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JAN/FEB *WINNER* The Price We Pay


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The Price We Pay

((An’ahyaes Valley, Tralorian Plains, Han-Shir, Vulcan. Approximately 4000 Terran years ago.))

The plains were green.

The long blades of the hardy grasses were drenched in blood, cloaking the deep, rich red of these grasslands in a sickly hue, brilliant malachite where it was yet fresh, fading to a dull khaki where it dried in the hot sun. The air stank of copper. These plains, so close to the wilderness that edged the Voroth Sea were some of the most fertile on the continent, but it would be poetic justice if nothing ever grew here again.

The soil of these valleys could feed a nation if carefully tended, but it’s value had been measured in blood and death over the millennia as different clans fought over it, and Lohraedhys would be happier if the valleys turned to desert, if the soil dried up and blew away like the sands of the Go’an. The land should echo the desolation that she felt, for it had lost what she lost. Farmers’ plows would raise bones from the red soil for generations, and it would be better if that was all that grew here. Then perhaps the bloodshed would stop. But it would be too late, always far too late, to matter. He was gone. Now there was nothing but silence.

Feet clad in delicate slippers made their way silently over the ground as Lohraedhys picked her way through the carnage of the battlefield, heedless of the blood that stained those slippers or the hem of her fine robes, hand embroidered in the most intricate of patterns. They were clothes that befit the bond-mate of the heir to the leadership of the Ayein clan of the Nel-Gathic peoples, who had controlled the great An’ahyaes Valley for an age. Now the blood of her bond-mate and all their warriors wet it’s soils, and only the old, the infirm, the children and their mothers remained, lost and bereft, without guidance, without purpose, without those they had loved.

Behind her a keening arose, a wordless, tuneless wail of pure loss, the sound of a heart torn in two, as Siyarhenae mourned his passing. She had been but a trophy taken from an enemy, yet he had made her his own too, had loved her with the same fierceness he had loved Lohraedhys, that same passion that she had felt, every time she touched him, and would never feel again.

Valeohrohen.

((City of Ti’yeht, Lyein hills, Han-Shir, Vulcan. Some time before.))

He had laughed, watching their son play with his pet Sehlat in the cool quiet of the gardens of their house, part of the complex owned by his family. Ochre leaves threw dappled shade and the extravagance of a tiny mist fountain lent a luxurious humidity to the thin air. Pale grey eyes watched the child, amusement and peace in every line of that angular face. Long fingers plucked idly at the Vulcan harp in his lap, seemingly without any attention spared to the action yet the melody that trailed in their wake was both simple and almost unbearably sweet.

He had a gift with the harp. He was talented in many things but there was some sweet, bitter poesy in his soul that spoke through it’s strings, that could goad an audience to hope or to despair. Sometimes he seemed more eloquent in his music than in anything else, until he set words to it and surpassed even that. He could capture the strong, vibrant emotions of his people in a few simple words that never the less spoke of the soul of every Vulcan, the deep passions and furies that drove their people to hate, and to love, to destroy and to build. They were capable of the greatest things because they were so driven, and he most of all.

He was a musician, a composer and a poet, his deep voice rendered his songs in tones that spoke to the depths of being. He was a scholar, and a warrior, a gifted tactician and a talented leader. He fought with a ferocity few men could match, and could touch her with a gentleness she had never thought possible. He moved through life with a certainty born of a fire in his soul; he was a man of deep passions and convictions, and who inspired love and loyalty in his people. He had certainly inspired it in Lohraedhys. She would have followed him to the ends of Vulcan, he was dearer to her than life itself.

And she loved nothing more than to sit and listen to him play, and watch their children. They were yet young, there would be more, each with the mark of their father, if the Gods were kind. Each with his talents and passion for life.

She smiled over at him and he met her gaze with equal fondness, paused in his playing and reached out a hand, two fingers extended to touch hers, mind meeting mind. She could feel his intense love for her in that touch, see it in his strange, pale grey eyes. There was no need for words.

Valeohrohen Naykh Hawehl-khur, they called him in their tongue. Valeohroen Silver Eyes.

((Cultural Studies Lecture Series, StarFleet Academy, San Francisco. Present Day.))

“Valoren ‘Silver Eyes’ was a Nel-Gathic warlord during the Ozay’in era, famous for three things. First, his exacting tactical manouvering which led to the defeat of the Kor’hin clan over water resources despite their vastly superior numbers. Second, the subsequent mass slaughter of his own Ayein clan when the Kor’hin peoples staged an uprising led by the brother of the leader he killed, and third, as far as can be deduced, being the individual in whom the rare ‘dominant grey’ eye-colour allele appeared de novo. There’s a piece of trivia for you.” Professor Alexander Saint-Gabriel smiled thinly. Ancient Vulcan culture was not his favourite topic and fortunately was not one on which he had to dwell for long.

“Compared to many events from this era, these records have been preserved relatively intact by the descendants of the survivors of the Ayein clan. How much of these records is factual is debated in great depth by Vulcan historians, for much of the story was passed on as oral tradition and has become as legend, and plenty of discussion on various sources can be found in the literature. Fact or fiction however it is considered to be an excellent example of the pre-Surak Vulcan culture of the region, and is often used by way of a moral fable for young children.” Certainly such stories were preserved by modern day Vulcans with a ‘lest we forget’ attitude.

“I want you to study the story itself, the accompanying song of mourning and the discussion and interpretation in your texts, and then find and summarise for me two papers discussing either the veracity of the source material or the implications for modern Vulcan culture with references to the original work by class next week.”

((An’ahyaes Valley, Tralorian Plains, Han-Shir, Vulcan. Approximately 4000 Terran years ago.))

Siyarhenae’s wailing wound to disharmonic, unsatisfying close, the final tones hanging in the air and begging by their very harmonics for an answer, but it was an answer that would not come. Lohraedys knew that for certain now.

Heedless of the mess of the battlefield she crouched in the bloodied grass, green staining her robes and her hands, as she reached out to touch his still form. Tall and spare, lean muscles hardened from fighting, he lay stretched out upon the bloodied ground, flung there in the throws of death. But his angular face, so very expressive, was still, slack, peaceful. One might almost think he had accepted his death willingly, were it not for the five strangers who lay dead around him, torn nearly limb from limb. Amongst them he seemed strangely intact, save for the bloody spear which protruded from low in his torso; straight through his heart.

She reached out to touch his face, and he was cold. Where there had been a warm, driven, passionate mind, there was nothing. This was not him, this was only a corpse. Valeohrohen was gone. She could not voice her loss as Siyarhenae did, but she grieved, perhaps even more deeply, for he had been her world since she was too young to understand who he was. Bowing her hear, a tear trickled down her cheek, precious moisture shed in recognition of all that had passed from this world. Such loss was the price they paid for the passion of their people, capable of such greatness, and such sorrow. Was the former worth the latter?

A breeze sprang up, stirring the bloodied grass, bringing with it a cool relief and soon, as Yel approached the horizon, and she knew that it would bring with it the cool mists that gave moisture to these fertile lands. It was a travesty that such cycles of life should continue when so much death surrounded her, an insult to the loss they had all suffered. The suffering on this plain should turn back that wind and call forth instead the hot breath of the Go’an and turn these lands with their wealth of pain to dust.

If she could have she would have taken the spear from his corpse and used it to follow him. But there were the children to think of. Two still hiding up in the hills, and the one she carried inside her. She hadn’t even had time to tell him. For their sake, for his legacy, she would go on. But there would be no more light in the world, no more joy.

No more songs.

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