Time is Now, and apparently Now is still 1899. But let me warn Her Enduring Majesty that Now will soon be Gone, All things come and go, like the “revival” and death of the Neathly cities that came before London, and even her mandate cannot postpone this Reckoning forever. After all, what is an Empress to a God, and what greater God could there be but Time, the King of Hours himself? Yet even Time will die and be reborn as the clockwork of the universe repeats itself. Regardless, it is a second chance, and second chances do not come often.
The streets of London will ring with revolution! Or so that is the word on the street, I hear. The recent proclamation by the Empress has got the people of London up and riled, and they will not take it anymore! She has gone too far! Up with the rebellion and down with monarchy! I must say that I was rather amused by the whole thing, really. As were many of my comrades at arms. The streets of London, ringing with revolution now? They have been ringing for quite a while already! But perhaps many were simply not listening closely enough.
Some of my colleagues quite disapprove of this whole matter, actually. Not with the Empress – as if we would obey her fearful attempts to deny history to begin with – but with the response of the public. This, they ask, is what brings people to revolt? Not the injustices against London’s poor and outcast, but being unable to attend a party? Not the erosion of our political and innate rights, but having to drink their special wine alone? And some of them have even gone so far to say that if this is the London we fight to free – a London where people will only act when they are inconvenienced – is this a city worth saving to begin with?
Well, I think it is. And I disagree with my colleagues on this matter. Many fighting for a free future were provoked to change when our surroundings became intolerable. A brother, watching his sister beat by Special Constables; a child, watching their parent be dragged to the Cage-Gardens; a lover, watching her deceased wife’s poetry stolen out of her hands to feed Mr Pages’ library. These people were not brought to the revolution out of pure altruism! They were wronged, and in their grief they became determined to make things different.
Which brings us to now. In the city of London, the Empress says it is 1899. But somewhere, it is 1900, and a new century is on the way. So many of us are there, too, and it is beautiful. So I ask you: will you join us? Stand beside us, with us, ring in a new year where change can be had so long as we work to make it so? Will you take your anger at the Empress and forge it into action?
If so, I’ll be waiting there at the barricades for you – with a glass in hand. Let’s raise a toast to the New Year. And a new start for London.
Well, I woke up at the crack of dawn to rush to the palace with some… people of questionable suspicion – but you needn’t worry about that – we had plans to camp outside and wait for the Empress’s announcement. As we waited more people began to descend on the palace. We were feeling quite famished so we, stupidly, all got up to buy a few baskets of overpriced rubbery lumps, the only problem with this was that by the time we returned to our bench it was overrun with children and ruffians. What was the queen thinking? Planning to get the whole of London in the courtyard!
Anyway, with a lot of discomfort and grunting we waited the rest of the four hours until the Empress’s servants came out, with her in tow. People were hysterical, climbing up trees and yelling, oh and that poor rubbery lumps salesman. Young, but dishing out thousands of baskets an hour – he better be getting paid well. Again, what did the Empress think! When she announced it was still 1899 I swear I saw a zailor pull out his emergency blunderbuss before getting tackled by the guards. The band helped sooth the pain, I even managed to stuff three bottles of Broken Giant down my pants, and that helped as well. What brought all the pain back is seeing His Amused Lordship on the verge of tears. I wanted to offer him a bottle but the crowd was too thick to even move without almost getting trampled. I sit here on my chair at my desk, oil lamp in the background and the shuffling of urchins on my roof, disappointed in this tyranny.
VIVÉ LA RESISTANCE!
Well, the way I see it, most of London shouldn’t really be too affected by this, right? It’s not as if the empress controls the actual passage of time, is it? Sure, there’ll be some discrepancies between the London calendar and other calendars, but most of us can’t be too affected by a year being repeated in name alone, right?
…My deepest sympathies for the calendar makers who prepared for 1900, though. That situation must be just awful. Hopefully the rest of London will be fine, though, and maybe I could find people to buy a bunch of 1900 calendars with, to make sure said calendars still help with turning a profit. Anyway, that’s just my two pence on the matter. Maybe something will happen to make me change my mind later down the track. Seemingly anything can happen down here.
Something isn’t quite right here. On the surface there’s really no harm to be done, just keep track of the count for yourself I suppose. A tad queer but I suppose we would live on. But when you think about it there’s only two possibilities for this change: either she has a reason to make such a choice, or she does not. I am quite uncertain which would be worse. If she is plotting something then it must be put to an end, her disgraceful ruminations could only end poorly for all of us.
Quite worrying too, is the opposite: her mind is hardly steadfast and unbroken, us knowing few could hardly argue otherwise, knowing all that we do about the terrors in the palace cellars! We are being led by a traitor, who also happens to be either a scheming rascal or an aimless idiot! Panic, as always, will only make things worse: but I intend to keep a keen watch on our Beloved Empress.
I had just gotten out of a bit of merriment at Medusa’s and had caught a ride with a few fellows I knew from my work with the Constables to the Palace to see what the Empress wanted to tell the whole of London. The constables I shared the ride with were wary but welcoming as I began to share out a bit of Coffee that I had stored away for the Announcement. When we arrived at the Palace we all piled out and picked a corner away from the crowd as they heaved and boiled, their glimmering badges keeping the people of London at bay as much as the Rifle I had slung across my back, one of our number daring the crowds as he took echoes from our little group to go and purchase a large amount of Lumps.
Once he returned and we began to eat, we had to set down our small snack as the Empress stepped out and said… Well you’ve already heard that ridiculousness enough and I’m not keen on repeating because it angered me and it definitely angered the Constables I had arrived with. Several of our little group were beaten near to death before we managed to escape, some of the rougher members of the crowd blaming us for the fact, but we managed to escape and thankfully arrived at our various destinations…
Now as I sit here among the silent halls of my home, the partygoers having returned to their home in sadness and I stare at my ‘trophy’ of a bottle of fungal wine with the Year-That-Never-Was on it. I began to ponder a group I had contact with in my early days…
The Clock must tick on!
“The poor old biddy.”
That was my first thought after I had finished reading the pronouncement handed out by the Ministry yesterday, when we finally got to know what it was the Empress wanted to tell us.
I couldn’t help it. Seeing her up there on that balcony with all those empty chairs – so far away from her people, from any real people – the whole sad ridiculousness of the event, which she alone seemed entirely oblivious of, nearly brought me to tears. “If this is what power does to people,” I thought, “may it forever pass me by.”
I have never paid much, or any, attention to the goings-on in the Shuttered Palace. We all know the Powers holding true sway over this city. Compared to Them, I’ve never viewed the Empress as anything more than a silly distraction. Maybe I hadn’t expected how silly a distraction she could become. But I confess my thoughts even now are less about possible social, cultural or political fallouts of her absurd proclamation – or if there should be any. (Clearly, the sensible thing to do for any sensible Londoner would be just to ignore it entirely.)
No, my thoughts right now are with this scary, sad, absurd old lady who shut herself off from society, from the world.
No, she did not abandon her Consort.
Just everyone else.
The question I were to put before her, given the chance, would be this:
“Was it all worth it?”
As the clocks near the turn to a new day, as the Khanate’s lamps turn to false-night, merely a day after the Imperial Pronouncement, the gears of London turn as they have turned for decades.
The Ministry’s men light pyres so bright no gas lamps need to be lit all throughout the city – on them they burn books, calendars, papers. On the Empress’s decree, all mentions of the new Century are to be banished without second thought. Despite this cruelty, Londoners go about their daily business as if nothing had happened.
Many are rightfully uncaring of this development. Those who see this as a mere frivolity, a spark of whim and fancy of a fading monarch, are perhaps more right than those who proclaim disgust and war.
Merely a day has passed, merely a day and already the Empress’s lack of power has made itself apparent. Do the Masters care? Do the wealthy? The decline of monarchy is apparent. Even this, an effort of revolution against a ludicrous decree seems like nothing but a meaningless game.
Let the royals have their calendars. Let them burn what they can find. Words will never disappear as long as there is someone to remember. Time will always march on, no matter what one’s calendar may say.
A reckoning cannot be postponed indefinitely.
Sod the Empress, new Century babyyyyy!
– Pox Girl