bbmagill

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ARK: Of Blood and Steel

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ARK: Of Blood And Steel is a player written fan-faction meant to give depth and meaning to the history of ARK, and give backstory to the countless ruins and records left around each island. If you have not read the explorer notes, it is recommended that you do so before reading this story, but it is not necessary. If you want to, read them here:

http://ark.gamepedia.com/Explorer_Notes

Hello all. In this fanfiction, i will essentially be expanding on the journals already in the game, and adding some completely new characters. This story is primarily focused around Gaius Marcellus Nerva the Roman Centurion, Mei Yin of Han China, and Raia, a priestess of Egypt. To avoid confusion, all characters can understand eachother due to the implant in their arms, regardless of language. Not everything will follow the lore of the game perfectly. For example, Nerva starts out on the Center Map, and all of the islands exist on the same planet, seperated by oceans or huge mountains. A very few minor map details will be changed.

I will try to add a new chapter every 5-7 days, but I have a very hectic schedule, and am an excellent procrastinator.

Feel free to comment with and suggestions, positive feedback, or CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. I would appreciate it if you all played nice.

 

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Chapter 1: Of Blood and Steel

Nerva, Day 1

I remember the sounds of battle. The battlecry of an army at war, the screams of men and horses, the clash of steel. A torrential rain was falling, turning the ground beneath me into a mixture of mud, blood, and bodies. Peels of thunder drowned out the din of battle. Flashes of lightning illuminated the wretched scene with terrible clarity. My beloved legion was being overwhelmed by these barbarians. I had fought the Gauls, the Iberians, even the Germanians, but these Dacians surpassed all of them in terms of ferocity. I can remember cutting down countless foes, but there were too many. My soldiers had already resigned themselves to a glorious death, fighting to the last man to defend our eagle. It would be better for their children to hear how their fathers fought to the death rather than how they were captured and enslaved by Rome's enemies. Cut off from the rest of the army, we were surrounded by three times our number of falx-wielding barbarians. The last thing I saw before a blinding flash of light brought me here was the blood-covered face of a hairy Dacian warrior, swinging his blade down on my chest. I do not know what happened. But now I am here, recording what are probably my final days. If any Roman expeditions discover this journal, please relay my story to my wife and children, so that they might know that I fought to the very end.

I am not sure where I am. My first thought was that I had been transported to Elysium after dying in battle. But this is no paradise, no matter how it appears at first glance. There is a strange item embedded in my arm, but I feel no pain. It somehow allows me to carry a remarkably large amount of items, and serves as an archive for any technology I have knowledge of.  I do not know if I am dead, dying, or merely in a different place. What I do know is that my surroundings are like something out of the myths my father would tell me as a child. I have scarcely been here for one day, and I have encountered a plethora of fantastic beasts. There is a massive creature larger than the elephants of Carthage with three horns larger than ballista bolts, small, yet aggressive creatures that spit a burning green substance like some sort of dragon, and most incredibly, a huge four-legged creature with a remarkably long neck that is as large as many of the temples in Rome. There are also creatures that would not seem out of place back at home, such as what appear to be ordinary sheep and oversized chickens.

However, despite the incredible creatures that I have seen, the most surprising are the humans that I have encountered. After seeing smoke in the sky, I eventually discovered what appeared to be a primitive barbarian village. Yet these were no ordinary barbarians. Totally lacking any order or rule of law, running around with stone spears and primitive tools, they put even the most savage of the German tribes to shame. As I was observing, one of them snuck up behind me, and without warning, a stone-tipped arrow thunked down into the dirt next to my head. Within seconds, the savage was on top of me. However, he had sorely underestimated a centurion of Rome, a mistake that became his downfall. His clothes do not fit well, but now I have some food, a basic spear, and a bow. It's not much, but it's better than being naked.

Reflecting on my experiences today, I feel oddly optimistic. If this is the best that this tribe has to offer, I should have no problem defeating them with just a small force of good Roman legionaries. If only I could find men to follow me...

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Chapter 2: To Know Peace

Mei Yin, Day 1

To know peace, one must also know war. I know peace very well. This world has the potential for a perfect peace. But it is also incredibly violent. This seems contradictory, I know, but on this island, the fittest survive. When all the weak are gone, then there will be peace. The laws of nature are the only laws here, and that might give humankind another chance. I can only hope that the inhabitants of this strange new world will listen to me.

My old world was corrupted by the ideals of man. The divinely-appointed emperor had no power, the generals warred among themselves, and the bureaucrats cared for no one but themselves. I was not surprised when the Yellow Turbans rose up in rebellion. Yet they would not bring about peace. So like all loyal soldiers of the Han Empire, I fought against them. Yet after they had been crushed, my beloved nation was in a worse condition than it had been before. A civil war engulfed all of China, and I was one of the many casualties. All I remember is fighting to defend the city of the Divine Emperor, and falling from a rampart with an arrow embedded in my side. The impact from the fall left my body broken, and I laid there in agony for hours, until a blinding light seared itself into my eyes.

I woke up on this very beach, my wounds mended, with a strange device in my left arm. I believe it to be a personal connection with the Gods. It gives me superhuman abilities, and vast knowledge of technology and chemistry. The Gods have sent me here for a reason. I can feel this in my bones. But I will get to that later. 

The land I am in is like nothing I could have ever imagined. Giant apes the size of a house walk among the trees. Huge spike-tailed lizards browse lazily on the myriad ferns and berry bushes of the land. Terrifying bipedal lizards larger than a human hunt in packs. I have already had a run in with those demons, and barely escaped with my life. However, the shaggy horses that graze in herds are similar to the ones from my homeland, and are an almost comforting presence. By far the most dangerous things on this island are the humans.

Upon following some footprints, I came upon a primitive village that was reminiscent of the Mongolian nomad camps I had encountered while campaigning in the old world. Upon closer examination, I beheld a truly awful sight. There were dozens of people locked up in cages, and as I watched, several were pulled out by armed tribesmen and butchered before my eyes! Only then did I see what they were truly doing. Cannibalism was truly repugnant to the civilized Han, and we would often tell our children stories of the barbaric cannibals to the north. But here I was, watching it take place before my very eyes!

I need to save those prisoners. I have counted 38 of them remaining. I have crafted myself a primitive spear and bow. Tonight, I will free those people or die trying. The Gods have sent me here with a mission. This is that mission. I must bring peace. I must teach the people to know peace...

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Chapter 3: The Fires of Heaven

Raia, Day 1

This is not the afterlife. There was no scale or balance. My heart was not weighed against a feather. I am very much alive. But how can that be? Why was I denied the afterlife? The ritual was performed perfectly. We did nothing wrong. I was honored to be the one chosen as an offering to the gods. As such, I had been thoroughly cleansed, and had allowed no error in the proceedings. But as the knife came down, I felt no pain. Instead, a white light, like the countless fires of heaven, engulfed my vision. Countless images flashed through my mind. Images of the stars, of a vast desert, colossal glowing obelisks, battles of unimaginable scale, and mysterious creatures of stone and others that flew and brought forth fire from their lungs. But one image constantly repeated itself: that of a massive lion, bigger than the largest pyramid of my homeland. And then after what seemed like hours, I opened my eyes to find myself surrounded by the ruins of a once-great temple. Had I been deeper, I probably would never found my way out, but fortunately I could see the light filtering in from the entrance.

As I stumbled out into the blinding sun, I remember looking around me, and seeing endless dunes in all directions. My first thought was that I was back in Egypt, but I soon noticed the ruins of a once-great temple crumbling around me. There were no ruins in my Egypt. We had great cities and temples, massive pyramids, and mighty fortresses. We maintained them vigilantly. We had no ruins. Yet the language of my people was inscribed on all the walls. Looking at a massive wall above the entrance to the cavern I had just exited, I saw something incredible. Painted there on the wall was a depiction of the same gigantic lion that I had seen in my visions! I ran up to the wall and began to read the hieroglyphs carved under the mural. Only one part stood out to me. The rest was instructions to perform some sort of ritual that I did not know of. 

"Here lies the Heart of Nosti, the Destroyer. Praise be onto Nosti, the creature of the Three Towers. Fear and worship him, for his wrath will destroy those who defy him."

I believe that this god the writings spoke of, Nosti, could only be the great lion that I had envisioned. Clearly, people had inhabited this land for many years to be able build such massive structures, and also must have been wiped out if this is what had become of their city. What caused this, I have yet to discover. I do not know what my next course of action is. I need to find water, but I don't have the first idea where to look. The the north and west, I can see three black spires jutting above the horizon. I figure I will explore these ruins for a few more hours, then head in that direction. The gods did not send me here to die in the desert. Of that much I am sure...

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Chapter 4: A New Legion

Nerva, Day 14

I have been in this fantastic land for two weeks now. With every passing day, my sense of wonder grows as I explore and discover new areas, even as I seek to understand what I have already seen. My new allies have been instrumental in this task. It is hardly surprising that the savage tribesmen I had encountered earlier were not popular with the locals. And by locals, I mean the remnants of the peaceful villages that had once inhabited the area until the savages had moved in. As it turns out, some of these nomads were watching me when I killed the tribesmen that attacked me on my first day here. They must have decided that the enemy of their enemy is also their friend, and approached me under a white banner.

I will skip all the details of what happened, but I have learned something incredible about the peoples of this land. While some have been born here as their ancestors were, a few of these tribesmen have a similar story to mine! As I listened, all of the details were the same. Right as they were about to die in any number of ways, a blinding white light brought them to this place. I have even recognized some as coming from lands that I am familiar with! I have encountered Zamaxes, the Parthian diplomat, Albatrix, a shockingly beautiful Briton priestess, and even a fellow soldier of Rome! He tells me his name is Scipio, and that he served as a cohort commander in Judea, fighting against rebels. When I told him my name, he was shocked. I did not even realize it until this moment, but my exploits on the battlefield had given me a god-like reputation among soldiers across the empire. I'm surprised he didn't bow before me and begin to worship me as a god. I found this excessive attention extremely disconcerting and quickly established with him that I was a man like any other. This whole situation is quite confounding, but I will not fret over it. After all, I am no philosopher, but a soldier.

With introductions out of the way, I was able to learn much about the creatures that I have encountered here and what they are called. I can now identify beasts such as the Triceratops, commonly know as the Trike, and Brontosaurus, and have been told of many other creatures. From what I have been told, I never want to have to encounter a Giganotosaurus. I have also been introduced to new technologies, including an extraordinary weapon known as the gun. I will not get into the details, but it is capable of launching small stones and darts with incredible speed and accuracy, far superior to our bows. However, I prefer the ballista-like contraption I have been given, known as a crossbow. My new friends have been extremely generous, supplying me with leather armor, a metal sword and shield, and supplies.

Most incredibly, these people have managed to domesticate the creatures that they know as dinos. Not just for agriculture, but as beasts of burden and combat mounts. I have been given a Trike to act as my mount in exchange for pledging my sword to the leader of the tribe, Astrid. She is one of the natives to this land, descending from a family that has lived here as far back as anyone can remember. With war paint adorning her arms, long red hair framing an pretty face, a serious but kind demeanor, and a height that barely breaks 5'2" she cuts an odd figure. But she had been chosen unanimously as the leader of this tribe, and I can't help but agree.

These nomadic tribesmen harbor a deep hatred for the savages that have destroyed their villages and killed their friends and families. They tell me that before the war, they numbered in the hundreds, but have since dwindled down to 84 members. I have accompanied them on several raids against the enemy already, and we have easily won due to our superior technology, but I am told that we are fighting a losing battle against thousands of warriors. I will not accept this. I know firsthand what small numbers of determined soldiers can do in the face of superiors numbers. We can win this war. I can see it in my new friends faces, an expression of steadfast courage. These men and women can become a New Legion...

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Chapter 5: Founding a Dynasty

Mei Yin, Day 15

It has been over two weeks since I have arrived in this land. Much has changed. I now have a small clan of followers. 26 of them to be exact. My rescue effort was a success, but it did not go perfectly. Sneaking in was easy, as the tribesmen were mostly drunk and dispatching the few isolated guards was simple. But once I reached the cages, the prisoners instinctively began to cry out in fear at the sight of me, covered in blood. I quickly quieted them and released them from their cages, but the noise had been enough to attract unwanted attention. As we snuck out towards the gate, we heard shouting in the distance and saw the light of many torches glowing in the village center. We had just made it to the gate when the arrows started to fall. Five of who I already considered to be my people were shot down before we reached the relative safety of the dense jungle. Since then, we have lost another three to the natural predators of this place. 

These people are a nomadic tribe that wanders these lands, trading with peaceful villages. That is, until they were ambushed by those savages and captured. I have already been made the leader of what remains of this tribe. Their old chieftain, along with many of their number, had been killed in the attack. 

My new allies have taught me much about the land, including the names of many of the creatures that inhabit the area. Incredibly, they tell me that they had tamed many of these creatures as mounts, hunters, and pack animals, but they had either been killed or driven off when they were attacked. 

Ever since the escape, we have been trying to recover our strength. We have managed to round up some of the lost tames, including three parasaurs, four raptors, and the tribe's single giant ape. We have also been rebuilding our gear, tools and weapons and replenishing our supplies. We have all been supplied with hide armor, and have crafted enough bows and arrows for everyone in the clan. While most of the warriors have been equipped with basic stone spears, we have managed to gather enough metal for me to make a longer, bladed metal pike, similar to what I fought with in the old world. 

We are not much right now, but I remember my purpose here. The gods sent me here to establish peace and order. And now here I am, beginning the process of Founding a Dynasty...

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Chapter 6: Legacy of the Gods

Raia, Day 12

This desert is truly an unforgiving place. As I explored the ruins of a once great city, I came across countless skeletons, mostly of men, but also all varieties of gigantic creatures boasting horns and claws and spines and any other manner of natural weapons. Many of the human skeletons were wearing some sort of metal armor, with swords, spears, shields, and bows (along with some sort of sideways mechanical contraption) littering the ground in some areas. Clearly, this city had been destroyed in a titanic battle.

Fortunately, I had discovered a still-functioning well in a small plaza, and managed to make a primitive waterskin with pieces of cloth and leather I tore from my clothing. After drinking my fill, I set out from the ruins towards the easternmost spire. After several hours of walking, I can remember as I suddenly reached the top of the last dune, and taking in a view of a vast desert landscape. Far to the east, great mountains rose with a red glow rising into the sky beyond them. A steep canyon cut through the middle of the center scrubland, with a river carving it ever deeper. To west, great pillars of stone reached for the skies. From this vantage point, I could see the the mysterious spires I had seen earlier were in fact massive obelisks, floating above the earth, seeming to break the sky. Below each of these obelisks was what appeared to be large oases. I decided to head to the one farthest east, under the red obelisk, as it seemed to be the highest ground and have the most sheltering terrain. I also saw incredible beasts! They were like something out of the old legends told by the high priestess! In the distance I saw massive dogs chasing down what appeared to be a large featherless ostrich, and in the stream that ran down into the canyon before me I saw crocodiles even larger than those found in the Nile. This was truly a land of the Gods. 

After a full day and night of travel, I finally reached the lake. My journey was not easy, and I frequently had to evade monstrous two-legged lizards and other aggressive creatures. When I finally arrived, what I found was incredible. I had walked into a natural paradise! A lush, green, beacon of life in this unforgiving land presented itself before me. But something about it made me truly happy. I had found humans. Real, civilized humans stood before me at the waters edge. They must have have heard me, because all six of them instantly whipped around with bows and more of those strange mechanical weapons drawn on me. It must have been disturbing to them when I simply smiled and laughed out of pure joy. Then I collapsed. I had not realized how exhausted I was. I remember my sight gradually fading into darkness.

I awoke to a cooling breeze, and to a hovering face. Long story short, these people had taken me in and nursed me back to health for several hours. After telling them what had happened, they said there were many others with similar stories. Then they explained this world to me, telling me of the incredible beasts of the land, the scarcity of resources, and of Nosti.

When I heard that name, I visually jumped. I asked them about it. I now know who Nosti is: the one true God of this land, it's protector. These people seek to revive him. They do not know what happened to him. All that is known is that one day he disappeared from the earth. There are those who would see him gone forever, and actively hunt his followers. I am horrified. To fight the gods is an unnatural atrocity. I have thrown my lot in with Nosti, as a loyal servant of the gods. I was sent here with a purpose. I was sent here to revive the Legacy of the Gods...

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Chapter 7: The Spark of an Empire

Nerva, Day 42

Things have turned out better than I ever could have hoped. I knew that victory was possible. All we need is one final push, and we shall have reclaimed these lands. The enemy is scared, fearful of leaving the relative safety of their walled villages. We own the jungles. But ambushes and guerilla warfare can only accomplish so much. I realize that in order to drive the savages from the area, we must meet them in open battle.

Astrid has recognized my experience and skill in military matters, and has made me the commander of the tribes military forces. Not to boast, but she made the right decision. I have expanded our numbers, taking in other survivors and new arrivals to the island, and we have been adding new dinos to our ranks daily. Our capacity to make war has grown to such an extent that I am being forced to make records such as the report found on the bottom of this page. I will have to appoint a quartermaster soon so I can focus on my true job: bringing victory to my people.

We have managed to capture an enemy village, and have converted it to our new home. I am determined that my people will never have to know the life of a refugee again. We are here to stay. With this in mind, the war is still not won. We are still outnumbered by five to one. Yet we have won every battle so far, and have not come so far only to be defeated when victory is in sight. Tomorrow we march to battle. Tomorrow we will ignite the Spark of an Empire...

———————————————————————————————————————————————

The first report on the state of the Legion, as I have taken to calling it, is as follows:

-160 combat ready troops, divided into two cohorts of 80 each further divided into 8 squads of ten men each.

-57 support workers, healers, smiths, and gatherers.

-17 Trikes, outfitted for war, with one being assigned to the leader of each squad, with an additional one as my personal mount.

-4 Carnos, acting as reinforcements, able to respond to battlefield situations quickly.

-23 raptors, acting as scouting mounts, cavalry, and ambushers.

-1 Paracer complete with a platform saddle, catapults, and ballistas, acting a mobile headquarters, transport, and siege platform.

-6 Stegos, acting as pack animals.

-47 Dilos, working in conjunction with the infantry as frontline fighters.

-9 Pteradons, used exclusively as scouts.

-Enough firearms and ammo for 60 men.

-Enough swords, crossbows, spears, arrows, armor and shields to supply an army of 400 men.

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Chapter 8: Claimed As Our Own

Mei Yin, Day 44

After my tribe had recovered it's strength, we became like death given form. Across these lands, we have butchered slavers, cannibals, raiders, bandits, and any other evil men. I do not feel guilt, this is merely what they deserve. We have liberated hundreds, and our ranks have swelled. We have over 100 warriors and twice that number of gatherers and craftsmen. I have recognized that we cannot continue to lead a nomadic lifestyle, and so we have begun to occupy conquered towns, converting them into our own. I have also authorized the construction of an Imperial City around the floating green tower in the northern reaches of our territory.

I have been instructing my soldiers in the Art of War. It is hardly surprising that Sun Tzu's ideas can be applied in this land, as conflict seems to be the primary occupation of many of the people living here. We have tamed a combination of horses, raptors, and sabertooths. I have them assigned to our bowmen, giving us a force of 24 mounted archers capable of harassing the enemy and picking off soldiers. The rest of the troops are metal spear armed infantry. We have tamed many more Gigantepithecus, which we simply call apes. They make powerful fighters, capable of tearing down walls and ripping armored men in two.

Our explorers have been scouting out the island. To the west lies a land completely surrounded by swamps and rivers boasting massive red trees that reach far into the sky. To the north are great mountains, covered in snow. And far to the south, out in the sea, lies an island that my scouts tell me would make an excellent harbor to exploit the seas. I have already sent a small group of settlers to begin building there. We inhabit the south-eastern part of the island, and as our ranks grow, so does our territory. It seems like every day I am explaining our laws to new members of the tribe.

With our capitol city under construction, I realized that our tribe needed a name, a title, an identity. It is no longer a tribe really, but a nation. I recall why I am here. To bring peace and order. It's as if my ancestors are speaking to me. I am now Empress Yin of the Heíping Empire. I once had a land, but it was lost to corruption and evil men. Now I have been given a chance at a new life, along with my people. We lived in a land corrupted by selfishness and cruelty. It has been purged of those evils, and is now Claimed As Our Own.

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Chapter 9: Unity Through Faith

Raia, Day 49

Faith is a powerful thing. Faith can bring people together, forge nations, win wars, and lift up the hopeless. My people have been motivated by their faith in me and in Nosti, and others have been flocking to our settlement in the shadow of the sacred Red Obelisk. Fittingly, the fledgling city has been named Nosti, after our protector. Thick adobe walls circle the oasis, and over 600 people and their dinos reside within them. They have chosen me as their leader. I was surprised, as I was a mere priestess, but they must have seen something in me that I have not. Regardless, I will not let this tribe down. I will show them the way to greatness. 

We have not only gained followers, but have domesticated countless dinos. Dozens of Morellatops work the fields, carry loads of supplies, and ferry men into battle. Raptors serve as mounts for the soldiers. Carnos act as front-line fighters, and giant eagles transport men and supplies. We have even tamed some of the crocodilian Kapros to provide us with fish and rapid transport through the limited streams of this land. 

I have made several trips to ruins across the land. It is not safe out there, so I always bring soldiers and war dinos with me. Every trip brings forth new knowledge. Every sunrise and sunset my people pray to each of the obelisks, asking for Nosti's blessings. I have read the rest of the inscriptions from the ruins of the temple, and have learned how to revive him. I just hope that I can do so before all-out war breaks out with those who oppose us. Surely once they see him they will believe. 

The enemies of Nosti harass our patrols whenever they can. I plan on finding their forts and eradicating them, but I cannot spare the warriors at the current time. All 200 members of the city guard are busy defending against the aggressive creatures of this land and the attacks of enemy tribes. I do not want to destroy them, but they do not feel the same way about us. Thus, I am given no other choice. 

The sun is rising on this nation, I can feel it. The followers of Nosti shall rule this land, and bend it to our will in his name. We share a common goal, and are unified under it. We shall spread this unity, this Unity Through Faith.

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Chapter 10: Nova Roma

Nerva, Day 67

I am the emperor. The enemy has been vanquished. My people have a home. Our new capital is under construction, with massive amounts of stone being brought in from the mines, and the barbarian villages being torn down for wood and thatch. It stretches out to the shore, where a harbor and ships of all sizes are being built. Things have gone too perfectly. I am just waiting for something to go wrong. 

After our final battle with those primitive savages, they were crushed, having lost over half of their warriors. They quickly fled the area. Yet we suffered losses of our own. Astrid, our leader, was captured and dragged along by the retreating tribesmen. It took us several days to catch up with them, and crush the enemy yet again. When we had rescued Astrid, she shockingly turned over command of this tribe to me. She said that she was not the one who led us to victory, I was, and that I was a natural leader of men.This may be true, but I still have doubts about my leadership. I am no emperor. I am a soldier, used to leading men on the battlefield. Regardless, my people fully approved of this exchange of power. Without hesitation, I made Astrid the ambassador of what the people were already calling "Nerva's Legion", or just "The Legion." This has hit me on a personal level. My beloved legion of the old world was destroyed in battle. I will not lead this one to the same fate. 

Our numbers continue to swell. Our tamers are bringing new creatures ever day, some of them proving to be excellent workers, others mighty combatants, while a few are just good companions. It is a heart-warming sight to see children playing with their pets in the streets of a city. With almost 600 people in the Legion, we have begun to divide into separate occupations. A new cohort has been added to army, bringing the total number of soldiers to 240 men and even a few women, something I had never seen happen in the old world. Commanding them as Centurion is Scipio, the Roman soldier I had met in the original group of survivors, and one of my closest friends in this world. The remainder of our population function as artisans, gatherers, farmers, and builders. Leading them is Zamaxes, the Parthian statesman, an able governor and administrator. While our nations may have been bitter enemies in the old world, that does not matter here. We share an immense mutual respect for one another. Finally, Astrid serves as my personal advisor, as she is far more knowledgeable of is world than I am. 

Out of the many new creatures living amongst my people, I have taken a wolf cub under my personal care. It will be good to have a loyal companion to travel with me in this world. I think that I will name him Alba, after his white coat. I have also named my loyal mount, the Trike. A fitting testament to his power and size, I have given him the name Titus. 

I never thought I would be able to say it after leaving the old world, but life is good. Looking out from the balcony of my newly constructed imperial palace, an impressive structure with impenetrable stone walls, I feel a sense of hope for my people. Beneath me, under the last light of a setting sun, the foundations of a new capital are being constructed. It will be finished within the week. I solemnly swear, the city of Nova Roma will not fall while I yet draw breath. 

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Chapter 11: Peace must Wait

Mei Yin, Day 70

Things have happened so quickly. Everything in this land happens faster. There is never any rest for the Empire. We are meeting organized resistance as we expand our borders, much more of a challenge compared to our early adversaries. These new tribes have guns, tamed dinosaurs, and a coherent leadership. We cannot wipe them out like we did the primitive slavers and cannibals. These battles are costly, often with several of my soldiers dead. Yet I am confident that victory will be ours. We outnumber any one of the several tribes we are fighting, boast superior organization, and more beasts of war. I would not be so confident in our eventual victory were our enemies to unite against us, but fortunately for us they spend just as much time fighting each other as attacking the Empire.

I have done everything in my power to keep our enemies divided. The Howling Wolves inhabit the snowy mountains to the north, and have many Argy's, Rex's, plenty of Wolves, and a single, huge Giga. To the west, the Forest Titans dominate the redwoods. They typically attack with several of the huge Bronto's complete with mounted catapults, preceded by a shock force of Carnos and Raptors. The entire southwestern quadrant of the Island is the territory of the Roaring Storms. They have only limited land dinosaurs, including a pair of Rexes. What they do have are countless aquatic creatures, including dozens of Megalodons and four platform-saddled Mosas. Finally, the Thunderbirds occupy the entire western coast. As their name suggests, they are predominantly air-based, with many of their members virtually living in small houses they have built on top of Quetzals.

Against these dangerous foes, Heíping's forces are stretched thin. Even with 700 soldiers, 220 of them mounted on dinos, there are never enough soldiers to adequately guard our settlements. I have decided that this war must come to an end. I am ordering an all-out assault on the Roaring Storms and the Forest Titans to secure our western border, then we will focus on fortifying the northern border to defend against the Howling Wolves and the Thunderbirds.

While our armies March to battle, our builders our busy on the homefront. With the construction of the Imperial City completed, several new towns, forts, and harbors are being built across our land. Farms, mines, and breeding grounds are being constructed. The resources of the land are being harvested to supply these massive projects.

The Heíping Empire stands strong. We are defeating our enemies in the field. We are constructing impressive buildings and improving the land. We are bending the creatures of this place to our will. However, this land is still marred by conflict and corruption. For now, at least, Peace must Wait.

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Chapter 12: Holy War

Raia, Day 71

Nosti has proven difficult to understand. With every expedition I learn more, but the answer yet evades me. I can feel it waiting for me, just up ahead. I am so close, yet I am missing something crucial. 

I have failed in my mission to prevent war with the other tribes. If only I had brought Nosti back by now, this would not have happened. We are attacked almost daily by the cunning Rock Men from the canyon, who send in packs of sabertooths and raptors to break our formations, followed by several Rock Golems that wreak havoc among my warriors. Yet we are able to counter them with golems of our own, and can drive them off with cannons and rockets. Inhabiting the broad desert plateaus are the Dune Raiders. This tribe is just as advanced as us, with firearms and electricity, but they lack our organization. While their Rexes have been problematic, and they haven proven themselves to be fanatical warriors, they lack the numbers to challenge the power of Nosti's Kingdom.

To the north, in the great black mountains, lies our most dangerous enemy: the Blazing Horde. They seem to worship fire as a god, and do so fanatically. They disdain any sort of ranged combat, instead charging into battle with full metal armor, shields, swords, and spears. While they are ferocious fighters on their own, the creatures they have tamed are the true source of their power. Taming a fire wyvern is seen as a symbol of honor and power among the tribe, and thus they possess dozens of these fearsome creatures. They were by far the most powerful tribe of this land before I founded the Kingdom of Nosti. Our battles with these people have been indecisive. They have an effective command structure, solid tactics, and powerful mounts, but their lack of ranged weapons puts them at a severe disadvantage. Nonetheless, defeating the Blazing Horde will be no small feat.

Far to the east, inhabiting the badlands and the oasis under the Green Obelisk is a tribe that refers to itself simply as "The Guard". They wear armor and wield weapons identical to those I found in the ruins where I first came into this world. They say that it is meant to resemble the appearance of the Manticore. I do not understand this, but my questions will have to be answered later. They are a potential ally. I have met with their leader and learned that these men are also followers of Nosti! We are already engaged in negotiations with them regarding trade and a military alliance against the other tribes. I hope that these turn into a fruitful relationship.

While talking with the leader of The Guard, I learned about the history of many of the ruins. He told me a story that has been handed down by his people for generations.

"When man first arrived in this place, we feared everything, especially Nosti the Destroyer. The Great Lion prowled the lands. Nothing could stand up to him. Not even the Fire-Breathers, not the Stone-Giants, not the Great Lizards. As the first human tribe began to develop, and bend these great beasts to it's will, they began to fear less and less. Eventually, they even lost their fear of Nosti. When they challenged him, Nosti had no choice but to unleash his full power. The human armies and their subservient creatures were smashed. In the aftermath, they realized that Nosti was not something that they could ever control. They began to respect him for his strength. As generations passed, and they witnessed Nosti's power grow ever stronger, he became a focus of worship. The tribe built great cities, temples, and arenas in his honor. However, as this new kingdom began to reach new heights of power, some began to question their devotion to the Great Lion.

The kingdom gradually split into two factions, those who revered Nosti, and those who were envious of his power and despised him. The enemies of Nosti grew ever stronger, while his devout followers became more and more of a minority. Eventually, civil war broke out, and the outnumbered believers appealed to their God to aid them in battle. He obliged them, inflicting massive losses on the enemy, but at a tremendous cost. During the final battle, the desperate armies that opposed Nosti somehow harnessed the power of the Great Obelisks to imprison Nosti in a great prison deep below the Earth. While his followers were victorious in the battle, the once great civilization had been laid low by this war. The great cities had been reduced to ruins, and were abandoned to the desert sands. The survivors split into several tribes. The Rock Men, Dune Raiders, and Blazing Horde are remnants of the enemies of our god, while the Guard are all that remain of the original followers of Nosti. Yet there is still hope. When the obelisks were used to imprison Nosti, a side effect of this process was that a small piece of each obelisk was blasted far out into the land. As the legend goes, they are the keys to opening the gates of Nosti's prison. But they have been lost to the ages. It has been the quest of the true believers to recover them, but none have yet succeeded. The enemy tribes will do anything to keep Nosti imprisoned."

This explains so much. And it has enflamed my fervor to a mighty inferno. Nosti must be freed. And his enemies must be crushed or redeemed. The time has come for a Holy War...

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Posted (edited)

Chapter 13: Bastion of Order

Nerva, Day 120

The Legion has expanded greatly. We can now truly call ourselves an empire. We now posses an army of 500 soldiers, divided into five cohorts of 80 men each, with a sixth cohort of 100 of the best soldiers in the Legion. This cohort serves as my personal unit, and is based at the imperial palace. Thus it has been dubbed "The Praetorians" after the imperial guard of Rome in the old world. With this growth in forces comes fresh tames, with many new beasts being added into our ranks. Dozens of Trikes, Carnos, Raptors, Rhinos, several Rexes, Quetzals, War Brontos, and even a mighty Giganotosaurus have been added to our ranks. Our scouts have also discovered a massive creature in the great Redwood forests to the south that dwarfs the Bronto and Giga. I intend to tame one of these creatures. It has the potential to become a walking fortress if we could bend it to our will. 

It is not just the army that has been expanding. Once the capital, Nova Roma was completed, with its island fortress and imperial palace, we constructed settlements in four other locations. Guarding our eastern border, built amongst the ruins of some long-forgotten civilization, lies the mighty fortress of Iaculum. It is equipped with massive forges and smithies capable of turning out great quantities of bullets, armor, weapons, and saddles every day. To the south, the mining settlement of Ferrum harvests huge amounts of metal, crystal, and obsidian from the mountains and the nearby Skull Island, and collects countless silica pearls from the nearby sea. On the southeastern island we have built the port city of Nautus, taking advantage of the natural harbor that the island provides. On the island just north of this lies the massive citadel known as Praesidium, which guards all sea approaches to the capital. It encompasses the deep harbor where we keep our battle Mosas, Megalodons, Krakens, and warships. The Praetorian cohort is stationed in the imperial capital. A further two cohorts are stationed in Iaculum, with another two based in Praesidium. The final cohort is split between Nautus and Ferrum.
Not all of the 2,000 citizens of the Legion live in the cities. Countless farms, complete with sheep, horses, dodos, and phiomia are scattered throughout the empire. Small villages have been settled around many valuable resources. Trade has flourished, with goods and rare materials finding their way across the expanse of the Legion's territory.

All has not been peaceful, however. As we grow in power, we have expanded out territory, and as a result have come into contact with other tribes. These tribes are far more powerful than the barbarians we had smashed earlier. To the east, the Behemoths occupy the southern alpine mountain, the surrounding plains, and the massive land-bridge that crosses over the World's Edge to the great redwood forests. They are a nomadic people, living predominantly in homes built on the backs of their tamed Brontos. They have even managed to domesticate a huge Titano, and have build a powerful stone fortress on it's back. This people is not exactly unified, as they are divided into different clans, with each clan possessing their own Brontos. However, the king of the Behemoths is able to adequately control his people from his throne in the Titano fortress. When called to war, they are a mighty foe. They have been engaged in a bitter war with their southern neighbors, the Spiritblades, for generations. 

The Spiritblades are a mysterious people who inhabit the redwood forests. My scouts tell me that they have constructed entire settlements on huge platforms built into the trees themselves. They have tamed countless Terror Birds, Thylacleos,  Purlovias, and Carnos. What they lack in raw fighting power, they make up for in cunning and brutality. Experts of archery and guerrilla warfare, their enemies have learned to fear the woods.

Inhabiting a massive floating island that dominates the entire area are the Wind-Riders. Due to the isolated nature of their territory, they have tamed countless flying creatures. They have at least fourteen war Quetzals, dozens of Argies, and countless Pteradons and Dimorphodons. They have tamed other creatures, but they cannot leave the floating land that they were tamed on. Despite this, the Wind-Riders dominate the skies, and are able to strike from anywhere. 

To the north are perhaps our most aggressive enemies, the Blackthumbs. They control the volcanic island, the northern snowy mountains, the plains that surround it, and the lake near the green spire.
Despite possessing advanced technology such as firearms and electricity, they still behave like savages. My spies have seen them performing war-dances and scalping defeated enemies. They enter battle in a blood-thirsty rage, virtually ignoring pain, and covered in black and red war paint. The Blackthumbs are by far the most numerous tribe on the island. Similar to the Behemoths, they are organized into different clans, but unlike the Behemoths, infighting accepted as normal in the tribe. Very few clan leaders and kings have come into power without getting their hands dirty, either through assassination, bribery, or single combat. How such a disorganized people have ever managed to accomplish anything, I do not know, but they have tamed many war beasts. With four Gigas, a dozen Rexes, and countless other creatures, they have no shortage of beasts to do their bidding. This is the only tribe that we are currently at open war with, even though all of the other tribes must either join us or be destroyed. The Blackthumbs must go first. Then we will swing down like a hammer, taking the the Center from the Wind-Riders, then smashing the Behemoths and the Spiritblades. They will either be absorbed or be annihilated.

The Legion stands strong. The people have learned what it means to be true Romans. This world has never witnessed a people so determined, so ordered, and so unified. We are a force that cannot be stopped. We are a Bastion of Order.

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Edited by bbmagill
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