Time on My Hands Chapter 70 - 458-495 CE: Meditating on 300 Years of Life

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Time on My Hands

Chapter 70: 458-495 CE: Meditating on 300 Years of Life

Champery was built on the lower southern slopes of the mountain Croiz de Culet. Corvo University and the main location of Corvus Scriptorium were located in Champery. Their shared library was overfilled so they used small black powder to excavate tunnels into the mountain to use as library stacks.

The excavated roughly arched tunnels were 18 feet wide and high, tunnels were arched on top with the side walls ending in 18 inch wide and deep trenches I foot from the rock face. The floor tapered slightly from a high center into the trenches. Heavy timbers were set in place to support the tunnel. The trenches were filled with tamped down fist sized rocks and the floor was covered with 6 inches of tamped down rocks half that size. Then 75 feet from the tunnel face the timbers were removed for 12 feet. Working quickly, a thick fabric was laid tamped the rocks. Iron bars 1/2 inch thick were woven into a large open weave box like internal reinforcing frame up the walls and over the arched top. Wooden forms/frames were then built centering the on the tunnel to create a space 12 feet wide by 12 1/2 feet high in the center enclosing the iron bar boxes creating iron bar reinforced side walls 3 feet thick with the center being an iron bar reinforced arch 5 1/2 feet thick connecting the walls. Roman pioneered hydraulic cement was forced behind the forms filling the reinforced open iron bar to seal the tunnels. The next day the wooden forms were removed. A wire mesh was placed atop the floor and 6 inches of hydraulic concrete poured as a finished floor. The resultant space was a 12 feet wide by 12 feet tall in the arched center. The arches began 8 feet up the walls. The hydraulic cement created a water tight space while the stones in the side trenches and on the floor allowed under the cement funneled any water percolating through the stone to flow away.

With numerous tunnels and levels being excavated, a minimum 30 feet space was maintained between them with the tunnels of each level vertically stacked so uninterrupted columns of stone were maintained. Blasting was done with small charges with the air refreshed before entering. The hydraulic cement casing was not done in tunnels being currently excavated. A tunnel was dug 75 feet beyond the hydraulic cement casing then stopped as the blasting and excavating crews crew moved to another tunnel. When the casing was done the cement floor was covered with a temporary wooden floor and doors were constructed to keep dust from blasting trapped. At that point the hydraulic cement casing crew moved to a recently excavated tunnel while the excavating crew returned to dig further. Thus the crews leapfrogged around each other.

The biggest issues in the conquered territories were religion and public administration. The Clan Corvo did their best to limit the interaction of Church and State to avoid becoming an autocratic theocracy as had befallen Alexandria, Rome and Constantinople. Because of her experiences, Fiach believed that all faiths were at least partially valid and that no faith was fully valid since it was impossible for a humananity to know all aspects of a living, changing God. This applied even to Corvoian Christianity. The Corvoian Church version of Christianity and it's morality was the state empathized faith, but participation/allegiance was not mandatory. The followers of Judaism and so called pagan faiths were allowed to continue practicing their faith. Those who professed no faith, agnostics, were also allowed to do so. However like the non Covoian Christian priests, the Rabbis, pagan priests and theologians were removed to Barmaz. Faith studies and research was only to be done at the Divinity School of Corvus University. All faith/religious writings in areas being assimilated were gathered and sent to the main Corvus Scriptorium Library in Champery. This allowed comparative studies amongst all faiths. It was also required that priests and theologians of all faiths study there which made sure they all received a basic understanding of the wide variety of religions.

The removed Christian priests, rabbis, pagan priests and theologians were treated well and respected if they maintained a civil dialog. They were asked to record their beliefs and theology, having scribes/translators assigned to insure their thoughts were correctly understood. The Divinity school demanded religious tolerance and banned all claims of and attempts at establishing religious exclusivity. The existence of a supreme entity that created the universe meant that humans could not possibly understand the reasoning or scope of the living God. The various faiths and religions grew out of the piecemeal understanding of God's omnipotence. All had valid points just as all had invalid points. The goal was to assimilate all belief systems into a cohesive framework of Godhood. Unfortunately, the more they learned the more they realized it could not happen unless forced, which Fiach refused to do. She did not want Corvoian Christianity to become the bully Roman Christianity had been moving towards.

Corvoian Christianity stressed helping one's fellow humans and living in peace and humility while honoring creation and the creator. In the Divinity School of Corvus University, faith and religion were openly discussed and debated. Fiach insisted faith was the key because it was God sharing insights with man allowing the faith to change with the times thus remaining valid. Religion invariably fell into mankind attempting to tame and control God by creating rules and laws that quickly became inflexible and often negated or destroyed the original faith. It was understood some aspects of the various faiths could not merge into a cohesive all encompassing whole. Fiach, the foremost scholar on faiths and religions, could not in good conscious declare any faiths invalid. All faiths would be allowed to be practiced with the understanding that all other faiths had to be at the very least tolerated.

All priests of all faiths took comparative religion courses to encourage acceptance and inclusion. One faith condemning or even just demeaning another faith was forbidden and punishable, however intelligent discussions were allowed and even encouraged. Priests were encouraged to respectfully minister to those of other faiths in times of crises or need when a priest of a particular faith was unavailable. More importantly women were brought into the priesthood. Fiach set goals that 60% of those studying for the priesthood would be women. Just as important was that anyone studying for whatever priesthood had to demonstrate they believed in and practiced gender neutral faith. Any who promoted one gender over the other was shunted into a course of gender neutrality. Those that failed were expelled.

Teachings and the practice of male superiority were rooted out of all facets of Corvoian life. All priests were encouraged to marry into the peoples they served and raise families. Another tenet was that gender roles were flexible allowing people to express their personal inner truth without fear of condemnation and persecution. Same sex marriages were allowed. Transsexuality was validated. Polygamy was allowed as long as spouses were not coerced into the relationships and the family could support itself. Child marriages were forbidden. The age of marriage was firmly set at 16. In addition, the age of consent for sexual relations was set at 16. The crime of pedophilia mandated a sentence of life enslavement after surgical desexing.

As was done since the first year of Operation Harmony, all priests from all faiths were brought back to Corvo University to record their knowledge and insights as well as for re-education. Those who would not adjust but were peaceful could go to monasteries or simply abandon priesthood for normal citizenship. Those who were belligerent were enslaved and set to hard labor on public works until they recanted. Corvo University educated priests followed behind the Raven Raiders to replace the removed priests of every faith to provide continuity in the newly conquered areas. Initially these priests were primarily Corvoian Christians pledged to universal faith acceptance. Priests of any faith who completed the Corvo University Courses were sent to areas where their faiths existed, replacing the Corvoian priests.

Since the start of Operation Harmony, troublemakers, those who resisted assimilating into the Clan Corvo were quickly plucked out of the general population. They were questioned and evaluated by the Raven Raiders then passed into the custody of the Corvoian clergy and administrators. Some were convinced to accept becoming Corvoians, but most, especially the upper level clergy, senators, kings, princes and other nobles and elites of Rome, the various Germanic peoples, the Berbers, and other African peoples as well as the Sassanid and their Middle East allies and other higher class people who arrogantly refused to accept their loss of status, were enslaved. Those malcontents were put on public works programs digging/building dams, canals and aqueducts as well as building roads and bridges throughout conquered areas. After a few months of hard labor, most knuckled down and cooperated, served their 3 years of slavery and were released into Corvoian society. However there were thousands who were hard headed. They were taken east with the hard headed monks and other religious fanatics from Egypt. The biggest public works program ever was begun using their forced labor. Nearly 175,000 slaves headed east to dig canals, cut roads through the western Asian mountains and build bridges and retaining walls. Explosives were used where appropriate. Setting and use of the explosives was done by Pathfinders who accompanied and guarded the slaves.

With the combat of Phase 1 of Operation Harmony completed by 458, the people in the conquered areas were assimilating and the construction of the needed infrastructure commenced. Transportation of supplies was often difficult. Ships carried heavier loads further with less labor. Fiach set up camps along a line up the Don River then up the Manych River then down into the Caspian Sea. They began to dig a massive 300 feet wide by 70 feet deep 365 mile long canal to connect the Sea of Azov with the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea was in a natural depression, the height of the land separating the seas was 89 feet. The canal would be excavated down so the completed water level would be at sea level, the level of the Sea of Azov. Black powder would be used to break up the rock. The Caspian Sea had no outlet and fluctuated between 65 to 85 feet below oceanic sea level which would require 8 locks to get down to the surface. Flat areas 100 feet wide on either side of the canal would support roads as well as villages. The fresh water canal would also function as an irrigation canal for the Caspian Sea side. Rail lines were laid along the route of the canal. Steam engines pulled railway wagons easily 20 times larger than the biggest horse drawn wagons. Steam powered shovels with bucket scoops lifted the explosively loosened rock and soil, dropping it into railcars. The steam engines then pulled the excavated debris away, using it as fill wherever needed

Since the dinner with Pope Leo in Barmaz, Raben had decided to shelve his male side since males were associated with autocratic rule, religious arrogance and war. Thus Fiach became the primary face of the Clan Corvo. Virtually all tribes and nations were led by men. Most men in leadership positions were concerned with acquiring power and wealth, be it from government, military, business or religion. Fiach practiced and firmly believed that government, religion and the military were to serve the people. When unchecked, unfortunately, males repeatedly devolved to feel that the people were made to serve the government, religion and military, namely them. She realized that male domination had to end to insure the government, religion and military always served the people.

In 461 Fiach stepped out of her hectic travels to return to her original farm, Barmaz, in the mountains to the third meadow level above her ‘ancestral’ home and still functioning hidden libraries on the middle meadows. The upper meadow was 75% pasture, 20% was tree covered steep slopes with the last 5% steep rockfall. Over a hundred sheep and goats dotted the early summer pastures. The Alpine flowers were in full bloom showcasing the beauty of nature. All kinds of flowers; primroses, heathers, gentians, daisies, bellflowers and buttercups were displaying their glory. Fiach climbed to the peak of Croix d' Increne {GM 46.151361, 6.816499}, which is 6033 feet high, located in the center of the north ridgetop overlooking the entire upper pasture as well as the farm of Barmaz on the central level. There she set up a tent to meditate in an effort to recenter herself. She was 300 years old yet she still looked like an underdeveloped prepubescent young teen. Physically she was still youthfully flexible with tremendous endurance. Mentally she sure didn't feel that young. The immaturity and impetuousness of youth had long ago been erased by often harsh worldly experience and the unfathomable mental strain of keeping the Clan Corvo on the path of peace and prosperity.

Fiach sat in front of the tent as the sun set over the majestic snow covered peaks of the Dents Blanches {the white teeth, a series of mountain peaks in the Chablais Alps on the Swiss-French border composed of several summits of which the Dent de Barme is the highest}. As the shadows of the peaks lengthened over the valley below, her relaxed mind wandered back to her mother, brothers and step-siblings and their families and how she’d brought them here starting the Clan Corvo. She chuckled at the irony, the day’s date was Monday, August 21, 461. It was exactly 258 years since her family first arrived at Barmaz, Sunday, August 21, 203. That meant August 21 was the anniversary of the founding of the Clan Corvo! Celebrating the founding of the Clan Corvo on August 21 would become a Clan wide world celebration of the peace and good will the Clan represented and fostered.

Fiach determined to have a simple 10 feet by 10 feet one room stone cabin built on the peak. It would be her personal spiritual retreat where she could commune with nature at the very location the Clan Corvo began, the farmstead at Barmaz. Here, alone in the mountains, she could center herself. It would be a relaxing place to ponder the past and plan the future.

Then unbidden, Fiach’s thoughts turned maudlin. Away from the hubbub of political and religious concerns, her thoughts turned to those she watched age and die. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she watched the last rays of the sunset. It reminded her of that day when she hugged her pain wracked crucified foster mother as the poison she’d administer at the dying woman’s request eased her passing. The old Ianuarian wanted to die watching the sun set from her position nailed to the tree. It seemed ironic that a day later, the Curse Jesus passed on to Marcellus Longinus as he died crucified on the cross on Golgotha was transferred to her male persona, Raben, when he ended the ex-legionnaire’s unhappy and unwanted long life. Then came memories of the faces of her family, seeing them in their youth then watching as they morphed into old age. The grief hit her hard as she cried in her heartache. In her 300 years she watched thousands die. She’d killed 1037 people in combat of one form or another. As a healer she never wanted to kill, but in the heat of the moment the adrenalin of combat fueled a scary thrill to be wielding the power of death. Once the adrenalin rush faded, guilt swept in, but she had to push through to make the most of the situation. It was afterward, even to this very day, that she remembered each and every one out of guilt for taking a life. Knowing those deaths had been at least somewhat justified did little to ease the agony she felt when taking a life. As before when she sank into dark moods she thanked Ianuaria that she had not become inured to pain and anguish. The agony and guilt she felt told her she was still a loving and caring human. If she ever became numbed to such sorrows, it would be the time to end her life.

But until that point, if it ever came, it was her responsibility to guide the Clan Corvo to keep them centered on loving and caring for their neighbors. A strong part of that was to spread the lineage of Fiach/Raben Corvo to all the world giving them a single common past they knew connected them. As hoped, having the Raven Raiders, Pathfinders, teachers, administrators and priests take spouses from amongst the conquered peoples was already uniting the disparate tribes and clans mixing ethnicities and races to demonstrate they were all equal. Once they were all part of the same family, coupled with the morality of Corvoian Christianity being taught in schools and practiced by the administrators, she hoped there would be a universal peace.

That brought up another dilemma, the issue of maintaining the separation of church and state. Patrick had done well in Ireland spreading Corvo Christianity while honoring, recording and respecting the native druids. His techniques for balancing the disparate beliefs was being used as a template in other areas. His death in March reminded Fiach of the brevity of human life and her Curse of eternal youth. The schools taught faith courses without stressing or recommending a specific faith. Thankfully, all of the main religions emphasized a remarkably similar morality where loving your fellow humans was core. The faith classes stressed and taught universal morality. The students were encouraged to seek further knowledge of whatever aspect of faith appealed to them. This was doable because Corvo University Divinity Department had books going deeper into each of the major faiths as well as books on minor faiths. The books were divided into chapters, each chapter delving deeper into the faith than the previous. The reader could go as deep as they wished or stop at any point. The entire system was designed to create an acceptance, respect and universal tolerance of all faiths. No faith was deemed better than the others.

A sad smile filled Fiach’s face as darkness settled over the mountain revealing the stars in all their grandeur. Because her physical development stopped upon receiving the Curse, coupled with her tiny size at birth, she would never reach sexual maturity in either gender. That double whammy meant that Fiach was asexual as well as effectively sterile. Never would she parent a child. That was good in that she wouldn’t have to watch a child age and die while she remained unchanging. It had been tough enough watching her siblings, nephews and nieces age and die. Now her family WAS the Clan Corvo and she was the matriarch. That truth reinforced her resolve to bring the entire world into the peaceful existence of the Clan Corvo and to lovingly guide it. She understood there would be times when tough love would be needed but she was as prepared and determined to maintain peace and tranquility while encouraging the growth of knowledge and technology.

Then she reflected upon the status of the Clan Corvo. At the start of 461, there were 45,382,443 full members of the Clan Corvo with roughly another 60,000,000 people in the territories occupied by Operation Harmony in the last 5 years in the process of assimilating into the Clan. She estimated there were 250,000,000 people in the world. Fiach shook her head in disbelief that her original naive intent for the farm of Barmaz had been to provide a safe place for her siblings, nephews and nieces. But she could not let widows and orphans suffer so she began bringing them into the welcomeing embrace of the Clan Corvo. Her caring had exploded from that humble start into the Clan Corvo covering North and South America, Europe, 2/3 of Africa, the Middle East, and a hefty chunk west Asia, more than half the world. With a smile on her face, Fiach curled up in blankets under the stars easily falling asleep.

Fiach awoke with the sunrise making breakfast from the supplies she brought. Then as the sun rose into the sky, she mentally reviewed the completed military portion of Phase 1 of Operation Harmony. Fortunately, the fierce mystique of the Raven Raiders and the Demon Slayer had often been enough to shut down fighting after a brief skirmish. The wolves, tigers, eagles and ravens attached to the Raven Raiders added more layers of fear and awe. The back of resistance broke when they finally realized the ravens and eagles not only kept a sharp-eyed overwatch during the day, they were able to transmit their information to the Raven Raiders who were able to adjust their strategy on the fly. The wolves and tigers with their heightened senses served the same function at night although at much shorter distances. No one had ever been able to ambush or surprise the Raven Raiders. There also was the honest fact the Raven Raiders were fierce, extremely well trained warriors. They fought cohesively as units, squads, sections, troops, companies, battalions, brigades, divisions, corps and armies. The addition of black powder cannons as well as personal firearms enhanced their already top notch field performance.

The Germanic tribes, Roman troops, and the Sassanid warriors they faced crumbled in the face of artillery and rifle/musket fire. Walled cities and towns as well as forts were blasted into submission. During the 3 year campaign, the Raven Raiders had suffered minimal casualties. On average of a division of 6786 people, 36 {0.0053%} were casualties of which 9 {0.00133%} were fatal. Of the 250 divisions, 1,696,500 people committed, 9000 were wounded, 2250 fatally. At 5%, the casualties of the Roman troops, Germanic tribes, the Huns, the Berbers, the Sassanids as well as the others brought under the hegemony of the Clan Corvo that attempted to resist the Raven Raiders was 10 times higher than the Clan casualties but still much lower than the previous normal savage hand to hand fighting. Fiach understood a 3% casualty rate for 1 year with near 0% in succeeding years was far better than the much higher normal rates before the start of their assimilation. While she hated even those few deaths, they were considerably lower than those subjugated peoples had suffered due to the raiding and fighting between their various entities with resultant starvation and diseases. In a normal year pre Operation Harmony, the deaths from raiding/fighting/disease and starvation averaged around 15% to 25% of the populations of those areas in turmoil. The areas with heavier fighting/raiding casualties sometimes rose to 60% to 70%. Overall, the conquests and expansion saved far more lives than it cost.

The sanitation practices the Clan Corvo brought eliminated much disease and pestilence thus saving uncountable lives. The farming, crops and animal husbandry shared increased the food supply for all people while reducing their work load. The repressed, controlled, often subsistence level existance of the common people represented between 80% to 95% of the populations of the so called civilized peoples. The burden of supporting the wealthy overfed elite had been lifted from their bent shoulders. They had freedom to move into other occupations, to physically relocate, with adequate diets for the first time in generations. Their lives had drastically improved as did their life expectancy. For them assimilation into the Clan Corvo undoubtedly improved their lives.

It was only the elite, those who had been leeches on the common people, that suffered under the conquest since most refused to accept giving up their unearned privileges which they took from the common people. Most had never engaged in physical labor thinking it was beneath them. Many could not handle the loss of status and wound up being enslaved. But even then the Clan did their best to keep families together. Family members not enslaved could move with those enslaved and live together. They were expected to work, often hired by the Corvoian overseers to cook, clean and launder for both sides of the camps. The slave camps were up to Corvoian sanitation standards. If they cooperated the slaves were treated well having adequate food, water, rest breaks and medical attention. Each evening they had daily lectures on what was expected of Clan Corvo members. They were also reminded that their 3 year term of slavery would not begin until the overseers felt their defiant and belligerent attitudes changed. Accompanying families could walk away from their pigheaded enslaved family member at any time to begin a new life.

By lunch Fiach had completed her ruminations. After striking the camp, she headed down the mountain to resume her duties, refreshed and ready to jump back into the fray.

The next 14 years passed quickly as the dwindling number of slaves and increasingly more hired workers continued the public works projects. The largest was the opening of the Azov-Caspian Sea Fresh Water Canal. The canal opened in 475, the 300th anniversary of Fiach/Raben achieving the Curse. The Raven Raiders along the Asian borders were kept strong. Trading was brisk across the border but any attempted incursions were ruthlessly crushed thanks to raven and eagle overwatch warnings of the advancing forces. All trading took place at border posts with non Corvoian peoples not allowed to travel deeper into Corvoian territory. However, the traders could plainly see the prosperity and peace of the Clan Corvo. Anyone who approached the border asking to settle inside the Clan territory were told they could do so only if they agreed to join the Clan. Many did so.

With the completion of the fresh water Caspian Sea Canal, a second canal was started from the Sea of Azov to the Caspian Sea. This would be a more ambitious project. This would start in the south in the marshy area of Ordynskiy with the goal of creating a lockless sea level canal to funnel salt water into the Caspian Sea to raise it’s water levels to equal that of the Oceans. This would increase the surface area and allow greater fishing and shipping. When completed it would take nearly a hundred years to raise the surface to ocean parity. At the same time another lockless canal for navigation and irrigation would be dug from the Volga River to the Aral Sea at a height of 175 feet above Sea Level. Locks would be constructed along the Volga River from the Caspian Sea to the 175 feet level to provide a ship route connecting the Aral Sea to the world’s oceans and seas. The diversion of the Volga from the Caspian Sea to the Aral sea could not begin until the sea water from the Sea of Azov could replace the diverted water. Aqueducts/tunnels would be constructed to move fresh irrigation water to the other side of the sea water canal.

Another new development was photography, starting with a process similar to daguerreotype. These early photos opened up a massive demand and market for personal photos as well as placing photos in books and newspapers. For the first time people could see exotic locals, animals and vegetation without visiting their habitats.

The Americas were settled with few independent peoples remaining. Roads and canals crossed the lands. Only remote areas in both continents had not been absorbed and they had no way to effectively resist assimilation when the Clan eventually approached. The North American west coast was bustling. Trading posts dotted the African coasts with large colonies established in South Africa. The old Pharaonic Canal between the Nile River and the Red Sea had been reopened so trade with India and even the East Indies was flourishing. Trading bases were established in India with Corvus Shipping vessels discovering Australia and trading with Indonesia, Indo-China and China. Corvus Shipping vessels had circumnavigated the globe and were colonizing the islands of the Pacific. The peoples of the conquered areas were drawn into and assimilated by the Clan Corvo. Fiach traveled widely visiting her greatly extended family, publicly appearing as Fiach all of the time to foster acceptance of gender variation and equality. As the years passed she developed an entourage of elite administrator students using her travels as a new Grand Tour to educate the youth on the need for and how to maintain and encourage peaceful coexistence and how assimilation was a generational process.

Corvus Shipping had established a major base and colony in eastern Australia at Brisbane. The location was selected because there were large forests and the land was suitable for farming. A shipyard was constructed to handle all manner of ship repair and construction. Moreton Bay was a large protected area and the Brisbane River provided tremendous docking. Large convoys left Egypt and the west coast of north America each year for the new colony on the island continent. The population had grown to 100,000 and farms were flourishing. The colony was growing each year as people from all over the Clan Corvo signed up for the adventure of settling a new world with only a small native subsistence population. The native aboriginal folk were invited to join the Clan Corvo. Some did and a trade network began. The Clan Corvo did their best to honor the sacred lands and traditions/beliefs of those who wanted to continue their centuries old life. Naturally those beliefs and traditions were thoroughly documented and included in the Corvo University Divinity courses.

As the people born before the Corvoian conquest died off, the younger generations only knew life in the Clan Corvo. Many of the youth eagerly sought to join the famous and highly respected Raven Raiders. The Raven Raiders who had participated in Phase 1 of operation harmony retired out of the service to settle with their new families homogenizing the Clan Corvo.

By the year 490, 32 years after the end of hostilities of Phase 1 of Operation Harmony, Fiach decided she could safely begin Phase 2. The Raven Raiders and Corvus Shipping vessels were armed with breech loading rifled cannons. Each Raven Raider battalion now had an attached artillery troop. All soldiers were equipped with bolt action rifles with an 8 round clip with an effective range of 1650 feet and a 6 shot single action revolver with an effective range of 150 feet making the deadliest fighting force in existence even more effective.

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I feel vindicated a little, not going to lie.

Beoca's picture

It's excellent to see Clan Corvo getting back to what they do best - making people's lives better. I definitely feel like parts of this chapter were added to deal with comments from the last few chapters, but it is stuff worth saying nonetheless.

Me Too...

...and I really appreciate this chapter, which is reassuring in a lot of ways. (And I want to make that quite clear, since I'm going to spend the rest of this note grousing about details.)

The whole separation of church and state issue seems insincere if I'm reading this right.

It appears that all non-Corvo-Christian religious leaders are removed from their communities, leaving their followers unable to practice many of the rituals of their faith and relatively easy prey for conversion. Unlike Fiach, these religious leaders won't live forever and since many would have reached their positions by seniority, in many cases they'll never get back home even if they're re-educated and released, and they won't have the opportunity to train successors.

Happily, those among their former followers who attempt to maintain their traditions or only nominally accept Corvo Christianity won't be punished for it, as was usually the case in our world. But even if all the information is archived in Corvo's scriptoria, it seems unlikely to get back to the people who would use it, and their rituals are likely to seriously degrade in its absence. For those sects among them who believe that specific formulas are required to propitiate the forces of nature (gods) they support, the unavailability of those will be ominous at best; just about any natural disaster is likely to be taken as proof of their loss.

On another note, I'd suggest that it's power that corrupts, not masculinity. Since all the leaders Fiach has been dealing with are men, the difference hasn't been significant, but as she empowers female leaders, assuming that they're all inherently more virtuous than the men they replace may not be as tenable as she thinks it'll be. (Not that they'll be any less so. But there are men out there who'd do at least as well.)

And it seems probable that a large number of the women whose men have been deposed from power won't take to their loss of status and its accoutrements any better than their men do, even if they're designated as peasant women rather than slaves.

The mention of Phase Two at the end, combined with Fiach's desire to spread the blessings of Clan Corvo membership to the rest of South Asia and the Far East, seems to be a real concern for both sides. As she noted, there are a whole lot more people there that she'd need to conquer than she has faced at one time previously. As she may not know yet, the Chinese can match much of her technology; the shock and awe factor mostly won't be there. (From what I've read, the Chinese may even be able to build larger ships than the ones in her fleets, though in our world those proved to be impractical and unnecessary and they abandoned the effort.) Her animals figure to be Corvo's biggest edge.


I'm glad you said that Erin

I was feeling guilty about being negative and regretting my posts. From my point of view the Corvo creed is an authoritarian nightmare. In practice the officials she has in place would not be impartial and there is no room for appeal. Effectively disagree with authority and your life is over. It most certainly not a multi-cultural environment. Religions never are. The corvos are a outright religious authoritarian tyranny. This separation of church and state will not work when the members of the state are the members of the religion.

And Fiach? A demon outright. She insists on fights she cannot not lose. Murder most foul. It does not matter whether the old ruler was good or bad. They face death if not identity death in being forced to accept beliefs they disagree with or do not share. Might does not make right.

I subscribe to Diderot's statement (although I am far from recommending the actions); "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.". I would prefer education to strangulation but the point is solid.

I have no desire to be overwhelmed by irrational religious tyrannies be they christian, muslim or corvo. The first two already impede my speech and expression, why would I desire more of it?

Religious people sometimes (rarely - I am polite) tell me I am offensive (and can be prosecuted) but the whole notion that people are or can be so irrational as to believe things that cannot be rationalised is equally offensive to me.

Exploriation also includes

Wendy Jean's picture

under the ocean as well as the air. Societies can exist for thousands of years without a strong science base of knowledge (such as China) but an independent thinker can be the worst trouble maker for a static society that can exist. It seems to me Corvo is becoming a socirty in stasis, but this is an unstable situation in a long run.


It was really startling to me when I brought up the coordinates you gave and the map actually said "Barmaz". I had no idea that was a real name; I initially wondered if some reader of the story had used Google Maps' "add a missing place" option to include it. But Googling "Barmaz" did indeed reveal the Barmaz Plateau as an area in Switzerland, even to the point of providing tourist information.