Episode 12: Froúrio Destroyed
The rag tag group of escaped captives and liberators manages to make it through the night, taking shelter in a nearby farm structure. As light begins to shine on Froúrio, the devastation is clear even from this distance. Plumes of smoke rise in the distance from the remnants of the Akadimía stronghold. The hoplite Boethus returns from scouting and reports that most of the raiders ships have withdrawn. It appears that some sailed across the channel to the smaller islands, but many have returned home. He thinks that it's safe to return and explore the city. The group decides to return and investigate the city. Hermione adds that each who has their own home can inspect their dwelling as the group reaches that point. Many of the rescued captives are residents of the city, and are eager to assess the damage. The following stories emerge on the way back to the city.
The captives storyThe story from the captives is largely consistent. They talk of being woken, just after going to bed for the evening. For those in a home with a citizen the door was kicked in, and a soldier -- generally a Northman -- killed the citizen or knocked him/her unconscious. The citizen's remaining family members were rounded up as captives along with any slaves to their liking. Any others were killed on the spot. For homes with artisans, the males were killed on the spot and the house looted. Any women and children found were either captured or killed. As the stories emerge consistently you get the sense that the citizen homes were clearly identified and targeted. Most of the citizens from the city-state resided in the city for the majority of their time. There were over 100 citizens in the city at any given time, up to 130 with the onset of the school term. Ajax was the only student who had arrived, who escaped the carnage. He managed to play the part of a blacksmith when captured, as it appears the priests in particular were on the lookout for any returning students.
Report on surrounding landsAs the group approaches the city, several stragglers from the countryside are beginning to stream in from local farms. Their stories are varied but the pattern of the targeting of Citizens and high wealth homes emerges. The larger farms (similar to Latifundium) were raided directly and the pattern similar to those in the city. The smaller farms were untouched. Word of the damage is, however beginning to spread rapidly. The party and the gathering refugees form a larger group outside the lion gate in the city. Otlyn suggests to the refugees that the city isn't safe. Check your dwellings, take what you can save and then return to the city entrance. As the group continues to discuss a plan of action, Magnus emphasizes that "the Empire and their Norjord and Rus allies have made their statement." He continues, "Agamemnon was buried under the moon circle. Who knows what dangers remain." He suggests that they check the school.
Exploring the ruinsAs the party explores the city, the destruction is nearly complete. The student housing is completely destroyed. Either burned to the ground with some form of extremely hot fire or acid, or shattered as if frozen and applied to great pressure. The rotting dragon corpse is still visible within the moon circle, a traumatic site for many of the refugees. The houses within the aristocratic quarter have been systematically looted and destroyed. Bodies of citizens, students and their male slaves are common, women are almost completely absent. Bodies of children as young as 11 or 12 can be found as well. Hermione begins to keep track of the identities of those found. Otlyn begins to run the numbers in her head. She estimates between 700 and 1000 dead within the city. Magnus begins to organize for the bodies to be taken outside to a staging area just outside the city, prepared for burial rites, and transported to their final resting place. The influx of stragglers continues, at first between 5-10 per hour, and then increasing. Ajax, after trying to get carts to be able to move the bodies, is tasked with identifying and organizing those who are arriving as part of the cleanup crew.
Building urgencyAfter about 4-5 hours, approaching mid-day, Hermione pulls Magnus aside and emphasizes the need to get to the school today and check on several of the school's "secrets". The party regroups and begins the search deeper into the city. Along the way, they notice the emotional reactions of the freemen run a standard of personal loss, economic loss. The slaves' reactions are much more varied. With the death of the citizen, many are now masterless, and confused. Kyros, also noting the reactions, mutters "This will get out of control." Kyros eyes Kallisto, then the group. "Temenos is just begging to come in and put down a rebellion. We can't let that happen." Magnus, looking to Kallisto, asks what happens when a slave's master dies. Kallisto goes on to explain how the Slave Tatoos work. Cille asks, "Kyros, what are you babbling about?" "You understand what the tattoos can do?" He gestures to Vulcan to further explain. "Regardless of what you think of them, there is a failsafe in them." He goes on to describe the process by which ownership transfers on death... effectively following the owner's will and if not specified back to the city ownership. "I haven't seen a living citizen. If there are none, what then?" The proportion of slave to freeman to citizen in Froúrio is much higher than in any other city state. "In the event that there are no living citizens, can we have others assume those responsibilities?" Kyros shakes his head. "I don't know. None of the city-states would have ever even considered all of the citizens dying at once. That's effectively the death of the city-state." After shaking his head, he continues. "These slaves would be slaves for the rest of their lives. And the other city-states in the league would not tolerate an unmanaged slave population of that size."
Searching the administrative districtThe magistrate building is a pile of shattered rubble, along with the workshops. These appear to have been frozen and crushed under large weight. As you approach the school complex, bodies of the teachers -- some of whom appear to have attempted to fight back -- are staked up along the main courtyard. A makeshift sign hammered into the ground written in Norjord proclaims their crime as Heresy against Dieu. Fifteen of the teachers and Dorothea Logopolous are recognizable. Cille translates the sign for the group, and Magnus swears. Eunice looks back and forth between CIlle and Magnus. "This doesn't make sense." "Tell me about it," Cille growls. "They have betrayed their gods." "And ours," finishes Magnus.
Searching the schoolHermione notes that the school appears structurally sound. After a moment of discussion, they enter in and move straight towards the administrative office. The Akadimía Administrative Offices appear to have been searched and looted. As the group explores the main buildings within the Akadimía for clues, they enter Dorothea's office. Once inside, they notice a large book, oddly untouched and surrounded by several dead Norjord. Vulcan begins to look for magic and is surprised that it radiates all manner of magics. "Don't touch that." He gestures at the book. He attempts to use his Mage Hand, but it is dispelled upon reaching the book. "Glad I didn't put that in the bag" he sneers. A discussion emerges amongst the group about the relative safety of touching the book. Cille chimes in, "I ain't touching it." She reaches out with her staff, only to be stopped by Eunice. "I wouldn't do that." Vulcan tries to move the book with his mind, but again fails. Kyros growls and says "Oh grow a pair." He reaches out for the book. Vulcan tries to restrain him, but fails. Otlyn tries to stop him as well, but is dragged along as he touches the book.
The Secrets of CitizenshipA shimmering mouth appears on the book and begins to speak. The mouth outlines that it is a contingency that appears only in the case that all of the citizens of Froúrio are deceased. As if reading Kyros's mind, it states "I speak to you as former students of this institution. I am the backup plan that should never have had to be used." Frustrated, Otlyn jabs Kyros in the kidney and lets go. The book continues with Dorothea's voice and describes that Froúrio is in a fragile state. Due to the small nature of the land, the Aristocrat Citizens of the city have been buying up smaller properties as the younger and more capable leave the island for greater fortunes in Asteriápolis, Fengáriopolis, or Ilioúpolis. This leaves the city vulnerable to just such an occurrence and means that the bulk of the residents are a combination of freeman and slave. "Due to the nature of the school itself, there are several areas of the city that require a citizen with the appropriate bloodline to be able to access them. Losing access to them is a serious loss for the Drákon League." "I am the failsafe." it repeats. "As a matter of urgency, before the potency of the enchantment runs out. If you are willing to take up the stewardship of Froúrio, touch a drop of your blood and place your hand on the blank page within the book. At least seven of you will be necessary to complete the ritual." Otlyn asks "Who doesn't want to do this?" "It's a terrible idea!" shouts Vulcan. At the same time, Cille slices her thumb on her axe. She places her hand on the book. "Seiðkona Cille Flokisdottir, age 19" and place of birth are etched into the book. Otlyn steps up next. "Imperial princess Otlyn Venúék, age 16, born Yawípfeh." This causes a bit of a stir as the group absorbs the implications of her title. Cille glares at Kyros. "What'd you say about grow a pair?" As they glare, Magnus, Eunice, and Ajax approach and add their names. Kyros nods at Cille, and places his hand on the book. Kallisto and Hermione look at the book and at each other, pondering the stakes. Cille grabs Vulcan and holds him up by the scruff of his neck. "Come on kitty..." Hermione pulls a dagger and approaches the book. At the last second, rather than slicing her own hand, she slices Vulcan's hand and slams it down on the book. "Vulcan Kendall, age 19, Marais Wetlands" A low growl emerges from Vulcan's throat. "You're free now," she counters. After a moment, she gives him a hug. "Do you want to let Endymion know, or should I?" As the seventh name is added, the book announces the ritual as complete. "You are now citizens of Froúrio" The book also indicates that it contains the full inventory of assets within the city, including thousands of slaves and the farmsteads. These are now the joint property of citzens of the city-state. The constitution of the city is also enforced via the book. "I am out of time. When the sun has risen and set 10 days, I will be active again." "What have we done?" Eunice asks Hermione. Magnus begins to understand. "Seven citizens, minimum for the assembly. We are now the rulers of a city-state in the Drákon League." Magnus sounds resigned. He also begins to understand Hermione and Kallisto's reticence. Issues of dual citizenship are complex, and would represent a risk to their inheritance back in Asteriápolis. Otlyn whispers "So much for going back to the Human Empire" Kyros extends a hand towards Magnus. "Fellow citizen." They clasp forearms and the tension drains from the room. "There is no one else, just us." "What does this do for Ianthe?" asks Vulcan. Silence follows.
Back to realityCille asserts control back over the room. "To move forward we need to make sure the city is sanitized and safe. We also need to figure out what to say to Asteriápolis. We asked for assistance, if we don't have anything to say we run the risk of being annexed." "Yeah, about that." Kyros pauses. "I didn't share this as it wasn't time sensitive, but on the way through the school I received a message from Hippolyta. Apparently the assembly, at the urging of the Promachos and Strategos have decided to take a defensive posture rather than sending any immediate assistance. The other city-states have done the same." He smiles, "Though before the vote was taken, Briseis has dispatched some of her sailors with the Røyskatt. "Well, at least we don't owe them a boat." says Vulcan. "We owe ourselves a boat!" counters Otlyn. As the group begins to organize, Ajax chimes in that he believes one of the surviving slaves in the rescued group was a slave-scribe for Dorothea. During the intermission a discussion breaks out on the future of the city-state. Magnus opines "Question number one. We need to talk about Slavery in general. In a new Froúrio, there will be no slavery. it will not exist here." Kyros pauses, then counters "Many of these slaves have known nothing else their entire life. Taking away the only thing that defines them, the only thing that they identify with, is both cruel and dangerous." "I agree," responds Magnus. Cille then leads a discussion around how to get input from the slaves and understand their needs and goals. Eunice and Hermione interject "Remember, the majority of these slaves have no education. They don't know what they want." Ajax joins in. "Listening to the crowds this morning, they're angry. They feel betrayed. They feel alone. They feel as if no one is listening to them." Magnus finishes, "We must give them new vision." Eunice, "And you need to do it now. And that's not a consultative exercise." Hermione raises her eyes at Eunice as if to say "Big words!" "There are also complications in that you still need to stay true to the League treaties. You cannot simply start from scratch." As the group continues to mull options, Magnus continues to think through the implications of abolishing slavery. After repeatedly coming to the same conclusion, he mutters. "This will just lead to serfs."
InterruptionBoethus bursts into the room. "Trouble." Otlyn grabs the files she'd been searching and throws them in the bag of holding. The group then sets off back to the city entrance. They are met by a group of 100 slaves that are carrying hoes, pick axes, and other garden instruments. They are facing off against the group of 80-90 that were saved by the party earlier, protecting the bodies. The new group pushes ahead begins mutilating the bodies of the dead citizens. Chants of "Down with the oppressor!" and "We're free!" ring out from the rabble. Cille throws her axe into the space between the bodies and the mob. A thunderous boom shocks the group into silence, knocking several of the closest to the ground, ears bleeding. The axe returns to Cille's hands. The new citzens move to interpose themselves. The group who saw Kallisto & Kyros destroy, and pulls back. The new mob shifts from stunned to angry. Otlyn steps forward and Eunice lifts her her up above the crowd. Shouts of "Foreigner!" "Demon!" "Invader!" ring out from the mob. Kyros continues to watch the crowd as Otlyn begins her speech. "We hear your anguish! We hear you!" She continues to present the group as liberators that are here to listen to them, and create a new path forward. About half of the hostile crowd begins to calm. "The abuse of violent slave owners will not be tolerated!" More of the crowd begins to nod. Otlyn shifts the focus of her speech to building safety. "This is new opportunity. You are people with a right to families and a future!" The crowd begins to rally around her, with only about a handful of dissenters remaining. "We can create a new, more equal path. We've heard the anger of the spirits at the unnatural concentration of wealth and power." A small group continues to shout "Lies!" "Foreign devils!" even though at this point the crowd has clearly calmed. Suddenly, it becomes clear that these agitators are trying to re-establish the new citizens as "other" and restore the push for violence. Magnus whispers "These have agenda. They seek to appoint blame. You have answered concerns, but they persist." Otlyn looks to them and addresses them specifically. But this smaller group won't engage in the discussion. Each responds with emotional pleas to the irrational. As it becomes more and more clear that their actions are starkly contrasting to reality, Kallisto nudges over to Kyros and nods. Kyros steps forward and points to the five agitators. "You want to vent your anger? I'm right here." As he calls them out, the crowd backs away from the five leaving them isolated. "If you want to take out your vengeance on a noble household, go ahead." Three panic, and two others rush him producing blades. Otlyn stares down Vulcan, as they close. Each sinks a blade into Kyros. "Have you had enough?" "Die!" they scream and ready for another strike. Kyros looks at the crowd, and then yells "I'm willing to sacrifice myself as a citizen of Froúrio for the greater good. But you are not here for the greater good." He disappears, and reappears 20 feet away. Reappearing behind the other three he materializes his bow and growls "Who are you working for?" The remaining party members surround the five. Otlyn, reaching out for surface thoughts, hears a panicked jumble. "Why isn't he dead?" "They told us if we killed a citizen, all the others would rally." It's clear that they've been manipulated. Otlyn, gesturing to the crowd, "These five thought that by killing a citizen they would cause you to rise in revolt." Otlyn, still straining for surface thoughts, picks up "Megalos." "Temenos." She also picks up that they were frustrated that they didn't accomplish what Temenos wanted, to cause a rebellion in order to recapture the slaves. Magnus whispers "Expose them." "Who paid you to incite a rebellion? So that they might come and quell a rebellion? And put you back into a situation worse than before?" she asks them. The crowd suddenly realizes the manipulation. The anger slips away and is replaced by horror that they've been manipulated into exactly what they're most afraid of. "If you want change... If you don't want to be put under the brutal thumb of a foreign owner, work with us!" At that, almost everyone throws down their makeshift weapons. Several crying while others wander off. Magnus steps forward and channels divinity on the blade. The blade bathes the group in light and makes a pledge of service to Froúrio and everyone in the city-state. "I do so pledge my life to make those changes happen." Kyros and Kallisto step to his side and raise his arms. "For he is Magnus, Dragonslayer!" Cheers erupt, the crowd shifting to a frenzy of pleas for help. As Magnus calms and listens to the crowd, Kyros apprehends and with Hermione begins to question the five agitators. The rest begin to prepare the bodies for mass pyres, regardless of status.
Too lateAs the sun dips below the horizons, Eunice and Cille begin cleansing rituals. The first pyres are lit, and as the somber crowd watches the bodies be consumed, noises are heard behind the crowd. The remaining 30-40 bodies are no longer laid out waiting for tomorrow's pyres. Instead, they begin to stand and approach the crowd.
I removed the references to roles and responsibilities as well as the individual ownership and moved back to a collective. This is more in line with the democratic theme and solves a few issues.