The Tree of Liberty (Part I): Patriot Blood

Author: Malafides
Published: 2017-07-29
An Americanist After the End AAR.

Part of the campaign:

The Tree of Liberty ( I

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

You know the quote. It's a line spoken by a man both patriot and tyrant himself. He was a man who liked to denounce slavery while lounging in his ornate plantation. He was a man of convictions and contradictions -- and so am I. And who am I, exactly?
I was born a slave. Now I am a Freeman.

That peculiar institution took our Founding Fathers centuries to smother, but it reared its head again after the end. I wrote my way out, and fought my way out too. I led a slave revolt against the decadent Dukes of South Jersey. They were powerless to stop me. I already built myself up from nothing. Their lands are only the beginning. The world has been darkened and divided in the Founders' absence. But I swear upon the blood I've shed for freedom to bring back light, liberty, and unity. My struggle won me wounds that will leave some ugly scars, but I will go on fighting. The wounds will heal. The marks will remain.
I took my name from an obscure Founder called George Clinton. Once the Vice-President of the bygone Union, he went on to become a funk musician of great renown.
We faithful Americanists are few and far between, surrounded by powerful enemies and false gods. Most of the faithful refuse to have anything to do with me. Gold can ennoble even the blood of a slave, but they don't see me as an equal. They see an uppity upstart begging to get put down.

I have to go pretty far afield to find someone willing to marry off their daughter. Josephine Curran's from distant Florida, but she's quick as a whip and fiery as Hell, just like I like them.
Even in the Rustlands, the faithful struggle to survive. The Consumerists may follow a strange strain of the faith, but they are Patriots nonetheless. May the Founders guide them in their struggle.
They speak of a White Stag in Trenton Woods. Local legend says the site was home to the Founders' first victory against their oppressors from across the seas. Washington spied the Stag in the hours before the battle, and its blessing brought them victory. They say that whoever catches it and spares its life will bring freedom to these lands once more.
Fiorell Laggard takes a tentative step for liberty. The Chesapeake Republic is an Evangelical Republic with Confederate ties. Americanist control of the lucrative trade coming in and out of the Chesapeake could be instrumental in checking that unholy mockery of the Union.

It's a heroic effort, though a doomed one. Historians will go on to call it "Laggard's Folly."
Religious wars erupt across the world. Pope Praised-Be has proclaimed a new age of Crusades from his seat in St. Louis. His first holy mission? To reclaim the Voodoo Kingdom of Louisiana for the Lord. This is a time of reckoning. The Pope says "Deus Vult," but the acts of men will decide the will of God.
My wife is a woman made after my own heart, and now she's pregnant with our hopes for the future. In the eye of the hurricane, there is quiet, for just a moment. A yellow sky.
The Stag is nowhere to be found, but I don't come home with nothing. I came upon a cottage sheltered in the darkest tangles of the forest. The Witch of Trenton's name was only spoken in a whispers, but still those whispers spread throughout South Jersey. The crone's hut reeked of decay, but a note of sandalwood perfume pierced through the stench. They say she has lurked in these forests since the Revolution, and her secrets can grant great power or wreak great havoc. She offered me a vial of Washington's blood shed at the Battle of Trenton, and I could not refuse. The risk be damned, even if it kills me. Let it be more patriot blood.
I return from the forests longing for my wife, some unnameable hunger stirring inside me.
My first child is a daughter. She has my eyes, so she'll have her mother's name. She's no heir, but she makes all the struggle feel like it was worth something. There will be time to worry about death. I've still got life to live.
I take another step towards the future and forge an alliance with the Duke of Delmarva. His first son will marry my first daughter -- it might be premature, but it's pretext enough. I'm tired of fighting alone.
Nicholas Derren tests our alliance as soon as he makes it. It pains me to attack the President for the sake of some planter's ambitions, but I'm damned either way. I have no choice but to betray one of them.
Anything I build will be built on my reputation. In the end, my choice is clear. Will I be the man who hide from war, an oathbreaker, a faithless slave, a coward? Or will I be the man who would crush even the President for the sake of his honor and his word?

I grit my teeth and saddle my horse.
Ironwrit's forces rush across the narrow end of the bay to attack the Delmarvan army camped at Hurlock. Even with a worse position, the President's superior numbers may carry the day.
The President's fortunes turn on a dime as I enter the stage.
Hurlock and Christiana will be the founding stones of my legacy. Perhaps now they'll whisper stories about me that have nothing to do with my life in bondage.
Today brings glory, but the world is waiting to tear me down the moment I make a mistake. History has its eyes on me. I'm beginning to crumble beneath its gaze.
With my duties done in Delmarva, I venture back into the forests. The search for the White Stag eases my troubled mind.
As usual, I don't find the Stag -- but I do find a friend. Humphrey Guffey has been hunting the stag for a decade with equal success. He's a great hunter and a great warrior, and he'll be a great addition to my court.
Josephine channels our overflowing coffers into loans and investments. My wife is a master of finances, and the Bank of Jersey is her brainchild. The coins we spend will multiply like rabbits, and gold will legitimize what my blood cannot.
Now comes the true test of our faith. King Abram of the Deitsch has declared a Crusade against us in the name of their bloody god.
Nicholas Derren repays our loyalty and joins us on the battlefield. The Deitsch outnumber us, but the Founders stand behind us.
A light pierces the dark -- Josephine is pregnant again, after giving birth to another daughter. What kind of world will my children grow up in? Will they be princes or slaves? Cattle or hunters?
The Deitsch try to catch us off-guard by invading from the South. We meet the enemy on the banks of the Delaware.
King Abram hoped to make the Battle of Glassboro a crowning victory, but I snatch it from his head. What the Deitsch have in manpower, they lack in leadership. My soldiers carve out their center like the giblets from a turkey as Humphrey tears off their right flank and cracks it like a wishbone. As Abram's forces rout, we encircle them and cut them down.
Our neighbors in New York are finding less success.

Laggard's war on the Chesapeake was doomed to failure as soon as the Confederacy stepped now. Now he's dead of pneumonia during his country's most desperate hour. The Duke of the Hudson Valley has declared a Holy War for Manhattan. Even with help from Philadelphia, the new Lord Proprietor is ill-equipped to stop them.
Meanwhile, the weight of history presses down on me. Josephine gives birth to twin girls. Now I have four daughters, and no one to pass on my legacy. If I die today, everything I've built will fall apart. Everything I've suffered will be for nothing.
In the wake of Glassboro, my fellow Americanists gather beside me. The Duke of Shenandoah and the Count of Three Necks both offer their support. Even the shadowy cabal of the Electoral College sends me a letter lauding my efforts. They say they see a President in me.
Duke Patricis Longacre signs the Treaty of Manhattan, becoming infamous overnight. The Republic of New York is dissolved, that holy city falling into heathen hands. Meanwhile, Longacre rules from the Palisades as a hereditary lord, with elections abolished. The man is a coward and a collaborationist.
At least the Christians have failed further South. All of Praised-Be's fire and brimstone couldn't rouse the Catholics to action. The Voodoo King swatted away their divided armies like so many mosquitoes.
As we mop up the Anabaptist armies, we find an Americanist commander in their ranks. Prentice considers himself a zealot -- so how could he participate in a holy war against us? As soon as I enter the dungeons to interrogate him, I see the reason written all over his face. When he looks at me, he doesn't see a brother in the faith. He sees my skin, and that's enough.

I have no room in my dungeons for traitors. His blood will make good fertilizer for the tree of liberty.
King Abram signs the Treaty of Glassboro soon after the Fall of New York. He bankrupts his country to pay massive reparations in exchange for peace. It's little consolation to the Americans living under the Anabaptist yoke, but it means the world to my wallet.

There were days I felt sure that my world would shatter around me, but here I stand victorious. Now the faithful sing my praises while my enemies cower before me. I was born as a slave, but now I'm so much more. I am a knight of the Founders, and their blessings will be a curse unto the wicked.
My fingers start twitching the moment I get back to court. I can't stand sitting on my ass doing paperwork. That's Josephine's forte. No, the war may be over, but the hunt continues.
As I re-enter the forests of Trenton, I swear I can feel that old potion flowing through my veins once more. They say the Witch of Trenton's House has no true location -- instead it rearranges the forest around itself to trap unwary travelers, or to lead the worthy into her presence. Once more, I find the Witch's House, but the Witch is nowhere to be found. Instead, a beautiful woman emerges. My mind rages with memories of my wife, but my blood is pure hunger.
I want to say no to this. I want to run away, to tell her off, to cut her down. Instead I take her home with me and secret her away in a cottage near my court. My words flow from me like a stranger's. My hands move of their own accord. I'm a Freeman, but I'm a slave to my own desires.
When I was young I called myself a hunter,
and swelled with pride to gaze upon the kill.
I called the woods my home, and I its master.
No hunter can outride from nature's will.

I wandered through the wild just to catch her.
She smiled, and she went in for the kill.
No creature can outlast the call of hunger.
No hunter can outrun from nature's will.

I gave in to the dark heat of the summer.
I walked among the beasts and ran astray.
I turned to look -- and then beheld the hunter,
her glinting arrow pointed at her prey.

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