Journal Entry of Dr. P. Westcroft, Practicing Metaphysicist
March 19h, 2030My continuing study of the changes overcoming the Italian Peninsula and the greater Earth environment as a whole will, unfortunately, come across as something of a history lesson at times. Though I did not immigrate to Rome until a little over a year ago in 2029, I have done all within my power to gather together an objective sequence of events that helped shape the current state of Rome and, in many ways, the entire world.
The year after the Sicilian Expedition of 2023 was one of rapid change. Rome had expanded from a guarded sanctuary of several hundred into a city of over eight thousand at the center of a network of smaller towns and villages that sprang up either from concerted reclamation efforts or additional sanctuaries that were discovered.
That last part is always of interest to me. Rome thought itself unique for its survivorship in the ruins of a dying city, but it was simply one of many (though certainly one of the largest known examples. There are, to my knowledge, only four or five cities of equal size in all Eurasia at this date.). Most sanctuaries consisted of little more than several families hiding behind a palisade, saved by luck or raw tenacity from the wrath of hungry monsters and the claws of the animated dead. These smaller sanctuaries would prove the basis for what would change Rome from a city into a state. Though by early 2024, the process was still only just beginning.
Still, the population was booming. More survivors than many thought had survived were creeping out of the woodwork and joining the larger communities. All of this was made possible thanks to the shielding system developed by the wolf named “Angel” that protected Italy from overt monstrous incursion. Not only could cities be reclaimed, but soon farmland as well to support the growing population. The old city was demolished or left to fall, the rubble repurposed to build again from the ground up. Exceptions remained, of course. Much of the Vatican and Capitoline Hill remained untouched, and the older parts of the city were still plenty serviceable. People who thought themselves evicted by monsters forever were soon returning to their homes.
In the city of Rome itself, the crowd grew into a bustling as the city expanded past the old walls around the Capitoline Hill. It became a trading hub for much of Italy, its roads protected by the armed legions, the successors of the Roman Rangers. It was this legion, Legio I Capitolina, which began to reclaim much of the peninsula, and often their wolf banners were the saving grace of many starving communities. Though I have never serve in any of the Roman legions, I have met a number of legionnaires, including several interviews with General Hanne, who has served with them since they were still called the Rangers.
More than the military power of Rome began to solidify after the establishment of the shield. Rome’s new government, which soon served as representative government of all of Italy, finally began to coalesce. The Senate soon consisted of 100 formal senators with a smaller (20 or so) list of active senators who were always present. The wolf, Capitolina, continued her run asdictator until the first official election of a consul in the summer of 2024, a particularly fierce race between mage Lord Albion Nassar and popular candidate Senator Patricia Bellos.
Beneath the government, the common person of Rome saw an increasing standard of living, approaching that of perhaps the early twentieth century, though with some modern conveniences retained. The radio was still the most popular form of entertainment, spurred on by the talented Thalia’s music and variety shows. Many singers were quick to audition, but the hostess’ talent for finding the finest in Rome was nothing short of supernatural.
Speaking of which, the completion of the Grand Temple in April of 2024 proved central to the solidifying of the power of pagan religions in Rome. It was masterfully designed, and created a home for all of the approved religions and cults within the city (Save for Catholicism, which retained the Vatican). While others maintained an altar there but kept their centers of faith elsewhere in the city. Unfortunately, while most cults maintained distance and a modicum of respect, there was an occasional flaring up of distrust or hostility. However, the Pontifex and the Archbishop saw to most of these difficulties, save for one.
The unapproved cult known as the Shroud of the Butterfly was only growing in strength during that time period. Though hunted through the city and with their activities kept subtle, evidence pointed to their involvement in almost every inter-religious incident that occurred that year. As their cult was unapproved and their activities unlawful, the government of Rome sent a few volunteers in pursuit while keeping the city guard vigilant. The leader of these, Aurelio Furlan, had already proven himself against the cult before.
Aurelio was one of several so-called “Champions”, individulals empowered by various deities to carry out their will. At that time Aurelio Furlan, Champion of Diana, was one of the most prominent in Rome along with Salvatore Messana from Sicily, Champion of Minerva. These two, however, were two be only the first of many in Rome, representing more than just the Roman pantheon. I have interviewed several of these champions, and their dispositions and powers are as varied as their representative deities.
These individuals along with several others, such as renowned magic knight Hildegard Jazheil, served as “Special Forces” of a sort. The legions could handle most monstrous threats and certainly the rare pocket of human resistance. When a threat required a truly remarkable person, that is when champions were deployed, though the relationship between champions and the Roman state could be…complex at times.
Aurelio Furlan was the first to really prove himself. Though what had once been a veritable occupation of the city by monsters had been massivel reduced, there was still the occasional cacodaemon or ambling beast that manifested within the shield and was drawn to the city center. It was Aurelio’s task, along with several other key individuals, to hunt down these wayward creatures and eliminate them as threats before they could bring real harm to Rome.
It truly was a new day compared to the past year in Rome, though the summer of 2024 would find itself as another turning point in the city’s history as it consolidated its dominance within Rome and began to make contact with other rising states beyond its shores.