At sunset, Yunikina heard a song of the forest, ocean, tundra, and unyielding warriors on frozen soil.
The song originated from the residence of Yegle, where he played the zither, overlooking the setting sun while singing of their homeland.
Yegle is a mere folk musician and cannot put to use the simplest dagger to protect himself. Yet his lord is deeply afraid of him. He dispatched Yunikina, hoping she is able to restrain the musician from being a troublemaker.
Yunikina's supervision restricted Yegle's movements, even if he left the Family to sell things or exchange bread, masses of soldiers like flies, would follow him. Now no one came to his place to sing songs. However, Yunikina was surprised by how calm he was about this. He still plucks the strings, singing songs in his confinement as he used to sing in days long gone by.
His zither resounded like a flowing brook in the summer, and his singing resonated like a lark on a crisp winter morning. He sang of plain weeds in the wilderness, of flurries invading birch forests, of bonfires in the country borne of jubilation, and the beautiful mountain girls on a spring morning. The destitute heard in his songs the hope for tomorrow that is feared by the corrupt. And what about Yunikina?
At sunset, she heard her hometown, thousands of miles away, a small village that reduced to rubbles during the war.
She should have watched Yegle but she had turned from him, so her tears could fall unnoticed.
'You are truly talented,' she said to Yegle, 'Don't talk to the Revolutionary Party. Don't destroy yourself.' Yegle thanked her but could not listen to her exhortations. His music spread faster than a sudden gust of wind, through the uninhabited Iron Forest to the prosperous White Stone City, and was on the lips of everyone as a song of liberty. The lord has changed his mind; persecuting Yegle may incite a riot, but he lives, and the song of the aristocrats' nightmares would never end. In one night, the secret police took many young members of poet societies, and Yegle was missing. Some said that he became a court musician, and others that he had sold out his friends. Even the latest army song was tagged with his name, couldn't it justify all suspensions?
Yunikina's temporary job concluded, yet she still missed the lost troubadour. On vacation, she couldn't help but went back to Yegle's residence. Outside the tower bungalows stood her gun-toting troops. She dismissed them and entered the Family. His room looked like it had been looted. She gathered the scattered music scores and letters and discovered designs that were incomplete.
'Dedicated to Yunikina and our snowy plains.'
'This person is a complete idiot!' If Yunikina had not come, would his reputation have been eternally disrespected by that scum? Yunikina picked up this gift carefully. At that moment someone knocked impatiently on the wooden door behind her, and fear was heightened with the threat of gunfire. Yunikina pressed against the table and stood up expressionless. She completely understood: while she watched Yegle, very many eyes watched her from the shadows. Today's knell sounded for the young people who were arrested, and tomorrow more people would be buried together for the rotten state.
She silently freed the pistol from her waist and hid in a dark corner of the bookcase. She is an excellent fighter, expert marksman, and perfectly capable of escaping from here -- so let Yegle's hope relight the fire on a snowy expanse.
In the space of an afternoon, Yunikina, once the White Stone City's youngest second lieutenant, became a criminal undertaking a conspiracy. During the bitterly cold night, she questioned herself repeatedly: Was this cost worth it? Should she go back to the lord, kneel before him and admit her mistake? Could she regain her honor?--
'No, that is downright humiliation!' She had done nothing wrong, and neither had those that sacrificed themselves.
Their only charge was a deep love for this frozen patch of soil.
Yunikina found Yegle's comrades and published his last poem and the circumstances of his death. The musician's sacrifice caused a large ripple within the pool of suffering, and the reign maintained by fear finally broke. People waving farm tools approached the castle, and the guards stopped them-- In the here and now, the styling contest has become the last straw for the corrupt lord. How can enraged citizens agree? The one who breaks the order will pay the price for it!
The malicious lord laughed in his tower, for he knew the army of the North was on its way, and the peasants -- no match against the guards -- had no chance. He would win!
But these were his dreams, not reality.
After that day, White Stone City became legend.
There was a steed that came from dust and brought the long-awaited dawn to The White Stone City. The general rode on horseback dressed in armor designed by her lover in heaven. The first light of morning reflected off the banners at her back; she led a new army. People volunteered to join the troop and march to the White Stone City......
This is the story of the White Stone City in the North Kingdom. You ask me where I learned these things?...
'Oh, the northern wind is carrying the poet's song. Can't you hear it?'