The Senate Examines A Barbarian

THE SENATE EXAMINES A BARBARIAN:

Written by a player:

The Senate met to discuss the sack of Rock Valley. Now, I have no political allegiances at all. I'm an employee of Celeres Illryia, a member of the Calsuan faction, yes. But I'm not his client. My mother is the client of some ditzy Allende lackey named Sabia Familus — they're practically friends, gossipping and giggling. Neither has any use for me. And my father…? I saw him last week, and he wouldn't talk politics with me. He was drunk, as usual, but there was a shiftiness in his eyes that made me suspect he's been in contact with his Umbra Alati friends. It's both annoying and charming — he wants to protect me from them. And yet he's proud that I stood with Legio at Rock Valley.

So the Senate met in the Curia. Not many citizens attend Senate meetings, and I admit I seldom do it myself. I'm skeptical of all the Senators, of all factions. But this was going to be about Rock Valley — and I do care about that.

The trial of Theodulus was taking place at the same time, and Justice Illryia was presiding. I didn't want to miss the Senate meeting, though, so I stayed at the Curia. Captain Cyrillius volunteered to defend Theodulus, and I promised to record for him what transpired.

Seredian Allende addressed those assembled, "Gentlemen, I have gathered you all here today to discuss the recent events in Rock Valley. As many of you are, by now, aware, Rock Valley has been sacked by a large group of tribals. What we're here to discuss, is just how this occurred…"

I didn't laugh at the ignorance of Consul Allende. After all, he was a patrician. I'd sent explanations of the Rock Valley situation to my employer, but it's so natural for patricians to dismiss barbarians. They're trained to be aloof, dismissive, patronizing.

"…and just what we intend to do about this," the Consul concluded. That was the crux, after all.

Sordo Calsuan piped in, "What's to discuss? We should immediately begin marching the Legio!" That was my own opinion, but I couldn't help suspecting that Calsuan voiced this point merely to make a show of his martial reputation. This suspicion was confirmed when Seredian Allende said, "I agree, but we need information first."

A clamor was heard, and several Phoenix Guards entered the Curia escorting Tyrlindax. Information, indeed.

Tyrlindax regarded the Senators with his typical dignity and hauteur. It struck me then that he is a patrician, only of another nation. He has the bearing, the self-assurance.

Seredian Allende invited Tyrlindax to take a seat and introduced him to the Senate, saying, "This is Tyrlindax, one of the chieftains of Rock Valley who has served the Republic in quelling previous disturbances in the area."

Consul Allende then ceded the questioning of Tyrlindax to his colleague, Statius Gallicus. Gallicus asked Tyrlindax to rise so everyone could see him, and Tyrlindax agreed. What he thought of these Iridinian rituals, I can't imagine. The ritual repetitions must have seemed simple-minded. Gallicus asked him, "Will you please state your name and affiliations to those assembled?" So Tyrlindax boomed out his identity, though he'd already been introduced by the Consul.

Then Gallicus stated, "The recent events in Rock Valley came as a surprise to us all." I began to wonder if patricians were simpletons in truth. My father used to make jokes about inbred patricians. Was I witnessing the source of those jokes in fact?

Gallicus added confidently, "Just how these savages were able to overcome the Legio is what we are here to find out." Tyrlindax smirked for a second, before recovering his neutral expression. Exquisite self-control, splendid self-possession. Gallicus asked him, "Tell what you know of this unrest; just how did such a large force become assembled?" Perhaps aware of how stupid he sounded, Gallicus went on quickly, "Our local scouts of the Legio have informed us that many of local tribes have begun to band together… Putting their past differences aside in the process."

Tyrlindax considered his words before responding. Confidently, he stated, "Many of the tribes in the area have been hostile to your people. You know this well, I know this well." And he elaborated, "A Kenag of one such tribe, Gronir, was successful at convincing the other tribes that they should ally."

That worm Gallicus asked Tyrlindax, "Including many of your own tribe?" Tyrlindax grunted slightly but agreed. Gallicus then asked Tyrlindax, "And why have they taken up arms against the Republic?" Such a stupid question, I thought, and naturally Tyrlindax answered "I cannot be certain."

The senators had been conversing among themselves, and at this point it got so bad Consul Allende had to stand up and tell them to be quiet.

Gallicus said, "I have also been informed that the local Centurion and some of his men were captured. To what end would that serve? We have received no missives from the tribes…" That, I hadn't known. I had been chatting with Seppoko while listening to the Senators. Seppoko was deeply interested in the fate of Martennus, but he wasn't satisfied with anything I told him. I knew as much as anyone in Iridine, but I couldn't relieve Seppoko's curiosity. He is, perhaps, the most relentlessly curious person I know. I like that. But I leaned forward against the marble railings to scrutinize the first new information I'd come across at this meeting.

Tyrlindax interjected, "If the Aziri hold him, your men are in grave danger." He continued, "The Aziri are brutal…uncivilized. They have been known to eat the flesh of men. But, if the alliance is as it would seem, the other tribes will likely keep them in check…for now."

Gallicus jumped at that. "For now? You believe their plans to change?" Naturally Tyrlindax replied, "I do not pretend know their plans." And Sordo Cinius Calsuan interjected, "Just what of use do you know, then?" Gallicus gave Calsuan a look — he was obviously possessive of his position: Idiot Who Asks Questions.

But Tyrlindax, having been asked an honest question, hesitantly gave an honest answer. "Many in the area are upset by the defilement of their traditions by your men; your Soldiers of Ereal."

That might have been a dangerous thing to say, but Handen Arrakath called out, "What of Calastor Triarchus? We've heard nothing of him." And the Senators fell to jeering at Calastor, cracking jokes about the man's cowardice.

Allende looked at Calsuan and they agreed they'd learned all they could. "I believe we have been given enough information reconsider our current position in Rock Valley. We will meet again soon in order to discuss our options at further length." And just like that, the Curia emptied.

Politics. What do a bunch of men in purple togas have to do with war? I've heard the stories — Calsuan saved the city, after all. But what does it mean, the ambition, the pomp and glory, when war is — what I've seen it to be. How can so much be made of so little?

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