Part 17: Acculturation
"I am Huwi Caxec, honoured scribe of the Pillar of the Sun. It has been my duty to catalogue the strange experiences of our people during the great voyage to the East. With your consent, honoured masters, I shall tell you my tale."
"The Spanish resistance was well organised, much to Emperor Xipil's delight. He had feared he might arrive to fight mere renegades and scattered nation states, but instead he had to strike at the organised might of Spain. After the victory I walked for many days across the countryside, marvelling at the great lumpen towers of stone and the disorganised, patchwork fields and hills. This was a land without organisation and industry, and I felt comforted that the prophets who had spoken of doom in these strange lands had been mistaken."
"In three blows, his Imperial Majesty shattered the Queen of Spain. I and my fellow scribes picked our ways across the fields of the slain after the battle, seeking survivors who could teach us the language and ways of these strange savages. The Emperor cared little for our work, but it was our duty to catalogue the victories and our vanquished foes that the glory of our triumphs would never be forgotten."
"From the captives, I learned a curious fact. Europe was held together by a chain of alliances and political marriages, vast and inbred families of royalty. These connections meant that the Queen of Aragon was able to call in allies from lands as distant as Denmark to help her against the Emperor's conquering armies."
"Not that it would be any help. The Emperor had brought a hundred thousand soldiers with him and resistance was pitiful.
"However, while those travelling with the army were safe, a humble scribe following in the wake and picking over the rubble was not as lucky. I found myself at swordpoint, babbling my surrender in what little I understood of the heathen tongues of Europe. And out of some strange kind of mercy, I was spared."
"My captor introduced himself as Gotfred Torbenson, a man of Denmark which I mentioned earlier. He had marched with his father's army before their defeat at the hands of the Emperor. He asked - and did not demand - that I return to his homeland with him so that I could tell his men of learning of the land across the Atlantic. He seemed quite pleased by the prospect of showing his scholars the limitations of their knowledge.
"This was a golden opportunity. I could move safely within the spheres of the heathens and learn their ways directly. I accepted his invitation and returned to Denmark."
"The last thing I heard from my people was the Emperor had resolved to invade the Kingdom of Scotland. I hoped that enough would be spared for my fellow scribes to make a history, but if there was not then all of Europe would d remembered merely for it's association with Denmark."
"When I arrived in Denmark, I was taught many things about the complexities of the political situation. I learned about how the heirs of Countess Christina of Fyn had been divided and both claimed the crown of Denmark, that was in truth held by the King of Norway. The King of Norway sought to re-establish control over his wayward vassals and the Hvide family stood together against them."
"As one used to following the campaigns of the Sun God, two armies of merely ten thousand seemed like a scouting expedition rather than a war. But so few were they that I felt compelled to take up an axe and shield in the Viking style and contribute what little skill I had to the battle."
"So I fought, an Aztec in Denmark, marvelling at this European style of war. Rains of arrows and shattering cavalry charges, mercenaries who fought for coin and families who fought for blood. Knights duelled in the field in armour so great their blunt swords could not penetrate. It was a shocking war, made of animals and metal. Utterly inhuman compared to the naked savagery of the Aztec Jaguars and their bronze clubs."
"It was a bloody victory, but the sons of Norway were driven off. After the battle, as I was catching my breath, I chanced to witness a strange argument."
"The Duke of Denmark was having a row with a woman whom I later determined to be his daughter. The argument was strange for it resembled a lover's quarrel rather than a father disciplining his child. I do not know what to make of the romantic behaviour of these Europeans; they marry but one woman, but go on to love many more? The taboo of incest does not matter to them? Perhaps this is the consequence of a culture based upon family."
"I chronicled what I could, knowing it would not be long before they were all destroyed by the Emperor's unstoppable armies."
"As splendid as some of their cities were, the heathens did not hold a candle to the grand metropolises of the Aztecs. The Emperor was said to have burned those of them that dared offer resemblance."
"But as I spoke to the young Gotfred, I learned that our people were not the only threat his culture faced. A religious schism of some kind had set the followers of Christ against the followers of Muhammad, and all the people of the East had chosen to follow Muhammad. They had united in another holy war against the weakened land of Christendom."
"And they succeeded. I felt a moment of pity for the warriors of Christ, knowing they stood between the Emperor and their old religious rivals who were taking advantage of the conflict."
"Young Gotfred awoke me in the middle of the night. He told me that his father had decided to do the unthinkable and attack his brother. Given how important family was to these Europeans, this news had me shocked."
"He told me that Duke Torben was justifying his aggression with Duke Jorn's heresy in declaring himself the reincarnation of the prophet Jesus. I confess, the theology of the argument went well over my head, especially when I was informed that Satan the Great Adversary would be joining the fight against Jesus."
"The beliefs of these people are strange, willing to ally with their culture's arch-enemy to destroy one who strives to emulate it's hero. Our culture makes so much more sense in comparison."
"But the news that filtered across to me was deeply troubling. A great plague had been unleashed and was slaughtering our people by the millions. Perhaps the gods of the stars were using the distraction of the Sun God to slaughter the people of the Empire? Millions were dead and the homeland was in ruins, and the advance faltered. The Emperor decreed that all invasions and conquests be redoubled in fury, for only a tithe of bloody hearts would strengthen the Sun long enough to beat back the night."
"The Sioux and the Shoshone were attacked and demolished, their people sacrificed to the last to stem the spread of the plague. The need for world conquest was now an immediate issue, not a generational one. The Emperor ordered an adoption of all military technology, such as horses, even if previously deemed heretical. These were the last days, and not just for the Catholics."
"More pressingly, Duke Torben triumphed in his war and was one step closer to reclaiming the Crown of Denmark from the King of Norway."
"In the aftermath, I found I had fallen to the gentle smile of one of these strange northern women. We danced for a long time at the celebration feast, and lay together afterwards. When the Duke confronted me he was furious for having shamed his daughter and dishonoured his culture's traditions of marriage. But I was surprised again by the mercy of these folk, for he did not even kill me - instead, he legitimised the son, forgave me, and invited me to marry his daughter. I, a nameless scribe from across the sea, married to the daughter of a ruler!"
"My reality was so shaken that when I heard that London had fallen, and it's inhabitants had been slaughtered, I found no pride or joy in the victory of my people."
"And when I heard the Christian Pope had authorised the Emperor of Rome to destroy the invaders in the name of all Christendom, I bowed my head in support and muttered a hopeful prayer."
"And when I heard that Duke Torben had passed, I bowed my knee and swore my allegiance anew to his son, my friend, Duke Gotfred. Together we would fight a final battle against the King of Norway to reclaim the Crown of Denmark.
"And after that...
"Who knew what I would do?