ancient collection of stone
tablets recently found in a
cave has made it possible to reveal some of the history of a
previously unheard of kingdom that once existed in central Africa.
It was a highly developed nation for its time, around 3000 BC, having a written language, cities and roads, a system of international commerce, and government by a constitutional monarchy.
The tablets found in the cave were apparantly an attempt by the Akirumans, as they called themselves, to preserve a record of their dying civilization. Unfortunately, no other archeological evidence exists, due to the fact that the Akirumans built nearly everything out of wood and other biodegradable materials, and the jungle has now overgrown the site of their country. Translation of the tablets was easier than it might have been because their language strongly resembles Old English, in which I am fluent, and which leads me to believe that the Akirumans were ancient ancestors of the Angles and the Saxons who later settled in England.
The tablets relating early history appear to have resorted to myth and legend, while later volumes appear factual, though biased. This is common among civilizations, and it is difficult to say which approach gives the reader a truer picture of events and people.
The following is from the first tablet:
In the year 'nothing' the great and mighty King Clod was born whole a grown man from a tree in the jungle. In the beginning was the wood, and the wood was with Clod, and the wood was Clod; blessed be the wood of Clod.
And Clod rose and drew a sword from a stone and said, 'Behold, for I shall make Akiruma a powerful nation which shall endure forever.' Then Clod roamed Akiruma and gathered unto him a great army, and he drove out the hostile barbarians, and he said to the people, 'Behold, for I am Clod, your king.'
And the people said, 'Verily, he is King Clod.' This was the year 'one'. Clod chose a queen from among the lovely wenches offered him, and she was called Clodette. They bore a son, and he was Balded.
Clod was revered as the founding father of Akiruma. His victories over the barbarians enabled the Akirumans to practice agriculture with less danger and more stability, which led to population growth and the beginnings of civilized life.
However, his monarchy was but nominal. Akiruma had four major cities: Salad, in the south, Selegna in the west, Kroy in the east, and Clodsdale, the newly created capitol city located in the north central area. It took weeks to travel from one to the other. The cities ran themselves, the farmers farmed, and the King's only task was to oversee the army that guarded the borders.
This remained the situation during the reign of Balded, who ruled from 55 AC (After Clod), when Clod died a natural death (legend has it that he walked off into the jungle and reverted to a tree), until 101, when he was murdered by his own son, Watt, who then assumed the throne. Succession by patricide thereafter became an unbroken tradition in Akiruma. It was widely accepted that the act of killing his father, thereby putting the desire for power above sentiment, was proof that the prince was qualified to be king. This system tended to replace the monarch before he became too old to govern. It also resulted in the practice of planned parenthood by kings, sometimes retroactively.
In 113, when he was but 12 years old, Watson killed King Watt by luring him into a pit trap the boy had dug on the palace grounds. Later regretting his deed, Watson had a new royal residence erected, much larger and finer than the old one, and he named it the Watt Castle.
Beginning around 217 AC, Akiruma maintained hostile though technically peaceful relations with a rival nation to the north, Ayesur. The reasons for the hostility are uncertain. Akirumans seem to have believed that the Aysurians had a different form of government, but it is not clear from the tablets how it differed or why this mattered. Nevertheless, both nations maintained huge armies to protect themselves from one another.
Akiruma was, by this time, a highly populated kingdom, with several large cities separated by wide expanses of farmland. It owed its unity and greatness to its excellent system of roadways and to its camel-based transportation system.
The camel was introduced to Akiruma in 144, imported as a curiosity from North Africa. Prior to that time the kingdom had been a loose confederation of cities, isolated and agricultural. The people took to the camel as a duck to water. The animals were imported in droves, and soon there was hardly a street in any city that did not have a new or used camel lot. Highways were built, and intercity trade and travel turned Akiruma into a cosmopolitan country. Camel power ran grain mills and lumber mills. Camel caravans ventured outside the kingdom, beginning international commerce. Art, music, and sex flourished. The economy boomed, and many fortunes were made.
In 194 an inventor named Rufus made the discovery that camel manure mixed with cconut milk made an excellent building material. He called it 'plup'. It began to supplant wood in housing construction. By varying the formula, it could be used to form cookware, sportswear, tools, souveniers, and children's toys. Thus, the camel became an even more integral part of the growing economy.
Even prior to this development, when attempts were made to introduce the horse and the donkey, they were met with disinterest. The horse seemed too dangerous and the ass too stubborn. Akirumans loved their camels, and would accept no substitute.
The year 220 ushered in a revolutionary invention by a scientist named Oneglass, who developed the camel manure explosive device, commonly known as the S-bomb. Useful in roadbuilding and demolition, the S-bomb was also a fearsome weapon. Previously combat had been hand-to-hand. Akiruman soldiers traditionally used the fukwuth, a club smeared with camel manure.
Now the S-bomb could be flung with a catapult into an enemy stronghold. The resulting explosion would drive foul-smelling shrapnel throughout the fort, maiming indiscriminately. Both Akiruma and Ayesur vowed never to use this weapon first in a war, though neither quite believed the other.
By 230 the camel-spurred economy had stagnated, though it was kept artificially supported by salaries paid to the huge army which was justified by the Ayesur threat. Ayesur, of course, had similar problems, and explained its army as a guard against Akiruman aggression. This stalemate became the status quo.
Around 239 Akirumans became aware of a disturbing problem. Camels were no longer breeding inside the kingdom in sufficient numbers to fulfill demands. They had always reproduced slower in steamy central Africa, but now they had slowed to a trickle. Camels could be imported from north Africa, but the price was high. Akiruma began to worry about its increasing dependance on foreign camels. Occasionally bad weather or a raid by the barbaric tribes on the trade route resulted in temporary shortages. Many of the camel lots closed down, and camel-less citizents stood in line at the open ones.
Again attempts were made to introduce horses and donkeys, and some people, desperate for affordable transportation, or work animals, began to buy them, but they were often looked down upon by their peers as odd and un-Akiruman.
It was commonly believed that the Ayesurians used horses and donkeys, and the adoption of any practice of Ayesur was socially unacceptable in Akiruma. Only the ruggest of individualists continued to brave the ostracism, verbal abuse, and occasional attacks with a fukwuth for their maverick rationality.
Akiruman conservatism and blind prejudice eventually led to the downfall of the civilization. As the camel shortage became more and more severe, travel and trade within the nation slowed nearly to a standstill. The related camel manure shortage closed down the plup industry, while the government continued to stockpile manure with which to make S-bombs.
With trade and travel in sharp decline, farmers reverted to subsisting on their own crops. Tax revenue diminished, so the government could no longer pay the large army, and the soldiers began to wander off and travel in search of opportunity. The merchants and workers abandoned the cities, and the last of the kings, Kneedor, unneeded as a ruler, lived to be an old man, for his son Knore knew no ambition for the throne.
And so a civilization melted away, leaving no trace but one historian's carved stones. Even the once-mighty weapons became but fertilizer in the end.