Plight of the Tivinel
What are Tivinel?
From The Mind of the Dolphins...
“What are Tivinel?”
“They were the high people, tall and fair-skinned like you Elves, and were the cause of all our troubles.”
The other ogres hushed, while Pip could feel them drawing close around him, focussing their hatred and anger onto him.
“You fear us now, don’t you, little Elf? And so you should, so you should.”
Pip took a deep breath, trying to force himself to relax while every nerve in his body wanted him to just run into the darkness in blind panic. Instead he sat, leaning back against the metal plate of the portal.
“You are not Tivinel, though,” the ogre said, “even though you were created in their image.”
“I, um, but how?”
“You Elves know little of your own history, but no matter. As I said, the Tivinel were the high people, while we, the Barungi, were called the low people because we lived in the tropical lowlands near the sea.”
“Were you different races?”
“Different species actually, but we were closely related. Close enough for us to cross-breed, although such children mostly lacked our mind-speech and were called Gomeral, the simpletons. The Tivinel used them as workers, for what they lacked in psychic skills they made up for with dexterity and ingenuity.
“Occasionally though, but very rarely, a crossbred child would not be a Gomeral but a Pasha, a Great One. They were always male and infertile, so the Pashas could never become a race of their own, and mostly there was only ever one, for the ruling Pasha would kill any who might challenge him, but the Pasha possessed great psychic powers, able to bend the minds of other folk should he wish. The Pasha was our ruler, our king.”
“King,” Pip whispered, thinking now of the prophecy Elko and Damien had spoken of.
“The Pasha possessed great wisdom and foresight.”
“He could see the past and the future,” another ogre said.
“Left to his own devices,” the first continued, “the Pasha was for all intents and purposes immortal, for he never aged or suffered any illness, but it was rare for one to live more than a few thousand years before a new Pasha challenged and defeated him. The change of Pasha was a great time for the Barungi and Tivinel fortunate enough to be living then, for it was a time of great feasting and celebration, and there are stories of the great changeovers passed down as legends from generation to generation.”
“But if the Pasha was so wise,” Pip asked, “how’d he let the Tivinel set off their star-dimmer?”
Again the ogres fell silent, and he wondered if he’d just blasphemed their king.
“Drago was a fool,” one of them finally said. “The Tivinel knew it, too, and encouraged him in his stupidity.”
“Who was Drago?”
“He was our last Pasha, and was just ten years old when he murdered his predecessor.”
“The challenge of the Pasha was supposed to be a great ritual,” another said, “a test of skill, both physical and psychic, but Drago used his powers to hide himself, firing a poisoned dart at the old Pasha while he was addressing the New Year festival.”
“The Barungi blamed the Tivinel,” the first continued, “and a short war erupted, but Drago put an end to that, confining us to our lowland farms while giving the Tivinel free reign over the rest of the planet.”
“Gosh,” Pip said.
“With the aid of their Gomeral slaves, they built huge cities everywhere, burning coal and oil to power them. Eventually their fumes caused our world to heat up, even though by then they’d discovered subspace and could get all their power from that. So they built the star-dimmer to counter the effects of their global warming, but that only made things worse.”
“How’s that?” Pip asked.
“The tropics cooled, but the poles got hotter and the icecaps continued to melt, raising the sea levels and flooding our lands. So they dimmed our star even more, and that fixed the sea levels, but then our crops wouldn’t grow properly in the dim sunlight and food became scarce. The Gomeral were made to suffer the most, and eventually rose up against their masters, stealing their space ships and fleeing to the world you call Meridian.”
Pip suddenly saw the connection Frank had been hinting at all along, cursing himself for not realising it sooner. “Those Gomeral became the first tribes on Meridian, didn’t they, and all our people descended from them.”
“That’s right, little Elf. Perhaps you’re not as stupid as the rest of your race.”
“But you said before that the Elves were made in the image of the Tivinel. How could that be?” He thought he knew now what the answer would be, but he wanted to hear the ogres say it.
“That was Drago’s doing, or the thing that Drago became. While our world was falling apart around him, our great Pasha spent his days swimming in the sea. Marine creatures, aquatic mammals you call dolphins, swam with him, and he delighted in their company, calling them his children. But soon he grew jealous of them, for they could swim much faster and further than he could, so he used his physic powers to take over their minds, projecting his spirit into them.
“When the Tivinel’s star-dimmer finally broke, Drago’s residence was destroyed, killing his physical body, but his spirit took refuge in the dolphins, for the water protected them from the burning flash.”
“I see, but how did the dolphins get to Bluehaven?”
“Through the portals into Sheol. Those of us who survived the flash, Barungi and Tivinel alike, fled into here once we realised our world was lost. The dolphins came a long time later, though, still carrying Drago’s soul.”
The vision of the flooded village opened once more in Pip’s mind. Dolphins meandered through the streets, drifting in and out of buildings as if looking for something, while above them and gazing down on them with great sadness, floated a lone black dolphin. “Watch and bear witness, Pip, for you are our only hope.”
He watched once more as the black dolphin entered the building where the portal was hidden, leading the others through and into Sheol.
“What was the black dolphin?” he asked.
“There are no black dolphins, only grey ones.”
“But I saw a black dolphin in an aquarium on Meridian.”
“There are no black dolphins,” the ogre said again, but there was something in his voice this time, a hint of fear, Pip thought.
“The dolphins came into Sheol,” the ogre continued, “carrying Drago’s spirit with them, and found a portal into the seas on Bluehaven. Some of the Tivinel wanted us to follow them, but we knew if we did we’d be enslaved, so we stayed here instead.”
“Did your people build the city of towers?” Pip asked, and again he could feel the ogres tensing up.
“The Tivinel built that and lived there for a while, but we didn’t like it and stayed away. Then, after a while, the Tivinel vanished and it was taken over by the spirits of dead Gomeral.”
“Do you know what became of the Tivinel?”
“No-one knows, little Elf, and perhaps it’s for the best if we never find them again.”