In addition to this blog, I am also writing a fantasy book, actually a trilogy. The next few blog posts will discuss the story at length and what it is about. I will endeavor to discuss why I wrote each chapter, and why I felt it was important to discuss what I wanted to discuss in the book.
When the Cranes
Return Again in spring: Synopsis
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.
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 that the king shares with his daughter.
The very introduction to When the Cranes Return Again in Spring is based upon change, and our fears that can sometimes be based on how we deal with change. In asian lore, cranes are considered a sign of longevity.
The cranes’ beauty and their spectacular mating dances have made them highly symbolic birds in many cultures with records dating back to ancient times. Crane mythology is widely spread and can be found in areas such as the Aegean, South Arabia, China, Korea, Japan and in the Native American cultures of North America. In northern Hokkaidō, the women of the Ainu people performed a crane dance that was captured in 1908 in a photograph by Arnold Genthe. In Korea, a crane dance has been performed in the courtyard of the Tongdosa Temple since the Silla Dynasty (646 CE).
In Mecca, in pre-Islamic South Arabia, Allāt, Uzza, and Manah were believed to be the three chief goddesses of Mecca, they were called the “three exalted cranes” (gharaniq, an obscure word on which ‘crane’ is the usual gloss). See The Satanic Verses for the best-known story regarding these three goddesses.
The Greek for crane is Γερανος (Geranos), which gives us the Cranesbill, or hardy geranium. The crane was a bird of omen. In the tale of Ibycus and the cranes, a thief attacked Ibycus (a poet of the 6th century BCE) and left him for dead. Ibycus called to a flock of passing cranes, who followed the attacker to a theater and hovered over him until, stricken with guilt, he confessed to the crime.
Pliny the Elder wrote that cranes would appoint one of their number to stand guard while they slept. The sentry would hold a stone in its claw, so that if it fell asleep it would drop the stone and waken.
Aristotle describes the migration of cranes in The History of Animals, adding an account of their fights with Pygmies as they wintered near the source of the Nile. He describes as untruthful an account that the crane carries a touchstone inside it that can be used to test for gold when vomited up. (This second story is not altogether implausible, as cranes might ingest appropriate gizzard stones in one locality and regurgitate them in a region where such stone is otherwise scarce)
According to Japanese lore, a wish is granted to anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes. Watch the above video from Asia Society’s Education Department to see how schoolchildren at P.S. 154 in Brooklyn, New York, participating in Students Rebuild’s Paper Cranes for Japan project, got to work folding paper cranes,raising hope, and raising money to help Japan rebuild after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (2 min., 12 sec.).
It is from these myths and legends that When The Cranes Return Again in Spring begins.
More to come…
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.
Like the unicorn, many of us can sometimes find ourselves in what seems like a safe place. The location may feel safe at times, but in general, it may not be such a safe place to be…as the lake is surrounded by a very dark forest.
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.
During a fight or flight situation, we may feel perceived danger. Our pulse quickens, our heart races, and we decide whether we need to fight or run.
The unicorn runs for several hours until 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.
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 of a fairy when compared to the general population of the fairies who inhabit the tree, many of whom have ages spanning more than 10,000 years. He befriends Rosenet, and offers his friendship and guidance so that he can complete his quest.
I decided to use a fairy as a mentor for the beginning of the quest, because he signified a minor thought that pushes Rosenet in a certain, specific direction. Many times, we may start a major undertaking in our life with a small idea, or action.
Not long after the two have set off on the beginning of their quest, 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.
Pyridee epitomizes the new, present day woman. She is strong, yet possesses a certain kind of fragility, almost worldly, yet naive in many ways.
More to come…
One thing I forgot to mention is that Humbalt is a healing fairy. Those fairies with healing powers were generally known as “water fairies”. The area that Humbalt is from is a swamp — thus, this fairy is borne of the water, so is also able to heal. An interesting point is Rosenet, the unicorn. His horn is also known as alicorn, known for its curative powers. In some fantasy stories, as well as true stories, unicorn are hunted by man for their magical curative powers.
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 mischevious, jittery elf. It is the solidification of this group that allows Rosenet to overcome not only the dangers new lands, but also a persistent creature who attends 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.
Using a griffin and an elf, I drew upon the real meanings behind these types of characters. The griffin was also thought of as king of the creatures. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine. The elf is being used not only as a pivotal character, but in the old English tradition. English folktales of the early modern period commonly portray elves as small, elusive people with mischievous personalities.
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 second 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.
When I saw Gordoneste in my mind’s eye, I pictured a wizened old man who stands as straight as a tree, and is as spry as a young man. In medieval chivalric romance, the wizard often appears as a wise old man and acts as a mentor, with Merlin from the Matter of Britain representing a prime example.
More to come…