Chapter 5
The Lord Protector

AN 1218 (AZ 1455) - Midwinter
Circus Maximilianus, Maximilion, Notos

As a matter of general principle, Rowland had been reluctant to treat with the Zephyrians, but he was glad people like Scipio talked him into it because the deal he forged with the Princess Regent provided Notos with all the gold it would need to rebuild from the ravages of the war. It took years of fighting for them to win their independence and now they had the means to keep it. Any rival factions angling to edge him out or to divide the country could no longer compete. Those who were loyal to Rowland had the deciding vote.
Ever since the Zephyrians first left Notos, Rowland had been locked in a struggle to set the course for the new Notos. Some wanted to have a king, others a loose confederation of city-states, but this was not the future Rowland envisioned. The various factions were at loggerheads until the deal with the Zephyrians was struck and in the past several weeks, Rowland's cause was pushed forward until an agreement was reached at last.
The Circus Maximilianus was perhaps the best place in the city to address as many of the citizens at once. Nearly half of the entire population could be accommodated and on this day the seats were filled to capacity. The senators and their families were all clustered in the privileged seats around the royal box. From the royal box, Hermericus the presiding consul of the Senate stood to address the crowd. He was nicknamed 'the Thunderer' because of his great booming voice that age had not yet impaired.
"Sons and daughters of Notos, rejoice!" he shouted above the din of the crowd. "The politeia has been ratified and Notos stands as its own nation once more, no longer overshadowed by Zephyr but independent of all foreign powers!"
The crowd broke into cheers and Hermericus gave them a moment before continuing, "We in the Senate make the laws, but to execute those laws and to safeguard the rights, life and liberty of the people of this land, we have elected a leader, the Lord Protector of Notos! All hail Rowland, son of Carolus, our Lord Protector!"
"Hail! Hail!" the crowd chanted as Rowland stepped forward. At last his time had come.
All his his life, all his struggles had been building up to this very moment. His vision was very nearly realized in full, but it would take the people to bring it about. Could they prove themselves equal to the task? There was only one way to know.
"Countrymen," he began, "I am no king. I need no crown. I am but the first among equals. I claim the title of Lord Protector because this nation needs a leader, a strong hand to guide her. If any man wishes to challenge me, if any man is more worthy to lead, let him step forward. Today, tomorrow, any day. In this republic, you take what you can keep.
"A strong nation needs a strong people, so put away all weakness if you wish to call yourselves Notians. There is great strength in you. Bring out this strength and you will be as gods and never again will a foreign boot tread on your necks! Be strong! For yourselves! For the nation! Long live Notos! Long live the Republic!"
The crowd echoed his cry of "Long live Notos!" and "Long live the Republic!", but there were other voices that cried "Long live Rowland!" and "Hail the Lord Protector!" Though Rowland wanted them to hold the nation first in their hearts above any one man, he knew that he was the symbol of the Republic, so he did not rebuke them for acclaiming him. It was the start of a new era, after all. It would take time for them to fully understand, but when they did, no other nation would be a match for Notos. Their days of greatness shone brightly on the horizon. Rowland's work had only just begun.