'I remember that one,' Amira smiled as she pulled the warm blanket closer around her. 'You used to tell me the story of the Port Cayaen earthquake when you visited me when I was little. You used to tuck me up in bed and ask if I wanted a story before I went to sleep and I always asked for that one.'
Amira and her aunt were sitting by the dying fire in the kitchen, Mistress Hatrian on the wooden rocking chair darning socks and her neice on the hearthrug on the floor. The room was filled by the warm orange glow of the fading embers and the smell of smoke hung in the air.
Mistress Hatrian laughed at the memory of a young Amira, begging for a bedtime story. 'I'm surprised you remembered that, I always thought you prefered the other one I told you.'
'Oh I know which one you mean.' Amira waved her arms around frantically as if it would help her to remember the story. 'The coronation,' Amira exclaimed with a tone of pride in her voice at remembering the story from years ago. 'How could I forget? I loved that story, can you tell it to me?'
'I thought you'd be too grown up for old tales by the fire.'
'Please aunt,' Amira begged. 'Just this once. You tell it so well.' Her aunt smiled at her neice's eager face and began the story.
'The great earthquake that hit Port Cayaen was not only disasterous because of the number of buildings it destroyed and the number of lives that were ruined, it also killed thousands of people, some say hundreds of thousands. But the biggest disaster of all was the death of the old king, Lucius shortly afterwards.'
'He was caught under a falling beam in the palace and died a week later from his injuries,' Amira added in helpfully.
'Who's telling this story?' Amira's aunt looked down on her with an authoratative expression on her face.
'Sorry, please go on.'
'As you rightly said, King Lucien died a week after the incident from injuries he sustained during the earthquake. The whole country was already in mourning for the loss of lives directly following the disaster, but now there wasn't a single house anywhere in the whole of Bayen that didn't have black cloth streaming from their windows.
'The heir to the throne was Lucien's eldest son, Glenn, who was had only just come of age. Everyone was thought his lack of experience would send the country into the darkest period in Bayen's history. But the royal palace still went ahead and planned the most amazing coronation our country had ever seen.
'The streets were decorated with ribbons and flags and the most spectacular parade was planned for when our new king would emerge from the cathedral, with jugglers and fire-eaters and all sorts of animals from across the known world.
'But on the day, the streets were almost deserted. The buildings that had fallen during the earthquake just looked sad with the attempted decorations strewn across the rubble and most of the former residents of Port Cayaen had moved away from the centre of the city and were either camped in one of the many refugee camps that had sprung up outside what remained of the city walls, or had left the area entirely to live with relatives.
'There were only a hundred people present for the actual coronation and only a few hundred more were on the streets to see the parade.'
'That's so sad,' Amira said woefully. 'And poor Glenn, he must have thought no-one cared.'
'But that's the best part about this story,' her aunt pointed out, 'you always know it gets better.
'Glenn was exactly the sort of king Bayen needed. Even though no-one came to the coronation, he began the rebuilding of Port Cayaen, encouraging people to move back. His youth, energy and skills as a leader brought the country together and made us fight to be what we once were, a strong and stable nation.'
'You sound like you're spouting propoganda,' Amira observed as she noted the patriotic tone in her aunt's voice.
'But it's true. Without King Glenn, we would never have made it out of that dark period. He was the founder of modern Bayen.'