Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Wealth of Nations

The shrine was the first stone laid on American soil by the British, a plinth of solid jade driven into the ground. The dome above it had been erected decades later, and its walls were engraved with the prayers and sacred mandalas that had made imperial colonialism possible in the New World. But no more. The English had been driven out –by Washington and his marvelous war machine, the half-man Jefferson and his sorcery, Rochambeau and his fleet of airships. And it was to uproot this final outpost of the empire that the Sagacious Hero of the Treasury made the long and arduous pilgrimage to Plymouth, crossing the glassy wastelands of Massachusetts.

Custom held that all who would speak with the shrine’s god must wait three days before the door, practicing all austerities of suppliance. Offerings were to be made, of silver, gold, and blood. Alexander Hamilton did not practice the austerities nor offer up the tribute. He pulled back his wig, straightened the cotton robes of office he wore, and rapped his fist against the great stone portal of the shrine. And for all the wards and seals that had been laid upon that ingress, they had no power to stand against a Sagacious Hero acting in his bailiwick. The doors opened, and Hamilton stepped in.

Hamilton sniffed to see the empty shrine, no longer festive with merchant stalls, slave markets, and vestal economists. The green-veined altar stone stood as sole adornment, and it was up to this he strode. He placed his white-gloved hand palm down on the stone, and spoke–not the prayers of proper entreaty, or the invocation of miraculous benefice, but a command. “I stand at your altar and brandish the authority of my office. Come forth, Mun, for we must speak.”

At the young sage’s beckoning, wisps of gold and silver light limned the altar’s face, swelling up to a veritable bonfire of of luminance. There was a deafening blast, as the clink of a thousand brazen coins within some cosmic till, and Mun stepped forward from the altar. The God of Economics was clad in a suit of immaculate black silk, festooned with ornamental chains of silver and gold. They wrapped tightly around his arms and legs, only barely jingling as he stepped forward. The god had no true visage, for no divinity could assume a true counterfeit of humanity. Where a man ought have a head, there was merely a seething soot-black of smoke, bearing a mask of whitest porcelain, carved into a patronizing sneer. The All-Numismatic One spoke, with a voice clamorous as the fiercest battles of the stock market’s arenas.

“Who dares seek the benefice of Mun?” he bellowed out. “What last man, still loyal to his king, speaks before the altars of my shrine?” His voice did not fade, carrying on in a sonorous arpeggio, but Hamilton cut him off with a decisive flick of his right hand. The Sagacious Hero of the Treasury looked on the god with contempt alone, speaking as he would to a child. “Mun, it is time that you change, or die. America has no need of coin and colony, no need of your divine domain. Are you so mad that you would cling to an abandoned temple, rather than shuck your mask and chains?” There was no allowance made for argument or condition in Hamilton’s chill monotone.

Mun bellowed and blustered, both bear and bull in his rage. “You dare? You dare defy me, in my place of power? The sun shall never set on my divinity, foolish mortal. My words are backed by the royal authority of the King, by the ordained propriety of the Divine Hierarchy. Does such a lofty authority give your words such weight, Hamilton? Are there any in this mad and kingless nation who would give you power to speak thus?”

Hamilton’s response flowed from his feet, poised in a stance surer than the imperial currency. It flowed through him as he twisted, his shoulders twisting to drive forward his blow. There was much of the West Indies in his blow, the swaying dance of tense muscle and fluid movement, but at the same time his lunge was restrained, cautiously tempered in the way of the Scottish war-philosophers. His reply was a strike of both Old World and New, and its power was unanswerable. His gloved fist pressed firmly against where Mun’s sternum ought to have been, driving the god off of his feet.

The deity snarled, half-rising from the ground. He did not stand, nor press back with a blow of his own–instead, the chains that coiled around his body unlimbered, lunging out at Hamilton like the tentacles of a wrathful kraken. Hamilton leapt to one side, but could not avoid the chains. The auric snares turned in the middle of their fly, snaking around Hamilton’s limbs and drawing taut. The tremendous pull forced the Sagacious Hero of the Treasury to his knees, and as he fell, Mun stood. The coffer-god loomed over his restrained foe, barely holding back his mirthless laughter. “Fools, fools, a world full of fools. Now you see, Hamilton? You stand alone against a god, a god invested with power both imperial and divine. You cannot hope to win, cannot hope to conquer me!”

There was a stony, painful noise as Hamilton gritted his teeth, shaking his head. “I do not stand alone. Mun, you may speak for the empire and the heavens. But my words,” he said, forcing himself up, despite the onus of his chains, “are backed with hot blood!” An aurora of scarlet light burst forth from Hamilton’s breast, blinding his divine foe. He pushed his shackled arms forward, plunging them into the stream of light. “And MANLY! FIGHTING! SPIRIT!”

The crimson coalesced into being, becoming a sword within his hands. Its hilt was ruby-studded, and its curving blade tinted the faintest vermillion. With one swing, Hamilton clove through the chains that bound him, sending links of precious metal clattering to the ground. Mun stepped back, trembling with the fear of his sudden revelation. “But that’s...that sword...”

Hamilton drew his blade overhead, locking eyes with the god’s mask. “Yes, Mun. Behold! I wield the Wealth of Nations!” Hamilton leapt forward, striking out with the legendary katana forged by Adam Smith. Only a true economist could draw the blade forth from his heart, and only one who had studied the Seven Arts of the Upright Capitalist could wield it. Hamilton brought down his sword in the first of the seven arts, the Propitious Allocation of Resources Kata. Its tip carved through Mun’s porcelain mask, splitting it perfectly in half. Before the smoky, amorphous visage could even assume a look of outrage, Hamilton drew back and dealt out a whirling blow, the Boom-and-Bust Barrage that sliced cleanly through the black silk of the Bank-God’s suit. Hamilton ceased his movement in a single instant, falling from motion to stillness as the price of a stock when the closing bell is rung. He smiled...and seconds later, all of Mun’s divine panoply, his vestments and accoutrements, fell to the ground.

Mun was now little more than a cloud of smoke, the trappings of his divinity cut away by the sacred economics of Hamilton’s blade. The Sagacious Hero sheathed his sword in his belt, walking towards his vanquished foe. “Mun, I am Alexander Hamilton, and I will not abide this foolishness, these childish outbursts. They ill befit a god. You are conquered, and by my blade you are reforged. Now rise, Mun, and become a god of America!”

And at Hamilton’s commands, the God of the Economy took on an assumption novel and strange. Gone were the silver and gold of mercantilism, the silk of opulent luxury. The new Mun wore an apron of leather over vestments of grey-white cotton, well-suited to an honest worker. No mask hid his smoky mien, now shaped into a grandfatherly countenance–a pair of spectacles was their sole adornment. All trappings of his past domain had been sundered, replaced with the mantle of capitalism.

Hamilton’s smile subsided, falling back into his cool manner. “Excellent.”

5 comments:

  1. I am convinced this is the best thing ever.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is pure brilliance. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. By the way, this is utterly brilliant. Exalted meets American history.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautiful. Just....beautiful.

    ReplyDelete