The Quest Begins
- Their long journey is about to begin....
- Three bears from different species-black, polar, and grizzly-are separated from their families when they are only cubs. Each determined to survive in the harsh wilderness, they find themselves brought together on a perilous journey guided by a shape-shifting grizzly cub whose destiny will effect them all. Fate is about to change these bears' lives forever, bringing them amazing adventures, unexpected suffering, and finally setting their paws on a path toward a future they cannot yet imagine....
Detailed Plot Summary
- The book starts out with white bear Nisa telling her cubs, Kallik and Taqqiq, about the spirits of the bears in the sky, while they are forced into a den by a storm, and Taqqiq teases Kallik about being scared of the story of Silaluk. The next morning, they go outside to play when the storm is over, and then Nisa shows them how to catch a seal at an ice hole. Taqqiq teases Kallik about her fear of the ice spirits, and then falls asleep. When a seal comes out, the white bear family eats it. However, when a male bear approaches. Nisa takes her cubs away, and Kallik thinks it's unfair the bear didn't catch the seal but gets to eat it. They wake up the next morning with Nisa being extra jumpy, growling at her cubs for playing, and hurrying them along. Kallik nearly falls in the water when the melting ice breaks, but Nisa rescues her and they go to find food.
- In the Bear Bowl, miles away, a black bear cub named Lusa climbs on a log and jumps off to get a pear a flat-face offers her. Lusa runs from Yogi an older cub, to keep her pear. They tumble onto and wake up King, Lusa's father, who scares them almost more than the grizzly in the next exhibit, Grumps. Lusa's mother, Ashia, tells them not to annoy King. Lusa and Yogi then go inside a cave and play a game where the first one to move loses, and Lusa loses by scratching her nose while thinking about the white bears.
- Lusa and Yogi then go ask Stella, an older bear, to tell them a story, and she tells them about Old Bear, a bear who lived in that Bear Bowl long ago, and one morning they found him dead. The flat-faces took him away, but Stella claims you can still see his face in one of the trees. Lusa and Yogi try to find the face. Lusa spots the face, but is startled by a beetle she thinks is his nose. Yogi teases her, and they follow the flat-faces to eat. Lusa is given a back-scratch before the flat-faces go to give food to the fat grizzly, and Yogi tries to give Lusa a rotten apple. Stella scolds her, saying the apple could have a bear spirit in it, and Lusa dramatically announces she won't eat a bear spirit and she'll "never be able to eat an apple again!" with Yogi and Stella laughing.
- That evening, Lusa and her family crowd inside the white dens, except King who likes to sleep outside. Stella tells them the story of a black bear cub, who has a star in her tail in the sky. A brown bear always tries to steal it from the cub, but she outwits him every time. Lusa goes outside to try and see the cub.
- The next chapter starts with Toklo pretending to hunt a rabbit, when his mother, Oka, snaps him out of his daydream, and Toklo abandons his "rabbit " (piece of wood) and flees as a firebeast roars across the BlackPath. Oka scolds him, and tells him to go eat dandelions with his brother Tobi, and Toklo grumbles he hates dandelions and Tobi is weak. When Toklo gives dandelions to Tobi, Tobi struggles to chew them. Toklo sighs and tries to eat a dandelion, daydreaming about how much better his life could be if Tobi had not been weak. Oka calls her cubs and tells them they are going to leave. Toklo wants to go to the mountains, but Oka says Tobi is too weak to climb there. Toklo gets upset, and Oka leads them across the BlackPath, and finds a roadkill deer for them to eat. Toklo refuses to eat it even as Tobi bites in, and Oka scolds him for being picky.
- Then he remembers some grain some Snakebeasts had dropped on the SilverPath and gets Oka and Tobi to come. When they do find some grain, Toklo finally enjoys some real food, until an adult male bear comes, and Oka forces Toklo to retreat. Toklo is angry that the other bear stole the grain he found. Oka then rages that Toklo and Tobi are skin and bones, and once she calms down, announces they are going to the mountains.
- The story goes back to Kallik's point of view. Her mother finds a BirthDen of seal pups, and after eating them Kallik and Taqqiq start playing with the flippers, until Nisa scolds them. When more bears come, smelling the seal carcasses, Nisa and her cubs flee. After a few more sunrises, Taqqiq tries to make his first catch of an idle seal and fails, but Nisa catches it as it escapes. Then the ice breaks, dropping Taqqiq into the water and stranding Kallik on an ice island. Nisa pulls Taqqiq out, but tells Kallik she has to swim. Kallik is scared of the water, but dives in. She drinks seawater, but keep swimming until she reaches her mother. Nisa later leads them across another break in the ice. They keep walking through the cold, and Kallik wonders if this is what it is like to be Silaluk, running around the Pathway Star. They then reach another break in the ice, and Nisa tells her tired cubs she'll take them one at a time. Nisa takes Kallik first, but Kallik sees an orca. Nisa tells Kallik to swim to the ice. Kallik reaches the ice and calls for Nisa to come, but Nisa is surrounded by orcas. Taqqiq is screaming for Nisa and Kallik, back where they left him. Kallik tries to get Nisa to grab her muzzle, but an orca tail knocks her onto the ice. Kallik sees Nisa telling her to leave, and then she vanishes under the water. Kallik then hears teeth snapping, and bloodstained water washes up over the ice and onto her paws. She is too tired to call out to her brother, who is crying for them and not realizing Kallik is alive. She hears him run off alone, and curls up to sleep, exhausted.
- Lusa is climbing a tree when Yogi challenges her to climb higher than him, teasing that he can see her "favorite grizzly". Lusa responds she doesn't have a favorite grizzly, because they're too grouchy. King tells Lusa she's climbing too slow and will never get to the top. Lusa says she's still learning. King instructs her on how to climb properly, telling her to act like the tree is on the ground, and Lusa asks if that's a good idea. King retorts that black bears are the best climbers. Lusa follows her father's advice and sees most of the zoo from the top of the tree. Lusa climbs down and asks Stella about the animals she saw. Stella explains the animals and tells Lusa to go tell ask her father more about them as he once lived in the wild. Lusa goes and tells her father about the tigers, monkeys and "fla-min-gos," and asks him if he's seen them in the wild. King replies he hasn't. Confused, Lusa reminds him he used to live in the wild. He replies black bears climb higher than monkeys, swim better than fish, and run faster than tigers, and black bears can do anything, and asks her why she asks so many questions and states she'll never live in the wild. Lusa's mother comes and tells her to come with her to the wild. When they reach the 'mountains', Ashia tells Lusa to close her eyes, and pretend they're in the forest and are surrounded by tigers. Yogi comes by, and Lusa laughs as he's not something scary. Ashia sees King, and tells Lusa to climb a tree because another bear is coming. Lusa and Ashia climb up the tree. Lusa thinks living like this would be fun and wonders if she'll ever live In the wild.
- Toklo is preparing to climb up the mountain with Oka and Tobi. Toklo asks Oka about salmon and Oka shows him how to catch some properly. Toklo says he'll catch more salmon than any other bear. Later, when he and Oka are climbing, he grabs a stick and says he caught a salmon. Oka says the fish are very slippery and takes the stick. Toklo and Oka play-fight over it, and Toklo enjoys it. He is very annoyed with Tobi when Tobi cries he's sick and Oka runs to him, frustrated that she left him out for a moment. Oka carries Tobi on her back and goes up the mountain until almost night, when Toklo complains and shows his mother his scratched paws. Oka makes a makeshift den with Toklo's help, and they sleep. When Toklo awakes, he sees Tobi lying still, and notices he smells funny. Toklo is scared and asks if Tobi will join the spirits in the water. Tobi then closes his eyes and dies. Oka wakes up and wails about Tobi, yelling at Toklo for not waking her up. She looks to the sky and demands to know why all her cubs had to die like this. Toklo is confused by this, as he is still alive. After a while he asks Oka if they are going to the river. Oka turns to him sadly and tells Toklo it's their fault Tobi is dead, and because of them the water spirits will not find Tobi.
- Kallik wakes up and does not want to move. She stares at the water, not believing Nisa is dead. The snow starts to pile on her back, and she wonders if she'll die too. Kallik hears a voice that sounds like her mother's calling Taqqiq, under the ice. Kallik realizes Taqqiq thinks she's dead, and he is all she has left. She gets up and swims back to the last place she saw him. She realizes this is the first time she's getting onto the ice without help and has trouble, but eventually gets on. She jumps from ice floe to ice floe, finally reaching solid ice. She sees a bear eating a seal and thinks it's Taqqiq, yelling for him only to realize it's not Taqqiq, and runs from the bear. She attempts to catch a seal at an ice hole, but is too slow. She travels toward land, seeing gray and white birds and finally reaching big gray rocks. She swims to them, and the water pushes her against one, but she gets over the rock and goes onto dirt for the first time.
- Lusa sees Ashia on the ground and goes to her. Ashia starts talking about the first zoo she was in, and mentions a cub named Ben. Stella explains this to Lusa, and Ashia spots her and says Lusa looks like her. Lusa says that she's Ashia's cub, and Ashia rolls over. King tells them to leave her alone. That night Lusa sleeps her first night without her mother's comfort, worrying about her. When she gets up, she finds Ashia exactly where she left her, and tries to talk to her. Ashia says "Lusa," and won't eat. Lusa tries to get the flat-faces to come in and help her. The flat-faces finally understand and come in. Lusa notices a man carrying a long, smoky-smelling stick. The flat-faces make a fence around Ashia and shoo Lusa away. Lusa climbs to the top of a tree and watches the man shoot her mother with the smoky thing, and Ashia falls asleep. They carry Ashia in a blue-thing into a firebeast, and Lusa pleads with them not to take her mother.
- Toklo wakes up the next morning to see his mother still lying beside Tobi. They bury him hours later, and Oka asks the spirits to take care of Tobi. Oka marks Tobi's grave with her clawmarks and leaves. Toklo tells Tobi's spirit to follow him. They reach the river, and Toklo sees a large number of bears. One bear comes up and introduces himself as Shoteka. First he tries to flirt with Oka, than says Toklo is too old to travel with Oka. She growls at him and walks away. Shoteka tries to sneak attack Toklo, but Oka fights him off. They reach the lake, and Toklo sees his mother talking to the lake, asking the water spirits to take care of Tobi. Toklo asks if Tobi is there yet, but Oka growls at him that he knows nothing about death. Toklo tries to teach himself to fish, but falls and gets swept away by the current. Shoteka tries to drown Toklo by holding him under the water, but Oka saves him just in time. Toklo apologizes for trying to fish, but Oka tells him that all her cubs die. Toklo remembers hearing about her first litter, which all died. She tells Toklo to leave, that they will starve here, and if he has to die, to do it away from her, and walks away.
- Kallik reaches land and sees a ridge. She hopes to go up there so she'll see Taqqiq. She gets dirt in her fur, thinking how unpleasant it is to lick off. Kallik reaches the ridge and hears the loud waves, wishing Nisa was still alive so Kallik could block the sound. Kallik doesn't like the fact that she left the ice - and the bear spirits - behind. Kallik sees a tree for the first time and is fascinated by it. She finds a place to sleep, a den-like space between some roots. Kallik sees the Pathway Star her mother told her about, which leads to a place where it is always frozen. She sleeps, wondering if the Pathway Star could lead her to Taqqiq. Kallik wakes up and goes to find food. She tries to eat grass, like her mother told her, and thinks it's gross. She sees another white bear and thinks about following him. She then sees another white bear, not following the other but going the same way. Kallik realizes they're going to a gathering place her mother mentioned, to wait for the ice to refreeze. She thinks she might find Taqqiq there. She decides to stay on the ridge. Later she takes her first bite of berries out of hunger and loves them. She eats a lot but realizes they're too tiny to keep her full for long. The next day she wakes up and goes toward the gathering place and is startled by caribou, but they ignore her. She catches and eats a frog by a pond, finding it strange but more filling than berries. The next few days she wanders, and is attacked by a bird when she tries to eat its eggs. She decides to follow the Pathway Star, thinking to find the Place of Everlasting Ice, and perhaps Taqqiq.
- Lusa wakes up five days after Ashia was taken, and wonders what would happen if a bear was sick in the wild.The firebeast returns and brings Ashia back. Lusa runs to her mother and tells her how she saved her some berries, like a good cub. Lusa, Yogi, and Stella ask several questions until Ashia tells them what happened. She says she woke up inside a cage in a flat-face den. She says she dreamed about forests, rivers and berries. The green flat-face took care of her until she returned. She saw giraffes and elephants in other exhibits. Ashia also says she saw a large, beautiful mountain in the distance. At this, King forbids anyone to speak of the wild.
- Toklo stands in the water and stares at Oka, who is ignoring him. Toklo get angry with her, and sits on a rock and watches her. Oka paces, growls to frighten away other bears, walks in circles, and then falls asleep. Another female bear comes and asks Toklo where his mother is. Toklo responds he's waiting for fish, as he does not want to mention Oka. The bear says she thinks salmon stopped coming because some flat-faces built a dam. She asks again where his mother is, and he points out Oka. The bear tells him he should return to her. Toklo watches his mother sleep, then falls asleep himself. In his dream he is in his BirthDen with Tobi, and wakes up to find dirt and leaves in his fur. He sees Oka saying a death ritual over him, and tells her he's still alive. She snarls he should be dead, and chases him away. Toklo promises himself he will learn to live on his own.
- Kallik rests beside a tree and looks at the Pathway Star, wondering if Taqqiq was looking at it too. She finds a dead rabbit and eats it. She later finds five plovers fighting over a fish, stalking and killing one. She continues on, and finds a river of brown water, and does not want to swim in it. She walks around, hoping to find a way to avoid the water. She finally goes through it and thinks the cold water feels wonderful, until she bumps into something. She sees she bumped into small, gray whales. Kallik continues on, seeing a large gray whale and two small gray whales playing, and wishes she still had Nisa and Taqqiq. She reaches land and finds a place to sleep. The next day, Kallik continues walking. She reaches a ledge and looks over it, seeing thousands of walruses. She tries to pass them, but one tries to charge her, and she flees. Kallik runs farther and farther away, and wonders if Taqqiq met walruses. She asks the ice spirits to help her brother.
- Over at the Bear Bowl, leaf-time begins, and Stella notices Lusa acting restless, telling her to play with Yogi. They start playing on the mountains, when Lusa sees flat-faces bring a new bear into the grizzly enclosure. Lusa notices the new bear is skinny, and Grumps doesn't want to go near her. The grizzly mutters "Tobi" and "Toklo" in her sleep. When the new she-bear wakes up, she gets angry and charges at the Fences. When the bear wears herself out, Lusa talks to her, and learns her name, Oka. Over the next few days, Oka stays out of the grizzly Caves. Stella says rain is coming, and Lusa worries about Oka. The next day, after the rain, Lusa asks Oka about the wild. Oka snarls at Lusa when she says she wants to hunt, claiming there is no food. Oka wonders if Toklo is good at catching fish, and Lusa asks who Toklo is. Oka ignores her and asks Tobi why he left. Lusa asks who Toklo and Tobi are. Oka continues to ignore her, and says she's sorry. Lusa wonders what happened to Oka before the Bear Bowl, thinking it was awful. A few days later Lusa asks Oka if she lived in the mountains. Oka replies she's been to many mountains. Lusa and Oka talk about the fire in the sky (lightning) killing a whole forest, until Lusa mentions the bear spirits in the trees, and Oka tells her to go away. When Lusa wakes up the next day, she wishes she was in the wild. King tells her to stay away from Oka, and Lusa thinks that's unfair. Ashia tells Lusa her father is right, and when a mother loses her cubs, her heart gets sick sometimes. Lusa realizes Tobi and Toklo must be her cubs. Lusa climbs up a tree and gazes at the bear watcher, Arcturus, wishing she would know what it is like to live in the wild.
- Toklo, starving, travels through the woods. He smells prey and runs to it, finding a cache buried in the ground. He eats some, and the next morning, is awakened by its owner, demanding if Toklo stole his prey. The older bear decides that Toklo is on his territory, and chases him down the mountain. Toklo finds a high meadow of yellow flowers, and eats the bulbs, but another bear drives him into the valley. Toklo finds a river, and it makes him think of Tobi, but he wishes he could forget his brother. Toklo watches a younger cub, Fochik, catch a salmon, and steals it when his sister, Aylen, distracts him. Their mother pursues him out of her territory, then leaves him alone.
- When Oka almost kills a flat-face, she knows that she will be killed, and that she was so angry after she lost Toklo. Lusa talks to her, and Oka pours out her mistake - that she abandoned Toklo, and he didn't think she loved him. Lusa swears to her that she will find him and tell him the truth, which Oka is grateful for. The next morning, Oka is taken away to be euthanized - and Lusa tries to work out how to escape. She refuses to play with Yogi, leading the others to think Oka has made her crazy, but is stopped from running through the Fence by a flat-face. She pretends to fall ill, and escapes from the zoo hospital, regretting leaving her family behind.
- Kallik encounters a grumpy white bear, Purnaq, by a stream, and he tells her about the gathering place. Kallik looks for Taqqiq after being rebuffed by Purnaq, but can't find him. Another female reluctantly explains about no-claws coming to watch them in white firebeasts from their nearby denning place, and that bears can find food there, but Kallik must run if a no-claw aims a firestick at her. Kallik tries following Purnaq to the denning place, but he evades her and she is left to follow his scent. It leads to a hill from which she can see the denning place, and she sneaks in to look for food. When she finds a den with some meat inside, she reaches up to grab some, but a no-claw shoots another bear with a firestick and threatens to shoot her.
- Lusa travels through the flat-face denning place, stealing food from metal cans and getting a piece of glass stuck in her paw, but finally enters the woods to retrace Oka's steps. She walks through the dead forest, finding it too creepy to sleep in, and climbs the mountains, but finds herself in a male grizzly's territory, and he threatens to eat her.
- Toklo discovers smooth-pelts running around what he thought was a peaceful place, and encounters another grizzly cub running from them. The cub is injured, but Toklo helps him escape. He wakes up that night to find the cub gone and a smooth-pelt in his place, asking for a healing herb. Toklo brings it to him to heal his wound, and the smooth-pelt gives his name as Ujurak. The next morning, Toklo finds Ujurak in his bear shape, and the younger cub explains that he is following the guiding star to a place with fire in the sky. Toklo agrees to travel with him to look after him, but discovers that Ujurak really can shape-shift, when he turns into a bird and briefly flies away. Ujurak distracts Toklo from catching a salmon, eventually turning into one and swimming away. Toklo is outraged, but hears other bears fishing and lies to them, pretending the salmon are poisoned. When Ujurak reappears, Toklo is upset with him and tries to leave, but returns as the smaller cub reminds him of Tobi.
- Kallik is taken to a place of white bears in cages. She panics at first when they kill an older bear, but is comforted by a she-bear named Nanuk, who promises to look after her, as Kallik needed her and the no-claws wanted Nanuk to think that Kallik was her cub. Kallik wakes up finding them carried in the sky by a metal bird, and is petrified, but Nanuk assures her that the bird was taking them to the ice. However, the bird crashes and Nanuk dies from her injuries.
- Lusa escapes the brown bear's territory and wanders up the mountain, thinking how big the wild is and wondering if she'll ever find Toklo.
- Ujurak turns into an eagle and helps Toklo hunt a goat. Later, the two are startled by a hare, and Ujurak turns into one and runs off after it. Another bear roars close by, and Toklo discovers a starving black cub cornering the Ujurak-hare. He knocks her down and they start fighting, but Ujurak changes back and shouts Toklo's name, causing the black cub to stop. The book ends with the black cub telling Toklo her name is Lusa and she has been searching for him.
- Ben (mentioned)
- Old Bear (mentioned)
- Unnamed deceased male bear (mentioned)
- Ujurak (Shape-shifter)
- Unnamed she-bear
- Unnamed male bear
- Unnamed male bear
- Unnamed flat-face feeder at the Bear Bowl
|The Original Series||The Quest Begins • Great Bear Lake • Smoke Mountain • The Last Wilderness • Fire in the Sky • Spirits in the Stars|
|Return to the Wild||Island of Shadows • The Melting Sea • River of Lost Bears • Forest of Wolves • The Burning Horizon • The Longest Day|
|Mangas||Toklo's Story • Kallik's Adventure • Lusa's Tale|
|The Quest Begins Chapters|
|Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10 • Chapter 11 • Chapter 12 • Chapter 13 • Chapter 14 • Chapter 15 • Chapter 16 • Chapter 17 • Chapter 18 • Chapter 19 • Chapter 20 • Chapter 21 • Chapter 22 • Chapter 23 • Chapter 24 • Chapter 25 • Chapter 26 • Chapter 27 • Chapter 28 • Chapter 29 • Chapter 30|
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