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Mahrai Ziller (former full name: Gifted-from-Tacted Mahrai Ziller VIII of Wescrip) was a Chelgrian composer and Caste Denier. He left the Chelgrian State prior to the Caste War, going into self-exile on the Culture's Masaq' Orbital. There he was commissioned for the Orbital's remembrance of the Idiran-Culture War's Battle of the Twin Novae, and was the public reason for a concurrent official Chelgrian visit.[1]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Chelgrian politician[edit | edit source]

Ziller was born into a family of administrators and diplomats, but proved to be a musical prodigy early in life; his first orchestral work was composed while a very young child. His musical career made him rich and famous.[1]

Ziller and Tibilo Quilan went to infant school together. The pair were not close friends and drifted apart afterwards. The composer would not hear of Quilan again until after his self-exile and settling on Masaq' Orbital in the Culture.[1]

His parent's were nearly driven to illness and breakdown when Ziller openly joined the Equalitarian movement. Right after dropping out of college he changed to the lower Gifted caste, before becoming a radical Caste Denier and using his fame to politically promote the abolition of the caste system as part of the Equalitarian movement. During his active political career his musical output suffered quantitatively.[1]

The movement gained considerable momentum swaying public opinion. For his part, Ziller survived two assassination attempts. After the first he renounced his caste and became an Invisible. The near-successful second attempt left him in critical condition and hospitalized for a quarter of a year. By this time, the Equalitarians were in retreat and the prospect of change seemingly lost for another generation.[1]

Exile[edit | edit source]

Ziller left politics to concentrate on composing. This alienated his political allies and pleased his political enemies. He did not renounce being an Invisible; Ziller carefully remained silent on political matters and did not make any sign of supporting the status quo.[1]

Ziller's musical career continued to accrue him even more fame, popularity, and formal recognition. He was treated as an honorary member of the Gifted caste, and was popularly considered a candidate for Ceremonial President. Eventually he was selected for the highest civilian honour of the Chelgrian State; Ziller used the unprecedented publicity of the acceptance ceremony, held in the capital of Chelise and broadcast throughout Chelgrian space, to denounce the caste system and the Chelgrian State for supporting it. To complement this, he arranged for the Culture to take him into permanent exile. The speech also announced his immediate exile, the return of all prior awards and honours, and praised fellow Equalitarians for having the morale courage to remain.[1]

The speech was met with angry disbelief. Ziller spent the night after the ceremony in the Culture embassy with angry protesters outside. He left on a Culture ship the following day.[1]

Life in the Culture[edit | edit source]

Ziller travelled extensively throughout the Culture for a few years before settling on Masaq' Orbital. As a prominent exile, he realized he was partially regarded as a trophy by his hosts. Ziller was also considered an "ambassador", and formally addressed as Cr or Composer Ziller.[1] He did not complete any full-length pieces upon entering exile until the remembrance of the Battle of the Twin Novae.[2].[3]

Seven years after Ziller's exile, the Chelgrian State elected an Equalitarian president, resulting in the abolishment of the discriminatory aspects of the caste system. Caste names remained to embellish personal names; this was supposedly still too much for the composer and he remained in exile. The great changes was demonstrated by the later election of[1] President Muonze[4], a Spayed. Ziller opted to remain in exile, claiming to be awaiting developments.[1] This proved prescient, as Muonze instigated the Caste War[4] nine years after Ziller's exile.[1]

He became friends with Kabe Ischloear, a Homomdan living on the Orbital[2] to study the Culture.[5]

Chelgrian overtures[edit | edit source]

Ziller had been a resident of the Orbital for around seven years[6] by the time of the remembrance of the Battle of the Twin Novae.[2] He was secretly commissioned by the Orbital's Hub to compose a symphony; the piece would mark the conclusion of the period of mourning.[3] Ziller eventually named the work Expiring Light[7]; it was his first symphony in 11 years[8], and the first full-length piece completed during his exile.[3] Ziller expected to finish conducting the live performance just as the light from the second nova reached the Orbital. He was unsure about Hub's plans to augment the performance with a "light show."[3] Those around him realized something was in the works when he remained busy but stopped publishing lesser works.[2]

On the morning of the day the light from the first nova reached the Orbital, Ziller was interviewed where he declared "Tonight you dance by the light of ancient mistakes!" That night he was featured at E.H. Tersono's Eighth-Day recital aboard the ceremonial barge Soliton in Aquime City. The drone's recital marked the beginning of the period of remembrance, and he played an appropriately restrained and solemn piece on an antique Chelgrian mosaikey.[2]

At the proceeding reception, he met privately with Tersono and Ischloear. Tersono informed them that a high-caste Chelgrian emissary would visit Masaq' in 30 to 40 days time, ostensibly to ask Ziller to return to the Chelgrian State. The composer refused to meet or host the emissary, and declared he would take a private vacation away from the Orbital for the duration of the visit. Culture planners anticipated his reaction; Ischloear was recruited to act as host, and Culture ships were persuaded not to grant the composer passage. The Culture wished to avoid the insult Ziller's escape might be perceived as[2]; Culture-Chelgrian relations were strained due to the Culture's involvement in the Chelgrian Caste War.[9] Consequently, Ziller avoided involvement in the matter.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

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