• A fairytale: For adults.

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    Once upon a time, a relatively long time ago, there was an Emperor. Emperors rule Empires and this particular monarch was His Imperial Majesty, Naej XIII Edualc of Eporue. HIM Naej Edualc was the 12th Emperor of his dynasty (the Imperial House of Tenom) that had ruled the Empire of Eporue for nearly 500 years.

    The Empire of Eporue was made up 28 Imperial Provinces. Before the Empire was founded nearly 500 years ago by Emperor Naej I generally known as “Naej the Great” the 28 Imperial Provinces were separate kingdoms. Their transformation from independent kingdoms into provinces was unique as it did not happen through military conquest but slowly over 50 years by treaties of friendship, trade and mutual co-operation. The genius behind this was the Emperor Naej who started off not as a great warrior but as a great salesman and businessman.

    The Emperor ruled his Empire from the Imperial Capital, Naejopolis named after Naej the Great. The capital was in the province of Bydner-Gwlas. Previously the Kingdom of Bydner-Gwlas, the kingdom had become like the twenty seven others subsumed into the Empire. Unlike the other twenty seven, the Royal family was not overthrown as it was HM King Naej of the Royal House of Tenom who had become HIM Emperor Naej of the Imperial House of Tenom. Naej the Great had two sons; the elder became his Imperial successor. The younger son, Prince Det became HIH Grand Duke Det of Bydner-Gwlas – the former kingdom becoming a grand duchy along with all the other former kingdoms. In the twenty seven other cases the courtiers (who were corrupt and treacherous) had seen to it that in these twenty seven Royal families, princesses had succeeded their Royal fathers – all of whom had been married off to aristocrats in the Kingdom/Grand Duchy of Bydner-Gwlas. Any courtier or subject who had objected to this was hailed a bigot and a “hater of women.”

    It was obvious to all that the brand new capital was going to be built on a “green field site” and was going to be in Bydner-Gwlas. Bydner-Gwlas was roughly in the geographical centre of the Empire of Eporue and was either side of a great river, the River Enihr. Bydner-Gwlas was in fact one if the smaller former kingdoms of Eporue but it was fertile, grew fine wine and brandies and its access to the Enihr meant that the great port of Troporue at the mouth of the Enihr meant that it had very good communications and access to world markets.

    Along with a new Imperial realm, Naej the Great needed a new flag and a new anthem. The new flag had to be original as it could not borrow from any one province and a combination of flags would have made for too complex a design. As a result, Naej ordered that the new flag should be a large single five point gold star at the centre of a royal blue background. After Naej the Great’s death, his son, Emperor Naej II Det ordered the flag to be altered with the large star moved from the centre to the dexter chief (top left) and for a small star placed near to it. The large star represented Naej the Great with the smaller star, Naej II Det. Over the reigns each Emperor was represented on the flag by a star. Naej II Det’s successor, his son Naej III Divad ordered the three stars to be of equal size forming an equilateral triangle and at the flag’s centre. Thereafter, the stars were always equal forming a square, pentagon, hexagon, septagon, octagon and thereafter circles of nine, ten and eleven stars. When His Imperial Majesty, Naej XIII Edualc of Eporue came to the throne the flag was altered to have a circle of twelve gold stars on the blue flag.

    By the time Naej XIII Edualc came to the throne, Eporue was the largest and most powerful sovereign state in the world. It was also the only Empire and operated as the only federal state in the world. All the other sovereign states were kingdoms. Except one. This was the mountainous state of Notcalc. Notcalc had the distinction of being the world’s only republic. Notcalc was an enclave state as it was entirely surrounded by the Empire of Eporue. It was a mountainous, beautiful and fertile country. Access to and from the state could be achieved by road through 74 mountain passes and a further 79 mountain passes by bridle way.

    This was not however a concern to Eporue. In fact the landed gentry liked this as it meant that they could stash ill-gotten gains in the republic’s highly secret banks. The republic charged no taxes and foreign residents – called non doms – had protection against creditors who were not from Notcalc. Importantly, Notcalc had no extradition treaties with any other state.

    Notcalc’s President was Salguod Llewsrac.

    It was also the most advanced state in the world due to President Llewsrac and his predecessors investment in eduction. President Llewsrac was on record as stating that the most important investment a state could make was the investment in the education of it’s children.

    This investment had paid off as Notcalc was about to experience and industrial revolution with the development of the steam engine and the railways as well as machines powered by static steam engines.

    The Empire of Eporue’s development was behind the Republic of Notcalc’s as it was stifled largely but not exclusively by the efforts of one man; Baron Nesnah. Semaj, Baron Nesnah was the Empire’s leading astrologer and meta-physicist. He was from the city of Nosined in the province of Awoi. Born of humble parents he rose in the service of a local aristocratic family as he was a great mathematician and served as the astrologer of Trebla, Count
    Erog.

    Count Erog owned a vast estate as was one of the wealthiest aristocrats in the Empire. When Astrologer Nesnah told the Count that these development threatened the economic viablity of the Count’s many windmills and watermills that were used for milling corn and small scale manufacturing the Count was alarmed and wanted the development stopped.

    The Count did not want to buy out the technology but wanted to form a group of aristocrats to legislate against the technology. They needed a reason other than this new technology was more competitive economically however as the knew that the bribes they would have to pay to criminalise it would be very high indeed.

    Count Erog asked Astrologer Nesnah if he had any ideas. He had. Nesnah informed Erog that he “would consult the stars.”

    After a couple of months Nesnah submitted his astrological report to Count Erog. It made alarming reading. The report stated – as undisputed fact – one did not challenge what was written in the heavens – that the smoke and fumes generated by the burning of coal was dangerous. Not to mankind directly, but indirectly as it would mix into the atmosphere. Coal it was said produced an invisible, colourless, odourless gas which if enough quantities entered the atmosphere great and irreversible damage would be done to the atmosphere and giant storms and great floods, as well as great droughts would occur. The report went on to state that as quantities of this gas increased the effects would become more noticeable as certain “tipping points” would be passed. The report went onto state that the polar ice caps would melt and cause tremendous inundations of low lying areas by the sea. In addition, polar bears would become extinct. This (extinction of polar bears) was of great concern to the Count as he was a shareholder in a company called Nosduh Yab which amongst other activities hunted the polar bear for its fur – which was highly prized.

    When the report was submitted by Count Erog to the Imperial Diet, the landed aristocrats were supportive of the Count’s call for legislation to suppress it. As a result the Imperial Diet passed the Coal Offences Act which criminalised the possession and the burning of coal. The only legitimate use of coal was for carving jewellery and other decorative purposes.

    The immediate practical effect of criminalising the burning of coal was that people could not burn it in their homes to keep warm and for cooking. As a result the demand for firewood increased. This sparked off a tremendous bout of planting of conifers. This of course profited the landed gentry who owned most of the land greatly. It also reduced the amount of agricultural land available to grow crops and graze animals. This meant a reduce supply and an increase price. Which in turn meant more profits for the landed gentry like Count Erog!

    Of course there was big a problem with all of this: what if other kingdoms started burning coal in industrial quantities? As a result the Emperor of Eporue summoned his fellow sovereigns to a conference and they agreed to make a treaty criminalising coal burning. This was largely through the kings of the smallest and weakest kingdoms accepting the bribes offered by the Emperor of Eporue. Other more powerful kingdoms relinquished their objections under threat of war.

    The result was the Naejopolis Accord that later became an international treaty, the Naejopolis Agreement on Coal Combustion (NACC).

    They agreed that the treaty would be policed by a new cross sovereign body: the IPCC – International Panel on Coal Combustion. This was a unique development as it was the first international body set up in the world. Astrologer Nesnah was its General Secretary. As a result, he was rewarded with a peerage – in the lowest degree of baron – so he could give the annual report to the Imperial Diet’s upper chamber.

    The effect of the Naejopolis Agreement on Coal Combustion (NACC) was to depress economic output worldwide. Poor people suffered by the landed gentry across the world benefited as they owned the land and could take advantage of the shortages to increase prices and therefore profits.

    There was one state that did not sign up to the Naejopolis Agreement on Coal Combustion (NACC). The Republic of Notcalc. President Salguod Llewsrac refused to accept the idea that burning coal could in any way endanger the world. Entirely surrounded by the world’s most powerful state, an uninformed observer might have concluded the President and his republic were in a weak position. President Llewsrac was however in a very strong position as he controlled the law making and could relax the countries strict banking code.

    This would mean that the corruption and bribery endemic in every institution of the Empire would be revealed. There was a basic constitutional requirement that no Imperial or provincial budget could be passed unless the accounts relating to the previous budget had been signed off by an independent auditor. This had never been done as no reputable auditors could be found! This requirement became a convention observed in the breech.

    In any event, HIM Naej XIII Edualc of Eporue or any other of the world’s sovereign’s did not want to formerly receive President Salguod Llewsrac at the conference as they regarded him as a commoner. This meant that they expected Salguod Llewsrac to bow down before them in exactly the same deferential way as they demanded of their subjects. President Salguod Llewsrac refused to consider this stating that the Republic of Notcalc (whose economy exceeded in size several of the kingdoms present at the conference) would not be so humiliated. As a result, the Republic of Notcalc was exempted from the damaging provisions of the agreement entered into by the others, due in large part to the vanity and pomposity of HIM Naej XIII Edualc and his fellow monarchs.

    Whilst HIM Naej XIII Edualc and the Imperial government were not concerned about Notcalc’s exemption from the provisions of the treaty, they were however concerned when 14 of the most prominent subversives in the Empire fled to Notcalc from hiding.

    All of these fugitives were “on the run” as they had been charged with sedition and conspiracy to incite breeches of the Coal Offences Act. These were very serious offences punishable by long periods of imprisonment. Furthermore, following the release offenders were required to register as “Coal Offender” with the local police who kept a Register of Coal Offenders. This meant that they could be subject to unannounced visits to their homes which could be searched for any evidence of possession and use of coal. Also possession of any literature denying that the burning of coal was a threat to the safety of the world was illegal. The law specifically exempted registered coal offenders from possessing coal for the legal purpose of coal carving or decoration. Such registered coal offenders were also subject to stop and search by the police who would search them for any evidence of coal.

    The most prominent of these was none other than a former minister in the Imperial government. This was a certain Newo Nosretap. Newo Nosretap was in fact the Deputy Minister of State in the Ministry of Environmental Protection commonly known as MEP.

    Nosretap had begun to doubt the whole basis of the Coal Combustion Act and could not see the relationship between the position of stars in the sky and burning coal. He confided his concerns privately to the Secretary of State, De Yevad.

    Secretary of State Yevad was a pleasant fellow and was prepared to turn a deaf ear to the admission of his deputy. However Yevad had told his mistress, Rebma Ddur about his deputy’s concerns and she urged him to betray him. She told him that saving the world from destruction took precedence over loyalty to a colleague. As a result the police raided Nosretap’s villa but he managed to escape just in time.

    As a result, Newo Nosretap, Rehpotsirhc Rekoob, Drahcir Htron, Regor Remleh, Pilihp Retsof, Sreip Nybroc, Nehpets Tunh, Retep Sregor, Trauts Yppug, Ynot Ttenneb, Kered Namron, Trebor Htims, Maharg Doowredlac and Legin Egaraf arrived in Notcalc’s capital, Gnirdnet where they were publicly greeted by the President, Salguod Llewsrac himself.

    This caused an immediate diplomatic crisis with the Empire of Eporue. This was because whilst the escape of 14 fugitives and the refusal to hand them over could be ignored, public acceptance of these criminals was something the Empire could not ignore. As a result the Imperial government sent its Foreign Minister, Pilihp Dnommah to Gnirdnet to deliver the strongest possible protest.

    Foreign Minister, Pilihp Dnommah was received cordially by President Llewsrac. Foreign Minister, Pilihp Dnommah however not only returned empty handed (sans fugitives) – which was expected – but with news that the Republic of Notcalc was about to open a coal mine at a village called Gnikcarf!

    The Imperial cabinet was summoned upon the Foreign Minister’s return. When told that a coal mine was to be opened in Notcalc, Secretary of State Yevad was overcome and had to be revived with smelling salts. So shocked was he the meeting had to continue without him.

    The Imperial Chancellor, Divad Noremac insisted that definite action should be taken against Notcalc. The Attorney General Ymerej Thgirw however told him that they were practically constrained by the ancient Treaty of Gnirdnet which was a perpetual treaty of peace, friendship, trade. This treaty allowed free passage of goods and persons through the Empire and through the Empire’s ports – specifically the great port of Troporue at the mouth of the Enihr – it also allowed for free trade between the Empire and Notcalc. In return, Notcalc pledged to remain neutral and not to pledge any form of diplomatic or other support for any other state.

    The Attorney General Ymerej Thgirw told them that Notcalc was not in breech of the treaty and its refusal to be part of the Naejopolis Agreement on Coal Combustion meant that no action could be taken.

    The lack of any significant action proved a huge problem for the Imperial government as the Most High Priestess of the Daughters of Gaia, Eilatan Ttenneb issued an encyclical condemning the fugitives and called for their extradition and the harshest of punishments. The Most High Priestess felt her own position had been undermined as one of the fugitives, Ynot Ttenneb, was her cousin!

    The Most High Priestess, Eilatan Ttenneb was also concerned about being replaced by her deputy, High Priestess Enilorac Sacul.

    Secretary of State Yevad was taken back to his villa by his ministerial aides. He was greeted by his mistress Rebma Ddur. When she saw his ashen appearance she asked the aides why. When they told her about the coal mine in Notcalc she became hysterical shouting in the street; “The end! The end! Notcalc has a coal mine!” She then feinted.

    Five years later:

    Over the course of the following five years the Imperial government – which was a coalition between the “Yrot” and the “Gihw” factions with the leader of the “Gihw” faction, Kcin Ggelc – who was given the special post of Deputy Imperial Chancellor – the coal mine at Gnikcarf allowed the steel making industry in Notcalc to advance. The whole world was shocked when President Llewsrac opened the world’s first railway with a steam locomotive!

    The burning of coal allowed Notcalc’s industry to produce better and cheaper goods than other nations, notably the Empire of Eporue. At the time of the opening of the coal mine at Gnikcarf, Baron Nesnah, the Empire’s leading astrologer and meta-physicist had proved categorically by astrological divination that the world would come to an end 4 years after the combustion of 100 tons of coal. After 5 years thousands of tons had been burnt in Notcalc and the world had not come to an end.

    To maintain public order, the Imperial government had ordered a news blackout of all mention of the existence of the coal mine at Gnikcarf. As a result no action was or could be taken against the new competitively prices and superior products produced in Notcalc. This caused economic and political difficulties and the coalition government became very unpopular.

    Then a politically seismic event took place. The death of HIM Naej XIII Edualc. The death of the Emperor came at the worst possible time for the government. This was because the constitution required the dissolution of the Imperial Diet and new elections.

    Because all members of the Imperial Diet were constitutionally immune from arrest, the 14 fugitives led by Legin Egaraf, became candidates for the Diet. The immunity was only acquired upon election and therefore all 14 remained in Notcalc during the election campaign. All 14 were elected.

    The election of these 14 however was the hole in the dyke. The hole widened and the leak became a flood. The elections brought about a weak coalition government and shortly after another election.

    The new political party, “The Coal Burners” won a landslide majority. The Naejopolis Agreement on Coal Combustion was reneged upon and with it all other parties abandoned it. The Coal Offences Act was repealed and the Register of Coal Offenders disbanded. All those convicted off offences under the act were pardoned.

    The Most High Priestess, Eilatan Ttenneb and her deputy, High Priestess Enilorac Sacul, committed suicide by drowning themselves in a vat of fortified wine.

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