Dead Are Dead

It seems difficult to imagine at this late age, as we stand in the twilight of history, informed of fifteen hundred years of progress, how primitively our ancestors and antecedents lived in the days before the Dark wells of power were opened and plumbed. Self-delusion, deliberate primitivism, pagan self-flagellation and fear of the unknown: all these and more ruled the psyche of the pre-civilized races.

Little wonder, then, that the civilizing influences spread but slowly, and met with resistance at every step of the way. From the first arrival of the giants til some time after the founding of Ka-Rone in the first year of the calendar — scholars debate whether this liminal period was a single human lifetime, or more than one, or less — from the first arrival of the giants til some time after the founding of the capital of the Diamond Isle, petty humans and their ilk refused the gifts the giants offered them, and answered giantish generosity with blood and fire.

Few records of that chaotic time before Living Memory have survived, and today our best resource (barring magical retrospection) is the play “Dead Are Dead,” by the famed satirist of her era Yollinada of Habadad. While her nation was put to the torch centuries ago, a sample of her writings was preserved within the ART’s libraries and today every second-year student is compelled to translate sections of “Dead Are Dead” by hand, for practice.

“Dead Are Dead” takes place over a period of three days in the fictional trading port of Lost Passion, a Habadad colony threatened by the arrival of the giants some fifteen years previous. Its plot concerns Po-Popo, a giantish emissary from Ka-Rone and his manservant Lickspittle, who plot to overthrow Lost Passion’s governor Lady Sitabout and replace him with the more progressive Lady Gracious. They are opposed by Lady Sitabout’s son, Colonel Bloodthirst, and his ally Bishop Fearmonger (who soliloquizes constantly on the greed and wrath of the Million Gods). A running subplot concerns Sir Dash’s unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable spouse for his son, Sir Winsome. At the climax, Bloodthirst refuses to duel Lickspittle and instead sends Lost Passion’s garrison to attack Ka-Rone, then kills himself when his troops rebel against the order. Fearmonger descends into a particularly slapstick form of madness, and Sitabout peaceably gives way to Gracious, whose daughter weds Winsome. (Oddly, the final scene’s stage directions imply that the character of Lickspittle is executed, but this is generally attributed to a transcription error.)

The play’s title comes from a running joke in the play: Fearmonger believes Po-Popo to be Undying, and it is this (and his comically morbid fear of the undead) that drives the Bishop to his madness. “The dead are dead!” he repeats, many, many times.

A minority of archaeologists speculate the play was loosely based on real-life events, and a number of sites on the eastern coast of the Diamond Isle have been examined as potential ruined Lost Passions. However, no site’s claims have survived the vetting process, and most scholars agree that the play is entirely fictive.

SEE ALSO: The Academy of Recognized Truth, Habadad, Ka-Rone (Founding Of)


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