The Maak'datq Song Cycle, the epic of the Daamin race, is of great antiquity; the first books dating back to the time of the Pyslistroph ove a billion years ago. In form, the Maak'datq is as much dance and gesture as song; a full, nuanced translation is inherently impossible.
The entire Maak'datq Cycle takes nearly a full Nephestalan year to perform/recite/experience. The Maak'datq does not have performers or an audience -- all are participants, and much of the "action" takes place in the mysterious, incomprehensible state of the Daamin Forever Dreams.
The following is an attempt to render a passage from the fourth section, "The Migration of the Daamin."
Long before your mothers were pups, in the time before time, the Elders of the Daamin were moved to absent themselves from their long contemplation, and bestir themselves about the worlds. These were the days of the waning of the Pylistroph (blessed be!), when the power of the Gergathan was growing beyond all limit, and all the races of the Pylistroph were falling under its dominion.
Of this decline, and of the End of the Pylistroph, more is told in other songs. In time, the Elders of the Daamin were convinced that they could not fight the Gergathan. The Daamin themselves were few, less than eighty billions on all the Gathered Worlds -- and of these, fewer than twenty billions owed allegiance to the Council of Elders. The legions of the Gergathan numbered in the hundreds of trillions.
Ashli Sicne was then Senior of the Elders, and long she consulted with those of the Hlutr who were not under the Gergathan's sway. Now for many millions of years the Hlutr had been spreading through the vastness of the Scattered Worlds, spreading with the Pylistroph's Seed Vessels. The Eldest Hlut counseled Ashli Sicne to take her people into the Scattered Worlds, where in endless free spaces the Gergathan would not be able to find them.
Some there were who would have the Daamin stay and fight, using the Singing Stones. Then it was that the fastness of the Talebba fell, and the Lens was broken and its Stone destroyed...hand after this, Ashli Sicne ruled that the Daamin would move to the Scattered Worlds.
Now there began a great war, as the Gergathan sought to prevent their leaving and to seize the rest of the Singing Stones. And the Daamin fought valiantly, seeking time to complete construction of a starfleet that would carry them. Bitter was that war, with Daamin fighting Daamin and Hlut battling Hlut. Time and again Ashli Sicne used the Singing Stones as a weapon of defense -- but in fear of losing them she did not try to attack the Gergathan directly. Of this war, many other songs of heroism and of defeat are sung.
Now there were two Daamin of the same mother, who could trace their ancestry back to the legendary seer Crettim Bruv. They were called Tiochi Bruv and Mamlen Bruv, and both were explorers. Both had spent a lifetime flying around the Scattered Worlds and cataloging their wonders; both were at ease with the vast emptiness of the Scattered Worlds. Ashli Sicne brought them to her, and long they debated on the world that would be the new home of the Daamin.
Tiochi Bruv knew of a world which he called Riplistan: a peaceful world long-beloved of the Hlutr, a world as blue and beautiful as any of the Gathered Worlds. Riplistan swung in a lonely orbit tens of parsecs from the nearest inhabited worlds, just a few dozen parsecs from the boundary of the Core.
Almost Ashli Sicne was moved to accept Riplistan as the new home. Then Mamlen Bruv spoke, telling of another world, a young world with a single white sun, in a cluster of many such suns. She called this planet Nephestal, and she pointed out that many worlds surrounded Nephestal would serve to house the rest of the Daamin.
At this Ashli Sicne made her decision. But then Tiochi Bruv conceived of a marvelous scheme, and when he presented it Ashli Sicne was happy, and she agreed. And so all plans were made.
Two expeditions set out, then: Tiochi Bruv and several ships to Riplistan, and Mamlen Bruv alone to Nephestal. Both were secretly followed by the Gergathan's minions. Tiochi Bruv's expedition landed, and upon the forested plains of Riplistan they began to construct a city. Memlen Bruv circled Nephestal for a time, then set off in complicated runs about the other planets in the region.
Now the fleet of the Daamin was almost complete, ships of every type that had ever been seen. In addition to the Daamin who wished to go, the ships carried millions of uprooted Hlutr who were against the Gergathan, up to the Eldest Hlut Herself. And Ashli Sicne took a desperate step: by armed, swift couriers she dispatched two of the Singing Stones: one to Riplistan, and the other to Nephestal.
The Gergathan above all was loath to allow the Singing Stones to escape the Gathered Worlds. Its legions raced after the two Stones, sufficient forces in each case to annihilate the planets upon which the Stones came to rest.
Now Tiochi Bruv, and Mamlen Bruv his sibling, brought forth the power of the Stones they had been given. From the Gathered Worlds Tiochi Bruv summoned a waiting military fleet of the Daamin. Through the Stone, half a million ships were drawn across kiloparsecs in an instant. For the fleet carried a Stone as well, and Tiochi Bruv, in concert with all the Scattered Worlds Hlutr, was able to draw that Stone and all around it to his own Stone.
The Gergathan's attacking ships fell in minutes to the the superior numbers of the Daamin. Now another, much more powerful Navy set forth from Messilinia under the command of Arivaan, chief among the deputies of the Gergathan. Arivaan flew her ships directly toward Riplistan, and it seemed that the Daamin defenders of that world would surely fall.
Now Ashli Sicne took her chance, and in every direction flew the escaping ships of the Daamin, leaving the Gathered Worlds behind forever. But behind stayed Ashli Sicne, the Eldest Hlut, and all the remaining Singing Stones. And in the Gathered Worlds, the Gergathan redoubled efforts to seize the homeworld of the Daamin, for now it seemed that all of the Singing Stones could be taken.
Memlen Bruv then used her Stone, and drew to Nephestal the fleet from Riplistan, and Ashli Sicne, and the Eldest Hlut, and all the other Singing Stones. The strain was far too much, and in an unnatural wind the Singing Stone of Mamlen Bruv melted and dissolved into a handful of starlight that faded away on interstellar winds.
Now the Eldest Hlut took up the Stone that time immemorial had belonged to the Hlutr. With it, and with all the other Stones and the Song of the Free Hlutr, the Eldest Hlut let forth a powerful song, and let fall a screen around the Core which is called the Curtain of the Hlutr, containing within it all the thoughts and evil promptings of the Gergathan. In ages since it came to pass that the Gergathan learned songs and ways around the Curtain; but in its early time it was invulnerable.
Without guidance, faced with a suddenly-empty world, many of Arivaan's troops deserted, and nothing is known of them. Arivaan herself led her Navy to Nephestal, but by then the massed warships of the Daamin were waiting -- a force that had held off all of the Gergathan's legions in the Gathered Worlds -- reinforced by the protective song of all the Scattered Worlds Hlutr. Arivaan, unable to summon help through the Curtain, was soon defeated.
The strains of rapport through the Stones killed Ashli Sicne that day; she did not survive passage to Nephestal. Tiochi Bruv and Mamlen Bruv entered the Council of Elders; but their bouts with the Stones had touched their reason and detached them from time, and ever after they lived in dreams beyond the Forever Dreams. And the Eldest Hlut, with the Stone of the Hlutr, settled on an unknown world, where it is said that She lives on to this day, living so slowly that the lives of red stars are as seasons to Her.
And the Daamin were faced with the problem of making a home of Nepehestal, and in the lonely, empty spaces of the Scattered Worlds.
copyright (c) 2009, Don Sakers
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