ne cold night on the silent and desolate tundra of Cyhalloi the crackle of a fire and voices, like a whisper, swept across the plains. A Kar'ii family huddled around the circle of the fire; four children, their parents and the old grandmother. They were sharing a moment of talking and laughter after the dinner but something made them stop. A distant growl, filled with sorrow and anger, cut the silence. The children ran to their father for protection. He looked at them and, laughing, said:
"Come on, it's just a bear, cowards. Now return to your places."
Reluctantly, they did as their father told but paid attention for any other sound. Another laugh broke the silence. It was their grandmother. She looked across to the parents and said: "Just a bear? You know it's not just a bear. Maybe it was a bear in other times but nowadays it is more than that. Do you wish to hear the story, my children?"
"Come on, mother, stop with this nonsense. You are going to scare them," the father insisted.
"Oh, hush! They want to hear what I have to say. I suggest you go to your fur lair with your wife because there is no place around this fire for incredulity."
So the parents got up and left. But the father, wanting to have the last word, warned the children:
"Remember, I don't want you to come in the night to wake me up. If you are afraid, well, you chose to hear the story. Have a nice rest."
The children hesitated for a moment but Grandmother's stories were always great; it would be worth a whole sleepless night, even fearing the slightest sound. They sat as comfortably as they could and waited for their grandmother to begin.
And she did, as follows:
A long, long time ago, here, somewhere in this land where you are sitting, maybe in the same place, a family decided to settle with their carryhome. This family was composed of only two people, a Kar'ii father called Erphon and his son, Kalish.
Kalish was 12 years old and had been raised since his fifth year by his father. His mother, Maytra, died one stormy night, after leaving the carryhome area and becoming lost. Seeking shelter, she entered a cave and realized that she wasn't alone. In the cave, a female white bear was hibernating with her cubs. Smelling the human, she woke, and fed herself and her cubs with Kalish's mother. A few days after the bear had left the cave, Maytra's remains were found by her husband.
Finding himself alone to take care of his son, Erphon did the best he could, trying to fill the place of a mother. The two got along well, and formed a close relationship.
But Erphon's heart was filled with anger, and he started a great hunt of white bears, trying to annihilate them all. His reputation grew among the people and he became known by everyone as Erphon the White Bear Hunter.
When he wasn't hunting, he loved to spend time with his son. Their days consisted of playing, practicing fighting, sharing meals and talking. Kalish was an intelligent boy and learned quickly. He was always looking to learn something new.
It was this thirst for knowledge and his insatiable curiosity that one day made Kalish lose direction, becoming lost in a forest. The moon soon showed its face, and Kalish decided to look for a place to rest and wait until morning to return home. As his mother did years ago, he entered a cave. When his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he found a wounded cub of a white bear; about 1 or 2 months old. Despite all the hate he felt for those creatures, he decided to cure it and stay by its side.
There was a moment when it seemed as if the cub would die, but Kalish stayed nursing it all day and night. When he returned to the camp after two days, he found his father really worried and preparing his things to start searching. Erphon asked his son about his absence and Kalish lied for the first time, telling only that he lost the track in the forest. If he had told his father the truth, the older man would certainly have killed the cub.
From that day, Kalish and the bear (Porton, as he named it), were friends and met daily to share a meal, or just stay together, never telling his father. The relationship with the bear grew stronger and they developed a rustic kind of comunication, understanding each other without speaking. But one of the things Kalish loved to do most was to ride on Porton. The beast had no problem with it and also enjoyed having Kalish on its back.
The friendship between Kalish and the bear lasted until his twentieth year. In that year, something happened which would change their lives forever. It was a nice day to be outside and Kalish declined his father's invitation to hunt, planning to meet with his animal friend.
When he reached the usual meeting point he discovered a troublesome situation. A Cyhallrhim elf was aiming his bow at his bear friend. Without hesitating, Kalish drew out his moonblade and ran towards the elf.
The elf was not facing Kalish so it was easy for the Kar'ii to reach the enemy in a few leaps and cut his head off without danger. Making eye contact with the bear, he realized it was unharmed, but at this moment the bear stood on its feet and started smelling the air impatiently. Kalish looked around and found three more elves with bows but this time aiming at him!
Kalish threw his only two seastars at two of them and hit in their chests, killing both of them. When he turned, looking for others, an arrow hit him in his left shoulder. He fell against the bear's body and this kept him from collapsing completely. Using the last of his strength he threw his moonblade at the elf, hitting him in the stomach and ending his life.
Knowing that he was losing too much blood to walk, he decided to lie over Porton's back, hoping the bear would take him to his carryhome. But they weren't alone. There was another elf, watching all the while. She was part of the hunters' group and thus the only one left alive. Angry, and wanting revenge, as the bear started walking, she prepared to cast a spell upon the two. She raised one hand, whispered words, and the air became colder. Five minutes later, the bear and Kalish were formed into a unique structure, victims of a Freezing Spell. Their two bodies were frozen together inside a mass of ice. Satisfied with herself, the elf left.
That evening, Erphon walked to the forest, searching for Kalish to show him the fruits of his hunting. When he reached the ice statue he shouted in pain and began to weep.
His son, dead. And also friends with the creature that took away his wife some time ago. Erphon saw Kalish as a victim of his own stupidity, ending his life to protect those who ruined the family, leaving his father alone and betrayed. But his initial anger soon was transformed into the greatest of anguish. He had loved that child more than anything, more than he had loved his wife.
He stayed by his son's frozen body for seven days and seven nights without eating anything, wishing to end his own life. But when he woke up, the morning of the eighth day, he was alone. The ice had shattered and melted, and nothing was left. That day, he realized that his days of white bear hunting were over. His son and that bear were one creature now. He couldn't continue killing white bears, fearing that with the death of one of them, he would be killing his son.
His son's spirit joined with the White Bear, human and animal together, and from that day, became known by everyone as the Tundra Beast. It may still be roaming around the Cyhalloi lands, looking to quench its thirst for vengeance.
The grandmother looked at the children and saw them sitting close together, hugging each other. Another growl broke the night silence, more distant than the first and resembling a laugh. The children stared at their grandmother, trembling (mostly because of the cold but also because of the fear), their eyes asking a silent question.
"Very well, young ones, you can sleep with me for this night. But try to wake up before your father does!"
They stood up and ran inside their grandmother's tent. She followed, not forgetting a last smile to the moon.