I used to love to fish.
That woman is insane.
When I was younger, before I had the stature I do today, I'd spend my summers
wading in the river shallows, snatching and spearing them. Some years there
were so many I couldn't see my feet through the water. Other years their
numbers were few, and I had to hunt carefully. It was during that time that
I honed the skills that served me well when the time came to lead my people,
and leave such boyhood activities behind.
The first time I heard of her, she seemed a curiosity. Certainly, her
ability to free herself from bondage was impressive, but her judgement
afterwards was lacking. She had managed to overthrow her masters and take
their earnings, enough perhaps to build a true society out of the earnings
of a worthless and corrupt one. Instead she chose to found her city with a
group of secondhand prostitutes and would-be miners. She was building an
empire on a foundation of sand.
The people of my village lacked leadership. I gave them that leadership.
They needed a cause, an ideal to look up to. I became that ideal. They
needed a spokesman, and I spoke well. I forged our society out of ashes and
made it into a city of iron. But I lacked the presumption to actually name
When I first heard the name, I thought her egotistical. I later learned she
was simply unimaginative. It seemed she'd picked up a few things in her
travels under the yoke of her former masters. Ways of harnessing the iron
into devices the likes of which this land had never seen. Weapons that
turned a tidy profit for her.
Killing is a necessity once one's society reaches a certain point. I had
prepared our army many years before the first attacks came. They heard of
our newfound prosperity and they attacked. We defended ourselves. They
plotted against us. We launched pre-emptive strikes. They began to amass
enough power to one day threaten us. We absorbed them before they could do
any such thing. We grew more prosperous. They heard of our newfound
prosperity and they attacked. We defended ourselves. And so on.
She squandered her profits the same way she had her initial earnings,
compounding her foolishness with cruelty. She took in the diseased and
dying and put them to work, keeping them alive and in agony to labor for her
benefit rather than freeing them from their misery. It was, I think, at this
point that I began to truly hate her.
There are very few who suffer in our society. The diseased often ask to be
released from their pain, and we oblige them. Those who would prefer to live
are allowed to leave, and die somewhere far from here where the infection
cannot spread. The harem girls are also treated well, as their role in
satisfying our soldiers' needs makes it imperative they remain in good health.
They are housed and clothed better than the soldiers' wives, though neither
is forced strain their bodies in blistering heat for hours on end.
Her iron supply began to grow scarce, and her economy weak. She lacked both
the money to feed her people and the foresight to purchase any land on which
to grow crops of her own. Her society seemed certain to collapse. And then
she made her most outrageous move, and confirmed her madness to me.
In all the years my people have lived here we have had no conflagration with
the creatures of the forest. On occasion some of us have strayed into their
territory, and we have made due reparations to them for this transgression.
We have endeavored to remember our place in the order of things.
She attacked and massacred the Nago tribe merely to finance her own
self-destructive endeavor. Worse yet, she drove what few survivors she left
into a frenzy. They attacked any human they could find. We defended
My people have worked long and hard for the society we have. We've labored
to grow our crops. We lived at peace with the gods of our land and revered
Her band of society's cast-offs has done nothing but steal and defile. There
is no cripple they will not exploit, no woman they will not force into hard
labor, no creature they will not slaughter, no holy land they will not
desecrate. They are worse than the very slave-traders that she once served.
I used to love to fish. Over the years, I came to learn the cycles by which
their numbers waxed and waned year by year. This was to be a very good year
for them indeed.
When she has used up the iron in her own land, she moves into the forest,
and massacres the gods that live there for her convenience. Her people do
not mind. As long as she feeds them, they follow her without question.
When she has used up the iron in the forest, where then will she go from
there? If she can unseat the gods a simple city, even ours, should prove no
I had not been to the riverbank in some time. I went alone. The water
seemed far darker than I recalled it being, but I attributed this to the
faulty memory of youth.
She claims in her madness that I want her iron. Perhaps there was a
miscommunication, perhaps it is simply a story invented to turn her people
against mine. This much is true: when I stop her I will take it, and use it
as benefits my people. But more important is that I stop her expansion, her
reckless consumption benefiting no one and threatening ourselves. When the
iron runs out, her city will die. The iron *will* run out. Her city *will*
die. The question is merely who will die with it.
We are not without mercy, or strategy. When an enemy proves too strong to
be defeated in battle early on, we attempt to prevent a long and bloody
conflict by sending messengers to negotiate. Often they are accepted and
terms of surrender are set. Only once has anyone been foolish enough to
turn them away without so much as a word. Only once has anyone been foolish
enough to fire upon them as they did so.
She has many allies now, my agents report. No doubt more fools pulled in by
her transitory wealth. Nonetheless, tomorrow I will send my entire force
against her. There is no other option. Not a single soldier will be spared.
We will overtake her village and burn it to the ground. We will destroy her
ironworks and smash the crumbling foundation she has laid. We can wait no
longer. I know this now.
I went to the riverbank. The water was darker than I remember it. It stank
of metal and decay. There were few fish visible in the murky waters. All of
them were dead.
She kills gods. She rapes their kingdoms. She surrounds herself with the
weak and the dying, forces them into servitude or seduces them with wealth
that comes at the expense of the very water we drink and the crops we would
grow with it. Unless she is stopped she will continue to do so until the iron
runs out and this land is destroyed. She must be stopped.
I used to love to fish.
That woman is insane.
I was at a showing of Princess Mononoke and one of my friends pointed out that
the only truly evil character in the whole movie is Lord Asano, or as we
affectionately called him, Lord Not Appearing In This Film. I figured this
was because if we did see him, he'd have the same complicated motivations as
everyone else, and his own reasons for his attack on Iron Town. So here they