Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword: Chapter 1 – A Dangerous Journey

Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword

by Stacie Eirich

Chapter 1. A Dangerous Journey

A land of bone-chilling cold,

brisk, crisp wind and shimmering snow,

of polar bears hunting,

their sharp claws and fierce teeth,

piercing solid ice in the frigid air,

shimmering, glimmering stars

and a cold, full moon,

of white ice, brilliant blue.

On the tallest mountain of snow

stands a glittering ice castle,

locked in the heart of the bears lair,

the center of an ice cave,

lies The Book of Destiny,

a Golden Sword, a Wishing Stone,

warm rainbow colors shining,

beaming through the ice,

searching for their owners,

radiating warmth of light

in an everlasting winter.

***

With Jack’s hand still clenched in my own, we began moving towards the castle in the distance. I was glad for the boots and cloak that Elena had given me. Wrapping the thick red cloak around me tightly, I stepped forward into the snow. With Jack beside me, we followed closely behind Elena and Liam. We could hear the crunch of hardened snow and ice beneath our boots with every step. I struggled to keep up.

“How far do you think it is?” I asked. The chill in the air bit my at my skin. I pulled my hood down over my eyes.

“We won’t make it to the castle tonight.” Liam said. “Lets try to go a few more paces before making camp. If we set out at dawn, we may make it to the castle before dark tomorrow.” He stopped, gazing out in the distance for a moment. “There, beyond the North mountain, on its south side, lays a forest. Do you see the trees?” He pointed. “They may offer us shelter. We won’t want to try entering the castle at night; it would be too dangerous.”

“But what if whatever is in that forest is even more dangerous than what’s in the castle?” Jack piped up, his face a mixture of fear and excitement. He dropped his hand from mine and walked past Liam, shielding his eyes in order to look ahead.

“It’s a risk we’ll have to take.” Liam seemed very sure of himself. Suddenly, I understood.

“You’ve been here before.” I said. I looked at Elena for confirmation. She met my eyes slowly, and nodded.

“Yes.” Her bell-like voice rang out over the snow. “We came to Bear Kingdom first, before Tiger Kingdom. We didn’t know about the magic then, about the Book of Destiny or the Wishing Stone. We were only looking for a way home, a way back to our parents. It was Sampson who came to save us from the bears.”

Liam’s face looked tense, as though he wasn’t ready to talk about this, or hadn’t planned to.

“We can’t use daylight to stand and talk, we must keep moving.” He didn’t offer any more, and gave Elena a look that seemed to hold her quiet. “We can tell them our story tonight, after we make camp.”

Silently we walked forward, stopping only to help each other through rough patches of ice and snow. Thoughts and questions whirled inside my head. What had Liam and Elena seen in Bear Kingdom? If they didn’t have a magic key, how did they get here? There must be another way to enter – and another entrance! And if there is another entrance, what or who else has been through it?

My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden cry from above, a shrill bird cry that I recognized. It was hard to make out what was in the sky for the bright light reflecting off the snow. But I recognized the red-gold wings gliding above, soaring down towards us. It was Phaedra, the beautiful Phoenix we had met in Tiger Kingdom.

Against the dazzling white snow Phaedra was breathtaking. I reached out my hand to her wing as she glided to a landing beside me. I hadn’t realized how large she was before! She wrapped her golden-red wings around me, and I felt warmth tingling through my legs and arms, all the way to the tips of my fingers. In her beak she held something that sparkled and gleamed in the sunlight – I gasped. It was the magic key! She dropped it gently to the ground beside me, and I quickly picked it up.

“Hello Suzie,” she breathed in a glorious, smooth voice like silk. “I have come with a message from King Sampson.” She poked her beak down into her feathers, popping it back up to present a small envelope to me. It was marked with in delicate script with a single letter – S.

Phaedra didn’t say anything more, only stood staring into my blue eyes with her golden ones. It seemed to me that for a moment time was suspended, and I hesitated to take the envelope because I knew she wouldn’t – or couldn’t – stay. Could a Phoenix survive in the Arctic? I wondered. She looked like a powerful, magical bird. I opened my mouth to ask her to stay, but at that moment she shook her feathers.

“I must return to my Kingdom.” she said. I stretched my hand out of my cloak to accept the envelope. No sooner had I done so than she opened her wings, releasing me from her embrace and flying up into the sky. I saw a great shimmering blaze of golden-red light, and then she was gone.

Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword, the second exciting adventure in The Dream Chronicles series, will be available on Amazon December 15, 2017.

Thank you for visiting Space to Dream. Have a magical day! -Stacie

 

Creating an Arctic Land

 

In his palace of ice and snow Bear King Knut prowls,

his piercing, beady black eyes scanning the midnight sky,

silent and watchful, alone in the blackness of night he hides,

his heart frozen, his castle enchanted by an evil spell.

 

Impatient, his large, furry paws pound the snow below him,

their short, sharp claws drawing jagged lines in the ice,

his ears taut, he listens intently into the distance,

for approaching sounds, his sharp teeth menacing,

His voice echoes against the North Mountain,

in a ferocious growl, it shakes the ground

beneath a vast, starless sky.

 

Under his fur lies a heart of gold,

yet enchanted by an evil spell his heart remains cold

as the ice that surrounds his castle.

He rules with fear, his voice thundering

like his massive paws against the snow.

 

He can smell the foreign scent of intruders in his Kingdom,

He feels the strange pull of new magic in the sky,

a change in the North Wind,

and knows they are coming.

 

He places guards at all points of the castle,

and time seems to stop,

an eery stillness coming over the castle like death,

As the polar Bear King waits in watchful silence,

by the light of the icy Winter moon.

 

from Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword, Volume 2 of The Dream Chronicles

Copyright Stacie Eirich November 6, 2017 


Before I wrote the first draft of Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword, I wanted to understand the world that my characters would be in. Though my story is a fantasy, its setting is an arctic land. I learned about the landscape as well the animals that inhabit the area called the Arctic Circle, the most northern circle of latitude on earth. The Arctic Circle covers an area about as large as North America, and is known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun.” For two months in the summer, the sun doesn’t set – and for two months in the winter, it doesn’t shine at all. In the fall and spring, the northern lights, called the Aurora Borealis, can be seen.

The region just north of the circle is the Arctic, and it includes the Arctic Ocean and parts of Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Those who live in Arctic regions must learn how to survive in extreme cold and prolonged darkness, ice and heavy snow. Despite the frigid conditions, there are many animals that thrive in Arctic environments, with one predominant predator among them: polar bears.

According to the World Wildlife Federation, “polar bears are clearly at the top of the food chain, and they’ve been known to kill and eat seals, walrus and even beluga whales. Standing on its hind legs, a male polar bear can look an elephant straight in the eye. The polar bear (Ursus Maritimus) is the largest terrestrial carnivore. Adult males can measure more than nine feet in length and weigh between 770 to 1, 430 pounds.” You can read more about polar bears on the WWF’s Polar Bear page.

My King polar bear character gets his name, Knut, from a real polar bear who lived in captivity at Berlin Zoological Garden from 2006-2011. Read more about Knut here: Wiki Polar Bear page

While my bear King’s name comes from history, his story is inspired by a Norwegian folktale, White Bear King Valemon. In literature, a bear (of any kind) can represent different things: bravery, strength, an evil influence, an obstacle, violence, clumsiness and solitary life. The great white bear bear is often portrayed as a polar bear in illustrations though he is not described as such beyond his white fur. With winter approaching in this tale, it’s important to note that polar bears do not hibernate. A magical tale of both darkness and light, the story is of a young, fair princess who wishes for a golden wreath. The wreath belongs to the white bear, and in return for it, she must give him herself. At night, the bear turns into a man, but the princess has never seen him. When she lights a candle to look at him, he tells her she must go into the forest and marry the Troll-hag who has bewitched him. To read this dazzling story, follow this link: Fairytalez: White Bear King Valemon.

You can also find the tale of White Bear King Valemon in this book: Norwegian Folktales, Selected from the Collection of Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe (Pantheon Fairytale & Folktale Library, 1960).

Unfortunately, the polar bears and other life in the Arctic are now in danger from the threat of global warming. The loss of sea ice (called ice floes) makes it difficult for the bears to hunt for food – which results in long periods of famine (that can last up to five months) and in many cases death. Polar bears were listed as an Endangered Species in 2008, and their protection and preservation remains an important undertaking for organizations like the World Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International.

Other Arctic Resources I used & recommend: 

Wildest Arctic (TV series, Netflix, 2012).

Polar Bears by Joylon Goddard (Scholastic 2008).

Polar Bears and the Arctic: A Magic Tree House Research Guide by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce (Random House NY 2007).

In my next post, I’ll tell you a bit more about other animals in the Arctic, and how they influenced my choices for some new magical animal characters in Bear Kingdom & The Golden Sword.

Thank you for visiting Space to Dream. Have a marvelous day! -Stacie