Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Chapter 4: Aesop's Fable

As a concession to Rome, Critolaus had allowed the building of a Roman garrison in Corinth to match one that had already been placed in the city of Chalcis. Damocritus became furious at the news but realized that the sacrifice had to be made and he prepared the Achaean army to go underground, perhaps for a long time.

    As Polybius was about to leave for Egypt to research the phenomenon surrounding Sirius's newfound abilities he mentioned a parallel between the current situation and one that occurred in the city of Athens. At that time, a ruthless tyrant had come into power, but was eventually dethroned and killed after a fable from the famous storyteller Aesop was read. The story, The Frogs who Desired a King caused massive riots as the common people saw the truth of their predicament.

    Polybius suggested that something similar might be useful against the Romans and their new garrisons and then told the heroes that they might find something useful in the village of Delphi, the home of the Oracle and the place Aesop presumably died.

    The heroes were once again warned by Damocritus to keep safely away from Roman soldiers on their journey, especially with rumors of Roman activity at the nearby Temple of Apollo.

    As the heroes set out towards Mount Parnassus and the village of Delphi, they were ambushed by a group of Roman soldiers taken to banditry. The heroes quickly thrashed the wayward troops and then disposed of the bodies in such a way that they could not be later discovered.

    When the party reached Delphi, they were astonished to see that the pious mountain village had been overrun with Roman troops, all of which were there to, presumably, worship Apollo at the local temple.

    Forsaking most of the shops and taverns, the heroes instead went to the Oracle where they all heard whispers of the future. Finally after some frustration, Husa-Dain and Roginous squeezed into the cave, where they came across a strange puddle of solid, warm water.

    They went back and fetched Eonus who came in to investigate and after exposure to the priest's holy symbol, the puddle coalesced into the form of a young woman, albeit, entirely made of water. The creature identified herself as the Sybil of the Oracle, the one who gives voice to the prophecy and begged the heroes, as fellow worshippers of Apollo, to assist her.

    The Sybil told the heroes that the Romans worship Apollo, but not the Greek version of the god. Rather than being a benevolent deity of sunlight, music and medicine, the Roman Apollo is a vicious war god who patronizes wolves and battle. The Sybil then revealed that the Romans were at the Temple of Apollo to consecrate it to their aspect of the deity. If that was to occur, then the entire region of Greece would readily fall to Roman control and be lost even before the coming conflict. She further promised to reveal the resting place of Aesop if the heroes would vanquish the Romans and stop the consecration rite.

    The heroes needed no further persuasion and immediately set forth, further up Mount Parnassus towards the famous Temple of Apollo. On the way, they were beset by the Roman Apollo's minions: wolves, both mundane and otherworldly and massive griffins borne from Apollo's light.

    Eonus gave the party access into the Temple by casting a spell to create a portal in the stone wall, greatly surprising the Roman priests inside, whom Roginous, Husa-Dain and Sirius were all-too-happy to dispatch. They also laid to waste several soldiers, including a couple of holy warriors in Apollo's service. Finally, Eonus threw open the door to the main temple, revealing the Roman's high priest, in the middle of the consecration rite.

    After a massive battle, the priest lay fallen, but laughing, as he revealed that his blood was the last component in the summoning, and as if on cue, arrived the glorious avatar of the Roman Apollo, with wolf's head, rolling eyes and slathering jaws.

    Flying high above the heroes, the aspect of Apollo launched both fell magic and arrows down on the heroes, who were forced to at last flee back into the main temple.

    In their haste, the others discovered another room in the temple, containing a pair of Apollo's wolves, whom they slaughtered, sending the aspect into a rage, and more importantly into a trap. The heroes kept him pressed in a doorway, from which he could not fly away and cut away at him until he at last fell in a burst of sunlight that enveloped the mountainside.

    Resting from their wounds, the heroes decided to stay the night in the Temple of Apollo, which Eonus had finally reconsecrated to the Greek Apollo and in the morning returned to Delphi. The soldiers had fled after the explosion of light caused by the death of Apollo's aspect and the people were elated at their absence. More importantly, the Sybil was pleased and gave the party directions to Aesop's ill-fated tomb along with directions to distribute whatever they found there to the people of Chalcis and Corinth.

    The heroes, after leaving Delphi, travelled to the tomb, a mountainside cave that had been bricked in, and they found the moldering bones of Aesop and more importantly a scroll containing a fable none of the heroes had ever seen before. With scroll in hand, they returned to Corinth, and following the Sybil's directions, had bards travel forth and recite the fable to the townspeople in both cities.

    Within weeks, both garrisons had been destroyed by angry mobs and messages sent by Roman envoys explained that due to the instability in the region, neither would be rebuilt. Another victory for the Achaean League, but Rome continued to raise the stakes. They could not continue this for much longer before all-out war would break out.

Aesop's Lost Fable: The Lambs who were Ruled by Wolves

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