Hanabi

He stood at the chamber entrance, a lone silhouette staring down into the gently torch lit corridor before him. Almost silently, he descended down the small set of stairs that led deeper into the earth. With an outstretched arm, his fingers glided across the smooth stone walls that encompassed him.

It wasn’t long before he reached an open room. It was a splendid sight. Art lay upon all four walls, depicting different people and different scenes. All the magnificent work was etched slightly into the walls, and painted with bright clear paints. Rich blues, vibrant reds and many other colours made each of the etchings seemingly leap out into a burst of life.

The lone man approached one of the walls, and delicately placed his large hand on one of the paintings. This particular painting depicted two small children, on a golden shore, standing together. “Hanabi.” He whispered quietly.

Instantly within his mind he was returned to that day.

He was a young man, 16 and full of life and mischief. He sprinted as fast as he could down onto the soft shore. Gazing out at the crystal blue sea that stretched all the way out to the horizon before him. He panted heavily and rests both hands on his knees in exhaustion. He notices a figure in his peripheral vision and turned his head to see who the shore line stranger was. It was a young woman, seemingly of a similar age to himself. She was dressed in a very worn, simple blue dress.

Are you alright?” She asked innocently.

The boy nodded, and gulped as he began to regain his normal calm breathing.

You seem exhausted. What are you running from?” The girl continued to ask, her voice soft as silk.

Responsibilities.” The boy replied with a cheeky grin.

The two of them laughed.

What’s your name?” The girl asked.

Daewan. Yours?”

Hanabi.”

The two of them smiled at each other for a moment. Then Daewan stood upright and looked over his shoulder, back up towards the ridge of fresh green grass that he had just ran from.

Still trying to avoid your responsibilities Daewan?”

The boy looked back at his new found friend. “Yeah. You could say that.” He replied, before looking back over his shoulder once more.

Suddenly she grabbed his hand, before he knew it, he was running down the undisturbed sands of the shore with Hanabi. Who turned to him with a smile to say “Don’t worry, I know a place you can hide!”

The two of them made there way down the golden beach to a collection of a rocks that lay shattered by the edge of the free flowingly sea. Surrounding them stood a tall cliff face that, over the years, the sea had chiselled away at. Leaving several deep caves at its basen.

Daewan looked at a rock pool that lay at his feet. The shallow water was teeming with all sorts of life. He knelt down and watched as a small sea anemone blossomed open. Gently spreading its many purple tentacles.

“Beautiful isn’t it.” Hanabi whispered quietly, as she crouched down next to him. Daewan turned his head and looked upon her fair face, which was littered with light freckles.

“Yes.” he replied. “very beautiful.”

“Come on, let me show you something else!” Hanabi exclaimed. “You don’t want to return to your responsibilities just yet do you?”

“Not at all.”

She grabbed his hand and in a flash the two of them bounded off once again.

Daewan brought himself back to the present day, as his old fingers left the cold stone painting. A smile grew across his deep set wrinkled face. “You always took me a special place, a place no one else could and I knew from that day, we would never be apart.” Daewan whispered, as he move along the wall. He gazed upon another painting. Depicting two adults, standing proud and fair. The female depicted in the painting had both arms wrapped round the man who stood before her.

“Daewan?” His memory called out him, and in an instant he let himself fully succumb to it.

“Daewan?” She called out softly, standing idly in the open library entrance.

The grand room boasted large bookcases which stretched from one side of the room to the other. Thousands of tomes stood proudly upon them. The cool floor was made of a sparkling white marble. In the centre of the room sat Daewan, sat at a desk crowded with books and notes.

“Daewan, you’ve been in here all day. I’m starting to wonder if you’re ever going to leave this library.” Hanabi said tenderly, as she made her way over to him.

“Yes I know! I’m just learning about the kings and queens that ruled before my father.” He said, still focused on the parchment that was situated on the polished wooden table. “I need to learn as much as I can about them. So that when the time comes, I can become a great king, just like my father.” Daewan sat up from his desk and ran his fingers through his rough brown hair, then closed his heavy eyes. “I’m sorry sweetheart. I’m just, under a lot of pressure at the moment.”

Hanabi stood behind him and stared down into his bright blue eyes. She place her tender pale hands on his cheeks and lent over, planting a soft kiss upon his lips. “I understand Daewan. I haven’t come to hassle you, I’ve come to give you this.” She reached into her sleek, finely crafted, blue robes and pulled out a small white flower. She placed it on his desk.

It’s beautiful Hanabi.” Daewan said quietly, as he looked back up at his love who stood behind him.

White means forever Daewan.” She replied with a smile, as she planted a final tender kiss on his lips. “You are already an incredible man and one day, you will be an incredible king.”

And you will have all the joys of being Queen my beautiful Hanabi.” He replied warmly.

I already have all the joys the world can offer me, because I have you.”

The words that echoed round his mind slowly began to fade, as he found himself back in the present day. The memories were as clear as they day they happened. “and you always will have me.” He said to himself calmly, before turning from the nostalgic painting. Daewan walked through another cold stone corridor, and fed off from that chamber, leading deeper underground. The walls were plain and featureless, but as he reached the end of the passage he found himself in another decorated room. However the paintings before him evoked a feeling of sadness inside him. He approached another relief in the wall, depicting a sad scene of sorrow and anger.

“Little did we know of the dark days ahead of us.”

Once more the memories came flooding back, now he found himself in the grand royal hall.

Storming away from an empty throne towards the open entrance that lead out into the city square. He saw Hanabi, rushing in as fast as she could.

As she approached Daewan, she held both of his board shoulders firmly and looked into his wild eyes. “I came as soon as I heard. Are you alright!?” She asked, her voice soft as always.

“He’s-! That man-!” Daewan choked on his words, and instead expressed his discontent in a low grumble. He shook Hanabi’s hands off of his shoulders. “He’s gone insane! He will not listen to reason! At all!”

Hanabi looked at him sympathetically. “Daewan, it must be hard for him. It-“

“Hard for him!? Yes I knows she’s his wife. But she’s my mother and this war, that my father wishes to wage, will not get her back any quicker!”

“He’s acting out of passion.”

“He’s acting out of his god damn mind!”

“And you’ve got to make sure you don’t do the same!”

Daewan was silenced. He avoided Hanabi’s sympathetic eyes, and just stared at the floor.

“Dark times lie ahead for us. For everyone. Things are about to change and things are going to be a lot different.” Hanabi said in a calm yet firm voice. She walked up closer to him, and reached out for his hand, gripping it tightly. “But one thing will never change, our love for one another.”

Daewan frantic breathing slowed down to a steady pace, and he sheepishly turned his head to look back into Hanabi’s clear blue eyes. He lifted his left hand up to her cheek, gently stroking her pale white skin. “You give me the strength that not even a thousand warriors could.” He replied. “And you’re right. Our love will never change.”

“You were right. Things did change and things did become a lot different.” Daewan said to the painting on the wall. He turned to inspect the rest of the room, and on the opposite side of the chamber lay a relief that filled him deeply with sorrow. His chin trembled slightly as he took it all in.

A grand city being crushed by mighty ocean waves. People fleeing as fast as they could from the oncoming horrors that rushed down upon them. Men, Women and children, swallowed up by a mighty storm. However to the edge of the painting, stood two figures, helping people onto a boat. That was a sad day. A terrible day.

Daewan could feel the terrible winds and torrential rain beating down upon him. He struggled to move against the brutal weather, but with his will of steel he powered on. Helping as many people as he could escape the hellish destruction, by lifting them onto the one boat that they had to obtain.

He squinted, wiping the rain from his eyes. The storm raged across the skies. Thick black clouds flashed with bright bursts of thunder. The wind whistled violently as it rushed relentlessly across the land. Ripping apart the earth and the homes that lay upon it. Monstrous waves flooded in from the ocean, crashing down heavily on whatever remained, wiping away the destruction ravaged by the storm. Erasing the land and people upon it, as if they had never existed.

In amidst all of the hellish chaos, Daewan spotted four figures up a winding cobblestone path way, that led away from the docks. Quickly, he gazed over the boat beside him. Which was crammed with terrified faces, but one face was missing.

“Hanabi!” He yelled as he sprinted up the cobblestone path, rushing straight into the furious wind and rain that hammered down on him. He put an arm up in an attempt to shield the heavy rainfall from his eyes. As he approached the four figures a voice cried out. “Daewan!”

He carried on up the steep incline, fighting against the relentless weather. He finally met with the group, which consisted of two young girls and their mother. And Sure enough Hanabi was with them. Daewan brushed Hanabis wet tangled hair from her face and embraced both cheeks with his hands.

“Hanabi! Hanabi! Are you alright!?” He asked frantically.

“Yes! I’m fine! Come on! We need to go!” She replied.

Daewan nodded, grabbed her hand and led them all down the rocky pavement to the docks, where the small boat sat upon the harsh waters. Daewan threw them all aboard as they reached the boat and untied the rope which kept it secured to the land. Just as he did, a large wave stretched up over hill they had just come down and crashed with a monstrous roar. Buildings were smashed beneath its strength and the water rushed madly down the cobble stone pavement.

“Everyone hold on!” He exclaimed.

The tremondous wave collided with the boat and pushed it far out from the mainland. The terrified people inside, clung to one another, fearing for their lives. Daewan held Hanabi tightly in his arms,he closed his eyes and prayed. For there was nothing else that he could do. Their fate rested in the hands of the gods.

Though fate smiled upon that day. For it was not long before the waters had settled, and the boat steadied itself on the calmer sea. Daewan opened one eye cautiously, the sky was still black and the rain still fell, but the waters where they found themselves were calm. He turned his head to gaze back at his homeland. The storm continued there, wave after wave of water shook the land. Daewan watched hopelessly as his home crumbled and cracked, vanishing beneath the unforgiving ocean. His heart ached and a single tear was lost in the rainfall that bore down upon him. Hanabi rubbed his hand gently and stared up towards him.

“64 million people. Gone in an instant. 64 million… and we barely managed to save 50 of them.” Daewan said hoarsely, a lump growing tightly in his throat.

“You did all that you could.” Hanabi reassured him, a hint of sadness touched her words.

He turned his face away from the emptiness that his home once situated. “We both did.” He murmured quietly. “But it’s all gone now. Our kingdom. Our home. Gone forever.”

Daewan, I for one don’t need a kingdom and my home is with you!” She leaped up and hugged him tightly.

A small smile came about Daewans face as he returned the loving embrace and rested his head on her shoulder. “You always know what to say Hanabi.”

She kissed him quickly, before taking a step back once again. “So, what do we do now?”

Daewan looked at her for a moment, before he noticed everyone else sat within the small boat was staring at him also. Wide eyed, with a faint glimmer of hope about them. He cleared his throat, before standing up to address the few remaining people of his nation.

We’re heading west. To seek refuge with the Mayan people.” He announced firmly.

A small voice from within the crowd replied “But what about the Egyptians in the east?”

They are our allies. But they’re too close to the Greek empire.” Daewan replied. “I shall not endanger your lives by venturing near the enemy. The Greeks have never made it across the sea to the Mayan homeland. So we shall be safe there, free from their persecution.” After Daewan have finished talking his fellow refugees he sat down and looked across at Hanabi. She reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly, and smiled.

Daewan wiped a fresh tear from his old worn face and turned from the heart aching painting. As he turned he was met with the final corridor within the complex. As he walked down it, he spoke out softly. “You stayed with me through it all. You helped me through it all. The loss of my mother, my father even the loss of our beautiful homeland.” He entered another small chamber, however no art decorated its walls. Instead in its centre, on a beautifully carved pedestal, sat a lone idle sarcophagus. Daewan stood at the entrance, a lump growing in his throat, a pain twisting in his heart. He took several short steps and placed a delicate white flower upon the beautifully constructed chest. “Hanabi. I love you and I will always love you… I also know our people would have loved you just as much as I do.”

Daewan closed his eyes in mourning.

“You would have been the most beloved Queen of Atlantis.”

–Behind every great man, is a strong woman.–

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