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A Treatise on the Mutability of Imperial History

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There are a number of competing narratives regarding the first meeting of Deret Beshelar and Cala Athmaza, first nohecharei to Edrehasivar VII, Ethuverazhid Zhas. None can be accepted at face value as all were written at least eight decades after the beginning of the Silver Age of the Elflands.[1] Thus which is to be believed is entirely a matter of personal preference and prejudice.

If one favors poetry one can turn to the Lay of the Elflands, which details the first two decades of the Edrehasivar's reign and was orated for the first time to widespread acclaim a century after the emperor's death. As the author chose to write in a traditional epic format and was thus more concerned with meter than historical accuracy, we may hypothesize that much of the dialogue was written with considerable creative license. In the second folio, third chapter, 19th stanza, the meeting is described thusly:

 

Edrehasivar turned to Cala quick fingered:

The Dachen Maza, with eyes of ice.

"Cala," he said, in a voice well sorrowed,

"You have come in a time of greatest need.

For we stand at twilight under guttering stars

At the world's breaking, at the end of an age.

Will you stand beside me to light the Elflands?

First among mazas, first at my side?"

 

Next he gazed to Deret Beshelar,

Who knelt at the dais in solemn strength,

"Now good soldier, well have I known you

On the oaths of our enemies and prayers of my men.

Who wields a fell falchion, whose shield withstands maelstroms

With bronzed baldric and silvered sword?

Who indeed, but Beshelar Banewreaker,

of burning blood, scourge of the steppes?"

 

Now Cala sung in a voice like triumph

"Fear not my liege, have your heart heartened.

For I sing the sky into unseen shapes,

and all on the steppes know the sword of Deret

My seething magic, his strength unceasing

shall succor our allies and sear our foes

to aid the emperor is our sole purpose

And as your sword and your shield, we are one."

 

In a passage much less grandiose but perhaps more realistic, the anonymous author of the Secret History also mentions the meeting. For those not already acquainted, Edrehasivar VII's Secret History is a short volume written in plain prose that nevertheless managed to ignite a firestorm in the imperial court when the manuscript was first unearthed during a renovation of the East Wing of the Palace.

The anonymous author was evidently quite close to Edrehasivar and kept the History as a sort of diary, recording inner workings of the government and juicy bits of gossip in equal measure. Once the University of Cetho won the right to publish the volume it quickly became a best seller, and has enjoyed steady popularity among both academics and Imperial fans alike.

Though scholars have never been able to firmly settle the debate, the leading theories give the author’s identity as Osmer Aisava,[2] the Zhasanai herself, or some combination of the two.[3] As both were intimate members of the imperial household, we can perhaps give more credence to this account than the one prior, though one wishes that the author had deemed the meeting worthy of a longer aside than he or she did. Regardless, the History does offer the following tantalizing glimpse:

 

Mer Beshelar stalked into the Tortoiseshell room with the manner of a man walking to his execution; we were fain to question if he had brought his own revethvoreis’atha for such a purpose. We abstained after judging that the man had not a whit of humor in his body. Cala Athmaza arrived next, a hair later than could be deemed fashionable. His bare legs would have been quite provocative had he not possessed the least attractive calves we had ever had the displeasure of seeing. He had a twinkle in his eye that said he was well aware, however, so we resolved to forgive him.[4]

For those readers not content with text alone, a third account of the meeting is available in the format of a theater play. Written by the Dachen-Opera company of Amalo, Mighty Deeds of Edrehasivar the Seventh is a highly fictionalized account of the Emperor’s reign and gleefully throws any semblance of historical continuity to the wind . It is still performed every year on Winternight in Amalo's Grand Theater, to the derision of historians everywhere and the absolute delight of everyone else.[5]  As the production concerns itself more with impressive pyrotechnic effects and sexual innuendo than with primary source citations, take the following scene with a grain of salt:

 

     [enter CALA, astride a DRAGON]

DERET: By Cstheio's stars! What sorcery is this?

CALA: The king of mazas: Cala Adremaza[6]

     Though you know not our name, all ladies do.

DERET: No sop are we, to dance for ladies' smiles!

     We are a sword well quenched in battle-fire

     As ladies know your name, so men know ours!

CALA: A man for men? We had not pegged you so,

     but if that is indeed your chosen thrust,

     we know a bar whose patrons may appeal-

DERET: Filthy cur!

     [they fight]

EDREHASIVAR: Ye gods, enough! Will yet this nonsense cease?

     What shame it is to duel before your liege!

 

As Mer Beshelar left no memoirs and Mer Athmaza’s library tragically burned in the great fire of Amalo, we shall likely never know the exact circumstances of their meeting. Yet based on the gravity of their office, the sincere friendship of their later years, and the long shadows they have cast across imperial history, we can only imagine it was an auspicious occasion indeed.

 

 

 

1 So named, of course, from the famous opening of the Ode to Edrehasivar by Cairu Cserava: “Sweet Csaivo, what need have I for gold?/ Give me slate skin under silvered moonlight.” For further reading on the interplay between the Emperor’s dual archetypes of paternal-lover and coveted-beloved, see Chethara’s  An' All in White with Splendor, University of Cetho Press.

2 Aisava was the Emperor’s secretary, confidante, or lover, depending on who one asks. Though common born and known by the simple “mer” during his natural life, he was knighted posthumously by the Zhasanai.

3 Authorship of the History is among the most contentious issue in Silver-Age scholarship, second only to the Mystery of the Surprising Clock, which has by now bled into popular culture and taken on an almost memetic proportion. Fringe theorists have proposed the author of the History to be Dach'Osmer Idra Drazhar, his wife Dach'Osmin Nedaö, or even Edrehasivar himself. These theories are not well received in the academic mainstream, however, and should be taken with several grains of salt.

4 For a more thorough look at the Histories, see the seminal Under the Tortoiseshell, published by University of Amalo Press.

5 Tickets generally sell out six months in advance, plan accordingly.

6 Discounting the dragon, we can already see historical inaccuracies in the play's account. Cala was not elected as Adremaza until well after he had retired from the emperor's service. It is a mystery whether this was an honest mistake or a cheap trick on the part of the author to shoehorn Cala's name into proper iambic pentameter.