use of the available farms, they didn’t have the background to successfully do so. The orphans and widows were putting a heavy drain on their ability to keep their families fed and clothed. Giving them to Fiach would ease the burden on the clans giving them breathing room. Yet at the same time would they be short changing their clan’s future? If they kept them how many would die of starvation? It was a double edged sword, the devil’s choice... until Fiach asked them if they’d mind taking the food and supplies from the wagons so there was room for the orphans and widows.

The outcome at each stop was similar. Orphans and widows with and without children were brought to the camp of the Raven Raiders. As the supplies in the wagons were dispensed they were replaced by human cargo. At the ports were the Corvus Shipping ships with supplies that had been sent, the cargo was swapped. Food and supplies came off the ships into wagons, widows and orphans moved from the wagons to the ships. The ships returned to Zarbam delivering the human cargo. Once in Barmaz the widows and children were interviewed to determine their needs and skills before being appropriately distributed throughout the province. They did their best to keep close relatives together.

Fiach spent a year traveling through the southeastern European regions south of the Danube and east of the Adriatic Sea. A bit over 251,000 widows and orphans were sent to Barmaz. {Historically, they died.} They were not only Goth and Roman but from multiple ethnic groups who lived or had traveled into the area. Many were of mixed ethnicity and thus ostracized. In Barmaz they were accepted. The Goths and Romans in the east began calling the Barmaz Church the Corvo Church

Since the time Raben had served as the first Bishop of Barmaz, the Christian Church in Barmaz had maintained an independence from the Church in Rome, affiliated but not submissive. The entirety of the Barmaz clergy were members of the Clan Corvo who looked to Raben/Fiach as the head of their Christian faith and followed the doctrine he espoused. In reality they were the truly had become the Corvo Church. This created even more friction between the Corvo Church and the Church of Rome. If asked the Clan Corvo shared the tenants of their faith but never tried to impose their doctrine outside the Clan Corvo. The Church of Rome didn’t like independence of the Corvo Church but was too weak to repress it. As long as the Corvo Church stayed inside the Clan Corvo, they let things be.

One of the things the Corvo Church clergy did was record keeping. Since the early days of the Clan Corvo keeping records was a priority. The birth date, baptism, marriage, divorce and death of everyone was recorded along with their spouses and children. This resulted in a massive family tree with the trunk starting with his mother, father and step father followed by himself, with no spouse or offspring, his 2 brothers and his half brother and sister and their 4 spouses. Everyone in the Clan Corvo was related back to the original 5 siblings via birth or marriage. The 251,000 people just adopted into the clan would marry a descendant. The records were kept as a history as well as to prevent intermarriage between close relatives, 1st cousins could not marry but 2nd cousins could. It also kept track of illnesses and diseases to aid in health treatments as well as to look for early diagnosis of hereditary issues.

Emperor Gratian, the sole remaining adult emperor was only 19 and overwhelmed by the debacle. After a lot of dithering, he appointed Theodosius co-emperor of the east on January 19, 379. By then Visigoths and their allies the Vandals, Taifals, Bastarnae and the native Carpians were well entrenched in the provinces of Dacia and eastern Pannonia Inferior having killed, driven out, enslaved or absorbed the local populations. The only remaining place to recruit troops was from amongst the very barbarians they were fighting along the borders which brought up matters of loyalty. After futile campaigns with inadequate forces Theodosius negotiated peace with the Visigoths in which they were established as Foederati, autonomous allies of the Empire, living south of the Danube, in Illyricum, within the empire's borders. The final treaties of October 382 permitted the Thervingian Goths, to settle in Thrace south of the Danube frontier, while the remaining Ostrogoths were settled in Asia-Minor, not initially subject to taxes, and allowed to govern themselves, on condition of supplying a fixed number of soldiers to serve in the Imperial armies.

On 27 February 380, together with Gratian and Valentinian II, Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica which declared that Nicene Trinitarian Christianity is the only legitimate imperial religion and the only one entitled to call itself Catholic. Other Christians and pagans were labeled foolish madmen. This ended official state support for the traditional Roman polytheist religions and customs.

In November 380, two days after arriving in Constantinople, Theodosius expelled the non-Nicene bishop of Constantinople, and appointed new patriarchs of Antioch and Constantinople. In May 381, Theodosius summoned the First Council of Constantinople to repair the schism between East and West on the basis of Nicene orthodoxy. The council defined orthodoxy, including the mysterious Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who, though equal to the Father, proceeded from Him, whereas the Son was 'begotten' of Him. The council also condemned numerous heresies and clarified jurisdictions of the state church of the Roman Empire aligning Christian hierarchy to the civil boundaries of dioceses and ruled that in Catholic religious matters, Constantinople was second in precedence to Rome.

Gratian, under the influence of his chief advisor the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose, took active steps to repress pagan worship. This brought to an end a period of widespread interreligious tolerance. In 382 Gratian declared that all of the Pagan temples and shrines were to be confiscated by the government and that all income was to go to the royal treasury. He ordered the removal of the Altar of Victory from the Senate House at Rome, despite protests of the pagan members of the Senate confiscating its revenues in the process. Pagan Senators responded by sending an appeal to Gratian, reminding him that as emperor he was still the Pontifex Maximus {greatest priest} of the Roman religious pantheon of faiths and that it was his duty to see that the ancestral Pagan rites were properly performed. They appealed to Gratian to restore the Altar of Victory and the rights and privileges of the Vestal Virgins and other priestly colleges. Gratian renounced the title, office, and insignia of the Pontifex Maximus, thus effectively eliminating the official Imperial sanctioning of pagan faiths.

Gratian didn’t object as the Catholic Church appropriated the renounced title for the Bishop of Rome. Bishop of Rome, Damasus, became the first non-emperor Pontifax Maximus, the 1st official Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Damasus presided over the Council of Rome of 382 that determined a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament the official list of Sacred Scripture. St. Jerome came to Rome for the Council and stayed as the Pope’s confidential secretary. Jerome spent three years (382–385) in Rome in close discussion with Pope Damasus and the leading Christians in order to put an end to the marked divergences in the western texts of that period. Damasus encouraged the highly respected scholar Jerome to revise the available Latin versions of the Bible into a more accurate Latin on the basis of the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint, resulting in the Vulgate Bible. Pope Damasus died December 7, 384 succeeded by Pope Siricius on December 17.

Despite his support of Christianity, Gratian sank into debauchery which angered his Roman troops. A Roman general named Magnus Maximus took advantage of this feeling to revolt in Britain and invaded Gaul with a large army. Gratian, who was then in Parisius {PD Paris}, was deserted by his troops and fled to Lugdunum {PD Lyon} where he was assassinated on 25 August 383. After negotiations with Theodosius, Maximus was made emperor in Britannia and Gaul in 384 while Valentinian II retained Italy, Pannonia, Hispania, and Africa.

A Raven Mail message from Bazram arrived in December. Svenn asked Raben to come north to take a grandson on a ‘grand tour’. While he was in good health at 63 he wanted to make sure his selected successor was better prepared to take over Bazram than he had been.

The colonization continued with the distribution for 380 with Tenerife and Gran Canaria taking 13139 and Lanzarote taking 13,140. For 381, 14,099 went to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote. For 382 Tenerife and Gran Canaria took 14,099 while 14,100 went to Lanzarote. For 383 Tenerife took 23,018, Gran Canaria took 23,017 and Lanzarote took 2104 capping that island. For 384 and 385, Tenerife took 22,570 and Gran Canaria took 22,569.

The situation along the Via Germanica and the Rhine frontier was steadily deteriorating. While large mass invasions were not occurring, intense brief raids were growing to be normal. The raiders made sure to bypass the Rhine fortifications when they crossed. The troops were too thinly spread to chase down the small bands of raiders so the forts normally didn't pursue the raiders unless they threatened a fortification. Raben was glad he’d switched to sea routes.

Raben traveled north to Zarbam in late spring of 385. Their entry into Trondheim Fjord was greeted with smiles and welcomes. In the 21 years since his last visit much had changed. The population of Bazram was just above of 205,300. All of those who had attended the 364 Thing and their families were now members of the Clan Corvo or related to someone who was a member. The Sami were integrating well with those living above the Arctic Circle starting to join. Zarbam’s northern border had moved up 72 miles to a line from the coastal village of Boda on the north side of Saltfjord, inland 27 miles on the adjoining Skjerstadfjorden to Fauska and 20 miles further to Sulitjelma on the northern shore of Lake Langvatnet bringing in another 5000 new Clan members.

Bazram related people now controlled the shores of Trondheim Fjord. The Raven Raiders had several observation posts on both sides of the 2 mile wide entrance with ravens for overwatch and wolves for hearing and scent detection during foggy conditions. Roads and bridges were built connecting the extended farmsteads. Most commerce was done by ship and fishing was a major endeavor. There were 446 ships in the Bazram fleet, from wider higher Caravel merchant men to sleek Clinker raiders with the fishing vessels between the two. There were also additional smaller vessels strictly for short inner fjord use. Hundreds of Clan Corvo vessels plied the waters of the fjord. Currently, the shipyard was producing a vessel every week and there was ancillary rope makers and canvas makers.

Raben met Svenn’s 16 year old grandson Ollie. The teen was already 6 feet tall and close to 250 pounds of solid muscle with a quick wit and obvious intellect. They set sail at the beginning of August. By this time the harbors on each island along the Corvus Shipping ocean route had been developed and fortified with full time guards and raven overwatch. Any raiders attempting to attack would pay dearly. Raven mail communication could also summon prompt reinforcements.

As they sailed Ollie asked why they established the longer sea route abandoning the overland route along the Rhine.

“The Rhine River is the border of the Roman Empire,” Raben explained. “The Romans call the people living on the east side barbarians. I was born there and that’s where I acquired the Curse. There are other peoples, entire tribes, from much further east, migrating west pushing everyone west. The Romans won’t let them cross, or at that’s what they try to do. The west side of the river is wealthy with plenty of fields. The people on the other side periodically cross to ravage the land and settlements which is why the settlements are walled.”

Ollie nodded. “If Rome is so powerful, can’t they stop them?”

“They’ve tried, repeatedly,” Raben sighed. “There have been battles for nearly 300 years. I led 3 divisions of Raven Raiders 27 years ago to rescue Emperor Julian at the Battle of Argentoratum. Thousands died that day. The problem is the pressure on the rear of the tribes doesn’t let up. My tribe was destroyed and the survivors absorbed by other tribes. It’s still going on, border tribes are killed off with the survivors being absorbed by the newcomers. Some people have been allowed to cross the border and settle in the empire. I did so on my own, then later brought my mother and siblings over. But there is only so much room over here and too many people over there. The conflict never stops. For years I’d been sending 3 divisions of Raven Raiders, 20,358 men and ravens with their wolves and tigers with the trading caravans to meet the iron shipments to protect them from raids.”

Ollie was surprised. “So the Romans can’t stop the raids?”

“No, they can’t,” Raben said. “The Empire has other borders where barbarians are constantly threatening invasions or are making raids. The military is constantly stretched thin, only able to stop invasions by drawing soldiers from one area to the trouble spot which leaves the area thinly manned.”

“Okay,” Ollie said. “Is that what happened along the Rhine?”

“Partially,” Raben shook his head. “A lot of soldiers have died in battles between emperors or want to be emperors.”

Ollie was stunned. “They fight each other! I’m young but even I know that’s madness!”

“Precisely,” Raben agreed. “It’s why I do my best to ensure that everyone in the Clan Corvo is a relative and trained to fight. I can’t have children so I gathered my 2 brothers, my half brother and my half sister. The 5 of us share the same birth mother. Everyone in the Clan is a descendant of my mother or married to a relative which means their children will be relatives. You and everyone else are my nephews and nieces. You are all taught to read and write, you learn our past, our goals and our faith and morals. The biggest advantage we have over all other clans, tribes, and even the Roman Empire is me. Since I don’t age and can’t die, I am a steadying force, like a steering oar on a ship, guiding the Clan Corvo through the jagged rocks and surging surf while all others crash and break up on the unyielding shoals.”

Having been on many voyages, Ollie understood exactly what Raben was telling him. He had learned that Raben never aged nor could be killed but hadn’t fully comprehended what that meant. He knew that his grandfather had chosen him to accompany Raben on a tour of Clan Corvo as preparation for succeeding the him as leader of Bazram. He was beginning to realize just what an honor it was to be selected to be a Clan Corvo leader and how much he could learn from Raben.

After 4 weeks traveling south, spending 2 days checking out the harbors and defenses of the island bases they reached Zarbam. As they approached the harbor entrance Ollie was stunned to see the massive defenses built righ on the coast making landings of any kind impossible. The harbor entrance itself was a kill zone with towering walls on all sides creating massive kill zones. Once into the Etang de Berre Ollie couldn’t believe the size of the harbor. There had to be over a thousand docks! Massive warehouses lined the shores and a veritable city rose from the hills. When Raben told him over 50,000 people lived within 5 miles around the harbor, Ollie was again shocked. That was equal to 1/4 of the entire population of Bazram!

Raben guided him northeast to the gate complex by Aix-en-Province the entrance to Barmaz from the area of Marseilles. As they headed east Ollie was stunned to see the bigger fortifications than he could ever have imagined. Closer still he could see the walls and massive glacis disappearing into the distance along the ridges and through the valleys. The teen’s mouth hung open in utter awe as he saw the immensity of the walls. The twin guard towers outside the massive entrance gate complex seemed insignificant by comparison. Imagining attacking through the walled kill-zone made him uneasy. The experience made him glad he was not an attacker.

Once inside the fortifications, the view of the fields revealed the fertility of Barmaz. Upon reaching the Vieze the rode up the steep entry road into the walled protection of Barmaz Baliwick. The terraced fields with irrigation trenches demonstrated how humanity could alter the landscape for the betterment of humanity. The buildings built into the slopes to save precious farmland and finally the massive building of the Corvus Scriptorium and Clan Corvo University amazed Ollie. The shear size of the library made the youth feel insignificant. They spent several weeks touring the province of Barmaz. Seeing the herd of elephants in the zoo made a huge impression on the youth.

Raben called a council of the Barmaz leaders and elders which Ollie attended. When the meeting convened, Raben got right to the point. “The Clan Corvo is facing a long term dilemma we must address. The population of Barmaz has passed 1,778,000 which is 44% of our capacity for self sustaining human habitation. For many years the population has been growing at a steady rate of 2% per year. Each year we send 3000 people from here to Bazram and 26,000 people to the other colonies. When that is added to the excess population of the capped colonies, we are relocating 48,139 people each year. If we maintain our growth, by 491 Barmaz will reach it’s population cap.”
There was a lot of murmuring but they had been aware of the growing population and the ensuing problems. Thanks to Raben’s longevity the Clan Corvo had learned to plan for posterity, not just their personal welfare, but for the continuing welfare of their descendants.

“We’ve always had a handful of disgruntled members leave,” Raben continued. “We allow them to go to seek their fortune in the wider world. Much like the Prodigal Son, about a third of them return after a few years. We will continue to allow those who return to the Clan to do so.”

“Right from the start we realized that asking for volunteers to relocate to colonies would not yield sufficient numbers. Raben explained. “As a result we established a lottery system to draft the needed people. All able bodied men and women between the ages of 16 and 30 are eligible for the draft. If the draftee is married, their spouse and children will automatically be included. If the extended family or a part of the extended family or even friends want to stay together, they can volunteer to join the draftee. The same will apply to the partner of those who have yet to marry. Doing that reduced the number of draftees needed.”

“The lottery is be based on the parish registries,” Raben continued. “The Church maintains birth, death and marriage records, both historical and current, for those living in their parish. When people move from one parish to another, a copy of the current record is forwarded to the parish the person moved into. When a draft is needed, each eligible record will be given a number. The numbers will be placed in a barrel, spun several times to mix them, then the parish priest will oversee a public drawing to ensure there is no cheating. If I discover anyone was left out of the draft or there was some other cheating, there will be hell to pay. Anyone found cheating or facilitating cheating will forfeit their Clan membership, be permanently enslaved and sent to the worst post that can be found.”

That brought a great deal of muttering and grousing.

“I’m appointing this August body to enforce the rules for the lottery,” Raben continued. “The guidelines will be reviewed after each lottery and if needed, adjustments made. You can issue exemptions for critical personnel, but I will have veto power over any exemptions. Any category of job or position that receives an exemption must be applied to everyone in similar positions. If someone is in training for a critical position or attending the Clan Corvo University, they can receive a deferment postponing their move until their training is complete. A deferment may be given if the draftee or spouse is at or past the sixth month of pregnancy.”

"Currently we have 3000 people heading north to Bazram. The rest are currently going to Gran Canaria and Tenerife in the Canary Islands."



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