The Holy Territories of Edoniras (The HTE)
The chorus of cheers and cacophony of praise echoed around the great basilica of the Serene Palace; constructed around two thousand years prior by a monarch of antiquity, the pagan iconography had been stripped bare during a great iconoclastic schism in the centuries that followed. Blood, invisible to the eye but still very present in the soul, wept down the white marble of the sanctuary and even as the worshippers announced their devotion to the platform high above them, the Pope saw the crimson stain in his mind. Stepping out into the light the cheers erupted into a deafening roar and for a moment the elderly statesman and disciple of God was almost knocked back. The very earth shook with the stamping of feet and the call of voices, this was the kingdom of God. Sitting atop the ruins of kingdoms gone before, the thought of which could only bring a smile to the lips.
A God of victory, survival and righteousness. There was no greater God.
"Blessed children of God-" The Pope's voice rang out across the space as people fell silent. Despite his years the voice of the Invictus was clear as twenty years younger and would need to remain as such if he intended to hold his office for long. A Pope unable to preach or proselytise was no Pope at all. On either side of the there was three men. The Tetrarchs, except Marcellus Lucio. He had returned to the Redcliff Empire. His time would come. "I welcome you to our capital, the home of these most holy of states and the home of all of your eternal souls. I have called this festival to celebrate this flock and show you the kindness of God to his faithful - to honour our Father and show him our dedication to the righteous cause." The cheering ruptured the social barrier again as people uncontrollably expressed their joy forcing the man to raise his hands, smiling as he indicated for quiet again.
"I must be serious now, you are not foolish people - as the sceptics might claim - and you are all aware this air of celebration occurs whilst Europe consumes itself in the flames of war. Most shocking of all brother kills brother now in the east to the tune of gain for only the most despotic of rulers. Our brothers, the people of Redcliff have been led astray. Denying the authority of the church and God. Furthermore the heathens of the Hadeen continue their advance on the beleaguered kingdom of Sescos - some of you here now I am sure have fled this very conflict to seek shelter. And so, the Holy Light now marches east. In it's wake we will liberate believers in the land of Redcliff and return it to the glorious bosom of our Lord. Then, from the lands of the Might of Arms we shall depart on crusade." A stunned silence, a moment of shock. Crusade had not been declared for hundreds of years - considered a medieval practice it was believed such a call would not happen again.
"For many years the people of Europe have been disconnected and disorganised, giving into their lusts and the desires of the flesh, whilst the throngs of people like you call for betterment. Until now there has been no safety. The tinderbox is ready to be set alight and return us to a kingdom devout to the true word of God and his son, Christ. I call you now not to take fear into your hearts; instead, take joy. Joy that we will welcome back the people of our faith and bring back so many of the lost into our flock. There is no safety for the heathen and we will show that not only do we guard the souls of the people, but also do we guard the very borders of Europe from incursion of all sides. We are the guardians of the light, the peace and the heavens. We are the children of God and - together - we will carry forth a new golden age for Vipionists across the continent."
The following days...
The province of Salid
"What are y'saying, boy?" The gruff infantryman said as he stood guard from the watchtower at the north of the town. Leaning on his musket he spat a thick globbet of plegm in the direction of his partner who - much to the veterans delight - recoiled practically in horror.
"I-it's just that those buckle are not nearly cleaned to regulation and given our duty I doubt you'll have time to bring them up to code." The rather thin recruit had the first spouts of hair appearing on his chin which only made him look even younger than he actually was. "And if-"
"Listen, you greasy little toe rag, whatever they are saying about why we are here make no mistake. Redcliff won't take kindly to this. Whilst their navy is about as effective as that Edo toast, your so fond of, floating in a marsh, their army is at least something to be reckoned with. If the leadership is any good we'll be camping here over winter and waiting before going any further..."
"But, what about being in Tr-"
"Travton? By the end of the year? If only. No, if God is kind we won't be there by the end of the year."