A/N: Because I've been meaning to write this for forever. I don't own any of the Mortal Engines-ness, this is just my homage.
… … …
Hello, bonjour, and guten Tag, dear reader, and welcome to this, the fifth in my phenomenally successful (not to boast, but the sales figures speak for themselves!) series on Ancient Civilisation! Prepare for thrills, spills and chills galore, daring battles with the (previously-presumed extinct!) Dalek tribe of the North and a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat, however well-cushioned that seat may be! And, what's more, I promise you that every single word you read in this book is the purest, unadulterated truth. Listen not to those untalented so-called 'Historians', Valentine, Pomeroy and the rest! They are afraid to accept, afraid to believe, for the very foundations of their careers are built on a history which is false.
In this book, I endeavour to prove that Ancient history has been sadly misrepresented, by offering proof and real findings that contest popular belief! Prepare to be shocked as I present…
Professor Nimrod Beauregard Pennyroyal's
To my darling Shop On-Line,
Your name will never be forgotten,
For I have immortalised you in print
And to my publishers,
Fewmet and Spraint-
I told you I'd finish the manuscript eventually!
It is often difficult to know where to begin a tale of such great proportions. Does one start at the end, and draw the reader in through a devious mix of cryptic hints and downright lies? Does one start somewhere in the middle, and add things in as they come to mind, hoping that everything mashes together into some sort of readable form? Or does one do the logical thing, and start at the beginning?
I think the beginning sounds best.
So! Let us begin!
I suppose this tale began two years ago, when I was sitting on a deckchair on Cloud 9 in my hometown, the beautiful raft resort of Brighton, enjoying the success of my previous book, Lost Cities of the Sands. Goodness, what a long sentence. Anyway! Although I was pleased that the book was selling well (along with my previous historical works, The Underwater Empire Strikes Back and Rise and Fall of Microsoftian Civilisation) I could not help but think that perhaps it was time to call off my adventuring days. "Foolishness, Pennyroyal!" you might say. "You were but thirty-three! How could you think to even consider such a thing?"
And, of course, you would be right. But when a man has seen such adventure, why, he attains a perfectly natural fear for the stuff! After braving my brush with death at the hands of a technologically enhanced Wally Mammoth (a seven metre tall red and white-striped jumper- you can read the further details in my tale There's Wally!), I was not too eager to plunge myself back into the dangers of exploring. I was contemplating putting my gung-ho life behind me forevermore, and maybe retiring with my long-time companion Minty Bapsnack to do… whatever I felt like doing.
All that changed, however, when a sinister looking fellow in a red scarf and trenchcoat approached my deckchair.
Even from five metres away, I knew that this man would be trouble. It was the middle of the day, but he seemed to have an icy aura that preceded him, freezing all in its path. His eyes, on the other hand, glowed like hot coals behind his sunglasses. A long, thin sword hung at his side. I was just beginning to rise, planning to run as fast as my young legs could carry me, when he spoke in a frightful rasp…
"Are you Pennyroyal?" he asked. His voice sent shivers down my spine, and he clicked his neck not one, not two but three times as he spoke. "Well?"
I nodded. I dared not reply. To think that such a villain could be aboard my hometown!
"… Excellent…" he hissed. "I've been looking for you."
"Pennyroyal… I don't suppose… Pennyroyal, would you like to know a secret? The other historians don't want me to publish it, and I haven't the writing ability, but you, my friend… you could do a fine job." He clicked his neck again. "Well? Are you interested?"
I would have liked to know any secret that helped me to get rid of the man. I nodded again.
"And, if I told you this secret, would you tell it to the world, if I asked you to?" He fixed me with his terrifying gaze. I suddenly realised with horror that his boots had knives for heels.
"Quite certainly!" I gasped. He nodded, seemingly pleased.
"… Very well." His scarf moved, and I wondered if he was smiling. "In that case… allow me to take a seat." He pulled out a deckchair next to mine. I was half-miserable at this development, but half… curious. The mysterious stranger sighed, settled down into his seat, pulled his wide-brimmed hat forward on his head and began his fascinating tale…