Cam is dipping a grilled cheese sandwich into a bowl of tomato soup when he feels the summons. He goes ahead and grabs it. Doesn't even drop the sandwich.
"We are beginning to have trains."
"Trains can go in tunnels and not take up space on the surface! It's great. But you have to run them without pouring exhaust into the air, kind of a key component. Which means running them on electricity, basically."
"We do not, regrettably, have electric trains."
"Well, one day."
"One day. Shall I leave you with your books for the moment? I believe the sun is beginning to set, and I'd rather not spend my active hours speaking with you at length - please understand, no offense intended - I simply need to use this time as efficiently as I can."
"Go for it, I'll read."
Isabella nods cordially and vanishes off into the hallway.
And Cam puts on some music, flomps into his hammock, and starts in on his stack of books.
Or perhaps none of those appeal. There are three more books, after all. The cultural history of Victoria: 'One Sun, One Heart.' The tale of Illumine and how it came to be called Eyesocket: 'City of Light, City of Darkness.' Or perhaps he should start with the general history, the one with a picture of a spearpoint shaped like Europe on its cover?
General history. He is not in quite the detached mood to read someone who thinks "tales of the lands of the savages" is a good phrase to emblazon on a front cover.
More windbaggery in this vein follows. Marcus S. explains that "Hastum in whole takes its name from its peninsula shape, which the old Lupinians thought was spearlike: Thus, Hastum, from Hasta, their word for spear. They could name it because they owned it: In the glory days of Old Lupinia, every lesser civilization would quake with fear at the coming of the full moon, for they knew that the Lupinian legions would march in strength."
He admits later in the text that the Lupinians "...did not necessarily draw their strength directly from the moon, as the Imperial Line does from the sun, and did not always campaign under full moons, but their success can be majorly attributed to their pack-bonds that allowed a hundred men to fight as one..."
However, he roundly decries that the "slavering were-beasts holding the ruined glories of the Old Lupinian empire in the south" could possibly share any kinship whatsoever with the ancient Lupinians and their pack-bond. "Their degraded shamanism merely apes the true power of their ancient betters, much as the revolutionary empire of Mori claims their ideals of democracy while practicing dictatorship."
Eventually, he does manage to start describing the histories of nations that are not Lupinian. Would Cam care to skip ahead to any in particular, or would he prefer to simply read them in order?
Eh, he's got all night. Reading them all it is.
At least, not until the rise of Mori. Mori is, of course, roundly decried at every point as a mockery of the concept of an empire, but even pompous Marcus S. has to credit them for uniting dozens of disparate pocket kingdoms into an empire. "The Brothers Mori have an uncanny and unnatural gift for conquest, wether by the sword or by the word: popular opinion has it that they are never apart from each other, and teleport from place to place. Given their encouragement of the training of enlightened will among their citizens, it may actually be possible that they are travel adepts." He details their rise somewhat sketchily: while he says they were voted into power in their native pocket kingdom, far to the west, he nonetheless takes every opportunity to say that they are dictators.
After a short rant about the "deplorable southwestern barbarians", he goes on to excessively detail Grand Victoria, praising it as a "bastion of civilization" and a "guiding light", with "over 2,000 years of unbroken Imperial rule", etc, etc.
Apparently he knows which side his toast is buttered on.
What an interesting writer this fellow is. So good at driving home the value of primary sources.
One rather suspects that Marcus S. has never consulted one in his life... save where he writes about Grand Victoria. There, in-between bouts of patriotic fervour, he paints a surprisingly complex picture of the small island nation.
Grand Victoria, he writes, “...inherits the customs of the Krenna tribes as the foundation of its common-law system, but these common-sense daily laws have been majorly complicated by a history of repeated conquest and colonization, culminating in the full establishment of the Solars approximately one millennium ago. Their establishment as the de facto religious and political leaders has not been untroubled, but their reign has remained relatively stable and is now displacing older Krenna forms of worship entirely, especially as Empress Hikari consolidates her power against the Morite Scourge...”
A few paragraphs of boasting about airship building... oh, what’s this aside? “Some Victorian dockworkers hold sympathetic or even outright traitorous opinions, and on occasion Rays must be tasked with strike-breaking. A major issue is some docks’ usage of company scrip in lieu of imperial coinage, which some argue is in contravention of Imperial laws against slavery...”