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726 BCE / XXVII Ann. Ab Urbe Condita

Sing a lament, Melpomene, for the world is a little darker tonight.

A blood-red dusk hangs over the wine-dark sea, whose waves lap feebly on Roman shores. Ash covers the silent crater where once a hearth blazed in the Temple of Aquitania. That morning, while the city still stood, the forces of Olympus gathered in the Roman capital, bracing for a decisive blow — either for or against the Titan army of Kronos.

As it had before, the favoured pastime of Mars rained down on the mortal city. Learning from his prior hubris, Kronos himself laid siege — flanked by his brother Iapetus, and the fearsome storm giant Typhon. The gods and mortals pushed back the first few waves of assault, but the vastness of Aquitania stretched the defenders’ ranks. A blow was struck to the Titans when Iapetus, mysteriously withdrawn, vanished on the battlefield.

Aquitania’s jubilation did not hold, however; just as Iapetus breached the walls of the city, his son Atlas descended from Mount Othrys to rejoin his kin. As though that were not enough, the King of Olympus — possessed once more — abandoned his fellows in their hour of need. Kronos and his forces overwhelmed the city, pouring into the streets from the eastern wall. They razed once-tranquil homes, and laid waste to the ancient, disused walls of the Old City. The defenders of Olympus fought valiantly, but their will could only hold for so long. Reaching the heart of the city, the Titan army set the sacred Temple ablaze. Atlas, having betrayed the gods again, ripped out a chunk from the heavens he once held up, and it crashed to Earth with a cataclysmic blast, burrowing deep into the skin of Gaea.

Standing over the ruined city, Kronos — cackling madly — breathed the two words that fall most harshly on the descendants of Troy:

"Vae victis."

So transpired the fall of Aquitania. The townsfolk — those still living — scrambled to evacuate, taking naught but what they could bear on their backs. The displaced took refuge where they could, sharing sorrow together in the taverns of Ogygia and New Carthage. The people of Rome buried their honoured dead, who surely now rest in Elysium. Distraught, Bacchus climbed the ruined city's Palatine Hill to his palace — which, by miraculous fortune, still stood. The god of madness, suffering from his own curse of insanity, raided his cellar, tearing the corks from bottles with greater speed than the feet of Achilles. He drank pitifully, swallowing every last drop of wine in his stores. Stumbling and retching, the immortal Bacchus at last collapsed in a heap.

Mark this day, reader, for it is the nadir of mortal fortunes. The sun shines not over the ruins of Aquitania, and birds do not sing there; the horrors of Tartarus leak into the mortal world. But the night is darkest just before the dawn. The allies of Olympus rebuild...

Aegroto dum anima est, spes est.