Calanthian

WPC Diplo "Gods and Heroes" [Story Thread 1 - after restart]

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This is the Story and Diplomacy Thread for the Diplo Game "Gods and Heroes" (G&H).

 

The purpose of this thread is to post in-character story posts and diplomacy for this game.

Please discuss all organizational aspects of this game the Organization Thread.

 

 

 

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The art work comes from a new game, which by pure chance is also called Gods and Heroes.

To make sure I don't get into trouble for using this:

 

“This material is used with limited permission of Heatwave Interactive. No official affiliation or endorsement by Heatwave Interactive is stated or implied.”

Edited by Calanthian

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An empires special..

 

< START VIDEO >

 

 

[video=google;3055266396050669135]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3055266396050669135#

 

 

 

 

The Greeks, a people glorious and elegant, valliant and headstrong...

 

These were the men and women who laid the very foundations of western civilisation.

 

Their monuments still recall perhaps the most extraordinairy two centuries in human history.

 

A time which saw the birth of science and politics, philosophy, literature and drama.

 

Which saw the creation of art and architecture we still strive to equal.

 

And the Greeks achieved all this against the backdrop of war and conflict.

 

For they would vanquish armies, navies, empires many times their size.

 

And build an empire of their own.

 

 

 

 

Upon request the second part of the video..

 

[video=google;-1321149848239933287]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1321149848239933287#

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1321149848239933287#

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME TO GODS AND HEROES

 

A Civ 4 mod developed by Calanthian, Ozzy KP and DNK.

 

Let the story begin...

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The Epirians were a tribal people. They had lived a semi-nomadic life for hundreds of years. The gods had been kind to the children of Ambrasia.

 

But it was time. Time to settle. Time to stop wandering from one hunt to the next. The land was fertile, and the people were tired. Betarius, son of Collagius, and the current ruler of the largest tribe in Epirus, had had his eye on a spot for many years. Overtime, he convinced the tribal elders of the wisdom of his choice. It was on a river, and had access to fresh water. It was on the coast, which would please Ambrasia. And it was near enough to Mount Epirus, the holy mountain which 'centered' the various tribes of Epirus.

 

Yes. This was the place. And this was the time. The people of Epirus created a city, appropriately called Ambrasia.

 

A way of life was changed. Only the future would tell if it was for the better.

 

The sun set was spectacular that evening. Clouds streamed off of Mount Epirus. Ambrasia was indeed pleased with her people.

 

MOUNT EPIRUS

 

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Beyond nine forests

 

Beyond nine forests, beyond the border between the wild and the civilised, lies a world where dream and reality merge,

where babes suckle on mountain mists, dark blood is spilt upon the earth and spells are woven from the star-spun heavens.

 

 

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This is a landscape of nature spirits, fierce warriors and strange magic

through which the human soul journeys along the map of the heart

in its search for self knowledge and the wisdom of the great bear.

 

 

THIS IS THRACIA, OUR FOREST HOME

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Since the Thracian tribes were frequently at war with neighboring tribes, the tribes formed themselves into a loose confederation, which required a military commander to lead it.

Judges, who partially served in this capacity (as well as serving in legislative and judicial capacities), accrued power and wealth over time.

 

Eventually, for military and other reasons, the Thracians decided they needed more than a military commander -- a king.

Iskander, a judge, was chosen to appoint a king for Thracia. He anointed Teres, from the tribe of Odrysians, as the first man who would become king.

 

But still Teres had to become a real king.

 

His anointment helped him to unite four of the smaller tribes, he ordered these tribes to do what they do best, as they all had different skills.

 

One tribe was ordered to make a city. Another tribe was ordered to work the lands, and make roads, pastures and the like.

One tribe had to roam the land looking for new opportunities and the last tribe had to protect them all.

 

 

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"My people we have to work hard so we can convince our Thracians brothers that working together will bring prosperity.

 

Remember that, as man is meant to rule nature, a king is meant to rule Thracia"

 

 

 

OOC: For history buffs.. Introduction to Thracian culture..

Edited by Calanthian

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Meeting fellow travelers

 

 

"My king,

 

as we were travelling through the vast expanses of Thracia, as we approached the river we call the Mesta,

we spotted warriors of a tribe we have never seen before. We think they do not belong to the Thracian tribes..

 

 

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As the sun was setting visibility was poor. We approached as much as possible without being detected.

We saw they were armed, so we were carefull."

 

 

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"It was wise that you informed me, Codru of the Edonians, let us proceed with caution.

Strangers may be the source of joy or the source of sorrow.. "

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Heracles and the Lion Nemeisos

 

The Thracian hero Heracles has done one of his great works. He had been ordered by King Eurystheus of Pontius to destroy a huge lion whose pelt was impervious to stone of metal. This lion was NEMEIOS, which plagued the mountain valley of Eastern Thracia.

 

 

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"See the neck-breaking hand that Perseus' descendant Heracles lays with all manner of skill on the flesh-eating lion;

for the gleaming man-mastering bronze refuses to pierce its unapproachable body: his sword was bent back."

 

The hero cornered the lion in its cave and seizing it by the neck wrestled it to death.

Having wrestled it with his bare hands and choked it to death, he used the beast's own claws to skin it.

 

 

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He then skinned its hide to make a lion-skin cape, a cloak if invulnerable armour, one of his most distinctive attributes.

He then took the lion's head as a helmet.

 

He returned to king Eurystheus carrying the dead lion on his shoulders;

and Eurystheus, frightened at the gigantic strength of the hero, took to flight,

and ordered him in future to deliver the account of his exploits outside the gates of the town.

 

 

(OOC: Yes I killed a lion AGAIN ;) )

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Come, gather around the fireplace and I will speak of the ancient legends of our people.

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Long ago, before our fathers' fathers' fathers' lives, Hellen the first Greek, lived in a land far from here. There he hunted as we do and farmed to live off the land as we do. His campfire was always full of laughter and stories, some they knew to be true, others were great boasts of deeds so grand they could only be true if the gods themselves had done them. Thus lived our blessed ancestors on their holy island. Yet the gods grew mischievous and said to each other:

 

Look how the sons of Hellen live and work together so well, if this continues they will become so many, so strong, so courageous, so united in cause and effort and so wise that the other peoples of the earth will succumb to them. If this were to happen, the earth would become a droll and boring place with no room for heroics, comedy or tragedy. No, the Hellenes can not be allowed to exist as a single people. Let us go down unto the earth and inspire greatness in them so as to divide them, to lure them away from their home and each other. Let us make the sons of Hellen rash and greedy with great ambition. Let us make their wives full of intrigue and meaningless chatter.

And so the gods walked among the first Greeks and inspired them with strength and knowledge, yet took away temperance and patience. And so the sons of Hellen became quarrelsome with each other and boastful of themselves. They would no longer compete with mirth, but fight in anger. They would no longer share their blessings, but hoard them greedily. Therefore the Greeks of the most ancient times grew divided, embittered and distrustful. Then the gods made their lands dry and fruitless. While working together such problems had been overcome, but now every brother and his family pitted itself against the others. And in their ambition, they led their clans and families away from the original home of all Greeks. Wisdom and knowledge were kept as secrets and so each clan took part of the great knowledge and sailed in every direction of the earth.

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The Greeks who left consisted of many tribes, but the greatest were led by the three sons of Hellen, the haughty Aeolus, the brute Dorus and the wise Xuthus. Our people descend from Xuthus, son of Hellen, the first Greek man. Xuthus had two sons, Acheus and Ionas. As they arrived at their new shores, Xuthus perished and so Acheus and Ionas fought for the leadership of the people. This is another great tale, and I will tell it another night, but suffice to say that Ionas continued to sail to new shores, leaving Acheus behind. And Ionas was greatly blessed by the gods for doing so, for he arrived in a far richer land than what he had left to the Achaens. He found bountiful grains and sandy beaches, sparkling rivers and rolling green hills. Ionas had many sons and they spread across the new shore. And so we Ionians, the sons of Ionas, have been doubly blessed by the gods as we gather together here in this place where we gather every year, where we now build our houses together rather than apart. And as we do so here now, work together as one tribe, one day we will unite all the Greeks to work together as one people, and our greatness shall know no bounds and no rivals.

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Edited by lzprst

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Lydus woke up and took a look at the countryside.

 

- Nice land. - the King said - A bit too hilly to my taste, but we can live with this. With the typical modesty, I will name it Lydia! Let it be know that we are the Lydians and this is our home!

 

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- Now I will curl my hair and beard.

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Thracian Polytheism

 

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Thracian peoples rejoice as they understand more and more about the gods, the universe and themselves

 

 

Bendis, Hero and Zagreus, Thracians worshipped these gods with animal sacrifices and with incense and many processions where people carried the image of the god from one place to another. People believed that all of Thracia belonged to the gods, and that the king was the representative on earth of the gods, or maybe a kind of god himself, and so everything in Thracia sort of belonged to the King. They thought that when you died, Bendis would weigh your soul against a feather, and if your soul was heavier than the feather (with bad deeds), you would be punished. They thought that after you died you went to a new world, just like this one, and so they put into your grave everything you would need in the next world.

 

The Thracians believed that the phenomena of nature were divine forces in and of themselves. These deified forces included the elements, animal characteristics, or abstract forces. The Thracians believed in a pantheon of gods, which were involved in all aspects of nature and human society. Their religious practices were efforts to sustain and placate these phenomena and turn them to human advantage. This polytheistic system was very complex, as some deities were believed to exist in many different manifestations, and some had multiple mythological roles. Conversely, many natural forces, such as the sun, were associated with multiple deities. The diverse pantheon ranged from gods with vital roles in the universe to minor deities or "demons" with very limited or localized functions. It could include gods adopted from foreign cultures, and sometimes even humans: deceased kings were believed to be divine, and occasionally, distinguished commoners also became deified.

 

 

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The depictions of the gods in art were not meant as literal representations of how the gods might appear if they were visible, as the gods' true natures were believed to be mysterious. Instead, these depictions gave recognizable forms to the abstract deities by using symbolic imagery to indicate each god's role in nature.

 

Many gods were associated with particular regions in Thracia where their cults were most important. However, these associations changed over time, and they did not necessarily mean that the god associated with a place had originated there. The national popularity and importance of individual gods fluctuated in a similar way.

 

Thracian myths were metaphorical stories intended to illustrate and explain the gods' actions and roles in nature. Among the significant Thracian myths were the creation myths. According to these stories, the world emerged as a dry space in the primordial ocean of chaos. Because the sun is essential to life on earth, the first rising marked the moment of this emergence.

 

 

Popular religion

 

While the state cults were meant to preserve the stability of the Thracian world, lay individuals had their own religious practices that related more directly to daily life. This popular religion left less evidence than the official cults, and because this evidence was mostly produced by the wealthiest portion of the Thracian population, it is uncertain to what degree it reflects the practices of the populace as a whole.

Popular religious practice included ceremonies marking important transitions in life. These included birth, because of the danger involved in the process, and naming, because the name was held to be a crucial part of a person's identity. The most important of these ceremonies were those surrounding death, because they ensured the soul's survival beyond it. Other religious practices sought to discern the gods' will or seek their knowledge. These included the interpretation of dreams, which could be seen as messages from the divine realm, and the consultation of oracles. People also sought to affect the gods' behavior to their own benefit through magical rituals.

 

Thracians frequently donated goods to be offered to the temple deity and objects inscribed with prayers to be placed in temple courts. Often they prayed in person before temple statues or in shrines set aside for their use. Yet in addition to temples, the populace also used separate local chapels, smaller but more accessible than the formal temples. These chapels were very numerous, and probably staffed by members of the community. Households, too, often had their own small shrines for offering to gods or deceased relatives.

 

Magic was closely associated with the priesthood. Because temple libraries contained numerous magical texts, great magical knowledge was ascribed to the lector priests who studied these texts. These priests often worked outside their temples, hiring out their magical services to laymen. Other professions also commonly employed magic as part of their work, including doctors, smiths, and makers of magical amulets. It is also likely that the peasantry used simple magic for their own purposes, but because this magical knowledge would have been passed down orally, there is limited evidence of it.

 

 

Hero - the Thracian Horseman

 

The Thracian Hero, also known as the Thracian Horseman, was an abstract figure. The Hero was a central figure in Thracian religion as protector of life and health of the people. The Thracian Horseman, sometimes simply called Hero, was probably a god of nature and vegetation. He combined both solar and underworld aspects.

 

 

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He is depicted on countless votive plaques, often riding towards the tree of life with his cloak flying behind him, or spearing a boar.

(OOC: The Thracian Horseman became later represented as St. George, on a horse slaying a dragon. )

 

 

Bendis - Goddess of the moon

 

Bendis is the Thracian goddess of the moon with power of heaven and earth. She was the mother of the Hero, and can be equated to the Greek goddess Artimis.

Since the chariot is always a symbol of the sun god, many scholars believe that the chariot driver is Apollo - the principle god of the Tribally.

As great mother she initiated creation, bringing forth from herself her son, who was both the sun in the daytime and the fire god at night.

 

 

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She united with him in divine marriage so that the cosmic cycle could be fulfilled and fertility renewed. She was also associated with the moon and was sometimes depicted riding a doe, bow in hand with a quiver of arrows upon her back.

 

 

 

Zagreus

 

Dionysus, usually called Zagreus in Thrace, was the twice born son of the great goddess. He was the dark god of wine, of intoxication, excess and inspiration. He had a wild band of female followers called Maenads, and ecstatic orgiastic rites were held in his honour.

 

 

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Poetry, music and dance swept along with him. He was the dying and reborn god who was sacrificed in the form of a bull, his body torn into pieces and his blood spilled upon the earth. In this way he united in divine marriage with the great mother goddess, fertilising her so that he could be reborn and the annual cycle of life could be renewed.

Edited by Calanthian

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[repost]

The nomadic people of Laconice, natives gatherers and hunters of the Eurotas river valley, one day found themselves asking a question:

"Where is this place we stand?"

 

At that time, such names as "Sparta", "Laconice", and "Eurotas" were unknown to them. The first had no meaning; the second could only exist when there was another place to contrast it with, and for now these people knew only of their home; the last was the same, knowing as they did only the one great river. And so the elders answered, "it is the world we are in, there is no further division."

 

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The people grew weary, however, realizing that in this land there were plentiful grains and animals for pasturing. They demanded to settle and build a more permanent camp for themselves, but the elders, ever wise, decided to forgo such an action until they knew more of their surroundings. "In the next generation, we shall settle," they proclaimed, and sent scouts to the south to see if there were any more resources for the proposed chiefdom. As the scouts headed south, the tribe headed north, up into the hills, and prepared a potential settlement there while awaiting word from their southern kin. From this vantage, they could see the dry, rocky country surrounding them, and the lush river valley below. Although there was little shade from the sun (an old saying at this time was, "we would do anything for some shade"), still the people saw much potential in their lands. Already many of the quick-minded in the band were discussing the benefits of this camp site or that camp site, whether it was best to wait or get going quickly and such delay being wasteful. Some were concerned that where their camp would be there would also be valuable, but hitherto unknown resources. Though the world be undivided, already the Spartans were arguing fiercely among themselves over their future.

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[repost]

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For the longest time, the Spartans considered themselves the children of Nature. They were her greatest children, rulers of the entire world of the river valley. After their long sojourn through the hills, and a very long siesta for 25 years that seemed to accomplish nothing as though their elders had simply gotten lost for a time, their tribe returned to the river valley and set up a permanent camp on the northern bank of the river. "Here we shall stay, to eat the fish, shade ourselves in the sparse trees, and reap the fields of grains that stretch before us. Here we will make our home, and from here we will spread our seed," said the tribe's leader. The people settled in to their paradise and very lazily and slowly grew, not bothering with commerce, dully looking after the secrets of nature, and generally producing and eating little. Though lazy in the valley, they had a hard beginning roaming through the rough, arid hills, learning secrets of minimalist survival, hunting, and rapid and devastating action when needed. But culture, commerce, open minds, these were not the nature of the prehistoric Spartan people. And once settled, their minds turned decidedly inward, focused purely on the development of a way to tap the rugged hills around them for materials.

 

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But as the "old tribe" sat and drank beer and enjoyed their long holiday from toil, the "new tribe" of Spartancus roamed widely throughout their world, realizing in time that not only was the "blue stream" not the only water source in the world, but in fact a much, much, unbelievably and vastly larger source existed, seemingly surrounding their simple valley home. Spartancus' tribe searched for new lands to settle and grow into, as it was his belief that the Spartans existed for a reason: to conquer the world of Nature and bring it to heel, such that no hill would be free from a Spartan mine, no field free from a Spartan plow, and no river or sea free from Spartan boats. Perhaps the mountains, seats of the gods, could remain in Nature's realm, a place from where the spirits could watch the Spartans do their bidding and conquer the lands they had provided for his people.

 

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In his long journey, Spartancus passed many novel places, and found many novel things, like olives and odd ores in the rocks. He saw new and terrifying creatures of the seas, and stumbled through thick forests unlike the sporadic cover of his homeland. Still, convinced in the unquestionable province and purpose of his people, he was never fearful or surprised, but approached every new experience and discovery with the eagerness and enthusiasm of a hunter come across new prey. Assured and confident, he and his smaller tribe continued their wide journey across the hills and mountains of the Peloponnese.

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[repost]

After wandering through the hills in a distant great plain between the seas, Spartancus settled down for dinner. His band was mighty, nearly one-thousand men strong, all skilled hunters and men of camp crafts, roughened by aeons spent traversing the hostile terrain. Making camp was not a simple matter therefore. First, the site needed to be chosen by Spartancus himself. If rain was threatening, a place high on a hilltop would be chosen, but if the skies foretold a calm evening, usually the warmer, lower, less windy valleys and draws, where water would be available were picked. Sometimes, however, Spartancus chose a prominent feature, so as to add to the great epic tale being crafted, "and on that night, Spartancus and his men looked up at the skies from atop the Great Pinnacle of Poroitoi, ever vigilant in their watch for demons and cyclops, as Spartancus himself conversed with the local god Poroitoi himself, over the future use and Spartan control of his surrounding lands."

 

Tonight, the sky was ominous indeed, so Spartancus chose a very high spot, something to give a more epic feel to the coming "epic" storm, as he was quite fond of the word, now being in a living "epic" himself.

 

Once the site was chosen, the surveyor would check to make sure the land and spot were suitable for all of the camp's sanitation, habitation, defense, and usage needs. The actual settling down of the tribe was usually a haphazard affair: families would set up their tents clustered around their relatives, with a "family tent" dominating the smaller "atomic family tents" of the individual house[tent]holds. Although the specific layout of each family grouping was a bit random and changed regularly, the various meta-families would generally arrange themselves in a similar manner each night. Each "great family" was comprised at this point of about 50 individuals, with usually four or five such families sharing a common lineage back to the first explorers (which each was always aware of, and for each there were different tales and epics: "and on the last moon of the 83rd year, Teleclus Achlys Lelex fought bravely against a horde of wild wolves and secured for the entire tribe a great bounty of food to last them through the rough winter."). The great lineages were: the descendants of Lelex, those of Lacedaemon, those of Atreid, those of Heracleid, those of Agis, and those of Eurypon. There was some debate over a seventh lineage, but that line ended either way, which decided the case enough for the people of the time...

 

Each of these great lineages had four or five sub-lineages now running, with members placing the sub-lineage between the first and surname. So that "Teleclus Achlys Lelex" would be a man called Tele, of the Achlys sub-group of the House of Lelex.

 

At any rate, the main lineage tent would go up, with the patriarch of the lineage residing within with a wife for each sub-lineage. Then, sprouting from this structure would be lesser copies for each sub-lineage patriarch (who only usually took two wives), and then the individual atomic families (in which one wife and one husband were the norm) and extended families around those. The simple pack animals, sheep, would be used to carry most of the camp's supplies and tent equipment, and periodically they would be killed and eaten when they began to fall behind. This was not the advanced husbandry of later antiquity, but it was the beginning.

 

Camp was usually made around two hours before sunset, so there would be enough time to unpack, settle in, set up sentries and basic defenses against vermin and hostile wildlife, and begin to cook before the sun set and left the camp in relative darkness. Usually, there would be a feast and celebration starting twenty minutes before the sun set properly, lasting for a further twenty minutes afterward, and after this the various families would enjoy relaxing in the cool twilight, drinking what fruit juices they could make from local variants and smoking what herbs were locally available, watching the stars slowly form their brilliant tapestry above, as the dimming sky turned the eternal and unending plains and hills red, purple, and then finally a dark, royal blue, before dropping them into blackness or a milky white. Once proper twilight had commenced, the members would finally retire to the main lineage tents for family rituals and a meeting, before finally turning in within their own tents for the long night.

 

Tonight, however, would be different than all those before...

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[repost]

After surveying the land, Alex told Spartancus that the site was appropriate, and the families began to unpack, slightly weary from the day, which had seen a rather large amount of uphill hiking and little water or game. Everyone knew that dinner would be light and dry, and there would be little fruit afterward, although the local herbs were made for excellent smoking, which may or may not increase the issues over the lack of a proper meal. Some considered an unusual sheep sacrifice for the sake of the local god to give them more game the next day, but none of the sheep currently were sickly enough to please the gods with their removal from view. So, the tents went up a bit more slowly than usual as the hills turned golden in the late afternoon. Far in the distance, the "Unknown Mountain", the tribe's current destination, loomed. The talk of the camp tonight would be about its god and local bounty, as from this vantage the people could see the sea was nearby it.

 

There wasn't much fuel for the fires tonight either, so it would be a cold night as well. The tribe had spent a long time roaming through these vast plains, and in this particular area there was a decided sparsity of timber or anything really combustible. Sheep paddies, that ever-present backup, would be used instead, but they never made for really enjoyable, brilliant, or remotely pleasant fires, and no one wanted them inside their tents.

 

One of Alex's assistants, Georgios, noted what looked like a large herd of migrating deer to the south, and Alex and Spartancus made plans to send an early hunting party out before sunrise the next morning to begin tracking them, to get rations for the coming week's walk through this arid place into the wetter and more bountiful lands of the "Unknown Mountain".

 

"Any idea what you will call it, Cus?" Alex asked the leader while they waded through the congestion of 1000 people assembling themselves into a communal dwelling.

 

"Oh, maybe this one will be a goddess. I haven't had one of those in a long time. The women are getting tired of talking about their 'Chloe lands', especially given how miserably poor the current setting is," he responded dully as he concentrated on stepping over a pile of poles and sheepskin. "What do you think," he asked.

 

"Female sounds good. What about the name?" with barely a pause Alex added, "I'd go with Alexandra - has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"

 

Spartancus laughed lightly as he maneuvered through the assemblage of the House of Agis. "Yeah, I think I'll choose Kallias instead. More fitting for the place, I think."

 

Alex nodded, "yeah, maybe next time."

 

The two continued to walk through and inspect the camp, making sure proper space was kept between dwellings, and no fights broke out over that spacing between the more quarrelsome families. After an hour of this, the pair walked into the feast circle and began to help prepare for the evening's celebration. The feast fire was set and what rabbits they had managed to catch today were cooked as the dried meat left over from the last week was set out for each family. The sun began to set, and the camp congregated into the circle, squatting on the various grand blankets and beginning to dine and converse. Finally, the sun finished its course, and the paddy fires began to light the group more and more. Around the time "the fires take over" a call came from the southern point of the camp.

 

"Fire! Fire! Plainsfire! To the south! Plainsfire!"

 

Whatever commotion existed before came to a total stop. Spartancus immediately stood up and said loudly, "don't worry, it's too damp for a proper plainsfire. I will go check myself, and I'll be back in five minutes. I'm sure it's nothing." Calmly and confidently, he, Alex, Georgios, and several others followed him, along with the main patriarchs, to the south of the camp. Of course, inside Spartancus was on fire with anxiety. They were in a very dry area without any nearby water or obvious natural boundaries. It was a dry season to boot, and a plainsfire in the darkness spelled disaster, as digging ditches and taking down the tents would be a total fracas at this time. Once leaving the feast circle, the group's pace rapidly doubled, then tripled into an outright run as they clamored to see if their camp might just have found itself in total chaos and ruin.

 

Upon reaching the southern point, however, they all stopped, stunned. This was no plainsfire, nor was it anything really they had seen before, except...

 

No, it couldn't be.

 

But there it was, that sight Spartancus and the others had seen so many times before returning to camp late in the evening, having found it solely by its nature of being so clear to see set against the dark background: a signal fire and glowing structures of skin and fabric presented themselves on a distant hilltop. The reality of the situation set in after a few minutes, and the men began to talk excitedly about this absurd break from history.

 

"A watershed moment like none before. We have entered a whole new era," said the High Patriarch of Eurypon. The others mumbled in agreement, still astonished at what they were witnessing.

 

"This will impact us in ways we do not yet fully understand. Our world has ended, this is the coming apocalypse!" another whispered perhaps to himself, yet still quite audibly.

 

"Are they Spartan or... or are they... what are they?" Alex asked, still confused and puzzled.

 

Authoritatively, Spartancus stated, "they are new hunters, perhaps come to join us on our journey, or perhaps they are missives from the Unknown Mountain God, a test of our faith and bravery."

 

All sounded in agreement; yes, there was a reason Spartancus was leader. Plans were made for an extra large watch force for the evening, and word slowly got out that another tribe had been found, an idea that simply did not compute with many until seeing for themselves the fact. Those of poor eyesight, however, would not believe it until their last days, a passing insanity of the camp is how they would understand it.

 

The next morning, Spartancus led the tribe forward, towards that mountain, undeterred from his task. But around noon, he split off from the main group with Alex, Georgios and other dignitaries and important men to meet this new group. Somewhere in the hills they met their counterparts. These were not Spartans, not long-lost kinsmen or another group sent out from the river valley. These men spoke an alien language, looked alien, indeed were likely not from this Earth, sent by gods or demons. This fact, this alienness, would reverberate throughout the tribe until their end. The one single thing that had kept them confident and serene throughout all their travails was that they alone were the lords of existence, and they alone bore the burden and approval of the gods. Now, they had a competitor, and weak ones at that. These men were not as strong as the Spartans, not as swift nor as handy with weapons. They wore finer cloths, had nicer jewelry, but their demeanor struck Spartancus as hopelessly weak and meek. Where rough Spartan hands had gripped strongly, flimsy pieces of flesh had wagged daintily in their hold. For the Spartans, the stronger the handshake the greater the man, yet for these a strong handshake elicited an effeminate shriek and immediate apprehension.

 

Spartans were no longer alone. Spartans had company in this world. A small group of runners from the House of Heracleid was sent back to Sparta to relay the news, although it would be six months before they made it back. In the meantime, the disposition of all changed. Night watches became a more serious matter. If a man fell asleep at his post before, he would be whipped ten times; now, it resulted in permanent branding and the loss of a finger. The watch was tripled, and more sound fortifications were erected each time. Scouts now searched around the group not only for food and game, but also for signs of others, and for a while they found it: old campsites, dropped goods, stray pack animals still with oddly fashioned and decorated blankets and poles of unknown wood attached. The confidence remained, these new men seeming to be as much prey as the animals of the wild, but prey with their own clubs and implements. Not easy, but difficult prey. Time would only know the eventual fate of both peoples, but Spartancus was unsure of their relations if this prey were to push into Spartan territory. He hoped they had greater expanses to conquer first, in another direction.

 

All he knew was that Spartan warriors would never be beaten by like counterparts in the field, certainly not by these men.

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Spartancus finally returned to his homeland to see that little had changed. There were some peasants plowing and tilling the fields where once there had been none, and word was that a second scouting party led by one "Lexos" had set out to trace Spartancus' path again, so as to make more proper maps, but otherwise, save perhaps the odd realization that the ripe wheat fields and olive patches had shifted in place many kilometers from the now-decaying parchment maps of the land Spartancus held, Spartancus saw no change.

 

The people talked of a "shift in times" and a "great recycling", but Spartancus felt it just the somewhat irrational ravings of a people locked in such miserable boredom for such a long period of time. Yes, while the Spartancusans had been discovering a whole new world with new gods and creatures, these people must have spent their time concocting stories about all sorts of insane, magical happenings to keep them from killing themselves over their pointless lives.

 

Spartancus went to tell the leadership of his discovery of a new people towards the sunrise, but when he asked for the grand meeting hall, he was met by simple confusion, beyond that over his now odd, wanderer's dialect. After asking a dozen men of seemingly high place of this and receiving the same confused response each time, Spartancus took it upon himself, in much frustration, to find this complex.

 

It did not take long to survey the entire village, however, being small as it was, and to discover that there were no such places. There was, indeed, a large meeting area, but only some families' cooks were there, and they knew nothing of a "leadership", save their respective heads of household. As night fell, it dawned on Spartancus that something abhorrent was afoot: there was no leadership. The stars began to dot the sky, although more dimly than Spartacus was used to due to the many fires of the city obscuring their radiance. Spartancus sat down to eat, later than he was accustomed to as well, and enjoyed a meal of flatbread, goatsmilk, and some trout. Yet, there was no real dessert, no fruit banquet as he expected for his return, as the lands surrounding the village had been all but picked clean. A bit depressed and contemplative, Spartancus retired to his now-estranged family lodging, and thought this development over.

 

He remembered the stories of the "epic voyage's" beginnings, of the eventual contests for leadership between the great family patriarchs in the first months, as the group tussled with the difficulties of communally agreeing on emergency measures and divisions of labor among people insistent upon group decisions and equality in all things. Now, Spartancus realized this was not some minor facet of the story, or some peculiarity of his band's ancestors, but the true nature of the people from which they came. He held this fact oddly, unsure of his feelings. Here was his ancestral home, his people, his history, were they to be respected for this, and for their settlement's accomplishments? Or, was it that they were weak, ignorant, and misled, not tempered by the long walk of his own tribe? Should he look up or down on this place, Spartancus did not know.

 

He was used to being a decisive actor in his community -one he longed to return to- and was used to some semblance of authority and hierarchy beyond the traditional family structure. Yes, this affiliation was inevitable and natural and existed here in this village as well, but it led to a very uncoordinated and inefficient society without clear guidelines or goals beyond some sort of communal agreement. No major issues of the future or decisions were taken, though, that would propel this community forward. Spartancus wanted to see growth, he wanted to see the hills tapped for minerals and all the fields and olives within sight of the high mound cultivated, yet these people wanted simply to live simple lives without such concerns. It was intoxicatingly attractive, yes, but it just would not do.

 

To be continued...

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A great festival is held in Artanes celebrating the coming of the new planting season: the winter solistice.

 

And this year it is the biggest festival ever, as we Thracians have built a true wonder of the world..

 

 

[video=youtube;zVRtYdGzmxw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVRtYdGzmxw

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The Cattle of Geryon

(repost)

 

 

For his next labor, Heracles had to journey to the end of the world. Eurystheus ordered the hero to bring him the cattle of the monster Geryon. Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe. Chrysaor had sprung from the body of the Gorgon Medusa after Perseus beheaded her, and Callirrhoe was the daughter of two Titans, Oceanus and Tethys. With such distinguished lineage, it is no surprise that Geryon himself was quite unique. It seems that Geryon had three heads and three sets of legs all joined at the waist.

 

Geryon kept a herd of red cattle guarded by Cerberus's brother, Orthus, a two-headed hound, and the herdsman Eurytion. Heracles set off on for Erythia, encountering and promptly killing many wild beasts along the way.

 

Not long after he arrived, Orthus, the two-headed dog, attacked Heracles, so Heracles bashed him with his club. Eurytion followed, with the same result. Another herdsman in the area reported these events to Geryon. Just as Hercules was escaping with the cattle, Geryon attacked him. Heracles fought with him and shot him dead with his arrows.

 

 

knipselw23.png

 

 

The stealing of the cattle was not such a difficult task, compared to the trouble Heracles had bringing the herd back to Artanes. In Liguria, two sons of Poseidon, the god of the sea, tried to steal the cattle, so he killed them. At Rhegium, a bull got loose and jumped into the sea. The bull swam to Sicily and then made its way to the neighboring country. The native word for bull was "italus," and so the country came to be named after the bull, and was called Italy.

 

The escaped bull was found by a ruler named Eryx, another of Poseidon's sons, and Eryx put this bull into his own herd. Meanwhile, Heracles was searching for the runaway animal. He temporarily entrusted the rest of the herd to the god Hephaestus, and went after the bull. He found it in Eryx's herd, but the king would return it only if the hero could beat him in a wrestling contest. Never one to shy away from competition, Heracles beat Eryx three times in wrestling, killed the king, took back the bull, and returned it to the herd.

 

Heracles made it to the edge of the Ionian Sea, with the end of his journey finally in sight. Hera, however, was not about to let the hero accomplish this labor. She sent a gadfly to attack the cattle, and the herd scattered far and wide. Now, Heracles had to run around Thrace gathering the escaped cows. Finally, he regrouped the herd and, blaming his troubles on the river Strymon in Thrace, he filled the river with rocks, making it unnavigable. Then, he brought the cattle of Geryon to Eurystheus, who wanted to sacrifice the herd to Hera. Hera herself intervened and allowed Heracles to bring the herd to Artanes.

 

 

knipsel2431.png

The herd of Geryon near Artanes

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The Oracle of Artanes

 

 

The Temple of Apollo at Artanes is located on the slopes of Mount Thracia in the Rhodopen mountains. The Pythia (Greek: Πυθία; IPA pɪθiːɑː), commonly known as "the Oracle", is the priestess at this holy site. She is widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Artanian Oracle is the most prestigious and authoritative oracle in the Greek world.

 

The name 'Pythia' derived from Pytho, which in myth was the original name of Artanes. The Greeks derived this place name from the verb, pythein (πύθειν, "to rot"), which refers to the decomposition of the body of the monstrous Python after she was slain by Apollo. One common view has been that the Pythia deliveres oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she spoke gibberish which priests reshaped into the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature.

 

 

Origins of the Oracle

 

There are also many later stories of the origins of the Artanian Oracle. One explanation tells of a goat herder named Coretas, who noticed one day that one of his goats, who fell into a crack in the earth, was behaving strangely. On entering the chasm, he found himself filled with a divine presence and could see outside of the present into the past and the future. Excited by his discovery he shared it with nearby villagers. Many started visiting the site to experience the convulsions and inspirational trances, though some were said to disappear into the cleft due to their frenzied state. A shrine was erected at the site, where people began worshiping. The villagers chose a single young woman as the liaison for the divine inspirations. Eventually she spoke on behalf of gods.

 

Initially, the Pythia was an appropriately clad young virgin, for great emphasis was placed on the Oracle's chastity and purity to be reserved for union with the god Apollo.

 

 

smokeoracledelphi.jpg

 

 

Though little is known of how the priestess is chosen, the Pythia is probably selected, at the death of her predecessor, from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple. These women are all natives of Artanes and are required to have led a pure life and be of good character. Although some are married, upon assuming their role as the Pythia, the priestesses ceases all family responsibilities, marital relations, and individual identity. In the heyday of the oracle, the Pythia may have been a woman chosen from a prominent family, well educated in geography, politics, history, philosophy, and the arts.

 

 

The Pythia's life is shortened through the service of Apollo. The sessions are said to be exhausting. At the end of each period the Pythia is like a runner after a race or a dancer after an ecstatic dance. It clearly must have a physical effect on the health of the Pythia.

 

Working in the role of the Pythia allows for upward mobility of social standing; the job of a priestess, especially the Pythia, is a respectable career for Greek women. Priestesses enjoy many liberties and rewards for their high societal position, such as freedom from taxation, the right to own property and attend public events, a salary and housing provided by the state, a wide range of duties depending on their affiliation, and often gold crowns.

 

 

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How to adress the Oracle ?

 

The supplicant to the oracle must undergo a four-stage process, typical of shamanic journeys.

 

Step 1: Journey to Delphi — This journey must be motivated by an awareness of the existence of the oracle, the growing motivation on the part of the individual or group to undertake the journey, and the gathering of information about the oracle as providing answers to important questions.

 

Step 2: Preparation of the Supplicant — Supplicants are interviewed in preparation of their presentation to the Oracle, by the priests in attendance. The genuine cases ae sorted and the supplicant must go through rituals involving the framing of their questions, the presentation of gifts to the Oracle and a procession along the Sacred Way carrying laurel leaves to visit the temple, symbolic of the journey they have made.

 

Step 3: Visit to the Oracle — The supplicant is then led into the temple to visit the adyton, put his question to the Pythia, receive his answer and depart.

 

Step 4: Return Home — Oracles are meant to give advice to shape future action, that is meant to be implemented by the supplicant, or by those that have sponsored the supplicant to visit the Oracle.

 

 

All following these steps will receive a prophecy of the Oracle.

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Artanes mobilises

 

King Teres I has ordered the mobilization of Artanian young men of the ages from 15 to 25.

A large unit of elite Dacian spearmen has been sighted near our borders.

 

 

dacianspearmen.jpg

 

 

They wear state of the art weaponry. And are obviously battle ready.

 

Preparations for an inevitable confrontation are made. Axes are sharpened, and the youngsters are trained.

The existence of our young, but proud, nation hangs in the balance.

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Life was hard these days. The Troyan civilization struggled to survive but it wasn't easy. Already a settler and a scout were killed by vicious lions. One day young Hector was scouting the lands that were destined to become build with trojan cities and he noticed and unescorted settler. What an opportunity, Hector thought by himself, catching this easy prey would accelerate growth for the Troyan empire. On the other hand, doing this would lead to a war that could last long.

 

Hector was in a generous mood so two options were proposed:

- Move the settler at least 5 space east and don't show up in these lands, destined to become Troyan property, ever again

- Lose the settler

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"we go east" the invading settler said. Instead moving at least 5 acres he moved one acre to the east and settled, fortifying his new found city with a settler. It seems a third option besides the two was introduced: WAR !

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- Lydus! - the messenger prostrated full length on the ground before the King of the Kings throne - Your supremacy was challenged by Troy and the brave Trojan hero Hector himself! He claim we was warned not to settle there!

 

- Was we warned? - the King of the Kings raised an eyebrow.

 

- We did not received any warning, your majesty!

 

- So, Troy wants war ... Lets see ... what we can do about it... - the King of the Kings was rubbing his curly beard as in deep think, then suddenly he smiled with demonic smile: - Send the Immortals!!! Drive the barbarian invaders in the sea!!!

 

assyrian%20chariot.jpg

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The popular assembly convened in Sparta in the central hexagon (square). Unlike in weeks past, this time the atmosphere was infused with apprehension and confusion. The many conversations and voices had a discordance unknown to typical assemblies. The sun's shadow reached the "meeting marker" in the center of the hexagon, and the elder of the house of Lelex took the central "talking spot". The many chords of thought quickly flowed together into silence.

 

"Dear Spartans," the man said, his voiced echoed throughout the gathering by each man, spreading quickly through the hexagon and into its six contributing streets, down into their alleyways (for today the turnout was far greater than usual). "Let us first take care of the weekly business," and a pause for the repetitious chorus, "so we should not be overwhelmed by the most interesting news of the East," and again the pause and repetition. "Aeschlys of Lacedeamon should come forward and handle the business of the stores," and with the echo pulsing into the streets another man came forward to the center as the elder waded back into the pool of Spartans. Aeschlys was a diminutive man for a Spartan, lacking in the pure strength and physical competence that this race was known for. He dressed simply, as was customary, in a wool tunic with a leather belt and leather-strapped sandals, with a few pieces of bronze and copper jewelry around his arms and fingers. He spoke softly, and owed his voice's wide reception to the men immediately surrounding him and recasting his words in their loud, clear ways.

 

This man said, quietly and monotonously, breaking periodically for recital, the following: "Dear assembly of the fourth day of the wolf moon of the twenty-ninth year of the fox, this week our stores remain in a good condition. We have an amount of grain appropriate for the current population approximately 49,500 people, compared to past usage at this point in the harvest cycle. Helos, of a similar population level, is also reporting a similar quantity of grain. I have recently returned from Helos on the Helosia Way, and can attest to the accuracy of their figures, as well as the good condition of that route. In addition, stocks of sheep are 20% higher than average for this time of year, so we should be able to handle the fallow season with ease."

 

He paused for a bit as the information spread and sank into the crowd. The sun passed behind some clouds ahead, and the assembly was thankfully granted a moment of coolness. As the sun came back out, Aeschlys returned to his task. "We have a bountiful dried fruits stock as well, owing to the return of the berries near the great eastern bend. The potters have been working hard to keep pace with this renewed harvest. It appears that Alexos' plan to curtail harvesting for the past two years has indeed paid off. Thread, wood, and rock supplies also remain in good amounts, and I have heard little complaint over their trade value. I now turn over the assembly to Argyros of Atreid to discuss the mining and inter-city infrastructure reports of the week."

 

With that the small man stepped back from the central stand and wiggled through the crowd towards his original place in the back. As he did so, the head of Argyros could be seen wading and bobbing through the sea of people towards the center, a good Spartan foot above the crowd, his earrings and silver headband glimmering with each lunge and step. As he broke through the final line and into the center, his stature allowed all but those far down the streets to see him. Adorned heavily in bronze, copper, and silver jewelry and a silver-weaved tunic with bronze insets, he looked brilliant in the noon sun. His voice carried well enough to require little in the way of popular amplification. He spoke this, breaking periodically for repetition:

 

"Dear Spartans of this day, the mines are doing well. We have discovered a new copper vein in the south, and the silver mines to the north are finally being connected to our growing road network. We have also begun upon an expansion of the network to the new colonies of Lexosia and Argosia, although it will take some time to properly connect them due to distance. As such, two additional work groups are being assembled, in addition to the one recently created for the routing up of Lexosia. We have also sent a party to observe the gold mines to the far north and report back on their adequacy for extraction. So, yes, I promise that soon we will have silver jewelry in abundance in the main cities, so don't worry. This has become a major priority for us now. Are there any questions?"

 

A man half-way to the back of the hexagon shouted, and his voice was carried by those between the two, "here, Argyros! What of this 'ferros' we have been hearing of from abroad? When will we begin to search for such a metal nearby?! I feel it is of extreme importance to us."

 

Argyros smiled and responded quickly, "well, indeed it is important, and the samples we have been receiving appear to be much stronger than the bronze we use presently, albeit far less glorious to behold. But, as was agreed at the assembly of the 9th of the olive moon of last year, this is not a priority for the Whole as of now, and as such I and my men have been directing our efforts into exploring new copper, silver, and now gold deposits in the Spartan continent, as well as improving the transportation network, which is of high importance, we have all agreed."

 

And with that Argyros stepped down, and others came after him, one by one, to discuss the specifics of their respective popular institutions. Finally, the elder of Lelex was summoned back to the center of the hexagon. "Dear Spartans, now let us discuss the truly intriguing matter of the week: news of conflict in the East." And with this a nervous anticipation wrapped itself heavily around the crowd. "We know little of the specifics of this conflict, but it seems that the Others -at least the Eastern Others- are indeed as violent and bloodthirsty as the most defensive of ours have insisted upon for some time. They know not territorial respect, as do we Greeks (and I do include the respectful Athenians in this), and as such have plunged themselves headlong into a most destructive affair. What should our response to this be? I turn discussion over to the assembly..." and the elder dissolved into the crowd as many individuals came to the fore to say their minds.

 

One man said, "it is not our concern at any rate. We know nothing of these people, so far are they from us. We trade nothing with them, see nothing of them, and do not even know the territories over which they fight. Still, I feel safe knowing that our combined strength is still greater than all the world's. Sparta, indeed stands alone at the top of this increasingly violent mountain, and should find itself well defended against the random fits of destruction that will no doubt tear apart the East and Unknown Lands in due course!" A general applause met his words.

 

A woman laborer said, "what should we care? Who are these people anyway? Athenians? Epirans? We know nothing of them. To the man who says he is thankful for our arms, what purpose are they to fight men we don't know? I say bring some of our men back to their homes with the next moons' tour and don't send more back out to replace them. We need more hersmen!" Lesser applause met this response, but still quite a many surely agreed.

 

After much time, the elder of Lelex returned to form the mass opinion: "Well, Spartans, it appears for now that we will make no change of our outlook or forces, and will continue upon the guidelines set by the last armed forces assembly two years back. If there is any dissent, let it be heard now." A pause was given, and those who disagreed made loud their voices, yet the sum of this noise was not much, and the motion effectively passed. "Very well," said the elder, "the day grows late, and we have passed the second marker by quite some time, let us concern ourselves with more important matters of life, good day!"

 

And with that the meeting slowly broke, the many people, somewhat disappointed at the lack of real news or information of the East, returned to their business and lives.

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Hector came back to the palace excited and reported to his father Titus

Hector: we did it father, we're at war with Lydus ! Let's sharpen our axes, climb our war chariots, earn lots of glory and enslave lots of Lydus women !

Titus: Say what ?

Hector: Come on father, you know what I'm talking about, i've sent two messenger pigeons, one to you to ask if it's ok if we play.. erm.. wage war and the other one to Lydus to ask them to back off his settler

Titus: Eh... I didn't get any message from whatever pigeon you are talking about ?

Hector: No ? Well erm.. I thought since I didnt get any answer you would agree with it...

Titus: SAY WHAT ?

Hector: erm... so I suppose you didnt wanted this tiny winy war to start....

Titus: SUPPOSE ? SUPPOSE ?

Hector: .....

Titus: Bent over boy !

 

kids-spanking.jpg

 

From far outside the Troyan palace walls loud screams were heard while Titus gave his son a lesson in diplomatic behaviour.

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Breaking news:

 

After a long diplomatic meeting with both Lydus and Trojan nobles attending it was decided that:

- lack/failure of communication due to lost pigeons

- the pre-adescolent behaviour of a young noble

can't be the reason to conduct a war that will hinder the growth of both the nations.

 

Let it be know that the bonds between the Trojan and the Lydus civilization are mend again.

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