It all began when North of North was no more than a normal island with normal, non-magical animals. A large herd of horses lived there, and their leaders were a pure white mare and a midnight black stallion. Their names were Bella and Bello, respectively. There was nothing special about them at all...
Sara's parents were gods and lived high in the sky. When Sara was born, they settled down on a countryside in North of North with mortals for a quieter life. As Sara grew, she began to explore the area around her. She loved nature and always wanted to be closer to it. As she matured, her Mother and Father told her that she was to become a goddess. But Sara never really knew what that meant. Until...
One day while she was exploring, a herd of horses approached her. The leader of this herd was a magnificent, white mare and she reared before Sara in greeting. If Sara had ever been afraid, her fears were put to rest with one look at this beautiful, graceful creature. This mare, of course, was Bella. Bella was the first horse that Sara met, and Sara was the first person Bella met. It was love at first sight, and Sara made a vow to always care for horses. In a moment of complete love and understanding, Sara reached out and stroked Bella's neck. A burst of energy sparked between them, magically uplifting Bella, making her the greatest of her kind. Sara was also transformed into the immortal goddess of horses. Sara's touch gave Bella intelligence and wisdom beyond that of any other creature.
Besides uplifting Bella, Sara also uplifted Bella's mate, a black stallion named Bello. The waiting herd reared before the two, recognizing them as the greatest of all horses. In time, Sara uplifted all the horses in their herd. These horses would come to be known as the First Generation. Besides uplifting these horses, Sara also gave them names and magical powers that suited each of their unique personalities.
However, an evil woman watched the horses, capable of her own magic, though it was dark. She realized that if she could gain control of the First Generation, their brilliant magic added to her own would allow her to rule over North of North and command all. This evil woman was called Feral.
Feral tried to tempt the First Generation to join her, but they scorned the power she offered. But Feral was not going to give up, and she set up a trap to capture the whole herd at once. When all of the horses suddenly disappeared, Sara became suspicious and began searching for her dear friends. Finally, she found them --to her shocked and horrified disbelief-- in chains! Sara hurried to free them, unaware that she was being watched by a wolf. Pressumed to Fenris wolf or based off one of Loki's wolves .
The wolf told Feral about Sara and what she had done. This so enraged her that she was ready to kill the goddess. However, Sara had already used her magic to hide herself and the horses from Feral and her powers. Since Feral couldn't find her, she took her revenge out by killing Sara's parents, and with that wicked act, became the eternal enemy of Sara and her horses.
When Sara discovered the death of her parents, she collapsed with grief so intense that she stopped aging. Many hundreds of years came to pass as Sara cried for her parents. Her tears came together to form a pond, and eventually a lake, giving the lake its name, Teardrop Lake. A young sapling growing by this new lake drank from Sara's magical tears, and grew to immense proportions; so staggering in fact, that its roots stretched throughout North of North. This tree was Drasilmare, the World Tree of North of North. The area around Teardrop Lake and Drasilmare became known as The Sacred Seclusion. In years to come, a garden would be planted here in memory of Sara's parents.
Meanwhile, Feral and her minions searched in vain for the goddess and the horses. The First Generation stood by Sara, living their long lives. They also drank the magical waters of Teardrop Lake, making their magic grow ever stronger, and even developing new magical gifts like walking on the wind or diving deep beneath the sea. As happy as the horses were with their new-found abilities, they worried that Sara would live in grief and sadness forever.
During this time, there were a group of women known as Caregivers. These women travelled North of North helping the needy. One day a Caregiver by the name of Mitka Rolanddotter and her daughter Sigga saw a beautiful white mare coming to greet them. Bella looked into their eyes and Mitka and Sigga saw a vision of a crying girl. The two followed Bella to the Sacred Seclusion and comforted Sara, who informed them of the cause of her grief. The kind Mitka invited Sara to come with them and help others in need. Sara accepted, and from that moment, Mitka, her husband and Sigga became the goddess' new family.
Progressively, the First Generation horses began arriving at the Rolanddotter's home, and the family also took them in and Sara taught Sigga all that she knew about these magnificent equines. Soon, however, the number of horses overwhelmed the Rolanddotter's small farm and they could no longer care for all of them. So, Sara advised that they give the horses to the other Caregivers. The Caregivers, themselves, were overjoyed; now they could travel even further distances much more quickly to help those in need. The Caregivers soon became expert horsewomen and their reputation and grew as the years passed.
Eventually, Feral heard word of the Caregiver's fame, and secretly joined the group. She was waiting for a chance to steal the horses. When Mitka died, Sigga (now a grown woman), was supposed to be the new leader of the Caregivers. However, the vile Feral got the sisterhood arguing over who should be in charge. Then, she offered her giant wolves as more powerful mounts for any of the sisterhood who was willing to follow her. The women who agreed abandoned their horses and became Wolf Riders. However, Sigga and many others resisted and declined, so Feral commanded the Wolf Riders to take them by force.
Sigga and the other Caregivers escaped, but the Wolf Riders soon tracked them down. The Wolf Riders had the Caregivers cornered at the edge of a huge cliff. When all looked lost, Sara flew down on Bella and all of the Caregivers' horses grew wings! Feral was furious as the Caregivers mounted their horses and flew off out of her evil grasp. Ever since then, Feral and her Wolf Riders have struggled to bring down the Caregivers.
Sara graciously gave the Caregivers a beautiful floating castle called Hestheim to use as their new home. She informed them that their horses would always have their wings. The goddess also granted them immortality, and gave them a new name: The Valkyrie Sisterhood. From then on, their duty was to seek out and inspire heroes willing to protect the weak from cruel villians like Feral. The Valkyries called these things "Sara's Gift".
Each Valkyrie chose a mortal world to protect and search for heroes. The also began writing the history of their accomplishments and adventures in books given by Sara called Ballads. The Valkyrie Sisterhood swore to remain united in their mission by following the oaths of the Sisterhood:
i) Always revere Sara's Gift
ii) Fulfill your own potential so you can help others fulfill theirs
iii) Discover and inspire heroes to protect your world
iv) Preserve the history of the Valkyries and their worlds at all costs
The now immortal women of the Valkyrie Sisterhood soon realized that their horses' new wings were only the beginnings of Sara's Gift. Their steeds could change shape: using their wings to soar through the air, or sprouting fins to delve into the seas. As a symbol of Sara's love for the Rolanddotter family, these horses held a greater purpose and majesty than the other horses Sara influenced.
Sigga Rolanddotter loved horses so much, that she chose North of North as her world to protect. Sara was overjoyed by Sigga's choice and gave her a huge stretch of beautiful land that had originally belonged to Sara's parents. Sigga built a magnificent castle overlooking the land and began filling its stables with wonderous, magical horses. Caring for the horses reminded her of her childhood when she and Sara worked with the horses on her farm. Sigga decided to create a welcoming haven for both people and horses and named her estate Trail's End.
The years passed quickly and soon it was time to mark the 100th anniversary of the Valkyrie Sisterhood. A grand celebration at Trail's End was hosted by Sigga. All of the Valkyries were invited and people from all over North of North gathered in the beautiful valley. The greatest herd of horses that had ever assembled congregated in and around the castle and its estate. The air was filled with magic, excitement and a strange energy. Everyone felt as if something magnificent was about to take place.
As a tribute to Sara, Sigga had an artist sculpt two monuments of Bella and Bello into the faces of the giant mountain pass that overlooked Trail's End. The presentation of the Bella and Bella monuments was the day's crowning glory for Sigga. However, for four yearling horses, a far grander event was in store for them. An event that would shape the world to come.
Gathered at Trail's End to celebrate the 100th anniversary, Fiona, Jewel, Thunder and Nike met by chance at Teardrop Lake. As they made acquaintances, a young girl entered the garden and knelt to read the inscription on the memorial fountain that stood by the waters. Every tear is a memory of a love shared.
The horses noticed a reflection in the lake and looked up to see a regal white mare, Bella, walking across the lake's surface. As Bella approached the girl, the four horses recognized her as Sara, the goddess of horses. Sara turned to Jewel, Thunder, Nike and Fiona, and greeted them all by name. However, at that moment, an image shimmered on to the lake's surface: a picture of a woman weaving in front of a magnificent tapestry. Upon looking closer, the horses saw the tapestry showed all of them, with Bella rearing in the centre. It was then that the horses sensed that their meeting had been no coincidence. They shared a magical bond and their destinies would be united forever in a grand and epic cause.
Sara told Nike, Fiona, Thunder and Jewel that the woman in the image was Fable, the immortal storyteller. The goddess had met her once before, when Fable had given her a magical book called the Patchwork. In this book, the stories of the past, present and future are written. Sara had read part of her own story and learned that it was her destiny to bring hope and wisdom to those struggling against evil and misfortune. Later on, Sara used pages from the Patchwork to create Ballads for the Valkyries to they could add their own experiences to the great stories.
When Sara finished her tale, Fable looked up from her weaving and smiled, beckoning her and the horses to look at the changing images in her tapestry. First, they saw Sigga Rolanddotter gazing into the eyes of a knightly prince, then they saw her rushing into battle to rescue the prince from giant wolves. After that they saw Sigga and the prince in a fire lit room, both their faces filled with sadness. The images began to speed up: the prince captive in a dark castle, an aging Sigga walking alone down an unfamiliar road, and Trail's End neglected.
Sara and the horses were horrified by these images, and when they were able to look at the tapestry again, they saw that all hope was not lost. Sara saw that she would watch over North of North for Sigga until the arrival of a girl on wings, who could set things right again. As for Bella, Nike, Fiona, Thunder and Jewel, they saw that they would all become legendary horses and that Sara and the girl would need their help to right the wrongs, and heal the wounds the tapestry revealed.
Sigga, as an immortal Valkyrie, was forbidden to interfere in the natural course of life and death. As with the other Valkyries, she had sworn to Alfather, the king of the gods, that she would help mortal heroes fulfill their potential and meet their fates. However, Sigga fell in love with Prince Archer and could not bear to see him die, especially at the jaws of Feral's wolves. So she swooped down to rescue him, interfering with his mortal destiny. Alfather brought his wrath down upon the House of Rolandotter, changing its future forever.
Alfather declared that Sigga and Prince Archer could be married and live together for one year. But, after that, they must part forever. Prince Archer would become immortal, but be locked away in a far-away castle while Sigga would become mortal and be banished to Earth, never to see her prince again. If that wasn't bad enough, Alfather commanded that the Sigga line would produce only sons, with no daughter to take her place among the Valkyrie Sisterhood. Only one small sliver of hope remained: one day a girl would be born to Sigga's line, and she would change everything.
The Valkyrie Sisterhood began to neglect North of North after Sigga's downfall, and the once grand estate at Trails End fell into dark times. Many generations of stewards did their best to maintain the castle and its grounds, but everyone longed for the return of Sigga's line, and for the House of Rolanddotter to be restored to its former glory. Even the goddess Sara, waited. Fable's tapestry had told her that she must await the arrival of Sigga's heir, so that the goddess could help her claim her rightful place among the Valkyries. In turn, the girl would protect North of North forever.
It was almost one thousand years before the prophecy came true, and Sigga's long-awaited many greats grand-daughter was born. Her name was Emma Roland, and her steed was the faithful pegasus Wings. Now, it was time for Bella and Sara to begin their mission to help Emma discover her birthright and redeem her family's honour...