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The Fate of Kiaronojo
Author's note: I wanted to write a fantasy novel, but I could NEVER come up with something like Lord of the Rings. So I settled for a short novel to introduce me to the genre of writing.
In the land of Omnihine, there lived a princess named Helena. A beautiful princess she was, and sweet tempered as a peony to boot! She had beautiful golden hair, as most princesses seem to have, and her eyes were the color of a sea after a storm. But she was not only beautiful in outward appearances. She was just as lovely and pure in her heart.
Truly a princess worth winning!
Every unmarried man of nobility in the land sought her hand in marriage, but all failed to meet her standards of what her prince should be. Finally, one day an unknown king came to the castle to woo her. He was a handsome man, with dark hair and eyes, and tanned skin.
"Hello princess," he addressed her, bowing solemnly to the princess and her father respectively,
"I am Daniel, king of Kiaronojo, and I have come to take you as my bride."
"Well," said Helena, "That's all very well and good, but did you even think of the fact that I might not want to marry you?"
"Yes, actually," answered Daniel, "but there’s never been a princess that hasn’t wanted to marry me."
"Then how come you're not already otherwise engaged?" asked the old king, sternly.
"Because, my dear old fellow, I didn't want to marry them!" the young king answered immediately.
The old king was not offended by being called ‘my dear old fellow’ by such a young chap, because Daniel’s answer was so completely logical, and the king liked logic.
As for Helena, the young king’s answer made her think him very smart and wonderful indeed, because she was very touched that he had singled her out of all the other princesses in the land. So, she honored him with her most dazzling smile, and told him that if her father approved, she would simply love to marry him.
The king after some consideration decided that the young man was an upright and good- tempered fellow, and he gave Helena and Daniel his royal consent.
After which, the delighted couple was married in a magnificent ceremony after which the food, entertainment and drink, added to the cost of Helena’s beautiful but very expensive bridal gown, cost the old king of Omnihine almost half of his expansive treasury. But he didn’t mind in the slightest, for he loved his daughter very much.
The happy pair then set out on a couple of beautiful snow-white horses to Daniel’s home, expecting to live out their days happily in that country.
But upon reaching the border, Helena cried out at what she saw.
The whole scene was dark and dreary! The mountains rose high, dark, and craggy, and the shadows were indeed forbidding. Clouds hung over the horizon, and not a flower or bird was to be seen. The trees were all dead or decrepit, standing bare and worn, with the branches sticking out like a mass of thin spiders.
"Oh, my dear Daniel!!" the poor princess cried, "I shall love you always, no matter what happens to us, and love you anywhere, no matter what it looks like, but why have you brought me to this place. I’ve never seen a kingdom so frightening.”
Daniel looked at her sadly, and answered "Darling Helena! I’m so sorry for deceiving you. I loved you so much, and I knew you’d never marry me if you saw where I lived. I am king indeed, of this horrible place, and you shall be queen. The people will love you, and you will bring happiness to us once more!”
Helena stopped sobbing, and laid her head on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry for pouting, my dear. I will try to be a comfort to you, but- why is the kingdom like this in the first place?”
The king gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll tell you later, since it’s a long story. We’re almost there, and I’m sure you must be quite worn out!
They soon came straight up to the black gates of the epic castle that was to be their home.
Once inside the castle, Helena was greeted very warmly and graciously indeed! She was shown to her bed almost immediately, being very tired.
Daniel flopped into bed much later, he having to attend to some important business before retiring.
The next morning, as the royal couple was promenading in the exquisite gardens of the palace, Helena asked her husband the question that had been troubling her since she had arrived in Kiaronojo.
“Daniel,” she said, taking his arm, “Has Kiaronojo always been like this, or was it brought about over time?”
Daniel sighed. “It’s a terrible story, dear, but you should know, being Queen now.
“About 100 years ago, Kiaronojo was a normal country, much like your own; everyone and everything. The trees were green and fruitful, the birds sang merrily, and there were flowers everywhere. But best of all, everyone was happy.
“Then, an awful sorceress named Bianca decided to pay a visit to Kiaronojo, and when she came, she stirred up strife everywhere, by her mischief and horrid pranks. She separated families, scared little ones out of their wits, and even made a few of her special 2 foot spiders to creep around, hiding in corners.
“Bianca was delighted. What she loves best is arguing, deceit, and making other people miserable. She even left another “gift”. With a wave of her hand, and a few ugly words, she turned all of us, and the entire country dark and dreary. The greenness disappeared almost entirely; the birds flew away; the flowers wilted and died; and the mountains grew and were darkened. The people were very distressed, and have tried to make the best of it for the last 10 years.
“So that’s the story of Kiaronojo. Ain’t it nice?”
Helena was so busy sobbing with feeling for the poor people of Kiaronojo that she didn’t think to correct Daniel’s grammar.
Daniel comforted her, and lent her his own starched pocket-handkerchief, and he eventually managed to stop her hysterics.
“It’s alright, darling, we’re getting used to it. The people are already much happier, now that you’re here. Everyone loves you!”
“I-I hope so,” sniffled Helena, “now, I think I’d better go lie down for a short nap. I wore myself out crying; sorry.”
Helena eventually grew accustomed to the place, and she did indeed cheer everybody up. She was a ray of sunshine, in a dreary place.
She was a wonderful queen, and her subjects loved her so much that they began to compare any bit of loveliness anywhere to Queen Helena, saying that she was the most lovely creation ever put on the earth.
One day, a few months later, the queen’s beloved brother Benton came to visit his sister.
This was the first time he’d ever come to Kiaronojo, and he was as shocked as his sister had been, to hear about the country’s horrid history.
In fact, he got quite fired up about it.
“My dear Helena!” he said, storming behind her up the grand staircase, “You mean this has gone on for over 10 years, and no one has done anything? It ridiculous! It’s quite preposterous! In fact, it’s utterly inconceivable!”
“Benton, no one has tried to fix our problem, because no one wants the possibility of facing Bianca ever again. You haven’t the slightest idea of how awful she is. I’ve heard tales. Daniel tried, but as the king of this country, he can’t leave for very long.”
Benton sighed, exasperated. “Isn’t there anybody willing to at least try?”
“No,” sighed Helena.
Benton sputtered. “That’s ridiculous. It can’t be true.”
“It is! The people are just plain scared of Bianca!” “Well, then,” said Benton stoutly, “I’ll go myself!”
The queen stared. “But you might die!” “Well, I will have given it my best, and I’m not afraid to risk my life for these people. Besides, Bianca must be stopped before she ruins the world. I’m sure she’s not as hard to kill as she seems.”
With that, her brother strode off with a determined look on his noble face, which made Helena think that maybe it wouldn’t be such an impossible task for him after all.
“I hope everything goes well, Benton!”
“I’m sure I do too! Whatever he said.” The king came up behind her.
“Benton has decided to go kill Bianca and return Kiaronojo to normal himself, the dear fellow.”
“How simply splendid of him,” cried the king, “I admire him very much for that, and I do hope he doesn’t get himself killed.”
“Me too, darling,” said the queen. “The problem is, he said that he’ll die in the attempt, if necessary.”
“Oh, dear. That does put a damper on things. Shall I help him pack?” inquired Daniel.
“Please do, dear, I should feel so much better if I knew he would remember clean clothes.”
“Women,” mumbled the king under his breath. “I should feel better if I knew he was going to remember to take a horse.”
He found Benton furiously saddling his horse. Daniel cleared his throat loudly, causing Benton to whirl around.
“Oh, hello,” said Benton, “no, you can’t stop me. I’m going, no matter what you or anyone says.” “That’s fine with me,” the king answered, “Helena just wanted me to help you pack. She’s afraid you’ll forget clean clothes.”
Benton looked puzzled.
“Remember clean clothes? Oh, fine. I don’t care about the smell though.” Daniel and Benton packed the saddlebags with food, a dagger, and a fresh change of clothes. Benton also carried a sword by his side.
Benton set out almost immediately, and galloped toward the mountains, on his gallant quest to free the hearts and spirits of the people of Kiaronojo.
Daniel and Helena waved goodbye until they couldn’t see him anymore. Then they went back into the castle, hoping that that wasn’t the last time they’d ever see Benton.
Benton continued towards the mountain for a while then suddenly reined in his horse.
After thinking a while, he decided to find out where Bianca had last been seen. Daniel had said something about Kiwanloco, so he decided to try there.
He set out towards the city of Howaiah, to find a ship that was heading to Kiwanloco. He arrived in Howaiah, and headed to the docks. Benton jumped off his horse in mid gallop, (for the benefit of the young ladies that happened to be walking by), tied that wonderful animal to a post, and set out to find a ship-master headed where Benton wanted to go.
He spotted several ships being loaded up for different journeys, and talked to the captains, one by one. He finally found one that was going to Kiwanloco, and handed over a sack of money he had been given by the king for payment.
Once the ship set sail, he began to make friends with other passengers on board. He met one man named Janson, who was also headed to Kiwanloco. Benton liked Janson very much, and they hit it off very well. Janson wasn’t going to do anything in particular, so Benton mad up his mind to ask him to accompany him on his quest once they reached Kiwanloco.
They sailed through many days, and many nights, and unfortunately many storms, but they eventually made it to Kiwanloco.
Benton stepped off the gangplank and breathed in a big gulp of fresh air. He smiled. Then he fell over. “Whoa, there,” Janson helped him to his feet and then promptly toppled over, himself.
“I guess we need to get our land legs back,” Benton grinned.
Janson agreed, and then they put their arms around each others shoulders, and swayed and tottered over to an inn, looking like a couple of drunks.
They sat themselves down at a table, and ordered some cider. Benton asked Janson if he wanted to help him find and kill Bianca.
Janson thought a minute. “Okay, deal. I don’t have anything better to do.” “Great!” Benton stood up and drained the last of his cider, “Let’s go!”
They bought some horses from a stable in town, (Benton had sold his back in Howaiah) and started their search. Benton asked somebody every few people they passed, if they’d seen Bianca. All he got was a few blank stares, and a couple frightened ones, from people who obviously knew about Bianca, but had never seen her.
Finally, he asked a crooked little old man who was hobbling along the street. The old man looked up with a strange light in his eye.
“Eh? Bianca ye say? What would ye want with that she-devil?”
“You know of her then?” Benton asked eagerly, “We are looking for her because I want to kill her, so as to break a curse that she placed 10 years ago.”
“Of course I know Bianca,” the old man croaked, “And I regret the day I first laid eyes on her! I’ll tell you all I know right here, since I don’t want you two in my house”. Benton and Janson ignored the insult, and listened eagerly.
The old man, (who’s name was Rengald,) said, “I saw Bianca once in the street, one hundred years ago.”
Benton gaped. “You mean that’s ALL you have to tell us?”
“No, of course not!” Rengald chuckled, “I just wanted to see what your face would look like if I told you that. I could see how impatient you were. Anyhow, to tell the truth, Bianca was my apprentice. I discovered her in a village a long time ago, and saw she had magical abilities, but had not been trained to use them. So, I took her in hand and taught her much over many years.
“I should have noticed how fond she was of destroying things, and how much more interested she was in learning curses instead of blessings, but for some reason I was blind to it all. I loved her like a daughter. But one day I found her cursing a house for no reason other than to cause the poor people in it misery.
“I was horrified! I was angry with her, and she snapped back at me, ran off, and I didn’t see her again for a long time.
“The next time I heard of her, it was news that she had cursed a country called Kiaronojo, and made everyone in it miserable, and made everyone and everything in it dark and horrid. I was devastated. What had I trained? I had made a monster!
“I kept hearing of her deeds, and they grew worse and worse! Finally one day I decided it was my duty to go and stop her somehow. I rode off to the mountains where her last outrage had occurred. I found her in a cave; practically mad with delight over the village she had set on fire, with cursed flames. I told her I was sorry if I had given her any wrong ideas while training her, and I asked her again why she found such delight in death and destruction.
“She listened to me with a funny little smile on her face, and when I finished she gave a short laugh, and told me that it wasn’t my fault. She said death was fascinating. She said watching things being destroyed gave her a sense of power, and that I would never understand. ‘You and your other wizard friends,’ she smirked, ‘not one of you seem to realize the power that you hold in your hands, and how you could use it for your own benefit. I want to control the world! I want to see everyone and everything suffering, except me.’
“It was then that I realized that she had truly gone insane. But I realized it almost a second too late! Using magic, she tore a boulder off of the rock walls of the cave, and hurled it at me. I managed to protect myself from some of the force, but it still drove me out of the cave and off the cliff. It didn’t kill me, but it left me crippled like I am now. I haven’t seen her since.”
“Whoa,” Benton said, “That’s some story! We’re from Kiaronojo for reasons you can probably guess; we’ve been looking for Bianca. So, do you have any idea where she is now?”
Rengald picked up his cane, and started to hobble away. “She’s been seen in the mountains to the south of here some, but other than that I’m afraid I can’t help you.”
“You’ve helped us a ton already!” Benton said, “I know more about Bianca! Now I have to come up with a brilliant plan to kill her.”
Rengald turned, frowned, and sighed heavily. “Good for you. Let me know if you succeed.”
“Alright then,” Benton picked up his horse reins. “We’d best be going. Thank you for everything, Rengald. If we succeed in our mission, we’ll drop by on the way home and give you the details.”
“Thank you; that would be comforting. Have a safe journey; I hope to meet you again if Bianca doesn’t kill you first!”
Benton and Janson waved goodbye to Rengald, and then galloped off toward the tavern.
The next morning they started south.
Benton and Janson reached the foot of the mountains about noon, and started up the steep incline on foot leading their horses.
Suddenly they heard a loud scream from a cave above them.
“That-would be Bianca,” Benton looked grim.
They made their way quietly up to the cave, leaving the horses where they were. Benton put his back to a rock, and carefully peeked into the cave. What he saw enraged him.
A little boy was sitting against the cave wall, looking terrified. A giant spider was creeping towards him, while an evil, beautiful, laughing, woman looked on.
Bianca was wearing a dress the color of bright flames, and her dead black hair stood out strikingly against it. Altogether, she looked quite evil and frightening.
Benton whispered to Janson to stay hidden unless an emergency occurred, and drew his sword. With a terrific yell, he leapt up and into the cave, striking the head off the spider. The little boy screamed again, but he also jumped up, and hid behind Benton. “Good boy!” Benton said, “stay behind me.”
The two very angry people dueled with wits and rocks for a while. No one was getting anywhere, when Bianca smirked. “You can’t defeat me, little boy. I am Bianca!”
Benton was getting more and more exasperated. “I know you’re Bianca. Why else do you think I’d come here? Also, I’m not a little boy. I’m 23 years old, and much wiser than you’ll ever be.”
Bianca did not like that comment at all. “Wiser than me? Why! I know all about magic, and I can use it too.”
Benton nodded. “I know you can use it! But that’s not magic. That’s sorcery. Magic is used for good, sorcery for evil. And you’re not wise, because you don’t know the difference. Ha.”
“Stupid little boy!” Bianca hissed, “I’m going to kill you, now!” She lifted her arms and shot a large rock from the wall, straight at Benton’s head.
He ducked. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m here to kill you!” He screamed an ear-piercing scream that made Janson, Bianca, and the little boy all wince.
While they were thus distracted, Benton leapt forward, and swung his sword at Bianca’s neck. Her head separated from her body, and fell onto the floor. Blood went everywhere.
“Wow,” said Benton. “Was it really that easy?” “Apparently so,” said Janson, coming into the cave. “So… how come nobody thought to cut off her head before?” Benton wiped his sword on the sorceress’s dress. “Maybe it was because nobody ever got that close to her without her killing them!” Janson looked thoughtful. “Perhaps.”
Benton turned to the little boy. “So,” he said. “Who are you?”
The little boy looked really, really, relieved. “I’m-uh-I’m-uh-Dalton”
“How on earth did you end up here?” Benton asked, puzzled.
Dalton grinned. “I’m a goatherd. She was about to kill all my goats, and I rammed her in the stomach with my head. Then she got really mad. Thanks for rescuing me, sir. But- Aaaah! Look at the head!”
Benton turned around, and looked at Bianca’s head. It was twitching and rolling, trying to get closer to the body. As much as he was disgusted by it, he managed to pick up the head, and toss it far out into the canyon. “Now!” he said, “Let’s burn the body.”
They burned the body, and set out from the cave. Then they dropped the boy off at his house, and went back to town.
Benton left Janson at the tavern, and went to look for Rengald. He found him in a corner of town, and told him the story.
“Oh. Right,” the old man grinned, sheepishly. “I forgot to tell you that sorcerers could only be killed by cutting off their head and burning the body.”
Benton had no comment.
The two companions set sail for Howaiah, now firm friends after their adventures. They made it back safely, and bought fresh horses again.
They parted ways there, both promising to visit the other soon.
Benton galloped towards Kiaronojo, bursting to tell the people there what had occurred. He almost lost his way, since the kingdom looked different now. The trees were indeed green, and birds flocked among them. Flowers were blooming, and bees buzzed happily. The grass was green and fragrant, and Benton could see glimpses of animals here and there.
He dismounted, and flopped down into the grass, promptly falling asleep.
Hours later, he woke up, to find a young woman looking down at him. “Ha!” he shouted, leaping up, and drawing his sword. She looked startled. “What? I didn’t do anything!”
Benton felt a little embarrassed. “Sorry,” he said, “I’ve been on a rather rough trip.”
“So I can see,” she said, looking at his clothes and face.
He looked down. “Oh.”
Dirt, blood, and soot were caked all over his clothes, and he was sure if he looked at his reflection, his face would be the same.
“Sorry to look like this, milady. I- oh, never-mind.”
She laughed. Her laugh was like a trickling, sunny stream; cool and refreshing. She had long chestnut hair, and laughing brown eyes. “Oh, don’t be sorry! Did you succeed at whatever you were doing?”
“Yes. I’m Sir Benton, sister to the queen, and I just got back from fixing this kingdom.”
The woman’s eyes widened. “Oh! I barely recognized you. I’m Keirana, one of Queen Helena’s ladies-in-waiting. I was out for a walk, and saw you lying there. At first I though you were hurt!”
Benton picked up his saddlebags, and slung them back on his horse. “May I walk you back to the castle then, since I’m headed there anyway?”
Keirana looked flattered. “Of course you may! I would be honored.”
Benton led his horse, and walked beside the beautiful maiden all the way to the castle, almost unable to take his eyes off her face.
The King and Queen were in the garden, when a servant approached them.
“Your Majesty!” The servant knelt on one knee.
The King motioned for him to rise. “What is it?”
The servant rose, and proceeded with his message. “Sir Benton is back! He is with the Lady Keirana; she met him on her walk.”
“Aha!” Daniel smirked. “Benton having met Keirana, I sense a wedding approaching! Let us leave them a little longer; there is no hurry. I couldn’t have arranged it better myself.”
Helena gave him a withering look, and hurried to meet her brother.
“Benton!” She exclaimed, and threw herself into his arms. He hugged, her, and shook hands with the king who had followed his wife into the courtyard.
“As you can see, you’ve fixed our problem! Congratulations, sir, and many thanks. You’ve brought great joy to the kingdom. We were so overwhelmed when everything changed overnight!” said His Majesty.
Benton grinned. “You’re welcome!”
A few weeks later, there was indeed a wedding. Benton and Keirana were married in a gorgeous ceremony, and lived normally ever after. (Happily too, most of the time.) Benton was made Especial Knight to the King, and had many more adventures, on which he often took Keirana with him, since she refused to be left at home.
Benton’s friend, Janson, often came to visit, and they never heard tell of Bianca again. (Which was a good thing, because a dead sorceress coming back to life would be pretty freaky.)
So ends our tale of the fate and restoration of Kiaronojo