Lord Lorenzo Franz Von Caelum wore serenity like a Venetian Masque, his placid facade betrayed only by the murderous glare in those steel blue eyes. The tall, swarthy aristocrat strode down the cracked and broken streets at the foot of the Luna Acropolis, struggling to unclench his white knuckled fists. Anger swelled in him like a tempest. Closing his eyes, he called to mind the image of waves crashing against the shore, quelling the thoughts of murder and public disembowelment dancing through his head. Mayor Dekim Gorrow, that insufferable Britannian dolt, had informed the Council of Patricians that it was in their Best Interests to reestablish friendly relations with Queen Dawn - Dux et Princeps Britannicus - and in no uncertain terms, again accept the Britannian hegemony long endured by the People of Latinum. Lorenzo's hands quaked. He closed his fists and swallowed his ire like a bitter pill, fighting the rage that threatened to again boil over and consume his every thought. The man does not know insult when he offers it, and he believes he is helping! Lesser men would have run the foreigner through. Von Caelum wasn't sure he wouldn't. He reached for his money purse, reminding himself of the one thing he loved more than anything else in this depraved New World, even more than his two wives and six children. Gold. He forced a smile, the single golden denarius dancing back and fourth between his slender bronze fingers. He kept walking for an hour, and then an hour more, unconcious of the passing of time as he wandered aimlessly amongst the bazaars and opium stalls of that ancient sandstone fortress. When afternoon faded to twilight, he became cognizant of the melancholic tune that he had begun to murmur almost an hour before, the ancient hymn dancing across his dried lips. It - along with so many other songs and mournful dirges - had been carved into the bedrock of his mind with a persistant chisel. It was that way for all young Latins, who were taught the sons of the Mithraic Cult long before they were old enough to comprehend its meaning. It was meant to remind them of the glory of their civilization, and the impending defeat of the Infernal Legions by the Holy Light and its Champion, Mitra. Von Caelum had long since lost all faith in that congregation of superstitious old hierophants and their fanatical followers. These days he could buy himself a place in Heaven. "Dirty Plates," someone shrieked behind him, bringing Lorenzo out of his self imposed trance, the gold coin spilling to the ground. To a foreign observer perched upon the walls above, it might have appeared that everyone within hearing distance stopped to watch the gold coin clang across the paving stones, eyeing it with a lust uncharacteristic of what you might expect from "the City of Paladins." Von Caelum barely noticed. Peoples faith in the Light had long since given way to wealth and a host of decadent pleasures that would make a Oriental libertine blush. "C'mon! Come get'ch yer diiiiiiity plates! Rare! Cheap! 'Tis a limited time offer! Three-hundred and fifty thousand denarii," the peddler squealed in a loud voice. "Buy now and we will throw in a couple bricks from the Fallen City of Magincia." Lorenzo unclenched his fists, resisting the urge to reach for the dangerously-curved knife at his hip and slit the peddlers throat. It never ceases to amaze me, what some people spend their fortunes on, Von Caelum mused with a sardonic twist of his lip, bending to retrieve his coin. The peddler, sensing opportunity, began to approach the man, only to be stopped in his tracks by a scathing glance. Lorenzo had grown to love, and loathe, the place of his birth. Luna, once called the City of Holy Light in the Heathen Tongue, had long withstood foreign invasions from Umbral, Grimswind, and even the Minotaur Clans. He had been born amongst these stalwart, albeit prideful citizens more than three decades past; the product of an affair between a Silversmith and the Consuls wife. Von Caelum had been named Claudius, then. In the thirty-two years that he had walked these streets, he had personally bore witness to the massive social upheavals that would sweep in and change his people forever. Once, long ago, the small metropolis had been considered a sacred and holy site to the Arcadians. Its people were the faithful servants of the Ecclesia of the Holy Light, its Paladins wielding the life-giving and omnipresent force of Creation with talent eclipsed only by their Swordsmanship. Once, a proud warrior culture had dominated the Republic, one in which men prided themselves on personal honor and adherence to the outmoded virtues of "Chivalry" and "Courtesy Towards Women." The youth were taught the tenants and hymns of their faith within the upper chambers of the Parthenon, and would be introduced to Swordplay before the razor first graced their features. These noble but archaic ideals, the bedrock upon which their society had been formed, were swept away seven years ago. To a man that cared little for Chivalry and Honor - one already learned in the intrigues of court and interested only in wealth and power - the invasion could not have come at a better time. Through the moongate they had come, people who called themselves the Britannians. To the Lunite, these 'invading' masses were little more than uncouth barbarians who wore bright and garish colors, had few if any manners, and spoke in a crude dialect that would make Bedouins of the Wasteland flinch. To Von Caelum, they were the hammer that broke tradition and ushered in a new age of wealth and power. The Britannians brought much needed resources from their own world, such as timber which had grown increasingly scarce on the continent, in exchange for permission to build settlements in Latinum. They also brought with them their alien philosophies, their bland cuisine that often consisted of fish steaks and moonshine, and a new set of principles that only required the slightest adherence to receive Salvation. Crush a rat under foot, and before you knew it you were being hailed as a Seeker of Valor. Smoke a leaf from Ilshenar and become a Follower of Compassion. To the youthful, it had become rather vogue to emulate the behaviors and practices of these Britannians, much to the Churches chagrin. Luna abandoned its warrior ways, the ancient buttresses that had once repelled armies of Saracens had become the haven of merchants and money-changers. The gardens and parks that had once surrounded Parthenon Hill had begun to give way to storehouses, trading posts, and numerous brothels. To the seeker, anything that a man could ever want could be found within the tapestried stalls of the Bazaar, from the shameful to the illicit. Drugs. Weapons. Slaves. To Lorenzo, it was no wonder the Church Bishops had chosen to send their most fanatical inquisitors south on a bloody crusade against the Saracens and Embalmers of Umbra. There was just too much temptation within the City Walls. Lorenzo himself had spied one of the Cardinals - in disguise of course - attending one of the orgies he had hosted not two nights past, sharing a dusky young slave with a Praetorian Guard. The Inquisition would have none of it, therefore they had to be kept away to prevent their interference with the newly liberated clergy. Yet there were things the aging merchant missed. Gone were the sheer ceremonial togas and vermillion stola of the past. Stifling doublets and stuffed codpieces had become all the rage, no matter how uncomfortable they remained in the Mediterranean heat. Gone were the delicacies that he had been accustomed to in his youth, for the Britannians had long since hunted all game within a hundred leagues to extinction. He had even changed his name to appeal to these foreigners; Claudius became Lorenzo. Stranger still were the things these Britannians would spend their gold upon. He had made the lions share of his newfound wealth peddling rubble from Magincia and mementoes recovered from the City of Pride, millions more on dried goat parts used as fetishes in some Necromancers rituals and paintings slashed through the center from the Dungeon east of the Waste. These things were trifles compared to the decadence he now enjoyed, but even he felt the occasional pang of nostalgia. The Republic of Latinum had managed to free itself of its entanglements with Britannia when the Parliament installed by their Lord Cantabrigian had been assassinated three years anon. Lord Casca had failed, despite his alliance with the Church of the Light and the Malleus Maleficarum, to reestablish dominance over the City of Merchants. That was about to change, he feared. Sol Invictus, the Lightbringer and the Chariot of Mithras, hung low above the western horizon when Lorenzo freed himself of his reverie, ginger rays casting the shadowy silhouette of the Parthenon over the streets beneath him. The hour grows late. The time for nostalgic musings was over.