Time on My Hands Chapter 62 - 413-415 CE: The Nation of Barmaz

Time on My Hands
Chapter 62: 413-415 CE: The Nation of Barmaz

Raben set up a base to continually train and supply Raven Raiders in Senegal. Recruits form all over the Clan Corvo headed there to be trained and indoctrinated into the Raven Raider mystique. The Clan Corvo expansion continued in Mexico. In December 413, 6 Raven Raider divisions swept south easily overwhelming Cerro de las Mesas and the smaller city states stopping at the Coatzacoalcos River, 135 miles south of Veracruz for and for 60 miles inland from the coast. In 414 the arrival of an additional 3 Raven Raider divisions allowed them to move 34 miles north of Veracruz, bringing a total of 125,000 people into the Clan. Also in 414, the Raven Raiders from Cancun drove west from the Rio Candelaria 210 miles sweeping through the Mayan city/states of Palenque and Tortuguero linking with the Veracruz at the Coatzacoalcos River bringing in 60,000 natives.

Constantius hated the Goths and poisoned official relations with Ataulf gaining permission to blockade the Mediterranean ports of Gaul. In response, Ataulf acclaimed Attalus, the former Roman Senator, Emperor in Bordeaux in 414. Constantius' naval blockade included Zarbam and Marseilles the ports for Barmaz and the Clan Corvo. While Marseilles was a separate port it became part of Barmaz in the annexation 7 years previously. Needless to say, the Clan Corvo refused to be blockaded. While the Roman’s had 10 ships staged outside the harbors of Zarbam and Marseilles, Raben sent a fleet of 80 heavily armed ships from the harbor of Zarbam, 20 each of the Clinkers, 100 ton, 180 ton and 360 ton caravels. The Roman naval vessels blanched before the overwhelming force and fled.

Raben promptly led 10 divisions of Raven Raiders, 67,860 people, out of Barmaz via the Col de Montgenèvre crossing northern Italy headed for Ravenna, 310 miles away. They rode steadily covering the distance in 6 days. Honorius was terrified. Constantius was scrambling to gather troops to meet the Raven Raiders. The morale of the Roman forces plummeted as the fear of facing the Raven Raiders and the Demon Slayer sapped their will. The speed of the unrelenting advance of the Raven Raiders didn’t leave much time to prepare.

Constantius formed his 25,000 nervous troops in battle lines blocking entry to Ravenna. The Raven Raiders formed in the 30 brigades of highly disciplined troops formed up facing the Romans. Raben took up position 500 feet in front of his troops. At his signal the 10 tigers and 810 wolves trotted through the lines to line up behind Raben. At a second signal 90 eagles and 27,910 ravens took to the air. They darkened the sky as they raucously circled over the by then quivering Romans. Raben rode forward demanding Honorius and Constantius come forward to talk, promising no harm to either. Constanius rode forward announcing he would talk with Raben. Raben sneered. “I’m here because of you! I’ll give you 4 hours to get Honorius here. If he doesn’t appear, I’ll have no choice but to go to him... through you and your troops. Now, get the Emperor!” Raben turned and rode back to the animals to wait.

Just before the time was up the Emperor and Constantius rode out of the Roman battle lines. Raben promptly rode out to meet them.

“Thank you for coming, Emperor Honorius,” Raben began. “If you have not figured it out, I’m extremely angry with Constantius. His fleet attempted to block Zarbam and Marseilles with 10 ships. Fortunately the commander of those ships decided to break off the blockade when I sent out an 80 ship fleet ready for battle. I have another 300 ships ready to sail out to utterly destroy the Roman Navy. In 10 days I can have another 800 ships ready to blockade the Roman coast from Barzam to Greece. I do not dispute your right to blockade the ports of Gaul, but you had no cause and no right to blockade the ports of Barmaz! Emperor Honorius, if you had requested that I block my gates into Gaul in support of the blockade I would have willingly done so. But what Constantius did instead was an act of War! As such the Clan Corvo will not tolerate it!”

“How dare you scold the Emperor,” Constantius snarled as Honorius seemed to draw his head inside his robes like a turtle.

“I dare because I can,” Raben snarled back. “Your incompetence boggles my mind! I didn’t come all this way to attack you. If that had been my intentions both of you and all your soldiers would already be dead or enslaved! I’m here to tell you in person that the blockade was the last straw. Stilicho burned me at the stake and I annexed territory as punishment. But you, Constantius, dared blockade my ports! Emperor Honorius, because of the egregious actions of your Magister Militums, as leader of the Clan Corvo, I am formerly notifying you that Barmaz and all Clan Corvo possessions are declaring their independence from the Roman Empire!”

The shocked expressions of both men revealed how stunned they were by the declaration. “You can’t do that,” Constantius indignantly exclaimed.

“I can and I have,” Raben declared. “I am NOT declaring war on Rome. In fact, I hope we can maintain peaceful relations. I will go so far as to agree to blockade the gates of Barmaz against Attalus. But you must formally request our assistance. The offices of Corvus Scriptorium will serve as Corvoian embassies. Any attempt to attack any Clan Corvo held holdings will be considered an act of war. The ships of the Clan Corvo are ALL military vessels with the crews trained to fight. All are equipped with artillery. At the last count there are more than 5000 - 100 ton and larger vessels in our fleet. The Clan Corvo could easily defeat the entire Roman Empire by destroying your navy and merchant fleets thus starving you. I have 10 divisions of 67,860 Raven Raiders, 67860 warriors, with me. There are 30 more divisions in Barmaz meaning I have 271,440 Raven Raiders immediately available. I have over 50 other divisions at our various colonies that is another 339,300 Raven Raiders. The Raven Raiders have never been defeated. We control much of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. We control large areas north of Germania. Think on this, our recent census showed that the Clan Corvo has 11,765,362 members. EVERY member, male and female, joins the Clan Corvo Militia at age 13. All are trained to fight with spear, bows, slings and swords in a 3 month boot camp. They have additional training twice a year to keep their military skills fresh. That means EVERY teen and adult is trained in combat. You really do not want to try us!”

Honorius and Constantius were clearly shocked by the overwhelming numbers Raben was quoting. Both knew the Clan Corvo was large, but they had never suspected it was that large. Both wondered if Raben’s numbers were simply hyperbole.

“I’m not asking you to grant us freedom,” Raben continued. “It is already an established fact. Your choice now is to accept us. We will do our best not to interfere in Roman affairs, just as we’ve been doing. We may consider giving you our assistance if we judge your cause just. By the same token, if the corruption of the Roman Empire continues, we may have no choice but to destroy Rome and assimilate it into the Clan Corvo.”

“Just remember, we made it here in 6 days,” Raben cautioned. “We could have made it in 3 days if we pushed. Honorius, I suggest you make sure your Magister Militums respect those in authority. This did not have to happen. The actions of your Magister Militums are directly responsible for what has happened. Now, you have been officially notified Barmaz and the Clan Corvo has withdrawn from the Roman Empire. We hope it will be a peaceful transition... but we are prepared... and more importantly... we are able to destroy the Roman Empire if you don’t let us go. Now, just as we came in peace, we will leave. Good day.” With that Raben turned and rode away. The animals rejoined their units and the Raven Raiders fell into line as they headed back for Barmaz.

Constantius was livid. Honorius was angry, not only at Raben’s audacity, but with the actions of his Magister Militums that had created the situations.

“I’ll gather troops, barbarian mercenaries, and we’ll destroy the Corvoian bastards,” Constantius raged.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Honorius chided. “Your actions were wrong. I gave you permission to blockade the ports of Gaul, not Barmaz! He’s right to be upset. We are not strong enough to oppose Barmaz. They have been on the side of Rome since Constantine 102 years ago. He’s still on our side, just no longer part of our side because you overstepped your authority! We both know he could have destroyed us and every man here today. All he did was confront us with evidence of his strength and the abilities of the Clan Corvo. I’m angry, but smart enough to know the Demon Slayer could destroy Rome.”

To save face, Honorius promptly announced that as a reward for the continued unflinching support of the Empire, he had granted Barmaz control of all internal affairs while still remaining affiliated with the Roman Empire.

The blockade on the Mediterranean coast of Gaul was successful. In 415, Ataulf withdrew with his people into northern Hispania leaving Attalus behind. Knowing he was a marked man Attalus fled, was captured and sent to Honorius who punished Attalus by cutting off his right finger and thumb, inflicting the same fate with which Attalus had threatened Honorius years before. Attalus was banished to the island of Lipara, 25 miles from the Clan Corvo island of Stromboli north of Sicily.

Galla Placidia traveled with Ataulf. In Hispania, Ataulf imprudently accepted into his service one of Sarus' followers, unaware that the man harbored a secret desire to avenge the death of his beloved patron. In the palace at Barcelona, the man killed Ataulf while he bathed. Sigeric, the brother of Sarus, immediately declared himself king. A mere 7 days later he was also murdered and succeeded by Wallia. Under the latter's reign, widowed Galla Placidia was returned to her brother in Ravenna.

Orestes, Roman Prefect of the Diocese of Egypt, steadfastly resisted Bishop Cyril's ecclesiastical encroachment into secular prerogatives for 3 years. Tension between the parties increased when in 415, Orestes published an edict that outlined new regulations regarding mime shows and dancing exhibitions in the city, which attracted large crowds and were commonly prone to civil disorder. Crowds gathered to read the edict shortly after it was posted in the city's theater. The edict angered Christians as well as Jews. At one such gathering a deputy of Cyril publicly read the edict and applauded the new regulations, which as intended prompted a disturbance. Orestes had the deputy tortured in public which quelled the riot and marked Orestes' authority over Cyril. Cyril threatened to retaliate against the Jews of Alexandria if their harassment of Christians did not cease immediately. In response to Cyril's threat, the Jews of Alexandria grew even more furious, eventually resorting to violence against the Christians. They plotted to flush the Christians out at night by running through the streets claiming that the Church of Alexandria was on fire. When Christians responded to what they were led to believe was the burning down of their church, the Jews attacked and killed everyone in sight. The Jews of Alexandria could not hide their guilt and Cyril, along with many of his followers attacked the city’s synagogues in search of the perpetrators of the massacre. After Cyril rounded up all the Jews in Alexandria, he ordered them to be stripped of all possessions, banished them from Alexandria, and allowed their goods to be pillaged by the remaining citizens of Alexandria. The Jews were thus banished from Alexandria.

The Christian crowds were so volatile, and somewhat justified in their actions against the Jews that Orestes was unable to interfere. That only made Bishop Cyril more arrogant which intensified the feud between Cyril and Orestes. Orestes was rightly angered that the city was suddenly missing a large vital portion of its population. Both men wrote to the emperor regarding the situation. Cyril attempted to reach out to Orestes in peace overtures including mediation. When that failed, Cyril showed him the Gospels he interpreted to indicate that the religious authority of Cyril required Orestes' acquiescence. Nevertheless, Orestes remained unmoved by such gestures. This refusal almost cost Orestes his life. Monks came from the desert and instigated a riot against Orestes among the population of Alexandria. These were the same monks that had killed 10,000 fifteen years earlier. The monks assaulted Orestes and accused him of being a pagan. Orestes rejected the accusations, showing that he had been baptized by the Archbishop of Constantinople. A monk threw a stone hitting Orestes in the head. The prefect had the man tortured to death, whereupon Cyril honored him as a martyr.

Prefect Orestes enjoyed the political backing and advise of Hypatia, the astronomer, philosopher, mathematician and respected teacher who had considerable moral authority in the city of Alexandria with extensive influence. Several Christians thought that Hypatia's influence caused Orestes to reject all reconciliatory offerings by Cyril. Orestes had cultivated his relationship with Hypatia to strengthen a bond with the sizeable Pagan community of Alexandria, as he had done with the Jewish one, in order to better manage the tumultuous political life of the Egyptian capital. In 415 a mob snatched Hypatia from her chariot and murdered her, hacking her body apart and burning the pieces outside the city walls. News of Hypatia's murder provoked great public denouncement, not only against Cyril but against the whole Alexandrian Christian community.

Fiach had been a friend, confidant and colleague with Hypatia and several times had urged her to flee volatile Alexandria. Hypatia refused. Fiach would long remember the self righteous arrogant intolerance of the Egyptian Christians. It broke her heart to admit the Egyptian Christians were symbolic of the corruption of virtually all organized Christianity. The only exception was Corvoian Christianity which stayed true to the humble servant style of the faith Jesus lived and taught.

The growing corruption of nearly every aspect of the Roman Empire angered Fiach. When Rome granted citizenship to those living in the provinces, it virtually eliminated tribal and clan affiliations. The largest familial relationship was the immediate family. With the continual invasions and related deprivations, not to mention the increasingly repressive Roman taxes, many poor families found themselves living in poverty. Roman law pertaining to the commoners living outside cities and towns who earned their living working the land in whatever capacity increasingly bound them to the land. {A process that, historically, eventually led to serfs and serfdom.} By imperial law, Barmaz was required to capture and return anyone who fled the land to return them whence they came. (Quite similar to the pre-American Civil War capture and return of fugitive slaves.) The walls around Barmaz and the organization inside made infiltration impossible. The only way to get inside was through the gates. Now that the Clan Corvo had achieved independence, Barmaz was no longer bound to enforce those Roman laws. Fiach ordered the border gates to allow fleeing common people to enter.

Those entering Barmaz were placed into a holding area for evaluation. Criminals were weeded out and enslaved. They would have to prove they had changed before receiving their freedom. The rest had to foreswear all previous allegiance and swear allegiance to the Clan Corvo. The news that Barmaz had achieved independence from the Empire and were no longer turning away those fleeing oppression spread rapidly. The requirement they assimilate into the egalitarian Clan Corvo was most certainly not a burden. The Clan Corvo gained nearly 10,000 people a year as the proto-serfs fled their oppression.

With the death of Hypatia, Fiach knew the time was rapidly approaching when the Clan Corvo would have no moral choice but to end the deadly chaotic games being played in the Roman Empire and beyond it's fractured borders. Thousands were killed on both sides during the incessant fighting. On top of direct losses in battle, disease and starvation inevitably followed, especially amongst the losing side. It was not unusual to have up to 50% casualties amongst the warriors and 25% to 50% of the civilians in the aftermath. The continual carnage of war and the resultant famines and diseases was too great to ignore. While the Clan Corvo lived in relative peace and safety, very little of the rest of the world did. Not only that, the squalor of the farms, villages and towns outside the Clan Corvo was a breeding ground for diseases and plagues. The cleanliness standards established by the Clan Corvo would save tens of thousands of lives a year. Then there was the devastation the fighting wreaked upon the farmers, destroying crops, the marching armies living off the land while entire populations suffered starvation.

Raben/Fiach was a person of peace yet also a powerful warrior, the leader of the Clan Corvo and Corvo Christianity and an expert healer. Yet even as he/she sought out ways to bring peace and prosperity to all the world, he/she unhappily realized the only way to bring peace was through conquest and assimilation. The key would be to keep the conquest firmly in line with Clan Corvo mores as much as possible. Salvaging local knowledge, legends, beliefs and techniques would be a priority. Knowing the day when the Clan Corvo would have to take action against the chaotic world was nearing, Raben/Fiach began preliminary planning for the inevitable war of assimilation. The Clan Corvo would need to strike with better than normal efficiency as well as shock and awe. Dubbing it Operation Harmony, it just needed a date to begin. It would be a multi year effort, Raben/Fiach estimated periods of 2-3 years of warfare followed by 25-35 year periods of assimilation. During the times of assimilation supply lines and roads needed to be built, food and weapons stockpiled as well as assimilating the conquered populations and training the next generation of Raven Raiders. Operation Harmony would be spread out over 80-100 years. All that was needed was a valid reason to break her pledge of neutrality.

Knowing that virtually all wars and conquests were lead by men, if Raben led a worldwide conquest it would be seen as simply another in the endless string of warfare that was humanity's past 6000 years. To break this tragic historical repetition, Raben had to step back and fade away. When the time came to take affirmative action, it would need to be led by Fiach, a woman. The fact the Raven Raiders had already integrated women into the fighting force was a major plus, 1 out of three of the elite warriors were female.

As was Raben/Fiach's modus operandi, planning for the future had become habitual. Operation Harmony would result in the world wide expansion of the Clan Corvo. The act of creating Operation Harmony induced much self guilt for doing something she'd resisted for so many years. She'd tried to refrain from military expansionism, but with each passing year the need to go that route increased leaving her no realistic choice but to end the deadly chaos of the nearly incessant warfare and the wholesale death and destruction that resulted from the fighting and indirectly due to famine and disease.

Fiach contemplated the pain she endured watching those she loved and cared for age and die. She felt heartbroken to see anyone killed or endure disease and starvation. She was thankful she had not grown inured to the grief. But how much hurt could one person endure? It was not a question she ever wanted to answer. The Clan Corvo remained on it's path of hope and peace because she was there to guide it. That truth also put tremendous pressure on her to continue. Many of the issues and problems facing the world were due to changes in leadership and goals, or to put it simply, greed. There was not a single instance of a group of people surviving more than 3 generations of leadership changes. Most didn't last 2 generations. To maintain peace required the maintenance of unity of goals and morality. That meant she was stuck leading, a job she never wanted, didn't really want, but one she could not avoid or abandon.

Fiach was even more unsettled as she realized once Operation Harmony began, she couldn't stop. It wasn't because she was power hungry, far from it, but she needed to provide peace and prosperity for her people. So unless she brought the rest of the world under the protective awning of the Clan Corvo, there would always be someone who wanted what they had. The best way to do so was to give them what they wanted, but not the way the wanted to get it. That meant assimilating them. Since the Clan Corvo had developed gunpowder and cannons she knew it wouldn't be long before others started to copy the technology. As long as the Raven Raiders were the only ones with the technology, they could easily defeat their opposition. For now she was content to hold the Clan Corvo borders in strength while they assimilated those who fled to Barmaz. Once Operation Harmony began, by the time the youth born during assimilation reached maturity, those who might want to rebel would be at best in their mid 40s, too old to fight other than defensively. Once more she had to be patient and prepare.

One thing Fiach found hopeful was that the common people, the lower and middle classes, those who did the physical work of all societies, made up 95% of every population. The farmers, herders, pottery makers, weavers, black smiths, miners, shipwrights, carpenters, masons and all who work with their hands, didn't really care who led their society as long as they could earn a safe comfortable living, support their family, and saw the same was possible for their children and grandchildren. Operation Harmony was planned with these people as the focus for assimilation.

A great deal of the guilt Fiach felt about instituting Operation Harmony was alleviated by the 95% of the conquered people whose lives would improve due to being assimilated into the Clan Corvo. Fiach was only too right in considering the remaining 5% of the conquered population to be haughty, self absorbed, societal leeches whose lifestyle was supported upon the backs of the common people. Their contribution to society was taking what they could and using, often abusing, the common people. Once the Clan Corvo destroyed the elite parasitic upper class, the heavy burden was lifted from the common people. The construction of roads and bridges, the establishment of schools so all could read, write, do simple math, and learn about the past would boost the ease of assimilation. It wouldn't take the common people long to see that life under the Clan Corvo was much better and provided stability they had never experienced. Most importantly, they would be treated with respect. Knowing that 95% of the assimilated people would quickly grow to like their new lives did a lot to alleviate the guilt she felt for instituting Operation Harmony.

One of the most important things needed was to instill respect for Clan Corvo rules and mores in the people being assimilated. Those Clan Corvo members who would be conducting the assimilation had to be thoroughly trained, compassionate and insightful. The Clan Corvo soldiers and the civilians following the warriors would be held to high standards. There would be no pillaging, no rape, no murder, no bribery. Breaking the standards would be considered high treason, a betrayal of the Clan Corvo itself. The punishments would be harsh. Those convicted of high treason would have their ears, nose, tongue, 1 hand and genitals removed. They would then be locked inside a cage 6 feet high by 3 feet wide by 3 feet long with iron bars so they could be seen. Their name and crime would be printed on the cage. Mounted on flat bed wagons, the ‘exhibit' would be hauled from town to town so the locals could see the Clan Corvo was serious about maintaining it's standards. Fiach certainly hoped she'd never have to enforce that punishment.

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