Cultural Spotlight

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MinusInnocence
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Cultural Spotlight

"Ballad of the Blind King"

Alvor and Darren played a song called "The Ghosts of Haranshire" at the funeral for Duncan, the day after he was murdered by Gideon. Alvor claimed they were writing it with Duncan himself, who it is said had no small measure of musical talent himself; but this is not the whole story. The trio made enough alterations to the source material to make the performance their own, but the original composer was an elf named Morael of the House of Eldiryn. Morael was a lyricist of some repute, having penned the songs that appeared in the "Ballad of the Blind King." In Blackstar during the 380s, this was a wildly popular stage show, fueled by anti-Minder propaganda. Although ostensibly a sympathetic retelling of the story of King Martin (culminating with his assassination) at the beginning of the Mindwar, most critics think the work is largely satirical and meant to mock the regent who occupied the throne at the time of the play's debut. Martin VII certainly seems to have interpreted the play that way, which explains House Eldiryn's financial troubles human until his death. For her part, Morael remained silent on the issue.

The song as the cousins played it at the funeral at Kuiper's farm is heavily inspired by one of the musical numbers in the stage performance, "Ghosts of Shadowmere." It tells the story of a laborer and suspected minder transported to Northreach (against her will, like so many others during that time) to construct Protection Center 04, the first of the walled ghettos established to imprison minders and their offspring.

Historical Significance

One important and potentially salacious distinction between the two versions of the song has to do with the choice of musical instrument by the narrator. In Alvor and Darren's version (or really, Duncan's version, if you take them at their word that the boy had a significant hand in adapting the lyrics), the man singing is a guitarist. In the play, Lorelei is a flautist, a choice that was made for her during her youth. When the phenomenon of widespread latent psionic talent was just starting to make waves in Damarkan society, one of the earliest initiatives to try to contain the perceived threat these mutants posed was music. It was believed by many prominent thinkers that would later be identified as "anti-minder" that a strong foundation in musical study would help to curb psionic potential. Lorelei speaks candidly during the play, breaking the fourth wall to address the audience and describe torturous lessons in the flute by "tutors" paid by the Crown to help suppress latent psionic abilities in families confirmed to have minders in their ancestry. The flute was assigned to her quite against her own wishes, and it is believed this is meant to be a metaphor for Martin VII's alleged sexual abuses of children, with the flute serving as an obvious phallic symbol.

The story gets more complicated, however, when one researches some of those leading scholars who proposed musical suppression of psionic potential (it should be noted that the entire theory was debunked a generation later and in fact, for a time, restricting access to musical instruments of any kind within the Protection Centers was en vogue). The most vocal cheerleader for this project was Morael's own father, Deluthiel Eldiryn; it later came to light that he was primarily motivated by a desire to suppress human psionics for fears that the Damarkan population, already widespread, would eventually drive the Elder Races to extinction. So, "Ballad of the Blind King" was at once a historical drama; political satire aimed squarely at the author's own king, Martin VII; and also a sort of mea culpa by the artist for the sins of her father. Today, the play is widely regarded as one of the greatest contributions by a non-human to political discourse in Damark during the Mindwar. Tragically, Morael herself did not live to see this critical acclaim. The official account of her death is that she took her own life while in exile in Torag's Pact in 395 RY.

Edited by: MinusInnocence on 03/21/2019 - 10:12