The Finding

Ariah, from the moment of her transformation to Unicorn, is given a mission to find and stop the evil that has covered her valley in darkness. , The Mists of Valinor

By Bill Joyce

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18 min.
4
Valinor

The valley spread for many miles, protected by three mountain ranges and the Great Sea to the west. The mountains to the north, known as The Blackened Heights, stood like dark, cold shadows seemingly without life. They had always been so, yet in the last few years, the wolves came from this dark land. The Blackened Heights ceased being a protective wall and became an issuer of death.

The Crystal Mountains stood tall to the south. The morning sun used to dress these peaks with the power and beauty. The setting sun would light the range ablaze with colors of the rainbow and the beauty of the earth. Once, long ago, these mountains held the majesty and spirit of life itself. Now they stood sullen, cold and gray in the ever-growing mists.

To the west, the Great Sea crashed against the shores, closing the valley from ingress and egress. It was an unknown place, and while its vast expanse portrayed certain majesty, water was not a world for horses.

To the east rose the Green Plateaus. The bluffs stretched across the eastern side of the valley, filling in the area between the Blackened Height and Crystal Mountains. They protected the valley from the world beyond with their steep cliffs. Now, as fear grew and death became real, they became a barrier that locked the herd to its fate.

The land now remained covered by the mists. Each year, the fog and darkness had grown, the life-giving sun all but forgotten. No one seemed to remember the days when peace and beauty reigned supreme. They just went about their business and accepted the coming darkness.

This was the world for Trinnya and the realm of her herd. This is where the story begins, and where many things come together to create a new reality.

Trinnya

Trinnya, not unlike the rest of the young ponies within the herd, accepted the darkness as life. She had known nothing else throughout her first year in the world. She moved with the others and grazed on the meager soggy grasses in the valley of mists. Trinnya, taller than most of the ponies, hid her height as best she could. She tried mightily to blend in.

Her stepmother, Arinnya, made no objection to the jeers and taunts Trinnya received from the others and counseled her to try harder to be like those around her. This was not a world for the weak, and she strove to make Trinnya hard and strong for the struggle ahead.

Trinnya did not know her origin; just that she had been taken in one stormy night last year by Arinnya and made part of the heard. Her circumstance was accepted without question by the leaders and forgotten in the day-to-day struggles.

The season would soon change, and winter would come upon the land. Each member of the herd shuddered, for the air carried the breath of death, and the long days and nights of cold drew near. Last winter, Trinnya’s first with the herd, had been devastating, and many had died from starvation or the attacks of the black wolves from the northern slopes. This year would be worse.

The great stallion looked upon his herd with timeworn eyes and sighed. This would be his last winter, yet no one stood to take his place and protect his people in the years to come. He had tried to lead them to the best of his ability, but the world continued to darken around him, and he had no power over the fate of his people.

This was the world of the ancient Valley of Valinor in the youth of Trinnya. This was the end of the age – this was the life she was forced to endure.

The Truth

It had not always been so. Trinnya listened intently to the stories of the elders remembering the beauty of the valley. How it had once been a world of wonderful peace and joy, how each day became a dance of happiness and abundance.

Old Tragort, a kind and thoughtful horse, would spend many afternoons with Trinnya, telling her of times past. He filled her with the beauty and peace and joy that once were. He felt it only proper to tell the younger ones that it had not always been so dark. That life once had wonder and meaning. His deep voice would break as he looked into their eager eyes, wanting more than life itself to know about the wonderful valley they had never seen.

Many of the elders thought Tragort wasted time and even hurt the ponies with his ramblings. It was time to bow to reality and take up their lot, not wish for the past. Try as they might to stop him, Tragort continued to speak to the young ones, but he seemed to focus mainly on Trinnya.

The week of chores and schooling ended, and the ponies broke for the fields and home. Three began their normal taunts of the “overlarge” and “gangly” pony. Trinnya felt the piercing of the words, and with a hidden tear, ran across the fields as fast as she could.

They all gave chase and, hearing their continuing taunts, she put all her will into running. Within moments, the taunts faded, and in minutes, she could not even hear the beat of their hooves. She felt a new freedom and a new something she could not understand. What was she feeling?

The run was magical. She did not see the look on the faces of the ponies left in her dust. No one could keep up with her. None could even dream of running that fast. The great stallion could never run this fast. But for Trinnya, it was a time of pure joy and confusion. Then like the surprise appearance of a butterfly, she knew what to do. She would go ask Tragort—he would know what she felt.

She giggled because it only took her a few moments to reach the forest before the Green Plateau where Tragort stayed. Coming to a stop, she looked around but seemed to know that Tragort had already seen her. Calmly, she walked up to him, and he bowed, causing more confusion.

“Tragort,” she started, “I have these feelings, and this wonderful joy and this scary sense, and I don’t know if this is …”

“Slow down Little One.” His deep and gentle voice quelled her words. “Take a breath after such a run. We have all afternoon to delve into the mysteries of this day.”

“But I am not winded and I am not even tired from my run and …”

“Gently Little One, gently.”

She could see the love and the smile in his eyes, and she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Tragort, what is happening to me?”

“It is time to speak of things in the past and things to come, Little One. Walk with me by the river. And know this one thing for sure—what is happening is something very wonderful, and your life will be filled with many adventures. Many will talk of your life for years to come. The days of not fitting in and the confusion are almost over.”

She drank in his words, and they seemed to fill a hidden part of her soul that she had longed to fill—the truth.

Tragort, watching her closely, saw her recognition and knew his journey had come to an end. He had been given the task of finding the one by his father, and his father before him, and now he stood in her presence.

“You, Little One, have been chosen throughout the ages to help the Valley of Valinor and its people.” Tragort had dreamt of this day for many years, and he too had to control his desire to tell all in a moment. “There is a need to restore this valley with peace and love, and in doing so, help the whole world continue to know joy and happiness.

“This darkness is not natural, and you will need to begin a journey to find the light necessary to combat this darkness. But do not fear because I can already see the changes in you. You will be ready for this journey and you will be strong enough to meet the challenge. Look here.” He pointed to the still waters of the river.

Trinnya bent her head to the spot in the water Tragort indicated and saw a reflection. There before her eyes was a beautiful filly, and on the bridge of her forehead, a white bump. Not a malady, but something special—it quickly brought to mind the fairytales of her youth. As she watched, the bump grew, and she knew—why she was taller—why she dreamed differently—why she … Trinnya looked at her reflection and knew she was a Unicorn.

Once again Tragort bowed, lower this time and Trinnya understood. She seemed to know so much so quickly, and the questions of the run drifted away, replaced with a sense of urgency for her journey to begin.

Turning, she faced Tragort and lowered her head until the tip of her horn touched his forehead. “You, brave knight, will be the counselor of the kingdom while I am away on this quest, and my counselor for many years to come.”

A power seemed to ripple thought the old horse. His muscles grew taut, and his coat gained a sheen it had not seen in years. Tragort’s transformation was subtle yet spectacular, and before Trinnya stood a powerful war horse of magnificent deep brown.

“Come, advisor, we have much to talk about before we approach the stallion and I begin my journey,” Trinnya said in a strong, clear voice.

Both turned from the river and began walking back towards the center of the valley.

Arinnya’s Dream

Those on the outside of the herd were first to notice the approach of two strangers. Both seemed to be in deep conversation, paying no attention to their surroundings. One ran for the stallion, and his shouting brought many more into the gathering.

It had been years since anyone could remember a visitor—that is, besides the wolves. Now, out of the mist came two seemingly great horses. At least, it seemed that way. One looked huge and powerful; the other shrouded in shadow—unrevealed yet important.

Tragort, knowing that they grew close, interrupted the conversation to prepare Trinnya for her first meeting with the herd since her transformation. “Litt …‘er princess … ‘um my Quee ...” he stammered, not quite knowing what to call her.

“Gentle knight,” Trinnya’s soft voice interceded. “I will always and forever be your Little One. If ever I desire to change this, please discipline me immediately.”

Tragort burst out in laughter. “You are truly great, my Little One, and the world is graced by your presence. But in public, we will need a better title. How would you like to be addressed?”

“Let us leave that to the people,” Trinnya spoke with authority. “I have no need of titles, so let them pick what they wish.”

Tragort smiled and said nothing. He walked beside a student-turned-teacher, and he was grateful for his place in her life.

By now, the herd filled the gathering place to capacity, with more arriving. Years had gone by without this type of activity, and everyone was curious to see the strangers and find out what they wanted.

The great stallion, summoned by the noise, slowly approached. He could hear the commotion and was a little unnerved that his approach seemed to be without any fanfare.

Curse you, old nag! He swore to himself, since when do you need adulation to protect this herd? He picked up his pace a little. Better to get this over with quickly.

Who knows, maybe a better stallion has come to take my place. His mind wandered again. It will hurt to be dethroned, but the people need a leader who can help them – not an old nag with feelings of grandeur! The stallion laughed at himself and picked up the pace once more. His duty remained to serve and serve he would.

Arinnya approached the gathering place directly across from the great stallion. She could see his frustration and his determined expression. She stood still, waiting for his action.

Tragort and Trinnya approached from the west with the muted sun behind them and, therefore, faded in and out of view. Everyone squinted and squirmed while the stallion stood tall and motionless. Tragort approached and hailed his leader.

“Great Stallion, I come before you as Tragort and bend to your rule.” Tragort knew that his new look would be a threat, and he wanted to avoid any unnecessary confusion. “It is my great honor to present to you a special friend to all of our people.” Tragort stood aside and motioned for Trinnya to approach.

No one had yet seen Trinnya. She remained both in shadow and light, defying a good view. The stallion stood motionless, refusing to agitate while the crowd grew restless.

Arinnya spoke out first. “This cannot be!”

The stallion looked at her sharply.

“I beg your pardon Great One,” she blurted out, bowing towards the stallion, “but I have seen her in my dreams!”

The stallion once again tried to see the horse before him.

Arinnya approached Trinnya and bent her knee before her. “You are the one of my dreams, great lady. You are the Princess Ariah, come to save our valley!” She bowed her head and held herself motionless. The stallion could end her life for intruding. The stranger could demand her punishment. It did not matter, she was sure of her dream. She did wonder where that wandering child of hers was—always missing the important activities.

Trinnya had been watching her stepmother carefully and could sense her thoughts. She laughed to herself and felt the joy and peace of her time with this woman. Arinnya had taken her in and given her a chance at life. Strict and focused on status, she never let pomp and circumstance get in the way of good judgment. Trinnya would always have a special love for Arinnya.

“It is you who have named me Ariah, brave sister. I accept this, and the title of Princess. You may rise and stand beside me.”

Arinnya, shaking with emotion, stood and looked once more at Ariah. She could now see the horn. She was right—this was the Unicorn foretold who would save her people. Tears freely ran down her cheeks, and she turned to stand next to Ariah.

“You took me in when I was in need and gave me home and hope for life.” Ariah spoke with authority so all could hear. “You are my mother and will be held in honor by the herd for all the days of your life.”

Arinnya’s knees buckled and she looked once again at Ariah’s eyes. There was no question, her stepdaughter had transformed. Then those eyes softened and Arinnya was flooded with a special love and peace. She nodded and looked forward towards the stallion.

The Stallion’s New Hope

As the stallion watched the three before him, his sight seemed to clear and he witnessed most of what transpired. There was no doubt Arinnya believed this a special guest. And to see her bow and announce her as a princess left very little room for doubt. But it was his place to make such announcements.

Tragort nudged Ariah and nodded in the direction of the stallion. She met the stallion’s gaze. Once she had his attention, she moved slowly towards him until they were almost touching. “Great One, I have come to honor my vow to you and your great kingdom.”

The stallion snorted. The dreams of his ancestors down through the ages foretold of this moment. He would be king of the new valley of peace and love. His eyes beheld the Unicorn. Bowing, the stallion paid silent homage.

“Stand great leader,” Ariah directed, but he remained bowed.

“But I am too old and broken to serve you, princess,” the stallion uttered weakly. “You must select another to lead your people.”

Ariah bent her head, touching her horn to the top of the stallion’s head. “I have chosen you, great one.” Ariah’s voice was full and commanding so that all in the gathering heard. “I will name you Landolar, meaning great protector and you will rule all within the valley!”

The stallion felt the power surge though his body and stood. His coat, which had grayed and become mottled, turned pure white and his muscles bulged beyond anything of his youth. Strength and power coursed though his veins as he stood before the Unicorn Princess.

Bending one knee and bowing his mighty head, Landolar spoke. “I will serve you and protect your valley with all my heart and soul. I am yours to command.”

Ariah and Tragort smiled. There was much to accomplish but the start had been good. The key players stood ready for Ariah and her quest. Time for celebration! At least, Tragort thought so and he announced it before Ariah could hold him back.

He smiled and bowed to her stern look. “Don’t get too pompous and sure of yourself, Little One,” he chided. “I still have some good ideas of my own.”

Ariah laughed and turned to talk with her mother. As she moved through the crowd, all knew the revelation of her transformation and the wonder of the moment filled all with laugher and joy.

The Quest

Evening had turned to deep night and the party continued. It had been a long time since the herd had celebrated this much and no one wanted it to end. Tragort and Landolar became inseparable, and Arinnya would not leave Princess Ariah’s side—all in all, a wonderful evening.

No one assumed that all was magically changed, but they felt deeply in their beings that change would come and it would be for good. One seemingly magical occurrence was that no wolves were heard during the night, or for many nights to come.

Tragort, finally insisting on sleep for Ariah, set up a meeting time in the morning to discuss the future. He nudged Ariah towards her mother’s home and then found shelter for himself.

While Ariah accepted the wise council of her advisor, she could not sleep. The whirlwind day had filled her with so many thoughts that she could not stop them spinning in her mind, much less find slumber. Once the night quieted, she walked out into the field with her thoughts. There, at least, they seemed to fit with the vastness of the sky.

I am. But what am I to do? Ariah pondered, allowing the thoughts to pour through her as they chose.

At first, the power she felt from the run made her feel better than her tormenters, but the pride of her title fell away quickly. Her mother’s destiny included pedestals—not hers. The majesty of the oohs and aahs faded as she looked into the eyes of each and found the reality of their pain-filled journey. Her heart cried out for justice.

No, her life was to be of service. Saying that in her mind brought peace and an inner quiet—it felt right. She knew. Looking up at the misty sky, she seemed to see through the murk and feel the sharp eyes of the stars above. Their majesty could no longer be hidden from Ariah, and a new thought came to her—not in mind, but soul. This mist was neither right nor true. This world was missing something. Walking slowly back, as the dark night turned into the gray of morning, Ariah saw her future.

The morning remained a blur. Not from fatigue, but from the frantic joy of the herd. Everyone trotted around with new purpose. Not one horse would die of starvation this winter if they could help it! Landolar looked on in wonder. He was not alone in his hope for a better world and he was proud.

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About Bill Joyce

Bill is a writer of prose, a poet in his own mind, and self-proclaimed master of words. Long-windedness is due the personal enjoyment of his inside jokes, most of which fall on deaf ears. He calls himself an Author.

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