[Age of Mouldwarp]
Out from a wasteland, that restless of old,
A striking lily climbed up the scaffold.
Hailed and honored among his own kind,
Feared by those among the vodrantine.
Furrow the Ewer if you want to now,
The Andiron cup sits at Perditionís bough.
United its foes, spited the past
Forged the galaxy for everlast.
Trey the Conqueror led the herald charge,
Bound the Five onto a triumphant barge.
The Ardor drove back callous Myrmidon,
Releasing the interned and ushering dawn.
If you ever found yourself on one of the Omoxian city ships, chances are that you would hear that sung at least once. The Omoxi are rather fond of it. Itís called "The Wassailed Crusade" and itís the oldest extant record of the story Iíve been cultivating for you. Thatís only a fragment of the original version, which developed orally as most tales of this kind do; thankfully, the scrap we do have is a little more reliable than some of the other sources more readily available, but that hardly means itís a thing to be trusted. It embellishes the facts to suit the legend of Trey, the one called the Conqueror, throwing aside entirely the four others, whom history has always been in dispute about. Other pieces of the work are said to have included a list of Treyís companions, chronicling their own great deeds in relation to the journey that lies at the heart of the Coalition foundation, one Trey had only a cursory part in despite what has generally been said to occur in the later parts of the story I am now interrupting.
Other individuals besides the ones Iíve been using? Yes indeed. As it happens, the most controversial aspect of my story is the abject inclusion of the Tikanni, who are today virtual recluses in galactic affairs. Their influence is felt, but they are all but taboo to the ordinary citizen. The thought of the ongoing commercial relations despite this often sickens me deeply. Lord Phan. Who is he? The name itself is a hereditary one, passed for generations onto the noblest of Tikanni, though this is meaningless to anyone but the Tikanni themselves, of each generation. When this tradition began is an utter mystery, and one that will not soon be resolved, but there is evidence indicating that even the Lord Phan of Treyís Five is not the first, but the inheritor of an already rich and esteemed tradition, though Trey himself never knew of it. Lord Phan has always been acknowledged to play a role in these events, but a far different one.
In his place usually stands an Omoxian named Branljn, who served as Treyís advisor. He was an elder of the Ollapodrida Assembly, sent on the journey by Treyís mentor Qantas, herself a member of the Hypostasis, the figureheads of the Assembly, to keep Trey on the chosen path. One of the contradictory points in history is that Trey was both forging his own path and following the wishes of his own government. There isnít much more known of this Branljn beyond myths of his youthful intellectual pursuits including the drafting of an Omoxi annals called Darkness Rises on a Dark Land, of which no copies remain. Branljn was supposed to have been the owner of the Ardor as well, its designer and mechanic rolled into one. Upon its destruction he recoiled from public life, never to be heard from again, which purportedly accounts for why he is such an ambiguous figure.
The problems that arise from that are these: the Ulados Oronus, the full name of the Ardor as you might recall, was named for its creator, Oron the Crafter. His name is a famous one, since he also oversaw renovations to the famed Son Prelar Oval, among other projects. Omoxi are often named after him, in all manner of variations: Boron, Oronoko, Orzo, Orin, Oren, Oran, Orinas, etc. Oron was the only mechanic the Ardor ever had because he alone knew how to maintain it; he saw to that for the Fiveís protection as well as to keep his secrets secret. To suggest to the contrary is an insult many Omoxi consider grave indeed. But he was not the owner of the ship. No one was. Omoxians do not own things, and the mere suggestion that Branljn owned the Ardor only began circulating after your own kind began to proliferate among the stars and among the Coalitionís ranks.
The idea probably sprang from your own history, particularly your naval tradition of a few centuries past. Trey was a notoriously private individual, who rarely consulted with others on his most important decisions, and of whom it is hard to believe would ever employ the services of an advisor, with or without Qantasí influence. That there arenít any passages pertaining to what Branljn was supposed to advise on is a strong indicator that either he didnít function in this role or that he really was a creation of the evolving myth which was used to demonstrate that even a great man like Trey needed help along the way, a point grudgingly admitted to elsewhere in these accounts. Finally, if the reports of Branljnís seclusion are to be believed, then his later terms in the lower level Pantapodrida Assembly are to be discounted as myths themselves, as are all of his accomplishments therein.
Lord Phan, meanwhile, was relegated to a warrior in Umecitís unassailable militia, as it was always labeled, a fighting force of overwhelming strength. As a member of the Rapiers, Lord Phan was a capable fighter, earning a song or two in his honor, but as he was a Tikanni you can be sure he was never a primary focus. A relationship with Trey? Not as Iíve presented it. No, much more adversarial, tensions from the start. Thereís an epic poem youíll yet hear of in your time that lauds his rebelliousness, the only way he would ever be praised, as he leads his own people into the autonomy they still enjoy, heralding him as a sort of founder. But aboard the Ardor he is hardly ever depicted, in any of the great frescos that festoon Coalition hubs. He is subordinate to the great pugilist that was Umecit, who has always held the seat of honor next to Treyís.
Another victim of history is Rejon, who is the quiet end of the story even in my account. He is Treyís aide, the Omoxian who sits in the shadows at all times, eclipsed by the Conquerorís glory. Even more so when Atelier is taken into account. Atelier? In all of the tales that feature him, he is a bit of a rogue, the member of the Five who is constantly getting them into scraps, but he is Omoxian, so he is never questioned, and he is favored by Trey. One such tale about him relates how he lured a Hesslan-Dewatha barge to the Ardor so that he could challenge the Iota module in combat. Hesslan ships are powered by an Iota, a creature native to the derisory Hesslan homeworld, small is stature but possessing an inner spark large enough to power a starship. Employing it to do so does not harm the creature, but it does irritate it to no end.
Trapped in the module at the heart of the Dewatha barge, the Iota was in a strong position to dictate terms in the proposed combat, since an Iota is never more capable of bloodlust than when ensnared. Atelierís challenge provoked an unexpected assault by the barge on the Ardor, as Iotas have a limited influence over the ships they inhabit, not quite crossing into sentient territory and the baggage that entails (few races bother with sentient ships because they are unpredictable, and unpredictability is the last thing you want in the dangers of open space). It took several days before the Dewatha were able to regain control of their ship, and the Ardor suffered extensive damage.
Thatís a story of Atelier, at any rate, and there are plenty more where that came from. Some of them might even be true, but they have no place in the story of the Quadian Five. Thereís little doubt that such an Omoxi existed, as that was the last era any Omoxi were known to let loose, but the context has been manipulated beyond reason. Rejon sits in his place in the more factual accounts, which is a letdown for some, the romantics, who control most of Treyís adventures in popular lore.
Which is a real shame, for as you will see, Rejonís story is far more interesting than anything Atelier ever did, though a great deal more controversial. As with the Tikanni, Rejon has been shortchanged into a pittance of a role. Not here.
I mentioned Umecit as a great pugilist, and that he was, though less so in the story of the Coalitionís founding than in events that precede and follow it. Among the Vitell, Umecit was indeed a warrior among men. That was the reason he was chosen to be one of the Five, and his place is never disputed, perhaps because he followed Trey as leader of the early Coalition. The Rapiers he commanded in the Fiveís skirmishes were not, however, Vitell property, but rather of the five races as the first real point of commonality aside from the Five themselves. As it happens, Atelier had a hand in the forming of the Rapier forces, but that is the extent of his importance in events. There is some confusion as to what exactly the Rapiers were, a point I will address as it comes up in the tale itself.
Umecit was strong, proud, fierce, but he was not the sole means of might in the group. As evidenced in the Towar incident, each of the Five was capable on some level of defending themselves and working the offensive element. Umecit was not constantly coming to their aid, saving them from their every peril. No, they were hardly a helpless bunch, but yes, Umecit was a tremendous asset.
Another exaggeration was Haxedís role as the Fiveís voice. As one would be led to understand, he was nothing more than their spokesperson, a never-ending chatterbox. Believe me, it is more likely theyíd killed him at the start than put up with that. I confess that even I might be guilty of stoking that one, since he did tend to that sort of behavior. But Haxed was very much a part of the group, a team player as they were all generally so, heeding to Trey as Trey saw fit and taking the reigns when granted. He is said to be a reclusive one, insomuch that he did not participate in the melees the Five experienced along its journey, which paints a picture of a dummy that is pulled off the shelf only when called upon to perform its function. Amusing, as that is to imagine, it is simply not true. He might have been abrasive at times, which might have led to his being shut off on a few occasions by the others, but we Vanadi have always been accused of that. As a matter of point, we take pride in our ability to weld so much influence in such a conspicuous way.
Where would we be were I to neglect the Magna Convention, the body that for decades worked at the results Trey would be credited for? As with the Coalition, nowhere at all. Uniting four disparate peoples is a lot harder than a single individual of great acclaim can be expected to account for, no matter who he is, especially if the collection is to last longer than the lifespan of that individual. Supervised as it was by Trey and the Omoxian Assembly, the Convention worked at the unifying process through countless obstacles, though in the process allowing such dissidents as the Obdurate to rise among the races. The Quadian Fiveís task was to iron out the creases of the tapestry the Convention had weaved. The quest for the Andiron Ewer would evolve from this, and it made a very good marker to unite against to be sure, but it was the Conventionís efforts that made it at all possible.
The Ewer. Ah, what that one cup achieved. Its legend alone introduced countless ripples of fantasy into the story. That such a thing would exist is beyond imagination. That Rejon, that lurker in the shadows, would be the crux of its recovery is equally unbelievable. Imagination a thing uniting not just people but time as well. Stringfellow has nothing on the Andiron Ewer, not by a long shot. It is suspected that the planet was constructed in preparation for the fulfillment of the myths surrounding the Ewer, but this is a point that may never be resolved. All the better. A little mystery is good for the constitution.
Have I gone on quite long enough yet? Suffice it to say, history is oftentimes much more interesting than the events that actually occurred for most people. For the rest of us, history does not need to be refracted through the present to be engaging. This I hope is the least of which you take away from the story of the Quadian Five. I wonít bother to bore you with every inaccuracy out there, but the surface I have skimmed here should be enough. I certainly donít want to corrupt you into that misguided lot, do I? Certainly not.
© copyright 2001-2003 by Sean "Waterloo" McKenna