Time on My Hands Chapter 65 - 432-452 CE: Corvoian Ireland and Roman Chaos

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Time on My Hands
Chapter 65: 432-452 CE: Corvoian Ireland and Roman Chaos

That most certainly began a murmuring amongst those who spent their lives living under the whims of the kings. The druids and kings were infuriated. One imposing man, the Irish High King, Fergus of Ulster, stepped before his fellow kings, glaring at Fiach. "We came to fight, not talk nonsense!"

"Very well," Fiach sighed as she slid off the bull. "Let me send Cuhullin to be with his harem."

The kings grew even angrier. Cuhullin was a legendary Irish warrior hero, akin to Hercules being a demigod, who singlehandedly delayed Queen Mebd during her famous cattle raid. To dare name a bull for the great man was a grave insult. Yet their anger was tempered by awe as they watched Fiach slip off the bull's back and ‘talk' to the fierce bull. They were even more amazed when the huge bull calmly walked through the pasture gate into an adjoining smaller pasture to his harem.

"We are gathered here to decide the fate of Ireland," Fiach announced. "However, instead of a full war with thousands of deaths, we're willing to settle this by individual combat. The leader of the Clan Corvo will be the sole champion for the Clan Corvo, thus I am the champion of the Clan Corvo. Just a warning, I am the Demon Slayer and have personally killed 957 men in combat."

That tidbit seemed implausible for the small young girl causing the Irish to snort with derision.

"We can see all 19 kings are here, each with 4 champions," Fiach smiled with clear anticipation of knocking the men down a few pegs. "As the Clan Corvo champion I will fight them 1 by 1 or even all at once until they've all been killed or submit. When I win, the Irish people will submit. If I lose, the Clan Corvo will leave."

"Enough talk," Fergus shouted. "We agree our champions and kings will fight you for Ireland’s fate!"

"Very well," Fiach said as she drew her sword from it's over the shoulder scabbard and removed her raven feathered cloak. "Who will be the first to die?"

The glint of anticipation in her eye and her calm demeanor further unnerved the kings and their champions. After a few moments of hesitation, a powerful man stepped forward with a large 2-handed sword. Fiach smiled eagerly as she calmly approached the man as he warily did likewise.

"There is no need for you to die today," Fiach smiled. "Lay down your sword and live."

The big man sneered and roared as he charged, raising his sword in one meaty hand to hack the impudent youngster in half.

Instead of trying to avoid his charge, Fiach met it head on with her own fierce nerve rattling undulating war cry. She ducked and slipped into his swing thus avoiding it. As the momentum of his swing exposed his side, with a sure upward thrust, Fiach pierced his right side just below his ribs. The big man gasped and staggered, as an expression of disbelief filled his face. As he collapsed to the grass, Fiach pivoted behind him pulling her sword from his body. As the man tumbled to the ground, a fountain of blood exploded from the wound. By the time he hit the ground he was dead. Fiach had pierced through his lung then his heart. The encounter had taken 3 seconds.

"Such a waste," Fiach said smiling at the stunned Irish. "Oh well, who else wants to die today?"

Needless to say everyone not of the Clan Corvo were shocked at the quick loss of their imposing champion as well as the ease with which Fiach dispatched him. Everyone hesitated to step forward.

"Well King Fergus, since you wanted to fight instead of talk, are you willing to put your sword where your mouth is?" Fiach challenged. "That is, of course, unless you are a total coward." Then she laughed derisively.

Nearly everyone gasped at the pointed insult. No one amongst the Irish would have dared say something like that. As she had intended, the loud mouth high King Fergus had no choice but to answer her insult. Hiding his mounting anxiety, he drew his sword and cautiously advanced. Fiach smiled and began to laugh as she skipped with childish glee as she frolicked about him, easily, almost carelessly, dancing away from his increasingly frustrated swings and thrusts. Each miss infuriated the insulted king. Suddenly Fiach stopped, turned her back to Fergus, bent over and tauntingly wriggled her butt. Infuriated, he pounced like a cat upon an unsuspecting mouse. Fiach sensed his attack and did a full extension back flip right over him as he struck at where she'd been. As she was upside down above him she swung her sword. By the time she landed the body of Fergus had collapsed where she'd been. With a look of horror frozen in place, his head rolled across the pasture.

The shocked Irish gasped. High King Fergus was a most capable fighter against whom few dared draw steel. It was at that point everyone realized Fiach was toying with the Irish champions.

"I warned you I am the Demon Slayer," Fiach roared as she thrust her sword skyward. "I lead the Clan Corvo. None can stand before me! Now, is this farce over or must I kill more of you?"

The crowds were silent in awe of just how easily she'd killed the king and the intimidating champion. The remaining kings and champions were gobsmacked and unsure. However they were all seasoned warriors and ignored fear. But they now faced the legendary Demon Slayer. They had no choice but to continue the fight. Each of the 18 kings and 75 champions had no choice but to face Fiach.

"I grow tired of your silly games," Fiach called out. "Let's up the game. I challenge all of you to simultaneous combat. All of you against me at the same time. Let's get it on!" With that she pulled one of her knives so her sword was in her right and a deadly knife in her left. "Unless you’re ready to swear fealty to me!"

The champions and kings exchanged looks of disbelief at her audacity. They kings knew they could not swear fealty nor could they avoid her challenge. They cautiously spread out surrounding Fiach as she continued to smile with a wild feral look in her eyes. The battle began. Fiach had no intentions of going against them toe to toe. That's not to say she avoided the fight. Indeed, she laughed maniacally as she charged into her enemies, primarily using her sword to parry blows while striking out like a bolt of lightening to deliver fatal knife wounds as she ducked and weaved through her increasingly desperate opponents. The clash of steel, the grunts of the mortally wounded and the laughter of Fiach as she danced amongst them could be heard by the onlookers; they lost sight of her slight body amongst the much larger men. As usual Fiach ignored her own wounds. As the battling men moved about the pasture they left a trail of 43 bodies. Finally, a blood covered Fiach danced out of the much reduced scrum. The kings had been slain leaving only 50 battered champions.

"The kings are dead," Fiach called out. "Your oaths to them are thus broken. Will you now give me your fealty?"

The battered champions gazed about the body littered field in disbelief seeing their fallen comrades. The small girl had slain 45 of the best fighters in Ireland. Any doubts they harbored about her being the Demon Slayer were indeed vanquished. The death in fair combat of the kings had released them from their vows of loyalty. One by one they went down on one knee to offer their swords to Fiach.

“I accept your fealty,” Fiach announced. “All who fell are to be buried with honor. The kingdoms and clans of Ireland are abolished as are all nobility. All of Ireland is hereby part of the Clan Corvo. I will send a company of Raven Raiders, a troop of Pathfinders and an equal number of civilians to begin the transition of leadership. The armies that came with the kings will act as an honor guard to return the bodies and accompany those of the Clan Corvo who arrived with me to their former kingdom where the army will tell what they’ve seen here.”

The gathered armies had been stunned by the small girl’s ferocity and skill as she had so easily killed the kings and champions. They were glad they had not had to fight, so readily agreed to her dictates.

“Tomorrow you will head home with those I brought to Ireland,” Fiach announced. “My people have prepared a feast to honor the dead and welcome everyone into the Clan Corvo. My people will prepare the bodies for transport home. Food and mead are available in the field with the tents... all but the Druids may go and... enjoy!”

“In addition to being the Demon Slayer I am also an Ianuarian,” Fiach addressed the gathered druids after the warriors and conscripts left. “I am a trained and experienced healer. I am a disciple of Ianuaria and have personally spoken with her. She has told me that she and the other Celtic gods are angels of the one supreme Christian God. I invite the druids to meet with Bishop Patrick and myself so we can explain how the Celtic pantheon is in reality a subset of Christianity. To further demonstrate my affinity with Ianuaria, I am a living version of Macha, the Celtic Goddess of war, life, death, cunning, death, sheer physical force; protectress in both battle and peace. The Clan Corvo is the Clan of the Ravens.” Then she krocked.

To the surprise of the druids thousands of ravens flew from the surrounding fields and trees to swarm above Fiach. After a bit of back and forth krocking most flew off to forage while a raven landed on each shoulder reinforcing her association with Macha who wore a cloak of raven feathers.

“I can speak to animals. You saw me ride Cuhullin, the bull. Let me call my other friends.” Fiach let out a horrific screech that was promptly answered from high above. As the druids watched in disbelief 18 majestic eagles rode the thermals lower circling about her. Holding out her arms one landed on each wrist to glare at the speechless druids as she spoke to the birds. “You may go now,” Fiach stated as the birds took off to join their winged comrades.

With that she let out a deep throated feline roar that was answered from the Raven Raider encampment. In moments 2 of the largest cats ever seen on Ireland sauntered up to Fiach. The orange with black striped cats could easily shred a man yet around Fiach they rubbed against her like house cats. “These are tigers, the largest and fiercest of all cats. I’ll call my canine friends.” With that she tilted her head back and howled. Again from the Raven Raider encampment came answering howls... dozens and dozens of howls. Everyone went on edge... they all knew about wolves... their blood went cold as the 162 wolves came loping from the Raven Raider encampment. The wolves gathered around Fiach and the tigers like adoring puppies.

The druids were stunned. Never had they seen anyone talk to animals before. Obviously the small Demon Slayer was not to be underestimated. Fiach led them to a large open sided tent with tables and seating where Bishop Patrick waited. The discussion was insightful and challenging as Fiach and Patrick were able to ease their concerns about abandoning the Celtic gods. In the end they still had doubts but were starting to see what Fiach and Patrick were saying that the Celtic Pantheon was valid but were demi-gods/angels, of the supreme triune Christian God.

Over the next months, Fiach toured Ireland, visiting every region and former kingdom, talking to the newest members of the Clan Corvo. Even though the kings had been killed, the Clan Corvo broke Irish tradition in not eliminating the family of the deposed king. The Clan Corvo civilians and Raven Raiders kept the peace and merged Brehon Law with the practices of the Clan Corvo. The Irish laws were a civil rather than a criminal code, concerned with the payment of compensation for harm done and the regulation of property, inheritance and contracts. Ireland was a hierarchical society, taking great care to define social status, and the rights and duties that went with it, everything from property to the relationships between lords and their clients and the proto-serfs. The often autocratic rule of deposed kings was forced into the egalitarian open rule of law while accepting that laws were not a strict unyielding black and white end, but a flexible colorful guide. The laws had to be alive and moveable, not restrictive walls. Government was people centric, by the people, for the people, and of the people. Government was to serve the needs of the people. The people were not to serve the government. In addition, while the Clan Corvo was most definitely Corvoian Christian and the associated morality was expected, there was no requirement that people believe.

Fiach and Patrick spoke to the priests and monks loyal to the Pope in Rome. Living amongst the Irish they understood the simple country lifestyle of the Island. The duo opened the eyes of the Roman Catholics to see how the power and exalted positions of the Pope and his hierarchy were well on their way to becoming like the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus had preached as being hypocrites. Still, they were loath to break their oaths of loyalty to Rome they swore at their ordination.

“When you swore your oath, did you swear it to the triune God or to the Pope in Rome?” Fiach asked. “I was ordained and appointed the first Bishop of Barmaz by the Bishop of Rome, Caius, in the year 287. I swore my fealty to Christ, not man.”

“You were ordained by Caius in 287,” a priest scoffed. “First, women can’t be ordained, and most certainly not a mere foolish child. How dare you claim to have been ordained 245 years ago!”

“God blessed me both male and female,“ Fiach smiled. “I’m 271 years old. I was born in 161. At age 14 I received a Curse from Jesus.” Fiach explained how the centurion who pierced the side of Jesus after he died on the cross had been Cursed and how that Curse had been passed to Fiach.

The priest snorted and looked at Patrick with pity. “You believe this fairy tale?”

“Yes, I’ve seen this ‘mere foolish child’ do the impossible,” Patrick replied. “Did you not see how she defeated the Irish Kings and their champions? How she rode a bull? How she talks to the animals? She has collected ALL the writings of the Church fathers. I have seen her library, the largest in the world, eclipsing the fabled Library of Alexandria. I have seen Corvo University. She is the head of the Clan Corvo, she is the Demon Slayer.”

“Those are just stories to frighten the superstitious Irish,” the haughty priest replied.

“Like Jesus told Thomas, see and believe,” Fiach replied as she placed her hand on the table, then rammed a knife through her hand pinning it to the wooden top with a solid THUNK. Then she slipped her hand up the blade to the hilt so all could plainly see it had passed through her hand. “Pull out the knife.”

The protesting priest was clearly surprised. Slowly he reached out and pulled the blade out. The wound bled from the back and palm of her hand. She held it forth so he and the others could see the bleeding stop and the wound heal. “You are a Demon!”

“No, I’m the Demon Slayer,” Fiach answered. “I’ve watched the corruption creeping into Roman Catholicism. You know the Church in Rome and the Corvo Church are different. In the Clan Corvo the words spoken by Jesus are our guidance. In Rome the Pope is the guidance, a human who has the audacity to interpret what Jesus the Christ said. Much tension already exists between the Corvo Church and the Church of Rome. I am afraid it will eventually lead to war. It will be Rome that starts the war by demanding the Clan Corvo yield to Rome, but the Clan Corvo will finish it! The question you must answer is do the words of the Pope supercede the words of Jesus? Rome says it does, we in the Clan Corvo says it does not. Remember, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for following the words of the law instead of the intent of the laws, which is what the Popes do. Faith is God reaching down to man through the words of Jesus, his parables tell us how to live. The words of Jesus are flexible and living. Religion is man trying to climb up to God by making the words of Jesus into laws. Laws quickly become inflexible becoming burdensome and guilt inducing.”

The priests, far from Rome, had to depend on the words of Jesus. They’d been trying to follow the words of the Pope but the conditions in Ireland required flexibility, not rigidity, life not law, just as Fiach stated. Several priests asked Fiach to ordain them in Corvo Christianity. Fiach explained there was no need, they had been ordained in Christ. That day the Pope in Rome lost Ireland.

Many Irish moved to other Clan Corvo sites just as people from the other sites relocated to Ireland. Those from the Isle of Man were instrumental in the generation long assimilation. By respecting the Druids and blending Christianity to include the Celtic Mythos as angels, Patrick insured the Celts became Corvoian Christians while retaining and incorporating the Druidic respect of nature into Corvoian Christianity. The Clan Corvo would incorporate the 350,000 Irish with few further issues. The Clan Corvo Irish would form the core of the Clan Corvo when they moved into Britain.

Fiach insisted that sanitation and rodent control was a primary function of all settlements and farms. Until sanitation and rodent control was firmly established and practiced, further expansion was limited and had to incorporate acceptable sanitation practices. In addition, quarantine areas were established in every base, port and colony. Anyone who came down with a disease was quarantined until the illness passed. There were no exceptions, anyone who violated quarantine and sanitation rules and requirements were arrested and sentenced to 3 years slavery. These practices greatly reduced the widespread plagues that periodically swept the ancient world.

By 432, the Vandals had crossed from Iberia into Numidia at the request of General Bonifacius as mercenaries in support his rebellion to seize North Africa. The deal fell apart and the Vandals proceeded to drive Bonifacius and the Romans out of Numidia. The imperial court in Ravena, worried about the power being wielded by General Aëtius in Gaul, stripped Aëtius of his command and gave it to Bonifacius. In the civil war that followed, Bonifacius defeated Aëtius but died of his wounds. Aëtius fled to the Huns. With their help he was able to ‘persuade’ the Ravena court to reinstate him to his old position in 434. Because of troop losses, in 435 Emperor Valentinian was forced to make peace with the Vandals allowing them to keep Numidia in North Africa in return for payment of tribute to the empire.

The Huns were also granted new territory in Pannonia. In 433, with the rise of Attila unifying the Huns, the payment Theodosius II had to pay to protect the Eastern Roman Empire was doubled to 700 pounds of gold per year. Despite their new status as foederati, Burgundian raids into Roman Upper Gallia Belgica became intolerable and were ruthlessly brought to an end in 436 when General Aëtius called in Hun mercenaries, who overwhelmed the Rhineland kingdom in 437.

Galla Placidia's regency came to an end in 437 when Valentinian III traveled to Constantinople to marry the daughter of Theodosius. Although officially the emperor, the reality was that Aëtius was in charge of imperial policy in the west. From 436 to 439, Aëtius was focused on the situation in Gaul. Serious Visigothic defeats in 437-438 were undone by a Roman defeat in 439 restoring the status quo. Aëtius also enjoyed initial success against the Franks and the Burgundians, as well as putting down a revolt by the Bagaudae by 437. In 438, peace was also achieved with the Suebi in Spain. However, the Vandals broke their treaty and invaded neighboring areas of North Africa in 439. Knowing the importance of the grain from North Africa, both Eastern and Western Emperors sent forces to Sicily, intending to launch an attack on the Vandals at Carthage. However with the draw down of border troops along the Danube to man the expeditions, the Huns in the northeast and Sassanids in the southeast both attacked and the expeditionary forces had to be recalled. In 442, Aëtius and Valentinian were forced to acknowledge the Vandal conquests of Africa with the Vandals also taking Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.

Spain continued to slip away from imperial control during the early to mid 440s as the Suebi extended their control. By 444, all but one Spanish provinces had been lost to the Germanic tribes but even that one was under pressure due to Bagaudic uprisings. As a consequence the Western Empire experienced severe financial problems leaving them unable to support their military needs. The emperor issued a law in 444, stripping the bureaucrats of their exemptions from the recruitment tax. Two additional taxes were issued, a sales tax of 4 percent and another on the senatorial class to raise new troops as well as feeding and clothing them.

During 443 two Roman armies in the Balkans were defeated and destroyed by the Huns. The Eastern Empire negotiated a peace agreement, the Huns withdrew in exchange for humiliating concessions, including an annual tribute of 2,100 pounds of gold. In 447 the Huns again went through the Balkans, destroying among others the city of Sofia and reaching Buyukcekmece on the outskirts of Constantinople. Theodosius died in 450 in a riding accident. His sister, Pulcheria, won the ensuing power struggle. She married general Marcian, thereby making him Emperor. Almost immediately Marcian reversed the policies of Theodosius, revoking all treaties with Attila, and proclaiming the end of subsidies. Attila, preparing to invade the Western Roman Empire, reacted angrily, demanding tribute, but did not alter his plans under the guise of helping Valentinian III against the Visigoths. He led his horde west from Pannonia in spring 451, into the Western Roman Empire. Aetius organized a defense, and called upon the Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians, Alans, Saxons and other tribal groups to aid him, numbering about 60,000. Attila's forces were augmented by Gepids, Alans, Sciri, Heruli, Rugians, some Franks, Burgundians, and Ostrogoths. Attila sacked Metz, and attempted a siege of Orleans, before meeting Aetius' forces at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, in Northeast Gaul. This battle involved around 100,000 men total, and involved massive losses on both sides. After the battle, Attila retreated to the Hungarian plain while Aetius dismissed his coalition of barbarians, sending them back to their own territory.

In spring 452, motivated by a desire for revenge along with a need to raid to keep his tribal state together, Attila again launched a raid, this time into the almost entirely undefended Italy. Attila captured the city of Aquileia after a long and difficult siege ransacking the city. Attila then raided across Northern Italy, taking Milan and other important cities. There was much fear that Attila would attack Rome itself, whose walls were weaker than some of the cities Attila had already captured.

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Comments

I wondered when Atila

Wendy Jean's picture

would show up, will he make the mistake of going after Clan Corvo?

Should be able to be handled

Beoca's picture

Attilla was known historically for being extremely superstitious, so it wouldn't take much on the part of the Demon Slayer to convince him not to try. He may alternatively sack the city itself (the night after which he died, historically).

Fiach has really gotten better at assimilation

Beoca's picture

When it comes to winning over hearts and minds, the Clan has learned quite a bit since Dakar. Well executed, particularly regarding dealing with the priests and druids. Familiarity is obviously a huge advantage, but that shouldn't downplay just how well this was executed.