Once upon a time, a young butler was carrying a beautiful music box on a pillow down a grand curving staircase, past other servants to the front door. He raced out the door, careful to balance his precious cargo on the pillow. Outside, a horse-drawn carriage stood, with impatient horses pawing their hooves and with steam coming out of their nostrils. Standing regally besides the carriage was the Dowager Emperor Kolivan Lewis, a tall man with dark skin, a large vertical scar over his right eye, long white hair pulled back into a braid, and hazel eyes, fully dressed in evening clothes. The butler calmly stepped over to him and bowed low as he presented the music box. Kolivan nodded and took the music box, placing it in another little box. Once he did that, a footman appeared and opened the carriage door. He climbed inside and as soon as the door closed, the carriage took off, preceded by the thundering Cossack horses. His carriage raced through the street; his Honor Guard of Horsemen cutting a path ahead of him.
“Your highness…” the footman started.
“There was a time, not very long ago, when we lived in an enchanted world of elegant palaces and grand parties” Kolivan’s voice began.
At the palace, the gates swung open for the Dowager Emperor’s carriage. Before him, the palace was lit up with opulently dressed partygoers streaming inside. They bowed low as the Dowager Emperor’s carriage pulled up.
“The year was nineteen hundred and sixteen…” Kolivan’s voice continued. The palace doors swung open as music and the sounds of gaiety poured out. The Dowager Emperor swept inside and dancing couples bowed as he passed.
“…and my daughter Javzaa, was the Tsarina of Imperial Galra” he continued.
Inside the palace, elegant royalist, in 17th century costumes, waltzed in the main hall as an orchestra played. Out on the dance floor, Javzaa danced with her son, Keith, 8, who was graceful and spirited. Mother and son were the couple of the Monet – all eyes adored them.
“We were celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of our family’s rule…” Kolivan’s voice continued. On the dance floor, Javzaa laughed while Keith giggled.
“Oh Mama!” Keith exclaimed as his mother spun him high up in the air.
“...and that night, no star burned brighter than that of our sweet Keith, my youngest grandson” Kolivan stated, smiling as he watched his grandson dance with his mother. Keith, his dance finished, lit up at the sight of his grandfather and ran to him.
“He begged me not to return to Altea - so I had a very special gift made for him to make the separation easier for both of us” he explained. Keith gasped when Kolivan handed him a beautiful music box. A servant boy named Lance, age 10, entered through a secret opening in the wall behind Kolivan’s chair, to eavesdrop.
“For me?! Is it a jewelry box?” Keith asked, looking up into his grandfather’s eyes. While he was staring at Kolivan, a kitchen servant caught Lance spying.
“Lance, you belong in the kitchen!” the servant exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around Lance’s waist and lifted him up.
“Let go!” Lance exclaimed as he was quickly dragged into the secret door, unnoticed by Keith or Kolivan.
“Look” Kolivan whispered as he took out a key, a small golden flower on a neck chain. He put it into the back of the music box, wound it up, and soon, a beautiful melody began to play. Keith’s indigo eyes widened and smiled brightly.
“It plays our lullaby” he whispered. Kolivan nodded happily.
“Mmhm. You can play it at night before you go to sleep and pretend that it’s me singing” he explained before he took Keith’s hand and began to sing as he pretended to dance him around.
On the wind, cross the sea, hear this song
And remember. Soon you’ll be home with me
Once upon a December
Once they had bowed to each other, Kolivan handed him the key.
“Read what it says” he instructed. Keith held the key up to his eyes and squinted to read the small words.
“Together in Altea” he read softly. His eyes then lit up as he looked at Kolivan.
“Really? Oh, Grandpa!” he exclaimed as he threw his arms around his grandfather’s neck. Kolivan chuckled as he hugged his delighted grandson but soon a startled gasp cut their embrace short and the room fell silent. They both turned to see the crowd parting before a dark figure, tall older man with short grey hair, yellow eyes, long scar over his left eye, and tan skin. Out of nowhere, a bat swooped down, landing on the dark figure’s shoulder. This dark figure was Zarkon Horvath, stalking through the crowd as people fell back in fear and surprise, crushing a dropped champagne glass underfoot.
“But we would never be together in Altea. For a dark shadow had descended upon the house of the Kogane’s. His name was Zarkon Horvath. We thought he was a Holy Man but he was a fraud; power-mad and dangerous” Kolivan’s voice snarled. Zarkon reached the Tsarina, who alone stood firm before him. Lotor, the bat, perched on Zarkon’s shoulder like a twisted parody of a parrot.
“How dare you return to the palace!” Steven Kogane, the Tsar and Javzaa’s husband, growled, stepping in front of his wife.
“But I am your confidante!” Zarkon argued. Javzaa scoffed as she stepped forward to stand next to Steven.
“Confidante! Ha, you are a traitor. Get out!!” she ordered. Zarkon stalked up to Javzaa and Steven and loomed over them.
“You think you can banish the Great Zarkon? By the unholy powers vested in me, I who will banish you with a curse!” he boomed. Everyone in the room gasped.
“Mark my words. You and your family will die within the fortnight. I will not rest until I see the END OF THE KOGANE LINE FOREVER” Zarkon’s voice echoed throughout the room. He then raised the reliquary, sending a bolt of lightning to the chandelier, which crashed to the floor. When the light was restored, Zarkon was gone.
Many years ago, in a dark room, Zarkon kneeling in a sorcerer’s circle, cowered before a huge shadowy figure that appeared above him.
“Consumed by his hatred for Javzaa and her family, Zarkon sold his soul for the power to destroy them” Kolivan’s voice continued. Zarkon raised his arm in supplication. A shadow, like smoke in a windstorm, left Zarkon and was sucked towards the terrible figure. As his soul left his body, the “holy man” became a skeleton. The reliquary suddenly materialized in mid-air before Zarkon’s skeleton. It reached out, grasped it, and Zarkon magically resumed his form.
Back at the palace, Zarkon stood before the palace gates, holding the reliquary aloft.
“Go, fulfill your dark purpose, and seal the fate of the Tsarina and her family once and for all” he ordered softly to the reliquary. Smoke wisped from the top of the Reliquary, assuming the form of Zarkon’s minions. The minions attack the chain holding the gate shut, breaking it, letting the demonstrators pour into the palace.
“From that moment of the spark of unhappiness in our country was fanned into a flame that would soon destroy our lives forever" Kolivan's voice finished. Suddenly a brick smashed the glass window of the palace, and a crowd with rifles storm the palace grounds.
Inside the palace, the Kogane family, dressed in their nightclothes, ran down a hallway.
“Hurry children!” Steven shouted. Keith suddenly stopped in his tracks as his family continued down the hallway.
“My music box!” he exclaimed before he ran back towards his room. Kolivan tried to stop him from running back down the hallway to get it, but he couldn’t, so he decided to follow after him.
“Keith! Come back, come back! Keith!” he shouted.
Inside Keith’s bedroom, Keith grabbed his music box just as Kolivan rushed in. Outside, shots rang out and suddenly, Lance bursted in from the wall panel.
“Please, hurry!” Kolivan exclaimed to his grandson.
“Come this way, out the servant’s quarters!” Lance exclaimed, motioning to the wall panel. Suddenly there was a loud banging at the door.
“Hurry Keith!” Kolivan exclaimed as Lance helped him into the secret doorway. Once he was through, Lance shoved Keith in right after him, accidentally knocking the music box out of his hand.
“Zarkon, he’s getting away!” Lotor exclaimed outside the bedroom window.
“My music box!” Keith exclaimed, looking at Lance with wide indigo eyes.
“Go, go!” Lance shouted back, pushing him through the door as angry revolutionaries burst in the door. Once Keith was safely inside, he slammed the panel shut and put his body in front of it. At the window, Lotor, upon seeing Keith and Kolivan escape, flew off looking for Zarkon.
“Comrades, in here” a Galran revolutionary called out. They bursted through the room and looked around.
“Where are they, boy?” he growled, staring at Lance. Lance looked around the room and saw a lamp and on a whim, decided to throw it at the guards. He missed, however, and one of the guards knocked him to the floor with the butt of his rifle. Lance felt to the floor with a thud, hand outstretched towards the music box. Outside on the window, Lotor put his little claws on his head.
“Oh boy” he moaned.
With the palace in flames behind them, Kolivan and Keith ran across the frozen river. It was very cold and the pair was not dressed for it at all.
“Grandpa!” Keith called out.
“Keep up with me darling!” Kolivan called back. As Keith rushed to keep up with his grandfather, he looked behind him and let out a gasp. Zarkon leapt down upon them from atop the bridge that they had passed under trying to escape the burning palace, landed hard on the ice, grabbed Keith’s ankle, and did not let go.
“Ahh!” Keith screamed. Kolivan stopped running and turned around, seeing the evil holy man.
“Zarkon!” he exclaimed.
“Let me go, please!” Keith cried.
“You’ll never escape me, child, NEVER!” Zarkon shouted as he thrashed in the hole that he had created when he landed hard on the ice.
“Let me go!” Keith shouted. Suddenly, the ice broke beneath Zarkon and he fell into the river. Keith wrenched himself free and saw Zarkon thrashing about in the water. He was going down and they locked eyes for a moment and Keith saw Zarkon’s glowing, hypnotic eyes full of rage and fury.
“Lotor!” Zarkon called out to his bat.
“Master!” Lotor called back.
“Lotor!” Zarkon shouted.
“Oh…” Lotor moaned. Keith finally broke the gaze and ran away. Zarkon’s fingernails, digging into the ice, couldn’t find purchase. He was slowly dragged under and with one last desperate reach out of the water, he was sucked under by the current. All that was left of Zarkon was the Reliquary that was rolling away from the hole in the ice. Lotor swooped down, scooped it up, and disappeared into the black night.
At the train station, there was mass confusion as people shoved to get on the train. Kolivan and Keith raced to get on, fighting their way through the frightened crowd.
“Keith, hurry, hurry!” Kolivan shouted as he reached the train. Passengers on the train pulled Kolivan on board while Keith was running to catch up.
“Grandpa!” he called out.
“Here, take my hand. Hold onto my hand!” Kolivan cried. Keith reached up and grabbed Kolivan’s hand, feeling desperate and frightened.
“Don’t let go!” he cried. Kolivan tried to pull him up, but Keith’s hand slipped from his grasp and he fell to the ground, hitting his head.
“KEITH!” he cried out. Keith did not stir.
“KEITH!” he cried again, but there was no answer. Kolivan tried to jump off the train, but he was held back by the other passengers. As the train pulled farther and farther away, the Dowager Emperor watched as the view of his grandson become obscure by a sea of humanity disappearing in the distance.
“So many lives were destroyed that night. What had always been was now gone forever. And my Keith, my beloved grandchild…I never saw him again” Kolivan finished sadly.