Keole – The Final Song of Hanara the Golden Queen

A History From the World of Valmora

A piece of writing describing the background to Valmora and Keole’s story.

The journey down from the Valmora Highlands had worn the boy out physically and mentally though he was glad his journey was nearly at an end. As he stumbled down the over-crowded main street of the Royal City, his stomach twisted and grumbled with hunger from the over powering smells of fried meats and fresh cooked pastries from the market vendors.
“Rouphus Halifax, Green Snake Inn.” He whispered to himself, remembering the person he was sent to meet.
He noticed the looks of disgust towards him on several faces, no doubt a reaction to his travel worn clothes and dirty appearance and heat from the summer sun did no favours for him either. He had no money or wares to trade, what he would give for a bath and a meal he thought.

As he pushed his way amongst the people towards his destination, he heard the sound of flowing water and a soft sound of music. It was a beautiful, slow harmony that he thought sounded familiar, something he had heard before but couldn’t remember from where. Curiosity took hold and he pushed his way though the crowd towards where he thought he heard the sound. To a boy his size, the marketplace in the city was massive and it was hard to see when most of the crowd is taller than you. He was at a loss, all he could see was people buying and selling and shop stalls lining the main street.
“Excuse me, is there a fountain around he?” he began to ask random people, hoping one would pay attention and answer him. He tugged on arms and sleeves yet most just looked at him and continued walking. Flowing with the crowd further into the city the sound of water grew louder yet the music remained quiet and soft.

A coolness fell over himself as he stepped into shadow. Gazing upwards, the boy was stunned as he saw two large stone dragons towering above those at the end of the main street. An elaborate fountain surrounded the dragons, its sides etched with carvings of serpents and naked men and woman. He began to realise that the music he heard was in his mind though it felt as though the stone was calling him. Mesmerised, he stepped into the fountain and waded his way through the knee-deep water towards the dragons. Lightly, he placed his hand on the large stone talon of the dragon before him, a soft vibration emitted from the stone and moved through his body. He studied the small details of the dragons. The largest of the two had been pinned to the ground, his teeth bared in a ferocious snarl as he pushed against the other in some sort of struggle, its wings were splayed out underneath him, broken and torn. His hind legs grasped the stone of the earth as he tried to free himself from his attackers hold. The boys eyes fell upon the other dragon; one claw placed upon the others chest their talons piercing deep into the thick chest scales. In the other claw they held a large obsidian orb, much like the small stone his mother used to wear. A pang of sadness hit him as he remembered the only memory he had of her. He closed his eyes and swept the image from his mind, to mourn was weak his father had told him.
Keole…the soft, feminine voice echoed deep within his mind, calling out to him.
The sadness came again, settling deep in the pit of his stomach before spreading quickly through his body. His heart clenched in pain and a knot form in his throat, tears again swelled and fell as the sadness moved through him. He couldn’t remember her face or the way her voice sounded, he was only a young when he found her, lifeless. Opening his eyes, he turned away from the dragons, sadness was replaced with anger which drowned out the music. He needed to do something to occupy his mind from thinking he thought as he went to leave.
Look at me!
His vision blurred as the commanding voice cracked through him, fresh tears swelled and spilled down his dirt covered cheeks. Blinking them away, his vision cleared as he found himself turning back to stare at the face of the attacking dragon. He could sense the sorrow in those stone cold eyes and something inside him knew it was her voice he heard. He felt the pity she held for the dragon she had pinned beneath her and the acceptance of her sacrifice. He heard a song so old and beautiful radiate through him, one he knew from long ago.

Pain swelled in his head, pushing against his skull. A sudden blinding flash washed over him, knocking him forwards in crippling pain. As his body fell he felt himself lifted upwards, his soul detaching from his body with a deafening tear. Drifting through the bright nothingness, all about him was as blank as an unpainted canvas.
Death he thought to himself, accepting of its embrace.
Then the mist came, thick at first then thinning out as the ghostly outlines of trees emerged. Keole found himself upright and drifting through the forest now, as though he were a ghost. Trees reached high about him, ancient and silent as they recorded the passing of events throughout time. A small doe bounced out before him and ran off down the trail he found himself on.
To know the ending one must know the beginning Keole.

A soft laugh caught his attention and he found himself standing on the verge of a small glade, animals flocking about the young woman as she sat amongst them. Her scarlet hair ablaze against her pale skin, the doe that had passed him now eating gently from her hand.
The one we call the Goddess is a part of us.
Suddenly the does head shot up in alarm as it looked towards the other end of the glade. Fear struck the animals that crowded around her and they shot off in all directions for the safety of the trees. A man emerged, tall, dark and well built like most soldiers that served the Kingdom’s army.
However, her beauty caught the attention of a wandering God and to win her affection –
– A God? Keole’s thought interjected.
Yes. All worlds are connected by the Eternal Spirit. Gods are merely spirits who have reached the highest plane of that Realm, free to wander the worlds as they please after they have parted ways with their physical shell.
The man had reached the woman by now, as he talked she ignored him. Keole noticed that each time he tried to stand before her she looked elsewhere, uninterested in his advances.
In the end he knew no talking would gain her attention, yet he noticed how she admired the beauty of the the world that grew around her. So from his spirit he crafted a beast he had seen in other worlds, one of great beauty yet capable of terrible destruction.

The forest rumbled as the roar echoed about them, the air shuddered as the beast drew its large black wings up and down, the black scales shimmering with a blood red tinge. Landing on all fours beside its creator it roared once again towards the Goddess before being bought to heel by the wandering God. A worried look crossed her face as she got to her knees and stretched out her hand towards the beast. Lightly she ran her fingers along its scales and looked into its eyes where she saw the chaos this creature would bring.

And so Ka’norn was born. Then from a piece of her spirit she created me to balance the scales. I was the Golden Queen, the dragon of harmony, Hanara your kind ended up calling me. Yet she remained unimpressed with him, for he was disrupting the balance she worked to preserve in this world.
The black dragon then changed shape so swiftly, a trick of the eye the boy thought to himself.
Understand, we are creatures of the spirit Keole. Able to walk within both realm’s yet unable to act within the living world – to do so one must be born into that world. Knowing the Goddess was unimpressed, he created another creature, one much worse than Ka’norn yet similar to the people that already walked her world.

The mist changed the scene before them, the wandering God and his beast had faded and Keole saw the Goddess amongst the dying flowers, doubled over in pain. Her eyes were red and her sobs heavy. The animals crowded about her, watching helpless as another wave of pain flooded over her.
The men he created had no love or knowledge for the Goddess or her people. They killed her animals and cut down her forests without the proper blessings to release her spirit back to her. She felt each death, each blow that was struck. In the end she became numb. With the last of her energy she took her essence from the world and closed the door. Magic was gone from the world.

The sadness in the boys heart was immense, he clenched his fists and held his breath to try and calm himself from the rising anger as he watched her there in the glade, so beautiful and fragile, undeserving of her fate.
It took sometime before she felt the emptiness of leaving her world behind and guilt for leaving the world to such a fate. Cautiously, she opened the doorway again and in three newborn children she place a part of her spirit in each. The Maiden was born first, innocent and beautiful she was. The Mother came next, to nurture those around her and finally the Crone, full of all the wisdom from both realms.

The glade vanished completely and Keole found himself standing in a small dark room. A soft sobbing came from the corner and her noticed a young lady held her knees tightly to her chest. Her white shift covered in dirt and blood. As he reached his hand out towards her the scene vanished as quickly as it appeared, leaving him yet again in nothingness.
The Maiden grew and became beautiful yet her fate was cruel. Raped and beaten she fell pregnant and as the child drew their first breath her final one would pass her lips. Never would she hold her child, kiss them and tell them how she loves them. Yet that child will be destined for greatness.

“Agree to this and I will help you be free.”
Keole turned around hearing the man’s voice behind him. The room appeared about him with large velvet red curtains that hung by the archway to the balcony. An enormous bed piled high with exotic furs and cushions sat against the eastern wall of the room. Beside it stood a young man and a middle aged woman. His hand cupped her cheek gently as his thumb brushed away her tears from her bruised face.
The Mother became the Queen and as you can tell by her face the King was a tyrant and brutal to his woman. My son, Leviathan –
You had a son?
Four. When the Goddess opened the door again Me and Ka’norn placed our essence into four creatures of this world allowing them to shift forms. They have hunted with the beasts, walked amongst the men and swam in the deepest oceans. But it is in their dragon form that they are the most comfortable with. A beast of power, of wisdom and one that is both beautiful and frightening.
Keole blushed deeply when he noticed that the man and woman had embraced each other and fallen onto the bed in each others arms.
And so Leviathan and the Mother lay together that night and gave birth to Korrin Dominar.
Horror shot through Keole like a bolt of lightning; Dominar. He was too stunned to notice they were once again standing in the nothingness.
You are the last of that bloodline Keole. I have waited for you to awaken to change the world before the Time of Silence begins again.
Time of Silence? Keole’s thoughts stirred as he tried to pull his mind away from the sudden realisation of his heritage.
Yes. For the wheel turns and returns. The cycle of this world is much like that of the seasons or the cycle of the moon. It begins with new life then blooms to its fullest only to fade until there is nothing left but silence. The door between realms will close again and the Goddess will rest, unsure of if or when she will return. She will take all magic with her, her children can choose to stay if they wish but they do so alone with no memory of what once was.

A rock whizzed past Keole’s ear, almost grazing it on its way past. The scene unfolded before his eyes once again like magic. Rocks where hurling past him and through his ghost like body. Before him an old woman fell to her knees as she escaped the angry crowd that approached behind her.
The Crone was gifted with the knowledge of all things within both realms, yet it is hard to sway the stubborn minds of man when they are set on certain beliefs. So she was driven from the cities and pelted with rocks because they feared her words so she sort refugee high in the mountains. People who chose to listen to the voice within them usually ended up before her seeking wisdom. She is the only one of the three who live from the beginning of the cycle to the end.
Keole jumped as the large claw landed beside him. The golden scales glistened in the afternoon sun, her diamond talons shimmering as they dug into the soft earth of the field. She lowered her head down to look at him, her eyes were a brilliant amber and the bridge of her nose was plated with gold. Two small diamond horns protruded from her chin and he noticed smaller diamond horns along her cheek bones while the horns on her head were thick and white like bleached bone.
“That was merely the beginning of my story Keole. Many cycles have passed since then. All that is left of those is the faint memories and relics which time cannot break. It is this cycle that is different, this is the time that will decide the flow of the future.”
“Why is this time different?”
“The Crone has betrayed our Goddess. She does not wish to die and leave the world nor does she wish to stay and forget. Overthrow the tyrant Keole, reclaim the throne and allow the world to live in peace. Otherwise the future will be dark and she may never open the door again.”
The knot in Keole’s stomach tightened as his eyes scanned the vast field before them. He knew the tyrant, Helena, the witch who now ruled over Valmora. His fists tightened as the anger surged through his body.
“What is it I have to do” Keole asked sternly.
“For now, just listen. It wasn’t long after the start of this cycle that events took an unexpected turn. Helena was bitter, for each time she arrived she was wrinkled and old and driven from the comforts of city life and into the wilderness to live out the rest of her life. She no longer follows the destiny given to her by the Goddess.”

Black smoke began to billow in the distance, filling the sky with its darkness. Keole squinted his eyes to try and make out what was happening yet all he could see was the smoke and sporadic flashes of orange light.
“She used the knowledge the Goddess had given her to obtain youth, beauty and power. She strove to become the new Goddess the people would worship. She showed them her powers and like sheep they followed. As punishment the Goddess took her immortality from her.”
Keole could make out a dark shape now soaring high above the fields. His stomach twisted as he realised what it was. The long streak of fire burst forth from the creatures mouth, he could make out a tinge of green within the flames.
“Helena made a deal with Ka’norn.” she whispered sadly.
Keole watched the lone tear run down the the dragon’s cheekbone and sink into her scales. He realised then why she had looked so sad in the statue now, love surely is a beautiful yet painful emotion the boy thought.
“She regained her immortality by living off of the essence of his soul. Ka’norn was only a spirit after all. In return, the connection enabled him to act within this realm.”
The burst of flame surrounded Keole and Hanara. Instinctively, he fell to his knees and covered his head with his arms. The heat was intense and the smell was revolting, bile seeped up from his stomach, burning his throat as he resisted the urge to vomit.
“The Kingdom of Agaron became known as the Wasteland. The scorched earth became toxic that nothing has been able to grow here since that day.”
Keole looked up and saw a hill before him with smouldering ruins of the once rich city of Tyver. The Royal castle was built on the very top of the hill, its blackened skeleton standing out against the smoke filled twilight. His stomach twisted again as visions of the day flashed through his mind; the screams of the fleeing people and the smell of the toxic flames.
“How does it end.” Keole muttered through clenched teeth.
“The Rosh’ka was a race true to the Goddess. Pure in magic and wise in their ways. They crafted an artifact for the Goddess to imprison Ka’norn’s soul but a task such as that is never so simple.”

Keole noticed the burnt ground beneath him began to change. Soil turned to rock, dead trees became alive and flourished, the air became crisp and clean once more. Getting to his feet he looked around and found himself standing at the foot of the Valmoran Mountains.
“To return the balance to the world, we both had to silence ourselves until the Goddess returned for us.”
The air shuddered around Keole as the roars of the battling dragon’s echoed through the mountains. It wasn’t long after when the flash of black and gold caught his eye. In mid-air they battled; talons piercing through thick scales, their large fangs sinking deep into each others flesh. The two dragons twisted and turned in the air, each trying to seize and over power the other. Keole was entranced, he held his breath until both dragons went crashing into the trees in the mountain side and disappeared amongst them.
“I tore his wings with my very teeth and snapped his bones within my claws. As I held him down there was a moment I wished things could be different any maybe he would listen to reason. I pushed aside such foolish thoughts and remembered the destruction he had caused. As his soul was ripped from his body and placed into the orb, I casted my final spell.”
Keole followed the golden dragon as she began to walk, the earth trembling slightly beneath each step. They walked over to the edge of the cliff they stood on and below them Keole saw the very statue that stood the marketplace of the city.
“As our bodies turned to stone, Helena’s bond with Ka’norn was broken. The Goddess calls for you now Keole, you know the past now seize hold of the future and change the flow of the river that we find ourselves on.”
The burst of the statue was sudden, pieces of stone went flying and the flash of light was blinding. Keole felt himself fall backwards with the blast and loose his grasp on this dream. The humming returned and grew louder as his body was pulled downwards, back to his unconscious body.
It is the song that we all sing yet only the dead can hear the words. Awake now Keole for you are not one of the dead.

Water exploded from his burning lungs as Keole gulped for air. Voices muttered about him and a large hand hit him between the shoulder blades. His eyes stared wildly about the crowd, his breathing quick and heavy.
“The boy’s alive! Just a lung full o’ water is all!” a man cried out.

~ Greywatcher


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