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Fish Stocks Limited
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and angels abounded, men were vessels for greater powers and the great interplay
between fish and fisher was held holy, as it still is in the treetops to this day.
Then a man was born who would change everything. His name was Tempura
Lanomaly. Tempura joined the priesthood when he was sixteen and studied hard. He
had always had a great ability to build things with his hands – like Ambrosius he was
a carver, but also a metal worker and mechanic. First he started on small decorative
pieces, carvings of men and fish and everything in between. Once he had filled his
room with such contrivances he sought new ground. His fascination turned to cogs
and wheels, and his fertile mind and dexterous hands gave birth to the first machines.
They did many things; pumped water, played music, washed clothes, printed books.
But one day Tempura discovered something that would make his previous discoveries
pale to insignificance. He presented this new contraption proudly before the king of
the land, who he had previously impressed with his ingenious inventions. With a
flourish he whipped off the covering from the machine, which he had assembled on
the king's lawn. Metal sparkled.
“What does it do?” asked the king.
Tempura bowed low. “If it pleases my lord, I will demonstrate.”
“Very well,” said the king.
First Tempura turned a crank on the side of the machine to start the motor, which
ran off fish oil. Then he went over to a control panel and carefully adjusted a few
dials. When he was satisfied that the machine was perfectly calibrated he nodded to
his assistant, a small, nervous looking youth of about fifteen with a pimply, pale face
and squinting, rat-like eyes.
“Bring me the fish,” said Tempura. The skivvy hurried over to the cart which had
transported the machine and from under the awning plucked a cage, inside which
thrashed an infinity fish. There was terror in those fathomless, animal eyes, and
desperation in those thrashings.
“Attach the cage,” said Tempura.
The servant attached the cage to a fitting at one end of the great, gleaming
“Release the fish,” ordered tempura.
The servant took a nervous, sidelong glance at Tempura.
“Release the fish, boy!” bellowed Tempura.
Gulping down his revulsion, the servant pulled up a flap that separated the caged
fish from the input bay of the machine. The fish, with freedom on its mind, rushed for
this new opening.
It is a small mercy that nobody could see what went on inside that machine, but
the clanking, booming, chuntering noises were highly suggestive. Within one minute,
a flap opened at the other end of the machine and out of it a bottle appeared. On the
label it said “Poppa Lanomaly's Traditional, Organic Fish Stock.”
“Is that it?” asked the king. “I'm not impressed.”
“If my lord is willing, would it please him to taste the product?”
The king harrumphed. “I have already had my breakfast.”
“But, my lord, one sip will be enough.”
“Very well,” grunted the king. “But this better be good.”
The servant boy rushed over and brought the bottle of stock to his master. He
popped the top off with a knife and passed the open bottle to the king.
The king put the bottle to his mouth and, tentatively, sipped.