The Hero of Algol by Bad Hair Man

Prologue: The Eternal Battle -- Myth vs. History

People love heroes. People especially love the idea of heroism and heroics. And so, people love stories about heroes. Our favorite stories get told and retold so many times that they acquire a history of their own, a lineage even. As with anything capable of both changing and reproducing, the principle of natural selection begins to apply. In every retelling some details may be added, some removed. Unpopular elements are left out of future versions, popular elements propagate and accumulate. The greatest tale ever told may last forever in the memories of a people, but that does not mean it will remain true to its original form.

The text that follows is my attempt to splice together a more rigorous and coherent form of a story you may have heard before, the tale of The Hero of Algol. To illustrate my point about what the ravages of time can do to a story, I will quote a popular contemporary version of the story's introduction and provide a brief commentary on its accuracy, before moving on to the main body of the tale.

The time: Space Century 342. The place: the three planet Algol solar system located deep in the Andromeda galaxy.

Why the setting was moved to a different galaxy I can't say. Algol -- also called the Demon Star, or the Winking Demon Star -- is certainly connected to Andromeda through its association with Perseus, but it is, nonetheless, located in the Milky Way.

Under the democratic rule of King Lassic, life was good as he provided everything his people could want. Space Travel [sic] had been discovered 200 years before and deep space shuttles had allowed colonization of Motavia and Dezoris, the other worlds of the Algol Star System.

A bit terse, but not bad yet. One might take exception to describing space travel as being "discovered" rather than invented, but that's trivial compared to what's coming.

But slowly, over time, things began to change. It started with a new religion which was rumored to have come from another galaxy. The dark priests of this religion, never seen by any mortal, promised immortality to all who joined. You would live forever!

Claiming that the unnamed immortality religion (or "immortality cult" as it is also called) actually induced the evil times that followed is very likely speculative. The religion's emergence may correlate with the early part of Algol's decay in this period, but it could easily have been one of the effects of that decay rather than the cause of it.

Further, the rumor of the religion's origin in another galaxy is so dubious as to be absurd and its inclusion here demonstrates the author's preference for outlandishness over realism. And saying that the "dark" priests were "never seen by any mortal" is hyperbole and wrong. They were very secretive and took great pains to avoid public scrutiny, but "mortal" non-members of this cult did see and interact with them from time to time.

King Lassic was getting old. The idea of living forever appealed to him so he became the first to join. Then, he... changed.

Clarification: he was the first well known person known to join. The cult had a secretive and shadowy -- yet solid -- base of support before they ever approached King Lassic.

It started with the threatening suit of armor the priests made for him. The armor looked evil and corrupt, and that's how Lassic began to rule his people.

This is out of order. It was years after his conversion before Lassic began wearing his signature "evil looking" armor. His "corrupt" rule began with him altering the personnel in his administration. Certain key members of the government, parliament, and nobility were induced to join the cult. Resistors to the change in policy were fired or "retired" for various reasons and replaced by more loyal and corruptible men and women. A few of King Lassic's more outspoken and powerful detractors simply vanished under mysterious circumstances.

Lassic's first appearance in his threatening suit of armor marks the point at which his power consolidation was essentially complete and irreversible, but the change of the rule of Algol by the democratic King Lassic to that of the corrupt King Lassic did not happen overnight, it took years.

Outrageous taxes became a burden on everyone. Business on all three planets shut down and entire towns fell into decay. There was no way for the people to make any money.

Hyperbole. Crushing taxes and burdensome laws favoring Lassic's allies and cronies were imposed, the economy did fall into a depression, some towns and cities were hit much harder than others and suffered a steep decline, but productive activity didn't simply stop. People weren't starving in the street... yet.

One should also note that the government propaganda machine was going strong right up to the end of Lassic's reign, justifying the "need" for all his onerous laws and taxes. Most people knew that King Lassic had gone bad, but very few suspected just how bad. Few thought, for instance, that inducing economic collapse was his actual intent.

As time passed and the people suffered, horrible creatures and monsters began to stalk all three worlds. When the dead came back to life, the people feared the worst and guessed the truth. Through black magic, Lassic had become an evil tyrant.

This is essentially true. Though one should note that, first, the coming of the monsters did far, far more to damage Algol civilization than any of Lassic's taxes and corrupt laws. This is what caused entire towns and rural regions to fall into decay and abandonment. This is when some people started to starve. Second, the author here implies that it was Lassic himself who brought about the planet infesting hordes of monsters. While there is evidence that this may have been the case, there are also plausible theories that Lassic's corruption and the coming of the monsters were both the result of a dark, less visible force at work in Algol, and that Lassic and the monsters had nothing directly to do with one another.

But where there is evil there is also always good. Brave individuals began to rally in secret against Lassic. But his Robotcops were ruthless in hunting out these defenders of the people. One was Nero, a spaceport worker in Camineet, the central town on Palma. Long ago, his father had disappeared trying to learn Lassic's evil secrets. Now, the Robotcops had crushed Nero as well. Before he died, he passed on his short sword and his quest to his sister, Alis. He also told her to find a brave fighter named Odin.

In spite of the way the author both over-dramatizes and over-summarizes these events, this paragraph is -- to the best of my knowledge -- essentially true.

Alis raised the sword to the sky and vowed that Nero's death would not go unavenged!

This one... not so much.

Chapter 1: The Martyr's Sister