In the year 972 of the Age of Kings, a man from the nearby village of Xiaca was hanged in the temple square in the kingdom of Vestilla. While public executions were becoming more and more common in the years following the attempt on the king’s life in 966 A4, the sentencing and execution of this particular man marked the first time in known history of the kingdom that a man was put to death because of a song.
Bartolome Martín was his name, and until the fateful song was sung and the charges of blasphemy against the church were raised against him, he was somewhat well-known in the taverns and inns of the city and surrounding areas as a well-dressed and handsome singer, with a deep baritone that was said to “quiet a rowdy room” whenever he took to his corner.
He was a distant cousin to the Commander Don Graviel de la Casias, and from the whispers of his subordinates, the fact that he had to carry out the execution seemed to have further deepened the sullenness of his post. Word is that he attempted to counter the command of the king, but was met with vitriolic rage and threats of being dishonorably removed from his position. It was rumored that the king initially wanted Martín burned at the stake, but Don Graviel won some sympathy for the sake of his house.
As for the song itself, its subject matter and tone were not well received, even by his typical following. He was typically known for a range of songs such as his bright, thoughtful songs about the nature of life and dirges for fallen men, particularly the downcast and forgotten of society. When he sang this song, the challenges he asserted against the legend and memory of El Tor, also known as the First Man, was taken by most as a direct attack against Torians as well as their heritage and the legend of El Tor. Typically, people did not appreciate challenges to their values, and many see these things as an assault on themselves personally. This, ultimately, led to the singer meeting his trial and final performance at the end of a rope.
You were there when the air grew cold,
In days long passed, in times of old,
When cheerful heartbeats drummed and echoed
Down countless ancient country roads.
And through the land sang cheerful choirs
In temple halls and ’round camp fires.
You were there in the last goodbye,
When death and darkness veiled the sky.
Did you hear their tortured screams?
Do they haunt you in your dreams?
Did you see the blood and rage,
Or were you safely in your cage?
When all the world was burning down,
Did you stand or did you sit down?
When we needed you, you can’t deny it –
Instead of speaking, you were quiet.
You were quiet in their final hour,Bartolome Martín, his swansong.
Watching safely from your tower.
You were quiet when the world became a ghost.
You were quiet when we needed you most.
You were quiet.
And when the dust had settled clearly
Upon the ones we loved so dearly,
We saw the things they had become,
The curse to which they had succumbed.
And though you held their fates in hand,
You let them trample through the land.
An in your walls of ivory white,
You let them fade into the night.
You were quiet in the darkest hour,
Watching blankly from your tower.
You were quiet when the world went to Hell.
You were quiet when your people fell.
You were quiet.
You were quiet.
The song was then forever banned by threat of death in the kingdom of Vestilla and throughout Caelon. Some say that in the darkest corners of the places where unclean people huddle, the song can still be heard, though only when the cold wind blows.