Thursday, February 28, 2013
Darkness Falls on a Dark Land, Part 8
In a lot of ways, the Alliance of Five could never have endured forever. In order for the Galactic Alliance itself to have come about, the end of the beginning had to happen. Now, whether or not that means Hayed was the assassin of Trey or merely played a part in it, I don’t know that I’m qualified to say. I’ve been stuck on Omox for too long to believe in simple answers. I’ve still yet to find anything besides the clay statues of Modoc. I spend more time trying to help Bondquan achieve something even more impossible, teach me to speak Omoxian.
The truth is, Trey died at the Battle of Shibal, and what killed him was a spaceship. I mean that he was literally crushed by a spaceship. That may sound like complete overkill, or something that was obviously invented well after the fact, the only means capable of murdering a legend, but it’s too absurd not to take at face value. A spaceship crash-landed on top of Trey the Conqueror.
Unlike the Alliance of Five tales themselves, which recount the early adventures of Trey and the four other founding members of the Galactic Alliance, there are more sources available for the Battle of Shibal. Though Shibal itself has passed into legend and has been interpreted in many ways, the battle itself is known to have occurred, because each of the four races involved have versions of it on record in some way. The Tikanni share little with the outside world these days, but they still speak of it, as if to justify leaving the Alliance behind. Lord Phan is not a part of the battle, but his surrogate, the Hesslan called Kaz Felrek, is, although not as a combatant. For a mercenary, Felrek rarely seems to act in any of the stories about him. The Vitell use the battle as a platform for Ureic’s ascension to power within the Alliance, naturally enough. The Vanadi use it as further evidence against the Cynocs, discrediting their justifications for a rebellion that has gone on for as long as anyone can remember. They stop short of calling Hayed a member of the faction, but there seems to be little other way to explain his guilt in Trey’s death. It’s the Omoxians who claim that. Their relations with the Vanadi, as with everyone else, have never been smooth, and it has the added benefit of trivializing yet another member of the Alliance of Five. There’s a reason why the Andiron Ewer, since lost to history along with everything else from that time, is called the Chest of Trey and not the Alliance Chest or something similar. It’s the most lasting element of the Omoxian whitewash job.
The Vanadi in fact still champion the name of Hayed. Their reputation suffered the most from the Battle of Shibal, because it was essentially an internal conflict that ended up affecting all their friends, and shattered the fabled city of the Omoxians, which was said to be the last destination of the Five, where the Chest of Trey was placed, and thus not only was Trey himself lost but the very symbol of the Alliance. Since no contradictory fate for the Chest has ever been produced, the Omoxians are glad to support the assertion, though few others do. The Chest is simply described as lost, subject of the universe’s greatest treasure hunt and quite possibly the real motivation for the Danab’s rampage through space. It’s also said to be, if anyone’s, the legacy of Lord Phan, and what he has spent his long life seeking ever since. Personally, I would find that a little sad. There must be other quests worth that devotion. Well, so little is known one way or another.
I simply don’t believe that Hayed had anything to do with that rogue ship. It’s preposterous to even suggest that, let alone believe it. It would be far more likely that it was Kaz Felrek.
All I can do is continue my work, no matter how thankless and luckless it seems to be at the moment. Is Bondquan growing bored? Is that why she’s spent so much time apparently doting on me, hoping that I’ll give up this mad quest of my own? This is work that will take time. I’m sure if anyone can appreciate that it would be an Omoxian. Is Shibal real? Is it even real to the Omoxians? I spent years studying it before I ever proposed the excavation. The consensus is that it is. There was simply never a good enough opportunity to prove it. Omoxians don’t respect humans. That’s the only reason why I’m here. I don’t think Bondquan is laughing at me behind my back, but she’s not going out of her way to be helpful, either.
Maybe I’m just overthinking it. I don’t want to believe what’s happening between us is real because it’s surreal, just as unlikely as Shibal sending an emissary from the past with an announcement all of Omox would hear, saying that I’m right, that I’m not a fool. It would be nice, though.