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THE LAST HAMLET or The Readiness Is All - 51 EPILOGUE

EPILOGUE

By means of a chute rigged up by Macroida, the first load of Draxy was scattered on the surface of the reservoir at the edge of the Wilderness; within a week, most of the people of our world were drinking the super enriched water, and less than a week later the taps on the Moon were running with it. Eight loads in all were ferried from Fendergedano, and the life giver was added to mountain streams, lakes, and rivers, spread on arable land, and scattered to the four winds in the lower atmosphere. None of it was kept in stock, not even a 'token amount' for the rites and ceromonies which some thought we should perpetuate, for 'old time's sake'!

*

For those already stricken by the weakening, the Draxy came too late; but most who were twenty eight at the time of Ullyses' rerturn did not begin to fade until they were thirty or thirty one; many who were twent six or twenty seven lived until they were thirty four or thirty five; and as of now, ten years on, very few who were twenty five or younger have yet begun to weaken. Medical opinion suggests that most who are now twenty or younger will never weaken; they will go weak, of course, eventually, and they will end up dying from diseases rarely known amongst us for a century, or simply of old age. Some have asked, "Where is the progress in all that?" Well, they will receive no glib answer from me, though personally I rejoice that Finola and I might share together another half century or more.

*

Following the Great Adventure, His Majesty had never had any intention of ruling alone. I suppose the first members of our new Council more or less picked themselves: the King and Queen, Medoc and Morag, Drainin and Polikova, Captain Terson, Mister Rollo, Commander Darande, and Macroida were all names most of us would have pencilled in on the back of an envelope. Later additions included Aora, Mulch, and Alkan from Draxy Palace, Hannibal, who oversaw the new and essential breeding programme for horses, and Burdon, whose work in planning and co-ordinating the great Willderness project is already the stuff of legends. Nell might have been quite proud of him!

Last year saw the election of the first people's representatives to the Council. When the Guardians were asked to to nominate a Council member, they said they would think about it. They are still thinking.

Reconcilliation was the watchword in the very early days, and at the top of the list of those to be reconciled were the residents of Draxy Palace. Their position in Steefax was unique, in that apart from successive archdraxites, and occasional interlopers such as myself, they could all trace their ancestry back several generations. The Council ruled that any changes in the life of their community had to come from within, rather than being imposed from outside. Within a year of the return of Ullyses, an open invitation was issued to all Steefax citizens to visit Draxy Palace - no change of name was ever suggested - and to meet its people. Thousands of us have by now attended 'open receptions', at which residents have been eager to show visitors around, and to talk of their lives now, and under the archdraxites. Plans for turning parts of the palace into a museum, and for the building of new houses within the walls, to cater for the increasing population, are well advanced.

Nothing has yet been decided regarding the future of the House of the Sages. Do its inhabitants even know what has been going on beyond their walls? Will the first King Theobald - that is still the next name in the Book of Names, though there are those would gladly change it, including Hamlet and Cilla's son Horatio - ever receive his Prophecy?

Not everyone agrees with me, I know, but I do think it was sensible, for a while at least, to coninue with appointment by moles. It is being phased out now, of course, but perhaps we ought not be too ready to mock a sytem which to produced a pair of superior Hamlets, and Drainin and Polikova!

Moonbase is flourishing as never before under the dynamic leadership of Lindra. The hotel there is nearing completion, and it will soon be receiving its first Steefax guests - including Finola and me!

There have been marriages between some of the Great Adventurers; of Darek to Macroida, and Bryn to Tullulah.

Finola and I are expecting a brother or a sister for little Elenor.

Terson is still a widower - but only just! Invitations to his forthcoming marriage to Fransesca, a teacher at the school which taught Perfundus, are on many a mantelpiece. Mister Rollo is to be his best man.

Drainin, Polikova, Medoc, Morag, and the farmer Jobbinses, have left us. Here I merely record their deaths; in the privacy of my heart I mourn them.

The King offered Nebos her old job back. She was pleased to be asked, but she said she'd sooner 'stop with the real medicine of the highstreet'.

The Royal Teas are more popular than ever, and if you would like to attend one in the next eighteen months, you'd better get your name down with all speed.

Thus far our strory has been told. Others will continue to tell it, no doubt, and to live it, and perhaps some will live for a very long time indeed. With this powerful strain of Draxy, might we eventually all become centenarians, like Traveller?

Whatever the future my hold for us we must not allow future generations to forget the name which was held by our two most famous kings. Let us never tire of honouring their lives, and their achievements

CRY DRAXY, FOR HAMLETS, STEEFAX, AND SAINT GEORGE!

THE END

Thank you!!

Just finished giving this a full reading at last (hadn't had the chance to sit down with the last ten parts), and I have to thank you so very much for sharing this with us.

An evocative world, memorable characters, an epic scope--this was a great joy to read. (With the added fun of recognizing all the little nods to 'Rattlelance'!)

Most grateful thanks...

And to you, Richard, my most grateful thanks! You helped me to get going in the first place, and you have encouraged me most generously along the way. I am for ever in your debt, as I am to all who have stayed with Diken until the end. What shall I try to write next? At the moment I have only a few very vague ideas, but in the mean time there is plenty to read and enjoy from others, in this wonderful world of ours called Oort-Cloud.

John