It was with hope that we extended our reach upwards.
It was with joy and excitement we cast our eyes up to look upon heaven.
We dreamed of walking with Gods
We dreamed of speaking with the oldest of the old
All our will was bent upon it
And for our sins, our dream was granted.
We gazed upon the brightness of day, and forget the cold of night
We bathed in sun, but ignored shadows
We looked at the stars, but neglected the blackness that lay between
For one only exists with the other
Brightness can only glory with darkness
And Every light casts a Shadow.
We took our steps out into that void, gazing at stars
Slipping the bonds of our primitivity
Assuming the grace of travel beyond our world
We travelled to our sister worlds
We walked on seas of ice and rivers of fire
And at the limit, we found our great trial
It was a structure not of Minbar
A gateway and portal to the furthest corners of the galaxy
Those first few pioneers who travelled through it are legend
They gave their lives so others could follow safely.
A dozen ships went into the nothing
Until on one day, one ship returned.
From then on Minbar changed, for we were no longer constrained.
We explored the stars
We set up colonies
We met alien races
We built new ships, new stations, new technology.
We were noticed by the galaxy, and by others.
The children of Minbar took their ways to the galaxy and learned much.
Priest taught, Warriors fought, workers repaired.
The clans had found new meaning and new purpose in the brightness of the stars
Old rivalries began to fade as we united
For the first time in millennia Minbari did not kill Minbari
We killed others.
Few challenged us, for while we were new to space we were old in war.
The fire of our righteousness burned our enemies
The calm of our priests won our friends
The skill of our workers cemented alliances.
Minbar had risen in glory to prominence in the galaxy
We forgot the warnings of prophecy and expanded our borders in all directions.
In our haste to explore and take territory we grew prideful
As our victories grew so too did our arrogance
And as our arrogance grew, so our caution diminished.
We did not heed the words of the Religious clans
We did not remember the stories of Angels and Demons from the stars.
We did not prepare for the terror in wait for us.
For we had been noticed
For long years we had been scrutinized by an intellect beyond our knowledge
A force of legend
Armies of Myth
Legions of fire and Death were stirring
And we were their target.
Those we had defeated in battle returned for revenge
They were stronger than ever, newly ordered and newly armed
They fell upon us and the races of the galaxy in fury
The children of Minbar fought back with equal fury, but others could not
Many worlds were taken, many races grievously injured
The galaxy had begun to divide into light and into dark.
As our enemies grew strong and united the elders met
Each clan gathered in the great hall outside Yedor and sent its wisest
For a week they talked, and argued, and shuddered.
The strength arrayed against us was overwhelming
The Hate all consuming, and our doom seemed inevitable.
But in those times hope grew.
There rose one from the Religious clan, Lenor of the family Mir.
She was young and had great passion, a favoured teacher of her people
She was wise beyond her years and a great speaker.
Lenor took the circle and spoke of uniting our military with our allies.
'We had traded with aliens' she said. 'Why not fight with them?'
She spoke magnificently, but to no avail
The Warriors mocked, claiming they did not need help to win
The priests tutted, claiming divine right would grant victory
The workers fidgeted, fearing the loss of military production.
All had fears for their own power, and not enough fear of the enemy.
They saw threats in their allies and it over powered the true enemy
Self interest ruled the clans, and doomed many to death.
Lenor left in defeat and the Minbari fought alone.
More races died on our borders begging for help, but none came
Our ships defended our worlds and no other
It was a strategy that could not be sustained, for as our allies died so too did trade
Our wealth diminished, our economy splintered
Our warships went without supplies.
Seeing this the dark alliance struck down upon us.
Our furthest colony did fall to their depravations, even with our fleet in battle
Ships and warriors fell by the thousand to no avail
Enemies died by the million, but it did not stop them
Those on the colony suffered an unthinkable fate
And those clan elders who had refused to believe such a thing could happen knew shame
Lenor of the family Mir spoke again of alliance, and no laughter greeted her.
The great and the wise listened in humility
They saw their pride die before the massed guns of our enemies
The death of our world was suddenly mirrored in their eyes
Envoys were sent, calls for help were answered, a new fleet grew
Minbari now treated aliens as equals, friend and foe alike.
The lesson was learned and our warriors became cautious.
No longer did they rush into battle but measured and tested the enemy
In alliance with our neighbours we fought back, raided their worlds.
The war turned, the enemy faltered, the darkness fled.
Over long years the alliance liberated the worlds of the free
Then we attacked the homes of the dark.
Something regarded us with anger
We had united those which it had sought to divide
Our example had led the free, so it decided the example had to be changed
We do not know when they fully awoke, when the first ship screamed into life
We know the darkness rippled and grew, tendrils and sinews tightened.
And then we knew only terror.
The worlds we liberated fell silent. Ships vanished. People disappeared.
We investigated, only to see our search ships vanish
Our unease turned to fear, and slowly fear turned to panic.
But it was Lenor who calmed us
Her voice filled us with new resolve, to meet the darkness with light
The light of the fusion bomb and laser cannon.
A fleet was sent, it arrived at the lost colony and found death.
The city was dead, the people dead, the world dead.
And above was death itself.
The fleet attacked this avatar of the dark, a ship that seemed to live
It thrived in fire and revelled in destruction
And it was a master in it's chosen art.
The avatar savaged our ships, striking down many before they could react.
The battle was a new form of war as the fleet tried to stop this fleeting shadow.
Fire rained down from the dark and the warriors burned
Finally our ships struck home, one after the other
Green cleansing light framed the ship and destroyed it
It died screaming, drenched in warriors blood. It was the first.
The dark alliance had failed to stop us, so now the masters took the stage.
Within three months half our worlds had fallen, destroyed down to the sand and rock
Cloven to the bones of the earth.
Our fleets responded, but failed in battle after battle.
The black ships cut apart everything in their midst with a sinister joy
The children of Minbar wept for each loss as we and our allies bled.
The warrior clans, once united, now grew divided.
As defeat outweighed victory, as world after world burned the dissention grew.
Each clan controlled it's own fleets and no longer coordinated their efforts
They blamed each other for the losses, accused of cowardice and incompetence
The warriors could not accept defeat, their pride was too great.
Our defences further fragmented, and only the aliens kept our lines firm.
But they could not stop the Shadows from falling without us.
Warriors fought and died in the face of unthinkable odds
They died with honour
They died with courage
They died with strength in their souls
They died pointlessly
The clans threw away the lives of their warriors in futile gestures to other clans
Each wanted to score victory at whatever cost, to destroy a black ship.
Black ships died, but our losses were immense and unsustainable
Some warriors attacked, others stood in defence, others did neither.
They did not support each other in battle, and the enemy isolated them and cut them down.
Our warrior clans were bleeding to death out of pride.
And then the Windswords went to war, not with the Shadows, but with their brothers.
Clan battled clan, Minbari killed Minbari in the face of our enemy
Our two greatest warrior clans, Windsword and Star rider battled one another
Their fleets had held our central line, and now turned on each other not the enemy.
It did not go unnoticed.
The Darkness shifted, gathered, marshalled, and then struck with fury.
The Shadows sliced through our strongest defences as Minbari killed Minbari
Our two great clans were decimated by each other and then the Shadows
Our bulwark was breached and our sole surviving starbase lay open to attack.
The other clans drew in what ships they could, the base was defended by the last true might of our fleet.
The shadows came in force and wiped them out in a day, few survived that battle.
The base and the greatest of our warriors were lost in a day of tears.
The war was lost, our hopes burned before our eyes.
The great clans of warriors were all but dead, our fleets a shell ready to crack.
The lines had been broken and the Shadows killed all in their path
Our allies rallied but they were pinned by the other forces of darkness
There was no one to come now to our aid, no one to halt the fall of night
And Minbari itself was open to the eyes of the Shadows.
Our despair was short lived, for when we called out to the universe for help, it answered.
In the path of the Shadows emerged a new light, and that light blazed in every heart.
It held a base to restore our defences
It held angels to restore our wonder
It held supplies to restore our fleets
And it held the One to restore our hope.
Valen stepped from between the Angels of old, the Vorlons of legend.
From the light he arrived with no word of his origin, just his aid.
He was Minbari not born of Minbari
Of no Clan and no Caste, but of every Clan and Caste
With quiet words he spoke to the survivors of the last battle and drew them to him.
At the new station a new line was formed to resist the darkness, and the Shadows fell on it.
The battle raged for a week, swaying back and forth around the fortress.
The warriors who had survived the earlier battle fought with renewed vigour
Their hearts lifted by Valen who commanded them
At the turning point of the battle Valen took to the sky in a craft unknown to us
A small grey fighter with cross wings and unusual markings
And in it Valen slew many soldiers of darkness until they arrived.
The Angels returned to Minbar
At Valen's call the Vorlons had entered the battle and cast down the Shadows.
In ships as alien and elemental as those of the enemy they attacked
The warriors of Valen launched one last attack and by the end they had victory
For the first time the Shadows gave ground and retreated
The Station was safe, the star of hope for our people. And Valen set about his destiny.
He went first to the warriors who had fought with him and spoke unto them
He called them his household, not of one clan but of all Minbar
He called them Warriors no longer, but Anla'shok.
They were his fist and his eyes, his word and his presence
Where they went Valen went
And where they gave battle they carried Valen's wrath.
He then went to our allies and offered them hope
He spoke of the Vorlons and the aid they promised
He showed them victory, he showed light blinding dark.
He showed them the star of hope that came from nowhere
He stood before them, the man who had driven away the Shadows
And they named him leader, swearing to follow him to the end.
Finally he came to Minbar itself and called upon the clan elders
And they came, drawn by the chance to see this man of fable
This light the Shadows feared.
He brought with him the promise of victory, for he knew the Shadows
He knew their strength and he knew their weakness
He knew the Minbari could prevail, if they followed him.
Valen looked upon the clan elders and they looked in awe at him
As one the worker caste bowed to him, they called him victor and wonder
They marvelled at his plain speech and common way
He had the manner of a worker, he had the dedication of a builder.
In him they saw one of their own, and they called him leader.
And from the elders he chose the three wisest to come with him.
The priest and scholars of the religious clan looked upon Valen
They saw the man who walked with Angels
They saw a figure of legend and prophecy,
A Minbari not born of Minbari
They saw one who spoke with the words and demeanor of a priest
From them he chose three to follow him
The Warriors of the military clans looked upon Valen
They saw the man who had defeated the Shadows
They saw the man who had taken many warriors for his own
They saw the man who commanded more ships than they did
They saw a rival
The Warriors turned their back upon Valen.
With the Elders of the Religious Clans he had unified the heart of the people
With the workers he had unified the hands of the people.
The entirety of those people followed without question,
Soon war production grew, and the Minbari found hope
The Anla'shok welcomed scholoar and worker to their ranks
The Soldiers of Valen grew stronger, and victory followed victory.
But without the Warriors no victory would be complete.
Without their strength there could be no great counter attack
Many among them sought to join him, seeing his warrior soul
But the elders clung bitterly to their power
The desire that had so nearly doomed their world
They did not listen to their warriors, and did not follow Valen.
So Valen issued a challenge under the ancient rules of combat
He challenged the greatest warrior to a duel with the Denn'bok
He made his challenge and he waited
The Warriors could not agree which of them had the right to fight Valen
Each wanted the honour and they argued about it, finally engaging in duels
By the morning only one warrior elder remained standing, and he faced Valen.
But the warrior was weary and injured when he met Valen
The nights battle had taken its toll on the great duellist, and Valen knew it.
The battle was brutal and well fought, Valen claimed to have been taught by the master
Yet the warrior was the greater, only his weariness denied him victory
Through wit and skill Valen won, and by right of combat became leader of all Warrior clans.
Then he picked the three greatest warriors and bid them follow him.
Valen took Three of the Religious Clans
He took Three of the Worker clans
He took three of the military clans
He then declared a new order, that the individual clans were one in service
They were not divided by family anymore, but united in service to all Minbari
The day of clans ended, and the Three Castes of Minbar were born.
From these three castes he called the grouped elders their leaders
Three from each Caste to rule together in equality
Worker, Warrior, Religious.
He took them and formed a circle of nine
Three times three
And he named them the Grey Council, shades and hidden from the light of their castes
He said to them 'We are grey, we stand between the Candle and the Star'
'We stand between the darkness and the light'
To each he went in turn and high the relic he had brought with him
He named it the Triluminary, and it glowed in his presence.
He presented robes to each, each identical.
The council stood unrecognisable, outside and inside they were simply of Minbar.
Then he said to the new Council
'Will you follow me into darkness?'
'Will you follow me into fire and into storm?'
'Will you follow me into death?'
As one the council said yes.
The Council went with him from the old Clan meeting place to a new home
There he addressed them a third time
'You must put aside old things'
'Old fears. Old lives'
'This is your Death, the death of flesh, the death of Pain, the death of Yesterday.'
'Do not be afraid, for I am with you, to the end of time.'
The Council followed his words and sealed it with their promises.
They were now united, one to follow Valen in life and death
One to serve all of Minbar, not just clan or caste
One to fight the darkness, now and forever
Valen made his first law 'No Minbari shall ever kill another Minbari'
He ended with three words. 'So it begins'
At the head of the Anla'shok Valen was everywhere and nowhere
He was where he was most needed by the light, and never where the enemy sought him.
He instructed the workers to build new ships, great warcruisers of blue arches
He instructed the warriors to decline battle and gather their strength
And he instructed the Religious leaders to gather the telepaths to him
With the Anla'shok and telepaths he began to form a new strategy.
The forces of light struck where the darkness did not expect
The Anla'shok and the allies never stopped moving, always avoiding battle
Valen said he had fought such a war in his youth, of weak against strong
All the while the Vorlons moved fleetingly among them, aiding when called
After many years the fleet was rebuild, crewed with a new generation of warriors
They were united under Valen, one force, one will, one strength. They were ready.
Valen sent forth his fleets led by the telepaths of the Religious caste
The black ships faltered under the psychic attacks, and then were cloven by our new ships
On all fronts the Darkness retreated and the Army of Light gave chase.
They found no worlds to free, just scarred and dead rock
Each lost species spurred them on and filled their resolve
All united behind Valen, and it did not go unnoticed.
The darkness sent their mightiest servants into battle, the Technomages.
Like a whirlwind they tore through armies and fleets
They wielded the power of the Night and slew with unfathomable joy.
But through strength of arms and strength of will they were repulsed.
Telepaths blocked them, warriors killed them, and while they tried to kill Valen,
Valen lived on, stalwart as ever.
The allies of darkness fell or fled,
The mages were all but exterminated
The Drakh driven to hiding
The Shroggoth repulsed
In the end only the masters themselves remained to do battle
And they fought as only Demons can fight.
Valen called upon the Vorlons for more help
He knew where the Shadow homeworld was and planned battle.
He sought one last swift battle to end this war
But the Vorlons forsake the Army of light
The said the message was delivered and the Darkness receded.
In return Valen expelled the Vorlons from Minbar.
As Valen confronted the Vorlons his followers grew eager
The Tak'Cha were his most reverent supporters, calling him legend.
They tried to rally more races to battle, and if any refused they were called heretic
The Tak'Cha grew wild and waged war on many races
It was the peaceful Yolu who resisted long enough to call upon Valen
And he returned in fury to the battle.
The Tak'Cha had gone beyond his teachings, and were cast from the army.
Yet while they obeyed the will of Valen, they did not change
Still they revere him and name him their greatest prophet
And Valen was sad, for the Tak'Cha had been a noble race before the war
He called them one more casualty of war, that not all losses were physical
Then the Shadows returned.
They came in force once more and while Valens forces fought back, they advanced.
The battle was as intense and desperate as any, and it swayed to the darkness.
The battle came to Minbar itself, the sky glowed with light as ships duelled close above
The Anla'shok met the Shadows with no telepaths
Their fleet were the only ones in range and they fought without hesitation
When help finally arrived the Anla'shok were all but extinct.
At the height of the battle Valen was attacked by a warrior or Darkness
One of the Masters of night arrived on his ship, killing his telepath guards
Valen and his familiar Zathras met the challenge, but seemed doomed to die
Then the young warrior Ilyr did arrive, and he attacked the monster
Though it cost him his life, Ilyr drove away the Shadow and saved Valen
From there after his name was the most honoured of all warriors.
Minbar was saved, and the last Shadow fleet was defeated
Valen now looked to the heart of the enemy
The Death of futures
Heart of the Darkness
And he resolved to cut it out once and for all.
The fleet gathered, weary and battle scarred but resolved.
Their will was as strong as ever, and their eyes set on final victory.
Valen's fleet arrived at Z'Ha'Dum with a righteous fire
The Shodows fled, their fleets were beaten
Z'Ha'Dum was placed under attack, bombed night and day for a month
The Shadows were driven away, the war was over.
Valen spoke to the Vorlons
He asked them to destroy Z'Ha'Dum for it was beyond his fleet.
He demanded they destroy the Shadows forever
He pleaded with them to protect the lives of the future generations
But the Vorlons refused, and they left
And never again were they seen in the cycles of this galaxy.
The Shadows scattered to a million worlds
They were defeated, but not broken. They will rise again.
Valen returned to Minbar, releasing the fleets under his command.
The allies returned to their life, save those who had suffered too greatly
They he brought under the protection of the Minbari
He honoured their courage and devotion
For they fought on when the Warrior clans bickered
All Minbari owed them a debt, and it was to be repaid.
He was a changed man, world weary and soul sick
Valen stayed for a long time in Tuzanor, City of Sorrows
Dreaming of the Future
As Minbar rebuild so did he
And when the time came he returned to the people
And he was welcomed with joy.
Valen regarded this cautiously, for he did not wish to be an icon
He forbade any idol or image to be made in his honour
He directed the people to work for Minbar
To honour him by honouring Minbar as one whole
He took the mantle he had worn during the war
But refused to rule alone, only as one of the Council.
He made laws, solidifying the new Minbar
The word of Valen became law
His wisdom was never denied
The world grew in peace and friendship with our allies
It was a golden age
And it was all too brief.
In this time Valen took a wife, the great Lenor of the family Mir
They forged a family, and as he raised his children he left leadership
The Council ruled Minbar in his name and did so wisely
The Council were Valen's chosen, wise and just
The Council however were growing old
And like all things, over time, it changed.
Valen remained Entil'Zha dwelling in Tuzanor with the Rangers
But as he lived many plotted against him
Warriors who remembered the humbly of the clans
Heirs who now inherited nothing grew to age
He was blamed for their loss of power
And they sought vengeance.
Valen turned the Anla'shok into watchers, seeking evidence of the Dark
He restored their losses and directed them
Even in the face of growing hostility from Warriors,
The Anla'shok were well regarded on Minbar and abroad
Valen lay down his prophecy, warning of the return of the Shadows
And that the Minbari would need to find the other half of their Souls.
Valen had grown to old age when the time came
The Warriors denied their birthright attacked
They tried to kill him and his family,
But the Anla'shok rallied to his defence and the warriors were slain
But Lenor did not survive, and Valen's grief was immeasurable
He took his children and fled into hiding.
When news of the attack was heard Minbar went mad
The Workers and Religious Castes threatened civil war
The Warriors themselves were divided, the violent Windswords were blamed
On the brink of Civil war Valen returned for the last time.
He reminded them of his greatest law
Minbari do not kill Minbari
Against Valens will there was no opposition
The Council united once more and Valen forgave the Windswords
He spoke once more to the Council, for three days
He left them his prophecy and warnings to be guarded
He warned them of the future, and that his family was safe
And then he took ship and went to the sea.
A month later the ship was found
It was outside the Great and forgotten Station he arrived on.
It's doors were sealed from the inside
But no trace of Valen was found
The Anla'shok took the station and hid it as per Valens request
So it did not become an Idol to him.
It was with wonder Minbar heard of his passing
He left as mysteriously as he arrived.
Much about Valen was unknown
But there is one fact, one truth known to all Minbari
In a Thousand years when the Darkness grows again
Valen will return.