LinkSpeak: The Legend of Little Bear
Most of the ancient Finnish legends have been forgotten with time. A few cherished stories remain, and sometimes a new one is created....
In long ago, before the lakes swallowed islands and the woods were cut down, shorn into planks, pressure treated and sealed, and assembled into an infinite number of steam rooms... Finland was a land of harsh mysteries and soft spoken magics. Beings great and small emerged both from pools of perfect light and the places of creeping shadow, spurned forth by Ukko and Jumi to fill the land with an eternal balance of life and renewal. As the spirit creatures of the ancient earth mingled with the Kunda hunters and gathers traveling north from the land later known as Estonia. Great heroes and legends were born as magic mixed with man.
As time settled and the magics rested within the souls of the lands and peoples, wonders turned to myths and the fantastic became legends. Branches of the lost times remain in throughout the Finnish world in many of the ways that make Finland a proud and fish obsessed culture. The mighty Finnish Lapphund remains a symbol of the cleverness of the ancient gods and the strength of the native people. The greatest of all Lapphunds was a shapeshifter known as Little Bear. A companion of exceptional skill and creativity, Little Bear protected herds and towns from the perils of the deep Finnish woods. The people held no fear under protection of the diminutive guardian. So when the time came that Little Bear retreated from the villages and into the dimness of the forests, the Finns begin to wonder as to their fate.
As many difficult decades passed, the people learned to thrive in a time of technology, politics, and frequently confusing Fenno-Swedes. Yet the ancient legends lived on, albeit faintly, in the hearts of those dwelling on the edges of the great forests of Finland. Deep in the heart of the still wild lands, Ukko and Jumi rested quietly, nearly forgotten before the might of the modern world. Content to pass on to the next world, the old gods still wished to leave their people with a gift to remind all Finns of their ancient history. Mingling together the final wisps of their power, they summoned Little Bear from her slumber beneath the roots of the mightiest pines of the mightiest wood.
In audience with her grandparents, Little Bear swore to deliver unto the Finns a final hero to craft legends to last another thousand years. With their final breaths, Ukko and Jumi gave unto Little Bear a child to grace upon the lakes and islands of Finland. And in time Little Bear delivered the child in the city of Forssa, in the center of the great triangle of Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere. Left upon the ice, Little Bear retreated once again, leaving the baby to be found by the people of Forssa. The people rejoiced in the gift of the child and thus named the boy Juuse Saros.
As Juuse grew he established himself in the proud Finnish pastime of ice hockey, assuming the sacred mantle of maalivahti. Soon his stature, agility, and composure garnered a nigh forgotten memory in the minds of Finns across the world. The great Oracle of Helsinki emerged from her ten thousand year slumber to declare the great guardian Little Bear had returned again to the earth in the form of the young netminder Saros.
And so his legend grew. Tournament after tournament, the young Finn established himself as a prospect worthy of great note. When finally released upon the AHL of North America, Saros rose to the top of young goalie prospects with the grit and determination that defined the men and women that settled the hostile lands of Ancient Finland. Know now that his legend has not yet been made, but, like the one that came before him, this Little Bear will protect all that his people treasure. He will serve the protect the herds and towns all while maintaining a GAA and high-danger scoring chance save percentage well in excess of the paltry league averages.