|Disclaimer: The characters and story are based on the series BeastMaster are property of Tribune Entertainment Company. There is no intent to infringe on their rights, this is only for pure enjoyment.|
The Last Sula
Dedicated to the last of a rare breed, Daniel Goddard
Tao's eyelids fluttered until they focused on the Terron tightening the rope around his wrist. Although standing upright, he felt awkward because of the way his body leaned backwards. In this position, his ribs ached where Ratax had kicked him. He tried to wriggle free, but his feet were also bound. The guard snickered at the prisoner's feeble attempt to free himself. Once the Terron departed to join another warrior standing guard, the Eiron sensed he wasn't alone. Shan was to his right and Dar to his left. The three of them created a human pyramid tied securely to several posts.
Sharak had been awake for some time staring at the clouds, wishing he was flying free in the skies above. Life as an eagle wasn't bad compared to this. He heard a muffled sound and realized Tao finally came to. "Tao, I can't wake the Beastmaster. He's not responding."
Frantic, Tao turned to his friend. "Dar?" he whispered hoarsely, his mouth dry. "Dar?" he repeated. Tao worried when he noticed the dry blood matted in his friend's hair on the side of his head. Tao waited and then noticed his chest rise. "Oh, thank goodness, he's breathing."
A groan escaped Dar's throat as he approached a semi-awakened state. His head throbbed but when he tried to touch it, he couldn't move his hands. He slowly realized he was a prisoner. He opened his eyes trying to focus, but everything was a blur.
"Dar? Are you all right?" Tao asked
"Tao?" Dar tilted his head back in the direction of his friend's voice. A fuzzy face was all he could see. "What happened?"
Sharak answered instead. "King Zad must want the pleasure of killing us; otherwise, we'd all be dead."
Dar whipped his head to the left, surprised by the Sorcerer's presence—a painful blunder. His temple pounded and he became dizzy, provoking nausea. "Where's Gie?" he asked already knowing the answer.
"Zad has him."
"And Jame?" Tao inquired.
"They're both alive. I don't think he plans on killing them." Sharak hoped to convince his two companions.
Dar grimaced. "Zad wants to make Gie his son."
Surprised, Tao asked, "He wants a son? Why he must have dozens the way he uses women. Why Gie?"
"Because he's a Sula, Zad thinks the boy will be able to control the animals. He believes he'll be invincible."
"With an army of beasts he just may be."
"A Sula only communes with the animals, he won't have the powers of a beastmaster. When Zad finds this out, Gie will be useless to him. We have to stop him!" Dar yanked his arms, but the ropes encircling his wrists wouldn't give, cutting flesh instead.
Tired of their idle chitchat, Sharak cleared his throat. "I can stop Zad if each of you promise not to interfere and allow me to take Jame and Gie someplace safe. I'll gladly get us out of this mess—my way." Sharak soon regretted his suggestion for Tao and Dar hollered simultaneously, refusing his proposal.
Dar continued to struggle against the heavy twine. His telepathic plea to Sharak brought no results. He frowned, concerned for his feathered friend. Dar then called for Kodo and Podo. The ferrets responded, but being caged prevented them from helping. They were safe and they let the Beastmaster know Gie and his mother were safe as well. Dar relaxed until he heard Zad's gruff voice approaching.
"What a pitiful triad of prisoners I have in my clutches." He stopped in front of Sharak. "Just how do you fit in? The woman's lover perhaps? How does it feel knowing the boy's a bastard of the Beastmaster?" Receiving only a glare from the stranger, Zad shrugged and walked around closer to Tao. "Ah, the faithful slave of the Beastmaster." The king leaned close to Tao's face knowing it bothered the Eiron. Tao closed his eyes and turned his head the instant he felt Zad's hot breath upon his cheek. Amused by his captive's repulsion, Zad laughed. "What's this? Nothing witty to say?" His eyes soon focused on the Beastmaster who stared back—eyes filled with hatred. The king pushed away from Tao and deliberately took his time to reach his last prisoner. "Beastmaster. I decided to keep you alive long enough for you to hear your son call me father."
"That won't happen!" Dar spat, wrestling against the constraints. "You'll never be his father! He'll never call you by that name…never!" The Beastmaster's chest heaved heavily troubled by the shenanigans Zad used to get under his skin.
The evil king longed for moments grand as this, even if they were staged. He nodded to Ratax. The warlord disappeared in the tent. "Come here boy. You do what we told you and your mother lives. Understand?" When the child nodded, Ratax replied, "Good boy." Tear-stained eyes blurred Gie's vision as he followed Ratax over to the king and waited for his cue.
Sharak reminded the Beastmaster that his offer still stood, but Dar's concentration was devoted only to his son. The boy quickly glanced at him and then diverted his eyes, fearful of his mother's life. As instructed he gazed up at Zad. The king, however, kept a watchful eye on the Beastmaster to witness his downfall. "Oh, now who could this precious child be? Why, he's the spitting image of his mother. Be a good boy and remind these pathetic souls who I am besides the king of the Terrons. Son, I'm waiting!"
"Y-y-you're my f-father," Gie barely spoke, his voice shaky. An unearthly cry from the Beastmaster sent Gie running back to the tent to find safety in his mother's arms. Zad relished in the anguish his captive now suffered. Hearing Gie call him father sent the Beastmaster over the edge.
Tao begged Dar to stay calm, but his pleas were futile. He had never seen Dar so enraged—never, not even after Kyra's death. He turned to Shan. "Can you get us out of this?" When the sorcerer nodded, Tao gave his word he wouldn't interfere with his plans.
"You'll never be his father! Never!" Dar vowed. He suddenly quit struggling when he heard Zad order his men to kill them. With no other option, he pledged, "Sorcerer, you also have my word!"
Zad started to return to his tent, but upon hearing the Beastmaster call to a sorcerer, he stopped. He turned around in time to witness the ropes bursting into flames, the hostages untouched. Dar fell to his knees, still light-headed from his injury. Tao rushed to his side while Sharak waved his hands, propelling each of the approaching Terrons with the simple gesture. Zad couldn't budge; in fact, his body was paralyzed, unyielding to his command. "What is this?" he demanded. "Ratax! Stop them!"
The king's chief warrior was unable to move as well. "I can't!" Ratax tried again, but his body wouldn't respond. "What the—"
The men guarding the tent ran past their paralyzed king and comrade, but they, too, soared backwards when they neared the prisoners. Awestruck by the wizard's powers, Tao laughed nervously as he helped Dar to his feet. He thought he'd better be friendlier to Shan in the future. Tao supported the Beastmaster until he regained his balance, pushing free of his friend's hold to lunge towards Zad. With both hands wrapped around the king's throat, Dar's fingers pressed firmly hoping to crush his neck. Tao tried prying him off. "Dar, let go! He can't defend himself. You'll kill him!" The Beastmaster wasn't listening to Tao or Zad's pleas.
"Get…your…filthy hands…off me!" Zad barely managed to utter the words. Dar's rage had reached an all time high, leaving even Zad feeling a tinge of fear. It took only one voice to soothe the beast within.
"Father!" Gie exclaimed as he ran towards him, carrying Kodo and Podo's pouch.
The Beastmaster found it difficult to let go of Zad's neck wishing to suppress the evil grin that gleamed back at him. Deep down Dar knew who the child was calling—it wasn't Zad. He released the king just in time to catch Gie in his arms, hugging him tightly. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry you had to go through this."
Jame ran straight into Tao's arms and they held each other, grateful they were alive and now free. Sharak reminded them of the danger they were in if they stayed. Dar wasn't about to leave without his staff. Jame remembered it in the tent, so the Beastmaster dashed off to retrieve it.
Feeling less threatened, Zad warned his prisoners, "You won't get away with this! I'll find the boy!" The king choked back his words when he realized the Beastmaster was returning with his weapon.
Dar knelt, placing his hand on Gie's shoulder and looked up at the Sorcerer. "You'll take them somewhere safe?"
Sharak nodded and moved towards Zad, taunting him with a self-satisfied grin. "They will be under my wing, Beastmaster, at all times. A place where you, my good king, will never find them."
When the travelers reached a clearing away from the Terrons, Sharak turned to face them all. "We must separate here. Say your good byes, but don't worry, you'll be able to visit often. The eagle you communicate with—"
"Sharak?" Dar asked, curious to what the Sorcerer knew of him.
"Yes, that's the one. He'll let you know when it's safe to visit."
Eager to see Jame again, Tao interrupted, "How will we know where to find them?"
"The eagle will guide you." Sharak kept watch while the others bid their farewells. Feelings never used to bother him when he was the Ancient One's apprentice. However, living these thousands of years as an eagle and befriending the Beastmaster, he felt melancholy that he had to be the one to take his friend's son away.
Tao kissed Jame, longing to hold her forever, but he knew it wasn't meant to be. His hands embraced her face as their lips separated. 'I wish there was another way."
Jame looked to her son who was hugging the Beastmaster. She looked back into Tao's eyes—beautiful eyes that glistened as he fought back tears. "I do too, Tao. I'll forever hold you in my heart." She couldn't bear to say good bye, so she moved to stand behind Shan.
Dar wasn't holding back the tears…he didn't have the strength to. "This is for you," he said as he handed the boy the necklace he wore for Kyra. "If you concentrate on the one you love, their image will appear."
Gie took it carefully and closed his eyes, opening them to view the image of his father in the huge pearl. He smiled and that's when Tao realized where he had seen that smile before. It mimicked Dar's. The Eiron empathized for his friend when he watched the Beastmaster hug his son good bye. Tao's sorrow could never equal that which his friend now endured.
"I love you, son. Always remember that." Dar's heart felt as though it were being ripped from his chest when the Sorcerer led Gie away. In a glimmering flash, the three vanished. Dar closed his eyes and remained silent. He reached for the hand on his shoulder, squeezing it to affirm Tao he appreciated his friendship. The Beastmaster could only shake his head when he heard Tao suggest they leave.
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My Fanfic is based on the BeastMaster: The Legend Continues Series
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