Continued from Part V.
For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of the kingdom had led a fortunate existence. Through cunning and work and the luck of history, they understood the principles of the world before any other people. They observed the natural world, and they plotted to exploit its rules for their own gain. Through trial and error and relentless determination they found out how to burn coal, how boil water, how to harness steam. They worked metal into blades, and killed their neighbours to take their land. They found saltpeter, and then they made guns, and then they realised how truly powerful they could be.
They spread. Over lands they walked, guns forward, claiming all they encountered. They delighted in the spoils of war, they took prisoners and put them to work in mines and in fields and on the machines. The king’s men took what they wanted, urged on by their women, and their priests spun stories to explain how all was blessed by providence.
The kingdom stretched far and wide, from one sea to another. Still it was not enough. Steamships were built and sent upon those seas, so that all land could belong to the king.
But from those seas, a dark speck approached. As it drew near, it took on the shape of a buxom huntress. A head of flaming hair scorched the clouds. Many arms, each holding a blade, whirled with hunger. A screech stretched across the waters to fill the final moments of every pair of ears.