The Beginning of a Story

When the cranes return again in spring is a story not just about one person’s quest, but it is about life’s quest in all of us.   What I am posting now, is far from the original version that I finished in 1986.  My original version was a poetic saga.  It was derived from another original short saga I had composed, called “Clownsong” — borne of a failed relationship that left my heart in a shambles.  “When the Cranes Return Again in Spring” was a fictional account of my life that I wrote for my oldest daughter.  At the time, I had received a letter from my ex mother-in-law, telling me that she needed my help to get my daughter away from her mother.  The letter told me how my daughter was being physically abused by the man that her mother was living with.  I had come from a very hard life myself.  The last thing I wanted was for my daughter, my princess to go through the same kind of Hell that I had been through.  I would have given my life for her if I could have.  It was not until much later, that I found out my oldest daughter had been subjected to a lot of abuse at the hands of the men her mother had picked to share her life with.

So, “Cranes” as it would come to be shortened to (when I talked about it), was a work of frustation and futility.  The story was an attempt by me to show my daughter how to protect herself.  I was determined to create my own world for her, based on the trials that I had gone through myself.  A student of mythology, I grew up with an insatiable appetite for myth and legend.  “Cranes” was my own legend that I had created.  It was a work of love as well as a scary place to revisit.  There is a lot of pain in the first book for me.  I have done my best to create a dissociation to my past.  I cannot begin to describe those days, but I will endeavor to in this blog.  I am creating this as a companion to “When the Cranes Return Again in Spring”, in the event it is finally released for sale.

So, to the lore of the story — the background imagery that will hopefully be written someday.

The Lore

The story actually starts with my prologue, the ancient city of Atlantis.  It is once again, the era of magic and the stuff of legend.  Times are hard, but in this dismal past, a people become known throughout the world, the people of Atlantis.  But, what survives them are not legendary deeds, or technological advances, or even the fact that they become a wealthy people.  But, does survive them is a simple shell that they wear about their necks.  I’m sure you’ve seen the shells before — brilliantly white, long elegant conch shells that end in a wicked-looking point.  They are special because of not their size, nor their rarity (they can only be found in the waters off of the coast of Atlantis), but that they bring the wearer fortune and luck.  Why, look at the people of Atlantis!  They wear them every waking moment.  Anyone can tell a person of Atlantis, not by the silks that they wear, or the jewelry around their hands, fingers, arms, but the long, slender shells that suspend from their necks by the most delicate-looking, strongest rope ever conceived — some say made from seaweed that also grows only in and around the waters of Atlantis.

The cataclysm of Atlantis is sudden and sure.  No one knows exactly what happened to the people, only that they left their island in a day.  Nothing is left to tell us of their wonderful city.  Or their expansive lands. 

The only thing that survives is an old wives’ tale that the people of Atlantis became the very first unicorns.  Thousands upon thousands of unicorns that populated the world overnight.  Magical creatures with a long wicked-looking horn, very sharp, that curled up from their foreheads.  It is also said that on occasion, if one was lucky, a unicorn would cross the path of a human, bringing them good fortune and great wisdom for the rest of their lives.  That was, until the unicorn was hunted down by man.  It was said that an English queen had a piece of a unicorn’s horn, later to be known as alicorn. 

No one knows what happened to the unicorn, some said that we hunted them to extinction.  Other stories that they were hunted by an evil that continues to pursue them for all time.  And there are still other stories that the unicorn are here among us.  If you are lucky, you may meet your unicorn one day.  Your unicorn may come to you in the guise of any being, even a person.  Some stories have been circulated that because the unicorn were once human, one of them was given another chance as a human to make the world a better place.  There are stories that the original unicorn had children, long-lived children at first, but children today, who are descendants of that original unicorn, possessing their ability to make the world a better place for us all.  That is the unicorn who will change your life — offer you another path to take — for good or ill.  And the only way you will discover you are in the company of a unicorn is by their smile, a disarming, gentle smile.

The Story 

Lorevele (Lōr-ĕ-vel) is a city under siege; its king and his daughter are locked in an argument.  She has a choice she must make, one that could affect the safety of her kingdom forever, while placing her own life in danger.  King Hautered (Haw-těr-id), of Laifetre’ (Lī-ěh-fě-trā) has signed an edict, that a she must marry his son, Gerenoux (zhěr-ěh-nō) within the week, or his mercenary army of 10,000 trolls will march upon Lorevele, and burn it to the ground.  Her father, the great King Rosenet (Roz-ă-nĕt), is opposed to this marriage.  He feels that his daughter must ride out to the four corners of every distant land, bringing together the peoples of every kingdom they have helped, and rally an Army to drive back Hautered’s army of 10,000 trolls into back Laifetre’.  Rosenet’s daughter Anisse (A-nee-săh) is convinced that her duty to her kingdom and her people is to marry Gerenoux, and she only has hours to finalize her decision.

It is rumored that Hautered has made a pact with the troll army.  In exchange for their services in securing the kingdoms of Matrimé (Mĕ-trém), Uvalde (Ū-val-děh), and Zoltanne (Zōl-tan), they would receive the kingdom of Lorevele as payment in kind.  Stories have come from far and wide, describing the brutality and fierceness of this troll army.  Fear has led many families to flee from the kingdom, while others have grimly decided to risk family in defense of their homes.

The debate between father and daughter relaxes for a moment, as Anisse is frightened by the shadows of cranes coming to flight.  Rosenet asks his daughter if he ever told her stories related to the annual migration of the cranes returning in spring.  It is this question that leads to the introduction of a saga the king shares with his daughter.

Our story starts with a unicorn mired not only with thoughts of loneliness but a question forever locked within his mind: Where am I, how did I get here, where am I going?  The unicorn’s quest begins in a magical valley surrounded by high mountains that hide a sparkling lake passable only through the forest which he came.  The coolness of the Lake is inviting to the unicorn. Dusty, dry, and tired, the waters of the lake are invigorating, and provide a sense of shelter in what he perceives as a dangerous world.

And very quickly, it is those perceived dangers that bring out fear in the unicorn, as he imagines the red glowing eyes of many a predator in the dense forest that surrounds the lake.  It is because of those fears that the unicorn begins to run for his life, leaving behind the magic of the lake, to enter the danger of a dark forest.

It is not until the unicorn has run for several hours that he finally slows down.  Finding himself mired in the sludge of a weed-ridden bog, the unicorn presses forward, ever mindful of a warm fog that begins to envelop him.  And it is in this fog, that the unicorn realizes that his memories are slipping away.  It is only by luck that the unicorn reaches a large tree, its branches withered and bent, surrounded by bouncing lights.  It is not until one of those lights approaches the unicorn that he realizes it is not just a light, but a fairy.
It is here that the unicorn meets his first friend, Humbalt (Hŭm-bălt).  A fairy purported to be over 5.000 years old, Humbalt is young for his age, a veritable wisp when compared to the general population of the fairies who inhabit the tree, many of whom have ages spanning more than 50,000 years.  He befriends Rosenet, and offers his friendship and guidance so that he can complete his quest.

It is not long after the two have set off on the beginning of their quest for a third traveler is added to their group.  A princess of the kingdom of Matrimé, Pyridee is a strong young woman, who not only enjoys the hunt, but also the beauty of the world around her.  No one knows why she decides to join this group, but the three are a natural fit, the trio that forms the heart and soul of the unicorn’s quest to find his people and once again be reunited with them.

Within the next chapters, the three solidify their strength as a group with the addition of two others: Egarot (Egg-ĕ-rō) the griffon, and Anson (Ăn-sŏn) the jittery elf.  It is the solidification of this group that allows Rosenet to overcome not only the dangers of new lands, but also a persistent creature who attempts to thwart their every move, named Sahame (Sĕ-hām).  It is in the second chapter that much of the back story is explained, and why the drive for Rosenet to find his lost people is so great.

The quest continues on until the group meets a very old and wise wizard named Gordoneste (Gōr-don-ĕst).   It is Gordoneste who explains all that happened to the lost tribe that Rosenet seeks, and of the final confrontation that must occur between the unicorn and his adversary, Sahame.  It is because of the final confrontation, that Rosenet’s friends unflinchingly offer their lives for his, faced instead with his imminent death, which Humbalt sacrifices his life, for that of the unicorn.  But the wounds are too great, the pain too grave, until Gordoneste decides to give the unicorn a chance at life, as what he started; a human being.  In return for life however, is the price one must pay–that Rosenet’s memory will be gone, his life as a unicorn lost in time, forever.
So begins the new life of the unicorn, in discovering what it is to be a man…what it is to win, to love, to gain, to lose.  It is this new Rosenet that suffers so many agonies in the pursuit of one.  Only to one day regain the love of one who was lost.  And like the cranes, return again to find anew, the preciousness of life, in all its complexities, taking one day at a time.

The second book takes up where the first book leaves off.  The daughter of Rosenet is convinced by the stories that her father shared with her, that what is important is to travel to the far corners of every kingdom, and raise an army to defeat Hautered’s troll army.  It is this book that focuses on Anisse, her quest, and her trials, as she rides forward with a new group, intent on saving a kingdom.
R.M. Almeida

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