But the enormous, ravening Bane of Corrilond turns to the poet and replies, "That is not my name!"
And she is right in saying this. Whoever she once was has long since been lost in the great furnace raging inside the red dragon. But though it is lost, it is not forgotten . . .
We first encountered the Bane of Corrilond early on in Heartless. Do you remember the scene? That's right: In chapter five, when poor Una is trapped over her much-hated tapestry, "which depicted a gory scene from the epic poem The Bane of Corrilond." (Heartless, p. 63) Thus we first learn of one of the more famous dragon legends in Parumvir history. She continues to crop up in various places throughout the narrative. There's a little marble statue of her in Oriana's seven-tiered garden:
The body was somewhat startling, curling as it did down the side of the path, then arching at the neck so that the jaw could open wide enough for Felix to stick his head inside, as he often did when he and Una walked together. The expression on its face was hardly menacing; it reminded Una of Monster yawning. (Heartless p. 107)
It isn't until much later that we realize this figure from legend--rendered almost comic with time and interpretation--is indeed a living, fire-breathing, horror.
You remember the scene, I'm sure. When Una, recently transformed (and already losing her own name within her new, terrible identity), comes to the Village of Dragons deep in the decimated Red Desert:
A heavy shoulder knocked into [Una], ands he stumbled up behind the yellow-eyed boy. "Hey, watch your step," he growled, but not at her.The person who had jostled her stopped and turned. Man or woman, it was impossible to tell in the dark, but the frame was huge and the voice deep and rocklike.
"What have you there?" the giant asked the yellow-eyed boy.
'A new sister, just arrived. She is forgotten."
"Ha!" the giant snorted. "They'll always forget you, small one, no matter how pretty your little pale face may be. They'll always forget you. Unless you make them remember. But then . . . Ah, then they do not forget so soon!" (Heartless, pgs. 273-274)
Thus Una first met the true being behind her haphazard tapestry and the little garden ornaments. The woman who became a dragon and, in vengeance for first a lover's then a kingdom's betrayal, destroyed her entire nation, burning it beyond all hope or recall.
"Nothing but charred ruins. Great cities, shining Destan, luminous Aysel, and the magnificent Queen's City of Nadire Tansu . . . all gone. Now there is nothing but desert as far as the eye can see." (Heartless, p. 274)
The former queen of Corrilond is now the stuff of nightmares. But for some, nightmares are a dream come true!
When we meet the Bane of Corrilond again within the pages of Moonblood, we see her first through the eyes of King Vahe of Arpiar. This is what he thinks of her:
He stood before the most enormous dragon of all, a creature as tall as a house, her scales as red as fresh blood. Her face, of all the sleepers', was the most twisted in pain. As though even now she experienced the unending throes of death."It's the queen," Vahe said, delightedly. "The Bane of Corrilond. What a fire she had back in her day! You remember, don't you, sweetness? It was not long after our blissful wedding day when we saw, even from Arpiar, the glow of flames rising in Corrilond. What a force! Heat carried from the Near World to the Far. There have been few like her in all of history, this most glorious of her Father's children. Like the Dragonwitch reborn, some said." (Moonblood, p. 156)
Those of you who have read Veiled Rose might remember the scene between Rose Red and the Dragonwitch. Well, the Bane of Corrilond is not the Dragonwitch (for one thing, she's not dead yet), but she is a force possibly as bad!
But when we meet her there, soon after the death of the Dragon King, she and all her brethren lie sleeping, unable to wake with their Dark Father gone from them. It will take the blood of a red, red rose to wake them . . .
And when only one drop of that blood falls, it is the Bane of Corrilond who wakes first. Wakes and finds a unicorn approaching. All terror and fire build up into a destructive force inside her, and she will desolate all in her path!
Or, she might have . . . were it not for one cheeky poet calling out the name, "Demarress! Demarress!"
"This riddle is for Demarress, Queen of Corrilond. She was a keen one for riddles," says Eanrin. But the red dragon protests, "That mortal woman died in my fire long ago."
Perhaps the old Demarress is not completely gone, however. Perhaps some little piece of her survives, deep down inside the burning. For her curiosity gets the better of her, and the Bane of Corrilond demands hear the riddle Eanrin offers.
I am the remnants of hammers,Of fire and file, firmly confined,
Beloved of kings and princes.
Those who feel my kiss may weep!
And she who never touched me
Will gnash her teeth in vain.
With those cheeky words, a memory forces its way through the flames to the deeper places of the dragon's mind. Memories of a king, gazing upon her in disappointment. Memories of his sword, "with a golden hilt carved like two wildcats, set with rubies." Memories of a father's sad voice saying to her, "Ah! Would that I had fathered a son!"
We don't know what sort of life the young Princess Demarress--who became the last Queen of Corrilond--might have known. All we know is the bitterness and the poison. But there is probably a whole story to be told, somewhere back in time . . . the story of a struggling princess, determined to prove her strength in a world of men . . .
Whatever that story may be, the Bane of Corrilond--and all that remains of Demarress--meets her end within the pages of Moonblood. I do hate to give that away, however, so I think perhaps you ought to go and read it for yourself!
What are your thoughts, dear readers? Did you fear or feel sorry for the dreadful Bane of Corrilond?