We Really Don’t Know Anything

A king led his people in their tiny empire. They lived by the sea and caught fishes and made textiles from materials harvested in nearby…

We Really Don’t Know Anything
Photo by Camerauthor Photosandstories on Unsplash

A king led his people in their tiny empire. They lived by the sea and caught fishes and made textiles from materials harvested in nearby forests and maintained herds and cultivated fields for crops.

The king had no queen or heirs. He was quite extraordinary in that he was placed in power over the people by force, having received the throne by command from visiting space aliens. They deposed the old king and his family and ate them and placed the new king in power, giving him command and wealth enough to keep order.

The people did not love their new king, but they did not want to be eaten, so they obeyed him. It was unclear when, if ever, the space aliens would return.

Meanwhile, a raiding party of sea fairing barbarian lords traveled over the nearby channel in mighty ships to invade and pillage. Word came through the streets by horseback, sent by fishermen just returned to the shore in their tiny boats. The guard of the castle would not let the filthy fishermen through, per castle protocol, but promised to carry the message to the king.

The king was eating a large mixture of vegetables with fish and some exotic oil acquired from the trade routes. The oil was very good and the king recently ordered it be distributed to every household. A court attendant brought forth the message of the invading marauders.

“What’s this!” demanded the king. “Hostiles reported on the seas? Coming here?”

“Aye, so the reports from the fishermen say, sire,” conveyed the bowing attendant.

The king ordered his guard assembled and for runners to bring all able-bodied men to the armory to be outfitted with weapons of defense and warfighting, for the kingdom would soon be under attack. So it was done.

Young eager boys and stout working men, and some men too old to fight, really, made their way to the armory and stood in line while pikes and short swords were passed around. They were assigned to units led by trained fighters and marched to the corners of the city proper as part of the standing plan for defense.

The catapults were readied and ammunition laid up along the parapets.

The seafaring raiders made landfall in their terrifying ships and struck out among the surrounding villages and farms, terrorizing the people there, slaughtering the animals and engaging in unnecessary mischief. This frustrated the Captain at Arms, who had a perfect plan for defense if only the invaders would line up and directly charge the city.

Soon, the men of the defenses grew weary of waiting in the city and longed to check in on their home and families, as they could clearly see smoke burning at multiple points in the distance beyond.

Just when it could be borne no more, the invaders clamored back into their massive ships and left with plunder and the satisfaction of having struck terror of their tribes into the heart of the city, growing their wealth and legend. They laughed and drank as they sailed back home across the channel.

The people of the kingdom, angry at the lack of practical defenses for all but the king himself and the city, finally revolted and slew the king and whatever few guards stayed loyal to him.

Then, a month later, the aliens returned and asked for the king. They were outraged that the people slew him, and insult was added when they learned the king was burned alive and not even eaten. How wasteful.

The aliens considered the matter, heard the indignation of the kingdom at being raided and their outrage at how self-centric the defense plan was, and so forth. And they did go ahead and eat a few people, but this was done secretly so as not to arouse suspicion.

There was dissent among the aliens. One faction wanted to freeze all the inhabitants and save them to eat as they wished, which would be very convenient because all Class B space ships had large freezers. But the winning caucus was determined to cultivate the residents of the kingdom, because while everyone agreed they were pretty tasty, the most practical route seemed to be to let them grow in numbers and expand their territory so there were more to eat upon each visit and forevermore. This was, after all, very reasonable approach and the aliens congratulated themselves for such a marvelous plan.

So, the aliens told the kingdom to pick a ruler however it wished, just try not to kill too many of one another while doing so, and also left them with laser blaster cannons for defense against the seagoing lords. Before leaving, the aliens spiked the water supply with a long lasting aphrodisiac to encourage the city members to multiply.

The city was encouraged by this benevolent gift of defense and self-rule, and in their happiness and self satisfaction (along with the aphrodisiac) they grew and multiplied in great numbers. They held common councils on kingdom-wide defense and nodded in grievous accord at their own internal findings. They wrote policies and appointed chairs and committees. They expanded their borders and incorporated and legalized and established whole new layers of important people to ensure proper management and procedure.

Eventually, the scientists of the city deconstructed what they had seen of the fleet carrying the invaders and mastered the craft of building large seagoing ships. Then they requisitioned supplies and ordered them built. The city leaders mounted the laser blaster cannons on their new vessels and invaded the kingdoms across the sea, in vengeance and spite and with a mild measure of smugness.

When the barbarian council was being slaughtered by the vengeful people of the city across the channel, they paused for a moment to ask how it came to be that the kingdom acquired laser blaster cannons. So it was relayed that the aliens favored the great city and blessed them with freedom and means of self defense.

“Ah,” said the barbarians. “These must be the aliens who gave us the seagoing vessels and told us to do what we wished, so long as we did not directly invade the city.”

The last remaining barbarian lord mentioned that the aliens eventually left them alone because the barbarians ate slime, and therefore did not taste very good. The aliens further shared that they found a very tasty new group of people across the channel who ate vegetables, and they were being flavored with an oil that was very fine, and easy on the alien digestion. Then he died from his laser-induced injuries before revealing how they acquired their slime.