This is the story of a lost ring.
Fortunately for Lucinda Dorado and her husband, Julian, no hobbits, orcs or cave trolls were involved in their unexpected journey.
It all started some four years ago when the couple were living and attending college in Bakersfield. One morning Julian wanted to take their young daughter out to Hart Park to feed the ducks. But Lucinda was not keen on embarking on the outdoor adventure.
"It was wintertime, really cold," she remembers. "I didn't want to go."
Nevertheless, she agreed, and soon found herself on the shore of a small lake, throwing bread crumbs to a flock of young, black ducks.
Maybe the cold had shrunk her fingers, or maybe it was just fate or some unseen power, but somewhere near the shore of that lake, her engagement ring slipped from her finger like a memory slips from our minds and settled into the black mud beneath the waters of the murky lake.
"I never thought I would see that ring again," she said. "I was very upset."
Over the intervening years, Julian returned to the lake two or three times armed with a metel detector, searching for the platinum ring with a half-carat diamond at its center.
But he always came away empty-handed. Still, the power of the ring continued to pull at him.
In the meantime, the young family moved from Bakersfield to Pomona where Lucinda began her new career as a registered nurse. However, Julian's father lives in Bakersfield, so visits back home were not unusual.
It was during just such a visit over the New Year's holiday that Julian heard that the water level in the lake had been lowered. This was his chance, he thought, to search where waist-deep water once made a search nearly impossible.
Besides, he had obtained a higher-quality metal detector -- although it was back in Pomona with Lucinda.
"She drove two hours to bring me the metal detector," said Julian, now 32. "I must have searched for three hours."
Eventually, Lucinda, 35, retreated to the warmth of their car.
"He was pulling nickels and pennies out of that lake," she remembered.
Finding the ring seemed as unlikely as a Tolkien fantasy.
When Julian started yelling, at first Lucinda thought someone had been hurt.
Then she heard the words, "I found it! I found it!"
The ring, stone still intact, was found in a couple inches of water.
They were both astounded.
"The other times I searched, I guess it was just out of reach," Julian said.
"The ring still looks the same."
This year Julian and Lucinda will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. The engagement ring Julian proposed with is expected to be firmly wrapped around Lucinda's finger.