It was always assumed there were bears beyond the borders of Haven. Hegel had gone in search of them, never to return again. He had always believed that the lost bears of his village and his beloved Janica were somewhere out there, beyond the Great River. The library in Haven was full of novels featuring lost bear cities and imaginary heroes out there somewhere in the unknown … beyond the raging torrents and the impassable peaks.
And then there was Ember. A tiny Baby Cub, found on the banks of the Great River. She was proof that other bears existed, though where had been anyone’s guess.
But what if there were more—bears that even in Hegel’s time were a mystery? Clans and villages, even bear cities somewhere past the forests and lakes, over the rolling hills and jagged mountain cliffs … bears beyond?
Bears Beyond. It was an ancient book, even in the time of Hegel. It had been lost during the desperate trek eastward from the village of Whistiglen. It wasn’t until many years later, after Hegel and his friends had settled high in the caves of Haven, that they began to restore the library and to try to remember what had been written in all the books that were lost.
Bears Beyond had been re-written, as best as they could remember the ancient stories. There was much discussion, with councils and committees talking long into the nights over names and tiny details, doing their best to get it right. It hadn’t been an easy task. How do you stay accurate with stories that already seemed unbelievable?
Bears that could hold their breath for an hour or floated high above the mountains on clouds. (“Why would they?” one Young Cub had asked. “What if they needed to get a sandwich?”)
And then there were the cities mentioned. Stretching further than the eye could see, up into misty heights and down through forests, even inside the mountains themselves through twisting tunnels and gaping caverns.
It didn’t help that all of the bears of Hegel’s time had heard Bears Beyond read to them when they were little, and many of their parents had added little details just for fun. (It was not the type of book many grown bears had studied seriously. After all, why would a bear want to get stuck on a cloud?)
And so, when the final draft of Bears Beyond* (Restored) was finally finished and the first copy was delivered to the Haven library, it was filed under fiction, in a section especially kept for the wildest and silliest of stories. It was here that Growly had first heard of wild bears, though most historians believed that they were possibly just added for a little bit of adventure as a parent read to their little Cub.
Bears flying on clouds? … Well, most bears of Hegel’s time remembered that detail, so it must have been in the original book, along with the breath holding and the astonishing cities.
“It’s filed as fiction,” Merridy had told Growly and Ember when they were little Cubs listening in the library. “But in Hegel’s day it was believed at least some of it was fact. They were never quite sure where the book had first come from. Perhaps it was dropped from a cloud!” she had added with a wink.