Chapter 4
The Free Forces of Notos

AN 1217 (AZ 1454) - Late Summer
Castle Notos, Maximilion, Notos

Nearly a month had passed since Rowland slew the Gorgon and the Darklander horde in Iakobin was routed. As much as he wanted to deny the threat of the Darklands, he had to face the fact that the Darklands was every bit the danger old Scipio warned him about. The Dragons, the serpents and the Gorgon's horde were but a taste of what lurked in the cursed lands in the East. Driving the Zephyrians out of their land was not enough and depending on how well the Zephyrians waged their campaign across the sea, the threat of the Darklands could soon be directing all its dread power against Notos. Something had to be done before then.
Before King Notos brought his idea of civilization to the land that came to bear his name, Rowland's people the Galloi were a simple folk of warring tribes and petty kingdoms. Chieftains, lordlings and such brought their loyal men together in feasting halls. The business of the court, such that it was, was handled at the table over food and drink in a warmer, more familial way that strange customs imposed on them by their so-called god-king. Rowland sought to revive the old ways at least in part in the throne room of the palace. A number of senators objected to how he made use of the room, but until there was a king to take issue to how the throne room was used, he would follow the traditions of his ancestors, or at least as far as he understood them.
During the occupation, the Senate was a mockery of native rule, a way to pacify lords with long-forgotten empty titles and to delude the people into thinking anyone besides the Zephyrian governor-general determined how Notos was run. However, as a matter of personal prestige, most people with any real influence in Notos sought to gain a seat in the Senate, so there were genuinely useful people to be found among the senators, even a number of the Alliance's benefactors. Rowland would be needing them now more than ever.
Rowland dressed himself in some of his better clothes. Normally he dressed plainly and simply, but this was no plain and simple day. As he made his way to the throne room, Simona and Scipio fell in behind him.
"Are you ready to do this, Rowland?" Simona asked as he approached the door.
"It's been too long coming," Rowland replied. "Now's the time." He glanced back to Scipio. "Isn't that right, old man?"
"Clearly the status quo cannot be maintained," the archmage said. "Only I warn you, Captain, not everyone will understand."
Rowland grinned confidently.
"I'll make them understand."
They went in and already his lieutenants and a selection of senators were feasting at the table. He made a point to order finer offerings than the usual meals. This was a special occasion, after all.
As he walked over to his seat at the head of the table, he addressed the feasters, saying, "Gentlemen, I see you've been enjoying the people's food and the people's wine."
Makkaros raised his cup to Rowland and replied, "We're the people, ain't we, boss?"
A few of the other lieutenants raised their cups as well, murmuring in assent. He was not wrong and it was important that Rowland's men never forgot it.
Taking his seat, Rowland told his lieutenants, "You'll note that we have some distinguished guests with us today."
"A distinguished guest would sit at a higher place, Captain Rowland," Philemon replied.
Philemon was a shipping magnate, one of many rich men who bought their way into the Senate. He believed there was even more money to be made without the Protectorate and so he became perhaps the greatest single financial backer of the Alliance. He proved that whether a man bought his influence or was born into it, he could not suffer anyone to forget it. However, Rowland was never one for flattery.
Gesturing to his lieutenants, Rowland said, "These men have bled for Notos. How much blood have you shed?"
"By my own hand, it is coin that I shed rather than blood," Philemon replied, "but it is in no small part to my coin that the blood you and your men have shed has had meaning."
"Your gold can make things happen," Rowland said, "but it can't make the people who make it happen."
Theudas, a rather bookish sort of man with a reputation for being something of an orator, decided to step into the conversation and said, "Captain, you are as quick with a turn of the phrase as ever, but you have not called us here simply to bandy words about."
Ironic coming from the man whose bread and butter was bandying words about, but true all the same.
"You're right," Rowland said, "I've called you all here because I have an announcement to make and we need a plan to follow it."
"Then by all means, Captain, let us hear this announcement."
Rowland rose from his seat and declared, "I'm disbanding the Promethean Alliance."
"What!?" Philemon exclaimed.
"What the hell're we s'pposed ta do!?" Makkaros balked. "We ain't done yet!"
The assembled guests broke into heated mutterings and Rowland gave them a moment before raising his hand for quiet. Once they had settled down, Theudas asked him, "Really, Captain, what is it you mean to do?"
"The rebellion is over," Rowland said. "The time has come to build a nation."
"We have been working toward that goal ever since the Zephyrians left," Lord Dionicos, a scion of the old nobility, replied.
Rowland promptly asked him, "And what have we accomplished in all that time? A lot of talk, but we're no closer to being our own nation. We need to start making decisions about how we're gonna run things."
"You have been notably silent on that matter at every discussion the Senate has had, Captain," Theudas said. "Let us not kid ourselves. It is not by accident that you sit at the head of this table. Whatever decisions the Senate would make must have your blessing if they are to be accomplished. What is it that you want? Is it a crown you desire?"
"Give me an army," Rowland said, "a proper one to defend Notos. Everything else will fall into place from there."
The senators did not understand what Rowland meant to do, not yet, but that would come in time. Leave politics to the politicians. Rowland's strength was in his arms and it was with a strong arm that he would make Notos a strong nation. So long as Notos was strong, it did not much matter what form the nation took.