Tuesday, January 3, 2012

B is for Beana

Pronounced like a bean, as in the legume.

I have heard people refer to her as Be-ANN-a. Which, yes, is significantly prettier. But not very Southlands and not very goat-like to me. So no, it's just Beana, a humbler name, feminized a little bit, but basically just the name of a little smelly goat.

Which is what Beana is. The goat and primary companion of my little heroine, Rose Red, who lives high in the mountains. But of course, this is a fairy tale, and even a goat may be much more than she seems.

Beana makes her appearance in the first chapter of Veiled Rose when poor Leo, desperate for adventure, goes monster-hunting in the forest of the mountain home where he's been sent to spend the summer. With her yellow eyes and little horns, Beana is surprising enough to give Leo a bit of a start when he bumps into her . . . but then, she's just a goat. Quite the disappointment for a boy expecting monsters!

Beana, however, might be more exciting than most monsters. We learn pretty quickly that she possesses the power of speech. Just why and how, we don't learn for quite some time. But we can see that she is devoted to Rose Red, and while, technically speaking, she belongs to the girl, we can't help but think that Rose Red belongs equally to her goat.

Beana is a dry soul, to say the least. Dry and a bit over-protective, perhaps. Rose Red is not allowed to go down the mountain near where other people live. Rose Red is not allowed to climb up to a certain cave above the tree line by herself. Rose Red is not allowed to run about without her veil, and she is certainly not to think about leaving the mountain! All this bossiness does get a little bit trying sometimes, and leads Rose Red at least once to stake up her goat and leave her in the yard while she sneaks off to play with Leo.

"Bah!" said the goat. She stamped and shook her little horns. "What's eating me, she asks? Cruel, cruel girl! Running off like that without so much as a by-your-leave, and leaving me tied to a stake all day! In the rain! Like some animal!"

"Beana, you are an animal."

But for all this bossiness, Beana is a loving goat. She truly cares about Rose Red and wants what's best for her. She tries to convince her that he friendship with Leo will lead to hurt . . . and, sadly, is proven right again and again.

Beana does not realize, however, the dreadful dreams under which Rose Red is suffering. When Leo offers for Rose Red to join him off the mountain, coming to the lowlands to be his servant so that he can watch out for her, Beana is dreadfully against it! She is terrified about something down in the lowlands . . . something she wants to keep Rose Red away from at all costs. But she doesn't understand how equally desperate Rose Red is to escape the Dream that comes to her most nights and plagues her, asking her for a kiss.

It isn't until the Dragon, furious at Rose Red for leaving the mountain, comes flaming down into Southlands, killing as he goes, that Beana begins to realize what Rose Red has been enduring all these years.

But Beana is not afraid of a dragon. No, as stated above, we have to remember that in fairy tales there can be much more to even a goat than first meets the eyes! When Rose Red is imprisoned within the walls of the Eldest's House, held captive by the Dragon himself, Beana, all alone, storms the gates, demanding the vast monster let her through!

"Don't try these silly games with me!" she shouts at him. "I'm not afraid of you."

"I know you're not," the Dragon replies. "What you have failed to consider is whether or not I am afraid of you."

How can a Dragon be afraid of a simple little goat, talking or otherwise? This Dragon who destroys where he wishes, laying waste to nations, devouring warriors, decimating even into the depths of mortal dreams. In Heartless, we saw him defeat and even kill three of the brave Knights of Farthestshore without even a trace of effort. How could he possibly fear little no-nonsense Beana?

And yet, the Dragon, speaking from the safety of behind the gates, says to her: "I do not forget an offense such as yours so quickly, Lady of Aiven. Thief. Trespasser."

So. More to the story than we perhaps realized. The Dragon and Beana have a history of some kind. A history which the Dragon remembers with at least a certain measure of trepidation. So Beana was once known as the Lady of Aiven. She once stole something of value from the Dragon, and trespassed within the borders of his dreadful Netherworld domain to do so.

And, as she reminds him even now: "You know your own doom. I spoke it myself all those centuries ago."

Centuries? Beana is one old goat!

But who might she have been, this strange companion and guardian of little Rose Red? We don't get a great many hints within the context of Veiled Rose. We only receive one good piece of information, and that is in the context of an enigmatic song sung by an enslaved Faerie whom Lionheart meets on his many travels. Part of the song goes like this:

She stood upon the shadowed hill
And downward turned her glist'ning eye.
She looked on Aiven great,
Upon the closed gate,
But saw the Final Water flow,
The darkened water flow.

I saw her watching from the hill,
Fair Aiven, burnt so red and sore
Before the bleeding sun.
So strong the spells were spun!
The clouds could never stem the blood,
Not catch nor stem the blood. 

And in the end, the song concludes with this sad stanza:

The trees alone stand on the hill,
For she has passed along her.
The veil is o'er my eyes:
Who speaks of truth or lies?
For Fireword has gone from Aiven,
Borne away from Aiven.

Fireword, as you may remember, is the name of the sword belonging to the Prince of Farthestshore; the same sword which this woman--presumably the Lady of Aiven--carries away in this song.

Yes, indeed, there is much more to this goat than meets the eye. Which means, in turn, that there must be much more to this humble goat-girl whom Beana guards so jealously! But just what that might be, you will have to wait and find out . . .

Note: Beana was named for the only goat I have ever known personally. My wonderful pal, Manda, and her family up in Wisconsin had a veritable farm full of various animals, including one crooked-nosed goat named Sabrina, called Bina for short. (And when I say crooked-nosed, I do mean crooked-nosed . . . her nose had been broken, and was set at a distinct angle.) She was cute and quirky, and when I started writing the initial draft of Veiled Rose, Bina's name immediately jumped to mind for the goat character. Respelled Beana, it seemed a perfect fit to me!

When I first began writing the goat into the story, I actually didn't intend for her to be the Faerie knight that she turned into. She was just going to be Rose Red's goat. But before I'd even gotten through a chapter, Beana opened her mouth and started talking. "Oh," I said to myself and gave a little shrug. "So it talks! I wonder why . . . ?"

I love it when my own books take me by surprise like that.


Clara said...

lol. There was some discussion at my house on how to pronounce Beana. My mom and sister both said it the proper way, while I was saying it the wrong way:) We all can't wait for Moonblood!

Eszter said...

Question: Will we ever find out more about Beana in Moonblood? Her story sounds soooo fascinating!
P.S. I never really liked goats (except for this one) mostly because when I was little, I tried to pet one but got more acquainted with its horns instead! I'd much rather have Beana than those goats. :D

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Eszter: Absolutely you'll see more of Beana in Moonblood! She has a small but important role in that book, and you'll learn much more about her. Though you still won't learn her true name . . .

I'm looking forward to sharing Moonblood with all of you! And Starflower too, later this year! :)

Anonymous said...

I said bean as in the bean that u eat with an a