Hello. Allow me to… introduce myself. My name is William Fisher. You may have heard of me. Twice I was elected as Prime Minister of the Republic of Byakko: a small, but hardly irrelevant place. In the years I led the nation, we saw intrigue, conflict, crisis, catastrophe and calamity. Before leading the country, I started off with the armed forces, and I’ve many a story to tell from then, too. This book (if it ever reaches that length without being discovered by my captors) will hopefully shed light on some of the things that have happened these past 35 years or so – the things that have happened, and the things I have done. I shall try to be as kind as I can to my colleagues who are still living, but they are few and far between. As for those who are dead, I shall reveal all. There is nothing that can be done to them now.

I feel I should start at the beginning. On April 27th 1915, William Fisher was born in a Ramancan hospital. I was the son of a public house landlord, with one sister older and one younger than myself: they were Mary and Catherine Fisher.

For the next few years, I learnt to walk and speak, as any child would. I went to school, learnt mathematics, Matilum and the natural sciences. I felt the sting of a cane on more than one occasion. When school was done, I stayed at the pub, working as a waiter for my father. He gave me food and lodging, plus a small salary. With this I bought myself a .38 top-break revolver and went out shooting at the weekends. Life was fun, and utterly carefree.

By the time 1936 rolled around, I was politically knowledgeable enough to see the storm on the horizon. The second great Majestum War was looming, and it was looking even worse in the East. I was not worried, however. In those days, my naïve self truly believed that everything would come out all right in the end. What a fool I was. Late in ’36, I won a not insignificant sum of money in a raffle, took my leave from the pub, and boarded a cross-channel steamer. Ramanca to me was dull: my mind was filled with romantic ideals of travel and adventure. I journeyed across Gaulia for a month or thereabouts, stopping off in Barrata for a week or so. It was there that I first heard of Byakko. It was a place of almost complete insignificance, whose major export in those days was suitcase hinges.

Barrata, now, that was a hell of a week – and a hell of a meeting. I felt rather out of place there – I wasn’t fabulously wealthy, and I didn’t even speak Gaulian. I still don’t. I was trying to ask the date from a newspaper vendor when I by chance met a fellow countryman – another Matilum. He was fabulously wealthy. And he did speak Gaulian. His name was Richard MacMillan, and he was the brother of the Byakkan governor. Witnessing my struggle with the newsagent, he approached me and asked, “Parlez-vous anglais?”

I stared blankly at him. As I said, I don’t speak Gaulian. Seeing me to not understand this, he went on.

“You speak Matilum, my man?”

I informed him that I did, and asked him what the date was. He told me, and asked if I was down on my luck. I asked him what gave him that impression, and his reply was that I looked like I had walked all the way from Pallston. In fact, that was exactly what I had done, and I’d lost track of how long it had taken me.

When I told him this, he laughed, and said, with a smile, “I say, you’re a funny one. Care to join me for a drink?”

Never one to refuse an offer such as this, I went with him to a bar he knew. I had never seen anything like it: the ceiling was high and vaulted, the walls gilded and decorated with paintings. The tables were painted white, and the chairs were ornate. When the bill came, I had never seen anything like that, either. He had tea, some special kind of which I cannot remember the name, and I had a beer. We exchanged stories, told the other about ourselves. It was here that I discovered that this man was the brother of a colonial governor of the Matilum Empire. Governor of a tiny island which no-one had ever heard of, perhaps, but that was a title which carried respect nonetheless – especially in those pre-War days.

I remember quite distinctly him asking me what I planned to do in the future. I was unable to answer this. I didn’t exactly fancy the idea of remaining a waiter until my old man died, and then taking over the pub. However, while I didn’t fancy that, I had more than a little trouble thinking of something I did fancy. He felt unable to counsel me on this matter, but did suggest I try moving to the Far East. He was convinced it was a land of great opportunity. I can hardly say he was wrong given how things turned out. He had a dinner engagement to attend, so, after a cry of despair from my wallet, we went our separate ways. I spent a few more days sitting around in Baratta, trying to hitch rides on boats (to little avail), before moving on.

My next destination was Freezantia. I moved into a small lodging-room in Lugano (near the Pareshtum border), and it was here that my prize money dried up. Now, it is a very difficult thing to do to live without money, especially in Freezantia, and as such I needed a job. I did the only thing I was really qualified to do in those days: I worked behind the bar in a hotel popular with the Matilum. My life there was rather uninteresting, but I truly enjoyed those times. Apart from occasional trips by Austin motor-car to Pareshtum with my neighbour (another expat), things were constant. I worked, ate, slept, and occasionally took my .38 to the local target shooting range.

This continued until 1938, when I met Richard MacMillan once more. He was visiting Lugano on holiday before going to visit his brother in Byakko. To say I was surprised to see him was an understatement, but my surprise was nothing compared to his. Unless my memory is failing me, his words of greeting were along the lines of, “Bloody hell! I’ll be damned! If it isn’t Bill from Barrata!” We exchanged pleasantries, and he had some Scotch. He asked me if all I planned to do in my life was tend bars, and I asserted that it wasn’t. Once more, however, I was unable to think of an alternative plan for my life. He suggested I come with him to Byakko, and make a new life for myself there. The idea was definitely appealing, so I went for it. It didn’t take me long to pack my bags, and I rode in Richard’s car to the port of Geno, from where we would be leaving. After three months or so of pleasant sailing from port to port, we finally arrived. I still have the photograph of Richard MacMillan and myself that we took that day, the two of us smiling together, Fort Lesley rising behind us. That image takes pride of place on my writing desk – for it is the image of when I first arrived in Byakko, a land I was one day to govern. My word, I had no idea what was in store in those days. I had no idea what was coming: the struggles I would face, or the heights I would rise to.

I would like to look back on my time as Prime Minister and say I have no regrets about how I governed the nation – but if I did, I would be lying.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2: The Present