Time approached the upcoming festival of the Goddess Melodia in the kingdom of Nolava, and the moment arrived in which our dear Sonitrus, chief of all bards, was to submit his special song to Queen Kulambria. The queen met Sonitrus the Golden in the corridors en route to the music chamber, such was her anticipation of the song--and rightfully so--for this song was to serve as her public announcement to all the kingdom that she sought a man's hand in marriage. No one, of course, knew who the queen would choose but the queen herself--not even dear Sonitrus.
Sonitrus and the queen walked briskly toward the music chamber, and Sonitrus tuned the guitar he carried while they exchanged pleasantries. After they had entered the music chamber and sat down next to one another, Sonitrus removed the newly-written song from his pocket and handed it to the queen. A gentle smile fell upon her face as she looked it over and started humming the melody softly. "It's wonderful, my dear Sonitrus," she said, "but what about the words?"
"Yes, of course, my Queen:" he responded, "I have them written down in my other pocket; but with your approval, I'd rather you hear them first in the context of the song before you read them." The queen agreed it was better than way, and Sonitrus began tuning his guitar once more.
"Sonitrus, my dear, did you not already tune your guitar on the way in? You're killing me with anticipation...please get on with it," said the queen.
"Yes, of course, my Queen," Sonitrus answered. "I apologize for the delay, but I must re-tune now, if you don't mind." Sonitrus continued tuning the instrument, though noticeably more quickly. "You, see, my Queen, I must tune it to the frequency of your heart for it to be proper. The frequency of your heart has changed a bit since we entered the chamber. I am nearly finished now."
Queen Kulambria gasped, "My word, dear Sonitrus, even with all my years of study in song and melody, I have never heard of such a thing. Truly I am blessed to have you as my chief of bards."
"It was once common practice among the bards of old," Sonitrus replied, " but is oft forgotten in our age; few bards see much need to learn this craft since electronic devices have entered our realm, I am sorry to report." He then straightened himself in his seat and continued, "I digress. I am ready now. With your permission..."
"Yes, please do, my dear Sonitrus; I can hardly wait," the queen exclaimed. Sonitrus began to play, and the queen was moved almost instantly. The soundwaves took hold of her, embraced her, and massaged her heart as her eyes fell shut. When Sonitrus' voice emerged, and the words he'd written took shape, the queen found herself fighting back tears from the sheer beauty of it all.
Sonitrus completed the song after a few moments, and sat silent awaiting words from his Queen. There was a moment of silence before she spoke as she gathered herself. "My dearest Sonitrus, I don't know what to say--honestly. It's as if you know the workings of my heart better than I. Always shall I remember and cherish this moment, my dear friend." She dabbed at a single teardrop that glistened upon her cheek, stood, and sighed. Now completely gathered, she continued "I knew you could never fail to disappoint. Truly you are blessed by the gods."
Sonitrus stood, then knelt before his Queen,"Thank you, your highness. It was an honor and pleasure."
Queen Kulambria went on, "So now, my dear chief of all bards, you must tell me what troubles you. You hide your emotions well, my friend, but you cannot hide them from me--I know you too well by now."
"My Queen," Sonitrus replied, "I am a bard--always we carry burdens--our own and those of the poeple whom we love. It is our way, you konw."
The queen tensed a bit, "Sonitrus, I ask this as a friend; please do not make me demand it as your Queen. There is something you are not telling me, and I need to hear it."
"Yes, of course, my Queen, if you insis--"
Queen Kulambria placed her hands upon her hips and exclamed, "I do."
"Very well then," Sonitrus went on. "It is one of the prophecies..."
"Come now, dear Sonitrus, surely you're not troubling yourself needlessly with ancient writings again," she replied.
Sonitrus continued, "You have asked, and I answer is all, my Queen. I know well your thoughts on the ancient books of the bards, which is why I hesitated to tell you."
"Very well," the queen responded, "You may as well get it out of your system: what is this prophecy that troubles you so?"
They both sat down again, and Sonitrus replied, "It goes as thus:"
A shadow shall fall upon the kingdom of song,
When the magic of melody has become undone;
For the Queen, part Goddess, forsooth to wed,
Her children slain upon their bed.
Queen Kulambria exhaled deeply while standing up once more and said, "Dear Sonitrus, Sonitrus the Golden, I do understand why this should trouble you; but I assure you, you worry needlessly. You'll recall as a young girl, I myself was required to study many ancient works of the bards, and I remember also some of the prophecies. The prophecies, it is well-known, have been interpreted many different ways throughout many different ages, and can mean just about anything one's imagination is inclined to want it to. Sincerely, my friend, I appreciate your concern for myself, my children that do not exist, and even the fair and blessed people of our kingdom, Nolava." The queen then put her hand upon Sonitrus' shoulder as he stood once more, and continued, "Please, my friend, do not place this burden upon yourself. Be happy for me, for yourself, and for our kingdom. The festival of my dear mother will soon be upon us, and much merriment is to ensue. Unburden yourself, and join in!" She smiled kindly at Sonitrus as she led him out of the music chamber, and added, "Besides, my dear friend, ancient religions are no match for a great song in one's pocket."
Sonitrus smiled back at his Queen once more as they prepared to part ways now in the corridor. "I hear your words, my Queen, as always, and shall do my best to not be overcome by this. Only remember, your highness, I am a bard, and burdens of some sort of another shall I always carry with me." He bowed to his Queen once again and concluded, "Thank you for honoring me with your trust and appreciation. The gods smile upon you, my Queen."
And so it was, that after Sonitrus "The Golden" became chief of the bards in Nolava, that the kingdom was blessed, and many years of prosperity were to follow. All manner of the arts, sciences, technology, and faith flourished. Disease and poverty were all but unknown throughout the lands, and an unhappy countenance became a rarer sight than meteor showers.
The bards of Nolava had never been more efficent and productive than they were under the direction and guidance of Sonitrus. They learned to work with masters in all the other arts and sciences so that musical arrangments were composed for every purpose and occasion: aside from songs for seasons and festivals, there were songs for healing, for learning, and even for military prowess. It is sometimes said that, during this age, Nolava's doctors prescribed songs more often than herbs, and that men cherished their ability to hear sound above riches and esteem.
During this time also, of course, Sonitrus, being chief of bards, worked very closely with the good Queen Kulambria. Many hours of the week they spent together, composing magical songs that would be taught and given over to bards to be dispatched and taught throughout the kingdom. It must be remembered that Queen Kulambria herself was the daughter of Melodia, the Goddess of Song, and was therefore fully-trained and abundantly gifted in all form and manner of music. Perhaps a better pairing of artists has never occurred in any land or age, and to this day it is nearly impossible to find songs that are more beautiful and better-crafted than the songs of Sonitrus and Queen Kulambria.
This went on for many years, of course, and the young Sonitrus had grown in wisdom and stature; never losing his fair looks or the eyes of damsels wherever he should go. This was not unnoticed by the Queen herself, and one day she sent for Sonitrus, to meet with him privately. The best translation we have of their exchange relates as follows:
Queen: My dear Sonitrus, I must enquire of you, and ask a favor.
Sonitrus: You need not ask, my good Queen, for I am your servant. Only tell me, and it shall be done.
Queen: I must first caution you that what I shall tell you can be spoken to no one. I confide only in you for this matter, as I trust none better.
Sonitrus: I am humbled yet more, my Queen, and you have my word.
Queen: We both know that I am very fair to look upon, and that a truer heart cannot be found in Nolava.
Sonitrus: Yes, of course, my Queen.
Queen: I know also that as much as our people admire and respect me, they speak often regarding my lack of a husband. They do not understand it, I believe, and perhaps they are right in doing so. I have begun to ask this question myself even, of late. I think, my dear Sonitrus, it is time I take a husband lest my god-given beauty fade for lack of intimacy.
Sonitrus: My good Queen, if you seek my counsel regarding this--I am sorry--but I am not fit to advise you in this matter.
Queen: I need not your counsel, my dear Sonitrus; I need your gift of song. There is none more qualified, and none esteemed higher.
Sonitrus: Thank you again, my Queen, but I do not understand.
Queen: Secretly, I have had my eyes set upon a man of our kingdom for many years now, and even my heart, but just a little. His identity is a secret, even from you, my dearest friend, Sonitrus. I ask that you compose the song that I will perform at the upcoming festival for my late mother, the Goddess Melodia. When I complete my performance, I will profess my love for this man before the whole kingdom and shall ask his hand in marriage; for I know he will be present.
Sonitrus: May I ask but one question of you, only that I might better compose this special song?
Queen: Yes, but only one.
Sonitrus: This man, whose hand you will ask in marriage: would he have any reason to suspect you have these feeliings for him?
Queen: No, of course not, my dear Sonitrus--don't be silly. And please, no more questions about this: I trust your skill better when you do not think with your mind. Listen only to your heart, my friend, and your song will be better than I can imagine. This I say of a certainty.
Sonitrus: Thank you again, my queen. It shall be done as you have asked, and I trust the favor of the gods to bless me with a song suitable for this most sacred occasion.
And so Sonitrus left the Queen's presence, and began work immediately on this song.
Once the mourning period for King Sonilus and Queen Melodia had ended after 40 days, the king's daughter Kulambria was crowned as Queen of Nolava, and it was determined that a chief bard must be named. This was the Queen's first command: that they would gather the twelve bards who contributed to the ballad of King Sonilus and Queen Melodia, and that one of them would be named chief of all bards. Upon the advice of her brother, Sebius, Queen Kulambria suggested that a contest of sorts would be held to determine who would become chief of bards.
The Council of the Twelve Bards agreed unanimously that the Queen's suggestion was wise, and sprang from love. They then determined that the contest would consist of all participants performing a song in the river valley nearest the Godess Melodia's shrine; for there was a proverb in the ancient books of the bards that went thus:
He whose song reaches the eagles is esteemed better than his mass in gold
Each of the twelve participants would perform their song, and whichever song would bring an eagle into their presence would be the song of the bard who was to become chief. When the day came that the twelve bards would gather for this contest, all the kingdom of Nolava was present; from suckling to the aged--and not a single soul that lived was not present. The bards brought all manner of instruments: some stringed, some percussive, some hollow, and some brought even electronic instruments (which were uncommon in this age). And yet one of the bards, both the youngest and the fairest of the twelve, brought not a single instrument. His name was Sonitrus, who was soon to become Sonitrus "The Golden."
It is written in the books of the bards that Sonitrus was blessed by Melodia herself while yet a suckling; and there is no question the gods smiled upon him from his youth. Sonitrus was well-known throughout the borders of Nolava: admired amongst maidens for his fair appearance, kind heart, and gentle steps; and derided by men who were not bards for the very same. Sonitrus would perform his song seventh, after the first six had failed to attract an eagle with their performances. As he entered the arena to perform, he was greeted with cat-calls and jests from his fellow bards--but it was all in loving jest, and well-recieved by Sonitrus--knowing that his brothers loved him and in their hearts they wished him well. And indeed they did. As the immense crowd fell into a hush, Sonitrus raised his arms into the heavens, closed his eyes, and offered a silent prayer to the gods within his heart. He then exhaled one single note, and held it for many seconds. The silence of the audience was silenced even more,and still Sonitrus held his single note. This note changed in timbre and varied in its amplitude, but remained constant, and Sonitrus never took a breath. After several seconds passed, all heads turned east, as an eagle was spotted approaching the arena, then six others after it. The eagles circled the young bard as he held his note, then all descended and rested in the trees that surrounded him. Many that were in attendance wept, as they understood a new age had entered into their kingdom, and not one voice was heard but the single note of Sonitrus.
When Sonitrus had completed his note, the eagles remained perched high in the trees around him. They looked upon him, it seemed, with an admiration the likes of which is not found among men. The other eleven bards, so moved by this event, gathered together quickly and announced that the contest had concluded, and that Sonitrus "The Golden" was now chief among bards. The greatest cheers ever heard in Nolava erupted after this announcement, and moments later, Queen Kalumbria herself entered the arena and blessed Sonitrus. The Queen smiled at him lovingly as he knelt before her and wept, being so overcome with the events that had just transpired. Queen Kalumbria herself then announced to all that were in attendance that Sonitrus The Golden was now chief among bards, and that truly a new era of love and prosperity had graced their kingdom. The subjects of Nolava erupted in joyous applause once more, and never again was such a day known in that kingdom or any other.
In the land of Nolava there was a great king called Sonilus. King Sonilus ruled so justly over his kingdom, and was so fair to look upon, that he was favored even by the gods, one of whom, called Melodia (the godess of song) chose to become mortal--and his Queen. Under their rule, the kindgom of Nolava prospered. Together, they bare three children: Kulambria, the eldest daughter, Sebius, the son, and Arsia, the youngest of the three.
After many peaceful and joyous years of rule, King Sonilus fell ill, and knew that his time was near. He called upon his eldest daughter Kulambria, expressed his love for her, and designated her to rule the kingdom of Nolava in his stead. Since Queen Melodia had forfeited her immortality to marry the king, her life was linked to his, and they would pass together in the same instant.
After King Sonilus and Queen Melodia had exhaled their final breath, the entire kingdom mourned for 40 days and 40 nights. The greatest bards in the land were assembled and constructed the ballad that would play throughout the kingdom without ceasing until the 40th night had passed. It is said that the soundwaves from this song carried the bodies of the King and Queen across the land and out to the sea.
A little Arthurian Legends, a little Rockstar, a little Sci-Fi, and occasional brushes with reality.