Albion: An Introduction

   For three hundred years history has been frozen like a fly in amber. 
There has been change, as there has always been change throughout 
history, but change more in form than in substance. But now the whole 
world holds its breath, awaiting a new century, a new millenium, and -- 
perhaps -- a new era.
   In China, that most ancient of nations, the Ouyang Dynasty, which 
came to power in a blaze of blood and fire, now drifts into twilight 
decadence, while the mercantile cities of the northeast, calling 
themselves "free", tread a narrow and careful path between the mandarins 
in Zhongjing and the shogun and his minions in Edo across the narrow 
sea. Some feel that neither Ouyang emperor nor Ishihara shogun have long 
to rule.
   Far to the south, the Moguls and merchants of Java, carrying the word 
of the Koran ever eastward and at the same time feathering their own 
nests, are nourishing Javanese and Balinese colonies along the west 
coast of the new land of Sumbaya. That Sumbaya is a whole new continent 
they are only now discovering; and that others, too, have come here, has 
yet to sink in on them.
   In Eurasia, the Russian Metropolitan Kingdom crouches, waiting, 
guarding against the Ouyangs to the southeast, the mighty Osmanid Empire 
to the south, and -- most carefully -- the Holy Empire of Europe to the 
west. In their turn, the Osmanli and their relatives and fellow 
celebrants in the religion of Mohammed, have turrned their attention 
south, solidifying their grip on the Bharati subcontinent, now free of 
the resistance of the Moguls and Englishmen who preceded them here. 
Those followers of Krishna and his relatives who refuse to convert to 
the crescent are dying en masse in great bonefires. The followers of 
Shiva the Destroyer and those of Durgha the Black Mother will not go so 
easily to the flames.
   In Africa, the great empires of the north -- Tomboctu, Songhai -- are 
collapsing after the renaissance of the last century, their deaths the 
result of natural forces over which neither they nor anyone else has 
control. Drought is killing these empires of the Sahel. New empires will 
someday rise on their ruins, perhaps, as at Meroe to the east or 
Zimbabwe to the south, hardly realizing that these latter-day nations 
ever existed.
   And in the Holy Empire of Europe, Richard Six Stuart sits the Pearl 
Throne at Versailles -- and at the same time stands astride the narrow 
world, to use the words of the Bard of Europe. For three hundred years 
the Emperor of Europe has held his position at the pleasure of the Order 
of Europe -- though he must be a Burbon, a Habsburg or a Stuart, within 
those constraints the election of the Emperor is the prerogative of the 
Order's High Council, as the Pope is elected by the College of 
Cardinals. Richard is still young, as such things go, but already he is 
scheming to bring about a consummation that none of his predecessors 
have attained: to ensure that his own blood will succeed him on the 
Pearl Throne. More: when Richard Seven Stuart sits the Pearl Throne, his 
younger brother, Arthur, will be the very first Stuart to occupy the 
Papal See. The Holy Empire will be a Stuart fiefdom, truly united for 
the first time in history. Perhaps Richard Six's plans will succeed. 
Perhaps they will fail. And perhaps, though he cannot possibly foresee 
this, they will do both.
   The Holy Empire sprawls across Europe, from the Mediterranean in the 
south to the Arctic Ocean in the north, from the southwestern tip of 
Ireland  in the west to the marshes of White Russia and the Asian shore 
of the Bosporus in the east. And Imperial domains fill the now-old New 
World, from Tierra del Fuego in the south to the Canada Sea in the north 
-- except for a small area in the center and west of the northern 
continent. In the center, the settlers of New Moravia and New Sweden 
have come up against the intransigence of the Americans, a race of 
copper-skinned men divided among many tribes and languages who have 
learned -- with help from others -- to resist their incursions. Could he 
do so, Richard Six would wipe the savages from the face of the earth. 
Instead, he smiles and treats with them -- while it suits his purposes 
to do so.
   And in the west, on the sunrise shore of a sunset sea, waits the 
pivotal point in the change that is coming: the Pirate Kingdom: Albion.