<excerpt...beginning with the end of Book 1, Chapter IV...modified as suitable..in which we set the scene:>
Following his lead the company passed under the northern arch. They found themselves in a wide corridor. As they went along it the glimmer grew stronger, and they saw that it came through a doorway on their right. It was high and flat-topped, and the stone door was still upon its hinges, standing half-open. Beyong it was a large square chamber. It was dimly lit, but to their eys, after so long a time in the dark, it seemed dazzlingly bright, and they blinked as they entered.
Their feet disturbed a deep dust upon the floor, and stumbled among things lying in the doorway whose shapes they could not at frst make out. The chamber was lit by a wide shaft high in the further eastern wall; it slanted upwards and, far above, a small square patch of blue sky could be seen. The light of the shaft fell directly on a table in the middle of the room: a single oblong block, about two feet high, upon which was laid a great slab of white stone.
'It looks like a tomb,' muttered Frodo, and bent forwards with a curious sense of foreboding, to look more closely at it. Gandalf came quickly to his side. On the slab runes were deeply graven:
'There are MrT's Runes, such as were used of old in England,' said Gandlaf. 'Here is written in the tongues of Men and Englanders:
CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND.'
'He is dead then,' said Frodo. 'I feared it was so.' Gimli cast his hood over his face.
[I]There were many recesses cut in the rock of the walls, and in them were large iron-bound chests of wood. All had been broken and plundered; but beside the shattered lid of one there lay the remains of a book. It had bee slashed and stabbed and partly burned, and it was so stained with black and other dark marks like old blood that little of it could be read. Gandlaf lifted it carefully, but the leaves cracked and broke as he laid it on the slab. He pored over it for some time without speaking. Frodo and Gimli standing at his side could see, as he gingerly turned the leaves, that they were written by only a single hand, in runes, both of England and of Wales, and here and there in ASCII text.
At last Gandalf looked up. 'It seems to be a record of the fortunes of MrT's folk,' he said. 'I guess that it began with his coming to what was then England in 1419, at maximum aggresiveness and difficulty: the pages seem to have numbers referring to the years of their lord. The top page is marked January 1419 but the next is March 1426 so at least some pages are missing from the beginning. Listen to this!'
Gandalf began to read:
We drove the French back from the shores, at heavy loss. Normandy is held, as are Calais, Caux and Poitou. Henry V met with a large force near Ile de France and repelled all who came near. He took the city and moved on, deeper into enemy territory. The man is truely a killing machine.
In the north, Scots harried our rear until reinforcements were sent to hold the mountains in Northumberland. Eventually they were pushed back and our northern army took the offensive. One by one their cities fell...until all of Scotland lay under our sword.
As we were pressed from all sides, I advised Henry to take a peace with Auvergne, Provence, Aragon, and Bourbonaise without terms - a white peace - which he negotiated. The French ambassador is to be put off until the war is fully in hand and the Scots are to be ignored.
Even through the bleating pleas for peace, we pursued the kilted wonders into the mountains until forcing these northern neighbours into an unconditional surrender and assimilating all territory other than their capital. Only then did we grant admittance to the French ambassador and accept his purse of gold, but not before being handed title to Guyenne and Languedoc.
Eire is ripe for the plucking. I dispatched a strong force to Meath to act as a staging ground for our invasion. Fully 20,000 horse and 30,000 foot landed as I sent our declaration of war and the first wave sallied forth. Without much resistance, their overwhelmed army gave way to our masses and a quick peace was concluded, ending with our territorial assumption of all territories but Ulster.
And here, Gandalf paused, and commented that a few pages were missing...
At war again, though it took some talking to induce Henry VI to proceed. We moved on Scotland and Eire simultaneously, ignoring ferrocious assaults from their French and other allies until both capitals lay under our thumb. After concluding a peace, in which each of these countries were annexed, we are again at peace. Fearing retribution from the populace, and unsure of our ability to control the masses, we declared new vassal states of Scoptland, Eire, and Guyenne in order to better concentrate on our priorities.
Given our rather poor reputation, it would be best if we lay low for a while. Even so, there are numerous revolts to be put down and our new alliance with our vassals has drawn us into several unwnated wars. We escape all unscathed, protecting our holdings and our vassals wothout commiting any serious forces to the fray.
'And here a large portion of the text is missing,' Gandalf lamented. 'It seems as thoug they entered a period of peace, with large growth in economy and infrastructure, and gradually began to expand their holdings. I see mention here of the discovery of a vast continent to the west following a military acces agreement with Denmark and the fearless persistence of a man named John Cabot. Colonies were established, and wars fought with some tribe called the "Iroquois" which met with apparent success.' He turned several charge leaves and pointed. 'See. Here he writes of the subjugation of the Iriquois in 1502, the assimilation of their lands, and the establishment of new colonies and trading posts in the Caribbean.'
Gandalf thumbed through a few more pages, murmering to himself. 'And here in 1493 he talks about the might of the British empire, with holdings in Australia, Africa, South America...Isthmus is discovered and settled; almost the entire eastern shore of this new continent is held as either a colony or trading center. Manhattan is generating huge profits through a trade monopoly.' He sighed, shaking his head.
'It appears that he thought his country invincible,' he concluded. See, here, what he says in 1514:
Stupid Flanders! Dares to declare war on us in response to a call from their allies. I will crush them and gain another major trading center.
I dispatched 60,000 men to destroy the pathetic resistance, even though I knew more would fall to attrition than to the sword. We have too many commissioned men anyway, so their deaths will serve a purpose. Only 8,000 met them in the field, and green troops at that. After quickly dispatching them, we laid siege to the city and concluded a separate peace ending with their complete annexation.
Eire, also, agreed to become part of England after years as our vassals. This diplomatic annexation seems profitable as it wipes out their spiraling debt while leaving me us with all of their city improvements. Much as Scotland and Guyenne did...
'And here there are, again, numrous pages missing,' he lamented. 'Truely, they had conquered and achieved much. But now, I suspect, we may begin to read about their fall...'
It was some time before Gandalf spoke again. Whether this was due to his difficulty in piecing together the abused tome, or deciphering the language of this long-neglected language, was not apparent. Just as Frodo thought he would abandon the task, Gandalf cleared his throat.
'They seem to have survived the refformation very well. In 1525 the country turned protestant, and I see a few referrences to public uprisings at the time, but all in all the transition seems to have been fairly smoothly. That's ironic. Here in 1600 he crows about his achievements:
A summary of our holdings in the year of our lord, 1600.
All of England proper, as well as Scotland and Eire. Fernando Po, Damara, Table, Namaqua, Bushman, Karroo and Ciskei in Africa. Antsirana and Ambovombe. Bourbon and Antsirana. The islands of Socotra and Mahe. In the orient we have now solidified Murumbridge, Yarra, Macquarie, Wagga and Wollongong. And in the new world we now have colonies in Placenta, Gander, Ile Royale, Nova Scotia, Acadie, Stadacone, Connecticut, Sebago, Ticonderoga, Adirondak, Catskill, Oswego, Onondaga, Mohawk, Tuscarora, Irondekoit, Shenandoah, Powhatan, Manhattan, Deleware, Roanoke, Catawba, Appalache, Sante, and Carolina. In the Caribbean we have colonies in Bahamas, Bermuda, Isthmus, Mosquitos, Tortuga, St. Thomas, Marinique, Barbados and Guadeloupe and trading posts in vitually all other island territories.
Revenues are pouring in and our technology is far ahead of all other competing countries, with whom we are at peace and, generally, in good relations. Time is drawing nigh to erradicate the Portugese and Spanish to cement our hold on the entire continent, but in the interrum I have stood down much of the army to ease the burden on our income. Most foot-soldiers have been sent home and only the cavalry continue to parade the grounds....
'But only a few pages later you start to see the signs...'
Drums. Drums in the hills. Drums on the heath. Drums in the depths. Drums in the city taverns. All I hear is drums. What does this signify? Why this incessant pounding? How can I make it all stops? The widespread piracy is as nothing compared to this ne dilemma. Those were easily put down, as was the competiton in the centres of trade. But the drums...
'And here is the beginning of the end...the portents.'
Signs from above. In March and again in July, streaking lights in the sky at night served to unsettle the peasants. Masses revolting, followed by some diplomatic and strategic blunders. I should never have moved our trend towards greater centralization, but who could have guessed that nobles might ally with a foreign power while almost at the same time an assasignation, a petition for redress, and another assasignation? All of a sudden, our state is collapsoing.
I brought out forces back from far and wide to suppress, lost nearly 80,000 cavalry outright in the first few months of revolt. Overseas, the Hurons and other native tribes have siezed the advantage and declared war on us, with only 15,000 to hold the vast expanse.
Anglia has fallen, and Fairfax with his corps with it. And shortly thereafter the peasants overwhelmed us throughout Scotland and Eire, and more than half of England is under seige. I have drawn heavily on the bank to bring another 80,000 into the field, but they arrive too late, and too weak, to turn the tide.
Sensing our weakness, the unholy alliance of France, Castille, the Papal States, Denmark, and Poland declare war. Charles I is innefective to stem the tide. I have too few ships and too few forces to withstand them. Both Moncks die, one in a pitched naval battle against the Danes near Kent, and the other tried to hold Flanders with 18,000 men against the surprise attack of 75,000 French but they brought too many cannons and were too well led to be stopped.
Only Blake survives, by virtue of being far removed from the fray exploring territories along the China coast.
'And then,' Gandalf continued, 'things get grim.'
Near all is lost. Spiralling debt as I default on loan after loan after loan. While I have refused all offers of peace, near all of England is lost to the rebels. My eastern-American holdings have been overrun by the natives, all European capitals are held by either the enemy within or the enemy without. Only Australia and the Caribbean remain in control and are pathetic for drumming up the number needed to field any resistance.
I have initiated a counter attack in North America to regain some economic controls. Blake made the run across the Pacific, around South Amerca, and arrived in St Thomas with only 12 of the 35 ships he began the trek with. I loaded as many troops as I could muster and made a valliant attempt on Manhattan which I recaptured late in the year. Meanwhle, Bermuda and the Bahamas fall to Portugal.
Stability has been at -3 for I don't remember how long. Pirates are everywhere as I can't afford to sustain the ship losses to prevent them. Drums. War drums. We cannot get out!
Delaware falls to my counter-offensive. Then the others. I recapture the Bahamas, then Bermuda. Portugal is sending diplomats like there's no tomorrow. I have regained almost all of the footing in the Americas but inflation rates of over 300% are crippling my ability to forray further afield with the forces necessary to face my European enemies. I finally sue for peace to France in exchange for all of Eire, Scotland and half of England. Louis is appeased and calls off the hunt.
Spent every ducat possible converting trading posts into colonies and settling new ones. As soon as built I appoint a governor...and after years this pays off. Infantry costs only 23 ducats for 1000 men. I raise an army and assault the Iroquois, capturing my second trade post.
Unfortunatley, Portugal grows weary of my actions and attacks my colonial holdings. The islands fall.
Ousted from the new world, my only remaining possessions are Anglia and - as yet - undiscovered Australia. Day to day existence is poor. My remaining 12,000 men are desparately holding onto Yarra while Nurumbidgee is in constant revolt. Maraquarie is under rebel command. Portugal takes Anglia.
No choice now. Surrendered to Portugal and only Anglia remains mine. This economy allows nothing. New debts default and I wait for the end...they are coming...
A sudden dread and a horror of the chamber fell on the company. ' They are coming,' said Gimli...
<here ends the account...>