Story 10 - A Weapons Mythology.
No sooner was this said, the command was given and the trumpets announced the lad's approach before the king.
Vico bowed briefly according to the custom of a respected lord. "Let not these spears worry my king," he replied. "The dream of the flying sword lends itself to a more significant interpretation. I see the spear combined with a sword, but made much smaller and lighter, so that it can be propelled by a slingshot as the boys use. The sword/spears which I will design for my king will then glide through the air with the grace of a bird and reach their target with a lethal velocity at a distance that is six times greater than the distance the strongest man in your kingdom could ever hope to throw a spear. Also, my sword/spears will be light enough so that each of your fighting men will be able to carry five dozen of them. Not just one."
As it happened, his royal majesty stepped down once again from his throne and put his hand upon the lad's shoulder. The lad was promoted on the spot to Arch Counsellor Of Weaponry Of The Royal Realm. This title was given in recognition of his exceptional genius. And, as though it were with the same breath, the command went out that a full scale production of the new super weapon should begin within a week. Also, under the Arch Counsellor's advice, a rigorous training program
was worked out to teach 'Archery' skills to every man in the kingdom.
Ah, but this development was once again duly noted by the spies of Gourdland. They arrived breathless from their long journey and hastened to the royal chambers to warn their master and king of the impending doom.
Naturally, Merdy had a ready answer: "A man is limited by the strength of his arm," Merdy replied. "But if a man were to be assisted by a greater power, the power of exploding magic powder that I've heard exists in far off lands, your fighting men could then propel the archer's spear as far as they can see. Your enemy would thereby be outdistanced by a margin they would never be able to overcome."
Like on previous occasions, Merdy was praised and rewarded, and the royal spies were send out to the far lands that Merdy spoke off to secure the secrets of the magic powder.
Barely a moon had passed before a prototype of the new hyper weapon had been produced and the weapons system was ready for full scale production and immediate deployment thereafter, in the field. The whole project had been given top priority. It was simultaneously pushed ahead on all stages, with lightning speed. The entire kingdom was scared to death until this weapons-gap had been overcome.
However, when Gourdland's weapons superiority became known throughout the realm, a great panic erupted at the royal court of Greenfield which suddenly had become vulnerable again. Naturally, Lord Vico had a counter solution instantly worked out.
"The powder is no secret to me," he testified before the king. "It is used in far off kingdoms to shoot burning stars into the sky at celebrations. We could use the same process to transport quantities of a special oil I've been able to refine out of the black muck by the swamp. This oil could be contained in such a manner that it scatters far and wide on impact and be set on fire as it becomes dispersed. This will give you a weapon that can strike terror into your enemy's hearts. Once they realize that they face this kind of a threat, they'll think twice about attacking our land and will surrender to you my king."
Naturally Lord Vico's solution was accepted, and hastily a rocket construction program was initiated, with corresponding domestic austerity measures. The royal castle, itself, was turned into a refinery complex for the volatile products. The task was truly enormous. Every man in the kingdom was put to it, some to haul the black muck to the castle, others to dig into the earth for whatever
was needed to make the powder.